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Thread: Meditation Devices - What Do You Use ? (Pillows, Seats, Etc)

  1. #16
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    ACER Leap Beads hands on-ETTODAY 3C



    These strike me as a bit ridiculous. If you're present when reciting the sutras and counting beads, you don't need an app to make it easier. That kind of defeats the purpose.

    Thread: Big Buddha Beads
    Thread: Meditation Devices
    Gene Ching
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  2. #17
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    I throw my mung bean bag on the floor and sit on that in lotus.

    If I don't have my bag, a towel will do I guess.

    The important part is to have the hips even or slightly above the knees so that the back is in the correct posture.
    Kung Fu is good for you.

  3. #18
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    Muse 2

    The world's best meditation tech just got even better


    The Muse 2 headset: Still can't read your thoughts, but can track your heart rate and body movement as well as brain noise.IMAGE: CHRIS TAYLOR, MASHABLE
    BY CHRIS TAYLOR
    1 DAY AGO

    Muse 2
    $249
    VIEW PRODUCT
    The Good
    Lightweight • Now tracks breathing • stillness and heartbeat • Great battery life
    The Bad
    Expensive • 'New Age' soundscapes
    The Bottom Line
    Forget regular meditation apps. This upgraded brain-sensing headband is the best way to kickstart your mindfulness practice.
    Mashable Score 4.75
    Cool Factor 5.0
    Learning Curve 5.0
    Performance 4.5
    Bang for the Buck 4.0

    The list of indispensable gadgets that come with me every day, no matter where I am in the world, is a pretty short one. Most items on it are made by Apple: iPhone, iPad, MacBook. One is made by Fitbit: the Charge 2. One is made by Bose: wireless noise-cancelling QC30 headphones.

    So far, so relatively mainstream. But then there's my one daily-use gadget you wouldn't be able to pick out of a lineup: the Muse headband, made by a Canadian startup called InteraXon. And now, saving a little room in my day bag, I carry the smaller, lighter, more versatile Muse 2.


    The Muse 2 headset: simple, lightweight, with a thin strip of electrodes over the front and rubber hooks that fit behind your ears.
    IMAGE: CHRIS TAYLOR

    When I first reviewed the Muse in 2014, I had no inkling it would become a central part of my daily routine. This meditation wearable (or "thinkable") was a fascinating novelty: with EEG electrodes on the forehead and behind the ears, it was able to give you feedback on when your brain was noisy with activity and when it was at rest.

    Here, at last, was the holy grail for mindfulness practice and all the stress-busting health benefits it can bring: actual data on whether a given meditation session was effective in slowing the endless stream of thoughts that plague our brains.



    Back then, however, the accompanying app took too long to connect and calibrate. When I meditated, which wasn't often enough, it was easier to listen to one of the popular mindfulness apps (such as Headspace, Calm or Buddhify) than to pull out the Muse and go through a cumbersome process that involved thinking of different categories of objects.

    But the Muse evolved. A second iteration of the original headband, released in 2016, connected faster and had a longer battery life. The app became spiffier-looking and dropped the dumb category thing; now, to calibrate your level of brain noise, it asked you to "just be." Back in March, I used the Muse as the basis of a high-tech meditation contest.

    Meditation evolves again


    The bulkier Muse 1 (version 2), left, and the Muse 2, right.
    IMAGE: CHRIS TAYLOR

    The Muse 2, confusingly enough, is the third iteration of the hardware (not counting the meditation sunglasses that InteraXon made for Smith Optics).

    But even though it just looks like a smaller, slimmer version of its predecessors, the Muse 2 has been able to pack in more components — and represents a giant leap forward for the whole meditation wearable platform.

    That's because the headband now features an accelerometer, a gyroscope, and an optical heart-rate monitor that tracks the pulse in your forehead.


