Introducing Tim Wood

Meet Tim Wood, a PhD student in Psychology whose research topic is "Investigating the range of meditation phenomenology".

Tim moved to Melbourne from the US to commence his PhD in Psychological Sciences in March 2022. He is a social scientist trained in business management, with experience in organisational development, higher education, and conflict resolution. He has an MBA in Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise from Colorado State University.

Using data analysis techniques like Natural Language Processing, Tim’s research will explore the range of experiences meditators report in domains such as: sensation, motivation, changes in sense of self, and emotional valence. He asks: What are the connections between the objective and subjective aspects of reality? What role does language play in understanding and integrating contemplative experiences? What role does bodily awareness (e.g. interoception, proprioception) play in our understanding of self and other? Are there patterns of experiences among those who do meditate? Might understanding those patterns help establish clinical protocols for people seeking the benefits of meditation practice?

Tim was inspired to pursue this line of research after a series of unexpected contemplative experiences. He sought out researchers and academics interested in phenomenology, or the qualities of first-person experience, which led him to the Contemplative Studies Centre. Having worked in and studied fields like higher education, business, and criminal justice reform, Tim sees many opportunities for reflective practices and attention to power of language to improve human wellbeing and social systems.

During his studies, Tim has been working on a Data Analysis Graduate Certificate as well as reading widely and reflecting on publications related to: the history of the mindfulness movement; history and philosophy of science; brains systems and self-regulation of neural processes; text mining and natural language processing; and statistical data analysis methods. He recently collaborated on an online study and forthcoming publication about unusual and intense contemplative experiences called “Mindfulness Teacher Trainees’ Experiences”.

Tim looks forward to future opportunities to explore how our inner and outer worlds connect, and to apply that knowledge in service to others. He hopes to work in academic or corporate settings that seek to help people in processes of change, by calling on inner awareness and motivation.

When he’s not studying, Tim enjoys helping to build community in his neighbourhood, West African drumming and dance, HIIT workouts and yoga, playing volleyball, listening to audiobooks and podcasts, and making abstract watercolour paintings. His claim to fame is being cast as an extra in a Chinese soap opera – a fun and unexpected diversion from teaching English in Zhejiang, China during the summer of 2003.