The Lessons of Nothingness From Maverick Zen Monks

Art today is often a parade of the self. The Freer Gallery of Art presents objects by medieval artists who plunge you into the world by removing you from it.

#art, #buddhism, #china, #freer-gallery-of-art, #japan, #meditation, #monasteries-and-monks, #museums, #smithsonian-institution, #washington-dc

How to Choose a Mental Health App

There are thousands of apps that claim to promote mental well-being, but not all of them are safe or effective.

#anxiety-and-stress, #content-type-service, #depression-mental, #meditation, #mental-health-and-disorders, #mobile-applications, #psychology-and-psychologists

Should I Have Lied to Help My Kid Brother Get Vaccinated?

The magazine’s Ethicist columnist on what we gain from making hard choices.

#ethics-personal, #lying, #meditation, #parenting, #vaccination-and-immunization

How Anya Taylor-Joy Learned to Soothe Herself

The actress has a challenge if you’re thinking about learning to meditate.

#actors-and-actresses, #content-type-personal-profile, #cosmetics-and-toiletries, #meditation, #movies, #skin, #taylor-joy-anya

For Better Health, Try Fitness From the Inside Out

A career in health journalism has taught me that when it comes to living well, it’s the inner workout that counts the most.

#anxiety-and-stress, #content-type-service, #exercise, #meditation

5 Ways to Calm Your Anxious Brain

Five ways to soothe a mind overstimulated by anxiety, stress and streams of information.

#anxiety-and-stress, #content-type-service, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #habits-and-routines-behavior, #meditation, #mental-health-and-disorders, #orderliness-and-clutter, #psychology-and-psychologists, #social-media

How Eric Adams Mixes Tough Talk With Superfood Smoothies

Mr. Adams has tied his interest in nutrition, meditation and fitness to his views on how to lead New York at a challenging time.

#adams-eric-l, #content-type-personal-profile, #cooking-and-cookbooks, #diet-and-nutrition, #meditation, #new-york-city, #politics-and-government, #veganism

How to Exercise Mindfully

Bringing meditation into your movement can enrich your workout and help you feel clearheaded afterward.

#brain, #exercise, #martial-arts, #meditation, #tightrope-walking, #yoga

What Unites Buddhism and Psychotherapy? One Therapist Has the Answer.

In “The Zen of Therapy,” Mark Epstein weaves together two ways of understanding how humans can feel more settled in their lives.

#books-and-literature, #buddhism, #epstein-mark-1953, #meditation, #the-zen-of-therapy-uncovering-a-hidden-kindness-in-life-book, #therapy-and-rehabilitation

Why Stress May Be Your Heart’s Worst Enemy

Psychological stress activates the fear center in the brain, setting into motion a cascade of reactions that can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

#anxiety-and-stress, #blood-pressure, #brain, #cholesterol, #emotions, #heart, #journal-of-the-american-medical-assn, #meditation, #mental-health-and-disorders, #psychology-and-psychologists, #research, #stroke, #tai-chi, #yoga

Considering a Dry January? How to Embrace Mindful Drinking

A growing moderation movement harnesses strategies from meditation to cut back on alcohol.

#alcoholic-beverages, #content-type-service, #habits-and-routines-behavior, #meditation, #mental-health-and-disorders, #quarantine-life-and-culture

Can Parties Help Us Heal?

Inside a night of release at Nowadays, hosted by the group Nocturnal Medicine.

#meditation, #nowadays-queens-ny-bar

Our Favorite Healthy Habits of 2021

From labeling your feelings to exercise snacks, here’s a roundup of some of Well’s best advice for better living.

#anxiety-and-stress, #content-type-service, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #exercise, #grief-emotion, #habits-and-routines-behavior, #internal-sub-only-nl, #meditation, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #two-thousand-twenty-one

Are My Stomach Problems Really All in My Head?

Scientists often debate whether irritable bowel syndrome is a mental or physical issue. That’s not much help for those who suffer from it.

#anxiety-and-stress, #bowels, #chronic-condition-health, #diet-and-nutrition, #digestive-tract, #meditation, #migraine-headaches, #stomach

With Omicron Variant Comes Uncertainty. Here’s How to Handle It.

Experts share techniques to ease the mental toll of an evolving pandemic.

#anxiety-and-stress, #buddhism, #content-type-service, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-omicron-variant, #meditation, #psychology-and-psychologists

Is the best way to solve climate change to “do nothing?”

When it comes to climate change, it might seem that a book entitled “How to Do Nothing” would not only be irrelevant, but also downright obscene and even dangerous. Not to mention that after more than a year of pandemic living, many people are understandably fatigued at the prospect of continuing to keep their lives empty of social activities.

Yet, messing with our notions of action and contemplation is precisely the plan that Jenny Odell has laid out in her lapidary work, a meditation that is, ironically, a call to action.

