Mastering Mindful Meditation with Muse®
Mindfulness has become something of a buzzword in the last few years, but if you’re still unsure of what it means to be ‘mindful’, don’t worry! You’re not alone.
“Mindfulness” just describes a mental state where the mind is fully attending to whatever is happening in the present moment: what you are doing, who you are engaging with, and how aware you are of the physical space you occupy.While this might seem simple in theory, being truly mindful requires a significant amount of practice; especially when there are numerous internal thoughts and external noises vying for our attention.
How Do We Practice Being Mindful?
Mindfulness is a skill we all possess, but like any other skill (like handwriting, dancing or playing an instrument), it requires routine practice for our brains to master it.
Meditation is one of the leading ways we can train ourselves to quiet our minds and focus our attention on being present—it can also be difficult to get the hang of. There are several reasons why meditation can be challenging:
Our minds like to wander. What starts out as a mindful focus on breathing can very easily drift over to thinking about groceries and to-do lists.
Sometimes meditating can be a little too relaxing. Focusing and being present when our brains are thinking “nap time!” is that much harder when you have your eyes closed.
- It’s hard to improve something when you can’t see it. Building a routine, tracking progress and feeling motivated to stick with it can be challenging when the “results” are stored inside your head.
Meet Muse® – Your Personal Meditation Coach
Muse is a personal meditation assistant that monitors your brain activity, and provides real-time feedback to help you master your meditative practice. Its seven built-in sensors detect and measure the activity of a user’s brain, and translate those signals into audio feedback.
When your mind is calm and centred, you will hear peaceful nature sounds. If your attention starts to wander, or your thoughts become scattered, Muse’s stormy weather audio will be your cue to bring your focus back to your breath.During each session, Muse records your brain activity, heart rate and breathing so you can track and measure your progress over time.
How does it work?
Muse headbands have multiple dry-contact electroencephalography (EEG) sensors positioned on the forehead, behind the ears, and along the band. Each sensor rests directly on the skin and measures tiny fluctuations in voltage on the head. These tiny fluctuations can be filtered and analyzed to reflect changes in brain state, responses to stimuli, and neuroplastic changes in the brain.By gently alerting you to changes in your brain activity, Muse helps you train your brain to focus and stay present. Over time, your brain’s deep-focus synapses will strengthen, and you’ll be able to bring yourself to a restful state more easily.
What does it track?
In addition to providing real-time feedback based on your brain activity during meditation, the Muse® App collects the data from each of your sessions and displays your progress in accessible graphs. Track the stages of brain activity you enter throughout your session, and how long you stay in each stage.
Three Stages of Brain Activity:
- Active. This represents time spent with a distracted mind, when focus is fluctuating.
Neural. Your mind is in its natural state. Attention isn’t fluctuating but the mind hasn’t reached a deep level of focus.
- Calm. When you have tapped into a deep, restful focus on your breath.
Muse® Helps to Strengthen Positive Synaptic Pathways
As we get older, our brains begin to settle into learned habits, and we unconsciously react to situations based on behaviours we carry out most frequently.
For example: Each time you grumble and curse the other drivers while stuck in traffic, you are strengthening a synaptic pathway between stimuli (the traffic) and your subsequent reaction (anger). Over time, this pathway becomes stronger and eventually your brain starts to unconsciously trigger a stress reaction whenever you’re about to be in traffic.
Fortunately, our brains have the incredible ability to reconfigure these pathways, allowing us to “unlearn” negative habits and behaviours while strengthening new, positive synaptic pathways.
Tracking your brain’s activity using Muse Meditation Headbands allows you to better identify and strengthen positive synapses by providing auditory cues that your brain will eventually connect with being in a calm, deep-focus state.
The neuroplastic nature of our brains means that it is never too late to learn something new – building mindful habits just takes a bit of practice, and a little guidance from Muse.