I saw an interesting article posted in a leading business school journal recently which was essentially talking about intuition and psychic abilities – though the author took great pains to distance himself from any of those terms. The article is called “Misunderstanding what others think, believe, feel, and want” and the main premise is that most people are lousy “mind readers” (as he calls it) based on some studies that track how closely people are able to guess what others are thinking.
Interesting article. Of course, the experiments described do not, in my opinion, test “mind reading” ability. One of the experiments was having one person answer a bunch of questions (like, “I would rather spend a quiet evening at home than go out to a party”) and their partner or friend in another room tries to predict how the subject would answer. These are predictions – guesswork, using the rational mind. This is not mind reading.
Mind reading, or the term I use, being psychic, is a real-time thing. You’re in the moment, reacting to incoming information and perceptions, and you just know.
Someone participating in that type of study could use the same skill – he or she could try to intuit the answer. Typically though, when we’re asked a question like on a test or exam, then the rational thinking part of our brain takes over. That’s the part that likes to be in charge, and it would easily assert itself to say, “No problem, I can handle this!” And thus, the answers you’d get will be in the domain of the ego. (That’s not a criticism, just a description of the situation.) So that experiment isn’t likely going to come anywhere close to testing “mind reading.” So it’s actually not surprising that the researchers didn’t find people to be very good at this. They equated the results to be along the lines of guesswork; that is, random. And that’s because that’s likely what it was. Obviously I wasn’t involved in the experiment and I didn’t sit in the room with these people, but I can (ahem) intuit that this is the case. 😉
Anyway, my bet is that if these experiments were conducted on a group of long-term meditators, the results may be quite different.
One byproduct of an active meditation practice is that you grow much more attuned to the world – that is, that’s what happens if you also work to stay grounded, focused, and centered with your life. Many people who meditate indulge in becoming spaced-out and vacant; that is NOT what a true meditation practice should bring to you.
Those who seek out meditation are typically already quite sensitive, sometimes overly so. For them, finding strategies of better blocking the world will be important, so that they can effectively engage when appropriate, and filter out the noise and the chaos. Meditation will serve to open us up and we need to pay attention to the skills of mindfulness and focused attention to counteract the overwhelm.
Over time, meditation will make a sensitive person even more sensitive – to the extent that you could use the word “psychic” to describe it. Sometimes this is literally in the form of a thought transmission – someone looks at you and you instantly know what they’re thinking. More often though, meditation allows you to nurture your awareness, and importantly, your COMPASSION, for others. Meditation makes you more in tune with the pain and suffering of others, even sometimes over your own. You can’t help but be cognizant of where others are at – particularly if they’re in distress – because people tend to broadcast their states of mind quite loudly. You pick up on that, and you react in a sympathetic way, because you have more tools available – both tools of perception, to understand what is going on beneath the surface, and also tools of strength, because you have a deeper well available to you to draw on, such that you can afford to give some away.
Being sensitive like this is our natural state, yet living in this crazy wonderful modern world of ours has mucked up the system for most people, so we don’t experience this “natural” mode. However, all of us are psychic (so psychic, actually, that most people aren’t aware of it, because it’s always happening). Once you start paying attention to attention itself, then it opens up whole new worlds. It gives you choices. It lets you be there for others. It lets you see what you had overlooked before. It’s all pretty cool, as awareness expands.
It’s also pretty cool that some of this stuff is being studied in graduate business schools! Even if their experiments are slightly off. It’s still fascinating!