Testing the Ontological Status of the Experience of Meditation Induced Timeless States
Mystics, meditators, and everyday people who have had peak experiences sometimes describe states of awareness where they experience the dissolving of boundaries between self and other, feeling at one with everything that is, and a sense of timelessness. Are these experiences hallucinations, or do they accurately reflect awareness extending beyond the ordinary boundaries of time and space?
To investigate objective correlates of these impressions, 32 channels of EEG in eight advanced meditators and eight matched non-meditators were examined before unpredictable flashes of light or audio tones. Slow cortical potentials (SCP) were examined one second prior to those stimuli. Across all subjects significant differences in the distribution of SCP were observed before light vs. audio stimuli, primarily in occipital and right parietal regions. Differences were stronger in the meditation group as compared to the non-meditation group. Fourteen of 32 channels in the meditation group exceeded p < 0.05 (corrected for multiple testing), of which 5 exceeded p < 0.0001. This study conceptually replicates prior experiments, supporting the existence of an objective reality to the subjective impression of “timelessness.”
We would like to acknowledge the following for supporting this project: The Bial Foundation and the Baumann Institute
This study was documented in the following article:
Radin, D. I., Vieten, C., Michel, L., & Delorme, A. (2011). Electrocortical activity prior to unpredictable stimuli in meditators and non-meditators. Explore, 7, 286-299.