I try to live a primal life, in touch with deep rhythms of nature and body and mind. I try to rid myself of technology as much as possible, using my phone and laptop as tools for livelihood and connection, all the while lamenting their limitations and destructive addictiveness. I'm as curmudgeonly as it gets about the ubiquitous of screens these days, about the impoverishment of mediated experience.
But I am in love with a new device.
This one is different.
Unlike every other gadget I've encountered, the Spire actually gives. It only gives, and takes nothing away. It has transformed the way I live my life, moment by moment, breath by breath. Let me explain.
The Spire works as if by magic to monitor my breathing rate. Using the best neuroscience out there (polyvagal theory), it determines in real-time whether I'm calm or focused, tense or active. And then it sends me gentle reminders throughout the day, helping me to be mindful and at ease. It's like having a mini-guru in my pocket, but without the long beard and sanskrit incantations.
And oh, what beautiful design! I hate wearing things around my wrists. And don't get me started about the clunky aesthetic of wearables these days. True to its brand, the Spire exudes a sweetly zenlike quality. It's like a soft flat little pebble that clips onto my waistband. I totally forget I'm even wearing it. Until I need it.
Here's what it's like to live with a Spire on: Maybe I'm sitting down working. Or on a phonecall. Or having a conversation face-to-face with an actual person. I feel a gentle vibration on my waist. I get a text message: You seem tense. Time to clear your mind? Or You've been pretty sedentary for 30 min. Time to stretch your legs? Or Seems you haven't taken a deep breath in a while — have time for one now? The Spire also sends messages of praise when I've spent a long time calm or focused or active. It even helps to change my state for the better, offering useful mini-meditations when I most need them.
I consider myself a relatively mindful and balanced person. I've been meditating for decades, I stay physically active, I'm generally able to maintain a sense of calm through stressful situations. But the Spire has shown me that I've still got a lot of growth to do. The most amazing thing about the Spire is its ability to detect when I'm working myself into an anxious state. It can literally read my mind. I can be sitting in silence, letting my mind ruminate about something vaguely upsetting, and all of a sudden I'll feel the Spire on my waist, and I'll be jarred into mindfulness. As I stare at the Spire app on my phone, watching my breaths get deeper and more regular via the incredibly elegant app interface, I can immediately reframe my anxiety and realize that all is well.
I've worn the Spire for about a month now, and I can already see changes in my mental state. I have fewer moments of tension, more long stretches of focus and calm. The Spire is helping to retrain me, in the most subtle and gentle way possible. Its mere presence has begun to recondition me, in the same way that Pavlov's dogs were trained to salivate with the ringing of a bell. Just knowing that I'm being monitored for mindfulness has influenced my state of mind for the better.
Although the device is still in its infancy, it represents an incredible breakthrough in consciousness hacking. I'm continually stunned by its elegance, its profound sophistication and power. I hope to outgrow it one day, but I also hope that as it becomes more feature-rich over time, I will always find it (or its successors) a useful part of my life. The quantified self movement may have its creepy cyborgian side, but the Spire is pure joy. Get one now, and melt into mindfulness.
Posted on April 10, 2015 by Barefoot Provisions
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