Asklepia Foundation
"Journey to the Healing Heart of Your Dreams"


Grant Solicitation

Theta and co-consciousness training is Phase 2 of our Grant Solicitation and Pilot Study of the phenomena of CRP journeys.  Co-consciousness, a state of deep rapport, is taught through shamanic techniques, within the journey process, and through individual and shared biofeedback (neuralfeedback) training.  The pilot study seeks to determine if resonant brainwave rhythms are, in fact, observable through EEG monitoring of both parties during the shared journey; and if theta training facilitates integrative experiences, and psi sensitivity.  Further studies would try to detect temporal lobe transients (TLTs) or microseizures, associated with meaningful, spiritual experiences.


CRP and THETA REVERIE

Theta Training 
and Co-Consciousness in Shared Journeys

by Iona Miller and Graywolf Swinney
IACS, ©2001

Abstract: The theta range of brainwave activity is four to seven cycles per second.  This is reportedly the psychic range of the mind and the area from which psychic experiences emerge is the temporal lobe, source of most theta generation.  Children under seven have a predominance of theta, although they experience other ranges as well.  Therefore, children in this age group are highly receptive to suggestions or “programming” from all sources.  In theta, learning is extremely rapid, and may be subliminal.
Co-consciousness, the shared virtuality of the journey process, is a telepathic rapport wherein both participant’s brainwaves become synchronized or entrained, in essence, into a single holographic biofield.  Co-consciousness might be measured via the observation of spontaneously shared, matching or resonating brainwave frequencies. Experimental verification (through EEG monitoring of both participants) of these hypotheses is scheduled as the second experiment in our pilot study of CRP phenomena.
Conversely, in the CRP training program, theta training in deep reverie via biofeedback offers trainees a definite experience of the target state.  Most subjects can increase their alpha production easily; theta is more difficult but also can be increased.  A second part of this experiment would be to induce shared states of consciousness via shared biofeedback where both parties synch to the same deepening rhythm toward a very deeply internalized focus.

Previous neurological studies conducted for Asklepia by Thomas A. Blakely, Ph.D. [Neuropsychology and Clinical Electroencephalography] of Lake Oswego, Oregon have indicated that co-consciousness reveals itself through unique brainwave patterns.  The subject appears to be sleeping, but responds and remains internally focused, interactive within and without the shared Journey.  This has implications for restructuring trauma patterns (state-bound learning), and the process of facilitating spontaneous psychophysical healing.

Theta brainwave generation is associated with dreams, creative thinking, and twilight states.  Theta is probably the best model we have for the shared nature of co-consciousness.  Spontaneous psi phenomena have been associated with theta waves by Krippner (1977), the Greens (1977), and more recently Persinger (1997).  These phenomena include but are not limited to telepathy or ESP and synchronicities.  The left hemisphere of the brain is linear and logical, while the right hemisphere is non-linear and perceives gestalts.  Theta generation entrains both hemispheres in a single activity that creates a harmonization and sense of deep-felt meaning and well-being.

Preparing for the co-consciousness process can be described as "emptying".  Any preconceived notions about self, the mentored or the process are completely suspended, and the Journey is approached with a "beginner's mind."  But one's experiential skills and wisdom are brought to the process.  Though theta generally indicates a deep sleep, it is possible to maintain awareness and be interactive in the journey process.  Brainwaves will fluctuate back and forth across the alpha-theta boundary as both participants move deeper into the journey.

The ability to generate theta and remain consciously aware has been demonstrated by yogis and experienced meditators.  It's almost like falling asleep, but then something else happens, a lucidity.  In order to produce theta consciously it is necessary to quiet body, emotions and thoughts all at the same time.  This leads to integrative reverie, a deep focus of attention.  Training in theta reverie leads to integrative experiences of physical and psychological well-being.