Odell is a Bay Area star, who has been an artist in residence at a variety of institutions from the Internet Archive to Recology, San Francisco’s trash pickup and processing company. Her artistic work centers on attention, of focusing on the details that envelop us in this world and what we can learn from them. It’s an activity that leads her to birdwatching and long walks in Oakland’s public parks such as the Morcom Rose Garden.

Her book, it might be helpful to note, is subtitled “Resisting the Attention Economy” and Odell has made it her mission to help wean a generation, and well, a population off the spasmodic negativity that emanates from our social media platforms. In fact, she has a more ambitious goal: to wean people off the notion that productivity is the only value to life — that action is the only useful metric by which to measure ourselves. She wants to direct our attention to more important things.

“I fully understand where a life of sustained attention leads. In short, it leads to awareness,” she writes in the introduction. The key word here is sustained — and that’s also the connection with sustainability and the climate more broadly.

We don’t lack for information, data or opinions. In fact, we are overwhelmed with the dross of human thought. Some studies have shown that modern knowledge workers read more words per day than ever before in history — but they’re reading social media posts, emails, Slack messages and other ephemera that are each nibbling and collectively devouring our attention. What’s left is, for many of us, not much of any thought at all. The world is more frenetic and chaotic than ever before, but in the process, we have traded a deeper understanding of ourselves and our place in this world for an incessant deluge of media. Odell wants us to take that imbalance and level it.

For her, that means practicing a more sustained form of attention. That’s a skill most of us have little practice with (a deficit we may not even be aware of, ironically), and indeed, sustaining attention might even mean regularly refusing to engage with the world around us. That’s a good thing in her analysis. “At their loftiest, such refusals can signify the individual capacity for self-directed action against the abiding flow; at the very least, they interrupt the monotony of the everyday.”

Controlling our attention, directing it, and filtering out the noise of contemporary life results not in further atomization and narcissism, but rather a more collective sense of being. “When the pattern of your attention has changed, you render your reality differently. You begin to move and act in a different kind of world,” she writes. Suddenly, the trees and flowers that were once backdrops to our walks to brunch become complex and elegant life in their own right. We deepen our camaraderie with our friends and colleagues in ways that we never could with an emoji in Slack. We build up the potential to work together to solve problems.

Climate Change Books Summer 2021

Our sustained attention also allows us to notice the details of what is changing around us, the subtle variations of our environment that come from a warming planet. “Things like the American obsession with individualism, customized filter bubbles, and personal branding—anything that insists on atomized, competing individuals striving in parallel, never touching—does the same violence to human society as a dam does to a watershed.” We can’t fix what we don’t see, and with our fragmented attention, we really don’t see much.

The irony of course is that while technology products dissolve attention — building them takes an extraordinary amount of it. While some startup founders strike it rich on a whim and others are injected with product ideas from friends or VCs, the vast majority learned to sustain their attention on a market or customer for sometimes extraordinarily long periods of time in order to notice the gaps in a market. A founder recently told me that he had been working with customers in his market for more than a decade before he eventually understood a need that wasn’t being fulfilled with existing solutions.

What’s missing in the tech and startup community today is connecting that user empathy and focus on product-market fit to the attention we need in all the other aspects of our lives today. Odell analyzes it a bit more negatively than I would: we actually have these skills and in fact, use them quite specifically. We just don’t use them broadly enough to bring our minds to look at our friendships, communities and planet in a deeper light.

Doing nothing allows us to see what matters and what doesn’t. When it comes to solving big problems, particularly some of the most intractable like climate change, it’s precisely doing nothing that allows us to see the right path to doing something.

How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell
Melville House, 2019, 256 pages

See Also

#book-review, #climate-change, #government, #greentech, #health, #meditation, #oakland, #san-francisco-bay-area

Headspace and Ginger are merging to form Headspace Health

Meditation app Headspace this morning announced plans to merge with on-demand mental health service, Ginger. Barring unforeseen regulatory roadblocks, the two companies will combine to form Headspace Health. The new organization would sport a combined value of $3 billion and a headcount of more than 800+.

The merger comes during accelerated usage of both parties, as a seemingly endless pandemic has put a strain on mental health across the globe and many have turned to virtual solutions to address the growing problem.

“We are witnessing a mental health crisis unlike anything we’ve experienced in our lifetimes, yet the majority of mental healthcare today is neither broadly accessible nor affordable,” Headspace CEO CeCe Morken said in a statement. “Together, as Headspace Health, we will address the systemic challenges of access and affordability in a fundamentally different way by creating the world’s most holistic, scalable, and effective mental health and wellbeing company.”

Morken will become the President of Headspace Health, while current CEO Russell Glass will serve as the new company’s CEO.

Image Credits:

“Headspace and Ginger have a shared recognition that the mental health crisis can’t be solved by simply hiring more therapists or moving care online,” Glass said. “Through this merger, we can uniquely tackle the full spectrum of mental health needs — from prevention to clinical care — all from one integrated platform.”

