The Glass Buddha Project

Looking with loving eyes (through Google Glass)

glass buddha projectI picked up Google Glass, which is essentially a smartphone that you wear on your head, on July 6. I’d made a pitch to Google in order to get Glass, saying that I wanted to explore it as a tool for teaching meditation and mindfulness.

The timing in some ways wasn’t great, because I was working a second job at the University of New Hampshire over the summer, teaching personal development and study skills to teens from low income families. And when that seven-week stint was up I had a heck of a lot of catching up to do back at Wildmind.

But one of the things I did do with Glass while teaching at UNH was to use it to record some guided meditation sessions I led with my teens. You can’t actually record just audio on Glass, so what I’ve done here is to take a video and strip out the audio.

I’ll be posting more about my adventures with Glass now that I’ve caught up.

A word about the quality. I was teaching in a large room with constant noise from the air conditioning and from the fan of a projector. So I had to talk much more loudly than I would normally do, and you can also hear the machine noise in the background. But here’s the recording, which is 12 minutes long.

The meditation starts with a brief body scan and then turns into a lovingkindness practice. It uses an approach that I call “loving gaze,” which is a quick and easy way to evoke a sense of kindly, caring, compassionate attention.

I was able to get Google Glass thanks to many generous donors who covered the costs involved. (Although I won a competition in order to become a Glass Explorer I still had to pay for the device.) One of the most generous donors was Adrian Lucas of Sassakala Microfarm. I’ve visited Adrian’s microfarm in Florida, where he gets an amazingly bountiful crop from a vertical hydroponic farm with a tiny footprint, and it’s very impressive. In fact, Sassakala catered a retreat I led in Florida this February, and the veggies were delicious.

sassakala logo

Sassakala’s aims are:

  • to show kids where real food comes from
  • to encourage you to take control of your health by growing some of your own food at home
  • to show you how much fun it can be to cook beautiful, healthy meals for yourself from the food you grow
  • to show you that it’s not only possible but also amazingly rewarding to put food on the table that came from seeds you planted and nurtured yourself
  • for you to grow your own food

Please visit Sassakala at Sassakala.com

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The Glass Buddha Project: an update

glass buddha projectWow! Our Glass Buddha Project fundraiser is now 118% funded in just three days. Originally I’d allowed 21 days for the fundraising, and aimed to bring in $1633, but we currently have $1933 donated, and 18 days to go. Wow!

I’d never have dreamed that we would exceed our fundraising goal in such a short period of time. Being over-funded is actually really great, because I’d forgotten to factor in Indiegogo’s fees, and I also have to make a trip to NYC to pick up glass. All those expenses are now covered, and since Wildmind is only just scraping by financially at the moment I’m relieved that I don’t have to put anything on our credit cards.

In case you missed it, the purpose is to buy Google Glass for Wildmind. Glass is a computer that’s worn like a pair of glasses. It has a built-in screen, a camera, a microphone, and a bone-conducting speaker that sends sound directly into your skull, and it can be controlled by voice or by touching the “arm” of the glasses.

I wanted to purchase Glass for Wildmind for two reasons:

  • To explore Glass as a tool for teaching meditation, mindfulness, and Buddhist practice generally.
  • To explore the potential for an app for Glass that would be a kind of digital “mindfulness bell,” allowing you to set goals for your practice and reminding you of those goals at various points during the day. Imagine for example that you’re in a meeting and a small, discrete reminder pops up reminding you to be compassionate toward the other people you’re working with.

Now the advantage of this is that messages delivered to Glass are immediate. You don’t need to hear a notification chime, pull out your cellphone, and stare at the screen. The notification is just there, hovering in space. To glance at it would take a half-second of your time, but could change your entire day, and thus shape the course of your entire life. I believe that this could be life-changing.

The latest article I read on Glass estimated that 21 million people would buy glass when it launches commercially (at which point it’ll likely be as affordable as a smartphone).

Many of those people will be in technical or creative fields, and they’ll be using Glass because of the hands-free nature of the display (imagine if your doctor could call up your medical records just by asking for them).

So this is huge number of people to reach, and they’re a demographic that’s likely to be interested in meditation and mindfulness practice — and to have a need for it.

While most people see technology as something that disturbs the mind, I see it as a tool that can help us develop mindfulness and compassion.

So thank you to everyone who has to make this happen. (And further contributions are welcome!)

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The Glass Buddha Project: Technology + Mindfulness = Awesome

Blue glass buddha statue on a yellow background

I’m fascinated by technology and committed to exploring ways to teach meditation more effectively. I want to use technology to reach as many people as possible in our global village, so that we can spread the benefits of mindfulness and compassion.

An amazing opportunity has come up. I won a competition and was selected by Google to explore the potential of Google Glass, the new wearable computing gizmo with a head-mounted display, voice recognition, and audio and visual recording capabilities.

This could be an amazing tool for teaching.

  • I’d be able to record audio and video of my classes more easily.
  • I’d be able to open up retreats I lead so that people not on the retreat could participate live in events.
  • I’d be able to lead guided meditations from anywhere.
  • I’d be able to record notes for blog posts when ideas pop into my head at odd times.
  • I could conduct interviews.

I also intend to explore the potential for developing an app that would help people to set spiritual goals for themselves (like being kinder to others), and then deliver short messages during the day to remind them of those goals (“Remember to stay in touch with your heart”). The amazing thing about Glass is that you don’t need to reach into your pocket, unlock your phone, and then stare at a screen when a message like that comes in. The message is just there, hovering in space at the edge of your vision. You don’t need to disconnect from the world to see it. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, though. Developing such an app is whole project in itself. For now I need to experiment with the technology so that I can understand its strengths and limitations.

Winning the competition was great. I’m one of just a couple of thousand people worldwide who will be able to explore Glass. But Google still wants me to pay $1500 (plus tax, which makes it $1633). And I simply don’t have that amount of money.

So I’m crowdfunding! I need to raise $1633, and so I’ve created a fundraising project on Indiegogo, called The Glass Buddha Project.

There are generous rewards for different levels of donation.

Check out The Glass Buddha Project on Indiegogo, and please support me in this project.

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