Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Why do some people have dark spiritual / psychic openings? Hypoth #2 – farther from the bull’s eye / destiny (some Taoism)

People who have the more distressing path may be further off track from where God / the Tao / the collective unconscious needs them to be for the good of themselves and the whole.  The bigger gap between where they are supposed to be and where they are, and the concomitant shove to fix things, cause distress.  There also may be more neurological re-wiring required, which is disruptive.

Disclaimer – I really don’t mean this as a criticism.  I know first hand that you can be on a very reasonable track through life, yet the Tao apparently thinks it’s not where you’re supposed to be.

In fact, I recently learned something that fits with this from a wonderful lecture by Nancy Evans Bush on commonalities between NDEs and biblical visions   She says that she prefers “The Unvarnished New Testament,” a fresh 1991 translation of the original Greek by Andy Gaus that strips away some of the later Christianizing interpretation, and hews closer to the earlier, colloquial Greek.  For example, whereas the King James Bible translates “hamartia” as “sin,” this new translation renders it as “mistake” or “doing wrong.”  The word is a term from archery, and literally means “missing the mark.” 

The implications here are big.  First, that you’re not a bad person, but just an off-target person.  Second, that there *is* a target!

As Nancy Evans Bush says humorously, it’s the difference between “Oh you miserable, Godforsaken wretch” and “Hey, you missed your mark….”

And as George Witterschein writes in the introduction to The Unvarnished New Testament:  “The very word itself implies a much more optimistic view of human volition than “sin” does.  With hamartia we are talking about something essentially correct in human nature, a part of us that wants to do what is good and right, but misses the bull’s eye.  Our goal is the right one, but somehow we miss it” (p. 13).

So, the second implication of this lovely ancient Greek is that there *is* a target, and Somebody or Something wants to help you get on it.

One exposition of this idea comes from Taoism, which is an ancient Chinese philosophy with roots in prehistoric nature religions.  It proposes that there is a natural, harmonious way for the universe to be -- the Tao -- and that we can align ourselves with this nature of things through “wu wei” or effortless action, and that this results in harmony and power for us, too.

The Tao Te Ching, a collection of Taoist sayings that dates to at least the 6th c. BCE, if not earlier, says this --

“…It is natural too
That whoever follows the way of life feels alive,
That whoever uses it properly feels well used,
Whereas he who loses the way of life feels lost,
That whoever keeps to the way of life
Feels at home,
Whoever uses it properly
Feels welcome,
Whereas he who uses it improperly
Feels improperly used…”
(Witter Bynner translation, 1944 / 1980, p. 39)

Not only is it in *your* interests to be aligned with the Tao, but it is in the interests of the *Tao* for you to be aligned with it.  As Judith Schutz, a Toronto Bioenergy Therapist once said to me:  “….every action that is not wu wei has consequences and further fragments the Tao” (personal communication, 12 Sep 11).  This fragmentation then needs to be repaired.

So, here we have the idea from early Biblical manuscripts and from ancient Taoism that there is a proper target or track for our lives.  This idea occurs in many other traditions as well.  For example, Buddha said:  "Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.”  And the same idea has been urged by modern visionaries.

In “The Power of Myth,” Bill Moyers asks Joseph Campbell:  “Do you ever have the sense of.…being helped by hidden hands?”  And Campbell answers:

“All the time. It is miraculous. I even have a superstition that has grown on me as a result of invisible hands coming all the time — namely, that if you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be.” (p. 150).

And Gregg Braden writes:  “Can we recognize that the greatest threats to our familiar way of life are really nature’s “nudge” toward a new way of being?” ( Fractal Time, p. 203).

At the IAWP, we believe that many things are needed to help a person recover fully from psych meds and psych med withdrawal, but perhaps the most powerful thing is to discover and pursue your true passions.  One implication of this is that the health and spiritual crisis may have been created in the first place, in part, by not been on target *enough* for your *truest* passions.