Ginger announced a $50 million Series D roughly one year ago and a $100 million Series E this March, bringing its total funding north of $220 million. Headpace, meanwhile, has raised $216 million, courtesy of last year’s $100.7 million Series C. Headspace is one of the top global meditation apps, along with chief competitor, Calm. The new company would find it pushing well beyond its current mindfulness focus to, “provide the full spectrum of proven, effective virtual support – from mindfulness and meditation, to text-based behavioral health coaching, to video-based therapy and psychiatry – for all types of patient populations.”

Just as importantly, the combined company would push beyond a direct to consumer model, including a corporate and Medicaid plan focus.

Further details of the deal have not been disclosed. The deal is expected to close in Q4.

#apps, #headspace, #meditation, #mental-health, #tc

Waking Up in the Middle of the Night? Ways to Fall Back Asleep

Sleep experts offer advice on sleeping soundly through the night.

#anxiety-and-stress, #content-type-service, #insomnia, #meditation, #melatonin-hormone, #mobile-applications, #sleep

‘Fire Monks’ Defend Tassajara Zen Monastery From Wildfire

Eight monks protecting the Buddhist center near Big Sur, Calif., are relying not only on training from professional firefighters but also on their Zen practice.

#big-sur-calif, #buddhism, #evacuations-and-evacuees, #fires-and-firefighters, #forest-service, #meditation, #monasteries-and-monks, #wildfires

Meditation Apps Want Us to Chill Out. Musicians Are Happy to Help.

Music and mindfulness have become increasingly linked during the pandemic, and artists like Erykah Badu, Grimes and Arcade Fire are teaming with tech companies to make it happen.

#anxiety-and-stress, #badu-erykah, #calm-com-inc, #computers-and-the-internet, #endel-sound-gmbh, #headspace-inc, #legend-john, #meditation, #mobile-applications, #music, #quarantine-life-and-culture

Wellness Challenge: A Guide to Meditation for Resilience

Day 3: Try a Fierce Meditation

#content-type-service, #meditation

Meet the Nun Who Wants You to Remember You Will Die

Suffering and death are facts of life: “Everyone dies, their bodies rot, and every face becomes a skull.”

#content-type-personal-profile, #meditation, #nuns, #prayers-and-prayer-books, #roman-catholic-church, #sister-theresa-aletheia-noble

ifeel, another well-being platform that blends self-care tools with 1-2-1 therapy, scores $6.6M

If the pandemic has been good for anything it’s been good for the therapy business and for startups targeting mental health, with VCs kept very busy signing checks. To wit, here’s another one: Madrid-based ifeel has bagged €5.5 million (~$6.6M) in Series A funding, led by Nauta Capital.

The startup was founded back in 2017 — initially as a consumer-focused therapy platform — but last year it pivoted to a hybrid business model, tapping into demand from businesses to offer staff emotional support during the public health crisis. So it’s available both to individuals via monthly subscription or as part of employer’s or insurance provider’s cover

It says that pandemic pivot has resulted in 1,000% growth in its b2b business.

Companies it’s signed up to offer its platform to their staff include AXA Partners, Glovo and Gympass.

“We have a total of 400K users on the platform (b2c and b2b),” says co-founder Amir Kaplan. “We have 100,000 eligible covered who have access to ifeel as a benefit (through our insurance and wellness partners or direct with ifeel).

“The 100K grew 10x from September 2020 and is the largest trend we are experiencing these days. Employees of 100 companies use ifeel on a weekly basis.”

ifeel’s platform delivers both live therapy sessions with licensed psychologists but also provides users with self-care tool such as daily mood trackers, recommended exercises and activities to expand the support available.

“By combining self-care and guided therapies, ifeel maximises engagement and retention of its users — with 90% reporting improved emotional and mental well-being after using ifeel,” it claims.

The startup is using AI technology in the self-care portion of its platform — to recommend “the most relevant” content or exercise to its users, per Kaplan. But he also says it’s looking at using the tech to assist the therapist practice by developing dedicated tools inside the platform.

ifeel has an international founding team, hailing from three countries (Israel, Italy and Mexico), and says its main markets so far are Spain, France, Brazil and Mexico. While its b2b and insurance network coverage extends to 20 countries and four languages (English, Spanish, French and Portuguese).

With so much competition in the mental health tools space — from mindfulness apps, to internet-delivered CBT programs, to therapy platforms — how does ifeel see itself standing out?

Kaplan suggests it has an advantage of being “global from day one”, and also flags a “strong technology integration focus” which he says has allowed it to plug into insurance companies and wellness players — to become a “main service provider”.

“Very early we partnered with global leading companies and we support them in many countries (compared to specific country players like in Germany and UK,” he tells TechCrunch. “The platform approach is different from ‘online therapy’ companies or ‘mindfulness apps’.

“We want our users to manage their emotional well being on our platform no matter the need. In this way we create millions of engagement events that are customized to the user’s needs and allow users over time to use different parts of our platform in different life situations.”

