For some, the practice of meditation has negative connotations associated with new-age religions. And considering the practice has been endlessly promoted by conmen and religious hucksters as a way to achieve supernatural abilities, this negativity should come as no surprise.
But in reality, meditation is an ancient practice that, in one way or another, has been used by most of the world's mainstream religions. In its most basic form, meditation is nothing more than the act of consciously attempting to clear one's mind and achieve emotional calm. In fact, when you boil it down, the basic act of meditation isn't that different from what millions of non-practitioners already do while attempting to unwind (running, sitting quietly, spacing out to music, etc.).
While basic meditation isn't going to help you levitate or communicate with others via mental telepathy, it does offer tangible benefits. According to various studies, practicing meditation can, among other things, improve both physical and mental health, boost self control, and improve productivity. Some studies even indicate that long-term meditation may benefit the composition of your brain.
Given the documented benefits of meditation, it's not surprising that (despite the scammers who have exploited the practice) interest in meditation is on the rise – and so is the number of companies seeking to support this growing trend. While none of these products are necessary for meditation, they could aid in your meditative pursuits.
MUSE: The Brain Sensing Headband
The Muse Brain Sensing Headband bills itself as a "personal meditation assistant" that helps guide users to a calmer mind. The app-controlled device purportedly senses the real-time state of a user's brain, and then uses that data to select which meditative sounds will be heard through the accompanying headphones. As a result, users "experience all the benefits of meditation – such as relaxation, improved mood and reduced stress – with none of the uncertainty."
The product also offers "personalized tracking, motivational challenges, and rewards that encourage you to build a more regular and effective practice." As a result, users can "improve [their] meditation practice in as little as 3 minutes a day – any time, anywhere."
Unlike the other products on this list, the Gravity Weighted Sleep Mask doesn't come with wires or LED lights, but its benefits are rooted in science. The mask is built to evenly distribute 0.75-1lb of weight lightly across your face, helping to calm the nervous system by engaging key relaxation pressure points. It leverages deep touch pressure stimulation, a well-regarded therapeutic method that stimulates points on the body linked to improved sleep, mood, and relaxation. While it's billed as a sleep mask, this all makes it a great tool for meditation.
Deep touch pressure stimulation has been shown to increase serotonin and melatonin, the hormones responsible for calming relaxation, while decreasing cortisol, the hormone responsible for stress. This natural, physiological approach decreases heart rate, blood pressure, and more, improving mood and promoting restful sleep and relaxation. The design of the mask also ensures all light is blocked out.
MindPlace Kasina DeepVision Bundle
Traditionally, the term "kasiṇa" refers to a colorful, circular object such as a disk which is used as a meditation aid. While references to kasina can be found in some of the earliest Buddhist texts, modern audio-visual technology is putting a futuristic spin on this ancient technique.
MindPlace, a Washington-based company that has been developing meditation aids since 1988, has combined two of its most popular products in the Kasina DeepVision Bundle. First, the Kasina Mind Media System uses back-lit, LCD display glasses, and high-quality headphones to provide users with a synchronized light and sound experience. Next, the Kasina DeepVision Ganzfeld Display takes the experience to a whole new level by blocking out ambient light and filling the user's entire field of view "with pure, jewel-like colors and dancing patterns." As a result, the Kasina DeepVision Bundle allows quick access to deep, tranquil states and greatly reduces the distractions of the outside world.
AcousticSheep SleepPhones Wireless
AcousticSheep SleepPhones were invented by a family physician with the goal of helping patients fall asleep faster without the use of sleeping pills. However, while the product might be geared toward people with insomnia and other sleep-related issues, it also works as a highly effective meditation aid.
AcousticSheep SleepPhones feature ultra thin, high-quality, Bluetooth-enabled speakers which are tucked inside a lightweight, machine washable headband. As a result, users can listen to calming music or other meditation-related audio wirelessly, without the need for uncomfortable headphones or bulky earbuds. As an added bonus, the product also doubles as an eye mask, which makes it even easier to focus inward.
DAVID Delight Pro with Multi-Color Eyeset
Like some of the other products on this list, the DAVID Delight Pro with Multi-Color Eyeset combines light and sound to create a sensory experience conducive to meditation and relaxation. However, unlike its competitors, this patented product also has a dual frequency brain stimulator with "a proprietary randomization process, which helps encourage dissociation and brain frequency tracking to the stimulus."
According to MindAlive, the creators of the device, it can also be used to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder, stress, ADD, and many other ailments. But because it also (optionally) features cranial-electro stimulation (CES), a small, pulsed electrical current generated directly onto your head, it's not recommended for anyone with a history of epilepsy or seizures unless it is used under strict medical supervision.
As mentioned above, the products we've covered aren't necessary for the practice of meditation. In fact, meditation requires nothing but an open mind. But for anyone interested in using technology as a meditative aid, these products are a great place to start.
Futurism fans: To create this content, a non-editorial team worked with an affiliate partner. We may collect a small commission on items purchased through this page. This post does not necessarily reflect the views or the endorsement of the Futurism.com editorial staff.