The Muse is a non-specialist friendly EEG brainwave monitoring headband. The Muse company markets it as a simple meditation companion, which gives real time feedback on the overall activity level of your mind. At its current stage, the iPhone app it comes with is too simplistic, for it ignores many of the subtleties of meditative experience. Fortunately however, you don’t have to use the Muse software to use the muse. For example, there’s a program called BrainAvatar which gives you a live 3D model of the activity in your brain, as opposed to a simple line going up and down on a graph.
The reason we find the muse headband an exciting piece of technology is because it makes neurofeedback experiences possible for the average consumer. And neurofeedback techniques are the most promising meditative technology we’ve ever encountered. There was a study where a women with chronic pain in her shoulders was able to rid herself of the pain for the first time in her life, by visualizing the neural activity responsible for the sensation as a fire on a screen, and consciously making the effort to try and “calm” the flames (Radiolab podcast with full story). This isn’t an end all be all for meditation or anything, but neurofeedback is an extremely exciting development, and one that I personally think is merely the dawn of 21st century technology.
The 8-Coil Shakti
We can’t vouch for this product as much as the Muse because we’ve not tested it ourselves. But from the research we’ve done on their website and on Dr. Persinger (the inspiration for the device) it all seems very promising.
This device has 8 magnetic coils which it uses to send specific electromagnetic frequencies to particular parts of the brain. Coordinating these frequencies and brain regions in just the right way purportedly induces altered-states of consciousness and heightens meditative ability. There are a lot of testimonials on the website which confirm these effects but there are also a few which deny them. The man who created this device also wrote a rather intriguing paper on the possible neurological correlates of Shakyamuni’s enlightenment. If you’d like to investigate this device more, check out the creator’s website.