I will be your guinea pig

Every day quote - Russell Simmons

It should come as no surprise to ANYONE that I’m nerdy as hell. I love science-y things. I may struggle with the theoretical and mathematical stuff, but give me an explanation of how something works? I’m entranced.

I had some difficulty reconciling my “spiritual journey” with my skeptical, science-y side for a long time. Sure, there are many things on this earth that we are incapable of explaining. And it’s totally fine with me to assign them mystical meanings or call them miracles or whatever.

However you really can’t beat scientific evidence. Yogic asanas, acupuncture, meditation. At this point, so many things that – 10 or 15 years ago – were seen as fringe/counter-culture, are now mainstream. Not only that but they are touted by scientific and medical experts and fully (or at least somewhat) supported by compelling scientific evidence.

Phew! Good news for that skeptical, little ratfink who lives inside my head. You know, the one who whispers things like, “Go on and get that Reiki certification, you hippie. Then you can file it away with astrology, spirit guides, voodoo and homeopathy. And while you’re at it, I have a bridge you might be interested in buying.”

The truth is, my middle name isn’t Moonbeam and I have no interest in living on a commune.

But. BUT. I am so fascinated by spiritual stuff that jives with neuroscience. And even more thrilled by an opportunity to try it myself. I have a long history of struggling with my brain (anxiety, depression, faulty brain chemicals?) and the idea of being able to hack it seems kind of neat.

While I wouldn’t go so far as to connect a port, Matrix-style, there are less invasive and creepy ways of self-experimenting with neuroscientific stuff. I’m not ready for tDCS – I can’t even get a pop-tart out of the toaster oven without hurting myself so I’m probably not ready for self-administered electricity to my skull.

However, wearable (and non-invasive!) devices like Emotiv’s products let us see what our brain is actually up to. Like while we’re meditating or having a super flowy creative session. Kind like a FitBit for your brain. And Brain.fm lets us tweak what our brain is up to by using brainwave entrainment.

I wrote about brainwave entrainment on the old blog. I may not have gotten all the deets correct. For instance, binaural beats requires headphones. So my blissed out trainees described in the post were most likely not enjoying the real effects of theta entrainment. At least not from binaural beats.

Anyway, long story short, I’ve subscribed to Brain.fm for a year (ends up being about $47) and I’ve been experimenting with the intense focus sessions while I’m working. I’m planning on using the meditation tracks during my daily meditations as well. The app is in beta but I always feel like that’s a great time to get in on the action.

I’m also saving up for an Emotiv Insight. The EEG-less one is somewhat within my budget but I really think the EEG version is the way to go for this kind of wearable technology.

So there you have it. I intend to be your guinea pig, friends. Stay tuned for reports from the front.

(No spiritual cynics will be harmed during this experimentation.)

Now, I’d love to hear what you think! Do you have a FitBit or a Jawbone? Do you think stuff like Emotiv’s products are a logical next step in wearable tech? Do you have any experience with brainwave entrainment – e.g. binaural beats or other rhythmic stimuli?

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