[Transcript] – Spirit Tech: The Brave New World of Consciousness Hacking and Enlightenment Engineering With Kate Stockly.

Affiliate Disclosure


From podcast: https://bengreenfieldlife.com/podcast/kate-stockly-podcast/   

[00:00:00] Intro

[00:00:52] Podcast Sponsors

[00:04:09] Podcast and Guest Intro

[00:06:50] What is spirit tech?

[00:08:50] Is this some kind of a shortcut to shifting brain waves or accelerating our spiritual journey?

[00:13:49] What is tFUS and how does it work?

[00:23:20] What is rTMS, what areas does it target, and what might it be used for?

[00:28:34] Plant medicine, religious practices, and stimulated experiences

[00:35:04] Podcast Sponsors

[00:40:03] How does Zendo work?

[00:43:02] How does the Zendo differ from the Muse?

[00:48:18] What is Virtual Sacred Reality and Microdose VR?

[00:52:40] Church and the intersection of technology/spiritual directors

[00:58:38] What is Field, and what happens there?

[01:01:30] Making Your Own Experience

[01:05:08] Closing the Podcast

[01:06:05] End of Podcast

Ben:  My name is Ben Greenfield. And on this episode of the Ben Greenfield Life Podcast:

Kate:  You can take a wise perspective from, actually, the Dalai Lama himself who seems like a qualified individual to have a take. And, he said, basically, the benefits are so profound for this kind of practice, and if there was some sort of electrode that he could implant into his brain to accelerate those benefits, to decrease the struggle that's involved in meditative practice, then he would be the first in line.

Ben:  Faith, family, fitness, health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and a whole lot more. Welcome to the show.

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Well, folks, I recently read this fascinating book. It's called “Spirit Tech: The Brave New World of Consciousness, Hacking, and Enlightenment Engineering.” It's kind of like the merging of biohacking technologies and spirituality and this new term called “neurotheology” and a whole lot more. It sounds kind of gimmicky at first, I know, especially for people who might be used to this old-school sit down, meditate, read the Bible, pray, whatever your spiritual practice is. But surprisingly, the use of technology can pretty significantly modify or control or modulate in some manner the spiritual experience. And, I've talked before on the podcast about how there's things like light sound stimulation machines. The BrainTap is one that I've used, or haptic simulators like the Apollo or the magnetic technologies like Hapbee that will shift your body into a brain wave state, very similar to what you might experience during meditation or breathwork or, say, the use of plant medicines or something like that.

But it's really interesting to actually be able to have this book that walks through the merging of spirituality and technology in a really thrilling way. I mean, it covers apps that help you to pray or meditate, to cyber nuts who are trying to fast-track nirvana through magnetic brain stimulation, to all of these different things, some of which I think are cool, and some I think are a little cheesy, say, like a virtual metaverse-based Baptist megachurch. I was scratching my head at that one. But then, there are other things like the God Helmet for psychic skills and brain-to-brain communication between individuals who are thousands of miles apart, that I just found absolutely fascinating. So, I thought, what the heck? I need to get the gal who wrote this book or at least co-wrote it onto my show.

Her name is Kate Stockly. She's an academic researcher who specializes in the scientific study of religion and women's studies in religion. She wrote a book called “High on God: How Megachurches Won the Heart of America,” which looks at the affect of an emotional dynamics, animating evangelical megachurches. And then, she also wrote this new book, “Spirit Tech,” which is basically how brain-based technologies are being applied by spiritual seekers to bring in this new, quite interesting wave of technology-based spirituality into the U.S., at least.

So, anyways, Kate, this is all so, so interesting. And, I'm super stoked that you can join me on the show today.

Kate:  Yeah, thank you so much. I'm so glad to be here. It's always just such a pleasure to have an opportunity to geek out about this stuff and explore. There's always new stuff coming out and stuff. So, thanks for having me on.

Ben:  Yeah. I guess, the million-dollar question, before I let you define why the book is called “Spirit Tech” and how you actually define spirit tech, is, are you wearing any devices or using any special head tools? Are you having implants in your body right now that are helping you to communicate more effectively on the podcast?

Kate:  That's a fantastic question, but no, I'm all natural now.

Ben:  I'm disappointed. I thought, maybe, you'd have like a tCDS helmet on or something. Well, I am wearing an infrared light wrap around my knee. So, there's that. But I've got us covered.

Kate:  Yeah. Now that you said that, I should just go get my Muse headset and put it on, just for fun.

Ben:  I don't know if it's making my knee more spiritual. But anyways, we'll get to that. So, “Spirit Tech” is the name of the book, and it was kind of a new term for me. So, how would you define spirit tech?

Kate:  So, for us, spirit tech is basically an umbrella term. It encompasses a lot of different things. And, it's not really a natural category of sorts, you know. And, this is just what made sense for us to include in the book at this very specific moment in time. But the idea of spirit tech is always changing and morphing and including new things as new technologies come out. So, this idea of spirit tech being just brain-based technologies, technologies that sort of draw upon the field of contemplative neuroscience and are intended to accelerate the benefits of spiritual practice. So, that includes mindfulness. That includes prayer, meditation, mystical experiences, which sort of is along the lines of psychedelic experiences and things like that.

So, yeah, the technologies are being employed in new ways. These are usually technologies that have been developed for something else, for peak performance or just technological innovation or medical purposes. And, now, they're being engineered in a slightly new way to enhance folks' spiritual lives.

Ben:  Yeah. It's interesting, too. I don't know if you've gotten this pushback before, but some people–My wife has this opinion. She's like, “Well, they say that some of this stuff, some 40 Hertz signal that you can deliver to your brain via, say, light therapy, that shifts you into a gamma wave signal, similar to what a monk might get after two hours of meditation and 10 years of practice, is some kind of a cheat code. There's no way that it can work as well.”

I sort of agree with her, as far as it's not about the journey, it's about the destination. Meaning, if you practice meditation for 10 years, there's going to be some character development, some endurance and perseverance, etc., that probably is going to give you a little bit more than just like slapping on a headset and meditating. Yet, at the same time, it seems like, if there is, I don't know if you want to call it cheat, a shortcut, a biohack to shifting your brain wave dramatically, it seems like it's at least important to pay attention to and maybe try out. I don't know what your take is on that.

Kate:  I think you've got it exactly right. And, I think that that is the million-dollar question. It's definitely an appropriate response, I think, to the notion of sort of this techno boost that's supposed to boost you into these states that other folks have spent 10,000 hours meditating on the top of mountain to achieve.

So, there's a couple of aspects. First of all, the technology isn't to that point, the benefits that somebody would receive from meditating for 10,000 hours–

Ben:  Yeah. Well, I should correct you real quick, the marketing behind the technologies to that point. But I agree with you, the technologies are not quite to that point.

