science & meditation
In this article we use science & meditation to show how mindful activities can reduce stress levels.
To help us be objective we have sought the help of our very own MUSE headband. Please note that we are not promoting MUSE here, nor do we receive any commission, this post is for informational purposes only.
MUSE is a brain-sensing headband that helps you understand and track how well you focus, sleep and recharge, so you can refocus during the day and recover each night (muse-s, 2021).
This advanced electroencephalograph (EEG) device measures brain activity via 4 EEG sensors.
The Muse-S senses the mind (EEG), heart photoplethysmography (PPG )+ (pulse oximetry), body (accelerometer), and breath (PPG +gyroscope), and translates this information to graphs that help you improve and understand your brain activity during meditation
We are using this device to track brain activity during meditation and other activities. We are combining science & meditation to understand wellness and well-being.
The aim here is to encourage readers of this blog post to take up a mindful task, be it in the form of meditation or hobby, that will help them reduce their stress levels and improve their mental health.
It is also directed toward organizations to encourage them to actively get involved in programs that can improve the mental health of their employees.
Here we have compared the brainwaves of two individuals, who we will refer to as subject A and subject B.
Subject A has been practicing meditation for the last 6 years.
While subject B is a beginner Level 1 piano player who practices up to 45 mins a day and does not mediate.
This brainwave activity was recorded during a 20 minute meditation that was performed first thing in the morning as soon as the subject woke up.
One poins to keep in mind is during this time of day we are already in a calm state of mind.
The meditation subject A chose was to focus on the breath and body, in particular focusing on the arm, where the subject A has had pain due to a recent COVID vaccination. The intention of this meditation was to calm the pain from the arm. This is represented in graph where much of the brain activity is in the calm region despite the pain.
This is a very interesting graph. This brain wave activity was recorded when subject B was practicing the Piano playing.
This brainwave was recorded over a duration of 5 minutes.
The subject was asked to play the music with eyes closed. This was the first time ever the subject has played music with eyes closed. You will notice the subject starts off and displays some really calm brainwave activity quickly as the subject gets into the flow of the music.
The subject then moves into the active state as soon as a note is missed, then refocuses and returns to calm brainwave “flow state” for about 3 min, until suddenly being distracted, wondering if the time was up and opening their eyes. At this time the brainwave goes into the Active state.
When the subject is made aware that some time remains, the subject closes eyes and goes back to playing the notes which again takes the brain activity back into a calm state.
You will notice from the above while these are two different activities, they are both performed early in the morning before the start of a busy day. Both these activities have helped keep stress levels low for just a bit longer, even if it is just 3m 17s for the 5min activity, which is a remarkable 66% compared to 62% for a 20 min meditation.
Subject B, although in the initial stage of learning to play the piano, clearly finds the activity relaxing and calming.
Comparing the active, natural and calm state of mind between the two subjects. It can be noted subject A has spent only 2 sec in the active state of mind while subject B has spent 11 sec. Which means subject A is able to recover from the wandering mind and focus on the task at hand quicker compared to subject B
From this we can deduce that cultivating, developing and carrying out an activity in a mindful way can help lower stress levels, improve focus and improve mental health.
Over the coming month we explore how different activities and meditations can impact on our brain activity and how using our breath can help us achieve a calm state of mind and lower heart rates.
As part of our 8-week mindfulness program at Wellness-me, we work with you to develop a list of activities. These activities serve as go-to pick me up mood and well-being enhancers. To find out more about our 8-week mindfulness program, and how it can benefit you directly, take a look at our Mindfulness page. We also teach meditation for beginners and lead group guided mediation
Muse measures your brain’s natural electric field from outside your head while you meditate. At the end of your session, you are presented with a graph (see below) that presents this data in a way that helps you reflect on that session. The graph divides your session into three regions:
Birds: When you find a deep, restful focus on your breath for an extended period of time, you’ll start to hear birds singing. Don’t worry, this is part of the process! Over time, you’ll learn to use the birds as a cue to settle even more deeply into focused attention.
Recoveries: Whenever you notice your mind wandering and bring your attention back, you are awarded with a recovery. Recoveries celebrate the moment when your mind traverses from active (wandering mind / fluctuating attention) to neutral (a natural state of rest). These are key to building the skill of focused attention and integrating the benefits of meditation into your daily life. Tap into your graph to see the exact moments where you recovered your attention highlighted in orange.
Calm Points: You are awarded points for every second spent meditating in a neutral and calm state. You receive 1 point per second spent in neutral and 3 points per second spent in calm.
Article Date 04-May-2021
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