Mindfi is a mindfulness health app developed by Singaporean Bjorn Lee. A staunch believer in meditation, the Silicon Valley entrepreneur wanted to help busy individuals practise mindfulness for at least a few minutes every day, throughout the day.
Given that our lives are almost entirely driven by smartphones in this digital age, Bjorn felt that an app would be the best way to do just that.
By 2017, Bjorn had raised a six-digit seed investment from the founders of his previous employer, Zopim, and prominent Singapore-based angels Wong Poh Kam and Chow Yen Lu, all of whom meditate.
Trying Out The App
I downloaded the free app but several more functions can be unlocked if the user subscribes to a Premium account. The free app has 4 main tabs – ‘breathe’, ‘mood’, ‘focus’ and ‘courses’.
The ‘breathe’ tab shows me how I can use breathing to handle different situations, whether it be de-stressing after intense work, or preparing to sleep better. I try ‘box’ breathing, and as I hold my phone, I realise that the app uses vibrations and sounds to encourage me to breathe to the same beat. Knock. Knock. Knock. Pause. Instinctively, I breathe in slowly and hold my breath. At the end of the one minute, I feel relaxed and re-energised.
The ‘mood’ tab recommends different ‘tracks’ depending on how I am feeling. When I select ‘Happy’, it recommends tracks such as ‘Watch The Sky’ which asks me to observe the sky and appreciate its vastness and ‘Mindful Photos’ to connect with my photos and the memories that they hold. Under the ‘Unmotivated’ option, I chose to listen to ‘Celebrating Life’ which primed me to get back on track to deal with tasks ahead.
The ‘focus’ tab features a focus timer which encourages me to work on a task for a particular duration without distractions. In fact, the app sits open next to me right now, a countdown timer on a calming purple-gradient background, softly playing the sounds of waves. I must say it is working – it has only been a mere 9 minutes, but as the app peers at me, almost daring me to pick up my phone to play a mindless mobile game, I fight the all-too-instinctive urge to turn away from my work.
Lastly, the ‘courses’ tab compiles 10 sessions thematically to encourage a continuous and dedicated practice to mindfulness. Each session in the “Basics” course lasts 7 minutes and trains me to be aware of my thoughts, senses and feelings. I particularly enjoyed one session in which I lay still and observed the thoughts that flicker through my mind persistently. It was funny to zoom out and watch my thoughts from a distance, observing that I often visualised my thoughts about trivial aspects of my day or my plans for the near future. Drawing myself to the present moment, I am told to use all my senses – what do I hear, what do I feel? I heard a dog barking and drilling in a nearby flat. I felt the way my back sunk into my bed. There was suddenly a lot I noticed when I stopped letting my thoughts drown the real world out.
“We are missing an opportunity
far more happiness
in our lives.”
In-Built Artificial Intelligence
With so many options, the app employs Artificial Intelligence to recommend, based on users’ sleep timings and emotions, which courses to start off with first. This gives users a truly individualised experience with mindfulness, tailored to make each day more productive than the last. It also tracks one’s progress on the app, giving users a more tangible sense of achievement in their mindfulness journey.
Having grown up in Singapore and worked in Silicon Valley, Bjorn understands that work-related stress is something most of us cannot run away from. Mindfi encourages us to work more efficiently and to pause every once in a while to observe and appreciate the happenings around us.
As the calm voice in ‘Celebrating Life’ tells me, think about small moments of success you encountered throughout the day and ask yourself – “Have you ever stopped to celebrate these yet? We are missing an opportunity to experience far more happiness in our lives.”
About the Writer
Su is a final year law student at NUS who regards herself as a professional amateur, dabbling in a wide variety of things like sports, baking and learning different languages. She enjoys being in nature and with animals, as well as volunteering with children, so she is having a lot of fun volunteering at the Riding for the Disabled Association. She thinks quite a bit about happiness and what that means, and wishes there were a lot more of it in the world.