Tech mindfulness: Applying mindfulness to technology

Joy Bose
8 min readAug 24, 2020

In this article, we look at ways in which we can cultivate mindfulness while using technology.

For many of us, most of our lives revolves around technology. A lot of our work, especially for those who work full time in tech as software engineers or data scientists, but also for others, is performed using technology in various ways. It could be sitting in front of a computer for hours on end, or being glued to our mobile phones or TVs when off work. This can, however, affect us in some not so good ways. Perhaps the problems are even worse now, considering the widespread use of work from home due to the Covid pandemic. In this article, we look at a few ways in which we can use mindfulness to improve our well being while using tech.

Photo by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash

Some problems with prolonged use of technology

Prolonged use of tech can lead to some problems such as:

  1. Physical health issues: If we are not mindful of our posture and movement, prolonged usage of tech could lead to physical health issues. Examples are carpel tunnel syndrome (due to a bad positioning of hands when typing on a computer), back pain, neck pain, poor eyesight, lack of sleep, etc. Also in the list are issues related to poor diet and lack of exercise as a secondary result of sitting without moving in front of a computer or using a mobile for a long time.
  2. Mental health issues: This can include social anxiety due to widespread usage of social networking or related sites. Other related issues can be loneliness, irritability, etc. Also, too much tech usage might lead to increased stress and depression etc.
  3. Tech addiction: This can result when we get addicted to tech to the extent that we forget about everything else. This might be a bigger problem in younger people and teenagers. Examples are people spending hours or days playing computer games.

How mindfulness can help

Mindfulness is all about calming the mind and paying attention to whatever is in front of us at any particular moment. The object of attention can vary from the breath, body postures or activities like walking, running or exercise, daily activities like washing the dishes, and so on. The main point is to not let the mind wander off or distracted in a chain of thoughts, but to keep it in the present moment. It can be practiced as a sitting meditation at certain times in the day, or applied in smaller chunks within daily life.

Here, it is important to clarify that mindfulness is not the same as focus or concentration. Focus means paying attention only to one thing in front of our mind. But usually, when working in front of a computer, we may have things like a little bit of back pain because of posture, a few thoughts of anger or irritation, some stress or worry, shallow breathing, feeling of sadness etc, all at the same time. Mostly we do not notice all these little sensations and feelings. Mindfulness is paying attention to all of these one by one, but not getting fixated on any one. And although mindfulness is not the same as focus, making a habit of being mindful can actually help us to focus better because our tendency to have too many wandering thoughts would decrease once we make a habit of staying mindful.

Mindfulness has been found to be therapeutic and useful in helping people deal with a variety of mental and physical ailments. Mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) is a structured course of a few weeks that has been proven in hospitals and elsewhere to help a variety of people. There are also side benefits of mindfulness such as increased focus, productivity and an enhanced feeling of well being and happiness.

In the area of technology too, application of mindfulness can lead to a number of benefits and prevent or slow down the physical or mental issues that may arise when using technology.

Ways to use mindfulness while using tech gadgets

In this section, we look at some practical ways in which mindfulness can be used when using a computer or any other gadget.

An example of a correct sitting posture
  1. Be mindful of posture: The idea here is to remind ourselves periodically to be mindful of our posture when using the tech gadgets, be it TV, mobile or a laptop. While using a laptop, this could include having a straight back, eyes, hands and fingers at the recommended angles.
  2. Be mindful of breathing: We can set ourselves occasional reminders to breathe more slowly and deeply. slow and deep breathing is good for our health and for relaxation, while shallow and faster breathing are signs of stress.
  3. Be mindful of taking short breaks: Short breaks (say once an hour) are vital when using tech. We should remind ourselves to take a short walk, maybe get a cup of tea or glass of water, once every hour at least. That is useful for reducing strain on our eyes, besides others.
  4. Be mindful of the state of our mind when consuming content using tech: Sometimes we tend to get carried away and get too absorbed in the work we are doing when using tech. It may be helpful here to be mindful of our thoughts from time to time, also to be mindful of what content (such as news or social media feeds) we are consuming.
  5. Be mindful on how we interact with others using tech: Often we are on autopilot and have no time to look back and be mindful of how we interact with others or what is the impact on our minds when we are receiving, creating or interacting with online content. We may for example, send off an angry email or reply to a social media post in a rude way, something we may regret later. So it might be worthwhile to consider how our content will affect other people and be mindful of their feelings too.
  6. Control the notifications on your mobile and popups on PC: Constant notifications are a cause of distraction and irritation, so it is a good idea to control or disable unnecessary notifications and/or popups. The website technology for mindfulness ( offers a number of useful tips for increasing mindfulness and avoiding distractions.