Kate:  For sure. And, we could have a whole lot of conversation about the marketing. I think it's really important to be wary of. There's always going to be snake oil salesman, no matter where you're looking in the religious and spiritual space, and really, in any spaces. But, I think, that you can take a wise perspective from actually the Dalai Lama himself, who seems like a qualified individual to have a take. And, he said, basically, the benefits are so profound for this kind of practice. And, if there was some kind of electrode, some kind of implantation, this is what he said, some sort of electrode that he could implant into his brain to accelerate those benefits, to decrease the struggle that's involved in meditative practice, then, he would be the first in line. I mean, that's not a direct quote, but that's the essence of what he said.

And so, I think that we should be careful to still honor and respect and have a reverence for the practice. And, I think the best kind of spirit tech doesn't claim to do this for you. It claims to be training wheels as opposed to a motor. So, with training wheels, they help you balance, they help you stay on line, stay straight, stay moving towards your goals, so that you don't fall off and aren't too discouraged by the learning process, but you still have to pedal. You have to do the work and do the practice. Whereas, a motor just sort of zooms you there without any effort on your part.

Ben:  I'm one of those guys who has this mentality of do the hard work, chop wood, carry water, blood, sweat, tears, go did the hard work, let's say in the gym, for example, lift heavy weights and make yourself harder to kill, so to speak. But then, at the same time, you could stack technologies on top of that, like machine. I have this one newer machine I use called ARX. And, it gives me this really, really intense full-body workout in 15 to 20 minutes. And, you normally have to be at the gym for an hour and a half to get that. But, yet, I'm still working super-duper hard when I'm using it. It's not as though I'm sitting on the couch with as seen on TV electro-stim device while I eat Twinkies and get my abs shocked. Or, with diet, I think that there are certain things that you could consume before you have carbohydrates, like apple cider vinegar or bitter melon extract or berberine or something like that, that would allow you to have your cake and eat it too, to eat carbohydrates and have them have less of a response, yet, I'm also still jumping into a cold bath and going for a walk and making sure I'm not incessantly stuffing my face.

So, I think, with these technologies, it's kind of similar. It's like, yeah, you're sitting down and you're doing the breathwork and you're carving out the time for the meditation and you're having the devotions and you're incorporating silence and solitude in your life. But then, when you stack technologies on top of the hard work, I feel like you get the best of both worlds. It's like one foot in the realm of ancestral wisdom and the other in the realm of modern science.

Kate:  Exactly. And, I've actually seen that quote of yours, the quote of one foot in the realm of ancestor, with one foot in the — And, I was like, “yes, exactly that's it.”

Ben:  Yeah, possibly overused. But, I think, we should give people some examples here, too. There's so many things in the book I wanted to ask you about, or at least make my audience aware of. One of the first things that you talked about was tFUS, which I hadn't heard of before. I was familiar with the transcranial direct stimulation, the tCDS, because there's this headset called the Halo that was pretty big a few years ago. And, they still make it. And, I have one. And, you put it on before you work out. And, it stimulates your motor neurons for about 20 minutes, and then you get better motor neuron activation and, theoretically, better learning and better motor neuron recruitment during a workout or, say, practicing guitar or something like that, that you might do afterwards.

This tFUS, I think it's transcranial focused ultrasound stimulation, seems similar, but a little bit more oriented towards things like mindfulness meditation. So, can you get into that one? It was one of the first ones that you highlighted in the book.

Kate:  It's a similar idea to the transcranial direct current stimulation, using electricity. But, instead of using electricity, it uses ultrasound waves, which are just sound waves. And, the reason that the folks who are doing that research move towards focused ultrasound is because it can get deeper into the brain and it sends a much more precise and focused stimulation. So, those two factors, the depth of stimulation and the focus of the stimulation were really attractive to the researchers. So, they could narrow in on one specific brain region or brain component and see how that works.

Transcranial-focused ultrasound stimulation or tFUS is still in research stage. There's no actual headset out there yet that you could go out and buy. But, if folks are interested in that, I would definitely recommend to look into the research that's happening at the SEMA Lab. It's the Sonication Enhanced Mindful Awareness Lab with Jay Sanguinetti and Shinzen Young. Jay Sanguinetti is a neuroscientist who's been interested in this stuff for ages, also, an experienced meditator himself. And, he teamed together with Shinzen Young who is an expert meditator, a Shingon monk. And, his book, actually, is called “The Science of Enlightenment: How Meditation Works.” And, it's just a really fun, brilliant story of his own navigation of this space that you're talking about, the ancestral wisdom and modern science. He himself, as coming from the perspective of Buddhist monk, was interested in incorporating science.

So, the two of them, Jay Sanguinetti and Shinzen Young, have gotten together and are developing this technology. So, they're interested, not only in kind of researching, does tFUS actually enhance mindfulness training, and the way that they think it does, how can this be applied to interventions for clinical populations, things like chronic pain addiction. And then, ultimately, the goal is to invent a personal use device. So, they have sort of prototypes which are very exciting and have proven very successful.

Ben:  Yeah, there's a picture of one in the book. It looks a little bit — There's this infrared light cap that I use called the Vielight that I can use for either alpha or gamma wave stimulation. It was initially developed for dementia or Alzheimer's, but I pop it on every two days, just when I'm at work. It runs for about 25 minutes. And, I do it just based on the theory that it's increasing the activity of mitochondria in neural tissue. And, the evidence of it for dementia and Alzheimer's and the evidence of it for a shift in brain wave states is convincing enough to me to use it. And, it looks like it's about the same size as this tFUS device that Shinzen's wearing in the book.

And so, it seems like you could probably do a consumer model. But what I thought was interesting was where you talked about how they actually put this on people who had 30 years of meditation experience, and every single person that they tested on, all these advanced meditation practitioners, reported that they had way less resistance to centering their mind, and they were able to just dive deeper and more quickly into their meditation practice, which is pretty significant coming from somebody who's an experienced meditator.

Kate:  Yes, absolutely. And, Shinzen was the first guinea pig that they used on this. The first day, he was like, “I'm not really sure it's doing much.” But, after a couple days of the protocol that they were doing at that time, and especially, a couple weeks into the protocol, he said, the most significant intervention that he'd ever experienced after 50 years of meditation training. So, that is an experienced meditator. And, that group of experienced meditators that you're referring to who all sort of said the same thing, they said, “Look, we're having the type of insights and the type of depth of experiences that we would expect,” maybe, in a silent meditation retreat where they're sitting in meditation for a week at a time or something. They would never expect that kind of insight and that kind of state from just a regular old meditation session.

So, it's one thing to be using the technology on experienced meditators, which is actually a safety thing. They didn't want to be using this technology on novice folks who are not used to these meditative states, and then just thrust them into meditative states, deep meditative states that they weren't quite ready for. So, they wanted to start with the experts. So, not only is it sort of a safety measure to first use it on people who know how to handle their own mental landscapes, but also, it serves as this proof of concept, that they were able to say, “Look, this is actually approximating the same type of state I get from deep meditation.” And, they were able to sense that, “Yep, that's the feeling.” So, it was also really, really validating and exciting for the researchers to have.

