I’m back in Rome again for the first international conference on Mindfulness.
There is a spectacular list of speakers invited, selected not only from the immediate entourage of Kabat Zinn but also from the wider panorama of researchers and thinkers on awareness. Honor goes to the organizers for such breadth of vision.
The term “mindfulness” in western psychology today means the dried and simplified version that Kabat Zinn popularized, but the same term in Buddhist literature indicates a much broader notion of awareness related to meditation.
This double meaning makes life difficult, because many researchers and mindfulness meditators consider the mindfulness of Kabat Zinn one of the possible ways to teach wisdom to westerners, though it should not be favored over other traditional versions, such as Vipassana or Zen.
The first day I attended an exciting lesson given by Ajhan Amaro during the morning’s guided meditation. He is a true master in the tradition of monks of the forest.
The highlight of the second day is Kabat Zinn in person, and he holds the audience for 90 minutes in positive tension, demonstrating once again his human qualities. For him, mindfulness is a path leading to illumination The pleasure of listening to an innovative genius is accompanied by the pleasure of being close to a special person.
Taking place earlier was the symposium on Meditation practice in non-communicable diseases, specifically non-communicable diseases such as cancer and diabetes. Daniela Rabellino from my group presented our data on cardiac patients. The symposium turned out well, with a lot of discussion between competent researchers.
The third day the Oxford scientists take the floor, led by Mark Williams, a top-notch researcher and a great actor of the English school, David Niven style. They applied MBCT to suicidally-depressed patients, and used very clear theoretical hypotheses, impeccable experimentation, and reached cogent results correlated with the severity of the patients, especially those who had suffered childhood trauma.
In the afternoon we are illuminated by Paul Grossman, from Basel, with a lecture on the ethics of experimentation applied to research on mindfulness. With measured irony he destroys the scales used to measure mindfulness, really hammering away at the frequently invoked MAAS, showing that it doesn’t really measure anything, and – as if we were all actually followers of Popper – that it should be cast into oblivion. The clinical results of MBSR and MBCT are also reviewed critically, and now appear far less spectacular. Moreover, the mere fact that clinicians are in good faith cannot replace rigorous experimental procedures; any confusion between subjective and inter-subjective valuations must not survive at this conference.
Next days, the interventions during the plenary sessions continue to be big-time, and the speakers manage to hold the audience’s attention for 90 minutes. On Saturday, Henk Barendregt of the University of Nijmegen, a famous logician and famous master of meditation, delivered a learned and unpretentious talk on the different concepts of mindfulness, addressing the crucial issue of whether mindfulness according to KZ is equivalent to wisdom, or a substantially impoverished version.
In the Buddhist tradition, mindfulness is associated with wisdom and ethics in life, which aspects are inevitably eliminated in MBSR and MBCT training. According to him, however, the substance remains the same, though he warns us to keep away from unacceptable simplifications. His speech is given quietly and in a conciliatory tone, a sincere attempt to enrich our collective understanding in a very complex field. In essence we are all on a journey, scientists and practitioners of meditation, and as long as we do not try to take shortcuts, the twenty-first century will be quite interesting.
The climate of the conference is one of great intellectual honesty, and different points of view are compared without acrimony – everyone pays respectful attention even to what is in contrast with their own opinion.
A second edition of the conference is scheduled two years from now.
The Quantified Self is a movement that aggregates a worldwide community of professionals, researchers and enthusiasts interested in using technology to monitor different aspects of their daily lives and to accumulate and analyze data in order to improve wellbeing and health.
This growing phenomenon is the center of the QS Conference, an international collaboration of users and makers of self-tracking tool.
Dreamboard has participated in and supported the QS Conference in San Francisco last October and more recently, on May 11, Luca Mascaro of Dreamboard took the stage to deliver an Ignite Talk on Dream Tracking at the QS Conference Europe in Amsterdam.
The european QS Conference was a very exciting and interesting opportunity to learn what people in the community are working and we learned about new projects involving different tools to track our lyfestyle.
There is a great interest in different aspects of healthcare and mental wellness in general. The healthcare costs and performance are a huge and increasing burden on government, business and individuals is very clear to all and prevention, in all its flavors, seems to be a focus of many QS projects.
One of the most important argument which developers of tracking tools are discussing is the accumulation and managing of big data. For sure the great amount of data that the different system are collecting will be used in different ways, but the challenge is to employ them in a scientific way to improve the quality of people’s life.
Mental wellness, in particular, seems to be a very promising field. The battle against anxiety, stress and related, more serious mental illnesses is fought daily by millions of people around the world. On the other hand the mind is very difficult to monitor but the data that can be unlocked by tracking our brain activity while awake or during sleep is fascinating and potentially extremely useful.
Why we dream? How? What? These are questions that everyone has explored at some point in our lives. It is completely logical to expect that the data that can emerge from our dreams can help professionals and the mental health industry produce better treatment and better results.
Dreamboard has joined the QS Movement not only as a simple tracking tool for dreams, but moreover as a different way of thinking about our dreams that are so important to understand our inner self.
Dreamboard archives all the dreams that you posted in interactive diary and gives feedback on each dream in order to help define an overall interpretation of the consecutive series. The feedback is given by comparing aggregate data that will automatically highlight important components (mood, emotion, color, people, places, things, etc.).
