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The Art of Relaxation: A Psychological Experiment

A month or so ago I was sat having a coffee with a friend who mentioned she knew somebody looking for participants for an experiment he was running. Naturally, I said yes and signed up. All I really understood about the research was that it would involve my sitting in a chair and watching an installation whilst my neuroactivity was recorded.

On arrival, I met Jamie, the mastermind behind this research and, most importantly, the artists behind the piece in question. In discussion with Jamie, I realised more and more how 'up my street' this study was. The research was investigating the extent to which art (in visual and auditory mediums) could somewhat induce a trance-like state of relaxation similar to those experienced in deep meditation or psychedelic drug use.

The piece of art was stunning. It was an environmentally friendly resin-esque material that replicated fractals of nature (geometric shapes in which the human brain positively responds to) and was lit by ever changing, nature replicating, light displays. This visual aspect was accompanied by varying frequencies of vocal audio. The piece worked, in short hand, by matching the light and vocal frequencies projected onto the fractals. It's a complicated concept to get your head around but the aim of the study was pure.

Since Covid-19, so many people have experienced heightened stress and anxiety which has led to a decrease in wellbeing across the whole human population. Jamie was keen to investigate whether the deep relaxation that would provide a chance for stressed and anxious individuals to pause and heal could be achieved for the power of art. I sat, watched and listened to the piece of art for 9 and a half minutes and without a doubt felt a core sense of relaxation by the second half. Having practised meditation and being familiar with psychological research methods, I allowed my biases to flow naturally and simply experienced the piece for what it was. However, whether placebo, self-induced or a direct result of Jamie's work, one cannot doubt that by the end of the study I was in a far more relaxed state. This was backed up empirically by the brain wave data demonstrating decreases in delta waves and increases in alpha and beta waves. This demonstrates neurologically how alpha waves correspond to deep relaxation. However, amongst these feelings of rest and healing, a more intense focus could be experienced by the increase in beta waves induced by the study.

Without doubt, the experience was enjoyable and super interesting. I truly believe, that if expanded on a large scale, Jamie's research could prove to communities reliant on external substances for relaxation, such as alcohol and psychedelics, that there are healthier ways to induce relaxation all stemming from nature.

If you would like to know more about Jamie's work then take a look at his platforms below:

Kind To Mind:




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