Meditation is a mind-body practice with considerable wellbeing benefits that can take different forms. Novices usually start with focused attention meditation that supports regulation of attention towards an inward focus or internal bodily sensations and away from external stimuli or distractors. Most meditation technologies employ metaphorical mappings of meditative states to visual or soundscape representations to support awareness of mind wandering and attention regulation, although the rationale for such mappings is seldom articulated. Moreover, such external modalities also take the focus attention away from the body. We advance the concept of interoceptive interaction and employed the embodied metaphor theory to explore the design of mappings to the interoceptive sense of thermoception. We illustrate this concept with WarmMind, an on-body interface integrating heat actuators for mapping meditation states. We report on an exploratory study with 10 participants comparing our novel thermal metaphors for mapping meditation states with comparable ones, albeit in aural modality, as provided by Muse meditation app. Findings indicate a tension between the highly discoverable soundscape’s metaphors which however hinder attention regulation, and the ambiguous thermal metaphors experienced as coming from the body and supported attention regulation. We discuss the qualities of embodied metaphors underpinning this tension and propose an initial framework to inform the design of metaphorical mappings for meditation technologies.
The ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (https://chi2021.acm.org/)