Fearproof Your Brain, Stress-Inoculation Tips, The Marriage Of Meditation & Technology, Digital Sleeping Pills & Much More With Ariel Garten.

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How To Meditate
Biohacking, Brain, Mental Health, Mind-Spirit, Podcast, Podcast-new, Self-Development, Self-Quantification, Sleep

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“A calmer, more relaxed version of you awaits.”

That's what the makers of my Muse, my favorite new toy, claim on their website – and I have to say, Muse delivers. 

Muse is a “brain-sensing” headband that uses real-time biofeedback to help you refocus during the day and recover overnight. It doesn't merely soothe with nature sounds; it redefines mindfulness by responding to changes in your brain and body activity in real-time. At the heart of this revolutionary device is an app that provides in-depth insights into your progress, offering tangible evidence of your journey toward mental mastery.

So, how does Muse work?

Here's the basic rundown: Muse connects to your mobile device via Bluetooth. Once connected, you simply start up the Muse Meditation app, put on your headphones, and close your eyes. Once your session is complete, you can review your results and track your progress.

My guest on this podcast is Ariel Garten, the founder of InteraXon, maker of Muse. Ariel studied neuroscience at the University of Toronto and worked in labs at Toronto’s Krembil Neuroscience Centre, researching Parkinson’s disease and hippocampal neurogenesis. No mere science nerd, Ariel is a fashion designer whose clothing opened Toronto Fashion Week in 2003 and has had her work displayed at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Ariel’s distinctive combination of science and art is integral to the design of Muse and to InteraXon’s unique approach to brain sensing technology. Ariel was also a therapist in private practice. As well as her full-time position at Muse, Ariel keynotes around the world on technology, mindfulness, and entrepreneurship and supports and advises a variety of start-ups.

Having worked with BCI technology since 2003 in the lab of Dr. Steve Mann, Ariel recognized the opportunity to commercialize technology that would fundamentally disrupt multiple markets. She co-founded InteraXon to this end, in 2009. InteraXon debuted with the creation of “Bright Ideas,”​ Ontario's feature showcase at the 2010 Winter Olympics, where visitors in Vancouver got to control the lights on the CN Tower, Niagara Falls, and the Canadian Parliament buildings with their minds, from across the country.

Ariel and her team are merging technology, neuroscience, art, and design. Ariel and Muse are regularly lauded in global media: CNN, Forbes, Popular Science, CNET, CNBC, VentureBeat, TechCrunch, Wall Street Journal Tech. The Huffington Post calls it “the beautiful headband that will make you smarter.”

During my discussion with Ariel today, we'll dive deep into the world of meditation, dissecting how it can bring serenity to an active mind, and exploring its tangible effects on your overall well-being. Ariel will help me unravel the mysteries of how Muse works, turning the complex science of brain activity into a device you can hold in your hand. Lastly, we'll venture into the synergy of meditation with supplements, smart drugs, nootropics, and adaptogens – exploring the exciting possibilities of enhancing mental performance. 

During our discussion, you'll discover:

Muse and its creator Ariel Garten…01:18

  • Muse (use code BENGREENFIELD to save 20%)
    • Headband that senses your brain and provides biofeedback
  • Different features:
    • Digital sleeping pills
    • Guided meditation
    • Track what's going on in your brain
  • Intersection between biofeedback and meditation
  • Ariel Garten
    • One of the world's leading experts on biofeedback meets meditation
    • Founder of InterAxon – make Muse
    • Has a background in neuroscience at the University of Toronto
    • Researching Parkinson's disease and hippocampal neurogenesis
  • Ariel has also been into fashion design
    • Clothing line that was sold to stores in Toronto and New York
    • Help people understand who they are, how their brain and bodywork
  • Thousands of studies demonstrate the impact of meditation on the brain and the body
  • Trained as a therapist and had a private practice for a decade
    • Teaching people to meditate
    • Sucked at meditation herself
    • Decided to build a tool that would help her meditate

