Arianna Huffington has announced that The Huffington Post has developed a smartphone app called "GPS For the Soul" to be launched in June that will "gauge the state of your mind, body and spirit, then automatically offer the exact steps you would need to take to realign all three aspects of your being."
In announcing it, she said: "GPS for the Soul will provide you with several measures of your current stress levels, including your heart rate and heart rate variability. ... It will then connect you to whatever you need to get to a place of balance. It might be music, or poetry, or breathing exercises, or photos of a person or place you love—or a combination of all of these."
This comes days after another group introduced an app called "Dream: ON" that supposedly helps people access and influence their dreams.
According to The Los Angeles Times, "When the app senses you are moving out of REM sleep, it will sound a gentle alarm that should wake you up. Then, it asks you to submit a brief description of your dreaming experience into a 'dream catcher' database."
Adherents of various energy medicine modalities are likely to dismiss both of these apps.
There's nothing wrong with using objects or media to develop better states of consciousness—whether the platform is a smartphone, a computer terminal or a book. Nor is there anything wrong with relying upon an outside stimulus to find inner peace, whether it's beating a drum, consciously breathing, chanting a mantra, scrying with a crystal ball or watching raindrops (or electronic approximations of them).
My hesitancy to embrace "GPS for the Soul," or "Dream: ON," for that matter, is that is seems to shift the locus of responsibility from human to machine. How could you not know you are stressed? Do you not feel it in your body? If not, then why? Shouldn't that be a better focus?
Regarding dreamtime, it would seem to me that if you want to create a dream diary, a voice-activated tape recorder would be more helpful than fumbling with an iPhone in the dark. But, anyway, it's the development of consciousness, not the recording of it, that's important.
I am reminded of the Zen proverb: "Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water."
The devices seems more designed to create "a" peace rather than help us find true inner peace. They may become, in fact, a distraction from finding the still point within. While such apps are useful and helpful, they are the chopping wood and carrying water part of the equation.
There is no app for enlightenment. There is no shortcut to mindfulness.
Jim PathFinder Ewing is the author of five books on energy medicine and eco-spirituality (Findhorn Press) published in English, French, German, Russian and Japanese. His next book, to be published in the fall, is titled "Conscious Food: Sustainable Growth, Spiritual Eating." Find Jim on Facebook, follow him @edibleprayers or visit http://www.blueskywaters.com.