I have always loved the concept of meditation. It sounds like a great way to sort out stress and deal with the issues of the day-to-day world. Especially now, with the worries of a global pandemic constantly on everyone’s mind, and most of us locked away in cramped living quarters with few opportunities to get out. That being said, I have never managed to make meditation work for me, at least until I tried the Muse S.
There are countless apps, YouTube videos, and even Spotify playlists that claim that relief just a yoga mat and a smile away. It seems so easy, but when you find yourself unable to turn your mind off, it just becomes another thing to stress over, basically diminishing anything that these so-called stress relief solutions do to help. But this is where the Muse S comes into the picture, and promises real-world meditation results by using your brainwaves as a way of keeping you on the path to Zen.
With a series of electroencephalography (EEG) sensors, the Muse S measures your brain’s electrical activity—and also utilizes an optical heart rate sensor, accelerometer, and gyroscope to give a full body picture of your mental state. The device monitors your vitals in real-time, giving you feedback as it happens, that, if the press material is to be believed, is a way of helping you find mindfulness and usher you closer to a state of relaxation.
The Muse S feels very different compared to any of the previous Muse devices. While the first Muse and the Muse 2 felt like they belonged on the set of Blade Runner or The Matrix, the Muse S would feel at home in any Yoga Studio. The fabric band backs the battery, all the needed sensors, and is very comfortable to wear. It looks similar to a Ninja band, or even a sweatband from the 90s, but over time, I enjoyed how it felt, especially compared to previous iterations.
While it is comfortable, its stylishness is up for debate. Thankfully the Muse S is made for at-home meditation, and with the estimated 10-hour battery life on a charge, and how comfortable it is to wear, you will be able to power through those all-night power Zen sessions. I, on the other hand, stuck with the normal 10-15 minute meditation sessions, giving me around a month of use on a single charge.
Compared to past iterations of the Muse, the Muse S was pain-free in daily use. Calibration through the app rarely had any issues, and despite a few times where I lost Bluetooth connectivity, I have no complaints about how the device connects or works with the app. The team has built a solid, quality made smart wearable.
From the point you put on the headband and start up a session, the Muse S is communicating with the app, guiding you, and adjusting its feedback based on your brainwaves. When the headband detects a lot of activity, the guidance will adjust and try to bring you back to a state of calm and relaxation. It also rewards you for being calm by giving you a sense of how in tune with the mediation you are, and will even give you an overview at the end of each session.
Each meditation session (mind, heart, body, breathing, guided, etc.) also differs in tone, giving different cues and audio benchmarks based on the type and goals of the session. It can be interesting to see how each one differs and they engage with your body in different ways, from the waves of the heart-based meditation to the calming rainfall of the mind-based audio. Once each session is done it will give you a chart describing how you did along with metrics like bird noises and how still you managed to stay for any given session.
All that being said, the most important question about the Muse S is whether it manages to bring you into its world of meditation, and for me, that answer is a surprising yes. As I mentioned earlier, it is hard for me to just sit down and relax, so when I first tested the Muse 2, and Muse S, I wasn’t confident that it would work. It took a few sessions to get the hang of it, but once I did, I found the Muse infinitely helpful, especially as a tool to use at the beginning and the end of each day. Being able to take 10 minutes and just de-stress, especially in the ridiculously stressful world that we all find ourselves in is invaluable. The simple sessions made the process easy, and the overall help it provided was noticeable after a few sessions.
But despite that help, there still is the matter of price, and whether or not this is something that you want to invest in. At $350 USD, the Muse S is not something you can just dive into with hopes that it may work. That is the price of a gaming system or even a TV, so if you purchase, you want to ensure that it will deliver results. If you don’t need the guidance, or the numbers to see how the process is going, the free or low priced options could be better for you. For me, I found that without the details and audio cues, I would have dropped off the meditation train long ago. These little details keep me diving in and allow me to reach a state of peace I didn’t think possible.
Overall, the Muse S is a great way to bring people into the world of mediation. While it won’t make the stress of the real world melt away, the Muse S is a great addition to reach a place of Zen, and if it works for you as it does for me then it is a fantastic addition to any relaxation arsenal.