Meditation with Muse, the Mind-Sensing Headband

I’ve never been big on meditation. Correction – I’ve never been *good* at meditation. It’s one of those things, like cleanses or yoga, that everyone says is SO good for your health, but I just can’t get my head into it.

Social media is the antithesis of meditation. With our minds flitting like hummingbirds from tweet to tweet, taking in 40 thoughts a minute and rapidly sorting through ideas, we fill our heads with BuzzFeed lists and food photos and details about Kylie’s latest lip kit. Meditation teaches us to pull the plug out and let those thoughts drain out of our brains, leaving behind peace and breath and self-awareness, but it’s so much easier said than done.

At the July We Are Wearables meetup in Toronto, I had the chance to demo Muse, a wearable mind-sensing device that uses your brain waves to help you meditate. Muse sits across the forehead, with two sensing pads that sit just behind your ears, and reads your brain activity (it doesn’t know what you’re thinking, just how much you’re thinking), giving you auditory feedback on the effectiveness of your meditation.

When you meditate with Muse, the connected app gives you auditory feedback on the emptiness of your mind. It starts with a brain activity sensing exercise, where you’re given a category and the headband reads your activity as you think about items within that category. Then as you meditate, the app compares your brain activity with the exercise reading to see how effectively you’re meditating. When you’re focused on your breath, you hear sounds of a calm beach with waves crashing gently on the shore. As your thoughts start to drift you can hear a storm roll in over the beach, signalling you to return your focus to your breathing.

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According to Andrew Persaud of Muse, who demoed the experience for me, meditation is not about how well you do the exercise, or about a result; rather, it is more about engaging in the practice and putting intention into practice. While one perceived goal may be to improve, this should not necessarily be seen as a binary outcome: every day, and even every moment, is different. One cannot simply judge their practice based on a number or score. Though a rating can be a useful tool/measure, the practice of meditation is much deeper than a singular element.

Muse currently has thousands of users using Muse to help them meditate for different reasons. Some, like athletes and coaches, use Muse for mental performance and training, while others use Muse for stress or to treat mental health conditions like ADHD, anxiety, and even PTSD. Whatever your reason or experience level, Muse helps you start, build, or improve upon your meditation practice.

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Special thanks to Andrew Persaud of Muse and the organizers of WWTO.

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I was wearing…

jacket: Guess | shorts: Guess | crop top: street vendor in NYC (also seen here) | shoes: Massarotto Luisa Calzature

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