Now, let’s tie hypothesis # 1 (24 Feb 12 post) and hypothesis # 2 together.  Hypothesis # 1 was that some people may have the darker spiritual path because there is an unobvious sector of basic mistrust or nihilism in them which, despite their perhaps leading a reasonable life, is called up to be healed so that they can lead an even truer life.  Hypothesis # 2 is that some people may have the darker spiritual path because they are further off track from where they are supposed to be in the divine order of things (even if leading a reasonable life) and they are being shoved a greater distance to get back on target.

Some people are obviously in a lot of distress, or very injured early in life, or making un-self-loving choices.  It seems logical that a spiritual opening for them might need to cover a greater distance and so might be difficult.  As someone once said to me:  “Trauma….the gift that keeps on giving.”  At this point in our development as a species, the process of healing from trauma is still somewhat traumatic itself.

But, even people who are leading reasonably healthy, self-loving lives might still be off their *truest* mark because of this putative unhealed unobvious basic mistrust.  Let’s say the Tao / God calls on you to get more aligned with It and/or your true self and /or your destiny.  If making that correction involved confronting this basic mistrust, it could cause a lot of fear and turmoil.  If you had been leading a fairly stable life or had already done a lot of work on yourself, this fear and turmoil could be a big surprise.

The existence of an unconscious basic mistrust may bump your elbow so you’re still hitting the target but not the bull’s eye.  The Tao comes along and pushes your arm into correct archery form (ouch).  Now, you start hitting the bull’s eye *and* your form has been corrected.  In other words, you have discovered your truest destiny *and* you have healed the basic mistrust.

(At the beginning of this post, we also mentioned that a bigger gap between where you are and where you’re supposed to be could lead to a bigger remodeling job neurologically.  But this is enough for one post, so we’ll discuss the neurological aspect more later.)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Why do some people have dark spiritual / psychic openings? (ex: distressing NDEs) Hypoth #1 – unconscious mistrust

Neurological incident, illness, accident, Kundalini in general, but especially some Kundalini, the shamanic path in general, NDEs in general, but especially distressing NDEs, alien abductions, hauntings, etc. 

Why do some people have a very, very dark night of the soul on the way to an evolutionary leap whereas others have a still challenging, but much more pleasant, promptly rewarding journey?  I mean it just blows my mind some of the autobiographies out there right now of people who just *ping* started to have a psychic opening out of the blue with, yeah, some fear, but holy moly, not that much, and lots of fun and rewards right away.

In this post, we’ll look at distressing NDEs as one example of the darker spiritual path, offer one hypothesis for why some people have the darker path, and bring in psychologists Erik Erikson and Bonnie Greenwell for support.

Pluralism disclaimer – Probably, darker spiritual openings happen for many reasons, but I can’t help looking for a pattern.  Maybe there are one or two factors that are *more* correlated with the darker path.

Nancy Evans Bush is past president of the International Association for Near Death Studies, and is now semi-retired after some thirty years of research on NDEs.  She has specialized in gaining recognition and understanding for distressing NDEs, having had one herself in early adulthood, with no help at that time for processing it.  She maintains a fascinating blog at, and is also preparing a book on distressing NDEs.

Ms. Bush recently posted an extremely useful summary of what we know so far about NDEs.  She reports that approximately one in five NDEs are distressing, but there is both stigma about reporting a distressing NDE and fear of hearing about them, so the incidence might be higher.

Now, just the fact of having an NDE at all means a more distressing spiritual opening is happening in that the individual had to get very sick / injured and nearly die!  And even pleasant NDEs can cause much disruption and suffering after the fact, as survivors integrate the learnings and go through big developmental leaps.  Having said that, there is still a significant difference between the impact of pleasant NDEs and distressing NDEs. 

Based on a lifetime of study, Ms. Bush reports that NDEs – both pleasant and distressing – occur to people in all the obvious demographic groups you might think of, including all levels of education, all levels of religiosity, and all expectations about the afterlife.  Furthermore, “There is no evidence that character, religious activity, or moral status determines the type of NDE a person will have. Saints have reported dreadful visionary experiences. Criminals have reported glorious NDEs. Some individuals have experienced both” (her blog, 19 Feb 12 post).

