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Consciousness

When You Die, You Might Know That You’re Dead. Scientists Discover Signs of Life After Death

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It’s one of the biggest mysterious in human history: What happens when we die? Does ‘consciousness’ cease to exist, because it’s a product of the brain? Or does consciousness remain, because it does not require the brain or any other physical organ to exist? It’s hard to tell, because we don’t really have any specific tool for measuring consciousness, but things are changing. Non-material science is really starting to take giant leaps forward, and more studies are emerging every year suggesting that a persons’s consciousness continues to work after the body has died.

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The newest one comes from a team from New York University’s Lagone School of Medicine. They investigated twin studies from Europe and the United States that looked at people who suffered cardiac arrest, flatlined, and then came back to life. We’re talking about people whose hearts have stopped; once this happens, blood no longer circulates to the brain, which means brain function is also completely dead.

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As reported by Live Science, “The brain’s cerebral cortex — the so-called “thinking part” of the brain — also slows down instantly, and flatlines, meaning that no brainwaves are visible on an electric monitor, within 2 to 20 seconds. This initiates a chain reaction of cellular processes that eventually result in the death of brain cells, but that can take hours after the heart has stopped.”

The study, conducted in 2008, was the largest of its kind. It involved 2,060 patients from 15 different hospitals in the United Kingdom, United States, and Austria, and it emphasized the need for more studies of its kind to focus on cardiac arrest when asking these questions, because it is biologically synonymous with death.

The study found, as have several others, that many of these patients were still aware and able to see following their biological death, but from “outside” their body, so to speak.

The portion of the study that focused on UK cases, which was conducted over a four year period by researchers at the University of Southhampton, found that nearly 40% of people who survived described some type of ‘awareness’ during the time they were pronounced clinically dead, before their hearts were restarted.

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For example, one patient, who was a 57 year old man at the time, despite being pronounced dead and completely unconscious, with no detectable biological activity going on, recalled watching the entire process of his resuscitation.

The study’s authors argue this “merits a genuine investigation without prejudice.”

When science examines non-material concepts such as this, it is often hindered by skeptics who are unable to set aside their beliefs in the quest for truth, which is perhaps why we have labels like “pseudoscience” draped upon concepts that have gone through rigorous investigation, and shown to be repeatable.

Dr. Sam Parnia, the study’s lead author, states:

We know the brain can’t function when the heart has stopped beating. . . . But in this case conscious awareness appears to have continued for up to three minutes into the period when the heart wasn’t beating, even though the brain typically shuts down within 20-30 seconds after the heart has stopped.

The man described everything that had happened in the room, but importantly, he heard two bleeps from a machine that makes a noise at three-minute intervals. So we could time how long the experienced lasted for.

He seemed very credible and everything that he said had happened to him had actually happened.

He went on to emphasize the significance of these results, since this phenomenon has often been associated with hallucinations or illusions. Yet we now have proof this might not be the case.

Out of the approximate 2,000 cardiac arrest patients, a staggering 330 survived, and 140 of those 330 experienced some type of awareness during the time they were clinically, biologically dead.

According to Live Science, Parnia and his colleagues are continuing on with their investigations into consciousness after death, including observing the brain in detail during the period of cardiac arrest, death, and revival so they can better understand how much oxygen is actually reaching the brain.

Parnia says, “In the same way that a group of researchers might be studying the qualitative nature of the human experience of ‘love,’ for instance, we’re trying to understand the exact features that people experience when they go through death, because we understand that this is going to reflect the universal experience we’re all going to have when we die.”

The Problem of Consciousness

Fascinating, isn’t it? How could almost half of these patients experience awareness during death if something extraordinary weren’t going on here? There are two possible explanations — either they are experiencing something phenomenal, and consciousness does continue on after death, or the slight brain activity that is going on is creating the experience. The latter is harder to believe, given the fact that if there is any brain activity happening beyond our ability to detect it, it’s minuscule. How could so little brain activity provide such an experience? How do we even know that there is any brain activity at all given the fact that it cannot be measured? Remember, these people were biologically dead.

The first is more believable, particularly if we correlate these findings to others within the realms of neuroscience and quantum physics. When it comes to quantum physics, according to Eugene Wignor, “it was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.”

Consciousness, according to many within the field, including the founding father of quantum mechanics, Max Planck, is the backbone of physical material matter, in that consciousness is first required for the creation of physical matter, not the other way around. So, if we take a quantum perspective and lay it over the above cardiac arrest study, it suggests that physical matter is not required for consciousness to exist, and this is perhaps what these doctors, patients, and researchers have found.

