More than ever before, our world needs people who are alive and inspired, who have new visions, new ideas for implementing them, and new energy. However, as much as corporations, classrooms, and clinical centers say they want to support creativity, they usually end up stifling it.
For one thing, creative people are often misunderstood as undisciplined, or misdiagnosed as having a personality disorder, when in fact they are absolutely healthy within a creative norm, and capable of brilliant work when recognized, nurtured, and supported in developing their expressive capacities.
In Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, creativity scholar Mihaly Csikszentmilhalyi developed a generic description of the creative personality. It gives teachers, therapists, coaches, managers, and co-workers an expanded framework for working with people driven by internal passions, visions, and values.
“If there is one word that makes creative people different from others, it is the word complexity. Instead of being an individual, they are a multitude. Like the color white that includes all colors, they tend to bring together the entire range of human possibilities within themselves. Creativity allows for paradox, light, shadow, inconsistency, even chaos –and creative people experience both extremes with equal intensity.”
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE CREATIVE PERSONALITY
1. A great deal of physical energy alternating with a great need for quiet and rest. 2. Highly sexual, yet often celibate, especially when working. 3. Both extravagant and spartan. 4. Smart and naïve at the same time. A mix of wisdom and childishness. Emotional immaturity along with the deepest insights. 5. Convergent (rational, left brain, sound judgment) and divergent (intuitive, right brain, visionary) thinking. Divergence is the ability to generate a great quantity of ideas, to switch from one perspective to another, and to pick unusual associations of ideas. Convergence involves evaluation and choice. Creative people have the capacity to think both ways. 6. Both extroverted and introverted, needing people and solitude equally. 7. Humble and proud, both painfully self-doubting and wildly self-confident. 8. May defy gender stereotypes, and are likely to have not only the strengths of their own gender but those of the other as well. A kind of psychic androgyny. 9. Can be rebellious and independent on one hand, and traditional and conservative on the other. 10. A natural openness and sensitivity that often exposes them to extreme suffering and pain, yet also to a great deal of enjoyment. Despair alternates with bliss, despair when they aren’t working, and bliss when they are.
The most important quality among creative people, says Csikszentmilhalyi, is the ability to enjoy the process of creation for its own sake.
Ask yourself how you can create classrooms, workplaces, families, and healing environments that value and support the gifts that the creative people you know have to offer.
There’s a huge misconception about art and artists. Most people believe that you are born with talent or not, and there’s nothing you can do about it. While we can’t all be Van Goghs, the desire to create, along with proper instruction, can take a person of modest talent a long way towards creating art.
If you’ve ever had the urge to embrace your artistic side, why not do it? It doesn’t matter whether you think you are “talented” or not. Do it because creating art is a wonderful way to stimulate your brain, improve your well-being, and possibly get healthier! Do it for yourself because you enjoy it, and with lessons and practice, your hidden talents will blossom.
The Brain Benefits of Art
Here are some of the best ways that picking up your paint brush can benefit your brain and mental health:
1. Art makes you more observant. Leonardo da Vinci said, “Painting embraces all the ten functions of the eye; that is to say, darkness, light, body and color, shape and location, distance and closeness, motion and rest.” Creating art helps you learn to “see” by concentrating on detail and paying more attention to your environment.
2. Art stimulates the imagination. If you consider yourself a right-brained (artistic) person, you can enhance creative skills you already possess. If you’re left-brained (analytical), creating art will stimulate your creativity and imagination.
3. Art enhances problem-solving skills. Unlike math, there is no one correct answer in art. Art encourages out-of-the-box thinking and lets you come up with your own unique solution.
4. Art boosts self-esteem and provides a sense of accomplishment. We stick our kids’ artwork on the fridge to boost their self-esteem. Hanging your latest work of art on the wall can instill you with the same feeling.
5. Art reduces stress. Painting, sculpting, drawing, and photography are relaxing and rewarding hobbies that can lower your stress levels and lead to an overall improvement in well-being.
6. Art enhances cognitive abilities and memory, even for people with serious brain conditions. Dr. Arnold Bresky is a physician who has created a program he calls the “Brain Tune Up” that utilizes art therapy for patients that have Alzheimer’s and dementia. He has seen a 70% success rate in improvement of his patients’ memories. He believes that by drawing and painting, they are connecting the right and left hemispheres of the brain and growing new brain cells.
Art & Healing: Can Art Be Medicine?
Besides helping patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s, art used as therapy has successfully helped people with anxiety, depression, PTSD, chronic pain, cancer, high blood pressure, bipolar disorder, and other serious health conditions.
This video — Can Art Be Medicine? — shows some real-life examples of how art is being used as therapy. Particularly moving is the story of a Marine with PTSD who used art therapy to express his pain in a safe way and help lift the burden in a way that nothing else had been able to do.
Art is for Everyone
Unless you have a serious health condition, seeing an art therapist is not necessary. ArtTherapyBlog.com puts it like this, “If it’s therapeutic for you to draw or paint a few times a week (without an art therapist), then I would consider that therapy. Who says art therapy always has to be professional?”
Creating art isn’t just for artists, art is for everyone! Within each of us lies a spark of creativity. Maybe you’ve always wanted to try drawing, painting, sculpting, or fine art photography, but never had the time or opportunity so you put it on your “someday” list. Now that you know all the benefits artistic pursuits can provide, I hope you won’t put off exploring your artistic side any longer.
You might be satisfied experimenting on your own, but art lessons can teach you shortcuts and techniques so you can see your work progress faster with less frustration. Here’s a dramatic “before and after” shot of two portraits done by an adult student. After just two lessons, the difference is amazing! While the purpose of art is to relax and have fun, you can get a lot of enjoyment watching your talent unfold. Thinking you suck at something isn’t much fun.
Intuition is challenging to define, despite the huge role it plays in our everyday lives. Steve Jobs called it, for instance, “more powerful than intellect.” But however we put it into words, we all, well, intuitively know just what it is.
Pretty much everyone has experienced a gut feeling — that unconscious reasoning that propels us to do something without telling us why or how. But the nature of intuition has long eluded us, and has inspired centuries’ worth of research and inquiry in the fields of philosophy and psychology.
“I define intuition as the subtle knowing without ever having any idea why you know it,” Sophy Burnham, bestselling author of The Art of Intuition, tells The Huffington Post. “It’s different from thinking, it’s different from logic or analysis … It’s a knowing without knowing.”
Our intuition is always there, whether we’re aware of it or not. As HuffPost President and Editor-in-Chief Arianna Huffington puts it in her upcoming book Thrive:
Even when we’re not at a fork in the road, wondering what to do and trying to hear that inner voice, our intuition is always there, always reading the situation, always trying to steer us the right way. But can we hear it? Are we paying attention? Are we living a life that keeps the pathway to our intuition unblocked? Feeding and nurturing our intuition, and living a life in which we can make use of its wisdom, is one key way to thrive, at work and in life.
Cognitive science is beginning to demystify the strong but sometimes inexplicable presence of unconscious reasoning in our lives and thought. Often dismissed as unscientific because of its connections to the psychic and paranormal, intuition isn’t just a bunch of hoo-ha about our “Spidey senses” — the U.S. military is even investigating the power of intuition, which has helped troops to make quick judgments during combat that ended up saving lives.
