iOS Enabled Enlightenment
Many years ago, I spent a couple months hanging out in the Sinai Desert and scuba diving in the Red Sea. On my first dives, I would rapidly burn through all of my oxygen, often forcing my group to ascend prematurely. But eventually, by focusing on staying relaxed and taking long, slow, deep breaths, I started using a fraction of the oxygen I did on the initial dives, allowing me to stay down longer and enjoy the scenery better. What I learned is that conscious thoughts have a profound effect on unconscious behavior such as breathing. Beyond extending dives, maintaining steady, relaxed breathing is one of the cornerstones of being happy and healthy. Until now, having direct feedback to your respiratory behavior largely meant sitting still in meditation or carrying around scuba gear–both impractical for their own reasons. Now a wearable tech company called Spire is offering an iOS-enabled device that keeps track of your breath and reminds you to chill the heck out.
Spire is a little transmitter that clips to your waistband. It sends signals to your iOS device via a Bluetooth signal. Your breath is monitored and tracked on the device. Push notifications alert you if your breath is shallow or irregular, a good indicator that you’re tense and stressed out. That’s about it.
Spire has a great appeal for me. For years, I was a regular meditator, hitting my meditation mat like clockwork for 15 minutes every morning and evening. The motivation behind my practice was that when I brought consciousness to unconscious behavior through my breath, I could (and did) have a greater capacity to stay cool through life’s inevitable trials. You see, fear, anxiety and other unpleasant emotions are not conscious. No one chooses to be scared or anxious–these things are unconscious reactions to various stimuli, stimuli that is often rooted in some past trauma, not the present moment. These unpleasant reactions are almost invariably coupled with shallow breathing. Returning to regular, deep breathing helps bring both body and mind back to the present, not some incident that happened when you were a freshman in high school.
While it’d be nice if we could all just take the time to regularly meditate, many of our lives are not set up that way (my two young boys are super unsupportive of my mediation practice). Spire holds the promise of bringing a level of meditative practice to everything we do…assuming our phones are charged. A Spire puck costs $150. Visit their website for more info.