Below is a clip from an interview we recently conducted with Dr. Natalie Leigh Trent, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Harvard Medical School and Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, where she investigates the mind-body practices of yoga and mindfulness for health and wellbeing. She obtained her Bachelor of Science from the University of Toronto in 2006 and her Doctorate in neuroscience from Queen’s University in 2012.
In this part of the interview, we discuss the ancient healing art of Reiki, a healing modality that has been practiced and taught around the world for thousands of years. As Dr. Trent shares in the interview, it’s a relatively new field of science and medicine that’s continually growing, with approximately 80 studies that’ve been published so far.
With scientific research now emerging attesting to the ability of human thoughts, emotions, and intentions to affect the physical material world, an increasing number of scientists, and quantum physicists in particular, are stressing the importance of studying factors associated with consciousness and its relation to our physical world. One of these factors is human intention.
Reiki essentially uses human intention to heal another person’s ailments. Practitioners usually place their hands on the patient in order to channel energy into them by means of touch. It can be roughly defined as using compassionate mental action and physical touch, energy healing, shamanic healing, nonlocal healing, or quantum touch.
The popularity of this practice is exemplified by the fact that, as of 2000, there were more ‘distant healers’ in the United Kingdom than therapists practicing any other form of complementary or alternative medicine, and the same goes for the United States. (Barnes PM, Powell-Griner E, McFann K, Nahin RL. Complementary and alternative medicine use among adults: United States, 2002. Adv Data. 2004. May 27;(343):1–19. [PubMed])
We published an article going into more detail on this, linked below:
Dr. Trent points out how further scientific study in this field has been hindered by a lack of funding. This isn’t really surprising, since the medical industry, as Arnold Seymour Relman once said, has been “bought by the pharmaceutical industry.” Dr. Trent also discusses the science behind this practice. She is one of the leading academics bringing more credibility to this treatment.
If you want to catch the full CE News interview with Natalie Trent, and many more, click here.
We all know that there are two primary states of consciousness: wakefulness and sleep. But did you that there is also an in-between state? This state is called Hypnagogia, a word that derives from the Greek words “hypnos” (sleep) and “agogos” (leading), meaning the state that leads into sleep.
Have you ever had a nap and experienced a strange trance-like state in which images, colors, sounds, even dream-like stories play out in your mind? Have you ever found yourself falling asleep and seeing a kaleidoscope of colors and shapes fleet in and out of your mind … or strange things like horses turning into helicopters? These experiences are hypnagogia in action and it’s likely that you experience hypnagogia multiple times a week, or even every day before you fall asleep!
So how can this unusual limbo state contribute to our self-understanding and spiritual growth? In this article, I’ll explain how.
Types of Hypnagogia
Depending on whether you are primarily a visual (image-oriented), auditory (sound-oriented), or kinesthetic (physically-oriented) person (you can take a test here), your hypnogogic experience will vary.
Here are common ways hypnagogia is experienced:
Images – e.g. monochromatic or colorful, static or moving, flat or three-dimensional – usually the images are fleeting but sometimes they form entire dream-like scenes
Sounds – may be loud or quiet and involve hearing music, voices, snatches of conversation, rain, wind, white noise, repetitive words, having one’s name called, etc.
Repetitive actions – known as the “Tetris effect,” when a person has spent a long time doing something repetitive (such as working, playing chess, exercising, reading) they may find themselves doing the same thing as they fall into the hypnagogic state
Physical sensations – tastes, scents, textures, and sensations of coldness and heat may be experienced during hypnagogia, as well as feelings of floating, falling, leaving one’s body or having one’s body change shape
Mental processes – at the edge of sleep thoughts begin to take a fluid and free-associative quality in which they morph and evolve in unusual, abstract, and innovative ways, uninfluenced by the ego
Sleep paralysis – the temporary inability to move may, in some occurrences, accompany hypnagogia, however while this state may be alarming, it is harmless
It is also possible (and common) to experience multiple forms of hypnagogia. For example, you might visually enter a memory from the day that transforms before your eyes into an array of physical sensations and sounds. The combinations are limitless.