What we sense and control is not the brainwave itself, but the state of consciousness, a gestalt of subtle existential cues.  The production of the brainwaves themselves do not constitute a "state", as such. Brainwaves, in and of themselves, have no sensory representation.  What can be detected and restructured are factors such as focus of attention, thought processes, and feelings.  Theta training is awareness training, or level of awareness training, and facilitates creativity.

Theta rhythms are usually associated with near-unconscious or subliminally conscious states.  The presence of theta is often accompanied by hypnagogic or dreamlike images.  It is  not a daydream-type experience, but a projection of impulses from unconscious sources.  Although most untrained people are unable to maintain full consciousness during theta production, almost everyone maintains awareness during alpha.

In CRP there is a spontaneous rapport which kindles the participants’ oscillatory harmonization and entrainment with one another.  Theta probably does not occur in the subject until the later portion of the journey when the rapid eye movement indicative of REM, alpha waves, and the arousal phase has yielded to the profound paradoxical relaxation of chaotic consciousness.

Dr. Stanley Krippner has demonstrated the reality of dream telepathy in his research on the subject, and we suggest this is the mechanism of co-consciousness in the mentoring of journeys.  Ervin Laszlo (1996) has also attributed these properties to an existentially fundamental "psi field," which he likens to Jung's alchemical notion of unus mundus, where the realms of mind and matter merge.  Such co-consciousness is a classical phenomenon in the practice of shamanism.

"In the 'experience of dual unity' a patient in an ASC [altered state of consciousness] experiences a loosening and melting of the boundaries of the body ego and a sense of merging with another person in a state of unity and oneness.  In this experience, despite the feeling of being fused with another, the patient retains an awareness of his or her own identity.  Then, in the experience of 'identification with other persons,' the patient, while merging experientially with another person, has a sense of complete identification to the point of losing the awareness of his or her own identity.  Identification is total and complex, involving body image, physical sensations, emotional reactions and attitudes, thought processes, memories, facial expression, typical gestures and mannerisms, postures, movement, and even the inflection of the voice.  The "other" or others can be someone in the presence of the patient or someone absent; he or she can be part of an experience from the subject's childhood, his or her ancestry, or even of a previous lifetime."

Lazlo goes on to recount Stan Grof's (1988) extensive work penetrating beyond normal limits of personal sensory experience into "biographic-recollection," perinatal, and transpersonal domains.  He reports identifications with groups and group consciousness, animals, plants and botanical processes, oneness with all life, and all kinds of natural processes, including waters of rivers and oceans, fire, earth and mountains; catastrophes such as storms, earthquakes, tornadoes, and volcanic phenomena, as well as specific materials like diamonds, crystals, and other metals.

In fact, such experiences extend into the microworld, involving the dynamic structure of DNA, molecules, atoms, interatomic bonds, electromagnetic forces, subatomic processes, and the zero-point field.  Cosmic dimensions include "planetary consciousness," and "extraterrestrial experiences" of stars, quasars, galaxies, even black holes, and "identification with the entire physical universe."  All these processes are experienced in CRP as part of the organism and psyche of the all-encompassing dynamic universal process, or holomovement.  These experiences are expanding, even spiritual, which begs the question of their source or origin.

Dr. Michael A. Persinger (1987) has demonstrated the temporal lobe as the biological basis of the spiritual experience, and intense meaning.  The hippocampus and amygdala are within the temporal lobe, and have to do with remembering and evaluation, reward and punishment.  The hippocampus becomes a gateway to the experience of images and its stimulation unleashes a vivid stream of past memories.    It can initiate inundations of imaginal imagery.

Hypnagogic imagery is produced during theta rhythm dominance in the temporal lobe.  Reverie or the “fringe of consciousness”, hypnagogic imagery, dreaming, and creativity are closely related.  When consciousness is alert but unfocused, alpha is found.  When a person becomes drowsy, or moves into a state of reverie, theta waves tend to appear.

