Mindfulness is a secular-friendly Buddhist tradition, helping individuals understand a simple concept: paying attention to and not resisting momentary experience; If one resists momentary experience, one is not paying attention to the ever-changing momentary experience.
Mindfulness allows us to focus on what is important, remembering the value of any object of attention relative to other things that we could be focusing on. Research indicates that mindfulness meditation is beneficial for chronic illness, pain, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and stress.
Often the circumstance seeding the ailments that people look to address cannot be controlled. Mindfulness allows individuals to simply observe adverse mental states rather than reacting to them. Unpleasant mental states occur, but individuals learn not to add “fuel to the fire.”
Basic techniques for calming the mind, whether it be simple observation or awareness of some object of attention, are variations of a necessary preliminary skill for sustaining a mindful state. Lumiate make this preliminary skill easier via convenient, frequent practice with the Cycle. By keeping the mind calm throughout the day and practicing preliminary techniques frequently, individuals can engage with mindfulness meditation for insight—creating an intuition as to why the moment should be embraced, not resisted, rendering basic techniques unnecessary.
Lumiate is a new kind of mindfulness app that pairs science-backed meditation with its patented Light Cycle. The Cycle gently shifts the hue of your screen, waxing and waning like the breath cycle.
On the surface, the Cycle can guide meditation and reduce distraction without interrupting workflow. But mindfulness practitioners and researchers alike will tell you that basic anchoring techniques, like observing the breath or the Cycle, are of relatively impermanent benefit. Fortunately, Lumiate pairs beginner-to-advanced guided meditation programs with the Cycle, creating a cognitive “save-point” for your meditative states. This way, whether you’re sitting down to meditate or to go to work, you can more easily regain and sustain a mindful state.
The goal of mindfulness meditation practice is to dissolve the difference in mental states during passive, “sitting” meditation, and active, post-meditation periods (everything besides meditation). This is where the idea of “walking meditation” comes from, and it makes sense rationally — what is the point of a 10-minute improvement if you fall back to where you were moments ago? Lumiate leverages core principles in neuroscience to support mindful activity digitally.
I cannot tell you how many times Psych professors attempt to instill the mantra “fire together — wire together” in students. They are referring to spike-timing-dependent plasticity (STDP), a biological process that underpins modern neuroscience in terms of memory, learning, and general cognition. Simply put, neurons fire and others follow suit more efficiently every time; one thing leads to another, and it gets easier every time.
Persistently strengthening relationships between neurons is responsible for associative learning and volition; it is responsible for essentially all conceptual decision making and all learning aside from simple habituation. It is the process that underlies everything.
With the realization of “fire together — wire together,” one can intuitively understand that this dynamic extends to the neural network — it’s practically in the definition. Rewiring creates new networks, and these networks (or network potentials) are associated with one another by, you guessed it, more rewiring. In essence, both observable neural characteristics and experiential characteristics like concepts and mental states can be traced back to these networks.
Lumiate’s Light Cycle serves as the nexus for a new neural network, the mental hub for your meditation practice. Whether it be mindfulness or empathetic meditation, the Cycle creates the environment. In turn, mindfulness and heart associate with the Cycle and henceforth can be accessed more easily when the Cycle is present. Increasingly rewarding and increasingly extensive, when you see the light, the light makes it easier to remember and experience the mental insight and state achieved during past meditations.
Returning to a mindful state without interrupting activity is, without a doubt, a useful tool. Often we’re too busy to address stress, which often compounds with distraction. But ultimately, the Lumiate method is critical to maintaining progress between meditation sessions. By supporting a mindful state throughout the inevitably digital portion of your day, you can better realize the total-life benefits of meditation.
Labor or leisure, the ability to maintain focus is at a premium. With a constant array of both internal and digital distractions, staying focused can help you work through that lengthy assignment or engage with your favorite piece of media.
Lumiate is designed to help you focus on what is important in the present moment, or in life generally. But its novel approach can create doubt without understanding the underlying cognitive science.
Lumiate combines mindfulness meditation with a patented light filter, gently shifting the hue of your screen, waxing and waning like the breath cycle. Created to support a mindful state and guide meditation when attended to, the Cycle actively supports you while you use your computer. A reasonable question arises: would the rising and falling of color not distract me?
In short, your brain adapts to the presence of the Cycle; it fades into the unconscious over time. Known among cognitive scientists as perceptual adaptation, your brain calibrates perception to current inputs to increase processing efficiency and enhance distinctions around the adapted level.
Think of reading a book by candlelight; a fan may be spinning in the periphery while candlelight flickers on the page. Surely you can fixate on these features if you so choose, but few would consider this a poor reading environment. In this way, the Cycle does not distract from online activity — so long as you go about your day as usual.
Interestingly, this process may reduce distractibility while you use your computer. While mindfulness is the best solution in the relative long run, the Cycle can quickly help you maintain focus. To understand how, let us reflect on attention in our own lives to understand how many cognitive scientists understand attention, and infer how the Cycle would operate within their cognitive framework.
Imagine you are at a party. Music fills the space among lively chatterings. Your attention is captivated by your current task — a conversation with a new someone that shares interest. It is like you are the only two people in the room. How is it possible to effortlessly maintain focus in this environment, but still lose focus in a class or cubicle?
According to the perceptual load theory of attention, you can focus in a noisy environment because brains process task-relevant stimuli before irrelevant stimuli or possible distractions. If the task uses all attentional resources, none of the distractors will be processed. In this “high load” social scenario, distractions do not have the opportunity to reach your attention.
Distractions arise within excess attentional capacity. Menial or uninteresting “low load” tasks leave ample room for irrelevant stimuli, internal or external, to reach your attention and distract you. This could be something external, like a person talking next to you, or internal, like the urge to check if anyone new has liked your social media post. These distractions can rise to prominence and interfere with your task.
