Workshop on Consciousness, Meditation, and the Resting Brain

Event Start Date:
6. September 2019
Event End Date:
7. September 2019
Event Venue:

The resting brain, including the mind wandering that it produces, has been argued to play an important role in creating conscious experience. Its role in meditation varies: Concentrative meditation seeks to avoid mind wandering, mindfulness to accept but then let go of it, while nondirective meditation sees it as a central part of the process. This workshop attempts to shed light on various aspects of the interplay between consciousness, meditation and the resting brain.

The workshop will take place on the 6th and 7th of September, 2019, 09.00-18.00 at the University of Oslo, Blindern campus, Niels Treschows hus, 12th floor conference room. See the bottom of this post for a tentative programme. Attendance by request. Send an email to Professor Halvor Eifring at: if you would like to participate. Limited number of seats.


In addition to this workshop, psychiatrist and philosopher Georg Northoff, from Canada, will on the 5th of September hold a workshop with Professor Halvor Eifring and Professor Svend Davanger about how consciousness comes into existence. The event is hosted by ACEM Norway, at Sporveisgaten 37, Oslo. The event will occur from 18.00 to 20.00, and costs 100 NOK to attend. For a longer description about the event (in Norwegian), go here.


Tentative programme main workshop:

Friday 6 September


● Zac Irving, University of Virginia

Harnessing the wandering mind: meta-control in cognitive science and Zen

● Karin Kukkonen, University of Oslo & Ylva Østby, University of Oslo

Reading experiences, memory and mindfulness: the ReadMemo project

● Reidar Tyssen, University of Oslo

Long-term mental health effects of mindfulness training in medical and psychology students

● Sebastian Watzl, University of Oslo

Changing us or changing them? Meditation and the ethics of distraction


● Augustine Casiday, independent researcher

Topic to be announced

● Halvor Eifring, University of Oslo

Modern philosophical discourses on mind wandering

● Johan F. Storm, University of Oslo

Assessing the capacity for consciousness in the resting brain

Saturday 7 September


● Georg Northoff, University of Ottawa

The brain’s resting state and its relevance for consciousness

● Are Holen, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

The experience of time in nondirective meditation

● Svend Davanger, University of Oslo

How the brain’s synaptic memory creates a personal sense of time

● Stein Andersson, University of Oslo

A non-invasive EEG-based method to study neural plasticity: feasible for exploring basic neurocognitive mechanisms of meditation?


● Kieran Fox, Stanford University

Creativity and the wandering mind: novelty and utility in spontaneous waking and sleeping cognition

● Øyvind Ellingsen, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

The brain and the rest: nondirective meditation and physiological responses related to the autonomic self

● Anders Nesvold, Oslo University Hospital

Alterations in autonomic nerve activity during nondirective meditation

● Vilde Haakensen, Oslo University Hospital

Meditation and the brain: stress reduction in relatives of cancer patients

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