About IONS

The Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) is a nonprofit organization engaged in scientific and scholarly research on the nature of consciousness and its role in the physical world. IONS uses the tools and techniques of the neurosciences, psychophysiology, cognitive and personality psychology, neuroscience, computer science, engineering and physics to focus on topics ranging from intuition, distant and "energy" healing, to mind-matter interaction, transformative experiences, and the interactions between beliefs, behavior and worldviews. Through philanthropic and membership funding, IONS conducts basic research in its onsite laboratory, applications research at hospitals, social service centers, and classrooms, and education via online courses, workshops, conferences, and publications. IONS research is published in many mainstream peer-reviewed academic journals, including Psychological Bulletin, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Physics Essays and Foundations of Physics Letters. Located on 200 acres of pastoral hills 25 miles north of San Francisco, IONS also operates EarthRise, an eco-friendly transformative learning center which offers meeting facilities, food and lodging for up to 120 people.

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The word "noetic" comes from the ancient Greek nous, for which there is no exact equivalent in English. It most closely refers to "inner knowing" or a kind of intuitive consciousness—direct and immediate access to knowledge beyond what is available to our normal senses and the power of reason. For more details, see What are the Noetic Sciences?

Maintaining a commitment to scientific rigor and standards methods of research, Noetic Sciences explores phenomena that do not necessarily fit conventional scientific models. It explores the "inner cosmos" of the mind (consciousness, soul, spirit) and how it relates to the "outer cosmos" of the physical world, such as world views, health and healing, social behaviors, relationships, and personal growth, to name a few. In other words, it explores how people come to know things or affect things that have no apparent rational explanation by studying such experiences and inner capacities as intuitions, psi, “after-death” communication, and personal transformations. It then explores what its findings suggest about the nature of human consciousness.

For more on this topic, see What are the Noetic Sciences?

Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell, the sixth man to walk on the moon, founded the Institute in 1973 after experiencing what he described as a "samadhi" moment—a profound sense of universal connectedness—on his return trip from the moon. His mission for the Institute was to “broaden our knowledge of the nature and potentials of mind and consciousness and to apply that knowledge to the enhancement of human well-being and the quality of life on the planet."

Learn more about our history.

Since its founding in 1973, IONS has focused on the intersection of science and spiritual experience, extended human potential, consciousness and healing, mind-body interaction, social transformation, and creativity. It conducts empirical research, organizes scientific or scholarly conferences, hosts an online consciousness transformation network, sponsors scientific and scholarly publications, supports the professional development of colleagues, professional networking, and hosts educational workshops at its retreat center. Please visit our current Research page for more information.

The Institute of Noetic Sciences is a 501c(3) nonprofit organization. Our principal sources of income include donor level members, who contribute through annual dues and monthly giving programs; larger individual financial gifts; research grants; and revenue from the EarthRise retreat center. Members of the board of directors also make significant contributions to IONS. Guidestar publishes financial information about IONS.

Members of IONS board are committed individuals from among the membership who want to further IONS' work through significant financial support as well as through contributions of time and professional expertise. New board candidates are evaluated and then selected by existing board members and are elected to three-year terms of service.

We produce two eNewsletters — the Blog eNews and the Events eNews, both distributed via email. See more information and sign up.

We also offer original content free of charge in the IONS Library website

We are not currently offering guided tours.

At this time IONS does not have the financial resources to support the many worthwhile ideas and projects that are presented. We often contribute scientists’ time and expertise along with access to research to many writers and filmmakers. For information, contact [email protected].

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You can make an unrestricted donation of any amount with this donation form or call us at 1-877-769-4667 or 1-707-775-3500.


Google Scholar is an excellent, user-friendly search engine/database that lists articles from peer-reviewed journals and academic books. Another helpful source that contains a comprehensive database of medical research is PubMed.

In our work, personal consciousness is awareness—how an individual perceives and interprets his or her environment. Collective consciousness is how a group (an institution, a society, a species) perceives and translates the world around them. In its largest sense, consciousness has been referred to as a "milieu of potential," the shared ground of being from which all experiences and phenomena arise and eventually return.

We define it as a fundamental shift in perspective or worldview that results in an expanded understanding of self and the nature of reality. Such transformations usually lead the person to a greater sense of meaning and purpose and a reorientation of priorities toward the health and wholeness of both self and the larger community.

IONS President and Scientist Cassandra Vieten, PhD, is an experienced meditation researcher. See the IONS research projects related to meditation at:

We rarely fund extramural research (research that is done outside of our organization), although we sometimes provide small seed grants to researchers and have served as fiscal sponsors for projects closely aligned with our mission and research interests.

Search online for The Foundation Directory or ask the reference librarian at your local library if they have a copy. There are hundreds of grant-making foundations providing billions of dollars every year to charities and nonprofits—including many that specialize in research. Matching your interests with the right foundation is an art and a science, but with effort it can be accomplished.

Our Research Associates all have very busy schedules conducting research, writing, and speaking. They generally do not have time available to comment on or confirm individual theories or to support the many worthy research efforts that come to their attention. This reflects not a lack of interest but limits in personnel, time, and finances.

You can listen to two recordings by Edgar, Possibilities of Quantum Holography and the Intention Downloads Interview, or read the chapter, "Quantum Holography: A Basis for the Interface between Mind and Matter," in Bioelectromagnetic Medicine (2004) by Paul J. Rosch, Marko S. Markov. Informa Health Care. p. 153-158.

Yes, it is the policy of the Institute of Noetic Sciences that all activities conducted at the Institute be conducted with integrity. To this end, standards shall be established and enforced to provide a reasonable expectation that the design, conduct, and reporting of research will be free from bias resulting from financial conflicts of interest. You may read our Conflict of Interest in Research Policy for more details.