Dr. Eben Alexander is a Harvard trained brain neurosurgeon who published a book titled “Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife.” He once believed that consciousness was a product of our biology, but that all changed when he fell into a coma for seven days that was caused by severe bacterial meningitis, during which time he experienced himself outside of his body.

He explained the problem of consciousness succinctly in a lecture he gave about his experience a few years ago:

There are a lot of scientists around the world who realize that when you start getting into the mystery of consciousness, which in essence is the only thing anyone of us truly knows exists, and trying to see exactly what consciousness is, it’s kind of like asking a fish what it’s like in the water. We are so close to it that there’s no way to really separate it out. I assure you that the only thing you’ve ever really known is your own consciousness.

Here is a video of Dr. Bruce Greyson speaking at a conference held by the UN. He’s a professor emeritus of psychiatry and neurobehavioral science at the University of Virginia. In the video, he describes many instances of individuals who are able to describe things that should have been impossible to describe.

It was also encouraging to hear him mention how this type of study has been discouraged due to our tendency to view science as completely materialistic.

You can read more about that in this article.

The simple fact that “consciousness” itself is a non-physical “thing” is troubling for some scientists to consider, and as a result of it being non-material, they believe it cannot be studied by science. But this isn’t true. Studies like the one above and many more have shown that we can actually measure non-physical phenomenon in several ways.

“Some materialistically inclined scientists and philosophers refuse to acknowledge these phenomena because they are not consistent with their exclusive conception of the world. Rejection of post-materialist investigation of nature or refusal to publish strong science findings supporting a post-materialist framework are antithetical to the true spirit of science inquiry, which is that empirical data must always be adequately dealt with. Data which do not fit favoured theories and beliefs cannot be dismissed as priori. Such dismissal is the realm of ideology, not science.”

– Dr. Gary Schwartz, professor of psychology, medicine, neurology, psychiatry, and surgery at the the University of Arizona

Below is a great lecture from him discussing the anomaly of consciousness, where he explores whether it exists independently of our biology or not.

 

 

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Consciousness

Studies Show That Writing In A Journal Can Benefit Your Emotional & Physical Well-Being

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If you have read any of my previous articles, you may already know that I am a huge advocate of keeping a journal, or diary or notebook – whichever term you like best to describe the act of writing out your thoughts on paper, or if you prefer, typing them out on a screen.

Personally, journaling is something that has helped me get through some really tough times in my life and is also a great tool for just allowing some new perspective and a space to vent without judgment or advice. But for all of those skeptics out there who don’t understand how something like this could actually help, well, there’s science to prove it.

Scientific Evidence To Prove How Journaling Helps

Psychologists from the University of California were able to investigate the effect of journaling by inviting 20 volunteers to visit the lab for a brain scan before asking them to write for 20 minutes a day for four consecutive days. Half of the participants wrote about a fairly recent emotional experience, while the other half of the participants wrote about something neutral.

Those who chose to write about an emotional experience showed more activity in the part of the brain called the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex. In turn, this relaxed neural activity that is linked to strong emotional feelings.

According to Lieberman, men seemed to benefit from writing about their feelings more so than women, and writing by hand seemed to have a bigger effect than typing on a keyboard. That’s an interesting note: could men benefit from journaling more because in general they tend to keep their feelings to themselves? A journal can certainly act as a safe space for emotionally deprived men to vent.

“Men tend to show greater benefits and that is a bit counterintuitive. But the reason might be that women more freely put their feelings into words, so this is less of a novel experience for them. For men it’s more of a novelty,” Lieberman said.

Aside from drastic improvements to your mood and emotional well-being, writing out your thoughts and feelings regularly can actually benefit your physical health as well. Journaling can increase your chance of fighting specific diseases like asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, AIDS and cancer. Amazingly, it can even help physical wounds heal faster.

A study conducted in 2013 found that 76% of adults who spent 20 minutes a day journaling for three days in a row before a scheduled medical biopsy were fully healed 11 days later. On the other hand, 58% of the control group had not yet recovered. The study concluded that just one hour of writing about a distressing event helped the participants to better understand the events and reduce stress levels.

Lead researcher on expressive writing at the University of Texas and author of Writing To Heal, James W. Pennebaker, has found that by translating our experiences into our own language by writing it out, we are able to make the experience more comprehendible.