There is no way to monitorate the mind like the others organs of our body, because we don’t have appropriate sensors or detectors, so the only way to track our mind is to write down or speak about our feeling or sensations. But there is the key point: the dream is a pure information that combine independently, free from the perceptual filters and cognitive frameworks of the waking state and, for this reason, is so important in order to understand ourselves.
For us at Dreamboard is very important to continue to think and discuss about these issues in an international context, learn from other interesting and forward-thinking people and compare our approach to others. That is why we find ourselves at home at the QS Conference.
We are thrilled to launch today Dreamboard Mobile native app for Android phones. (get it here). The Dreamboard dream journal app is now available as a native app for iOS and Android smartphones and as a browser-based web application on any computer.
Since its lunch in November 2012, Dreamboard has passed added 50,000 users and now more than 100,000 dreams recorded, making Dreamboard one of the largest dream datasets ever compiled.
“We want the Dreamboard digital dream journal to be accessible to everyone, on every computer and device. That’s why we have made Dreamboard Mobile available for Android, the largest mobile platform. The Android app release was already planned, but we had to accelerate its development. Too many Dreamboard users wanted it and let us know loud and clear!” said Umberto Prunotto, Dreamboard Inc.’s Founder and CEO. “We are completely committed to building a product and user experience of superior quality and while we roll out Dreamboard to more platforms, we constantly improve its algorithms and expand on its scientific foundation with the help of Prof. Bruno Bara and his team.”
Fast and easy
Dreamboard’s design has been improved to to help you record details fast, even when you are a bit drowsy. And you can always return later to add details, tags and keywords as they occur to you throughout your day.
Improved graphs and dashboard
Each dream you record with Dreamboard becomes part of your private dream database. We have improved graphs and visualizations of trends in your dreams. We have have improved the way your dreams populate your own colorful dream tree.
Observe dream pattern
At a glance, you can observe trends in your dreaming activity. Dreamboard ﬁnds similarities between past dreams, identifies symbols and recurring tags, aggregates dream data and performs statistical analysis in a private dashboard, giving users feedback that helps them develop a better understanding of their dreams over time and in relation to life events.
Click here to get the Android app right now!
(Looking for the iPhone app? Click here!)
Since its launch, Dreamboard users have logged over 60,000 dreams in their Dreamboard digital dream journals and every day they add more. What are your dreams trying to tell you?
One year of dreams–Learning about yourself.
Thanks to Dreamboard, each one of us can now look back at the dreams we’ve logged, the details of which offer new perspectives on our unconscious lives. Dreams are a virtually unlimited source of rich, diverse and fascinating information and by studying them more closely we can discover new things about ourselves such as patterns and trends, fears, hopes and desires, and make meaningful correlations between waking life and dream life.
Take Luca, for example, who runs the Dreamboard development team. He has been an avid Dreamboard user since its initial development, well before it became available to the general public. Luca has been keeping a dream journal on Dreamboard for more than a year, logging 210 dreams in 2012, an average of more than 3 dreams a week. By using the Dreamboard dashboard to look at his dream data over tim, he was able track changes in the mood of his dreams and correlate them to specific events in his life.
People have more nightmares in San Francisco than in LA?
Looking at our own dreams is interesting, but what do we know about how the world dreams? The details found in each users’ Dreamboard dream journal is private, but wouldn’t it be interesting to know how your dreams might compare thematically with Dreamboard users in, say, New York, or Milan?
For the first time, with Dreamboard, we have access to a large standardized and structured dream data set that could provide valuable insight into what people dream about.
A few data-trend highlights:
- The person we dream the most about, regardless of sex, age or location is, perhaps not surprisingly… our mothers! Fathers follow very closely. And while yes, people dream about their siblings and significant others, they are more likely to dream about their dog than they are to dream about a brother or a sister!
- Whether we are still in school or have long left it behind, those endless days in the classroom dominate our collective unconscious. School is by far the most common symbol to permeate through our dreams.
- San Francisco may be the best place to live in the US, but judging by the dreams recorded by its residents’, the top three dream emotions suggest otherwise–fear, surprise and sadness. The top emotion for people living in 50th-ranked Los Angeles? Joy!
Anonymous data, meaningful insights.
Dreamboard users are entrusting us with very personal and private information, so our first priority is to protect the integrity of our users’ privacy at all times. As we start to explore the anonymous statistical data that gives us potentially valuable insights into what people dream about, we will continue to do so in a manner that protects all our users, ensuring that no one, including us, can inappropriately access or share your dream details.
Dream on, Dreamers!
Do more people dream in greyscale than in color? Does the environment we live in influence the emotions in our dreams? How might culture and demographics inform the symbols in our dreams? Aggregate and anonymous dream data from a large population of dreamers can help us find these answers and more.
Apple thinks Dreamboard Mobile is a New and Noteworthy app in the Health and Fitness category on iTunes. Thank you!
We are thrilled to join apps such as Loose Pants, Sleep Cycle, Sleep by MotionX and LIVESTRONG.COM Calorie Tracker. Digital health and fitness apps hold the promise of more effective, personalized tracking and better insights into our own well-being. We are only at the beginning of exploring the connection between sleep, dreams and overall health – but the tools available to monitor and study sleep patterns, like Zeo, are an inspiration to a company like ours.
Check out Dreamboard Mobile at https://itunes.apple.com/app/dreamboard-mobile/id571848963. If you are already a user, you may want to update your iPhone app now. We have just released several improvements and fixes.