Maintaining one’s mental health is incredibly important; however, in this stressful, fast-paced world, it’s far easier said than done. But, what if there was a simple way to do it? There is, and it comes in the form of the second-generation Muse S brain sensing headband.
Few people would argue that the world is not a hectic, stress-filled place and is being made worse by a pandemic, rampant inflation producing rising costs, and news media broadcasting doom and gloom throughout the day. We all need to reach for the reset button at some point in our lives. However, that’s far from an easy thing to find with all the constant distractions and an endless stream of unwanted thoughts filling your head.
Research shows that work is one of the biggest contributors to stress in one’s life. Exizent recently conducted a survey of legal professionals and astonishingly uncovered that more than one third (37%) considered leaving their role due to poor mental health and wellbeing. It’s not only the legal profession having to deal with this; it’s an issue facing all types of businesses. The UK PLC 2021 Workforce Health Report found that poor mental health was the most common cause of lost working time, which equated to 319 million lost working days in 2021 alone.
Trying to find some inner peace
I have made significant changes in my life over recent years to help find that elusive inner balance, but, I can always do with more help. When Muse contacted me with the offer to try their Muse S (Gen 2) brain sensing headband, as you can imagine, I jumped at the chance.
I am far from a stranger when it comes to seeking peace of mind. As part of my ongoing quest, my wife and I started hiking, which rapidly evolved into scaling mountains to try to find my somewhat elusive reset switch. By doing this, I did find what I had been craving by being away from the artificial noise, crowds of people and by discovering what the natural world had to offer. However, the peace of mind was short-lived, and once I clambered down from the peaks and re-engaged with the masses, it wouldn’t be long before the ‘brain fuzz’ and stress would spring forth to try to knock me off my stride.
Before taking up my hiking adventures, and based on multiple recommendations, I did consider trying meditation. However, I will hold my hand up and state that I quickly pooh-poohed the idea as I had placed it in a basket alongside holistic medicine, aromatherapy and a few other rather obscure things such as chanting. Obviously, being up a mountain wasn’t something I could do daily, and it takes up a good amount of time, which, sadly, I and many others don’t have at our disposal.
One of the major selling points with the Muse S is it is designed to help people meditate (amongst other things) whenever they need to, and I had now reached a point in my life where I was open to trying it. If it could do even half of what it purported to do, it would be an ideal alternative to my outdoor adventures and a simple shortcut to finding some inner peace.
The Muse S (Gen 2)
The Muse S is the latest product from the company and comprises an adjustable headband with a cradle on the front where the module, or brains as I like to call it, clips in. It is very lightweight and simple to use with a single power button and a USB charging port. With this being the newest version, it benefits from significant improvements over previous models, including improved signal quality, better battery performance and a reduced charging time. It is also very comfortable to wear, so much so, when using it, you’ll actually forget it’s sitting across your forehead.
How does the Muse S Brain Sensing Headband work?
The Muse S uses something called an electroencephalography system. I realise that most will not be familiar with this; in simple terms, it is a sensor-based technology. In the Muse S Headband are multiple sensors that rest on the skin and measure the tiny voltage fluctuations produced in one’s head, and it is clever enough to analyse the changes and responses in the brain. It’s the same type of technology that is used in brain research, and to put readers minds at rest, yes, it is harmless.
In addition to measuring brain voltage fluctuations, the clever technology can also measure blood flow, breathing, cardiac, and movement. This data is then filtered into the Muse app and fed back to the user in a simple to understand way.
About the Muse App
As with most modern high-technology products, the Muse S headband works hand-in-hand with a mobile application via Bluetooth. I’ll admit, I do find most apps on my mobile phone to be somewhat confusing, and I rarely find myself exploring all of the available options. However, I found the Muse app surprisingly easy to use and went against the grain by exploring everything I could find and downloading most of the programs and lessons.
The majority of apps I have installed on my mobile phone seems to expect one to know how to use them; the Muse app is different. Before you even begin one of the sessions, it takes you through help guides that explain all you need to know using visual aids and clear audio. One of the big plus points with the app is that it is available in English, Spanish, German, and French.
The app is divided into three main sections, accessed at the bottom of the screen. These are:
From this section, you can access a library comprising of more than 500 teacher-guided meditations along with the Mind, Heart, Breath and Body soundscape experiences.
