Jonathan's Blog

Jonathan's Blog

Mindful Leadership and Technology (Mostly Software)


Mindfulness Biofeedback

Biofeedback and Mindfulness - When the 'Staring out the Window Test' Just Isn't Enough

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I know what I said about needing an EEG to know if I was distracted. I said that I used the 'staring out the window test' i.e. if I find myself staring out a window for 45 minutes I'm probably distracted.

So, I said that here.

And then I went and bought these anyway:

Smith Optics LowDown Focus

Why? Well because they are a gadget, which is fun. AND they are a gadget that combines mindfulness and IoT, so how could I resist?

These sunglasses use EEG sensors (provided by Muse)to understand how your brain is behaving and provide you feedback on how focused you are during training and mindfulness sessions.

I am about a week into using them and here's what I've learned so far:

  1. It takes me longer than I like to admit to get into a place where I am really centered and focused. It takes about 20 minutes. Anything less than that and my mind has not settled down.
  2. I eventually do settle into a relaxed place and able to stay calm and avoid chasing thoughts. I know instictively when this happens, but having the biofeedback is nice because it really reinforces when this is happening and when it isn't.
  3. I think that in reality I fail the window staring test during 90% of my life.
  4. I don't think that 3 has always been true.

How do I know they work? Well, I ran some tests, by which I mean that I intentionally tried to not focus, stress myself out, and flex muscles and those readings showed up as way 'off the charts' in the 'unfocused' zone. So that tends to support the idea that it is reading the right things.

When you really get into a focused place you can feel it.

Another thing that made sense is that I went for many sessions without getting any birds. Birds are a fun little badge you get when you have relativley long period (a few seconds) of good focus. I was about ready to give birds the bird.

Finally after sitting and meditating for 25 minutes and starting a second session where I felt really 'in the zone' I finally got some birds. It felt right, though clearly it indicates I am not there most of the time, and what passes for relaxation and presenence for me is often only scraping the surface.

It also means that focus and really training your attention take time to achieve, but then we all knew that didn't we. A few pictures:



More thoughts and reflections as I go along.