Daryl Gungadoo

Daryl Gungadoo
Episode 104

Join host Japhet De Oliveira as he sits down with Daryl Gungadoo to discuss his work as an engineer for Adventist World Radio, his role in the Adventist Review Media Lab, as well as his passion for innovation and the importance of meditation and prayer in enhancing brain waves.
Libsyn Podcast
"I am never satisfied with the status quo, technologically, but also, institutionally, and dare I say, sometimes even theologically."

Narrator: Welcome, friends, to another episode of the Story & Experience podcast. Join your host, Japhet De Oliveira, with his guest today, and discover the moments that shape us, our families, and communities.

Japhet De Oliveira: Hey, welcome, friends, to another episode of the Story & Experience podcast. I am delighted to have this particular guest. They may be in another country, and we may have known each other for many, many years, but we get to now record and talk as if it's the very first time for a long, long time, which is great. I'm glad to see that they're smiling, this is a good sign, and it will be a great experience, as well. If you're brand new to the podcast, we have 100 questions, they're about stories and experiences that shape your life, and they progressively become more vulnerable and open closer you get to 100. So we'll begin straight away, and I'm going to ask the first question, could you tell us your name, and does anybody ever mispronounce it?

Daryl Gungadoo: Hi, Japhet, my name is Daryl Gungadoo, and I'm sure I'm mispronouncing my own name, simply because ... Well, my parents are from Mauritius, and that name originates from some place in India, and I don't know anything about the source of the name, so I'm most likely mispronouncing my own name, so I won't hold anyone accountable for mispronouncing my name.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's fantastic, I like that. Well, that's great, you honor your tradition, and you remember others, as well. That's great. Daryl, share with us what you do for work, which I am going to be fascinated to hear.

Daryl Gungadoo: Sure, well, there's a lot of areas of work. Let's see, from 1996 up until 2017, I was an engineer for Adventist World Radio. My main task was installing radio stations in hard-to-reach parts of the world, so I really enjoyed the cultural anthropology aspect of it apart from the engineering, naturally. And then, in 2018, I was asked to start a new department under Adventist review at the general conference, and the department is called the Adventist Review Media Lab. And the Media Lab is all about finding out what the latest media platforms might be forging in the future, and understanding how to publish on those media platforms, and also, in a way, helping in creating standards for those platforms.

So back at AWR, I was involved in the standardizations of how podcasts are distributed using the RSS code and so on, so all the backend engine on podcasting. And I never thought I would leave the world of audio broadcasting until that opportunity came along. And with that, I'm feeling quite energized to recognize that ... You know how we often ... I might be jumping the gun on some questions here, but anyway-

Japhet De Oliveira: No, no, go for it.

Daryl Gungadoo: ... You know how often we can get a bit disappointed in our own church. We're like, ah, this church is so slow, it is back in the horse and carriage years still, and it's not progressing. So I'd like to encourage our audience, maybe, that our church, while an institution that might seem slow, is actually thoughtful of being progressive. And my job position is probably a case in point that justifies or that ratifies that by recognizing that the church is actually interested in, after print, after radio, after television, after movie production, what's next, and how should our church adapt to those platforms?

Japhet De Oliveira: Hey, Daryl, you're spot on about that. I mean, big institutions, it takes a lot to make change, but you are right now in kind of a fantastic role, because even though you worked all these years in radio, you also are quite an innovator.

Daryl Gungadoo: Correct, I do like to tinker, naturally.

Japhet De Oliveira: Tinker's a good word.

Daryl Gungadoo: Japhet, my parents, since I was three years old, were missionaries, mainly in Madagascar and in many parts of Africa. And I really never interacted with technology up until I moved to Michigan, where my dad wanted to finish his master's and his PhD in theology. And I've always been curious about technology without having access to it, necessarily. And when I was 17 and moved to the States, I was like a sponge, soaking up everything, including, hey, how does a light switch work? And you don't expect kids of that age to get a screwdriver and undo the light switch, and, well, even get zapped and almost dying from those experiences. But curiosity killed the cat, so I'm very curious, and I realized that my curiosity does not plateau as I get older, hence, I am never satisfied with the status quo, technologically, but also, institutionally, and dare I say, sometimes even theologically. But maybe we'll get to that in another question ...

Japhet De Oliveira: All right, hey, that's awesome.

