*This document is a review of the first 12 months and a proposal for the subsequent 12 months of work toward my PhD.*

Stage 1 PhD document.

October 2014.

Christopher Daniel Jack.

Media & Arts Technology Programme.

Queen Mary University of London.

Designing Around Mindfulness:
Applying the Science of Mindfulness,
Mind Wandering and Meta-awareness
to Interaction Design.

Abstract. (download full document here)

This report presents an approach to interaction design that is rooted in the psychology and practice of mindfulness meditation. The intention is to design digital tools to support the learning of mindfulness meditation in a way that is deeply compatible with recent scientific research in the field of mindfulness and related concepts.

A background literature review of research concerning the mental state known as mind wandering is first presented. Repetitive negative thinking, eg. rumination or worry, is a particularly negative form of mind wandering that is a common factor in depressive and anxious symptomatology across both clinical and non-clinical populations and a danger to public health and well-being. Meta-awareness, an everyday cognitive state, is thought to positively mediate mind wandering and it is this and other self-regulative skills which are cultivated in mindfulness meditation training, a form of contemplative embodied practice that is seeing increasing popularity in both clinical and non-clinical settings.

With the uptake of mindfulness meditation practices across populations there exists many opportunities for the introduction and training of techniques using digital technologies as support tools. Building on the background literature review a survey of digital technologies designed around mindfulness meditation is presented.

Two sets of methodologies are then detailed. One exploring measurement tools prevalent in the psychology literature around mindfulness, mind wandering and meta-awareness and the other outlining the interaction design approach applied in the research.

The result is a concept for an interactive smartphone app that is intended to support mindful breathing – a form of mindfulness meditation based around the natural breath. The design seeks to maximise the learning process by incorporating physical gesture and interactive features in a manner that is informed by the aforementioned background literature review and psychology methodology.

This concept is developed through a process of design and user testing and is the ongoing focus of research.

The final chapter discusses possible future studies.

This work was produced as research under the EPSRC-funded MAT programme.

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