Throughout his lifetime Stanislav Grof has made radically new discoveries about non-ordinary states of consciousness and profoundly expanded the domain of transpersonal psychology. Central to his observations were non-ordinary states of consciousness that were induced, either physiologically (e.g. during Holotropic Breathwork) or pharmacologically (e.g. by psychedelics). In this presentation I offer findings from spontaneous, non-induced non-ordinary states of consciousness, in illness and health, which shed additional light on the genesis and timing of these states. My key thesis is a proposition that we are often prone to experiencing non-ordinary states when the oscillating brain activity exceeds its normal range and the filtering activity of the brain abates. My data come from prospective observations of spontaneously emerging non-ordinary states in a large cohort of patients with recurrent mood disorders (bipolar and unipolar) and healthy controls (experiencing falling in love or spiritual emergence). In the studied population the peaks of oscillation create a potential for non-ordinary states; the non-ordinary states were not happening without these activating peaks. Applied to practice, monitoring of the brain oscillatory activity has made it possible to help in a number of abnormal mood states effectively and with less intervention. The approach may also be applicable to a timing of more productive psychotherapeutic and holotropic sessions.
History shows that radically new discoveries such as Stan’s take ages to become generally accepted; inertia of old paradigms is enormous. One possible way of facilitating a faster acceptance of the radically new may be via a bridge to the conservatively old: linking new understanding of expanded and non-local consciousness to more traditional neurobiological concepts and offering plausible mechanisms.
Grof, Paul, "Oscillating Brain and Non-Ordinary Consciousness" (2014). Expanding and Reenchanting the Psyche: The Pioneering Thought of Stanislav Grof. 4.