Our guest today is Ariel Garten, Co-founder of InteraXon, the creators of the award-winning MUSE meditation headband. Arial is a neuroscientist, innovator, artist and entrepreneur. In this episode, we talk about the beginnings of MUSE, her personal journey with meditation and how it changed her, how to reprogram your brain and let go of your inner critic, as well as the challenges of being a good parent.
The Beginnings of MUSE
“If this does what I think it can do, it will help us bring world peace in my lifetime.”
Ariel has always been fascinated by the world and how it works, and the experience of being human. Her mother was an artist, so she grew up seeing how to use your imagination to create beauty and bring joy into the world. She became an artist as well. At the same time she was fascinated by science and neuroscience.
Ariel initially started her career as a fashion designer when she was only 17 and later worked as a therapist in private practice.
She subsequently worked with Steve Mann, the inventor of the wearable computer, and with her co-founders, to help people do the impossible: move physical objects with their brains. They lit buildings up at the Olympics, and even let people pour beers directly with their brain, but eventually realized that this technology could also give people significant insights into their own brain states and improve their wellbeing. This realization was the foundation for MUSE.
Ariel and her team started to raise funds for the technology in 2009, which was difficult because meditation was not yet mainstream at the time. In 2012 they received their first funding from Chade-Meng Tan at Google, who said “If this does what I think it can do, it will help us bring world peace in my lifetime”. This started their incredible success story to help transform tens of thousands of people’s lives in a positive way through meditation.
MUSE is a brain-sensing headband that helps you meditate and sleep better. It's a little device that slips on your forehead and tracks the brain activity, heart rate, breathing, and body movements during meditation.
The Inner Critic
“The inner critic is the little jerk that lives rent-free inside your mind that's constantly putting you down.”
Ariel talked about the nature of the inner critic from a psychological and neuroscience perspective:
From a psychological perspective, the inner critic is often seen as the internalized voice of the parent, which is usually incredibly negative. We think we use the inner critic to motivate ourselves, excel in life, and be better. However, in reality it just demotivates us.
From a neuroscience perspective, what we perceive as the inner critic is part of the internal dialogue that takes place in the default mode network of your brain when you are not focused on any particular task.
Ariel’s Practice To Quiet The Inner Critic:
Think about one thing that your inner critic told you today.
Now imagine that you are walking down the street with a loved one. Suddenly a stranger comes up to you and tells your loved one the same thing that your inner critic told you today. How do you feel hearing this?
Now look at the wall in front of you and imagine a cartoon image of your inner critic.
Put out your thumb and your index finger framing this little image and start to squash it by bringing your thumb and index finger together.
How do you feel now, that you squashed that inner critic?
How Meditation Transformed Her
“It definitely made me a better human and a better leader.”
Initially a struggling meditator herself, Ariel’s meditation practice improved a lot since she started to use the MUSE meditation headband. According to her, it changed her life forever. She now has a much greater awareness of her impact on others and is able to experience all her emotions fully.
The practice gave her tremendous patience and changed her relationship to fear. She realized that fear doesn’t have to rule her in any way.
Palma’s “I Am Enough” Meditation
We are inviting you today to repeat this sentence a few times: “I am enough”.
As you were doing this, you might have felt that this is too easy, phony or cheesy or you might even have felt a bit uncomfortable. If that was the case, this is completely normal and was most likely your inner critic.
So this week we invite you to experiment with the sentence “ I am enough”.
Why Should You Try It?
This is not positive thinking or wishful thinking (which I do not believe in), but about reprogramming your mind and creating new neural pathways to balance the old critical pathways. The repetition of this small phrase over and over (both out loud and in your head) will eventually make it difficult for your mind to object to it. Our invitation is to simply experiment with this for a week or two and see what happens:
How To Practice:
When you wake up in the morning say out loud or think in your head a few times (3-7 x) "I am Enough".
Write on a post-it or directly on your bathroom mirror "I am enough" and repeat it every time when you look into a mirror. Could also be an alternative place in the house like your computer.
Set a reminder on your phone 2-3 times a day (could be 8am, 12 noon and 8pm) with "I am Enough"
If you notice any limiting beliefs or your inner critic in action say/think "I am Enough"
About Our Guest, Ariel Garten
Ariel Garten is a neuroscientist, innovator, and entrepreneur whose driving purpose is to empower and help others overcome mental obstacles in order to live healthy, happy lives and reach their maximum potential. Garten is one of the Founders of InteraXon, the makers of Muse: the brain sensing headband. Muse is the award-winning wearable technology that assists and trains meditation and mindfulness. Before founding InteraXon, Ariel was not only trained as a neuroscientist and psychotherapist but also started her own international clothing line while she worked in labs researching Parkinson’s disease and hippocampal neurogenesis. Her creativity and entrepreneurial drive, combined with her fascination with the brain, lead her to bring together two like minded friends and together they founded InteraXon, a Silicon Valley backed startup that allowed people to control computers with their minds, the technology that sparked the creation of Muse. The technology was the feature showcase at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, where they allowed over 7,000 people to control the lights on the CN tower, Canadian parliament buildings, and Niagara Falls with their brains from across the country. Muse is now used and loved around the world, in 5 languages with over 5,000,000 sessions of meditation. Ariel and her team have been featured in over 1000 media pieces, including CNN, Forbes, Fortune, WSJ, etc. and recipients of multiple innovation awards. These days, Ariel can be found at home playing with her 4-year-old or on stage across the world speaking about happiness, meditation, understanding mental health, empowering women in business, or telling her own innovation story, consistently giving her audiences the tools they need to help them become their best selves.
A special thanks to Ariel Garten for taking the time to share her inspiring story with us.
Continue Your Journey
Now it is time to find your own unique path. We can help you to connect with your innate wisdom and create an inspiring vision for a deeply fulfilling and meaningful life. Apply for a discovery session on our website,palmamichel.com.
Learn to meditate with Palma on the MUSE brain-sensing device and receive a 15% discount (will be shown at checkout only) with this link!
Thank you for joining us on this journey of the Explorer’s Mind Podcast.
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Until next time, We truly appreciate you listening and look forward to continuing this journey together.