Ben:  Yeah, I think what's interesting is that, instead of just subtly shifting brain wave states to infrared light or magnetic stimulation might do or even electrical stimulation or tDCS, this thing goes pretty deep in terms of the depth of penetration, which is interesting, because when you're looking at the area that you would want to target to turn off the busy brain, you're looking at way down in the basal ganglia, deep in the limbic system at the center of the brain. So, you got to penetrate a lot of brain tissue, as you highlight in the book, to be able to get to that section. I think you even mentioned, right now, you got to do an MRI first, figure out where that section is, and then use the tFUS to target the stimulation to that specific area. But it seems like this is way more powerful than anything out there on a consumer level, right now at least.

Kate:  Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Right now, they have to take a picture of the person's brain, load it into a computer. And then, they use this whole process called neuronavigation with a camera in it to see basically into the brain to find the desired target and then tell the computer, “Okay, this is it. Stimulate here.” And then, the computer is programmed with this whole setup of cameras and reflectors to get the technology, the transducer, the tFUS transducer to focus directly into that area of the brain.

So, it is quite an apparatus at this point. But, that's also because they're doing very specific research. They're trying out different things. They're targeting the interior frontal gyrus, which is associated with mood regulation and emotional regulation in the prefrontal cortex. They've targeted the anterior cingulate cortex, which is part of the brain that sort of evolved with bringing your attention back to the present moment and conflict monitoring and things like that, and then, also potentially the default mode network aspects of the default mode network, which is all about egoic consciousness and self-referential thinking and negative ruminative thinking. So, the idea is that it will calm down that default mode network. Then, we can actually sort of reveal more of this equanimity meditative state. 

So, yeah, while they're doing this research, they definitely need to know exactly where the beam is heading. But the idea that they could create a headset that you could just take home, you could buy at store or take it home and do it, it wouldn't have all that. You wouldn't be doing it, taking an image of your brain each time. So, that's part of the challenge, I think, to translate this into a home device.

Ben:  Yeah, but who knows? Like, 10 years from now, people might have in their kitchen something like a microwave, except it's like an MRI. you stick your head in there, you map your brain, then, you put your headset on. You'll never know.

Kate:  Yeah, who knows? I mean, technology — If there's one thing we know about technology is that it does move faster than we think it's going to. And, what we'll have in 10 years is almost unimaginable.

Ben:  Yeah. There's this infatuation right now with things like heart opener medicines for enhancing relationships, like MDMA therapy or intranasal oxytocin, for boosting your levels of that trust, cuddly love hormone. And, those would, of course, be neurochemical compounds. But, when I was reading in the book about the section on what you called rTMS, and I'll give you a chance to explain what that is shortly. I thought it was interesting that a lot of the people were reporting that they experienced almost this increase in social cognition, like better relationships. There's one guy with Asperger's. One thing that cause is a struggle with being able to interpret social cues and engage in real meaningful social interactions. And, it seems like it really, really helped that person in the book with that. But, the rTMS, it's different than the tFUS. But, can you explain what that is and which areas that's targeting or what that might be used for?

Kate:  Yeah, that's really interesting. So, I will just give a disclaimer that the study that that person with autism that you were talking about, John Elder Robison, was his name. He wrote a book called “Switched On: A Memoir of Brain Change and Emotional Awakening.” And, I'd recommend it, just because it's so fascinating to think about, how this happened, how he had this experience from getting his brains stimulated with rTMS and it transformed his ability, his social cognition ability and, actually, had very disruptive effects on his life, actually. I mean, he wouldn't go back. It was very valuable to him. But it did negatively affect a lot of relationships, because suddenly, he was bombarded with all this new social empathic information.

So, anyways, rTMS is magnetic stimulation. So, firstly, you mentioned direct current electrical stimulation with the tDCS. And then, we talked about the transcranial focused ultrasound stimulation, which is ultrasound. And, now, we're looking at magnetism. So, there's all these different kinds of ways that you can stimulate the brain. You've also mentioned photostimulation with light, which is also fascinating.

So, rTMS is repetitive, that's r, transcranial magnetic stimulation. And, repetitive just means that it's when you receive the stimulation, it's not a constant current of magnetic stimulation. Usually, transcranial direct current electrical stimulation is just a direct constant current. But magnetism is slightly different. So, it's repetitive bursts.

And, the different protocols might call for different patterns of bursting of this. So, sometimes, if you were to watch a video of somebody receiving rTMS, you would hear the machine going like [repetitive thuds] giving the simulation. So, yeah, so it is a form of stimulation. It's actually been on the market for a really long time. It is very, very commonly used in chronic treatment-resistant depression and other types of issues that might benefit like, I think, Parkinson's. I don't actually have that in my notes directly, but I think. Or, at least, deep brain stimulation has been used to treat Parkinson's disease.

Ben:  Yeah, I know it has, for sure.

Kate:  Yeah. And, in deep brain stimulation, that deep brain means surgical, right?

Ben:  Right.

Kate:  So, rTMS. And these other ones that we're talking about are not surgical, which means they're significantly less invasive.

Ben:  Now, are there any devices right now that are on the consumer level that use rTMS, like something could, I don't know, slap on before a date night or a social function or something like that?

Kate:  I believe there are. And, there are tons of devices out there. I try to keep track of them, but it's so hard. And, every time I think I've got a spreadsheet with everything, there's more. But I will say that we profiled in one of the appendices of the book, you mentioned too that this famous “God Helmet,” which is not rTMS, but it is a form of magnetic stimulation and sort of repetitive pattern magnetic stimulation. And, you can buy those headsets. They're not really on the major consumer market.

Ben:  No, they aren't because I looked. Their website was hokey. It looked it was designed by a bunch of, no offense, computer programmers with programming skills, but not necessarily an eye for design. And, I filled out a form to ask them about it and didn't hear back. I questioned what it would feel like compared to just the transcranial direct current stimulation because it is a magnetic pulse. I guess, the only thing I've used that has a magnetic pulse is that device I mentioned in the introduction, called the Hapbee, which simulates the magnetic signal of cannabis or THC or MDMA or nicotine or caffeine and stimulates a similar response. But it seems like this so-called God Helmet, I cringe at because I'm a Christian, and almost feels like a little bit blasphemous to call it the God Helmet. Maybe, the superhuman helmet. But, anyways, this giant motorcycle helmet with magnetic coils to put magnetic fields across the brain. I'm sure it's probably more powerful, but I've never used it. Have you ever put one on?

Kate:  No, I haven't. And, it's interesting that you caught on to the blasphemy of that term, because, in some ways, the original creator of it, Michael Persinger, he was not interested in encouraging a spiritual perspective. And, part of it was to almost disprove the validity of spiritual experiences, of God experiences. So, yeah, the idea that this helmet could induce the sense of a “sensed presence,” which then a lot of people might interpret as a ghost or an angel or God or whatever. Very, very, very, very, very few people who put on that helmet actually said that they sensed God's presence. Most people sensed an eerie presence, actually. So, [00:28:31] _____ anyways.

