This Brain-Reading Headband Is the Perfect Meditation Coach

Muse
Muse

I’m sitting on my bed, eyes closed and legs crossed, when a parade of unwanted thoughts clogs my consciousness. Are we running low on coffee filters? Did I remember to send the rent check? Should I add another step to my skincare routine? Inevitably, these thoughts are followed by a familiar refrain: This isn’t working. I’m wasting my time. Maybe meditation isn’t for me.

It’s a pattern I’ve grown used to after roughly 15 years of trying to start and maintain a meditation practice. Most sessions end with me feeling unsatisfied and giving up on building a routine until enough time has passed and I inevitably start the cycle again. This case, though, is different. Instead of overtaking me, my intrusive thoughts are interrupted by the sound of crashing waves playing from my phone. It’s loud enough to catch my attention without being jarring. I feel the chatter at the front of my brain melt into the background, and the rest of my body relaxes in response.

When the session ends, I’m sure I’ve achieved the mindfulness I’ve sought for so long. But I don’t need to rely on my memory to tell me that—the Muse app has been keeping track of everything for me. It shows me that after about three minutes of bouncing between neutral and active, my brainwaves resided in the neutral-to-calm space until the timer rang at the 10-minute mark. It also logged other statistics that I could review, like how many times I sustained a quiet mind or reined in my active thoughts.

Mindfulness From A Headband

Muse consists of an app and a specially designed headband that uses brain-sensing technology to teach mindfulness. Sensors in the headband measure brainwaves, while a soundscape playing through the app provides feedback on the wearer’s mental state in real time.

When I was first given the chance to review the company’s new Muse S headband, I was skeptical. Meditation is supposed to be about letting go, so wouldn’t an app that cheers you on when you get it right and scolds you when you get it wrong defeat the purpose? Sticking something on my head that was supposed to sense my thoughts also seemed a little, well, freaky.

At the same time, I was eager to try something that made the daunting task of making my mind shut up for a few minutes feel less intimidating. No matter how many times I’ve given up on meditation, there’s always been something that convinces me to give it another shot—usually it’s a new article touting the mental and physical benefits of the exercise. Meditation has been found to promote focus, alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety, and even relieve lower back pain. But the best way to reap these benefits is through regular practice—not half-hearted attempts a few times a year. I knew I should be meditating consistently; I just didn’t know where to begin. A mind-reading headband seemed as good a starting point as any.

How Muse Works

The technology behind Muse is called electroencephalography. The headband’s sensors detect electrical impulses emitted by the brain and uses them to detect how calm or active the wearer’s thoughts are. It’s the same method doctors use to diagnose epilepsy and certain sleep disorders.

In a hospital setting, electroencephalographs are administered by attaching metal electrodes to a patient’s scalp. Lucky for me, Muse’s setup is much more comfortable. The flexible headband of the S model is made from soft fabric with a small piece of hardware in the front that detaches easily for charging. It’s an upgrade from the original Muse, which is made from stiff plastic that hooks around the ears like a pair of glasses. After the device is strapped snugly across my forehead, it’s easy to imagine I'm wearing a comfy sweatband, and eventually, I forget I’m wearing anything at all.

Muse

Before I can start meditating, I need to customize my experience. Muse offers several soundscapes, including beach, rainforest, city park, desert, and ambient noise. Still mourning the end of a recent trip to Florida and dreading the approach of winter, I choose beach. I also have the option to select instructions that will be read aloud before my session. Some exercises focus on a different aspect of meditation, like breathing, sitting comfortably, or dealing with distractions. I go with Muse’s introductory exercise.

I connect the Muse app to the headband via Bluetooth, and it prompts me to close my eyes and allow my thoughts to wander freely. This gives it a chance to calibrate the sensors and create a baseline for my brain activity. In addition to detecting brainwaves, the headband measures breath, heart rate, and body movement to paint a complete picture of my meditation session. Once all the sensors are active, it’s time to clear my head.

A Personalized Meditation Guide

The rhythmic sounds of the sea tumbling toward the shore and pulling away from it instantly put me at ease. I can picture the ebb and flow of the tide and align my breath with the image. I can smell the clean, salt air and let it to transport me away from the smoggy city street outside my window. For the first time all day, my mind is still.

This lasts for less than a minute. On cue, the unwanted thoughts creep back into frame, and soon enough, they’re dominating my head. Muse senses this before I do, and it gently lets me know by escalating the soothing whispers of the tide to the fuller sounds of crashing waves. A common meditation trick involves picturing your thoughts as a river and allowing them to flow by without resisting them or jumping into the water. As the ocean sounds change to reflect my brain activity, they fulfill the same purpose as that river: They represent my thoughts as something separate from me, which makes it easier to disengage with them.

