21st CENTURY PSI RESEARCH
Psi Research in the 21st Century
Prepared for Nexus Magazine: http:www.nexusmagazine.com
NEW MILLENNIUM PSI RESEARCH
ESP, Hypnosis, Paraphysics, and Remote Viewing
Iona Miller, 2003
Organization for the Advancement of Knowledge, Grants Pass, Oregon
"One really should start thinking in terms of biomind receptors,
rather than in terms of ESP" --Ingo Swann
SHOT IN THE DARK-SIDE OF THE MOON
While on his journey to the moon and back, astronaut Edgar Mitchell conducted an unscheduled experiment of his own. On June 22, 1971, he informed the New York Times that:
"During the Apollo 14 lunar expedition I performed an extrasensory-perception experiment the world's first in space. In it five symbols a star, cross, circle, wavy line and square were oriented randomly in columns of 25. Four persons in the United States attempted to guess the order of the symbols. They were able to do this with success that could be duplicated by chance in one out of 3,000 experiments.”
He claimed, in effect, that his demonstration showed that ESP was independent of shielding, locale, distance, or time. When he got back to planet Earth, he founded The Institute of Noetic Science (IONS), noetic meaning consciousness studies. That program, now run by parapsychologist Dean Radin, is still thriving and the Institute recently moved to larger quarters in an old school in Petaluma, California. IONS is celebrating its 30th anniversary.
MAKES ME WANT TO PSI
The spontaneous event commonly called psychic experience, perception or ability is called 'psi' in scientific arenas. Even more precisely, it is now often referred to as anomalous cognition (AC). A particular form of intentional AC is known as Remote Viewing. Between 1978-1995 the U.S. government sponsored the Stargate Program, in conjunction with Stanford Research Institute (SRI), a psyops development think tank.
The existence of psi or ESP abilities has been hotly debated among scientists for decades, since J. B. Rhine began his experiments in 1927. Both the pro (Dean Radin; Ingo Swann; Jessica Utts, Russell Targ; Hiroshi Motoyama) and con (James Randi, Susan Blackmore, CSICOPS) positions have their "true believers", and it seems never the twain shall meet.
Psi is still a paradigm that lives on the outskirts trying to become a sanctioned science. But just because a subject is controversial, and happens to be a space and time transcending experience, doesn't mean we shouldn't investigate it. In fact, it beckons us to focus on it even more thoroughly to reveal the truths hidden there. We simply need to do it with stringent, critic-proof methodology.
There are a variety of psi powers, known for centuries in Eastern philosophy as siddhas, exceptional human abilities. The uninitiated or skeptical may be perplexed or daunted at the prospect of coming to any rational conceptual understanding of these anomalous phenomena, which have been associated with the realm of mysticism, superstition and the supernatural.
In actual fact, research by the authors, who are both certified hypnotherapists (A.C.H.E.), and others (Miller; Ryzl) shows that nearly anyone can improve their psi ability through simple techniques of self-hypnosis.
Psi is also at the root of focused intent, distant mental interactions, distance healing and therapeutic rapport, where there is a subtle shared consciousness and often brainwave synchronization. This capacity is within everyone’s grasp, as the human potential movement demonstrated with such trance phenomena as fire walking and guided imagery.
We've virtually all had those uncanny or awesome experiences where we seemed to intuit, dream, or "know" something in advance of conventional means. Sometimes it is called pre-sentiment. Around 55% of reported incidents occur in dreams. Another example, is the synchronicity at work in the affairs of “star-crossed lovers.” When we are in love, we seem to share the same “wavelength,” virtually able to read one another’s minds. Who hasn’t thought of a friend or acquaintance only to have the phone ring?
Often the most compelling stories come from those who don't even "believe" in the phenomenon, but find themselves experiencing it, usually in the unfortunate circumstance of the illness, injury or death of a distant loved-one. Psi is not just a mental perception or conception; we feel it in our guts, in our bones, in our marrow. It is first and foremost a holistic mind/body experience.
According to leading parapsychologist Dr. Stanley Krippner, "At one level of investigation, there already are 'replications' and 'battle-tested' results, specifically the finding that about 50% of an unselected group will report having had a 'psychic experience,' supposedly involving those psi phenomena that have been given such labels as 'telepathy', 'clairvoyance', 'precognition', and 'psychokinesis' [mind over matter]. This percentage may vary from one culture, age group, and educational level to the next, but it has been repeated, in one study after another, for the last several decades."
The move in biophysics is to take psi research from endless theorization, proofs of existence and boring replications into innovative and practical experimentation. The problem is that in order to do that scientifically, one has to risk credibility and professional suicide, as well as being underfunded.
Though it often seems confined to mediums, channels, sensitives, or ESPers, most individuals are capable of expressing some nonlocal communication or psi phenomena. However, that ability may be blocked for various reasons by an adaptation to consensus reality, to conventional thinking. We need to develop “out of the box” thinking. Even Einstein said that past, present, and future are illusions, even if they are stubborn ones. Conscious calculation rarely plays a role in ESP; the same is true for creativity.
Both ESP and creativity have deep taproots in the psyche. Pang and Forte (1967) found some evidence of a relationship between creativity and ESP, as did others (Honorton, 1967). Frederick Myers reported that a large proportion of ESP experiences occur in altered states such as dreams, trance, hypnosis and creativity while Masters and Houston (1966) counted it among the varieties of psychedelic experience.
ESP, hypnosis and mind-expanded states have sensitivity to the unconscious at their core. And that subconscious expresses itself through symbols, imagery, and sensations to communicate with the conscious mind. Hypnosis is the "open sesame" to the waking impressions and sensory images of the deeper mind/body.
The elusive ability to swing back 'the doors of perception' and enter the numinous realm of the collective unconscious was described by psychologist C. G. Jung. Whether deliberate or accidental, anyone can open to the force of this revealed process, to this dynamic information field. Those who frustrate themselves with self-defeating behavior in other areas of life often show poor psi performance.
Positive ESP scores seem to correlate generally with traits such as openness, high self-esteem, warmth, sociability, adventuresomeness, relaxation, assertiveness, talkativeness and practicality. However, some psi-talented individuals often don't score well in laboratory settings.
On the other hand Russell Targ (1994) claims, "[P]si is no longer elusive; it can be demonstrated when needed for study and investigation." Even though psychic training to strengthen the signal line is possible, unpredictability has been the hallmark of this emergent gift. To overcome this problem in both the theoretical and experimental arenas requires a marriage of the disciplines of physics, biology, medicine, psychology, and hypnosis.
Findings from all these fields converge in the paradoxical subject of Extra-Sensory Perception. As the ideas of quantum mechanics, relativity and parapsychology slowly make their way into our collective consciousness, our common-sense views on time and causality find themselves more strained than they've ever been in the course of human history.
Will this challenge remain the domain of theoretical science, or can we foresee a day in which the general understanding, and even the experience of the average individual, will be shaped by this new perspective on reality? (Sidorov, 2003, “The Mind In Time”).
It takes many disciplines, as well as the latest findings in physiology, neurobiology and information theory to begin to formulate any comprehensive understanding of the phenomenon and bridge the conceptual gap. ESP used to be studied in Parapsychology, an adjunct of psychology. But its subject matter has become so mainstream, the field has been return to ordinary Psychology. ESP “software” is studied in psychology, but ESP “hardware” is the domain of biophysics.
Researchers are probing the interface between matter, spacetime and mind with increasing precision. There is optimism that ultimately conventional pathways will be found to explain their appearance. Suggestions have included Schumann Resonance as a nearly-instantaneous carrier of psi information or perhaps paradoxical quantum nonlocality or coherence to account for it.
There are many models that provide potentially viable explanations. The mental aspects can perhaps be described psychologically, but the mechanics require models from physics. A variety of theories have been proposed, including neurological, holographic, electromagnetic, and quantum mechanics based hypotheses.
Like electricity, no one knows how psi works. However, to foster and practice psi we don't need to know how it works, anymore than we need to know the mechanics of internal combustion to drive a car.
WHAT IS PSI?
This month (July 2003) on the editorial board of the Journal of Non-Local and Remote Mental Interactions, we have been preparing a special issue on Remote Viewing. http://www.emergentmind.org/jnlrmi_ii(2).htm
Stargate RV expert and teacher, Joseph McMoneagle is interviewed, along with such notables as author and theoretical physicist, Fred Alan Wolf, and Finnish physicist Matti Pitkanen. Many plausible theories and new experimental protocols are being proposed, pushing the leading edge of physics, biophysics, and experimental parapsychology. Though it is often suggested, it remains to be seen if psi is a field, a quantum effect, or a physical quantity.
We are examining aspects from coherent fields to strength of intent, arousal states, target specificity, subject-target separation, psi-expectancy, anticipatory effects and information flow. Studies of field resonance, metabolism, biophotons, entanglement, geomagnetic fluctuations, time-reversed experience, energy transfer, physiological detectors, biomind receptors, psychophysical responses, bioregulation, enhanced recovery, experimenter effects, EM signatures and transduction pathways may yield more information about the process.
The areas of extrasensory perception or anomalous cognition we discuss here include (1) Telepathy; (2) Clairvoyance; and (3) Precognition. These faculties came into the public eye when stories of Russian and CIA remote viewers broke in the press. But compelling, anecdotal stories alone do not satisfy the scientific method.
Stories of distance healing, a form of PK or psychokinesis (mind over matter), require another article of their own to do them justice. It may be easier to model virtual information transfer than mind over matter. "Spooky action at a distance" requires even stronger evidence than sensing at a distance. But is "distance" here really a factor or an illusion in a holographic simply-connected universe? The paradox of spacetime and relativity presents itself in psi as psycho-retrocognition, or time-reversed PK.
Though these experiences of knowing at a distance are called "extra-sensory," they often appear "as if" received by conventional sensory or mental means, for how else can we "know what we know"? It is a holistic psychophysical experience, affecting the whole self, physically, emotionally, mentally and often spiritually. The impediments of distance and time seem to dissolve; the barriers of spacetime are mysteriously overcome. The information is 'just there' in one form or another, whether spontaneous or facilitated.
1). Telepathy is a message, direct mind-to-mind communiction, direct knowing through being, a clear intuition or empathic awareness, often demonstrated in the psychotherapeutic setting. Telepathy is a transmission from one mind to another.
