Optimal Wellbeing - The Weekend University

Learn how the new science of sleeping, breathing and walking can help you thrive in day to day life.

We spend 37% of our lives asleep, walk an average of 3,000 – 4,000 steps each day, and take 25,000 breaths.

Yet, despite these activities taking up such a significant chunk of the human experience, our sleeping, breathing and walking habits remain unconscious for most of us.

We learn them at a young age, and then never give them a second thought.

However, new scientific research is beginning to show that these three activities may be ‘the low hanging fruit’ of mental health and wellbeing, and that by making even minor adjustments in these areas, we can dramatically improve our quality of life.

Getting good sleep, for example, has been shown to strengthen the immune system, improve memory, and offer a 3x boost in creativity and problem solving.

Engaging in ‘coherent breathing‘ improves attention and mental clarity, as well as alleviating symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression, isolation and trauma.

And walking regularly throughout the day has been scientifically proven to stimulate the production of molecules promoting brain health, boost mood, reduce rumination over negative experiences, and increase blood flow to the brain.

So, in this online conference, we’ll explore the fascinating science underlying these activities, and how you can optimise them for greater wellbeing in day to day life. People already to do this through things like playing online casino games with readl dealers to boost their mood and help them to relax at the end of the day. Of course, this is just one example of how some people do this, others wouldn’t necessarily find games like that good for their wellbeing, so do different things, which we will explore during this conference. This online conference, like many others, can connect you with others simply by using the best laptops for video conferencing. You can find information for the conference down below.


  • The Neuroscience of Optimal Sleep; the cutting-edge research underpinning why we sleep, why it is even more important than you think it is, how we mess it up, and how to optimise your sleeping patterns so you can thrive in your daily life – Professor Vincent Walsh (University College London)
  • Walking: The Superpower of Wellbeing; the surprising science behind walking and optimal brain health, why it’s so good for us, and the powerful impact it can have on our mental and physical wellbeing – Professor Shane O’Mara (Trinity College, Dublin)
  • The Healing Power of the Breath; how evidence-based breathing practices can alleviate symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression and trauma, and how you can use the ‘Breath-Body-Mind’ approach for greater mental clarity, energy and performance – Dr Patricia Gerbarg (New York Medical College) & Dr Richard Brown (Columbia University, NY)

You’ll learn how these unique insights can improve your own quality of life and also how to help others do the same. We are fortunate enough to live in a time where we have access to lots of different ways to help improve our quality of life such as using something like CBD. However, before using something like this you may want to learn more about the CBD tincture vs oil debate that has been rumbling along online.

Event Schedule:

  • 10:00am – 12:00pm: Walking: The Superpower of Wellbeing – Professor Shane O’Mara
  • 12:00 – 1:00pm: Lunch break
  • 1:00pm – 3:00pm: The Neuroscience of Optimal Sleep – Professor Vincent Walsh
  • 3:00pm – 3:30pm: Afternoon break
  • 3:30pm – 5:00pm: The Healing Power of the Breath – Dr Patricia Gerbarg & Dr Richard Brown

Full Day Pass: 49.99 (includes VAT + Booking Fee)

Student/Unwaged: 26.99 (includes VAT + Booking Fee)


Sunday 28th February 2021

09:30 – 17:00 GMT

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28/02/2021 09:30 AM
28/02/2021 5:00 PM
Online Video Conference
The Weekend University – Optimal Wellbeing

Online Conference

Lectures & Speakers

Walking: The Superpower of Wellbeing – Professor Shane O’Mara

Walking upright on two feet is a uniquely human skill. It defines us as a species. It enabled us to walk out of Africa and to spread as far as Alaska and Australia. It freed our hands and freed our minds. We put one foot in front of the other without thinking – yet how many of us know how we do that, or appreciate the advantages it gives us? In this entertaining talk, neuroscientist Shane O’Mara invites you to marvel at the benefits it confers on our bodies and minds.

