Think Better.
Feel Better.

Musings on meditation & living well.

Personalizing your Muse Soundscape

With the introduction of our latest City Park soundscape we thought that the time is right to reflect on the various sound cues that emerge during a Muse experience. Muse’s soundscapes provide you with real-time audio feedback on the state of your brain to help guide your meditation practice. Our relationship to specific sounds can influence how we feel during a session. This is why Muse has different soundscapes for you to choose from. Try doing a few sessions in each soundscape to find one that works for you.

Beach, Rainforest, City Park, Ambient Music, Desert

Immerse yourself within various soundscapes

You can select from five unique soundscape experiences:  Beach, Rainforest, City Park, Ambient Music and Desert (all except Beach coming very soon to Android).

Once you find your favourite soundscape, it can help a lot to put some effort into personalizing it. Tap the volume icon at the top-right of the screen during your sessions. Each soundscape is made up of three different types of sounds:

Weather feedback: changes in real-time based on the current state of your brain. You’ll want to find a soundscape and volume setting where this sound supports your practice by helping you notice when your mind has wandered without interrupting you when you’re focused. Note that the beach, rainforest, and desert stay true to the “weather” metaphor for the mind, but other soundscapes offer more abstract experiences.

Background: this is a static, continuous sound that plays throughout your session. It can be useful to mask background noise in your environment and help make the soundscape feel more uniform. Sometimes reaching a calm state leaves a noticeable silence in the audio feedback which serves as its own distraction. Turning up the background sounds can help mask this effect.

Birds: when you establish a deep, restful focus on your breath for an extended period of time, you’ll start to hear birds singing. At first, they might feel like a distraction.  Don’t worry, this is part of the process! Over time, you’ll learn to use the birds as a cue to settle even more deeply into focused attention.  If they’re too distracting, try turning their volume down a bit.

It can help to dedicate a session entirely to the task of tweaking your soundscape until you find your sweet spot. If the birds are too loud for you, try bringing their volume down a touch. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, tweak the feedback volume and find your sweet spot.

Go ahead and try a new soundscape today and let us know what you think.

A Different Kind of Love.

My name is Jess and I’m in charge of the website here at Muse: the brain sensing headband. Well, I was in charge of the website because today is my last day with the company.

My decision to move on was terribly bittersweet. The time I had at Muse was incredible but I’ve had to make an extremely tough decision regarding the direction of my life from a professional and career perspective.

I thought about writing this story because as we approach Valentine’s and all its relevance to love I figured I’d discuss a different kind of love; one that’s not about couples and cuddling. What I am referring to is the love you feel for the people you work with and the culture you work in:

The love I feel for this company spawns from many different factors:

  1. Gratitude. People in this organization genuinely care for one another. We are a very small, close knit team. We routinely have sessions where we all get together in one large room and select one or two people who we are grateful for. Whether that colleague is someone who helped you on a project or someone who treated you to a coffee without you expecting it, no good deed goes unnoticed. The warm fuzzy feeling we get after each session not only brings us closer together as a team but also inspires us to achieve more and drive our goals forward.
  2. Lunch Roulette. Everyone in the company participates in an activity where a roulette wheel is spun to determine who you will go to lunch with. This, of course, has the benefit of bringing people out of their shells and learning more about the people they may not have had the pleasure of interacting with before. It’s kind of like an intra-company blind date. What could at first be awkward later ends up building great relationships in the office. Everyone is unique and fascinating when you get to know them. At Muse we have people from all walks of life – from brain surgeons, to creative designers to PhDs in computer science and machine learning and mindfulness gurus – and all of these people have a story to tell.
  3. AMA’s. Every other Friday someone in the company volunteers for an AMA Reddit style physical gathering in the office where someone is selected to sit at the front and tackle questions from the rest of the team. The questions range from questions you’d expect from a biographical exploration of someone’s life to the abstract and ridiculous. “Who’d win in a fight between Wolverine and Spiderman and why?” “If you had to grow an extra appendage what would it be?” Our group sessions can sometimes be hilarious or sometimes sad depending on the experiences of who the volunteer is that week. Whatever the case may be, we all leave feeling a distinct and purifying camaraderie.

