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Mindful : October 2018
Could your smartphone addiction make you mindful? MIND THE APP I n 2003 and 2004, 63 prisoners at a Seattle jail enrolled in a 10-day meditation course as part of a study by the University of Wash- ington. For the duration of the course, the prisoners were not permitted outside contact and were only allowed to speak with instructors. Three months after each inmate was released from jail, the researchers followed up with them. Compared to their peers who hadn’t meditated, the inmates who did meditate went on to consume signifi- cantly less alcohol, marijuana, and crack cocaine. The findings of the study, published in 2006 by researcher Sarah Bowen—along with work conducted by her mentor G. Alan Marlatt— paved the way for the development of Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention and is widely cited in papers on meditation and addiction. In 2012, Headspace, which is one of the most popular mindfulness apps on the market, also took note of Bowen’s research. On its website, the company touted science-backed benefits of meditation as reasons to use the app. Headspace also mentioned that meditation can reverse the progress of HIV, strengthen the immune system, and substitute for antidepressants. In a section on the science of meditation and addiction, the company wrote that meditation “has even reduced marijuana and crack consumption in trained prison inmates! So if you ever find yourself indulging a little more than you like, give mindfulness a whirl...and start getting some Headspace today.” The last five words linked to a sales page for the app. Headspace later tweeted out the page with a claim that the app could help you give up drinking or smoking. → By Sam Littlefair Illustrations by Kevin Van Aelst October 2018 mindful 59 mindful tech