Daryl Gungadoo: ... or in another series altogether.

Japhet De Oliveira: No, that's great, that's great. Hey, I know it's later for you, because you're in England right now, it's early for me over here in the United States, but in the morning when you get up, first drink of the day, do you have coffee, tea, a liquid green smoothie? What's your first cup of the day?

Daryl Gungadoo: I'm glad you asked. My routine is very different from most people, in that, for the last four years or so, I start my day jogging 10 kilometers.

Japhet De Oliveira: Really? Every day?

Daryl Gungadoo: I run 10K, rain or shine, wherever I am. I take only one day off in a week from running, and that's usually on Sabbath. I usually have other responsibilities on that day, running the sound system, or preparing a sermon somewhere. So I tend to run every day, and initially, because that takes about an hour or so to run, I thought, well, that's kind of a waste of an hour in a day. And I thought, I might as well listen to an audiobook while I'm running.

And then, I realized that, well, being connected to nature, hearing the birds waking up, as well, and rehearsing some ideas, some notions, some concepts, philosophically, in one's mind, and actually not having anything to use to write down, enhances my memory, as well, because then, as I formulate these ideas in my mind, I need to commit them to memory enough so I can write it down when I get back. So yes, I wake up and I drink about half a liter of hot lemon juice. Don't ask me why, that's just me. And then, I go for a long run - a 10K run, so it was about six and a half miles. And then, afterwards, I feel quite refreshed and quite ready to face the day.

Japhet De Oliveira: Hey, that's fantastic. You said how much of lemon juice? Half a liter?

Daryl Gungadoo: About half a liter. Well, it's lemon juice diluted in hot water.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, okay, all right. Hey, that's fantastic. Now, you alluded to this a little bit about being a child, and your curiosity and stuff, but could you tell us where you were born? I don't want to presume. And then, when you were a child there, what did you imagine you would grow up to be?

Daryl Gungadoo: Yeah, so I was born on the little tiny island of Mauritius, which is an island on the east coast of Madagascar, between Madagascar and Australia, but much closer to Madagascar than Australia, of course. My parents, my grandparents, the whole family, on especially my mom's side, had emigrated to Australia before I was born. Yeah, they kind of identified as Australians, before I was born, my parents went as missionaries initially on a little tiny island of Rodrigues, which is a part of the many islands of Mauritius, and then, over to Madagascar, and then to East and West Africa.

So I pretty much had a French upbringing, most of the countries we were in were French speaking, so I used to go to French lycées. And it was quite the shock when I got to the US in '88 and knew how to read and write English, but didn't really know how to speak it. And at Andrews Academy there, I felt pretty miserable. I was definitely at the bottom end of the most popular on the scale, and so, I basically kept to myself and didn't really want to talk to anyone because I felt, oh, man, all these people speak so well English, and I don't know how to behave. I'm used to growing up in Africa, not in the US.

And the one group that I felt was very accepting of me in the US happened to be the folks that were in the computer science labs, basically, the geeks. So while hanging out with the geeks, I noticed that they were not in any way, shape, or form, judging me for my inability to speak good English, they were only judging me for my ability to code, to write software. So it invariably got me interested in computer science. And obviously, my curiosity got the better of me there, and got to interact with computers, and were fascinating by the logic of the computer, by the downright ... Well, if you code it right, it'll always execute the code correctly.

And that was fabulous and very predictable, unlike human nature. So I enjoyed that, I enjoyed my computer science professors. I also enjoyed my religion teachers. Many of them, and I hope I don't embarrass anyone here by mentioning their names, Dr. Glenn Russell, he was himself a missionary in Lebanon before. So unlike most of the other teachers before, he really understood where I came from. He understood my clumsiness, shall we say, and looked right beyond that to the depth of who I was as a human being. And with that in mind, I felt very energized to be in his class, because he could care less about me submitting homework with a whole bunch of grammatical mistakes. He was like, okay, what are you thinking about? How does that affect your soul? And I really saw that person reading the depth of my humanity rather than the superficiality of grammar.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah, that's great, that's great.

Daryl Gungadoo: The other aspect is that-

Japhet De Oliveira: He's cool. Yeah, go ahead.