#brazil, #europe, #france, #fundings-exits, #germany, #health, #ifeel, #insurance, #israel, #italy, #madrid, #meditation, #mental-health, #mexico, #mindfulness, #nauta-capital, #online-therapy, #self-care, #spain, #therapist, #therapy, #united-kingdom

The Importance of Routines, Even Interrupted by a Pandemic

By setting routines for myself, I was able to shield myself from chaos. Then the pandemic happened. I set out to get them back on track.

#anxiety-and-stress, #depression-mental, #layoffs-and-job-reductions, #meditation, #mental-health-and-disorders, #quarantine-life-and-culture

Gearing Up for the ‘New Normal’

In “The New Normal,” Dr. Jennifer Ashton explores the mental health repercussions of the pandemic and ways to rebuild our overall health.

#anxiety-and-stress, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #loneliness, #meditation, #mental-health-and-disorders, #parenting, #post-traumatic-stress-disorder, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #weight

Chorus brings a social layer to meditation

Chorus launched its online experience on March 16 of last year. It was fairly auspicious timing, as those things go, falling the same day seven public health departments launched a joint shelter-in-place order in its native California.

Like countless other companies, 2020 didn’t go according to plan for the meditation app. But the site scrambled to pivot the company’s “experiential” hybrid of in-person classes to a fully virtual interface, and ultimately it may be all the better for it.

Certainly there’s no shortage of meditation apps from which to choose. Calm and Headspace top the list, but the mindfulness category has proven to be an extremely popular one, as users look to technology to help alleviate some of the stresses for which it has been directly responsible.

But meditation is hard. It’s hard to start and it’s hard to maintain. Some apps do a better job than others of guiding a user through that process, but it can still feel like a solitary experience — one of many reasons people abandon practices before they’re able to start seeing the benefits.

Chorus was already seeing success with its early in-person events. “We thought that had to be the on-ramp for most users because it provided the most immersive first experience,” co-founder and CEO Ali Abramovitz tells TechCrunch. “We ran in-person pop-ups in San Francisco.”

The company also managed to raise a pre-seed round of around $1 million. More recently, the company has received additional funding as part of Y Combinator’s Winter 2021 batch of startups.

An official app is still forthcoming. For now, the experience uses a web portal for signups, while the actual classes are conducted live over Zoom and archived for on-demand viewing. It’s similar to the setup many gyms and personal trainers have utilized during the pandemic. And while it’s not the most sophisticated, Abramovitz says Chorus currently has user numbers in the “hundreds,” largely by word of mouth, while not disclosing the actual figure.

Among those, around two-thirds are classified as “highly engaged,” which means they attend an average of a class every other day. The service draws people in with breathing exercises based on popular songs and keeps users engaged by offering a more communal experience than most meditation apps.

“The problem we’re solving is two parts,” says Abramovitz. “Originally we thought we were designing a new meditation experience specifically for people who found meditation challenging. What we’ve learned, after seeing our customers stay after class and talk to each other, is what keeps people coming back is a new way to connect with themselves and each other.”

The experience is kind of a virtual approximation of the experience you would get in an in-person class — namely the sorts of engagements you would get with fellow attendees after the class. In an era of social isolation, it’s clear why users would be particularly engaged with that aspect.

As for what that experience will look like in a post-pandemic world, the company plans to continue to adapt to meet users’ needs.

“We’re fundamentally an experience company,” says Abramovitz. “We’re a meditation experience company for people who found traditional meditation challenging. That is our core. We will deliver that over whatever platform or channel provides the best experience for our community. Right now that’s an app. In the future, it could be hardware devices like VR or strategic studios like Peloton has for the community. But right now, we’re focused on the digital experience.”

#apps, #chorus, #meditation, #y-combinator, #yc

The Soothing, Digital Rooms of YouTube

Ambience videos pair relaxing soundscapes with animated scenery to make viewers feel immersed in specific spaces, like a cozy library. They’re big with “Harry Potter” fans.

#art, #harry-potter-fictional-character, #meditation, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #rain, #video-recordings-downloads-and-streaming, #your-feed-selfcare

Why Kevin Hart Obsesses Over Skin Care

Here’s what his grooming and wellness routine looks like.

#content-type-personal-profile, #cosmetics-and-toiletries, #exercise, #hart-kevin, #meditation, #skin

To Create a Healthy Habit, Find an Accountability Buddy

Whether it’s a person or an app that sends us reminders, we make better choices when we’re being watched (even by ourselves.)

#content-type-service, #diet-and-nutrition, #exercise, #habits-and-routines-behavior, #meditation, #mobile-applications, #obesity, #social-media, #wearable-computing, #weight

How a Zen Buddhist Monk and Hospital Chaplain Spends His Sundays

To care for Covid-19 patients and their families, Seigan Ed Glassing reserves one day of the week to care for himself.

