Pärtel talks about ethical design, his favourite bits of buddhify, and meditating at work
By Dana Jaffe
Recently, our editor Dana Jaffe sat down with each of the buddhify team members to find out what they’re all about. Here she chats with Pärtel Unga about working on a mindfulness app, ethical design, the buddhify Alexa Skill, and meditating with colleagues.
Working on a product that a lot of people find useful, especially in times of difficulty or intense emotions. I think it’s incredibly humbling, but it’s also a great source of strength that makes me strive to make their experience better from a design point of view. I know I can always find things to improve as long as I’m willing to learn and stay open minded.
It’s essential to understand who you are designing for when developing a product and I feel like psychology has been perfect for this process of understanding. It’s because of this that I’m also very invested in ethical design. As designers and developers of mindfulness products, we have a considerable impact on the mental wellbeing of people. That means that we need to take good care of how people use their time and attention on our products. Staying true to our ‘Designing Mindfulness’ manifesto, I’m always thinking about how we can make technology that prioritises the wellbeing of people who use it.
Other than the love and care that has gone into the content, I would say the wheel. I think it is such a unique and defining characteristic of the app and just visually compelling. Stefanie Posavec is an amazing designer and I’d love to meet her one day to tell her how much I admire her work.
We created the Alexa Skill after realising it was an opportunity to use recent technology to make buddhify even more accessible. Our aim was to also encourage people to make meditation more social and we think Alexa provides the perfect platform for it. The Echo has a great speaker, which means you can meditate together with others in a shared space. I’ve already tried some of the With Partner meditations with my girlfriend Alix and it’s been such a lovely extension to my regular practice.
I can honestly say I do use buddhify! In fact, it’s the only tool I use for meditating. Like many people, I find that buddhify comes across as really authentic and you really get a sense that it is crafted from the heart. I think the intimate friendliness of the guided meditations has made buddhify a good place for me to start learning meditation techniques. Also, I don’t think he knows, but Rohan has been a huge influence in getting me started with meditation. We sometimes have chats about our own experiences with mindfulness and those conversations always leave me inspired to continue exploring meditation on a deeper level.
I would also count our team meditations as part of my practice. We do our best to meditate together first thing in the morning at work. It varies so that sometimes we do the meditation together and at other times, we only share the space and do the meditation on our own. It’s such a lovely way to start the day.
I remember Rohan saying that as makers of meditation apps, our job is getting people to a stage where they don’t need apps to meditate. I think there is something beautiful about that mission, especially in a world where a lot of companies try to keep you within their systems. As a result, I’ve tried to follow this principle myself by taking a leap into independent self-guided practices using the techniques I’ve learned from buddhify.
Pärtel joined the team in January 2017 after graduating in psychology from the University of Glasgow. Having lived all around the world, he has an eye for universal good design and detail, and his talent has improved every screen within the app. Partel also leads on the buddhify Alexa Skill and buddhify’s sister project codenamed Future Mindfulness.