Should We Gamify Meditation? ;-)
I ask this somewhat in cheek. In fact, it is rather an oxymoron.
There is a lot of evidence about the positive effects of mindfulness these days. It is becoming ‘de rigueur’ in the K-12 education space. For example, Mindfulness Without Borders offers workshops to schools. So does the Mindfulness Institute. The Association for Mindfulness in Education and Mindfulschools.org also attend to this issue. Just to name a few.
On a personal note, I studied transcendental meditation when I was 20. That is also when I first learned of Jon Kabat-Zinn – although I didn’t take the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course until a few years ago.
Meditation is a practice in which an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness, either to realize some benefit or as an end in itself. The word meditation carries different meanings in different contexts. Meditation is often used to clear the mind. (Roughly taken from Wikipedia.)
I have also played around with biofeedback. I have found it quite useful.
“Biofeedback is the process of gaining greater awareness of many physiological functions primarily using instruments that provide information on the activity of those same systems, with a goal of being able to manipulate them at will.” Wikipedia
Biofeedback may give you insights into meditative practice and indeed may assist you in reaching goals of ‘calmness’ and ‘stress reduction’. There are many more biofeedback tools available these days due to advances in technologies and in neuroscience. Some give you feedback on muscle tension, some on skin temperature and others on skin conductance (galvanic skin response -GSR*). (It is, in fact, a GSR device that I have owned for some 25 years.) These are all indicators of psychological or physiological arousal. So, if you can ‘meditate’ in some fashion and reduce the arousal, you will get good feedback on which techniques work effectively for you.
Important to note that this is not some pie-in-the-sky notion — the Affective Computing Group at MIT Media Lab has been investigating many educational issues leveraging biofeedback devices. Susanne Lajoie at McGill has also been studying education with this lens too. And, you can bet that the big publishers are involved as well! (But, that’s a topic for another day!)
And guess what!
With all the advances in computer technologies and biofeedback devices – and, with the onslaught of ‘gaming’ and ‘gamification’, there are a slew of biofeedback games available both online and downloadable!
I am actually not familiar with any of those at all but am simply asking myself – and you – the question.
Should we gamify meditation?
*SideNote: Heck. If you are into robotics, get yourself an RCX Lego brick and make a GSR yourself — but, be aware only do this with your RCX on battery power. If it’s plugged in, you could electrocute yourself!