#chaplains, #content-type-personal-profile, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #glassing-seigan-ed, #grief-emotion, #inwood-hill-park-manhattan-ny, #meditation, #new-york-presbyterian-hospital

This Is Your Skin on Stress

Psychological strain can show up as “stress skin.” Treating it is easier (and more affordable) than you think.

#antioxidants, #anxiety-and-stress, #content-type-service, #cortisol-hormone, #meditation, #microbiology, #skin

Alicia Keys Figures Out Her Skin

The singer-songwriter talks about finding her rituals (and learning how to deal with carbs).

#content-type-personal-profile, #cosmetics-and-toiletries, #exercise, #keys-soulcare-elf-cosmetics-inc, #keys-alicia, #meditation, #music, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #skin

Hermits Teach About Solitude, Loneliness, Isolation

Contemporary hermits are reaching out to people struggling with isolation. Their message: Go inward, and get outside.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #loneliness, #meditation, #prayers-and-prayer-books, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #your-feed-selfcare

Calm’s hilarious CNN ad campaign sent the meditation app flying up App Store charts

Meditation app Calm’s brilliant and hilarious marketing campaign that saw it sponsoring CNN’s coverage of the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election results this week seems to have paid off for the business. The app, which today offers mindful meditations, peaceful sounds and sleep stories, had flashed on screen during CNN’s “Key Race Alert” coverage, reminding users of the need to relax during this stressful time.

According to data from third-party app store analytics and marketing firms, Sensor Tower and App Annie, these CNN advertisements appear to have helped substantially boost Calm’s downloads (as determined by the app’s chart rankings.)

On iPhone in the U.S., App Annie says Calm moved up 20 ranks from the day before Election Day to reach No. 79 Overall across both apps and games in the U.S. It also reached No. 1 in the U.S. Health & Fitness category.

Image Credits: App Annie

Meanwhile, Sensor Tower found that the app moved up again on Nov. 4, climbing 51 spots to reach No. 68 among the top free iPhone apps on the U.S. App Store.

The firm notes this is the highest the app has ranked since July 21, when it hit No. 60 — a jump that was likely boosted by the release of the Harry Styles’ Sleep Story. While Calm did add another new Sleep Story on Oct. 30, it didn’t appear to have an impact the way that Styles’ Story had, Sensor Tower said.

A spokesperson for Calm explained the company’s decision to run the CNN ad campaign was about associating its brand with the anxiety that its meditations and relaxing sounds help to address.

“We understand the uncertainty of this election cycle can be a source of anxiety for many of us, especially as it coincides with an ongoing pandemic,” the spokesperson said. “Our goal during CNN’s Key Race Alerts was to provide viewers a moment of Calm, and a reminder to take a deep breath during a stressful night,” they added.

The company declined to confirm the third-party estimates, however.

Overall, the CNN ad campaign worked for Calm because it was almost a troll on how stressed people have been this week as election results poured in — and particularly by CNN’s “Key Race Alert” music that plays when there’s an important update.

Simply put, most people found Calm’s ad funny.


In addition to running ads on CNN, Calm launched a refreshed resource hub with free mindfulness tools, including Sleep Stories, meditations, music and other mindfulness content ahead of the elections.

And just ahead of Nov. 3, it partnered with mobile news organization NowThis to create a soothing livestream that ran on NowThis’ Facebook and YouTube pages on Nov. 3 through Nov. 4.

Outside of its CNN sponsorship, Calm has been working to capitalize on increased TV viewing around the election to gain attention for its anxiety-reducing resources, as well.

According to data from, reported by AdAge, Calm’s app saw 66 million total impressions from Oct. 31 through Nov. 3, with 11 million on Election Day alone. And over the last 30 days, Calm saw 241.7 million TV ad impressions, valued at $1.4 million.

In addition to CNN, the company ran Election Day ads on MSNBC, E!, HGTV, IFC, Freeform, the Discovery Family Channel and the Discovery Life Channel, the report said.

#app-store, #apps, #calm, #cnn, #meditation, #mindfulness, #presidential-election, #tc

Peak Anxiety? Here Are 10 Ways to Calm Down

If the one-two punch of pandemic stress and election stress feels like more than you can handle, try these tips to help you cope.

#anxiety-and-stress, #aromatherapy, #content-type-service, #cortisol-hormone, #meditation, #mental-health-and-disorders, #psychology-and-psychologists

Chill Vibes, Minus the Wind Chimes: It’s a New Day for New Age Music

A genre known for cheesiness is thriving once again in Los Angeles, taking root on the label Leaving Records.

#ardizoni-olive, #dang-ami, #dompe-diva, #galdre-visions, #hunter-nailah, #leaving-records-record-label, #los-angeles-calif, #mcqueen-matthew, #meditation, #music

I Learned This Stress-Management Trick When I Was 3

It soothes me. Makes me more present, less anxious. And it just feels good.

