A new journal article and a new book for your reading enjoyment...
"Electrocortical activity associated with subjective communication with the deceased"
Published in Frontiers in Psychology | November 2013 | Volume 4 | Article 834
Authors: Arnaud Delorme, Julie Beischel, Leena Michel, Mark Boccuzzi, Dean Radin, and Paul J. T. Mills.
This EEG study with Windbridge Certified Research Mediums (WCRMs) was a joint research project between the Windbridge Institute, the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS), and the University of California, San Diego. The project was funded by the Bial Foundation.
"...the study's findings suggest that the experience of communicating with the deceased may be a distinct mental state that is not consistent with brain activity during ordinary thinking or imagination."
Read the full paper or download a PDF copy at:
Meaningful Messages: Making the Most of Your Mediumship Reading
by Julie Beischel, PhD
$0.99 at Amazon.com*
Meaningful Messages provides 10 helpful hints for people interested in receiving a reading from a psychic medium. It's a short overview of the do's and don'ts to keep in mind as you prepare for, experience, and reflect on a reading from a medium. With all of the inaccurate information about mediums in movies and on TV, Meaningful Messages quickly prepares you for a successful reading with a real medium.
"As a Medium, I am asking all of my clients to read Meaningful Messages before they get a reading from me or any other medium. The main issues that I need a client to know about are all covered in this short, enjoyable read." --Dave Campbell, Windbridge Certified Research Medium
Get your copy of Meaningful Messages at Amazon.com*
*To read Kindle books on your PC or Mac computer, Android phone or tablet, Windows phone or tablet, BlackBerry, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, or right in your browser, download free apps/software from Amazon by clicking here.
But it does involve yoga and sharks. I’ll get to the sharks, but some necessary background first...
Twenty years ago, when I was 19, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). I mostly manage it by eating right (vegetarian and mostly whole, raw foods), trying to limit stress (yeah, right), and taking some basic vitamin supplements.
Though I recently promised the universe I would stop saying I 'have' MS --- and I really feel like I don't; I haven't had a 'new' symptom in ages --- sometimes the old scars act up. That was the case last summer. I had a really rough time and even had to walk using canes for awhile. I could almost feel the inflammation in my head. In situations like that, I turn to additional treatment options like energy healing. At that time, I also started practicing healing yoga as taught by the Krishnamacharya Healing and Yoga Foundation (KHYF) in India.
KHYF yoga is unlike any yoga I'd ever seen. My yoga therapist, Anita Claney, goes to India for six weeks every year to continue her training at a KHYF clinic. (And that's why there aren't many KHYF therapists in the US: that flight to India is a bear, I hear.) KHYF yoga is based on the premise that the systems of the mind, body, spirit (or energetic system), personality, and emotions are all linked and any and all can be positively affected by the practice. KHYF students use the yoga to manage everything from ovarian cysts to diabetes. Anita explains it better that I can.
Anita met with me for 90 minutes at our first appointment and we talked about almost every aspect of my existence: eating and sleeping habits, childhood trauma, current stressors, and some personal physiological things I'm pretty sure you don't want to hear about. Then she designed a practice specifically for me, taught it to me, and drew it out with cool little stick figures. I go back every six weeks or so and Anita changes my practice to reflect my improvements, new issues, etc. My job is to do the practice every day at home.
That's what I really like about KHYF yoga: it puts my health in my own hands. And it makes me feel better every time I do it. It has made a huge positive impact on my health.
KHYF yoga doesn't include the more well-known poses aimed at developing strength and balance (those apparently were developed to prepare 18-year old boys for meditating for long hours each day). I can do all of the exercises in my current practice (because every summer is hard on me) lying in my bed. It's mostly controlled breathing and simple movements of my fingers. My other practices have involved all kinds of sitting and standing exercises.
As Anita and I got to know each other, I came clean about my research interests on topics that most people find weird --- mediumship, telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, and psychokinesis. Anita didn't find my interests weird at all because what we think of as psychic abilities are called siddhis in the Hindu yoga tradition and are a natural result of the yoga practice. She 'warned' me that I should expect the development of such abilities as I went along.
She was right. On to the sharks.