Ways to plan our day mindfully

Even when we are not using tech gadgets (before and after using them) we can plan our day mindfully, so as to reduce the adverse impact of using the gadgets. Examples of this can be as follows:

  1. Mindfully stick to a schedule: This could be as simple as sleeping and waking up at fixed hours and consciously making time for three meals. It could also include being mindful of what we eat and drink, whether we are having a balanced diet etc.
  2. Plan a mindfulness meditation in the morning or during the day: This could mean setting aside a fixed time, say 15–20 minutes, for a mindfulness meditation session.
  3. Mindfully plan and recollect your day as a whole: This is simply remembering how the day went by, what we learnt from it before we go to sleep. It can also include spending a few moments planning how we want our day to go before we jump out of bed in the morning.
  4. Set boundaries around tech usage: We can set some time or space boundaries around our usage of tech. For example, we can decide not to touch or use any tech gadgets after 10 pm and before 4 am, or when we are visiting a specific room in our house.

Ways to use technology to enhance our mindfulness

Technology can also be used in a positive way, to enhance our mindfulness and well being during the day. Some of the ways it can help are as follows:

Some popular mindfulness meditation apps: Calm, Headspace, Insight timer
  1. Using mindfulness apps to meditate: There are a number of good mindfulness and meditation apps on the google play store or app store that can help us to do mindfulness meditation. Examples are calm, insight timer, the mindfulness app, stop breathe and think, headspace, buddhify etc. The plum village website ( has a good number of useful links to mindful apps and related software. However, it can become a problem if we install too many mindfulness apps! So it is better to try them out, choose a few (maximum 4 or 5) that we like best, then uninstall the other apps.
  2. Using the mindfulness bell: The concept of a mindfulness bell to ‘wake us’ up to the present moment was introduced by a famous Vietnamese teacher called Thich Nhat Hanh. There are some apps and websites (such as awakening bell website or the Chrome extension Bell of Mindfulness) that will ring a bell or gong at the time intervals we specify. Such a bell can be used as a trigger for ourselves to bring our mind back to the present moment.
  3. Using creativity enhancing apps: Examples can include mindfulness coloring apps. While using coloring apps, our mindfulness can be cultivated since we are focused on coloring and not distracted by thoughts.
  4. Mindfulness enhancing games: Some computer games can be used to enhance mindfulness. An example is Just Sleep — Meditate, Focus, Relax which is available from Steam or other gaming platforms. Other examples are flOw, available on PS4, and mobile (android/iOS) games such as Forest and PAUSE.
  5. Using gadgets and wearables to be mindful: There are some gadgets or wearables that can help us to meditate better and be more mindful. Examples are EEG headsets such as Neurosky and Muse headband (which use electroencephalography or EEG to create a feedback loop to understand how much relaxed we are while meditating). Other gadgets measure our heart rate and breathing, to get an idea of how relaxed or stressed we are during the day. An example is spire stone. Also, most fitness trackers and smartwatches usually have a heart rate and breath tracking function in it. Using this, we can track how was our breath rate and heart rate, along with how many steps we walked etc.
  6. Setting reminders to be mindful: We can set periodic reminders to be mindful of our breathing, posture or taking a break, on our computer or mobile phone, using software such as outlook, task scheduler on Windows or dedicated apps. Browser extensions such as Bell of Mindfulness and StayFocusd, can also be helpful in this. We can also set our desktop and screensaver to something that reminds us to be mindful. We can use all such reminders as a cue to bring back our mind to the present moment.
  7. Listening to mindfulness sounds and music: This can be as simple as including in our playlist some sounds that enhance being in the present moment in nature, such as sounds of rain, sound of waves, sounds of birds chirping etc. Mindfulness enhancing music, such as binaural beats, chanting sounds, or classical music such as Mozart or Hindustani classical or Chinese classical music, can also be of help to some.


In this article we looked at how we can enhance our mindfulness while using technology during our day, and also how to use tech as a tool to improve our mindfulness. Using some of these ways, we can cultivate mindfulness as a skill and use it to enhance our well being.



Joy Bose

Working as a software developer in machine learning projects. Interested in the intersection between technology, machine learning, society and well being.