The reason why I chose the topic and elusive term ‘consciousness hacking’ is because I have personal experience with certain elements that successfully hacked my consciousness, curing burnout I experienced.
I decided to bring all of this healing and re-learning work that I had done within myself and lead a tribe which I have been missing for several years up until this point. I set up a chapter of Consciousness Hacking in Vancouver, the beautiful city I’m from, and it merges silos of people from technology, companies that fund technology, nontraditional medicine research and spirituality for people from all walks of life to listen, hold space for each other and meet others that may have the answers that they need to solve life‘s greatest problems right now, whether it be in climate change, agriculture, politics, and so much more that people seem to be craving peace of mind on.
As a Millennial who is interested in what’s trending for healing, what I see is compelling. Significantly more mention of ‘healing’ is replacing ‘fixing’ and this vocabulary shift has major perspective shift implications for how we view our health; as Bill Gates, one of the wealthiest individuals on the planet, said, “because we’re living longer, our focus is starting to shift toward wellbeing.”
Problems Leading to Burnout
In order for people to change their minds, a promising model is outlining a problem, a solution, and a vision. There are just a few core problems that lead to burnout that I will detail below that have directly impacted my life and the lives of people I know and love around me.
The problem of tech advancements is a harsh reality according to some projections where 800MN jobs will be gone by 2030 due to automated labor by machines and 46% of all job tasks will be eliminated.
The problem that alternative medicine solves is the opioid crisis. To be specific, the CDC has outlined a stark trend upwards in opioid-related deaths: in 2015, synthetic narcotics other than methadone (mainly fentanyl) had less than 10,000 reported fatalities. In 2017? Almost 30,000. Aspirin, at this point, can end your life faster than cannabis.
The problem that spirituality solves is the hopelessness out of all of this which has replaced the reliance on religiosity. In the days before the scientific method, religion would explain illnesses, cosmic phenomena, and general ailments to help people figure out their world. Now, religion is being heavily discarded in favor of spirituality – an ambiguously defined notion of a higher purpose or intelligence.
All of this actually means something great for humanity to thrive: the future basics will shift from a house, a car, and a degree to mental health, emotional health, and happiness; the future of work will shift from coal mining, agricultural farming, and over-packaging to emotional intelligence, social skills, and engagement; and the future of life will shift from opioid dependence, autoimmune illnesses, and problems of obesity to flourishing, and enhanced mental and emotional capacity.
What is transformative technology? Let’s look at what traditional technology is first.
Traditional technology largely alleviates humanity’s ills centered around physiological needs such as getting food delivered (Foodora, DoorDash), being reminded to drink enough water (Hidrate), sleep for enough hours (alarms on phones), etc. It also helps with safety and security needs; traditional tech can help to track your health (FitBit) and your property (Landlordy).
Transformative technology reaches above and beyond the basic needs to care for the more abstract, emotional and resonant needs; technology to monitor where friends and family are (Find My Friends), building intimacy (pleasure robots), thinking positively and confidently (Happify), intelligent assistance (Woebot, X2AI), being inspired to live one’s best life (Lark, JoyBot) and even quantifying one’s level of self-transcendence through emotion tracking/HRV (heart-rate variability) training (Feel, HeartMath).
The human wellbeing market is in massive growth at $3.7TN WW and 10.6% CAGR just right now. Transformative technology is disrupting $100BN industries and creating new markets which includes all humans.
When I graduated university, I entered the real world of business working as a Project Manager and became very present to how technology had just transformed while I was in my bubble of university. I learned of virtual reality for anxiety therapy or how social credit scoring is already being done in China based on the endless data that people provide in the seemingly innocent world of social media.
Alternative, or Original Medicine
Eastern, alternative, and original or organic medicines have achieved landmark study funding and support in the past few decades, but some of them are largely still Schedule 1 on the FDA and illegal in most areas of the world because of not being recognized for medicinal potential.
The most fascinating part of alternative substances resurfacing has been as medicine and these are just a few examples:
- MDMA-assisted psychotherapy has been found with PTSD patients in a 2-month followup that 83% were no longer diagnosed with PTSD (more significant than any antipsychotic/antidepressant effect with PTSD)
- Magic mushrooms have been found to quell the symptoms of severe depression
- Ibogaine therapy has been found one of the most promising solutions for combatting drug addiction and the opioid crisis
It’s no surprise, given the results that certain medicines have. As one Fortune 500 Innovation Lead once said, “I need my people to envision things that no one has thought of yet, and for that to happen, I have to help them access the best, most creative part of themselves.” Whether it’s microdosing, religious ceremony, or involving oneself in clinical trials, perhaps alternative, out-of-the-box solutions are the keys to the kingdom.
As someone who studied psychology, I was always incredibly interested in the deeper nature of human healing. I was always curious as to why people weren’t feeling better about their mental health and the state of mental health in the world but seemed to be feeling worse about it and worse about themselves. As someone who was just entering adulthood and university, I was fascinated by the hushed tones about plant medicine and nontraditional healing. Upon deeper exploration and removing my own mental barriers, I would have been blind if I didn’t see the research piling up in front of me proving these substances represented a new medical model for the world.
A Spiritual Practice
A spiritual practice has been defined as a habit or ritual that embodies a spiritual belief or faith. While the common choices are prayer, meditation, or even sharing/reading Biblical quotes, there are all sorts – some have even considered running to be a spiritual practice where one connects with a divine source.
- Meditation has found to increase mindfulness, which is a term embodying a state of focusing on each moment in the present awareness (basically to help stay present and not feel like a chicken with its head cut off the whole time)
- Mindfulness meditation has been found to help out with “work-life balance, sleep quality, and vitality”
I would have LOVED something to help transcend the burnout I felt at work as a young woman in a fast-paced environment. Transformation in a broken workplace with dissatisfied employees apparently begins “when organizations open themselves to the cultivation of their own employees spirituality.” When workplaces look at the spiritual qualities of meaning and finding purpose and joy at work there is increased job satisfaction, enhanced job involvement, organizational identification, and work rewards satisfaction with greater levels of honesty, trust and commitment.
Many organizations in Silicon Valley that are pioneering incredibly advanced technological frontiers and artificial intelligence, machine learning and even financial technology see that there is an incredible interest in finding meaning at work and successful organizations pick up on this and deliver it to their employees, whether that includes facilitating meditation workshops or spiritual practises.
Prior to this holistic renaissance and science proclaiming so many benefits of meditation, there were (and still are) many scientists and companies that believe that productivity at work starts with doing tactical exercises to increase sales. This isn’t unfounded or bad advice at all; this is why a spiritual practice is so mystifying to people as to why meditation seems to work, simply because it seems like nothing more than just sitting and breathing that seems to bring so many benefits that people may have been struggling with for so long.
In the midst of learning about the world of technology and business after graduating from my program in psychology, I became present to how my Atheist upbringing and my Western part of the world was really hindering me from exploring all that I could about well-being. I began to see meaning in closing my eyes and meditating, looking into someone’s eyes uninterrupted for several minutes, and ecstatically dancing simply to consciously move one’s energy around the room.