The benefits of meditation are well-recognized in terms of health and wellness today. Not only can mindfulness and meditation practices improve levels of stress and mental health. But they also enhance physical well-being also. Because of this, many have adopted the practice as part of their daily or weekly routines. However, a significant number of people are unclear how to approach the practice or know when they are reaping its rewards. These individuals are those that could use some assistance and guidance. And interestingly, a handful of companies are providing meditation devices to do just that.
Leveraging biofeedback therapy, there are a number of meditation devices today designed to help newbies to the practice. But these devices are more than simply instructional guides or lists of best practices. Instead, they utilize the latest digital therapeutics to provide real-time biofeedback therapy in the process. (Read more about digital therapeutics in this Bold story!) This approach has many advantages with the most important ones related to self-education. Rather than sitting with a meditation guru, users of these meditation devices learn which practices are best for them. In the process, they’re able to create their own personalized Zen experience that’s unique to their own situation.
“Biofeedback can be used for many things, including measuring and reporting stress and anxiety. We measure what’s going on in your body, and we show it to you in real time. The goal is to make you aware of things that usually you’re unaware of — things that happen unconsciously in your body all the time.” – Noga Sapir, CEO at Reflect
Real-Time Biofeedback Therapy Is the Key
Biofeedback therapy has been around for many decades. In essence, it can be defined as any input of data that describes how one’s body is physiologically functioning. Common parameters include heart rate, breathing and respirations, skin temperature, and even brain waves. In fact, neurofeedback related to EEG brain waves has improved greatly in the last half-century. This type of information is linked to stress levels as well as overall health. Thus, the information can be used to guide individuals to change behaviors toward more healthier ones. And it can also be used to teach people how to better perform meditation.
In the past, biofeedback and neurofeedback weren’t available in real-time. But the latest meditation devices available today have this capability. This means that those attempting meditation can receive immediate information about how a particular practice affects them. Based on various biofeedback parameters, individuals can determine whether a breathing technique is lowering their level of stress. They can also assess how calm and peaceful they are based changes in their heart rate and heart rate variability. Most interestingly, however, these new meditation devices may also facilitate actual physiological changes in the brain. Real-time biofeedback therapy may therefore improve not just meditation practices but their effects as well.
“I could tell when my brain was doing the right thing because I would hear the sound that was supposed to be the positive feedback.” – Kate Stockly, Researcher at Boston University’s Center for Mind and Culture
The Latest in Meditation Devices
Over the last few years, a number of new meditation apps and devices have hit the market. Many of these are app-based with connectivity to smart devices. Some, however, are stand-alone products that offer biofeedback therapy to assist with meditation practice. The following are some of the most notable products in this category currently.
- Core Meditation Trainer – Recently purchased by Hyperice, Core had already received attention for its meditation trainer. Its product consists of a handheld ball with various electrodes that sense heart rate variability and other biofeedback therapy modalities. Based on the physiological data, headphones then provide the user with various meditation backgrounds. These may consist of guided meditations, soundscapes, or breathing instruction sessions. Though an app-connection is required to access the content library, this is one of the most popular meditation devices today.
- Zendo Meditation – Rather than describing Zendo Meditation Devices as biofeedback therapy, its best to label them neurofeedback devices. Their product consists of two pads that are placed on the forehead, designed to stimulate the meditation centers of the brain. Developed by neuromodulation researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina, Zendo’s product enhances and speeds meditation effects. The company reports that a 20-minute session with its product is equivalent to a one-hour traditional meditation practice.
- Muse Headband – The primary biofeedback therapy used by the Muse Headband is that of brain waves. Using advanced EEG mobile technologies, the headband allows EEG patterns to determine meditation sounds for the user. Over 500 different weather-sound meditations are provided that can aid sleep, reduce stress, and enhance performance. Muse provides real-time neurofeedback on its meditation devices to ensure responses best fit a user’s needs.
- Reflect Meditation Orb – One of the latest meditation devices is the one introduced recently by Reflect. Its handheld orb is made of cloth, has 6 electrodes to sense biorhythms, and a light ring. The light ring changes colors according to levels of stress, thus providing real-time visual data to the user. Based on this feedback, users can then experiment with different meditation practices to see which works the best. In addition, Reflect’s Meditation orb does not require device connectivity to be used.
“We’re not targeting Zen Buddhist monks, or those who can sit cross-legged on top of the mountain and meditate for hours…They don’t need us.” – Shiri Perciger, CMO at Reflect
A More Personalized Meditation Approach Through Technology
Meditation practices have been around for millennia. Their advantages to holistic wellness have been long appreciated. Similarly, the positive effects that meditation has on work performance is also now evident. However, many who are just learning about their health benefits sometimes find it challenging to know which practices are best. Certainly, spending time with an experienced guru or yogi can be highly rewarding. But it now seems that meditation devices may offer an additional alternative. Not only do these products make learning meditation easier, but they also personalize the experience through biofeedback therapy. Ultimately, this has the potential to encourage an increasing number of people to participate in meditation practices. And that is certainly something that is worthwhile.