“There is a growing body of anecdotal evidence, combined with solid research efforts, that suggests intuition is a critical aspect of how we humans interact with our environment and how, ultimately, we make many of our decisions,” Ivy Estabrooke, a program manager at the Office of Naval Research, told the New York Times in 2012.
Here are 10 things that people in touch with their intuition do differently.
They listen to that inner voice.
“It’s very easy to dismiss intuition,” says Burnham. “But it’s a great gift that needs to be noticed.”
The No. 1 thing that distinguishes intuitive people is that they listen to, rather than ignore, the guidance of their intuitions and gut feelings.
“Everybody is connected to their intuition, but some people don’t pay attention to it as intuition,” Burnham say. “I have yet to meet a successful businessman that didn’t say, ‘I don’t know why I did that, it was just a hunch.'”
In order to make our best decisions, we need a balance of intuition — which serves to bridge the gap between instinct and reasoning — and rational thinking, according to Francis Cholle, author of The Intuitive Compass. But the cultural bias against following one’s instinct or intuition often leads to disregarding our hunches — to our own detriment.
“We don’t have to reject scientific logic in order to benefit from instinct,” says Cholle. “We can honor and call upon all of these tools, and we can seek balance. And by seeking this balance we will finally bring all of the resources of our brain into action.”
They take time for solitude.
If you want to get in touch with your intuition, a little time alone may be the most effective way. Just as solitude can help give rise to creative thinking, it can also help us connect to our deepest inner wisdom.
Intuitive people are often introverted, according to Burnham. But whether you’re an introvert or not, taking time for solitude can help you engage in deeper thought and reconnect with yourself.
“You have to be able to have a little bit of solitude; a little bit of silence,” she says. “In the middle of craziness … you can’t recognize [intuition] above all of the noise of everyday life.”
In fact, creative people are highly intuitive, explains Burnham, and just as you can increase your creativity through practice, you can boost your intuition. In fact, practicing one may build up the other.
They practice mindfulness.
Meditation and other mindfulness practices can be an excellent way to tap into your intuition. As the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute explains, “Mindfulness can help you filter out mental chatter, weigh your options objectively, tune into your intuition and ultimately make a decision that you can stand behind completely.”
Mindfulness can also connect you to your intuition by boosting self-knowledge. A 2013 study published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science showed that mindfulness — defined as “paying attention to one’s current experience in a non-judgmental way” — may help us to better understand our own personalities. And as Arianna Huffington notes in Thrive, increased intuition, compassion, creativity and peace are all wonderful side effects of meditating.
They observe everything.
“The first thing to do is notice — keep a little journal, and notice when odd things happen,” Burnham says. You’ll gain a keen sense for how often coincidences, surprising connections and on-the-dot intuitions occur in your daily life — in other words, you’ll start to tap into your intuition.
They listen to their bodies.
Intuitive people learn to tune into their bodies and heed their “gut feelings.”
If you’ve ever started feeling sick to your stomach when you knew something was wrong but couldn’t put your finger on what, you understand that intuitions can cause a physical sensation in the body. Our gut feelings are called gut feelings for a reason — research suggests that emotion and intuition are very much rooted in the “second brain” in the gut.
They connect deeply with others.
Mind reading may seem like the stuff of fantasy and pseudo-science, but it’s actually something we do everyday. It’s called empathic accuracy, a term in psychology that refers to the “seemingly magical ability to map someone’s mental terrain from their words, emotions and body language,” according to Psychology Today.
“When you see a spider crawling up someone’s leg, you feel a creepy sensation,” Marcia Reynolds writes in Psychology Today. “Similarly, when you observe someone reach out to a friend and they are pushed away, your brain registers the sensation of rejection. When you watch your team win or a couple embrace on television, you feel their emotions as if you are there. Social emotions like guilt, shame, pride, embarrassment, disgust and lust can all be experienced by watching others.”
Tuning into your own emotions, and spending time both observing and listening to others face-to-face can help boost your powers of empathy, says Reynolds.
They pay attention to their dreams.
Burnham recommends paying attention to your dreams as a way to get in touch with your mind’s unconscious thinking processes. Both dreams and intuition spring from the unconscious, so you can begin to tap into this part of your mind by paying attention to your dreams.
“At night, when you’re dreaming, you’re receiving information from the unconscious or intuitive part of your brain,” says Burnham. “If you’re attuned to your dreams, you can get a lot of information about how to live your life.”
They enjoy plenty of down time.
Few things stifle intuition as easily as constant busyness, multitasking, connectivity to digital devices and stress and burnout. According to Huffington, we always have an intuitive sense about the people in our lives — on a deep level, we know the good ones from the “flatterers and dissemblers” — but we’re not always awake enough to our intuition to acknowledge the difference to ourselves. The problem is that we’re simply too busy.
“We always get warnings from our heart and our intuition when they appear,” she writes in Thrive. “But we are often too busy to notice.”
They mindfully let go of negative emotions.
Strong emotions — particularly negative ones — can cloud our intuition. Many of us know that we feel out of sorts or “not ourselves” when we’re upset, and it may be because we’re disconnected from our intuition.
“When you are very depressed, you may find your intuition fails,” says Burnham. “When you’re angry or in a heightened emotional state … your intuition [can] fail you completely.”
That’s not to say that intuitive people never get upset — but your intuition will fare better if you’re able to mindfully accept and let go of negative emotions for the most part, rather than suppressing or dwelling on them.
I am convinced that we are currently in the midst of a process involving the restructuring of our neuronal networks, and that the catalyst of this process is the high solar-geomagnetic activity whose consequences are feared by so many people today. However, all facts and findings add up to the undeniable conclusion that this evolution will for the first time in human history enable us human beings to use the enormous potential of our brains.
David Samuels from Israel’s Weizmann Institute has estimated that the brain’s basic range of activities is driven by between 100,000 and 1 billion different chemical reactions every minute. The average human brain contains a minimum of 10 billion individual neurons or nerve cells — a figure that is even more astounding when you stop to think that each neuron can interact with many other neurons. In 1974 neurophysiologists discovered that some 10800 (10 to the 800th) interconnections come into play in this regard. The magnitude of this capacity is comparable with the following cosmic facts and figures: inasmuch as the atom is the smallest unit in the universe and the universe itself the largest, it is estimated that the universe contains a total of 1080 (10 to the 80th) atoms. In other words, the number of interactions in the human brain far exceeds the number of atoms in the universe.
Moscow University physicist Pyotra Anokin feels that the aforementioned estimate of possible interactions in the human brain is unduly low. According to his calculations, the potential number of structures that the human brain can create is so large that writing them out as a figure would translate into a line approximately 6.5 million miles long. So clearly we have not even begun to tap into the amazing potential of our brains — a situation that can be likened to using an area the size of a dust particle in a 500 room mansion.
The question then arises as to whether using our brains more efficiently will enable us to find an adequate response to the events of 2012. First of all, we need to realize that the brain and the mind are two different things. The mind can influence brain activity and vegetative processes by means of highly unusual suggestions, the most striking example being Buddhist masters whose ability to meditate enables them to put their brains in a tranquil state that palliates pain and that can even stop the beating of the heart.
