Using Muse Guided Meditations to Reduce Stress

Meditation has been proven to make real changes in your brain, like in the  actual structure of your brain. Using Muse, guided meditation helps you focus

Today I am speaking to Ariel Garten, Psychotherapist and founder of Muse Headband for, guided meditations.

Muse Headband comes with, free guided meditations, and help to reduce stress and improve sleep.

This topic that’s near and dear to my heart because I am a meditator.  So I am going to be learning as much from you as our audience on, guided meditations, and using, Muse Headband for meditation.

Ariel,  How did your work in psychotherapy and neuroscience lead you to becoming the founder of Muse?

My story is a really varied one. I was always interested in everything and how the world worked and how we work; so I went to school for neuroscience, so that I could learn more about the brain.  Our brain creates our experiences of life.  The movements of chemicals across our sinapps  create the experience of being happy of feeling connected to one another.  I became trained as a psychotherapist and so in psychotherapy so that I could  work one-on-one with people to help them understand the narratives that play in their minds, these are the stories that are in their head and shapes their existence.  I help them shift those narratives and stories so that they could be more comfortable with the life that they’re living.  I became really fascinated by brain waves.  Brain waves are the electrical energy that comes off your head. It’s real information from your brain.

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I began working with a professor at the University of Toronto and and we began to use an EEG system eg or sensors to detect brain waves to listen to people’s brain activity and create feedback loops.  We could literally make sounds from the energy coming off of people heads. We were actually creating musical experiences as you shifted your brain state from focused to relaxed.

I stood back and started to recognize that we could actually create company around this technology and uses this for human good.   I got together with my co-founders Chris and Trevor, two friends of mine one who’s an amazing electrical engineer the other amazing business person and the three of us set off to bring, Muse Headband for Meditation,  to the world.

In psychotherapy I would be teaching people to meditate as one of the tools to help them,  transform their mind,  but we all know that meditation is incredibly hard to do because most of us can’t quiet our minds. I sucked at meditation.  I teach it to my patients and they would go home and try to do it but their brains would bounce all over the place and they would be frustrated.

muse headband for guided meditation
muse headband for guided meditation

Muse Headband for meditation, gives you real-time feedback on your brain during, guided meditation.

Muse gives you audio feedback.  You’re actually hearing your brain state and it’s helping you guide yourself back into that state of focus when your mind wanders off.

When I meditate, there’s certain times that I can sit there and just concentrate on my breathing, and then the next time I’ve got all these thoughts that are bouncing around.  When you recognize that you’re no longer concentrating on your breathing you bring it back but that could be 30 mins later.

What is, Guided meditation?

Meditation is simply a practice or a training that leads to healthy and positive mind. It’s an exercise that you do regularly that leads to improvements in your mind and your brain.  The most common form of meditation that most people do first is a focused attention meditation. You might hear different forms of meditation and they all have a lot of similarities with their basics and focused attention.

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How does, Guided meditation work?

You focus your attention on your breath or part of your body.  Eventually your mind wanders away from the thing you’re paying attention to or the voice on the, guided meditation, onto a thought or a distraction and it’s your job to notice that your mind has wandered and come back to your breath.  It is incredibly simple.  You’re putting your attention on your breath, your mind wanders you realize your mind is wandered and instead of following your wandering mind you choose to come back to your breath. Your guide from the, guided meditation, would remind you to follow your breathe.

How do you Meditate?

  1. Sit or lie comfortably. You may even want to invest in a meditation chair or cushion.
  2. Close your eyes. …
  3. Make no effort to control the breath; simply breathe naturally.
  4. Focus your attention on the breath and on how the body moves with each inhalation and exhalation.
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What are the benefits of, guided meditation?

Focusing on your breath and returning to your breath is big deal.  When you do this really simple exercise, some pretty profound things happen to your mind and brain. Most of us just kind of go through the world on autopilot.  We just go through the world with a bunch of thoughts in our head and we assume we’re supposed to be thinking them.  We’re thinking about our brother who’s not feeling well or the groceries that we’re supposed to get or with the thing in front of us that we don’t really care about.

