Science and Spirituality #2 2018-10-12T16:37:06+01:00
Science and Spirituality 2 - The Weekend University

A full day of talks from leading neuroscientists, psychologists and authors exploring the complex harmonies of science and spirituality.

Can meditation physically re-shape your brain?

How can we explain the mysteries of near death experiences, quantum physics and the placebo effect?

And can ancient spiritual practices improve our emotional wellbeing?

These are just some of the questions we’ll explore at Science and Spirituality (Part 2) at The Weekend University.

You’ll learn:

  • The neuroscience of mindfulness; how meditation physically re-shapes and rewires the brain, and how to get the most from your practice
  • The scientific evidence for a spiritual view of reality – how a ‘panspiritist view’ may explain phenomena such as near death experiences, quantum physics, the placebo effect and neuroplasticity
  • The psychological effects of ancient spiritual practices – what the latest research reveals about links between ancient traditions and improved wellbeing, and how you can use these insights in the modern world.

You’ll leave with a clear understanding of how these ideas can benefit your own life, but also your ability to help others too.


The format will be similar to a TED event, but with in-depth lectures and focused on the theme of Science and Spirituality.

  • 10:00am – 12:00pm: Session 1
  • 12:00 – 1:00pm: Lunch break
  • 1:00pm – 3:00pm: Session 2
  • 3:00pm – 3:15pm: Afternoon break
  • 3:15pm – 5:00pm: Session 3

Full Day Pass: £43.71

Student Pass: £22.51


Sun 28 October 2018
09:30 – 17:00 BST

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28/10/2018 09:30 AM
28/10/2018 5:00 PM
Birkbeck, University of London, London
The Weekend University – Science & Spirituality#2


Birkbeck, University of London,
Malet Street, Bloomsbury,
London, WC1E 7HX

Lectures & Speakers

The Neuroscience of Mindfulness – Dr Tamara Russell, PhD

The word mindfulness is increasingly entering our modern lexicon. In fact, it has always been there, but a secular “new variant” has appeared in the last decades. Secular mindfulness has rapidly proliferated as research on modern contemplative practices seems to confirm what the ancient traditions promised.  Specifically, that taking care of our inner landscape returns benefits for our experiences in the outer world. Not only for our own physical and psychological health but more broadly, in how we see ourselves in relationship to others, society, nature and the planet. But how can these practices, where we are seemingly “doing nothing”, effect changes in the brain?

There is a growing field of contemplative neuroscience that aims to unpack the mechanisms of mindfulness. This lecture will share some highlights from this work to demonstrate how various practices can re-shape and re-wire the brain – no matter if your starting point is the everyday stresses and strains, or more serious mental and physical health challenges. Sharing a basic neurocognitive model of mindfulness, this lecture will demonstrate the 4 stages, 3 brain networks, 2 secret ingredients and 1 thing that makes all the difference if you wish to train your brain into more mindful states. It will demonstrate how we can use the neuroscience to optimize the teaching and contextualisation of mindfulness training. You will find out how you can use this brain-wise approach to increase your awareness and train your brain as soon as the lecture ends.

The Neuroscience of Mindfulness – Dr Tamara Russell, PhD

Dr. Tamara Russell works with individuals and organisations advising on how to use mindfulness techniques to optimise performance and improve mental and physical well-being. She is the Director of the Mindfulness Centre of Excellence, London, which has as its aim the evaluation of creative yet authentic mindfulness applications for all spheres of life.

Combining her clinical, neuroscience and martial arts training, Dr. Russell’s approach engages both body and mind, for a total solution to manage the stressors of our modern working environment. She specialises in delivering mindfulness training in the health sector, running introductory workshops for mental health workers and other health professionals. Click here to learn more.

Spiritual Science: Why Science Needs Spirituality to Make Sense of the World – Dr Steve Taylor, PhD

It’s often assumed that there are two ways of interpreting the world: a rational scientific way, or an irrational religious way.

In this talk, Dr. Steve Taylor describes offers a third alternative: a spiritual view of reality that transcends both conventional science and religion, and answers many of the riddles that neither can explain.

Steve will suggest that the primary reality is not matter, but consciousness. The standard model of science has had little success in explaining such areas as human consciousness, the influence of the mind over the brain and body, altruism and ‘anomalous’ phenomena such as near-death experiences and spiritual experiences.

Focusing specifically on consciousness, altruism and spiritual experiences, Steve will show that these phenomena are much easier to make sense of, if we assume the existence of a fundamental consciousness of spirit. Steve will draw on the on the insights of philosophers, physicists, mystics, as well as spiritual traditions and indigenous cultures, offering a vision of the world as sacred and interconnected, and of human life as meaningful.

Dr Steve Taylor - Spiritual Science

Dr. Steve Taylor is a senior lecturer in psychology at Leeds Beckett University. He is the author of several best-selling books on psychology and spirituality, including Making Time, The Leap and his new book Spiritual Science.

