Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better, it’s about befriending who we are. – Ani Pema Chodron
Mindfulness and meditation are gaining traction in the mental health & tech sphere rapidly, and with a lot of evidence to back it up. Here at CheckPoint, I’ve written about an important recent study evaluating the effectiveness of new mobile mindfulness apps, in addition to three quick ways to mindfully check in with yourself. There are also multiple games in our Games for Wellbeing series that focus on mindful elements.
So with the rapidly expanding availability of apps focussing on meditation, how is Sway different from the rest? The collaborative developers of Sway; UsTwo (the creators of the beautiful Monument Valley), and PauseAble (a Mental Wellness product and solution company), explain that “Sway is an ‘interactive meditation’ experience. It uses your phone to track movement and provides feedback to help you gain focus and improve your attention. With six unique levels, you will learn new techniques to be mindful in everyday life situations and subtly practise mindfulness anytime and anywhere.” So essentially, it is meditation while moving.
The creators of Sway introduce the idea of the sixth sense, proprioception, which is the awareness of our own bodies movements, and explain the relationship between mindfulness and bodily movements – “When we become conscious of our body, we have complete control of how our movements will unfold from moment to moment. Since ancient times, conscious control of body and movement have been a vital part of mindfulness practice.“
The idea that regular practice of performing controlled, continuous and gentle bodily movements enhances our ability to focus our attention, gain clarity, and increase relaxation is the cornerstone of the design of Sway, and furthermore is strongly reminiscent of ancient Tai Chi practice.
We’ve been in touch with the developers of Sway, and while extensive validation research is currently being undertaken, the initial preliminary field trials indicate that this app has shown promising results. In busy & noisy environments, the use of the Sway app results in significantly higher levels of relaxation and mindfulness according to neural measurements. These results were recorded by EEG (electroencephalogram), which can accurately measure real-time neural states of awareness and relaxation, as well as heart-rate monitors. Furthermore, the developers found that the interactive meditation style provided by Sway app, was more efficacious in achieving higher states of relaxation than guided meditation apps, in noisy environments. In quiet locations, both interactive and guided meditation apps showed equally positive results. What is most interesting is that after just 5 days of consecutive use, the Sway app resulted in increases in attentional capacity when compared with the current guided mediation approach.
While these results have not been officially peer-reviewed and published as yet, they certainly indicate a promising and completely new way to approach meditation – especially for active people on the go, in our noisy and busy world.
Take a look at Sway in action, and if you’re interested to try it, it’s available now for iOS here on the app store.