Navigating in Nonphysical Reality (Part 2 of 2)
Improving Tools and Better Maps
By Matthew Joyce
The secret to Captain James Cook’s success in charting the Pacific came largely from the improved tools he had at his disposal. By the early 1700s sailors benefited from maps that noted the variations between magnetic and true north at different locations around the world. This made using a compass much more reliable. Secondly and even more importantly, Cook used a device called a chronometer, a seaman’s clock accurate to a fraction of a second per day. This meant he knew the “exact time” when charting the sun and the stars, and that he could calculate his longitude based on times and distances traveled. Cook’s methods and the resulting maps were so accurate that they revolutionized the nature of navigation around the world.
Navigation in nonphysical reality didn’t make a comparable leap until the 1920s when Austrian psychiatrist Hans Berger invented the electroencephalograph (EEG), a device designed to monitor and measure the electrical signals naturally produced by the human brain. An EEG uses a series of electrodes placed on the person’s scalp to detect the number of signals in a second and then sends them to a device that converts the signals into a series of continuous wavy lines marked on graph paper.
The common name for this measurement is Hertz (Hz), named after Heinrich Hertz, the German scientist who defined the cycles. Over time doctors and scientists noticed that different states of consciousness are associated with certain brainwave frequencies. They also discovered that these frequencies were linked to certain physiological changes like your heart rate, breathing, etc, as well as to behaviors, feelings, and perceptions of reality, both while awake and asleep.
As researchers made this correlation they began to create the first scientific maps of human consciousness. They divided consciousness into four primary types based on differing ranges of brainwave frequencies. These four states of consciousness were then named after the Greek letters, D, T, A, B for Delta (0.5-4 Hz), Theta (4-7 Hz) , Alpha (7-14 Hz), and Beta (14-27 Hz).
Because the brainwaves at the edges of these frequency bands overlap with one another, some researchers-just like early cartographers-decided to draw the line between states at slightly different points. Nonetheless, we can now characterize the various mental states associated with each range of frequencies. Let’s take a quick look at each.
Beta is your normal waking state. In Beta you are simultaneously aware of your external environment and your internal thinking processes to one degree or another. Beta frequencies change depending on your mood and level of concentration. So even though you are awake, your EEG readings would show slightly different frequencies depending on whether you were intently concentrating on a task, pondering a decision, or feeling anxious about something in your life.
When you close your eyes or simply turn your attention inward, your brainwaves begin to slow down and you enter into the Alpha level of consciousness. In the early stages (12-14 Hz) your body relaxes and your mind quiets down, but you remain alert to your five physical senses. This is the place of brainstorming, day dreaming, and reverie. It’s also an excellent point for balancing your logical left brain with your creative right brain, which can lead to flashes of insight and moments of genius.
Slightly slower Alpha brainwaves of 10-12 Hz mark the balance point between being awake and asleep. Your awareness of the outside world begins to fade and your mind comes alive with creative ideas and visions called hypnogogic images. Because the balance here is delicate you might quickly fall asleep or pop back awake. It’s a nether region, and sleep subjects who are awakened at this point, insist they weren’t asleep, but often admit they weren’t exactly awake either.
If you can maintain these brain frequencies in a waking state for a prolonged time, it’s a great state for light meditation, intuitive knowing, and hypnotic suggestions. If you fall asleep and then become aware again without fully waking up, you’ve entered the realm of lucid dreams-the state where you know you’re dreaming but you don’t wake up. This is the doorway to “altered states” of consciousness.
When your brainwaves slow to 8-10 Hz you’ve most likely drifted into a light sleep. But you might not realize it, since you’re still aware of sounds and voices around you. For those who remain awake at this stage, meditation becomes even deeper and creativity and intuition are further enhanced.
When your brainwaves slow below 7 Hz, you’ve moved from an alpha to a theta state. At this point your awareness of the outside world drops away and your conscious focuses on inner realms. Beyond this point is considered true sleep. However, it’s also possible to reach Theta states during very deep meditation (body asleep-mind awake).
Theta consciousness is associated with out-of-body experiences, spiritual visions, and shamanic journeys. It is also a state from which come great inventions, inspiring music and art, and deep personal insights.
Theta is the realm of dreams, great mental creativity, intuition, and spiritual connection. On this level of consciousness we can experience entire worlds that are so convincing to our five senses that we accept them to be as real as our waking life-even if it at times we perform seemingly illogical acts like flying or instantly changing locations.
In a non-sleep state, Theta consciousness is associated with out-of-body experiences, spiritual visions, and shamanic journeys. It is also a state from which come great inventions, inspiring music and art, and deep personal insights.
