How Meditation Increases Emotional Intelligence & Leadership Potential

There’s a big difference between being a leader, and a great leader, one that leaves behind a legacy and inspires millions of people. Think about it – we can all easily name off a list of CEOs, Presidents and Prime Ministers, but if asked to name a leader that has inspired an entire generation, we tend to think of only a handful of people, such as the Dalai Lama or Nelson Mandela. We may also think of leaders closer to home, such as Barack Obama or Sheryl Sandberg.

So, what makes them such effective leaders?

After all, it only takes a quick glance at leadership in government, corporations, and within the media to know that it is not enough to just be intelligent, powerful or charismatic in order to be called an inspiring leader, or earn the same level of respect as the group mentioned above.

The difference comes down to one common thread that exists between all inspiring leaders: a high level of emotional intelligence or EI/EQ.

Fortunately, EI is a set of skills that can be developed and cultivated over time with practice – read on to learn more! 

emotional intelligence, what is emotional intelligence


What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional Intelligence is the capacity to recognize our own feelings and those of others and to manage emotions effectively in ourselves and our relationships. (1) A key characteristic involves the ability to adjust emotions and adapt quickly to a different environment or for a specific goal.

A common misconception is that emotional intelligence refers to being sensitive, or having a high level of empathy. You can have both of those traits, yet not be emotionally intelligent if you are not self-aware of your emotions or know how to manage them.

According to Dr. Daniel Goleman, a world-renowned psychologist, author and Emotional Intelligence coach, there are four competencies of emotional intelligence that are required for effective leadership: (1)

  1. Self-awareness
  2. Self-management (self-control, adaptability, positive outlook, achievement orientation)
  3. Social awareness (empathy, organizational awareness)
  4. Relationship management (mentor, influencer, inspirational leadership, conflict management, teamwork)

Adding to the above list of key components of a high EQ, there are several red flags that can offer insight on an individuals lack of EQ.

Interested in measuring your own baseline emotional intelligence? There are a lot of online EI tests you can take as well, like this one found on the popular site Psychology Today.

emotional intelligence, what is emotional intelligence

How To Increase Emotional Intelligence With Meditation

Just as a professional athlete needs to train their bodies for strength, effective leaders need to train their mind for strength as well – and meditation and a consistent mindfulness practice are the most powerful tools to help achieve this.

While meditation alone will not create a well of emotional intelligence, it will simultaneously strengthen the mind across all four emotional intelligence competencies mentioned above, which enables emotional intelligence and effective leadership to take place.

How is meditation able to do this?

Meditation is not just spiritual fluff – this exercise physically changes the structure of the brain, builds new neural pathways and can weaken others. In particular, research has shown that meditation can strengthen the following areas related to emotional intelligence:

Emotional Self-control

Meditation helps to control our immediate reactions. For example, it weakens neural connections to the fear centre of the brain – the amygdala – where primal reactions such as fear and anger are triggered. In contrast, it also strengthens the neural connection to the assessment centre of the brain – the prefrontal cortex – where rational thought and logic reside. (2)

Strengthening these connections allows for more thoughtful responses as a leader and an overall calmer demeanour.


Being able to understand how others feel and tune into their emotional state, helps us become more effective communicators, and therefore more effective leaders.

Research shows that the connection between the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex – the ‘me centre’ of the brain that references back to personal perspective and also infers other people’s state of mind – and the insula – involved in ‘gut-level’ feelings – becomes stronger after meditation. This strengthened connection enhances our capacity to understand where another person is coming from, and put ourselves in their shoes. (2)

emotional intelligence, what is emotional intelligence

Self Awareness

Meditation encourages greater ‘gut level’ intuition, which is governed by the insula region of the brain. The role of the insula is to monitor bodily sensations and assesses whether they are benign or harmful, and a strengthened insula will be better able to pick up on bodily cues from the muscles, skin, ears and eyes, if something doesn’t feel right. (2)

Together, a strengthened insula and prefrontal cortex (where logic and rational thought reside) help develop the ability to pause, reflect and evaluate how we think and feel on a daily basis.

This greater self-awareness can, therefore, help guide leaders when it comes to making hard decisions.

Conflict Management

Effectively navigating a conflict requires the ability to find common ground and understand different perspectives. This is made possible when we approach a conflict with a mindful approach.

As shown above, meditation enables this mindful approach by improving emotional self-control, self-awareness and empathy. It helps us develop the ability to acknowledge that we have our own biases, emotions and sense of distorted perspective. This opens the door to ownership and acceptance of responsibility.

Once we are aware of our emotions and bias, we can prevent them from affecting our decisions or actions, all while being more sensitive to a different point of view. You can read more on how to use mindfulness to improve conflict here. 

