FAQs

About

Frequently Asked Questions

About IONS

The Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) is a nonprofit research and educational organization that conducts, sponsors, and collaborates on leading-edge research into what can be proven scientifically about the nature of reality, often revealing the entangled qualities of mind and body, consciousness and matter. It focuses its work on personal transformation, distant healing, parapsychology, mind-matter interactions, and what it calls “worldview literacy.”

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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 Science 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. Current research program topic areas include: Consciousness and Healing, Extended Human Capacities, and Worldview Transformation.

IONS maintains a Meditation Bibliography database with nearly 6000 citations and abstracts. We also offer a list of meditation resources.

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 retreat center. Members of the board of directors also contribute significantly 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.

IONS sponsors the Temple Awards for Creative Altruism, which is presented biannually at our international conference to two or three individuals whose lives and work embody the inspirational light of unselfish service motivated by love.

We produce the IONS Noetic Now eNews and EarthRise Retreat Center eNewsletter, each distributed via email. See more information and sign up.

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

IONS has published or co-published a number of books during the past three decades, including The Way of the Explorer by Edgar Mitchell, Global Mind Change and New Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science by Willis Harman, Biology Revisioned by Willis Harman and Elisabet Sahtouris, and The Heart of Healing by Bill Poole.

In 2007 the Institute launched its own book imprint, Noetic Books, in collaboration with New Harbinger Publications. We are not currently accepting any unsolicited manuscripts for publication.

We are not currently offering guided tours. View the EarthRise Books & Gifts store hours, or call 707.781.7401 (general info). Please check in with reception when you arrive on campus.

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 research@noetic.org.

To change your email address:

If you want to be removed from our email list you may contact us or click on the “Unsubscribe” link at the bottom of any email from us.

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.

Membership

If you have specific questions about your membership, please email membership@noetic.org or call 877-769-4667, Monday through Friday, 9am–4:30pm PST, or visit Member Services.

Yes, if you have been a member in the past, even though it may look like you are starting over by registering online your “new” membership will connect with your old record.

IMPORTANT: The computer will recognize you by your email address, so it is important that when you sign up or donate on the website the first time that you use the email address at which you receive communications from IONS.

Renew your membership here.

  • Email membership@noetic.org (please include the word “cancel” in the subject line) or
  • Call us at 1-877-769-4667 or 1-707-775-3500.

Benefits

Membership benefits will be automatically sent to you, or, in the case of discounts or invitations to events, provided at registration.

To see a list of current membership benefits, go to Support Us.

In June 2009 we discontinued our beloved quarterly magazine, Shift: At the Frontiers of Consciousness. This was not a decision we took lightly, but due to the economy, a changing media landscape, and ecological considerations, we made the hard choice to adapt.

In its place we created a hybrid model of e-newsletters and a semi-annual Noetic Post print publication. The Noetic Post was discontinued in 2013. Archived copies are available in our online library.

We continue to offer news and articles and information on events via our e-newsletters.

Education

Here are some of the educational offerings IONS provides:

Centuries ago, a scholar wrote: "We do not see the world as it is, we see the world as we are." Participants in the Worldview Literacy Project engage in an exploration of how individual and cultural factors shape and condition the way we see ourselves, each other and the world around us. Blending together the fruits of nearly 40 years of IONS research with emerging education modalities, the course aims to build the capacity and the competence of participants by equipping them with the skills and tools needed to navigate the complexities of life and become global citizens.

Learn more about the Worldview Literacy Project or contact the Worldview Literacy Project.

Research Overview

The IONS Online Media Store is an excellent resource for both trade and academic books across a wide variety of noetic topics.

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/CEO and Executive Director of Research, 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 begin by reading 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.

PSI (psychic) Phenonema

There are several good books, including IONS Senior Scientist Dean Radin's Entangled Minds: Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality (2006), which is endorsed by physics Nobel Laureate Brian Josephson and physicians Larry Dossey and Deepak Chopra, and The Conscious Universe (first published in 1997 and recently made available in paperback). Excerpts from both are posted at his website. Another good source is The End of Materialism: How Evidence of the Paranormal is Bringing Science and Spirit Together by pioneering psychologist-researcher Charles Tart, published under our Noetic Books imprint.