#children-and-childhood, #dreams, #meditation, #sleep

MindLabs raises £1.4 million for its new platform, a “Peloton for mental health”

Ideally, mental wellness should be considered part of a healthy daily routine, like exercise. But even exercise is difficult to turn into a regular habit. Peloton addressed physical fitness by combining smart stationary bikes with live classes and community features to create an engaging experience. Now a new startup, MindLabs, is taking a similar approach to mental wellness.

Based in London, MindLabs announced today it has raised £1.4 million (about USD $1.82 million) in pre-seed investment led by Passion Capital, with participation from SeedCamp, as well as several founders of British consumer tech startups: Alex Chesterman (Cazoo and Zoopla); Neil Hutchinson (Forward Internet Group); Steve Pankhurst (FriendsReunited); James Hind (Carwow); and Jack Tang (Urban).

MindLabs was founded earlier this year by Adnan Ebrahim and Gabor Szedlak, who previously launched and ran Car Throttle, an online media and community startup that was acquired by Dennis Publishing last year. Ebrahim told TechCrunch that MindLabs’ goal is to “make taking care of your mental health as normal as going to the gym.”

Its platform will launch next year, first with a mobile app that combines live videos from mental health professionals who lead meditation and mindfulness sessions, and features to help users track their stress levels. The full platform will also include an EEG headband, called “Halo,” that measures signals, like heart and respiration rates, that can help show users how effective their sessions are.

Going from CarThrottle, sometimes described as “a BuzzFeed for cars” to mental wellness might seem like a big leap, but Ebrahim said their experience “running a media company in a tough market with a young, millennial workforce” inspired him and Szedlak to think more about the issue.

MindLabs founders Gabor Szedlak and Adnan Ebrahim

MindLabs founders Gabor Szedlak and Adnan Ebrahim

“We witnessed firsthand how there was a complete lack of investment in helping this generation with their mental health in a way that they’re used to: a community product that is mobile-first and video-led,” Ebrahim said.

“Alongside that, we had to find ways to deal with managing our own mental health given the stresses that can come when running a fast-paced, venture-backed company. And when we saw the alarming statistics in young adult suicide rates and depression, we realized that finding a solution for our own problems would help millions of others, too.”

The two left Dennis Publishing to begin work on MindLabs at the end of January. During the next few months, including time spent in COVID-19 lockdown, they began researching and developing initial concepts for the platform.

“It’s fair to say that the pandemic did end up altering the course of MindLabs,” Ebrahim said. “For example, we built more real-time community features into the app as a result of the isolation and loneliness we are all now facing as a result of lockdown. We really want to make sufferers feel less alone during the hard times, but with the added convenience now of being able to watch our videos at home.

“This has already become the new normal when it comes to physical fitness, with companies like Peloton exploding in growth, and we see the same trend happening with mental wellness, too,” he added.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also been described as a mental health crisis, and downloads of meditation and mindfulness apps like Calm, Headspace and Relax: Master Your Destiny, have grown as people try to deal with anxiety, isolation and depression at home.

Two of the main ways MindLabs’ platform differentiates from other mental wellness apps is the combination of its video classes and EEG headband. The videos will initially range in length from 10 to 40 minutes and, like Peloton’s classes, will be available on livestream or in pre-recorded, on-demand sessions.

Instead of categorizing videos by technique (for example, meditation, breathing or visualization), MindLabs decided to sort them into issues that users want to cope with, like anxiety, relationships, motivation or addiction. For example, meditation classes may include ones focused on “Overcoming COVID-19 Anxiety” or “Coping With Stress At Work.”

Community features will be linked to the classes: the number of concurrent users in a class will be displayed, along with a live feed showing subscriber achievements, like streaks or number of minutes spent in a “calm state,” that other people can react to for positive reinforcement.

Halo was developed with a hardware specialist that Ebrahim said has seven years of building and distributing medical grade wearables.

“Most importantly our headset will be going through the rigor of ISO 13485 so we can ensure the product is of the highest quality and the data we gather is the most accurate,” he added. “We want to make this technology accessible, so we expect the price of the Halo to be comparable to, say, an Apple Watch.”

Other EEG headbands, including products from Muse and Emotiv, have been on the market for a while. In MindLabs’ case, its headband will help users visualize data before, during and after their classes, including information about their brain waves, heart rates and muscle tension, and saved in the app so they can track their progress.

Turning mental wellness into a habit

One of the biggest challenges that all mental wellness apps need to address is user engagement. It can be hard staying motivated to use a self-directed mental health app when someone is already stressed, depressed or very busy. On the other hand, when they feel better, they might stop checking in.

Ebrahim sees this as a major opportunity for MindLabs, and its EEG headband and data visualization features will play a major role. “Even though there was been a proliferation of mental health apps, retention has proven difficult. But we think that is because these apps truly don’t understand their users,” he said.