As early as 1943, Kubie reports:

“The hypnagogic reverie might be called a dream without distortion.  Its immediate instigator is the day’s “unfinished business,” but like the dream it derives from more remote ‘unfinished business’ of an entire lifetime as well...Whatever the explanation...with [hypnagogic reverie] significant information about the past can be made readily and directly accessible without depending upon the interpretation...of dreams...It is probable that in this partial sleep, in this no-man’s land between sleeping and waking, a form of dissociation occurs which makes it possible to by-pass the more obstinate resistances which block our memories in states of full conscious awareness, and which contribute to the distortion of memory traces in dreams...”

Theta is associated with a deeply internalized state and with quieting of the body, emotions, and thoughts.  This allows usually unheard or unseen things to come to consciousness in the form of hypnagogic imagery. Typical imagery associated with theta is vague and diffuse, but includes a number of classical or archetypal features: images of tunnels, the experience of going through a dark tunnel, or a tunnel lighted at the far end; images of stairs or ladders and climbing up or down; images of a cave or pyramid; of eyes or a single eye, spirals or vortices, etc.

Hypnagogic imagery comes suddenly into the mind from some unconscious source; it may be visual, auditory or somatic, a fragrance or a taste.  It has an autonomous character, seeming to follow its own course independently.  Attempts to observe it too closely or control it voluntarily usually make it disappear.  Pilot studies show that theta training increases the ability to be aware of the images and hold them long enough to report the hypnapompic perceptions.

Many theta trainees report spontaneously “going down there” into the figure, "becoming," or merging with the image.  The borderline of alpha-theta means staying on that thin line between low-frequency alpha consciousness and high-frequency theta semi-consciousness.  The stream of dissociated thoughts and images is constant, perceived as an autonomous flow.  Images simply float by, coming to mind from an unknown source.

There may be dissociation from the body, and thoughts are quite detached--flowing along with the vague images with a feeling of perceptual change.  Some subjects report their focal point changing from being in front of the eyes to behind the eyes, and a slight falling feeling.

The amygdala is the control center of emotions and moods, the heights of euphoria and depths of depression.  Connections between the frontal lobes and temporal lobe means emotions become mixed with the experiences of the self.  Hippocampal cells display the highest electrical instability of all portions of the brain.  These cells are prone to repeated firing long after the stimulation has been removed.

The amygdala and the hippocampus can learn specific electrical patterns.  One of the most frequent electrical patterns generated from this lobe is called theta activity.  Theta is associated with alterations in temporal lobe function.   These waves occur during dreaming, creative thinking, and twilight states, according to Persinger.

Transient electrical perturbations of the human temporal lobe (TLT) result in emergence of innate feelings of the God Experience.  They range from mild cosmic highs, to knowledge infusions, to religious conversions, to peak experiences, and personal communions with God.

Psychic seizures appear without convulsions and the brain experiences vivid landscapes or the forms of living things, glowing forms, or bright, shining sources.  The modality of the experience, that is, whether it is experienced as a sound, a smell, a scene or vision, or an intense feeling, reflects the area of the electrical instability.  These endogenous sensory images are accompanied by a sense of conviction or meaningfulness, personal and profound significance.

The God Experience is a normal organized pattern of temporal lobe activity.  It can be precipitated by personal stress, or loss and the fear of anticipated death, or the awesomeness of nature or sexual experience.  It brings a sense of personal destiny; it feels ineffable as details remain fuzzy.  All one remembers is that something important, profound, or deeply spiritual took place.

These divine seizures bring seeming insight into another realm; feelings of intoxication, lightness, flying, moving, spinning, or even leaving the body (OBEs).  There is both a compulsive and euphoric factor--compulsive behaviors and thoughts, and euphoric or intermediately manic mood.  Personal and natural events become fraught with meaning or symbolism.  Fear and terror are also effects and frequent parts of the temporal lobe seizure experience.

