FINDERS COURSE FAQ

What is Finders Course?

The Finders Course is the first universally effective course that helps people transition to high levels of mental and emotional wellbeing rapidly, safely, and reliably. The course is 100% secular and built on data from the world’s largest scientific research project in this area, which included over 1,200 participants on 6 continents. Our courses are built on an on-going empirical academic study and blending both meditation and positive psychology in a structured setting.

The Finders Course experiment is facilitated by the Transformative Technology Lab at Sofia University in Palo Alto, CA, and is an actual university-level credit bearing course. Participants earn 6 quarter units of credit that they can apply to certificate or degree programs at Sofia, or transfer to other regionally accredited (the highest U.S. standard) universities.

The program is an incredibly sophisticated mix of positive psychology, age old techniques, and modern innovations - sequenced in a precise way based on over a decade of scientific research. Our research showed that using the Finders Course, 73% of people got there in 4 months or less. And, only 1% of people who took the program failed to experience it at all.

Some techniques are well known and others are less renown but incredibly effective. Even if you’ve tried some of these techniques over the years, you most likely haven't experienced most of the methods in the program. This is because even the most popular methods have been slightly modified to be much more effective based on our research. The methods themselves are sequenced in a highly precise way that makes each more effective than when they are used alone and in other contexts.

FC10 forward provides the original effective course and now adds biometric data which is discussed in detail below.

If you are accepted to the course, be very clear that you are signing up for:

Why is the Finders Course different than other courses?

The Finders Course solves:

Why does the course work?

What is the exact structure of the course?

What the Finders Course is not:

Is Finders Course for beginners?

Yes, anyone without psychological issues can take the course as the Finders Course protocol was designed to be accessible to everyone. In addition, the Finders Course protocol includes a wide variety of techniques. Most people have only tried 1-2 techniques so in FC most people are a beginner at some point in the course.

Why is there a tuition for the Finders Course?

Most money for research centers on neuropathology i.e. a disease of some kind. Studying human thriving is not a broadly funded activity. In addition, the course has operation, data analytics and staffing costs. It is a very structured and designed process where students are very clear every day on what they should be doing in their practice. For those who do not prefer unstructured self-organized learning, The Finders Course is ideal. For those who prefer to explore and learn on their own, the internet is filled with options for self-organized, self-driven exploration.

How do I get my questions answered during the course?

We will answer all questions concerning technique. We do not answer intellectualized questions driven by mental process as that is counter-productive to a decrease in identification. We do not have opinions on religious theology and would defer to religious scholars. We respect the world’s religions and philosophies, but that is not the Finders Course. The Finders Course is a secular program suitable for people of all backgrounds and beliefs. If you are looking for religious oversight or direction from us then the course is not for you. If you are looking for direct experience, technique, skill development and significant shifts in mental and emotional wellbeing then the course is for you. Given that we have no opinion on religion and are a secular offering, you will find no conflict with your belief set and can take the course.

Who organizes the course?

Dr. Jeffery A. Martin, Director, Center for the Study of Non-Symbolic Consciousness and Research Professor/Academic Director for the Transformative Technology Lab at Sofia University.

What is ongoing Non-Symbolic Experience (O.N.E.)?

Who can participate?

What are the requirements?

Why is Finders Course 10 and forward unique?

Most meditation research has centered on measuring changes in a person’s subjective psychological experience or specific physiological effects. FC10 is looking to gain insight in how specific techniques affect the body with the purpose of improving the process itself. Just as precision and personalized medicine will become the norm, we are taking the first steps in making precision meditation a possibility for all.

What will Finders Course contribute to the world?

The world needs scalable, affordable, accessible tools to help human mental and emotional wellbeing. We now live in exponential times. Technological ability is accelerating. Communication is instant. Interconnection is global. Great change is coming hard and fast. To navigate these conditions, we need to be present, creative, brave, calm, and collaborative — in other words, our best selves. Rather than just an outcome, mental and emotional wellbeing is also a key input for a better future.

But while technology is accelerating, our approach to the development of inner wellbeing is still traditional and, for the most part, not scalable. The mindset that insists exclusively on a traditional and historical approach makes high levels of mental and emotional wellbeing scarce and difficult to achieve. Too often, the tools for developing mental and emotional wellbeing are mistakenly thought to be solely subjective, shrouded in mystery or religion, or dependent only on luck or human willpower.

This blind spot is dangerous. The lag between our inner well-being and outer abilities results in tremendous social and individual stress. Worldwide you can see people who are overwhelmed by the change. When the brain is hijacked by stress, we find it more difficult to collaborate, to negotiate, or to accept others. If we cannot communicate, we cannot address our species’ greatest challenges...and we are running out of time. We are however optimistic, which is why we are doing this work.