Daryl Gungadoo: The other aspect, Japhet, is that that was when I also started realizing that I was severely dyslexic. However, I had always tried to hide my dyslexia. Even today, unconsciously, I hide my dyslexia. So yeah, we're getting into the nitty-gritty, into the very personal aspect here of myself. And what I used to do, Japhet, is that, we were sometimes in a group of teenagers reading Ellen White or the Bible or whatever, and I would count ... Because we would read a paragraph each, so I would count when it would be my turn, and I would try to learn that paragraph by heart. So by the time it got to me, it looked like I knew how to read, so I wouldn't stumble on any words.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's pretty fast, Daryl.

Daryl Gungadoo: So that's the thing, it really basically turbocharged my brain to learn how to learn quickly, and to learn how to memorize quickly.

Japhet De Oliveira: That makes so much sense now, because as you were telling us earlier about you running and trying to remember these great things, I wanted to say, sometimes you'll have an idea, and you think to yourself, that's great, and then you forget it. But clearly, you've been training your memory from a very early age. That's really good.

Daryl Gungadoo: And I tend not to remember things verbatim, I tend to remember ideas and concepts. So if I was to recite anything from, either the Bible, also, it would be a paraphrase that I'll be spitting back out. But anyway, details.

Japhet De Oliveira: No, that's great, that's great. Hey, Daryl, if people were to describe your personality, if they said you were an extrovert or an introvert, which one would you pick, and would you agree with their ...

Daryl Gungadoo: Yeah, this is where I learn to fool people, as well, in that, most people will say, hey, Daryl, he's such an extrovert, he gets along with everyone. He likes to chat, he likes to present in front of large audiences. And that's the total opposite of who I really am. I am very much an introvert, I do not like large crowds, and I do not like to present in front of big groups. But what I've learned in life is, whatever I like is irrelevant,. Actually, I don't like running, I don't like running at all. And yet, what my likes are, I've learned that they are irrelevant in me living my life.

Japhet De Oliveira: That is interesting, that is interesting. All right, got two quick ones here, and then I'm going to hand over to you. First one is habits, are you an early riser or late night owl? Yeah, let's do that first.

Daryl Gungadoo: I'm both, only because I do travel quite a bit, so typically, every other week, I'm on a different continent. So the one way for me to beat jet lag is to run early morning, so my body learns that, hey, this is early morning, and we'll reset everything to that. So I get quickly, very ... Yeah, I go through jet lag very quickly simply by running. Okay, this is a little bit of a secret now. My latest degree is in cognitive neuroscience, and I've learned to hack my brain in, can we say, an organic way or natural way? I found that in neuroscience, there are times where you are the most lucid as far as being open to new ideas. Yes, that's true. And it's different for other people, of course, for me, however, it is primarily as I wake up and as I go to sleep, that transition time of waking ... So I maximize my time of transitioning very slowly from being asleep to being awake and rehearsing ideas then, and vice versa.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's really interesting. Have you heard that, also, in the shower, the sound of the water can actually create that kind of state, as well?

Daryl Gungadoo: So in the shower ... I've actually researched quite a lot on that concept-

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah, I'm curious.

Daryl Gungadoo: ... and I might as well share with you a little bit of this, unless you want to ...

Japhet De Oliveira: No, no, share, share. This is really interesting, yeah.

Daryl Gungadoo: Okay, so here's the thing. There are four wavelengths or four well-recognized wavelengths of the brain. The delta wave is when you're sleeping, you're in deep sleep, so that's 0.2 hertz to 3 hertz. The theta wave is from 3 hertz to 8 hertz, the alpha wave is from 8 hertz to 12 hertz, and the beta wave is from 12 hertz to 27 hertz. Beta waves are when you're most engaged with reasoning and solution finding or learning. Alpha waves are more when you're relaxed, so that's between 8 and 12 hertz. So when you're watching TV, or here in the UK, sipping on a cup of tea, that's your alpha wave. Your theta wave, from 3 hertz to 8 hertz, is when you are in kind of like cruise mode. When you're doing something that you absolutely know how to do, you're not really needing to think about it. Your subconscious is very active in your brain, but the rest of your brain seems to be passive.

So taking a shower is one of those examples. When you're taking a shower, especially at home, not in a hotel, at home, you know exactly where the tap is, you know exactly where the soap is, and so on. So you don't really need to think, you could take a whole shower blindfolded. And what happens in neuroscience, or if you were to analyze your brain that way, is that, your subconscious is very busy executing basically, muscle memory. And then, the rest of your brain is like, oh, well, I don't have anything else to do, I'm twiddling my thumbs here.