The waves pull me back to mindfulness, and after a few seconds, a chirping bird breaks through the soundscape. This is Muse’s way of signaling that my brain activity has been calm for a sustained period of time. The chirps don’t last forever: This is my first time meditating in a while, and my out-of-practice brain spurs a diverse range of sounds over the next several minutes. But when I do find myself wading into the stream of my thoughts, it never takes me long to emerge.

Muse

Muse saves a snapshot of each meditation session. After a week of using the technology for 10 minutes a day, I can see how I’ve progressed. It now takes me just a minute to relax my mind instead of three. My latest report also shows that I spend 58 percent of my time in a calm state—up from 46 percent when I started.

I feel a difference when I’m not wearing the headband as well. If unwanted thoughts appear, I notice them faster and have an easier time letting them go. Having greater control of my thoughts has reshaped other aspects of my life, boosting my focus, helping with my anxiety, and putting me in a generally calmer, happier place.

Mindfulness is a skill that requires regular practice, and Muse makes a great exercise coach. After toning that mental muscle, I hope to get to point where I can notice my wandering thoughts and recover from them without a brain-sensing device to help me. But even if I master the art of meditation, Muse still has plenty to offer. A new feature included in the Muse S is compatible with the app’s Go-to-Sleep Journeys. These combine voice narration with soundscapes to lull wearers to sleep rather than into a mindful state. Whether it’s quieting my thoughts in bed or focusing them at the start of the day, an overactive mind feels a lot more manageable with technology on my side.

The Muse S is now available for $350 at choosemuse.com and Amazon.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

Amazon's Best Black Friday Deals: Tech, Video Games, Kitchen Appliances, Clothing, and More

Amazon
Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Black Friday is finally here, and Amazon is offering great deals on kitchen appliances, tech, video games, and plenty more. We will keep updating this page as sales come in, but for now, here are the best Amazon Black Friday sales to check out.

Kitchen

Instant Pot/Amazon

- Instant Pot Duo Plus 9-in-115 Quart Electric Pressure Cooker; $90 (save $40)

- Keurig K-Cafe Special Edition; $190 (save $30)

- Ninja OS301 Foodi 10-in-1 Pressure Cooker and Air Fryer; $125 (save $75)

- Nespresso Vertuo Next Coffee and Espresso Machine by Breville; $120 (save $60)

- KitchenAid KSMSFTA Sifter with Scale Attachment; $95 (save $75)

- Keurig K-Mini Coffee Maker; $60 (save $20)

- Cuisinart Bread Maker; $80 (save $97)

- Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker; $139 (save $60)

- Aicook Juicer Machine; $35 (save $15)

- JoyJolt Double Wall Insulated Espresso Mugs - Set of Two; $14 (save $10)

- Longzon Silicone Stretch Lids - Set of 14; $16 (save $11)

- HadinEEon Milk Frother; $37 (save $33)

Home Appliances

Roomba/Amazon

- iRobot Roomba 675 Robot Vacuum with Wi-Fi Connectivity; $179 (save $101)

- ASAKUKI 500ml Premium Essential Oil Diffuser; $22 (save $4)

- Facebook Portal Smart Video Calling 10 inch Touch Screen Display with Alexa; $129 (save $50)

- Bissell air320 Smart Air Purifier with HEPA and Carbon Filters; $280 (save $50)

- Oscillating Quiet Cooling Fan Tower; $59 (save $31)

- TaoTronics PTC 1500W Fast Quiet Heating Ceramic Tower; $55 (save $10)

- Vitamix 068051 FoodCycler 2 Liter Capacity; $300 (save $100)

- Ring Video Doorbell; $70 (save $30)

Video games

Sony

- Marvel's Spider-Man: Game of The Year Edition for PlayStation 4; $20 (save $20)

- The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening; $40 (save $20)

- Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity; $50 (save $10)

- Marvel's Avengers; $25 (save $33)

- The Last of Us Part II for PlayStation 4; $30 (save $30)

- LEGO Harry Potter: Collection; $15 (save $15)

- Ghost of Tsushima; $40 (save $20)

- BioShock: The Collection; $20 (save $30)

- The Sims 4; $24 (save $20)

- God of Warfor PlayStation 4; $10 (save $10)

- Days Gonefor PlayStation 4; $20 (save $6)

- Luigi's Mansion 3 for Nintendo Switch; $40 (save $20)