“Pleasant NDEs tend to convey powerful messages that are common to all human experience, across religious and philosophical systems: a mandate to love, to have compassion, to keep learning,  and to be of service to others. Distressing NDEs have less focused messages but follow the ancient shamanic pattern of suffering/death/ resurrection, read as an invitation to profound self-examination, disarrangement of core beliefs, and rebuilding into a new way of understanding. (The new way commonly moves toward some aspect of the elements described by positive NDEs: love, compassion, learning, service)” (19 Feb 12 post).

There are some parallels between the variety of NDEs and the variety of Neuro-Kundalini experiences in recovery from psych meds.  Some people have short recoveries, some super-long, some people have big spiritual openings, some have more subtle spiritual shifts.  After seven years of reading hundreds of people’s accounts, I can’t see any definite demographic, personality, or psych history predictors (nor do medication factors definitely predict outcome).

One hypothesis is that people who have more distressing spiritual openings may have a very particular quality of *unconscious* anxiety from early life that has not been resolved.  General level of conscious anxiety does *not* seem to correlate with having a more difficult spiritual experience.  Nor does conscious depression or guilt.  Perhaps the key factor is unconscious mistrust of the parents / God / the universe. 

Erik Erikson, the famous 20th century psychologist, built a brilliant model of developmental stages.  Each stage is characterized by the physical and psychological challenges that human life tends to present at around that age.  If the characteristic issues of a particular stage are not resolved very well, there will be repercussions when those issues come up again later in life.

The first stage of his model is for the birth to 18-month period and is called “Trust v. Basic Mistrust.” During this stage, we learn to tolerate the inherent physical discomforts of life because, ideally, there is so much consistency and predictability in our relationships with our caregivers.  Teething happens during this stage, and, again, we learn to tolerate feeling a bit rejected by caregivers who don’t want to be bitten because there is still so much external continuity in the behavior of our caregivers.  This tolerance on their part also gives rise to trust in ourselves – in our capacity to cope with our urges and to be trustworthy towards others (Childhood and Society, pp. 119-220).

Erikson makes a rather surprising point that, as infants, we can endure and recover from quite a bit of parental error, except for one thing.  Although trustworthy parenting is desirable, the real key to creating a trusting human is to have parents who believe life is meaningful.  Erikson specifies the importance of meaning within a societal or cultural context (pp. 221-2).  I would extrapolate and speculate that it would still be OK if a parent were significantly out of step with her / his society, as long as s/he had a strong existential, teleological conviction about the meaning of life.

Bonnie Greenwell, Ph.D. is a psychotherapist and teacher with vast experience in Kundalini.  She is the author of “Energies of transformation:  A guide to the Kundalini process.”  Based on her study of many people going through Kundalini, she wrote:

“….I have found that the reaction of fear is especially acute in people with a history of repressed physical or sexual abuse, who find the awakening Kundalini energy has awakened childhood memories.  Many experiences of transcendent states are quite similar to dissociative states occuring during childhood abuse so that the entire complex is reactivated.  Such people are forced prematurely into the need to do their “recovery” work, a problem that is amplified by the disruption of their normal energy and emotional states.  In addition, the patterning of feeling physical safety in the world, which should be the birthright of every human, is often inadequate due to abuse and neglect.  People who integrate this process [Kundalini] easily often have a life-long, possibly cellular, sense of safety and well-being in the world, that can be transferred into a willingness to accept and explore this new experience” (p. 272).

I want to emphasize that I *do not* believe that everyone who has a difficult spiritual opening has an abuse history.  Greenwell is not saying that, either.  Notice, rather, where her observation overlaps with Erikson’s theory.  The odds are that parents who are abusive are a subset of parents who lack a strong sense of the meaningfulness of life.  In fact, I think it’s safe to say that abuse survivors who were lucky enough to have some caregiver who gave them a sense of conviction about the meaningfulness of life recover more easily than abuse survivors who did not have that crucial, mitigating help.

