The Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) published a new video of its head scientist, Dean Radin, speaking in front of students at the California Institute for Integral Studies (CIIS) about current state of psychic research.
It’s a very accessible, well-recorded, presentation. Recommended for staying up to date or for introduction into parapsychology research.
Topics include visual illusions, Ganzfeld experiments, Presentiment experiments, reverse-priming experiments and more. Highly recommended. Running time: 50 minutes.
Posted on Feb 8, 2015 in Meditation | Comments Off on A 200-year-old mummified body in lotus position found in Mongolia
I’ve found articles about this rather new event searching the Internet for Pandido Khambo Lama Dashi-Dorzho Itigilov. I wrote that article about his preserved mummified body in 2007 and it was exciting to learn that a recent discovery in Mongolia found a mummified body even older than that of Pandido Khambo Lama Itigilov.
The body is thought to be about 200 years old but doesn’t show much signs of decay. It was found under an animal skin. Most probably the person, a monk, passed out during meditation and his body has stayed mummified, for some reason. Again, this case is somewhat similar to the case of the Siberian Lama.
The photograph below is of this body. The monk was found somewhere in Songinokhairkhan province, near the city of Ulaanbaatar, in central Mongolia. The original source appears to be a Mongolian News site “The morning news”, or “Өглөөний сонин”. It can be found here (not in English).
That being said, none of the articles that I ever wrote come close to the fabulous summary posted on the blog of Jon Lieff, MD. His article, Meditation and the Brain 2013, presents detailed but approachable overview of the latest scientific research into the benefits of meditation, Tai Chi and yoga.
The benefits of these practices span a wide spectrum of human activity, such as physical health, mental health, dealing with pain and creativity.
The following talk, recently released on the TED web site is a good explanation of what meditation is. The speaker, Andy Puddicombe, explains meditation through simple examples and through… juggling. No religious colors are present either. Highly recommended.
Lately, I have found about a new study that took place in Wake Forest University School of Medicine, NC, USA. The new study is titled “Mindfulness meditation improves cognition: evidence of brief mental training” and you can read its abstract on the U.S. National Library of Medicine
National Institutes of Health.
The authors tried to see if the unexperienced meditators had any benefits from meditation after only several days of simple meditation. They also had a control group that listened to an audio book, instead of meditating. The results were that meditation was more beneficiary in many aspects. From the abstract:
We examined whether brief meditation training affects cognition and mood when compared to an active control group. After four sessions of either meditation training or listening to a recorded book, participants with no prior meditation experience were assessed with measures of mood, verbal fluency, visual coding, and working memory. Both interventions were effective at improving mood but only brief meditation training reduced fatigue, anxiety, and increased mindfulness. Moreover, brief mindfulness training significantly improved visuo-spatial processing, working memory, and executive functioning.
The group only had 4 days of meditation (20 minutes each day) and the benefits were already apparent. The authors of the article also suggest that in more experienced meditators the beneficial effect should be more profound.
In 2006 I wrote a short article about Prahlad Jani, an Indian yogi who claims he can live without eating or even drinking. The news at that time were driven by another alleged “breatharian”, Ram Bahadur Bamjan, then a 16 year old boy, who was meditating for six months at that time.
Recently, Prahlad Jani returned to the major news after he was again under a 15-day surveillance in a hospital to verify his claims of not eating and drinking.
There are many sources about the latest tests. Here are some links to learn more:
The following paragraphs mostly summarize what’s new:
Prahlad Jani, 83, who says he has not had a bite to eat for 70 years, was put under constant surveillance to test his astonishing claims by a team of 30 military medical staff.
During a 15 day stay in a hospital in the city of Ahmedabad, India — he astounded doctors by not eating, drinking or going to the bathroom.
The person claims to not have eaten for 70 years. That’s quite a hard claim to swallow, frankly. A 15-day surveillance sounds good but the suspicious fact here is that the 2003 study and this one were conducted by the same hospital in Ahmedabad, the Sterling hospital. I think it was even the same crew leading researcher, Dr. Sudhir Shah.
What is new this time is that 1) the test was longer (15 days and not 10) and 2) that the study initiated by India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO). I hope they’re not as naïve as to let the hospital run the test without overseeing it themselves.
So, it is interesting news and it would be better, more reliable, if this man was tested by some western hospital, to reduce the chance of fraud by co-operating.
There’s a series of enrichment lectures at Google (the company) and they make them available for public viewing on YouTube. The lectures are not strictly technical and encompass a wide variety of topics with guest speakers.
The below video is of a lecture describing the basics of Oriental medicine practices, especially acupuncture and acupressure. There’s also specific attention to stress in traditional western medicine and in eastern.
In the second part, after the description, an eastern medicine doctor applies short acupunture treratment to some of the listeners and guides through a short relaxation meditation.
I must say that I’ve never heard of Lawrence LeShan earlier although, based on the book, he was researching paranormal for several decades. He was born in 1920, he’s trained and published psychotherapist, and is the author of the best selling book How to Meditate: A Guide to Self-Discovery.
“A New Science of the Paranormal” consists of seven chapters and an appendix. Each chapter also includes one or two “case histories” – a paranormal case from Lawrence’s career or another famous case. The chapters in the book are:
Psychic Research and the Consistency of the Universe.
What Do We Know About Psychic Phenomena
Normal and Paranormal Communication
Designing a Science of Psychical Research
Psi and Altered States of Consciousness
The Next Step: Implications of the New Science
What Dare I Hope
The Appendix in titled: “When is Uvani”.