Spiritual Oneiromancy, Dali, and Dream Yoga
Throughout history, there have been many writers, artists, and philosophers who have used hypnagogia as a way of triggering new ideas, insights, and even inventions.
Artist Salvador Dali, writer Mary Shelley (author of Frankenstein), and inventor Thomas Edison are some of the most notable historical figures who have used hypnagogia to stimulate saucy new ideas. Both Dali and Edison, for example, used very similar techniques of sitting down with objects in their hands (a key for Dali and brass balls for Edison) and waking up once the object fell and hit the floor. This sudden awakening allowed them to quickly jolt out of their hypnagogic slumber and write down the thoughts and images that had been dancing through their minds.
In Tibetan Buddhism, hypnagogic states are used as a way of practicing “dream yoga.” Dream yoga is a form of spiritual practice that is based on the premise that dream-like states can be used to train the mind to enhance spiritual awareness. This self-discipline can contribute to the experience of enlightenment.
In the modern age, there’s a niche of people who refer to themselves as Oneiromancers; or individuals who use dreams as a form of divination. The word Oneiromancy comes from the Greek ‘oneiros’ (dream) and ‘manteia’ (prophecy). Such people commonly use and interpret dreams as a way of prophesying the future.
I can’t personally vouch for the divination aspect of dreams (as in ‘oneiromancy,’ although I have had prophetic dreams). Furthermore, I believe that predicting the future is useless and a major distraction unless it is accompanied with work grounded in the present-moment. That is why my approach to dreams and hypnagogia specifically is targeted towards psychological growth. Without understanding yourself, meeting your shadow self, uncovering and dealing with old traumas and wounds, and integrating what you find, you won’t get very far. All of the dream work in the world will be just that: a bunch of fantasy.
How to Use Hypnagogia to Explore Your Unconscious Mind
Hypnagogia is the shortest path for communication from our subconscious — Sirley Marques Bonham, physicist
In the secular world, hypnagogia is often used as a way of stimulating creativity. But I propose, similar to the Tibetan Buddhists and their ‘Dream Yoga’ and Carl Jung and his technique of ‘Active Imagination,’ that hypnagogia can be used for deep psychological discovery as well.
Our species has long agonized over the concept of human consciousness. What exactly causes it, and why did we evolve to experience consciousness? Now, a new study has uncovered a clue in the hunt for answers, and it reveals that the human brain might have more in common with the universe than we could have imagined.
According to a team of researchers from France and Canada, our brains might produce consciousness as something of a side effect of increasing entropy, a process that has been taking place throughout the universe since the Big Bang.
The concept of entropy is famously confusing, and the definition has evolved over time. Essentially, entropy is a thermodynamic property that refers to the degree of disorder or randomness in a system. It can be summed up as the description of a system’s progression from order to disorder.
The second law of thermodynamics states that entropy can only remain constant or increase within a closed system — a system cannot move from high entropy to low entropy without outside interference. A common example that demonstrates entropy is an ice cube melting — the cube is in a state of low entropy, but as it melts and disorder grows, entropy increases.
Many physicists think that the universe itself is in a constant state of increasing entropy. When the Big Bang occurred, the universe was in a state of low entropy, and as it continues to gradually spread out, it is growing into a higher entropy system. Based on this new study, our brain may be undergoing something similar, and consciousness happens to be a side effect of the process.
The Brain and Disorder
To see how the concept of entropy could be applied to the human brain, the researchers analyzed the amount of order in our brains while we’re conscious compared to when we’re not. They did this by modeling the networks of neurons in the brains of nine participants, seven of whom had epilepsy.
They looked at whether or not neurons were oscillating in phase with one another as this could tell them if the brain cells were linked. They compared observations from when patients were awake, when they were asleep, and when patients with epilepsy were having seizures.