2). Clairvoyance appears as information about events at remote locations, manifesting as an image, or gestalt psychic impression, rather than a thought; (it is often linked to perception at a distance: so-called astral travel, out-of-body experience, or remote viewing).
3). Precognition is the most uncanny; transcending time, it seems to rend the veils of the future (jamais vu) and the past (deja vu) with strong, often unpleasant, premonitions.
According to Scientific American (Sept. 2002, p. 103), [apparently long after Pribram's theory from the 70s], "in 1990 Herman Sno, a psychiatrist at Hospirtal de Heel in Zaandam, the Netherlands, suggested that memories are stored in a format similar to holograms. Unlike a photograph, each section of a hologram contains all the information needed to reproduce the entire picture. But the smaller the fragment, the fuzzier the resultant image. According to Sno, deja vu occurs when some small detail in one's current situation closely matches a memory fragment, conjuring up a blurry image of that former experience." There are competing theories of deja vu, but the holographic concept of reality is a leading contender in the biomechanical explanations of psi.
Psi meaning comes through emotionally intense visual, auditory and kinesthetic experiences. It is a human potential we can learn to tap. We can use our intentionality as a probability perturbation instrument. We can use mental focus to alternately concentrate and relax our attention. Intent is suggested as a variable in transmission and reception in the exchange of extrasensory information, possibly within the range of ELF electromagnetic frequencies (Sidorov, 2002).
Stanford and Lovin (1970) found possible support for a relationship between the generation of alpha waves and ESP, as did Monroe (1971). More recent research has implicated the electromagnetic signals of Schumann Resonances as carrier of seemingly non-local transfer of information (Pitkanin, 2001). Persinger (1989) has suggested that psi information signals are actually carried on extremely low electromagnetic frequencies and our temporal lobe structures are sensitive to them.
Whether one believes in spontaneous psi experience, or not, it has a long and colorful history, in the mystic and healing arts of the East and West, and in science, even business. The difference is the trigger that evokes the experience. Management trainers have taught self-hypnosis as a means of fostering intuition, rapport and other practical applications of ESP.
The role of ESP is inextricably bound up with other creative processes where information or inspiration seemingly appear from nowhere. Data acquired through ESP, prescient dreams and other imaginative thought processes riddles the stories of scientific discovery and creativity. Psychic detective work and investigative reporting has received mixed reviews, since following up on dry leads uses time and vital resources. Without controls, these anecdotes are difficult to evaluate.
In the arts, it has been said that "life imitates art," sometimes to uncanny proportions. Krippner (1972) recounts a story of ESP in creativity, whose prophetic detail later took on ominous tones.
In 1898, Morgan Robertson published a popular novel called Futility. It described the wreck of a giant ship called the Titan, considered "unsinkable" by the characters in the novel. Perhaps you recognize this oft-told tale as that of the Titanic, but it was not wrecked until April 15, 1912. In the novel, the ship displaced 70,000 tons (Titanic 66,000 tons), was 800 feet long (Titanic 828 feet); the Titan carried 3000 passengers and 24 lifeboats, while Titanic had only 20 lifeboats for the same number of people. Both ships sank while encountering an iceberg at the speed of 23-25 knots. The rest, as they say, is history.
FROM TRANCE TO CREATIVITY
The question becomes "How can we facilitate the emergence of psi phenomena, either for greater awareness or creativity?" Knowing what we know about psi expression, how can we train ourselves to encourage its emergence? Hypnosis or self-hypnosis simply helps engage the emotional mind, the imaginal mind, the biophysical mind rather than just approaching the task rationally and conceptually.
Unfortunately, the question of psi-facilitation was asked by covert forces during the Cold War, and much of the statistical and practical data on psi comes from those black-ops sources (CIA, KGB, NSA, DIA, DOD, U.S. Army and Navy). The Russians wanted to use psi for espionage and the US countered with its own team. Much of this government-sponsored work went on at Stanford Research Institute (now SRI International), by Puharich, Puthoff, Targ, and Swann. And the Eastcoast counterpart, Mankind Research Unlimited which had another psi ops team, including Milan Ryzl.
Human potential advocates, Jack Schwarz and Robert Monroe separately pursued independent, more explorative and mystical approaches. Both taught consciousness management techniques through forms of self-hypnosis. Schwarz, practicing as the Aleithea Foundation in Southern Oregon, focused on bioregulation with autohypnosis and subtle human energies.
Monroe's techniques employ neuroregulation with the frequency-following response (which he trademarked with the Monroe Institute in Virginia, as Hemi-Synch) to induce trance, entraining both hemispheres in alpha and theta (1982).
Hemi-Synch, also known as binaural beat technology, actively drives the modulation of electrocortical activity through resonance effects, changing levels of awareness and arousal, attentional focus, and cognitive content. Often combined with biofeedback, it helps shortcut processes that would take years of technologically unassisted yogic training.
Graywolf Swinney (2001), Dr. Stanley Krippner, and Iona Miller have conducted trainings in co-consciousness (Erickson, Rossi & Rossi, 1976) and theta training at Asklepia Foundation, also in Southern Oregon. A deep state of rapport is used in psychotherapeutic journey processes, employing shamanic hypnotherapeutic techniques. Theta is reportedly the psychic range of the mind, generated largely in the temporal lobes. Co-consciousness is a shared virtuality, a telepathic rapport wherein both participant's brainwaves become synchronized into a single holographic biofield (Miller and Swinney, 2000).
Spontaneous psi phenomena have been associated with theta waves by Krippner (1977), the Greens (1977), and more recently by Persinger (1987). Consciously producing theta requires quieting the body, emotions and thoughts simultaneously, leading to an integrative reverie, a deep focus of attention. Theta is often accompanied by hypnagogic or dream-like imagery emanating from the temporal lobes.
John Curtis Gowan (1975) catalogued the entire spectrum of extraordinary phenomena related to trance, art, and creativity. In his taxonomy, he called these distinctive modes or domains of human dynamics Prototaxic (Trance), Parataxic (Art), and Syntaxic (Creativity).
Trance is characterized by loss of ego, art by emotionally charged (often symbolic) imagery, and in creativity meaning is more or less fully cognized symbolically with ego present. In some ways, these modalities could represent the uncanniness of precognition, the imagery of clairvoyance, and the knowing of telepathy.
Trance is often associated with awe, dread, horror, and panic since ego control is weak or absent. These numinous effects are moderated in the artistic experience that comes as visualization, audialization, emotional inspiration, sensual, symbolic and mythopoetic imagery.
In terms of precognition, artists are often said to be perceptually "ahead of their time." Art is the transition phase in the relationship between the ego and the emergent transcendent function. Transcendence is a "quantum leap," a recurrent process, not a steady-state. It is a phase-transition moving toward illumination. The syntaxic experience of creativity is even more benign since the mind apprehends directly without ego dissociation. Psi experiences become more naturally integrated, regular, inspirational and uplifting while less frightening or awesome.
Gowan's work naturally included both hypnosis and ESP, which he cited as consciously or unconsciously operative at these various levels of dissociation, ego-involvement and levels of arousal (sympathetic and parasympathetic). Puharich (1961) found telepathic reception facilitated by parasympathetic activation, while sending the message was stronger with activation of the sympathetic, or adrenergic system.
For Gowan, the accessibility of certain psychic experiences depended on the mode of functioning. Intuitive self-knowledge is intrinsic to a wide variety of higher mental functions. Hypnosis and self-hypnosis are clearly linked to the primal trance, but can be applied in more integrated modes to enhance psi ability (Krippner, 1968).
PSI DEEPLY: HYPNOSIS & ESP
In 1967, the Czech government tried to co-opt the allegedly successful psychical research and training program of biochemist Milan Ryzl. After screening many candidates, he found 50 high-scoring subjects, and they proceeded to win several rounds of the Czech lottery.
“Milan Ryzl, a chemist who defected to the United States from Czechoslovakia in 1967, developed a hypnotic technique for facilitating ESP. . .Ryzl’s technique involved the intensive use of deep hypnosis sessions almost daily for a period of several months. The first stage of the sessions was to instill confidence in his subjects that they could visualize clear mental images containing accurate extrasensory information. Once this stage was reached, Ryzl concentrated on conducting simple ESP tests with immediate feedback so that subjects might learn to associate certain mental states with accurate psychic information. Subjects were taught to reject mental images which were fuzzy or unclear. This process, according to Ryzl, continued until the subject was able to perceive clairvoyantly with accuracy and detail. Finally, Ryzl attempted to wean the subject away from his own tutelage so that he or she could function independently. While still in Czechoslovakia, Ryzl claimed to have used this technique with some five hundred individuals, fifty of whom supposedly achieved success.
Other studies have shown heightened ESP in states of physical relaxation or in trance and hypnotic states. In fact, the use of hypnosis to produce high ESP scores is one of the most replicable procedures in psi research.” (Mishlove, 1975).
WORLD’S FIRST PSYCHIC TOURNAMENT
In 1973, after hosting Ryzl for weeks in his Seattle home with many late-night discussions on the nature of psi, physicist and parapsychologist Richard Alan Miller created a model for anomalous cognition. Also drawing on his laboratory experience with biofeedback, he wrote a paper called “ESP Induction through Forms of Self Hypnosis.” In 1975, while never claiming to be a psychic, he got to put his theory to a rather unique test: the World’s First Psychic Tournament.
On September 21, 1975, Llewellyn Publications, noted occult publisher, sponsored this event in Minneapolis, Minnesota as part of their 5th Annual Gnosticon Festival. The tournament itself was co-sponsored by the Foundation for the Study of Man, originally set up to continue the work of Dr. J. B. Rhine and his pioneering work in ESP at Duke University. Many famous psychics were invited, including such personalities as John Pierrakos and Sibyl Leek.
Richard Alan Miller was also invited to test the proposed models for inducing ESP ability using forms of self-hypnosis. Since he was relatively unknown for having any abilities in this ESP field, it seemed to hold some potential as a valid first study. More than 20 nationally known psychics also participated in this event.
The clairvoyance test consisted of twenty (20) cards randomly pulled from ten (10) poker decks. Each participant was to guess the suit of each card. With one chance in four of guessing the correct suit, the average score for a run of 20 cards with no ESP ability is 5. Each participant was given five (5) different runs. A final score determined the winner, with a total of 25 representing the norm.
