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Author: Cara Imperato

How Technology Can Ease 5 Common Causes of Stress

Whether you’re juggling your aging parents’ health, a micromanaging boss, or your kids’ busy schedules, much of your everyday stress arises from feeling disorganized or out of control.

But unfortunately, hiring a personal assistant isn’t likely for most of us.

Instead, let’s take a look at the five most common causes of stress and suggest some specific tools and apps that can help you stay on top of all your obligations and create healthy boundaries. Continue reading How Technology Can Ease 5 Common Causes of Stress

The Troubling Effects of Parents’ Screen Use on Children – And What To Do About It

Have you ever unconsciously ignored your child’s demands for attention because you were engrossed by something on your phone?

Or felt like you weren’t really present because you were reacting to multiple interruptions from emails or texts?

This is now commonly referred to as “technoference” by social scientists, and its negative effects are becoming more apparent with each new study.

But before you beat yourself up, we’re not here to judge.

Instead, we want to open up a new conversation about why managing parents’ screen time is just as important as managing kids’ screen time. And then help you break the smartphone addiction.

Not only because it sets a good example, but because appropriate technology use by parents can keep kids safer, improve their cognitive development, build a stronger bond, and reduce misbehavior.

Let’s begin by explaining some of the dangers and then dive into exactly what you can do as a parent. Continue reading The Troubling Effects of Parents’ Screen Use on Children – And What To Do About It

Exploring Meditation Devices– Is the Muse Headband Right for You?

Every day, it seems there’s a new study touting the benefits of meditation. Experts say it can enhance your focus, reduce anxiety, increase self-awareness, and give you a sense of calm. The list goes on.

So, why isn’t everyone making time for this simple, free practice that can have such a positive impact on your life?

Well, it’s hard.

As anyone who’s tried to meditate knows, sitting quietly with only your thoughts is more difficult than it sounds. In our go-go-go culture of constant entertainment, pausing feels downright uncomfortable. It’s a step beyond boredom, as your mind searches wildly for the comfort of distraction from unpleasant thoughts.

Not only that, meditation often takes time to be noticeable in your daily life. For beginners, it’s tough to persist in your practice when you don’t see results.

Of course, there’s no shortage of books, classes, workshops, retreats, and meditation apps to help you get through these obstacles. And for many practitioners, they provide enough guidance and support to build a regular practice. 

But sometimes, it’s not enough. After all, no teacher can read your mind. 

Fortunately, meditation devices like the Muse headband are the closest thing to it. They provide biofeedback from your mind and body to help you stay on track. This speeds up the learning curve, helping meditators have a sense of purpose and progress, which translates into continued practice.

What is Muse?

The original Muse headband is a portable EEG (or electroencephalogram) that provides real-time feedback on your brain activity to help you improve your meditation practice. Muse 2 takes this one step further, adding sensors for your heart, body, and breath:

  • PPG + Pulse Oximetry to measure heart rate
  • Accelerometer to measure body movement
  • PPG + Gyroscope to measure breathing

Amazingly, these are all combined into a slim headband that you connect to your phone or tablet via Bluetooth.

Muse, meditation devices
Muse shrinks down technology for the brain, breath, heart, and body into a simple headband with sensors that communicate with your Muse app via Bluetooth.

How does the Muse headband work?

Without getting too scientific, Muse 2 interprets the data from these multiple sensors and provides subtle prompts that guide you back to stillness. There are four distinct programs.

  • Mind Meditation – As your mind wanders, the soundscape goes from calm to stormy weather. 
  • Heart Meditation – You’ll hear your heartbeat played back in real-time as the sound of a rhythmic drum. 
  • Breath Meditation – When you pace your breath with the guiding tones, the sounds will harmonize.
  • Body Meditation – As your movement shifts, you’ll be gently nudged back to stillness with the sound of wind chimes.

For example, let’s say you select the mind meditation and your thoughts begin to drift. You’ll hear the winds pick up, signaling you to come back to the moment. As your mind calms, you’ll hear the sound of birds gently tweeting.

It provides both an immediate trigger and reward. 

Within the mind meditation, you can select your favorite immersive soundscape. Choose from rain forest, beach, city park, desert, or ambient.

How does Muse encourage continued practice?

After your meditation, you can see how you did through a series of graphs and charts in the Muse meditation app. To keep you motivated, Muse also gives you points, goals, challenges, and bonuses, along with helpful tips on how to improve future scores.

And, at the end of every Muse session, you can record how you feel and reflect on what came up for you during your meditation. If you don’t have time, you can simply choose an emoji to capture your mood. 

Muse, meditation devices
Adding an element of gaming and incentive to your meditation practice can help you stay motivated and on track.

What are people saying about Muse?

