These are my stats.
I use an app called Insight Timer for my meditation practice. Not only is there an astounding array of teachers, guided meditations, and music selections on there, it also keeps track of how often I meditate, and for how long, etc.
These apps are great — until you get more attached to the app than to the practice. Like when I skipped meditating the other day and decided to sort of ‘back allocate’ some moment of mindfulness into the missed day, calling it a ‘session.’ It wasn’t a session. I didn’t sit down to meditate. I just was conscious of my breathing for a few seconds while walking my dog. While that’s a lovely thing to do, it’s not a meditation session.
Back-logging it on the app is, well, lying.
It gets interesting when I sit with Why. Why am I trying to create this unbroken line of meditation sessions? Why does it matter? Nobody but me looks at my stats, so who am I impressing here?
I’m trying to impress you.
But, you're never going to see these stats, so again — who am I impressing here? Oh. I guess I’m trying to impress me.
Wait, what? Yeah. I’m lying to myself to impress myself. (Let that sink in for a minute.)
It’s ego looking in a mirror — with another mirror behind it. The reflections just keep reflecting each other, and not one of them is the real thing.
How many of us engage in this process? Probably most of us to varying degrees. We want to be good but it’s so much easier to look good than to actually be good. So we create all these illusory images, feed them to the outside world, make sure they populate social media outlets, check for likes and shares, watch our stats, modulate strategies as needed…all just to feel good about ourselves. And we do.
But we’re feeling good about our illusory selves.
Meanwhile, we binge-watch TV instead of taking a walk with our spouse. Or shovel in way more food than our bodies asked for. Or weasel out of little jobs that are ours to do. Which makes us feel crappy about real selves. So we dive back into creating the best illusory selves, feeding them to social media, likes, shares, stats, etc.
How to step off of this crazy-go-round?
First, maybe a fast from the measurement apps is in order.
Investigate your relationship to them. Sit with the following koan for a while: “If you run/meditate/whatever, but don’t log, did it still happen?”
Or sit with the question, “If you decide not to log onto your app, do you also then feel free not to run/meditate/whatever? Why? Because ‘nobody’s watching’?”
Pay attention to the stories you tell yourself.
Second, commit to being conscious of what you’re doing while you’re doing it.
If you’re eating, notice that you’re eating. If you’re meditating, notice that. If you’re running away into food, just notice it. The challenge is to notice without judgment. It’s the self-judgment that makes us all squirrelly and weird.
If you look with a cold eye and simply identify what’s really going on, you can learn so much. The more awake you can be without judgment, the more present you can be to your life. And to the people who love you, the people who matter, the people you most want to benefit.
Third, consider living in a world without past or future.
Try it right now. Think of something valuable you want to do. Is it because you want to get to a better future? There’s nothing wrong with that, but what if you did that thing just for its own sake…not to get somewhere else? How does your body feel, as you consider each of those perspectives?
Try living today without a future or a past. Try washing the dishes to wash the dishes — not to get them clean. Or driving to experience driving — not to get to work. It sounds too simple to be of value — but if you practice it, you’ll be shocked at how challenging it is — and how incredibly rewarding.
So to recap, here are my suggestions for anyone lost in the tyrannical need for ‘App’roval:
1. Fast from the apps. 2. Notice your state and/or actions in the moment, without judgment. 3. Do things for their own sake, without linking them to past/future.
Let me know how this goes. Comment or share. I really want to know how this lands with you, and what value it may or may not have. You can leave your comment here.