Posts Tagged ‘musicians’

Craig Pearson interview and articles on awakened consciousness, transcendence and enlightenment

February 22, 2013

Since the theme of The Uncarved Blog deals with Transcendental Meditation, consciousness & enlightenment, and poetry, I’d like to introduce someone to you who has been studying these ideas in great people’s lives for some time now and has complied them all in a book.

Craig Pearson-EECraig Pearson, Ph.D., is the author of the forthcoming book, The Supreme Awakening, Experiences of Enlightenment Throughout Time — And How We Can Cultivate Them. He has spent many years researching the expression of higher states of consciousness in the writings of great philosophers, saints, scientists, artists, and writers. Find out more here: http://craigpearson.mum.edu

Dr. Pearson is the Executive Vice-President of Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa. He has served the University in a variety of roles over the past 33 years, including Dean of Faculty, Dean of Students, Director of Maharishi University of Management Press, Director of Freshman Composition, and Professor of Professional Writing.

In this interview for Issue 5 of Enlightenment Magazine, Linda Egenes asks Craig Pearson about humanity’s age-old quest for enlightenment. Dr. Pearson highlights his answers with examples of exceptional people throughout history who had described experiences of higher states of consciousness. Here is an excerpt from The Quest for Enlightenment: Transcendence in the Lives of Great Seers and Thinkers.

Enlightenment: What is the relationship of enlightenment and human potential?

Dr. Pearson: Enlightenment is a term that has been used for thousands of years, in traditions east and west, to refer to the most fully developed expression of human potential, far beyond the ordinary.

Enlightenment: How common is it?

Dr. Pearson: Although this extraordinary experience has been described by individuals in different cultures over the millennia and is celebrated in the world’s spiritual traditions, it seems to be exceedingly rare. But obviously it lies within the realm of human potential.

Enlightenment: What has Maharishi contributed to the understanding of enlightenment?

Dr. Pearson: Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is often credited with reintroducing the concept of enlightenment in a systematic manner in our modern age. He has put forward a comprehensive understanding of enlightenment that embraces the great traditions and thinkers who have described this experience across time. Maharishi was also the first to promote scientific investigation into enlightenment, bringing the phenomenon of spiritual development into the arena of modern science.

Enlightenment: How does Maharishi describe enlightenment?

Dr. Pearson: For Maharishi, enlightenment is the ultimate development of one’s inner potential as a human being. It means being established in the highest state of human consciousness.

Enlightenment begins with experiencing the reality of your innermost Self as unbounded and eternal and being established at that level. This means the consciousness of an enlightened person is no longer subject to the ups and downs of emotions, mind, and body but steadfast, anchored in inner silence.

Enlightenment brings the ultimate unfoldment of one’s creativity and intelligence. It means living in harmony with all the laws of nature and easily fulfilling your desires. It means being of maximum use to yourself and others and creating a powerfully nourishing effect in one’s environment.

At the highest stage, enlightenment means experiencing the universe as the expression of your unbounded Self. It is a state of perpetual freedom and bliss, supreme fulfillment.

Enlightenment: Can we relate this in any way to our day-to-day experience?

Dr. Pearson: Although this vision of human development may seem idealistic, we have all had experiences in this direction. Some days we just feel happier inside, more appreciative of others—life is easier, fuller, richer, and more rewarding. We may have moments of enhanced mental clarity or heightened levels of creativity, when we surprise ourselves with how quickly the solution to a problem may come. Athletes sometimes experience the zone—periods of peak performance that are effortless and euphoric.

At these times we are using a bit more of our potential. But enlightenment is far, far more than this. It goes far beyond just having a good day. People who have had experiences of enlightenment report that words simply cannot capture the sublimity of the experience.

Enlightenment: You have researched how individuals from different historical epochs and different parts of the world have shared this same experience. Can you talk about that?

Dr. Pearson: In traditions throughout time we find remarkably similar descriptions of this extraordinary experience of human life lived to its fullest—in the writings of great philosophers, religious figures, artists, scientists, and writers, as well as in the great religious traditions of the world. The terminology may vary from tradition to tradition and age to age. But when you have the clear and precise description of enlightenment provided by Maharishi, it becomes easy to appreciate what these people are talking about.

Enlightenment: So the experience is universal?

Dr. Pearson: Yes. And the recognition that many have shared this experience throughout history is not new either. Some scholars have called it the perennial philosophy or the primordial tradition. The perennial philosophy holds that although various spiritual and philosophical traditions appear different on the surface, at their core all traditions share common, universal principles.

