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There are few things as simple in theory, and difficult in practice, as meditation. Closing our eyes, quieting our minds and counting our breaths should be as easy as it gets, right?
Not for me. Though I've flirted on and off for years with the idea of keeping a meditation practice, I've never been able to stop my thoughts from bouncing off the walls. Then when I criticize myself for my puny attention span and the guided voice-over reminds me how counterproductive that is, even more frustration sets in.
But despite my fits and starts, there's no denying the benefits of frequent meditation. Even just a few minutes a day can lead to better memory, less stress and anxiety, even a decrease in chronic pain. The ability to focus your mind on the present is a formidable tool in a world full of distractions -- one I still wanted to figure out how to grasp for myself.
So when I heard about a meditation trainer, to say I was intrigued was an understatement.
SAY HELLO TO CORE
Core by Hyperice is a new meditation device that monitors your body's response to each meditation session, as well as giving you something tactile to focus on. Founded by Sarah McDevitt after her own personal struggles with anxiety, it's a small sphere that you hold in your hands, with metal biosensors that track your current heart rate.
But it's more than that -- after all, there are tons of heart rate monitors on the market already. The Core meditation trainer ($179) also buzzes gently in your hands, with rhythmic pulses that sync up with its guided instructions, timed perfectly with each inhale and exhale. Because of this, Core's programs focus on the idea of breath training, framing our breath as one of the most powerful calming tools we have.
All of which sounds great, provided it's not a distraction. My main source of skepticism before trying Core came from the idea of tech-ifying such a simple practice -- I assumed any additional bell or whistle would distance me even further from inner calm. Not to mention Core's use of biometrics: wasn't that just another form of the self-criticism I was told was totally unmeditative?
Enough fans and users -- everyone from Goop to GQ to celebrity fitness coaches -- were sold on it, though, that I figured I should give it a shot anyway. After all, everything I'd tried 'til now hadn't worked. What's the worst that could happen?
READY, SET, OHM
The first thing I noticed when unboxing Core by Hyperice was its sleek, minimalist design. The combination of white on natural wood is soothing in and of itself, and the raised ECG sensors lend a legitimacy to the science side of things. In an age of "wearables," with devices that you strap directly on your body, there was something pleasing about gently wrapping my hands around Core. Nestling it back on its charger, a plug-in dock that fits perfectly with the bottom of the device, was a breeze as well.
The next to-do was setting up the companion app on my phone, which used Bluetooth to pair with my Core and immediately set me up with a free trial. After that, a prompt for the first introductory lesson popped up, which meant in less than five minutes the homework was done and it was time to get my feet wet. I grabbed my headphones, put my thumbs on the sensors, and watched my screen count down 3… 2… 1…
TUNING OUT, DIVING IN
From the very first moment, it was different from any meditation I'd tried before. I wasn't expecting Core to vibrate so consistently throughout the session -- something I would've assumed would be distracting. In practice, though, it was exactly the grounding I needed. In all my other attempts, I lost touch with the present moment while swimming in a mental checklist of unanswered emails and dinner plans. By tuning into Core's dynamic vibrations, as well as the instructors' voice that synced with each of them, I was able to focus on the here and now. Finally.
In all my other attempts, I lost touch with the present moment while swimming in a mental checklist of unanswered emails and dinner plans. By tuning into Core's dynamic vibrations, as well as the instructors' voice that synced with each of them, I was able to focus on the here and now. Finally.
After a few sessions, I was able to establish a baseline heart rate and heart rate variability (or HRV). This unlocked the full span of my results -- and whatever fear I had that these would make my sessions weirdly competitive went away instantly. Core never breaks things down into "good meditation" and "bad meditation," instead mapping out the time you spent in Calm and the time you spent in Focus. The only number with any sort of value judgment attached is the HRV, which indicates your bodies' ability to tolerate stress.
Like everything in meditation, Core makes it clear it's about progress, not perfection. And over time, my HRV has gone steadily up, meaning that Core is slowly but surely improving my ability to handle any curveballs. What used to feel like a bit of wellness homework has now become a crucial part of my day -- especially since Core lives on my bedside table. When I catch a glimpse of it chilling on its charging base, it's a reminder to either start or end my day with a brief look inward.
So whether you've struggled in the past like I did, or you've got long-time listener/first-time caller vibes, Core makes you an active participant in your journey towards living stress-free. With life (and technology) getting more and more hectic by the day, what more could you ask for?
5 MORE REASONS TO LOVE CORE BY HYPERICE:
- The Core app has a team of expert instructors who teach a wide range of genres: everything from breath training to guided visualizations to meditations en español.
- Every breath training session is customizable, with different durations and background soundscapes you can toggle on or off.
- The Core Premium Bundle ($219), which includes the cost of the Core device as well as 12 months of Premium app content, gives thousands of guided meditation options as well as a healthy discount at checkout.
- The Core meditation app keeps track of all your past sessions, making it easy to track your change over time and notice how changes in stress level sync up with any life events.
- Core is easy to bring on the go, weighing less than a pound and measuring 3.5 inches in each direction -- a win for all you travelers in need of some chill time (plus its battery life is up to 2 weeks).