-How meditation helps with a highly active brain…08:05

  • Ben developed most of his ideas by sitting quietly in the morning
  • Ariel had problems with focusing, her mind wandered
    • Meditation enabled her to bring her mind back from wandering
  • Meditation or quiet time and exercise – trains Ben’s brain’s distractibility
  • Prefrontal cortex is the executive control center of your brain
    • Responsible for attention and inhibition
  • The brain that bounces all over the place
    • Meditation improves the function of that part of the brain
  • Problems with poor attention, poor inhibition, and hyperactive attention switching
  • Dr. Sarah Lazar study – looks at long-term meditators and what happens to their brain
  • As you age, the prefrontal cortex thins, and its function decreases
    • Meditation makes the brain younger and helps with attention and focus
  • Meditation vs. brain training games
    • Brain training is a very specific workout for very specific parts and functions of the brain
    • Meditation training is like a global workout for the brain
    • The effects of brain games in the real world
  • Brain games
  • Training new skills in anything you do increases neuroplasticity
  • Meditation is different than brain games
  • The downregulation in the amygdala
  • Long-term meditators show a decrease in the level of activity and the size of the amygdala

-More about meditation's effects on the amygdala and prefrontal cortex…18:00

  • Alex Honnold, rock climber
    • Low fear response
  • The downregulation in the amygdala
    • Long-term meditators show a decrease in the level of activity and the size of the amygdala
    • Dropping down your fear response, dropping down your cortisol reactions
    • Generally improving your sympathetic and parasympathetic tone
  • The amygdala is the fear center of the brain
  • As your fear decreases, you can reach higher heights in your life
  • The prefrontal cortex has a projection to the amygdala
    • The prefrontal cortex is the parent, and the amygdala is the child
  • With a longer-term meditation process, the prefrontal cortex is able to better down-regulate the amygdala
  • In meditation practice, what we learn to do is to observe the sensations in our body
    • As a meditator, you don't go, “I'm afraid, this is awful,” – you go, “Hey, I'm feeling some sensation.”
  • People are often overwhelmed with feelings that stimulate thoughts about feelings
    • Thoughts cause more emotional arousal
  • In meditation, you learn to observe your thoughts and not buy into them
  • If Ariel had a motto for life, it would be: “Feel the fear and do it anyway”
  • Those who are able to succeed in life are those who are able to sit through discomfort
  • Breathing and cold tub
  • As soon as you feel afraid of something, dive into that thing
    • That’s the way to break it
  • Stop Living on Autopilot by Anthony Neves

-What does meditation really do?…26:25

  • Meditation is not simply having no thoughts
  • Is a moving meditation a thing?
    • Depends what your mind is doing during the practice
  • Meditation is not about the mind going blank
    • It’s about being able to observe your mental space and focus on one thing
  • There are many different forms of meditation
    • Focused attention meditation
    • Moving meditation
  • In meditation, you are fully engaged in one thing
    • But that thing is not your thoughts
  • Move your mind away from it and back to your breath
  • Building our metacognition
    • The awareness that your mind wanders, and then the choice to move attention elsewhere
  • Ben’s experience with Transcendental Meditation (TM)
  • Podcast with Philip Land:
  • The object of your attention – the thing you return back to, to anchor your attention on
  • Meditation is a simple activity that leads to incredible transformation
  • Most of us just go through our life on autopilot
  • The action of noticing your mind has wandered onto a thought and choosing to bring it back
  • Liberating yourself from this endless stream of thought controlling your life
  • Becoming the master of your thinking rather than subjected to it
    • It is building what we call metacognition, seeing your thoughts – the awareness of your thinking
  • What does Ben do with thoughts he wants to remember during meditation?
    • Voice recording and visualization
    • Memory palace technique
  • Ariel writes it down or gives it a number
  • Walking meditation
    • Taking every step mindfully, feeling every step
  • Meditation is the practice that you do, the sitting, the going to the gym that builds the skill of mindfulness
  • Mindfulness is the present-moment awareness of your thoughts, feelings, sensations, environment