Pennebaker says: “Emotional upheavals touch every part of our lives. You don’t just lose a job, you don’t just get divorced. These things affect all aspects of who we are — our financial situation, our relationships with others, our views of ourselves…writing helps us focus and organize the experience.”

The Most Efficient Way To Cope With A Big Life Change Is To Journal

Journaling will help you to get over a break-up or cope with other up and down relationships in your life. While it may seem to be overanalyzing, studies have shown that venting about a past relationship actually helps to speed up emotional recovery and can help build a stronger sense of self-identity following a break-up. I don’t know about you, but this is something that I wish I would have done after break-ups that leave you feeling lost and like you don’t know who you are anymore.

By venting I don’t mean to your friends. While this certainly can help, the act of writing, with a pen or pencil, will provide you with the most health benefits.

“Writing accesses the left hemisphere of the brain, which is analytical and rational,” Maud Purcell, a psychotherapist and journaling expert, told Fast Company. “While your left brain is occupied, your right brain is free to do what it does best, i.e. create, intuit, and feel. In this way, writing removes mental blocks and allows us to use more of our brainpower to better understand ourselves and the world around us.”

Journaling Can Provide Long-Term Benefits

Journaling helps you to cope with the experience at hand but it can also help to prepare you to face similar experiences in the future.

“Journal therapy is all about using personal material as a way of documenting an experience, and learning more about yourself in the process,” Kathleen Adams, a psychotherapist and author of Journal to the Self, told the Huffington Post. “It lets us say what’s on our minds and helps us get — and stay — healthy through listening to our inner desires and needs.”

The process of journaling allows you to get to know yourself through your feelings and experiences. It’s just plain and simply writing out your feelings. This is different than just thinking because it is more streamline; you aren’t going back and forth or writing the same thing down over and over again.

You can start right now, or the next time you’re feeling particularly stressed about something. It’s so simple you might as well give it a shot! What do you have to lose? It just might help you more than you might have imagined! Plus, wouldn’t it be fun to look back at the big events that happened in your life in 20 years or longer and see how you were able to deal with the situations? It could even provide you with some insight on how to handle situations you are faced with in the future.

We are constantly being faced with challenges. This is what life is all about, but our reactions to those challenges is what defines who we are. Are we strong and capable or are we weak and playing a victim? The choice is ours!

Much Love

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Consciousness

Loneliness: A Health Problem That Could Be Deadlier Than Obesity, Study Says

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Loneliness can reliably be linked to a significant increase in the risk of early mortality, according to a study at Brigham Young University. Head author, Julianne Holt-Lunstad, notes that “substantial evidence now indicates that individuals lacking social connections (both objective and subjective social isolation) are at risk for premature mortality.”

Holt-Lunstad believes the risks associated with loneliness are already greater than such established dangers as obesity:

Several decades ago scientists who observed widespread dietary and behavior changes raised warnings about obesity and related health problems. The present obesity epidemic had been predicted. Obesity now receives constant coverage in the media and in public health policy. The current status of research on the risks of loneliness and social isolation is similar to that of research on obesity 3 decades ago… Current evidence indicates that heightened risk for mortality from a lack of social relationships is greater than that from obesity.

Furthermore, she warns that “researchers have predicted that loneliness will reach epidemic proportions by 2030 unless action is taken.”

Why Are We So Isolated From Each Other?

From the long view, it can be said that Western civilization as a whole has fostered a gradual disintegration of our physical and social ties. With an emphasis on individual goals and an almost fanatical regard for personal achievement, the traditional institutions of family and community and their capacity to provide their members with a sense of belonging and shared purpose have become significantly fragmented.

The family unit has gone from large generations-linked mutual support systems to small and immediate units, sometimes involving single parents whose necessities make it very difficult to create a stable home environment for their children. Add to that the fact that more and more people are not even building families, and our society has more people living alone than at any other time in history. This includes the elderly, who are less likely to find a ‘fit’ living within their children’s families than ever before.

The decline of the ‘community’ is perhaps as significant as the disintegration of the family unit. In Western-style communities, people work as a collection of individual units interacting by specific functions rather than as an interrelated whole with a significant shared identity. Naturally, attempts are made today to join or build ‘communities’ all the time, but like the Meetup model, they are founded on the gathering of select people with similar interests and purposes, rather than a shared embrace of all people within a certain geographical area.

