Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Altered States of Human Mind

Recently watched a really interesting episode of Strange Rituals on History Channel, about the Altered States of Human Mind. This episode was about the altered states that humans don’t really attain normally, and various cases demonstrating various different methods by which this has been achieved by a very few among mankind.
To begin with, this discussion has a lot of scientific research to back and hence it cannot just be related to spirituality and religious thoughts. I will also be giving the names of a few scientists who have worked on various aspects of research work regarding the altered states.

The history is full of instances that reveal the existence of an alternate world which is way beyond our understanding and since ages it has been believed there always has been a gateway of communication between our world and this alternate world. Previous civilizations have referred to it in various different ways but the one whose references have been found quite frequently has been the human mind. It is believed that human mind is indeed the gateway through which the communication is possible and the communication has taken place time and again, in the past. So, the only probable method to attain this is the discipline of mind. This is where meditation comes into the picture.

Meditation has been widely accepted by the people to attain a disciplined mind. In some of the tribes, it is believed that people used to have the ability of separating their soul from their body and their soul then could travel at a different place altogether. They could achieve this through a certain level of meditation. This also is been considered a method by which their soul actually used to enter that alternate world while their body used to be in deep state of meditation.

Another instance that justifies this is the superhuman abilities depicted by Wim Holf who can easily sustain in freezing cold temperatures in which a normal human being can never stay alive. He is a world record holder for this case and hence is known as “ice man”.

Obviously the scientists have been quite interested in finding the reason for the same and their study revealed that before undergoing any act of facing extreme cold Wim meditates for a while and then when he faces extreme cold, his body produces white blood cells immensely because of which his immune system rapidly increases and eventually his body temperature gradually increases, easily coping with the extreme cold.

Another phenomenon that aids the existence of altered states of human mind and the alternate world is the phenomenon of “Remote Viewing”. To state it in simple terms, remote viewing is ability to transcend space and time, to view persons, places or things remote in space-time using paranormal means, in particular “extra sensory perception”; to gather and report information on the same.
There have been claims that during the days of cold war among US and USSR, US defense used “remote viewing” via special spies to get armory and other information about the USSR, they also later on funded this research for a long period. You can find a lot of information about this here and here.

Scientists like Herbert Benson, Sigmund Freud, Joseph Rhine have researched a lot on these topics and hence IMO the existence of the alternate world and the concept of altered states of human mind indeed has a scientific backdrop.
In fact I think our scientific community is still too young and naïve to understand these supernatural and paranormal phenomena and it will still take huge amount of time and resources for science to understand these.

On the contrary, in the spiritual and religious community, the significance of intensive meditation and its effects have been recognized since a long time. They have believed the existence of an alternate world and the reference to this has been found in different religions in different scriptures (not going in detail) but have lacked in reasons and logic. If you follow science religiously, you need not believe this but at least it gives us an insight that such phenomena and incidents that science is not completely able to explain are at least acknowledged by the other community.
The discussion indeed has many perceptions. Anyways, to conclude I would say that in the current age we use a very small fraction of our brain hence, it may be true that these worlds are actually intensely integrated but attributing to our current brain usage, we just don’t have the intellect to understand this and as of now, neither does our science. After all, we are still too young in universe and have a lot to explore. ;)  

P.S: This is an interesting topic, I would like to know your take on this.