-The impact of meditation on the hippocampus and other benefits…39:36

-How does Muse work?…44:36

  • Muse (use code BENGREENFIELD to save 20%)
    • A clinical-grade EEG in a little headband
    • Gives real-time neurofeedback on your mind during meditation
    • Used by probably a thousand different research labs with 200 published papers
    • When using the Muse meditation app, get real-time neurofeedback on your mind during meditation
    • When your mind wanders, you get an audio cue that your mind has wandered
    • Data shows you what your brain was doing during the course of your meditation
    • Sensors 
      • Photoplethysmography (PPG) sensor for the heart
      • Movement sensors for your breath
      • Movement sensors track your body position orientation, gyroscope
  • Ben’s experience with Muse
  • Muse gives audio feedback and bio neurofeedback
    • The sounds you are hearing are always responding to your brain
  • The sleep session and the meditation session
    • Tracking not only meditation but also sleep
  • Muse S and Muse S Gen 2 is like there is a sleep lab in your own bed
    • Have the ability to track sleep as effectively as going to a sleep lab with a real polysomnography system
  • Whoop
  • Oura ring
  • Muse has partners at the University of Ottawa and Rural Mental Health Center who have used Muse alongside a PSG to demonstrate the accuracy of data
  • Muse as a digital sleeping pill
    • Tracking your level of sleep
      • Guided audio changes based on your brain, heart, breath, and body
    • As it sees you begin to enter into first stage of sleep, it starts to change the audio
      • Once you're asleep, the audio shuts off
      • Throughout the night, it’s tracking your sleep
      • If you wake up, it waits a few minutes for you to fall asleep again on your own
      • If you don't, it automatically brings in the same audio cue
  • Improves sleep quality by 20%
  • Muse gathers brain data, sending it to the phone, which does the processing
  • Plug your own headphones into the phone or listen to the audio using the speaker
  • Nucalm
  • BrainTap
  • Keeping the headband in place

– Stacking with supplements, smart drugs, nootropics, adaptogens…58:12

-The Mind Monitor app…1:01:04

  • Mind Monitor – a third-party app
  • If you want to just look at your brain waves and see what happens with your brain
  • Shows your level of alpha, beta, theta, and delta brain waves
  • Gives you all the raw Muse data so you can see your raw brainwave
  • Great tool for biohacking play and experimentation 

-Future plans for Muse…1:02:47

  • A lot of people that have been using Muse headbands for VR
  • Developers have created amazing VR apps 
  • Lots of studies have been done with Muse
    • Mayo Clinic
    • Bringing meditation and the device into the medical sphere properly
  • Muse Connect
  • Programs for clinicians
  • Programs for companies
  • Heads Up 
  • Meditation enhancement chip technology
  • Muse is Ben’s new favorite toy

-And much more…

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Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

Resources from this episode:

– Ariel Garten:

– Podcasts:

– Other Resources:

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Do you have questions, thoughts, or feedback for Ariel Garten or me? Leave your comments below, and one of us will reply!

Ask Ben a Podcast Question

16 thoughts on “Fearproof Your Brain, Stress-Inoculation Tips, The Marriage Of Meditation & Technology, Digital Sleeping Pills & Much More With Ariel Garten.

  1. Betsy says:

    I enrolled in their $399 per year Professional Pro program so I can try it out and use the band with clients. It’s supposed to come with 1 hour training and special pricing to get headbands to clients. No one from the company will email me, answer any questions, enroll me in the training. 100% crickets. I was hopeful about Muse but I am not interested anymore. I am going to submit it to my credit card company for a refund at this point and check out the other similar technologies. I even contacted their Professional Pro facebook group for help, same thing over there, crickets. I can’t reach anyone to help me. Very interesting way to connect or rather not connect with clients. I guess if it works for them… who am I to say.