How To Get Started With Meditation

If you are a beginner to meditation, start with focused meditation. This calls for an object to be the center of your focus, driving all other thoughts away.

To get in the habit, try guided meditation sessions with an app like Muse; this will make the process easier and more enjoyable. The Muse app also pairs with a brain sensing headband that will translate your brainwaves into the sounds of weather, allowing you to understand when your thoughts have wandered.  The combination of the Muse app and Muse headband help you keep track of your progress, and provide valuable insights for building a consistent practice.

Start with three minutes per day, and then build up to longer sessions if you want. Make it a consistent habit and you should notice a shift within just a few weeks.

Related Articles:


  1. Media, K. and WooCommerce, B. (2018). Emotional and Social Intelligence Leadership Competencies: An Overview. [online] Key Step Media. Available at: https://www.keystepmedia.com/emotional-social-intelligence-leadership-competencies/  [Accessed 21 May 2018].
  2. Gladding, R. (2013). This is your brain on meditation. [online] Psychology Today. Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/use-your-mind-change-your-brain/201305/is-your-brain-meditation  [Accessed 21 May. 2018].

In Celebration of Dads

Q: What’s Forrest Gump’s password?

A: 1forrest1


Q: Why do chicken coops only have two doors?

A: Because if they had four, they would be chicken sedans!


Q: What do you call a fake noodle?

A: An Impasta!

Why are these horrible yet perfect dad-jokes relevant to your day? Well, that’s because this past Sunday was Dad’s Day! Father’s Day! The time to celebrate DADS or your personal role model near and far! Father’s Day is the day to give some appreciation to the fathers in our lives. While we may not always articulate how much our dads (or male mentors of any kind) mean to us, we love that this day serves as a reminder to show these guys some love!

Here are some of the dads we admire here at Muse.

WARNING: these guys are not just regular dads…they are SUPERHERO dads, and just overall standup guys.

Dad #1: Barack Obama

Our first special mention goes out to the “Dad-In-Chief”, previous USA President, Barack Obama. Not only was he the full-time role model to Americans, but he was also the full-time role model to his two daughters, Sacha and Malia. Whenever talking about his family, Obama consistently wears his heart on his sleeve, expressing that his daughters are the greatest joys in his life and that their smiles always light up his day. He’s not just a mush-ball, however.

From dancing to “Hotline Bling” with Usher at the Whitehouse to singing the Happy Birthday song to his daughter on stage in front of a large audience, Obama never shies away from making memories with (or embarrassing) his girls.  We think this would be the right time to add “Dads” to the list of people Obama is a role model to… and he’s set a high bar!



original image from https://heavy.com/

Dad 2: Michael Phelps

Most of us know Michael Phelps as USA’s superstar swimmer, but did you know he is also a father of two? Aside from being the most decorated Olympian of all time – bearing a total of 28 medals – as well as a full-time dad, Phelps is also an advocate for mental health. Despite his remarkable successes in the pool, this athlete and parent struggled massively with his mental health, specifically with anxiety and depression. This past May, Phelps launched a campaign in support of mental health with the goal to remove the stigma associated with mental health issues and to get those struggling the help they need and deserve.

It took Phelps quite some time to feel ready to come to treatment, but he has since internalized that “it’s OK not to be OK”, something that helped him accept that not everyone is perfect. It is this mindset we are looking to see more of in our society, and with Phelps and his family on board, hopefully, we can further engrain the message that mental health is health!

Original image from https://betakit.com/

Dad #3: Derek Luke, CEO of InteraXon

This Muse Father’s Day post would not be complete without proudly mentioning one of our own: Derek Luke, the CEO and President here at InteraXon. Derek has been contributing to companies such as Blackberry, Seagate and other multinationals for over three decades, and was brought into the Muse family just over five years ago.

His contributions at Muse are transcendent and immeasurable, not only in his role as CEO, but also in the heart and spirit he adds to our team. Our Scottish superstar brings his impeccable character and work ethic to the table every day, but over time he has learned that family is his true priority, a quality he believes also translates to the culture here at Muse. From family board game nights to reading The Night Before Christmas with his four children on Christmas eve, Derek is proud to say that his kids are each other’s best friends. He brings this same care and passion to everything he does here at the office, inspiring us and pushing us to do the same every day.

Coming to America🎃

A post shared by Beyoncé (@beyonce) on

Dad #4: Jay Z

Alongside his glamorous wife Beyoncé, the Carters welcomed twins into their family this time last year. This big-hearted father of three is giving other dads a gift this past Father’s Day: a chance to see their families again. Often, those who cannot afford a private attorney get lost in the jail system, and Jay Z is taking a stand against this exploitative bail industry and speaking up for those held in this broken criminal justice system simply because they cannot afford bail.

