Perhaps you’ve seen pictures of people lying in giant machines that record brain activity; or a man running on a treadmill with dozens of little wires attached to his muscles.
These devices are usually big, expensive, and operated by people that have been taught how to use them. That could be a thing of the past.
We can now record the same activity using much smaller, inexpensive, and easy-to-use wearable technology that can easily use at home.
You attach these wearable devices to your body in order to measure physiological activity–heart rate, body temperature, respiratory rate, muscle tension, and brain waves.
This is called biofeedback. Having immediate feedback from your body can allow you to better understand and react to different mental states.
When it comes to monitoring your brain waves, this form of biofeedback is known as neurofeedback.
Imagine seeing your brainwave activity in real-time, while meditating or while feeling stressed at work, and being able to adapt what you’re doing to get better results. That’s the promise of neurofeedback.
The possibilities are endless, it’s putting our mental health and brain fitness in our own hands, where we can now see and interact with our body and mind in new and exciting ways.
The Wearable EEG Meditation Headset
Affiliate Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links, which means we may receive a small commission from your purchase. This comes at no cost to you (in some cases you get a discount) and it helps support do-it-yourself biohacking guides like this one.
Neurofeedback headsets measure your brain waves using a technology called EEG. They’re small bands that sit easily on your head and measure brainwave activity through small sensors.
EEG stands for Electroencephalography, but you’ll be forgiven for not remembering that. It measures voltage fluctuations from ionic current flows within the neurons of the brain.
The activity measured using EEG can be very detailed and complex, and dependent on the area of the brain, but a great place to start is the different levels of activity we can find:
- Gamma Waves – (31 Hz+) — Hyper alert, good for insights and higher learning.
- Beta Waves – (14 – 30 Hz) — The awake state. Engaged in activities and conversation.
- Alpha Waves – (8 – 13.9 Hz) — Relaxed, daydreaming, and meditation.
Theta Waves – (4 – 7.9 Hz) — Dreaming sleep (REM), this is the goal for meditation or self-hypnosis.
- Delta Waves – (0.1 – 3.9 Hz) — When in a deep, dreamless sleep. Newborns sleep in this stage, adults less so.
Learn how to recognize these different brain wave states so you can identify different states of consciousness when you’re in meditation.
Discover the key differences between Gamma, Beta, Alpha, Theta, and Delta brainwave patterns and the relationship between brain waves and meditation in this overview video:
Brain science is complex stuff, but interesting and well worth investigating further, of course, that’s made all the easier with the wearable EEG headsets available today, so let’s examine them:
1. Muse: The Brain Sensing Headband
The Muse 2 was originally released in 2016 and it quickly become the leading wearable EEG meditation headset for home use.
In addition to real-time monitoring of your brainwaves, the Muse also tracks your heart rate and respiration. Their iPhone and Android app are the best in class with lots of options to choose from for guided meditation experiences.
The latest version called the Muse S was released in 2020 with additional features for tracking sleep and it is much more comfortable to wear.
A Muse premium subscription costs $99/year ($11.99/month in the app). They are always adding new content and have a thriving community of brainwave hackers.
Additional third-party apps like Mind Monitor allow you to use the Muse to get live EEG brainwave data and there are also additional tools available for home-based neurofeedback.
✅ Muse helps you meditate with guided audio meditation sessions
✅ The best app, guided meditations library and third-party add-ons
✅ The Muse S is the most comfortable wearable meditation headband
❌ The Muse 2 is a little clunky and needs to be wiped down on occasion to get a reliable connection
❌ Some head movements such as yawning or sudden turning can loosen the sensors
2. Sens.ai: Personalized Brain Training
Sens.ai is the first wearable EEG headset to bring clinical-grade neurofeedback training to consumers to use at home. It is currently available for pre-order and is scheduled to be released in early 2023.
It works to stimulate your brainwaves through both audio cues and light therapy helping you to train different states of mind and rewire your brain for better cognitive performance. It also integrates heart rate variability training for improving your nervous system functioning and sleep quality.
Their guided audio brain workouts are designed to help you strengthen your ability to meditate, reduce brain fog, and improve your memory. It is also the first wearable headset to offer gamma brainwave training, which can help synchronize your brainwave activity and improve your ability to focus.
