I would like to introduce you to the work of Anna Wise. Anna had an early interest in meditation, in higher spiritual states. She went to London in the 70s; it was for a summer vacation, but she ended up staying there for a decade or 11 years. Anna met Maxwell Cade, who was a yogi and a scientist and is pretty much considered the father of biofeedback in England. At that time, EEG machines were only used in clinical contexts, but Max, due to his background, was really interested in using the measurements for what we now call biofeedback, or neurofeedback. Max worked on measuring the brain waves associated with higher states of consciousness. He designed the very famous EEG machine, called the Mind Mirror, together with his friend and collaborator, Geoffrey Blundell, and this machine allowed them to do loads of measurements on brain waves. The Mind Mirror became an instrument that made history.
Anna was trained by Max and ended up going back to the United States with the Mind Mirror to expand on his work. She measured the brain waves of artists, composers, dancers, inventors, mathematicians, scientists, and CEOs, and basically found that the brainwave patterns of high performance, creative sparks, or peak experiences were exactly the same patterns that yogis and swamis lived in—exactly the same patterns that Maxwell had been measuring.
Anna started teaching a model based on what is called the “Awakened Mind Pattern,” which is the specific brainwave pattern that Max and Geoffrey had discovered, and she started teaching consciousness training. She had an M.A. in Humanistic Psychology and worked in the fields of neurotherapy and peak performance. She was even an early member of the Academy of Certified Neurotherapists. Her work and legacy are amazing.
The reason I wanted to introduce you to Anna’s work is because there are a few points that she had on all of this that I find not only interesting, but really empowering as well. For example, I’d like to share what she said about the “Awakened Mind Pattern,” which some of you might know about; it’s even contained in some of the iAwake products (the primary meditation tracks of PMP 3.0, the Releasing tracks, and Epsilon). Anna said there is a very specific combination of brain waves, which, in the right relationship and proportion, provides the person experiencing these states with valuable access to sometimes elusive qualities, like empathy, intuition, creativity, inspiration, spiritual connection, detached awareness, and fine cognitive processing—all at once. Amazing, I think.
There’s another key point about Anna that I like, which is that she understood meditation as a state. She thought that meditation was a state of consciousness, not necessarily a technique, yet it was showing a specific brainwave pattern. We tend to understand meditation as a technique, and it is, in a way, that as well. But she felt that there were countless ways to get into the meditative state, ranging from traditional methods such as watching your breath, sitting in silence, or chanting a mantra; to physical methods such as practicing yoga, running, maybe doing martial arts; and also through high performance methods, such as practicing sports, artistic contemplation, or production. The list is endless really.
When I learned about spontaneous meditative states, or spontaneous meditation, I found it really empowering, because at the beginning, it might feel hard to know if you’re really meditating, or if you’re entering a meditative state, or if you’re only relaxing, or if you’re falling asleep… Sometimes, it can be hard to know exactly what is happening. So, in light of Anna Wise’s defining meditation as a state, I’d like to just talk a little bit about how we all experience meditation in one way or another, without necessarily practicing any of the many things that can get you into that specific state.
For example, I used to play basketball. I started when I was about 12 and played up until my mid-20s. Way before I knew anything about meditation—in Spain, they often tell you that you should meditate more, but in the sense of thinking about it, being brainy about it—I remember entering spontaneous and very inspired and effortless states while playing, in which, funnily enough, my playing was impeccable, and I really didn’t need to think about what I was doing. I didn’t need to plan it as I was playing; I was flowing.
This feeling was amazing. In a way, it could be similar to when I sometimes experience bliss now. But it was a very action-based kind of bliss. It was very satisfactory in the sense that I felt able to do whatever was needed. I remember having chats about this specific state with my friends, and we didn’t have words for it. “It’s probably the flow state, isn’t it?” Loads of sports people in training are focused on trying to reach that state, of course, but I didn’t know any of this—I just had the experience. I also remember similar experiences while involved in various art forms, whether it was composing, playing music, taking photos, writing, coming up with ideas, or really anything creative.
So what I’m trying to say is that learning how meditation tastes and making use of what we know about neuroplasticity in order to become skillful, perhaps in the art of meditating or the art of living, is something really valuable. But often, it sounds overcomplicated and, to some people, it might even sound unattainable—and it is not. It’s not complicated. Sometimes, it’s just spontaneous, and sometimes, in order for you to go back to a state, it just requires practice, like anything else in life. But no matter how much practice it might need, it’s really a natural and human thing. In fact, I consider it one of our many birthrights.
I’d like to go through what Anna Wise considered to be the qualities of mastery. Anna defined mastery as being in the state you want to be in, when you want to be there, and also knowing what to do with that state, and being able to accomplish that. Her teachings not only required the use of the Mind Mirror and readings on technical brain wave data, but she also worked with what she called the content of consciousness. So, whenever people experienced the specific states she was teaching, the Awakened Mind Pattern, for example, she would analyze how that specific state and its content could be experienced, and also how they could be applied and used.
In other words, mastery was not only about showing a specific combination of brain waves on her Mind Mirror, and not only about doing whatever exercise and managing to reproduce the Awakened Mind Pattern, but also the practical understanding and the use of that specific state. This, to me, is really key, because it is one thing to produce a state or reproduce a state, and another thing what you do with that state, which is the really important bit, I think. Otherwise, it’s just fireworks, isn’t it?
For Anna, mastery meant being able to enter, at will, the state of consciousness that might be most beneficial and most desirable for any given circumstance, then understanding how to use that state. She also wrote (and I’m reading directly from her book), “When you are in an awakened mind state of mastery, your mind is clearer, sharper, quicker, and more flexible. Emotions are more available, understandable, and easier to transform. Information flows easily between your conscious, subconscious, and unconscious, increasing intuition, insight, and self-healing abilities.” What I find fascinating is that this description is remarkably similar to those we get from iAwake customers who have been able to stick to their practice, often by using the Profound Meditation Program, but sometimes by using other tracks in our library. I find it quite nice that her definition is so similar to some of the reports that we get.
I’d like to share a list that she wrote in her book called “The Qualities of Mastery: Compassion, Detachment, Non-Judgment, Clarity, Equanimity, Service, and Love.” She goes on to describe all of them, and then there are guided meditations in order for you to experience them. But, I’m not going to get into that; I only wanted to focus on love, because I’m going to connect it with gratitude. Anna described love as “the capacity for tender, warm feeling mixed with joy and deep affection, focused on individuals, humanity in general, and ultimately on a deep, heartfelt devotion to God or divine consciousness.” She thought that love “flows in all directions and is perhaps the single most vital quality to nurture.”
Stay tuned for Part 3 of Javi’s discussion of the Way of Gratitude.
Javi Otero is an Alpha Tester and Experiential Customer Support at iAwake Technologies. His work as an artist and acoustic stimulation researcher is currently shaped by his interest in the practical applications of biofield entrainment and energy medicine. He likes to explore and practice creativity in its widest possible sense and is passionate about anything that might help us further experience the wonder of being alive.
Photography by Javi Otero
Photo of Anna Wise from AnnaWise.com.