Computers and tablets

Microsoft/Amazon

- New Apple MacBook Pro 16 inches with 512 GB; $2149 (save $250)

- Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 with 13.5 inch Touch-Screen; $1200 (save $400)

- Lenovo ThinkPad T490 Laptop; $889 (save $111)

- Amazon Fire HD 10 Tablet (64GB); $120 (save $70)

- Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition Tablet (32 GB); $130 (save $70)

- Apple iPad Mini (64 GB); $335 (save $64)

- Vankyo MatrixPad S2 Tablet; $120 (save $10)

Tech, gadgets, and TVs

Apple/Amazon

- Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS; $120 (save $79)

- Seneo Wireless Charger, 3 in 1 Wireless Charging Station; $16 (save $10)

- SAMSUNG 75-inch Class Crystal 4K Smart TV; $998 (save $200)

- Nixplay 2K Smart Digital Picture Frame 9.7 Inch Silver; $238 (save $92)

- All-New Amazon Echo Dot with Clock and Alexa (4th Gen); $39 (save $21)

- MACTREM LED Ring Light 6" with Tripod Stand; $16 (save $3)

- Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote; $28 (save $12)

- DR. J Professional HI-04 Mini Projector; $93 (save $37)

Headphones and speakers

Beats/Amazon

- Beats Solo3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones; $120 (Save $80)

- Apple AirPods Pro; $169 (save $50)

- Anker Soundcore Upgraded Bluetooth Speaker; $22 (save $8)

- Powerbeats Pro Wireless Earphones; $175 (save $75)

- JBL Boombox; $280 (save $120)

Movies and TV

HBO/Amazon

- Game of Thrones: The Complete Series; $115 (save $89)

- Jurassic World 5-Movie Set; $23 (save $37)

- Deadwood: The Complete Series; $42 (save $28)

- Back to the Future Trilogy; $15 (save $21)

Toys and Games

Amazon

- Awkward Family Photos Greatest Hits; $15 (save $10)

- Exploding Kittens Card Game; $10 (save $10)

- Cards Against Humanity: Hidden Gems Bundle; $14 (save $5)

- LOL Surprise OMG Remix Pop B.B. Fashion Doll; $29 (save $6)

- LEGO Ideas Ship in a Bottle 92177 Expert Building Kit; $56 (save $14)

Furniture

Casper/Amazon

- Casper Sleep Element Queen Mattress; $476 (save $119)

- ZINUS Alexis Deluxe Wood Platform Bed Frame; $135 (save $24)

- ROMOON Dresser Organizer with 5 Drawers; $59 (save $11) 

- AmazonBasics Room Darkening Blackout Window Curtains; $26 (save $5)

- Writing Desk by Caffoz; $119 (save $21)

- SPACE Seating Office Support Managers Chair; $112 (save $116)

- Rivet Globe Stick Table Lamp; $53 (save $17)

- Christopher Knight Home Merel Mid-Century Modern Club Chair; $188 (save $10)

- Walker Edison Furniture Industrial Rectangular Coffee Table; $121 (save $48)

Beauty

Haus/Amazon

- MySmile Teeth Whitening Kit with LED Light; $21 (save $12) 

- Cliganic USDA Organic Lip Balms Set of Six; $6 (save $4)

- HAUS LABORATORIES By Lady Gaga: LE RIOT LIP GLOSS; $7 (save $11)

- Native Deodorant for Men and Women Set of Three; $25 (save $11) 

- BAIMEI Rose Quartz Jade Roller & Gua Sha; $14 (save $3)

- Honest Beauty Clearing Night Serum with Pure Retinol and Salicylic Acid; $20 (save $8)

- WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo and Hair Conditioner Set; $30 (save $5) 

- La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel Cleanser; $15 (save $5)

- wet n wild Bretman Rock Shadow Palette; $9 (save $6)

- EltaMD UV Daily Tinted Face Sunscreen Moisturizer with Hyaluronic Acid; $25 (save $6)

Clothes

Ganni/Amazon

- Ganni Women's Crispy Jacquard Dress; $200 (save $86) 

- The Drop Women's Maya Silky Slip Skirt; $36 (save $9)

- Steve Madden Women's Editor Boot; $80 (save $30)

- adidas Women's Roguera Cross Trainer; $40 (save $25)

- Line & Dot Women's Elizabeth Sweater; $74 (save $18)

- Levi's Men's Sherpa Trucker Jacket; $57 (save $41)

- Adidas Men's Essentials 3-Stripes Tapered Training Joggers Sweatpants; $28 (save $12)

- Timex Men's Weekender XL 43mm Watch; $32 (save $20)

- Ray-Ban Unisex-Adult Hexagonal Flat Lenses Sunglasses; $108 (save $46) 

- Reebok Men's Flashfilm Train Cross Trainer; $64 (save $16)

Sign Up Today: Get exclusive deals, product news, reviews, and more with the Mental Floss Smart Shopping newsletter!