Mindfulness meditation helps you train your ability to focus before untraining overreaction to irrelevant stimuli. But this takes time and practice, no matter the method. The Cycle serves to decrease the frequency of possible distractions as you learn to handle them more effectively through mindfulness.
Perceptual load has traditionally been studied through two components: the number of units in the display and the nature of processing required for each unit.
The Cycle is a unique stimulus that does not affect task-relevant information within the conscious mind. While operating in the unconscious, it does affect the processing required for each unit via the translation necessary for perceptual adaptation. In this way, task-relevant perceptual load is increased without affecting the task itself.
For citations and more in-depth analysis, we recommend reading Lumiate’s white paper as well as this 20-year perceptual load theory research review.
For over 1000 years, Tibetan meditators have visualized five colors to cultivate five types of emotional energy. According to this model, these emotional mindsets can express themselves neurotically or in a more natural, enlightened way. This tradition helped inspire the Lumiate experience. So, what are these colors?
Known as the “Vajra” family in Sanskrit, blue represents an intellectual energy, driven by the passion of knowing and understanding. When neurotic, it can be overly intellectual, aggressive when approached with conflicting viewpoints. Concerned with concepts, blue is a calm intellectual energy at its best, allowing you to seek truth without bias.
Known as the “Karma” family in Sanskrit, green is all things action. Green is great when you need to move or if things are moving quickly around you. Karma is about accomplishment, doing what needs to be done to get to where you want to be. When it is neurotic, you act indiscriminately busy, thoughtlessly unable to sit still, driven by jealousy of where others are. At it’s best you understand the motion of things around you and learn how to position your sails and row when necessary to efficiently reach your destination.
Known as the “Ratna” family in Sanskrit, yellow is a all about wealth and enjoyment. Yellow is perfect for activities framed in either business relationships or leisure—any matter that can benefit from security, benefiting others, or enjoyment. When neurotic, you may feel insecure in what you have, creating a sort of greediness in how you act with others, compensating with overindulgence. At its best, Ratna is generous, enriching your environment with a secure feeling of inner wealth.
Known as the “Padma” family in Sanskrit, red is driven by feeling, allowing intuitive communication with others. Whether it be an informal meeting with colleagues, or connecting with others on social media, red is perfect for person-to-person interactions. Intimate, Padma can become manipulative and hurtful when emotional grasping comes in to play. But at its best, Padma allows natural connection, intuitively communicating with others on a deep level.
Known as the “Buddha” family in Sanskrit, white makes room for all other colors, a level of openness and contentment that allows things to arise. At its worst, this Buddha family can create a shut-down dullness, non-receptive to things around you. At its best, white feels like a natural contentment accommodating new ideas and experiences. White is great for all scenarios, not to mention color sensitive work.
Lumiate’s Mindset meditations explore each energy, leveraging associative learning in psychology to queue your cultivated mindset with that color. By visualizing and experiencing the emotion while observing the corresponding color, you can investigate the source of neurosis, and learn to express yourself more naturally in the presence of that color.
For a more in-depth explanation, we recommend reading this article by Irini Rockwell.
The Cycle is only one half of the Lumiate method. It allows you to practice mindfulness outside of meditation. But what about the meditation part? Lumiate provides you with advancing meditation techniques, giving you the training that make a difference without the fluff. Mindfulness meditations increase from fundamental light and breath work, to insight into your experience. But many mindfulness programs neglect the fact that there is a lot outside of wanting to be mindful that affects your ability to focus in the present moment. That’s where Heart meditations comes in, to help you remove any emotional baggage that’s preventing you from being attentive and productive. First, let’s take a look at what makes Lumiate’s mindfulness meditations different.
Mindfulness is what allows us to remember the relative value of any object of attention. Cultivating it allows you to stay focused on what is important, or in life, generally. When fully cultivated it develops into an effortless meta-awareness that recognizes the ultimate value of things. If your mind were a glass of river water, mindfulness meditation allows the dirt to settle to reveal crystal water, creating the opportunity to remove the dirt for good.
Lumiate starts with calming the mind in the Peaceful Focus collection, a necessary first step to cultivating mindfulness. Here, you learn techniques to stop yourself from “stirring” the water.
Then, you can employ these techniques anytime throughout the day by observing the Cycle. Next, “Seeing Clearly” teaches mental observation to recognize what is dirt, and what is water. Finally, “Access Mindfulness” directs your mindfulness with "research questions," targeting the sediment and removing any limiting effect on your experience.
When you have mindfulness programs and the teachings try to give you more focused attention and the ability to be present, many ignore that there is a lot outside of just wanting to be attentive that is affecting your ability to be attentive. For example, your colleague told you something that is bothering you and you are sitting at your desk trying to work. No matter how much you are applying mindfulness techniques, you have an emotional cloud around your head and it is undermining your ability to pay attention to what you need to do. In other words, mindfulness meditations may focus on the things you may want to do, but the situation may be that you are caught up in other thoughts and feelings that are preventing you from being present.
As an aid to any performance interests that you may have, it would help to be able to move away from deeper emotional problems or distractions, having enough space of mind and readiness to focus on what you want to focus on. In Limitless Heart, you learn to approach feelings toward others with equanimity—understanding that everyone wants to be happy and hurt arises from not knowing how. Through cultivating equanimity, loving-kindness, compassion, and empathetic joy, you can remove distracting, emotional clouds with understanding and grace.
Lumiate’s meditation program is masterminded by Dr. Gregory Seton. Dr. Seton received his PhD from the University of Oxford and spends time teaching classes like Meditation Theory at Dartmouth College.