Dreaming is intimately tied to the function of the temporal lobe because of the hippocampus-amygdala complex.  Stimulation of the temporal lobe region can unleash dreamlike experiences over which the person has little control.  Dream production can be induced directly by electrical peculiarities or by interfering with the chemical transmitters that effectively connect the neurons of the brain.  Certain drugs appear to induce dreams during the waking state, where they are experienced as real.  All human cultures have developed some form of meditational technique to enhance the experience.

Psychological addiction to this type of God Experience occurs because of the brain’s chemical reaction to the intense motor agitation or to the seizure.  The release of the brain’s own opiates can cause a narcotic high during the agitation in receptor sites for endogenous opiates within the amygdala.  Elevation of brainstem levels of norepinepherine elevate mood for several days to weeks.  The person can become addicted not only to the mystical experience but to the God high.

High altitudes, and low blood sugar can facilitate TLTs.  Since the temporal lobe is very sensitive to changes in hypoxia (lack of oxygen), blood sugar (hypoglycemia), and blood flow, situations that produce these are most correlated with the spiritual experience.  Another source of hypoxia is low-level breathing during meditation.  A person trained appropriately can drive the temporal lobe into bouts of theta activity.  Sometimes outright electrical seizures will occur, simultaneously with the meaningful experience.

Psychological stress, and radical existential change is the most common condition that facilitates the God Experience.  Elevation of stress hormones in the hippocampus and amygdala influence fantasies to be stored as actual memories; vivid and realistic dream images can burst into awareness.  In general, the more severe the disturbance, the more intense the God Experience.  The most profound occur after the sudden loss (death) of a close loved one.

Depending on the degree of hormonal arousal and the instability of the temporal lobe, the experience can occur due to simple cumulative effects.  They can be less spectacular, but just as impressive and meaningful.  Music can trigger TLTs in a sensitive brain.  Very loud sound patterns or flashing lights can drive the epileptic brain into seizures, as can repetitive sounds, such as white noise or mantras.  Conversely just the sound of coean waves or even a gentle stream creates a soothing feeling; when the negative ions from actual water are present, the effect is magnified into well-being.  Certain smells, perfume, or incense can be the trigger, as the temporal lobe is the “home” of olfaction. Thus, sensory cues can act as active drivers of theta.

In the context of the present hypothesis, there must be some feature of the temporal lobe that is involved with the experience or origin of the self-concept.  The adult’s sense of “body image” is associated with the parietal lobe.  But, for the first few months of life, the body image is not totally associated with the parietal, but is “stored” in the temporal lobe.  During the time the infant is dependent on the behaviors of the mother and father and the pattern of those behaviors, the temporal lobe integrates and grows with that information.

Body image and sense of self spontaneously emerge during the Consciousness Restructuring Process.  Usually locked away, they are there ready to be released by the appropriate key.  The key is the temporal lobe transient.  When it occurs the images and protosensations long locked within the old contexts of the temporal lobe are released.  The adult experiences the old sense of the infant self.  Basic images, long forgotten are retreived in the God Experience.  The infantile sense of self is permanently shaped and bound to the pattern of parental behavior.

In CRP journeys after an initial stage of arousal (fear and pain), there is a paradoxical switch to a deep state of tranquility and serenity, described as a healing place.  This switch is from the ergotrophic system to the tropotrophic system of arousal.


REFERENCES

Green, Elmer and Alyce (1977); Beyond Biofeedback; San Francisco:Delacorte Press.

Grof, Stanislav (1988); The Adventure of Self-Discovery; Albany, New York: SUNY Press.

Krippner, Stanley, Ullman, Montague (1973); Dream Telepathy; New York: Macmillan Publishing Co.

Laszlo, Ervin (1996); "Subtle connections: psi, Grof, Jung, and the quantum vacuum; Dynapsych
http://www.goertzel.org/dynapsych/1996/subtle.html

Persinger, Michael A. (1987);Neuropsychological Bases of God Beliefs; New York: Praeger.

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