Muse Now at Target Across the US

Keep Calm and Shop On – Muse: the brain sensing headband is Now at Target

Time-honored traditions of families gathering for the holidays, airports bustling with excited people traveling to see loved ones; finding (and let’s not forget receiving) the perfect gift. Sound familiar? While we can all relate to the joys, traditions and togetherness of the holiday season, let’s face it – the holidays are rarely stress-free.

But this year can be different.

Muse now at Target
Muse now at Target

This year, why not commit to prioritizing your meditation practice? It’s easier than ever to get your hands on a Muse headband—your personal meditation assistant—because Target has just chosen to feature Muse alongside other premium health and wellness products such as Fitbit, Garmin and other fitness trackers in 276 of its U.S. stores as well as on Target.com. Adding Target to our list of retailers including Best Buy, Amazon and others around the world makes us reflect on how far we’ve come and how grateful we are to everyone who has helped pave our journey. Our hope is that by partnering with Target we can make sharing the gift of a calm mind slightly less stressful this holiday season.

For those of you who don’t already know and love Muse, Muse is a lightweight meditation headband with brain wave-detecting EEG sensors that provides real-time audio feedback on what’s happening in your brain. Sounds of changing weather let you know when your mind is wandering and they gently guide you back to meditation, helping you regain focus. People love Muse and its ability to help them develop a sustainable and rewarding meditation practice through fun, challenges, and most importantly, learning.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to reduce stress and to improve your overall well-being as well as alleviate symptoms related to anxiety, depression, and stress. So this year let’s see what magic moments might transpire if commit a few minutes a day to the present. Do yourself a favor by heading over to Target or Target.com to help you and your loved ones stay calm this holiday season.

Muse Customer Story from the Big Island of Hawaii

After releasing every new version of Muse we follow feedback from our customers very closely and love to hear about all the ways that Muse has impacted people’s lives. We recently got in touch with Trisha M., a retired computer technician and columnist from Hawaii. She told us of her unfortunate car accident and how meditating with Muse has gotten her back on track.

“I lived through it and it could have been a lot worse but Muse showed up in my life just like an angel!”

Trisha's car following the accident
Trisha’s car following the accident

While driving back home, from a dentist appointment down rural Hawaiian roads, the rainy conditions and a lack of guardrails caused Trisha’s car to run off the road. Luckily, Trisha and her husband David were spared a more tragic outcome due to an area of shrubbery that shielded them from an even greater tragedy and a longer fall along a cliffside.  If the car toppled further below, they would have been met with solid rock formed by old lava flows. That’s not to say no injuries were sustained. Trisha’s side of the car took the majority of damage and thankfully, David was not injured. “I had sprained ribs, two sprained fingers, one on my right and one on my left which makes typing fun, considering I’m a columnist”, Trisha joked. “I lived through it and it could have been a lot worse but Muse showed up just like an angel!”.

After the accident, Trisha found herself frustrated during the recovery process. Medical bills and car insurance issues haunted her consciousness. She found herself losing her temper and struggling to focus on the present in order to focus on her recovery. Just around the same time, Trisha’s Muse arrived. She discovered the device while on Facebook looking for new products to review for her column. After developing a meditation routine with Muse Trisha noted, “If it can calm me down in this chaos, there’s something here”. Trisha had meditated on and off since she was a child but since Muse has once again resumed the practice with more regularity. “It was a life saver. Because I was in pain, and pain can turn into anger. I was snappy at everybody”, Trisha recalls.

“It’s been extremely helpful. I reach for it nearly every day, once a day if not twice”

Trisha - A Muse Customer
Trisha – A Muse Customer

Now, Trisha and David have become Muse ambassadors, retelling her first-hand experience online. She has also delivered talks at a grief group for mothers who have lost children and she speaks regularly at Kona Hospital on the “Big Island” of Hawaii.

Trisha introduces people to breathing exercises involving counting breaths and Muse meditation. She claims that this form of meditation has been of great help. Seeing all the benefits of meditation, Musing has become a daily activity for Trisha who informed us, “I reach for it nearly every day, once a day if not twice”.

“It helped so much. I don’t know what I would’ve done without it”

We’re very happy to see her progress and would love to hear more stories like this and completely different. If there is a Muse story you’d like to share we’d love to hear from you. Please reach out to community@choosemuse.com and if your story is published we’ll send you your choice of a Muse Hard Carrying Case or a Muse:the brain sensing headband branded tshirt.

History of Meditation – Part 1 – When did meditation begin?

No one really knows how old meditation is or who created it. One of the biggest challenges of dating meditation can be accredited to it being handed down from person to person, similar to storytelling. Fortunately, meditation’s widespread acceptance and inclusion in numerous religions provide us with a trail of breadcrumbs that can help us trace back its roots.

One of the earliest images of meditation c1630
One of the earliest images of meditation c1630

There’s speculation that the first civilization to meditate was our prehistoric ancestors. Theorists suspect that the original hunters and gatherers would show their appreciation to the gods through offerings and rhythmic chants. These chants are said to be the earliest form of mantras. Throughout history, mantras have been used as vehicles of meditation, used to clear the mind of all distractions. Its constant repetition evolves into a self-belief, becoming a truth within your consciousness and subconsciousness. You have probably seen a representation of the popular mantra OM, a vocalization of the sound of the universe. Another theory suggests hunters and gatherers would even enter trance-like states. It is believed the trances may have been induced by prolonged time spent in dark caves and staring at bright fires.