Using his fame and influence to stand up for what he believes in, his three children are lucky to have such a strong, prosocial dad!


Don’t forget to make a big deal out of them this weekend!


Video: Interview with Co-founder Chris Aimone and EVP of Sales Jackie Cooper

Over the past week, we were lucky enough to be invited to host the Mindfulness Room at the 2018 Salesforce Connections conference in Chicago.

During the conference Muse co-founder Chris Aimone and Jackie Cooper, our EVP of sales & marketing sat down with the Salesforce Live team to discuss how Muse came to life, how we’ve seen it help change lives, and where we’re going.

In our calm, dark oasis we had a steady stream of mindful conference goers, many of which were in need of help starting their personal mindfulness practice. We ran 6 stations of Muse demos as well as our visual Nanoleaf Campfire experience which connects users to a stunning panel of glowing panels that change colour and brightness depending on their mental state.

muse meditation app

muse meditation app


Thank you to everyone who came by and spent time meditating with us!

Interested in experiencing Muse first hand? You can follow our events list HERE to see if we’ll be running demos in an area near you, or you always have the option to purchase one for yourself:

Muse Makes Meditation Easy. 

Welcome to Muse: your personal meditation assistant. Muse is the first tool that gives you accurate, real-time neurofeedback on what’s happening in your brain while you meditate.

Stop guessing if you’re doing it right — start tracking your progress and reaching your goals.



Spoiler Alert: 3 New Languages Available

meditation app, best meditation app, muse

We’ve been hard at work over at the Muse HQ on a much-requested project: Internationalization!

We’re excited to announce that next week the full Muse e-commerce experience will be available in French, German, and Spanish.  On top of that, French, German, and Spanish customers will also be able to experience the Muse Meditation app with guided soundscapes in their default phone language setting.

best meditation app, muse meditation, meditation


Next on the list? Italian and Japanese! Launch date? Stay tuned!

To celebrate the launch (and Father’s Day) we’re offering Muse for the lowest price of the year – over 25% off!


Muse Makes Meditation Easy. 

Welcome to Muse: your personal meditation assistant. Muse is the first tool that gives you accurate, real-time neurofeedback on what’s happening in your brain while you meditate.

Stop guessing if you’re doing it right — start tracking your progress and reaching your goals. No promo code required.


What’s The Best Meditation App For You?

Interested in meditation but don’t know where to start? All you might need is the right meditation tool to get going.

To some, the idea of using technology to find serenity seems insane. After all, the constant need to be connected to technology can often be the root cause of stress, anxiety, and feeling overwhelmed.

However, the statistics tell a different story. In 2015 the meditation and mindfulness industry earned almost $1 billion, with millions of meditation app downloads worldwide. (1)

With so many options available, how do you know what meditation tool is right for you?

best meditation app, subscription cost headspace, refund headspace, pricing headspace

Here’s the quick breakdown if you don’t have time to read the whole article:

  • If you’re new to meditation and looking to learn the basics, the Headspace app is for you.
  • If you’re looking for more than just meditation and would enjoy relaxing bedtime stories and background music as well, the Calm app is for you.
  • If you’re a beginner or intermediate looking to quickly develop meditation as a habit and are serious about training your mind for less stress and anxiety, the Muse headband and app is for you. The Muse app includes free guided meditation, background sounds, and real-time feedback if used with the Muse headband.  

But before we get into comparing each brand, we wanted to quickly touch on the question many have: Are technology and meditation compatible?

Why Using Technology to Meditate Isn’t Counterintuitive

The problem we face with technology is not the tool itself, but the apps we use and their impact on human behaviour. For example, many social media apps encourage addictive behaviour, such as mindless scrolling and clicking.

In contrast, technology can also be used in a constructive manner to promote positive behaviour. For example, meditation apps encourage sitting still, quieting the mind and deep breathing. The meditation sessions themselves don’t require actual screen time; just hitting the play button and listening to audio, similar to a CD player.

The Benefits of Meditation

Meditation is not just spiritual fluff or soul food – it works at a physiological level to change the structure of the brain. For example, it strengthens the neural connections related to logic and rational assessment and weakens the neural connections related to fear and anger. This results in greater self-awareness, emotional control, and puts space between our immediate judgments and responses. (2)

Fortunately, thousands of clinical studies have been conducted to date that verify meditation’s benefits. Research shows that meditation can improve: (3) (4)

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Chronic pain
  • Blood pressure
  • Memory
  • Focus

With benefits like that, it’s no wonder we’re seeing a huge shift in interest.

