The Meditation Battle League (MBL) is a "head-to-head" competition that allows meditators to put their practice to the test.

Anyone can meditate when the world is calm and quiet, however, the world is rarely calm and quiet. When things are hectic and stressful, that is actually the time when you need mindfulness the most. That is why we created the Meditation Battle League (MBL), to enable you to put your ability to stay mindful under pressure to the test and have fun while doing it. Join one of our events and go “head-to-head” against a friend or fellow meditator.

In Meditation Battle League Matches, competitors sit head-to-head facing each other while wearing Muse EEG headsets that monitor their brain activity. The Muse headset is able to detect a pattern of brain activity that is highly correlated to a meditative state and gives feedback through audio cues. This allows both meditators to hear their competitor’s brainwaves as well as their own. The Meditation Battle is about remaining calm and focused when it matters most.

At the end of the day, the MBL is about helping people improve their ability to stay mindful during stressful situations and to give their minds more resilience against the daily battles we all face.

League History

The Meditation Battle League (MBL) came about from a chance interaction between San Francisco and Austin biohackers. In the middle of an afterparty for the Body Hacking Conference in Austin, Texas, Eric Matzner played a variation of meditation battle known as Meditation Deathmatch. Meditation Deathmatch originates from a group of Austin Burners who brough it to Burning Man in 2013. The entire concept intrigued Eric because it is rare to meditate outside of a calm and serene environment and so this chance to practice meditating in a stressful situation left Eric with a desire to further explore the concept.

As Shanta says in the video: "If you can't transcend the material plane's distractions, then you're not really meditating."

Wearing EEG headbands, pairs of contestants would meditate while the audience tried to distract them with heckling. The devices would measure electrical activity emitted by the meditators’ brains and project scores, based on their levels of calm, on a giant screen. Whoever remained in a meditative state the longest would win.

The Brain BroThe Atlantic

First West Coast Battle

Months later, when one of the Meditation Deathmatch creators, Shanta Stevens, came to San Francisco, Eric set up the first West Coast meditation battle. The style would be somewhat more reserved and lower intensity than the original version, known as a Meditation Deathmatch. This event would be the precursor to the eventual formation of the Meditation Battle League. In the audience at the event was a writer from The Atlantic, who later summed up the event in the accompanying quote from the article titled “The Brain Bro” in the October 2016 issue of The Atlantic.

MBL League Launch

Due to popular demand, we decided to make the Mediation Battle League a regular event and formally launched the Meditation Battle League (MBL) in the Winter of 2018. A documentary team from the Canadian Broadcasting Company was on hand to document it. Eric Matzner teamed up with Joshua "Upgrade" Jackson to be commissioners of the league. This year, the league is focused on national expansion to cities and events all around the United States with plans to grow internationally in 2020. Interested in hosting a Meditation Battle League competition at your next conference or event?

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The software and "head-to-head" design that the Meditation Battle League is based on, has recently been utilized in a study:

Participants who received training using Meditation Deathmatch showed significant post-training decreases in state anxiety and consistent and significant increases in game score across trials

Feasibility of a Meditation Video Game to Reduce Anxiety in College StudentsPaul A. Barclay, Clint A. Bowers (2018)
Feasibility of a Meditation Video Game to Reduce Anxiety in College Students

League Commissioners

Joshua ''Upgrade'' Jackson

Upgrade is a veteran of the psychic wars that frequently occupies an 80kg mobile computing platform also known as Joshua Jackson. Josh in turn is a veteran of the Eagleman Neuroscience Lab, and has been writing software since he first found a book on the subject in his elementary school library. Josh, along with others, worked on a project that served as the inspiration for the Meditation Battle League--a more intense version that was played at Burning Man among other places--known as a Meditation Deathmatch. His current research interests include Color Perception, Tantra, and Neurofeedback.

Eric Matzner

Eric Matzner is a biohacker, futurist, nootropics historian, and budding geoengineer. Founder of Nootroo and Climitigation: Project Vesta.

Eric is trying to live indefinitely, to run and at least stay in the same place. His body is less of a temple and more of a laboratory and workshop for pushing the limits of the brain's cognition, memory and learning abilities.

He also experiments with cutting-edge human lifespan extension and rejuvenation technologies and strives to make continual, incremental improvements towards optimal performance.