What happened is now history: More than 50 percent of those participating showed normal scores ranging from 22 to 27 out of a possible 100, as would be expected in the general population. Most of the more well-known psychics showed some seemingly paranormal ability in clairvoyance, as expected, with total scores averaging between 8 and 12 correct answers out of 20. One well-known psychic even had a score as high as 61 out of a total possible 100.
Using the technique of ESP induction through forms of self-hypnosis as outlined in his paper, however, Miller did not have a run less than 16 out of 20. His total score was 83 out of 100. This was more than two orders of magnitude greater probability than scores of nationally recognized psychics. He took home a first place certificate as testament to his extraordinary performance. It still hangs on the wall in the office.
THE PSI FACTOR
Of course, this anecdotal evidence does not constitute scientific proof of this model. What it does represent, however, is a need to understand the true significance of self-hypnosis is and how it relates to extra-sensory perception. Something definitely made a difference in the experiment. How might this be applied to therapy? Or perhaps to such questions as the role of placebo, spontaneous healing based in the physically-transforming belief that you can do something beyond your normal scope.
Miller applied an ESP screening questionnaire that helps define the attitudes that facilitate psi. It was given to 500 college students and weighing factors were assigned to individual questions.
The bell-shaped curve developed from the survey indicated that helpful traits included a belief in ESP, extroversion, freedom from anxiety, easy or frequent dream recall, hypnotizability, and a relatively expressive personality. Memory, creativity, and visualization/association showed inconclusive results.
However, EEG parameters showed a highly significant positive correlation between directional alpha frequency shift and ESP scoring. More recent studies have shown an even greater correlation for theta brainwaves and psi faculty. There also seems to be a correlation between high ESP scores and number of reported psi experiences.
In its Stargate Project, SRI developed even more stringent criteria for what constitutes a viable remote viewer, based on statistical results. In their program, the level of arousal, according to McMoneagle as told to JNLRMI, didn’t seem to matter much. Whereas normal people are recommended to relax or use the progression relaxation that facilitates self-hypnosis, professional remote viewers can begin from a relaxed state and move to an excited one, or begin excited and become calmer.
HOW DID HE DO IT?
So, just how did Miller wind up beating the best psychics in the nation at their own game? And more importantly, how can you increase your Psi-Q? Miller applied Ryzl's definitions and postulates relating self-hypnosis and ESP, both a theory and a practice, combined with his own work in biofeedback.
The standard definitions used for hypnosis often call it a borderline state between sleeping and waking, i.e. body asleep, mind awake. Any state characterized by an intense concentration of attention in on area, accompanied by a profound lack of attention in other areas, may also be considered hypnosis. It opens us to our psychophysical impressions by limiting external input.
With this type of definition, everyone is considered to be continually in a light state of hypnosis, witness “white line fever” while driving, or the plea, “I was spaced-out.” Musicians call it “being in the groove,” others “sharing a wavelength.” Our social roles are also like trance states with their intrinsic patterns. When we go in public we wear the ‘armour” of our persona and immerse ourselves in that self-image.
Charisma is also a form of hypnosis akin to Mesmer’s original “animal magnetism.” Traumas also create trance states with automatic behaviors that can persist for years. The “scripts, games, and rackets”of Transactional Analysis can also be seen as trance states, where we habitually replay our typical ways of dealing with self, others, and world. So the question becomes not “if” one is hypnotized, but what kind of trance and its depth one is in at any given moment.
The depth of hypnosis, which is an implied issue in this definition, may be defined as the difference between the intensity of concentration in one sphere or area and the depth of inhibition in others. Attention focused in one area creates a corresponding lacuna, or lack of attention, in other areas of the brain. Centering the attention for prolonged periods, often with suggestions for further deepening, leads to deeper states of hypnosis. With these definitions, a useful model for relating hypnosis to psi phenomena is possible.
Postulate I: The conscious experience is associated with the nervous processes which take place above a certain critical level of awareness/alertness. This function, defined as I(c), varies considerably in a state of hypnosis, where attention is focused.
Postulate II: Psi Energy, arbitrarily defined as E(psi), is an equivalent in the field of extra-sensory phenomenon of what, in our three-dimensional world, is called energy.
Correlate A: E(psi) is not limited by time.
Correlate B: E(psi) can not be transformed into other energies (i.e. physical energies,; converting heat into light).
Correlate C: E(psi) operates by manipulating the transformation of physical energies.
Postulate III: Psi Energy, is responsible for extra-sensory perception and psycho-kinetic phenomenon (PK).
Postulate IV: Psi Energy is the product of some aspect of the metabolic processes. Physical data regarding the relationship between metabolic processes and extra-sensory perception can be found in Beyond Telepathy, by Andrija Puharich.
Postulate V: The generation of Psi Energy rapidly decreases the level of alertness. This immediately explains why:
(1) each conscious act has a limited duration,
(2) why we experience a permanent train of changing thoughts, and
(3) why our attention permanently shifts from one object to the next.
When you think, Psi Energy is created. The Psi Energy automatically decreases the level of alertness so that one shifts to something else.
Postulate VI: The intensity of conscious experience, I(c), depends on the time rate of the generation of psi Energy. Mathematically, this is described as dE(psi)/dt = A(e) x I(c).
The rate of change of E(psi) as a function of time is equal to some geographical constant, A(e), times the intensity of concentration, I(c). More simply stated Psi Energy is equal to a geographical constant times the intensity of concentration, I(c), times the amount of time that the thought is held. E(psi) = A(e) x I(c) x t
If we cannot make any particular thought last long enough, it should be sufficient to repeat it again and again until the value of the individual brief periods add up to a sufficient value.
Postulate VII: The formation of Psi Energy, which is created by a holistic psychophysical act, preserves the semantic control of the thought that created it. In essence, your thought is uniquely distinct. If you deviate from your thought slightly, it is a different thought-form, including the psychosomatic component. There is a tangible shift in the mind/body.
(1). Formulate the question.
(2). Hold that thought for as long as possible.
(3). Assume that the event has occurred.
(4). Drop into a “blank mind” state and wait.
When questioning or desiring thoughts are intense enough, lasting long enough, or repeated frequently enough, psi is produced in sufficient intensity and structure to be detectable in the physical world. This may occur in hypnotic states, in states of intentionality, elated or traumatic emotions, or when interest, motivation, or desire is strongly increased.
The individual confronts the continuum with desire and prolonged concentration. The question being asked must be intense enough to impress itself on the unconscious. Lacking intensity, the signal will not be perceived. Intentionality strengthens the signal path.
Consciousness is then dropped into a “blank” state, an empty state, or “beginner’s mind.” The actual visualization is a switch from the concentrated point to the void. When this occurs the information is impressed on consciousness, resulting in a psychophysical perceptual event. This event is independent of both space and time.
Ordinarily when people spontaneously fall into trance states, they are generally not in a “blank mind” state of expectant emptiness. There is the chatter of subconscious thoughts going on even as the process deepens toward sleep. These thoughts are generated and go on automatically at a subliminal level, often without awareness.
Consequently, the information or signal path gets distorted, and weird patterns emerge, much like those experienced in dreams. In a waking dream, distorted signals may be perceived as “spirit guides”, automatic handwriting, or other autonomous related phenomena of trance states. We have seen earlier that Gowan characterized this loss of ego-awareness as the Prototaxic Mode.
Puharich believes reception is enhanced by “parasympathetic activation” in which there is an increase in released acetylcholine. He claims that telepathic sending of information is easier when there is an increased amount of adrenaline in the system. These metabolic processes are not “causal” but merely correlates of psi. Psi meaning comes through intense visual, auditory, and kinesthetic psychosensory experiences.
This “energized enthusiasm” can be seen in states of emotional involvement and artistic inspiration (Parataxic Mode), as well as creativity (Syntaxic Mode). Parataxic experience consists of relationships with multisensory images whose meaning remains on the symbolic level.
Syntaxic experiences occur when the consciously aware ego cooperates willingly with the subconscious forces. Here knowing and meaning are clearer and fully cognized with minimal distortion. Other higher forms of concentration include biofeedback, meditation, tantra, peak experiences, higher Jhana states of yoga, and so on. Concentration is intense, structured and prolonged.
ESP is often observed in hypnosis, a state characterized by a single intensive thought. Recurrent cases of psycho-kinetic phenomena, such as the haunted-house variety, are often reported to be connected with previous trauma or tragic events, associated with intensity of concentration, I(c).
The frequently reported cases of crisis telepathy, ESP contact between two persons, one of which is dying or in grave danger, are necessarily associated with intense thought or concentration, even obsession and a highly aroused state. The length of time experienced depends entirely upon the circumstances; in some cases there is subjective dilation of time perception.
The discovery of mental impregnation, known in the literature as psychometry suggests that repeated identical thoughts increase the expected psychic effect. Wearing a ring for a long time may “imprint” memory of the wearer onto the ring; just slipping a ring on and off and handing it to a psychometrist will not generally reveal any memory of the wearer.
Religious or spiritual traditions assert that repeated prayers may be more effective than single ones. In other words, the more you repeat the same prayer, or mantra, or the more you do a single ritual, the greater the effect. Along that line of reasoning, “tithing” might be seen as a factor of one’s time or attention, rather than money. Some meditation schools, for example, require no money but 10% of your daily time (2.5 hours) in meditation.
The stimulating action of psi formation on the brain may account for memory, more particularly, active recollection. The influence of psi formation increases the level of awareness of the neuro-patterns corresponding to the thought to be remembered. The synapses are flooded over and over with the same chemical messengers and electrical signals. The correlating psychosomatic content is consciously re-experienced.
DREAM TELEPATHY AND BEYOND
“In 1969, Charles Honorton and Stanley Krippner reviewed the experimental literature of studies designed to use hypnosis to induce ESP. Of nineteen experiments reported, only seven failed to produce significant results. Many of the studies produced astounding success. In a particularly interesting precognition study, conducted by Fahler and Osis with two hypnotized subjects, the task also included making confidence calls, or predicting which guesses would be most accurate. The correlation of confidence call hits produced impressive results with a probability of 0.0000002.” (Mishlove, 1975).
Krippner went on to conduct research in Dream Telepathy (1973) with Montague Ullman, following the lead of other Maimonides Hospital (Brooklyn, N.Y.) researchers, such as Frederick Myers. These experiments in nocturnal ESP are foundational and though never replicated, the results were highly suggestive of a strong psi correlation.
