Yes, yes, we all have to meditate. We hear this all the time, I TELL people all the time, but actually doing it can often be challenging.
“How do I do it? Why wont my mind quiet down? I keep falling asleep! It’s boring…..”
I’ve heard all the reasons why it’s challenging, I’ve offered all the handy apps to give patients some help, I’ve given them websites and breathing exercises, and set seemingly achievable meditation goals. But still it can feel laborious and out of reach for most. Well here’s a fresh new approach.
MUSE is a meditation device that can mirror back to you how your meditation session is going. It gives real time feedback to guide you towards developing a better meditation practice.
MUSE is worn around the head and over the back of the ears. It has 7 EEG sensors in these areas that measure your brain waves. Cool, huh!
This device pairs with your smart phone or tablet via Bluetooth. You can download the dedicated MUSE app for free, which offers 5 different soundscapes to choose from. They include Beach, Desert, Ambient Music, Rainforest, and City Park. Ideally it’s used with headphones, but it’s not compulsory (I have never used headphones).
How to use MUSE
Sit however you choose, breathe, relax, quieten down, start melting a little. MUSE will detect your brainwaves, and provide feedback via the selected soundscape. If you chose the Beach theme, you will hear waves rolling in. If your mind is “active”, those waves will crash a little harder, and the day will become more overcast and turbulent (picture an overcast windy day…). Your job is to bring yourself back from that.
Concentrate on your breath, come back into your center, refocus, and your reward will be a progressively calmer beach! Peace, serenity, warmth, bliss…. The calmer your mind is, the calmer your beach will become. The ultimate reward is hearing Birds lightly chirping in the background. If you hear Birds, congrats, you’re in the chill zone. The more Birds you hear the more Zen you are.
After a session, it will provide you with a summary that includes…..
- A visual representation of your brainwaves, which includes darkened lines showing when Birds were heard.
- Various rewards you may have earned
- How many times your brain was active and you “recovered” back into a neutral state.
- Accumulation of Calm points you earned
- The amount of Birds you earned
- It also gives a percentage of time you were in a calm state.
I love this device. I’m competitive, which totally goes against anything remotely Zen…. But in this space I can challenge myself.
The most interesting things about this, is that it has changed my understanding of meditation. I have been meditating for almost 20 years. I have attended classes, tried different techniques, been through Vipassana, attended courses that involved hyperventilation, flapping my legs around, binding my eyes and ears, and staring at a terrible photo of an overweight bearded guru.
I was always trying to be empty, let go of thoughts, judgment & general brain static. Because MUSE gives real time feedback about where your mind is at, you can try things during a session to help you find out what works. I have found that when I’m Zen-ing to the max and Birds surround me, my mind IS NOT empty in the slightest. My mind is fluid, the doors are open, and thoughts are flowing through like crazy. These thoughts may be work related, insightful ideas about improving myself, how to roast a leg of lamb, or how long the lawn will get before someone mows it. Raaaaaandom!! As soon as I question my thoughts, the birds fly away. It’s all about the flow state.
As Bruce Lee said…. “Be water my friend, be water…”
Another cool thing is that you discover in which circumstances you are most suited to meditate. You may get better results on an empty stomach, or just before bed at night. You may find alcohol the night before will affect your ability to meditation the following morning, or that you hear more Birds after 7.5 hours of sleep instead of your usual 7 hours. You can use MUSE to meditate for 5-10 minutes each lunch break, watch your scores rise as you get better, and then notice how it translates into more focus and energy in the afternoon
At the beginning of my experience with MUSE, I experimented with various supplements to gauge their effects. Magnesium, GABA, and L-Theanine bought exceptional Calm scores. I have since dropped them, and now focus on various breathing strategies. I have gone from around 50% Calm scores when I started using MUSE, to low 90’s now. I am officially a Jedi master. Hmmm, doubt me, do you?…
I don’t need to link you to a bunch of studies about how amazing meditation is for basically every area of your life. I think most of us are well aware of this these days. If you’ve had trouble committing to meditation in the past, if you’ve been unsure if you’re doing it correctly, if you want to track your current meditation practice, or if you just like cool toys, then check it out. It gets the thumbs up from me.