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Why Would Anyone Use Technology for Meditation?

An early brain sensing prototype.

I often get asked why someone would need an external tool for meditation. A brain sensing headband and smartphone seem out of place in a practice that’s supposed to be about doing less. Isn’t meditation something we do to simplify our lives and get away from technology?

“It takes motivation and effort to actually meditate regularly.”

Meditation is full of contradictions. On one hand, we’re taught that we’re perfect the way we are and that we should accept reality as it is. But on the other hand, the practice itself can feel like a lot of work. It takes motivation and effort to actually meditate regularly. Especially for beginners.

A Double-Edged Sword

Keeping a journal, documenting your meditations on a calendar, or using a tool like Muse can help you practice and reflect. But at the same time, you might end up looking back at these tools and feeling like you’re not good enough. Judging your performance like this is completely opposed to the core values of meditation.

At Muse, we are constantly researching people trying to start a new practice. What we’ve learned is that no matter what tools you use, a significant personal investment is always necessary. We’ve also learned that physiologically tracking your meditation using brain-sensing technology can successfully evoke motivation, curiosity and inspiration for many people in the modern world. For some people, the kind of support Muse provides makes a big difference.

“Making sure you don’t fall down the rabbit hole of self-judgment is critical to making this particular technique work.”

Making sure you don’t fall down the rabbit hole of self-judgment is critical to making this particular technique work. That’s why we work around the clock to find the balance between promoting a non-judgmental attitude and motivating habit formation.

Compassion for Today’s Beginners

Building meditation into a contemporary lifestyle can be surprisingly difficult. Muse is full of compassion for those having trouble sticking to a meditation habit. The intention is to develop secular, science-based “training wheels” for new meditators.

A compassionate act.

The fact is, we live in a goal-directed and achievement-driven society. I see bringing motivation into a meditation program as a compassionate act to help with the early stages. Muse is a gateway to meditation which acknowledges the world we live in.

If you already have an established practice, you may find yourself resistant or opposed to the idea. This is natural, as this technology doesn’t solve a problem for existing meditators. If you already meditate, it’s simply a curiosity to experiment with. But for those having trouble creating a strong daily meditation routine, it can be a wonderful ally in the hard work of building a practice from scratch.

“Muse is a gateway to meditation which acknowledges the world we live in.”

Technology or Technique?

Many teachers will tell you that everything is perfect as it is, and they’re right. But the wise ones will also point out that it takes effort to accept and be with that perfection in this moment. Muse is less of a new technology, and more of a new technique to help you put in that effort. If you’re one of the millions trying to get a meditation habit going, it’s worth considering how Muse might help.

“Many teachers will tell you that everything is perfect as it is, and they’re right. But the wise ones will also point out that it takes effort to accept and be with that perfection in this moment.”

Muse is not about attaining some miraculous state of enlightenment decades from now. It’s about helping you start a practice today. It’s about motivating yourself to create a sustainable daily routine. It’s about learning to habitually give yourself an opportunity to exist within the perfection of presence every single day.

Our intention is to encourage people to see the wisdom in a daily meditation routine focused on attention and awareness in the here and now. We started this journey with a belief that this technology might truly help people start meditating. Now we’re even more sure.

Jay Vidyarthy


Jay Vidyarthi is the User Experience Lead for Muse. He helped conceptualize Muse and has directed all UX research, design and validation processes since. Follow him on Twitter @jayvidyarthi.

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