If there is a particular quality of unconscious mistrust in the person who has a darker spiritual opening, and if it is rooted specifically in an early caregiver’s own mistrust or nihilism about the meaningfulnes of life, then we are talking about something very specific.  We are not saying that having an anxious parent or being an anxious person correlates with a darker spiritual opening.  We are not saying that lack of religious faith or belief in an afterlife in the caregiver or experient is predictive.  The caregiver and the experient may even have had quite a lot of sense of meaning and valuing of life prior to any dark spiritual opening.  The experient may have been very high functioning, spiritual, religious, humanistic, self-respecting.  We’re not necessarily talking about a broad stroke character trait.

Indeed, this putative, particular sector of the self that carries this nihilism or mistrust may have been very unobvious in the person’s life *until* the darker spiritual opening.  Unobvious, but crucial.  Because I have learned the hard way that you can be having a fairly well-balanced, healthy, growing life and *still* be knocked upside the head by the Tao and shoved to recognize whole swathes of life and reality that you hadn’t been integrating yet.

In other words, it may be the main purpose of the darker spiritual opening to tap that untapped nihilistic, mistrustful sector of the self and push for an even deeper evolution of the individual than had been required for leading a reasonably good life.

So, this has been a psychoanalytic / psychodynamic (and existential) hypothesis.  In the next post, we’ll discuss a more transpersonal (and still existential) hypothesis.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Neuro-Kundalini v. Non-neuro-Kundalini

Kundalini awakening seems to be a spiritual, psychological, and neurological phenomenon, which includes neuro-endocrinological re-design.  However, there may be an important difference between Kundalini awakenings that are triggered by neurological incidents, such as traumatic brain injury, and K. awakenings that arise spontaneously or are triggered by non-neurological events such as 12 years of yoga.  Of course, while we’re in the body, *everything* is a neurological event, but, you understand, I am saying some K. is precipitated by more significant neurological discontinuity.

This blog is particularly focused on the kind of neurological injury / disorder that includes the element of dysautonomia – dysregulation or instability of the autonomic nervous system.  Some neurological problems don’t seem to involve dysautonomia, but many do.

Dysautonomia can present with an infinite array of symptoms, but the main idea of it is that the myriad homeostatic mechanisms that we rely on every second of the day don’t do their usual smooth and prompt job of re-regulating us in response to the myriad changes in the external and internal environment that happen every second of every day.  Everything becomes overstimulating – the refrigerator motor kicking in, the sun, remembering you have to do the laundry – resulting in extreme anxiety, physical hyperarousal, cognitive confusion, severe inability to sleep, etc.  The normal autonomic response is grossly magnified and grotesquely prolonged.  Bigger stressors can take days and weeks to calm down from.

Dysautonomia has something in common with PTSD, except that the hyperarousal is not specific to cues related to a trauma; it’s more ubiquitous.

What are the similarities between Kundalini awakening as a result of significant neurological trauma, especially dysautonomia  -- we’ll call this “Neuro-Kundalini” – and Kundalini awakening that is spontaneous or the result of any other precipitant ranging from the gentle (years of yoga) to the harsh (non-neurological accident) – we’ll call this “Non-neuro Kundalini”?

Similarities –

1)  All K. involves neurological re-wiring, so there usually will be some neurological signs and symptoms along the way.

2)  All K. involves psychological working through, even when there has been a clear neurological insult.

3)  All K. presumably involves a nod from Cosmic Consciousness  / the Tao saying now is the time and this is what you are supposed to be doing in order to become more fully yourself and contribute in the unique way that the world needs from you.  This is true, even if the precipitating event is a neurological incident.

What are the differences between Neuro-Kundalini and Non-neuro-Kundalini?

Differences --

1)  Autonomic instability makes it extremely difficult to learn, metabolize, or work through anything. 

2)  Any therapy that is the slightest bit stimulating or activating will trigger autonomic instability *without* this leading to working through or metabolization of the therapy.

3)  The ratio of light to dark is extremely skewed to the dark.