I’ve only selected three things for today’s blog post. I could have written about the mind controlled beer tap or the levitating chair. I could have also mentioned Daisy the office dog who I will miss dearly or various yoga and meditation sessions on the roof.

I know people who have worked in environments so poisonous that it affects their daily lives or offices that are neither here nor there but I can truly say I love everything about this place and I am grateful that I will only be a couple minutes away. There is no doubt that I’ll visit again.

Signing off with all my love and paying the internet cat tax below,

Jess.

Understanding your Muse Session Results

At the end of every meditation with Muse, you get a chance to reflect on the brain data your headband detected during the session. Muse’s session report lets you see how you were shifting between three different states:

  • Active: This is time spent with a wandering mind. Your attention was fluctuating.
  • Neutral: This is your natural resting state. You attention isn’t fluctuating, but you aren’t deeply focused either.
  • Calm: A deep restful focus on your breath. These are moments when you’re truly concentrated on your breath.

So in this session, you can see that I was moving back and forth between a resting state and deeper focus on my breath. That matches how I felt during the session. I was trying to focus on my breath but whenever I lost focus, Muse’s audio feedback was guiding me back to my breath, so I never ended up totally lost in thought. Pretty typical.

Here’s how to read my session report in more detail:

  1. The percentages for calm, neutral and active represent the proportion of time spent in each state during the session. Note that Muse is tailored to focused attention on breath. Other meditations may lead to unexpected results.
  2. Muse measures your brain’s natural electric field from outside your head while you meditate. This graph presents these data in a way that helps you reflect on how you were changing state over time. You can see when your mind was in each region: active, neutral, or calm.
  3. You receive 1 calm point for every second that your brain is in a natural state of rest (neutral), and 3 calm points for every second spent with deep restful focus on your breath (calm). You don’t receive any calm points for time spent active, but an active mind is an opportunity to notice your wandering mind and bring your attention back, earning yourself a recovery.
  4. Recoveries celebrate the moment when you move from active (wandering mind / fluctuating attention) to neutral (a natural state of rest). If you look at my graph, you can see a lot of peaks, but there are two in particular (around 0:05 and 1:00) where I went into the active region then recovered back into neutral. Those recoveries are key to building the skill of focused attention and integrating the benefits of meditation into your daily life.
  5. When you find a deep, restful focus on your breath for an extended period of time, you may hear birds singing quietly. Over time, you’ll learn to use the birds as a cue to settle even more deeply into focused attention.
  6. Session awards celebrate and recognize certain qualities of your session. You can earn awards for high calm %, long session lengths, lots of points/birds, and more. Tap on your awards to learn more about why you’ve received them.

No matter how your session results look, what’s important is that you spend time meditating. Try not to get into a pattern of judging your performance harshly or becoming self-critical.

Meditation with Muse is all about being curious about your experience. Simply use the data to help you reflect on your meditation and motivate yourself to commit to a daily practice. Happy Musing!

3 Ways We Incorporate Mindfulness Into The Workplace

We’re excited about 2016 and involving mindfulness into our own daily lives. During any given week at Muse we are lucky enough to have a culture that incorporates meditation and mindfulness into everything we do as long as our schedules and workload can accommodate of course.

But even though we have a lot going on, we give ourselves time to be present. We make an effort to use our own office meditation space that’s open to every employee as well as the many guests who come and practice either as a group or individually.
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We are grateful for every single one of you.

Its our 10th day of ’10 Days of Holiday Gratitude’ today and we’d like to end our series by proclaiming that we are grateful for every person who has ever shown an interest in what we do. We strive, on a daily basis, to find ways of bringing mindfulness, meditation and a healthy mind to the forefront of people’s thoughts. As a token of our gratitude we’d like to offer everyone 10% off anything in our store starting from now through December 26.  Simply use the code ‘gratitude2016‘ during checkout and you’ll see the price adjust.  As we move into 2016 lets be more aware of all the wonderful things in our lives and celebrate them throughout the years to come.
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