The Mindful Monkey
A New Experience for Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a quality or state of being conscious of thoughts, emotions, and feelings . It can be practiced primarily through meditation, and it has recently become a popular catalyst for stress management, emotional well-being, and mental health treatment.
Through my own experience with mindfulness practice, I've identified potential opportunities for it to make an even bigger impact on my life, particularly throughout the week when I don't necessarily have time to meditate.
As a busy New Yorker, It's difficult finding time to myself, in complete silence, and meditate for 10-20 minutes. However, there are other sources of content that provide for a similar sense of mindfulness and state of well-being. These mediums of content include professional talks, scientific facts and findings, visual storytelling, blog posts, and music.
This discovery led to the foundation of my product concept: that people learn and retain information in different ways: kinesthetic, auditory, visual, and reading/writing. Some of the core foundations for long-term mental health is identifying thought patterns through self-awareness, expressing feelings and emotions, and educating oneself - learning more about why/how people act and think the way they do. Thus, It's often hard to personalize the experience of mindfulness without opening up to the wide array of content and research that contextualizes its benefits.
Headspace, Buddhify, Calm, and Tiny Buddha are some of the leading content generators in this space. Headspace seems to be most similar to my concept, but they produce original content primarily focusing on the benefits and theories of meditation. Tiny Buddha, however, is a more crowd-sourced content platform for people to discuss anxiety, stress management, depression, emotional being, and spirituality. Ideally, my concept would leverage both of the benefits of their content offerings, but not necessarily through the same mediums.
Curating a weekly playlist of materials that fulfill these learning styles was a good start. Articles, Podcasts, Videos, Songs, Meditations, Quotes, Graphic Art; I want this site/app to be a place where people can learn and experience mindfulness in different ways. It's a "personal guru" whom can give users more perspective in understanding their true, natural selves, while feeling supported by a bevy of new content each week. This prototype features 5 basic screens - registration, a typical "playlist" homepage with a curated feed of content (pulling from 3rd party sites), a profile page where users can save certain content per week, and an article page.
RESEARCH SAYS: NOT MEMORABLE
I did some user testing with my prototype, and found that some users didn't find the experience to be memorable. 8/10 of the users I tested responded with "Why can't this just be listed in a blog post?". I found that the content was valuable, independently, but was not presented in a memorable way. I tried reconceptualizing the presentation of information, leading into some insights of traditional and visual storytelling.
NEW DIRECTION: STORYTELLING
I took my concept a different direction, focusing on building a narrative around the mindfulness content. Making it feel like a story, rather than a content feed, is articulated not only by the interaction design (swiping left and right), but through the use of contextual imagery and text. This format could be something delivered to a user's app every week, each with new and different themes. Below is a quick flow and demonstration of how I would contextualize meditations, cartoons, and graphics into the beginning of a Mindfulness story.
I haven't fully laid out my vision for this design yet, and plan on testing it on users to see if it is more memorable and compelling. I'm trying to ignore some of the business realities such as content origination and business model, in order to keep my mind open to the different conceptual possibilities for communicating meaningful content. The main key moving forward is sketching and iterating on several concepts to see where it fits the mold and lifestyle that I'm targeting.