Chapter 1 tells some history of psi research, the concepts, why is it difficult, including psychological factors. One tidbit is his current disapproval of connecting psi and quantum physics which has become so popular lately.
Chapter 2 describes the 4 things that were proven about paranormal research and 9 which are almost certain to be true.
Chapter 3 tries to compare normal and paranormal types of communication. He gets away from the “paranormal” terminology into cleaner one in order to better understand the differences and similarities between regular and “paranormal” communication types.
Chapter 4 begins what I think was the main goal in writing the book in the first place. Lawrence explains how science approaches different subjects and argues which approaches would be best for psychical research. He writes that he now believes that psi research should be approached not with more laboratory testing, like exact sciences, but like social sciences which employ other methods of research and deduction.
In Chapter 5 Lawrence describes how theories about “reality” shape the worldview and how the conflicts between observed phenomena and what we think about reality should be handled, in science. It is quite a philosophical chapter, in the good sense of the word.
Chapter 6 starts with some more psychological effects of psi events. How people reject them after they happen. This chapter also has a call to scientist to bring psi research into the mainstream science and also explains how to do this.
In Chapter 7 LeShan hopes that the acceptance of the existence of psi by the public will bring change to the way people think of the world and how they behave, to the better.
The Appendix is like a chapter by itself. In it LeShan tries to continue his design of the new science of the paranormal. He explains how we might try to overcome some difficulties with psi research by asking the right questions and thinking of it all in more abstract way, like in mathematics, for example.
The case histories after each chapter are very interesting and diverse. I’ve never heard of any of them although they all seem very compelling. They are all what a skeptic of psi would call “anecdotal” but again, one of the main points that Lawrence LeShan tries to pass in the book is that psi research should be taken out of the laboratory and the focus should be on these unique and very strong cases, which he calls “need-determined”. These are the cases where something “paranormal” happens because of a great need of some other person.
If you’re serious about psi research, consciousness and want to get a wider point of view on the various difficulties of this research and how to approach it, you should read “A New Science of the Paranormal”. It is quite different from many other books which are either too unscientific on one hand, or those which are heavy on statistics on another.
I think Leshan could also be a good guest for the Skeptiko podcast.
An article in OregonLive.com reports about various studies performed by different scientists related to meditation and the brain.
The first one, performed in the University of Oregon by Michael Pisner and Yi-Yuan Tang, compared focusing ability of college students, those who received meditation training and those who didn’t. After five days, meditators outpaced non-meditators on the attention test, and they became significantly better at handling stress. Saliva samples revealed lower levels of the hormone cortisol when the meditators were subjected to an anxiety-inducing math quiz.
Another study, in the University of Wisconsin at Madison, showed that meditation may sharpen the ability to focus by training the brain to apply limited processing power more efficiently. In this study, volunteers had to identify two numbers flashed on a computer screen amid a stream of letters. After three months of meditation training, volunteers were able to name the second number significantly more often. EEG recordings of brain activity showed that those subjects devoted less effort to finding the first target, thus freeing more brainpower to focus on finding the second.
A study at San Francisco University showed that meditation improved pain endurance. They mapped electrical activity in the brain of a yoga master while he had his tongue pierced. The research found that the pattern of brain activity suggests that the meditating yogi entered a state similar to that produced by pain-numbing drugs.
Another study showed that long-term* meditators showed a 40 percent to 50 percent reduction in brain activity in response to pain* compared with a control group of non-meditators.
A few studies suggest that meditation can change how the brain responds to advancing age. Researchers at Emory University in Atlanta compared 13 older adults who regularly practiced Zen meditation with non-meditators of similar age. Among the latter, shrinking brain size and declining performance on attention tests correlated with age: The older the subject, the smaller the brain volume and the worse the performance. Among meditators, advancing age did not correlate with brain shrinkage or declining attention skills.
The findings match those of a 2005 study at Harvard Medical School, which found that brain regions involved in focusing attention and processing sense information were thicker in meditators than age-matched non-meditators.
I’m a bit of a fan of Steve Pavlina who runs one of the best websites on personal development.
In addition, his wife, Erin is a psychic medium and has a site of her own, where she tells her own interesting stories and insights on life. Steve is also interested and practicing some of the psychic stuff, but he’s not as experienced and as natural as she is.
Anyway, Steve also has a podcast where he mostly talks about his topics but from time to time he’ll shift to the more esoteric topics.
His latest podcast episode is called “Being Psychic” and it’s 1 and half hours of conversation between him and Erin about her experiences. It is a very interesting episode and it gives some insight into her life and her view of the esoteric part of life.
I’ve already been somewhat familiar with parts of the content, since I follow their sites, but for anyone not familiar with them I’m sure it will be even more interesting. Some of the topics covered in this podcast are:
Story of how Erin developed her psychic skills from a young age
How Erin made the shift to doing professional psychic readings
Erin’s Criss Angel story
Lessons from 1000+ professional readings
Skeptics, skepticism, disbelief, and reading for skeptics vs. believers
The role of free will
Spirit guides, angels, and humans who’ve crossed over
What happens when you die? What is it like on the other side?
Distinguishing genuine psychic impressions from emotions and imagination
Why charge money for readings? Why not do them for free?
How to price your readings when you read professionally
What happens during a psychic reading? How does it work?
Why do different people get such different readings?