The Rise of Social Media

I believe the rise in prominence of social media has in part been fuelled by the sense of alienation we have long felt within our modern society. I don’t believe social media is the root cause of our loneliness, as some speculate, but rather a symptom of this much longer-standing social problem. Connecting via chats and web pages is just something that we have gotten into the habit of reaching for since it is so immediately accessible. But like any quick fix, it does not end up fulfilling our deeper needs, either individually or as a society.

If we see that our society has been slowly disintegrating over hundreds of years, then it becomes incumbent upon us as a society (if we can still even identify ourselves with our ‘society’) to take measures to remedy this situation. What those measures might be, though, given how things seem to be trending, is a matter of great conjecture.

On Being Alone  

One approach is to first acknowledge that Western society’s emphasis on the individual is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I believe that the development of personal integrity, creativity, and autonomy is a critical step in the evolution of human consciousness. Learning how to be alone with oneself is a part of that process. In his work entitled Pensées, French philosopher Blaise Pascal observed that “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”

As evidenced by Eastern gurus and mystics, one can be perfectly content in isolation. This can be greatly facilitated by the practice of meditation and other such methods that give us a direct perception of our energetic connectedness not only with other people, but with all things. In this higher state, the damaging emotional impact of loneliness and social isolation are not experienced.

Our Next Step

Still, the life of the yogi remains for the few. The rest of us, it seems, have come to this planet to interact, share, and love. And we have not incarnated into this dense physical world to get better at virtual relationships. At this stage, we have perhaps gotten a bit too accustomed to social isolation for our own good.

Holt-Lunstad notes that “although living alone can offer conveniences and advantages for an individual, this meta-analysis indicates that physical health is not among them.” She also cites another study that “has demonstrated higher survival rates for those who are more socially connected.” And then there is the seminal 75-Year Harvard University study, where “it was universally clear that without loving and supportive relationships, men in the study were not happy.” The message is becoming clear: we need to come together.

We are perhaps at a larger turning point in our development than most of us realize. It seems that we have reached the extreme edge of the exploration of individualism, and we are readying to move into greater balance with a collective identity. This is not a return to traditional ways, but rather a synthesis of our growth as individuals with the shared experience we are now hungering for. This synthesis signifies the next stage of our evolution.

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Consciousness

How I Induced An Out Of Body Experience Without Substances

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Can you really have an out of body experience on command? Absolutely. While this is something that will take some time to practice and get good at, there are many methods to having out of body experiences or spiritual experiences on command using only your consciousness and physical body.

There is also a purpose to these experiences; they aren’t simply to trip out (although if you wish to do that it’s up to you). These experiences can help you dissolve fears, move past trauma, expand your consciousness and much more. I personally don’t feel inspired to do anything other than explore and expand myself when I engage in experiences like this.

Many of the stories you hear of out of body experiences happen through dreams, near death experiences, from the state between sleep and awake, and when people experiment with psychedelics like magic mushrooms, DMT or ayahuasca. But we are capable of having out-of-body experiences with just our thoughts, breath and consciousness.

Why These Experiences Can Be Helpful

I say “CAN BE” helpful because they have that ability, but it doesn’t mean we always use it. We may want to explore a past trauma, and meditation or OBE’s could help us do that, but if we don’t use them for this purpose or do the work afterwards they won’t be helpful. Likewise with any substance like ayahuasca, mushrooms or DMT. They don’t do the work for you and don’t save you. You still have to do the work afterwards and it’s for this exact reason that most people who experiment with these substances or experiences still don’t make shifts in their lives because it’s still work. And it’s the work that we often aren’t willing to do that stops us from moving forward.

Your intention for wanting to have these experiences is important. Sometimes when we think about psychedelics or having out of body experiences we are seeking a trippy-like experience out of curiosity. And that’s totally fine. Curiosity can be how we explore and learn things. But while it may be fun to play a couple times, I generally say it isn’t the best motivation for wanting to have these experiences. I typically tend to encourage people to reflect on a deeper sense of exploration and growth within ourselves when it comes to exploring our consciousness, which is a big part of what we do in CE’s Explorer Lounge you can check out here.

The reason why I believe focusing on having a trippy experience is not ideal is because I have seen many people get lost in the need to just experiencing something trippy. Not only that, but it can often become an escape from the challenges we face. Which is why I feel society utilizes cannabis, alcohol, TV and food addictively.

DMT, mushrooms, Ayahuasca and so forth were initially put on this planet when we had difficult times exploring our consciousness and external tools assisted us in doing that. Today, a resurgence of these substances is taking place as people’s curiosity to explore is once again popular. After all, there is a shift in consciousness taking place.