A couple months ago I woke up several days in a row thinking about a friend of mine from college. They were just memories of places we'd been and things we'd done. (Full disclosure: he was more than a friend; I dated Keith for two years.) This hypnopompic state of waking up is notoriously conducive to receiving non-local information, but I didn't think anything of it even when throughout the day I kept being reminded of him.
I hadn't talked to Keith in years and didn't even know where he was living. When his popping into my head finally reached some sort of threshold, I called his parents and got his phone number. When I called him, Keith was understandably surprised to hear from me but I got right to the point:
"You've been showing up in my dreams a lot lately," I told him because I didn't want to explain about hypnopompic information transfer. "So I’m just calling to see if you're alright and if you need anything."
"Are you serious!?!" he said. "Right now, I'm on my way to swim with great white sharks."
As you yourself might, I asked him what the hell he was thinking and he said he was hoping to face his fear of water. Though I thought that starting in a bathtub or a swimming pool might be a more logical first step than water that contained man-eating predators, I held my tongue because it was none of my business.
Keith was very concerned about what my call might mean for his survival so I explained about hypnopompic states and the theory that we all have access to all information all the time but only the important stuff bubbles up to the surface of our consciousness (much like the severed limb of someone swimming with sharks --- no, I didn't actually say that).
I said, "Correct me if I'm wrong, but this is probably as scared as you've been in ten years." He thought that was a fair assessment. "So all this means is that your distress was strong enough for me to become aware of it." I didn't have any sense that he was in danger.
Keith did indeed survive according to an airport butt-dial and subsequent voicemail. And I potentially had a real-world experience of yoga siddhis.
If you are interested in learning more about yoga siddhis, check out Dean Radin's new book, Supernormal: Science, Yoga, and the Evidence for Extraordinary Psychic Abilities, which was released today.
Now I need to go do my yoga practice for the day. Be well!
Every day, people are receiving readings from psychic mediums in order to hear from their deceased loved ones. But is this helpful for the grieving?
At the Windbridge Institute, we have just launched a crowdfunding initiative to support a randomized clinical trial I designed to look at this issue specifically.
The proposed project is titled the Bereavement and Mediumship (or BAM) Study.
More information is available at www.afterlifescience.com
Thank you for your support!
This past weekend, Mark Boccuzzi (my husband and research partner) and I watched many of the speakers online from the Chopra Foundation's 2012 Symposium "Sages and Scientists: The Merging of a New Future." It was really interesting and sparked a lot of conversations in our living room!
Speakers included Stu Hameroff (who had the cajones to actually use the word "afterlife"), Candace Pert, Laura Liswood, Vandana Shiva (I can't even find the right words of awe to put in these parentheses!), Leonard Mlodinow, Henry Stapp, Elissa Epel (who really got me concerned about my telomeres), Rinaldo Brutoco, and the infamous Michael Shermer, founding publisher of Skeptic magazine.
While I expected only nonsense to come out of Shermer's mouth, he did make some logical points (that really almost anyone could have made): just because there is a word for a concept doesn't mean it exists in true reality (e.g., mind); saying we don't know how something works (e.g., local consciousness) doesn't prove an alternative explanation (e.g., nonlocal consciousness); and---the best and most obvious one---there is no such thing as the paranormal or the supernatural; there are only the normal, the natural, and the things we can't explain yet.
And while he lauded speakers who openly reported not knowing the answers to certain questions, he made blanket statements with no objective support about the impossibility of an afterlife: "Where does Aunt Millie's mind go when her brain dies? Nowhere!"
Now, I get it that if he changes his story, he will lose his job, his reputation, his income, and the drooling adoration of sheep-like followers everywhere, but it surprises me nonetheless when a grown, educated man gets up in front of a crowd and makes claims that clearly refute each other: (1) there are things we can't explain yet and (2) it is a fact that consciousness is created by the brain and cannot survive death. He can make claim #2 only by ignoring the numerous phenomena demonstrating that responsible scientists need to at least entertain its opposite (e.g., terminal lucidity, out of body experiences, near-death experiences, mediumship, etc.). I have other thoughts about his presentation, but I didn't transcribe it and I have a point I'd like to get to...
One of the main criticisms lobbed at mediumship, other psi phenomena, homeopathic remedies and the like (collectively called "X" here) is that because we can't define clear mechanisms for X, any laboratory demonstration of X must be the result of fraud, error, chance, statistical manipulation, etc.
