I have been on a profound journey of self-awareness and self-healing over the last eighteen years as I have studied and researched as much as I could about altered states of consciousness (ASCs) and healing. I have been very privileged to experience all of the ASCs discussed in my new book, The Other Side of the Valley. Some of these experiences remain unfathomable to my logical mind; and yet, I have felt the very real benefits on the mental, emotional, and physical levels.
My concept of life has been changed forever. I am no longer sceptical of the inexplicable, however, far from accepting all of these concepts without question, I remain curious about the potential of using ASCs to achieve desired change. I know that I have merely uncovered the ‘tip of the iceberg’ and that this is the beginning of a lifelong quest to uncover more. Based on what I have discovered so far, it appears that as human beings, we have forgotten more than we can remember. We have become so involved with the material world that we have forgotten much of our innate nature, and hence many forms of healing that we can access through ASCs.
I started this journey as a fearful sceptic, someone who was afraid of any form of consciousness other than that which I used on a daily logical basis. I had originally trained in western allopathic medicine to be a podiatrist. However, by the age of 27 I had climbed to the top of my career ladder in this field and I was bored. So I explored other alternatives and by my early thirties had become a Chief Executive in the British National Health Service. To me, at that time, allowing myself to go into trance was akin to giving away my power to someone or even worse, something unknown. I was trapped in a web of reality where only the tangible and knowable was real, and even then, only when it could be scientifically proven.
My initial explorations into ASCs were through hypnosis where my intent had been to prove that this ‘stuff’ would never be able to work with me. I had an iron grip on my conscious mind, and was far removed from my emotional and physical self; yet, something inside prompted me to start this exploration into the unknown, albeit under rather false pretences. I realise now that in order to get me to the point of embarkation, my conscious mind needed to feel safe. Little did I know how this would change my life so dramatically.
So, what is trance?
The advance of quantum physics and the work of neuro scientists over the last few decades are beginning to shine some light on the hitherto dark area of our other than conscious awareness. Trance and altered states of consciousness enable us to access the great repository of our knowing that is other than conscious. A statement frequently used in the scientific community is that 20 per cent of our mind is conscious, and 80 per cent is unconscious, however, this is yet to be proven. Nonetheless, it is evident that in our usual up-time state of consciousness we only have access to a portion of available ‘information’. So, the theory is that by beginning to train ourselves to enter ASCs with volition we are increasing the amount of consciousness available to us.
Medical science is now able to measure consciousness as a gauge of the brain’s activity. Currently four levels of brain-wave activity have been defined, each designated a Greek letter: Alpha, Beta, Theta and Delta (Marsolek, 2003). These can be identified and measured by an electroencephalogram (EEG) machine.
An altered state of consciousness (ASC or trance) is generally defined as any mental state that is perceived by an individual, or an observer, as being significantly different from ‘normal’ waking consciousness. These ASCs may range from ordinary daydreams to encounters of near-death experiences (also known as NDEs), or apparently mystical occurrences. From personal experience, we can tell when we are in an ASC when we experience any of the following: marked alterations in our thinking, a distortion of time, apparent loss of control, changes in emotional state, and changes in how we perceive our body either in sensations or our body image and other perceptual distortions.
Many people, who regularly practise meditation, hypnosis, and ‘open focus’ report, that they feel more in control of their lives. They often say that accessing these states gives them the ability to loosen the grip that ‘consensus trance’ has on their minds.
The current research of many neuroscientists is enabling the general population to begin to understand without the need to fully believe that both the physiological and the psychological knowledge we collectively possess has value. It is highly liberating to realize that we do not need to take a specific stance to be able to explore our states of consciousness with a flexible and clear mind. This offers many people the opportunity to enjoy this exploration, and what they may discover.
The Other Side of the Valley - Healing Through Altered States of Consciousness is published by O-Books, ISBN: 978-1-78099-826-8 (Paperback) £10.99 $16.95.
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