This Christmas my sister gifted me the MUSE 2 meditation headband. If you haven’t used or heard of MUSE before, they’re a company that makes meditation devices that provide real-time feedback on your brain activity (using EEG), heart rate, breathing, and body movements to help to build a better, more consistent meditation practice. So, how does MUSE translate these biomarkers into better meditation? MUSE translates your bio-feedback into sounds which help guide you through your meditation. You start the meditation in some type of forest-setting (like a rainforest). When your mind is busy, and your body is restless, the rainforest noises increase, and it sounds like you’re in a storm. When your mind is quiet and you’re in a meditative state, the noise decreases, and you can hear birds chirp. After your meditation, the MUSE app shows you how long you spent in an active, neutral, and calm state; as well as how many times you “recovered” (went from active to neutral/calm) and how many times you got a bird chirp.
The idea behind this feedback is that it helps you identify when you are in an active, distracted mind state so that you can learn how to settle your own mind and build focus. As someone who’s had a consistent practice for a little over a year now, I didn’t need the MUSE as a way to build a consistent meditation practice, but I really wanted to use it as an objective way to see how long I am “actually meditating” in each of my meditation sessions.
Just to be clear there is a more recent MUSE headband, the MUSE S, which also has a sleep-feedback feature. The newer MUSE S is quite a step up in price and honestly wouldn’t have been worth it for me personally because I don’t consider myself to have any issues regarding sleep – and couldn’t see myself realistically wearing the headband to bed every night.
So, I’ve been using the MUSE 2 headband consistently for about 2 weeks now. I was going to make a list of pros and cons but honestly what could be a con for one person may be a pro for another. So, here are my thoughts and you can decide if that would be a pro or con for your case:
1. The headband is shareable
I really like this fact because it makes the price a bit more justified to me. Each person has their own individual account through the app, but then you can connect the same headband to multiple individual accounts. I could see this being especially useful if you live with roommates or multiple people and want to split on it.
2. It takes about 30 seconds to set up before the session
To me, 30 seconds is definitely a short amount of time but still long enough to be a drawback of using the headband. It definitely gives the practice of meditation one extra step, but it is an important one because this set-up period is how the headband is going to “read” your brain-waves by comparing your brain activity during the set-up period to your brain activity during your actual meditation session.
3. The headband does become distracting after a while
I typically meditate for about 10 or 15 minutes, so this isn’t a problem for me, however, I can see this headband becoming uncomfortable if you’re doing longer meditations (30min to over an hour). Some people have said they find wearing the headband a distraction, but I honestly forget I’m even wearing it.
4. The headband allows for calm daydreaming
This is definitely the biggest con to the MUSE devices. I tried to see if I could “trick” the headband by daydreaming in a calm state and the headband failed to pick up on it. This is a drawback because, if you’re new to meditating and don’t already know that you shouldn’t be just sitting there daydreaming, it’s possible that you may be receiving high scores on the MUSE app but not actually meditating.
5. You get real-time feedback during your meditation session
This can be a pro or con depending on who you are. Some people love that they get notified through the soundscape when their mind is active so that they can come back to a calm state. Personally, I find that when I hear the bird sounds (signaling that I’m in a meditative state) I think “okay I’m doing it right” and then I end up falling out of my meditation. Personally, I use the headband with the sound off so that I can just see my stats at the end because when I was using the sound I was focusing on trying to control the sound rather than focusing on my breath and awareness.
Now, the question comes down to: is it worth it? As annoying as it is my answer is “it depends”. I really think that whether or not the MUSE 2 meditation headband is worth it or not depends on who you are and what you want out of your practice.
If you’re a numbers person and want to have this data so that you can assess your current meditation habits and see yourself objectively improve over time, then I definitely would recommend this headband. Also, I would recommend this headband to anyone that doesn’t have a consistent meditation practice already and is looking to improve their focus and self-soothing abilities.
I wouldn’t recommend this headband who values their meditation practice as a time where they can detach from all technology and meditate free of distractions. Part of me likes that I can see an objective summary of my meditation stats, but part of me also misses the peace and tranquility that comes with practicing without any noises or other distractions. Personally, I have mostly been using my MUSE 2 with the soundscapes off, so that I can just normally meditate and then see at the end what my stats were.
Overall, it’s a cool product and a unique idea that I think fits in perfectly with the bio-feedback device trend (like Fitbit, Apple Watch, etc.). Am I happy I have it? Yes. Would I buy it again? Probably not. I honestly think it’s a really nice gift idea, especially for someone in your life that’s interested in starting a meditation practice and/or could benefit from improving their focus and self-regulating abilities. Knowing what I know now, I don’t think I would buy it for myself, but I do enjoy using it and do like that I got it as a gift.
Do you have a MUSE headband at home? Did this review help? Let me know in the comments!