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‘Meditation without meditating’ might be possible. Can it also be made ethical?

Over the past several decades, studies examining the potential for meditation to curb mental anguish and increase wellbeing have yielded promising, if complicated, results. For patients, complications can arise when meditation is marketed as a ‘happy pill, with no side effects’. This commodification and oversimplification is at the root of a conundrum for Jay Sanguinetti and Shinzen Young, the co-directors of SEMA Lab (Sonication Enhanced Mindful Awareness) at the University of Arizona. In the early stages of developing a technology that they believe could lead to meditative states without the need to meditate – a Silicon Valley-ready concept if there ever was one – the duo now must navigate the intricate ethics of introducing such a powerful product to the world. This short film from The Guardian follows Sanguinetti and Shinzen in their quest to ‘democratise enlightenment’ via ultrasound technology, while also attempting to ensure that, when the time comes, it will be properly implemented as a therapeutic tool.

16 August 2021

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