Measuring Meditation With A Heart Rate


We’ve seen our fair share of builds over the years that attempt to peer inside a user’s head and divine their state of mind. Whether the goal is to induce lucid dreaming or just reduce anxiety, we’re always impressed with how many ways you can detect moods with physiological measurements.  [Kirk] has been measuring his own physiology for months, and found the biggest change during meditation is the variability in his heart rate. Using that algorithm, he made an orb that changes colors when he’s meditating.

The hardware for the build uses a Bluetooth LE heart rate monitor connected to a smart phone communicating with an Electric Imp. After processing the heart rate data, the Imp triggers an RGB LED strip controlled with an Arduino.  The result is a plastic orb that glows whenever the user is displaying some sort of mindfulness, cross referenced with algorithm generated from mindlessly browsing the Internet.

15 thoughts on “Measuring Meditation With A Heart Rate

  1. Just goes to show I know nothing about meditation. I would have thought a heart rate of 1.5x normal would be anything but relaxing. Clicking through his links, the rate fluctuated massively over short periods. I was amused that the browser results were while reading reddit: I get similar spikes of furious heart beats! Must check my blood pressure and valium stocks!

        1. the ups and downs probably are due to inhaling and exhaling, a 20 second cycle is on par with what i managed after a while of “training”.
          what i’m saying is that the overall trend is (steeply) upward: he goes from a 78/88 range at the beginning to a 100/104 range in only 2 minutes.

  2. Breathing and clearing the mind helps to control heart rate. I like doing this before a nurse takes my pulse as it shows them a super slow bpm. One nurse told me ,” That can’t be right….it’s like you’re dead!” :)

    1. Wish I could do that “under pressure”. At home when I’m very relaxed I can get down to about 48BPM but if I get my blood pressure or something measured at the hospital it shoots up to like 80-90 for some reason…

    2. Greeting… I am 65 yers old and meditate, my heart rate can into low 40’s, as measure on a heart rate/ pulse monitor.
      This does not concern me, and I feel fine with some aches and pains relieved. Some medical people tell me this is to low, but seeing is believing for me. Strong young atheletic types do it, so why not me? …. Enjoy

  3. The cadence of the meditation heart rate seems to make sense. A good slow breathing should have heart rate increasing while you inhale and decrease while you exhale from what I’ve found. Still, I’m surprised the average heart rate is actually climbing through the meditation.

  4. All the gizmos on the internet, including the Heartmath one seem to think that a regular beat is good, but nothing is further form the truth. The way to tell is a good (resilient) heartbeat vs a bad one is by measuring the statistical self-similarity (think statistical fractals) of the HRV. A healthy heart has a lot of variability, but when looked at from the fractal/self-similarity perspective it is quite consistent (all the information and free code/algorithms here: ).
    Highly regular heartbeat is a sign of aging or disease. Completely chaotical heartbeat is also bad. Fractal scaled (following a power law) variability is a sign of vigor, adaptability, resilience., and a characteristic of different dimensions (static or dynamic) complex adaptive systems found in nature.

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