    Like its predecessor, the Muse 2 can be cinched at the front to fit tight against a wide variety of heads.
    IMAGE: CHRIS TAYLOR

    The upshot is that the Muse app can offer Muse 2 owners three new kinds of meditation: one that uses those first two sensors, where you try to remain as still as possible; one that uses the pulse sensor to help you lower your heart rate; and one that employs all three sensors to take you through breathing exercises.

    As of the Muse 2 launch, the offerings specifically for it in the Muse app are fairly bare-bones. There's only one kind of breathing exercise available (breathe in for four seconds, out for six), and just three introductory "lessons" in the heart meditation section.

    But InteraXon plans on adding new lessons one by one after launch. Given the platform's evolution so far — and the fact that it acquired a content company called Meditation Studio in July 2018 — there's good reason to believe this step-by-step process is for real.

    And the multiple sensors add an array of possibilities. In a few months, the company says it will add a fifth kind of headband practice: walking meditation. For this one, unlike the others, it is recommended that you keep your eyes open.

    Heart of the matter


    This is what happens when you do a heart-rate meditation on deadline.
    IMAGE: CHRIS TAYLOR

    For all of the new meditations, the Muse app uses the same scoring system as it employed in its regular brain-sensing meditation.

    You get three scores at the end of each session: a number of birds (you hear birds when the Muse registers a low level of brain activity relative to the baseline established in the calibration), a number of "recoveries" (moments when you were able to swiftly bring your brain, breath or heart rate back in the right direction), and "muse points" based on how well you did overall.

    But the sounds you'll hear in every kind of meditation are now wildly different. For the regular brain-based version, you'll still hear birds when you're calm and a nature sound of your choice when you aren't (a rainstorm, the ocean, the desert wind, ambient music — or city noises, which effectively constitutes a difficult "boss level").


    Olympic levels of stillness.
    IMAGE: CHRIS TAYLOR

    The other meditations don't appear to feature birds, even though you get a bird score at the end. In the heart rate meditation, your quickening or slowing pulse is represented by the sound of a drum. The breathing meditation gives you a voice telling you when to breathe in and out, along with ambient noise on the inhale and a pleasant whooshing sound on the exhale.

    And the stillness meditation gives you wind chimes if you move, which seems reason enough to stay still.

    As in all meditation apps, there's perhaps just a touch too much New Age-yness that might turn off the beginner. By default, the Muse app includes a guided meditation introduction with an overly slow, calm voice that repeats itself a fair amount. Maybe after a few more years of practice I'll be zen enough to accept this, but for now I prefer to turn off the voice and cut to the chase.


    I am not in harmony with my guide, ******.
    IMAGE: CHRIS TAYLOR

    Still, InteraXon has done everything it can to make the learning curve a steep one. Friendly animated videos play before you try any given meditation for the first time. There's a helpful on-screen guide on what to do if your headband isn't working; cinching it tighter, cleaning your forehead or adding a drop of water to the electrodes are the most likely solutions.

    Is all of this worth $250 (which happens to be $50 less than the original Muse sold for in 2014)? Your mileage may vary, but to my mind (no pun intended) it absolutely is. Both Headspace and Calm offer lifetime subscriptions for $299, and they don't give you useable data on your meditation practice.

    Use the Muse every weekday for a year, and you've spent a dollar per day — not a high price to pay for more peace of mind.

    InteraXon also has a body of science to back up its claims about the Muse's effectiveness. The company can boast hundreds of third-party research papers that use the Muse as a tool, including a study from the University of Milan that showed four weeks of Muse usage lead to improved cognitive performance.

