Our Consciousness Journey - Exploring the Edges

Author // Lisa Reagan

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Our Consciousness Journey
Exploring the Edges
Worldview Explorations, WE
Why and How Do We Shift?
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Exploring the Edges

IONS’ second decade birthed the curtain-ripping Causality Project, which argued that the science of the day was incomplete and ignored important anomalies that could affect all disciplines and inquiries. For example, an inconvenient and foundation-crushing fact for materialist science was what quantum physics call “the observer effect”: the proven principle that the act of observation can affect the phenomenon or system being observed.

Comfortably standing on the razor’s edge of known and unknown science, IONS perceived its mission to champion new perspectives on the relationship of mind, matter and spirit, and pushed forward. The insights of the Causality Project were presented in Global Mind Change: The Promise of the Last Years of the Twentieth Century, written by IONS’ first president, Willis Harman. The book announced:

“Revolutions are generally thought of as large-scale, bloody upheavals involving whole countries and societies. But there are quieter revolutions that begin in the individual mind and create the kind of change that may be even more significant. By deliberately changing their internal image of reality, people are transforming the world. Right now we are living through one of the most fundamental shifts in history—a change in the actual belief structure of Western industrial society.”

Twenty years into the territory of human consciousness and based on IONS’ research insights, IONS’ second president, Winston “Wink” Franklin, made a “noetic” bet:

  • That reality is more than physical,
  • That everything and everyone are profoundly interconnected,
  • That our individual and collective capacities are virtually limitless,
  • And that we participate daily in our own evolution, individually and collectively.

At the halfway mark, Franklin’s bet paid off in spades. Over the next 20 years, IONS would witness its cultural impact expand: in popular television documentaries on consciousness and healing that coincided with the establishment of the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Alternative Medicine; with the creation of a worldwide community; and through applied science programs and the beginnings of practical tools for conscious living in the 21st century.

Did you know? Every issue of Pathways and the Pathways Connect Dialogue and Resource Guide carries a sprinkling of moon dust—the echo of an Apollo astronaut’s earthrise epiphany and his revolutionary commitment to explore the frontier of inner space and our human capacities.

Pathways to Family Wellness celebrates the Institute of Noetic Sciences’ 40th anniversary this year and extends our gratitude for IONS’ pioneering research that inspires adventures in conscious living for our Cultural Creative readers and Pathways Connect Gathering Groups!

In this feature, we highlight IONS’ origins in an Apollo command module hurtling through space, 40 years of epic, paradigm-busting research into human consciousness, and IONS’ generous contributions to the human race of practical tools for thriving as a 21st-century citizen in a complex and changing world.

Cultural Creatives

At the end of its second decade, IONS funded a book that would have a profound effect on the participants of the conscious living movement (including Pathways readers). Cultural Creatives were identified for the first time in 2000 by social scientists Paul H. Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson in their research-based book Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World.

Ray and Anderson defined Cultural Creatives as people who “care deeply about ecology and saving the planet, about relationships, peace, social justice, and about self- actualization, spirituality and self-expression. Surprisingly, they are both inner-directed and socially concerned; they’re activists, volunteers and contributors to good causes more than other Americans.”

The identification of Cultural Creatives and the role they play in shifting the cultural worldview toward wholeness, healing, wellness and sustainability helped activists from a cross-section of movements understand their frustrations in pushing against an entrenched, unsustainable paradigm and toward a vision, as the book describes, brought forward from within themselves. But the book came with a warning for Cultural Creatives: They were doomed to believe they were alone and powerless until they became aware of their role and their numbers.

“Because they’ve been so invisible in American life, Cultural Creatives themselves are astonished to find out how many share both their values and their way of life,” write Ray and Anderson. “Once they realize their numbers, their impact on American life promises to be enormous, shaping a new agenda for the twenty-first century. What makes the appearance of the Cultural Creatives especially timely today is that our civilization is in the midst of an epochal change, caught between globalization, accelerating technologies and a deteriorating planetary ecology. A creative minority can have enormous leverage to carry us into a new renaissance instead of a disastrous fall.”

Recognition of the role of Pathways readers and their potential in organized, local groups as Cultural Creatives was the direct impetus for the creation of Pathways Connect Gathering Groups. More than 300 groups exist globally and can be found in our online directory.

Cassandra Vieten, Ph.D., IONS’ research director and author of Mindful Motherhood: Practical Tools for Staying Sane During Pregnancy and Your Child’s First Year, says that supportive community is one of the most important things parents can have to help them stay balanced and grow a healthy family.

“We must create a tribe of others who can help us stay awake and aware, and true to our deepest instincts, values and goals as parents, especially when choosing a new way to parent, or if you have a non-traditional family (divorced, single-parent, LGBT or older parents),” says Vieten, a psychologist, mind-body medicine researcher and mom. “Whether in a moms or dads group, through babysitting exchanges with like-minded parents, or increasingly on the Internet, it’s important to have connections that can support us when we feel uncertain or overwhelmed.”

In 2011, Pathways partnered with IONS to bring the first ever Mindful Mothering Conference to the newly founded Museum of Motherhood in New York City. Beginning in 2013, Pathways readers and group members will be able to join Vieten for online teleconferences. The Mindful Motherhood Project, based on the book and Vieten’s research, offers facilitator training as well as continuing education training for practitioners.

Shift Reports: Evidence of a World Transforming

If, by now, you are feeling inspired by IONS’ 40 years of insights, but wishing for a set of CliffsNotes to help you catch up, then you’re in luck. IONS’ Shift Reports are two 80-page summaries of the most important aspects of the global shift, with generous white space, charts, graphs and pull quotes to help you breeze through the last four decades of mind-blowing consciousness research and insights.

The first Shift Report, subtitled Evidence of a World Transforming, has this to say about materialistic science’s story of who we are and what we are capable of: Its purpose has been fulfilled, and, therefore, it is no longer needed. The 2007 report concludes:

“Materialist science represented an evolutionary leap from a mind-set that relied on religious authority for verifying truths to one that valued an objective search for knowledge. In this global age of rapid change and transformation, it is time for another such leap…[to] include the rigorous study of subjective, inner experience, a renewed appreciation for meaning and purpose, and a recognition that the world of consciousness is far more mysterious and influential than we have ever imagined.”

The second Shift Report, from 2008, subtitled Changing the Story of Our Future, presents “evidence of the crucial role that consciousness plays in any effort to advance toward a more globally sustainable and just civilization. Voting is good, but changing one’s mind and heart is better….By changing those beliefs, we can change the future.”