Their ten-year study concluded that dream reports can show the effect of telepathy, clairvoyance, and precognition. Their hypothesis was that ESP is more common during dreaming than waking and therefore an "agent" could more easily transfer the target thoughts or imagery to a sleeping subject, influencing their dreams.
Such prominent dream researchers as David Foulkes (Belvedere & Foulkes, 1971), Gordon Globus (Globus et al., 1968), Calvin Hall (1967), Robert Van de Castle (1971), and Keith Hearne (1987) attempted to repeat these findings. Because the replication rate from these other laboratories was inconsistent, the Maimonides team did not claim to have conclusively demonstrated that communication in dreams can sometimes transcend space and time. However, they did open a promising line of investigation.
Years later, Stanley Krippner and Michael Persinger, a Canadian neuroscientist, reviewed the entire body of dream research data from Maimonides Medical Center, selecting the first night that each subject in a telepathy experiment had visited the laboratory. They matched the results of these nights with geomagnetic data, discovering that the subjects' telepathy "hits" tended to be higher during calm nights than during nights marked by electrical storms and high sunspot activity (Persinger & Krippner, 1989).
Persinger (1974) has urged using reported psi phenomena in new and ingenious ways, observing, "Across cultures and throughout history people have been reporting psi- experiences. Let us find out what they are saying. . .It is by looking at the similarities of the verbal behavior that we may find enough consistencies to understand the factors responsible for the reports” (p. 13).
Persinger (e.g., Schaut & Persinger, 1985) has examined several collections of spontaneous cases, including the 35 gathered by Stevenson (1970), reporting that they seem to occur most frequently when geomagnetic activity is calmer than the days before or after the experience - - and lower than the month's average activity.
This approach can be applied to any collection of cases (e.g., Persinger & Krippner, 1989) where the date of the alleged experience has been recorded. If repeatable, these effects may help to provide an understanding of the mechanisms underlying psi phenomena, and may even indicate a potentially predictable pattern for such events.(Krippner)
Geomagnetic field perturbations have been reported to affect biological systems by other investigators (e.g., Subrahmanyam, Sanker Narayan, & Srinivasan, 1985). Persinger (1989) has proposed two interpretations of the geomagnetic field effect. The first is that psi is a geomagnetic field correlate; solar disturbances and consequent geomagnetic storms affect this correlate. The second is that the geomagnetic field affects brain receptivity to psi, which remains constant.
In the latter interpretation, psi is always present in space and time, waiting to be accessed by crisis, emotion, or by optimal laboratory stimulus parameters. Geomagnetic activity may affect the detection capacity of the brain for this information, especially the neural pathways that facilitate the consolidation and conscious access to this information. Without this geomagnetic activity, awareness of the psi stimulus might not be as likely and the brain's "latent reserve capacities" would not be utilized.
Taking this argument one step further, Persinger (1989) points out that deep temporal lobe activity exists in equilibrium with the global geomagnetic condition. When there is a sudden decrease in geomagnetic activity, there appears to be an enhancement of processes that facilitate psi reception, especially telepathy and clairvoyance.
Increases in geomagnetic activity may suppress pineal melatonin levels and contribute to reductions of cortical seizure thresholds. Indeed, melatonin is correlated with temporal lobe-related disorders such as depression and seizures. (Krippner)
CYBER PSI TRAINING
So what direction can we expect psi research to take in this new millennium? Clearly, the experimenters themselves want to follow a self-directed course rather than the mandates of a government-driven program. They would like access to private, academic, and government funds, with leading edge equipment: high-ticket brain monitoring equipment such as 90-channel EEG, fMRI, SPECT, and ERP. They would like to practice without a professional stigma attached to their pioneering work.
Several theories of psi have been put forth throughout the years. Psychologist Rex Stanford, altered-states expert Charles Tart, post-quantum physicist Jack Sarfatti, and psi researcher Charles Honorton, as well as physicist Helmut Schmidt have all developed models for ESP and precognition. Each embodies certain possible, even plausible factors. Some researchers worked with Eastern swamis and yogis to understand the mechanisms and induction techniques or evocation of this psychic power.
Quantum theory predits that empty space (the vacuum) contains an enormous amount of residual background energy known as zero-point energy (ZPE). Physicist David Bohm, biologist Rupert Sheldrake (researching psychic pets) with his morphogenetic fields, and Ervin Laszlo propose zero-point or vacuum potential mediation for psi. The superdense quantum vacuum may be a physically real field, including but not limited to gravitation and electromagnetism. Perhaps it can transmit psi.
However, they can’t provide any experimental protocols that might test such theories. Is psi a field or a quantum effect? Fields link phenomena in time as well as space. But, fields themselves cannot be observed; only the influences propagating through them.
Other theories suggest phase-conjugate pilot waves, scalar waves, virtual states, hyperfield flux, holographic hyperchannel effect, complementarity, even uncertainty. Biophysical theories for the paranormal bridge include Josephson junctions, microtubules, and liquid crystals as psi transducers.
Honorton and others long ago found defects in old psi testing techniques and addressed criticisms with new methodology. They eliminated variables like subconscious cueing by covering the subjects’eyes with split ping-pong balls and playing “white noise” into their ears.
Researchers hypothesized that this neutral field would function as a less-distracting “blank canvas” for psi hits. So it served a dual purpose of refining experimental procedure and minimizing distracting sensory input. These experiments, (known as Ganzfield tests), were replicated by many experimenters in many facilities, with encouragingly similar positive results. Other tests were conducted in sensory deprivation chambers and electrically-shielded Faraday cages.
Experimenter bias, the tendency to find what one seeks, is an occupational hazard, though skeptics have found positive psi correlations. But careful interpretations of models, artifacts, experimental method, instrumentation, randomization, target selection, statistical inference, sensory leakage, recording errors, and controls can’t be rigorous enough.
Proper scientific control for ESP research has been refined over the years, though cheating and frauds have plagued the field, and the niave scientist. One solution to this dilemma lately has been to experiment with the field-tested government Remote Viewers, who have established track records. They have their own reports of their subjective experiences, not the results of their missions, but the sensations that led to the observation or retrieval of those images.
Remote viewer Ingo Swann, called the father of RV, argues for the demystification of psi. Swann’s model supercedes the traditional psi paradigm and focuses on the hardware issues discussed in neurobiology and information theory.
Swann argues for systematic and deliberate development of this ability much like athletic training, as well as conceptual understanding. He prefers the term Distant Mental Interactions with Living Systems (DMILS) to ESP. He wants this capacity tested in the context of physical science as part of man’s natural spectrum of senses. He claims applying focus or attention on the perceptual apparatus with feedback on results “fine tunes” psi ability.
His concrete approach and insightful conclusions include his view of our sensory apparatus as a “transducer array” to convert information from one form to another. He calls his human “software” program a “mental information processing grid.” He simply converts various forms of input energy to another form his sensory system can “read.”
We do much the same when we interpret the electromagnetic signals that come through the air from a voice into meaning in our brains. He suggests we can develop the ability for several transducers of signals, depending on our exposure to the cognitive processing of these signals.
Targ claimed to see reasonably sharp and clear pictures. In remote viewing, if the mental picture doesn’t form, one is left with a mere “impression,” a less-precise signal. The signal is compared against memory to determine if it is meaningful to the task at hand, the target.
In other words, you can develop this ability through practice and feedback of the accuracy of your perceived signals. Pathways that work get reinforced. The process is very similar to psychophysical learning with biofeedback, such as alpha and theta training.
Swann argues for learning to fine tune one’s signal to noise ratio, learning to notice direct sensory data as well as imaginal signals, such as feelings, intuition, impressions. Repeated exposure and accurate feedback strengthens recognition of subtle and implicit relationships. Can cybernetic machines, such as random number generators, computers, and biofeedback devices help us hone psi faculties?
Swann emphasizes the difference between message and its structure. An experienced viewer can put together mental images from subtle cues. In RV, the signal appears as symbols, sounds, feelings, tastes, pictures, and holistic impressions. One learns to organize them based, again, on repeated feedback.
Misconceptions, fears, rigid concepts, body movement, excessive gastrointestinal activity, sleepiness, language categories, and other psychological “baggage” can be sources of confounding noise. Other blocks come from trying too hard, and distracting daydreaming or preoccupying thoughts. Telepathy, empathy or rapport, and charisma seem to be related and clearly come into play during therapeutic entrainment.
BIOPHYSICS OF PSI
Nothing is known about the physical mechanism of ESP, or anomalous cognition. No one knows what modulates performance. Even those who can demonstrate psi in the laboratory on demand, cannot account for signal nonlocality or distant interaction. The origins of the data are not revealed, only the conclusions with their level of resolution or accuracy. This is where the models of information theory and biophysics come into play.
Physicist Lian Sidorov proposes two working models for non-local communication and intent-mediated healing:
1). Direct transmission (entrainment) of specialized electromagnetic frequencies, observed primarily in proximal healing; and,
2). Distant healing and remote viewing/diagnosis, where the target’s electromagnetic profile is modulated from a distance via partial entanglement of subject-target.
He cites the research of Finnish physicst Matti Pitkanen as a model for “directed entanglement” between the subject and target, the magnetic sensory canvas hypothesis. Pitkanen conjectures that distance healing involves transfer of specific electromagnetic frequencies through quantum wormholes for near-instant transfer of information.
The transmission may trigger certain brain frequencies and psychophysical changes. Thus, amplification of the signal leads from quantum to macroscopic effects. Pitkanen suggests the brain is a sensory organ of our electromagnetic selves, and may be linked to planetary rhythms through Schumann Resonance.
In his model, the EM fields are not directly carried from sender to target. They are simultaneously generated at the two locations by a vacuum (geometrical) current. Therefore, they remain coherent while by passing the paradox of non-attenuation with distance. Neural processing and quantum events may interpenetrate.
This still doesn’t really account for origins of the data, but merely the transmission modes. Biophysics researchers are attempting to follow the signal back to its source. The research must be interfaced with current theories in the natural sciences. Then it can be considered empirical; the paradoxical anomaly can then be linked within the known framework of knowledge. Is there really a field, or field-like continua, capable of transmitting information beyond the recognized limits of time and space?
Laszlo (1996) suggests that the natural processes of complexity and chaos could amplify vacuum-level fluctuations into significant inputs to behavior, and that the brain, another chaotic system, could receive and amplify these signals which can penetrate into consciousness.
