Personal profile


Toby is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Monash Centre for Consciousness and Contemplative Studies (M3CS). Before starting in this role he did a PhD in psychology in the Human Experience Lab at the University of Melbourne, supervised by the University of Melbourne neuroscientist Prof. Olivia Carter and the Monash University philosopher Dr. Jennifer Windt. Toby's PhD research compared the techniques and experiences in four meditation practices that aim for “contentless” states: states of complete stillness/silence without thoughts or perceptions, sometimes referred to as minimal phenomenal experience or pure consciousness. The research involved two large-scale analyses: an evidence synthesis of 135 expert texts on meditation, and a participant-based study of more than 250 meditators attending specific retreats or classes conducted by some of the world’s leading teachers. Toby has personally practised and read about meditation for over 20 years, and in 2015 he completed a 3-year meditation teacher training course. Before switching to psychology he studied commerce and law at The University of Melbourne. He was a Senior Associate at an international law firm, and he worked at the firm for 6 years.

Research interests

Toby's main research interests are:

  • Contentless / minimal phenomenal experience
  • Meditation practices and how they compare to one another
  • Spontaneous thought/experience – e.g., mind-wandering
  • Meditation as a treatment for anxiety and depression

Education/Academic qualification

Psychology, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), A Comparative Analysis of the Techniques and Experiences in Meditation Practices Aiming for Contentless States, University of Melbourne

Law, Bachelor of Laws (Hons), University of Melbourne

Commerce, Bachelor of Commerce, University of Melbourne

Research area keywords

  • Cognitive science
  • Philosophy of mind
  • Consciousness
  • Meditation
  • Phenomenology
  • Mind-wandering
  • Spontaneous experience
  • Anxiety
  • Depression