Muse: A heart rate monitor for your head

Muse meditation headband

A Review by Hank Shell

I’m all about mindfulness, y’all. If you’ve read my columns, you know this. If you haven’t, then that’s your misfortune. Anyway, mindfulness can have all kinds of wonderful health benefits, as I’ve so graciously pointed out in the past. Not only can it improve our mood and ability to regulate our emotions – it can also make us more tolerant to pain during workouts. Really cool stuff. But, as I’ve also graciously explained in previous articles, getting started with mindfulness and meditation can actually be kind of difficult. I mean, for someone with little to no meditation experience, sitting still with your eyes closed for an extended period of time can seem a little fatuous. Tedious, even.

I’ll forgive you for thinking that, but trust me – in the long run, it’s totally worth it. One of the things about meditation is that it’s difficult to quantify our progress. In the gym, improvement is something that we see from month to month, either in the increase in weight we can lift or the number of repetitions we’re able to complete. That’s part of what makes training so appealing. One-rep maximums go up. Personal records are broken. Technology has enabled us to take that a step further with all kinds of apps and gadgets that help us monitor our improvement. Why shouldn’t technology be able to do the same thing for our minds?
The good folks at InteraXon in Toronto had that same question. Their answer? The Muse headband. In their own words, it’s a “brain fitness tool” – kind of like a heart rate monitor for your brain.

The headband uses a technology called electroencephalography, or EEG, that measures electrical activity in the brain. InteraXon has a lot of experience with this kind of technology – they’ve used to create everything from brain-activated lighting to brain-activated beer taps. Now, Muse, paired with a smartphone app, can track your brain’s progress during your daily meditation practice. Pretty sweet, huh? It can even do it in real time, converting your brain waves into the sound of wind to guide your meditation. Mind in the gutter? The wind starts to pick up. Finding that higher level of zen? The wind calms down. Now that’s just downright fancy. The Muse app converts your brain activity into data that you can use to track your progress and set meditation goals. I mean, doesn’t that actually make meditation sound kind of fun? This is really futuristic stuff, dude. And the best part about this, at least for a skeptic like me, is that it’s all backed by science. It’s the perfect gift for that mindful person in your life. Or maybe for yourself?

Related Article: Mindfulness – What Does That Even Mean?

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