This Muse brain sensing headband review will cover my own experience with the Muse 2, and I will go over what I like about it, what I don’t like and how I use it in different ways to get the most out of my meditation practices.
What is this device?
The Muse 2 is the second generation meditation headband made by InterXon which is a Canadian start up company. The first Muse headband came out in May 2014, and this latest version was released in October 2018. I received mine back in December 2018 and have been using it ever since.
How does it work?
It works with a free app installed on either your iPhone or Android device, or other blue tooth device. Once the headband is turned on and adjusted on your head, it syncs via blue tooth to your smart phone and reads your brain waves in real time. It has 7 different sensors on the band which picks up on:
- EEG measuring brain waves
- Heart beat using photoplethysmogram (PPG)and Pulse Oximetry
- Body movements via an Accelerometer
- Breath via PPG and Gyroscope
This is different to the first Muse which only picked up brainwaves, so as you can see, there is a lot more data being gathered with the Muse 2 which makes the band more accurate as to what is actually going on with your nervous system as you meditate.
Who is it for?
The Muse 2 is for people who like to track and measure their meditation progress. It can be for experienced meditators looking for creative way to advance their practice, and is also really handy for beginners who are just starting meditation as there are 10 lessons installed on the app known as the’ Muse Essentials’ which take you through different techniques and gets you used to using the headband.
In addition, there are 12 bonus meditation exercises which are:
- Heart-centered Mindfulness, 5 exercises guided by Dr Joel and Michelle Levey
- Deepak Guides Muse-3 exercises guided by the well-known mind body doctor Deepak Chopra
- eMindful Life- A collection of techniques from eMindful Life’s expert instructors
There are also:
- 3 lessons installed for the Heart Meditation (where the device picks up on your heart beat and you learn to experience how your mind affects your heart beat)
- 3 Lessons for the Body Meditation (where you learn how your posture affects your over all inner stillness)
- 2 lessons for the Breath Meditation (syncing your breath with a timed rhythm)
- A simple timed meditation without the need to use the brain sensing headband
These exercises make it really easy to get going with meditation and not over complicate the whole process. But, even if you are not a beginner and have quite a bit of meditation experience under your belt, the Muse 2 can really help you be more creative with your meditation in that you get to test out which kinds of meditation techniques work best for you in terms of the response from your body. This is one reason I purchased the Muse 2 headband because I like to know what is really effective for the time I am taking to meditate. I think it is far too easy to sit down and think you are getting a good meditation session, when in reality your body is not really relaxing much at all.
I have found by using the Muse 2 I am much more focused in my meditation because the biofeedback I get is like a prompter to refocus. I like to know I am getting the heart of what meditation can help me with where my primary concern is to truly relax and regenerate my nervous system to make me more effective and focused in all that I do, as well as less reactive to people and situations.
iOS and Android.
How does the band give bio feedback?
When you begin your meditation, you get an immediate sense of how calm or stressed you are by the sounds that come from the app. If you are calm, you hear birds tweeting and a gentle breeze in a rain forest, but if your mind is turbulent, you will hear stormy weather and no birds. You can hear this either by plugging ear phones into your phone, or just play the sounds over the speaker on your phone. There are other options for the biofeedback sounds such as ambient music, beach sounds, dessert sounds or a city park. Personally my favourite so far is the rain forest. I like its simplicity.
Who is it NOT for?
If you have an incompatible device such as the ones listed below, the Muse Brain Sensing Headband is not for you:
DEVICES NOT COMPATIBLE WITH MUSE 2:
- Moto G 3rd gen
- Google Nexus 7 (Asus)
- Google Nexus 7 (ME370T)
- LG G-Pad 8.3 V500
- Kindle Fire HD 7″ 3rd gen
- Samsung Galaxy Nexus
- Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0
- HTC One X
- ASUS MeMO Pad 8 ME180A K00L
- HTC X710a Raider 4G
- OPPO Find 7 FullHD X9006
- Sony Xperia L
- Any Windows Phones
Also, if you simply want to be tech free when it comes to meditation and prefer to be ‘old school’, I would not recommend this to you. However, I do feel there is great opportunity to advance your meditation practice with this device even if you did not want to use it forever.
