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What a 10 day silent meditation retreat taught me about UX

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Back in 2019 I spent 10 days meditating 10 hours a day without any electronics, and without speaking to anyone.

It was a Vipassana meditation retreat here in the UK. And marked the start of a big journey to making meditation a solid part of my daily routine.

But apart from the benefits of meditation, I got a couple more important lessons I was able to apply to my career and business. It all starts with the way these retreats are set up…

First, they are super standardized. Vipassana is a global non-profit organization. You can find their meditation centers all over the world and most importantly, they all work exactly the same.

From the type of location (usually in the isolated country side), to the center’s buildings (a welcome house, living quarters, meditation hall and garden) and especially the daily schedule.

You’re provided with an hourly timeline of everything you’ll be doing each day from 4 am to 9 pm. You’re told when and where you’ll be meditating, when you’ll be eating and when you’ll be having breaks. Everything works like clockwork. And it’s the same everywhere you go.

Your only goal? To focus on the meditation and on learning the technique (it’s an actual course where you learn it little by little).

The best part? It’s all donation based.

I love it and it’s a great example of an ideal user experience.

It’s got every trick in the book:

  • Consistency (schedule, location, etc.)
  • Low friction (super low barrier to entry)
  • Trustworthiness (reputable organization)
  • Understanding of users (they perfected it over 46 years, even trying it in American prisons)
  • Rigid guidelines (no electronic devices, no exercising, no reading, no note taking allowed… and eating only vegetarian food)
  • Clear expectations (on the first day and even before that they are super clear of what you can expect)

And finally a big one… commitment.

If you want to see the results and fully learn the technique, you have to go through all the 10 days. You’re free to leave at any time (freedom and flexibility!), but you have to invest, if not money, time and effort.

You can take these factors into account when it comes to the UX of your site or app. Adjust them up or down like levers, and make your users happy.

They will surely spread the word…

…if you want to check out the Vipassana organization, go to https://www.dhamma.org

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