Just as there are not enough mental health practitioners to support the current and WHO projected global disease burden of depression, there are not enough meditation and mind-training teachers in the world to shift the entire global population out of a fear-based response system into psychological wellbeing. We respect and have gratitude for the traditions who in addition to their theological beliefs studied the human mind as their insight and techniques have great value to modern humanity.

Developing data based insight and scalable programs for major shifts in human wellbeing doesn’t just happen. It must be the result of methodical research. However, most research and NIH money is focused on disease and neuropathology. Our work spans meditation to actual technology development to support of a community of scientists and engineers who are working across a wide field to develop the technology to close the lag between inner peace and outer technical ability. If you want to explore that work, please look www.transtechlab.org and www.ttconf.org. You can also find articles in Tech Crunch, Singularity Hub and many other conferences and outlets that have covered our work.

Right now, many meditators spend a lot of time meditating but very little time in states that can lead to ONE. Even if an optimal mediation exists for a meditator, it is unlikely s/he is skilled in a wide range of meditation techniques. Research has shown that techniques are not universally effective. A meditation technique that is working well for one person, for example, may not work well for any of their friends. Our hope is that the data collected will help people to know which methods they should be using for optimum progress, and which should be avoided - not just if they are doing them in the most effective way for them.

The future is coming, and it will be what we all make it to be -- so to quickly improve the skills, awareness and mental and emotional health and wellbeing of humans is one of the keys.

What is the end goal?

Scalable, accessible, affordable tools for people to find peace. A world wide awakening. You can learn allot about us here at www.transtechlab.org and www.ttconf.org.

Do you hope to have a simple mechanism/test to evaluate what would be the best type of practice for a person?

Exactly. We're seeking to make the subjective objective, and thus scalable. We have allot of research to do to get there but this is where we'd like to go. We think solving the fit problem increases the net number of people practicing.

When is the next course?

We have not scheduled the next course yet. Please join our email list and we will send you the details as the courses are scheduled.

Why should I participate?

Participate to contribute to humanity, and help solve the age-old debate on the existence of a measurable mind/body connection.

Or, to quickly identify the meditation method or methods that works best for you, right now. The Finders Course on its own the best way to experience the most effective meditation and positive psychology techniques in a single system.

Or, to feel happier, less stressed, and more effective and at peace than ever while making an important contribution to mankind.

The results of the base protocol make taking the course a benefit to the participant. The course being a research study is an added benefit.

What will FC10 and forward measure?

Finders Course 10 forward is an 18 week intensive, where students are introduced to 26 meditation and mind-training techniques in rapid succession. The course blends meditation, mind-training and positive psychology in an innovative way and surveys students throughout the class so that students and the course facilitators can track progress using academic gold standard measures.

FC10 includes data collection from hardware devices that are used during course practices. FC10 will measure accurate real time feedback on what is happening in your brain and body when you meditate. Brain waves will be collected via Interaxon’s Muse headset. Heart rate variability will be measured via the polar heart strap. Galvanic skin response will be measured via the Esense device. Neuromore will provide a smart phone application to control the devices and upload all data to the cloud. They will also use their AI analytical information to assist with processing data.

Our thesis is that matching bio data to psychological data during a well-vetted meditation and positive psychology program will allow us to see on a technique-by-technique, person-by-person, basis the effect of various meditation techniques on the brain and body. We hope that this will yield insight into the arc of each technique, allowing us to see how the techniques can be: 1.) optimally learned, 2.) adjusted and made more precise, and 3.) matched to people so they are using the best one for them.

What will FC10 and forward measure?

Meditation is proven to alter mental states. Biosignals from the brain (EEG), heart (HRV), and sweat glands (GSR) reflect stress, relaxation and other mental and emotional states.

The Finders Course protocol is a proven, peer-reviewed, statistically reliable, program, structured to the highest academic standards. In 15-18 weeks, students are introduced to 26 meditation and mind-training techniques in rapid succession. With 2.5 years of baseline data, the course is highly effective at triggering fundamental positive shifts in wellbeing.

While many have studied meditation or mentally activated biosignals, until now, no one has done both at this scale.

The massive data set allows machine learning and data science tools to search for the signals connecting mind and body.

How does EEG Work?

Brain cells communicate with each other by producing tiny electrical signals, called impulses. An EEG measures this activity. Brainwaves are typically broken up into five bands. The five bands are:

You can research more here: http://www.choosemuse.com/

What EEG device will we use?

A multi sensor EEG headband to monitor your brainwaves during meditation. The Muse app began with years of intensive research on higher-order combinations of primary, secondary and tertiary characteristics of raw EEG data and how they interact with focused-attention meditation. Connects via blue-tooth to your smart phone.

You can research more here: http://www.choosemuse.com/

How does HRV work?

