August 22, 2019

Can an App Make You More Mindful?

“Ten miles south of San Francisco, tucked behind the moody blue Bay, lies a small slice of heaven for Silicon Valley workers: Casa Madrona Hotel and Spa. Located across the street from sweeping views of the San Francisco Bay in the heart of Sausalito, its Wellness rooms allow customers to “nourish,” in the establishment’s words, their minds and bodies in a very technological way. Each room is stocked with a meditation headband that tracks your brain waves while meditating, a virtual trainer to lead you on a run, among other technological, and holistic amenities, such as essential oils to promote relaxation.

I first read about Casa Madrona in a travel magazine where it was touted as a place to disconnect, escape the grind of San Francisco, but with technology’s assistance. It seemed like a very counterproductive way to market a wellness experience. It also seemed like more proof that technology, wellness — including the mindfulness movement — were becoming more intertwined. Apps that focus on self-care, which range from fitness apps to meditation apps to sleep tracking, are both booming in popularity with both consumers and investors, but they seem to contradict what we seek to obtain from taking better care of ourselves, which is mostly less stress, healthier bodies and calmer minds .

I arrived at Casa Madrona on a Friday afternoon skeptical, but with an open mind. Monica Cruz Hernandez, the property’s Social Media Manager, showed me around the hotel which had different levels of open-air communal areas and patios. I asked if Silicon Valley workers were frequent customers. She said yes, and that company-sponsored working wellness retreats are very popular. She added that executives seeking increased productivity enjoy taking meditation or fitness breaks before or after meetings.”

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