The desire to reach a modified state of consciousness has been present since the beginning of human history. To modify their level of consciousness, human beings use meditation, religious rites, sleep deprivation and many other methods. Stanley Krippner has identified more than twenty modified states of consciousness.
The most common is dreaming (see later in this chapter the section “Arriving Naked at Work: Dreams”). But here are the most intriguing of those Krippner identified: Ecstasy: an intense sensation of irresistible emotion, perceived as pleasant and positive. According to reported experiences,
ecstasy can occur as a result of sexual intercourse, ritual dances, religious rites or the absorption of psychoactive substances. Meditative state: minimal mental activity involving a reduction in mental imagery (images you “see” in your head) and can be achieved through meditation, yoga or even prayer. Trance state: a highly suggestible waking state. An individual in a trance state is focused on a single stimulus and unconscious of everything else in his or her environment.
Some people who have reached this state claim to have become one with the world. Religious rites, sacred chanting, hypnosis, brainwashing and even music can induce a trance state. Waking dream: rapid thoughts that have no connection with the individual’s current environment. Waking dreaming can be caused by boredom, sensory isolation and sleep deprivation. Expanded Consciousness: increased consciousness inaccessible in everyday life. All kinds of methods have been tested to broaden consciousness, from drug use to sensory isolation.
There are four levels of expanded consciousness: – sensory: modified apprehension of space, time and other sensory phenomena. – recollection-analytical: an experience in which the individual acquires new ideas and revelations about himself, the world and his role in it. – symbolic: identification with a historical person or a famous person, accompanied by mystical symbols such as a vision of a crucifix or an angel.
integral: religious and/or mystical experience generally involving the presence of God or another supernatural force. The individual has the feeling of merging with the universe and becoming one with it. This state has also been referred to as “cosmic consciousness”. Krippner and other experts believe that very few individuals are capable of reaching this level of consciousness.