    A better, calmer, less distracted brain? That's not something any of the other devices in my must-carry list can offer — and it's why the Muse 2 is likely to remain one of my most essential gadgets for at least another four years.
    This looks kinda cool but at $249, I'd rather stare at a wall.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  4. #19
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    More on Muse

    I tried Muse's brain-sensing headband, and it's the coolest thing I've tried all year
    For those of us who are beginners to meditation, it can be difficult to learn how to quiet our minds.
    RJ Andersen
    March 16, 2022

    Muse S (Gen 2) – $399.99
    Muse
    We’ve all heard that meditation is good for us. Aside from reducing stress, meditation touts a whole host of health benefits including the potential to reduce blood pressure, reduce anxiety and depression, help with insomnia, and even reverse age-related changes in the brain. Plus, meditation has practically zero downsides — it’s generally considered safe for most people — and it can be done from within the comfort of your own home.

    So why aren’t more people meditating?

    If you’re like me, you probably know the answer to this question, and it’s because meditation is hard. For those of us who are beginners to meditation, it can be difficult to learn how to quiet our minds, and the concept of sitting in silence with our own thoughts sounds more like torture than relaxation. In today’s hyper-connected, stress-filled society, the act of meditation can be just as daunting as finding the time to make it happen, which is why I was excited to try Muse’s latest meditation wearable, the Muse S headband.

    The Muse S headband is an EEG device used to track and interpret your brain’s activity while you’re meditating. With multiple sensors placed strategically around the inside of the band, the Muse S tracks your brain, heart, and breath to give you real-time information on how your body is responding to meditation. While this might sound complicated, using the device was actually incredibly simple.

    My experience with the Muse S headband


    You can use the Muse S to track your heart, mind, and body in the paired app.
    Muse
    Getting started with the Muse S headband was easier than I expected, and it only took a few seconds for me to assemble the device — attaching the main piece to the fabric headband — and connect it to my phone via Bluetooth using the free Muse companion app.

    While Muse offers a premium version of their app, I decided to stick with the free option, and I was impressed that it still had a lot of content to choose from. Once you open the app there are two main options for users to choose from: meditation or sleep. Unlike other versions of the Muse headband which stick to meditation, the Muse S offers advanced sleep tracking on top of the device’s main features, and the app offers “Digital Sleeping Pills” to help you fall asleep and improve your overall sleep quality.

    I decided to start with meditation, and I was pleased to discover the app offers different types of meditation:

    It also offers guided meditations to allow users to find the best type of meditation that works for them. After selecting the Mind Meditation category, I customized the length of time I wanted to meditate, the relaxing background sound (or soundscape) I wanted to play during my session, and the optional “Intro to Muse” exercise designed to help users get started with meditation. Once the device was resting comfortably around my forehead, the app checked my signal quality to calibrate the device, and the meditation session began.

    This is where using the Muse got super cool. The way the device works is by using sound to give you real-time feedback about your meditation by translating the brain signals into weather sounds. Using headphones, your meditation session starts by softly playing your chosen soundscape. If your mind is calm and focused, the “weather” in your soundscape is gentle and peaceful. When you start to get distracted, the weather starts to get louder to give you a subtle signal that your mind is wandering.

    For me, this made staying focused during my meditation session easier than I expected. If I focused on my breathing, the sound of the weather would slip away — eventually, I could even hear the sound of birds, Muse’s way of letting you know that you’re doing a good job maintaining a calm state — and if I let my mind wander, the sound of weather would gradually start to build.

    The first few times I used the app, I tried to intentionally let my mind wander to see how this process worked, and the sound of weather was definitely noticeable enough to pull me back into focusing on my meditation. What I didn’t expect, however, was how well this worked when my thoughts drifted accidentally. The weather sounds were loud enough to pull me out of any distracted or anxious thoughts without being jolting, and it immediately helped me try to refocus, take a few deep breaths, and listen for the sound of birds.

    What I loved about the Muse S

    I knew that I loved using the Muse S within the first three minutes of my meditation session. The whole process felt relaxing and playful, almost like a game, which made it easier to stick with. As someone with ADHD, sitting in silence—or even listening to a guided meditation—can be incredibly difficult for me.

