Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Altered States of Consciousness

Class 5 of IAC's Consciousness Development Program discusses phenomena and altered states of consciousness.

Altered States of Consciousness (Altered States of Awareness, xenophrenia) refer to internal, subjective states of being whereby there are changes in one's mental state, almost always temporary.  Changes can include changes in attention, concentration, awareness of surroundings, accuity of senses, suggestibility, rationality, creativity, and sense of time, for instance.

Altered states of consciousness, like the period between wakefulness and sleep, known as hypnagogia, can be associated with artistic creativity. Many historic writers, painters, and inventors have been aware of this.  Altered states like hightened concentration can facilitate feats that would be nearly impossible during our average state of mind: outstanding artistic and sports performances are one example of this.

An interesting article of mathematical discovery nearly a century ago with important ramifications in multiple fields that came in "dreams" near death was recently in the news, as it was only now confirmed. Austrian percussionist extraordinare Martin Gruginger describes being in an altered state during performances that allow him to play thousands of notes for hours at a time without reference.  The out-of-body experience, of course, also considered an altered state of consciousness. Some examples include:
  • Coma
  • Convulsion
  • Daydream
  • Delirium
  • Ecstasy
  • Euphoria
  • Extrasensory perception
  • Fear
  • Flow
  • Higher consciousness
  • Hypnagogia
  • Hypnopompia
  • Hypnosis
  • Hysteria
  • Meditation
  • Music therapy
  • Out-of-body experience
  • Panic
  • Psychosis
  • Religious experience
  • Sexual pleasure
  • Sleep
  • Sleep paralysis
  • Syncope
  • Wakefulness

This article was compiled by IAC Los Angeles Education Center volunteer Nelson Abreu.

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