The Science of Consciousness
Meditation and Science
The Science of Consciousness
The science of consciousness – essentially, the study of how thoughts, emotions and beliefs affect the human body and the planet – is flourishing, and in so doing is ushering humankind into a staggering new definition of what it means to experience the self and the world. Quantum physics and neuroscience now support and continue to explore the idea that every thought sends out an electromagnetic wave that has a measurable effect on our environment. Indeed, our greatest consciousness pioneers agree that consciousness is millions of times more powerful than nuclear force.
One such pioneer, visionary author Gregg Braden, said, “The human heart is now documented as the strongest generator of both electrical and magnetic fields in the body. This is important because we’ve always been taught that the brain is where the action is. The brain has an electrical field and it has a magnetic field but they’re relatively weak compared to the heart. The heart is about a hundred times stronger electrically and up to five thousand times stronger magnetically than the brain and the reason this is important is because the physical world as we know it is made of those two fields of energy… Our own physics books now tell us if we can change either the magnetic field of an atom or the electrical field of an atom, by doing that we change, we literally change, the stuff our bodies and this world are made of.”
Because the emotions and thoughts generated by the heart and brain are so powerfully interactive with the world around us, or, to put it more precisely, actually create the world around us, it is a recognized truth that collective negativity can spawn natural disasters and other detrimental occurrences.
“If the collective mind is turbulent, then Nature is turbulent,” said Deepak Chopra, famed for being at the forefront of combining science with spirituality.
The Institute of HeartMath has conducted extensive research that supports this view. “One of the things we identified in our research is the state we now call coherence,” said Rollin McCraty Ph.D., Executive Vice-President and Director of Research. “What we found was that when we are feeling positive emotions, like when we’re really appreciating the sunset, or really feeling love or compassion or care for someone, that the heart beats out a very different message. Emotional information is actually encoded…into [the electromagnetic fields produced by the heart]. Learning to shift those emotions and thus changing the information we’re encoding into the magnetic fields we’re radiating…can impact those around us. We’re deeply connected with each other and the planet itself. What we do individually really does count – it matters.”
Practitioners of meditation are well aware of the power of the practice to create harmony in heart and mind and therefore in the world around them as well. One of the most startling scientific experiments demonstrating the far-ranging impact of group meditation occurred in 1993. In June and July of that year, four thousand study participants from eighty-one countries were assembled in Washington, D.C. to test the hypothesis that meditation would significantly reduce violent crime in the American capital by increasing coherence and reducing stress. Sociologists and criminologists from leading universities, along with civic leaders and representatives from the police department and government of the District of Columbia approved the research protocol for, and monitored the progress of, what was termed the National Demonstration Project to Reduce Violent Crime and Improve Governmental Effectiveness. The dependent variable in the research was weekly violent crime – including homicide, rape, aggravated assault and robbery – as measured by the Uniform Crime Report program of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1993 and in the preceding five years. Additional control data included weather variables (temperature, precipitation and humidity), daylight hours, alterations to police and community anti-crime activities, previous crime trends in the relevant metropolitan area and concurrent crime patterns in neighboring metropolises.
Unsurprisingly to devotees of meditation, the study revealed a substantial decrease in crime associated with increases in the number of meditators. The size of the group was largest during the final week, at which point the maximum decrease of 23.3% was achieved. The statistical probability that this reduction could have simply been reflecting chance variance in crime levels is less than 2 in 1 billion. The maximum decrease rose to 24.6% when a longer baseline (1988-1993 data) was used. Through additional analyses, it was determined that the crime reduction effect was not due to police staffing changes or to the specific time of year. It was further revealed that the effect was not only cumulative in association with an increase in the number of participants but also continued for a significant period of time after the Demonstration Project concluded. Based on the study’s findings, the long-term effect of having a permanent group of four thousand meditators in the District of Columbia was calculated as a 48% reduction in violent crime.
Eminent physicist and lead author of the study Dr. John Hagelin drew on terminology from quantum field theories to describe his phenomenal results.
“It’s analogous to the way that a magnet creates an invisible field that causes iron filings to organize themselves into an orderly pattern. Similarly, these meditation techniques [in this study, Transcendental Meditation was used] have been shown to create high levels of coherence in EEG brain wave patterns of individual practitioners. This increased coherence and orderliness in individual consciousness appears to spill over into society and can be measured indirectly via changes in social indices, such as reductions in the rate of violent crime. We call this phenomenon a field effect of consciousness.”
This experiment has since been repeated in many places around the world, with results equaling or bettering those achieved in Washington. The implications for peace on the planet are dramatic, and out of the success of these “experiments of peace” was born World Meditation Day. It takes place on the first Sunday of every month as well as on each New Moon, between 7 and 8pm local time throughout all of the world’s time zones, which means that a mass meditation occurs during every hour of that day.
As Dr. Hagelin said, “Once people began to understand the electromagnetic field and its enormous applications, conventional methods – like using candles for lighting and carrier pigeons for communication – quickly became outdated. [These]…research findings, which demonstrate the potential for creating order and coherence in society through the field effects of consciousness, [suggest that] guns and other weapons and war will very soon become obsolete.”
Meditation is without a doubt an integral cornerstone of the science of consciousness. A plethora of compelling evidence exists that supports its transformative impact both on the individual and on the world at large – which, as science has discovered, are really one and the same.