Putting your heart and brain into #meditating

Putting your heart and brain into meditating June 14, 2016 by Sharon Aschaiek Putting your heart and brain into meditating Credit: University of Toronto Want to get better at meditating? Try taking a selfie. That’s how it works with Wildflowers Mindfulness, a new meditation app that uses your mobile device’s camera as a touchless heartrate detector. You photograph your face before and after a guided meditation, and it analyzes subtle colour changes in your face caused by your heart beat to determine your pulse. A second option involves photographing your finger with the flash on – this lets the camera capture the different shades of blood inside, which relate to different heart rates. If your pulse is lower after a session, it could mean that it had a calming effect. “The general goal of meditation is to promote relaxation, and a lot of that comes from anecdotal evidence,” says UTM psychology professor Norman Farb, who consulted on the app’s development for Toronto technology firm Mobio Interactive. “This app provides biometric data that lets users better understand the consequences of the technique.” Those consequences can also be measured by the app’s other innovative biofeedback function: measuring the electrical activity of your brain. If you wear an EEG headset that’s compatible with the app, it can study your brain waves to determine whether your mind is focused and calm, or distracted and anxious. The app also lets you also track your mood immediately before and after a meditation session by tapping options such as tense, excited, satisfied and gloomy, and also by typing in how you feel. The app stores and...