Apart from this, what matters here is that our brains are always active whether we’re awake, asleep, calm or agitated, and are always seeking intensity, new experiences, and long term connections. When the human brain is exposed to new impressions, as well as mental and emotional stimuli, new synapses (interfaces between neurons) are created.
In other words, the human brain floats in a kind of rapturous harmony as long as it receives the right kind of stimuli. This is in keeping with the attendant electrochemical principle of all or nothing, which forms the basis for electrochemical communication between neurons — and in our context for interaction between the heretofore unused regions of the brain. If this weren’t the case, it would make no sense for us human beings to be endowed with a brain whose potential is never fully exploited. Indeed, it almost seems as though this miraculous organ were waiting for 2012 to finally prove what it’s capable of.
Apart from electrochemical information processing, our brain engages in other processes as well — processes that form the basis for our subconscious. According to the American physicist Evan Harris Walker, the human mind and human consciousness are not empirically measurable quantities. Walker believed that consciousness is not a chemical process or the like, but is instead attributable to a quantum mechanical tunnel process — a theory that is consistent with the views of a growing number of quantum physicists and brain scientists. Walker also persuasively showed that the brain’s synapses exhibit quantum mechanical phenomena, for which models have been posited by David Bohm and Basil Hilely. These authors report astonishing similarities between quantum potential and neurological connections in the brain.
These connections are far from being well ordered for in fact, chaos is the mainstay of the brain’s processes. This chaos, which comprises a veritable maelstrom of diffuse stimuli processing activities, is the precursor of a coherent equilibrium at higher levels. Creativity researchers have observed a similar phenomenon in which the creative mind initially processes totally chaotic and even contradictory concepts that ultimately translate into the beginnings of order and stability in the latter stages of the creative process. Hence, contrary to the law of entropy (order), evolution is moving toward negentropy (instability), a process that is at once feasible, useful and logical since it enables evolution to unfold in an “open system” so as to allow the brain to absorb new information and adapt in highly complex ways.
This prompted Ilya Prigogine to observe that each organized system dynamically shifts between a state of entropy and negentropy, i.e. between order and chaos. Moreover, Prigogine says, the greater the system’s potential instability, the more readily it adapts and changes. This principle fits the brain like a glove.
But where, then, is the seat of the mind, this mysterious locus of self awareness that amalgamates intuition, common sense, emotions and the intellect? For the moment I will leave it to neurologists to figure this out — although I will have more to say about this issue later on. First, though, I’d like to discuss the mental and psychological process of self discovery. The mind-brain system evolved out of a series of successive matrices. The first higher order matrix within which we move is undoubtedly the source of all life. According to Prigogine, for the infant brain a transition to a new harmonic matrix entails constant exposure to new resources that allow for the development of potential, self assurance, and skills.
These matrices, which are extremely concrete at the outset, become ever more abstract over time by dint of their exposure to perceptible reality, ultimately evolving into the matrix of pure creative thinking. Each transition to a new matrix is associated with unknown and unforeseeable experience that forms the basis for an increase in intelligence. According to Timothy Leary, each of us inherits a precoded draft of future organisms that differs considerably from the current human race and from most forms of human existence. And in the same vein, Michael Hutchison prophesied that the brain has learned more about itself over the past decade than during its entire history, and that henceforth human intelligence will evolve in quantum leaps.
Although I have already made the essential points regarding the effects of natural and artificial force fields on the brain, it should be noted here that phenomena such as the body’s rhythms that are controlled by the pituitary gland can be affected by electromagnetic fields, which can have a significant impact on moods, activity patterns and the circadian rhythm. So a great deal remains to be discovered in this domain.
Some years ago I was part of a research team that measured the brain waves of test subjects at regular intervals via EEG. We found that specific electromagnetic fields sporadically acted on the test subjects’ brains, without their being aware of this phenomenon. One of our most striking findings was that the test subjects’ brain waves could be altered via exposure of the brain to electromagnetic waves; and as if this weren’t astonishing enough, we also found that we could even control the test subjects’ brain waves using these fields. For example, the EEG frequency of a test subject with a predominant baseline frequency of 10 hertz could be increased to 12 hertz each time we exposed the subject to an exogenous 10 hertz electromagnetic field that was then increased to 12 hertz. We concluded from this that endogenous rhythms are governed by their exogenous counterparts.
These experiments convinced me beyond a shadow of a doubt that human cells and electromagnetic fields do in fact interact; and this may in fact be one of the primary reasons why I decided to write this book. These findings also opened my eyes to processes that were of fundamental importance for my own research in that I now had incontrovertible, empirical proof that electromagnetic fields have a direct impact on brain activity.
A short time later I stumbled upon another phenomenon that I couldn’t get out of my mind: specific force fields and force field intensity levels induce perceptions that could otherwise only be induced by the administration of psychoactive substances. A normal geomagnetic field allows us to maintain a normal state of alert consciousness, including our sense of time; whereas a severely abnormal geomagnetic field or the absence of a geomagnetic field provokes abnormal mental states and a derangement of our sense of time. In other words the effect of geomagnetic disturbances is very similar to that of taking hallucinogenic drugs.
Strange though this may sound, I can assure you that it’s anything but. Altered mental states are provoked by neurochemical processes and the production of psychoactive substances, i.e. endogenous hallucinogens. The mental anomalies experienced by the test subjects in the aforementioned experiments were induced by “surplus” production of such substances secondary to withdrawal of, or exposure to very weak geomagnetic fields. Thus, under certain conditions the brain has the capacity to produce so called illegal substances. In other words, a phenomenon that under “normal” circumstances could only be induced through the practice of meditation or the like can also be catalyzed by exogenous electromagnetic fields.
This raises the following questions: What exactly happens during such an event? Is this phenomenon beneficial, or can it be harmful or even addictive? The fact is that the brain has the capacity to produce a chemical for every emotion we experience — a phenomenon that forms the subject of Molecules of Emotion: The Science Behind Mind-Body Medicine by Dr. Candace Pert, Professor of Biochemistry at John Hopkins University whose observations in this regard can be summarized as follows: expansions of consciousness are provoked by a specific family of molecules. The basic difference between our daytime and nocturnal state of consciousness lies in the level of consciousness. While we are asleep, we are unaware of our existence and have no memory of our waking life, whereas the reverse situation prevails when we are awake. In other words, being asleep falls within the sphere of unconsciousness whereas being awake belongs to the domain of consciousness. Apart from this dichotomy, there is another level of consciousness known as enlightenment or satori, which I discuss at length below. Specific substances known as neurotransmitters are responsible for all three of these phases.
One of the key neurotransmitters is serotonin, which keeps us in an awake state and is therefore also responsible for our sense of time. When we are under the influence of serotonin — an effect that can be heightened even by just a small embrace — we feel relaxed and happy. Acute serotonin deficiency can provoke negative effects ranging from extreme melancholy to manic depression. However, a substantially elevated serotonin level induces emotions ranging from euphoria to ecstasy.
