Move Forward Counseling prides itself on the ability to provide tangible tools to use when times get tough. Some of these tools include reframing thoughts into healthy patterns, identifying coping skills, and mindfulness exercises.
We are excited to announce that we now have a tool to help increase success rates with mindfulness exercises! Introducing, Muse, a headband that utilizes EEG technology to provide real-time feedback during mindfulness practice. We will talk about how it works in a minute, but first let’s talk about how mindfulness works.
What is Mindfulness?
All too often we tend to focus on “I should have” when it comes to the past and “what if” pertaining to the future. Both of these thought patterns are unhelpful ways of thinking as they almost always lead to worry, guilt, and/or regret. Mindfulness is an exercise to increase our awareness to the present moment. It allows us to notice the thoughts that pop into our mind, however it is the practice of not entertaining or attaching emotional connections to those thoughts, therefore providing us with a neutral space between thoughts and feelings.
Many times when mindfulness is first practiced some common concerns include the inability to remain focused, day dreaming, making to-do lists, thinking about something that made us mad, etc. We tend to think that means the practice has failed, but quite the opposite is true actually because our minds naturally wander and that is fine. Mindfulness allows for us to practice noticing when our mind is wandering and increases our ability to return our focus to the present moment. Mindfulness is a skill and just like any other skill it takes practice to master. Luckily Move Forward Counseling now has the Muse headband to receive this feedback immediately to increase our ability to be present and attentive.
Muse is a slim white headband that goes behind your ears and rests on your forehead. When it turns on you feel the slight pulse of the sensors, this sensation becomes lighter as the practice continues. Muse connects to an app that can be downloaded onto a laptop or tablet. Next a preferred soundscape is chosen which can include the beach, rainforest, desert, city park, or ambient music.
For this example, I will use the beach as the soundscape. When ready to begin the first session, the headband will complete a calibration to make sure it has a baseline of your brain activity and breathing style. This process lasts no longer than a minute and it occurs each session so accurate results are reported.
Next, you are asked to get comfortable and to focus on breathing. During this time, Muse provides a detailed explanation of what to expect prior to the session beginning. Once a session has officially started, Muse tracks your brain waves and breathing rate and provides feedback using the soundscape. When in a neutral or calm state, you can hear the waves lightly crashing onto the sand.
What You Want to Achieve
If Muse tracks that you have achieved a deep calm state, birds will begin to chirp. If your mind wanders and you are in an active state, the wind picks up and sounds as if a small storm is brewing. This allows you to practice regaining attention by bringing your mind back to the beach waves. Once the desired amount of time has elapsed, a report is presented with a graph that shows how many times your mind was present in an active, neutral, and calm state.
Mindfulness can be difficult at times due to the natural way the mind wanders. It is helpful to have live feedback on the process of regaining focus and increasing the ability to remain in a calm and relaxed state. Move Forward Counseling is very excited to introduce Muse in therapy sessions.
Author: Melissa Sauder, LPC
Melissa is a licensed professional counselor who loves helping women learn to empower themselves so they can lead a healthy, fulfilling life. Her therapy is spending time with her dog, a labradoodle named Sammy.