For example, in a debate about the afterlife between Michael Shermer and Deepak Chopra from a few years ago, Shermer stated, "If the data shows [sic] that there is such a phenomena as psi that needs explaining (and I am not convinced that it does), then we still need a causal mechanism."
This demand is based in faulty logic. There are numerous "normal" Xs and we can't really explain how or why they happen but we all agree that they exist and are potentially worthy of study.
Some of these Xs are simple things we all have experience with like yawning, dreaming, and blushing and some are diseases and conditions we have at least heard of like multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson's disease, eczema, psoriasis, glaucoma, fibromyalgia, and any disease with "idiopathic" in its title.
Because I was trained in the interdisciplinary field of pharmacology, the Xs that come to my mind are the many drugs on the market that work through mechanisms we don't fully understand. These include Botox and Fosamax; aspirin for most of its century of use (though now we know how it works); certain drugs that treat Parkinson's (pramipexole), cancer (procarbazine, targretin), tuberculosis (ethambutol), malaria (halofantrine); and epilepsy (levetiracetam); the antibiotics clofazimine and pentamidine; many psychotropic drugs (e.g., lithium); and the general anesthetics that keep patients unconscious during surgery.
So I guess if skeptics need to have surgery, they forego the general anesthesia since the doctors cannot define the precise mechanisms of action of those compounds and they are forced to conclude that any previous loss of consciousness demonstrated in other patients when exposed to these drugs was surely due to error, fraud, chance, or statistical manipulation.
At the Windbridge Institute for Applied Research in Human Potential, we are primarily concerned with the applications of X ("applied" is right in our name!) regardless of the causal mechanisms. The drugs listed above all work in treating their target conditions and our initial research shows that mediumship readings from credentialed mediums are helpful in the treatment of grief --- each irrespective of known mechanisms.
I think you can see the fallacy in claiming that the absence of an understood mechanism for X is reason to dismiss the possibility of X or the value in its investigation.
For some other things science can't explain thus providing evidence that thinking we understand everything is pompous and ignorant, see:
PS - Mark and I are presenting a pre-conference workshop on Monday, April 9th, from 9am to 1pm titled "Survival of Consciousness: Implications and Applications" as part of the Toward a Science of Consciousness 2012 conference in Tucson, Arizona. We will be joined by Windbridge Certified Research Mediums (WCRMs) Dave Campbell and Joanne Gerber who will provide live demonstrations of anomalous information reception (AIR) and attendees will use intrumental transcommunication (ITC) software to attempt to obtain non-local information. The cost of the workshop, which can be purchased separate from the conference registration, is $50. For more information, visit www.afterlifescience.com
The Windbridge Institute is currently seeking volunteers to act as psychic research reading recipients (PRRRs or "P triple Rs") who will receive and score psychic readings about themselves.
- be 18 years or older,
- reside in the US, and
- have NOT experienced the death of any family members, romantic interests, or close friends during their lives. Individuals who have not lost anyone close to them are being specifically recruited in order to attempt to prevent deceased "drop-ins" during psychic readings for living participants.
Psychics are not being recruited for this study.
For more information about other required qualifications and potential responsibilities, time commitments, compensation, and costs and to complete a secure, on-line pre-screening questionnaire, please visit:
Please feel free to share this recruitment information with other interested parties.
Julie Beischel, PhD
Director of Research
for Applied Research in Human Potential
I saw Hereafter yesterday after not having been in a movie theater (yay, Netflix!) since Christmas Day, 2007. It was worth the trip.
Hereafter considered life after death through perspectives that were normal, ordinary, and, thus, realistic. One of the people I was with said, “I thought [a certain part] would be more spectacular.” I, on the other hand, thought that the normalcy of the after-death portions of the story were what made it extraordinary. It didn’t treat mediumship, near-death experiences, or after death communication as anything out of the ordinary. The same cannot be said about how some of the characters viewed these phenomena, though.
Outsider responses to the after death experiences were realistic; that is, people responded either with dismissive disbelief or with frenzied hunger to experience it oneself. The most interesting interaction from the dismissive front was an experiencer asking a non-experiencer if he could even entertain the possibility that there might be something on the other side. His response was something like, “If there was, wouldn’t they have found proof by now?”
