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10-Minute Crystal Ball
EVERYONE IS PSYCHIC
What image comes to mind when you hear the word psychic? Someone in a turban hunched over a crystal ball? An aged mystic chanting strange words?
Actually, we all possess psychic ability. Hunch, gut feeling, intuition — these are words we use to describe an inner guidance that surfaces in our everyday waking consciousness and slips us information we couldn't have gotten through the usual sensory channels. Many police officers and nurses are familiar with this sort of "inner knowing" — their own lives or the lives entrusted to them may depend on these professionals paying attention to their intuition. Some successful investors rely not only on practical data but also on their "feelings" about particular stocks. And mothers often display an uncanny knowledge of circumstances their children face, particularly with regard to matters of health and safety.
Sir Winston Churchill, Britain's prime minister during World War II, was guided by his sixth sense throughout his lifetime. Once, during a dinner party, he had a feeling that his guests and staff should head for the bomb shelter. Moments later, a bomb hit his home — but thanks to Churchill's premonition, everyone was safe.
Most people are either skeptical of or suspicious about psychic ability, or they reject it altogether. Modern Western society has a rational/logical bias that discounts what can't be explained in quantifiable, physical terms. Young children frequently experience visions, voices, premonitions, and other psychic events — until their elders admonish them for talking about them. By the time we're in our teens, we've learned to keep the lid on any "weird stuff" for fear of being ridiculed, or worse. We turn down the volume on our psychic receivers and usually ignore their gentle promptings.
Yet it's the rare individual who hasn't had a brush with the psychic realm. The media are full of stories about people who at the last minute didn't board a plane that later crashed, felt an inexplicable urge to go to a certain place and met their true love there, bought lottery tickets on a hunch and won the jackpot. Although you may not have experienced anything quite so dramatic, you've undoubtedly been thinking something just as another person says it aloud, or received a phone call from someone you'd just been thinking about. This type of mental telepathy is the most common form of psychic event. Are these just coincidences? Or is there something more to it?
THE PSYCHIC REALM
Some researchers believe that psychic ability is really a matter of pattern recognition — a person subconsciously observes and pieces together repeated symbols, experiences, or behavior, such as body language, to "read" someone else's mind or to anticipate events. Another theory proposes that stored memories — a picture glimpsed long ago in a book or a conversation overheard in childhood — are the sources for knowledge that seems to come out of nowhere. But while pattern recognition and stored memories may explain some incidents, they can't account for all psychic phenomena.
The concept I prefer suggests that a nonphysical energy field surrounds and permeates all matter, connecting us to each other and to the whole of existence. It's a little like the Internet, which links us electronically to people everywhere via the World Wide Web, except this energetic "cosmic web" is far more elegant. This network contains information in its entirety, and everyone can access it with the right password. Swiss psychiatrist C. G. Jung called this energy network the collective unconscious. The Austrian mystic Rudolf Steiner referred to it as the etheric realm.
Many people find it easier to access the psychic realm when they are asleep or in an altered state of consciousness, as during meditation or hypnosis. Illness, too, can dissolve the barriers to intuition. It seems that when we loosen our grasp on our rational, analytical thinking processes and allow our minds to float freely, the doors of perception open to admit all sorts of impressions and impulses that we ordinarily block.
Edgar Cayce is probably the best-known psychic of our age. Called the Sleeping Prophet, Cayce could freely navigate the psychic realm while asleep. Although he had little formal education and no medical training, this Midwestern farmer correctly diagnosed illnesses and recommended treatments for thousands of people around the world. He also time- traveled extensively and predicted many important world events that have since come to pass.
A personal energy field known as an aura surrounds each of us. Sensitive individuals see this as a halo of colored light about three to twelve inches thick, like a cocoon around the physical body. (The haloes depicted around the heads of saints, angels, and religious figures in paintings are actually their auras.)
Our emotions affect our auras, which change color and shape as our moods shift. Bright, clear colors indicate positive emotions and good energy; dark, murky colors suggest discord or health problems. Some medical intuitives diagnose illnesses by examining the aura's appearance, and some holistic healers believe that disease exists in the aura before it manifests physically.
This personal energy field, also known as the etheric body, is integrally involved in psychic awareness and functioning. For instance, whenever we come into contact with something, we leave traces of etheric matter on it, just as we leave fingerprints on objects when we touch them. Psychics read information from jewelry or clothing by sensing these etheric traces.