Ben:  Yeah, I think we could get super into the weeds on this. So, my take on this is, when it comes to plants, like certain plants used in plant medicines, I do think there is a little bit of a sacred or spiritual intelligence built into the universe. And, one of the ways that spirits, angels, gods, demons, what have you, interact with people is when they're consuming things like, say, ayahuasca or psilocybin or fungus or ergot derivatives, like LSD, things like that.

I actually do believe that you are entering into a spiritual realm in activities like that. I also think that there's other activities that might stimulate a little bit of that same thing from a neurochemical response. But they aren't necessarily, just because they're 100% synthetic, shift you into that same type of plant and nature-based sacred realm. And, it seems like the helmet might be that. I mean, another example might be some synthetic, like ketamine or even a really hard round of breathwork where your pineal gland is going to dump a bunch of DMT. I don't necessarily think you're sitting in a room with a demon or an angel when that happens. And so, I think there's two different flavors of a spiritual experience. I think one can actually be an entity-based spiritual experience, and then the other can simulate the type of chemicals that might be flooding your brain when you have that type of experience. I think it's very difficult to differentiate between the two.

Kate:  Yeah, yeah. I quite like how you explained that, though. I do tend to agree that there's something special about the connection with the earth and with nature that comes about with spirit plants. And, that's a specific very ancient wisdom and way of connecting with the deeper depth structures of nature and of spirituality and stuff. I'm pretty reverent about that thing, too.

And then, this idea that there can be ways to manipulate the body and the mind into a spiritual state, I actually think — yeah, I'm a scholar of religion, that's what I do. And, I see throughout history, throughout these ancient wisdom practices, people have been doing this forever. We all have all sorts of types of practices, bodily practices, different types of sensory stimulations with smells and sights and touch, and bodily disciplinary practices, spinning or breathwork is incredibly powerful. And, these have been used, these are technologies of the body, you could say, that have been used since humans have been doing religious rituals to almost prepare the mind and body to receive the wisdom of the spirits or gods that they're interested in communicating with. And so, it's like the idea that changing something about your physical or environmental stimuli is somehow inducing a fake spiritual experience. I think it's not necessary, right?

Ben:  Right.

Kate:  These can be just as meaningful and transformative and beautiful and real and true, in a sense, as any other experience. And, we've been doing this for ages.

Ben:  Yeah, and arguably safer. Also, if you look at some of the psychosis or schizophrenia or violent activity that's often centered around the use of drugs, they can be more difficult to dose precisely. Back to my theory about plant intelligence, I think it open you up to a different kind of entity-based universe. And, I think that some of these technologies simply shift you in a little bit more of a neurochemical or electrical sense into a state of receptiveness or openness or a deeper meditative state that, I think, could be safer and also result in less issues with, say, the potential for serotonin syndrome or neurotransmitter deficits or imbalances that you might get with hefty use of something like plant medicines.

And then, I should also clarify, by the way, that again, as a Christian, I have to voice my opinion on this. And, I think that human beings for all time, I agree with you, we're not only dopaminergic creatures, starting with human breastmilk being like ice cream and us having this hardwired response to hyper-palatable foods, and we go through our whole lives hardwired to enjoy hyper-palatable foods based on that dopaminergic response. Not only that, but sex, for some people, skydiving or free diving or any other element of an exciting type of activity. But we're also hardwired as beings who enjoy altered states of consciousness, whether we achieve those through sex or through wine or through food or through plant medicine or through prayer, through meditation, or through breathwork. I think that we're hardwired, especially consciously, to be able to seek out those type of altered states of conscious.

For me, personally, and I just say this also because I know I have a lot of Christians who also listen in, where I draw the line is what I would say is defined in the Bible, at least, is so-called pharmakeia. And, the definition of that would just be basically using drugs to commune with the divine, to get downloads from God or to communicate with demons or to call on spirits, basically with the Bible defined as witchcraft or sorcery. That's kind of where I draw the line with all this stuff.

But, again, I have absolutely no problem putting on some headset that allows you to get into a deeper state of meditation or — and I know there might be some folks out there might draw on a sharp breath of air when I say something like this, wearing a headset during prayer, or some type of wearable at church that might enhance your experience. I have nothing against that. And so, it is interesting that there's a lot of little kind of religious rabbit holes you could get into when it comes to what someone of faith might or might not practice.

Kate:  Yeah, absolutely. It's been a fascination of mine to wonder about if there could ever be a situation where you would have, for instance, a set of headsets that you would see in the pews right next to the hymnal or right next to the kneeling — the place where you kneel. I can't remember the name of it. That would be, yeah, put on in a moment of prayer or in a moment of contemplative silence where folks are just encouraged to prepare their heart and mind for, say, the Eucharist or something. And, if this technology could be seen as a helpful, honestly, a gift to be used wisely and judiciously to help enhance that experience.

Ben:  You may have heard me talking lately about how much muscle I've been packing on by working out for about 15 to 20 minutes just three times a week using this thing called the ARX. It's the most effective and safe form of resistance training in the world. This thing is like fighting a giant robot for a few minutes, and when you come out the other side, you feel like you're impossible to kill. So strong, so tough. And, anybody can do it—my kids, my wife, me. No dangerous ways to drop, no adjustments to make, perfect resistance every time.

They got two different machines. One's called an Alpha. That one gives you a full-body workout in just six minutes. And, again, these are for all ages and experience levels. Simple set up. Maximizes space efficiency. That one gives you the leg press, chest press, row calf raises, bicep curl, torso flexion, and torso extension, enough to keep you super fit for life.

Omni is the one that I have because I'm a glutton for punishment and I like cool things. The Omni combines about 10 different machines into one easy-use system. So, you get a full-body workout, but it can do squat, deadlift, Romanian deadlift, calf raise, pull down, pull over row, overhead press, high pole, horizontal press, decline press, incline press, pec fly, tricep press down, bicep curl, hamstring curl. But they remove weights and gravity from the equation. So, it uses patented motorized resistance with a custom computer software to give you the safest, most effective, and most quantified form of resistance training ever.

When you train with it, you're training to your perfect level of resistance, both positively and negatively, 100% of the time, as you push and as you pull. No more guessing what weight to use because there is no waste to mess around with. ARX does all that for you instantly and automatically. Their built-in software tracks and measures every second of every rep. So, for you, self-quantification geeks, out there, you automatically know if you're meeting or exceeding your previous workout, how strong you're getting, everything you need to know. Super motivating, too. I love this thing. And, I'm not a big fan of crushing myself with heavy weights. And, I'm totally motivated with this thing.

So, whether your goals are bigger muscles or increased strength or stronger bones or just to look good in your bathing suit, ARX can help you achieve all of those things and more, but do so in a fraction of the time it would take compared to traditional equipment. Just go to ARXFit.com/Ben to check it out. That's ARXFit.com/Ben to check it out.

I'm honestly shocked every time I see a bodybuilder or a fitness influencer or anyone, really, promoting branched-chain amino acids, also known as BCAAs. You see these things all over the place. I just don't get it, they only have three of the nine essential amino acids your body needs. They can cause issues, like messing with your serotonin levels and depleting your B vitamins. They affect your blood sugar deleteriously, and a whole lot more. But the dark and dirty secret supplements industry is that you can make a lot of money out of the overpriced flavored water that is essentially BCAAs.