Thus serotonin controls our moods. There is scarcely any difference between the chemical structure of serotonin and the hallucinogen “psilocybin”, which occurs in a mushroom that the peoples of some cultures used to take during certain rituals. For example the Mayans referred to psilocybin as the “Mayan mushroom,” and the Dervishes called it the “Sufi mushroom.” The plant was described by some as being the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil — an appellation not unlike the reference in Genesis to the fruit of the tree of knowledge.
LSD — the synthesized form of psilocybin — is a psychoactive substance that was first produced by the chemist Albert Hofmann in 1938 while he was doing research on ergot, which is the (toxic) dried sclerotium of the eponymous rye plant. Hofmann stumbled on the hallucinogenic effects of LSD when he inadvertently absorbed the substance through his skin. He then repeated this experience by taking 250 micrograms of LSD, which he felt was the smallest possible effective dose for a hallucinogen compared to mescaline, which was the strongest hallucinogen then known. However, Hofmann discovered that 250 micrograms of LSD was the equivalent of five times the normal effective dose of mescaline.
In addition to the aforementioned sleeping state (which correlates with unconsciousness) and the waking state (which correlates with consciousness), there is also the state of enlightenment or hyper-consciousness.
Neurochemical substances known as tryptamines are responsible for all three of these states. The human brain has the capacity to convert any of these tryptamines into another tryptamine. Just as serotonin transitions us between a waking and sleeping state, there is also an additional neurotransmitter known as melatonin (mentioned earlier in connection with the pituitary gland) that is responsible for our state of “consciousness” while asleep. Serotonin is converted into melatonin in direct proportion to how drowsy we are, until we actually fall asleep. The findings of sleep, consciousness, and neurochemistry research have shown that an additional neurotransmitter known as dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is produced in the brain during both deep sleep and hyper-conscious (enlightened) states, thus making DMT one of the most powerful psychoactive drugs of all.
Unfortunately we literally sleep through the heady albeit completely legal drug high constituted by the hyper-conscious (enlightened) state, and are thus completely unaware of its occurrence. In other words, though we experience this state, we are unconscious of it and thus have no memory of it either. Both psilocybin and the neurotransmitter DMT are members of the same chemical family. If we could directly experience this heightened state of consciousness, we would be able to perceive its actual consciousness expanding properties. But unfortunately this is beyond the realm of possibility for ordinary mortals, and is achievable only by spiritual masters when they reach a state of enlightenment.
Only a mental state in which we feel that we are “in harmony” with all things will enable us to ascend to this level of pure being. In this state, the unduly self important ego retreats into the cosmic realm, where it becomes one with all things. While asleep, we are disassociated from our ego and have no memory of its daily manifestations in our consciousness. This is also why, during deep sleep phases, we are able to reach an enlightenment-like state, one that is unencumbered by the ego or the excess narcissistic baggage that weighs us down during our waking hours.
It has been scientifically proven that on certain days while we are in a waking state, solar-geomagnetic disturbances cause our brain to produce psychoactive, consciousness expanding substances, provoking hallucinations whose incidence is higher during periods where specific geomagnetic conditions prevail. The medical definition of a hallucination is a deceptive sense perception that occurs in the absence of an external stimulus. This can involve experiences such as seeing objects that do not in fact exist or hearing voices in the absence of a speaker.
The salient feature of hallucinations (which can affect any of the senses) is that the hallucination is totally real for the person experiencing it, who cannot distinguish the hallucination from reality — thus making this experience altogether different from that of a daydream.
The events the cosmos has in store for us in 2012 can be compared to the effect of being handed a glass of juice into which someone has slipped some LSD without our knowledge. Such unanticipated altered states of consciousness have certainly occurred at other junctures in human history. For example, sudden outbreaks of hysteria provoked by hallucinations occurred regularly during the Middle Ages. Those affected were unaware that the bread they were eating contained ergot, whose active ingredient Albert Hofmann used to make LSD many years later. Inasmuch as the hallucinogenic effects of bread containing ergot were unknown at the time, those affected could only conclude that their altered mental state was a serious illness.
The analogy with this historical evolution and what awaits us in or around 2012 — with the predicted arrival of a massive solar storm — is clear, I think. For in that year force field disturbances are very likely to provoke not only disconcerting mental states, but also extremely pleasant ones. Even if you have your doubts about the term “enlightenment,” you should nonetheless begin meditating as soon as possible so that you will be receptive to these states. These changes within us are in the pipeline — of that there can be no doubt — so you’ll get an extremely useful head start if you begin instituting these changes now.
These mental states, which can be regarded as cosmic interventions, will directly impact our lives in various ways. Time will appear to move more slowly. Increased solar-geomagnetic activity will be associated with an increased incidence of altered mental states. We will experience nervousness, aggressiveness, depression and euphoria in turn. It would seem that the process that enables us to find the path to knowledge is currently occurring via a kind of cosmically induced correction. We will experience phenomena that affect geomagnetic fields and the like as an expansion of our consciousness that is tied to our personal history and current mental state.
Between 1983 and 2002, the cognitive neuroscience researcher Michael Persinger published the results of 240 investigations nearly all of which concerned consciousness expanding perceptions induced by magnetic fields.
These investigations were conducted as follows: A series of test subjects seated on a chair in a dark, acoustically insulated room was asked to put on a motorcycle helmet retrofitted with electromagnetic field-emitting solenoids that emitted very weak electromagnetic fields into the test subject’s brain that were the equivalent of roughly 1/20 of the geomagnetic field.
Dr. Persinger, who also conducted research for NASA, said in an interview that these experiments allowed him to use the brain as its own amplifier and play back brain wave patterns previously recorded via EEG.80 These fields exerted an extremely unusual effect. According to the German newspaper Die Zeit, “many of the test subjects felt a strange ‘presence’ while wearing Dr. Persinger’s motorcycle helmet, as if there was someone else in the room with them.”81 Moreover, some test subjects were absolutely convinced that they had sensed angel-like beings or a God-like presence, whereas others fled the room in terror and were overwhelmed by negative feelings.
Apart from the aforementioned proven effects of magnetic fields, these results show that whether a person remains stuck in their old ways of thinking or is receptive to new ways of seeing things is determined by their predispositions or energy field. One person might flee an unexplained presence in their field of perception; another might regard such a presence as part of their consciousness; and yet another might initiate a dialogue with the mysterious presence and be inspired thereby.
Studies conducted by Professor Andrew Newberg shed invaluable light on intra-meditation brain activity via investigations of eight Tibetan Buddhist monks and eight Franciscan nuns during meditation. The test subjects were asked to adhere to their normal meditation practices as much as possible during the experiments. To this end and in the interest of preventing the test subjects from being distracted from their meditation process per se, when a test subject felt they had reached a meditative state, they signaled this by tugging on a rope, whereupon a radioactive substance was intravenously injected into their bloodstream. This was done because radioactive particles gravitate to the most heavily perfused brain cells. Thus at the end of each meditation session, the test subjects underwent a SPECT (Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography ) scan, which allows for the visualization of radioactive particles. The measurement results during meditation demonstrated elevated perfusion in specific regions of the brain.