Our auras are also extremely sensitive to what's going on in both our physical and nonphysical environments. Like personal radar, the aura picks up the subtle vibrations given off by people, animals, weather patterns, plants, the heavenly bodies, and many other forces all around us. This is how dowsers sense the presence of water and why we sometimes know how other people feel even if they don't outwardly express emotion.
It's usually easier to see a person's aura if he or she stands in front of a dark background. To see your own aura, hold your hand a few inches above a piece of dark cloth. Move your hand slowly, if necessary. Can you distinguish a faint glow extending from your fingertips?
Even if you can't see your aura, you can probably feel it. Here's an experiment you can try. Close your eyes while a friend slowly reaches for your head. Can you sense your friend's hand before it actually touches you? The highly responsive aura lets most of us know when something enters our personal space.
Once you become more aware of your aura, you can begin to both increase its capacity to sense what's going on around you and expand its range of perception. This will improve your ability to "read" other people and your environment.
THE SIXTH SENSE
Psychic activity can occur when you are awake, asleep, or in between. Everyone experiences it differently. Some people have visions, some hear sounds or voices. Others feel distinct bodily sensations such as chills, twitches, or a tingling in the spine. Many just know something without understanding how they know it. At times, psychic awareness expresses itself as a vague impression or gentle urge, while at other times it might demand your attention with the insistent force of a police siren.
Psychic experiences fall into several categories. Clairvoyance (literally, "clear seeing") is the ability to see things beyond the range of ordinary physical perception, including events that have not yet happened. Psychic visions often come to us in dreams, but they can also appear in a shiny surface — a crystal ball, a pool of water, even the hood of a well-waxed automobile. Sometimes visions of entire scenes from unbidden, or nonphysical beings — saints, angels, fairies, ghosts, elementals — seem to emerge out of nowhere, right before the eyes of the startled beholder.
A vision the painter Marc Chagall had when he was a young man inspired him to paint angels. Poverty-stricken and doubtful of his artistic calling, Chagall one night saw a huge, brilliant blue angel on the ceiling of his room. The angel, he believed, had come to give him the encouragement and confidence he needed to continue with his work.
Clairaudience is the power to hear things that don't activate our ordinary auditory mechanisms. This includes sounds too distant to be picked up by the physical ear, such as a child's cries of distress heard from miles away. Hearing things that have no physical source also falls into this category.
A few years ago, during a very difficult period in my life, I was walking alone in a state park near my home when I distinctly heard a voice say, "Go see Leslie." I looked around, but saw no one else in the vicinity, so I continued on my way and didn't give the matter much thought. Soon, the disembodied voice again ordered, "Go see Leslie," this time more firmly. After the third command, I walked to the studio of a jeweler named Leslie Wind, whom I'd met briefly on a few occasions. We immediately became fast friends, and she helped me through the challenges I was facing at the time.
Clairsentience, or "clear sensing," is the term used for those inexplicable feelings we get when we know something without having seen, heard, smelled, tasted, or touched it. Churchill's "feeling" that he and his guests should go to the bomb shelter is a good example of clairsentience. Sometimes clairsentience is accompanied by a physical sensation, such as a tingling, prickling, burning, or chill, but the actual awareness arrives via a "sixth sense," not through one of our five physical senses.
Precognition or premonition about the future, telepathy or mind reading, communication with entities in other planes of existence (also known as mediumship or channeling), psychic healing, intuitive medical diagnosis, psychokinesis (moving an object with your mind), psychometry (sensing an object's psychic vibrations), near-death experiences, and past-life recall all fall under the "psychic" heading.
These forms of enhanced awareness are often referred to as extrasensory perception, or ESP. However, this implies that psychic ability is something "extra," when in truth it is as common as the senses of hearing, sight, and taste.CHAPTER 2
IT'S ALL IN YOUR MIND
The mind is like an iceberg — only the tip is revealed. Scientists acknowledge that we use only a fraction of the brain in daily life, so what's the rest doing? Although nobody knows the answer to that question, one thing is certain: We have far more potential than we utilize.
THE TWO SIDES OF THE BRAIN
The brain is divided into two hemispheres, the left and right. Psychic activity is associated with the right side of the brain — the part that's linked with creativity and visual imagery. The left brain governs our everyday, analytical thought processes and language skills. Simply stated, intuition arises from the right hemisphere, intellect from the left. The temporal lobe, which deals with both visual and auditory functioning as well as memory formation and emotional expression, also plays a role in psychic processes.