Let me explain these differences more.  I am a psychoanalytically-oriented psychologist who has been in two personal therapies and continues to try to learn more about myself on my own.  I have experienced psychotherapy facilitating profound change in myself and in my clients.  Because of both my training and my personal therapy, I developed a good memory.  I was a good learner.

Since I emerged from prescription antidepressant use with brain damage, I watch myself and my fellow survivors be astonishingly unable to metabolize or work through any external event or internal insight.  We stay stuck on any distressing event ad infinitum. Insight is almost useless.  We have to repeat the most inane self-soothing comments over and over, day after day, for years, with little apparent learning.  My long term and short term memory are now poor – although they are slowly improving.

Most therapies – psychotherapy, acupuncture, energy healing, massage, yoga – are somewhat stimulating as part of the process of promoting change.  But if you are neurologically precluded from digesting any stimulation, then all these therapies become less useful, and sometimes downright harmful.

At this point in time, we have no good therapies for dysautonomia.  Although it has similarities to PTSD,  PTSD responds to good psychotherapy much of the time. Neuro damage only partially does – mostly in the sense of gaining a holding environment from it or learning things that will be useful later when the neuro damage is more healed.  Although we have therapies for some of the cognitive and physical symptoms of neurological damage – we can re-teach a person to use a fork, and speak, and use mnemonic devices -- we have no good therapies for dysautonomia or for the affective symptoms of neuro damage. 

Concomitantly, we have no good therapies for Neuro-Kundalini.  Although Non-neuro-Kundalini will respond to a wide range of therapies, Neuro-Kundalini will not respond well, even with holding from a skillful, experienced, well-intentioned professional.  The autonomic nervous system is hyper-reactive to anything, and does not re-achieve homeostasis for a long time.  The good news is that the neurological damage slowly heals on its own, and the individual becomes more available for more therapies.

The other major difference between Non-neuro-Kundalini and Neuro-Kundalini is the ratio of light to dark.  Non-neuro-Kundalini awakenings have a range, but they usually include some experiences of ecstasy and bliss mixed in with the fear and overwhelm.  Neuro-Kundalini awakenings also occur along a spectrum, but tend to not to have any experiences of ecstasy and bliss.

Also, with Non-neuro-K, you are more likely to get episodes of normalcy to relieve the outre, bizarre, surrealness.  However, with Neuro-K, you are unlikely to get any breaks from the surreal state.  It is like an attenuated, many-years-long LSD trip.  Non-neuro-K may tend to show improvement sooner than Neuro-K.  The psychological impact of almost never getting a chance to feel normal and grounded for a minute is vast.  During the first few years of my recovery, I had the experience of feeling normal for a few hours, and then not feeling that way again for another year, then having another few hours of normalcy, then not feeling that way again for another year.  How do you grasp something as odd as that?

There is currently an epidemic of people going through Neuro-Kundalini from neurological damage (the wars, psych meds, chemo drugs, better survivability from accidents and neurological disorders – see 15 Dec 11 post).  We’ve talked before in this blog about neurological damage as just one of the many paths to a psychic / spiritual opening.  Neurological-damage-triggered openings are among the most difficult, but they are certainly not the only difficult ones.  And then some openings are a lot more pleasant.  And then some openings start difficult, but turn dramatically pleasant.  It’s a worthy question in its own right to explore *why* some people’s spiritual openings are so much darker than others.  In the next post, we’ll look at what we can learn from what Nancy Evans Bush has to say about distressing NDEs.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Djohar Si Ahmed – a psychoanalytic approach to psychic openings

A recently published collection of essays is a *very* thought-provoking contribution to the really frontier profession of “clinical parapsychology.”  “Perspectives of clinical parapsychology:  An introductory reader,” Kramer, Bauer, and Hövelmann, editors, contains 13 articles by professionals with experience in both conventional mental health and parapsychology, as well as a *126-page* bibliography  on the clinical aspects of exceptional human experiences!