The researchers found that the participants’ brains displayed higher entropy when fully conscious. “We find a surprisingly simple result: normal wakeful states are characterized by the greatest number of possible configurations of interactions between brain networks, representing highest entropy values,” the team wrote in the study.
How consciousness expresses, how our brains function, and how our emotions SHOULD be cultivated to operate within the parameters of their TRUE design, that of a moral compass.
Most people, when asked what Consciousness is, will reply that it is the state of being awake. That is most certainly true, for that it is. But when people reply with this answer, they are almost always talking about the state of being physically awake. This is not the kind of Consciousness we’re talking about here. For one could be physically awake and still be largely or totally unconscious in their overall awareness.
If we consult a standard dictionary ofencyclopedia, we find that Consciousness is commonly defined as “the characteristics of a being generally regarded to comprise qualities such as subjectivity, self-awareness, sentience, sapience, and the ability to perceive the relationship between oneself and one’s environment.”
Subjectivity means one’s own perceptions of one’s existence. Self-awareness means that one is able to ponder and comprehend the fact that one is actually aware of one’s own characteristics and perception – being aware that you are aware, so to speak. Sentience is the capability of having perceptions and feelings. Sapience is discernment or wisdom – the ability to know that some things are more desirable than others if a particular condition or outcome is preferred.
This definition of Consciousness does an overall good job of accurately describing the condition. But we could express the basic definition of what Consciousness actually is in a more concise and simplistic way. Keeping in mind and building upon the popular dictionary definition, one could say that at its essence, Consciousness is the ability of a being to recognize patterns and meaning with respect to events taking place, both within oneself and in the external realm in which the self exists and operates.
This ability is the fundamental driving force of all Creation. It could be said that all of Creation itself IS Consciousness in various forms and states of awareness. Consciousness is required for matter to exist. Consciousness creates the observable effects we perceive in our world. Everything that exists in the seemingly “external” domain first exists as a construct in Consciousness before becoming manifested through form.
Consciousness, or the lack thereof, is the agency responsible for the conditions in which we find ourselves, in all times and all places. It is responsible for the current conditions of Earth and all the people and animals living upon this planet. Almost anyone who is asked the question “Do you think that things are perfect just the way they are going on this planet?” will respond “No” and say that they think that things could, and should, be much better compared to the way things currently are. Yet, while most are aware that something is not quite right with what is going on here, few people can cut to the core of the problem and recognize it for what it is that causes all the suffering and negativity human beings seem to perpetually experience on Earth.
The root of all the problems we experience, indeed of all the problems humanity has ever experienced, lies in the Consciousness of the individual human beings alive on this planet at any given time. Our apparent inability to alleviate our suffering, brought about by the manifestation of these problems, is always caused by one thing: an imbalance in Consciousness which leads to a diminution in conscious awareness. The less Consciousness we have, the less we recognize the patterns of behavior and event which lead to suffering. When we work to increase our Consciousness, we develop more of the ability to recognize patterns which lead to negative results, and we therefore become more capable of avoiding negative outcomes and creating positive results and conditions.
The purpose of our collective existence is to steadily increase our conscious awareness until we can master our ability to develop sapience, the ability to make correct conscious choices, utilizing proper discernment, to bring about positive effects, conditions, and relationships in our world. This process is the goal of the spiritual journey and the manifestation of the Will of Creation. It is the Evolution of Consciousness.
At the current time in which we live, humanity has arrived at a critical point in this evolutionary journey. Human beings simultaneously possess (perhaps for the first time in our existence, to this degree) the ability to create a veritable paradise on Earth – in which the suffering of the beings of this world could be virtually eliminated once and for all – and the ability to destroy not only all human life, but the lives of every living thing on the entire planet. One situation is miraculously promising, the other incredibly horrific. The fact that they both exist in simultaneous juxtaposition with each other certainly makes the time in which we are living quite interesting and exciting.
