Okay, this is my story.
As a kid, I was probably not very liked among other kids. I was the person my mother had to come pick up because of misbehaving. I was also very stressed as a child, I didn’t like to have the light turned off before I fell asleep and I was a constant bedwetter until I was around thirteen.
I was given acupuncture to try to calm my mind down – in hopes for some of my stressful actions to mellow down. They said that the theta activity in my brain was overflowing. I was also seeking council to the school’s nurse in order to make me more adaptable to other kids.
At around 10 or 12 I became a puzzle-solver and I did the most astounding puzzles that took hours upon end. I consider this my first encounter with meditation.
As I started to become more interested in becoming a health physician, both my experience and my connection with meditation grew very strong over time.
Now, over 1 year later, I will give you a walkthrough of my experience over the last year.
And what I want to share with this article is to give you a real “how to”. How you can develop something over time that is not about success or about goals or wealth.
The thing I’m talking about is The Muse! How did I use this and what have I learned using it over time? And most importantly, what have I learned from it with improving my meditation and why I still consistently uses it.
I’ve Had it Over 300 Days now
So almost a year. In this article, I will go through
- How it works
- How accurate it is
- All the benefits I have experienced
- See if it actually works over time
So this is the Device:
Muse: The Brain Sensing Headband
By buying it from InteraXon’s website, you also help me with getting a small commission.
The first time I heard about the Muse Brain Scanning Headband was in 2016, and I believe it was at a seminar back in some health-coaching classes I was attending at the time. The Muse is described as an EEG neurofeedback device. Neurofeedback is a technique that has been used in the treatment of mental health condition with a purpose to alter brain functions by giving live feedback about the EEG rhythms in the brain.
The goal is to decrease the theta activity (An electrical oscillation occurring in the human brain at a frequency of about 4 to 8 hertz) to an optimal level.
A low theta activity is often a cause of anxiety, poor emotional awareness and stress while too much is typically the cause of ADHD, depression, hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattentiveness. The optimal range of theta brainwaves frequency results in higher creativity, emotional connection, intuition, and relaxation. This is, of course, where we want to end up.
So, How do I use the Muse in my Daily Routine?
I use it pretty much first thing in the morning, as I always do meditation every morning to prepare my mind.
To be honest, the last couple of months I’ve slacked off a bit with using it – but it is so easy to use so that I will start using it again every morning from now on.
What I want to do first thing in the morning is that I don’t want to bring anything into my day that I don’t want. Such as distracting thoughts or a mindset that does not fill my daily purpose.
My meditation in the morning gives me pretty much a blank slate and I become less reactive throughout my day.
After using the Muse in my meditation, I always go and write down my to-do list for the day. In a calm state, it is easy for me to focus on writing down just a few tasks that I want to accomplish in the day and actually follow through on them.
How Does the Muse Brain Sensing Headband Work?
As you can see you have a button that you use to activate it. You also need a kind of smartphone that you can use it with since you will need an app.
1) So you need to download and start up an app called “Muse” You simply begin by pressing “start session” and it starts a quick calibration. It is connected through Bluetooth, and you also want to use headphones, since you will get some feedback from the app during the session.
Before you start a session you can choose which kind of meditation you would want to use. I have used a lot of the different types in the beginning, but for the last year, I have only used the regular 12 minutes basic meditation, since I think it is most applicable to my meditation.
2) After this, a brain calibration starts, that is designed to first make your brain work as fast as possible. It asks you to think about different topics for about 10-20 seconds – for example, “animals” or “fictional characters”.
Here it is important to activate and prepare your brain as much as you can so that the calibration gets as accurate as possible.
And also, if you use it over time, you really want this calibration progress to be consistent. You can’t, for example, be very tired one day and do the calibration with half-measures, and on another day really push your calibration.
You want consistency in order to get a good Calm-Score, which basically indicates how many brain waves are in the right zone for the calm meditating state.
Note: This is just my experience and a thing I’ve noticed over time and not anything that I based off of the product-developers instructions. Although, I think it makes a lot of sense.
