If you can't survive a minute without tracking your progress, consider the cyborgesque brain-sensing headband known as Muse, which measures brain-wave activity and gives feedback as you meditate. You fit the plastic band around your forehead, then follow the recorded sessions on the app (which range from three to 45 minutes), focusing on your breath to the accompaniment of ambient sounds. I chose the beach track: When I was distracted, I heard a crashing tsunami; when I was calm, lapping waves. And when I was really calm, tweeting birds. It gave me a Jedi thrill to try controlling the atmosphere with my mind, but getting into the bird zone was like hitting a groove while hula-hooping—the second I thought, Hey, I'm there,
I lost it. My score: 10 birds, 54 percent calm. Muse meditation doesn't feel as contemplative as the old-fashioned kind, and the gadget isn't cheap ($249; choosemuse.com
), but playing it—I mean, meditating with it—is addictive.