Other sources of information on psychic phenomena, including telepathy and precognition, include:

  • The Parapsychology Foundation, which provides links to organizations and individuals who are doing research of this kind.
  • The writings of biologist-theorist Rupert Sheldrake.
  • The book The Power of Premonitions by Dr. Larry Dossey
  • Some of the works by C.G. Jung (e.g., Man and His Symbols) and Joseph Campbell (e.g., The Power of Myth) on mythic imagery and symbolism.

An important issue for people with psychic abilities is getting support and confirmation so that you can connect with and relate to others rather than experience alienation, fear, or isolation. The goal is to use your gifts productively and to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Again, Dean Radin's books, The Conscious Universe and Entangled Minds, are helpful in providing scientific information about psychic phenomena while presenting and discussing the opinions of eminent scientists throughout history who have been interested in them. While open-minded skepticism about these phenomena is perfectly reasonable for people who are curious or haven't experienced them, trying to convince those who are closed-minded or frightened of such phenomena will always be difficult.

Many people report experiences of distressing thoughts and influences. When this happens, direct your thoughts to pleasant images. Practice thought-stopping to the extent that you are able. It is also a good practice to engage in activities that ground you in the material world, such as focusing on your breath or physical sensations. Pet a friendly animal. Take a walk. See a comedy at the cinema. Spend time talking with others. Make sure that you are eating and sleeping well. Exercise, garden, or otherwise keep your attention on activities that help you feel safe or feel good. Take baby steps; over time they will add up.

In general, the less attention you pay to these phenomena and the more you pay to the physical world, the better you will feel. The illusion they create is that they are impossible to escape; it isn't true. The intensity of such intrusive thoughts will diminish as you turn away from them; as you do, you will actually begin to create new neural connections in your brain.

If you find that you are frightened, depressed, or otherwise negatively affected by these experiences for more than a few days, we encourage you to seek the help of a mental health professional or trusted friend. Getting someone to accompany you through dark times is important.

The following organizations may also be helpful:

Spiritual Emergence Network
(415) 453-1106
http://spiritualemergence.info/

Spiritual Emergency Resource Center at California Institute of Integral Studies (SEN@CIIS)
415-648-2610
http://www.spiritualcompetency.com/se/resources/senciis.html
The SEN@CIIS Information and Referral Service offers support and resources for individuals having difficult spiritual or psychic experiences. These can include:

  • Loss or change of faith
  • Existential and/or spiritual crisis
  • Experience of unitive consciousness or altered states
  • Psychic Openings
  • Possession
  • Near-Death Experience
  • Kundalini
  • Shamanic journey
  • Difficulties with a meditation practice

Trained graduate students in the School of Professional Psychology respond to each caller, providing assistance and educational information regarding spiritual emergence. The staff can also make referrals to licensed mental health professionals in the caller's area. SEN@CIIS mental health professionals are respectful of the diversity of spiritual experiences and are familiar with a number of spiritual traditions.

Drawing on transpersonal psychology and the knowledge from the spiritual traditions which have investigated the stages and characteristics of spiritual growth, the mental health profession in the United States is beginning to understand that some characteristics of spiritual development can be confused with symptoms of mental illness. When accurately understood, these characteristics are often recognized as evidence of the normal, potentially life-enhancing aspect of natural human development.

Our Research Associates at the Institute of Noetic Sciences are not available to study individuals who claim psychic abilities or to provide scientific validation or corroboration for their work, nor do we have plans for such studies in the near future. Most of our research projects and analyses are based on the responses of many subjects because we are interested in reaching conclusions about what is true, in general, for the population at large, rather than for just a few unusual or exceptional people.

To be a research volunteer in one of our studies, email Leena Michel to add your name to a list of potential future volunteer research subjects.

If you have an active dream life, you can post your dreams at the Gaia's Dreams website, a project being carried out by Dr. Radin. As he explains it, "Gaia's Dreams is an experiment based on Carl Jung's concept of the collective unconscious. It is designed to gather and analyze collective dream quality and content, and to provide reports on emerging trends based on aspects of those dreams. This site will eventually perform daily automated cross-dream linguistic and quality analyses. Ultimately the goal is to correlate collective dreams with world events, including natural and unnatural disasters, to see if collective dreams are predictive. This experiment was partially motivated by reports of unusual dreams prior to 9/11 and the tsunami of December 2005, and by hundreds of historical cases of precognitive dreams. Data collected on this site will help us discern whether such dreams are truly precognitive."

