How Muse Improves Meditation and Reduces Stress

Over the past two decades, meditation has become a topic of great interest to brain researchers, for its significant effects on mental health as much as how it sheds light on the internal experiences of cognition and consciousness. Psychologists and neuroscientists around the world continue to explore the workings of the mind through contemplative practices including meditation, in ever greater numbers. And increasingly, technologies used to study the brain have found their way out of the laboratory into the homes and workplaces of everyday meditation practitioners.

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It’s for this reason that some meditation researchers have begun to evaluate the use of tools like Muse, which put the established research technology of EEG into a form factor that is now widely used – not just to measure the brain, but to produce real-time measures of brain state that can be used to facilitate learning through feedback.

This might seem, at first, a paradox: given how much technology seems to challenge individuals’ mental health and ability to relax, shouldn’t technology be something to avoid in contemplative practice?

The laboratory of Prof. Michela Balconi at the Catholic University of Milan sought to understand whether using technology, specifically Muse: the brain sensing headband, daily for several weeks, would show measurable differences when compared to a group using a simple relaxation exercise. Their results were published in a series of two papers in 2017 and 2018.