The sense of spiritual consciousness, connecting to something greater than oneself, is one of the most intoxicating realms a human can enter. Across the millennia such experiences have shaped the lives of individuals and, upon occasion, whole cultures. The experiences and their effects are historical fact. The question for science is not to deny them, but to seek to understand the processes by which they occur, and the domain into which they lead us. Central to these true stories is a special state of mindfulness, what the psychologist Charles Tart described in his classic 1972 Science paper as a state of consciousness.1
Whether it is a physicist achieving understanding of a physical principle, a spiritual pilgrim having an epiphany, a great painter or composer creating a masterpiece, or a remote viewer describing a teacup hidden in a closet, all report that when the experience is happening, when they feel that they are “in the zone” they are in a state of nonlocal consciousness. They experience themselves as being in a domain in which space and time are just informational enrichers, not limitations. They all report a timeless spaceless connection to something greater. For each the experience is modulated by their context and their intention, but regardless of whether they are physicists, painters, or meditators, it is essentially the same.
Although such experiences occur spontaneously only once or a few times in an individual life, almost every human culture has discovered they can be evoked and has developed practices, usually in a spiritual or religious context, for attaining this state. Similarly, all the martial arts have this component of mindful discipline, a practice of focusing intentioned awareness. Collectively, we have come to call these practices meditation.