I’m really excited to try out Sens.ai when it is released in early 2023. If it can deliver on its promises then I think this will definitely be the device that I would recommend buying.
✅ The most advanced clinical-grade neurofeedback at a reasonable price
✅ Innovative photobiomodulation system using light therapy and audio cues
✅ Beautifully designed and the integrating training in the app looks great
❌ Expensive and currently only available for pre-order and shipping in early 2023
❌ The device has not been publicly released yet to be reviewed and tested
Pre-ordering is available for $1199 on the Sens.ai website.
3. Flowtime: Biosensing Meditation Headband
Flowtime is a biosensing meditation headband that first came out in 2018. It looks like it was modeled after the successful Muse Headband and it can also track heart rate, brainwaves, and respiration.
It doesn’t feel as sturdy as the Muse 2 headband and its biggest limitation is the app offers much less functionality and guided meditations than Muse.
The advantage of Flowtime over the Muse is the app makes it easier to see how your brainwaves, heart rate variability (HRV), and respiration rate change during your session and it does a slightly better job of helping you track your improvements over time than the Muse.
They offer 3 months of free meditation training in the app then charge $69/year for the guided meditation programs or you can buy monthly for $9.99/month.
✅ Slightly cheaper and similar design to the Muse 2 headband
✅ Get useful reports about your brainwaves and HRV for each session
✅ Track your improvements over time
❌ Also a little clunky, sensors are finicky and need to be wiped down on occasion
❌ Less guided audio meditations and neurofeedback trainings in the app than Muse
Available for $199 on the Flowtime website (get a 10% with our link).
4. BrainTap: The Brain Fitness Headset
The BrainTap headset uses guided visualization along with LED light therapy and frequencies of sound to shift your mind into a mental state where you feel energized, focused, and relaxed.
Launched in 2014 after decades of clinical neuropsychology research by its creator Patrick K. Porter, Ph.D. it includes over 1,800 guided audio programs that use binaural beats, isochronic tones, and 3D soundscapes.
The most interesting thing about this wearable EEG headset is that it helps you to retrain your brain to improve your body’s natural sleep pattern so you wake up feeling more refreshed each day. There have been a number of studies showing that using it can reduce jetlag and improve time spent in deep sleep.
This EEG headset seems a little expensive to me at $647 given the cheap plastic built quality and the fact that you need to pay an additional $10-30/month for the different subscriptions in their app.
✅ If you’re suffering from insomnia, this might be the best option for you.
✅ Excellent selection of 3D soundscapes and brainwave entrainment music.
❌ Cheap plastic built quality that feels a little fragile.
❌ Expensive and you have to pay an additional $12/month for the app.
Available for $647 on the BrainTap website.
5. NeuroSky MindWave Headset
Starting at $99 for the MindWave headset, or $129.99 for the bundle, this is your cheapest option.
The bundle includes a host of apps including the MyndPlay Brainwave Movie Player, which determines the edits of a movie based on your brainwave levels.
The MindWave Mobile 2 brainwave sensing headset has a huge library of apps for using it for gaming, education, and wellness.
Overall, the Muse is much more advanced in their technology and their app for iPhone And Android is much more user-friendly and offers far better guided meditation training using the device.
✅ It’s by far the cheapest option.
✅ It comes with a big library of apps and programs to run with.
✅ You can pair it with the Puzzlebox Orbit, a brain-controlled helicopter.
❌ It’s uncomfortable, with 30 minutes of use being enough to cause some people headaches.
❌ A long way off from being a fashion accessory and lacking the nice user interface of other options.
Price: $99 on MindSky’s website
The Future of Wearable Meditation Technology
It’s clear that we’re entering a new age of insight into ourselves, wearable technology and biofeedback are only going to continue to grow as new technology comes along.
Simply consider that while EEG has been around since the early 1900s, we’re at a point now where we can purchase our own devices, measure our brainwaves, and adjust our lives more effectively to deal with stress and improve our focus.
Whatever your choice of meditation headset, make sure you take full advantage of it. Life is full of stress and anxiety these days, so learning about yourself and how to overcome those problems better is going to make a huge impact on your health and happiness.