The region of the brain that is directly tied to meditation is the orientation- associated center in the parietal lobes, which thanks to the steady flow of information from the sense organs creates a clearly defined boundary between the body and its environment, and also creates a sense of time. Experiments conducted at Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich have shown that this region is susceptible to the effects of geomagnetic fields.
In the meditation experiments, Newberg reasoned that “shutting down” this region of the brain may allow the test subjects to achieve a sense of oneness with the world while meditating, since the boundaries between space and time were no longer perceptible. Buddhists term this nirvana, i.e. a dissolution into nothingness. The nuns, on the other hand, referred to it as the experience of becoming one with God. Thus it seems this state is characterized by a consciously perceived melding with hyperspace, which is a higher dimension whose existence was demonstrated by none other than Max Planck.
In any case, when the test subjects were in a meditative state the boundaries between the self and the world were dissolved – a phenomenon that is oftentimes (somewhat fuzzily) described as “being one with everything that exists.” According to Professor Newberg, when a person goes far enough the self disappears completely and the person experiences a sense of oneness, of infinite boundlessness. In other words, he feels that mystical experience is a biological reality that is scientifically perceptible, and that human beings are by their very nature mystical beings with an inborn capacity for effortless self transcendence.
Unfortunately Newberg uses his results to reduce religion to its mystical aspects, namely meditation and prayer. But surely for most religions people, their religion is more than just the promise or belief that a higher power determines their destiny. This view on the part of Newberg has come in for considerable criticism — for example from the philosopher and cognitive neuroscientist Detlef Linke, who in his book Religion als Risiko. Geist, Glaube und Gehirn (“Religion as a Risk. Mind, Faith and Brain”) took neurotheologists to task in these words: “Although neurotheologists are able to reconcile science and religion after many years of enmity between these two entities and in the coming years will undoubtedly shed even greater light on the biological processes of belief, their findings do not explain the phenomenon of religion. Even if it is true that men are animals who would rather embrace religious beliefs than think rationally and logically, one thing is certain: neurotheologists will never be able to prove the existence of God, since if God does exist, He is everywhere and not just in the brain.” Nonetheless, neurologist Vilayanur Ramachandran, Director of the Center for Brain and Cognition and Professor of Psychology in the Neuroscience Department at the University of California, San Diego, has identified a region of the brain he refers to as the God module, which he feels is closely tied to spiritual thoughts.
Perhaps this digression has changed your thinking somewhat as regards the meaning of the term instability. It is certainly true that solar-geomagnetic activity can induce instability in biological systems, and particularly in the human brain which is highly susceptible to electromagnetic and magnetic fields. But this doesn’t mean that we should be afraid of instability. We need to bear in mind that an existing element in an unstable situation must be used before it can give rise to something new.
Moreover, so-called hopeless patients have been successfully treated using the effects of solar-geomagnetic fields on the mind, perception and consciousness. This megawave therapy, as it is called, consists in the administration of electromagnetic fields that are identical to those found in nature. This therapy has achieved exceptionally high cure rates by virtue of the fact that for the first time the patients understand the cause of their disorder. Hence this therapy is closely bound up with a catalyzed process of consciousness, and does not at all involve a crude mechanistic procedure.
As with the motorcycle helmet experiments, the electromagnetic field stimulus is administered directly to the patient’s head so as to allow the electromagnetic waves to penetrate deep into the brain. Conversely, it has been observed that exogenous electromagnetic fields provoke psychosomatic symptoms.
On the other hand, healthy subjects that are exposed to these same therapeutic frequencies always report having experienced an altered state of consciousness, and in so doing indicate that they suddenly, inexplicably and joyfully saw the “things of this world” in a larger context. You might of course wonder whether such experiences might be attributable to dizziness or mere illusions – in other words, subjective pseudo-experiences that are provoked by electromagnetic fields.
The answer to these questions can be found in the objectivity of experiences that are induced by external phenomena. When these questions are considered in light of the therapeutic success that was achieved with these extremely ill patients, it is fair to say that the end justifies the means in such cases, which are in any case difficult to assess. Nonetheless, we can certainly regard force field-enhanced expansions of consciousness as good training for all of the mental states that await us in 2012 — and for which no test classifications of any kind are available.
These reflections also serve as a reminder that we will be communicating with cosmic phenomena in the near future. What will this entail from a biological standpoint?
For some three decades now I have been studying the effects of electromagnetic fields on biological systems. My initial investigations, which date back to 1980, led me to posit a theory that I later confirmed — namely that our cells communicate with each other via endogenous electromagnetic fields that regulate these absolutely essential cell dialogues. My research at the time on simple cell systems clearly revealed that administering specific electromagnetic fields to cells in a Petri dish had a regulating and controlling effect on these cells.
My research also demonstrated that stable cell systems that are deliberately desynchronized can be returned to their baseline state by administering the relevant electromagnetic fields. I repeated these experiments a number of times and validated them via statistical analysis. It should be noted, however, that this type of effect did not fall within the scope of the “state of the art” back then; in other words it was not included in college syllabuses. The genuinely astonishing nature of these findings prompted me to apply for a German patent for this therapeutic process in 1982 and a European patent in the following year, which I was awarded in 1986.
For me, these patents validated the fact that my discovery represented a genuine scientific breakthrough, which is primarily attributable to my unusual life’s path as a visionary, scientist, and specialist in the field of frequency research. These activities provided me with direct access to the academic institutions that were leaders in this field. Moreover, during my stint as manager of a research project for Germany’s Ministry of Research and Technology, I had the opportunity to establish an interdisciplinary team.
Our research results, which were presented at international symposiums and conferences, solidified my grasp of the subject matter that forms the basis for the present book. The most important results from my standpoint were those we obtained in our experiments with completely asymptomatic (i.e. healthy) test subjects. In these experiments we discovered that the electromagnetic fields to which we subjected the test subjects were consistent with human DNA and terrestrial resonance frequencies. The specific frequencies that came into play were a 150 MHz basic carrier frequency — which is the equivalent of a 6.5 foot long wave — with an 8 Hz frequency modulated on it.
It was discovered in 2002 that this is also the length of an uncoiled human DNA molecule. Our tests yielded the aforementioned effect only when this 150 MHz DNA resonance frequency was used and when other frequencies were modulated on this carrier frequency, which we found also occurs in nature. However, when human beings are exposed to unnatural electromagnetic fields the results are appalling. My exhaustive patent search unearthed at least a few patented inventions that are intended for an application quite different from the foregoing — namely involving specific electromagnetic frequencies that are used as weapons. This search also led me to the conclusion that certain force fields provoke panic and anxiety in human beings.
If you feel that I am advancing some kind of conspiracy theory here, an incident that was reported in the media may give you food for thought. What happened was that homeless people in London’s financial district reported feeling tightness in the chest and anxiety when exposed to certain electromagnetic fields. These effects were so severe that the homeless people were forced to flee their usual haunts.
I mention this sad tale so as to avoid creating the impression that electromagnetic fields are inherently beneficial. The nature of the effects of such fields is determined solely by their frequency and intensity.