Let’s dissect this argument. First, who are "they"? This is not an infinite number of chimps at an infinite number of keyboards sort of deal. It’s not like every scientist in the world is working day and night on this question and they still haven’t found anything. There are only a handful of us working with limited resources on this topic so progress is destined to be slow.
In addition, life after death is not a topic typically tackled by science. In most parts of the world, the idea of researching the possibility of life after death is ridiculous. It’s like saying you do research on whether the sky is blue. It’s just a given that we survive the death of our bodies.
And for most of history, religion, not science, was the authority with all the answers. When, relatively recently, the two split and science also became an answer machine, it disregarded all things religious as superstition. Since the afterlife was the domain of religion, science said, “No thanks. You keep that. We’ll be over here.” Science didn’t start looking at the afterlife with any real gusto until the 1880s and, again, it’s not like there were a lot of people working on it (then or now).
Then there’s just the logical fallacy of the argument. The absence of proof for something is not proof of its absence.
The additional realistic facets from the film I wanted to point out were the existence of fraudulent “communicators,” people demanding readings from a medium, and the presence of information in a mediumship reading that the sitter (who often demanded the reading) didn’t necessarily want to hear.
There was a wonderful tongue-in-cheek montage of a grieving individual visiting numerous types of practitioners claiming that their trance mediumship, instrumental transcommunication device, or gallery readings (by the organization’s “Senior Sensitive”) were sure-fire ways to communicate with the deceased. I just hope the public recognizes that those people are the minority.
I thought the common thread of people presupposing that mediums are at their beck and call and somehow required to connect them to their loved ones was an interesting one. My only experience with that is the people who spend a few bucks during some of our online fund raising events in which Windbridge Certified Research Mediums (WCRMs), whose readings usually cost at least a couple hundred dollars, provide “mini-readings” and then become indignant when they do not receive an entire reading’s worth of information. (Most people at those events, however, are appropriately grateful for the opportunity to receive communication and support afterlife research.)
And finally, Hereafter addressed the issue of information being present in a reading that the sitter did not necessarily want to hear. I was concerned that the movie was inaccurately leading the viewer to believe that everything a medium says is correct and comes directly from the “mouth” of the deceased; so I was slightly relieved when this unwanted information aspect arose. Undesirable information, when verifiable, can be more evidential to a sitter than other types of veridical information because it cannot be dismissed as wishful thinking, the medium just saying what the sitter wants to hear, or the medium acquiring that information psychically from the sitter.
Overall, I thought that Hereafter did a great (but not perfect) job of representing the reality of several types of after death communication and related phenomena. Like I said in a previous post about an episode of the TV show Castle ("Mediums in the Media": http://drjuliebeischel.blogspot.com/2010/10/mediums-in-media.html), I am always happy to see references in the popular culture that paint these experiences as normal. They are making it less and less taboo for people to see a medium, be a medium, or talk about their near-death experiences or personal after death communication experiences.
Thank you, Clint.
Processed the sitter scores from a slew of telephone test readings performed by prospective Windbridge Certified Research Mediums’ (WCRMs).
Performed additional test readings with prospective WCRMs on the phone.
Administered the Phenomenology of Consciousness Inventory (PCI) a bunch of times (the PCI is a questionnaire that quantitatively measures 26 dimensions of consciousness).
Contributed an article titled “The reincarnation of mediumship research” to EdgeScience (vol. 3, pp. 10-12), a publication of the Society for Scientific Exploration (SSE). Read the article here.
Was interviewed by Dean Radin, PhD, for an Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) teleseminar I called “Can mediums talk to the dead? Can you? Why should we care?” Listen here.
Set up a specific page listing all the ways you can stay connected and get involved with the Windbridge Institute.
Presented Windbridge Institute research (“Empirically addressing a proposed mechanism behind orbic photographic artifacts” and “Evidence-based mediumship and survival research and its practical social applications”) at the 2010 conference of the International Society for the Study of Subtle Energies and Energy Medicine (ISSSEEM) in Westminster, Colorado. (Visit our publications page for all of our presentations and publications.)
