Altered State of Consciousness (ASC)
First used in the 1970s, the term refers to a change, usually temporary, in a persons mental state so that his or her awareness differs significantly from what would be considered normal.
ASC is a state in which the usual balance between consciousness and unconsciousness is changed for example, during hypnosis, or in a trance or dream state, when the conscious is subdued and the unconscious takes over.
Medical science and psychology have determined that human beings experience countless numbers of altered states of consciousness everyday of their lives, such as day dreaming, internal scanning of ones inner states, joy, rapture, deep relaxation, or sadness. Besides these states, there are the ones which everyone experiences: the normal waking state, sleep, the hypnagogic state just preceding sleep, and dreaming.
Scriptures and various religious teachings also have shown that the mind can be trained to enter meditative and trance-like states. The eastern religions have documented this process along with modern science.
The operation of some phenomena, such as astral travel, channeling and lucid dreaming, is thought to depend on the subject being in an altered state of consciousness, which also have been shown to facilitate PSI performance. In a long series of experiments conducted at the Parapsychology Division of the Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York, and elsewhere, researchers have demonstrate clearly that PSI information transference occurs with greater regularity during periods when the perceiver has less conscious sensory input to deal with.
Altered states of consciousness fall into three categories: physical, mental, and spiritual. Within these categories they can be voluntary and involuntary.
On a physical level, an altered state of consciousness can be voluntarily induced by the use of a sensory deprivation tank, mind-control techniques, staring, fasting, and fatigue, or also through the ingestion of psychoactive drugs such as alcohol and opiates, or psychoactive plants and chemicals such as LSD, 2C-I, peyote, marijuana, mescaline, Salvia Divinorum, MDMA, psychedelic mushrooms, or datura (Jimson weed).
An altered state of consciousness can as well come about accidentally or involuntarily through indigestion, sleep deprivation, starvation, oxygen deprivation, nitrogen narcosis while deep diving, many different kinds of fever, or a traumatic accident.
On a mental level, trance, hypnosis, meditation, prayer, Yoga, and dreaming, to list a few, can either voluntarily or involuntarily alter a persons consciousness.
Altered state of consciousness can also occur naturally, either by dreaming, euphoria, ecstasy, psychosis as well as purported premonitions, out-of-body experiences, and channeling.
Finally, on a spiritual level the Holy Spirit can alter a persons consciousness by divine visions and revelation (Romans 12:2). In the eastern religions this is called cosmic consciousness.
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Sources: (1) Tart, Charles T. (Editor), Altered State of Consciousness, Harper Publishing; (2) World Almanac Editors, The World Almanac Book of the Strange, New American Library; (3) Dr. Lee Warren's Plim Report.
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