December 6, 2021

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Immersive installation to enhance meditation thanks to technology – rts.ch

EPFL + ECAL Lab, EPFL’s design research center, unveiled Tuesday, in partnership with the Taoist Ming Shan Center, is a device that converts bodily signals into sound and light to facilitate meditation.

After three years of research, creativity and experimentation, the immersive installation in the secular Taoist Center located since the end of 2019 in the village of Bullet, in Vaud Jura, with the support of Chaseron, has officially opened.

Facing the statues of Three Immortals from the Taoist tradition, the organ welcomes guinea pigs squatting on a circular wooden tray. Around their heads, a ring spreads colorful light against the background of traditional instruments. Beginners try as best they can to follow the instructions in a voice that prompts them to imagine a glare that establishes itself in the middle of their forehead before going down to the stomach…not always obvious. However, the sound is not the only guide.

Physiological capture

The light and sound atmosphere is specifically designed for the guinea pig based on its bodily cues. Respiration, heart rate and skin conductance are recorded by a strap and sensors attached to the fingertips, and translated in real time into sound and light. The goal is to direct people toward a suitable state for meditation.

“If you pick someone up on the street and tell them to do something quiet right away, there are people who are unable to do it,” says Fabrice Jordan, MD, director of the Ming Shan Center in Bullitt.

“With this type of device, the idea is to look for them at the frequency, generally high, in which they are located and gently calm them down to allow them to stay at a lower frequency, regulating the vegetative nervous system and bringing them into a meditative state,” he explains.

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The EPFL + ECAL Lab, installed at the Ming Shan Taoist Center in Bullet (VD), allows you to experience the collective dimension of traditional Taoist meditation. [Daniela & Tonatiuh – EPFL+ECAL Lab]

group experience

The sounds generated by the installation also enhance the synchrony between the people meditating in the room, confirms EPFL + ECAL Lab Director Nicolas Henchoz. Each station acts like a musical instrument, emitting vibrations inspired by traditional sounds. Hence it adds to the individual support a collective resonance through the sound scene being created. One way to approach the collective dimension observed in classical Taoist meditation.

Lucia Selig / May with ATS