Enlightenment: What are these universal principles?

Dr. Pearson: The perennial philosophy has three basic tenets: (1) Underlying the diversity of the world is a field of unity. (2) We can subjectively experience this field of unity deep within us. (3) The purpose of life is ultimately to experience and live this inner, divine reality of life.

This inner field goes by different names. Laozi called it the Tao. Plato called it the Good, the One, and the Beautiful. Aristotle called it Being. The Greek-Roman philosopher Plotinus called it the Infinite. In Judaism it is called Ein Sof, in Christianity the kingdom of heaven within. In more modern times, Ralph Waldo Emerson called it the Oversoul.

These different names are not referring to mere philosophical or spiritual ideals. They point to the inner reality of life—a reality that can be experienced directly and, when experienced, brings fulfillment beyond words.

Enlightenment: How does Maharishi talk about this inner field?

Dr. Pearson: Maharishi characterizes it as an unbounded field of pure consciousness, an all-pervading ocean of creativity, intelligence, and bliss, beyond space and time. Maharishi asserts, moreover, that this field of pure consciousness is identical with the unified field of natural law that modern physics describes mathematically. Thus the inner field that gives rise to all our thoughts and feelings is the same field that gives rise to the entire universe.

Enlightenment: And we can experience this inner field of pure consciousness?

Dr. Pearson: Every human being has the natural ability to experience this field. It simply requires “diving within,” allowing the mind to settle inward, beyond the thinking process. This is called transcending.

People throughout history have described and celebrated this experience. It is a simple and natural experience—but by most accounts seems to be rare and fleeting. People have lacked a technique for experiencing it systematically. This is the gift Maharishi has given us—the Transcendental Meditation technique, a simple, natural, effortless procedure by which anyone can dive within at will.

Until Maharishi started teaching in the West, the understanding of how to transcend had for the most part been lost. The Transcendental Meditation technique, which has its origin in the ancient Vedic tradition, provides direct experience of pure consciousness. It is easy to learn and practice, validated by hundreds of scientific research studies, and practiced by millions of people throughout the world.

Read the rest of this fascinating article, which includes experiences from Rabindranath Tagore; Alfred, Lord Tennyson; Hakuin Ekaku; and a woman known as Peace Pilgrim.

Many other experiences have also been written up by Dr. Pearson and posted on the TM Blog. Here they are, from recent to earlier posts:

‘Freedom and Self-Realization’: Excerpts from Jack Forem’s book on TM
Howard Thurman: Experiencing “the Great Silence” within us
Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook: Connecting with the “deep soul”
The Buddha: Rapturous Joy Transcending Any Other
Meister Eckhart: It is in the purest thing that the soul is capable of
D.H. Lawrence: Sitting in a Timeless Stillness
St. John of the Cross: Transcending all knowledge
William Wordsworth: We are laid asleep in body, and become a living soul
Emily Dickinson: The Soul’s Superior instants
Albert Einstein: There is Neither Evolution nor Destiny; Only Being
Zhuangzi: Why don’t you try wandering with me to the Palace of Not-Even-Anything
St. Teresa: A state of great quiet and deep satisfaction
Johannes Brahms: In tune with the Infinite
Rumi: I have passed beyond all thoughts
Plato: And this state of the soul is called wisdom
Jesus: The kingdom of God is within you
Henry David Thoreau: We become like a still lake of purest crystal
Ralph Waldo Emerson: Within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty
Walt Whitman: The luminousness of real vision
Alfred, Lord Tennyson: A state of transcendent wonder
Helen Keller: I feel the flame of eternity in my soul
Laozi: His mind becomes as vast and immeasurable as the night sky

Update: Craig Pearson’s book, The Supreme Awakening, is now available. Executive Vice President Dr. Craig Pearson was interviewed on KHOE’s “A Chat With The Dean” by Dr. Cathy Gorini on his new book, “The Supreme Awakening – Experiences of Enlightenment Throughout Time, and How You Can Cultivate them.”

Listen to a presentation Dr. Pearson gave in Dalby Hall on the book, which was recorded for broadcast by KHOE.

Listen to Dr. Pearson on KRUU FM, Writers’ Voices recorded Feb 21, 2014.

Listen to Craig Pearson on KRUU FM show, Writers’ Voices, discussing his new book, The Supreme Awakening.

Here is a video of Dr. Pearson’s recent presentation on his book, The Supreme Awakening, in Dalby Hall on the MUM campus seen on the MaharishiUniversity channel.

