You probably already know that meditation isn’t just for Buddhist monks. It’s becoming mainstream in Western culture.
Recent studies and academic research are discovering the benefits one can receive from a daily meditation practice. One notable Harvard study in 2011 revealed that mindfulness meditation can actually change the structure of the brain!
The great thing is, it doesn’t take 40 years and 4-hours each day to get results. In this particular study, in just eight weeks the researchers found increased gray matter in the part of the brain that is associated with learning and memory. There were also decreases in gray matter in the amygdala, which you may know is responsible for fear, anxiety, and stress.
Again, all of this just from just eight weeks of mindfulness meditation which involves sitting quietly and noting your thoughts, feelings and sensations as they happen, with an attitude of calm acceptance.
Research also shows the longer and more consistent your meditation practice, the more lasting and positive change you can expect to receive. Some of these additional benefits include…
- increased happiness
- better focus and concentration
- increased ability to overcome addictions
- more energy and better relaxation
- lower blood pressure and reduced inflammation
The one understandable criticism with meditation, though, is the time it takes. Most of us also wonder whether we’re doing it “right.”
With any new skill, feedback is a way to accelerate progress. Knowing when you’re doing something effectively or ineffectively, in real time, helps your brain learn at a rapid pace.
Which raises the big question: is there a way to get feedback during meditation so you can get more of the benefits faster?
Why yes there is!…
As science proves the benefits of meditation, technology is helping us develop tools—in a category called the “brain-machine interface”— that have never before been possible. Computer processing speeds allow us to measure our brainwaves several hundred times per second, and can provide us feedback on how we’re doing.
At Cleveland Neurofeedback, in addition to our continuing work with neurofeedback, we love trying out the newest gadgets and biohacking tools that come on the market. We also stay abreast of the continued research on benefits that meditation provides.
In a minute, we’ll tell you about using neurofeedback as an aid to meditation, but first let us mention the other tool that has recently caught our attention.
Muse – If you’re wanting to experiment with meditation, the MUSE headband is a great way to get started. Basically, what it does is measure your brain’s electrical activity, and provide feedback on how active your mind is.
When you’re calm, the music you’re listening to is quiet, and you hear birds chirping. When it’s active, the music gets louder, and you hear stormy weather.
If you’ve never meditated before, or have always wondered how your meditation session is going, or wondered whether there was something you could do that would help quiet your mind, this is an interesting device to check out. You’ll be able to practice by attempting to make the music quiet, playing with ways of breathing, strategies for keeping your mind in the present moment, etc. The immediate feedback MUSE provides is like having a meditation master listening in on your busy brain, monitoring your physiology and whispering in your ear, “Now you’re getting warmer—try more of this” or “Now you’re getting colder—that strategy isn’t helping you at all.”
NeurOptimal – If you’ve read anything on the site thus far, you probably knew this was coming. 🙂
At Cleveland Neurofeedback, this is the system we use to provide neurofeedback to our clients. Working day-in and day-out, we’ve seen the incredible transformations that NeurOptimal can make possible.
While it’s not formally designated as a meditation tool, you receives the same types of benefits when you use NeurOptimal that were mentioned above with meditation.
The reason is obvious. NeurOptimal works with the brain in a way very similar to meditation. It helps your brain return to the present, and provides you with practice on staying more centered.
With NeurOptimal, sensors—attached to your head—read your brain’s electrical activity. You listen to music while this is going on, and the software provides momentary skips in the audio whenever your brain enters a turbulent state. In meditation, this would be the equivalent of your brain going active or letting your mind wander.
Again, by providing constant feedback in real time—as NeurOptimal does—the software enables your brain to optimize its own functioning. It learns to find this more quiet, lower resource-zapping brain state, and tends to settle into this pattern easily, especially when you sit down to meditate.
If MUSE is the equivalent of a nice Camry for your brain, NeurOptimal is a Ferrari or a Lamborghini.
The reason is NeurOptimal’s nonlinear, systemic approach to neurofeedback, unique in the field. At our Center, we’ve seen people experience significant changes in just a few sessions…sometimes as early as their first session.
NeurOptimal rapidly accelerates the benefits one may receive from meditation, again, because the brain is receiving real-time feedback on what it is doing.
While you can receive the same benefit for free with mindfulness meditation, if you want a shortcut to the benefits of meditation with modern technology, MUSE can help you, and NeurOptimal can help you A LOT!
How to Try MUSE and NeurOptimal
We don’t personally sell or provide sessions for MUSE. We do have a device in our office that we can show you, and let you experiment with it if you so choose.
For all clients, regardless of your situation, we’d highly recommend NeurOptimal if your budget can afford it. We make it as easy as possible to make it affordable. The reality is, though, this technology is expensive. Purchasing a system costs thousands of dollars.
While we feel the cost of owning is WAY more than worth the benefits received—especially for someone wanting to develop/strengthen a meditation practice, where daily practice is important—we understand if it’s out of your price range. This is why we offer rental options as well as in-person sessions.
We’ve seen it so many times, once someone tries NeurOptimal a few times, they start to see the positive shifts happen and understand the enormous power that’s built into the device.
If you’re interested in experiencing this for yourself, you can give us a call at 216.410.6335 or email us on our contact page. We understand that you may have hesitancies or concerns, and we’re happy to answer any questions you may have. There won’t be any nagging follow-ups or pushy salesmanship. We don’t like that being done to us, and therefore certainly won’t do it to you. We love to chat with people about neurofeedback, and are interested to hear about your particular thoughts or concerns.
Meditation is a great way to make a lasting impact on your brain. Now take it to the next level with MUSE and/or NeurOptimal!