How has this device changed my meditation practice?
I have been meditating for years and have tried all sorts of meditation devices and techniques. I am definitely not a beginner when it comes to meditation. I learned about the Muse back in 2014, but due to its cost, I held back for years in buying it. But I am so glad I have it now because it has completely altered the way I approach meditation. In fact, I would say in a lot of ways it has actually simplified my meditation practice and trains me to really focus and relax more than any other technique I have tried. In the past I have used binaural beats, the EM Wave (made by the institute of HeartMath) as well as traditional sutra meditation practices and mantra meditation.
They all work in different ways, but when I get really honest about the reason I meditate it is because I want my nervous system to be in peak condition, and I want a way to track my results. The Muse does all this and helps keep me committed because the app keeps track of how often I have mediated, what time I meditate and gives me the option of keeping a private online journal after each session and gives me points as to how calm I was within the session. It shows me where I lost concentration and when I was in my calmest state.
I also find it interesting that when I had a less than enjoyable day the day before (such as family stress, lack of sleep or feeling over worked), the Muse confirms back to me that my nervous system is less relaxed than after a day which was really enjoyable (a good day at the beach, chilling out with friends etc). This serves as a further motivation because I know that stress builds up over time and is often something we don’t notice until we are in a really foul mood and snapping at everyone and everything around us.
Pros and Cons
- So far I have really not had any trouble with the Muse 2. It seems to be well-made, is lightweight and easy to carry around in a suitcase if you are traveling and you have a hard case cover (of which you can purchase at an additional cost), or just keep it in the box that it came in which is quite sturdy and protective.
- I would definitely recommend you keep it in the box it came in or purchase the carry case because if you stepped on this band, it would break easily, so its not something you should just leave around the place without any protection.
- I do feel I need to take extra care of it when adjusting the headband so that I am not forcing anything and cause it to break. But, given the amount of sensors it has, it is still a sturdy product.
- I have found it has really good battery life and lasts around 5 hours and I also feel the device is comfortable to wear and easy to adjust. I have had a few problems getting the device to pick up my brainwaves sometimes, but I have since learned this is usually because I have too many apps open on my phone and seems to interfere with something, or I need to update my iPhone software. As soon as I update, everything works fine. Only once I needed to go and wipe my forehead to remove excess oils to help the band pick up my brain waves, but other than that, it connects within 30 seconds or less (usually less).
- I would like to see more options when it comes to using music with the app, as so far there is only one option for music, in each meditation category. The music in the first category which focuses mostly on EEG biofeedback is kind of grating, so I just stick to the rain forest sounds. But the other categories (which are only on the Muse 2) have really pleasant music, and a more modern ‘new age’ feel, without it being cheesy and stereo typed, but still only one option, so it would be nice to have more variety as far as the sounds go. But, I am happy with what is on offer so far, and I imagine there is more being planned.
Different ways I use the Muse 2
In the past I have tried gratitude meditations, mantras and sutras, breath meditations, one pointed body focus, active relaxation and guided visualisation. The Muse has helped me realise which of these kinds of meditations are most suited to me in terms of keeping my mind and body calm and relaxed. What I learned is that some meditations actually make my mind way more active than I realised, such as consciously focusing on something you feel grateful for and allowing that feeling to spread throughout your body, or doing a guided meditation. These actually makes my brain way more active and less calm, and therefore, I know that these techniques are probably better for another time-perhaps after a Muse session, which I imagine will only make the visualisation technique more effective, because I am starting with a more calm nervous system than I otherwise would.
Would I recommend this product?
Yes, I definitely would. I love how it has made meditation easier, and how it motivates me to stay the course, and keep building on my progress. I look forward to seeing what my next reward is due to the amount of minutes and ‘calm points’ I have achieved over time. I also feel I actually need less sleep since I have committed to using this, which is a real bonus! And, not only that, I am now more aware of what is likely to cause me stress before the stress happens, so I can course correct in advance.
You can purchase the Muse 2 here.
Feel free to comment below or ask me any questions you may have about the Muse 2!