5 Steps Towards Mindfulness with Amazon’s Echo

Are you a mindful millennial if you aren’t incorporating tech into your daily routine?  Mindfulness has never been easier with all of the gadgets and apps making it accessible and digestible for those just getting into meditation and mindfulness.  That being said, we’re getting bombarded with so many options that it can be overwhelming to know where to start.

This week, I made the investment in Amazon’s Echo (otherwise known as Alexa).  Because I am very much a millennial living in an expensive tech city and am not a software engineer, I opted for a refurbished Echo and saved $50.  Luckily, I haven’t noticed any issues with it and I saved a little bit of money.

When setting up my Echo, I noticed there were a lot of options for meditation.  The marketing part of my brain wonders if these popped up so easily because of my past browsing and purchasing behavior on Amazon…but that’s neither here nor there.  The point is, if you have an Echo at home or are thinking about purchasing one here’s how you can utilize it for incorporating a little bit more mindfulness into your day.

1. Time and Remind

Two features of the Alexa that are so simple I’ve combined them as one method.  First, you can set up a reminder to meditate that will also be added to a written list on the Amazon Alexa app. You decide when you want the reminder to go off, perhaps in the morning as you’re making coffee or in the evening after work, and Alexa will hold you accountable. Easy-peasy.

Secondly, you can set a timer for when you’re actually meditating.  I’ve found that when I’m trying to meditate, listening to music and setting up a timer on my phone can end up being distracting if there happens to be notifications, emails, and/or texts going off at the same time I happen to be changing a song or setting up.  The Echo gives you the same perks as your phone but even better, it actually allows you to get. off. your. phone!

2. Music

With the Echo, your music library just increased tenfold if you have a Prime membership or access to Amazon’s music library with pre-arranged playlists.  This isn’t always a perk.  Spotify and Pandora have definitely had their misses on curated playlists.  But I was pleasantly surprised when I asked for a “Meditation playlist” and Alexa delivered.  That being said, is the playlist exactly what I had in mind for meditation? No, but it’s proving quite helpful as background ambiance while I write this post.

Of course, if you’re not up for taking the risk of listening to someone else’s playlist, you can connect Alexa to apps you already have such as Pandora or Spotify and create your own playlists through Amazon as well.  Lastly, if you take a little extra time to research a particular meditative album that you want to listen to, you will likely have access to it through Alexa as well.

3. Tons and tons of calming sounds to choose from

This was one of the more exciting discoveries I made when browsing through Alexa’s optional skills. By enabling the skill, “Sleep and Relaxation Sounds” you can ask the Echo to play ocean waves, thunderstorms, rain, wind, you name it!  You can also search for additional sounds in various skills throughout the app.  It’s perfect if you’re like me and prefer sounds over music for meditation or simply falling asleep.

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Sleep and Relaxation Sounds skill

Con:  There’s a premium member fee to unlock even more sounds and tricks (like overlapping multiple sounds).  It seems really cool, but of course costs an additional $20.

4. Sync with your favorite meditation apps

In all honesty, I’m still exploring this one a bit and it’s not super intuitive.  I don’t have a smart TV nor do I have cable and my understanding is that you need one or the other for a seamless experience.  It remains to be seen if the TV is actually used or if it’s simply a tedious set up option that has to be enabled.  I’ll have more information on that later this week.  I will say, it’s a genius marketing tactic since it resulted in me finally biting the bullet and purchasing a Fire TV stick.

Overall, the Alexa app does have a ton of different meditation apps to choose from.  Including my personal favorite, Stop, Think, & Breathe and another one that I’m excited to try, Meditation Studio.  But until I get the nuances of this figured out, I’ll rely on Echo’s Bluetooth feature to play from these apps.

5. Start my morning feature

The skill, My Morning, seems to be an initial step taken towards an Alexa-led meditation. It can last as long or as little as you’d like but divides the mindful tasks into easily-digestible sections.  Starting first with a 60-second silent check-in and then proceeding with affirmations, some writing exercises and more. If you have the house to yourself in the mornings or some extra time to spare, it’s a solid experience.

Con: Echo doesn’t have the most soothing voice out there, so it can be challenging to feel fully immersed in the experience.

Technology, especially something as new and innovative as Alexa, always comes with a learning curve.  Luckily, mindfulness is something that is easy to incorporate with zero tech whatsoever.  But I think it’s always fun to think about new and interesting ways to continue to make it a part of your everyday life.

How has technology affected your mindfulness and meditation practice?

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