  2. Gram says:

    Uh hmm… Excuse me Ben; being concerned about electromagnetic radio-frequency radiation makes someone a ‘freak’? Electromagnetic pollution and radiation sickness is a very real experience for 100,000s millions more undiagnosed?), including children. I ‘suffered’ with electrical hyper-sensitivity (EHS) for 7 years, with symptoms of tinnitus, (24/7, crazy-making!), migraines, brain fog, insomnia, heart palpitations, tingling fingers/hands, stress over how/where to live and earn income, plus extreme anxiety from all of the above.

    Learning about you and your hands-on parenting style, I envied YOUR children for having such a conscious and fun dad. But I fear for them when I read articles like this and see all the wireless devices you promote. I fear for all children, all of humanity — as the Transhuman Agenda subtly slithers into our lives.

    1. Ben Greenfield says:

      The “tin foil hat freak” comment is meant to be tongue-in-cheek. According to some scientists, EMFs can affect your body’s nervous system function and cause damage to cells — and that’s no joke.

  3. Mark R says:

    Thanks Ben another great podcast. I didn’t realize the benefits of meditation for the brain health. I recommend everyone listen to this podcast.

    1. Ben Greenfield says:

      appreciate the feedback Mark!

  4. Doug says:

    What was the name of that book Ben mentioned that he was straining to see on his top shelf that he wants to read again?

    1. Ben Greenfield says:

      It’s called “Stop Living Your Life on Autopilot.” I’m not big into self-improvement books because I think mostly they’re just an echo chamber but this one was amazing and visits some of the practical applications behind running towards fear, embracing discomfort and using that not only to grow as a person but also as a stress inoculation strategy or fear inoculation strategy ——

      1. Gram says:

        Funny that all Self-help books are written by someone else!!! 😂

    2. Cara L Zaller says:

      Stop living on autopilot

  5. TC says:

    Does the Muse band emit EMF? I thought I read somewhere it did.

    1. Ben Greenfield says:

      For those of you who are tin foil hat wearing EMF mitigation freaks, all the sessions are downloadable, which is kind of my first requirement when I saw the app was I had to be able to download the sessions. So if you want to use that extra phone or extra iTouch to use your Muse, that’s the way you can do it.

      1. Cara L Zaller says:

        Can you use it for sleep on airplane mode?

    2. Gram says:

      ALL wireless devices emit EMF. I tested EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE after I purchased an EMF meter. I found things/areas that I didn’t know were emitting high EMFs, that I could then mitigate. I found things/areas that I feared were high-risk, that weren’t, that I could then relax about. Excellent investment in this day of ubiquitous WiFi, bad electrical wiring/grounding, and electric everything! I recommend a Tri-Field meter, which measures 3 things: magnetic, electric and radio frequency/microwave radiation.

      1. Ben I enjoyed this podcast immensely! Ariel’s comments about Muse’s comparability to a sleep lab intrigued me to check it out. Thanks for the workaround for the EMF concerns.

        My remaining question is related to quite a number of negative reviews on Amazon for muse, saying there are connectivity issues, especially using it during the night. I wonder if you discovered any workaround for that problem? I’d love to switch over from my aura ring to Muse.

        Thanks for all you do!

        1. Ben Greenfield says:

          My team reached out to the Muse Customer Care team and this was their response: “…Majority of sensor disconnections are related to poor fit and/or band assembly. Bluetooth disconnections during a night session may typically be related to Bluetooth permission adjustments, low battery or other devices close by causing interruptions to signal. The Muse team is easy to reach and always happy to investigate and troubleshoot accordingly should they experience any connection issues during their sessions.” If you still have additional questions feel free to reach out directly: customercare (at) choosemuse.com

  6. Anthony Guastella says:

    Your not concerned at all with a GMO probiotic?

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