Walking is good for our muscles and posture; it helps to protect and repair organs, and can slow or turn back the ageing of our brains. With our minds in motion we think more creatively, our mood improves and stress levels fall. Walking together to achieve a shared purpose is also a social glue that has contributed to our survival as a species. This session will explore the fascinating science of how we walk, why it’s good for us, and the powerful impact it can have on our mental and physical wellbeing. You’ll learn how practicing this uniquely human skill can help you discover a happier, healthier, more creative self.

Preparation Recommendations:

Books and Articles:

Shane O’Mara - The Weekend University

Shane O’Mara is Professor of Experimental Brain Research at Trinity College Dublin – the University of Dublin. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from NUI Galway and a DPhil from the University of Oxford. He is a Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin (FTCD), and was the first Ireland-based elected Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science (FAPS) and is an elected member of the Royal Irish Academy (MRIA).

He has a popular newsletter at brainpizza.substack.com – signup for slices of writing on brains, behaviour, and lots in between…

The Neuroscience of Optimal Sleep – Professor Vincent Walsh

37% of your life is spent asleep. Why do we do it? Is it a waste of time? Why are there different stages? Vincent calls sleep “the low hanging fruit of health and wellbeing.”

In this talk, Professor Vincent Walsh will explore the neuroscience of sleep, why it is even more important than you think it is, how we mess it up, and what we can do about it. You’ll learn about the critical role sleep plays in optimal performance, and how to optimise your sleeping patterns and manipulate the sleeping environment through things like calming colours and art posters so you can thrive in day to day life.

Preparation Recommendations:

  • Walker, M (2017) Why we Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams. New York: Penguin
  • Lewis, P. (2013). The Secret World of Sleep. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan. Especially good for people interested in the experimental side of sleep and memory.
  • Kretzman, L., & Foster, R. (2004) The Rhythms Of Life: The Biological Clocks That Control the Daily Lives of Every Living Thing. This is a wonderful survey of sleep and biological clocks in evolution and in other animals.
Vincent Walsh - The Weekend University

Vincent is Professor of Human Brain Research at University College London. He leads the Applied Cognitive Neuroscience research group which aims to use neuroscience to improve high performance in sport, high pressure decision making and advancing human brain stimulation in cognition and health.

For the past decade he has focused on applying his knowledge to the real world. In particular, he has taken a special interest in elite performance (working with football clubs, international rugby and Team GB squads, as well as businesses and the military), creativity (working with concert musicians, artists and business professionals), and sleep (working with sleepdeep, and focusing on sleep and learning, sleep and the menopause, and the role of sleep in learning and creativity). You can follow him on twitter @vinwalsh.

The Healing Power of the Breath – Dr Patricia Gerbarg & Dr Richard Brown

Most of us are feeling the effects of chronic stress related to COVID-19. Fear, fatigue, and frustration can compromise our abilities to maintain emotional balance, positive relationships, and creative individual and community problem solving.

Educators, health-care professionals, service agency staff, and parents bear the double burden of maintaining their own well-being while caring for others. Breath-Body-Mind (BBM) teaches a set of evidence-based practices that can alleviate symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression, loss, irritability, insomnia, isolation, and trauma. In addition, these breath-centered practices improve attention, mental clarity, energy, performance, and physical health. These skills have helped thousands of adults and children in the US, the UK, and other countries. Many who benefit go on to become BBM teachers, using the BBM tool kit of techniques in their clinical practices, classrooms, service work, yoga studios, and at home for their own families.

Dr. Brown and Dr. Gerbarg will introduce you to Breath-Body-Mind, explain the neurophysiological effects and research studies, describe the program’s benefits, and lead you through some basic movement and breathing exercises.

www.Breath-Body-Mind.com. Our website offers free educational videos, workshop schedules, program reports, research articles, a free newsletter, and contact information.