Heart rate varies with every heartbeat. Heart rate variability (HRV) is the variation of beat to beat intervals, also known as R-R intervals. Electrocardiogram (ECG) is the electric signal originating from heart. The most distinct feature of the ECG is the QRS complex, which consists of the Q, R and S waves and originates from the electrical activation of the heart ventricles.

HRV indicates the fluctuations of heart rate around an average heart rate. HRV is regulated by the autonomic nervous system. Parasympathetic activity decreases heart rate and increases HRV, whereas sympathetic activity increases heart rate and decreases HRV.

From https://www.polar.com

What HRV device will we use?

A comfortable heart rate sensor strap to monitor your real-time, accurate heart rate while you meditate. Connects via blue-tooth to your smart phone.

You can research more here: https://www.polar.com

How does GSR work?

Skin response, also known as galvanic skin response (GSR), electrodermal response (EDR) or skin conductance (SC) is a method for measuring the skin's electrical conductance, which varies with its moisture level. Conductance is measured in µSiemens (µS) and is the inverse of electrical resistance.

The sweat glands are controlled by the sympathetic nervous system and react directly to the smallest emotional, physical or mental changes. A rise in skin conductance is clearly visible under the influence of stress.

From https://www.mindfield.de

What GSR device will we use?

A small finger sensor to monitor your skin conductance, a direct indicator of your relaxation or stress. Connects via the microphone input of your smartphone.

You can research more here: https://www.mindfield.de

How is the data collected?

Course related meditation session data will be collected via Neuromore. Neuromore is a leading development platform for interactive apps which combine real-time biodata and machine intelligence to create stunning audio-visual feedback. Neuromore will collect your EEG, HRV, and GSR data while you meditate on your smartphone.

Will I get to review my data?

It only makes sense to collect this data because of the effectiveness of the Finders Course protocol. Allowing participants to view their data during the course sessions would alter that protocol. Outside of your course sessions, you can use the devices for meditation or other activities and see the device surfaced data. After the course, participants will be the first to learn the results from the experiment and how to use the devices from the course to optimize their personal benefits.

How many courses have there been and will there be future courses?

Finders Course began in February 2014. There have been nine cohorts as of December 2016. FC10 runs in Q1 of 2017. We will schedule courses from time to time.

Are the courses open to the public?

The Finders Course is open to the public, and is designed to allow public contribution to the establishment of this on-going data set. Similar to the National Geographic DNA project, the Finders Course allows anyone to contribute to the world’s greater understanding of advanced psychological states and the mental shifts that happen along the way. The Finders Course is the largest crowd sourced and crowd funded experiment on Awakening ever conducted. By participating in the latest phase of this real-time scientific project, you will not only discover what works best for you, but also contribute to building the most comprehensive global data-set of Ongoing and Persistent forms of Non-Symbolic Experience.

How does the course use technology and online education principles?

The course is conducted online which allows anyone, anywhere to both benefit from it and contribute to the ongoing study. This is made possible by the surge in online education and the willingness of people to engage in deep development online.

FC10 and forward will use the online platform and 3 hardware devices.

What does the course consist of?

Finders Course an intensive, where student are introduced to 26 meditation and mind-training techniques in rapid succession. The course blends meditation, mind-training and positive psychology in an innovative way and surveys students throughout the class so that students and the course facilitators can track progress on academic gold standard measures. FC10 includes data collection from 3 hardware devices.

What are the key results of the Finders Course so far?

http://nonsymbolic.org/Yale-Presentation3-StatsVer.pdf

The Research Study

What is the official title of the study?

The official title of the original study is An Exploration of Persistent Non-Symbolic Experience in Adults, Center for the Study of Non-Symbolic Consciousness by Jeffery A. Martin.

http://nonsymbolic.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/PNSE-Article.pdf

More publications can be found here:

http://nonsymbolic.org/publications/

What exactly is Persistent Non-Symbolic Experience (PNSE)?

The core of PNSE and O.N.E. involves a change in the fundamental underpinnings of how the world is experienced. When most people look deep inside, they find that feelings like fear, anxiety, and worry form the foundation of their experience. Their daily experience of the world is built on and colored by these negative underpinnings. A tremendous amount of time is spent reliving the past, trying to control the future, and dealing with doubts and perceived inadequacies in the present.

The shift to PNSE or O.N.E. brings a sense of fundamental completeness and wellbeing. Individuals who experience it do not look for external people, organizations, events, products or services to fulfill or complete them. They feel more whole and at peace.

While life events can still affect these individuals, upset passes much more rapidly than it does for other people and allows a rapid return to deep and fundamental wellbeing. Other benefits are equally substantial, and can include:

What Key Findings From the Research Led to the Finders Course?

The Finders Course is based on two key findings from the PNSE research project. First, that not all methods are equally effective. And, second, that just knowing the most effective methods isn’t enough. You also have to be able to find which ones work best for you over time.

