When the world melts

Lynne McTaggart

Many people ask me about what it feels like to ‘move aside’, as I mention in Powering Up. How do I drop the ego and connect with The Field?
I can answer that best by examining transcendent experiences — those moments when people have experienced cosmic consciousness — a loss of the self and feeling a sense of oneness with the universe.
All of us at one point or another in our lives have experienced The Field: a sense of unity with all things and with the life force—during a dream or some altered state of consciousness, at a moment in childhood, or even while intensely in love.
It could be a moment of precognition, when we intuitively sense something or see into the future. It could be a dream about our divine purpose in life or perhaps during a profound moment of meditation or self-hypnosis.
However individual the moment, there are several aspects that distinguish it as cosmic awareness. In that moment, you move away from the tightly boundaried ‘self’ of your own ego and embrace a more oceanic feeling of your self in unity with the entire universe, with a sense of interconnectedness with all things. There is also an inner knowing that things will never be the same again.
It is invariably a profoundly transforming experience, usually lasting the rest of your life, having opened a window into a reality you never knew existed.
It may be the experience that forces you to make an abrupt change in your life, as it did with Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell. Returning from the moon and while staring at the earth from space, Mitchell experienced a transcendent moment. He had a profound feeling of connectedness, as if all the planets and all the people of all time were attached to him by an invisible web. Mitchell’s epiphany changed his life forever. It shattered his world view and became the catalyst for his life’s work thereafter: the study of consciousness.
Arguably the world’s authority on cosmic consciousness and the altered states of consciousness is American parapsychologist and author Dr Charles Tart, who has been investigating altered states of consciousness for more than 40 years.
Tart uses the term ‘cosmic consciousness’, coined by physician Robert Maurice Bucke in 1961, and also his definition:
“The prime characteristic of cosmic consciousness is, as the name implies, a consciousness of the cosmos, that is, of the life and order of the universe.”
Common aspects of cosmic consciousness
Tart concluded that all cosmic-consciousness experiences tend to have some similarities:

  • the experience is usually spontaneous—you don’t turn in on like a tap
  • it tends to be transient—usually lasting about half an hour and rarely for more than two hours
  • the people involved invariably feel a sense of unity with all things as a ‘seamless whole’
  • they have a sense of knowingness, or as James puts it: “a direct insight into the nature of reality that is self validating”, resulting in a sense of authority and certainty about them in the future
  • there is a sense of the ineffable nature of the experience. It is utterly different from any other state of consciousness they’ve experienced, and can’t be described in words, or even by simile or metaphor.

There is often a sense of ‘God’, but more as the ‘Absolute’ than the anthropomorphic god of organized religion.
Our brain becomes more coherent during such experiences. At a meeting of the Society of Psychophysiological Research, the EEGs of meditators during a transcendent experience were far more coherent than that of a control group. They also displayed more efficient performance on complex cognitive activities.

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Lynne McTaggart

Lynne McTaggart is an award-winning journalist and the author of seven books, including the worldwide international bestsellers The Power of Eight, The Field, The Intention Experiment and The Bond, all considered seminal books of the New Science and now translated into some 30 languages.

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