So, I use the word, “essentially”, I suppose, quite fittingly because the alternative are essential amino acids. Essential amino acids actually have all the amino acids your body actually need. They are great for energy, great for preserving muscle, great for fasting and keeping the appetite satiated, great for nourishing the body for sleep, good for cognitive performance. They're like the Swiss Army knife of supplements, these essential amino acids. I'm blown away by the number of people who have heard me talk about essential amino acids on the podcast who started using them and who literally feel like they're on steroids without actually being on steroids. Kion is the company that has the perfect ratios, perfectly primed for recovery, for muscle maintenance, for muscle building. Kion Aminos are better than, not only every branched-chain amino acid supplement out there, but because they're essential amino acids, in my opinion, based on the ratios, the flavor, watermelon, mango, berry, lime, so good, are better than any aminos out there, period.

And, I'm going to give you a 20% discount for the Kion Aminos. Go to GetKion.com/BenGreenfield. That's GetKion.com/BenGreenfield, and that'll give you a special discount on your first-time purchase of Kion Aminos.

Let's talk nicotine, shall we? I use nicotine. I chew on a piece of nicotine gum a couple times a day. It's a lot healthier than a cigarette, could tell you that. And, nicotine, actually, has some pretty cool properties in terms of focus and productivity. And, I think it's a reason that a lot of people now are combining it with a cup of coffee, a little caffeine, or another nootropic, and just basically blasting through their day with a little bit of nicotine. There's this company that makes gums, and then make lozenges and these little mouth mints. And, it's really good, clean nicotine. They're called Lucy. And, you can check them out at Lucy.co.

And, it's a responsible way to consume nicotine. You can choose 2, 4, 6 mg. You can choose your delivery mechanism. And, you just get this nice, clean, edged mentally when you use it.

Now, it does contain nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical. Use it responsibly. But I'm going to give you a 20% discount, either way. Go to Lucy.co and use promo code, BEN20. That's Lucy.co and code, BEN20.

And, for people who might be shocked by that, let's say you're a Christian or someone who worships out of church listening and you say, “Oh, gosh, that sounds horrifically blasphemous,” again, well, you're in a church with sound systems and PowerPoint projectors and sometimes electrical instruments, and you drove there in a car, it's not as though we have to disconnect ourselves from technology to be religious or to be spiritual. I don't necessarily think that you got to be a hippie with a toga and leather sandals on all the time in order to connect to God in the right way. You know what I'm saying?

Kate:  Right, right, absolutely. And, even with the toga and leather sandals, think about incense that have been in church cathedrals and in religious spaces for a long time, too. What's the point of those? It's to create this sensory experience of this ritual space, to set the tone of the space, which is also just — I mean, it's different and I know it feels quite a bit different than having a bunch of wires and electricity and things like that, but conceptually, you could put them into the same category.

Ben:  Yeah. It's super interesting, and again, a deep, deep rabbit hole. So, I want to ask you another question about, well, related to some of these things that I guess would probably be categorized as more meditation enhancers. One, I've been messing around with, I found it in your book. I got my hands on one. It's called a Zendo. I'd love for you to explain a little bit about how it works, because when I do meditate, when I do sit and do breathwork and I put this thing on, again in way, way less extensive and involved in that tFUS that we talked about, or God Helmet, but it seems to work remarkably well. I put one patch over my left eyebrow and one over my right temple, and I feel like, within about 20 seconds, I can turn my brain off and shift in the meditation really quickly. Can you explain what's going on with this Zendo thing?

Kate:  Right. I'm so fascinated to hear your review of yet, your report. That's so great to hear. It's a direct current of electricity between those two patches, one over your left eyebrow, one over the right temple. And, the actual mechanism that makes these stimulation processes work is not quite exactly known. There are a series of hypotheses on what they're pretty sure is happening, but the brain is the last frontier, right? We understand how neurons work. We understand what's happening. But, in terms of how exactly this electrical current is affecting and targeting the brain is still a little bit of a hypothesis.

So, it's believed to cause, either, a depolarization or a hyperpolarization of the neurons, which basically is just a fancy way to say that it affects neuronal excitability. So, it's either inhibiting how often neurons fire or how easily they fire, or it's increasing how often or easily the neurons fire.

Ben:  Now, is that different than the way that — You mentioned the Muse, which I used a long time ago. I think I actually have one around my house somewhere, but I haven't put it on a while. It seemed different than the Muse, but are they using different technologies?

Kate:  Yes, totally different technologies. So, the Muse uses neurofeedback rather than neurostimulation. So, we've only been talking about neurostimulation so far. So, just categorically, we're switching gears to talk about neurofeedback now. And, neurofeedback does not stimulate the brain at all. What that headset is doing, the Muse headset, is actually, it's got some electrodes that are reading the electrical activity that's happening inside your brain. It's not sending any electricity into your brain, it's just reading what's happening. So, it's reading those brain waves that your brain is producing.

And, your brain wave produces all sorts of different wavelengths of electricity all throughout the day, depending on what you're doing. So, if you're sleeping, your brain is going to be producing very slow delta waves. Delta waves are associated with actually dreamless sleep. So, they're the slowest types of waves. And then, there's theta waves, which are also associated with sleep. But they tend to appear while you're dreaming or when you're awake, but you're really, really relaxed or in deep meditation, you might have theta waves. And then, there's alpha waves, which are sort of resting but alert state when you're in really deep thought or focusing. So, alpha wave training is actually very popular. People want more alpha waves, especially since, for example, beta waves, these are the most common type of waves that you have when you're in normal life, walking around —

Ben:  Right, stressed out on a podcast.

Kate:  Yeah, very focused. Yeah, high beta waves are associated with stress and anxiety. So, people like — which are actually obviously very, very useful. When you need to be stressed and anxious, you need to have your brain click into that fast state, right? You want to think fast. You want to have that fast wave activity. But, of course, in our contemporary society, a lot of folks have too much beta wave activity and are hyper-alert and anxious when they don't need to be. So, they might do that alpha wave training to bring them back to that alert but calm state.

And then, there's also gamma waves, which are the fastest. And, they are often associated with peak performance and peak concentration and mental activity.

Okay. So, the Muse reads your brain waves and then has, in its programming, say it wants you to calm fade waves, increased alpha waves, maybe put a little bit of theta in there because you're trying to meditate, presumably. If the Muse headset is on, it's meant for meditation and aid. And then, use also — market has a sleep headset, also. So, the sleep headset is probably going to reward more theta waves.

Ben:  Okay, but it's detecting, it's not stimulating. And then, you would use an app that you would look at, very similar to what you might do in a neurofeedback laboratory on a computer screen, that will, for example, reward you when you're brain shifts into the desired brain wave states, and perhaps, somehow punish you when you're not achieving your desired goal in the app or, in the case of a neurofeedback laboratory, I've spent time at the Peak Brain one in LA, and you're flying a spaceship and the spaceship slows down, the music gets quiet when you shift into beta. And then, the spaceship starts flying again when you're shifting to alpha, if you're trying to down train beta, for example. But there's no actual stimulation that's occurring.