The sleep section gives you access to the Digital Sleeping Pills, Soundscapes, Audio Guides and Journeys.
In this section, you can access all your session history, data and stats relating to sleep and meditation.
In addition to the extensive library of content, the app also provides real-time biofeedback, graphs, detailed personalised charts and the option to write a journal following each session, so you can keep track of how you are feeling.
The Muse S, Meditation and Sleep
The Muse S isn’t only something to help with meditation; it is equally adept when it comes to helping people sleep. The updated hardware in the Muse S can deliver something called a ‘Digital Sleeping Pill’ (DSP). It uses a technology called “Smart Fade” that can sense when you are awake at night. The combination of its programs and sensors detects the natural changes in your brain activity, fading in and out, bringing in audio clues to help you fall asleep.
The same system is used should you wake up during the night. Once the headband detects you are no longer asleep, the Smart-Fade technology automatically fades in DSP content to help you fall back into a blissful slumber.
The range of content to assist with sleeping is very broad to cater to each person’s specific needs. For example, there is a range of narrated stories to lull you to sleep, ambient sleep soundscapes consisting of soothing music and sounds, guided sleep meditations where a teacher guides you through a relaxing sleep meditation and more.
In addition to its ability to help with sleep, the Muse S can teach people how to meditate, which was the biggest draw for me. It was obvious following extensive research that meditation could help me manage stress and improve my overall wellbeing and mental performance.
The Muse S makes meditation very simple, even for beginners like myself, by explaining what you should be doing and when to do it. The Muse S teaches your mind how to clear itself and switch off using a wide range of easy to follow programs. In addition to this, it teaches you how to use your breathing to fight stress, find calm, and even advises on posture to help you relax.
Using the Muse S and what I discovered
As I have mentioned earlier, I was, to put it mildly, against meditation for much of my adult life. However, as I have gotten older and had the chance to research meditation and mental wellbeing more, I have realised how positive it can be in one’s life.
After adjusting the headband and listening to the audio guides, I was ready to try my first meditation session. Although I hoped for much, I was equally ready to be disappointed. I closed the curtains, laid on my bed and started a 10-minute session using the River soundscape. During parts of my meditation session, I could feel myself moving into a calm state and could hear the birds chirping, signifying I was doing things correctly. Instead of maintaining this, I couldn’t stop myself from analysing what I was doing, which consistently ruined the moment.
The left-hand image shows the start of my Muse adventure to what I was able to achieve after training my brain.
It took me four or five sessions spread over the week before I was able to clear my mind and seamlessly move into a calm state. After ten sessions, I was pretty much able to put myself into a relaxed mode for the majority of each 10-minute session.
So, how did I feel after a good meditation session? I felt amazing, my mind felt much clearer and refreshed, I found it easier to concentrate for long periods, and whatever stresses and hassles that came my way seemed far less important than they did previously. The Muse S and meditation has been somewhat of a revelation in my life, and one of the first things I do when I wake up is to put the headband on and run one of the sessions.
The meditation capabilities of the Muse S have been so impressive that I have found little need to access the sleep programs. I have tried a couple; however, it has been difficult to ascertain if there has been an improvement as I am one of those fortunate people who generally doesn’t have a problem in this area. I prefer to sleep without anything to distract me, such as clothing. So, I will admit that even something as small and lightweight as the Muse S was noticeable. However, I do use the Muse meditation programs before I go to sleep, which is likely to be contributing to the solid sleep I am experiencing.
Over the average year, I am fortunate to be provided with the opportunity to try some quite brilliant products, and the Muse S (Gen 2) is among the best I’ve ever experienced. Although I haven’t fully explored everything in its extensive arsenal, what I have has proven to be hugely beneficial. The Muse S headband has introduced me to a calmer world, and stress has become something that is easily eradicated. It’s an absolutely brilliant product, and I couldn’t imagine navigating modern life without it.
Muse S (Gen 2) – Where and how?
The Muse S (Gen 2) is priced at $399.00 USD and can be purchased from www.choosemuse.com. From early next year, it will be available via Amazon North America. If you want even more content, you can subscribe to a Muse Premium subscription for $12.99 USD per month ($94.99 USD yearly), which unlocks Biofeedback+ and provides unlimited access to more than 500 extra meditations and newly released contents each month. Muse currently has in excess of half a million users, and based upon my own experience; I’d recommend you join them.
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