Why I became interested in something called neuropsychophysiology-based Mindfulness (I just made that up)
It's all about being present without judgment in every moment.
I spent the last 6 years doing something incredibly rewarding: measuring people's brain activity. What does that mean? It means that using EEG (electroencephalographic equipment) I have tracked down thousands of brains, marvelled at how fantastic these organs are.
What I was always excited to see is that every brain is unique. Some have a predisposition to daydream and get distracted, some are very focused, some have a genetic marker for depression, and some are very creative and full of ideas. Recently I did this cool project called #thebeautifulbrainsproject in which I looked into 15 superhero Vancouverites' brainwaves trying to figure out what makes special people so special. Beyond feeding my own curiosity, we were mapping unique brain activity and looking for clues about how to get the most out of the mind.
Apart from these unique qualities, though, what I can guarantee you is that there is a world-wide, universal feature that every brain comes equipped with:
The brain never stops. Ever.
The brain is indeed a very busy organ. In terms of electrical activity, it is, of course, impossible to stop the brain. It would actually be very bad news if those cute jagged lines in the EEG trace stopped. And when in a yoga class you hear your teacher ask you to stop the brain, please feel entitled to raise your hand and say that the task is neuro-anatomically impossible.
So you can imagine my curiosity when I first encountered mindfulness meditation and all of its promises to make you happier, quieter, healthier or more beautiful (really, that too? ;-) )
I was desperately curious to understand how to calm my own electrified, intense, Italian brain, and so I studied, practiced and learnt as much as I could.
Then, I realized I could combine this new interest with the brainwaves work.
If mindfulness, according to long-time meditator and legendary mindfulness pioneer Jon Kabat-Zinn, is the ability to "be present without judgment in every moment", then ...
what about observing your own brain activity?
It’s real time, (so being present is covered), without judgment (a signal that corresponds to anxiety is absolutely as interesting as one corresponding to calm, so no judgment, really) in every moment you are in front of the screen, and then, because you have observed the signal on a screen, you know how it corresponds to a subjective state, so you can use this experience also when not in front of a screen.
Observing your brain moving on a screen, realising that you cannot stop it, accepting that it will constantly try to distract you, and gently bringing your attention back to that constantly moving signal.
How cute is that?
Here you see my beautiful brainwaves as I do some happiness meditation. Every time my brain is “happy” I hear more music!
What was very useful for me, for my personal practice, and for what I offer to the Beautiful Humans I have as clients, is how to overcome the main underlying tension underneath any meditation practice: letting go of effort. Letting go of the wanting to control.
Trying to relax is an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms. Trying is doing, and relaxing is non-doing. So technology was simply a tool to make things easier. Like using a sat-nav to drive your car in a desired destination, sensors became my technological guidance into bliss and self-awareness.
If you are interested to learn more about brainwaves and brain gadgets, you can drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect via Linkedin, or follow our latest project Moment Meditation.