Yoga Journal

Can You Buy Your Way to enlightenment?

I don’t want to mess with your meditation practice. Not today, not ever. And if you haven’t joined the countless who have discovered meditation’s gifts, now may be the time to start—because we know that it’s doing something good for us. Those who have a regular practice (myself included) tend to feel happier, calmer, and less likely to lose it when the cold winds blow (which inevitably, they do). And ultimately, that’s all that the Buddha ever wanted for humanity—a little loving kindness, a little more compassion, a little less torturing ourselves (and each other) with our criticism and judgy nonsense.

But before you start investing in classes, spendy cushions, or trendy in-home meditation space, Steven Leonard, a mind-body personal trainer who runs a meditation workshop at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health with Dartmouth College neuroscientist Andrew Heusser, says you might want to begin with defining your intention. “There are countless reasons why people might meditate, so someone developing a practice should ask themselves: What are my goals? What am I looking to cultivate? Relaxation? Focus? Spirituality? Am I looking for the nature of reality?

Once you understand your goals, tracking your practice may help you focus more quickly, and there is a wealth of high-tech meditation aids available—think phone apps and EEG-sensing headbands to $35,000 isolation pods—all promising to launch your journey into bucks on gadgets that claim to clear out the junk in your brain in a fraction of the time it takes to attain enlightenment through more traditional practices (several lifetimes for some). But do any of these devices actually deliver? To find out, we turned to the science.

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