As the last autumn leaves fall and the trees turn bare, our days begin to grow shorter. For many of us around the world, seasonal affective disorder starts to kick in. My first brush with SAD happened while I was pursuing my postgrad studies in the UK, where the grey Edinburgh skies didn’t quite help. While it’s nothing to be ashamed about, there are things you can definitely do to keep the winter blues at bay. Besides exercise, eating well, getting enough sleep, popping vitamin D, and investing in a light therapy lamp, I’ve also found a secret weapon that helps.
Those who meditate regularly would understand why the breath is such a powerful tool. Researchers have published many studies providing scientific evidence how meditation stimulates the vagus nerve and increases vagal tone, leading to positive emotions and promoting feelings of goodwill towards yourself. And when you’re deep in the zone, meditation can really help you relax.
But it can be a challenge getting there since obviously, not everyone is a Zen master like Thich Nhat Hanh. Some of us don’t have the luxury to steal away to Plum Village for a meditation retreat. We have the inevitable burdens of work, inescapable family commitments, stress and worries about the future, and are basically stuck in our busy (sometimes chaotic) lives.
So thank goodness for technology in the modern age, I say! A month and a half ago, I learnt about the Sensate 2.0, a nifty little device invented by Stefan Chmelik, a TCM practitioner and author of a very cool book called Chinese Herbal Secrets: The Key to Total Health. Essentially, the integrated healthcare expert and his team created a clever wearable that pairs with a specially engineered app on your phone (don’t worry the Sensate app is free when you download it from the iOS App Store or Google Play Store), and the synced music and gentle vibrations guides you towards a blissful meditative state.
It was an early Christmas present to myself and I’m so glad I managed to get it at a sweet 25 euros discount! Don’t worry, I’ll share the discount code at the end of the post so you can score some savings too. I’m going to share more about my experience with the Sensate 2.0 but first up, here are some unboxing pics…
As you can see, the device itself fits nicely in my hand and is very well made. Shaped like a smooth pebble you’d find along a river, the design is simple and uncomplicated. There is only one button to push to power on the Sensate 2.0, and then there’s a USB charging point at the base. Completely idiot proof and very Zen.
Inside the sturdy box with a magnetic flap is the Sensate 2.0 wearable device, the illustrated user guide, a lovely soft case that reminds me of a coin purse, a nice cotton lanyard that is surprisingly comfortable, a velveteen eye pillow that has just the perfect weight to it, and the included charging cable (you’d probably already have quite a few of these standard USB cables lying around in your house).
The Sensate 2.0 arrived very quickly from the UK within a space of about a week. Being crazy busy with work while caring for our fussy toddler who’s just entered his terrible twos, it completely slipped my mind until the DHL delivery man came to our door! I was giddy with excitement when I opened the package and happy to discover that the device came pre-charged! That’s a very thoughtful thing to do, so mucho kudos to the team 🙂 I must say that their customer service was first class too, with their very helpful and personable reps answering all the questions I had.
So feeling rather impressed with the quality of the goodies that came out from the box (FYI the Sensate 2.0 is made in the UK not China), I decided to put the biohack wearable to the test the very first night since the proof would be in the pudding, so to speak. I’d read up on other similar devices prior but this appealed to me the most, so I was really excited to try it out once our little man went off to bed.
I had downloaded the Sensate app way before the package shipped out, and was enjoying using the different audio tracks to help me engage in breath work exercises to hit a target of six breaths a minute. There’s an animation on screen, called a breath pacing trainer, which enlarges and shrinks. Think of it as a guide for your breath to follow.
Anyway, you can imagine my surprise and delight when the device synced flawlessly with my android phone with a push of the button. At the first try! The entire process was instant and easy and completely fuss free, unlike my struggle with other Bluetooth devices that stubbornly refuse to be found or paired.
Now, there are four categories in the music library of the Sensate app: Nature, Space & Time, Sacred Spaces, and Breathe. At present there are a total of 13 audio tracks, all free to use even if you don’t own a Sensate device, ranging from 10, 20, and 30 minutes long. So getting comfortable and taking their suggestions of lying down, adjusting the lanyard so the wearable sits 3 or 4 fingers down from the center of my collarbone for it to effectively vibrate against the sternum (Sensate 2.0 works using near-infrasound resonance via bone conduction), plugging in my noise cancelling earbuds and using the provided eye pillow which made me feel like I was at a spa, I selected a 10 minute track entitled “Be Sensate” and started my first session.
And, whoa. By the end of that session, I was already feeling like I was back in a floatation tank blissing out.
I asked my spouse if the vibrations were loud because while I could feel it do it’s magic between my boobs, I couldn’t hear any noise over the ethereal music (if you’re a fan of Enya and New Age, you’re going to love the music library) playing in my ears. Turns out, the device is whisper quiet so I may just use this next time when I’m commuting on the bus or train!
The success of the first session made me want to do it again so I decided to try “Forest”, a 20 minute track this time. I was really very relaxed at the end of it and honestly felt like I may just fall sleep in the middle of a 30 minute session so felt it was time to end things on a high. To be crystal, I didn’t get a trippy feeling like I did with the Pandora Star; I was still very lucid but feeling calm and happy and very, very, very relaxed.
Would I recommend the Sensate 2.0? If you’re willing to commit to using it regularly, this nifty little biohacking wearable will be an EXCELLENT investment. But YOU need to put effort into using it. Sensate recommends at least 10 minutes a day to really activate the vagus nerve.
The device really helps if you’re like me… a regular person (i.e. not a monk sans screaming children, deadlines, and bills to pay) desiring to meditate for a better quality of life, who’s trying hard to tame that restless “monkey mind”. So far I am really enjoying the Sensate experience and have been cycling through the dozen or so audio tracks, and I’m quite impressed with how long the device holds a charge. The device and app still sync seamlessly without any issues, and more audio tracks will be added to their library very soon. All very good news!
I reckon if you are type who chooses to invest in a FitBit type device that helps you keep track on how many steps you take a day or how many hours you’re at rest, the Sensate 2.0 is a similar wearable that coaches you towards a healthier lifestyle too. All too often we put so much focus on the physical side of things but there are other aspects that we must remember to embrace.
Right now, Sensate is having a special offer of a holiday 2-pack bundle where you can save $60! Since Christmas is just around the corner, it would be the perfect time to start thinking which person in your life needs bliss as much as you do 😉 Namaste!
PS: As promised, here is the discount code I mentioned— use HOLIDAYSN now and score 25 euros off your purchase from Sensate. Happy holidays!!!