Today, I am going to focus on the article by Djohar Si Ahmed, Ph.D. on “Psychotherapeutic Approaches to Major Paranormal Experiences (MPE).”  Dr. Si Ahmed is a psychoanalyst in Paris, where she co-founded the Institut des Champs Limites de la Psyché, and is Secrétaire Générale of the Institut Métapsychique International.

One of the purposes of this blog is to discover better means of helping people who are going through a neurological injury cum psychic opening.  In her work with people who are experiencing distress that has a psychic element, Si Ahmed uses a combination of psychoanalytically-informed technique and theory, Eriksonian hypnotherapy, Grof Holotropic breathwork, “Telepathy Training Groups,” and education about psi.

In this article, Si Ahmed focuses on people who are distressed by the psychic experience they’re having, and who don’t know how to manage or understand it.  Si Ahmed does a masterful job of holding the fact that distressing psychic experiences often contain both genuine psi *and* personal, unresolved psychological material.  She sensibly believes that it is essential to identify and heal the psychodynamic issues in order to liberate the individual’s ability to utilize psi in a secure-feeling, life-enhancing way.

She says that sudden openings of psi faculties “mobilize all levels of the being:  archaic, physiological, psychological, affective, cognitive, and spiritual ones” (p. 66).  People “suddenly find themselves exposed to an event that goes beyond what seems thinkable or tolerable, an event that shakes their world view and its boundaries, with all the corresponding suffering and distress” (p. 67).

Part of what makes sudden psychic openings so overwhelming is that they often emerge from a period of crisis, during which the primitive, psychotic level which is in all of us is more stirred up.  Also, major paranormal experiences challenge the established status of imaginary v. real, inner v. external. So, some of the foundations of one’s sense of self and reality become confused and have to be re-negotiated.  Another way of thinking about it is that the psychic experience represents an eruption of archetypal material into one’s psyche.  “Consequently the consciousness is completely swamped by the contents of the collective unconscious” (p. 67).

Si Ahmed points out that non-ordinary states of consciousness help us free ourselves from “the habitual constraints of body, space, and time.  The subject’s unconscious takes advantage of these transient states to *recall to the surface* …the exact material that the psyche most vitally needs to promote a process of change, development and healing” (p. 69).  

Furthermore, she refers to Ehrenwald (1978) in pointing out that the life crises that may trigger a psychic opening, and the crisis caused by the psychic opening itself must necessarily re-awaken whatever trauma there is in the prenatal and perinatal relationship with the mother (and other caregivers), because that’s where the first telepathic link was ever formed (p.70).  And, for many of us, that’s where our psi is kind of developmentally arrested…..until, boom, we have a psychic opening in adulthood….

This is really a superb article that validated and deepened my belief in the value of a psychoanalytic / psychodynamic approach to bringing psi into your life.  There are a few people who have been raised in a family that normalizes psi, and have had psi integrated into their lives throughout their development.  But, at this time in history, most of us have imbibed very negative or invalidating messages about psi from our cultures and/or families, and have experienced a significant developmental gap between our innate, very early childhood psi and taking psi on again at some point later in life. 

This is a set up.  It is nearly impossible, under these conditions, not to misattribute to psi the very early experiences of one’s environment and important caregivers, with a negative bias.  Even if you intentionally choose to develop your psi, but especially if it is thrust upon you by circumstances in adulthood, your experience of psi will be developmentally out of step with the rest of your life.  Kind of like how, if you are not an artist, and you take a drawing class, you start at about the age 10 level of skill, because that was the last time you worked on drawing!

On top of this developmental lag, we have the negative messages about psi  throughout our lives, so we are more likely to transfer or project onto this ambiguous new experience that which was problematic in our early lives. On top of this, we have the likelihood that someone takes up psi in adulthood in order to solve a problem, so there is yet another reason for this new phenomenon to become entangled in our minds with unresolved difficulties.

Finally, psychic ability makes you more truly yourself, more powerful, and, at this time in history, more at odds with just about any national culture.  Therefore, it is a revolutionary, anti-establishment force.  Therefore, there will be resistance to it, both from without, and from within.