All of the brain wave (EEG) measurements of the test subjects in the aforementioned experiments were realized with the subjects in a relaxed state, lying on their backs, with their eyes closed. Antennas concealed under a pillow that emitted precisely defined electromagnetic fields were positioned near the subject’s head. Brain wave sensors (EEGs) recorded all test subject brain waves during all of the experiments. As soon as the antennas began emitting electromagnetic fields, the electrodes attached to the subject’s head transmitted signals to the recording source in such a way that the test subject’s brain (i.e. neurons) emitted signals induced by electromagnetic fields that would not have been emitted in the absence of these fields.
Our test subjects exhibited field-induced alpha wave activity exceeding the norm by several hundred percent, which amazed both us and our subjects, since alpha waves normally indicate a semi-somnolent state. For example, alpha waves predominate when, in falling asleep, we transition to a sleep state, and conversely upon awakening from sleep. Natural healers induce an alpha state in their patients before beginning the treatment per se – but of course without the use of exogenous force fields. Genuine healers have the ability to induce such fields and heal their patients through force of will and conviction alone.
My invention allows an alpha state, which is regarded as the threshold between consciousness and unconsciousness, to be used for therapeutic purposes. Electromagnetic fields in the alpha range (as well as DNA resonance frequencies) are administered to the patient in such a way as to put him in an expanded state of self awareness. This in turn produces a therapeutic effect that chiefly stems from the fact that the patient is able to recognize the cause of his illness, which he had previously internalized as a trauma. This recognition process is undoubtedly strengthened by the fact that the patient remains in an alpha state so long as the effect of the electromagnetic fields remains constant.
At the juncture where the conscious and unconscious mind work in concert, a phenomenon known as “spontaneous healing” or “miracle healing” occurs. In this alpha state, where the patient is completely free of anxiety and obsessive thoughts, he has at his disposal all of his self healing powers — which however are only mobilized once he has recognized the actual cause of his illness.
In one experiment, a terminal patient suffering from an incurable disease was exposed to a simulated natural magnetic field, whereupon the patient saw extremely traumatic images in his mind’s eye. The patient initially refused to deal with these images, but after further treatment he confronted the images and realized how his life’s path had provoked his illness. This realization triggered the healing process in this patient.
Needless to say, these findings also apply to the situation the world is currently facing. By regarding the current global crises as a symptom of a disease and looking deep within ourselves, we will be able to identify the actual cause of this disease. That this cause is closely bound up with our navel gazing tendencies and endemic egotism will come as no surprise to anyone. So long as our efforts to save ourselves center around the symptoms of our condition, a long lasting cure will elude us. We can only save our planet if we first recognize the true cause of its illness. This kind of awareness can be obtained through the use of induced electromagnetic fields.
For example, if every human being on Earth were exposed to electromagnetic fields as was done in the therapy described above, a collective awareness on the part of all human beings would take hold, unlikely though this may sound. And what if these electromagnetic fields were already exerting their effect on the human race? If people were unaware of these field effects, their first reaction would be to doubt their sanity, which might prompt them to check into a psychiatric hospital on account of their “abnormal” mental state.
Such individuals would genuinely believe they had lost their mind and would be full of anxiety – which unfortunately bars all access to our higher consciousness. But if, on the other hand, we give ourselves over to a state of calm and tranquility — in other words, if we transition to our alpha state — we will readily perceive the overarching connections and feel liberated by them.
Many will not immediately recognize the cosmically induced changes in perception, and will at first glance dismiss them as the products of their own imagination. However, I know from my professional experience that a person’s willingness to open themselves to intuitive perceptions — a criterion referred to by psychologists as “mindset and setting” — is a precondition for success. Unless we are armed with the information we need, we may suffer rather than benefiting from the untoward effects of geomagnetic “anomalies.”
In the run-up to 2012, knowledge is and will be the gateway to positive experience. Many people realize that some of their best and most unusual ideas have come to them on days with particularly high solar-geomagnetic activity. This phenomenon has also been scientifically proven by NASA scientists. The cognitive neuroscience researcher Michael Persinger was the first to discover that test subjects exposed to specific magnetic fields suddenly gained extremely spiritual insights. These results are all the more amazing in that even hardened atheists reported experiencing deep religious feelings on being exposed to magnetic fields.
In view of the fact that electromagnetic fields can help a patient identify the cause of their illness, it is well within the realm of possibility that cosmic force fields could enable the entire human race to come to an analogous realization about our planet. We need to bear in mind here that the physical conditions are already in place that would enable each of us to enter and explore our inner worlds so that we can identify the mental baggage we tote around with us and determine what we need to do in order to rid ourselves of it. In short, the conditions for an expansion of consciousness are already in place.
Dieter Broers is a biophysicist who studies the use of electromagnetism for healing. He has a number of patented inventions.
It appears we are living at the dawn of a new era. Throughout our culture we see signs of change, progress, and evolution. A “Creative Class” is on the rise that — with the help of the Internet and other related technologies — will reportedly transform our entire socio-economic system.
And yet, at the same time, something is amiss. Much of this so-called Creative Class can only prosper by finding work within the current corporate infrastructure, resulting in very little actual creativity or innovation. The very ones who might create the necessary change in society must expend their time and energy worrying about “making a living.” Those who can keep a job have to sacrifice ideas that contradict the wishes of bosses and the company’s stockholders.
For those who have been diagnosed “abnormal” by our society, this problem is especially prevalent. Such people are variably labeled anti-social, eccentric, introverted, highly sensitive, ADD, bipolar, neuro-atypical, differently abled, gifted, or one of many other similar terms that have a derogatory effect. The trouble is that the only people who ever made any worthwhile changes in this world belonged to one of these categories.
The most creative visionaries often cannot function adequately in modern society. This makes it extremely hard to avoid unemployment, let alone to feed and shelter oneself. But admit that you feel this way, and you’re instantly labeled lazy, arrogant, elitist, etc. We’re evidently not ready to admit on a mass scale that the current definition of a “normal” human being is not only imaginary, but impossible.
It is time that we break out of this double-bind. One idea how to do that has sat dormant in the cultural underground for the last few decades. In 1969, R. Buckminster Fuller (a.k.a. Bucky Fuller) published his short volume, Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth. As Fuller writes:
“…we must give each human who is or becomes unemployed a life fellowship in research and development or in just simple thinking. Man must be able to dare to think truthfully and to act accordingly without fear of losing his franchise to live. […] For every 100,000 employed in research and development, or just plain thinking, one probably will make a breakthrough that will more than pay for the other 99,999 fellowships.”
This will never be possible in a purely capitalistic system that runs according to the tenets of selfishness and greed — or the misapplied motto “survival of the fittest.” The Internet has allowed for certain non-traditional funding platforms, but the most popular ones are oriented around funding creative projects — not funding a creative life. And taking out any kind of loan seems dangerous when there’s no way to be sure about the possibility of paying it back.
For some of us, a “job” or a “career” is not the answer. For some, it’s time to admit: “What I really need is help FUNDING MY EXISTENCE.” Fuller also used the term “mind fellowships.” His purpose was very clear:
“Through the universal research and development fellowships, we’re going to start emancipating humanity from being muscle and reflex machines. We’re going to give everybody a chance to develop their most powerful mental and intuitive faculties. […] What we want everybody to do is to think clearly.”