    However, practicing slow breathing and listening to the sound of birds gave me something to “do” during my meditation session that felt peaceful and fun. I was also surprised with how well the weather sounds brought me when my mind wandered, and I could definitely see how using the Muse over the long-term would help train your brain to get better at meditation.

    What I didn’t like about the Muse S

    Personally, I wasn’t a fan of the Sleep section of the app. The concept behind the Digital Sleeping Pills is cool — it uses relaxing stories, meditations, or music and nature sounds to gently lull you to sleep — while tracking your overall sleep quality. As you begin to drift off, the device begins to fade the music away while tracking things like your sleep stages, deep sleep intensity, and more in order to give you a sleep score.

    However, because Muse relies on sound to use these Digital Sleeping Pills, that meant I needed to be wearing headphones or connect to a speaker to get the most out of the experience. This wasn’t particularly comfortable or convenient, so I only used the Sleep portion of the app once, and it wasn’t something I wanted to try again.

    Is it worth the price?

    The Muse S headband is slightly more expensive than other versions of the device, clocking in at ​​$399.99. While the device was comfortable and easy to use, the extra cost wasn’t really worth it for me since I wasn’t using the sleep-related features. If you’re someone who is interested in improving your sleep quality — and you don’t mind sleeping with headphones or a speaker connected to your phone — it might be worth giving it a try.

    If not, I’d recommend sticking with the Muse 2 headband. At $249, it boasts all the same meditation features as the Muse S headband without including the Sleep portion of the app. Plus, compared to the cost of Headspace or Calm, two popular apps that cost $69.99 per year for access, the price of the Muse headbands is pretty affordable considering it’s a one-time investment and you get the benefit of additional data on how your meditation practice is improving over time.

    Rather than just being a meditation tool, the Muse headbands act as a meditation trainer, meaning it’s a fun and functional way to make meditation easy and effective. I’ll definitely be recommending it to all of my friends and family.
    Price went up...
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  5. #20
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    The Sensate

    Vibration meditation: The gadget that calms by purring on you
    The Sensate is a pricey device — but if it can reduce anxiety on command, $250 seems like a steal.
    By Chris Taylor on March 23, 2022
    All products featured here are independently selected by our editors and writers. If you buy something through links on our site, Mashable may earn an affiliate commission.

    Purrs like a cat, looks like a mouse: The Sensate 2. Credit: SENSATE
    Sensate 2
    The Bottom Line
    If you are in dire need of the promised benefits of meditation, the Sensate may be worth every penny.
    Buying Options
    See Details
    $249
    Mashable Score 4.2
    Cool Factor 4
    Learning Curve 5
    Performance 5
    Bang for the Buck 3
    The Good
    Easy to pick up and use
    Vibration and music are surprisingly calming
    More effective than meditation alone
    The Bad
    Very expensive
    No health app integration
    > Life > Health & Wellness > Mindfulness

    March Mindfulness is an annual Mashable series that explores the intersection of meditation practice and technology. Because even in 2022, March doesn't have to be madness.

    The first time a friend with anxiety disorder told me about the Sensate, I was skeptical. Here was what looked like a black plastic pebble — or maybe a computer mouse for someone with small hands — that's supposed to sit in the middle of your chest. There it sits and vibrates at various low frequencies while the Sensate app plays calming music. And you have to pay $250 for the privilege.

    Really? I'm all about quirky meditation gadgets, and I'm not averse to ones that vibrate in order to help you practice different kinds of breathing (the $169 Core meditation trainer was a particular favorite for this reason). Still, the Sensate seemed too minimalist, too steep a price, a New Age-y step too far. My friend swore otherwise; the device's 10, 20 or 30-minute sessions worked to calm her anxiety. The mostly 5-star Amazon reviews raved about its ability to induce sleep. That made sense, at least, as anyone who's had a cat purring on their chest at bedtime can attest.