Preparation Recommendations:

  • Brown RP, Gerbarg PL. The Healing Power of Breath. Simple Techniques to reduce Stress and Anxiety, Enhance Concentration and Balance Your Emotions (E-Book or Print Book and CD set). Shambhala Press. NY. 2012.
  • Gerbarg PL, Brown RP, Streeter CC, Katzman M, Vermani M. Breath Practices for Survivor and Caregiver Stress, Depression, and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder: Connection, Co-regulation, Compassion. Integrative and Complementary Medicine OBM, April 2019. DOI: 10.21926/obm.icm.1903045
  • Gerbarg PL, Wallace G, Brown RP. Mass disasters and mind-body solutions: Evidence and field insights. International Journal of Yoga Therapy. 2011. 2(21):23-34.
  • Gerbarg PL, Jacob VE, Stevens L, Bosworth BP, Chabouni F, DeFilippis EM, Warren R, Trivellas M, Patel PV, Webb RD, Harbus MD, Christos PJ, Brown RP, Scherl EJ. The Effect of Breathing, Movement, and Meditation on Psychological and Physical Symptoms and Inflammatory Biomarkers in Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Inflammatory Bowel Disease. 2015 Dec; 21(12):2886-96.
  • Streeter CC, Gerbarg PL, Brown RP, Scott TM, Nielsen GH, Owen L, Sakai O, Sneider JT, Nyer MB, Silveri MM. Thalamic Gamma Aminobutyric Acid Level Changes in Major Depressive Disorder After a 12-Week Iyengar Yoga and Coherent Breathing Intervention. J Altern Complement Med. 2020 Mar;26(3):190-197. doi: 10.1089/acm.2019.0234.
Dr Patricia Gerbarg & Dr Richard Brown - The Weekend University

Dr. Richard Brown, associate clinical professor in psychiatry at Columbia University Medical College, completed psychiatry residency and fellowship in psychobiology and psychopharmacology at New York Hospital Cornell. Coauthor of more than 100 scientific articles, books, and chapters, he is a certified teacher of Aikido (4th Dan), Yoga, Qigong, and meditation. In collaboration with his wife, Dr. Gerbarg, he developed a neurophysiological theory about how mind-body practices can be optimized to quickly and safely reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, insomnia, depression, fatigue, and trauma. They have taught programs for thousands of healthcare professionals, yoga teachers, First Responders, psychiatric patients, disaster survivors, adult and child refugees, schools, military service personnel, veterans, and the public.

Dr. Patricia Gerbarg, assistant clinical professor in psychiatry at New York Medical College, graduate of Harvard Medical School and the Boston Psychoanalytic Institute. Her research with Dr. Brown shows that BBM significantly benefits individuals with anxiety or depression, veterans, disasters survivors (e.g., 2001 World Trade Center attacks), and those with stress-related medical conditions. Their award-winning books include: The Healing Power of the Breath, Non-Drug Treatments for ADHD, and (with Dr. Philip Muskin) How to Use Herbs, Nutrients, and Yoga in Mental Health and Complementary and Integrative Treatments in Psychiatric Practice (American Psychiatric Association Publishing, 2017).

What TWU attendees are saying:

    5 star review  Another excellent, stimulating day at the weekend university, this time focusing on Neuroscience. Yes neuroscience is everyone's popular favourite topic, though the high calibre speakers provided exceptional quality in their content. In particular I enjoyed neuroscience and consciousness. Thank you!

    Jacinta Hargadon Avatar Jacinta Hargadon
    April 30, 2018

    positive review  Great talk by Vincent Walsh

    Anup Mehta Avatar Anup Mehta
    December 10, 2019

    5 star review  Just attended my second Weekend University day of lectures at Birkbeck, this time on Memories, Dreams and Existentialism. A great mix of speakers, styles and content which left me wanting to go home and find out more about two out of the three subjects. Fantastic to see Emmy Van Deurzen in action - she's a bit of a heroine of mine! One tip would be to ask the audience to fill up the rows of seats before the start as inevitably some people arrive late (like I did) and it was all a bit chaotic at the back of the auditorium. There were empty seats near the walls but no way to get to them without having four or five people stand up.

    Melanie Skeet Avatar Melanie Skeet
    February 26, 2018
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