Received much welcome advice and direction (and shared many giggles) over dinner with charming and brilliant physicist Ed May, PhD, Director of the Laboratories for Fundamental Research, and his fascinating wife Dianne Jenett, PhD, Co-Director of the Women’s Spirituality masters’ program at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, during the ISSSEEM meeting. (And got lost trying to get back to the hotel after dinner.)
Got to spend time with some wonderful Windbridge members and supporters during the ISSSEEM meeting.
Wondered why the scientific study of the survival of consciousness (life after death)---which affects every single person on the planet---receives so little interest, support, and funding. (See my previous post.)
Did my duty as a scientist and served as a reviewer for a journal submission.
Got two haircuts and went to the dentist once.
Ate a Twinkie. It wasn’t anything like I remembered from my childhood and I was rather amazed at the stones Hostess has calling that food. It tasted like cleaning products with a sweet, creamy center. I was, however, presently surprised recently by Oreos (vegan!) which I hadn’t had in years.
What I did NOT do on my summer “vacation”
Vacation, stay-cation, away-cation, or half-a-day-cation.
Go outside for more than 60 seconds at a time more than once a week. I have had multiple sclerosis for 16 years (I'm 35) and one of my symptoms is intolerance to heat, so I am pretty much house-bound for the six months that is the Arizona summer (May-Oct). This is complicated by the fact that the AC in my 1995 Ford Aspire only works if the car is moving more than 35mph but is much easier now that we have AC in our house (we used to just have an evaporative cooler). Why do I stay? (1) The other six months of the year are quite lovely and (2) the symptoms I experience from the cold are even worse than the heat-induced ones.
Say or write any of the following “words” or phrases: “till” (I will only use until or at the very least ‘til); “irregardless”; “a-whole-nother”; “supposably”; “your” when I meant “you’re”; and “explanation point” (oh, David Bromstad, you are in all other ways fantastic).
Take for granted for one moment my near-perfect husband (I would have said ‘perfect’ but he can’t seem to shake the habit of opening a box of cereal, a bottle of ketchup, a carton of soy milk, etc. when one is already open).
Eat a second Twinkie.
For more blog posts and other useful links and info, visit: http://drjuliebeischel.blogspot.com/
What will happen when you die? No question affects more people than that one.
But funding for the rigorous scientific inquiry of phenomena addressing the survival of consciousness after death is minimal if not essentially absent. What the heck is up with that?
At the Windbridge Institute, we were fortunate to receive a grant from the Bial Foundation in Portugal our very first year in existence. That organization provides arguably the largest financial award available in the world for projects investigating parapsychological topics. But that award is fractions of pennies on the dollar of any US National Institutes of Health (NIH) or National Science Foundation (NSF) grants that are offered for ‘more important’ topics.
It is no surprise that Windbridge is the only scientific research organization in the world focusing primarily on the survival of consciousness. People need food, clothing, and shelter and those things cost money. Most scientists don't do the research they want to; they do the research that can get funded. Survival research (if you do it right rather than fast, and you form sound and reasonable conclusions) is not a good way to pay the bills. Trust me, I know (e.g., Mark and I never took a honeymoon, my engagement ring is cubic zirconium, our car is a 1995 Ford Aspire, etc.). However, also trust me that I know deep in my bones that this research is tremendously important, that it might not get done without us, and that if I followed my intended path, I’d be working for a drug company right now with plenty of food, clothing, and shelter but a dark and empty soul. I am grateful to be who and where I am.
I could spend countless days and endless words lamenting about the current state of things and offering suggestions as to why I believe the mere mention of topics like survival and mediumship results in stomach cramps and wet underpants on the part of certain so-called ‘scientists’ from more mainstream fields. I won’t, but I will make a couple (or a few or several or a bunch of, depending on how sleepy I get -- I'm a late night blogger) comments and then get back to my point.
Science, by its definition, is a method for knowing. It is just one method. Knowledge can also come about through, for example, experience or observation. Science is NOT a god to be worshipped or an unchanging dogma to be blindly embraced. (To think that at this point in history we even have a notion of how the universe works is completely arrogant and utterly ridiculous. Not long ago, doctors didn’t even wash their hands.) Science is simply a method for answering questions. And science, when practiced appropriately, will address any question regardless of what a church, a parent, a book, a professor, a past civilization, or a guy on the bus has to say about it. Science has no biases and no boundaries. There are not topics that science cannot be used to study. Thus, I think it is only appropriate that certain journals, government agencies, and university departments with the word ‘science’ in their titles (a) change their names under penalties of the laws covering truth in advertising or (b) start encouraging actual science and research that is meaningful to every single person on the planet.