13 Black Friday Deals You Can Take Advantage of Right Now

StackCommerce
StackCommerce

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. If you haven't received your voucher or have a question about your order, contact the Mental Floss shop here.

For a limited time, you can save an additional 20 percent on tons of amazing products you’ve had your eye on over at The Mental Floss Shop with the coupon code BFSAVE20.

1. Probase Gen2 Usb-C 3.1 Laptop Stand; $116 (37 Percent Off W/ Code Bfsave20)

StackCommerce

Toss all those adaptors and swap them for this single laptop stand that connects with just one USB-C port and is equipped with three USB3.1 Gen2 ports and two memory card readers.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

2. Apple Ipad 4 9.7-Inch 16GB (Certified Refurbished) Bundle; $120 (40 Percent Off)

StackCommerce

Get the 9.7-inch retina display and Wi-Fi connectivity you’ve been dreaming of with this certified refurbished iPad 4. It scored a B-rating which means it only has some aesthetic markings.

*Apple iPad 4 excluded from code

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

3. Nix Mini Color Sensor V2; $67 (32 Percent Off W/ Code Bfsave20)

StackCommerce

This portable, pocket-sized sensor can read the color of any material or surface you point it at and pick a paint brand that matches the exact tone.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

4. Space Fighters Building Block Drone; $28 (30 Percent Off W/ Code Bfsave20)

StackCommerce

Build your own drone while learning all about digital proportional control and flight stabilization.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

5. Desklab Portable Touchscreen Monitor; $199 (28 Percent Off W/ Code Bfsave20)

StackCommerce

If your workstation is indefinitely at home these days, you may be considering investing in your desktop setup. This touchscreen monitor has a 1080p resolution and is small enough to travel with you anywhere.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

6. Docking Station For Iphone/Apple Watch; $110 (25 Percent Off W/ Code Bfsave20)

StackCommerce

Tech accessories don’t have to be modern and sleek; they can be stylish and warm like this docking station made from solid walnut and topped with soft felt.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

7. Apple Imac 21.5-Inch Core I5, 8GB Ram 1TB Hdd (Refurbished); $680 (47 Percent Off)

StackCommerce

This iMac comes with 1TB HDD internal storage space and Wi-Fi connectivity for all of your cloud resources.

*Apple iMac excluded from coupon code

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

8. Apple Macbook Air 13.3-Inch Core I5, 128GB Ssd (Refurbished); $590 (40 Percent Off)

StackCommerce

Edit photos, stream shows, or play games on a 13.3-inch LED display that sports a 1440-by-900 native resolution.

*Apple MacBook excluded from coupon code

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

9. Syncpen 2nd Generation Smart Pen With Notebook; $120 (40 Percent Off W/ Code Bfsave20)

StackCommerce

This pen can help you organize your notes, scribbles, and calendar. Everything you write with it gets digitized and stored so you can access every little note wherever you are.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

10. Magnetic Power Tiles // Four-In-One Wireless Charging Station; $32 (68 Percent Off W/ Code Bfsave20)

StackCommerce

These Magnetic Power Tiles can be arranged however you'd like and can charge three devices wirelessly at the same time.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

11. High Definition Monocular Telescope; $35 (35 PERCENT OFF)

StackCommerce

This telescope is perfect for concerts and sporting events and can magnify the face of a person 1000 meters away.

*Monoscope excluded from coupon code

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

12. Innotech Bluetooth 4.0 Smart Scale, Bmi Analyzer, And Health Monitor; $43 (37 PERCENT OFF W/ CODE BFSAVE20)

StackCommerce

Everyone knows your weight is just a number, but what if your scale could actually tell you more? This smart scale will send nine precise measurements to an integrated app for insights you can use to analyze and improve your health.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

13. Photo Backup Stick; Universal (16GB); $50 (27 PERCENT OFF W/ CODE BFSAVE20)

StackCommerce

You’ve taken tons of photos on your phone, and with the way technology is going, you’re bound to take tons more. Keep them all secure with this photo backup stick that stores them without a monthly cloud storage fee.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

Prices subject to change.

Sign Up Today: Get exclusive deals, product news, reviews, and more with the Mental Floss Smart Shopping newsletter!