Finding My Research Sweet Spot with Non-symbolic States of Consciousness

By Ph.D student Lindsay Briner

The Power of Exploration and Wonder

screen-shot-2017-02-07-at-4-22-40-pmI have an MA in Transpersonal Psychology and a relentless passion toward my own personal evolution. I became interested in the *industry* of transformative technology via Dr. Jeffrey Martin and the Transformative Technology Lab, and for the past year explored options within that industry. With that in mind, I spent several months at the University of Arizona with Dr. Stuart Hameroff (pictured) where I investigated Transcranial Ultrasound Therapy, worked with Deepak Chopra on the Jiyo platform and collaborated with Neurohacker Collective as a research member. I enjoyed exploring innovative technologies with fellow research associates, but I still was not able to chisel away a clear point of focus for 2017. However, these explorations did make me wonder as an industry what we are optimizing for and how do we consensually measure it?

Through my lived experiences to discover my area of focus, I have come to realize that the future of human development, education and medicine, through the exponential growth of technology, is destined for human optimization. We are at the cusp of an emergent human ontology with a new interdisciplinary epistemology of neuroscience with technology.

Finding Clarity at the Transformative Technology Lab

My coursework as a PhD student at Sofia University has been complemented with work at the Transformative Technology Lab (TTL) with Dr. Jeffery Martin. The lab is a niche space where technology intersects with transpersonal psychology. The aim of the Lab is to evolve psychology’s working axiom of wellness, from one merely transcending acute distress, to one tapping the outer reaches of human potential.I thoughtfully examined how my contribution at this intersection can be maximized and chose to look at the Finder’s Course.

The goal of Dr.Martin’sFinder’s Course is to help people obtain Persistent Non-Symbolic Experience (PNSE) which includes the states of consciousness commonly known as enlightenment, non-duality, and unitive experience. Such states are not inherently spiritual or religious, nor limited to any particular culture or population, and they can form differently according to various personal experiences.

screen-shot-2017-02-07-at-4-22-24-pmIn January of 2017, Dr.Jeffery Martin launched his 10th Finder’s Course research protocol with 2,000 participants. The Finder’s Course collects data from participants on the progress of their psychological states throughout the 4-month program. Dr.Martin’s most recent study achieved strong validation, with approximately 73% of participants reaching ongoing non-symbolic experience in less than 4 months during the program. The program utilizes various methodologies to achieve this, such as positive psychology techniques, mindfulness practices, meditation, and use the transformative technologies such as the Muse neuro-feedback technology for meditation. (Pictured – Jeffery Martin in white & Lindsay Briner)

Curiosity Brings Focus

Over the last year as a research associate at the TTL, I delved into Finder’s Course data and gained an understanding of Dr. Martin’s approach and strategy. His human optimization techniques not only lead to what are often perceived as spiritual experiences, but more broadly form a framework for groundbreaking states of wellbeing. For example, PNSE is linked to significantly decreased depression and anxiety, and enhanced physical health and sense of purpose in life.

I relate to and am fascinated by this material, often reflecting on my own experiences of PNSE. Last year, I began experimenting with nootropics to assist in my levels of productivity and ability to concentrate on tasks. As I was taking these supplements, I began observing an increase in my ability to access and maintain higher states of PNSE while also increasing focus, motivation, and productivity.

I experienced a flow-state from the productivity, yet also experienced states of PNSE. This may be difficult to understand if you are not familiar with these states, but the experience of sustained, calm focus, backdropped by a general sense of wellbeing, is an experience I desire to help other people access and maintain. I want people to be able to feel so deeply connected to nature — to experience a unitive, non-dual awareness — while remaining grounded, healthy, and more productive in a meaningful way than ever before.

Because of my extraordinary results from my own use of nootropics, along with my curiosity to deepen the scholarship on this emerging field of human optimization, I felt I would be potentially well suited for the lab’s extraordinary research vision.

Finding My Research Sweet Spot

This desire caused me to approach Dr. Martin in the lab one day with an idea with which I was ready to hit the ground running. And now, I am excited to say that in January 2017, I started collecting data on cognitive performance with three experimental groups during the 10th Finder’s Course. A particular point of emphasis within my work will be investigating the effects of nootropics or “smart drugs” on Finder’s Course participants. Nootropics provide cognitive enhancements, and are intended for people who have a good physiological and psychological baseline of health.

Screen Shot 2017-02-07 at 4.34.22 PM.pngThe work will show how increasing one’s processing capability of symbolic states may influence one’s relationship to non-symbolic states. The data collection in the Finder’s Course has great implications for engineering specific states for human optimization across various applications. I am honored to work alongside him as I move into my final stages of the PhD program.


For so long, psychology and medicine have been focused on pathology. At the Transformative Technology Lab, we are focusing on healthy individuals and asking, “How do we advance our need to be more healthy into true optimization?”

This last year has revealed to me how humankind is now at the very precipice of our next great civilizational epoch. Fifteen years ago, “social media” was a virtually unknown phrase and concept, and so too, “transformative technology” will become the next great societal wave of influence. It may end up under a slightly different name- “human optimization”, “neurotech”, “transtech”, etc.- but it is clear that there is an emerging coalescence of brilliance and technology across the world, centered around the concept of transcending previous assumed limits of individual neurophysiology. This includes any technological methods that enhance wellbeing, such as non-invasive brain stimulation (i.e. ultrasound, tDCS, tACS), virtual reality, augmented reality, brain-computer interface (i.e. microchips, Elon Musks’ brain lace), neuro-feedback, all bio-feedback devices, and much more.

itp-logo_largeAbout The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University

Since 1975, the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University has continued to be an international leader and pioneer, moving humanity forward in the areas of transpersonal research and transpersonal education. training clinicians, spiritual guides, wellness caregivers, and consultants who apply transpersonal principles and values in a variety of settings.  The Sofia educational model offers students not only a solid intellectual foundation, but an extraordinary opportunity for deep transformational growth and personal experience of the subject matter. How does Sofia University accomplish this? The university builds upon its strong, whole-person psychological foundation to give students a greater understanding of the human condition.

Learn more about our programs.

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