Related to our recent discussion about Neuralink, I recently had the opportunity to meditate several times while wearing a Muse Brain Sensing Headband. I found it an interesting but frustrating experience. Ultimately I don’t think it’s right concentration, at least not for me. I will not be using it in the future.
When you’re calm–as measured by the wearable EEG–the headband/app combo plays the sound of birdsong. When you’re less than calm, it plays the sound of ocean waves. (And not, as one might imagine, the sound of screams, or nails on a blackboard, or industrial machinery.) I found I could definitely make myself calmer while using this biofeedback mechanism. But this raised questions too. Chief among them: Was I even calmer without it, owing to the stress of having to perform for the machine?
Anyway. It seemed to produce experiences that were calm, yes, but without any of the other factors that one is supposed to develop in meditation. It didn’t really matter whether there was investigation of principles or not; I could focus on my breath, or on a chess problem, or on reading a book, and the results were not notably different. It didn’t matter whether I felt joy or even mindfulness necessarily.
I soon found that I could score about as well while performing a range of ordinary low-stress activities, and this is where I became disenchanted with the Muse. It was cold and transactional. But “be calm, get birds” is definitely not all there is, at least not to meditation in the Buddhist way.
The good news was that I confirmed that my yearlong daily meditation practice probably had made me calmer; I seem to be the calmest person I’ve run across as measured by the device. So there’s that, I guess.
Has anyone else tried this device? What were your experiences like?