In a recent article in The Conversation, Gregory Grieve and Beverley McGuire, two scholars of Buddhism supported by the Institute of Buddhist Studies’ “Public Theologies of Technology and Presence” program, discuss the roots and promises of popular meditation apps and explain how these apps depart from the values and practices from which they are derived.
In today’s stressful world, mindfulness – a type of popular spirituality that strives to focus on the present moment – promises to soothe away the anxiety and stress of modern life. The Internet is full of popular cure-all mindfulness apps targeting everyone from busy urban professionals to dieters, those suffering from insomnia and even children.
We are scholars of Buddhism who specialize in social media research. In August of 2019, we searched on Apple’s App Store and Google Play and found over 500 apps associated with Buddhism. The majority of the apps centered on the practice of mindfulness.
Do these apps truly promote Buddhist ideals or are they a product of a lucrative consumer industry?