However, I do not believe we still need these substances today in order to have these types of consciousness based experiences. While I think they can be helpful for some of us who are in difficult situations like drug addiction or have serious trauma from war or violent experiences, I feel we are all very equipped within ourselves to explore without them, and I’m personally inspired to encourage that.

Ultimately it’s not as much about any substance or experience as it is about what the end goal helps us to see – more about ourselves. They tell us to look within to find answers and move past our challenges. So many experiences in life are all pushing us to do that exact same thing, look within. Our core teaching here at Collective Evolution is change starts within. All for the reason that it’s at the core of how we will create a profound shift in our lives and on this planet. So what can we take from this?

If we know the core truth is about us looking within, why not just begin looking there right now?

How I Created my Own Out Of Body Experience

I was in California, attending Wim Hof’s retreat in Beverly Hills. It was day two and we were doing a breathing exercise that was about focusing on energy in our body and learning how to control and use it.

At the Wim Hof retreat in California.

There was a focus on utilizing it to activate our pineal gland in such a way that may or may not release a little bit of DMT in your brain, allowing us to have some form of experience that would be beyond the physical. I would like to say at this point that this is certainly not the core message of Wim’s work, nor is it something that I think the method is truly for. It’s simply something that you can use in order to obtain this result. These forms of breathing exercises are not new either, they have been used by yogi’s and “guru’s” for many years to attain different states of consciousness.

There were about 60 of us, we were in a beautiful room with 15 foot ceilings and the sun was shining in through the side windows. I was laying flat on my back on a yoga mat patiently waiting for the exercise to start. This would not be the first time I was going to have an out of body experience, but it would be the first I would attempt on command. My previous experiences came from dream-states, meditation or simply.. happening.

We began with Wim’s standard method of breathing. Heavy breaths in and out of the mouth. Stomach, chest, head, out. After about 8 minutes of this, I went into my breath holds (as part of his method) and I began to focus energy from around the base of my spine and brought it up my back, into my brain and ‘pinged’ my pineal gland with it.

As I brought the energy up into my pineal gland I felt what I had felt in the past with these types of experiences. Ringing and vibrations in my body and mind starting to increase. With my eyes closed, I began to see the room. I could feel my essence slowly leaving my body up straight into the air. It moved slowly and peacefully. It wasn’t a fast jolt or ‘uncontrollable’ in a sense, it was very light.

The pineal gland.

As I drifted upwards more and more I eventually made it to the ceiling and rested there. What happened next was what you might experience in deep meditation which is having all of your thoughts emotions set aside and you begin to feel like a massive, massive, massive presence that is so far beyond your physical body that you no longer identify with being a physical body. You begin to realize you are a vast consciousness that is pure unconditional love and pure potential.

From this state of being you have the ability to utilize your awareness to look at your life, situations, the planet or whatever it may be from a completely non-judgmental and unconditionally loving way so as to deeply understand why things happen. You gain clarity and awareness as to how you may move forward with something from this space. These experiences help us to get a glimpse at what is beyond the stories and the drama of our minds. This is VERY powerful in clearing our fears, worries, and traumas.

Back to my experience here. As I continued to feel immense at the top of the ceiling, I could see all of the bodies in the room having their own experience. I felt connected to them, the building, and everything around us. The difference between myself and everything else drifted away, and I was simply an essence or consciousness observing. This, is precisely how I know experientially that consciousness does not originate in the mind but is our existence. Mainstream science has not caught up to this understanding yet but it’s getting close, and that is very inspiring.

After what could have been 10 or so minutes, I slowly came back down into my physical body and began to integrate back into it. I opened my eyes and began to feel the desire to go outside and enjoy the sunlight. I felt slightly emotional at this point as I had gotten a glimpse of the difference between feeling fully clear outside of my body vs feeling certain emotional pains and mind stories that were in my physical body. This right here, is where the magic is. This is how we see more clearly what it is that we are being challenged by and have a reference point to compare what letting it go feels like.

Concluding Thoughts

When you are in meditation, you are able to re-tune into these types of higher states of consciousness and be an observer looking back at the challenges you face at any moment in your life. With detachment from them you can ask yourself how you created or co-created the experience you are having and what lesson is in it for you. How does it serve you? How can you move forward with action and so forth? You can see the greater workings and perfection that comes with these experiences to help you move beyond them.

So that’s pretty well it! Utilize and explore these experiences with clear intentions of evolving yourself and you will have the best results in not only creating these experiences but attaining more peace in your life. Have fun and keep exploring!

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