Si Ahmed, D.  (2012).  Psychotherapeutic approaches to Major Paranormal Experiences (MPE).  In Kramer, W.H., Bauer, E., & Hövelmann, G.  (Eds.)  Perspectives of clinical parapsychology:  An introductory reader, Bunnik, The Netherlands:  Stichting Het Johan Borgman Fonds.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Anita Moorjani NDE

Anita Moorjani is an unusually generous-spirited, modest person who had a four-year struggle with cancer from 2002-2006.  On 2 Feb 2006, she slipped into a coma and crossed over to the other realm.  She returned the next day with profound insight into the nature of reality and the cause of her cancer, and was transformed, by her own report, from a fearful, guilty person into a joyous, self-compassionate one.  Her utterly demolished body recovered at miraculous speed.

Her cancer cannot be narrowly defined as a neurological incident – it was a full body Lymphoma – but there were neurological elements, including the eventual development of a lemon-sized tumor at the base of the skull, and a fluid-filled brain at the start of her coma.

She doesn’t mention a lot of psi-related effects of her NDE, but then again she’s very modest and actually mentions feeling uncomfortable talking about such things.  But she does say that many people have told her they feel an energy change when they’re around her now, and she sees that her own new state of deep well-being has a field effect on the people she is close to.  She also reports increasing sychronicities.

She says when life has its ups and downs she can re-center herself on what she felt during her NDE, and often finds that external obstacles then fall away.

Moorjani mostly focuses on how her great fear contributed to the development of her cancer, but she also makes brief mention of her belief that her inherent great power’s natural need to express itself became cancer because there was no better outlet for it (p.70).  “The cancer is just my own unexpressed power and energy!  It turned inward *against* my body, rather than outward. (p. 165)”  

“I believe that *my* cancer was related to my self-identity, and it feels as though it was my body’s way of telling me that my soul was grieving for the loss of its own worth – of its identity. (p. 180)”

“I do suggest, however, not viewing illness or symptoms as “something to be gotten rid of,” like an enemy.  This is a fear-based reaction.  For me, the appearance of these symptoms is my body’s way of trying to heal me. (p. 181)”

This jibes with the general hypothesis of this blog that any neurological disorder can be thought of as a misinterpretation of, reaction to, or blockage of a psychic opening.

According to the First Sight model, psi is already universally present in how we perceive and interact with life.  But, most people live at a level of psychic functioning that is culturally-acceptable and is labeled non-psychic.  However, we are here on Earth to be fully our true selves, which includes being more efficacious than most of us let ourselves be, which would look more “psychic.”  If you block this inherent power, it will come out in distorted ways. 

Also, developmental thrust may lead to bursts of the true self trying to express itself, and that might be called a “psychic opening.”  Then, if you don’t have the information and cultural support to recognize what’s going on, you can misinterpret the signs as disease.

So, there are several slightly different, but related and overlapping ways of looking at this.  But the main idea, supported by Moorjani’s NDE learnings, is that illness is a sign of the true self and “psychic” capacity being misinterpreted, reacted to, or blocked.

Source:  Moorjani, A.  (2012).  Dying to be me:  My journey from cancer to near death to true healing.  Hay House.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Lucid dreaming – fantasy, reality, or blend?

The narrow definition of lucid dreaming is having a dream wherein you know you are asleep and dreaming.  But, there may be a spectrum of related phenomena.  For example, there is also the situation where you think you’re awake, but you’re actually asleep, and you discover this only when you really wake up.  Then, there are sleep time OBEs and visitations from non-physical beings.

This raises the question of whether these experiences are reality or fantasy.  My best understanding at this point is that there are sleep time experiences that are somewhat veridical, ie external, shared reality; and some that are purely fantasy, ie a psychological product of your own imagination.  In fact, they may always be a blend.  It seems like all psi experiences, no matter how veridical – remote viewing, NDEs, OBEs, clairvoyance, etc. – are experienced via your own psychological repertoire, so they all have some element of idiosyncratic interpretation mixed in.