Health & Healing

This is not something we do. Funding clinical studies is an expensive and time-consuming undertaking involving the creation of rigorous, often double-blind protocols and meeting Institutional Review Board Standards for human research subjects.

We do not provide specific medical referrals or recommend specific treatment options. If you are interested in pursuing alternative medical treatments, visit the National Council of Complementary and Alternative Medicine for guidelines on choosing a practitioner.

The Continuum Center for Health and Healing at Beth Israel Medical Center has launched New Approaches to Chronic Disease, an NIH-funded multimedia consumer education website that provides in-depth, evidence-based information, research summaries, extensive resources, and unique online exercises that offer patients a multidisciplinary integrative approach to managing heart disease, diabetes, and chronic pain. The site is bi-lingual (English and Spanish).

Each person has unique needs in this challenging situation, and no single program or offering works for everyone. Nevertheless, possible sources of help might be found through the Institute for Health and Healing at California Pacific Medical Center or the Commonweal Cancer Help Program. Honor your own knowing, trusted medical professionals, and feedback from loved ones when deciding whether a specific program may be helpful for you.

While it is now generally agreed that the mind can heal the body (to a degree, and for some illnesses), this doesn't mean we should dismiss the miracles of modern medicine. After all, the same minds that mysteriously know how to heal the body (or reduce pain) were also smart enough to figure out how to perform incredible surgeries and create amazing medicines. We recommend using all available resources to treat a health problem.

Working / Studying with IONS Research

At present there are no accredited courses of study or degrees that one can earn in the noetic sciences. There are some schools that offer advanced degrees in parapsychology, metaphysics, and so on, but none of them are accredited by the main academic boards, which means those degrees have little or no value when applying for jobs. Other schools, like Saybrook Institute or the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, do offer accredited degrees in associated areas, but the vast majority of people who earn such degrees do not end up earning a living in the noetic sciences.

We recommend that you earn an advanced degree in a traditional area that interests you, such as psychology or physics, and build a career there. Do exceptional work, and as you gain credibility you can begin to study or conduct noetic research on the side. To become a viable candidate when one of the rare job opportunities in noetic research arise, attend appropriate conventions, meet leaders in the field, publish papers, and become known to decision-makers at the few institutes around the world that conduct research in these areas. This is how virtually all of the people working in the field today have obtained their positions, and this reality is not likely to change any time soon.

IONS is not a degree-granting institution. Graduate studies consistent with the field of noetic science are offered by the following schools:

Our extended faculty members are generally chosen from scientists, researchers, and educators who have donated their time and expertise to our research and educational programs. Colleagues contribute in various ways, including donating time to speak at our lectures and conferences. There is no formal nomination process at the present time, and we are not actively seeking extended faculty members, but if you have specific ideas about how you'd like to be involved, please email research@noetic.org. Due to the high volume of correspondence we receive, we will only get back with you if we currently have a forum or other means in which we are able to collaborate.

We don't have conventional "teaching positions" at IONS. However, IONS EarthRise Transformational Learning Center is available for rent by workshops led by like-minded individuals and groups.

We often work with interns and volunteers.

Interns are either currently enrolled in or recently graduated from school and interested in pursuing research projects related to their education. See internship opportunities for more information and an online application. In most cases, internships work best for people who can come to the IONS campus on a regular basis. Virtually all internships are unpaid.

See also, information on volunteering.

We do not currently have paid positions in the Research Department. New employment opportunities will be listed at Job Opportunities and/or on Craig's List.

Getting Involved with IONS

Local IONS Community Groups exist around the world. These groups are self-organizing and self-directing. A list of current groups can be found at our Community Group Network website, where you will also find information on forming a community group in your area.

There are many individuals engaged in very interesting work, and we are excited about facilitating networking and the spread of this important information. IONS Community Groups are a great way to connect with like-minded people. If you have a personal story of transformation, you can share your experience by taking our online Transformational Survey.