With this spirit in mind, let’s give birth to an online community designed to provide existential funding to the people who need it. Recipients will have to demonstrate what value they have contributed to society in the form of ideas, projects, art, innovation, social movements, etc. Donors will be able to choose which individuals interest them the most.
We’ve spent enough time talking about futuristic visions of society. Some feel an urgent drive to manifest it in reality. It is time to enable those people by funding their existence, allowing them to worry about more pressing matters — like changing the world.
11 Brilliant Writing Commandments From Henry Miller
Posted: 02/ 2/2012 12:15 pm
Cruising around Pinterest (my new toy), I came across this list of Henry Miller’s 11 work commandments, posted by Sadie Skeels. I’m astounded by how absolutely apt these commandments are for my own writing practices.
For instance, #10. I struggle with this problemall the time. And #2. I remember a conversation I had with my agent when I was writing Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill. I was so enthralled with the material that I couldn’t stop researching, and finally she said to me sternly, “No more research.” Also, #5 is terrific advice; when I can’t seem to write, I can review my notes, edit, cut… and pretty soon I’ve started writing again. I think about #11 in a different way; I struggle to make sure that writing doesn’t crowd out other things that are also important to me.
2. Start no more new books, add no more new material to “Black Spring.”
3. Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
4. Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
5. When you can’t create you can work.
6. Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.
7. Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
8. Don’t be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.
9. Discard the Program when you feel like it-but go back to it the next day.Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.
10. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
11. Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.
These rules seem helpful to non-writers as well; in almost everything we do, it helps to stay focused, refreshed, and perseverant.
What work commandments would you add? And what exactly do you think that Miller meant by #6?
* As I mentioned, I’m really enjoying Pinterest — “an online pinboard where you can organize and share the things you love.” If you’d like me to send you an invitation, drop me a request at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last month we talked about the first four layers of thought, how to recognize them and live within them as a conscious and intentional practice. Let’s continue with the final three layers or levels of thought. Recognizing and understanding the steps or levels your thoughts move through may be helpful in managing them. And ultimately, choosing which layer you want to live in.
As we do this, please don’t get locked into these layers as rigid lines. There is actually a fluidity and flow between them. As mentioned before, the flow from one layer of thought to the next is similar to watching the dawn of the day progress. For instance you can’t easily identify 6:30am, or 6:32am by looking at the sky. The sun rises and the sky flows from darkness into light. A moment ago it was pre-dawn. Now the sun is up and shining.
Fifth Layer of Thought
This is the layer of thought where things really begin to get creative and quiet. This is where your consciousness begins to naturally, organically pull together many of the floating, curious pieces, combines them with the deeper, unconscious aspectsof you and begins to organize in such a way that you become much more conscious, focused and capable with your innate knowledge. This layer takes the curious interest of the fourth layer (the field of possibilities), and brings it to your mental workbench to organize and become more real as a possibility. This is done not with greater thought or concentration, but with a greater quietness, allowing, stillness and trust. This is where “I wonder where I would like to move?” unfolds into “Yes – Boise Idaho feels aligned, right, and good” with no effort or worry or figuring out. Living in this layer of thought is magical, although it isn’t magic. It is inspired. Many artists and writers create when in this layer. The creation process just flows and the book writes itself.
Sixth Layer of Thought
This layer is similar to the great meditation where you find yourself easily sitting still for three hours and you think, “This is so good I don’t want get up.” This is the extremely quiet place where you begin to access deeper fields of awareness. You begin to think (or better yet exist) without thought. This occurs because you are in the higher fourth and fifth dimensional fields of knowledge. You begin to have conscious access to the greatness that you are. It’s in this space that you begin to have a sense of your powerfulness as a very positive word, your presence, what you are capable of. You touch your ability to think, and you do things without the influence or affect of others. This is where a thought is first thought. This is where the Rays of Creation truly begin to be used to arrange and rearrange all possibilities without any limitations. Although no thought is thought in words, everything comes effortlessly to you. It is in this layer of thought that much of the Level 3 work is practiced. You begin to play in a fifth dimensional time where time and space and gravity all operate differently than is understood in three-D. Alchemy here begins to be where you rearrange the frequencies of thought, change the harmonics of matter and you apply the elements of love in such a manner that, on your terms, you rearrange the molecules and begin to instantaneously produce in simultaneous time whatever you desire.
Can you make that happen in this moment? The answer is “yes” – but not if the noise of the first three layers of thought are your habit. As you play at this and become more masterful, building more templates, more platforms to create from, more structures to live your life from, these fifth and sixth layers are where you live most of your day. You can then do what is necessary to allow more light to come into your body. You can build the unified field of consciousness, which becomes One with this field of possibilities. It is in this space that you begin to know your self as the Soul, fully integrated into the creative universal mind of Creator. Fully consciously, it is attainable at this minute, and you practice and live in the sixth layer of thought.
Seventh Layer of Thought
The seventh layer of thought is not definable. There are no words available to describe it. It is where the thought-that-thought-you-into-existence and you think together. Now, if I was to skirt around the edges of that with some definitions, I could say that this layer is the place where you have a relationship with your Soul. This may be unimaginable to you. Your Soul has so much to do with the creation of you; Creator created you but your Soul also created you. And when your Soul, within the higher aspect of Creator, and you begin to think together in the unified field, you are no longer a third dimensional being. You are then beginning to play very consciously in the fifth, sixth, and seventh dimensions. Here, you are a citizen of those dimensions.
At this point you won’t have a physical body as you know it now, but instead you will have a version of the Light body. It may be physical as well. The Light body is now becoming very available to each one of us, but to create that Light body, these expanded levels of light have to be brought into this form through the mental and emotional bodies. And those bodies are where we hold the third dimensional resistance, resentment, etc. That’s where the ugly thoughts, ugly emotions live. The predominant purpose of this Shift is for you to become conscious of being conscious, aware of being aware, integrating enough light into your mental and emotional body to the point where you don’t have those ugly thoughts and emotions; those reactions and resistances. When you can clear that energy from your emotional and mental bodies, you can begin to play at the sixth and seventh layer of thought. You will begin to change the density of your physicality from a carbon-dense body that does not absorb light to that of a crystalline nature of light that will allow a very significant transformation of your physical body. This possibility is available right now. It’s do-able right now, and this is the course that we are pursuing in all of this work right now.
This is our target.
This is what begins to happen in that seventh layer of thought, but what I just described doesn’t adequately speak to what is possible. And we are getting closer to finding those words.
In the meantime, I hope this has helped you gain a better sense of these layers of thought, and that I have created a structure upon which you can better stand and become more and more aware of your inner workings. As you do; as you become the quieter observer of your thoughts and patterns, the noise will lessen. A stillness of understanding and knowingness will prevail. And THAT is precisely where humanity is headed. You are at the head of the race. You are big and important and have much to contribute. And now is the time to know yourself.
May you experience laughter and stillness on your journey Home.
Jim Self is an author, international speaker, and teacher of the Tools for Mastering Alchemy. This work is in co-creation with Archangels, Ascended Masters and Teachers of Light.
His website is: www.MasteringAlchemy.com or 775-851-8950 ~ Copyright: You may share this article with your friends as long it is kept whole and our website is included. Thank you.