Craig Pearson has since updated his book with new entries. Here is an informative interview by Jeanne Ball, April 20, 2016, in the Huffington Post: The Supreme Awakening: What Did Buddha, Emerson, Einstein and Saint Teresa Have in Common?

Research breakthrough: High brain integration underlies winning performances

June 18, 2012

Research breakthrough: High brain integration underlies winning performances

World-class performers in management, sports and music often have uniquely high mind-brain development

Scientists trying to understand why some people excel—whether as world-class athletes, virtuoso musicians, or top CEOs—have discovered that these outstanding performers have unique brain characteristics that make them different from other people.

A study published in May in the journal Cognitive Processing found that 20 top-level managers scored higher on three measures—the Brain Integration Scale, Gibbs’s Socio-moral Reasoning questionnaire, and an inventory of peak experiences—compared to 20 low-level managers that served as matched controls. This is the fourth study in which researchers have been able to correlate the brain’s activity with top performance and peak experiences, having previously studied world-class athletes and professional classical musicians.

“What we have found,” says Fred Travis, director of the Center for Brain, Consciousness, and Cognition at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, “is an astonishing integration of brain functioning in high performers compared to average-performing controls. We are the first in the world to show that there is a brain measure of effective leadership.”

“Everyone wants excellence,” says Harald Harung of the Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences in Norway. “Yet, current understanding of high performance is fragmented. What we have done in our research, is to use quantitative and neurophysiological research methods on topics that so far have been dominated by psychology.”

Dr. Travis, Dr. Harung, and colleagues have carried out a total of four empirical studies comparing world-class performers to average performers. This recent study and two others have examined top performers in management, sports, and classical music. In addition, a number of years ago Dr. Harung and colleagues published a fourth study on a variety of professions, such as public administration, management, sports, arts and education.

Measured Brain Activity

The studies carried out by the researchers include measurements of the performers’ brains by using electroencephalography, EEG. Hospitals use this equipment and method to determine possible brain injuries after traffic accidents. EEG, however, can also be used to look at the extent of integration and development of several brain processes.

The researchers looked at three different measurements that all reflect how well the brain works as a whole: 1) Coherence, which shows how well the various parts of the brain cooperate, 2) Amount of alpha waves, which reflect restful alertness, and 3) How economically or effectively the brain works.

The three measurements are then put together in an expression of brain refinement, the Brain Integration Scale.

World-class performance has so far been mostly regarded from a psychological point of view, especially speaking of management. Researchers often explain management skills as a result of special personal or psychological characteristics that some have, and others don’t.

“Our research in brain activity and brain integration is done from more of a natural science angle. By such means, we hope we are closer to an effective and comprehensive understanding of why some succeed better than others,” says Harung.

In all the groups of top performers, measurements were checked by using control groups. The controls were average performers, such as low-level managers or amateur musicians. The data gave one surprising result: Among the musicians, both the professionals and the amateurs turned out to have a high level of brain integration. In the two other studies, this measurement showed major differences between the persons with top-level performance and the control groups.

“We believe that for musicians, the explanation might be that classical music in itself contributes to such integration, regardless of your performance level,” says Dr. Harung.

Peak Experience

The researchers found it’s not just that their brains function differently; the world-class performers also had particular subjective experiences that were associated with their top performances.

Called peak experiences, these experiences are characterized by happiness, inner calm, maximum wakefulness, effortlessness and ease of functioning, absence of fear, transcendence of ordinary time and space, and a sense of perfection and even invincibility.

The first study was done on world-class athletes selected by the National Olympic Training Center in Norway and the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences. Besides screening athletes’ brains using EEG, each athlete was interviewed about their experiences while performing at their very best. The result was a wide range of peak experiences.

Former cross-country skier Thomas Alsgaard, who won 11 gold medals in Olympic Games and World Championships, said:

“The senses are so open that you have the ability to receive signals that are almost scary: In a way it is a ‘high.’ I receive an unbelievable amount of information. Much, much more—10-20 times more information—than what I manage to take in if I sit down and concentrate and try to perceive things. But I am so relaxed. And the more relaxed I am, the more information I register.”

Another athlete who participated in the research is the Norwegian handball keeper, Heidi Tjugum, who was part of the Norwegian national team that won one World Championship, one European Championship, two European Cups and a number of silver and bronze medals. She says:

“Sometimes I have felt that I am an observer—I just watch what happens. This is a good feeling. It is a very beautiful feeling; it is not that I feel I don’t have control. But it goes by itself—in reality I do not have to initiate anything at all. Extremely here and now—nothing else matters.”