    So I got a review unit. (The device, technically called the Sensate 2 though no Sensate 1 is available, is made by a startup in London called BioSelf.) And promptly ... did nothing with it for months. My eyes were still rolling too hard at the notion that this would work for me in any way. Finally, I broke down and tried it. And tried it again. And again and again, for days. I found myself utterly addicted to its calming, time-distorting effects.

    I'd say I wanted to kick myself for not believing my friend and trying the device earlier, but I'm feeling too chill to administer the boot.

    Vagus, baby, vagus
    Let's back up and look at the science behind what's going on here, because there's a fair amount of it. I'd learned about the importance of vagus nerve stimulation when I took a course in neurosculpting several March Mindfulnesses ago. The vagus nerve is a long and complex one that connects the brain to the gut (increasingly seen as our second brain) via the chest. The more we study it, the more bodily functions it seems to regulate; the vagus is partly responsible for inflammation levels, metabolism, and how hungry you feel.

    But the most intriguing studies of recent years have shown that stimulating the vagus nerve boosts the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). That's the one that nixes our natural "fight or flight" reaction to stressful events; researchers call the PNS response "rest or digest," or "feed or breed" if you're feeling frisky. And for good reason: the PNS also boosts Heart Rate Variability (HRV), a key health metric. Low HRV during daytime is linked to a number of negative health outcomes including sexual dysfunction.

    So how do you stimulate the vagus nerve? You vibrate it, basically, increasing what researchers call "the vagal tone." In the neurosculpting class we tried some old-school methods: gargling and chanting. There's a reason why the traditional Buddhist chant "OM" can feel relaxing (one small study showed its positive effects by putting OM chanters in MRI machines).

    Under-the-skin electrodes that stimulate the vagus nerve have been effective in treating depression and epilepsy, while a less invasive electrode attached to the ear — another outpost of the vagus nerve — reduces stress caused by tinnitus and the pain of migraines. Vagus nerve stimulation is also showing promise in the treatment of PTSD, reducing symptoms by 31% in a recent 20-patient study. (Some Sensate users with PTSD have raved about the device, while others found the vibration could trigger anxiety if set too high.)

    But electrodes are a little extreme, not to mention expensive, and whom among us wants to chant OM or gargle for more than a few minutes? You could try ASMR videos, which seemed to help participants in a couple of 2018 studies, but we're not exactly sure how they work or whether they work for everyone. You could spent a lot of time at concerts or nightclubs standing next to the speakers and feeling the bass in your ribs, but your ears won't thank you. You could try coaxing your cat to sit on your sternum and purr on command, but, y'know, cats. (The soothing effect of purring may be one reason why cat ownership is associated with reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease).

    In other words, there's an opening for consumer devices that produce the same effect. The Sensate vibrates in the range of 20 to 140 Hz, just as cats do. Studies of vibration therapy, while generally positive, are in their infancy. BioSelf says the Sensate improved Heart Rate Variability after a 20 minute session in 86 percent of patients in its in-clinic study, but that hasn't been peer-reviewed yet. The company is careful not to make treatment claims that would require FDA approval. Another vagus nerve stimulating device, the GammaCore ($450 for 3 months), has been approved by the FDA for migraines and cluster headaches.

    So does the Sensate improve HRV? My HRV as measured by my Apple Watch is higher than average and ticking up regardless, thanks to a daily running practice, so it's hard to tell whether the Sensate is having an effect there. But I do have one other kind of data to contribute, because I happen to be testing a Continuous Glucose Monitor for a future review.