I recently heard Cassandra Vieten, Director of Research at IONS, give a presentation at the Toward a Science of Consciousness 2010 conference. She cited research that demonstrated that when faced with new data that is in line with a person’s current belief system, the part of his or her brain involved in learning is activated. However, when presented with new information that goes against a belief system, the part of the brain involved in error detection lights up. Thus, when people hear new information, their instinct---at a neurological level---is to conclude that those data are wrong. Thus, I am so, so thankful for people like the vast, vast majority of you who can transcend that neurology and think, “Gee, what I just heard goes against everything I was ever taught by every textbook and authority figure I ever encountered, so I better look into it more with an open mind and a careful eye,” instead of reacting with what is at its essence, “Uh, um, uh… you’re dumb!” I am so grateful to be a member of this TDG community.
[Tangent complete. Returning to ‘What affects more and is valued less?’] Outside of simply the number of people afterlife science affects, the survival research we perform at Windbridge is publicly applicable for a lot of other reasons which granting organizations seem to overlook.
(1) Research on Terror Management Theory has demonstrated that belief in an afterlife may liberate people from “the compulsion to continually prove our value and the correctness of our beliefs” (Dechesne et al., 2003. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 722-37), an impulse that can manifest in extreme cases as radical actions that defend or propagate the dominance of one’s beliefs, religion, nation, etc. (which provides the individual with the psychological comfort of symbolic immortality). There is a great documentary called “Flight From Death” on this topic.
(2) Mediums may be able to regularly and consistently find missing persons and successfully contribute to criminal investigations, but more research is needed.
(3) Dead people may have advice or information that could benefit scientific, technological, and social progress, but more research is needed.
(4) Empirical evidence for survival may alleviate the fear and anxiety commonly experienced by hospice patients and their families (I know it’s science that will bring me comfort at the end), but more research is needed.
(5) Mediumship readings may be beneficial in grief recovery. We have collected pilot data in this area, but (guess what) more research is needed. My goal is that someday we will have collected and published enough data that health insurance companies will cover readings with certified mediums as part of their mental health coverage.
Regardless of these compelling facts, I don’t think that the granting organizations are going to come around in time to make these possibilities a reality in my lifetime, so I’d like to let you know how you can be a part of history and we can get the ball rolling on these fronts without them. We don’t need no stinkin’ grants. Our overhead is so low (there’s just Mark and I and a part time research assistant and we don’t even need a building to do this work) and we are so efficient at Windbridge that some minimal grassroots support is all we need.
Here are some (not freeways but) FREE ways you can stick it to the man and help independent afterlife research succeed:
* Tell your friends about Windbridge.
* When you are going to buy something at Amazon anyway (and they sell almost anything), use the Windbridge Store and they’ll give us a very small portion of the price without charging you extra. You can use the search box here.
* Become a fan of the Windbridge Institute on Facebook. (You know how to do that, you don’t need a link.)
* Join our email list so we can tell you about where we’ll be and what we’ll be doing. We have some awesome online events planned that you won’t want to miss.
Feeling a little more giving?
* Become a Member of Windbridge (it involves a fascinating e-newsletter). Until Monday, you can even do so for only $9.99. Need more reasons why? Let me convince you here.
* Buy a t-shirt or a mug that says “Ghosts are People Too” or a variety of other kitschy products and gifts at the Windbridge Gear store. Yeah, your dad would totally want one for Fathers’ Day.
Are you wicked pumped up to make things happen?
* Become an Enhanced Member and hang out with Windbridge researchers, advisors, and mediums in our E-Members-only community groupsite.
* Make an online contribution. Every dollar makes a difference (but none of them are tax-deductible for US federal income tax purposes).
Thank you for simply being interested in this topic. Someday soon, you and I will change the world.
PS - I have overstayed my welcome in the featured blog corner, so I will back off now, but promise to share more as appropriate.
