“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
Attributed to Einstein but is a paraphrase by Bob Samples in ‘The Metaphoric Mind’
Research has suggested that many altered states of consciousness, whether those caused by high arousal or those created through deep relaxation are also accompanied by changes in brain wave activity that can be measured – for example;
• high anxiety / stress (Gamma Waves)
• conscious waking state – (Beta Waves)
• absentmindedness – (Alpha waves) • unconsciousness
• automatic / autonomic responses
• sleep – (delta waves)
• dreaming – (theta waves)
• typo-meditation – (theta and alpha waves)
This might seem to suggest that there is a neurological basis for the unusual phenomena which frequently accompanies these states.
In truth we all experience a variety of ordinary and non-ordinary states of consciousness each day; some giving rise to seemingly strange, anomalous or paranormal experiences; for example in the hypnagogic / hypnopompic phases (falling in and out of sleep) we might hear voices, see images in the room or feel bodily sensations such as being touched by another.
Some nightmare episodes that appear to be more real than dreams such as ‘night terrors’ and ‘sleep paralysis’, involve a sensation of something sitting on the chest, attacking, threatening or suffocating the individual, whilst the body remains paralysed and unable to respond. Other frightening phenomena that have been reported are the alien abduction experience and demonic possession.
Whatever we might believe to be the cause of these phenomena be it neurological or paranormal, they are very real and terrifying for the individual.
Many of us have witnessed an incident that was seemingly out of the ordinary, in the normal waking state, such as a light trance whilst reading a book, telepathy with a loved one, synchronistic events, precognitive dreams and flashes of intuition. Often these are whimsical, pleasurable and occasionally a little creepy but for some the experience of hearing voices or seeing visions that are frequently hostile and aggressive, can be a torment and feel out of control. In rare cases the individual may believe that these phenomena are created by an external unseen force which originates from the realm of the paranormal.
Our cultural beliefs define our understanding of human experience; anomalous phenomena and non–ordinary states are sometimes diagnosed as psychosis yet in other cultures the same experiences are thought to be caused by negative spirits or even praised as a sign of spiritual awakening.
The view of some Eastern traditions is that psychosis might be the spontaneous release of Kundalini energy, without an individual being prepared or adept at managing such a force and thus creating psychological disturbance.
These realms must be navigated with a note of caution and a great deal of respect, yet it is through the more non-ordinary states of consciousness that we can find our own inner wisdom and receive messages from the divine, which may be revealed to us through our dreams, meditation, prayer or intuitive insight. (It is said that Albert Einstein was led to the Theory of Relativity through a dream).
I have worked with Voice Hearers and those who see visions. One of the important aspects of this work is to support the individual in finding their own meaning and management of the phenomena. I also work with dreams which are the bridge to the richness of the unconscious mind.
“One of the most important implications of the research of holotropic states is the realization that many of the conditions, which are currently diagnosed as psychotic and indiscriminately treated by suppressive medication, are actually difficult stages of a radical personality transformation and of spiritual opening. If they are correctly understood and supported, these psychospiritual crises can result in emotional and psychosomatic healing, remarkable psychological transformation, and consciousness evolution”