We have tech for absolutely everything now. Before it was enough to know you’d been for a run a few times a week, took the stairs instead of the lift and walked home from the Tube stop from 20 minutes instead of catching the bus. Now we need an expensive, hi-tech sports band to tell us we’ve taken 10,000 steps to feel confident there’s a good chance we won’t die of a heart attack at the age of 45. We can’t even feel confident we’ve slept well unless our band tells us we have.
And heaven knows how we ever got anywhere unfamiliar 10 years ago without a GPS!
The necessity or genuine added value of some of the latest technology in the world can be questionable. But now a piece of tech called The Muse, which retails at a cool £250, has been specifically designed to aid its user in doing nothing at all. Actually, not only doing nothing but also not thinking about anything either. Yes, The Muse is a headset that boosts the wearer’s ability to meditate or engage in ‘mindfulness’.
Mindfulness and meditation are about ‘just being’. The idea is to focus on the present, observing thoughts and emotions in a detached way or focusing full attention on a simple activity without the mind wandering. Kids used to get in trouble at school for ‘zoning out’, while staring blankly out of the window. Now it’s an industry. You can go to classes on it!
Proponents of mindfulness meditation believe the ability to detach ourselves from the world around and our own thoughts and worries on a regular basis helps us rest of minds. This, it is said, leads to better concentration levels and productivity during the rest of the day. There might be something in it. Many of us can no longer just sit peacefully without getting bored and fidgety. Smartphones, tablets and earphones mean we always have a distraction readily to hand and this has led to losing the ability to sometimes just not do anything and be content with that. Perhaps our brains do need a rest.
Muse, which monitors brain activity and is designed to train the user to get better and better at doing nothing, somewhat ironically combines with a smartphone app. The headset is produced by Interaxon, a Canadian company. The company’s advisory board has a number of well-respected figures in psychology on it and the tech is being well received, even by sceptics. The headset delivers ‘Be-ing’ mindfulness lessons that come in different levels of ‘nothingness’ intensity. Its sensors monitor the brain’s patterns and delivers rain fall noises when it senses the user’s brain activity is not rested enough and bird song as it lulls.
Of all the brain-sensing tech out there, Muse is considered among the best so far. So, if you find that all the technology you are constantly exposed to means you feel the need to be able to turn off from time to time, Muse’s technology, and app, might be just what you were looking for!