Looking for a way to relax and find your inner calm? One way to help guide you on your meditation journey is with some bio-tech electronics. Our best choice is the meditation headband from Muse which uses real-time feedback to get you to a less anxious state of mind. Here’s how it works.
Embedded in the headband are copper pads to carry electrical current from your skin to sensors in the headband electronics. These pads are typically positioned to make contact behind your ears and along your forehead.
The small micro-currents of electricity from your body are used to measure things like brain activity (EEG), heartbeat (PPG) and breathing (pulse oximetry).
It’s recommended that you not wear glasses with the headband. It would be harder to get a good electrical signal behind your ears if the arms of the glasses are resting there as well. If you must wear your glasses while meditating, it might take a couple of attempts and repositioning to get everything working properly.
Also found in the headband are positioning sensors (“3-axis accelerometers”) that can track your head and body movements.
All of this information is collected in real-time and transmitted by Bluetooth to an app running on your smart phone. The app will process all the data and provide feedback (usually audio, sometimes vibrations) to help you adjust your responses.
This directed feedback loop is how you train your mind and body to reach a state of relaxation.
The Muse 2 Meditation Headband (about $220) is a multi sensor headset tracker which helps you focus on and align your Mind, Heart, Breath and Body.
Mind – helps to find calmness and stay focused. The Muse translates your mental activity into the guiding sounds of weather to guide you. When the real-time brain activity (EEG) feedback of your mental activity registers as “busy”, you’ll hear sounds of stormy weather. This audio cues your brain and teaches you the art of focus. As your mind calms, the audio shifts towards soothing sounds of peaceful weather.
Heart – lets you learn your personal rhythm through your heartbeat and with feedback, lets you find your calm. During your meditation you’ll be entered into an immersive soundscape where you’ll hear your heartbeat played back to you in real-time in the sound of a rhythmic, soothing drum.
Your awareness and ability to synchronize your heartbeat can help you find stillness and calm.
Breath – the in and out, inhale and exhale, of your breathing guides you to a deeper state of relaxations and bliss. Through a responsive sound environment you’ll learn to pace your breath with guiding tones similar to ambient music.
As you follow the guiding sounds and match the breathing pattern, your body and heart beat will synchronize, and you’ll be rewarded with harmonized musical tones to affirm your progress and keep you on track.
With breath meditation, you can learn how to use your breathing to reduce anxiety and fight stress.
Body – your goal is building a foundation of stillness. As you sit in your favorite position, you’ll be guided with sound of gentle wind chimes as you adjust into a balanced position.
Imagine sitting in the middle of giant a wind-chime and you are the pendulum in the center, swaying in the wind. As you adjust your posture or sway, the chimes will bring your attention to your movement shifts, building your awareness of your posture and movements.
With body meditation motion sensors (accelerometer, gyroscope) you’ll be on the path to discovering physical relaxation.
The Muse 2 headband was designed to make meditation easy and intuitive. It provides a path and lets you build a foundation to work from. It can be used by both beginners and experts on their meditation journey. The feedback loop and audio eliminates the guess work, so you’ll know you are doing things right.
With the app, you can track and measure your progress. Four feedback sensors record your real-time brain activity, heart rate, breathing, and body movements. Review your data after each session to set goals and build a rewarding meditation practice. It will keep you engage and motivated to keep coming back to using the meditation skills you are developing.
Use our link for more information or ordering so you can start your meditation journey – Muse 2 Meditation Headband (about $220)
For more variety and assistance with sleeping, we like the Muse S Headband (about $350). One thing we really like it that the washable fabric headband is comfortable to wear for long periods, including sleeping. It also looks more like an exercise headband and not as futuristic as the Muse 2.
It has similar electronics as the Muse 2, and can be used for each of the core Muse meditations (Mind, Body, Breath, Heart).
Additionally, the Muse S helps prepare you for a restful sleep using one of the “Go-to-Sleep Journeys”.
Go-To-Sleep Journeys – These are meditative sessions guided by the calming voice of a user selected meditation teacher. You’ll be taken through a soothing journey designed to move your wandering mind away from the busy thoughts that keep you awake, and gently guide you into a restful slumber.
It also includes “Sleep Soundscapes”. These are responsive sleep inducing soundscapes that react in real-time to your brain activity, heart rate, breathing patterns and body movement to help you achieve a restful and restorative sleep, faster.
You’ll discover your mind-body connection through powerful, accurate real-time feedback on brain activity, heart rate, breathing, and body movements. This feedback will help guide your total meditation experience, giving you a holistic view of your practice and how to go deeper.
With a 10-hour battery, you can use this during the day for relaxation exercises and then wear it to bed for a great nights sleep.
We like that it’s lightweight enough to bring along for traveling. It does make it easier to sleep in an unfamiliar hotel room, or to get a sense of relaxation and calm when flying.
For more information or ordering, click on Muse S Headband (about $350) .
The Muse App is free to download (iOS and Android) and comes with 30 guided exercises, 5 soundscapes and 4 meditation experiences that are integrated with the Muse Headband. You can get an additional 300+ exercises with a Muse Guided Meditation Subscription ( $12.99 monthly and $94.99 annually )
You will need your own Bluetooth wireless earbuds in addition to the headband. Make sure they fit securely and block out the noises around you so that you can be fully immersed in your relaxation experience. You don’t need to have active noise cancellation, just a good fit.
If you need to get new earbuds, here are some of our earlier reviews to help you choose:
Fitbit Relax Guided Breathing
Here is another option you can try.
If you already have a Fitbit fitness tracker (or find one here), you can use the included “Relax” breathing exercises (explained here). This pre-loaded app has options for either a 2-minute session or 5-minute session.
The theory behind deep breathing exercise is that while you’re sitting still, your Fitbit device measures the beat-to-beat changes in your heart rate, known as heart rate variability (HRV). As you inhale, your heart rate increases, and as you exhale, your heart rate decreases. Your device uses these changes in heart rate to recommend a personalized breathing pattern during each guided breathing session.
It’s a simple way to quickly take a few minutes during the day to help bring you back to center. And it’s free!