SHAVING WITH OCCAM’S RAZOR
Occam’s Razor is a principle applied in science that contends problems should be stated in basic terms, not making more assumptions than needed to choose the simplest of equivalent models. Many hypotheses are proposed, tested, and rejected. Their validity is debated exposing their flaws and underlying assumptions.
Additional relevant hypotheses and unrelated statements are weeded out. Experiments with the sensitivity reveal which yield the most accurate predictions. If two rival theories pass empirical tests, the simpler one must be preferred. When it comes to conspiracy theories, we apply Hanlon’s Razor: “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.”
But before we can find answers, we have to ask the right questions. Once we ask the right questions, we often have all the information needed to solve the problem. Unfortunately, in the case of psi, it may be that our understanding of physics is still too incomplete to solve the riddle.
Lian Sidorov, editor of Journal of Non-Locality and Remote Mental Interactions has posed many incisive questions:
How is information stored and retrieved nonlocally by consciousness?
This simple question contains the essence of all psi paradoxes, from spontaneous events like precognition and telepathy to carefully engineered processes like retro-psychokinesis.
How can one strengthen the signal line?
What is the significance of electromagnetic signatures detected at the target in remote conscious interactions?
What is the earliest physiological detector of psi information in the transduction pathway to conscious awareness?
What determines the direction of information flow in nonlocal interactions; for example, between healer and patient?
What are the technical requirements of an experimental program and how do we develop the most suitable types of equipment to detect such effects?
Sidorov (2003) summarizes his discussion with expert remote viewer, Joe McMoneagle:
“What you are saying seems to be that: 1. everything you will ever know is already contained in your universe, although not necessarily accessible to your conscious mind, that comes with the effort involved in RV, or is revealed spontaneously as in “precognitive” 2. “when” a given target event takes place relative to the experimental present is irrelevant, because all the information is already available; 3. other people’s expectation and feedback should not affect your results, as long you are careful to task yourself in a way which does not include those elements. 4. “Making contact” with the target is more like flipping to the right page in your book than reaching anything in space and time.”
Are there preferred pathways for the signals in psi phenomena, windows of psi “sensitivity”? How specifically is the target recognized? How does one modulate and target “intent”? How does the signal rise above the threshold of awareness?
Mental intent seems to create cognitive bridges between subject and object, operator and target. We can also learn to recognize certain psychophysical patterns in ourselves through feedback. The physical and the psychical are inseparable. There appears to be an energetic/informational component, perhaps based in EM frequencies and holographic interference patterns. Holographic processes do occur in nature, including holographic information storage. The holographic field is a physical reality composed of interference waves.
In Scientific American (Aug. 2003), Bekenstein poses the question “Are you a hologram?” and states quantum physics says the entire universe might be. Can a somatic EM hologram possibly amplify as little as one quantum of energy into an effective signal? Are there holographic hyperchannels? Information in a field is holographic and the propagation of holographic interference patterns is quasi-instantaneous. Every part of the field contains the whole informational content, just in lower resolution.
“Each particle of mass in our bodies represents one closure of the entire universe yielding a holographic reality and deeper communication with ourselves is identical to communication with the universe, including any part of it, at any distance. Furthermore, in hyperspace the future and the past are all present. Since a particle does indeed exhibit a four-dimensional component for 1/137 of the time, each particle does connect to the future and to the past. With selective tuning and kindling any part of this holographic reality is accessible. However, because of the smallness of a single selective signal in the midst of the totality, the channel is quite noisy. For this reason skilled psychics,persons who have been found to have a greater fidelity for selective tuning, can be expected to produce better results than the normal person.” (Bearden, 1988).
Entanglement seems to occur somehow between all participants of a given intentional set-up. We have no idea how the non-local factor of target specificity is accomplished, other than intent and training. Do subject and target share a unified holographic field? Are standing waves picked up and carried by the Schumann Resonance, or transmitted by scalar waves or a gradient in the vacuum potential? Are the brains entrained on a resonant frequency? Does DNA function as a multi-mode antenna regulating growth, evolution, and perhaps psi?
Are specific interference patterns in the brain decoded and amplified? Ambient ELF fields and human bioreceptors, such as liquid crystals and piezoelectric crystal calcifications, have been suggested.
How we can increase our sensitivity is yet another question. The signal is perceived against a transient background of chaotic noise, and amplified by the body’s physiological pathways. Desire, intense concentration, and spiritual focus have been suggested. The trance state has been proposed as restricting the amount of input while allowing access to subtle perceptions.
Mind is a dynamic function of the entire organism at all levels of self-organization. Constantly fluctuating local parameters are embodied and amplified through the body’s electromagnetic control hologram. Mind/body modulates our sensitivity to external and internal information. Researchers measure a brainwave known as Contingent Negative Variation (CNV) to measure anticipation, anticipatory strategies, or readiness to respond; this stimulus can be informative or uninformative, carry content or just be an alert.
Remote viewing requires super-sensitivity and super-efficient states. It is not the result of cognitive training, but a gradual remolding of the entire psychophysical structure and metabolic pathways. Thus, the mind/body becomes a highly coherent, information-transparent transducer.
Vast information resources are hidden in unexplored manifolds of the mind/body continuum. In psi research, the study of nature and our nature, our potential, becomes entwined. As Einstein (1934, The World As I See It) said, “We are seeking for the simplest possible scheme of thought that will bind together the observed facts.”
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The Emerging Science of Neurotheology
Iona Miller, Asklepia Foundation, 2003
“The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mystical. It is the sower of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger . . . is as good as dead.” --Albert Einstein
The Great Unknown
Imagine one of our ancient ancestors, suddenly stricken by illness or a near-fatal accident. Hovering near the brink of death, an ordinary person suddenly finds him or herself locked in an immersive visionary experience of shadowy figures, muted voices and blinding luminescence.
The cosmos opens its enfolding arms and infinity spreads out in a timeless panoply that dissolves all fear, all separation from the Divine. Fear of death vanishes in a comforting flood of bliss, peace and dazzling light, the ultimate ‘holy’ connection. Overwhelming conviction arises that this is the more fundamental Reality. The welcoming gates of a personal heaven open.
Suddenly back in the body, returned to ordinary reality, one is left to interpret that transcendent experience to oneself and others. This near-death experience may not have resulted in physical demise, but it has led to the death of the old self, the personal self -- and the rebirth, rapture, or resurrection of the soul or spirit. It brings a surge of emotions, conviction and even transformation in its wake. The soul has taken a journey from which one cannot return the same.
A descent into psychobiological hell can lead to a transcendent journey toward Heaven or perhaps the yawning abyss of the Void. Shamans, priests, prophets, mystics, and gurus arose to show the Way of navigating these nether regions, of finding healing, the eternal moment, a peaceful heart, and unity.
Our human progenitors had to directly confront existential issues of survival, adaptation, stress, mating, birth, loss, and death. They gradually developed stories about the basics of life, social, physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual existence. They created myths, beliefs about creation and our creation to give meaning to life. They developed rituals, ceremonies, and practices to heal body and mind, mark life passages, and placate forces beyond their control. These accounted for their origins as well as voices, visions and experiences that seemed to come from the great Beyond.
The brain is hard-wired for mystical experiences to modify the threat of our hostile existential reality (Alper). Metaphysical explanations developed for the essentially unknowable, for sudden and irresistible seizures of ecstasy. Some of these accounts were more sophisticated than others depending on their cultural background, but all shared a common core by defining the mystery of the relationship between mankind and the Unknown. It might be called a peak experience, spirit possession, epiphany, religious rapture, nirvana, satori, shaktiput, clear light, or illumination. The difference is only one of degrees of absorption, of fulfillment.
The god-experience is a process, a subjective perception, rather than an objectively provable reality. Distractions cease, replaced by the direct impact of oceanic expansion, sudden insight, childlike wonder, ecstatic exaltation above bodily and personal existence, dissolution in a timeless moment, fusion, gnosis.
It is direct perception coupled with high emotion and deep realization of what appears to be ultimate truth. It rips away the veil of illusion, revealing the pure ground state of our existence without any emotional, mental, or belief filters. Left with only pure awareness, the natural mind is finally free of earthly trappings. Bathed in emotions of joy, assurance and salvation, Cosmos becomes a living presence. Immortality is sensed, so fear of death vanishes.
Many called that numinous mystery God. In some sense, religion is a reaction to what actually is. But to many, when it comes to their religion, those are fighting words, for theirs is the true way, the only way. Heaven on Earth cannot be achieved so long as those two realms are separated. God comes down to earth in our own psychophysiology, dwelling within us.
Programmed for God?
Neurotheology is the marriage of brain science and theology, which systematically studies the relationship of God and the universe. Religion is the expression of theological attitudes and actions. Tradition says God created the heavens and earth, and God created man in his own image.
But did God create man and the brain, or does the brain create God? Revelation is the act of God manifesting, disclosing himself, or communicating truth to the mind. These subjective experiences are the basis of mysticism. Perhaps God hid mankind’s spirituality where we would least expect it and be least likely to look within ourselves.
The religious element of our nature is just as universal as the rational or social one. Could altering brain chemistry by playing some visual and pleasure circuits, while quieting those governing self-image, cognition, orientation, and time sequencing give rise to a transcendental bliss, a god-experience? Can they give rise to the electrochemical supercharge described as kundalini, the serpent power that rises up the spine in illumination? How can we journey along the continuum from pleasure to enthusiasm, to joy, ecstasy and enlightenment?
This is the question posed by both theistic and non-believing scientists alike, in an attempt to comprehend our spiritual urge. Religious division is still the global root of conflict in the modern world. Even within ourselves we can experience crises of personal faith, as our worldly outlook vies with our spiritual beliefs. Most religions or spiritual practices have a ‘salvivic” value they “save” us from the banality of human limitation and limitless or meaningless suffering, lifting us up and often conferring a glimpse of the infinite, the Absolute.
In his 1962 utopian novel, Island, Aldous Huxley coined the term neurotheology to describe the territory where human “wetware” interfaces with the divine. Since then it has come to mean the emergent field that describes the neurological phenomena that underlie classical mystical experiences from all spiritual practices. It seems our nervous systems are “pre-programmed” to experience a variety of religious or spiritual experiences. We can journey within and explore our inner world, just as we can the outer world.
