You live inside your head, but do you understand how it works? Brainwave investigates how our minds shape our everyday experiences with onstage conversations and immersive experiences that combine the most compelling advancements in science with traditional Himalayan wisdom.
The Rubin Museum of Art’s annual Brainwave series returns in January to explore the connections between the Buddhist idea of impermanence, or that everything changes, and cutting-edge research in neuroplasticity. Featuring unscripted onstage conversations and experiences that engage the head and heart, each Brainwave program investigates how our minds shape our everyday experiences by combining the most compelling advancements in science with traditional Himalayan wisdom. Tickets go on sale to the general public at 11am on January 9th.
This year from January through April, Brainwave looks at how the brain is in a constant state of flux. How can motivation, stress, trauma, or bliss transform the brain? Is artificial intelligence dehumanizing us? And how can we reconcile our anxieties about dying? By exploring these questions and more, the series investigates how the brain has shaped us as a human race and how it could reshape our future. Notable guests include musician Laurie Anderson, activist Tanya Selvaratnam, artist Lee Mingwei, extreme athlete Aaron “Wheelz” Fotheringham, and more. A selection of programs feature scientists from the Center for Healthy Minds, led by renowned neuroscientist, friend and confidante to the Dalai Lama, Dr. Richard Davidson of the University of Madison-Wisconsin.
In 2020 the Rubin’s exhibitions, programs, and experiences are unified in exploring the concept of impermanence. Drawing on a diverse range of sources and perspectives — from contemporary art to scientific theories to Buddhist philosophies — the Rubin will explore the freedom and ease that comes from letting go of expectations and consciously living in the present.
Conversations + Experiences include:
Monday, January 27, 7:00–9:00 PM
The Game of Life: A Museum-Wide Experience
with psychotherapist Dr. Miles Neale
The Buddhist Wheel of Life is a pictorial representation of the ever-changing nature of existence. In this Museum-wide pilot experience, the galleries will become a real-life board game in which the wisdom of the Wheel of Life unfolds before you. Your mindset upon entering will determine where you start and how much fear you shed along the way.
Monday, February 3, 7:00–8:30 PM
Aaron Fotheringham + Dr. Lauren Eskreis-Winkler
MOTIVATION AND TRANSFORMATION
“Wheelz,” the extreme wheelchair athlete, and a psychologist discuss and demonstrate how our brains and bodies can transform by simply changing our motivation.
Monday, February 10, 7:00–8:30 PM
Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor + Dr. Jeffrey Rediger
THE SCIENCE OF MIRACLES
Two doctors discuss the life-changing science of spontaneous healing.
Friday, February 21, 7:00–8:30 PM
Aalayah Eastmond + Dr. Pelin Kesebir
FROM TRAUMA TO ACTIVISM
Parkland, Florida, shooting survivor and activist Aalayah Eastmond and a social psychologist studying happiness explore the transformation of states of mind that occur when trauma translates to grief and then to activism.
Saturday, February 29, 3:00–4:30 PM
Lee Mingwei + Dr. Lila Davachi
CAN TIME HEAL ANYTHING?
Measure Your Existence artist Lee Mingwei takes the stage with a neuropsychologist to explore the mechanics of grief as framed by the brain’s perception of time.
Friday, March 13, 7:00–8:30 PM
NYC Runners + Dr. Karen Postal
HOW RUNNING CHANGES THE BRAIN
“Run for your life!” takes on a new meaning when aerobic exercise is proven to generate new brain cells.
Saturday, March 14, 3:00–5:00 PM
TIBETAN MEDICINE WORKSHOP
with Dr. Tawni Tidwell
We are entering a period of increased exposure to hitherto unknown toxins and cataclysms. Can Tibetan medicine save us?
Monday, March 23, 7:00–8:30 PM
Lama Willa B. Miller + Dr. Gaelle Desbordes
THE NATURE OF BLISS
A Buddhist meditation teacher compares her practice with the findings of a biomedical researcher. What does bliss look like in the brain?
Saturday, April 4, 3:00–4:30 PM
Dr. BJ Miller + Dr. Mark Epstein
A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO THE END
Using his own near-death experience that claimed three of his limbs, a palliative care specialist and a Buddhist psychiatrist compare approaches that prepare for loss.
Monday, April 6, 7:00–8:30 PM
The Ven. Tenzin Priyadarshi + Dr. Christopher Moore
How is wisdom transmitted through time? A Buddhist monk and neuroscientist test some theories.
Friday, April 10, 7:00–8:30 PM
Chris Borland + Dr. Richard Davidson
A former linebacker and famed neuroscientist tackle how to mitigate athletic stress and injury on and off the field through mindfulness-based practices.
Saturday, April 11, 3:00–4:30 PM
Dr. John Dunne + Dr. Sheldon Solomon
A specialist in Terror Management Theory and a renowned scholar of Buddhism share how understanding impermanence might help you reconcile anxieties about dying.
Monday, April 13, 7:00–8:30 PM
Tanya Selvaratnam + Dr. Mark Epstein
UNTANGLING ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS
A trauma psychiatrist interprets a victim’s story, which she shares in an effort to expose the prevalence of intimate partner violence — offering steps to recognize, expose, and end it.
Monday, April 20, 7:00–8:30 PM
Rana el Kaliouby + Dr. Kevin Ochsner
A computer scientist and affective neuroscientist debate what we can do to humanize technology before it dehumanizes us.
Monday, April 27, 7:00–8:30 PM
Laurie Anderson + Dr. Ainissa Ramirez
THE ALCHEMY OF US
Through storytelling, a musician and a materials scientist share how inventions have caused us to reinvent ourselves and change our behavior — and how they will continue to do so.