Kate:  Exactly. The stimulation that is occurring is this sensory stimulation through sound and visuals. I mean, I guess it's stimulating, in a sense.

Ben:  So, theoretically, you could combine. I don't know if they both fit in your head, but you could combine the Zendo patches and the Muse headband and do stimulation combined with neural feedback.

Kate:  Yeah. And, people have actually talked about that. And, actually, I've recently heard Jay Sanguinetti saying that on either a podcast or some talk that I heard him give where he said that that was a dream of his, was to incorporate that into the tFUS headset, is to combine both, to have both aids. One is a conscious, you're looking at the feedback on the screen and hearing the feedback.

When I did neurofeedback, it was, I went in there into the office and I heard these dings and beeps and blings. And, I thought, honestly, these are annoying sounds. I didn't really like them. I didn't find them to be consciously rewarding. But what I learned is that my brain was rewarded by it. So, that's really all that matters. You're not actually doing anything except for trying to meditate, and your brain is receiving this feedback that it finds rewarding in order to produce more of the desired waves, just as you were describing.

So, I think that's an interesting aspect of it, too. But, yeah, so if you were doing the neurofeedback and having some little brain stimulation in there at the same time, which would be fascinating, to be able to have the brain stimulation registering on the EEG headset that's reading your brain, you might be actually able to see that stimulation affecting your brain, too, which would be cool.

Ben:  Yeah. Gosh, it's super interesting. And, there's a chapter in the book called “Virtual Sacred Reality.” And, you talked about this thing called Microdose VR, which is a great title, considering the current infatuation with both microdosing and VR. I have a friend who was telling me about — I think it was on his Oculus headset. He had a program called Tripp, I think it was called, that simulated something very similar to something like a psychedelic plant medicine journey when he put on the VR headset. I'm not quite sure what the outcome or the purpose of using that would be. But, this Microdose VR, I couldn't tell if that was something different or what exactly it is, because again, it was one of those deals I went to their website to check it out. I couldn't quite figure out how it worked or how it would be used. But, have you looked into that much at all? Or, could you explain what it is?

Kate:  Yeah. So, Microdose VR and Tripp, and actually another one that I'm probably the biggest fan of, SoundSelf. Tripp and SoundSelf are actually created by the same company. But these all belong under the umbrella of technodelics. So, a play on the word, obviously. Psychedelics, they're technodelics. So, the idea is that they're very much inspired by the psychedelic experience. Hence, the work, “microdose.”

So, the idea is that they're simulating the type of visuals and putting you in this mind state, with no drugs, no drugs involved, no actual psychedelic involved, but the intention is to approximate that experience without a drug. So, Micro VR is still in the alpha phase. Meaning, you can only access it if you're one of their kind of testers. And, I think you can sign up to be a tester, if I understand correctly. I'm not entirely sure how that whole world works. So, they're still developing it.

Ben:  Do you need extra hardware when you get it? Or, are you literally just accessing the software and using your computer screen or something to use it?

Kate:  I think you need a VR headset, for sure. You need a particular version of the VR headset with the controllers and everything. Because, basically, it combines music and dancing and visuals and sound, special music, that you can remix in the experience. And, what you're doing is the visuals are created based on your dancing and based on this particle emitter that you can shoot using the controllers. So, they basically use the same type of technology that is used in guns and cannon launchers for games, for VR games. And, instead of shooting bullets and cannons, you're shooting beautiful lotus petals and fractal spirals and imagery that go along with the music and create this whole, encompassing, unfolding meditative space for yourself. So, it's very stimulating. You're standing up. You're dancing around. You're having an experience.

Ben:  Wow, it's really interesting because, again, I think that some of these plant-based chemicals might have as many downsides as upsides. And, yet, this seems to possibly simulate an experience like that without the potential for some of the neurochemical or spiritual blowback. It's kind of odd they call it Microdose VR, because usually, microdosing is you're using sub perceptible doses of, either a psychedelic or hallucinogen, but, usually, off label, not for the intended experience of journeying, but just to enhance creativity or focus or productivity or something like that. It seems like they should just call it, I don't know, Journey VR or Heroic Dose VR, based on your description of it.

Kate:  Yeah. Well, that's what the videos look like to me. I've never had the opportunity to use it, but it looks like a real perceptible megadose.

Ben:  I question the utility of it. I could see a bunch of people engaged in escapism in their basement wearing their VR headsets and tripping out, and then getting back to their day. But, I suppose some people go, again, skydive or swim with sharks. And, maybe, some people want to get their rush doing Microdose VR. So, it's interesting.

Now, back to the thing about church and the intersection of technology and religion, I thought it was interesting, and this might be a sneak-peek into the future of spirit tech, that you talked about spiritual directors, the emergence of people who would, actually, I guess, just walk people through the use of stuff like this. Where would you envision spiritual directors fitting in? Why do you talk about them in the book?

Kate:  Yeah, that's so interesting. So, spiritual direction is already a whole field of profession. You can contact a spiritual director who comes from any sort of tradition. And, they basically are sort of a pastoral figure, but they're meant to — almost a combination between a pastor and a coach who's going to help coach you along on your spiritual journey.

And, yeah, so if you came from a Christian tradition, you would probably be most attracted, I would assume, to a spiritual director that comes from the tradition that you're in. So, you could have a Catholic spiritual director. You could have a Lutheran spiritual director or a Methodist spiritual director, all sorts of different things. You could also have a Buddhist spiritual director. But the idea that we were playing with in the book is this idea of a spiritual director that would really, really understand the realm of spirit tech. So, if you had somebody who is interested in exploring but also interested in maintaining a reverent perspective, they're interested but cautious, which is what you were describing with folks who are wondering, where are the boundaries? I'm interested in exploring this biohacking stuff, but I also don't want to go into this realm where I'm inviting in something unholy. And so, a spiritual director would help navigate that space.

So, you could imagine this whole space that we're talking about — at the very beginning, I said this is an umbrella term spirit tech. There's a lot going on here. So, the idea that a spiritual director would have an umbrella-type knowledge to help either recommend, like, “Okay. Well, I think that, maybe, SoundSelf VR is a better choice than Microdose VR for you.” Or, maybe, they might say, “Well, let's start out with neurofeedback. If you really like that, then we can incorporate a little bit of brain stimulation because that's a little bit more invasive and a little scarier for people, sometimes.” So, yeah, the spiritual director might help answer some of those questions, too.