What happens is as soon as you engage in , guided meditations, and you put your attention on your breath, your mind wanders into one of those thoughts and you choose to say.  I don’t want to follow this wandering thought, I want to control my mind and put it elsewhere, on my breathe.  All of a sudden you have changed the relationship to your thoughts and that is HUGE.  You’re no longer just subject to the thoughts that are in your head, you can actually have control over them.  You can have dominion over your own mind. Every time you do this you get better and better at saying hey I don’t want to follow that thought, I want to come back to this, guided meditation, and my breathe.

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A lot of the thoughts that we have are negative, frustrating and repetitive so instead of just following these negative, frustrating,  repetitive thoughts and assuming that’s what happens, we can now observe them and say heck NO,  I don’t like that thought.  I don’t want to go there and choose to come back to focused attention and, guided meditation.

The benefits of, guided meditation

There’s literally over a thousand published studies demonstrating the benefits of, guided  meditation, and its impact on your mind your body:

  • Improves your GRE scores,
  • improves your working memory,
  • decrease your stress levels,
  • improves your attention and focus
  • improves your rest and relax response
  • takes you out of the flight or fight response

Deepak Chopra introduced me to, guided meditation,  maybe 10 – 15 years ago.  I have been a meditator for a while and there is a significant difference in everything about me because of meditation. One benefit is that I am able to relieve pain by breathing into the area.

There’s a ton of studies that demonstrate, guided meditation,  potential to improve pain.

One study shows a novice meditator or a short-term learning meditation can reduce their pain by 50%, expert meditators have been shown to be able to reduce their pain levels by 90%.

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Muse Headband for meditation,  has agency G and heart rate sensors inside of it that track your brain during your meditation.  The same way that a heart rate monitor will track your heart while you’re at the gym and let you know when you’re in the fat-burning zone.

Muse Headband for meditation, tracks your brain during, guided meditation, to let you know when you’re in focused attention. When your mind is wandering, it actually lets you hear the sound of your mind.  It lets you know when you’re focused and it warns you when your mind has wandered off and then guides you back into that state of focused attention.  Muse Headband for meditation, use really beautiful audio cues that you hear through your phone, in the same way a Fitbit connects with your phone.

What happens to our brain during, Guided Meditation?

Meditation has been proven to make real changes in your brain, like in the  actual structure of your brain.  It’s quite amazing.  There’s an amazing study from Dr. Sarah Lazar she’s a researcher at Harvard and she’s shown that meditation that can increase the thickness of your prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is the area of your brain right under your forehead and it’s the part of your brain that’s responsible for planning, organization and higher-order thinking.  It’s the thing that like separate us from other animals.  As Humans we have really developed prefrontal cortex.  As we age our prefrontal cortex actually becomes thinner;  but Dr Lazar was able to show that people with a long term, guided meditation, practices were able to maintain the thickness of their prefrontal cortex even as they aged.  So quite amazing, guided meditation, actually was able to reverse the aging process by maintaining our prefrontal cortex.

Through the, guided meditation, process it actually strengthens the ability of your prefrontal cortex to now regulate your amygdala.  It’s like your prefrontal cortex is the parent and the amygdala is the little three-year-old having a temper tantrum.

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Can our Set point for Happiness be changed by, guided meditations to reduce stress?

Our set point is our capacity for happiness,  and apparently it is set very early in life from our parents or our caretakers.  Deepak Chopra says that, guided meditation,  can move that set point so your capacity for happiness increases. I thought this statement was interesting enough for us to include it in our conversation today, so can you touch on the neuroscience behind this statement.

During, guided  meditation,  you begin to recognize that you can have control over your thoughts.  Typically the next thing that happens is you recognize that you are not your thoughts, and if you are not your thoughts you are also not all of the stories about yourself that your thoughts have been telling you about you. At some point with meditators there’s this unbelievable shift where you realize that like you know the things that you learned about yourself in the grade 3 school yard when you were being picked on are not true. So you let go of that perspective in the same way you let go those negative thoughts and that is unbelievably liberating. So your capacity for happiness or set point shifts.

 

Additional Resources for, Guided Meditations

How to Reprogram your Unconscious Mind

The top 7 reasons Meditation can help your Business increase Revenues

How to be Happy: The Happiness Formula

https://www.headspace.com/meditation/sleep

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/happiness-in-world/201304/how-reset-your-happiness-set-point