How Music and a Special Pillow Turned Guided Meditation Into Something I Actually Enjoy
I always say that I'm going to meditate more: not just sit there cross-legged hum-whispering "om" under my breath, but being still and calm no matter how loud my mind races. What I've learned from trying to meditate daily in the past is that I'm not particularly good at shutting off my thoughts and zoning in on my breathing in a quiet room. But, as Casey Urban, a yoga teacher of 10 years, said in a previous interview, that takes time — and a lot of it. "People wake up early to meditate and they get frustrated when they can't quite focus on the breath the whole time," she said. "But it takes years and years and years to build a strong, steady practice."
I need moments of pause that aren't overcome by jarring silence. That's why Wave, a newly-launched guided meditation experience that lets you rest against a pillow and not only tune into beats of your choice, but feel the music as it plays, seemed like a great idea to test out. Studies claim that meditation in general can reduce anxiety, stress, and pain. It can also lower blood pressure and aid in better sleep. These proven benefits have always been in the back of my mind, and the fact that Wave includes music and an actual pillow made me all the more excited to give it a try. Ahead, check out everything you need to know about Wave and my thoughts on using it.
How Does Wave Work?
Wave comes in three parts: the bolster, a narrow pillow that you can lie on or prop up behind you while you're seated; headphones; and an app that holds all of the music options. You'll also get a charger for the bolster and, according to the Wave website, a stand to put the bolster on when you're not using it. (For my press loan, Wave sent me everything except for the stand.) You connect the bolster to your Bluetooth, put the headphones on, position the bolster against your back, and pick a track of your choice.
The cool thing about Wave is that when you listen to tracks — new guided meditation albums for any kind of mood are added each month — you can feel vibrations through the pillow. Mason Levey, CEO and founder of Wave, told POPSUGAR that tactile transducers in the bolster, also called "bass shakers," create the vibrations and "immersive" feeling with the bass. And the music featured on the app, he said, is recorded from scratch.
"We collaborate on each album with meditation experts who have been trained," Mason said. These people include Rachel Webb of Three Jewels, Ally Bogard, and Nate Macanian. Each track uses meditation techniques such as visualizations, breathing exercises, and body scans.
Did I Like Wave?
"We found music is one of the top things people use to inspire and empower their minds," Mason said. "We also found that vibrations help a lot to keep you present during meditation." That's what I found to be true on my own. I'm not going to say that I didn't open my eyes during some of the sessions even though they were short, because I did — I'm still learning to stay patient. But, I can say that the combination of calming music and vibrations made me more focused on my breath and held my most intrusive thoughts about work and life stressors at bay. The people leading the guided meditations did a nice job of giving instructions and letting the music play without interruption at times.
You can change the vibration intensity on your bolster, but I kept mine on the highest setting. It stimulated my senses in a good way. I was taking deep inhales and exhales as instructed and, at the same time, I was also drawn to the sensation of the beats washing over my spine. The vibrations, too, are different for each track. For example, an eight-minute track about love that I tried first seemed to have softer vibrations than a 12-minute track on being present. (The vibrations left me feeling so calm during one track on relaxation, that I almost fell asleep.)
Sitting up straight during meditation or yoga can hurt my upper back, but being able to rest against this pillow made the whole experience less intimidating and, importantly, easier to stick with. Playing these tracks before bed was extra calming since I was coaxed away from my thoughts (for the most part) and toward how my body felt, almost like that serene feeling that washes over you during a light massage.
Would I Recommend Wave?
The price is a little hefty: the Wave app is $10 per month (you're charged 30 days after your Wave is delivered) and the Wave kit (bolster, headphones, etc.) has a one-time price of $199 plus tax. According to the Wave website, you can't use the app unless you've purchased the kit. Once you buy it though, you can use the app without the bolster if you want; you just wont get the vibrations. That being said, if you're someone like me who's tried guided meditation in the past with or without music and hasn't been able to stick with it, I'd definitely recommend this device.
I see myself using Wave before bed when I'm most overwhelmed and want to wind down; music is an escape from my worries. It also can help me better connect with my emotions and desires. The fact that Wave utilizes music as guided meditation and touches on topics like success, love, relaxation, and control, is comforting in that there's something for everyone on the app, no matter the day. Plus, the added bonus of those vibrations — and sinking into a soft pillow — brought, for me, a further sense of calm that I hadn't experienced with other guided meditations. And I didn't need to say "om" even once!