“Is all of this worth $250? Your mileage may vary, but to my mind (no pun intended) it absolutely is. Both Headspace and Calm offer lifetime subscriptions for $299, and they don’t give you useable data on your meditation practice.” – Chris Taylor, Mashable

“It’s hard to believe that such a small, simply-designed device can actually read your brain signals. But from my experience using it, I feel like I’ve actually been able to meditate.” – Lee Bell, Forbes

“I found that the device offers something a silent savasana and guided meditation could never: a nonjudgmental companion in your ear (a rain cloud, a wind chime, okay, even the loud tribal drum) that keeps you accountable before your mind wanders too far off. I felt a lot more focused during meditations and ultimately became calmer and sleepier if I used the Muse before bed.” – Lori Keong, New York Magazine

“The science behind Muse is pretty robust – the neurofeedback has been used in the mental health field for over a decade – and its tech has been used in neuroscience research.” Hugh Langley, Wareable

How can I buy Muse?

Are you intrigued by the possibilities of meditation devices? You can visit www.choosemuse.com to purchase the original Muse or Muse 2. They offer a few options.

  • Muse 1 – The original Muse includes the EEG sensors, so you have access to the mind meditation. This version retails for $149. Although it’s a single headband, multiple users can link to their own Muse app to record sessions.
  • Muse 2 – This includes sensors to measure the brain, heart, breath, and movement, so you have access to the mind, heart, breath, and body meditations. It’s also a single headband, but for multiple users. This upgraded version costs $249.
  • Guided Meditations – You can also purchase 100+ Guided Meditations from renowned meditation instructors on topics like sleep, performance, stress, and more. After each meditation, you’ll receive a post-session report with your Muse data (brain activity) during that session. This is a monthly or annual subscription.
Woman using Muse, meditation devices

What does the future hold for meditation devices?

As this technology advances, we’re already seeing potential new applications emerge. Especially in conjunction with virtual reality. 

For example, Healium combines immersive technologies, such as virtual and augmented reality, with biometrics monitoring like Muse. The visual meditation experience is powered by your own brain and heart rate, so as you move towards greater inner peace, the various brainwave patterns and changing heart rate moves alters the visuals. Imagine making flowers spontaneously grow or the sun shine more brightly with your mind!

It’s clear we’re on the cusp of some exciting, positive developments that will help more people enjoy the significant mental, emotional, and physical benefits of meditation.

Have you used Muse or similar meditation devices? We’d love to hear your experiences.

20 Apps To Help Stressed Parents Find Balance

Parenting is the best job in the world. But it can also be the hardest.

With a neverending to-do list and 24/7 schedule, parents often find themselves scattered and tired, just trying to get it all done.

But no parent wants to miss those beautiful childhood moments of growth, happiness, and discovery.

So, how do you take care of the basics and still have time to be fully present with your kids?

As the old Apple commercial says, “There’s an app for that!” 

Technology can be a lifesaver for stressed parents. Whether you need to find an afternoon activity, book a last-minute babysitter, or simply calm your mind after a long day with the kids, there really is an app for everything.

We’ve gathered 20 of our favorites to help you balance it all.

Continue reading 20 Apps To Help Stressed Parents Find Balance

3 Key Insights on the Psychology of Technology from Author & Researcher Dr. Larry Rosen

If you’ve ever been concerned about the psychological impact of our society’s increasing obsession with technology, Dr. Larry Rosen has studied it from every angle over the past 30 years.

You might be wondering what there was to study back in the late 1980s! Even then, as computers made their way into homes and workplaces, Rosen began to recognize and study signs of “technophobia.” In fact, his first publication TechnoStress: Coping with Technology @Work @Home @Play was published in 1997. 

But with the exponential growth of personal technology like iPhones and social media, fear has been replaced with anxiety and distraction due to our constant connectedness. That’s been the focus of his research over the past decade. 

Robert Plotkin had an opportunity to talk with Dr. Rosen on episode 23 of the Technology for Mindfulness podcast about what he’s learned from his years of research and how the fields of neuroscience and psychology can help us engage with technology in a healthy way. Here are three key insights we gleaned from their conversation on the psychology of technology.

Continue reading 3 Key Insights on the Psychology of Technology from Author & Researcher Dr. Larry Rosen

How to Use Multiple Desktops to Maximize Focus

Are you one of those people with 30 tabs open at any given time? Do you find yourself checking Instagram or absent-mindedly responding to someone on Whatsapp when you should be working? Don’t worry, we all do it. As soon as you hear the ping of a notification, it’s incredibly easy to wander off and lose valuable time during your day. But what if you could remove all those attention suckers when you’re trying to do your best work? And easily switch back when it’s time to communicate or play? It’s possible — and easy to do with multiple desktops. Learn what they are, why they’re so helpful, and how to set them up for yourself in a way that maximizes not only productivity but focus as well. Continue reading How to Use Multiple Desktops to Maximize Focus

How to Manage Your Digital Environment – 6 Practical Ideas from Pete Dunlap

The concept of mindful technology is edging its way into the mainstream as more and more people want to break free of unhealthy digital habits.

Pete Dunlap, Founder of Digital Detangler, is poised to help with this uniquely modern problem. He empowers individuals, schools, and businesses to transform their digital environments for greater well-being.

