The Pros and Cons of Meditation Gadgets

Meditation has historically required a place to sit, a little time, and perhaps a good teacher to help you get started. However, that perfect formula has evolved with the increasing popularity of meditation. These days, it can be a little more complicated.

Different devices and gadgets have flooded the marketplace all aimed at helping people meditate. The list of devices focused on meditation can be overwhelming. Before you buy, check out this review on four devices—Spire, Thync, Muse, and Melomind—that should help you figure out if it’s worth the investment.

The Skinny: The Thync system is designed to deliver pulsed neurostimulation waveforms to modify your mental and physical state. It’s a wearable device that attaches to your forehead with flexible circuits that hook to the back of your ear or the back of your neck. The Thync app connects to your phone via Bluetooth on both iPhone and Andriod smartphones.

How It Works: There are two programs to choose from: calm and energy. The calm program is designed to help you sleep or relax. The energy program works by stimulating the fight-flight response to help the body produce adrenaline.

Thync says the device helps you get calm or energized without the use of drugs or pills. The company says it’s safe because the low-grade electrical impulses did not have to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The company also claims that the “Vibe Strips” (which attach to the back of the ear or the neck) are designed to chemically change during the use to make it safe and comfortable.

Shortfalls: The website contains a list of warnings about those who should not use Thync. While the company claims that it’s safe, it’s not recommended for people who faint, have been treated for anxiety, have a cardiac pacemaker or implanted defibrillator, have seizures or epilepsy, have joint disorders, Bell’s Palsy, impaired cranial nerve function, or are pregnant or nursing. It’s also not recommended for children under the age of 18 years old.

Reviewers say that while customer service is excellent and videos explaining how to attach Thync are thorough, the device is difficult to attach. The device looks rather space age and might prevent you from wearing it in public, unlike other devices.

Users have reported that the sticky pad on the forehead piece is sometimes difficult to stick and feels as if it might fall off. The biggest red flag is that some users have experienced burns from the circuit pads on the neck and back of the ear. In addition, Thync only works in about 80 percent of users.

Another downside to Thync is the ongoing cost. The circuit strips are only designed for one use. While the website claims that the strips evolve and get smarter with use, you are supposed to throw them away after one use. A package of five strips costs about $20.

Where It Shines: Even with the high cost and difficulty in putting on the device, happy users claim that it has helped reduce the need for certain medications such as anxiety and sleep medications.

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