Recently I got the Mendi brain exercise (neurofeedback) device that I'd ordered early last year via a Kickstarter campaign. Repeated delays kept pushing back the estimated time us backers would get our Mendi.
Finally it came, from Sweden. Here I am modeling my Mendi. I took the photo in front of several katana swords and a fan in my office, because the Mendi has a certain Japanese/samurai look to it.
The Mendi web site describes what the device does.
An iPhone app connects with the Mendi via bluetooth. You train your brain by playing a game. You focus on a ball, with the goal to have the ball rise vertically. This video shows an early version of the app. The current version is a bit slicker, but works in the same way.
I've only been using the Mendi for a short time and need to do more exploring with it. This is my initial impression of what works best to get the ball moving upward.
My first try with the Mendi produced a pretty good score. I think this was because I simply focused on the ball and didn't try to make the ball go up.
The next few Mendi sessions didn't go so well, probably because I was trying to get a better score. From what I can tell so far -- and my experience likely is different from other Mendi users -- trying isn't the best way to train the brain.
Not trying is.
Meaning, I do best when I simply look at the ball with a sense of open curiosity. This is hard to put into words. My best scores come when I'm alert and aware of the ball, yet am looking at it with no motivation to control it, just to observe it.
Which, of course, is what mindfulness is all about: nonjudgemental awareness of what is happening in the present moment.
I started meditating in 1970 when I was 21. Now I'm 72 and have only missed a day or two of meditation in the past 51 years. So I have a lot of experience with various forms of meditation: mantra, open awareness, mindfulness, counting breaths.
But I've never used a neurofeedback device like Mendi. I'm seeing the benefits of it. When I enter a certain relaxed state of mind, the ball moves upward. If I'm tense or trying too hard, the ball jumps around or goes down.
I'm already able to visualize the ball going up and thereby approach the same state of mind I'm in when using the Mendi device. Can't say my life has markedly changed, just that I see the potential of this form of brain training.
Here's a screenshot of my most recent session.
The app keeps track of all of your sessions. I was definitely in a zone during the 3-minute session at 8:24 pm yesterday. Focusing on the ball seemed quite effortless. I was sitting on the floor for that session, rather than in a chair.
A few times the app has told me that something was wrong, like I was moving too much (I wasn't) or light was shining directly on my head (yes, I was facing a bright window). It's advised to use the Mendi in a dim room.
This might explain whey I did better when I used my Mendi in the evening when it was almost dark here in Oregon. I also could have been in a more relaxed frame of mind.
Testimonials on the Mendi web site are impressive. But that's to be expected of testimonials on a web site. I'll keep experimenting with the device and report on how that goes in a subsequent blog post. Some early reviews are here, here, and here.