However, this human study of the phenomenology of the God-experience doesn’t reductively negate the possibly of a divine creative force. Rather, this transdisciplinarian science simply seeks to describe the mechanisms involved in that process. It explores how the divine is translated into the human realm, from the archetypal to the material world. It combines aspects of religion, psychology, and neurology. This new paradigm synthesizes the truths of both science and religion, giving birth to “neuroshamanism.”
Our “God-program” is the means through which humans have traditionally interpreted the meaning of major life passages such as stress, birth, identity, aging, death, and opening to a sense of infinity. It bears heavily on our image of our Self, our relationship with others, and our place in the cosmos and world. It is the source of our faith and the ground of our beliefs. Religious dogma has been created over eons to interpret or account for these dramatic personal encounters with spirit.
Taxonomies of religious experience have been created in anthropology, sociology, psychology, and religious studies. They form maps of the territory of spiritual experience from shamanism, to artistic expression and all forms of creativity including transcendent states of consciousness (Gowan; Tart; Grof; Wilber). But as mystics and scholars both admonish, “The map is not the territory.”
A spectrum or continuum of divine interplay is available as flow states induced through trance, creativity, and meditation. But knowing about them is not the same as direct experience of those states, purposefully induced or spontaneous. The former is a conceptualization, while the later is a grace, an epiphany. These states range from spirit possession to simple communion and nature-awe, to loss of self in awesome unitive cosmic consciousness.
The God Program
Belief and biology are entwined like mind and matter, like the twin serpents of the Caduceus, which represents enlightenment. Neurology, ritual and religion all join in what psychologist Carl Jung (pioneer of the collective unconscious) called a Mysterium Coniunctionis, or Royal Marriage with the divine. The soul becomes lost in the Self; all duality is erased.
We have a natural human capacity for spiritual experience, just as we have one for comprehension of language or mathematics. Transpersonal experience, myth, ritual, morals and ethics are undergird by a comprehensive religious ecology. The cognized environment is the stage of experience. Networks of neurophysiological structures orchestrate the play on the stage. Intricate electromagnetic and biochemical mechanisms underlie human ritual, myth, mysticism, and religious phenomena.
Whether God exists as an overarching cosmic entity or not, there are certain mechanisms in the brain which mankind has harnessed over thousands of years to facilitate the process of non-ordinary experience. They all manipulate the body’s nervous system either by over- or under-stimulation of the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems of arousal. They lead us toward seeing, hearing, touching and feeling the Lord in an experiential, rather than conceptual way that culminates in fusion.
Biologically, heavenly states are dependent on the limbic system or emotional part of the brain, and hormonal secretions. Mystical states are not fantasies, delusions or intangible events, they are the end result of complex chemical and neurological processes. They begin with instinctive awe and indefinable thrills, floating sensations, and perhaps spiritual hunger.
Ego-death can occur when the hyperactive “I” submits or gives in to sensory overload, which overwhelms it. Hypoarousal leads to a characteristic silencing of the mind or emptying when the ego voluntarily submits to unification of subject and object, of “I” and Self. Cortical and subcortical activity become indistinguishably merged. There is no separate “I” left to perceive objective reality. Thus, dualism is paradoxically obliterated in the maximal excitation of both the hyper- and hypo-arousal systems.
Because they produce personal euphoria and creative inspiration, these initial states are common to poets, artists, and mystics. But mystics tell us these ecstasies may be nothing more than overloading of the emotional channels. Ecstasy is a desire for contact, a striving after union. Entering these regions in full consciousness indicates greater spiritual maturity. Stabilizing them at the personality level means the phase of emergence is over and enlightenment becomes a steady state. The neurological changes have become integrated and permanent.
The oldest shamanic techniques include fasting, drumming, trance dancing, inner journeys, and mind-altering plants. The relaxation techniques for transcendence include meditation, imagery, prayer, postures, and chanting. All of them work on the physiology to change the chemistry of the mind/body and induce oceanic ecstasies that are either all-consuming or ultimately serene.
Any constant, rhythmic stimulus to the central nervous system will induce a trance-state and accompanying “high.” Driving the system toward either polarity of arousal or quiescence leads to a paradoxical reversal into its opposite, much like sexual arousal leads to post-orgasmic afterglow. Similarly, at some point, meditation can release an intense rush of energy and emotion, partly through the limbic system.
One methodology produces sensory overload, while the other empties the sensory field by withdrawing attention from sensory signals. There may be sensory melding, a phenomenon called synesthesia, where one can “see” music, or “taste “colors.”
When the mind/body is either exhausted or emptied of external input, the mind is free to process the endless loops of its own manifestation, its own internal processes. Fear and shame give way to grace, a sense of Presence, perception of sanctity, response to realization of the divine. Time, space and the separate ego seem suspended or transcended in the experience of cosmic consciousness. All is One. Beyond the unity experience is the nondual experience of the Void.
If perceptual intake is restricted or expanded beyond certain limits, the normal state of consciousness gives way to altered states, each of which has certain characteristics. This universal experience has nine typical qualities: 1) unity, 2) transformation of space and time, 3) deeply felt positive mood, 4) sacredness, 5) objectivity and reality, 6) paradoxicality, 7) alleged ineffability, 8) transiency, and 9) persisting positive changes in subsequent behavior. A direct and unmediated encounter with the source level of reality is felt as Holy, Awful, Ultimate and Ineffable. (Gowan, 1976).
Re-creational Ego Death
The alchemists sought eternal life by consuming the panacea (cure all), universal medicine, the elixir vitae. Paracelsus, the medieval alchemist and physician, said, “He who enters the kingdom of God must first enter his mother and die.” If God is the father, Nature is our mother. Death always sits on our shoulder, patiently awaiting each of us in turn. And we are acutely aware of that fact, more so as we age or experience loss and infirmity. We are self-consciously aware that we exist, and that one day we will not.
We can react to our knowledge of our own mortality with denial, pragmatism, or unshakeable faith in an afterlife, or reincarnated life. Death will come inexorably in any event at our journey’s end. We cannot directly know the nature of that experience until we have gone through it. But even before physical death, the soul can die gradually to outward things; the self is release and transcended. When the senses and mind stop actively functioning, the body becomes like a corpse. Ego-death mirrors the process of the near-death experience (NDE).
NDE phases include 1) subjective feeling of being dead; 2) peace and well-being; 3) disembodiment; 4) visions of material objects and events. The transcendental phase includes, 5) tunnel or dark zone; 6) evaluation of one’s past life; 7) light; 8) access to a transcendental world, entering in light; 9) encounter with other beings; 10) return to life.
Those who have been close to death, or experienced an initiatory death of the ego come back to show and tell what that indescribable experience might be like. They report pain and panic subsides in detachment from the body, bliss and contentment. Then comes entering the darkness, seeing the light, and entering that light. The same is true for mystics when they become dead to the outside world. The body is profoundly affected as breathing, heart rate, and skin conductance change.
When it is not sudden, death is a process where oxygen levels drop, carbon dioxide builds up, and neural firing rate decreases. This sequence recounts the stages of brain death -- the shutting down of sensory systems, mental dissociation, large dumps of pain-killing and euphoria-inducing endorphins and dopamine into the brain, the shut down of the visual cortex as nerve cells continue to die, and coma. Darkness descends.
Though it is a universal journey, near-death reports incorporate scenery and characters that coincide with cultural programming. For example, Tibetan Buddhists never report seeing Jesus in the “tunnel” during a near-death experience. In fact, according to the Dalai Lama, they don’t even tend to have near-death experiences, or they perceive them in completely different terms. Still, there are certain cross-cultural correlations to the process of loosening the bonds of space, time, and the ego whether death is initiatory or literal in nature:
These stages include 1). a return to the womb or unborn primal state, which happens in the death process as the sensory and visual centers shut down and we are left in the dull red glow of our fetal stage. 2). Dissolution, dispersal, dismemberment, or fragmentation loosens our ties to the sense of self, as we move beyond our sorrow, helplessness, rigidities, fear, and pain back toward the primeval unification before our ego emerged. 3). Containment of a lesser thing (personality) by a greater (pleroma).
4). Rebirth, rejuvenation, immersion in the creative energy flow, as experiential contact with the psychedelic groundstate of being floods us with nourishing sensations of well-being. 5). Purification ordeal, as we struggle with any mental resistance, conflicts and remnants of earthly attachments; karmic purging. 6). Solution of problems as any conflicts resolve in the bliss of absorption; healing. 7). Melting or softening process, of final letting go and unification of subject and object; a spiritually healing immersion in the vast ocean of deep consciousness, (Miller, 1993).
Resurrection of the “dead” in the mystical sense thus takes on new meaning. Paradoxically, it describes both the transformation to heightened awareness, the soul becoming more and more absorbed in the contemplation of God, and also the return to ordinary awareness. Rapture, the “ascent to heaven”, also has the connotation of rising to spiritual heights in the mystic experience, which lifts or elevates one from normal states of awareness.
But what happens when the death process doesn’t follow through to its mortal conclusion or is merely simulated spontaneously or intentionally with meditation? The relationship between brain physiology and human behavior is notoriously difficult to understand and easy to misapply.
Obviously consciousness, subjectivity and human religious experience are not reducible merely to an explanation of neural pathways. We are accustomed to associating it with grace, mind-expansion, intuition, transcendence, ecstasy, metamorphosis and salvation.
It remains a mystery whether our hard-wiring creates the powerful God Experience, or our whether God creates our psychophysical wiring. Only soul-searching can provide any personally satisfying answer. It might seem sacrilege to some to conduct experiments in “measuring meat” to gauge spirituality. Still, this does not negate the beauty of the scientific search for truth through creativity and passion as genuine as any other artform.
Knowledge of which body parts are mobilized in this communion doesn’t detract from the experience, for the whole is so much more than the sum of its parts. Neurotheology respects both science and spirit. It is a move toward holism, not merely a reductive analysis. Natural expansive experiences occur in a wide numbers of situations, but involve common elements:
1) The attention is gripped, and perception narrowed or focused through a single event or sensation; 2) which appears to be an experience of surpassing beauty or worth; 3) in which unrealized values or relationships are suddenly or instantly emphasized; 4) resulting in the emergence of great joy and an orgiastic experience of ecstasy; 5) in which individual barriers separating the self from others or nature are broken down; 6) resulting in a release of love, confidence, or power; and 7) some kind of change in the subsequent personality, behavior or artistic product after the rapture is over. (Gowan, 1976).
