If you’re here, then you’re probably a meditation nerd like me. I have found that meditation is essential to my life: for making better decisions, being emotionally intelligent, self aware, compassionate toward others, more joyful, happier, and smarter in general.
So when I found out about the Muse 2 brain-sensing headband, I was pretty stoked. Maybe that could be a great way to test myself and deepen my practice.
I finally bought one recently to test it out. So does it really work? Let’s dive in.
Does the Muse 2 Headband Work?
In my experience, yes it does. Quite well, actually.
Here’s a couple basics of how the Muse 2 works, for your reference:
- You put the headband on, and it calibrates to your brainwaves
- You choose a meditation type and length (Mind meditation for 5 minutes, Heart meditation for 10 minutes, etc)
- It plays soundscapes (like rainforest, ocean, etc)
- The soundscapes get louder or quieter, depending on how calm you are
- Birds will start chirping if you stay calm for an extended period of time
- As soon as the session is over, you get a Calm score (in a percentage) and birds score
I was a little skeptical at first because some reviews were skeptical themselves on whether the Muse was actually sensing their brainwaves. Some people said the rise and fall of sound volume caused more anxiety, rather than helping them become more calm. And some people said that they felt pretty calm, but the Muse 2 was saying that they weren’t.
Which seemed to be true for me too. I found that the rising and falling of the soundscape volume reacting to your brainwaves, actually caused me more anxiety, which hurt my Calm Score.
When I had the soundscape at normal volume on a bluetooth speaker or even a decent pair of headphones, I found that the sound was a bit too jarring.
Plus, how the soundscape reacts is pretty…jittery? The soundscape will almost completely go silent if you get completely calm, but will start playing when you start getting less calm. In this case, you can hear the soundscape stopping and starting over and over again, which is also pretty jarring.
I didn’t know if it’s the sound quality itself, the speaker, or the fact that it reacting to my brainwaves was giving me anxiety, or all of the above. But I was consistently getting Calm Scores of below 50% when the volume was up.
For a self-proclaimed “advanced” meditator, I was pretty confused.
It also made me wonder if I was wearing the headband wrong. So I watched video tutorial within the app on fitting the headband. They have videos within the app for everything you need to get started correctly, which his handy. But after watching the video, I still seemed to be wearing the headband correctly.
Another part of this is that it seemed that certain soundscapes were mixed better than others. Some of the sounds were pretty high-pitched and abrasive. And I also couldn’t hear the birds on certain soundscapes either.
I like hearing the birds because it’s positive reinforcement (which is the point). But some soundscapes were so loud that you couldn’t hear the birds. On some sessions, I did even realize I achieved birds until the post-session stats told me.
The easy solution for all of this: Edit the sound settings within the app.
I didn’t even realize you could edit the sound settings until after I started writing this post!
If you turn down the Feedback Volume to about 50% instead of 80%, that makes a HUGE difference. Much better balance between the feedback and the birds. After that, I consistently got better Calm scores.
How to do it:
After starting a session, click the volume slider icon to the left of the Pause button, then it will pull up the volume controls and you can edit from there.
Muse, if you’re reading this, I would make a small tweak to the default Feedback volume of the app, versus the volume of the birds. It seems like a lot of people get more anxious from how loud the feedback is, and the birds volume is too quiet by comparison.
I think by making this one small change, you’d get better reviews. And not everyone will figure out that they can edit the sound settings.
But Also, You May Not Be As Calm As You Think
People who say that they didn’t get good Calm scores on the Muse 2 even though they felt calm, may not be as calm as they think.
I have found that the Muse 2 is extremely sensitive to your brainwaves, and there is a very subtle difference between feeling active, neutral, or truly calm.
It’s interesting noticing how I feel whenever the birds chirp in a session. I may have felt pretty calm up until that point, but when the birds chirp, I notice that I am in a much deeper state of calm than before. So the birds help me notice what that calmer state feels like.
I think that’s why this device is so helpful, especially for beginners but also for advanced meditators. It’s good to know how you’re actually doing during your meditation. We may think that we’re advanced meditators. But without biofeedback, it’s hard to know for sure. Once we know what calm actually feels like, we can do a better job of letting go so we can reach those calm alpha states more consistently.
So does the Muse 2 work? Sure does, with some small tweaks. Let me know what your experience is!