Life happens within the realm of three, ever-changing phases: waking, dreaming and sleeping. Yet most of us intuit there’s more to human consciousness than what we ordinarily experience.
Scientists have long said each of the three major states of consciousness has its own distinct style of physiology and brain activity. Could there be a fourth major state of consciousness that likewise has its own physiological signature and brain pattern, a state that’s been overlooked or forgotten?
What if the loss of this state were the cause for much of what ails us — personally and collectively?
Scientists first proposed the existence of a fourth state of consciousness in the early 1970s, when UCLA researchers discovered that people practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique shifted into a state never before seen in a physiology lab. In the history of science, if there has been a single, overarching moment of “East meets West,” surely, it was this. The pioneering research appeared in Scientific American, American Journal of Physiology and the journal Science.1 The findings were expanded by numerous follow-up studies done at other research institutes and medical schools, establishing meditation as a new frontier of scientific research.2