Ben:  It's interesting to think about the fact that — because I'll get texts sometimes from friends who I've encouraged to have a prayer and Bible reading and devotional practice in the morning. And, they just keep experiencing cognitive resistance, or they fall out of the practice, but you could see a future in which, maybe, there's some type of institute or at-home technology or director who could run on a qEEG on that person or a SPECT scan or some other type of brain map, figure out what type of brain waves are firing, which ones aren't firing, maybe they're in high beta and low alpha, maybe there's neurochemical imbalances related to distractibility, etc. And then, in conjunction with that person's commitment to spiritual development, they could actually incorporate technologies, like a Zendo or a Muse or even the use of a certain neurotransmitter replenishment protocols, L-DOPA or something like that to actually allow that person to, from a biological physical standpoint, more easily develop themselves spiritually. And, again, I realize that there are sections in the Bible that say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” and then, the only way to salvation is through Jesus. Yet, I also think that God made us pretty intelligent creators and wouldn't frown upon us using our brains to allow us to, basically, grow spiritually, possibly, in a little bit of a biohacker faster way. Does that make sense?

Kate:  Yes, absolutely. I definitely think that we were gifted with this incredible ability to build technologies. And, that is not to say that all of the technologies that we build are always used in good ways, because they're obviously definitely not. So, there's this quote from Shinzen, I believe, who basically said a technology powerful enough to liberate is also powerful enough to enslave. And, I think that that's a really good reminder to say that these technologies are tools. You can use a tool to build a house and to build shelter and to cook food and do all these things. And then, you can also use the same tool to kill somebody. So, it's not the tool itself that's either good or bad. It's really how we manage it and how we incorporate it into our lives. So, it's so smart what you were saying about the VR. You can imagine somebody sitting down in their basement just zoning out and overdoing it with these different Technodelics because they are so powerful. They are powerful. And, that could be harmful.

But you can also imagine somebody waking up and putting on the VR headset for a little meditative experience, for 15 minutes, 20 minutes, and having it just boost their spirit, connect them to themselves, help them feel more grounded and alive and awake and ready for the day. And, that can be such a gift, right?

Ben:  Yeah. And, obviously, I think it's going to take some pretty intelligent people who have, like you, a little bit of a history in both religion and spirituality and also technology to be able to build out something like that. But, it's very interesting to think about where we might be in the next decade or so. Similar to your idea of this emergence of spiritual directors who might specialize in technology, there are also centers that are specializing in some of this stuff. One that really caught my attention in the book is called “Field.” What's Field? And what happens there? 

Kate:  Yeah, it's interesting. Field represents to me the fact that we're learning so much and things change quite quickly. So, when we wrote the book, “Field,” and I had an interview with Devon White, who is the co-founder of Field, it was one thing. And, now, it's a different thing. So, they have pivoted since the book was written. But, in the book, they talked about having this vision of this space where you would come in, and it would be a calm, almost a spa like space where people are encouraged to be in touch with themselves and to feel at peace. And then, you would go through different testing in this peaceful calm space. And, they would be able to give you, maybe, a brain map that would show the parts of your brain that needed work or that we're struggling or suffering. You can actually see evidence of suffering in the brain. And then, they would have a team of folks, a whole team: coach, therapist, neurofeedback, neurostimulation, all these different things to help meet your goals and your needs.

At this point, I just recently looked at their website, and it looks they've shifted gears. They're now focusing a little bit more on neurofeedback, instead of —

Ben:  Yeah. That was my experience, too, because I looked him up after I read the book. And, it looks, maybe, they aren't doing as much of the spiritual direction, spiritual enhancement. They've backpedaled to neurofeedback and stuff like that.

Kate:  Yeah, exactly. And, it looks like their neurofeedback system is a proprietary system that uses AI training, artificial intelligence. So, I haven't really looked into that too much yet. It seems like, yeah, instead of having a brick-and-mortar place where people would go, now, they're interested in creating these spas that you might find in other buildings. So, you would have —

So, again, it's an interesting thing. I'm not entirely sure what the whole story is behind that, of course. I think that these are really smart, interesting people who are just rolling with it and seeing what works and what the market needs. I would imagine quite frankly that COVID played a role in whether or not an actual physical place was going to take off during that time.

Ben:  Yeah, probably. But, speaking of COVID, it is interesting that, even though I chuckle at some of the stuff in the book, like a virtual reality baptism and fake digital water and stuff that just seems weird, there are other things — Just imagine during COVID, even though I don't think that places of worship should have been shut down. I don't think that the government should have been allowed to do something like that. I realize that's just more of a political statement by me, personally. But, yet, let's say that people weren't able to go to church in the face of some kind of serious pandemic, they could go to a greater level than just watching church on YouTube. They could put on a virtual headset. They could be there with other people in the congregation. It could feel as though they're standing in the pew. They could have a haptic sensation of the sound of the organ or the piano playing. There's a lot that you could do. And, you get into this in the last chapter about the future of spirituality and the idea of things like merging virtual reality and church, again, I don't think the best replacement for church. But it's something that someone could use, should they be unable to attend or sick or at home with their newborn baby or something like that.

And then, very similarly, as we talked about before, the idea of sitting down in the morning for your prayer and your devotion and your meditation or whatever else you're doing and putting on a little headset first, or maybe, doing breathwork paired with light sound stimulation to shift you into a better brain wave state first. And, again, not that that stuff is necessary, but these are certainly cool enhancements.

And, what I think is interesting is that, a lot of this stuff — I got your book, but I think I've been just naturally experimenting with some of this stuff, even before reading your book. When I settled down for my afternoon meditation, I put on BrainTap, along with this wearable that I mentioned earlier, called the Apollo, that's a haptic sensor that goes on my right ankle. And, I put that magnetic band called the Hapbee on. And then, I'm typically laying on some type of a sound therapy mat or an infrared table. And, the difference between that and just going out in my backyard and sitting cross-legged, I realize it sounds unnatural and synthetic and contrived.

But, there's a night and day difference. I can shift myself so dramatically. I can feel I've slept for eight hours when I do something like that. And there's just something to a lot of this stuff. And, frankly, we talked about the Zendo, we talked about the Muse, I just talked about some of these other devices. It's pretty surprising people can already do with the stuff that's already available and not that expensive.

Kate:  Absolutely. And, even just remembering how challenging it is to actually cultivate the virtues of this mindful awareness, this present-centered, non-judgmental space that meditation and contemplation and prayer is often gearing us toward, is actually quite challenging, especially, in our contemporary everyday society. We're moving so fast. We're stressed out these things, yadda, yadda. It's nice. It's wonderful. It's a beautiful gift, to be honest, that we have these kinds of technologies and that people have been — This is actually quite recent, to be honest, that folks have finally begun listening to the wisdom of the ages and incorporating that into technological development. So, things like sensory, clarity, equanimity, concentration, compassion, these kinds of virtues are often not part of our daily lives. And so, the idea that a little techno boost, a little bit of technology could help cultivate them is beautiful, I think.

And, so many people try meditating and just give up because they don't feel like they're having any benefit, they feel like it's wasting their time, these kinds of things. So, yeah, if you could buy a set of training wheels to help you out, I think that's great.

Ben:  Yeah, I do, too. I think it's wonderful. And, I think the book is super thought-stimulating. And, I enjoyed it immensely. And, I'm glad that you and I were able to delve into some of the nitty-gritties of the book and our own opinions in some of the stuffs, too.