And then, your subconscious drags the rest of your brain in hyperactive mode, and that ends up also being where you get a lot of great ideas, because you're not thinking of solving something, or you're not in the process of learning or watching a movie or so. That process is that now, here's the other hack then. So take long showers, is what you need to remember from this podcast. And secondly, when I do my jogs, it's a very repetitive mode, so I'm repetitively putting one foot in front of the other and running, and that's again, a theta mode activity or theta brainwave activity, and gauging your creativity, bringing it into hyper warp, if you want.

Japhet De Oliveira: When I studied this a little bit, not as advanced as you, I wondered whether prayer late at night was the perfect space to activate that. Have you done any research in that area?

Daryl Gungadoo: I have.

Japhet De Oliveira: We're going off script, it's okay, it's all good. This is great.

Daryl Gungadoo: It's very interesting, actually, while doing some of that research, while researching all these brainwaves, I stumbled on a new brainwave that has not really been explored or discovered or written about, and that's the epsilon wave. As a matter of fact, the way I stumbled on it is that I was needing to study pretty much, five hertz, the alpha wave, and ... Sorry, the theta wave. And I miscalibrated my oscilloscope by one decimal point, and I was reading anything below the five hertz ... Sorry, below 0.5 hertz instead of five hertz. So I made a mistake of calibrating my scope wrongly by a decimal point.

And what I noticed is another wavelength in that area, except that most wavelengths are very active very quickly, meaning that, if you're getting tickled, or it's a fight or flight reaction, it takes less than about four milliseconds for it to register. However, the epsilon wave takes 20 minutes to even start rising, so that's why most scientists have not noticed that that was an actual wavelength there. So the interesting thing about the epsilon wave is that, if a person suffers from any kind of neurodivergences, and we all do, right? So for me, dyslexia is one of them, but ADHD could be another one, OCD is another one. Anyway, there's a whole soup of letters as far as neurodivergences.

What I've noticed is that, as your epsilon wave goes up, the intensity of that neurodivergency sort of slows down a little bit, or calms down, so you're less divergent by a very low percentage, like 1%, also. But there's a decrease in your divergency by a tiny bit. The epsilon wave is raised up through a very, very specific process, and you alluded to this, Japhet, earlier here, and that is through prayer and meditation. And as I'm a bit of a doubting Thomas myself, I thought, okay, that's too good to be true, let me go ahead and analyze this in Shaolin monks. These are monks that are primarily in Japan, and these are the kinds of monks that can keep their breath or hold their breath for minutes and sometimes hours at a time. They can think of slowing down their heart rate to one beat a minute and stay underwater for a long time, is that kind of meditation level that they have.

And I noticed the same thing with them. So as you're triggering a meditative mode, it increases your epsilon wave, and it gives you a bit of an attenuation in your divergencies, or in your neurodivergencies. So you were alluding to the concept of reading the Bible. Well, if I just open a Bible randomly, point my finger at a verse, and start reading it, that, I'm sorry, my friends, do not cut it. That will not enhance your epsilon waves. However, my scientific definition of a meditation, based on this direct analysis of brain waves, ends up being, when you actually reflect on the text in a very self ... You're putting yourself in the text, like God gave His only Son for whosoever believes in Him. So if you reprocess that text by saying, Jesus died for me, Daryl, and you reread that text by putting yourself in it, that suddenly qualifies as meditation from a scientific perspective ... Well, in that perspective.

And you do 20 minutes of this, and that gets your epsilon wave up, and even after you've stopped that meditation, it'll stay up for another eight hours. So 20 minutes of epsilon wave excitement gives you eight hours of calm, for lack of a better term. And it takes, obviously, discipline to do this, but doing that kind of meditation for one hour, you may ask, will get you 24 hours of boost. Yeah. So from a brain hack perspective, meditating for an hour is kind of like taking a peaceful pill, a peace pill of 24 hours. And you can't overdo it, you cannot meditate seven hours today and not meditate for the rest of the week, it's not how it works. It needs to be a daily routine.

