When the conflicting worlds of meditation and technology collide … twice

From time to time we like to share a story from one of our inspiring Musers. Alex Charfen is today’s guest writer. He is an internationally recognized speaker and business consultant who has worked with Fortune 500 corporations and entrepreneurs alike to help them grow and scale their businesses. As a firm believer of the performance benefits of meditation he has introduced 100s of professionals to Muse. This will be the start of a month long Meditation Challenge. Alex will be a guest writer, here on our blog each week, sharing his wisdom on various topics and then diving deeper into each topic, during his weekly Facebook Live sessions.


My obsession with meditation began with a monk stopping his heart.

In my early teens I went on a spiritual journey trying to find my place in the universe, and it’s a journey I’m still on today. I was restless and confused and I wanted clarity. I talked to my friends and their parents, visited Christian churches of all denominations, attended an amazing Mormon church for a few years, visited synagogues and talked to rabbis, and read every religious text I could find, but a trip to a Buddhist temple impacted me like nothing had before.

The temple was holding a meditation seminar, headlined by an apparently famous Buddhist monk. I’d never heard of him, but when he took off the top of his robe and allowed people to stick the beige pads of a heart monitor to his chest and back, he had my full attention. I watched, mesmerized, as he meditated. The room was silent except for the sounds of his breathing and the soft blips of the monitor signalling the beats of his heart. And they were getting slower.

As the minutes passed I found myself holding my own breath, only breathing when I heard another blip, and each were getting farther and farther apart. But then, something truly remarkable happened…

The monk’s heart stopped beating.

He flatlined.

At least that’s what it appeared like. I later learned that heart monitors in the 1980s would flatline when heartbeats slowed below a certain rhythm, and often delay coming out of a flatline even when a new, subtle heartbeat occurred. But the effect was astounding.

Alex Charfen loving Muse.

For most of my life up to that point I’d felt reactive, like my world was outside of my control. Seeing a human being possess the presence and self-control to slow his heart rate to the point of being undetectable by the heart monitor redefined what I thought was possible.

I wanted, and still work toward, the body awareness that the monk had. From that moment on, seeing the real-time biofeedback of meditation, I was hooked. I also thought the goal of meditation was to stop my heart from beating, so my expectations may have been a bit unrealistic. Undeterred for more than 25 years, I sought out and consumed hundreds of books on meditation and awareness, mindfulness seminars and retreats, audiobooks and soundscapes. I practiced yoga regularly, even completing a year where I did it every day.

I even got the chance to experience a laboratory demonstration of cognitive biofeedback, where complex equipment and sensors monitored my body’s signals as I stared at a screen and tried to “move a ball with my mind” (I know how that sounds, but it was intense). The feedback was eye-opening; not that I was good or bad, but that I actually had measurements for my varying levels of awareness.

I was sold. I wanted one in my house. The only problem? Those monitors cost tens of thousands of dollars to develop and purchase. (Of course I asked.)

It wasn’t until June 2016 – about 15 years after that trade show demonstration – that I discovered the Muse mediation headband, and I was floored. For the first time I was eyes-closed, meditating with audible biofeedback…

Just like the monk.

The feedback during just my first Muse session gave me perspective on meditation and awareness that I hadn’t been able to create in more than 25 years. Today, 110 days after my first Muse session, I feel my entire meditation practice has clarified and I’ve gained a new level of awareness in my life. I’m able to better self-regulate emotionally and be less triggered in situations where I would normally become reactive. More and more I’m able to consciously pull myself back into greater levels of awareness and out of that reactivity.

The Muse headset has been transformational for me, and I would like to share it with you.

Out of gratitude for this experience, I wanted to recreate history.

Alex Charfen Musing during a flight.

Join me for a Facebook Live session at 2 p.m. EST (8 p.m. GMT) on Thursday, December 1, 2016, where I will introduce, explain and then conduct a live three-minute meditation in front of the world. During this time, I’ll also hook myself up to additional biofeedback devices, and you’ll hear how my body is responding to deeper or shallower periods of awareness. We will then show you my Muse results in real time so we can share in the experience together. To learn more about Alex Charfen please visit: charfen.com

Gratitude and Presence this Thanksgiving.

Turkey dinner, extended family, table centerpieces, and the inevitably approaching holiday season: it seems as though the Thanksgiving Weekend is becoming more and more of a recipe for high stress and tension.  After a whirlwind year that has produced unexpected global events, it can be too easy to lose sight of the meaning and purpose of this holiday. You only need to look to social media to see this best represented by the trending hashtag #HowToAvoidPoliticsAtDinner.  With this view seemingly being the norm, why should we take a moment to be grateful?