Some say, rather than communicating with dead people, mediums are either accessing "dead" data stored in the universe or using psi to obtain information from the living or the physical environment. Discarnates seemingly acting with volition and intention may provide evidence to the contrary.
When we screen new prospective Windbridge Certified Research Mediums (WCRMs) as well as in most of our mediumship studies, each medium reads two deceased people (called discarnates), the readings take place over the phone, and I act as a proxy in place of the actual sitter (the living person wanting to hear from the discarnate), so only the medium and I are on the phone. The only information the medium and I have is the first name of a discarnate. Which medium reads which discarnate pair and the order in which the discarnates in a pair are read are randomized. Phone readings are scheduled at times convenient for me and the medium. Thus, in any given week, a number of readings are taking place. On rare occasions, I do two readings with two different mediums and two different discarnates in one day.
Recently, that situation occurred and because of all the randomization, two discarnates each named Sally* were scheduled to be read on the same day. Since I didn't have any other information about the two discarnates or sitters, the day before the reading, I simply held out to the universe the page in my planner where the two readings were listed, shrugged my shoulders apologetically, and said, "You two will need to figure out who goes where."
The morning of the scheduled Sally readings, I got a message from the medium assigned to read Sally-1 saying that she woke up sick and couldn't do the reading, so we pushed the reading back one week. Problem solved: no more two Sally readings in one day. (We later joked that since I had left it up to the discarnates to deal with the situation, they had "struck the medium down with illness!") The reading later that day with Sally-2 and the other medium went just fine.
When I called the Sally-1 medium back a week later for the rescheduled reading, her phone just rang and rang and eventually went to voicemail. I assumed that she had forgotten about the reading, left her a voicemail, sent her an email to reschedule, and went back to work. When I checked my phone and email later, there were frantic messages from her saying that she was sitting next to the phone waiting for the session and when I didn't call, she tried to call me and noticed that she had voicemail. Apparently, her phone just didn't ring when I called. (Phone, computer, and electronic troubles are common for mediums. One of the WCRMs jokes that there should be some kind of special mediumship insurance to cover such disasters.) So we pushed the reading back one more week. I guess Sally-2 wasn't satisfied with only one week of separation. Maybe she thought she should be highlighted. And she had every right.
When I called that third week, the medium answered right away but there was a lot of static on the line. When I recommended that I call her back, it cleared right up and the rest of the reading was fine.
Just Sally-2 letting us know she was still running things.
*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the deceased.
Julie Beischel, PhD
Director of Research
The Windbridge Institute
A version of this post originally appeared on May 22nd, 2010, at http://drjuliebeischel.blogspot.com/
On June 25th, my research (and life) partner Mark Boccuzzi and I will be presenting "Empirically Addressing a Proposed Mechanism behind Orbic Photographic Artifacts" at the Research Day of the International Society for the Study of Subtle Energies and Energy Medicine (ISSSEEM) 2010 conference. I can't post the abstract or the results here yet, but I will say that most, if not all, orb images that have been presented as evidence of the "paranormal" can be reproduced under controlled conditions using conventional means. (And I don't have time to argue about the validity of that statement. See, for example, Storm, 2001; Schwartz & Creath, 2005.) That being said, there are aspects of the orb photographic phenomenon that may warrant further study (e.g., people feeling compelled to take photos that then contain orbs). Thus, while orbs are not photographs of actual entities, it may be worth entertaining the possibility that some type of interaction occurs---be it physical, mental, or electronic---that results in these images.
In our study, we addressed the hypothesis that the deceased can "move" ambient dust particles in the air into physical positions that will result in orbic artifacts when photographed. We asked the deceased to "push" dust particles in the air in a dark room into the path of the visible beam from a laser light source which was then photographed. This does not create orbs in the photos since no flash is used but the dust particles reflect the laser and create bright spots that can be quantified using image analysis software. Imagine dust highlighted in a sunbeam. (The dust in this study was generously provided by the Tucson landscape and our dog.)
Photo analysis data aside, some very interesting things happened during data collection for this study. I am not going to draw any conclusions or offer alternative explanations at this time; I'll just convey some facts.