Of the more than 60 known types of synesthesia, grapheme-color synesthesia, in which people see every number or letter tinged with a particular color, is the most common.
CREDIT: hkeita | Shutterstock
While most of us see sights and hear sounds, some people also hear colors and taste words, a mysterious phenomenon called synesthesia, which occurs when stimulating one of the five senses triggers experiences in an unrelated sense. Now researchers suggest this unusual trait can provide numerous mentalbenefits, potentially explaining why evolution has kept it around.
Scientists first discovered synesthesia in the 19th century, noting that certain people saw every number or letter tinged with a particular color, even though they were written in black ink. This condition, known as grapheme-color synesthesia, is the most common of the more than 60 known variants of synesthesia.
Although synesthesia can occur due to drug use, brain damage, sensory deprivation and even hypnosis, research has revealed that 2 percent to 4 percent of the general population naturally experiences synesthesia, with the phenomenon tending to run in families. Recent work analyzing the brains of people with grapheme-color synesthesia has revealed it is caused by an increased number of connections between sensory regions of the brain.
A key question regarding synesthesia is why the phenomenon has survived when it might not seem to provide any benefit. Now scientists, in a review of past research in the field, are finding answers from those who have it — synesthetes.
For instance, synesthesia is purported to be seven times more common in artists, poets and novelists than in the rest of the population. Cognitive neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran at the University of California, San Diego, and his colleagues suggest that mutant genes responsible for synesthesia might lead people to perceive links not only between seemingly unrelated sensations but also between seemingly unrelated ideas, leading to greater creativity.
Intriguingly, synesthetes at times also demonstrate remarkable memory abilities. For instance, British writer Daniel Tammet said that for him, each positive integer up to 10,000 has its own unique shape, color, texture and feel, and said he has used his synesthesia to memorize the mathematical constant pi to 22,514 digits. Scientists have suggested that synesthesia might be linked with savantism, the remarkable expertise, ability or brilliance in one or more areas at times seen in people with autism or other mental disorders.
In addition, researchers have found that number-color synesthetes are better than others at discriminating very similar colors, while mirror-touch synesthetes — those who experience tactile sensations on their own body when they watch someone else being touched — possess a more sensitive sense of touch. This suggests the senses of synesthetes may be enhanced in very subtle ways.
Altogether, researchers suggest that synesthesia could yield vital clues toward a better general understanding of the human mind.
“Synesthesia appears to rely on many of the same mechanisms present in all individuals,” neuroscientist David Brang at the University of California, San Diego, told LiveScience.
Brang noted that synesthesia may be an extreme variant of multisensory processing — that is, how the brain processes information from multiple senses at once.
“Understanding the differences between this exaggerated type of multisensory processing can tell us about the inner workings of normal multisensory processes as well,” Brang said. He added that synesthetes might also help us better understand the neuroscience of creativity.
Brang and Ramachandran detailed their findings online Nov. 22 in the journal PLoS Biology
There’s a particular dimension where creativity arises. It’s a little bit like the wick burning the flame, and its sustenance is the oil – it’s in an oil lamp, and you are the flame. All the analogies, by the way, are very deficient, but it’s just a distant approximation to get you into a sense of what that place is. So you are the flame, and you feel your way into the very source – down the wick into where the oil is, inside yourself. That’s the place, the source, so if anything is new, creative, then it has a fragrance of the source.
Somehow, humans, even humans who are still very much identified with their mind, many of them are touched by when they see or hear or whatever – come into contact with – something that came out of that deeper level, whether it’s a work of art, or a piece of music, or it could just be somebody talking. And the words come from that deeper level. It could just be somebody who has a good sense of humor – even that is already a form of creativity. Spontaneous humor is to suddenly see something that one wouldn’t normally see – a connection between two seemingly unconnected things, and suddenly you connect them and everybody laughs. Some people have that. Some people have one small area in which they can be creative, and that can be enough to provide you with fulfillment and an income, for the rest of your life – and to contribute that gift to others.
Great stand up comedians, for example, have that gift. Of course, not everything they say is spontaneous, but when they prepare their stuff, they have to be creative. Now I don’t know if anybody here has tried to be a standup comedian, but it’s difficult. Many people try. It’s hard to be funny. But some have it, and it’s amazing – those few that have that gift. And there too, the sense of humor is spontaneously something arises, and there it comes. It’s being in touch with that. It’s wonderful to be able to be in touch with that, and feel the power that flows from there, out into this world. Now for that, of course you need some kind of vehicle, because the power needs to flow into some kind of form.
You can touch that place also, within, and it may not flow into creativity, because you have not developed a vehicle for it. The very same power that gives rise to creativity can also manifest itself in different ways that we would not call creativity. It could be a healing power that comes into effect the moment you enter into relationships with others. Healing in a wider sense, not just physical healing. You will not suddenly become a great musician if you have never touched an instrument, just because you touch that place within yourself. It’s not going to manifest as a great scientific discovery in my case, because the vehicle is not prepared for that. My mind is not prepared for that. It doesn’t even work that way. So for me to expect to come up with the Unified Field Theory that Einstein didn’t come up with – he tried after the theory of relativity, he tried for the rest of his life to come up with that – I am not going to come up with that. It’s very unlikely. The vehicle has not been prepared. I am not going to be a great pianist, because I don’t know how to play the piano. So no matter how deeply I go within, it’s not going to flow into that. You need to prepare the vehicle for creativity.
More important than that is the place – to be able to go within to that place of vibrantly alive stillness, where creativity arises. And you can go in there, and if there’s no vehicle, it will not express itself in any form of creativity, not any conventional form of creativity. But it may actually express itself in different ways. I just mentioned one, which is an outflow in human interactions – and outflow of – very hard to put a word to it, but you can sense it, when you meet a person who is present in the interaction. It’s a different energy frequency that operates. And that is healing. It is so formless that it does not require a previously prepared vehicle. You can just be. And you emanate Being.
DEFINITION: Pronoia is the antidote for paranoia. It’s the understanding that the universe is fundamentally friendly. It’s a mode of training your senses and intellect so you’re able to perceive the fact that life always gives you exactly what you need, exactly when you need it.
OBJECTIVE OF PRONOIA: To explore the secrets of becoming a wildly disciplined, fiercely tender, ironically sincere, scrupulously curious, aggressively sensitive, blasphemously reverent, lyrically logical, lustfully compassionate Master of Rowdy Bliss.
HYPOTHESES: Evil is boring. Cynicism is idiotic. Fear is a bad habit. Despair is lazy. Joy is fascinating. Love is an act of heroic genius. Pleasure is your birthright. Receptivity is a superpower.
PROCEDURE: Act as if the universe is a prodigious miracle created for your amusement and illumination. Assume that secret helpers are working behind the scenes to assist you in turning into the gorgeous masterpiece you were born to be. Join the conspiracy to shower all of creation with blessings.
GUIDING QUESTION: “The secret of life,” said sculptor Henry Moore to poet Donald Hall, “is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to, something you bring everything to, every minute of the day for your whole life. And the most important thing is — it must be something you cannot possibly do.” What is that task for you?