These statements are similar to those the researchers gathered from other top-class performers, both among the musicians and the business leaders. As seen, they found a significant difference amongst the top performers and controls on several quantitative measures.

“Therefore, there must be some common inner attributes and processes that make top performers able to deliver at top level, regardless of profession or activity,” says Travis. “We found this common inner dimension to be what we called higher mind-brain development.”

Higher mind-brain development includes that various aspects and parts of the brain work together in an integrated way. Among world-class performers this integration is especially well developed.

Presenting a New Theory

The researchers have developed a new theory, a Unified Theory of Performance, which suggests that higher levels of mind-brain development form a platform for higher performance, regardless of profession or activity.

“It seems like these mind-brain variables represent a fundamental potential for being good, really good, in the particular activity one has decided to carry out,” says Harung.

For all three recent studies the researchers also found that top-level performers outscored the control groups in a test of moral development. Higher moral development implies an expanded awareness where one is able to satisfy the interests of other people and not just their own needs. Harung finds it remarkable that high levels of performance, in a wide spectrum of activities, are connected to high moral standards.

“This should give an extra push to act morally, in addition to a better self-image, fewer sleepless nights and a good reputation,” Dr. Harung says. “The key to top-level performance, therefore, seems to be that we make more use of our inherent capabilities.”

Implications of the Research

The discovery that the brains of world-class performers have similar characteristics raises some important questions, such as: 1) Is there a way one can develop one’s brain to have more of these characteristics and thereby perform at a higher level? And 2) Can measuring a person’s brain predict the potential for someone to be a world-class performer?

These and other researchers have actively explored whether meditation techniques, for example, can help to actively cultivate one’s brain. Research by Dr. Travis and others has found that Transcendental Meditation practitioners do have greater EEG coherence, greater presence of alpha waves, and, in some advanced practitioners, a very efficiently functioning brain. A coherent brain is a high-performing brain.

In addition, researchers have been exploring possible applications to predict performance ability in general and leadership ability in particular. For example, if a corporation has preliminarily selected five candidates for its CEO position, the above measures could be administered to aid in the final decision. Or these measures can be used to assess the effectiveness of training or education in increasing an individual’s performance capacity.

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Scientific Literature

1. Harung, H. S., Travis, F., (2012) Higher mind-brain development in successful leaders: testing a unified theory of performance. Cognitive Processing Vol 13, Number 2, 171-181, DOI: 10.1007/s10339-011-0432-x

2. Harung, H. S. (2012). Illustrations of Peak Experiences during Optimal Performance in World-class Performers: Integration Eastern and Western Insights. Journal of Human Values, 18(1), 33-52, doi:10.1177/097168581101800104

3. Travis, F., Harung, H. S., & Lagrosen, Y. (2011). Moral Development, Executive Functioning, Peak Experiences and Brain Patterns in Professional and Amateur Classical Musicians: Interpreted in Light of a Unified Theory of Performance. Consciousness and Cognition, 20(4), 1256-1264

4. Harung, H.S., Travis, F., Pensgaard, A. M., Boes, R., Cook-Greuter, S., Daley, K. (2011). Higher psycho-physiological refinement in world-class Norwegian athletes: brain measures of performance capacity. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, Vol 21, Issue 1, pages 32, February 2011, doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.2009.01007.x

5. Harung, H. S., Heaton, D. P., Graff, W. W., & Alexander, C. N. (1996). Peak performance and higher states of consciousness: A study of world-class performers. Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 11, No. 4, pp. 3-23

Related Articles

New study sheds light on “peak experiences” in world-class performers | New research looks at brain integration in top athletes and in long-time meditators | ‘Brilliant minds’—New Research on the Brain State of Virtuoso Musicians and How it Relates to TM | ScienceDaily: Musicians’ Brains Highly Developed | Freakonomics: Do Musicians Have Better Brains?

Source: EurekAlert!

Latest Study

Does Practice Make Perfect Or Are Some People More Creative Than Others? Study finds brain integration correlates with greater creativity in product-development engineers. The study was discussed on TMHome: Brain integration, the key to creativity, citing Medical News Today’s report on the study. Science writer Fiona Macrae had some questions for researchers Fred Travis and Yvonne Lagrosen before she completed her article for The Daily Mail: Forget ‘practice makes perfect’ – meditation is the key to success, study claims.


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