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This article was published on January 15, 2020

Video: We used brain-scanning headbands to have a meditation battle

What time is it? ZEN TIME, MOTHERFUCKER!

Muse 2 meditation headband
Callum Booth
Story by

Callum Booth

Editor of Plugged by TNW

Callum is an Englishman in Amsterdam, but not in the way you're thinking. He's the Editor of Plugged, TNW's consumer tech vertical. He w Callum is an Englishman in Amsterdam, but not in the way you're thinking. He's the Editor of Plugged, TNW's consumer tech vertical. He writes about gear, gadgets, and apps — with a particular focus on Apple — and also makes the occasional odd video. Basically, he's halfway between an abrasive gadget nerd and thinky art boy.

Technology’s evolution over the past 20 years has changed a lot of things, but one of the most astonishing has been its impact on information. While we used to get it at a trickle, now it feels like we’re being hit with an ocean.

The outcome of this has been increased anxiety, stress, and just a general sense of unease. We weren’t built to deal with this mental load.

[Read: Smart locks are cool as fuck — but I’ll never trust them]

And what’s technology’s solution to this? That’s right: More goddamn technology.

So, welcome to the room, the Muse 2!

Basically, this is a headband that can provide real-time feedback on brain activity, heartbeat, breathing, and movement. Why? To try and help you meditate.

While some people might use this for “reflection,” “mindfulness,” or (ugh) “inner peace,” that’s not our vibe at TNW. Nope, not one bit.

When we discovered that the Muse 2 can give you a literal score on how zen you are, we knew what we needed to do: HAVE A MOTHERFUCKING MEDITATION BATTLE… TO THE DEATH (of anxiety).

And that’s exactly what we did. So, slam your eyes on that wonderful video at the top of the page to see how we fared in a fight to become the most enlightened.

But… what happens if you don’t want to watch the video? Or if you want a bit more information about the Muse 2? Well, don’t worry, we’ve got your back. If you continue reading below this paragraph, you’ll find some key facts and thoughts on the Muse 2 meditation headband. Let’s do this!

So what is the Muse 2?

It’s a headband that connects to your phone and gives you real-time feedback on your brain activity.

Is it comfortable?

It takes a little while to adjust the Muse 2 so it fits right (the headband won’t work if it’s not a snug), but once you do, it’s easy to forget it’s there.

So how does a session work?

You can set how long you want to mediate for on the app, then put on a pair of headphones. The Muse 2 then scans your brain and plays a soundscape that changes as your attention wavers or you concentrate.

For example, the basic soundscape is of a rainforest. When your mind is active, you can hear rain and other rough weather. When you’re relaxed, everything’s calm. It will even play birdsong when you’re at your calmest to help you improve your focus.

What happens at the end of a session?

You get a score! Which — and thanks to this dumb, human mind — gets you addicted to meditating and beating your last score.

And is using the Muse 2 fun?

I wouldn’t say it was “fun,” but I was definitely more engaged than I thought I would be.

So does it help with meditation?

You know what? It actually does.

I guess one of the big issues with meditation is that you never really know if you’re doing it right. And, while that might be sorta the point, I found that actually using the Muse 2 at least gave me a benchmark; you know, something to actually base your practice on.

Does the Muse 2 kinda ruin meditation though?

There is something kinda weird about using an expensive bit of tech to practice mindfulness, that’s true. And it definitely doesn’t feel as wholesome as going to a specifically designed meditation class or school.

Despite this, it is convenient and easy, which goes a long way to making meditation feel accessible.

How much does it cost?

The list price is $250, but it’s normally selling for a little bit less than that. You can find it here.

Is it worth it?

That depends: Do you have some disposable cash, have struggled to get into meditation, but really want to give it another go? Then the Muse 2 is right down your alley.

I’ll be honest, I was expecting to hate deride the technology, but I actually ended up really enjoying using it. Hell, I actually found it helped me, which was a weird thing to experience.

But, at the end of the day — and no matter how cool it is — the Muse 2 is a bit of technology that you don’t really need.

Still, if you think the Muse 2 meditation headband is something you’d like, you can pick one up here. Hope you find some zen, buddies.

This post includes affiliate links to products that you can buy online. If you purchase them through our links, we get a small cut of the revenue.

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