What happens when we attend a silent meditation retreat, sign up for a spiritual seminar, or engage in a healing ritual? Anecdotally, we know that personal development experiences like these catalyze positive transformation and growth. We may have even had a few of these experiences ourselves.
However, despite the seemingly positive effects, these activities have rarely been studied through a scientific lens.
That changed with the IONS Discovery Lab (IDL — pronounced “ideal”). IDL is one of our core research programs, and we recently closed out its first phase. Now, we are thrilled to announce that we are offering IDL in six additional languages.
What Is IDL?
Leaders and facilitators who run workshops, retreats, seminars, etc., can sign up for IDL in order to scientifically evaluate the effects of their personal development offering.
We survey participants before and after one of these transformative practices to observe how their state changed as a result of the event. If the event takes place on the IONS campus, physiological measures can also be taken (for an additional cost). This includes an EEG reading, saliva samples, pupil dilation, and heart rate.
Then, we compile the results to share with the event’s facilitator. This gives the facilitator data on the impact of their event, while contributing to the larger mission of understanding human potential.
IDL is free for facilitators because we are using the information to curate the world’s largest dataset on experiential learning practices. Through this data, we hope to unlock the mechanisms of transformation embedded in wisdom practices, extraordinary experiences, and healing modalities.
Our Findings So Far
Over the past two years, we have collected over 1,400 surveys across ~50 events. These surveys are distributed before and after an event, and include core measures like:
- Extended human capacities (e.g., paranormal experience, intuition, remote viewing, precognition, psychokinesis)
- Well-being (e.g., general well-being, affective well-being, compassion, sleep quality, pain)
Each of these core measures ladders up to three main factors:
- The subjective experience of interconnectedness
- Psi ability
- Creativity, wellbeing, and attitude toward & experience of transformation
Then, we have three research questions about the factors:
- What, if any, connection exists between these three factors?
- How is each of these factors affected by the transformative workshop?
- What characteristics of a person contribute to these factors?
It’s too early to answer question #2, as this will require a nuanced analysis of our extremely robust dataset.
However, here’s what we do know:
- The experience of interconnectedness positively correlates with higher education, the personality trait of “agreeableness”, sense of openness, and belief in the paranormal;
- A deeper sense of compassion is related to the above qualities, as well as being female; and
- The younger the person, the more compassion they are likely to experience.
An IDL World
IDL is inspired by one of our driving ideas: 45 years of research has shown us that when people realize we’re interconnected, we take better care of ourselves, each other, and our shared world.
At the heart of many transformative, experiential learning programs is this experience of interconnectedness; of touching something greater than ourselves. IDL is one way we’re exploring how each of us can access that space of interconnection.
For millennia, people have reported extraordinary experiences through wisdom practices. Today, we find these practices leading to advancements in technology, business, education, and personal growth. IDL is aimed at unlocking the mechanisms of transformation and applying our findings to scientifically-informed noetic training programs.
We recently closed out Phase 1 of IDL and are excited to analyze the initial findings more deeply. Now, as we move into the next phase, we are thrilled to announce that IDL is available in seven languages: English, Spanish, Mandarin, French, Portuguese, German, and Italian.
We will continue to broaden the scope of this study in order to make IDL as accessible as possible. Do you want to take advantage of this exciting program? Learn how your group can participate!