The benefits of meditation are well known across the spa and wellness industry and the spa clientele we often receive are becoming more knowledgeable all the time. There are many ways we can incorporate meditation into the spa experience for our guests; these include guided meditations, providing a Zen meditation space and mindfulness activities like mandala coloring, labyrinth walks etc.
If we want to encourage our guests to take it a step further we can introduce technology into their meditation practice – this may seem counter intuitive however the latest brainwave entrainment and meditation feedback devices can help those who struggle with the practice of quieting the mind.
I tested two of the latest devices aimed at improving and enhancing the practice of meditation; Muse and Elf Emmit, each of which are marketed with different, but similar purposes in mind.
Muse is a brain sensing headband that when placed across the forehead and over the ears, provides the user with live feedback via audio from the smartphone app, connecting via Bluetooth. Keep your mind calm and you will hear birds chirping above the chosen soundscape (beach, rainforest or ambient), if your mind wanders, the weather pattern gets more intense and stormy – gently reminding you to refocus.
Choose from a variety of guided meditation sessions or just select the time. The feedback graphs, tracking, awards, milestones and challenges help with motivation and keep users on track.
I found this device very easy to use and immediately enjoyed the app with the lessons, feedback and constant encouragement. I did, however, find my mind wandering at times while the birds were still chirping. Perhaps that means my mind was wandering calmly and maybe that’s ok, however, if I am aiming for true stillness of the mind I found at times this was not reflected in the feedback.
Elf Emmit is a small headband that connects to the audio jack of your smartphone and uses extra-low frequency electromagnetic pulses. These propose to influence the frequencies of your mind to speed up or slow down, helping you meditate, sleep, focus or learn faster.
The app is basic, switch to the program you want and start, there is nothing on the headset to show that it is working and as nothing is felt from the frequencies used, you really just have to trust the device.
A quick search online provides a variety of feedback, from those with personal stories of success, criticisms over quality and fragility and seemingly scientifically based explanations of why it won’t work. So, can those experiencing beneficial results really be wrong? Not necessarily. The placebo effect is powerful and what the mind believes will influence the outcome time and time again. Unfortunately, I read some of these reviews before using the device!
Testing the two together:
The scientist in me wanted to know if the Elf Emmit really could influence my brain patterns and improve meditation so I decided to use the two devices at the same time. This cannot be done on the same device as you need the headphone jack for ELF Emmit and the sound from the speaker for Muse. I connected the MUSE to a separate tablet and had both devices nearby and meditated for three sessions each time – alternating with and without the ELF, always using the MUSE to track.
Just based on averages of two criteria, calm points and birds(both achieved when maintaining a calm state of mind) I saw an improvement when using the ELF. This rudimentary experiment gives me hope that the ELF Emmit really is working and as I write this article I have it set to ‘Improve focus’. Maybe this effect is a placebo and wearing the device acts as a reminder, but if the desired effect is achieved, why not embrace it?
Average calm points with ELF: 953
Average calm points without ELF: 909
Average birds with ELF: 57
Average birds without ELF: 47
My recommendation for spas
Based on the ease of use, sturdy design and high tech app, I would recommend Muse to those looking to begin or improve their meditation practice, those motivated by challenges and goals and those interested in seeing basic neurofeedback.
Have one available at the spa and invite guests to try it out in the relaxation or meditation area. Make sure they are available in the retail area for those who decide to continue the practice at home.