“With the data we’re able to show, not just through the Halo but through syncing with Apple HealthKit, we can show our subscribers a positive progression of their mental health, similar to how you can see your weight change on a scale, or improvement in heart rate variability in an app. This helps build a powerful habit because we can finally help to close the loop when it comes to improving mental fitness.”

Participating in live classes provides accountability, too, he added. “The act of scheduling a class and tuning in with thousands of others is a powerful force, similar to having a personal trainer in the gym making sure you turn up and workout.”

MindLabs also plans to build communities around its instructors. During livestreams, instructors will welcome new subscribers and mention user achievements. After each workout, users will get a results screen they can share, similar to screenshots from fitness apps like Strava or Nike Training Club.

In terms of protecting personal privacy, Ebrahim said MindLabs is “firmly against any form of data commercialization.” Instead, it will monetize through monthly or yearly subscriptions, and user data collected through Halo or the app will only be used to make personalized content recommendations.

In a statement about Passion Capital’s investment in MindLabs, partner Eileen Burbidge said, “We’re incredibly excited to be working with MindLabs as they transform the way we look after our minds. Mindfulness is more important now than ever and we know that Adnan and Gabor’s commitment to best in class content, quality production and unparalleled user experience means they’re the best to bring this platform to market.”


#apps, #eeg-headband, #england, #europe, #fundings-exits, #health, #meditation, #mental-health, #mental-wellness, #mindlabs, #startups, #tc

Shh. It’s Breakfast Time.

Silent breakfast is a wellness practice that is helping some people cope with the pandemic.

#anxiety-and-stress, #kripalu-center-for-yoga-and-health, #meditation, #work-life-balance, #your-feed-selfcare

How to Have a Disagreement Like an Adult, According to Deepak Chopra

The longtime New Age celebrity has a working theory about how we can all get along. Your mileage may vary.

#buddhism, #bullies, #chopra-deepak, #content-type-service, #la-jolla-calif, #meditation, #social-media, #your-feed-selfcare

eJewel Wants You to Be Present

The ’90s folk idol is an old hand at mindfulness.

#anxiety-and-stress, #jewel, #meditation, #pieces-of-you-album, #quarantine-life-and-culture

Jewel Wants You to Be Present

The ’90s folk idol is an old hand at mindfulness.

#anxiety-and-stress, #jewel, #meditation, #pieces-of-you-album, #quarantine-life-and-culture

Five success factors for behavioral health startups

Telehealth, or remote, tech-enabled healthcare, has existed for years in primary medical care through companies like Teladoc (NYSE: TDOC)Doctors on Demand and MDLIVE.

In recent years, the application of telehealth had rapidly expanded to address specific chronic and behavioral health issues like mental health, weight loss and nutrition, addiction, diabetes and hypertension, etc. These are real and oftentimes very severe issues faced by people all over the world, yet until now have seen little to no use of technology in providing care.

We believe behavioral health is particularly suited to benefit from the digitization trends COVID-19 has accelerated. Previously, we’ve written about the pandemic’s impact on online learning and education, both for K-12 students and adult learners. But behavioral health is another area impacted by the fundamental change in consumers’ behavior today. Below are four reasons we think the time is now for behavioral health startups — followed by five key factors we think characterize successful companies in this area.

Telehealth can significantly lower the cost of care

Traditional behavioral healthcare is cost-prohibitive for most people. In-person therapy costs $100+ per session in the U.S., and many mental health and substance-use providers don’t accept insurance because they don’t get paid enough by insurers.

By contrast, telehealth reduces overhead costs and scales more effectively. Leveraging technology, providers can treat more patients in less time with almost zero marginal costs. Mobile-based communications enable asynchronous care that further helps providers scale. Access to digital content gives patients on-going support without the need for a human on the other side. This is particularly useful in treating behavioral health issues where ongoing support and motivation may be necessary.

Technology unlocks supply in “shadow markets” of providers

Globally, we face an extreme shortage of behavioral health providers. For example, the United States has fewer than 30,000 licensed psychiatrists (translating to <1 for every 10,000 people). Outside of big cities, the problem gets worse: ~50-60% of nonmetro counties have no psychologists or psychiatrists at all.

Even when providers are available, wait times for appointments are notoriously long. This is a huge issue when behavioral health conditions often require timely intervention.

We are seeing new platforms build large networks of certified coaches, licensed psychologists and psychiatrists, and other providers, aggregating supply in what has historically been a scarce and a highly fragmented provider population.

Behavioral/mental health issues are losing their stigma

We believe the stigma associated with mental illness and other behavioral health conditions is dissipating. More and more public figures are speaking out about their struggle with anxiety, depression, addiction and other behavioral health issues. Our zeitgeist is shifting fast, and there’s an all-time high in people seeking help as the Google Trends data below demonstrates.

google trends search: "therapist near me," 2015- 2010

Image Credits: Google

Note: The anomalous dip in March/April ’20 was driven by mandatory shelter-in-place due to COVID-19.