We collected data a number of times and asked a Windbridge Certified Research Medium to report back to us what the deceased said about their experiences during the experiment. In this medium's (and others') opinion, there is a "committee" of deceased individuals aiding in Windbridge research from "the other side" and this committee is spear-headed by the late author, journalist, researcher, and medium Susy Smith. I never met Susy while she was alive, but I feel like I have a good sense of her personality. As Director of Research at Windbridge, I don't answer to any "boss," though I'm pretty sure if I messed up, I'd have to answer to Susy.
According to the medium, Susy gathers the appropriate individuals for the task at hand. My visual image of this involves an able-bodied Susy (who was confined to a wheelchair toward the end of her life), a clip-board, a hip-mounted walkie-talkie, and a coach's whistle. Want to make sure the right discarnate finds the right medium during a quintuple-blinded reading? Susy gets them there. Need to test whether the deceased can interact with an EMF meter? Susy finds some engineers. And, as we found out, need some dancers? Susy holds auditions.
On the first night of the study, I simply told the medium that we were going to ask the Committee to do something and requested that she check in with them about how they did afterward. She didn't know anything about what we were testing or what the task was. We laid out dark fabric on the floor of a hallway in our house, shot the laser down the hall, asked the Committee aloud to push dust into the beam, and took some long-exposure photos. (Don't ping me on the protocol; those are far from all of the details. Rest assured that we thought of, controlled for, and documented "that.")
When we checked in with the medium, she mentioned "a black sheet" (not a common research tool around here) and said she felt confident that the members of the Committee were able to do what we asked of them. I then briefly explained the study and asked if they had any input regarding further trials. She said that Susy was asking that we move the experiment somewhere else because "there wasn't enough room for them to move around." Our hallway is about 4 feet wide.
She also said they had "tipped something over or knocked something down" in the area of the experiment. There is nothing in that hallway but pictures on the walls and all the pictures were fine. However, the next morning, when I got in the shower that's in the bathroom off that hallway, the shower head was hanging at a wonky angle and an innocuous little piece of rubber that had been holding it upright had come off. It had never come off before and, once I put it back, it has not come off since.
The next time we collected data, we moved the set-up into a larger room. When we checked in with the medium, she said, "This time, we all decided to dance. Spirit and I figured the more of us that danced in the room, the more dust particles would fly into the air." Sounds reasonable.
For the third run, we aimed the laser into a small hole in a box to prevent excess light reflection from the laser bouncing off the far wall. This box was placed on a small table with a mosaic top of small (1 inch x 1 inch), square mirror tiles. For this run, the medium reported seeing "a clear glass filled with ice cubes but no liquid." There was no ice anywhere in the house (we don't waste valuable freezer space with frozen water; it leaves more room for sweet potato fries). I didn't have any idea what that might have referenced. Mark made the connection between the cubes and the mirror squares when he noted that the table was new to the set-up.
She also said that, "This time I used my hands to pound on the ground as a beat" for the discarnates to dance to. "As I was doing this I felt I was doing what Spirit was doing. It was their way to show me what they were doing." She then reported that, "I felt the urge to stop or pause between my beats. I would beat for awhile then a long pause. I didn't understand why I was doing this. All I knew was this is what Spirit is guiding me to do." Because of the long exposures, the camera shutter would be open while a photo was being taken and then there were pauses after each shot while the digital camera wrote that image data to the chip.
Several weeks later, I was acting as a blinded proxy sitter during a test phone reading a prospective Windbridge Certified Research Medium was performing. This second medium was not aware (by any normal means) that an orb study existed and the two mediums don't know each other. When asked "Does the discarnate have any comments, questions, requests, or messages for the sitter?" during the reading, the medium (as requested) reported many statements applicable to the absent sitter. She also mentioned that, "He says everybody is around you, Julie, helping you do this. And he's kind of jumping up and down and doing the happy dance."
This orb study is still on-going and we will report the results publicly when appropriate.
Julie Beischel, PhD
Director of Research
The Windbridge Institute
[Originally posted on April 24, 2010 at http://drjuliebeischel.blogspot.com/ ]
Storm, L. (2001). Photographic anomalies on the Internet. International Journal of Parapsychology, 12, 195-204.
Schwartz, G. E. & Creath, K. Anomalous orbic ‘spirit' photographs? A conventional optical explanation. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 19, 343-358.