Academic journal article The Journal of Parapsychology

Yogic Attainment in Relation to Awareness of Precognitive Targets (1)

Academic journal article The Journal of Parapsychology

Yogic Attainment in Relation to Awareness of Precognitive Targets (1)

Article excerpt

During the 1970s interest in maximising psi awareness focused on altered states of consciousness (Braud, 1974, 1978; Honorton, 1977; Tart, 1969, 1975; Ullman & Krippner, 1979). Part of this program of research investigated meditation as a psi-conducive state (for reviews see Braud, 1989; Honorton, 1977; Schmeidler, 1994). Most of the research used beginners in meditation and only a handful of studies were run, with mixed results that do, however, give highly significant results on a combined analysis (Honorton, 1977). Consciousness research is central in parapsychology. In the 1970s, Braud (1974) introduced the concept of the psi-conducive state. This is a model that has driven much of the parapsychological research into altered states of consciousness as a state conducive to the experience of psychic phenomena. The model states that psi functioning is enhanced when there is: (1) cortical arousal sufficient to maintain conscious awareness, (2) muscular relaxation, (3) reduction of sensory input, and (4) internal attention--in other words, when the receiver is in a state of sensory relaxation and is minimally influenced by ordinary perception and proprioception (Braud, 1975). At the same time, Honorton (1981) was developing his model of internal attention states from his readings of the classic yoga text known as Patanjali's sutras. These sutras (Satyananda, 1982) state that when one attains samadhi the "siddhis" (psychic powers) manifest. Meditation techniques take us into a state of consciousness that is considered traditionally to be a heightened, or even advanced, state of consciousness. In meditation there is internal noise reduction, external noise reduction, and various psychophysiological correlates, such as alpha rhythm and increased skin resistance, that have been found to be associated with greater psi awareness (Honorton, 1977). A full discussion of Patanjali's yoga sutras in relation to psi research has been provided by Braud (2006).

During the 1970s and 1980s, several experiments were conducted suggesting that meditation might help one to attain a state of consciousness conducive to psychic (psi) awareness. (2) In this early research, the unspoken assumption was that merely practicing meditation would enhance psychic awareness. The first study was by Schmeidler (1970). She reported that students obtained significant ESP scores (p = .01) after they had been instructed by a swami in pranayama (breathing techniques) and meditation. The pre-meditation scores were at chance. Dukhan and Rao (1973) also tested for pre- and post-meditation psi scoring. They worked with Western and Indian students in an ashram in South India using a combination of meditation practices. Beginners and more advanced meditators both obtained highly significant psi-missing prior to meditation (beginners, p = [10.sup.-6]; advanced, p = .012) and significant psi-hitting after meditation (beginners and advanced, p = [10.sup.-4]). Roll and Zill (1981) also found a significant difference, with the participants once again scoring negatively before the meditation and positively after. They did not specify the degree of meditation skill of the participants. They stated that they consider these results due more to the participants conforming to the experimenters' wishes than to the effect of meditation per se, because the significance of the study was primarily due to the decreased scoring before the meditation. Compliance with experimenters' wishes is an effect of which one must always be aware.

In contrast, Stanford and Palmer (1973) worked with a single participant (Bessent) who meditated before the ESP session and whose EEG was being monitored. In those sessions in which he produced relatively high alpha waves, he showed stronger psi (p < .005).

As well as exploring with different types of participants, experimenters also worked with both forced-choice and free-response methodology. Rao, Dukhan, and Rao (1978) tested participants both before and after a half-hour meditation session. …

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