Can meditation bring out psychic abilities?

The cultivation of paranormal skills was not one of my reasons for deciding to more properly learn to meditate at age 21. It didn’t even make my top 10 list.


Meditation, along with some basic breath work and stretches, was a part of the basic yoga practices that I had been learning through a class at my local college. Like most people, relaxation, stress management and the other health benefits that are associated with yoga and meditation were very appealing to me.


As I continued to practice over a number of weeks and months, I stumbled upon the more philosophical and spiritual sides of the ancient Vedic traditions - of which physical yoga practices are a branch.


Among many other topics, the Vedic texts allude to ‘siddhis’ or ‘special powers’ available to the discerning yogi or meditator. These powers include things like:

  • levitation (moving without the limitations of gravity),

  • bi-location (projecting one’s physical being into two places at once),

  • psychic connections (such as being able to communicate with another person via thought)

  • and remote perception (mentally perceiving things at a distance in time or space).


In many ways, the ancient Vedic texts are like the original ‘super hero’ story. So much modern fantasy and fiction are centered around the aspiration of humans to perceive and take action in powerful ways that go further than the five senses. This idea is one of the critical elements of captivating stories like J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, and Roald Dahl’s “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar.’


As a child of modern storytelling and lover of fiction, I was more amused by the linking of yoga with paranormal abilities than I was convinced that these claims to ‘special powers’ had any sort of legitimacy.



Breakthrough Studies into the Science of Consciousness


However, as I continued to do deeper research into studies around meditation, I became aware of a whole slew of information on the science of consciousness and how even modern quantum physics allows for the possibility of what might be considered paranormal phenomena.


Questions began growing in my mind:

  • Could the gap between new science and fringe beliefs around consciousness be closed during my lifetime?

  • Can human consciousness remotely interact with objects outside of the brain and body without the use of technology?

  • Could someone like me actually develop super powers?


I became aware that, decades ahead of Elon Musk’s Neuralink, research had been done at Princeton University by Robert Jahn and his colleagues which seemed to show that human consciousness can have an effect on electronic systems, even with complete physical separation. From Dr. Larry Dossey’s work, I learned about some quite convincing large-scale double-blind studies into the measured effects of focused intention (also known as prayer) on physically remote objects.


As an example, several studies were designed around the use of random number generators which randomly generate a sequence of 1’s and 0’s. Under normal circumstances the ratio of 1’s to 0’s would be about 50/50. But in the study, after participants were asked to send a gentle thought intention to generate either more 1’s or more 0’s, there were statistically significant variations in the results. These pointed to extremely high chances of correlation, which meant it was nearly impossible to explain away the unusual findings as being the result of pure chance.


I also learned that the CIA had funded projects in ‘remote viewing’ or remote perception for use in military strategy. [A prime example of this is physicist Russell Targ’s work with the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) recently featured in the documentary film ‘Third Eye Spies’.] From biologist Rupert Sheldrake’s work, I learned about the rise of a sort of scientific dogmatism that has shut down research in these areas and also about some of the leading theories for explaining what has been so far unexplainable by materialist scientific worldviews.


Even a prominent national figure like astronaut Edgar Mitchell was fascinated by the scientific nature of consciousness. After his ventures into space he spent a major part of his life devoted to opening the scientific frontiers of consciousness studies through founding the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS). In my research on the subject, I dived into several of the books by Dr. Dean Radin (chief scientist at IONS) with titles like ‘The Conscious Universe: The Scientific Truth of Psychic Phenomena’ and ‘Supernormal: Science, Yoga, and the Evidence for Extraordinary Psychic Abilities.’



Practice Makes Psychic?


A few months into a pretty regular meditation practice and all of this research into what were more plausibly looking like genuine extended abilities of the human mind, I decided to book into a weekend meditation workshop which had components of remote perception practice. I did not have many expectations for that particular aspect of the workshop and was curious as to how it would play out.


Based on popular culture, one might have pictured this sort of skill-building exercise being taught by an old sage with a long beard and flowing robes. One might also imagine it taking place at a monastery on top of a mountain, or in an ancient clearing surrounded by megalithic stones, or perhaps on a swamp planet on a planet far far away…


But our remote perception practice sessions took place in a pretty nondescript conference room on the ground floor of a hotel in Orange County in Southern California. And it was taught by a doctor of emergency medicine from North Carolina who loves body-building. To be fair, he was also a student of the bearded and robe-wearing Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the teacher credited with popularizing transcendental meditation in the West. And who’s to say we should rule out the possible influence of far off planets in allowing this sort of education to unfold so effortlessly.


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Our first practice went like this:


The group of about 20 of us sat in a circle with a small box on the floor in the middle of the circle. Our quest was to go into quiet awareness by way of meditation and then to gently intend to sense what was in the box. After about 20-30 minutes, we went around the room and shared our impressions.


The reveal of what was in the box happened at the end. It was a box of mints. It was interesting to see that about half of the group seemed to pick up on certain key elements that correlated strongly with the object in the box, such as the material (cool metal, in this case), the shape (rectangular), and the colors (red and white). However, I personally did not feel like I picked up on any real sense of this object in this exercise.


This initial exercise did not sway my thinking in any significant way. I still had the hope and the trust that, with practice, I would be able to experience something that felt a little more out of the ordinary.


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The second practice session was similar in design. Except instead of focusing our awareness on a physical object in a box, we intended to perceive a ‘thought scenario’ being ‘projected’ and held in the minds of 3 of the people in the group. Those 3 had met privately beforehand and agreed on something to all think about for the duration of the exercise.


I closed my eyes, and let the sound of a Tibetan singing bowl carry me into a state of deep peaceful awareness. At some point in the middle of the meditation, I perceived what felt like warm sunlight shining on my face. I had the image in my mind of ocean waves lapping up against a sandy beach. It was almost like I was there sitting on the beach, seeing an umbrella and hearing children play in the surf. Eventually I rationalized that this whole scene was just my imagination working to create something to think about.


When the time came for us to share our impressions, I was incredibly surprised to hear several others mention the sunlight, the wetness of the water, and the joy of being at the beach. And that turned out to be exactly what the ‘projecting’ participants had been thinking about! I had come to trust the people in this group and their reactions were so genuine when the impressions were shared that it left me nearly speechless. I had had no indication of anything related to that thought scenario beforehand.


My mind was blown. I seemed to access some psychic ability within myself that I had no way of rationally explaining away. Never in my life did I think that I would actually perceive the thoughts of others around me with such clarity of presentation. The feeling of being stunned by this experience was followed by a sense of intense curiosity and wonder as to what else could be achieved by myself and others. What results could be achieved by people who spend enough time and attention toward the serious practice of abilities that fall outside of the current scientific paradigm of what is possible?



Pushing the Edge of the Possible


Since that day, I have often wondered what kinds of shifts would take place in our world if more people could experience this type of thing in a controlled setting. To appreciate an expanded sense of ability in this way can be profoundly liberating in so many ways. And I’ve continued to practice remote perception in other settings, sometimes with very surprising and confirming results. This has affirmed to me personally that there is truly something to this well beyond confirmation bias.


What other biases may be holding us back as a civilization when it comes to what is thought of as impossible? What if a little mental quietude and gentle intention could allow for easy psychic abilities to develop across large populations? How would that influence science, spirituality and our hopes for human potential moving forward?


These compelling questions drive me to continue exploring and seeking out that which may be just outside of my comfort zone but just within the realm of possibility.


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Special thanks to Rachel Koppelman, Chase Ruzek, Claire Piper and Maymie Chan for providing key feedback during the development of this essay.