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.
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.
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.
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.
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.