Giving up meditation after Muse

I have been using the Muse headband for a month, working up to two 30 minute sessions each day. The only success i have had is learning that i am one of those people who cannot meditate. I thought i had seen improvement, averaging between 70-85% calm over a period of several days. This then dropped to an average of 48% calm per session, and proceeded to worsen until my last session, which showed 11% calm.

I am not sure how this helps or trains calmness in any way. I have turned the feedback up or down to try to address anticipation and its effects. I have counted breaths and other methods with nothing but failure. I guess my question is what is the point of this device if It doesn’t offer anything in the way of improving calmness. I know its just to track brain function/calmness and not really a trainer, but i am just frustrated with the whole experience and think i will just give up.

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Hey there, I am having very similar results to your’s. I started out with some 50%-60% calm seasons and have steadily gone deadhill to a record 1% calm, 10 minutes session earlier this morning.

The more I focus on getting the the birds to sing, with every conscious or unconscious effort, the less calm I am. The more I focus exclusively on breathing, the less calm I am.

I too have tried counting breaths, etc. On the days I’ve gotten calm readings I cannot correlate those to anything I was doing, thinking or feeling. I can’t find anything to anchor my results to.

Maybe some of the apps could better illustrate the connection between my mind, and awareness, and a calm state? What should I FEEL to get a calm reading on MUSE? What EXACTLY should I do with my mind, consciously or sub-consciously, to reach a calm state as interpreted by my MUSE headset?

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Insofar as I can tell, it’s actually because of a poorly thought out algorithm with Muse. Basically, Muse tracks ‘calmness’ based on your original baseline, if you are calm in your baseline it will track that you are basically at a moderate state of calmness (equally between calm and agitated) during your meditation if you remain calm.

This is why I’ve stopped using Muse, their only app isn’t very well thought out imo, I wish there was a better developer community actually doing useful things with Muse but it doesn’t seem that’s the case atm.

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I dunno Anthony. I have some sessions with MUSE where I come out feeling deeply relaxed and energized and MUSE tells me that those are not calm sessions.
I can’t quite crack the code in terms of what types of actual feelings and/or awareness is associated with the calm readings.
Maybe the MUSE Monitor app would give me data that would help me link up my happy, deeply calm sensations internally - with actual brain activity.
I just can’t consistently dial in a calm state with MUSE - sometimes I’m 41% calm and the next time I’m 4% calm. And the 4% calm session felt the most transcendent and clear while meditating, and left me feeling most invigorated and relaxed afterwards…
Maybe my “happy place” is different than the one the MUSE program identifies as “calm.” No idea.

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By “original baseline,” do you mean the first time that Muse calibrated before the first meditation session for the individual, or each specific calibration before each meditation session? My understanding is that Muse starts a fresh baseline during the calibration before each meditation session. Otherwise, why would it need a new calibration each time?

So the trick would be to make sure that the mind is active during each calibration. Do not try for a calm state of mind during the calibration. Keep the mind active. Recite multiplication tables in your head. Count from 1 to 10 in English and any foreign languages you know. Do a math problem.

In my experience, keeping the mind active during calibration has helped keep up the bird and calm scores during the Muse meditation session. But I’ll see how this works as I go forward.

If you are calm during calibration, that could skew the results for the session. You’re setting the bar too high.

But even after calibration, during the meditation session itself, being calm isn’t all there is to meditation. If the Muse algorithm looks specifically for brain waves and brain wave combinations that are indicative of a calm mind, it will misinterpret some of the deeper states of meditation.

As the meditator reaches access concentration and begins to enter the jhana states, there will be some joyful emotion and pleasant sensations. It’s not all alpha waves. There might be - I’m sure there are - other brain waves entering into the mix that could be misinterpreted by Muse as something we should not want in a meditative state. Be we should want them! That is the problem.

Muse is probably set up to reward meditators for calmness and mental focus. But that is only the first stage of meditation. Muse seems to be set up for only this initial stage of meditation, not the deeper states. Which is good as far as it goes.

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Hey Sarkikos,
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!
Jim

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checkout my last post on this thread… i have the same problem… and once i realized that everything is attached to that calibration phase i wrote to customer support… and thats what i got:

Thanks for Contacting Muse Customer Care!

The results of a Muse session are dependent on the quality of the calibration before your session. Discrepancies in your sessions are generally tied to the calibration stage. This stage is important, as it provides Muse with a picture of your active brain to compare against during the session. Any sharing of your account, testing during the calibration, calibrating with your eyes open, being overly active, moving or visualizing things during the calibration could potentially skew your data creating an inaccurate baseline for your sessions to compare against; generally resulting in a higher calm score over each of your sessions.

Our application uses each individual calibration as the baseline for the corresponding session. It is very important that you are sitting in a comfortable position keeping your eyes closed lightly when using Muse, as having open eyes will impact your corresponding session. Muse is a very sensitive device and will also pick up even the small electrical activity from muscles around the eyes, jaw and the brainwaves from visual processing.

