Trevor Coleman – co-founder and CPO behind Muse – and Jay Vidyarthi – user experience and interaction designer – explain how training your ability to pay attention and avoid distraction with Muse is just like physical exercise for the mind.
JAY —— If you really think about it, even in the moments where you’re really trying to go to sleep, all the way to the other edge of your day when you’re trying to be productive as possible, or weather you’re in a conversation or driving or watching a movie or reading a book – one thing gets in the way a lot, and that’s distraction.
The ability to pay attention is a muscle, and just like lifting a weight and making your arm stronger, you can practice the ability to pay attention and researchers at Harvard have shown that if you actually train your attention to be better that doesn’t just stave off distractions, it actually makes you happier.
So what happens when you have Muse on, which is a brain-sensing headband that gives you real-time information about your brain – is that if you’re trying to focus, and your mind wanders to dinner, and I know you’ve had this experience your mind wants to think about this and that and the next thing you know it’s 5 minutes later and you’ve turned three pages in your book and you haven’t read anything. The moment you identify why you’ve been distracted and you say “hey, wait – where was I?” and you get back to focusing on what you were doing that’s the rep! So what you’re really trying to do, when you’re trying to train your attention, is you’re trying to get more reps in so you can get your attention stronger so you’re less distracted.
TREVOR —— So what we’re training is that skill of attention and meta attention which is not only the ability to focus on something but the brains ability to know what it’s focusing on and to move it’s focus at will. With Muse we really look at it as being lap running for the mind. You know the difference between an app that says “Hey go run” versus one that has a GPS and measures your pace and tells you how many calories you burn and gives you suggestions on how to improve your workouts. If it’s done right, it makes everything else in your life easier, you go jogging every morning, you don’t get out of breath when you start climbing the stairs with your groceries right?
With Muse you’re doing training for your brain that’s the same sort of thing, it’s a fundamental skill, you’re training the skill of attention which you use for everything.
Anything you’re doing, your brain is focusing on one thing and selectively ignoring everything in the room, that’s why when you’re at a cocktail party with 100 people, you can hear what your friend is saying and ignore the other 100 conversations that are happening.
JAY —— When you think about the way that distractions enter your daily life and you imagine that by training the ability to pay attention better you won’t have as many distractions, it becomes more obvious that by not being distracted you actually increase your sense of emotional well being throughout the day.
TREVOR —— Studies have shown that this kind of training has immense effects on all areas of life and that’s where we’re seeing the feedback of people, that they’re sleeping better, or that they’re feeling less anxious or that they’re managing their stress better.
Do More with your mind.