The world is facing complex problems and we believe that solving them will involve a deep exploration of our own consciousness and our relational and cultural spaces and practices. As the name “Mindlab” suggests, we see our mind as a kind of laboratory and our content of consciousness as a stream of observable data that we can learn to better notice, observe and understand in order to become more mindful, compassionate and wise.
We are in line with recent findings of cognitive science telling us that both our minds and brains are highly plastic and that mental faculties, previously thought to be rather fixed, can be greatly improved with training. This seems to be the case for attention, mindfulness, metacognition, emotional states and regulation. With the refinement of these faculties comes the promise of making richer, more fine-grained observations within, to better understand our mental patterns and to ultimately become more mindful, compassionate and wise. We want to empower as many people as possible to undergo this transformation in the most systematic, reliable and pleasant way possible. The ultimate goal is to raise our collective level of consciousness and accelerate the transition to a true consciousness culture (Bewusstseinskultur). Everything we do at the Mindlab is informed by this general vision.
Values and ideals
Good projects: we only take on what we call good projects, which are projects that benefit the individual, the group and the community at large (both local and global). If a project is likely to harm either of these three groups, it will not be carried out. We have a high standard regarding the mental health and well-being of the individuals contributing to our organisation.
Community building: a crucial goal of the Mindlab is to build a community around consciousness culture. Inner science needs a holding space to flourish in. Inspirations for this community come from Epicurus ideal of a garden where friends come together to philosophise, support each other and enjoy themselves. A second inspiration comes from the Buddhist idea of a sangha, a spiritual community focussed on mutual support. One might call the ideal we have as a “inner science sangha garden”. This focus on community is not only an end in itself but also a means toward the end of resilience and stability of the organisation, fully utilising the power of synergy and network effects.
Psychological safety: we aim to create an environment which is psychologically safe, meaning that people feel free to express how they feel, especially regarding expressing criticism, asking “stupid” questions and showing vulnerability. High organisational psychological safety has been strongly correlated with better mental health of teams and also with higher effectiveness. All parts of the mindlab are deliberately designed to foster high levels of psychological safety.
Equity and equality: we give all people the same opportunities, no matter their sex, gender, race or other distinguishing factor.
Scientific method and scientific ideals: the entire project can be seen as an ongoing experiment in which we aim to apply the scientific method to all areas of our organisation. This means that we continually go through cycles of observation, hypothesis, experimentation and evaluation and do so regarding our communication, meetings and relationships, our projects and workshops, our data management and documentation and our organisation as a whole. To do so we rely on the scientific ideals of validity, reliability and objectivity, as well as openness, curiosity and healthy scepticism.
Purpose before profits: we have not decided ultimately on our organisational legal entity but gravitate strongly towards a non-profit or a steward-owned organisation. In both cases the ultimate aim is not to maximise profits but to fulfil our vision and purpose.
Systemic and holistic approach: our approach to the topics of interest is deeply grounded in systems theory, and the solutions we aim for are holistic in nature. This means considering as many aspects from as many perspectives as we can synthesising different insights whenever possible. To achieve this a collective, collaborative and community mindset is crucial.
Learning organisation and documentation: we aim to continuously improve and learn from our ongoing operations. This means conducting reviews and retrospectives in regular intervals and documenting every step of our projects to grow as an organisation and to enable others to replicate what we have done.
Open source and transparency: we value sharing information and making it freely available for others which applies to our findings, experimental protocols, internal processes etc. We intend to publish all our research freely under the creative commons license. We follow the transparency ideal from sociocracy which states to make all information publically available unless there is a strong reason not to.
Knowledge transfer: an important aim of the mindlab is to inform the public about topics surrounding consciousness research and -culture. This includes creating educational content, reporting on our own research and about other interesting scientific findings and philosophical topics. This will be done in the form of lectures, podcasts, discussion rounds, hackathons, conferences, webinars, retreats etc. As mentioned earlier we will start with a bi-weekly lecture series, a bi-weekly podcast and a bi-weekly gathering of the collective to bring together the members of the mindlab community.
Agile and sociocratic organisation: We work iteratively and incrementally and value agility and adaptability. Our modus operandi is inspired by sociocratic, agile and non-hierarchical structures and principles.
Fun and humour
A wise person once said: ”If it is not fun it is not sustainable”. Since we are interested in sustainable change a core principle of the mindlab is to enjoy ourselves and have a good time together. This goes hand in hand with the ideal of humour and especially not taking ourselves too seriously.
Mindlab ideals: as a basic principle we see the mind as a kind of laboratory and our content of consciousness – thoughts, emotions, moods and mental faculties, as a stream of data which we can observe, understand and experiment with. We recognise the reality of psycho- and neuroplasticity and aim to use ancient and modern technology to grow more beautiful minds and brains.
Interdisciplinarity: we are a group of individuals with diverse scientific backgrounds and recognise the value of combining many different perspectives in order to produce truly transdisciplinary work. Perspectives we value and have some expertise in include: psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, meditation and mindfulness practices, systems theory, complexity science, embodiment practices, teaching, coaching and consulting.
Combining first-person and third-person methods: we are interested in looking at the phenomena of interest, states of consciousness, from a first- and third-person perspective. This means that we will employ various techniques for directly exploring our own subjective states, such as meditation, mindfulness, attention training, etc. and at the same time using third-person measures to explore the correlates of these states. These correlates can be measured using EEG, fMRI, sonograms, heart rate variability, pulse, skin conductance etc. Furthermore, we plan on gathering data from the participants of our events and in the future create a research app which will enable us to gather high-definition data within the context of mental training.
We are researcher, participant and measuring device: consciousness research is distinct from all other forms of research because the phenomena in question, states of consciousness, is subjective in nature. Each one of us has direct access to the data of their own “mindlab”. Thus all of us are both participant and researcher as well as the measuring device. At the mindlab participants are thus seen as collaborative researchers. Furthremore, we test all of the projects we are running within ourselves and our core research group.
Action research: we follow the ideal of action research which means that we seek to enable transformative change. We are taking action and doing research at the same time. These periods of action and research are followed by review and reflection. Then another more informed, updated iteration of action follows and the cycle continues. An example of this is the Inner (R)Evolution course, a workshop-based research which includes reviews and retrospectives that enable us to optimise our processes and materials.
Citizen science: we believe that we are all scientists at heart whether we already know it or not. We want to make the inner scientific mindset explicit and empower as many people as possible to explore themselves to become more content and self-efficacious. We believe that good things will come from making inner science and our research findings available to everyone.