Can we pinpoint what regions of the brain turn off and on during religious, visionary or extraordinary states of consciousness? Yes; scientists are using dynamic brain imaging techniques such as SPECT and functional MRI to directly view the activation of brain circuitry. We can watch both blood flow and electrical activity in real time.
The roles of the amygdala, hippocampus, temporal lobes, parietal lobe, and pineal gland are fundamental to our sense of well-being, meaningfulness, expansion from personal identity and perception of inner Light. We can now directly see how the brain correlates both external and internal stimuli and our reactions to them. Rather than ancient rituals to placate the gods, our rituals are now scientific experimental protocols.
Brain scans of a large sampling of people lost in prayer or deep meditation reveal certain common neurological readings. These correlate with religious states ranging from transcendence, to visions, to enlightenment and feelings of awe. Attention or concentration in the frontal lobes is indicated by activation in this area of the brain during meditation. In meditative states, there is an attitudinal shift and detachment from thoughts other than perhaps love of God.
Sound and Vision
Our response to religious words is mediated at the juncture of three lobes (parietal, frontal, and temporal) and governs reaction to language. The “voice of God” probably emanates from electrical activity in the temporal lobes, which are important to speech perception. Inner speech is interpreted as originating outside the self, when Broca’s area switches on.
Stress can influence our ability to determine origin of a voice. It is part of our fight-flight response, which can mobilize even when we try to relax. Unstressing phenomena can range from panic reactions, heaving sighs, excessive heat to shivers and bristling of the skin, throat constriction, watery eyes, light flashes or waves before the eyes, sudden muscular contractions, tingling sensations, and electric shocks.
The right anterior cingulate turns on whether a stimulus originates in the environment or is an auditory hallucination. A wide variety of mystical sounds have been described ranging from the buzzing of bees, to the sounds of bells, stringed instruments, thunder, distant echoes, ocean waves, wind, and muffled talk in unknown languages.
The ability to construct internal representations of sensory stimuli underlies perception and cognition. Viewed objectively, these mindscapes are perfectly concrete manifestations but also have a subjective aspect when we become aware of them. Our consciousness is experienced through our perceptions. Any individual perception of the universe can occur as an internal or external experience.
We may experience varying forms of an I-Thou dialogue along the continuum of extremely hyper- or hypo-arousal states. Sacred images are generated in the lower temporal lobe, which also responds to ritualistic use of imagery and iconography. Empathy needs a face. Fear and awesomeness originate in the amygdala. Religious emotions originate in the middle temporal lobe, generating bliss, awe, joy and other feelings of well-being, as well as a sense of Presence.
Beyond Space and Time
Einstein had a virtually mystical understanding of the nature of space and time, which he expressed in The N.Y. Times, March 29, 1972:
“A human being is a part of a whole, called by us ‘Universe.’ A part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires, and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is, in itself, a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.”
A triple “prison” for the mystic, space, time, and personality define and specify the normal state of consciousness. Mystic ecstasy offers a glimpse of spiritual freedom, and escape from the prison of selfhood. Remaining as motionless as possible facilitates this effect. When the parietal lobes quiet down, a person first feels detachment from the tyranny of the perceptions, then an expansive oneness with the universe of cosmic unity.
Time distortion starts the personal escape from time, sign of an attempt to escape from the cocoon. Then the inner marriage between the personal and non-personal aspects of the psyche is consummated. Psychic conflicts are transcended, leaving a whole, complete being.
When the orientation area is deprived of neuronal input by gating from the hippocampus, sense of self expands. With no preferred position or direction in space, the local self dissolves in omnidirectional expansion. If one remains motionless, there is no external reference signal to orient in 3-space and no reason for this portion of the brain to activate. Continued meditation can over-drive certain other brain areas and seemingly transport us to another universe.
For a mystical experience to occur, perceptions narrow and brain regions that orient us in space and mark the distinction between self and world must go quiet. We give up the past and give up the future, we give up our defenses. All feelings cease as the self merges with the numinous element. The mind becomes tranquil, withdraws itself from all sides, becoming firmly established in the supreme Reality.
In order to feel that time, fear, and self-consciousness have dissolved, certain brain circuits must be interrupted. This includes damping activity in the fear-registering amygdala, which monitors the environment for threats. Parietal-lobe circuits that give us a sense of physical orientation and a distinction between self and world must quiet down.
The orientation area requires sensory input to do its calculations. Intense meditation blocks the brain from forming a distinction between self and world. Frontal and temporal-lobe circuits, which mark time and generate self-awareness, must disengage. When this happens, self-awareness briefly drops out and we feel like our boundaries dissolve.
The most immediate experience is that of always having been and being forever. The three illusions of space, time and personality are obliterated in cosmic consciousness, as the soul completes its journey to its spiritual home. Human consciousness is eliminated, having been reabsorbed into the primordial essence. All becomes All without differentiation.
A Canadian neuropsychologist, Michael Persinger (1987) has spent years exploring the relationship of spiritual phenomena and electromagnetics with many subjects. Low intensity magnetic fields orchestrate communication between lobes of the brain, faster than biolelectrical or biochemical processes of neurons. He has developed a device, called the Octopus to test his theories.
“Underlying Persinger’s work is the conviction that anomalous electromagnetic fluctuations (produced by solar flares, seismic activity, radio and microwave transmissions), electrical devices, and other external sources or originating in the brain itself, can trigger disturbances resembling epileptic seizures. These ‘microseizures,’ he propses, generate a wide range of altered states, including religious and mystical visions, out-of-body experiences, and even alien-abduction episodes.”
“Persinger conjectures that our sense of self is ordinarily mediated by the brain’s left hemisphere, more specifically by the left temporal lobe. When the brain is disrupted by a head injury, epileptic seizure, stroke, drugs, psychological trauma, or external electromagnetic pulses, our left-brain may detect activity in the right hemisphere as another self, or what Persinger calls a ‘sensed presence.’ Depending on our circumstances and background, we may perceive the sensed presence as extraterrestrials, ghosts, angels, fairies, muses, demons, or God Almighty.” (Horgan)
This technoshaman with his electronic art uses solenoids in a helmet for input; a computer controls the fluctuating fields. He sends vast depolarizing waves across millions of cells, releasing all types of memories and fantasies mixed and mashed together. Long-term memory is seated in the surface of the bottom of the temporal lobes in the para hippocampal cortex, closely connected to the hippocampus. Though an atheist, he stops just short of saying the god-experience is just an electrical seizure. However, his research goal is to use his devise to trigger transcendental experiences in nonreligious people face with the fear of death. He admits there is scientific evidence that those with spiritual beliefs are better adapted and statistically healthier.
Persinger can artificially produce a wide range of anomalous experiences by driving the brain with his EM helmet and technology. He identifies the temporal lobes as the biological basis of the god-experience. Bombarding the brain with certain frequencies in certain regions produces different results. As impulses move through the temporal lobe and deep into the brain, they interfere and interact with the complex electrical patterns and neural fields.
Aimed at the amygdala, Persinger’s device produces sexual arousal. Focused on the hippocampus it produces an opiate effect without adverse side effects, other than irritation upon withdrawal. Targeting the right hemisphere temporal lobe creates a sense of a negative presence, while stimulating the left hemisphere creates a benevolent presence.
Sensed presence becomes more common until the day arrives when God’s presence is something a person feels at all times. In mystical experience language fails. Since we can’t experiences two senses of self, one is projected as other, the Beloved, either romantic or spiritual. Thus there is truth in saying that the beloved is God, and that when we love God we are loving ourselves. I and Thou are One. The other becomes the Self.
Electrical activity in the amygdala, hippocampus and temporal can ‘spill over’ into nearby structures. If it ignites the visual area, intense visions emerge. Kindling the olfactory regions leads to unique scents. Somatosensory stimulation leads to buzzing, energetic, or tingling sensations or perceptions of being lifted or floating. Language center activation produces voices, music, or noise. Long-term memory in the lower part of the temporal lobes yields interactive virtual realities, waking dreams. The thalamus is implicated in aura vision; the reticular activating system in life reviews.
New patterns spread through the limbic system, producing sensation ranging from subtle to profound. Usually there is seamless integration of past, present and future. But in dejavu, there is too much communication between short-term and long-term memories. Then the present can feel like the past. Present perceptions are shunted through areas that process memories, and we feel we are re-living a moment stored in long-term memory. The opposite happens in jamais vu, when nothing we experience seems to have anything to do with the past. Time distortion is another experiential phenomenon stimulated with the electromagnetic gear.
The impulses can induce anything from sleep to “alien abductions”, including a profound sense of presence or the uncanny, auditory and visionary experiences, or a sense of deep meaning. He notes these experiences are tempered by the person’s learning history. God concepts are determined by verbal conditioning; perceptions are constructions. Imagery ranges from vivid landscapes to forms of living things. Sounds, smells, scenes or intense feelings all reflect areas of electrical instability.
The Biology of the Inner Light
Illumination has been described as being blinded by the manifestation of God’s presence. This brightness has no relation to any visible light. Visionary experience, which has symbolic or religious content, may give way to this dazzling light, which is reported in eastern and western religions. No wonder it is called illumination, and it can confer a palpable glow to the person that is perceptible after the return to ordinary awareness.
Imagine suggesting the body makes it own psychedelic drug! This is just what psychiatrist Rick Strassman contends in DMT: The Spirit Molecule (2001). He asserts it is an active agent in a variety of altered states, including mystical experience. This chemical messenger links body and spirit. Pineal activation may awaken normally latent synthetic pathways.
Meditation may modulate pineal activity, eliciting a standing wave through resonance effects that affects other brain centers with both chemical and electromagnetic coordination. Resonance can be induced in the pineal using electric, magnetic, or sound energy. Such harmonization resynchronizes both hemispheres of the brain. This may result in a chain of synergetic activity resulting in the production and release of hallucinogenic compounds
If this is true, it is easy to see how much this mind-altering chemical could amplify all of the tendencies toward mystical apprehension originating in other parts of the brain, as we have described above. To explore his theory, Strassman conducted extensive testing, injecting volunteers with the powerful psychedelic, synthetic DMT. DMT is so powerful it is physically immobilizing, and produces a flood of unexpected and overwhelming visual and emotional imagery. Taking it is like an instantaneous LSD peak.
