New Research Studies EEG of Cosmic Consciousness




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 Higher States of Consciousness in the Vedic Psychology of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi: A Theoretical Introduction and Research Review

Permanent Peace

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Mason, L. I., et al (1997). Electrophysiological correlates of higher states of consciousness during sleep in long-term practitioners of the Transcendental Meditation program. Sleep, 20(2), 102-110. EEG study of eleven individuals in cosmic consciousness who experience the co-existence of deep sleep along with continued inner awareness.
Travis, F., & Pearson, C. (2000). Pure consciousness: Distinct phenomenological and physiological correlates of "consciousness itself". The International Journal of Neuroscience, 100(1-4).
Travis, F., Tecce, J. J., & Durchholz, C. (2001). Cortical plasticity, CNV, and transcendent experiences: Replication with subjects reporting permanent transcendental experiences. Psychophysiology, 38, S95.
Travis, F. T., Tecce, J., Arenander, A., & Wallace, R. K. (2002). Patterns of EEG coherence, power, and contingent negative variation characterize the integration of transcendental and waking states. Biological Psychology, 61, 293-319. EEG study of seventeen individuals in cosmic consciousness during eyes-open tasks.
Travis, F., Arenander, A., & DuBois, D. (2004). Psychological and physiological characteristics of a proposed object-referral/self-referral continuum of self-awareness. Consciousness and Cognition, 13, 401-420. This study extends earlier EEG research on individuals in cosmic consciousness by means of an unstructured interview and a battery of standard psychological tests.


New Research Studies EEG of Cosmic Consciousness

People experiencing Cosmic Consciousness show distinctive EEG patterns during activity that suggest the maintenance of transcendence with waking processes, according to new research by psychology professor Fred Travis. The research also suggests they have more precise and accurate thought processes when faced with complex tasks.

In a paper presented at a meeting of the Society of Psychophysiological Research, Dr. Travis compared the EEG of 17 persons experiencing Cosmic Consciousness--i.e., experience of transcendence along with activity--with 17 persons who primarily experience transcendence during the Transcendental Meditation® technique and also with 17 persons who didn't practice the Transcendental Meditation technique.

Specifically Dr. Travis looked at the brain's "preparation response" during a simple task and a complex task, that is, the brain's activity immediately preceding a mental task. In each case, a subject saw a pair of stimuli. The simple task entailed seeing a visual warning cue, and then pressing a space bar when a tone sounded 1.5 seconds later. The complex task involved seeing one number and then a second number 1.5 seconds later. The person was asked to indicate which number was higher by pressing a button.

During the entire process Dr. Travis monitored the subject's EEG. He had hypothesized that someone experiencing Cosmic Consciousness would have the EEG signature of transcendence during waking tasks and would exhibit a more appropriate preparatory response--allocating resources only when they were needed, or in the familiar phrase, "according to the need of the time."

             High EEG Coherence

The results showed just that. First, high frontal EEG coherence distinguished the practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique from just sitting resting with one's eyes closed.

Second, the signature of transcending--high frontal EEG coherence--was lowest in the non-meditating group during tasks and highest in the Cosmic Consciousness group.

And third, there was also an inverse relation in preparation response. The Cosmic Consciousness group had the highest preparatory response before the tone in the simple trials, when they knew the correct response. This could indicate they have greater resources available to devote to any task.

             Effortless Action

In contrast, the Cosmic Consciousness group had the lowest preparation response before the second number in the complex trials, when they did not have the necessary information to determine the correct response (i.e., the second number hadn't yet appeared). Their brain appeared to become active only at the appropriate time and not unnecessarily wasting energy anticipating the task.

             More Self-Referral

"The Cosmic Consciousness group appeared to remain at a balance point -- more self-referral," Dr. Travis said. "When it's time for them to act, that's when the thought comes up and the whole system plunges into action."

This is in contrast to those who hadn't yet learned the Transcendental Meditation technique. They appeared to be more "object-referral." As soon as they saw the stimulus, they started to respond, even though they didn't know what to do (because the second number hadn't yet appeared). Dr. Travis observed that this shows that without the experience of transcendence, people are continually overreacting or are reacting at the wrong time. This leads to wasted energy, tiredness, and mistakes throughout their day.

Dr. Travis said that the new research will yield an "integration scale" that relates increased experiences of the transcendence with increasing EEG coherence during waking and with a more appropriate response to tasks.

             Witnessing for at Least One Year

Those in the Cosmic Consciousness group reported witnessing during sleep for at least a year--some for as long as 12 years. Their self reports were verified by a paper-and-pencil test of transcendental experiences and by 30-to-40-minute interviews.

The Review, Vol. 17, #6, November 28, 2001
Copyright 2001, Maharishi University of Management


[The Review, Vol. 17, #19, June 26, 2002
Copyright 2002, Maharishi University of Management]

Research on Cosmic Consciousness Rivets Audience

Participants at a recent annual conference on consciousness were "riveted" by the experiences of Cosmic Consciousness of subjects in a study conducted by Fred Travis, director of the EEG lab and dean of the graduate college.

Dr. Travis presented his recent research at a plenary session to an audience he described as riveted when he read the self-reports of individuals describing their experiences of higher states of consciousness.

The conference, held in Tucson, includes researchers from around the country who are involved in the study of the science of consciousness.

Dr. Travis's research compared a group of 17 subjects experiencing Cosmic Consciousness as a result of their practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique to a control group of short-term meditators and non-meditators.

His findings indicate that during the performance of challenging tasks, subjects who have reported integration of Transcendental Consciousness with waking and sleeping states exhibit distinct brainwave patterns and more efficient performance on complex cognitive activities.