Robert Plotkin recently interviewed Pete on the Technology for Mindfulness podcast to learn how he became the Digital Detangler and what individuals can do to take control of their own technology use. Continue reading How to Manage Your Digital Environment – 6 Practical Ideas from Pete Dunlap

4 Ways Technology Can Improve Your Relationships – A Conversation with Marla Mattenson

When you read the latest headlines, you’d think technology is the worst thing to happen to couples since… well, ever. After all, it takes our attention away from our partners, right?

Not so fast. It’s not all bad news. Marla Mattenson has a different perspective, and it’s quite empowering. Continue reading 4 Ways Technology Can Improve Your Relationships – A Conversation with Marla Mattenson

Thriving as an Entrepreneur in the Digital Age – 5 Lessons from Dr. Sherry Walling

Dr. Sherry Walling offers a unique perspective on entrepreneur burnout.

As both an accomplished clinical psychologist and the spouse of a serial tech entrepreneur, she’s combined insights from both roles and developed a much-needed resource called ZenFounder.

On a recent Technology for Mindfulness podcast, our founder Robert Plotkin interviewed Dr. Walling to learn more about her work.

They chatted about entrepreneur stress, how it’s made worse by the frenetic pace of technology, and her recommendations for founders (and their partners). Continue reading Thriving as an Entrepreneur in the Digital Age – 5 Lessons from Dr. Sherry Walling

25 Mindfulness Quotes to Help You Hit the Pause Button

In our modern society, technology is often an obstacle to mindfulness. It’s so easy to reach for your smartphone when the pangs of loneliness, fear, or boredom appear.

After all, it offers instant relief. And we’re only human.

If you want to break this reflex and empower yourself when it comes to technology, you’re in the right place. In today’s blog, we begin with inspiration.

We’ve gathered 25 mindfulness quotes to help you remember why it’s so important to accept the present, embrace your feelings, and welcome the gifts that mindfulness offers us. Continue reading 25 Mindfulness Quotes to Help You Hit the Pause Button

How to Manage Your Technology Notifications for a Mindful Workday

You might think mindfulness at work is impossible these days. With constant connectivity comes constant interruptions, right? But it doesn’t have to be that way. Many of us never stop to consider that we can control our notifications, settings, and reminders. Sure, you might change a few things when you get a new phone or download an app. But when was the last time you thought critically about whether they’re really working for you? In this post, we’ll talk about how you can create a work environment that’s conducive to mindfulness. That includes easy tips, smart tools, and helpful resources to move you from frazzled to calm. Your coworkers will be asking for your secret, so be sure to share! Continue reading How to Manage Your Technology Notifications for a Mindful Workday

5 Mindfulness Practices for Stressed-Out Teachers

As a teacher, there’s a lot that’s out of your control.

Testing requirements. New standards. Budget cuts. Bigger class sizes. Demanding parents.

It’s no wonder teacher stress levels are among the highest of any occupation. Continue reading 5 Mindfulness Practices for Stressed-Out Teachers

10 Mindfulness-Based Tools to Reduce Distractions and Improve Your Focus

It’s a daily struggle.

You sit down at your computer, ready to tackle your day. And then it happens.

A notification pops up – you’ve got three new emails. Before you can open them, there’s an instant message on the bottom of your screen.

Then you hear your phone ping and think, “Is that the sound of a calendar reminder or just a reply on my social media post? I’d better check before I start working…” And so it goes.

Sound familiar?

In today’s notification-obsessed world, it’s harder than ever to focus. Distractions like these can really add up.

Not only do you lose time reacting, but it also takes time to refocus. In fact, according to a study from the University of California Irvine, it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to a task after being interrupted.

Fortunately, technology doesn’t always have to be a distraction– it can also be a tool to help you focus. Continue reading 10 Mindfulness-Based Tools to Reduce Distractions and Improve Your Focus

10 Best Mindfulness Meditation Apps to Manage the Craziness of Daily Life

If you’re feeling frazzled by the demands of modern life, you’re not alone.

According to a recent Gallup poll, 79% of Americans feel stressed every day. But we have good news. You don’t have to jet off to a month-long meditation retreat to reap the benefits of mindfulness.

It may sound counterintuitive, but your smartphone (you know, that thing in your pocket that you love-hate?) might just be your best tool for managing stress and helping you focus.

Mindfulness meditation apps are an inexpensive way to test the waters with a new mindfulness practice.

But they’re also great for trying out meditation if you’re new to it as well. 

So, ready to give it a try? We’ve gathered the ten best mindfulness meditation apps ideal for beginners, but with room to grow.

Here are the 10 best mindfulness meditation apps to manage the craziness of daily life.
Continue reading 10 Best Mindfulness Meditation Apps to Manage the Craziness of Daily Life
The average cellphone user touches their phone 2,617 times a day.

The average cellphone user touches their phone 2,617 times a day.

Sign up to receive a free, 5 minute guided meditation that helps you gain control over your smartphone, instead of being controlled by it. 

You will receive our free 5 minute meditation soon!