By Shyamal Sinha
Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment, which one can develop through the practice of meditation and through other training. The term “mindfulness” corresponds to the Pali term sati, which is a significant element of Buddhist traditions.
A new app to be launched later this week will offer guided meditations to users along with audio discussions by leading socially active Buddhists and contemplatives in the United States. The app, called Awaken, is the brainchild of Zen Buddhist student and entrepreneur Ravi Mishra and features leading engaged teachers Rev. angel Kyodo williams, Lama Rod Owens, and Sensei Greg Snyder. It will officially launch in beta on 19 September for iOS devices.
“The political situation [in the United States] in the last couple years has motivated me to want to combine my entrepreneurial background and Zen practice in a way that would help people,” Mishra said in an interview with Buddhistdoor Global. “And this was the result.”
In order to reach beyond the confines of a strictly Buddhist audience, the app creators note that: “Our approach is Buddhish, and we ground our meditations in traditional teachings without forgetting that all the teachings around meditations are, at their core, invitations to explore and come to your own truth.” (Awaken)
The app features short mindfulness practices aimed at engaging today’s social, political, and cultural worlds with the belief that “the path to social change and justice for people and planet involves both outer and inner work.” (Awaken)
Awaken’s three founding teachers are known for their work at the intersection of mindfulness and social justice. Rev. angel and Lama Rod co-wrote the book Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation (2016 North Atlantic Books),* a book that approaches Buddhist teachings from the perspective of Black and Queer Liberation. Sensei Greg Snyder is the co-founder of the Brooklyn Zen Center and director of Buddhist Studies at Union Theological Seminary.
To set itself apart from other meditation apps, Awaken will include regular conversations with the founding teachers and others on topics ranging from gender roles and unconscious bias to a contemplative exploration of capitalism, and ethics in relationships, and from monogamy to polyamory and beyond.
Another feature will be a journal prompt at the end of each practice session, along with “a newsfeed of responses, giving users the opportunity to engage in fruitful social interaction and bringing a sense of community to the app.” (Awaken)
The app can be downloaded from the Apple App Store or from the Awaken website.