I’m a self-experimenting author, speaker and coach juggling family life with a number of fascinating science collaborations…
Since 2014 I’ve had the pleasure of being involved in a number of science-art EEG collaborations with Cambridge university.
The Beach Exhibition
Launched at the Cambridge Science Festival, 2015 this exhibition-cum-pilot research study was anchored on my own experience of managing the trauma of sight loss. This immersive, interactive EEG exhibition invited the public to meditate in a sensory controlled “black box” while hooked up to EEG recording equipment. Afterwards they were shown what their own meditative brainwaves looked and sounded like when converted into music and animated art. The exhibition ran for 5 days with 120 participants and led to my TEDx talk.
A Meditation Experiment.
How can we glimpse inside the mind of another person? How can we observe the ever-changing, complex range of thoughts and emotions that continuously flow throughout their mind at any one time? If we could capture those experiences — those moments of sadness, boredom, frustration, focus, tiredness or animation how might that inform us as to their ‘state of mind’? As part of her Phd, Barbara Jachs at Cambridge university asked this very question. She also asked how she might capture these continuous ‘phenological’ experiences, categorise them and in turn compare them against corresponding brain activity recorded at the same time. An ambitious project to test a novel way of collecting and considering brain data, we set out on what would turn into a “consciousness road trip” to record my inner, meditative experiences.
Working my way through 10 different ways to ‘train my mind’, I explored mindfulness and Zen, hypnosis and Christian meditation, TM (transcendental meditation), compassion, tantra, vipassana and kundalini yoga. It had never been done before and what we would discover would change the direction of meditation research.
The Big Breath
Breath works was a method that I had not planned to include in the meditation study. It would be the last, unplanned modality I would try. An extraordinary experience that combined continuous, connected breathing with body mapping and suggestive language. This had the effect of releasing suppressed traumas and recalibrating my nervous system.
A pilot study to further explore breath work is now in the pipeline. Join my newsletter for updates on this, and the other projects.
One forgets that you have a brain…it gently does its thing and you pay no attention to it whatsoever. I realise that it may need some of my attention sometimes. To remind me of me of how vast and complex the science of the brain is and how much we don’t know and need to know…
The Beach participant