At 20:40 Katie Witkiewitz begins discussing the use of tDCS as a tool for enhancing mindfulness training. Her work is mostly focused around addiction and recovery. She compares her own experience of using tDCS-assisted meditation to day 4 of a multi-day meditation retreat. They are using the anode F10 / cathode left shoulder (“Where’s Waldo” DARPA research) montage. There’s a shot of what she calls the ‘octa box’ which seems to be distributing current from a single ActivaDose device to 8 sets of electrodes for ‘group mindfulness training’ (but I could be wrong). Could tDCS enhance your meditation? Provide that extra bit of calming the chatter? She goes on to say that (including her own personal experience) the montage ‘inhibits verbal ability’ and that trying to lead a guided meditation while stimulating F-10 gave her ‘the worst headache’.
The first type of meditation I practice is the standard “focus” meditation that is taught on headspace.com, and there are great walk-throughs there. I use tDCS to calm the conscious mind by placing the cathode on FpZ the center of the forehead and the anode at OZ center of the back of the head. I do this montage for 5–10 minutes, then remove the electrodes and meditate, focusing on my breath, for 10–15 minutes. I usually do this in the morning, and afterwards, I usually place the anode at FpZ and cathode on upper left arm and run the current for another 5–10 minutes. I find this is helpful in getting into work mode.
Recently, several people have called my attention to a very simple and quite old form of neuromodulation that is currently gathering a lot of research momentum—transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS).
Here’s why I’m excited about tDCS.
The effects of tDCS seem to map directly to the core themes in mindfulness.
Enhanced ability to focus (this seems to relate to the concentration piece in my definition of mindfulness)
Enhanced ability to detect signals against a noisy background (this seems to relate to the sensory clarity piece)
Enhanced ability to deal with pain (this may be related to equanimity)
The turning off of mental talk (i.e., a samatha effect)