    There's a link between high blood sugar levels and stress, one that became clear on my charts: Difficult personal news or a work meeting could spike my glucose for hours even if I hadn't eaten. Regular meditation, which I tend to do using the Apple Watch's Mindfulness app, didn't have much effect. Yet even 10 minutes of using the Sensate brought that sugar spike down to baseline.
    continued next post
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  6. #21
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    continued from previous

    Good vibrations

    The categories of Sensate meditation music: Not as New Age-y as they look. Credit: Sensate

    Many of us have this experience: When our heart is thumping and our thoughts are racing, basic meditation just can't cut through. Even a few minutes of trying to concentrate on our breathing at such moments can feel like an uncomfortable eternity. For people suffering from trauma, it can actually exacerbate symptoms — or lead to a "freeze" response similar to fight or flight. In the neurosculpting class, our teacher spent 20 minutes simply soothing our primitive brains and their hierarchy of needs (this room is safe, you've got a bottle of water, the bathroom is down the hall, lunch is coming) before the real meditation work could even begin.

    What the Sensate appears to offer is a shortcut to that soothed state. The pebble sits in your sternum and vibrates in ever-changing ways. I was not prepared for how powerful the vibration felt in this spot, like my body had been designed to fit the Sensate rather than the other way around. (My wife had a similar experience with the Sensate, and offered one piece of advice: Do not wear a push-up bra while using it, or your breasts might absorb the vibrations that are supposed to reach your bones.)

    The Sensate app is still very bare-bones. My main wish for the next update is for it to connect with the Apple Health app, so I can track my Mindfulness Minutes without having to keep a separate meditation timer running. Still, the Sensate app connects to the Sensate device with ease — press a button and you're there. Select a music track (the track determines the length of the meditation), adjust the volume and vibration level, and away you go.

    My biggest fear around the Sensate was that the music would be too New Age-y for its own good. This was my experience recently with a popular music-based meditation app called Synctuition: Too much syrupy melody of the pan-flute variety left me more irked than when I started. The Sensate music, however, felt far more chill, constrained, even hypnotic.

    Sensate's music employs binaural beats, which is something else we're just starting to study in a scientific context. Binaural beats — putting different frequencies of sound in each ear, basically — have been shown to reduce anxiety in pre-surgery patients and improve long-term memory in some cases. I've used binaural beat apps before, at the urging of friends who use them, with no noticeable results.

    But with Sensate, something in the combination of the music and the on-chest vibrations — which seem deliberately out of sync with the music, just as the frequencies in each earphone are deliberately different — works like crazy. One odd result of this was that the time absolutely flew by. Normally the prospect of a 30-minute meditation fills me with dread. But when I meditate for that long with the Sensate, I have to check my watch afterwards to make sure a half-hour has actually passed.

    And yes, Sensate meditation last thing at night made it easier to sleep afterwards. This is surely helped by the fact that I was lying down anyway (you can in theory meditate while standing or sitting using the Sensate lanyard around your neck, but it's much more comfortable in a prone position).

    Interestingly, I haven't yet actually fallen asleep during a Sensate meditation, even in moments when my cat is snuggled up next to my chest, adding his own soporific purring to the mix. The purring chest pebble — much stronger than his efforts by comparison, sorry cat — is out of sync enough that it kept my brain focused. But it definitely put me into the half-awake state of hypnogogia beloved by dream hackers.

    Bottom line: Is it worth it?
    $250 still seems a steep price for what it is, and the Sensate benefits from having no major competitor in this space yet. Our lives are filled with so many vibrating high-tech objects already that surely one of them can be made to stimulate our vagus nerves too. Maybe one of these high-tech ********s on the right setting will work as well on the chest as in the nether regions. Or perhaps a special sternum-shaped smartphone case could make use of these things we all have buzzing away in our pockets incessantly anyway.

    In the meantime, you're the best judge of what this level of potential calm is worth to you. The company does have a "try it worry-free for 40 days" policy, if that helps.

    Personally, based on my experience, I'd choose a Sensate over a $70-a-year Calm or Headspace subscription. I'd even pick it over the Core meditation trainer or the $250 Muse 2, as much as I still love the Muse's biofeedback from within your brain. The Sensate's experience is something I actively crave, even now as I write this. My anxiety would like good vibes only, please.
    A $250 ******** seems contradictory to meditation practice...
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

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