So how do meditation apps help? Read on…

best meditation app, subscription cost headspace, refund headspace, pricing headspace

How Meditation Apps & Tools Help: The Brain Workout

Let’s face the elephant in the room: meditation is difficult.

As technology has progressed and the pace of life has gotten faster, our minds have become wired to respond to instant gratification, constant achievement, and crossing off to-do lists. We no longer know how to sit still and do nothing. In fact, just the thought of doing nothing can trigger feelings of being overwhelmed, boredom, or anxiety for a lot of people.

This is where apps and meditation tools come in.

Meditation apps serve as a tool to help cross the bridge from doing to being. Specifically, meditation apps help in these three main ways:

    1. Structure: Most of us don’t know what to do with our wandering minds, but apps provide the motivation, guidance and structure that’s needed to get started.
    2. Habit formation. The key to an effective meditation practice lies in consistency, by incorporating it into your daily routine. Meditation apps encourage habit formation with scheduled reminders and progress tracking.
    3. Convenience. It can be difficult to find the time or energy to go to a meditation class, but meditation apps make it simple. You don’t have to go anywhere and can practice in the comfort of your bedroom.

Here’s where things get interesting – meditation at its core is essentially brain training, or working out your brain the same way you’d work out any other muscle group.  In order to be successful at brain training, you need to be working out regularly (i.e. develop a regular meditation practice) or you won’t see full results. The tricky thing about building new habits is: it’s really hard.  

Are you someone who’s already tried a few different apps and haven’t been able to start a consistent practice? 

You’re not alone. Meditation is HARD and for many, confusing even with a gentle voice guiding you.  One of the reasons we developed the Muse headband in combination with the Muse app is to help people take the guesswork out of meditation, by using live feedback so they know what’s going on in their head while they meditate – essentially acting as your personal meditation assistant.

Finding Daily Calm: The Best Meditation Apps & Tools For Your Needs 

While a wide range of meditation apps exist on the market, there are three popular apps that are top contenders for unique reasons – Headspace, Muse, and Calm. Whether you’re a beginner that prefers guided meditation or someone more advanced looking to deepen your practice, you’ll find your needs met with one of the options above.

The brief guide below will help you review each offer and find the best app for you:


What is the Headspace meditation app?

best meditation app, subscription cost headspace, refund headspace, pricing headspaceThe Headspace app contains a library of guided meditation sessions that are simple to follow, with the overarching goal to make meditation accessible to everyone.  There are specific programs such as meditation for sleep, work, stress, anxiety and focus that you can access with a paid subscription – unfortunately, you need to complete one pack first before switching around. With a subscription, there are also SOS meditations for when you need to take a quick breather that are three minutes each.

If you don’t like Andy P’s voice, you may be sorely disappointed with only having access to his voice alone for your guided meditation sessions.

Note: if you have Spotify, you can listen to some free samples of Headspace guided meditation, ranging from a “mindful breakfast”, to “how to sit” and even “an early morning hike”.

best meditation app, headspace cost, headspace subscription, pricing headspace

Who is Headspace good for? Beginners.

This is a great app for absolute beginners to meditation, who may not even see the point of mindfulness or meditation just yet. The Headspace app oversimplifies meditation, which ensures that it is not too demanding for users and also adds cute animations to brighten up the user experience.

Opt for Headspace is you are reluctant to try meditation and would like a gentle introduction.

Headspace free trial:

instead of a free trial period, Headspace offers lifetime access to a specific set of limited free content.
This includes:

  • Basics (ten sessions – once you’ve done these, you can go back and do any of them again, but to access any other content, you need a subscription.)
  • Breathe Mini
  • 1 session from the most popular pack in each series
  • Singles Introductions
  • Everyday Headspace (3 sessions)
  • Add up to five friends as meditation buddies, and view each other’s stats.

You can also review some of your meditation stats such as the average amount of time you meditate, the total number of sessions you’ve done, your total time meditating with the app, and how long of a streak you’ve kept up. To unlock more content you have to subscribe.

subscription cost headspace, headspace price, pricing headspace, best meditation app
Image via www.headspace.com

Headspace subscription cost: $12.99-$399.00

$12.99/month, $95.88/year, $399.99 for lifetime subscription.

Headspace Refund and cancellation:

New subscribers are entitled to a full refund within 7 days after purchase for subscriptions that are longer than one month. Subscription automatically renews unless cancelled. It can be cancelled at any time without early termination fees and does offer a money back guarantee.