"These findings are highly significant because they offer empirical verification of the practical benefits of living enlightenment -- greater efficiency in action -- and suggest neural mechanisms that may underlie these benefits," Dr. Travis said.

In his Tucson presentation, Dr. Travis introduced the concept of the experience of self awareness without mental content -- transcendence. He said the audience was very engaged by this idea, which contradicts the traditional understanding in Western psychology that consciousness always needs an object. He explained that meditation traditions are designed to lead to the state of "pure consciousness," in which consciousness is aware of its own structure.

Dr. Travis then briefly outlined the research on the experience of transcendence in meditation as a prelude to his main point: the study of subjects who report the permanent integration of transcendent and waking experience, or Cosmic Consciousness.

He then read the self-reports of his subjects of their experience of "sense of self" and "awareness during sleep"--the reports that he said the audience found riveting. The group that didn't practice the Transcendental Meditation technique described themselves in terms of cognitive style ("open to change . . . adventurous . . . compassionate towards others") while the individuals reporting experiences of enlightenment reported an abiding, pervasive wakefulness.

One person said, "There's a quality that is so pervasive about the Self that I'm quite sure that the I is the same I as everyone else's I." Another said, "We ordinarily think of my self as this age, this color of hair . . . but really my experience is that my self is a lot larger than that. Actually it's immeasurably vast . . . on a physical level. I look out and see this beautiful divine intelligence . . . you could say in the sky, in the tree, but really being expressed through these things . . . and these are my self."

Dr. Travis then presented the EEG data, which was very well received. "Many people came to me and were interested in learning more about the Transcendental Meditation technique and asked about collaborating in research," Dr. Travis said.

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Subject: Study Describes Experience of Enlightenment
Date: Thu, 22 Jul 2004 08:49:45 +0800

Study Describes Experience of Enlightenment

From The Review, a bi-weekly publication of Maharishi University of Management

A study in the June issue of the journal Consciousness and Cognition further characterizes the state of Cosmic Consciousness.

A main discovery of this new research by Fred Travis, Alarik Arenander, and David DuBois is that individuals can be classified according to a continuum, ranging from ordinary waking experience on one end to the experience of Cosmic Consciousness on the other. The researchers term it an Object-Referral/Self-Referral Continuum of Self-Awareness.

"Where someone stands on this continuum is related to basic attitudes and behaviors," said Dr. Travis, first author on the study. "For example, some people are completely overshadowed by experience while others seem to be able to rise above it."

This continuum is based on descriptions of higher states in Maharishi Vedic Science(SM) and descriptions of self-awareness, and on brain-wave patterns during tasks in individuals reporting the experience of witnessing sleep for at least one year.

Three Groups of Subjects

This research compared measures in three groups of subjects. The first group of nonmeditating subjects described themselves predominantly in terms of their thoughts, feelings, and behavior: "I guess I'm open to new experiences . . . ." or "I tend to appreciate those things that are different . . . ." or "I kind of like to forge my own way." They were "embedded" in or identified with their thoughts, feelings, and actions.

"This could be characterized as an object-referral style," Dr. Travis says. "One is what one does."

A second group of subjects, who had practiced the Transcendental Meditation technique for an average of seven years, described themselves as directing thinking and behavior -- the first stages of the self "de-embedding" or separating from the processes of thinking and behavior. "I'm my own capabilities; my ability to learn," said one. Another said, "I am my ability to perceive and be aware." Yet these subjects still described themselves primarily in terms of what they did.

Subjects Experience Enlightenment

A third group of subjects, who had practiced the Transcendental Meditation technique for an average of 24 years, described themselves as separate from what they were thinking or doing -- their identities, their selves were completely "de-embedded" from the processes of thinking and behavior.

"My self is immeasurably vast . . . on a physical level -- not just restricted to this physical environment," said one. And another said, "It's my Being. There's just a channel underneath that's just underlying everything. It's my essence there and it just doesn't stop where I stop."

The researchers term this style of functioning as Self-referral. "In this state, the Self has its own status," Dr. Travis said. "It is defined in terms of its own structure, independent of objects and processes of knowing."

Distinct Brain-Wave Patterns

In an earlier study these subjects were found to have distinct brain-wave patterns. With growth of higher states, the frontal lobes become more coherent in their functioning. The frontal lobes are the seat of moral reasoning, decision making, planning, working memory and sense of self. Higher coherence in frontal areas supports higher levels of moral reasoning, planning, and sense of self in these subjects.

"Though many scientifically minded people may consider enlightenment either imaginary, impractical, or simply outside the boundaries of scientific investigation, the implications of the data are that enlightenment can be scientifically described," Dr. Travis said.

"We've now come at this from three different angles: responses during unstructured interviews, supported by factor analysis of scores on psychological tests and brain-wave patterns during tasks."

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Seven States of Consciousness

There are seven major states of consciousness available to a human being. The waking, dreaming and sleeping states of consciousness are experienced by everyone.

The fourth state of consciousness is Transcendental Consciousness and is characterized by inner silence. "Be still and know that I am God." - Psalm 46:10

The fifth state of consciousness is Cosmic Consciousness, when the inner silence of Transcendental Consciousness is permanently established. "The peace of God which passes all understanding." - Philippians 4:7

The sixth state of consciousness is God Consciousness. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." - Matthew 5:8

The seventh state of consciousness is Unity Consciousness. "I and the Father are One." - John 10:30

Unity Consciousness is the highest state of fulfillment for a human being.

To enjoy higher states of consciousness is the birthright of every human being. These states of consciousness can be experienced only because the possibility is already built into the human nervous system.

The path to enlightenment and higher states of consciousness begins with learning and practicing Transcendental Meditation.

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