A more popular opinion believes the earliest form of meditation, an iteration similar to the one we are familiar with, can date back to anywhere between 5000 – 3500 BCE. While searching the Indus Valley, an area that was situated in what we know as Pakistan and northwest India, archaeologists discovered wall art depicting some of the first meditators. Figures were found depicted in different positions with their eyes closed. Meditation among these inhabitants isn’t hard to believe considering this civilization has been compared to Sumer; a notable, well-developed culture of the past.

Hundreds of years later, spanning somewhere between 600 – 500 BCE, we begin to see the formation of Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism. These three cultures would develop intertwining forms of meditation which would eventually differ in philosophy. Buddhism’s meditation wanted to come to an understanding of interrelatedness between all things. Taoism concerned itself with wielding one’s internal energy. Hinduism remained as it always had, to bring its followers closer to divine beings. These movements also acted as precursors to two of the most prolific meditation texts: The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and the Bhagavad Gita. This early example of meditation’s evolution would demonstrate the practice’s flexibility in purpose, which would be seen throughout its lifespan.

This is the first part in Muse’s “History of Meditation” series. Follow the 3-part series in the upcoming weeks.

What is Yoga – Demystifying the Practice.

Yoga is most associated with a series of impossible bends and twists that may scare away newcomers. However, this is a common misconception. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Yoga invites practitioners to be “steady and comfortable”, welcoming crowds of any skill level. Even the most classic text regarded as the guide to yoga, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras has no mention of tying yourself into a pretzel. According to the Patanjali, yoga is “the restriction of the fluctuations of consciousness”. This law of mindfulness is just the beginning of yoga’s intertwining relationship with meditation. Engaging in both practices have the benefits of improved stress management, a boost in emotional integrity, and enabling a better diet.

Patanjali Yogpeeth in Haridwar, Uttarakhand

As with all forms of knowledge, the Yoga Sutras were passed down for generations, traced back to an ancient educator, Patanjali. Outside of his notable guide, not much is known about Patanjali. It’s said that he lived sometime during the second century where he drafted many papers on different scientific claims. The Yoga Sutras described an “eight-limbed path”, that details the necessary steps to enlightenment. This would become the first codified yoga routine. Its philosophy of peace and detachment would become the basis of other yoga forms to come.

International Yoga Day in New Delhi India
International Yoga Day 2015 in New Delhi, India

A popular form that the western world has attached itself to is Hatha Yoga. Hatha is the umbrella term that is home to any form of physical yoga that involves asanas (postures). Hatha is a combination of the words “ha” and “tha”, meaning sun and moon respectively. The goal is to create balance, as if connecting the sun and moon, to create alignment within the body, leaving you limber and relaxed. Other common types of Hatha Yoga include Asthanga, Iyengar, Bikram and it’s warm equivalent of Hot Yoga. Regular practice of yoga can result in better posture, lower blood pressure, and stimulates bone health. A quick Google search of “Yoga” or “Yoga studios” will help you find groups and organizations in your area that practice this form of meditation. Yoga is an inexpensive form of exercise that one can do by themselves or within a group and with its many benefits, is definitely worth a try.

June 21st, 2013 in Times Square, New York City

June 21st is International Yoga Day. For more information click here.

Meditation and Depression

Depression can be a crippling disease.  According to the World Health Organization an estimated 350 million people worldwide may be affected.  Even more astonishing and disheartening is that roughly 800,000 people will lose their lives every year as a result of the mood disorder and the majority will be teens and young adults.  What makes the fight against depression so challenging is that less than half of the people affected will seek help and in some countries this number can fall to less than 10%.  Difficulties in diagnosis, lack of resources, and the social stigma associated with mental disorders amongst other reasons are to blame for lack of treatment.  In many cases, due to the difficulty in diagnosing symptoms, sufferers are turned away and non-sufferers are prescribed antidepressants.  In the US alone 6.7% of people / roughly 11 million are affected and the majority of those are women.

meditation and depression

One should never underestimate the seriousness of the potential onset of depression and should always consult their doctor when symptoms arise. A clinician can discuss numerous treatments ranging from pharmacological through to more holistic and naturopathic lifestyle changes and remedies.

Much has been made of the impact that meditation may have on, not only the brain, but also the way that it affects mood and response to certain environments and stimuli.  According to one study mindfulness meditation can actually alter the structure and physiological health of the brain and increase gray matter.  This “rewiring” may also be responsible for the way that meditation can affect depression and depression-like symptoms and moods.   For example in one study at a secondary school in Belgium students who practiced a program involving mindfulness reported a lower incidence of depression, anxiety and stress for up to six months later. What’s even more profound, the subjects were “less likely to develop pronounced depression-like symptoms.”  The positive effects of mindfulness are not limited to adolescents.  Moms-to-be also reported, according to a University of Michigan study, a lowered prevalence of depressive symptoms after practicing mindfulness for 10 weeks.  Another mindfulness meditation study from the The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine suggested that “the results support the safety and potential efficacy of meditative practices for treating certain illnesses, particularly in non-psychotic mood and anxiety disorders.”

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the benefits that meditation has on the brain, its moods and one’s lifestyle. Meditation has been shown to improve wellness and lifestyle in a number of categories from academic performancechronic pain and anxiety to self perceived general feelings of health and optimism.  Like physical exercise, the fruits of meditation cannot be enjoyed without a continued practice and just like exercise, meditation is not without hard work and determination. It takes time, motivation and practice.

To learn more about Muse: the brain sensing headband and how it can help develop and improve your meditation practice please click here. If you are a mental health professional looking to introduce meditation to your clients please see our Professionals Program.

(If you feel you might be experiencing depression or depression-like symptoms, always consult with a mental health professional.)