MUSE: the brain sensing headband & app

What is the Muse: the brain-sensing headband and its app?

best meditation app, subscription cost calm, refund calm, pricing calm Muse is different to all other meditation apps on the market – it’s a smartphone app and a brain-sensing headband that tracks your brainwaves and gives you live audio feedback while you meditate through the app. In fact, it’s the first tool in the world that can give you accurate, real-time feedback on what’s happening in your brain while you meditate.

Muse provides feedback by translating your brain signals into guiding sounds, such as wind, rain, or gentle ocean waves.

For example, when your mind is calm and settled, you hear calm and settled winds. When your mind is active the winds will pick up and blow.

After each session, you’ll see how you did with easy charts showing how much time your mind spend in active, calm, and neutral states. You can track your progress over time, complete challenges, and earn points to stay engaged and on track.  

Muse’s whole approach revolves around helping you find what type of guidance works best for you.  Instead of having several different guided meditation sessions telling you what to do, we offer different techniques to try to see what guidance works best for you personally through the real-time feedback.

Don’t want a headband? You can still download and use the Muse app for free with no headband to access simple guided meditations and nature soundtracks.
best meditation app, refund headspace, pricing headspace, subscription cost headspace

Who is Muse good for? Absolute beginners to advanced meditators. 

Whether you are a beginner or more advanced, Muse is ideal for anyone who is committed to building an effective meditation practice and is motivated to train their brain and develop a consistent and satisfying meditation practice.

Muse app subscription cost: Free

There is no ongoing subscription fee to use the app. You can download and use the Muse app with no headband to access simple guided meditations and nature soundtracks.  If you’re interested in using the app with the headband you simply make a one-time payment of $249 for the headband.

Muse free trial:

The Muse app is 100% free to download, and the Muse headband comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee

Refund and cancellation:

Same as above, return within 30 days for a full refund if you are not satisfied with your purchase.


What is the Calm app?

best meditation app, subscription cost calm, refund calm, pricing calm


The Calm app is not specific to meditation – it provides three main options on the home screen to help you calm down: music, meditation and sleep stories (yes, actual bedtime stories!)

Similar to Headspace, the Calm app provides specific programs for stress, happiness, sleep, focus and more.  Calm also has a decent variety of different instructors to allow you to see what voices and content resonate with your individual preference. 


It also allows you to tailor your experience based on the following goals:

  • Develop gratitude
  • Better sleep
  • Reduce stress
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Increase self-esteem
  • Increase happiness
  • Improve focus
  • Learn to meditate

best meditation app, subscription cost calm, refund calm, pricing calm

Who is Calm good for? Beginners to intermediate.

The Calm app is ideal for beginners, who are new to meditation and mindfulness. However, it can be used by intermediate and advanced meditators as well.

Calm app free trial:

7 days of access to a limited library of sleep stories, meditation programs and music. The ‘masterclass’ tab is not available in the trial and unlocked with a premium pass.

best meditation app, subscription cost calm, refund calm, pricing calm best meditation app, subscription cost calm, refund calm, pricing calm
image via www.calm.com

Calm app subscription cost:

$12.99/month, $59.99/year and $299.99 for a lifetime subscription.

Calm app refund and cancellation:

You must cancel your monthly or yearly Subscription before it renews to avoid the billing of the fees for the next subscription period. According to Calm.com’s terms of service, refunds are not available for the fees that are already paid in the current subscription period and all payments made are non-refundable and non-transferable.

So, What’s The Best Meditation App For You?

  • If you’re new to meditation and looking to learn the basics, the Headspace app is for you.
  • If you’re looking for more than just meditation and would enjoy relaxing bedtime stories and music as well, the Calm app is for you.
  • If you’re a beginner or intermediate looking to quickly develop meditation as a habit and are serious about training your mind for less stress and anxiety, the Muse headband and app is for you. 


Muse Makes Meditation Easy. 

Stop guessing if you’re doing it right — start tracking your progress and reaching your goals.



  1. Wieczner, J. (2016). http://fortune.com. [online] Fortune. Available at: http://fortune.com/2016/03/12/meditation-mindfulness-apps/ [Accessed 1 Jun. 2018].
  2. Gladding, R. (2013). This is your brain on meditation. [online] Psychology Today. Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/use-your-mind-change-your-brain/201305/is-your-brain-meditation  [Accessed 24 Apr. 2018].
  3. Moore, A., Gruber, T., Derose, J. and Malinowski, P. (2012). Regular, brief mindfulness meditation practice improves electrophysiological markers of attentional control. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 6.
  4. National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health. (n.d.). Meditation: In Depth. [online] Available at: https://nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation/overview.htm#hed3 [Accessed 1 Jun. 2018].