By way of summarizing my experience thus far, here’s a little bit more on my experience with auto-feeding meditation data from Insight Timer on the iPhone, to Beeminder, via Apple Health. I think I’ve got it working OK now, although it’s been a bit of a bumpy ride.
First, here’s how to set up the connection. This assumes you have already set up a meditation goal in Beeminder. And, for the reason I mentioned in another post but will explain again below, you should set up the goal with units of minutes, not “sits”, or “sessions” etc. There are then really only two steps: connect Insight Timer to Apple _Health; and then connect Apple Health on to Beeminder. Note: I wish I could be 100% sure on the sub-steps, but to do that I’d want to completely remove my current setup and then re-establish it, but it feels a bit fragile so I’m not going to risk it! This, therefore, is largely from memory, so caveat meditator.
Connect your phone’s Insight Timer app to Apple Health. From within Insight Timer:
a) Go to Settings by pressing the little head’n’shoulders icon at the bottom left while at the app’s home screen
b) Press Apple Health
c) Push the Apple Health Mindful Minutes slider to the right, making it go green
Connect your phone’s Beeminder app to Apple Health. From within Beeminder:
a) Press the Settings cog-wheel at the top right
b) Press Health app integration. You should be presented with a list of all your active Beeminder goals, on the right of each being either the words “Add source…”, if you have not connected the goal, or the name of the “source” if you have made the connection
c) Press on your meditation goal
d) Read the scary warning about choosing wisely, and how you’ll be attacked by an albatross with poor grammar skills if you make a mistake, but how the nice people at Beeminder support will come to your rescue if needed (and they did, 'cuz it woz)
e) Scroll down to find the Mindful minutes source, take a deep breath, and press it
That is, IIRC, (mostly) all there is to it. Now when you have completed a meditation session, Insight Timer will automagically tell Apple Health about it, and Health in turn will pass on the good news to Beeminder, and you’ll have successfully pushed back, for one more day, the dreaded, diabolical, hyperbolical hit on your credit card.
Finally, some things to watch out for, and other jiggery-pokery:
- Concerning that “mostly” above. If you have more than one meditation timery thingon your iPhone, it’s possible to have more than one of them provide data to Health and on to Beeminder. For example, although my current timer of choice is Insight Timer, I have also used 10% Happier of Dan Harris fame. If you have a similar setup, and you want to give one of them priority, I think you can do that in Health, but I’m not sure how
Insight Timer will still allow you to record a log entry, but that data does not appear to be passed to Health and so does not find its way to Beeminder
- There appears to be a wee rounding error somewhere between Insight Timer and Beeminder because I often see the data expressed in Beeminder to a precision of up to 14 decimal places, which is just the tiniest bit of an overkill. For example, I’ve seen several sits of 5 minutes be recorded in Beeminder as 4.99999999801318 minutes. Doesn’t seem to make any difference to anything important, but it’s eyebrow-raising
- I’ve seen a couple of puzzling interactions between my use of Insight Timer on my iPhone, and the same app on my iPad. The first is that as far as I’m aware, you cannot have Apple Health on the iPad, and so I’m not sure it even makes sense to use the Timer on the bigger device. Nevertheless, I’ve done it by mistake (i.e. forgetting I’m now doing the auto connect thing), and it looks like data might still be getting through. The second is that to make matters worse, I used my iPad while traveling and at a point where the time zone on my iPhone was different from that on my iPad. The result of all of the above was … well, confusion. Moral of the story; use the phone and only the phone.
Insight Timer speaks only in minutes; Beeminder, by contrast speaks in whatever units you tell it to; miles, slices of cake, bangings of head off wall, and so on. And for my first attempts, I chose “sessions” as my meditation unit. My initial goal was one session every morning. Yes, I had defined a session to mean “five minutes”, but that all-important number 5 was not represented in a numerical way in my goal. As a result, by initial sits of 5 minutes or 10 minutes according to Insight Timer (and reality), were interpreted by Beeminder as 5 sessions or 10 sessions, rapidly creating for me a huge, but entirely bogus, safety buffer. I was, to paraphrase Joey in Friends, when criticizing Chandler who had kissed Joey’s new girlfriend and had therefore “crossed the line”, I was so far above my yellow brick road that I couldn’t even see the road; the road was a dot to me. So minutes, minutes, always minutes. Make your Beeminder meditation goal unit be minutes.
And then I’ve left the thorniest bit for last. If you decide to take the fateful step (2e above) of connecting your goal, it can look as if you have forever forfeited the ability to provide data manually. After making the connection then on the website where on the right of your chart there used to be a box into which you could add data, there will be only a notice saying,
Hahahahaha! This goal now gets its data automatically from Apple now, so you can’t touch it anymore! Haha!! Oh sure, you can open the Beeminder app on iOS to sync the latest data, but that’s all we’ve left you with. Hahahaha! I’ll get you my pretty; and your little dog too! (Well, words to that effect. I don’t remember them verbatim.)
However, it turns out that – although this may depend on your level of Beeminder account – it is still perfectly possible to add/delete/modify entries (although clearly you’d do such a thing only while ironing out connection problems, and never to lie through your teeth about your goal.).
Modifying, including deleting, can be done on the website. Login to your account, go to the goal in question and look below your chart. Those yellow words in a dark grey background are actually tabs. Click on Data and there, amazingly, you’ll find your data, along with buttons marked Update and Delete. Use those to modify or delete any and all parts of a given datum
To add new data points, you can use the SMS or email interfaces (although, again, that may be a function of your account type). So with email you can send a message to email@example.com, with subject / containing one or more lines of the form:
2018 03 09 10 “optional comment”
So for example, if I used subject eucleides/meditation, and included the following as the email body:
2018 03 02 10 “Meditation is really hard”
2018 03 03 15 “I don’t know why I even bother”
2018 03 04 15 “In fact, I’m going to chuck it if it doesn’t improve”
2018 03 05 480 “Holy cr*p! Is this stream entry!? It’s got to be at least first jhana! Awesome!!!”
then I’d get data entries for those four days, times, along with respective comments.
That’s already more than I know, so I’ll stop here.