At a minimum, by the end of the class students should have successfully identified the method or methods that work best for them, right now. Along the way, they typically find themselves feeling happier, less stressed, and more effective and at peace than ever.

The course data is incorporated into the overall PNSE research project. It is also used to continue to refine and optimize the course for both current and new participants. Overall, the Finders Course has provided the first known large scale quantity of before-PNSE and after- PNSE data to share with the wider scientific community.

Is PNSE New?

PNSE is a form of human experience that has been reported in the writings of philosophers and mystics since antiquity. Historically, PNSE was often considered the domain of religion and spirituality. Many faith traditions are built on it, and they have done a wonderful job of exploring, preserving and sharing it over time.

Within these traditions, PNSE has gone by many names, including: nondual awareness, enlightenment, mystical experience, transcendental experience, the peace that passeth understanding, unity consciousness, union with God, and so forth.

It’s important to realize that atheists and agnostics also report these experiences.

http://nonsymbolic.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/PNSE-Article.pdf

Why was the Center’s original study so significant?

This study on Persistent Non-Symbolic Experience (PNSE) is significant because it provided the first cross cultural look into the psychology of individuals who claim to experience non duality, persistent mystical experience, enlightenment, oneness, awakening, unitive consciousness, and related persistent states. The study was conducted from the perspective of cognitive science rather than spirituality, religion, or philosophy.

The study used ‘gold-standard’ psychological measures, experiments, physiological measurement, and qualitative interviews that probed cognition, emotion, memory, perception, and sense of self. This allowed the experience of individuals reporting PNSE across cultures, spiritual, and religious traditions to be compared using a neutral language. The study was not limited to spiritual and religious individuals. Atheists and agnostics also experience PNSE, which opens up the possibility of deep and fundamental psychological wellbeing to all of mankind versus people of just certain faiths.

When did the original study begin and end, or is it ongoing?

The initial study began in 2006 and is ongoing. One public portion of the study is the Finders Course. Keeping with academic tradition, findings and update papers are regularly presented at peer-reviewed conferences, which have included: Towards A Science of Consciousness, Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness, Society for Consciousness Studies, and Science of Consciousness Forum. Research updates have also been presented at leading universities worldwide, including: Harvard University, Yale University, University of London, and National University of Singapore.

Who conducted the study?

The study was conducted by Dr. Jeffery A. Martin. Dr. Martin is a social scientist who researches personal transformation, and a leading international expert on non-symbolic consciousness. He specializes in bringing rigorous empirical research and testing to transformational techniques and theories that have strong anecdotal support.

Dr. Martin’s academic focuses include: technology, psychology, cognitive science, neuroscience, and transformative studies. A bestselling author and award winning educator, he has authored, co-authored, or co-edited over 20 books and numerous other publications; appeared in a wide variety of media; and lectured broadly in both academic and public forums.

His research on non-symbolic consciousness began while he was a graduate student in Transformative Studies at CIIS and Psychology at Harvard University. In the years since, he has been widely recognized as instrumental in driving research in this area forward worldwide.

His work has been regularly featured at leading academic conferences in North America, Europe, Asia, and India. He has been an invited speaker at leading universities worldwide including: Harvard, Yale, Stanford, University of California, University of London, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and the National University of Singapore.

Dr. Martin's work has also been featured in leading public forums such as Deepak Chopra's Scientists and Sages conference, the Science and Nonduality Conference, the Asia Consciousness Festival, and TEDx. He has been covered in media as diverse asthe South China Morning Post and PBS's Closer to Truth.

Dr. Martin is the Founding Director of the Center or the Study of Non-Symbolic Consciousness (nonsymbolic.org) and a Research Professor and Director of the Transformative Technology Lab at Sofia University (transtechlab.org). In addition to these primary affiliations, he holds a number of additional academic appointments across a variety of institutions worldwide, and serves on many advisory boards.

How many participants were there in the original research?

The original study had 1,200 participants with full PNSE.

Are the scientific findings available?

Yes, the scientific findings are available and we are very open to providing our anonymized data to other scientists.

Is a book available describing the study?

Yes, a more extensive book, in draft form, describing the original study is available from Dr. Martin.

What is the Transformative Technology Lab and how does that relate to the Finders Course?

The Transformative Technology Lab at Sofia University is dedicated to researching, publishing, developing curriculum around, and funding Transformative Technologies. Transformative Technologies are actual hardware and/or software devices, developed based on credible science/research that can produce a reliable and positive change in human experience and psychological well-being.

Dr. Jeffery Martin, the originator of the Finders Course protocol and Nichol Bradford CEO of Willow, are co-founders, Along with Mikey Siegel of the TTL Lab. The Lab represents the future, where hardware, software and devices will allow millions to experience the benefits of meditation through technology while the Finders Course represents a secular best-in-class experience of the current methodology for reaching extreme psychological well-being.

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