September 28, 2010

An Exploration of Noetic Science

Posted in Experiences, Science and Relgion tagged , , , at 11:17 pm by tiffanyannbrown

What do Harvard-trained neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor, Nasa-trained astronaut Edgar Mitchell, and spiritual guru Deepak Chopra all have in common? If you haven’t already guessed it’s that they all share a background firmly grounded in science—neuroanatomy, engineering, medicine—but due to one circumstance or another have all come to question traditional Western science with respect to their understanding of the world in light of a significant personal experience. In short, they are all explorers of noetic science.

So, what is noetic science? According to one definition, it is “a multidisciplinary field that brings objective scientific tools and techniques together with subjective inner knowing to study the full range of human experience.”

In 1996, Jill Bolte Taylor suffered a massive stroke in the left hemisphere of her brain, causing her to re-think her entire approach to brain research, while also opening her mind up to the possibility of other types of existence. She has written a book documenting her experience called My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey, in 2008 was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World, and has also appeared on Oprah. From an interview with, she discussed what happened to her sense of reality when the stroke occurred:

I lost the cells that defined the boundaries of my body, where I began and where I ended. In the absence of that information I had the perception that I was at one with all that is: I am blended with all of the atoms and mind, because the brain chatter was gone, so there was this absolute silence … We have a group of cells inside our brain that tell use we are solid. Okay, I’m a solid. But for eight years I did not exist as a solid; I existed as a fluid entity in a fluid environment. This was a marvelous experience-to be that enormous in the absence of the distraction of language that has to label everything in my world. Its absence put me in a position to simply experience the energy dynamic of all particles around me, and it was a beautiful experience.

The full interview can be read here, and below is an excerpt from one of her interviews with Oprah.

With Edgar Mitchell, it was an otherworldly experience in space that led to his questioning of the nature of reality and resulted in a decision to start The Institute of Noetic Sciences, a nonprofit research, education, and membership organization whose mission is advancing the science of consciousness and human experience to serve individual and collective transformation.  From the biography on his web site:

Trained as an engineer and scientist, Captain Mitchell was most comfortable in the world of rationality and physical precision. Yet the understanding that came to him as he journeyed back from space felt just as trustworthy—it represented another way of knowing. This experience radically altered his worldview: Despite science’s superb technological achievements, he realized that we had barely begun to probe the deepest mystery of the universe—the fact of consciousness itself.

In his own words, below is a summary of Edgar Mitchell’s personal experience in space.

As for Deepak Chopra, an endocrinologist and former Chief of Staff at the New England Memorial Hospital in Stoneham, Massachusetts, it was a general unhappiness with Western medicine that prompted him to change his approach from pill-prescribing to mind-body healing. To date, he has written 56 books ranging from alternative healing practices to topics on consciousness. He is currently the Medical Director of the Sharp Institute for Human Potential and Mind-Body Medicine in La Jolla, California, and lectures and teaches worldwide.

Throughout his research, Chopra has been led to believe that consciousness is more than just a byproduct of one’s brain but rather something more fundamental, non-local, and independent of space and time. See the below video for more details.

Despite coming from different scientific backgrounds, it’s interesting to see how the three above-mentioned individuals have all reached similar conclusions after having traveled three very different paths to obtaining such knowledge. For more information on noetic science, please visit Dr. Mitchell’s web site,


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