Thanks a lot for the tips! I have played around with the calibration sessions and it does seem to make some difference, but I can’t say for sure. Anyways, I’m really looking for an approach that will get me to Muse’s “calm state” without hacking it.
Looking up the jhana states and reading about those progressive, transcendent states of awareness, helped me a lot. These states describe much more nearly the actual experience I have always had when meditating.
And in one article, https://www.lionsroar.com/entering-the-jhanas/, the author sums up the problem I have getting the birds to keep singing on Muse:
“If your practice is anapanasati—mindfulness of breathing—you may recognize access concentration when the breath becomes very subtle; instead of a normal breath, you notice your breath has become very shallow. It may even seem that you’ve stopped breathing altogether. These are signs that you’ve likely arrived at access concentration. If the breath gets very shallow, and particularly if it feels like you’ve stopped breathing, the natural thing to do is to take a nice deep breath and get it going again. Wrong! This will tend to weaken your concentration. By taking that nice deep breath, you decrease the strength of your concentration. Just stay with that shallow breathing.”
This is where the rubber meets the road for me with Muse. I have a very difficult time ascending into these higher states of consciousness, and maintaining them, without allowing my breath to become very slow and subtle. And as soon as I do, the birds stop singing. I can start breathing heavily and regularly - and the birds will start singing again. But I can’t do the heavy, regular breathing AND continue in my jhana state.
I think Muse has helped me a lot to focus on my breathing but sometimes breathing in the way required by Muse to give me singing birds - actually brings me out of my “jhana state.” I have to let go of that complete detachment and utter boundlessness, and come back down in my level of consciousness, to simple breath awareness.
My goal is to have the birds singing non-stop, and to do it WHILE experiencing those truly elevated jhana states. Are you able to do this? Is anyone out there able to do this?
I believe that these transcendent levels of awareness constitute the true heart and soul of mediation - and I can’t really reconcile the Muse people’s unwillingness to discuss or even acknowledge this component of the meditative process.
Here’s another quote from the article I quoted above:
“It’s important to let go of the breath when you make the shift to the pleasant sensation. The breath (or other meditation object) is the key to get you in—”in” being synonymous with establishing strong enough access concentration. When you come home from work, you pull out your key, you open the door to your home, and you go in. You don’t then wander around with the key still in your hand—you put it back in your pocket or purse or on some table. You’re not cooking dinner or watching TV with the key still in your hand. The key has done its job, and you let it go. It’s exactly the same with the breath or other meditation object. Totally let go of it, and focus entirely on the pleasant sensation.”
I like the Muse and I intend to continue using it everyday for a long time and I think it truly helps me. But it certainly doesn’t train you to continue deeply into the jhana states as I understand them. Thats my goal!