When your brainwaves slow even further and roll along between 0.5 and 4 Hz, you’re in Delta sleep. This is the deepest part of sleep and when your body is completely relaxed. It’s a time when your physical body recuperates and regenerates for the next day. Your mind shows virtually no sign of mental or emotional processes, and you have no sense of passing time. It’s very difficult to wake someone up when they’re in delta sleep.
When delta brainwaves are present in combination with other brainwaves while you’re awake, they help you to access the deepest levels of your unconscious mind and provide access to long-term memories, as well as feelings of empathy, intuition, and a sense of knowing that doesn’t result from a direct thought process.
For those capable of reaching delta levels in meditation, this tends to be an experience of either white light or total blackness, a welcoming and pregnant void where anything and everything are possible. It is the goal of many meditators to reach this level while remaining consciously aware of it.
For many years it was assumed that Delta brainwaves were the slowest frequencies of brainwave activity, but recent studies with modified EEG equipment have revealed additional patterns. These frequencies are measured not in cycles per second as beta, alpha, theta, and delta are, but rather in seconds per cycle. These ultra-slow frequencies may be one frequency per every 2 to 60 seconds, or even longer. These states seem to correspond to some yogic states of suspended animation associated with exceedingly deep meditation and out-of-body experiences. Because they are even slower than delta frequencies they’ve been dubbed Epsilon states (since epsilon is the letter that follows delta in the Greek alphabet).
Scientific studies have also identified states of consciousness correlated with brainwave frequencies higher-than-Beta. These frequencies can reach as high as 100 Hz or more. Known as gamma frequencies they seem to be associated with states of consciousness in which all the senses merge together into an overriding awareness of unity with all that is perceived-the unity consciousness spoke of in many spiritual traditions.
Circular, Linked, and Multiple Frequencies
Interestingly, the experiences reported by people who’ve accessed high Gamma states of consciousness correspond with reports from people who’ve experienced Epsilon consciousness. This circular link seems to indicate that ultra-high Gamma brainwave frequencies may be carried on or embedded within super slow Epsilon fluctuations.
These frequency bands help scientists to understand the biophysics of brain functioning when humans access these states of consciousness. But creating a map of varying stages of consciousness is not the same thing as using that map to navigate nonphysical reality. So the EEG and its resulting breakthrough in understanding only took us so far in our quest for better navigational tools for nonphysical reality.
Advancing Navigational Aids
A significant advance in nonphysical navigation came in 1973 when biophysicist Gerald Oster at New York’s Mt. Sinai Hospital documented how a phenomenon known as a binaural beat causes the brain to begin resonating in tune with the frequency of the beat. In other words, he scientifically explained how by listening to specific sounds people could enter various states of beta, alpha, theta, delta, or gamma consciousness.
Of course, other cultures have known about this phenomena for millennia. Since time immemorial indigenous shamans, Tibetan monks, Hindu yogis, and Sufi mystics have used drumming and chanting to enter specific states of consciousness, promote healing, and achieve yogic powers known as siddhis.
The ground work for Oster’s advance was actually laid in 1839 when German physicist Heinrich Wilhelm Dove observed that when a slightly different sound frequency was played into each ear, a third frequency equal to the difference between the first two frequencies was “heard.” This third sound, called a binaural beat, results from the interaction of the two main frequencies within the brain. For example, if a person heard a sound at 600 Hertz in one ear and a sound at 610 Hertz in the other year, the brain would “hear” a third frequency of 10 Hertz.
Continued listening to a binaural beat caused the brain waves of test subjects to shift to that frequency, according to the EEG readings.
The concept of binaural beats was considered little more than a scientific oddity for some 130 years until Oster combined binaural beats with EEG readings to demonstrate that when subjects listened to binaural beats produced by playing sustained and distinct sounds in each ear, such as through stereo headphones, they experienced a frequency following response. That is, continued listening to a binaural beat of 10 Hertz caused the brain waves of test subjects to shift to that frequency, according to the EEG readings. When Oster shifted the frequency of the binaural beat, the subjects’ brain waves shifted accordingly, inducing the corresponding state of consciousness.
Whereas EEG readings may have been the equivalent of Cook creating workable maps, the discovery of the frequency following response was to spiritual explorers the equivalent of equipping sailors with the compass, sextant, chronometer, and other tools that made it possible for them to find their desired locations again and again. In other words, with the discovery of the frequency following response, states of consciousness were no longer wandering islands. Those states of consciousness could be induced at will in virtually anyone who cared to experience them.
Coming in Part Three
Technologically induced states of consciousness
Mapping nonphysical reality
Techniques for accessing and revisiting higher states of consciousness
How to navigate by thought
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