“So many thoughts… you know too much to be happy.” ~ Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man’s Fear
Overthinking is only human and we all go through it one way or another. Our minds are capable of great leaps of thoughts and imagination, which sometimes can prove difficult to turn off.
As thoughts have the appetite to consume us, it is only when our thoughts seem against our well-being that we realize their potential to affect our lives through our minds.
While we all encounter this we may have our own manifestations to cope with. Such tendencies of our minds cause anxiety about the future and regret about the past. While neither has the ability to affect change they can cause stress.
Stress has known and diagnosed effects upon our bodies. It is an uneasy feeling that originates in the mind and amplifies under anticipation of a set of outcomes we can’t stop thinking about; until it transmutes into the flesh and manifests in a host of forms from insomnia to loss of hair or sex-drive to name a few.
As we attach our emotional charge to a particular thought, it gains the power to affect us. An idea is bigger than even the person who thought it up, may even be true in its creator’s experience within his own mind.
Music is known as a good means to combat stress. I believe this is because it can move us by talking to us through vibrations; a language that transcends both body and mind.
Reading similarly has the effect of gluing us to a story from time to time, where we turn tirelessly as though we were traversing the landscapes of what we read.
These examples of music and reading bring out in essence their common denominator – change & progression – which activates our imaginations as we travel through texts or verses in our mind screen.
If we only observe how music and reading affects our mood instantly, we find that they move our mind towards a state of balance. This is because of the stimuli they offer the mind offsets it from its prior dispositions onto a new-leveled playing field.
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” ~ William James
Imagine if we could use this potential of the mind to intensify certain thoughts that we sometimes fall at the receiving end of, in order to amplify the lighter and happier emotions of our minds.
Travel reveals an interesting indication for its capacity of change. The difference is that, in our minds it happens at the fractal scale and requires delving into its subtleties to even observe.
While physical travel may involve moving through new places, cities, landscapes, states or countries. It removes us from the routine of our regular lives by the change of scenario it offers. We are never the same again as we will never be at that same time and place again. While this is true for every moment of our lives, we are unable to see it when burdened with the worries of our lives.
As in moments of despair, stress or worry the emotional charge is so great that it suspends us in our minds, not allowing us to move of their charge and we remain fixated on our thoughts. From this space it is only harder to find a solution then if we were to travel to a calmer mind space.
“You can never enter the same river twice” ~ Indian proverb
Journeying through the depths of the mind
Thoughts are transient to our nature just as the flowing of water is to the river, and symbolizes the impermanence and constant change that takes place.
Travel while great in the physical world, is even more spectacular through our minds! As there is an ocean of inspiration that resides within us, the ability to move mountains in our minds is the same force that allows us to move past the obstacles that block our path.
It instills an agility of thought that enables us to not have an instant reaction based solely on emotions. Rather a balanced response to anything life throws up by having the ability to move past our self and isolate the issue.
Most commonly we may think that traveling within the mind implies astral projection or conscious dreaming, however why wait for that moment of pristine synchronicity or dreams when at any time we can simply jump in and blast off into the universe on board your very own mindship?
In this article, we look at the “Ghost in the Machine” – the murderous forces in our health care system that harm patients instead of help them. This article will expose the deceptions that occur in almost all facets of health care today for no reason other than money. It will also expose the identities of the ghost’s “puppet masters” who perpetrate health misinformation and unethical drug marketing for profit, whether it’s Big Pharma or its helpers in academia, government and nongovernment agencies.
It should surprise no one that, in most cases, promotion of dangerous drugs and misleading health information is a direct result of conflicts of interest. For example, with the exception of CBS, every major U.S. media outlet keeps at least one person from the drug industry on its board, which clearly explains the dearth of reporting on Pharma dangers and corruption.1
The drug industry also spends billions a year on TV ads — revenue from just nine prescription drugs was worth $100 million in one year — which also stifles negative news stories about Pharma.2
Even so-called “public” media like PBS and NPR have accepted money from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and UnitedHealthcare.3 Similar conflicts of interest exist at medical journals, universities, medical associations, advocacy groups and government agencies, including those that are supposed to regulate the drug industry. The result is the Ghost in the Machine that we live with today — deceived patients taking expensive, often dangerous drugs and soaring health costs.