Policy and regulations are changing quickly

#battery-ventures, #column, #coronavirus, #counseling, #covid-19, #depression, #digital-health, #extra-crunch, #headspace, #health, #health-insurance, #healthcare, #hypertension, #livongo, #market-analysis, #meditation, #online-learning, #smartphone, #startups, #talkspace, #tc, #telehealth, #venture-capital, #vida-health

You’re Doomscrolling Again. Here’s How to Snap Out of It.

In a pandemic that forces us to stay home, bingeing on doom-and-gloom news feels irresistible. These health experts offer ways to break the habit.

#computers-and-the-internet, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-risks-and-safety-concerns, #facebook-inc, #loneliness, #meditation, #murthy-vivek-h, #social-media, #videophones-and-videoconferencing, #zoom-video-communications

The Shaman of Instagram

Durek Verrett, friend of Gwyneth Paltrow and consort of the Princess of Norway, wants to bring spiritual healing to the masses.

#astrology, #california, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #goop-com, #instagram-inc, #love-emotion, #meditation, #psychology-and-psychologists, #verrett-durek

How to Start Meditating

The world is stressful. That’s especially true right now. Here are strategies to take just a few minutes every day to calm your mind and check in with yourself.

#medicine-and-health, #meditation, #mental-health-and-disorders, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #transcendental-meditation

How to Find a Meditation App for You

If you want to steal a few minutes of Zen and achieve something like contentment in the face of chaos and uncertainty, you might be tempted to download a meditation app.

#anxiety-and-stress, #meditation, #mobile-applications

A Latter-Day Rip Van Winkle Emerges, Blinking, Into the Post-Virus World

Daniel Thorson went into a silent retreat in mid-March, meditating through 75 coronavirus news cycles, Boris Johnson’s hospitalization, social distancing and sourdough starter. Now he’s catching up.

#buddhism, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #meditation, #supermarkets-and-grocery-stores, #vermont

Meditation and mindfulness apps continue their surge amid pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has led to a surge in downloads of mental wellness, and specifically, those focused on meditation, dealing with anxiety and helping users fall asleep. According to a new report from app store intelligence firm Sensor Tower, the world’s 10 largest English-language mental wellness apps in April saw a combined 2 million more downloads during the month of April 2020 compared with January, reaching close to 10 million total downloads for the month.

The charts were dominated by market leaders, including No. 1 app Calm with 3.9 million downloads in April, followed by Headspace with 1.5 million downloads, then Meditopia, with 1.4 million. Of those, Calm saw the largest number of new installs, with more than 911,000 more downloads in April compared with January, a rise of nearly 31%. Another app, Relax: Master Your Destiny, grew 218% since the start of the year, picking up 391,000 downloads in April.

In addition, eight of the top 10 grew their monthly installs in April compared with January. Most also grew their number of new downloads on a month-over-month basis between March and April as well, the firm noted.

This is not the first report to detail the surge of interest in mobile meditation apps since the COVID-19 outbreak. App Annie had earlier found that downloads of mindfulness apps hit 750,000 during the week of March 29, 2020, up 25% from the weekly average in January and February.

The apps have used a variety of different approaches to grow their businesses amid the pandemic. One app, Headspace, was the first to offer free memberships to front-line medical professionals and first responders. It later expanded its free access to the unemployed and launched a collection of free content for those living in New York, in partnership with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Other apps, including Breethe, Ten Percent Happier and Simple Habit, offered free memberships to medical workers, following Headspace’s lead.

This strategy has the short-term benefit of gaining the apps good press while helping those who are battling COVID-19 on the front lines. But it also comes across as a little opportunistic — as if the companies are using the pandemic and, in particular, medical workers’ struggles to boost their downloads. If the companies truly cared about the impacts of COVID-19 on users’ stress and anxiety, a better strategy may have been one that involved rolling out an entirely free collection to all their users focused on that topic of COVID-19 stress and anxiety, specifically.

Calm, meanwhile, took a different approach. It launched a page of free resources, but instead focused on partnerships to expand free access to more users, while also growing its business. Earlier this month, nonprofit health system Kaiser Permanente announced it was making the Calm app’s Premium subscription free for its members, for example — the first health system to do so.

The company’s decision to not pursue as many free giveaways meant it may have missed the easy boost from press coverage. However, it may be a better long-term strategy as it sets up Calm for distribution partnerships that could continue beyond the immediate COVID-19 crisis.

Sensor Tower’s full report delves into which apps are more popular in the U.S. versus the U.K., and other data. It’s available here.

Image credits: Sensor Tower

#apps, #coronavirus, #covid-19, #health, #meditation, #mobile

Lynn Shelton on Overcoming Her Darkest Moment on Set

In an interview in March for a book, the filmmaker spoke about her despair while shooting “Your Sister’s Sister,” and how she ultimately dealt with it.

#meditation, #movies, #shelton-lynn, #your-sisters-sister-movie