Last updated: October 19, 2016
Pro: Set-up is simple, and you can customize the length of each session
Con: Texts can pop in, breaking concentration
Stressed out? For $249, Muse, the brain sensing headband promises to helps users learn to meditate effectively and productively, with the combination of technology plus the principles of reflection and contemplation to take meditation to new heights. All you need is a few minutes a day, the Muse headband, the product's app, and a little patience, and a healthier and quieter mind can be yours.
Skeptical? I was. Not being one to enjoy pre-planned de-stressing exercises, the thought of testing out this product was ironically stressing me out. So my husband tried Muse first. He's into meditation, deep breathing, clearing the mind, and all the stuff that makes living in Manhattan an interesting choice to say the least. And… he loves Muse, using the device regularly since I brought the neatly packed gadget home. Each day, he's been keeping track of his meditation progress with the app tool and has been tuning out the world quite effectively every time he firms his back, relaxes his shoulders, and pops the Muse headband on his head.
OK, my turn. I read the easy-to-follow pamphlet which came with Muse and then downloaded the app. But somehow the device didn't connect the first time. Second try… I'm in. I linked up with my iPhone and the Muse app was ready to go. I created my account quickly. (PS: The device does work with both Apple and Android products.) One annoying thing? Receiving texts while you are trying to concentrate and chill.
When you click into the app, you can choose the length of your session, from 3 minutes to 45 minutes. I tried a 3-minute session and another one for 7 minutes. You can log-in as much as you want to, but the app gives you a challenge when you sign in, such as encouraging you to complete four sessions in one week.
The Muse headband adjusts to basically any human head size and my thick hair was no issue when it came to the sensors being able to “read" my brain activity. While it wasn't uncomfortable to wear, and it is certainly lightweight, having a plastic headband on while trying to be as at peace as possible takes some getting used to at first.
However, the soothing voice leading the program was actually pleasant and I was able to stay focused and follow her lead. Seeing the patterns of my brain activity in real time on the app was also amazing. I could follow how my meditation skills were panning out via the sounds of winds and birds used in the program.
Not surprisingly, my results showed heavy brain activity and lack of good meditation practice. And Muse developers hope that by seeing the data, you'll be motivated to improve the next time you log in to the app. The device saves each session so you can track your meditation progress, see how well you calm your breathing, focus on one thing at a time, and ward off outside distractions. Muse's technology can also pinpoint which areas of the brain are active so you can see where you are doing well and where you need more concentration.
Need a reminder to chill? Muse helps with that as well, by sending email reminders and meditation advice regularly to encourage you to focus on your inner peace. Although the headband is easy for consumers to use at home, more than 100 hospitals and research institutions are also reportedly interested in using Muse as well, from breast cancer patients awaiting surgery to recovering brain injury survivors.
As for looks: Muse comes in black or white and is sold on its website and at Best Buy. Another cool feature? You can share one with others, by just creating your own account on the app. Will I continue to use Muse? Perhaps, if I'm feeling particularly stressed. Will my husband? It's on his head measuring his serene brainwaves right now. Guess who's calmer?