Revolving Doors Between Pharma and Government
One of the most damaging conflicts of interest is the revolving door between industry and government. It allows the worst forms of cronyism, quid pro quo arrangements and approval of dangerous drugs. Both Robert Califf, former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner, and Scott Gottlieb, the current FDA Commissioner, are shining examples of conflicts of interest.
Before his appointment by President Obama in 2015, Califf received money from 23 drug companies including giants like Johnson & Johnson, Lilly, Merck, Schering-Plough and GSK, according to a disclosure statement on the website of Duke Clinical Research Institute.4 He even praised the involvement of Pharma in government affairs.
Gottlieb was named FDA commissioner this year by President Trump, despite his high-profile work as a Pharma consultant and stock trader. While serving as FDA deputy commissioner for medical and scientific affairs before becoming commissioner, Gottlieb had to recuse himself from work related to nine drug companies, including Roche, Sanofi-Aventis, Eli Lilly and Proctor & Gamble, because of his financial links.5,6
Another example of the “revolving door” between government and industry is former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Julie Gerberding, who left the agency in 2009 where she had overseen vaccine decisions to head Merck’s vaccines division.7,8 In 2015, she sold 38,368 shares of her Merck stock valued at $2 million.9,10 Thomas Insel, former director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) also used the revolving door, leaving government for industry in 2015.11
And who can forget former Texas governor Rick Perry, who mandated that all girls in Texas be vaccinated with Gardasil, an HPV vaccine made by Merck, after his former chief of staff became a Merck lobbyist?12 Stipends from industry to government also skew drug messages. Gilead Sciences, an aggressive marketer of hepatitis C drugs, likely earned the right to add the CDC’s name to its ads because of its gifts to the CDC Foundation.13
Pharma/Academia Partnerships Are Lucrative Thanks to Taxpayers
Academia was once a source of unbiased drug and health information, untainted by Big Pharma and Big Pharma’s money. Not anymore. Universities now have a “renewed interest in partnering with pharmaceutical companies and are investing resources to ensure successful collaborations,” writes Pharma Voice.14 This is how Dr. Terrence Norchi, president and CEO of Arch Therapeutics, explains the profitable new partnerships.15
“For the past 15 years, the pipelines of the big [drug] companies have been drying up … At the same time, there is a tremendous amount of pressure on academic institutions in this country and abroad. To survive, many universities will have to find creative ways to make themselves more relevant. There are opportunities to mutually solve these challenges between academia and industry.”
Such Pharma/academia partnerships date back to the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980, which allowed universities to “patent discoveries that stem from government-funded research and then license them exclusively to companies in return for royalties,” wrote Marcia Angell, former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine and Harvard lecturer, in the Boston Review.16,17
Similar laws also allow industry to co-opt and profit from NIH-funded research, which is also taxpayer supported, says Angell. Before the Bayh-Dole Act, government-funded discoveries were in the public domain — as they should be. Between 2000 and 2011 more than half of all new drugs approved in the United States were developed by collaborations with other entities such as universities.18
Increasingly, academia does not even attempt to hide its dual allegiances. Susan Desmond-Hellmann was invited to apply to be Chancellor of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), which includes a medical school, while serving as president of product development at Genentech.19 She remained at UCSF until 2014 after which she joined the Gates Foundation, which has its own serious conflicts of interest that you will read about in the Ghost in the Machine series.
Drug Trials Now Riddled With Conflicts of Interest
The faster Pharma can get a drug to market, the more money it makes — even if safety problems emerge later. Legal settlements from injury suits are simply built into the cost of the product launch and marketing. Gag orders with injured parties keep the dangerous side effects from reaching the public and dampening sales.
