A Buddhist, Damcho Pamo

B.Sc.Biological Sciences, P.G.C.E, Dip. Health Ed., BWY Diploma in Yoga Teaching

She taught yoga for twenty years specialising in individual yoga therapy sessions and yoga for pregnancy. Her experience also included teaching 5 classes a week for a year in a top security prison for men. During her time as a yoga teacher she conducted some university based research about the psychological effects of yoga technique practice. The subjects of her study were sixth formers who were taught yoga in a co-educational setting. Her findings indicated that yoga practice can contribute to mental well-being. However for a small percentage of the students there were negative effects such as in the evening after the morning yoga class students feeling demotivated in relation to their academic studies and feeling tired after the class. In 1997 she adopted a daily meditation practice and for the following four years attended intensive Zen retreats. The last of these retreats witnessed her experiencing extreme adverse mental states. It seems likely that the daily meditation practice and the intensive retreats contributed to the development of these states. Further details of this chapter in her life are given on the Evidence from Stories section of this website. After her recovery in 2004 she re-engaged with Buddhism and in 2013 became a Buddhist in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. She now facilitates a meditation group that meets regularly.

Research Psychologist, Dr. Miguel Farias

Dr. Farias’ Website

Dr Miguel Farias began his academic career at the University of Lisbon, where he studied psychology and psychotherapy, before moving to Oxford to do his doctorate with Dr Mansur Lalljee and Prof Gordon Claridge. His doctoral research focused on the attitudes, values and personality of people attracted to alternative spiritual ideas and practices.

Following his DPhil, Miguel was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Ian Ramsey Centre and the Oxford Centre for Science of the Mind, where he worked with philosophers and neuroscientist on a brain imaging study of the analgesic effects of religious beliefs. He moved back to the Department of Experimental Psychology as a Lecturer and carried out new research on conspiracy beliefs, pilgrimage, and the stress-buffering effects of believing in science.

Around 2010, in collaboration with the Prison Phoenix Trust, he embarked on the first randomized-controlled trial of the effects of yoga and meditation in prisons. This eventually led him to write, together with clinical psychologist Catherine Wikholm, a book that examines the science and myths about the effects of meditation, including its potential for healing and harm. In 2014, he joined Coventry University to lead the Brain, Belief and Behaviour research group, where he is carrying out new research on the modification of beliefs.

Other interests: Miguel is an amateur musician, currently trying to learn the 12-string Portuguese guitar given to him by his grandfather.

He writes regularly for proper musicians and has also written a short illustrated children’s book.