I meditated with Gwyneth Paltrow, and learned how she uses her Oura smart ring

 Gwyneth Paltrow.
Gwyneth Paltrow.

“Open your eyes, and observe all the objects of your surroundings,” said the voice of Gwyneth Paltrow, live, from LA. “now become aware of the empty space around your objects, and how the space allows everything to exist within it.”

It was odd to do a meditation breathing exercise with another person on Zoom. I was staring out the window at nothing in particular, picking a water spot on the glass as a focal point while the Iron Man franchise star and Goop owner talked me through the exercise. I was used to closing my eyes and sitting on a chair or cushion while I practiced mindfulness, but as my eyes glazed over, I could see how taking your practice anywhere could be very useful.

I was lucky enough to be part of a video call presentation and discussion from Gwyneth Paltrow about Moments of Space, a new meditation app co-owned by Paltrow, and moderated by the app’s creator, Kim Little.

Meditation apps have been around for a very long time: most of the best fitness apps offer some sort of mindfulness or breathing exercise element, while dedicated apps like Headspace and Calm offer audio experiences for short mindfulness sessions, long meditations, sleeping, naps, and everything in between.

Moments of Space has its own unique selling point (other than Paltrow’s involvement, that is): a focus on open-eye techniques, encouraging you to experience the world around you while you meditate, not just sitting on the floor with your eyes closed.

Gwyneth Paltrow
Gwyneth Paltrow

During the call, Paltrow said: “Eyes-open meditation has changed my life because I find that all-day-every-day, I can just steal a few minutes here and there. I can be at my desk, walking down a hall, on a zoom (no offense) and I can meditate!

“I find it’s really deepened the results of what meditation does.”

The other unique bit is that rather than remain carefully secular, like Headspace and Calm, it’s unashamedly rooted in Dzogchen Buddhist teachings while embracing modern tech advancements, like artificial intelligence. The app’s AI is said to identify your personality traits and put you on structured paths of content (for example, a particular course of meditations designed to soothe anxiety), but it will also identify ‘transient’ states and recommend standalone meditations called ‘Moments’ to match. “The more you use the app,” said founder Kim Little,  “the better it will get to understanding your needs in the moment.

“With the advent of AI, it’s all going to be about hyper-personalization. Everything will become personalized to the user, completely customized and dynamic, and I know in our app we’re trying to solve this problem of giving the user the right content. That’s the potential impact of tech in wellness… everything becoming unique to that user.”

Identifying your personality traits puts you on structured paths of content, but it will also identify transient states and recommend standalone meditations called “Moments” to match. The more you use the app, the better it will understand your needs in the moment.

The Oura Ring in silver
The Oura Ring in silver

Gwyneth Paltrow is a bona fide wellness guru, promoting alternative (and occasionally controversial) approaches to the norm. It stands to reason that as the industry moves on, she’s investing in products like Moments of Space that are making use of the vast suite of health metrics your phone and wearables can collect.

“I think we’re living in the most amazing time where technology is moving at an incredible pace,” said Paltrow. “There will be a lot of opportunity with technology to provide us data and roadmaps to help further our own wellness. For example, I have an Oura Ring which I wear and it uses technology and hardware to help me track certain wellness markers which are important to me.

“I can set up my Oura Ring before I meditate and it will tell me what my heart rate was before and after my meditation, body temperature, and so on. It’s predictive, so I think technology being able to help us pull data lets us go further. I can make adjustments based on that data in terms of how I drink alcohol or don’t drink alcohol, for example, which impacts my sleep.”

The best smart rings are fantastic for recording these kinds of passive experiences, as they don’t have a screen to interact with. This places the emphasis less on fitness and more on holistic well-being, so it’s no surprise Paltrow prefers rings to the best smartwatches.

Moments of Space sounds like it’s got enough going for it to distinguish itself from the rest of the meditation app pack, not the least of which is wellness guru’s Paltrow involvement. Even her brief presentation has me second-guessing what I thought I knew about mindfulness.

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