Japhet De Oliveira: A daily thing, yeah, connecting through prayer daily. Hey, Daryl, that's fantastic. Now, here's the interesting thing, Daryl, normally, we would've just started the questions now, 11 to 100, but you've been answering insights and stories, experiences of your life, and probably covered several of these questions, so we have time for just two numbers.

Daryl Gungadoo: Okay. Oh, so it's going to be a random number.

Japhet De Oliveira: Any number between two numbers, between 11 and 100. Where would you like to go?

Daryl Gungadoo: All right, let's go to 66 and 99.

Japhet De Oliveira: 66 and 99, all right. Okay, 66, tell us about one of your favorite songs and what you love about it.

Daryl Gungadoo: Right. That is probably Amazing Grace. And I've really learned to like it not within an Adventist circle. I was actually visiting the Bible Museum in Washington DC when it first opened, and there was a whole section on the whole ground floor, which is a rotating feature hall, featured this song and its connection to slavery ...

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, oh, that's amazing.

Daryl Gungadoo: ... and recognizing that ... The guy who writes it, and I don't even remember the name, but the guy who writes it ends up really seeing himself as a wretched person that is not worthwhile God's time, or His salvation, for that matter, and yet, especially with all the things he's done, I think he was a slave trader of some sort and was not the best character out there. And so, throughout this song, he ends up ... It's a song of confession, recognition.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yes, it is.

Daryl Gungadoo: It's a whole sermon in a song, really.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah, it is, it is.

Daryl Gungadoo: And as I processed the song, I think, I am no better than the slave trader. There's no better or worse sin out there, it's just sin alienating oneself from the ideology that God had for us, as ... Being in the world of innovation, I like to think of God as an innovator, as an inventor. So He invents us to invent, He creates us to create, and we fall short of that aspect, and that is a sin. And so, if I'm not able to ... And none of us are at a level of being able to ... For God to say, hey, yeah, yeah, you've done all the works that is right, and therefore, you qualify for eternal life or for heaven, none of us can achieve that. And it's only through grace, only through God's grace that we're able to achieve that aspect. So for me, that speaks volumes, that song.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's fantastic, that is beautiful. All right, last one, 99, here it is, and this is complex, but what is the most difficult truth you've ever told?

Daryl Gungadoo: It is connected to the concept of innovation in business. So in the world of entrepreneurship, there is a theme that is kind of like the mantra of the most successful entrepreneurs, like an Elon Musk and so on, and that is, fail fast, fail often. Definitely something that our church doesn't execute, doesn't live by. But yeah, I'm not here to criticize my church, and it is-

Japhet De Oliveira: No, no, I get it.

Daryl Gungadoo: ... a humanly run church. So fail fast, fail often, has been my mantra for quite a while. So starting a project and realizing that this project's not going anywhere, and then, dropping it, simply because, hey, I'm going to waste my time, my energy, and my resources, trying to validate that just because I paid for it, or I've invested X amount of hours on it, I need to complete it. So it's a great mantra in the business world. Back to your question, though, of ...

Japhet De Oliveira: Difficult, truth, yeah.

Daryl Gungadoo: ... the truth behind this, and I noticed this with a lot of entrepreneurs, is that they will have learned to fail fast quickly, and to fail as often as possible, including their family. They will fail fast, a family relationship. And this is the truth that I have come to realize, that there's an exception to that area.

Japhet De Oliveira: Wow.

Daryl Gungadoo: Yeah, not to fail fast and fail often, your family, your kids, and that is an exception to that entrepreneurial heuristic out there.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah. Daryl, it has been an absolute pleasure to be able to talk to you, and we should've had a cup of tea, both of us, for sure. Hey, my friend, thank you, thank you so much for sharing from your heart, your authentic journey, your insights, and fantastic, fantastic stuff, a real blessing. I want to encourage everybody who's listening to do the same thing, connect with somebody, ask them good questions, be curious like Daryl is, and with that curiosity, you will discover new things, you will learn, and you will grow yourself, as well. So God bless you, Daryl, have a fantastic remainder of your day, and I'll connect with everybody else on another podcast.

Daryl Gungadoo: Thank you, Japhet, Au revoir.

Japhet De Oliveira: Indeed, my friend. Indeed.

Narrator: Thank you for joining us for the Story & Experience podcast. We invite you to read, watch, and submit your story and experience at adventisthealth.org/story. The Story & Experience podcast was brought to you by Adventist Health through the Office of Culture.