Eckhart Tolle has described his work as ‘an important contribution to the shift in consciousness happening on our planet’ and he has twice been named in Mind, Body, Spirit magazine’s list of the ‘100 most spiritually influential living people’. Learn more about Dr Taylor’s work here.

Science and Spiritual Practices – Dr Rupert Sheldrake, PhD

The effects of spiritual practices are now being investigated scientifically as never before, and many studies have shown that religious and spiritual practices generally make people happier and healthier.

In this talk, Rupert Sheldrake will summarize the latest scientific research on what happens when we take part in these practices, and suggest ways you can explore some of these fields for yourself.

In particular, the talk will focus on how science helps validate seven practices which underpin all the major world religions, and discuss some of them in more detail:

  • Meditation
  • Gratitude
  • Connecting with nature
  • Relating to plants
  • Rituals
  • Singing and chanting
  • Pilgrimage and holy places.

For those who are religious, you’ll learn about the evolutionary origins of your own traditions and gain a new appreciation of their power. For the non-religious, the talk will show how the core practices of spirituality are accessible to all, without the need to subscribe to a religious belief system.

Rupert Sheldrake - The Weekend University

Dr. Rupert Sheldrake is a biologist and author of more than 85 scientific papers and 13 books. He is a leading researcher into anomalous phenomena and was among the top 100 Global Thought Leaders for 2013, as ranked by the Duttweiler Institute, Zurich, Switzerland’s leading think tank.

He studied biology and biochemistry at Cambridge University where he earned his Ph.D., followed by a fellowship at Harvard where he spent a year studying philosophy and history. His books include: ‘Science and Spiritual Practices’ (2017), ‘The Science Delusion’ (2012), and ‘The Sense of Being Stared At, And Other Aspects of The Extended Mind.’ www.sheldrake.org

What TWU attendees are saying:

  • 4 star review  Great initiative! For people that like myself are passionate about psychology but wouldn't commit to long term course or training it's a wonderful opportunity to listen to qualified professionals in the area in a relaxed atmosphere.

    thumb Carolina Abicair

    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.

    thumb Melanie Skeet

    4 star review  Great initiative. Eminent speakers, fascinating talks.

    thumb Jan Erik Paulden
  • 5 star review  Another amazing day of learning! Thank you Niall.

    thumb Myriam Hierons

    5 star review  I just wanted to say what a fabulous day it was on Sunday. The presenters were all highly engaging and the material fascinating. I am ever so grateful to have been able to attend and look forward to any future similar events with 'zest'!

    thumb Caroline Glasner

    5 star review  I thoroughly enjoyed the day. It was a well organized event with fantastic informative talks by knowledgeable and charismatic speakers. Looking forward to future events.

    thumb Glendale Leon
  • 5 star review  Great event, 3 fantastic lectures presented

    thumb Greg Cornthwaite

    5 star review  I found the 3 speakers to be extremely well prepared, professional, charismatic, authentic in their delivery of there content. They all had something to share. They were very clear on the "takeaways" which I found in important for such a long day. They all 3 were also very generious in spending time after their talk, to answer more 1-2-1 questions on the side of the room. Very generious. I look forward to future weekend university days.

    thumb Anthony Lee

    5 star review  Just to say that I was so impressed with the quality of the lectures today. It is rare to find that kind of substance, and I imagine you looked long and hard to choose. You are doing a great job. I will definitely come again and tell those I know who would be very interested.

    thumb Joan Hunt
  • 5 star review  I have attended lots of psychology workshops and would rate this organisation very highly. Interesting, engaging speakers and well run course at an affordable price. Well done Niall. You deserve to do very well

    thumb Joyce Kleinman

    5 star review  What an intense and heartening day, Jan 28th at Birkbeck U venue. Despite being crowded (testiment to the desire for these events and the calibre) we were comfortable enough to be riveted by the material for hours. I appreciated the free coffee, because the day was long for those like me who come from outside the city. I look forward to the slides being sent to fill out my notes. Fellow audients were warm and attending for a variety of reasons, and are the second fab reason to be there for the day.

    thumb Anne Perry

    5 star review  Just attended Scientific Behaviour Change - Ancient Wisdom & Modern Psychology and had the most fantastic, enlightening and inspiring day. All three speakers were at a tremendously high level and (to echo the reviewer below) the variety of approaches and theories around a single topic gave great insight. I've already booked for next month.

    thumb Kate Le Versha
  • 5 star review  Today's event was so good, I immediately booked for next one in February!?

    thumb Maya Kosova

    5 star review  The day of Psychology was really insightful, it has inspired me to start researching into all spectrums of mental health & psychology. Something I particularly liked about the day, was the contrast and variety of theories and approaches by each of the three speakers

    thumb Naomi Si An

    5 star review  Interesting lectures on a variety of areas of Psychology and well organised.

    thumb Daniel Drake
  • 5 star review  A really good mix of topics. I was engaged all day and i'm looking forward to the next one!

    thumb Suz Williams
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The Weekend University seeks to guarantee an excellent learning experience. If you are not fully satisfied with the day, you will receive 100% of your money back, and we will cover the cost of your travel to and from the venue.