The benefit of meditation – without the training

Sensate tones your vagus nerve to help soothe your soul and deliver Longevity-boosting benefits.

London-based start-up BioSelf Technology is the company behind the “world-first consumer vagus nerve toning product” Sensate. When placed against your chest, the pebble-like device resonates at frequencies designed to tone the vagus nerve, and ultimately help its users more easily achieve the beneficial results associated with meditation.

Longevity.Technology: From reducing stress to improving sleep, the Longevity benefits of meditation and other contemplative practices are well-understood. Stimulating the vagus nerve is scientifically proven to lower stress levels, however it is notoriously difficult to consciously control this nerve without years of meditation or yoga training. Sensate aims to change that, and we caught up with inventor Stefan Chmelik, a speaker at this week’s Neurotech2020 conference, to find out more.

A holistic physician, Chmelik is also a founder of the New Medicine Group, a Harley Street integrated healthcare clinic which ultimately drove him to create Sensate.

“I could have carried on doing lovely work at the clinic, seeing a few thousand people over the years, but that’s not going to change the world,” he says. “With Sensate, our mission is to try and impact millions of lives by 2025.”

Stefan Chmelik Sensate
Stefan Chmelik, Founder of Sensate.

Chmelik and his colleagues determined that one of the keys to helping people overcome chronic health issues is boosting resiliency.
“The primary way to measure and drive resiliency is vagus nerve tone,” he says. “Our view is that vagus nerve tone is the ultimate metric, and all the other metrics, including heart rate variability, are just expressions of vagus nerve tone. So if you’re going to do one thing, improve your vagus nerve tone.”
While Chmelik points out that we know how to do it, toning our vagus nerve isn’t exactly easy.

“We know that meditation works, we know that breathing exercises work, we know that getting enough sleep works. We know all these things work, but the problem is getting people to make the changes needed to make them work.”

“It requires concentration, effort and application without necessarily seeing immediate feedback,” he explains. “We know that meditation works, we know that breathing exercises work, we know that getting enough sleep works. We know all these things work, but the problem is getting people to make the changes needed to make them work.”

Sensate aims to give users an accessible, non-invasive way to stimulate their vagus nerve and achieve benefits usually associated with intense commitment to meditative practices. At its core, Sensate gets back to what Chmelik refers to as “the only language our brainstem really understands” – vibration.

The Sensate device.

“That is why Sensate uses nonverbal sensation-based communication,” he says. “Vibration is more deeply hardwired into our nervous system and every organ than any other sense.”
The development of Sensate was informed by Chmelik’s experiences using vibroacoustic therapy in-clinic, and resulted in the creation of the first device a couple of years ago.
“We are scientists and researchers at heart, so we did a lot of in-clinic trials to assess that the technology really did work,” he says. “And after about 1,200 sessions, it was clear that there was an undeniable and very significant impact that was repeatable, and that was cumulative. We’re now we’re now building out the research program, because we want to be able to specify what the precise mechanism behind the efficacy is.”

A combination of physical device and mobile app, Sensate tones the vagus nerve through both audio and sub-audible frequencies. The audible sounds are delivered via headphones or a speaker, with the vibrations transmitted through the pebble-like device.

Speaking on Longevity specifically, Chmelik points out that epigenetics is now showing to be as important, if not more so, than our genetics in impacting on our healthspan.
“We know that the primary driver for epigenetic activity is all the lifestyle stuff – sleep, stress, diet, exercise,” he says. “And we know that activities like meditation, which reduce proinflammatory stress hormone use, are the main influence on that. So if we can get more people having those benefits, then you are looking at mass impact.”

Following the feedback on its initial product, the company secured $1 million in seed funding last year to develop a new version of Sensate, and is now preparing to ramp up its global sales and marketing. With a key focus on the US market, the company is also planning to open an office in California, and has plans to raise additional funding in 2021.

“The next fundraise will Q1 next year – probably three and a half, maybe four million dollars in scale-up funding,” says Chmelik. “So we’re getting all the metrics in place – showing sales growth, users and satisfaction, all that kind of stuff. That’s really what we’re focused on.”

Be sure to catch Stefan Chmelik speaking at this week’s Neurotech2020 conference.

Images courtesy of Sensate