Today I did a 23 minute Muse session in the rainforest. I started calm, with multiple birds landing around me. I was counting my breaths with 1, 2. At first I was counting at the end of the breath. For some reason, that was causing me to think too much, it didn't feel natural and so I switched to counting at the beginning of the breath. Minor change and it made a huge difference. Even though the end of one breath and the beginning of the next breath is only milliseconds apart, it made a big difference. About 8 minutes in, I went into a twilight state like right before falling asleep. I wasn't tired as it was 11 AM in the morning. I don't recall much from the next few minutes and when I came out of it, the storm was much stronger and there were no birds. I started focusing on my breathing again and was able to recover and the birds starting landing again. Kind of surprising to me that during the twilight state, my mind would be so active. Pretty cool experience and one of my longer Muse sessions. I will have to do more of these long sessions and see what happens.
I just finished "Why Buddhism is True" by Robert Wright. The book discusses how evolutionary psychology reinforces many of the naturalistic elements of Buddhism. As a species, we have evolved to seek pleasure and avoid pain and that pleasure is short-lived. This aligns well with Buddha's experiential findings of taṇhā and dukkha. The book also goes into the modular concept of the mind which I had never learned about. Modules have a certain purpose and get our attention using feelings which then create thoughts. There is no executive in charge of all of these modules which leads to the observation that thoughts think themselves. Meditation can help see feelings more clearly and understand them until they lose their power to take over the mind. The book also has clear descriptions of how to think about not-self and emptiness along with the author's personal stories related to experiencing glimpses of these concepts. I really enjoyed the book and it gave me new things to work on in my own practice. For example, inspecting the feelings that are triggering thoughts can help see them more clearly, reduce (and remove) the filter that gets applied because of those feelings, and see the world more clearly.
Next up on my reading list is Buddha's Brain, the practical neuroscience of happiness, love and wisdom.
Today I did a 15 minute session with the Muse. I first woke and did suryanamaskar A and B for about 10 minutes and then directly went to a seated position, put on the Muse, set the app for 15 minutes and started. The muse allows you to choose a soundscape like the beach, the rain forest, the desert. I chose rain forest which is one of my favorites. Right away I had birds which happens often after I do yoga first. Birds landing near you indicates that you are in a calm state. I felt like I had a few recoveries during the session and ended up having a record 14m 26s of calm in 15 minutes! One of those recoveries was at the end when I was actively thinking about writing this blog. I noticed the increasing rain sounds and put focus back on my breath in order to recover. For some reason, the Muse did not consider them recoveries and gave me credit for the whole time.
Here is what the session review view looks like after finishing a session:
I find the Muse to be a great tool in a few different ways:
After doing this session, I still have a relaxed mindset even when actively engaged with writing this blog. I could see how advanced meditators can create permanent changes in their brain over time and live in a different state than most of us.
I have dabbled with meditation over the years. I have used light and sound machines as well to help me get into alpha and theta states. Recently I decided to dive back into meditation and establishing a daily practice. I started by using the Buddify app to go through guided meditations and did that for 60 days. That was really enjoyable and I started to see things that I wasn't seeing before. Recently I purchased a Muse brain-sensing headband and have been using that regularly for about 30 days. This blog is a way to keep myself engaged on the journey and share some of my learnings.
I really like the Buddify app. It helped me when being stuck on the tarmac at the airport, when waiting in lines, and any time I had a few minutes to focus on my practice. I travel a lot for work and it became a regular companion on my journeys. I started to really enjoy being stuck in traffic as it offered an opportunity to practice mindfulness.
Eric is a traveller, hacker, and experimenter who is currently researching how to become a happier, calmer, and more compassionate human being.