Technology has infiltrated just about every aspect of our lives—even how we meditate. The quest for inner peace is getting some assistance from some high-tech gadgetry that can actually sort through your brainwaves. Meaning, the future of meditation is one where technology serves as a guide to getting your mind right.
This science fiction is quickly becoming fact with devices such as the Muse headband (choosemuse.com, $199). Muse, which has been around for a couple of years, is headgear that measures concentration and can give you feedback in real time. If you’re distracted, the earbuds will pipe in storm sounds; if you’re in the zone, you’ll hear peaceful birds chirping, rivers babbling and, well, you get the mental picture.
With Zendo (zendomeditation.com, $229), you attach a pad to your forehead, which then receives low-level electrical currents to stimulate parts of the brain that are typically active during deep meditation sessions, such as memory, sensory awareness and emotional regulation. To get technical, it’s called transcranial direct-current stimulation. Similar techniques have been found to help with anxiety and issues with depression, and this latest device, developed by two University of South Carolina professors, is specifically marketed toward meditation enthusiasts.
If you want to kick it up a notch, BrainTap (braintap.com, $649) is a more immersive experience. Looking like a VR headset, BrainTap uses sound and images to create a relaxing state of mind. The idea behind BrainTap is actually based on Audio-Visual Entertainment, a technique that projects light into the eyes and tones into the ears to help stimulate neurotransmitters and increase blood flow into the brain. It’s shown to be effective in treating PTSD and depression, and improving cognition.
For centuries meditation has been a solitary experience, the meditator becoming disciplined enough to train the brain to be focused in the moment. Now, the idea of direct, technological-aided meditation is starting to take hold. So the question becomes whether machine-assisted meditation is still meditation. Or, perhaps the question should be: If it helps you achieve the same result, does it matter?