There are many examples of drugs rushed to market before they were proven safe, such as the painkiller Vioxx, estimated to have killed over 60,000 people, and the new, expensive hepatitis C drugs that were marketed before their ability to reactivate pre-existing hepatitis B was known.20,21
One way in which dangerous drugs are now rushed to market is the fast work of contract research organizations (CROs) to which Pharma increasingly outsources drug trials. CROs conduct drug trial design, recruitment, enrollment and consent of subjects, as well as preparation of the final drug submission package to the FDA in turnkey operations. If and when the new drug is approved, they will also take care of marketing and branding.
Another compromise in drug safety comes from the changing face of institutional review boards (IRBs), groups of medical professionals, laypeople and ethicists who monitor human safety during drug trials. Once linked to academic settings or hospital, IRBs have become for-profit ventures paid by the companies who do the research. When the financial livelihoods of members of IRBs depend on the company that hires them, that is a huge conflict of interest.
One example of the changing face of IRBs was revealed in a sting operation devised by Congress and the General Accountability Office. When they asked a Colorado review board to oversee a study of Adhesiabloc, a product designed to reduce scar tissue after surgery, it agreed to the work though neither the drug, developer nor lead researcher even existed.22
How can human subjects be protected in such eagerness to acquire new work? To cut costs, Pharma also increasingly runs trials in poor countries where informed consent is not easily explained and subjects sometimes think they are receiving real medical care.23
Conflicts of Interest Abound in Research
In the Ghost in the Machine series, we will review conflicts of interest in publishing that skews the perception of a drug’s safety in the public’s eyes as well as among medical professionals. Research and scientific papers boosting the benefits of new drugs and downplaying their risks often appears in medical journals, ghostwritten by the drug industry with a medical professional’s name attached for credibility.24
Silence. How often do you truly get to experience this? Nowadays, silence is a very rare commodity indeed as we are constantly bombarded with noises from people, traffic, airplanes, music, advertisements, construction and the list goes on. I’ve been thinking a lot about silence and how much I would like some as I’ve been travelling and am constantly subjected to honking cars, screaming tourists, and clanking sounds all around me. Silence, is actually not something that is very easily obtainable -silence is golden. So how important is silence and is it a detriment to the well-being of our minds if we don’t have it?
In 2011, the Finnish Tourist Board ran a campaign that actually used silence as a marketing product. Their campaign aimed to entice people to visit Finland to experience the beauty of the silent land. The campaign released a series of photos of single figures in nature along with the headline, “Silence, Please.” Another tagline was added by Simon Ahnolt, an international country branding consultant that said, “No talking, but action.”
Finland is onto something here. In their campaign we are seeing the beginning of using silence as a marketing technique as it is something that is becoming more and more attractive as it is becoming more and more rare. Really, think about it, how often are you in complete silence? Noise pollution is something we deal with every single day and often, we don’t think twice about it. Scientific studies are now showing that silence is much more important for our brains than you might think.
Science For Silence
A study published in 2013 in the journal, Brain, Structure and Function, used various types of noise and silence and monitored the effect the sound and silence had on the brains of mice. The silence was intended to be the control in the study, but what they found was surprising. The scientists discovered that when the mice were exposed to two hours of complete silence per day they actually developed new brain cells in the hippocampus, which is the region of the brain that is associated with memory, emotion and learning new things.
The growth of new brain cells doesn’t always mean improved health benefits, but in this instance one of the researchers, Imke Kirste, says that these new cells appeared to become functioning neurons.
“We saw that silence is really helping the new generated cells to differentiate into neurons and integrate into the system.”
So, basically this means that silence can actually grow your brain.
Many of us spend the vast majority of our lives indoors, surrounded by metal and plastic, under florescent lights, staring at bright screens while breathing in stale polluted air. We’ve become addicted to technology and man-made innovation, but the truth is…nature had it right all along.