Calm Points are awarded for time spent meditating with a restful, focused mind. You receive 1 point for every second that your brain is in a natural state of rest (neutral), and 3 points for every second spent with a deep restful focus on your breath (calm)
3) Once you start the session after the calibration is finished, the Muse is going to give you feedback on the metrics of wind/wave-sounds. So for example, if it notices that you have a really active mind, the wind and wave sounds will almost sound like a storm, while if it sounds like a more calm wind, it means that you are in more control of your mind.
The other type of feedback is some birds tweeting. So when they start tweeting that means that you are at the bottom of brain activity. This is pretty much where you want to be, and this is where my brain activity is throughout the whole session.
This also increases the more time you are in this state.
Results and Reflections
So, I’ve been using this for almost 1 year now, and my highest Calm Score is 82%, which pretty much gives you a result of your sessions average of calmness. I don’t really care about that though, besides that I want it to be as consistent as possible.
But also, in the beginning, I was really frustrated with not being able to be completely mindless – which made me even less mindless. But I ensure you, that if you feel like it doesn’t work for you in the beginning, it will improve a lot! To remember is that it is not a magical tool, it is more of a product that can help you achieve total mindfulness.
Also, I believe it helps a lot if you already feel like you are experienced in meditation since the benefits will be even more clear.
Sometimes I get higher “winds” and less of the “bird tweets” even though I believe I don’t really think about anything – but then I notice that there’s something tense in my body. Typically I find that I have my neck tightened or that my hands are clenched together.
So I found it is equally important to keep your body mindless in relation to the mind.
If you are in a state when the bird tweets start to go away and the wind starts to pick up, it is important to not worry about it, since this is the whole point of trying to control your stress levels and your state of mind.
Another way i use the Muse is also whenever i am having a bad day or if something happens that really bothers me. Since the sounds from the museapp has become a trigger for me to relax, my state of mind really evens out.
On this point, I have also noticed that it has given me a higher awareness of the undercurrent emotions that is hard for the mind to pinpoint. Such as anxiety or other types of issues that are hard to notice.
Of course, those are hard to notice, but after not using the Muse for a while, it really allows those undercurrent feelings to get back to my unconscious mind. This might also be one of the reasons why some don’t believe it works since you don’t realize that it works until you have used it for a while, and then stop using it.
Also, a final note, I recommend to not use it after you have had a cup of coffee.
EEG neurofeedback devices have been used successfully in curing the following conditions:
- major depression
- performance anxiety
- obsessive-compulsive disorder
- reading disabilities
- autism spectrum disorders
- traumatic brain injury
Although these techniques are not protected intellectual property, so industrial funding for large-scale trials have not yet been available. There are some patent issues as well regarding some use of the EEG neurofeedback devices, hence the widespread research has been affected.
Also, there is some disagreement as to which pattern of EEG rhythms would be most therapeutic for particular groups of patients. I was not able to locate references to clinical trials using the Muse technology specifically.
Even though it might not be formally approved for clinical use by the FDA, many clinlics still use it as treatment, but since the outcome in comparison to the cost is still unclear – this needs to be further researched. Also, and as i mentioned, the cost of consistent clinical use of EEP devices is simply not something that can be offered at a reasonable price.
The Muse, however, now offers a very efficient and convenient way to explore all those benefits of keeping a steady level of theta activity – and just as easy to implement in your morning routine as a quick stretch.
It is essentially a Self-directed activity using a wearable device coupled with a smartphone app. Therefore, the cost is much reduced and it up to each one of us to decide whether the techniques is a worthwhile investment of time.
The benefits from daily meditation cannot simply be put into one article. And considering the price estimates around $250, using it every day for a year, that is like 60 cents a day to have the most mindful experience daily.
Check it out at Amazon.com, where I bought mine. (The one in the picture is the one I bought for my mother as a birthday present) Also, if you buy through this link, I get a small commission!
Muse: The Brain Sensing Headband