The first version of Muse ($199), which launched in 2014, features a singular "Mind" exercise, which uses EEG (a measurement of the ionic currents within the neurons of the brain) technology to reflect a user's state of mind with emulative weather sounds. For instance, when your thoughts veer from your breath toward what to whip up for dinner, Muse's rainforest soundscape sends winds whipping through the trees. And, in turn, when you manage to focus on the breath, the weather becomes calm. If you're extra Zen, a bird might even tweet in a nearby tree (ahhh).
Today, Muse 2 introduces three additional offerings in conjunction with the "Mind" feature: "Heart," "Breath," and "Body." "We learned a lot with our first product," says Nadia Kumentas, the company's director of brand marketing. "There are a lot of other facets that play into a holistic meditation practice. And several of those are obviously posture (finding stillness and physical relaxation), being able to follow and ride your breath (thorough breath exercises and breath work), and also tuning into the rhythm of your heart and your heartbeat."
In the Body exercise, wind chimes sound whenever you fidget. (I danced a little on my meditation cushion to test out the sensors, and trust me, they're legit.)
Kumentas deems Muse's trio of fresh offerings "experience centers," and when I try them for myself, I understand why. Each one takes a physical system that's already at work in your body and transforms it into a feedback loop for your meditation sesh. Take the Heart, for example, which mimics your beats per minute, or BPM (which constantly changes depending on your moods and circumstances) with a drumbeat. In the Breath meditation, you're rewarded with musical tones whenever the headband senses that you're following "inhale" and "exhale" prompts consistently. And in the Body exercise, wind chimes sound whenever you fidget. (I danced a little on my meditation cushion to test out the sensors, and trust me, they're legit.)
Muse's concept gives "awareness"—a term thrown around quite a lot in yogic and meditation circles—an audible reality: The monsoon or drumbeats in your eardrums basically force you to pay attention to whatever's brewing in your mind. "There are essential skills to establishing a meditation practice and getting into the habit of doing it regularly that benefit from feedback," Graeme Moffat, PhD, chief scientist at Muse, says adding that the four Muse 2 offerings cover all these basics. "Some things are harder to learn than others unless you have your performance reflected back to you. Feedback in general is one of the most powerful teaching tools that there is," he adds.
IMO, the single coolest thing about Muse is this: The device really just offers a clearer, more comprehensive view of a user's beyond-skin-deep goings-on. Because, really, we're all getting feedback from ourselves constantly. Actually listening is the hard part.
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