Healing Rhythms

Zack Stern's picture

Healing Rhythms

You can practice meditation techniques with biofeedback from these sensors.

 

To us, biofeedback has always seemed like the natural direction for input devices, where sensors can hook up to your body and read subtle changes in brain activity that would control what’s displayed on the computer—or, in our most advanced sci-fi fantasies—what the computer does. Companies such as NeuroSky (www.neurosky.com) are developing EEG brainwave-reading systems to control machines. These applications could eventually lead to a retail product that lets you move the cursor with your mind. Healing Rhythms introduces us to a few other biofeedback sensors designed to teach users about meditation and quieting the mind and body. The hardware and software don’t control the Mac otherwise, but instead monitor your responses as you move through various exercises. We got a kick out of watching the software change with biofeedback, and we even learned a few useful basic meditation techniques in the process.

 

The Healing Rhythms hardware-and-software bundle includes three sensors that attach to your fingertips. These clips measure your skin conductance level and variations in heart rate. Skin conductance changes with subtle variations in perspiration. When this factor rises and falls—almost instantaneously with your emotional state—the software interprets it as an increase or decrease in stress. Heart rate variability marks the subtly fluctuating time between heartbeats. This measurement also changes with emotional states and might indicate your ability to control your normally autonomic circulatory functions during a meditation session.

 

While we’re naturally skeptical, Healing Rhythms seemed to accurately, though subtly, monitor our stress level. Celebrity healers Deepak Chopra, Dean Ornish, and Andrew Weil introduced us to breathing and meditation techniques, while the onscreen display showed us our levels of agitation or calm. While we didn’t notice a change in the display with every thought, one demonstration raised animated balloons when we thought of something exciting, and let them drift down when we thought of nothing. Another lesson challenged us to keep an even temperament, stacking animated stones if we maintained that balance.

 

Dozens of short exercises guided us through this introduction to meditation. We liked the way the real-time, onscreen feedback tempered the occasionally broad statements about meditation. We’ll leave it up to the yogis and doctors to determine if, as the manual suggests, “Studies [indicate] that when you achieve a state of positive, balanced energy, those vibrations ripple outward…even affecting the brainwaves of anyone you touch.”

 

The bottom line. We’re not sure if Healing Rhythms will lead to enlightenment, but despite our initial skepticism, we enjoyed the calming meditation and onscreen biofeedback.

 

COMPANY: The Wild Divine Project

CONTACT: www.wilddivine.com

PRICE: $299

REQUIREMENTS: 800MHz G4 or faster processor, Mac OS 10.2.8 or later

Biofeedback sensors seem to gauge emotional state. Many brief lessons and open-ended sessions. Some lessons translate biofeedback into onscreen animations.

Proprietary interface is occasionally confusing. Some lessons grow repetitive.

 

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