What are People Getting from Sensate?March 30th, 2023
What are People Getting from Sensate?
The Secrets of Long-Term Sensate Users
Laura Jones PhD
Sensate is on a mission to positively impact the lives of 100 million people by 2025. You can find more current articles HERE
I am a medical anthropologist conducting research for a forthcoming scholarly manuscript on Sensate. I interviewed 13 Sensate users from around the US for this project, for which I could ask almost anything I wanted. Here is what I learned…
Sensate sessions are happening everywhere…
Though the majority of Sensate users are using their Pebbles while lying on their beds at home, some of you are taking your Sensate with you wherever you go. You use Sensate at work: in the office, the break room, and even the empty lactation room. And you do it on the go: some are sitting on airplanes or in parked cars, welcoming a sense of calm during take-off or afternoon carpool. Some are even vertical, grocery shopping or making dinner. While many of you keep the device on the nightstand, some have a second, “travel” Pebble so that Sensate is always with you. Simply put, “The more I see it, the more I use it,” said a clinical psychologist from California who has two Pebbles.
Sensate is helping to mitigate triggers…
Many of you like to make a Sensate session part of your nightly bedtime ritual, but some are also using the device on demand, when triggered. I spoke with a stablehand in South Carolina that uses Sensate at a moment’s notice to help inhibit symptoms of PTSD that once led to opioid abuse. Similarly, the CEO of a medical device company in Texas is trading his drowse inducing nightcaps for Sensate’s Somnolence track. When experiencing symptoms of paranoia, a water manager from California was able to use his Sensate to prevent an anxiety attack. Likewise a bank executive and frequent flier from Minnesota uses his Sensate to ease feelings of claustrophobia experienced in plane cabins.
Sensate is a meditation hack…
Almost everyone I spoke with has tried meditation, and some have experimented with it for decades. One interviewee explained, “It didn't feel like it was helping me. I didn't do it long enough or consistently enough, so I'd get frustrated... It was a vicious circle.” Though all had struggled to feel truly successful at it, the promises of meditation have remained profoundly enticing. In sum, the people I spoke with often feel like their minds have too much mental freedom during Sensate-less meditation, and they need a little guidance that is a level beyond a soothing voice. The tactile, multisensory experience that Sensate allows helps them quiet the logical, task-driven parts of their brains that are burdened with never-ending to-do lists. Sensate helps the vagus nerve turn off the default “fight or flight” mode so that they can serenade the parts of the mind often associated with awe, creativity, dreaming, and ultimately eustress (good stress).
Sensate users are plugged-in…
While soundscapes from nature help many of you unplug metaphorically, you literally remain plugged-in to other wellness devices. Most of these watches, rings, bands, straps, etc. are being used to track biometrics like heart rate and heart rate variability. Two of the Sensate users I interviewed showed me screen shots illustrating what happens to their heart during a Sensate session, as opposed to when they try to reach a meditative state without Sensate. Though their Sensate sessions resulted in palpable calmness, they enjoyed seeing the data tracking the effects of both short and long-term use.
Sensate users are taking “multisensory” to the next level…
In addition to using Sensate and other wellness devices together, you are also bringing low-tech tools to your Sensate sessions: fidget toys (i.e. spikey finger rings), crystals, meditation beads, acupressure mats, aromatherapy, CBD oil, ambient lighting, binaural beats, stuffed animals, fuzzy socks, grandma’s quilt, and weighted blankets. Some start with yoga or stretching before reclining with their Sensate. Many do relaxation exercises like Box breathing, as well as mantras, grounding/visualization techniques, and humming/trilling (to enhance the vibrations). Everyone has their own rituals, but many of you enjoy Sensate sessions best when you keep it as simple as possible because passive engagement is what you need most. In the words of one Texas-based executive coach who recommends Sensate to his industrious, often overworked clients, “I’m letting it do all the work. I’m not competing with it. It’s just there.”
Sensate is a family affair…
When I asked the interviewees how they heard about Sensate, I was expecting to hear “From the Instagram algorithm” (full disclosure—I did hear that a lot). What I was not expecting was to hear, “Oh, my spouse has one.” Once a family member sees it, oftentimes they want to try it, and one Pebble per household is not always enough. Another Sensate user from California said he and his wife use their Sensate Pebbles together. If she begins before him, he feels calmer just feeling the gentle vibrating of the sheets underneath. Like running buddies, this couple has helped keep each other motivated to make Sensate part of their daily routine. An endodontist from California bought a Sensate for her teenager and was surprised how much she liked it herself. She explains, “We're going through a very stressful times with my daughter, and I am supposed to be the calm one.”
Sensate may improve everything from your golf game to your sex life…
You read that right. Not a golfer myself, one Sensate user explained to me how much golf is a mental sport. To enter the right frame of mind, this former college golfer from Minnesota uses his Sensate before teeing off. Also in the name of enhancing performance, a future marriage counselor from California and her romantic partner have used Sensate before and during intimate moments, in order to increase mind-body connection and decrease inhibition.
Sensate, a wellness device for consumer-use, was developed by Stefan Chmelik based on his clinical work. It is approaching 35 million minutes of use. As such, BioSelf Technology Labs is conducting research to deepen our understanding of this tool and its positive effects on the mind/body.
Laura Jones has a PhD from Rice University and has completed two postdoctoral fellowships at Emory University School of Medicine. Her research has appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, BMJ Medical Humanities, and Annals of Behavioral Medicine. She is a devotee of Vinyasa flow yoga.
Have you had a profound or interesting experience using your Sensate? Do you have any tricks or tips for other users? If you might be willing to share, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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