Roll-Your-Own Mindfulness Reminder

There’s lots of research about staying in the present moment, and how doing that can help center you in times of stress.  I do tend to get caught up in worrying about the future, especially in academia, where lots of deadlines can make weeks and months into the future look like tangled messes.

Meditation, guided [link] or otherwise is probably the best tool for cultivating mindfulness, and there are also good apps for reminding oneself to stay in the present, like Mindfulness Daily [link]!  However, I came up with a way to just send an occasional push notification for those of us who may just want to be reminded to take a deep breath.

If This Then That [link] is one of my favorite web services, and includes tons of applets for connecting services to other services. Most of the services that exist are for things like Hue light bulbs and the Amazon Alexa (i.e. smart home and automation services), but there are a few others that allow for interesting timed events to be scheduled.  One of these services is for NASA [link], and allows you to do cool things like:

  • Email yourself a beautiful space photo once a day,
  • Know when the seasons are changing on Mars, and
  • Know when the International Space Station is passing over your home.

The latter one intrigued me, because it’s something I never think about in day to day life.  So I set a reminder for it, just to see how frequently the space station does pass over my house.  It turns out to be several times a day, and I grew to enjoy the little notification that popped up telling me that the space station was soaring overhead.  I started using the reminder to signal myself to pause and take a deep breath and center my thoughts – and realized it worked well as a mindfulness reminder!

So without further ado, here’s the steps for setting up your own space station mindfulness reminder!

  1. Sign up for IFTTT.  As of November 2016, it is a free service.  I would, as I always do, recommend setting up 2-factor authentication, especially if you intend on connecting personal accounts to this application (like Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  2. Go to the existing applet for being notified when the International Space Station passes overhead. [link]
  3. Click the toggle to turn it on, and add your own address (or whatever address you’d like to monitor) in the address field.
  4. Save the applet.
  5. Click the gear icon in the upper-right hand corner of the applet, to edit the message that is sent.
  6. Scroll down until you see the section headed “Send a Notification”, and change that to whatever text you prefer.