The more naturally active your mind is during calibration, the “easier” the session will be in terms of getting a high calm score. This introduces a challenge for users who arrive at their meditative practice with Muse already in a state of peace, therefore creating more difficult circumstances in which they can learn to focus and broaden their band of acceptance.

Meanwhile those users who find they have a very busy mind during calibration but manage to settle into their meditation and allow their thoughts to grow still will be rewarded with an easier practice, encouraging them not to give up. Of course, you can do your best to skew your data by deliberately thinking rushed thoughts, but if you do this, you will never enhance your meditation as your data will never be accurate.

I hope this information is helpful. Please advise if you have any further questions!

Have a great day!

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Sorry for being so late in responding. Lately I’ve been posting on the Muse Headband User Forum rather than here on the Muse blog.

REPORT FROM UNBROKEN 45 DAYS OF USING MUSE 45 MINUTE DAILY SESSIONS

  • Every day for the past 46 days, I’ve done a 45 min Muse meditation in my recliner away from distractions. Sometimes one in the morning, sometimes again in the evening.
  • It has taken weeks to ‘get back’ into good meditation. I was surprised I couldn’t ‘get down’. It helped when (in addition to the Muse) I also used a ThoughtWare device, the galvanic skin response device, that makes a sort of low siren sound going lower and lower as I get relaxed.
    BENEFITS
  • I don’t care much whether the Muse sounds greatly help calm me. They’re nice, they seem to be handy guidance on calm and focus
  • The first major benefit is the achievement of daily peaceful escape, driven by the ‘streak’ habit (never failing to do it each day, seeing the day count increase). I get back to hours of ‘peaceful confidence’.
  • The second benefit is the brilliance of ideas that emerge into my mind during and after the Muse sessions.
    º In the calmness, I get times of ‘grand perspective’ of everything in my life, the opposite of manic, myopic ‘fire-fighting’.
    º From the deeply relaxed new visibility of the enormous everything-and-everyone in my life, I discover thrilling new opportunities, ideas, remedies for problems.
    OTHER HELPFUL FACTORS FOR GOOD EXPERIENCE AND EFFECTIVENESS
  • Evening sessions after dinner weren’t so good. Morning sessions after exercise, a wait of half an hour, then the Muse, were best for feel-good and the ‘brilliant’ idea generations.
  • I’ve been meditating since 1982 (I’m 70). 'Used an isolation tank in Montreal once, $50 to use, but floating in epsom salts solution is actually distracting because breathing lifts and lowers your body, and you feel the distracting rise/fall of the water level on your skin, plus muffled stomp if anyone walks in the building.
  • 'Best for me is a recliner in a quiet room with a sign outside saying please don’t disturb. No need even to support your body. I respect but mistrust the guru poses of heroic discomfort and mantras. For me it’s about effortless nurturing comfort and stillness and peace.
  • Note well, the deliberate development of a really good, established habit, requires weeks of trying it and adjusting it in various ways. I’m still only at day 46, but it’s pretty much established, and it’s
    º A joy of life, where I truly get back to my real self and reality, 'harmony with people. It’s not a struggle or a ‘duty’.
    º A dramatic tool of creative empowerment ideas for my business entrepreneuring and life. A single, excellent idea can herald a massive change like the discovery of the wheel or fire.
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Try going over The Muse Essentials Guide again. I’ve gone through it like 3 times. I’m going to go through it once more.

The key to getting Muse to work properly is calibration. From watching videos of Ariel Graten and other Muse evangelist this is what I do.

  • To optimize the rubber contacts, wet the part of your ear that is closet to your scalp. It is the actually rubber that acts as an electrode for the EEG. I personally didn’t know it was possible for rubber to act as an electrode, so I would moisturize the plastic!

  • Wet your forehead before using the device. If you’re greasy, wipe your forehead and wet it again. Consistency is key here.

  • Does the device fit snugly? It should. The video explains this.

  • While wearing your Muse, do a progressive muscle relaxation exercise that includes your eyes, jaw, face.I use Paul Mckenna’s “Control your Stress”. The Muse voice specifically ask you to relax your face and jaw. I don’t think my score is dramatically lowered from starting off relaxed.

  • During calibration, you can focus your eyes at your brow to increase accuracy of recoveries (Dr. Cody Randall on youtube). I find this does work, but it will actually make Muse more difficult. I think it works because your eyes are absolutely still.

Hope that helps and good luck.

Try box breathing to calm the winds.

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Hey Jim, thanks for that informative description of your meditating journey and for the very helpful article at Lion’s Roar.

@Anthony, I agree, just started using Muse 2 and noticed how my mental state during calibration was the strongest indicator of what percentage of “calm” I will have. Looking for a better app/toolset to help me really track my progress. I don’t understand why it is so hard to allow access to raw data streams.

Looking for a better app/toolset to help me really track my progress. I don’t understand why it is so hard to allow access to raw data streams

Have you tried Muse Monitor? No affiliation, just a happy user.

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