Taking the time to appreciate everything you receive causes you to acknowledge the goodness in your life.  During this process, people tend to recognize that the source of goodness partially lies outside themselves.  As a Harvard study suggested, this process “helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals”.  Gratitude also has a number of scientific benefits as well.  Amy Morin, a psychotherapist and Forbes.com contributor, wrote about how gratitude improves physical and psychological health, increases mental strength and improves self-esteem, among other benefits.

In short, the simple act of giving thanks is both beneficial to yourself and those around you.  We, here at Muse, are grateful for all of the amazing groups and individuals who have helped to raise awareness of mental health, and for those who have journeyed with us in bringing meditation to their lives and those around them.  As you anticipate an amazing (or anxiety-riddled) Thanksgiving dinner and being with your friends and family, we invite you to step back, take a breath and soak in the presence of the here and now. Appreciate our Earth and all of those around you for the goodness they bring into our lives.

Happy Thanksgiving from Muse.

credit: Huffington Post

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.

Meditation for the Mind and Body

Do you drag yourself around every day wondering why you’re always low on energy? You’re not alone. With the pressures to keep up with work, family, and all other facets of life, we could all use some time to ourselves. If you’re looking to slow things down, why not try a little meditation? Whether you accept that meditation works or are skeptical, it wouldn’t hurt to try it. Every day, thousands of people turn to meditation to soothe themselves. But what exactly is meditation, and what are the benefits you can expect from it?

Meditation is a technique that many people discover informally through yoga. Forms of meditation may involve deep concentration over a period of time. Within the context of yoga, this is usually performed in specific poses and may include chanting, lowering the heart rate, and deep breathing techniques. Although related, meditation is its own separate practice from yoga, and a growing body of evidence supports its many health benefits.

If you’re new to meditation and don’t know where to start, here are a few helpful tips.

  1. Find a secluded, quiet area. Ideally, this should be away from distractions like TV or your phone. You can use music but it may be best to avoid a favorite that may be too distracting. Instead, find something soft, soothing and peaceful which doesn’t have any sudden changes to rhythm and beat. An example of music that could work well is Moby’s “long ambients1: calm, sleep“. Moby says on his website that he created the playlist for “sleeping and yoga” and that its free for anyone to use. 
  1. You should dress comfortably. While full athletic gear or yoga clothing is not necessary comfort is important as you could spend an extended amount of time in one position.  As with the recommendations around music you don’t want to become overly distracted.
  1. Meditation has no prescribed duration of time. As a beginner its best to start with just a few minutes and as you become more comfortable and confident with your practice you can increase the amount of time. Try and accommodate to your own schedule and to how it makes you feel. If you overdo it you may become deterred from wanting to continue or from doing it correctly. 
  1. Choosing your sitting position is all about personal preference. You could sit on the floor, legs folded or sit in a chair if that works better for you. Close your eyes and rest your hands where they feel most comfortable. Lying down can also be an option but many find this induces sleep which detracts from goal of meditation. 

Once a regular practice is achieved the hope is that you feel an overall improvement in perceived wellbeing as well as an assortment of other amazing physiological benefits including the following small selection of examples:

Your body:

Meditation is proven to be a great combatant against cardiovascular disease. Becoming aware of your stress and controlling it through meditation can reduce blood pressure and improve heart rate. It is also an effective tool in treating arthritis, reducing inflammation, and healing the emotional repercussions of physical ailments.

Your mind:

Of the numerous studies dedicated to researching meditation, many look into its effects on the mind. This includes an increase in your ability to focus which, in turn, leads to improved cognitive functioning and decision-making skills.

Meditation is known to help people who suffer from anxiety and high stress levels; ailments that affect both the mind and body. Its therapeutic values improve people’s moods and reduce negative thoughts that are the results of depression and damaging habits like compulsive eating and smoking.

There are many reasons make time in a daily routine for meditation. It can be a challenge at first to find the time and motivate one’s self to keep up the practice but this is the case with any exercise or healthy habit. Tools like Muse, or even personal meditation teachers, music or yoga classes can provide just the motivation needed to transition from being simply curious to regularly practising and reaping all the rewards meditation has to offer. The fact that it only needs to take a few minutes from one’s day should provide solace. So, find a peaceful spot, get comfortable and begin.

Happy Meditating.

Guest Author Bio : Vineetha Reddy

Vineetha Reddy
Vineetha Reddy

Being a regular practitioner and adviser of everything related to health, fitness and yoga, I also have begun to write and contribute to this knowledge ecosystem. I strongly believe that the organic food you find in your pantry provide the best benefits for good health. Follow me for my best ideas and solutions: Twitter / Facebook


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.