A collection of nerve fibers called the corpus callosum connects the two sides of the brain and allows them to communicate with each other. Generally speaking, the connection between the hemispheres is better developed in women's brains than in men's, enabling women to shift more freely between hemispheres. That's why women tend to be more in touch with their intuition than men are (hence the term woman's intuition). However, each of us, male or female, can improve communication between the two sides of the brain and expand our psychic capabilities.
Western society is left-brain dominated. We emphasize intellect, facts, logic, and linear thinking over intuition and imagination. As a result, most of us have been encouraged to use our intellect and to ignore or mistrust our intuition.
But why settle for only half a brain? You can strengthen your right brain by exercising it with activities such as listening to music, painting, and using your imagination. Because the right brain controls the left side of the body, natural right-handers may also be able to improve right-brain function by placing more emphasis on the left side. Use your computer's mouse with your left hand, for example, or hold the telephone receiver to your left ear.
Silence is extremely rare in our noisy, fast-paced modern world. Not only are we bombarded with the omnipresent cacophony of traffic and other ambient sounds, we also clutter our immediate surroundings with TVs, radios, video games, and all sorts of busyness that may drown out the gentle voice of intuition. Although psychic insights can come to us in the stands at a football game or in the midst of a crowded shopping mall, we're generally more receptive when our minds are calm and quiet.
Meditation is one of the best ways to increase your capacity for psychic functioning. There are many types of meditation — some involve chanting or listening to music, others emphasize breathing techniques, and a few even include physical movement. All forms have a common objective, however: to still the mind and increase awareness.
In the most common approach, you sit still in a quiet place for a period of time — usually ten or more minutes — and attempt to empty your mind. You stop thinking about work, relationships, finances, and daily chores, and become fully present in the moment. Mental chatter temporarily ceases and you experience a profound state of relaxation in both mind and body. Of course, this is easier said than done and, like everything else, requires practice to perfect.
In one form of meditation known as creative visualization, the meditator forms a mental picture that conveys relaxation, such as waves breaking gently on the sand. Contemplation involves focusing on a particular object, idea, or image in order to gain greater insight into it. Active meditation sounds like an oxymoron, but that's what you're doing when you rake a Zen garden, walk a labyrinth, or stroll peacefully through the woods. The key is to move slowly, mindfully, remaining attentive to your motions.
The changes experienced during meditation aren't just subjective, they can be measured physically. Brain-wave frequencies decrease from the usual thirteen to thirty cycles per second to eight to thirteen cps. Heart rate and respiration also slow. And the brain steps up production of endorphins, the proteins that enhance positive feelings.
When you're in this serene state, known as the alpha state, it's easier to pick up the signals of your inner knowing. Your intuition receptors are more sensitive to psychic communication from other people, too. Over time, meditation also will improve your mental clarity, enabling you to focus your full attention on an idea or image without succumbing to distraction and to psychically project that image or idea to someone else.
Since ancient times, dreams have fascinated and mystified us. Where do they come from? Why do they happen? And most of all, what are they trying to tell us?
We all dream every night, even if we don't remember our dreams. Most people have between three and five dreams per night. Dreams provide a portal through which we can journey to other levels of awareness, including the psychic realm. By examining our dreams, we can uncover the secrets hidden in our unconscious minds. Dreams also connect us with the collective unconscious and with the myths, experiences, and archetypes that influence us individually as well as culturally.
The symbols and scenarios we encounter in our dreams give us clues that can help us solve the problems we face in our waking lives. Elias Howe, the developer of the lock-stitch sewing machine, got the idea for his invention from a dream. For ten years he'd been struggling to get his machine to work correctly. Then one night, he dreamed that a tribe of cannibals planned to eat him if he didn't figure out his conundrum. Howe looked at the cannibals' spears and noticed that there were holes in the pointed ends. This gave him the breakthrough idea he'd been searching for; he placed a hole in the tip of his sewing machine needle, and it then worked.
In addition to giving us insight into ourselves, our dreams plug us in to the "cosmic web" I mentioned earlier. Much like online links connecting Web sites, dreams link us to people, experiences, and information imprinted in this energetic network. Through dreams, we are sometimes able to communicate with other people — even those who may not be in the physical realm. While sleeping, Edgar Cayce psychically retrieved the knowledge of healers and physicians who'd lived long ago and used this information to help his clients. Apparently, the wisdom of the ages remains stored in a "cosmic library" even after the healers have passed on.