When it comes to making improvements to your physical wellbeing, it’s pretty evident whether you are getting better or not. There are clear progress markers that indicate whether you are closing in on your goal or you need to adjust course to get the results that you are looking for.
If your goal is to get stronger, you can look to the amount of weight that you are lifting. If your goal is to transform your body, you can look to the amount of pounds lost on the scale or the total inches dropped. If your goal is to level up your nutrition, keeping a food journal can help you to show progress over time. Unfortunately, when it comes to improving your mental wellbeing, things haven’t always been as clear cut.
With self-care rituals rising in significance across the wellness space, the practice of meditation has transitioned from a fringe technique into a mainstream game changer. The benefits are endless, but most people struggle with developing a meditation practice because there aren’t any concrete rules on how it should exactly look. And there haven’t been many ways to gauge whether you are getting better at meditating. Do you examine consistency? Do you look at time spent in practice? Do you look at decreases in the amount of times your mind goes all “squirrel brain” on you? Some people thrive by simply doing, but personally I enjoy developing specific landmarks that signify improvement and keeping track of this progress. That’s why I was so excited when I first read about the Muse 2. It sounds like the holy grail of meditation tools. It helps to make progress less esoteric and make developing mindfulness much easier.
The Muse headband fits on easily (It has an adjustable armband to help it fit even the biggest of heads like mine.), is comfortable, and essentially reads your mind. This small EEG (electroencephalogram) device passively senses the electrical activity of the brain and converts it into guiding sounds of nature to help you better understand your meditation practice. When your brain chatter is calm, the noises are peaceful, but when activity in your mind picks up and your focus wavers, the muse responds by making the sounds more turbulent. This “gamification” helps you improve each session and truly celebrate periods of extended calm.
In addition to the seven calibrated EEG sensors present in its predecessor, the Muse 2 has added PPG (photoplethysmogram), pulse oximetry breath/heart sensors, gyroscope sensors, and accelerometer body sensors. This allows the device to not only track activity of your mind, but to also track your movement, your heart rate, and the rhythm of your breath. This provides real-time feedback of four critical components and creates a truly integrative meditation practice.
Once you have completed a session, the true genius of the device gets to shine. At this point, you can type a quick journal entry about how you felt the session went and get access to data that you can use to improve in future sessions. You receive line graphs that tell you just how you did across the multiple sensors and receive points/rewards for when you perform well, such as stars for “recoveries” or “birds” for achieving extended periods of calm. The data is pretty simple and you even get a Muse score that you can use to track improvements between sessions. This quantitative approach may turn some people off, but for others, it can be a great way to make improvements more tangible.
I love using the Muse 2. The app comes with hundreds of guided meditations, but you could also go unguided if you prefer. I enjoy the mini-goals and challenges issued from the Muse app each week. It feels like I’m being given a training regimen for my brain. This guidance is highly appreciated, especially during my sessions. When I have meditated alone in the past, I have gone off task plenty of times without even realizing that I had lost focus. With the real-time feedback from the sounds, I easily get back on track and experience happiness when I’m able to get new streaks or obtain rewards. My level of mindfulness outside of the app has improved as well, as I am much more conscious of things like my breathwork or bodily movements in stressful situations. I recommend the Muse 2 for anyone just starting with their practice or for seasoned veterans looking to take things to the next level.