Still, I want to emphasize that there is a lot of evidence for real, veridical, evidential visitations, OBEs, and other types of experiences that happen while we are asleep-ish.

Apparently, it has been theorized that there are different sub-types of REM sleep, and that lucid dreaming occurs during a particular type.  There is still disagreement about what defines this particular type of REM sleep.  It might be increased alpha; increased parietal beta; increased frontal and fronto-lateral gamma, or something else.

The neural substrate also may be different depending on whether the lucid dreaming is spontaneous or induced.

In some very small studies, spontaneous lucid dreams have shown increased parieto-occipital beta and “global increase in theta phase – gamma amplitude coupling”  (Huh?  I think this means that the theta waves modulated the gamma waves, and that they’re showing a tendency to occur together.  In other words, synchronization occurred.)  This may be a sign of increased visual attention and executive memory processing.

In other small studies, induced lucid dreaming has shown increased frontal gamma or increased right parieto-temporal gamma.

Mota-Rolim et al. (2010) propose that the different EEG readings in different lucid dreams may mean that there are different ways to enter a lucid dream.  Pluralism strikes again!  I like this!  But they’re approaching the question from a purely biological point of view, with no interest in the possibility of consciousness existing outside the brain or in psi.  I wonder if the different EEG readings might also mean something about the veridicality of the experience.  IOW, are you accessing your memories and creating your own internal video game, or are you accessing your memories *and* an external, veridical information source?

Hobson (2009) thinks that lucid dreaming may be a state that is an amalgam of the waking and the dreaming states – “Lucid dreaming is characterized by more 40 Hz power [gamma] than non-lucid dreaming, especially in frontal regions.  Since it is 40 Hz power that has been correlated with waking consciousness in previous studies, it can be suggested that enough 40 Hz power has been added to the non-lucid dreaming brain to support the increase in subjective awareness that permits lucidity but not enough to cause full awakening (p. 42).”

Again, Hobson appears not to be interested in psi or the possibility of consciousness existing outside the brain.  He and many others think it’s possible that gamma is the signature of consciousness being created within the brain.  In other words, the presence of gamma in several different locations in the brain at the same time is what creates the experience of consciousness.

However, I am going to speculatively interpret his findings in light of the evidence that gamma waves also correlate with psi in general, and even more so with conscious psi.  Don (2010) reviews several studies that suggest that, although alpha and theta may be related to psi, gamma is an even stronger predictor.  Don also noticed an interesting possible field effect related to the presence of gamma.  Brazilian psychic surgeons and UFO abductees unwittingly made random event generators non-random near themselves, while they were in altered states that showed a lot of gamma.  This field effect might be what made it possible for the surgeons to cut into someone with a rusty saw without much bloodshed or trauma!

It’s interesting that gamma has been linked with general consciousness in the non-parapsychological community and with psi in the parapsychological community.  This hints again at the possibility that consciousness *is* psi, along the lines of Carpenter’s First Sight model (see 6 Jan 12 blog post). 

So, to summarize the main hypotheses of this post --

Different EEG profiles may correlate with the degree of veridicality of a lucid dream, ranging from pure fantasy to highly evidential, with a full spectrum in between.

Gamma brainwaves may create a field effect outside the body, and this may be a clue to how lucid dreamers can access veridical, transpersonal aspects of reality such as deceased loved ones.

Sources (thanks to Gerd Hövelmann) –

Don, N.S.  (2010).  Electrical activity in the brain and the extraordinary mind.  In “Mysterious minds:  The neurobiology of psychics, mediums, and other extraordinary people,” Krippner, S. & Friedman, H.L., eds.  Praeger.

Hobson, J.A. (2009).  The neurobiology of consciousness:  Lucid draming wakes up.  International Journal of Dream Research, 2, (2), 41-44.

Mota-Rolim, S.A., Erlacher, D., Tort, A.B.L., Araujo, J.F., & Ribeiro, S.  (2010).  Different kinds of subjective experience during lucid dreaming may have different neural substrates.  International Journal of Dream Research, 3, (1), 33-36.