I'm a lot like you, your All American gal who just happens to be intrigued with the "woo-woo": intuition, ghosts, mediums, astrology, holistic medicine and quantum physics. I consider the mystery floating around us to be reality's little bonus, like catching the unexpected sweet smell of flowers as you haul out the trash. Do I need science to confirm there are things we can't explain? No. But I do appreciate when a scientist braves untried waters, trying to prove bits of what we're experiencing everyday.
A new study by Professor Daryl Bern, a well-respected Cornell professor. is about to be published proving that we have the ability to pick out a sexual photograph from a selection of non-sexual images -- without looking at them. As in, ESP. Apparently we've got skills that were never covered in grade school.
Would you be surprised to know there is also a wall of resistance already building against this study? Why are so many of us still afraid of the mystery in our lives?
Bem will publish his paper, “Feeling the Future: Experimental Evidence for Anomalous Retroactive Influences on Cognition and Affect” in an upcoming issue of The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. After 1000 participants, 9 experiments and 56 pages of statistical evaluation, Professor Bem concluded that we experience ESP. (So that explains how I knew you’d be reading this piece, at this very moment...)
Kudos to Bem and Charles Judd, the editor of this journal. It takes some stone-cold guts to declare you’ve discovered something outside of society's reality box. We like to think of those in white polyester lab coats as the great explorers of mystery, bringing light and hard stats into the unknown. The sad truth is that our society doesn’t take well to anyone messing with our current grasp of reality. Galileo, the Father of Science, spent the last 10 years of his life under house arrest, but he was dead on about that sun thing.
If there is anything that scientific history has proven time and again, it’s that mystery is part of the human experience. Our firm reality, as we would define it today, will be something else in 100 years: Whoa! Dude, the earth is round? It circles the sun? You’re saying we came from monkeys? What are you talking about -- light travels as a particle and a wave? Every cell in our body has a list of directions? The Universe is expanding away from every thing else, at once?
That's why I'm very careful in what I firmly believe, because it only takes one "woo-woo" moment to stir up everything you thought you knew.
The response to this paper has been predictable. Douglas Hofstadter, a professor of cognitive science at Indiana University, Bloomington, huffed, “There has to be a common sense cut-off for craziness and when that threshold is exceeded, then the criteria for publication should get far, far more stringent. Otherwise, the floodgates will be open to crackpots of all stripes — and opening the floodgates to the frequent publication of crackpot ideas in top-notch journals would, in its own different way, spell the end of science as we know it.”
Ray Hyman, a professor of psychology at the University of Oregon said, “It’s craziness, pure craziness. I can’t believe a major journal is allowing this work in. I think it’s just an embarrassment for the entire field.”
I guess Hofstadter and Hyman have never known who was calling before they answered the phone.
Denial is a powerful psychological tool. It makes us feel safe and in control of the unknown but I'd argue that it can also diminish how we experience the world and limits our perception of the possibility in our lives. Limits can be so stifling.
I’m all for skepticism. Scientific laws have stood for centuries only to be proven false. But I’m tired of skepticism as the standard, trumping our common experience (67% of Americans claim they’ve experienced ESP). Who cares if scientists are hard at work proving oil opposes water? I want them to dive, head first, into the mystery we're experiencing on a regular basis: how I know when someone is writing me an email as they're doing it.
Bem is not recommending that we throw every American first grader into ESP class; he’s asking us to investigate what we are experiencing instead of brushing it aside as coincidence. Why, after thousands of years of having to accept one reality-altering “discovery” after another, are we still hammering these studies with an ax of denial? To flat out deny this study, before it's even been published, is to dis-OWN the mystery of life -- the absolute meat of science.
Why wait for someone in a university lab to validate our truth? Dismissing the "weird" in our life disempowers part of our human experience and our capability to understand it. We have been blessed with intuition, so why should we wait for an "expert" to own this aspect of ourselves? Since the scientific community doesn't seem to be in a hurry to do so, I say we link arms and venture out into the unknown, creating a well-made path for the wary to follow. Are you in?
1. Accepting Fear, Inviting Love
You are supposed to be scared outta your flip-flops when facing the unknown. Like the first time you slid down the curly slide or the first time you drove through rush hour traffic or the first time you stood before a crowd to impart your vast knowledge. It can come from your conscious mind (this place creeps me out), your unconscious mind (I need to take a different route from now on) or even your intuition (goose bumps). Mystery can be fearful and you can acknowledge that fear without empowering it (that would be the helpless woman running from the room squealing). Don't let fear dictate how you experience your life. I allow it be an indicator that mystery is at play, but then love takes over and becomes my guide. Whenever an experience comes my way that triggers fear, I imagine love pouring out of my heart (many people visualize love as a green energy) into my surroundings. I also ask for the protection and guidance from my Creator. Try to let love and faith wash over your fear so you can explore the mystery and you'll find, like all aspects of life, it becomes a more positive experience.
2. Opening the Door
Mystery comes in all forms, but many times it's as soft as a feather across skin, which explains why it's SO blasted easy for us to blow it off. As soon as the word "coincidence", "weird", "strange" or "odd" passes through your thoughts, raise your radar. Oprah calls it, "the whisper." For me, it's a sparkling flag waving wildly in the back of my head. That's the Universe, communicating with you on a level we don't fully understand but can absolutely appreciate.
The ways in which mystery enters your life may be as varied as a lasagna recipe. Some people find it in the odd behavior of a hummingbird, others find it in a strange physical feeling, a certain song on the radio, an odd pattern or regular occurrence of numbers. Keep your mind open, invite the mystery in, and don't be afraid to giggle like a school kid when it arrives.
3. Start Your Own Exploration
Mystery surrounds all of us, all of the time. Once we recognize it in our daily life, it's time to put that sixth sense to work the way we use our nose to see if the milk has gone bad. It can be an amazing guidance system and learning tool. And there has never been a better time to start investigating the unknown. There are hundreds of people here at Owning Pink sharing and learning with each other. I've found that the very intuition about which I'm learning helps me weed through these sources to find what resonates as true for me. If a book, site or advisor does not "feel" right to your gut, if it leaves you feeling negative in any way, let it go and find one that does. I'm a firm believer that what works for me won't necessarily work for you -- so you've got to investigate and search to find your own truth.
What about you? Are you one of the 67% who has experienced ESP? Does the unknown fascinate you or scare the hairs clear off your head? Do you think we should approach discovery with an air of skepticism or with wonder? How do you experience life's mystery?
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