“I like to think of Mind Oasis as the Bali of the internet” ~ Kelly Schwartz, Founder Mind Oasis

“What Comes After The Social Media Empires” is an article that intrigued me enough to click a Buzzfeed linkfor the first time in a long time.

I don’t live with my head in the sand, but if you’ve ever taken a Facebook detox or have gone out into the woods for a few days without cell service or wifi (a few places on earth still do exist), then you know that what feels like “breaking” news is one of two flavors: the kind that will break again next week or in another 4-8 years.  When you unplug you realize that to “stay informed” – a quality any American worth their salt is supposed to have – you could glance at your favorite news source about once/month and be just fine.

What intrigued me about the Social Media Empire article is the idea that social media is responsible for creating further division in our society.  While I would posit that social media could be considered more a mirror to society, even that nuance wasn’t what got me thinking.

Recently I started a nonprofit called Mind Oasis.  It has been described as a revolutionary use of technology.  We offer live online meditation classes.  When you sign-up for a Mind Oasis class, you hop online for an hour or so to meet with other students and to practice meditation.  Imagine going to a yoga studio or a community room for meditation, but instead of battling traffic or leaving your kiddos or pets at home, that community comes to you via your computer.  Unlike the myriad wonderful meditation apps that exist, Mind Oasis is interactive, and the platform encourages dialogue, questions, and curiosity.

Skeptics have worried if meditating online could feel authentic and what the experience might be like.  Six months into our experiment, experience tells me that it takes students typically less than five minutes to figure out technology tweaks with audio and video and then they are on their way to sometimes profound meditative experiences!  At minimum, what I have observed is a coming together of community via technology.  There are folks in the north, south, east, and west – rural, mountain, and city folks – that I doubt would ever have met without Mind Oasis.  Now they meet regularly online in community.  They share their triumphs and struggles, the doldrums of life and work as well as the big stuff – like births and death.

Social media, technology, and all that goes with it is a matter of choice.  As the Buzzfeed article points out, there are niche platforms that span the suffering array.  There are probably places that Russian bots hang out too.  In my world, and in an increasing number of folks every day, Mind Oasis has become just as the name implies, an online gathering place that is an oasis for folks interested in befriending their mind.  I like to think of Mind Oasis as the Bali of the internet.  Conversations involve setting intentions for making the world a kinder place and the interdependence of our experience.  It offers a platform, using the same technology as Facebook or Twitter, to come together and explore and get curious about our differences using the age-old medium of meditation – online.

I love using technology for good.  It feels like the evolution of meditation instruction is upon us and that advancements in technology will only further open our willingness to look beyond divisiveness and logistical barriers to create connection – worldwide.  Namaste.

Read the full Buzzfeed article.

Kelly Schwartz is the Founder and Executive Director of Mind Oasis, an online nonprofit dedicated to bringing the timeless benefits of meditation to practitioners worldwide.  When she isn’t meditating or helping to create community, you can find her dancing ecstatically or hiking and climbing in the mountains with her husband and two dogs.