Liyan: Contemplation, well-being and ethical action in Australian Indigenous wisdom traditions

This research project aims to explore the concept of Liyan, a very important concept for Nyikina people of the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Nyikina collaborators have described it as a feeling in the chest area that is linked with a sense of connection, intuition, and general well-being. They have also described contemplative practices that …

Is knowing the body knowing the mind? Mind-body coherence, interoception, and contemplative training

Imagine feeling intense stress: palms sweaty, heart racing, breathing shallow. Sensations of the body often come to the forefront when describing experiences of emotion or stress, yet these physiological changes are separate from the subjective ‘feeling’ of these states that we experience mentally. My previous work has shown that individuals whose subjective experience tracks strongly …

Intracranial circuits underlying Deep Slow Breathing and its palliative effects

Francisco Varela believed that the present moment of experience coincided with transient patterns of synchronous oscillations between different neuronal populations. Our findings suggest that these transient patterns of synchronous oscillations throughout the brain are modulated by breathing (e.g., breathing as an organizing principle for neuronal oscillations). While current neuroscientific methods of brain stimulation are limited, …

Voluntarily regulated breathing practices and their effects on self-regulation, cognition, and problem solving under stress

Conscious breathing is an aspect of all forms of meditation and yoga. Emerging research indicates that the effects of controlled breathing on the mind-body system and concomitant mental states warrants further investigation. We propose a two-phase investigation of breathing practices during which we will: (1) systematically review the literature on reported effects of voluntarily regulated …

Rhythm induced trance: Using repetitive auditory stimulation to facilitate states of absorption and promote insight

This project seeks to understand the neural underpinnings of rhythm-induced trance. Rhythmic drumming has been used, throughout history and across cultures, to induce trance and promote insight, but little is known about the underlying neural mechanisms. Following up on my earlier fMRI study of rhythm-induced trance, this project uses EEG to assess brain network activity …

What is it about yoga? Isolating the effect of structured movement sequences on cognition, interoception, and stress markers

Yoga-based practices (YBP) typically involve a combination of movement sequences, conscious regulation of the breath, and techniques to engage attention. However, little is known about whether effects of YBP result from the synergistic combination of these components, or whether a subset may yield similar effects. In this study we compared the effect of two 8-week …

Effects of yogic breathing on sleep and well-being in college students: Exploration of psychophysiological mechanisms

Insomnia is a prevalent health concern in older adults with numerous adverse consequences. Prior research suggests that the sleep disturbance and related complaints are driven by physiological hyperarousal and deficiencies in the autonomic nervous system, particularly parasympathetic activity, that inhibit healthy sleep-wake regulation. Pharmacological treatments are not viable long-term, and current behavioral and contemplative interventions …

Differential effects of mindfulness and yogic breathing on cognitive and emotional processes

Skill and competency in emotion regulation are crucial to well-being and mental health. Research has shown that contemplative practices like meditation may help people decrease stress and increase well-being. However, few studies have examined the impact of such practices on the ability to regulate emotion. Moreover, certain practices may be more suited for some people …