Buddhify web app promotes calmer urban experience

LONDON Mon Nov 14, 2011 7:38am EST

LONDON Nov 14 (Reuters) - For a lot of people the day begins amid the chaos of a transit pressure-cooker. Agitated workers wedge onto trains or buses to make the stressful commute to work and arrive feeling frazzled, a state that only worsens as the day wears on.

Now, a Glasgow-based entrepreneur and digital innovator has launched a new web application for iPhone and Android smart phones intended to help people on the go learn to cope better with some of the struggles of city life.

The Buddhify app introduces users to restful mindfulness meditation practices by allowing them to select from 32 audio tracks to hear instruction from either a male or female voice.

Although its name makes reference to Buddhism, a religion in which meditation plays a key role, the app is intended for use by anybody interested in mental wellbeing.

"The only prerequisite is having a mind," Rohan Gunatillake said. "Its origins are in the Buddhist tradition, but it's totally independent. It's a way of training your attention in such a way that it develops positive qualities in your mind."

The app also has a two-player mode allowing friends to meditate together.

The traditional ways meditation instruction is delivered seem somewhat outdated to Gunatillake, who has been meditating since 2003.

"The perception of the aesthetic wasn't quite right -- it felt too hippy, the baggage of lotus flowers and incense still comes with the meditation scene, but that's always been like wrapping paper rather than the actual thing," Gunatillake said.

"It's a cultural effect because of the boomer generation who came across it and who are teachers now."

Buddhify is also meant to help people who may not have time to take meditation courses in real life.

One audio track provides instruction on how to meditate while walking and another on how to mentally wish others peace and happiness - how "to take a break from our own personal soap opera" by choosing a random person to focus on.

"When travelling around have you ever noticed that despite being among so many people we're often just stuck in our own little stories?" Gunatillake's recorded voice asks.

"If it's the start of the day it's all about things we have to do, if it's the end, it's all about the drama of the day's events. Exhausting stuff really."

The trick is to spread kindness to become happier and more generous, the recording says. (Writing by Julie Mollins, editing by Paul Casciato)

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