So, what I'm going to do is I'll link to the book and I'll link to a lot of the other resources and stuff that we talked about, if you go to BenGreenfieldLife.com/SpiritTech. There's two Ts in the middle there, SpiritTech. So, go to BenGreenfieldLife.com/SpiritTech. And, I'll link to Kate's book and some other websites and some of the things that we discussed. So, if you want to jump in there, if you want to leave your questions, your comments, your feedback, if you want to tell me it's ridiculous to wear a headset to pray or anything like that, feel free to jump in because I read them all. I love to hear your guy's thoughts and comments, too.

So, Kate, thank you so much for coming on the show, for writing this book, and for being so open to talk about this stuff with me.

Kate:  Yeah, thank you so much. It's always such a pleasure to talk to somebody who's so into it like you are and has a bit of experience with these kinds of technologies. It's fun.

Ben:  Very little. But, growing in my experience and learning every day. Alright, folks, I'm Ben Greenfield, along with Kate Stockly, signing out from BenGreenfieldLife.com. Have an amazing week.

More than ever these days, people like you and me need a fresh, entertaining, well-informed, and, often, outside-the-box approach to discovering the health and happiness and hope that we all crave. So, I hope I've been able to do that for you on this episode today. And, if you liked it or if you love what I'm up to, then, please leave me a review on your preferred podcast listening channel, wherever that might be. And, just find the Ben Greenfield Life episode. Say something nice. Thanks so much. Means a lot.



I recently read a book entitled Spirit Tech: The Brave New World of Consciousness Hacking and Enlightenment Engineering by Kate J. Stockly and Wesley J. Wildman. It was a thrilling read on the merging of biohacking technologies, spirituality, neurotheology, and much more. 

Technology now has the ability to modify and control the spiritual experience. This book is a journey through the high-tech aids for psychological growth that are changing the world while exploring safety, authenticity, and ethics.

Of course, technology is already helping to manage health, sleep, relationships, and finances, so it’s no surprise that technological aids for the spiritual journey would be the next frontier. From apps that help you pray or meditate, to cybernauts seeking the fast track, to nirvana through magnetic brain stimulation, this is the brink of the most transformative revolution in the practice of religion: an era in which the power of “spirit tech” can be harnessed to deepen your experience of the divine.

Spirit tech products are rapidly improving in sophistication and power, and ordinary people need a trustworthy guide. Through their research and insider access to the top innovators and early adopters, Kate Stockly and Wesley Wildman take you deep inside an evolving world with Spirit Tech. The book is the definitive guide to the fascinating world of innovations for personal transformation, spiritual growth, and pushing the boundaries of human nature. When you read Spirit Tech, you'll…

…find out how increasingly popular “wearables” work on your brain, promising a shortcut to transformative meditative states…

…meet the inventor of the “God Helmet,” who developed a tool to increase psychic skills and overcome fear, sadness, and anger…

…visit churches that use ayahuasca as their sacrament and explore the booming industry of psychedelic tourism…

…journey to a mansion in the heart of Silicon Valley where a group of scientists and entrepreneurs are working feverishly to bring brain-based spirit tech applications to the masses, and…

…discover a research team who achieved brain-to-brain communication between individuals thousands of miles apart, harnessing neurofeedback techniques to sync and share emotions among group members.

Kate Stockly is an academic researcher specializing in the scientific study of religion and women’s studies in religion. Kate’s first book, High On God: How Megachurches Won the Heart of America (co-authored with James K. Wellman, Jr. and Katie Corcoran; Oxford 2020), looks closely at the affective and emotional dynamics animating evangelical megachurches. Spirit Tech: The Brave New World of Consciousness Hacking and Engineering Enlightenment is Kate's second book. Kate also analyzes gender dynamics in religion and spirituality from a bio-psycho-social perspective. Putting the critical humanities—especially feminist materialism and affect theory—into conversation with the biological sciences, she theorizes how gender and sex interact with spiritual and religious expression and experience.

During our discussion, you'll discover:

-What is spirit tech?…07:33

  • It is basically an umbrella term
  • The idea of sprit tech as brain-based technologies is always changing with new tech
  • Technologies that draw upon contemporary neuroscience and are intended to accelerate the benefits of spiritual practice
  • Includes:
    • Mindfulness
    • Prayer
    • Meditation
    • Mystical experiences/psychedelic experiences
  • Technologies developed for peak performance, medical purposes, or just innovation are engineered in a new way for users to enhance their spiritual life

-Is this some kind of a shortcut to shifting brain waves or accelerating our spiritual journey?…08:50

  • The technology is not to the point of achieving the benefits of years of meditation
  • Dalai Lama: The benefits of doing this practice are so profound that if there is some kind of implant that would accelerate the process, he would be the first in line
  • Spirit Tech is a training wheel, not a motor
  • Training wheels help with balance, staying in line, staying straight moving toward your goals, but you still have to pedal while a motor takes you without any effort on your part
  • ARX
  • With Ben, it is still technology stacked on top of hard work

-What is tFUS and how does it work?…13:49

  • tFUS (transcranial Focused Ultrasound Stimulation)
    • Similar to tDCS (transcranial Direct Current Stimulation)
    • tDCS uses electricity while tFUS uses ultrasound waves
    • Can get deeper into the brain and sends more precise and focused stimulation
    • Is still in the research stage; no headset available yet
  • Research is done in the SEMA lab (Science Enhanced Mindfulness Awareness) by Dr. Sanguinetti and Shinzen Young
  • The Science of Enlightenment by Shinzen Young
  • Vielight
  • Halo

-What is rTMS, what areas does it target, and what might it be used for?…23:20

-Are there any commercial devices that use rTMS?…25:56

  • There are several commercial rTMS devices available
  • God helmet
  • rTMS was created by Michael Persinger
  • Did not encourage a spiritual perspective when using the device

-Plant medicine, religious practices, and stimulated experiences…28:35

  • There is a spiritual intelligence when using certain plants used in plant medicine
  • Other plant medicine activities might simulate the same experience
  • Entity-based and chemical simulated spiritual experience
  • Ancient wisdom has practices to manipulate the mind and the body into a spiritual state
  • The pros of using these technologies without the side effects of plant medicines
  • Pharmakeia – using drugs to commune with the divine

-How does Zendo work?…41:14

  • Shifts Ben's brain into meditation in 20 seconds
  • Zendo affects neuronal excitability by applying DC electricity between the 2 patches
  • It is believed to cause a deep polarization of the neurons

-How does the Zendo differ from the Muse?…43:02

-What is Virtual Sacred Reality and Microdose VR?…48:18

  • Technodelics Microdose VR, Tripp and SoundSelf
  • Inspired by the psychedelic experience
  • Simulates visuals to put you in a mindstate similar to a psychedelic experience

-Church and the intersection of technology/spiritual directors…52:40

  • Spiritual direction is now a whole field profession in
  • Combination of a pastor and a coach
  • Technologies are tools – “A technology powerful enough to liberate is powerful enough to enslave”

-What is Field, and what happens there?…58:38

-And much more…

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Resources from this episode:

Kate Stockly:

– Podcast:

– Books:

– Other Resources:

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