Stillness Buddy – Software for Reflection

I recently started sitting with a sangha in Victoria. It is a wonderful experience and brings me great joy, to find like-minded people to practice with.

The sangha follows the tradition of well known Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh. The other day, while reading up about the community he founded, I stumbled on a link to some software he endorses called Stillness Buddy. I installed the free trial and am really loving the experience.

I am usually pretty skeptical when I hear mention of meditation software; it is not something that needs software, indeed needs anything other than discipline, to practice. This is slightly different.

Once installed, there are 4 simple settings: start and finish time of work day, lunch break time, spacing and duration of Moments of Stillness an Mindfulness Pauses. Once you have set those values, that’s it – the software runs in the background, and at the appointed times pops up a small window, accompanied by a very pleasant sound, which urgese you to take a moment and consider your breathing, or some other mindfulness enhancing step. The “Moments” can be of any duration you choose – I have set mine to the suggested initial values of 30 second breaks every 30 minutes. Similarly, I have the longer Pauses set to 2 minute breaks every hour and a half.

What a difference it makes. It is far to easy for me to get absorbed, either in a single task or flitting between a dozen tasks, and on top of that, it does feel like sitting at a computer can actually effect your regular breathing. This simple app, which I would say was perfectly appropriate for non-meditators and non-Buddhists, goes a long way to the simple act of bring me back into my body and connecting with my breathing, a small but major part of being mindful. I hope you find it helpful too. – SWL

2 thoughts on “Stillness Buddy – Software for Reflection”

  1. You know I don’t go in for all this meditation lark, but in a similar vein, I have been reading The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working, and one of the practices he strongly recommends is to work in 90 minute creative bursts without distraction, then schedule in a 30 minute break. I tried this when I was writing my book recently – I split the day into 90 minute chunks and turned off twitter and email. Then when 90 minutes was up, I would take the dog for a walk, have lunch, or whatever and make sure I didn’t do any work related stuff.
    I have to say by being regimented it worked very well, we often don’t reflect enough on our process of working.
    There are days when I’m happy to drift in and out of twitter, do a bit of emailing, etc particularly if I’m doing something a bit dull. But for more creative, concentrated work it pays to have breaks I think.

  2. Martin, I agree, different days/tasks call for different styles. Glad to hear that splitting the day into 90 minute chunks is helping with productivity.

    “Meditation lark” – I couldn’t pass on that little comment. That seems a bit dismissive of a practice that can be totally secular and focuses on cultivating attention, something that seems pretty relevant in our increasingly distracted times. I do think people can come at it from different angles, but there seems little doubt that the effects are real.

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