MEDITATION TECHNOLOGY


Few would associate meditation with technology. In fact, most view technology as the exact opposite: the very cause of stress for which a dose of meditation is to be administered. Technological frustrations may not have been coded into our gadgets on purpose, but the effects are just the same. And now, the cure: there are headsets, clips, bands, bracelets and apps that were specifically designed to reduce stress, to induce mindfulness and to lower beginners’ barriers to meditation. In order of personal preference, I review the different technological genres below [DISCLAIMER: note that I was NOT paid by any company to name their device below].



The first genre consists of EEG headsets. EEG stands for ElectroEncephaloGraphy, which is the process of recording electrical activity in the brain via externally placed electrodes. When one first introduces meditation into their lives, the sessions commonly involve being lost in thought for long periods of time before becoming conscious of that fact. In such cases, much of the meditation session is spent wondering aimlessly through forests of thoughts while only occasionally noticing this to be the case and returning to the actual meditation practice.


Experienced meditators do not encounter this issue; they become aware of the mind’s egregious wondering fairly rapidly. Therefore, for beginning meditators, it would be advantageous—in terms of acceleration of mastery—to utilize a device that warns the practitioner when the mind has wondered off the intended path. Such devices are commonly based on EEG technology; they are also commonly known as biofeedback headsets. Example headsets are Muse and Versus.
















The second genre consists of stress-measuring wearable devices. These usually involve a clip or a band that monitors stress-related indicators. The results are relayed to an app that translates the information into necessary actions to be taken by the wearer to reduce the levels of stress (to bring them to within the optimal range). Most of the actions emerging from the app involve correcting the breathing rate. This in itself is very powerful: it can be closely associated with the lifelong practice that some Qigong and Yoga practitioners set themselves—to arrive at a state where they are “regulating without regulating” (i.e., where the regulation of the breath is automatic). Again, this could speed up meditation mastery by accelerating the learning process. Example devices are: Spire, Being, WellBe and Prana.


The third genre consists of standalone apps. These are split between VR (Virtual Reality) headset apps and simple phone apps. These apps tend to offer guided meditations with increasing levels of difficulty and the tools to track progress. Given that such apps do not have biofeedback features, they are less effective than the first two genres. Examples of regular apps are Buddhify, Headspace, and Mindfulness. And examples for VR headset apps are Mind Fitness and Relax VR.  


With all the abovementioned technologies, one caveat that must be highlighted is as follows: the technologies are useful for accelerating the learning process of meditation practice, but one should not rely on them exclusively. Try performing one session with the device/app and the next session without the device/app—alternating regularly. And, ultimately, aim to arrive at a state where the device is no longer necessary, or where it is only used occasionally to quantify your progress.





Rod Bremer is the author of The Manual: A Guide to the Ultimate Study Method (Second Edition), ISBN 978-0993496424. The Manual is the definitive guide to Enhanced Concentration, Super Memory, Speed Reading, Optimal Note-Taking, Rapid Mental Arithmetic, and the Ultimate Study Method (USM). The techniques presented are the culmination of decades of practical experience combined with the latest scientific research and time-tested practices.
















(For more about The Manual, see here.)




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