He suggests the mysterious pineal gland is implicated in the natural production of this mystic molecule, as metaphysical teachers have long claimed. The pineal has been called the spirit gland and may be the biological basis of spiritual experience. The only solitary, or unpaired gland in the brain may initiate and support a variety of altered states of consciousness.
The pineal is known to contain high levels of the enzymes and building-blocks for making DMT, and it may be secreted when inhibitory processes cease blocking its production. It may even produce other chemicals, such as beta-carbolines that magnify and prolong its effects.
The pineal sits, well-protected in the deep recesses of the brain, bathed in cerebrospinal fluid by the ventricles, the fluid-filled cavities of the brain that feed it and remove waste. It emits its secretions to the strategically surrounding emotional, visual and auditory brain centers. It helps regulate body temperature and skin coloration. It secretes the hormone melatonin. Generally, after the more imaginative period of childhood, the pineal calcifies and diminishes.
Endogenous DMT is described as the source of visionary Light in transpersonal experiences. Its primary source, the pineal, has traditionally been referred to as the Third Eye. Curiously, this gland is light sensitive and actually has a lens, cornea, and retina.
DMT production is particularly stimulated, according to Strassman in the extraordinary conditions of birth, sexual ecstasy, childbirth, extreme physical stress, near-death, psychosis, and physical death, as well as meditation. Pineal DMT may also play a significant role in dream consciousness.
“All spiritual disciplines describe quite psychedelic accounts of the transformative experiences, whose attainment motivate their practice. Blinding white light, encounters with demonic and angelic entities, ecstatic emotions, timelessness, heavenly sounds, feelings of having died and being reborn, contacting a powerful and loving presence underlying all of reality, these experiences cut across all denominations. They also are characteristic of fully psychedelic DMT experience. How might meditation evoke the pineal DMT experience?”
“Meditative techniques using sound, sight, or the mind may generate particular wave patterns whose fields induce resonance in the brain. Millennia of human trial and error have determined that certain ‘sacred’ worlds, visual images, and mental exercises exert uniquely desired effects. Such effects may occur because of the specific fields they generate within the brain. These fields cause multiple systems to vibrate and pulse at certain frequencies. We can feel or minds and bodies resonate with these spiritual exercises. Of course, the pineal gland also is buzzing at these same frequencies . . .The pineal begins to ‘vibrate’ at frequencies that weaken its multiple barriers to DMT formation.” (Strassman).
Become Your Own Technoshaman
Want to take an active role in your own spiritual life, a safe and easy mind trip? Would you like to glimpse some of the experiences outlined here? Or even just get the mental health benefits of deep relaxation and increased inner focus? Intimidated by the prospect of spending 15 to 20 years learning to meditate to attain life-enhancing benefits?
Haven’t had a near-death experience and don’t want one? Too busy to devote your life to alchemy, or spend endless years in transpersonal therapies, or too afraid to allow a “mad scientist” to zap your brain with EM frequencies, hook your brain up to a high-tech scanning machine, or inject you with psychedelic substances?
Modern technology offers an easy, “passive” alternative. Anyone can employ a safe and easy technique that automatically puts you in the “zone.” A form of “yogatronics” is available using a simple CD and headphones with input from subsonic frequencies. This audio technology creates a harmonization of the left and right hemispheres of the brain, and automatically drives the brain harmlessly into the Alpha or Theta brainwave range.
This resonance phenomenon, a form of entrainment, is called the frequency-following response, or binaural beat technology. Entrainment is the process of synchronization, where vibrations of one object will cause another to oscillate at the same rate. It works by embedding two different tones in a stereo background. Continuous tones of subtlely different frequencies (such as 100 and 108 cycles per second) are delivered to each ear independently via stereo headphones. The tones combine in a pulsing “wah wah” tone.
External rhythms can have a direct effect on the psychology and physiology of the listener. The brain effortlessly begins resonating at the same rate as the difference between the two tones, ideally in the 4-13 Hz. (Theta and Alpha) range for meditation. All you have to do is sit quietly and put on the headphones. The brain automatically responds to certain frequencies, behaving like a resonator.
You may not become immediately enlightened, but hemispheric synchronization helps with a whole host of problems stemming from abnormal hemispheric asymmetries. Problems, often resulting from stress or abuse in early life, include REM sleep problems, narcissism, addictive and self-defeating behaviors. Communication between hemispheres correlates with flashes of insight, wisdom and creativity.
Split brain experiments have shown we are of “two minds” -- one rational, linear, time-bound, and cognitive while the other is emotional, holistic, intuitive, artistic. Even when we know what we should do we do what we want. The main distinction is between thinking and feeling, objective analysis and subjective insight. Each half has its own way of knowing about our being and perceiving external reality. Either mode can lead or follow, or conflict, keeping knowledge such as traumatic memories, from the other.
The hemispheres are meant to work in concert with one another. Interactive hemispheric feedback is used to treat disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, ADD, addiction, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and a host of other dysfunctions. Disorders of under-arousal include depression, attention-deficit disorder (ADD), chronic pain and insomnia. Overarousal includes anxiety disorders, problems getting to sleep, nightmares, ADHD, hypervigilance, impulsive behavior, anger/aggression, agitated depression, chronic nerve pain, and spasticity.
Because the brain is functionally “plastic” in nature, creating and exercising new neural pathways can retrain neural circuitry. In meditation, the halves of the brain become synchronized and exhibit nearly identical patterns of large, slow brainwaves. Rhythmic pulses can modulate collective neuronal synchrony. Then, both lobes automatically play in concert.
Rhythm regulates the entire spectrum of activation and arousal by kindling, or pulling more and more parts of the brain into the process. Disorders related to under- and over- arousal, including attentional and emotional problems, can be stabilized by self-organizing restructuring. Depressions, anxiety, worry, fear, and panic can be moderated. Stimulating neglected neural circuitry creates new pathways, improving equilibrium and long-term change, essentially “tuning” the nervous system.
There are many companies promoting this self-regulation technology, both in “active” clinical neurofeedback programs, and as “passive” home programs. Perhaps the oldest is the Monroe Institute , which calls its trademarked method Hemi-Synch. Another program offered by Centerpointe Research Institute is called Holosynch. Another variation uses light pulses from goggles to drive the process, and is marketed as Alpha-Stim .
Are there things we should not know? We are innately geared to crave ecstasy, “escape reality,” and seek extraordinary or novel experiences on our way to wisdom. The history of mankind recounts the stages of that journey. Religions and mysticism arose from the accounts of spontaneous spiritual experiences. In shamanism, our ancestors sought them in an instinctual or animalistic way. In art, myth and ritual we sought them in a human, if narcissistic and self-expressive reactionary way.
In creativity and meditation we seek in a fully conscious way, willfully cooperating and facilitating the process not only of connecting with God, but experiencing oneself in the process of “becoming” god. The ego no longer perceives itself as a separate expression of consciousness, but as the same essence as All.
Of course, we can never fully complete that process. No one can fully embody God, but we can move toward it. The succession of conscious states is toward higher integration, not toward lower dissociation. The process of integration in growth toward positive values has the complementary virtues of being obvious in fact and transcendental in implications. It means we evolve from reactive creatures into an integrated part of the spiritual dimension.
As sociologist Eliade described, “The ideal of yoga . . . is to live in an eternal present, outside of time. The man, liberated in his life, no longer possesses a personal consciousness . . .but a witnessing consciousness, which is pure lucidity and spontaneity.” Meditation is essentially emulation of creation and practice for a lucid passing at death into the Eternal Now.
We are all capable of transcendent awareness. What we believe in becomes real in an existential sense. Paradoxically, pure consciousness both generates and is generated by the processes of the brain. Becoming soul journeyers, we can explore self and multiple worlds, transformation, and social flow.
We can all become technoshamans, using the process of altering our consciousness through spiritual technologies. Even “lesser” mystical experiences have significant implications for religion and theology. It is the nature of the mystical mind to have such experiences and they have altered religion. So, a thorough understanding of how the mind/body functions to generate them is extremely useful.
Paradoxical physiological mechanisms operate in the body under most conditions to chemically prevent the attainment of higher states of arousal on either end of the spectrum. But it is possible, with repeated exposure to the paradoxical situation to function effectively at higher levels of conjoined sympathetic and parasympathetic arousal.
The brain can be “re-wired” to connect more and more areas together as links in the spiritual chain, which leads to so-called enlightenment. The brain seems to hunger for ecstasies to enhance characteristics of our normal way of being, creativity, problem-solving, spirituality, and so on.
The task of meditation is essentially letting the body fall as deeply asleep as possible while the mind remains focused. In fact, if it were not for the opposite function’s presence, even in the mystical state, we would fall asleep. The REM or dream state is similar: there is extreme cerebral excitation, even though muscular activity is inhibited. Hemispheric synchronization producing long, slow alpha and theta brainwaves with high amplitude is another factor. The deeper the meditation, the slower and stronger the waves.
The energy “rush” of meditation comes when either the arousal or quiescent state “spills over” into stimulating its complementary system. When both parts of the autonomic nervous system go online simultaneously, the limbic system goes wild with emotion, absorption and oceanic bliss. This is reflected in the gender based, male-female imagery of the kundalini serpent power and the yin and yang of the Tao.
When both systems go into maximal discharge, this neurochemical flux is subjectively perceived as Absolute Unity of Being, boundlessness, timelessness, and sacredness. Our relationship to humans, earth, and cosmos is one of a relationship to the Other. Our first formative influence is the experience of empathy. And empathy needs a face. If we find that face in our personal experience of God, who shall say nay? Beyond that lies only the yawning infinity of the Void.
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Last update: 4/27/03-06
IONATOPIA PORTALS 2008
I now have three main Homepages with menus, because I've had to move on as each filled to capacity. The original is
IONASPHERE 2000: ionamiller.org
2000-2007 is here
IONATOPIA 2007: ionatopia.50megs.com
2008 and full menu is here
My portals each contain one main subject and are compilations of my writing on those topics.
My Zero Point
Beyond MK Ultra - MRU
DIY Mind Control
Electronic Voice Phenomena
Mind Control for Dummies
Bacon is Shakespeare
Triangle Book of St. Germain
The Modern Alchemist Book
Temple of Living Light
Magical Perfume Book
Spiritual Alchemy SuperPortal
Know Brow Art
Iona Miller Art
Mind Control for Dummies
Beyond MK Ultra - MRU
DIY Mind Control