Exploring and Designing Embodied Mindfulness-based Interactive Technologies For Mental Wellbeing

Dauden Roquet, Claudia and Sas, Corina (2021) Exploring and Designing Embodied Mindfulness-based Interactive Technologies For Mental Wellbeing. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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Mindfulness practices have become increasingly popular due to their significant benefits for mental wellbeing. However, the required skills to sustain and regulate attention are challenging to develop. Both the benefits and the challenges of mindfulness training have attracted a growing Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) interest in designing interactive technologies for mindfulness. Most mindfulness-based technologies employ metaphorical mappings of mindfulness states to support awareness of such states and facilitate attention regulation, although the rationale for such mappings is seldom articulated. This thesis addresses this shortcoming, drawing on first-person experiences and embodied metaphors of mindfulness practices to design novel multi-sensory technologies for mental wellbeing. This work concentrates on focused attention mindfulness (FAM) practices which involve sustaining selective attention moment by moment on a chosen object, and are considered the most widely accessible among novices. In particular, the research presented in this thesis is structured around two distinct FAM practices, in 6 different but interrelated studies. On the one hand, mandala colouring illustrates a nonstatic FAM practice with an external object of attention. On the other hand, sitting meditation represents a static FAM practice with an internal object of attention. The first and second study investigate in-depth mandala colouring, respectively, by interviewing 21 people who regularly engage with this practice and through an autoethnographic and heuristic evaluation of the 14 top-ranked mandala colouring apps. Findings informed the development of Anima, a peripheral colour palette materialising EEG-based mindfulness states onto colours for mandala colouring. In the third study, Anima’s design solutions were evaluated with 12 experienced participants. The fourth study follows a research-through design and material speculation approach to understand the role of body during meditation with 24 experts. This is extended in the fifth study, in which the 16 most popular meditation apps are evaluated through auto-ethnography. An identified opportunity of designing for the physical sensations that arise during meditation was considered through the design of the WarmMind, that provide warmth patterns on the upper body. The WarmMind prototype was evaluated in the fifth study, through a user study with 10 participants experiencing thermal metaphors for mapping meditation states on the upper-body. Besides the technological design contributions of Anima and WarmMind, the contributions of this thesis include the concepts of intricate confines to scaffold mindful movement to support non-static FAM practices with an external object of attention, and interoceptive interaction to facilitate focusing inwards during meditation to support static FAM practices with an internal object of attention; as well as a framework built on embodied metaphor theories to designing meditation technologies. Collectively, these studies highlight the value of the human body in mindfulness-based technologies in HCI, as well as theoretical and methodological contributions to designing around mindfulness for mental wellbeing in HCI.

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16 Jun 2021 14:10
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16 Jul 2024 05:55