The benefits of meditation are endless. Better sleep, increased concentration, impulse control, and more.
But when we talk about “seeing your feelings”, what do we really mean and why is that important?
Your feelings are measurable.
The first step in controlling your feelings is measuring them.
Feelings have physiological effects on the body which are easily measured. For example, a calm feeling appears as slower brainwave activity in the frontal lobe and a lower heart rate.
Neuroscientists use an EEG to evaluate the electrical activity in the brain by placing electrodes on the scalp.
Luckily, consumer wearables, such as an EEG headband are more widely accessible in order to gather an overview of brain activity. These consumer headbands cannot capture all areas of your brain like a full 19 sensor EEG cap and can also be subject to artifacts like blinking or forehead tension. So while not giving you a complete picture, these headbands can give you a helpful snapshot of your brainwave patterns.
Apple Watch is available for heart rate monitoring. While the data from a consumer wearable is not diagnostic, it is valuable as a self-awareness tool to better understand how your brain patterns and heart rate react to your thoughts.
Healium AR can be paired with an Apple Watch or EEG headband. Healium VR can be paired with an EEG headband.
The headband has three sensors that are located on the strap that go across your forehead, essentially monitoring your brain’s electrical activity.
Through this neurofeedback connection, a representation of your brain patterns is displayed visually in near real-time within the Healium’s VR and AR apps.
For focus, you want your slow brain waves (theta) to go down and your fast brain waves (beta) to go up. Ideally, the frontal lobe needs to be engaged.
For calm, you want the opposite; you’re trying to reduce fast, high beta activity in the frontal lobe.
The algorithms built into the app take these ratios into account. Inside the Healium app, you’ll see a firefly go above the baseline when this criteria is met, meaning you’re successfully meeting the mark for calm, focus, or a lowered heart rate.
Neurofeedback tells you it’s working.
If you’ve ever attempted meditation before, you might have given in to the distractions around you or found it hard to focus.
With feedback displayed to you in real-time, you know whether or not you’re hitting the mark. Are you recalling a calm memory? Are you letting your mind wander?
Feedback lets you know if the experience is working. This can lead to an advanced mindfulness practice with an enhanced awareness of your mind / body connection.
The ability to be guided back to the goal makes it attainable and encouraging when you’re doing well. Many Healium users report the same experience.
Ellen, who has been a subscriber to Healium for several months, says, “Healium is my first real VR experience and it’s easy to use for what I call my own self-care. As someone who has managed with anxiety and depression my whole life, the experiences are calming, lovely, peaceful, and truly relaxing.”
As an added psychological boost, you’ll feel rewarded when you maintain your firefly above the baseline.
Perception of changes
Interestingly, our perception isn’t always accurate. In a study conducted by the NeuroMeditation Institute, users reported how they felt before and after using the Healium AR app.
Everyone reported decreases in negative emotions and increases in positive emotions, regardless of whether they were using biofeedback or not. However, participants using biofeedback showed changes in their physiology whereas the other group didn’t.
That’s where biofeedback can help improve your experience with meditation and stress relief.
What you’re thinking you’re feeling vs what you’re actually feeling isn’t always connected.
Feelings can be controlled. They don’t happen to us. But with biofeedback you can control anything you can measure. Remember that your thoughts have power…in the virtual world and in the real world as well.