Camp Hope Unleashed and Muse collaborate to help veterans with PTSD

The veteran campers of Camp Hope Unleased ©Tom Rudd
The veteran campers of Camp Hope Unleased ©Tom Rudd

We’re always looking for inspirational stories and amazing individuals that find success through meditation with Muse. We recently came across Camp Hope Unleashed, a program off-shooting from a collaboration between Camp Unleashed, Tails of Hope Foundation and the Faithful Friends Service Dog Foundation. Camp Hope Unleashed creates an accessible space for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and their trusty service dogs. Muse teamed up with Camp Hope Unleashed to provide support by giving away Muse headbands and to observe the results. We had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Kay Loveland afterwards and learn of Camp Hope Unleashed’s efforts to rehabilitate those with PTSD.

Resulting from their time deployed, veterans are unable to enjoy certain activities due to triggers reminding them of previous traumatic experiences. Anything from a loud sound to somebody approaching from behind could be the cause of anxiety. This became the inspiration for establishing Camp Hope Unleashed. After meeting a young woman who returned from her deployment in Iraq, Loveland came to understand the need for inclusive camps. The veteran was afraid to try out a camp because of all the potential triggers that could induce her PTSD. However when the woman eventually attended, Dr. Loveland learned that with some practice, it isn’t difficult to accommodate a veteran. With the help of fellow campers, veterans could go about their stay in peace. When the Camp Hope Unleashed pilot project was born, it was home to eight veterans accompanied by their service dogs in addition to volunteer first-responders.

Camp Hope veteran meditating with Muse. ©Tom Rudd
Camp Hope veteran meditating with Muse. ©Tom Rudd

The camp trained trauma resiliency skills, drawing from the work of neuroplasticity, aiming to reshape one’s thoughts. This made Muse an excellent learning tool for the veterans. Muse was initially met with skepticism, Loveland admitted. Although gradually, the campers took a liking to it, eventually competing in “bird-off’s”; a friendly competition comparing the Muse app’s reward system. Muse’s audible feedback loop proved to be invaluable in this circumstance. For many silence could also be a trigger, complicating meditation as a form of therapy.

Muse is now used every day by the veterans, even outside of the camp. Dr. Loveland recalls that sleep is extremely elusive according to the veterans. They claim the tool has helped them fall asleep, rethink their need for sleep medication, and was useful in keeping their cool. Loveland suspects that the appeal is in Muse’s ability to visually display results. She believes veterans and EMT’s (Emergency Medical Technicians) aren’t comfortable sharing their feelings and would rather, more objectively, read stats and chart improvements which is something that Muse provides after every session. “When they see they have some power to change this… to have something show that it is possible, it makes it seem more real”, says Loveland. Now, when the veterans find themselves troubled, Loveland says they look forward to revisiting the meditation tool, knowing it will help as it has done many times before.

 

One of Camp Hope's many emotional support dogs. ©Tom Rudd
One of Camp Hope’s many emotional support dogs. ©Tom Rudd

History of Meditation – Part 2 – Early Teachings and Religious Roots

This is the second post in a 3-part series, “History of Meditation”. You can find part 1 here.

The Enso. A symbol of Zen
The Enso. A symbol of Zen

Meditation was becoming more and more popular by the time we adopted the modern calendar. In the previous post, we learned that meditation had already become a lifestyle amongst past civilizations. Our prehistoric ancestors had a form of environment-induced meditation. The ancient inhabitants of the Indus Valley were the first to record their meditation practices. We also looked at the initial influence religion had on meditation. Once the Common Era began, meditation would spread quickly due to its relationship with multiple religions.

Throughout the 7th century, eastern religions were continuing to spread and prosper. Additionally, this is when Japanese Buddhism started to flourish. A Japanese monk named Dosho travelled to China where he learned and adopted a form of meditation unheard of in his homeland: Zen Buddhism’s Zazen. Zazen is a seated meditation that’s known to be a study of self. “To study the Buddha Way is to study the self, to study the self is to forget the self, and to forget the self is to be enlightened by the ten thousand things” preaches Dogen Zenji (also known as Eihei Dogen), an ancient practitioner and teacher of Soto Zen. Along with the teachings of Zen Buddhism, it was vital to practice and educate others in order to excel with zazen and this is exactly what Dosho did. Upon his return to Japan, Dosho thought it necessary to spread Zen. He opened a meditation hall in Japan, the first of its kind, where he shared his discoveries.

The Shunkoin Temple in Kyoto, Japan
The Shunkoin Temple in Kyoto, Japan

During this time, many other religions were thriving. Each with their own forms of meditation attached to a religious belief. In Islam, they find meditation in Tafakkur. This is the act of deep contemplation and reflection of life. In Judaism, there is a firm belief in Kabbalah, a tradition of received wisdom. This gives root to Hitbodedut, a reflection of life’s little moments, similar to Tafakkur. In Christianity, forms of introspective thinking can be found in counting rosary beads and Eucharistic Adoration. Regardless of the religion, the commonality is that they all believe that we should take the time to reflect upon the lives we are blessed with and focus on the present.

As we near the contemporary history of meditation, it remains very ingrained in religion. In the next post in this series we will see the evolution of meditation and its widespread reach across the world.  

 

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

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.

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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What’s the value of gratitude? Why does it even matter? Day 9

10 Days of Holiday Gratitude from Muse

We at Muse practice gratitude and were so moved from Seth Godin’s Thanksgiving Reader that we challenged the diverse and talented group of people we’re proud to call our colleagues to chime in on this conversation.

Join us here on the blog daily for 10 Days of Holiday Gratitude from Muse.

Stay tuned. On Day 10 we’ll share our own gratitude in the form of a special surprise to all of our supporters.

 

What’s the value of gratitude? Why does it even matter?


There is a lot of negativity in the world, and every person is just trying to do their best with their own situation and given their own perspective. We all have goals and things we want to achieve, and focusing on those can feel like you have blinders on. So it’s important to step back and stop to check how far you’ve come and thank the people who have helped you along the way in the way of gratitude.

The value of gratitude isn’t monetary, but is emotional and very human. We move so quickly though our days and have so many thoughts running through our heads that taking a moment for gratitude will fill the human emotion inside. It matters to take a moment to reflect, as when you do accomplish those goals they will be valued more.

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By Jess Joyce