Saturday, June 27, 2009

From ‘Extraordinary knowing. Science, skepticism and the inexplicable powers of the human mind’ by Elisabeth Lloyd Mayer, Ph.D

Helen Palmer has written extensively about intuition……….How does she access that intuition? I ask:

Maybe 75 percent of the process lies in getting empty enough to watch the different inputs of my mind. I follow my abdominal breath until thoughts and feelings recede. The emptiness feels very nourishing, very soft and intimate. You lose awareness of the room, your body, your face. That all goes, but there’s a separate awareness that stays. I need time to get empty, so I’m not anticipating, not resisting anything that wants to appear, before I focus on anything. Otherwise I get confused about where I am inside and can’t tell the difference between an accurate impression and my own fantasy projections.

Once you’re internalized, you establish a focal object, not trying for anything. The focal object is an imagined representation of whatever you need to contact. It could be a meditation symbol that you want to unite with, or an inner picture of some real-world event. You focus, then wait. You doubt and you stay there anyway. You just keep shifting attention back to the focal object, until it starts to capture your attention. Then you’re ready………it takes very precise concentration for spiritual knowing.

…………you just keep allowing the object to enhance in your imagination until it stops fluctuating. First the emptying phase, then the focusing phase. You clear the inner space, then target the object. I maintain concentration by imagining the object as beautiful until the picture in my mind becomes so vivid and believable that it starts to play itself out………I just lose a sense of separation from the impression and take in whatever it shows…………

Meanwhile, you are so far removed from the room and yourself and the passage of time that you become whatever that focus is, so you know it from the inside………You read another person accurately because you are them……you’ve stopped being separate………You have to make sure your placements of attention are precise so you’re not projecting. That’s why my teaching is so focused on knowing yourself and what you’re likely to project into a reading; that’s the only way to get reliable with intuition.

Intuition operates from a different state than ordinary consciousness; quite decisively different from ordinary consciousness. If you don’t know that, if you don’t know how to shift back and forth between states, then you can start to feel very crazy, especially when you can’t immediately verify what you know.

…….One finding in particular grabbed me. I expected that they would discover which regions of the brain “lit up” as a consequence of increased blood flow during moments of deep meditation or prayer, suggesting that those areas were particularly active. Instead, Newberg and D’Aquili found that certain areas of the brain went essentially dark, meaning that they were less active than usual during a deep meditative state………Those bundles of neurons located in the posterior superior parietal lobe, the region of the brain that’s critical to orienting us in the physical world……..During the subjects’ moments of deepest meditation and prayer, what stopped firing were all the signals that tell us where to locate the boundaries that separate us from everything that isn’t us.

………..anybody whose posterior superior parietal lobe quieted down……..would probably experience a subjective sense of oneness or connectedness with everything around them………..The essence of that experience, which many have described as “being one with the universe” or “united with god”, seems to be the literal evaporation of any sense of separation from others or the surrounding world……….all mystical experience as fundamentally “the art of union with reality”

……….there may be a neurobiological basis for achieving that art of union with reality, not by achieving access to new sources of sensory information but rather by learning how to tune down the flow of incoming sensory information………And that is absolutely consistent with what meditators and mystics have told us over centuries about how they gain access to the states they engage

Maybe faith gives us a way we can stop our brains from stopping all the rest of us from knowing

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