Modern tech came busting in the doors and changing everything we know about connectivity and communications. Virtually everything we may need is only a few key presses or taps away.It’s made us more productive and independent than ever. But these developments haven’t only had positive effects.
Heavy tech use has been linked to fatigue, stress, depression, sleep disorders and more (take a look at studies from the American Psychological Association and the University of Gothenburg for more details). Improvements in communications and efficiency have also created a fast-paced and stressful world.. Social media, emails, text messages, calls, notifications, shopping lists, alarms and countless other worries were created to keep us more connected, but have become inescapable sources of anxiety for many.
The vast majority of American adults have some kind of electronic device (computer, tablet, smartphone, TV and the like). surely shoulders are tensing up around the United States.
How do we combat tech stress? One way to do it is through meditation. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health claims 8% of Americans use meditation to keep the mind and body healthy. This would equate to about 18 million people.
We have been taught that one way to relieve stress is to disconnect and keep those pesky smartphones away, but this doesn’t have to be the case. There are ways gadgets to improve your meditation sessions. In this post we aim to show you how to find the balance between healthy tech use and productivity, without having to leave your devices behind.
What is meditation?
First, let’s go through the basics. What exactly is meditation? It’s not actually a very simple concept.. Definitions vary, but in a general sense, meditation is the act of training the mind to achieve a higher level of consciousness.
Many see it as a way to regulate the mind and organize its contents. It can involve analyzing your feelings, situations and thoughts, depending on the approach. Some of the benefits of meditation include relaxation, building internal energy, developing certain personality traits and more.
Incorporating tech into your meditation sessions
While still rare, meditation-focused gadgets and services have been entering the market. Some of these are quite interesting and definitely worth looking into.
Let’s jump into the options and see how we can modernize your meditation.
MUSE is not like the other headsets you’ve seen in the past. The team claims to have built the first tool to offer “accurate, real-time feedback on what’s happening in your brain when you meditate”. The headband senses your brain and state of mind, then plays nature sounds to fit your needs. These include noises of the ocean, forest, desert (whatever that sounds like) and others.
MUSE connects to your smartphone to guide and improve your meditation sessions. It’s not cheap at $249, but serious meditators may deem it a worthy investment.
An active body needs a healthy mind, and professionals across the world trust the Versus headset to keep athlete brains in a good state.
Versus connects to your mobile device using bluetooth. It then grabs brain wave patterns using electroencephalogram (EEG) technology to create exercise protocols.
According to Versus, the headset’s data is comparable to that coming from medical systems. This level of accuracy isn’t cheap, though. The headset costs a whopping $799, with a $23.95 monthly subscription fee to boot..
Emotiv is not exactly a mediation-focused tool per se, but it can work as one if you know what to do with EEG readings. Emotiv has a couple great headsets to offer: the Insight and EPOC+. The former costs $299, while the latter goes for $799.
The differences are very noticeable. The EPOC+ has more sensors, references points and a wider frequency response, among other improvements.
Samsung Gear VR with Mind Fitness & Detox app
You don’t necessarily need to get a fancy mind-reading headset to facilitate your meditation sessions. The Samsung Gear VR will do the trick if you pair it with its many meditation apps. One of them is Mind Fitness & Detox, which “helps revitalize the natural flow of the mind, clear confusion and implement more efficient behavioral models”.
The program consists of 20 sessions, combining the Bosurgi Method and CognitiveOS Hypnosis. Each session comes in the form of guided meditation, lasting 10-45 minutes. Only the first class is free, though. The whole program costs $87.
Daydream and Youtube VR
There are plenty of channels out there, but a favorite among meditation enthusiasts is Spirit Rock Meditation Center. Based in Woodacre, CA, this center uploads plenty of videos that give you an unbeatable experience. The videos bring you front and center into the Spirit Rock’s Buddhist teachings and insight meditation sessions.
The YouTube VR videos are short and sweet, but you can also sign up for their live webcasts, online classes and more.
This is by far the most expensive meditation product in this list (and probably in existence). The thing costs a whopping $18,500. Most of us don’t really have that kind of extra cash laying around, but that doesn’t mean we’ll never be able to at least try it. Somadomes have been installed at a handful of locations in California and New York, which you can find on Somadome’s website.
The Somadome is an enclosed space that helps you meditate using colors, binaural beats and microcrystalline tiles. 20 available sessions will help you improve moods you wish to work on. Modes include Heal, Recharge, Relax, Focus, Achieve and Ascend.
Applications & software
All these devices and high-tech tools are great, but you don’t need to spend that much to achieve a healthier state of mind. If you already have a smartphone or tablet in hand, there is a plethora of meditation apps available.
Insight Timer is one of the most popular free meditation apps out there, with over 2 million users. The app offers a great way to keep track of your sessions without much disturbance. It guides you through your meditation sessions with the help of 1200 teachers, 5300 guided meditations, 850 tracks and more.
This application offers guided meditation made easy. It’s made forany user from beginners to experts. Whether you want to sleep better or just need to unwind after a long day at work. There are short meditations for those with little free time, SOS exercises for sudden meltdowns, and hundreds of themed sessions.
The free version offers the basics, which are said to improve your life and mind, but there is also a subscription service for those who need more from the app. Prices go for as low as $7.99 a month.
Buddhify is pretty cheap at $2.99. There aren’t even any ongoing subscription fees. The app is not as complex as others, but it is a fun and simple way to find your inner peace.
Simply choose one of the 15 types of meditation, which are customized to fit specific activities and times of the day. These include walking in the city, going to sleep, being online, waiting around and more.
This one goes for $3.99, but it’s also a great tool for “untangling your mind” and reaping the benefits of meditation. It comes packed with over 250 guided meditations, help from over 30 experts, sessions scheduling, and more.
Mind is a very simple and beautiful meditation app. Just drag the timer to the amount of minutes you want to meditate for and get started. No bells, whistles or distractions.
AI in the future of meditation
Right now you can only count on AI assistants to do some basic things for you. Maybe you can set a timer for your sessions, or ask it to play certain videos and tracks, but we see a future in which artificial intelligence takes your meditation sessions to the next level.
Body sensors in wearables and devices will probably link to Alexa, OK Google, Siri and the like. Such devices could then potentially guide you through meditation sessions based on your heartbeat, as well as other body factors.
These devices we see as distractions and stress factors can be great tools for finding peace of mind. Remember, these are tools and learning how to use them correctly is important. Learn to have smart technology improve your life, not become it.
Which of these devices and services have you used? Are there any others you recommend? Hit the comments and tell your fellow meditators all about them.