Veda Jamoona is a PhD student in Physiology: Neurophysiological Correlates for expanded states of Consciousness. She is researching the unique neurophysiological characteristics or markers of higher states of consciousness. How the brain develops as one approaches expanded states of consciousness (states of consciousness beyond, waking, dreaming and deep sleep). Veda was born and raised in New York City where she earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from New York Institute of Technology. She has a Masters in Maharishi Vedic Science, Sanskrit.
Veda’s ultimate hope is to create a greater scientific understanding of the characteristics of higher consciousness and the practical physiological changes. She is demystifying the ineffable ‘enlightenment’. She argues that it is not only real from the level of subjective experience, but that it also leads to objective physiological changes in the brain. Expanded states of consciousness is not just for recluses, monks and nuns; it is for everyone, including householders. In this way, academics in neurophysiology and mystic practitioners can work together toward a common understanding, and whatever useful and positive characteristics of higher states of consciousness through focused attention meditations, open monitoring meditation, automatic self transcending (Transcendental Meditation (TM), prayer and mindfulness can be brought to everyday people for the betterment of all.
In the last few years, what lifestyle, habit, or behavior change has had the biggest positive impact on your life?
My diet has become more plant based, and I have incorporated yoga into my routine. But more importantly, I have started paying attention to my emotions, how I react to situations. I began to notice the difference between my sense of self, my own awareness or existence, and my emotions and thoughts. This isn’t something I try to do, it just happens. The results are phenomenal. This establishes a deep calm level of being where I am available to far more possibilities and opportunities. It is all a result of being even.
When you feel unfocused, what do you do?
When I am unfocused, I reassess why I am doing what I am doing. Sometimes the notion that comes to me is “I have to do this because it is my job.” If I step back in a situation like that and widen my perspective, I get to the deeper value of what I am doing and why. I rethink my motive. It changes from “I have to do it” to “this is something I truly believe in.” This is how I regain focus and passion as well. I never feel tired when I work like this.
Another thing I tend to do when unfocused is meditate, a non-focused meditation like the Transcendental Meditation technique. After I do this for a few minutes, I notice my mind will automatically want to focus on something when I am done. Its like interval muscle training for the mind.
What advice would you give a smart and ambitious recent college graduate? What advice should they ignore?
I would advise recent college grads to spend more time observing what they enjoy and why. Be more subtle. Think about who they really are under all their stresses. Think about why they have the ambitions that they have. Knowing oneself goes a long way, especially in difficult times. This level of knowing creates integrity and substance to withstand some of the very difficult and unfair circumstances that life can bring your way.
There are no limits. One should not feel they have to settle in a job or even in a relationship because of time or circumstances. An individual should not be limited by stresses that society, family, or media have put on them. They should spend more time paying attention to their subtle feelings to help identify whatever truly makes them happy, and only then should they take action.
What is one lifestyle trend that excites you?
I like the plant-based and high-fat diets. I feel it’s a huge marker of a progressive society when we just collectively start doing more evolutionary things.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life and why?
Easily, my mother, Rukmin Chan Jamoona and my sister, Vidya Jamoona, have had the biggest influence in my life. They have taught by action. They have displayed excellent leadership, high emotional intelligence, and true understanding of the practical applications of spirituality. My sister is a nurse who gives her all to her job. She is super giving and caring and goes beyond to care for her patients. And my mother was a nursing administrator at Queen’s Hospital Center working the night shift, but she saw a need with seniors and started a non-profit senior center with her own money on her own time. She kept her regular job but would work at the senior center during the day. She saw seniors being pushed aside once they couldn’t watch the grandchildren or whatever; they were just sort of being a nuisance to others. My mom noticed that and immediately just made a space for them, an adult daycare that gave them a place to sing and dance and just be themselves. She always made it a lively environment so there was no gossiping, just friendliness and singing and dancing, and she did it at her own expense, not just financial, but emotional and physical expense. I learned so much from her.
What’s one of the biggest life lessons you’ve learned?
Probably the single most important thing I have learned is that there are at least two sides to every story. It is almost essential to hear both sides before we make our conclusions, either with our consciousness or subconsciousness.
Another important change in life for me is more simple: It’s a cognitive shift in how I process life events. The second I notice that something is troubling me, I first notice that this hurt, pain, or whatever is not me. I find the location of the negative effect in the body. For example, a situation might feel like a thousand tiny wires burning in my chest. I close my eyes and remember the gift of a perfect healthy body and say, “Well, am I going to let this person or event destroy my body?” I then think that everyone is divine. I try to identify the lesson I’m being taught, and at last I thank the person or event for teaching me patience, steadfastness, or whatever it may be.
What do you think it is that makes you/someone successful?
A genuine passion for one’s work. We work much harder, longer, smarter, and more creatively when we consistently check in with ourselves and make sure we are doing what we want, not what someone tells us we want, not what society tells us we should enjoy.
How do you stay motivated?
It is always a good idea to close your eyes and picture yourself having achieved something, while bringing to yourself the feeling of having achieved your goal. Remember two things: Experience the feeling of the moment the goal would be achieved and picture the image of you achieving you destination or goal. If we are procrastinating, we should think of “why” we are doing whatever we are working on.
What legacy do you hope to leave behind?
I hope to bring to light the neurophysiological correlates for the natural expansion of consciousness. The premise: There are states of consciousness outside of waking, dreaming and sleeping, and these states of consciousness are naturally occurring, with no chemical intervention required.
My hope: Show that these “advanced” states of consciousness are real, via neurophysiological correlates. Anyone can grow these expanded states of consciousness, one does not have to be a recluse, live in the mountains. These states of consciousness can be developed along with raising a family, having a job and being good at all aspects of life. These states of consciousness are actually not a big deal. Its our most natural state of functioning. When our physiology is most relaxed in activity is when we have the most “luck” or creativity in action.
Expanded states of consciousness means the subjective experience of always being in the zone, or always being in a flow state. A good example would be a basketball player who never misses a basket. My goal is to bring this to light, not just for the elite, but for all of us. Let’s all be our best.