Results of a large scale test to bring people into the Beauty Way peak state of consciousness, held at the Ozark Research Institute school in September 2000
by Dr. Grant McFetridge, © 2001
Below is an article I wrote for the Ozark Research Institute (www.ozarkresearch.org) describing the results of a group process we ran on 100 volunteers at their September 2000 school. This gave us a statistically significant test of our fast process to bring people into relatively permanent peak states of consciousness. For the test, we chose to limit the process to the 'Beauty Way' state, as this saved us time and was a simple state to verify as I describe below. I was very happy with the results!
- Grant McFetridge
Peak States of Consciousness
Have you ever asked yourself the question, what do I really want in life? A hundred answers come to mind - a perfect partner, an end to some personal disability, our dream job - the list is endless. But imagine for a moment that there is something so important to you personally that you'll go through the rest of your life searching for it in your work, your partner, your home, and in thousands of other things that our culture says are goals or things worth having, without even realizing you are searching. We ask ourselves fleetingly "Is this all there is?" before we hurry on looking. For what you really want, down at your core, isn't something that you've ever been taught even exists. And so years go by, with a dissatisfaction that cannot be filled or even acknowledged. What is this thing you truly want? Some have briefly tasted it - some lucky people have even owned some of it for long periods of time - and some unfortunates have had it, lost it, and realized that their life is barely worth living without it.
But what is 'it'? Let me try to explain. Have you ever had a moment, a day, a week, where everything felt absolutely wonderful? Heaven was no far away place, for that brief time of effortlessness it was here on earth all around you. Wouldn't it be amazing if your life could be like that everyday! Usually we say that that sort of thing can't happen, that the stress of work, fights with our spouse, feelings of getting older are just our natural state. Our society tells us that even if it exists, those 'peak experiences' (as Dr. Abraham Maslow called them in the 1960's) are momentary aberrations on our real experience of life. But our beliefs in this area as taught in this western culture are just as wrong as believing the world is flat. It turns out that, in spite of what we've been told, a small percentage of people live nearly continuously in one or more of these incredible 'peak states' of consciousness. And it turns out that these states are the birthright of every man, woman, and child in the world.
Let's look at this again. Think about the people you know or have met. Do you know someone, perhaps even yourself, whose life is just exceptional - unusually calm, or always happy and loving, or whose life is just effortless? In this culture, we just assume that these people are just blessed with good genes, better childhoods, a lack of stress, better psychological defenses, or just the luck of the draw in life. But what if this isn't the answer? What if they're actually experiencing life in a fundamentally different way than you are, AND THEY DON'T EVEN REALIZE IT because our culture doesn't admit to the possibility! Further, I want you to imagine that IF you could suddenly pop into the state of consciousness they have, you would be just like them! Just as calm, or successful, or happy, or loving, or whatever...
The Institute for the Study of Peak States
What I've just described is actually true. This discovery is one of the newest and most controversial breakthroughs in psychology and healing in the world today. My name is Grant McFetridge, and I'm the founder of The Institute for the Study of Peak States (www.PeakStates.com). Our Institute has been working for 15 years on this mystery, and in the last year we're delighted to inform you we've discovered what causes peak states of consciousness, why most people don't have them, and two different approaches for getting them permanently.
It turns out that there are at least 15 major peak states of consciousness that we've discovered so far. Each is fundamentally different from the others, although any one of them is vastly superior to so called 'normal' consciousness. Some of these states build on previous ones, and some are completely independent so that any particular person might have a variety of them all at once. In the average population, our model predicts that these states are relatively rare, which matches our personal experience. (For state descriptions and statistical probabilities, see our website.) The characteristics of the state are in general NOT extensions of what you already know. Instead, they give you talents or experiences that you cannot imagine from normal consciousness. Of course, we're constrained by English, so often confusion arises when we're forced to use English words that people simply don't have the experience to understand.
Large scale test at the Ozark Research Institute
Last summer Harold McCoy invited me to teach at the Ozark Research Institute. During my class, after signing a liability and non-disclosure agreement, 100 adventurous volunteers experienced our first large scale test of a simple process that lasted one hour and fifteen minutes, designed to bring them into one of these peak states.
For the ORI test, we focused on just one of the simplest and most basic of the main peak states. We call it "Aliveness" (as Dr. Hendrix in Finding the Love You Want calls it), or "The Beauty Way" (from the Native American tradition). Although there are a number of wonderful characteristics of the state that I'll list below, for the purposes of our measurement there is one characteristic that is unmistakable and tremendously valuable to psychology and psychotherapy. When you're in the state, your past is no longer traumatic. What do I mean by this? I mean that in the state, when you think about those awful things that happened to you, they no longer have any emotional charge. None at all. It turns out that in this state, you are actually in the present, and responding to what is actually going on around you rather than to traumatic feelings from the past being triggered into the present. You have an underlying feeling of calmness no matter what is going on, which turns out is what 'being in the present' really feels like.
For the ORI test, we counted either the main Beauty Way state or it's substate 'Head-Heart fusion', as both contain the key characteristics that we were looking for. These characteristics are:
• Calm, peacefulness, and physical sense of lightness.
• Past seems not traumatic - all memories are without emotions.
• You live entirely in the present and for the future, without past emotional situations affecting you negatively.
The full Beauty Way state builds on the head heart fusion substate and has these additional characteristics:
• No feelings of negative judgment, instead a sort of positive sense towards everything.
• You feel totally alive, and everything around you feels alive also.
• Everything has a sort of beauty, even garbage.
• Spiritual truths are so obvious you wonder why people talk about them.
• No underlying sense of fear.
• No tension - like on summer vacation as a kid.
• Things like bird sounds or clouds are much more vivid.
• Don’t take on other people’s emotional distress.
• Don’t obey ‘experts’ automatically by giving up your own knowing.
• You have a silent mind, ie. no voices or background murmur in the mind.
• You look forward to each day, and each day is new.
Our model predicts that about 8% of the general population have this or it's substate relatively continuously, and an additional 14% have experienced the state enough to be able to recognize it. As I mentioned previously, as you read the description of the state, it's natural to try and understand the English words we used by referring to your own experience. However, these states contain experience that is NOT something that is an extension of what you already know in average consciousness. They are a quantum jump into totally new ways of being alive. In fact, if for some reason a person who has had the state loses it, they often become depressed, desperate, or suicidal because they realize that normal consciousness is a living hell by comparison. And of course, if they have always had the state, they just think that it's ordinary. Hence, we find difficulty in describing it (and other states) to interested lay people.
In order to measure our volunteers' response to the process and to avoid the problem just described, we used the one unmistakable characteristic of the state - past events no longer feel traumatic - to see if they entered the state. We had the volunteers jot down two very traumatic things that had happened to them in the past, and give them a rating on how badly they made them feel, on a scale of 0 (no trauma) to 10 (the worst possible). At the end of the test, we then had them rate how traumatic these memories still were. People who had moved into the state would now rate them as a zero. Think about the implications a moment! Rather than healing a person's particular issues, we pop them in this peak state and "poof", their pain is gone, in fact they become more healthy and functional than an average person could ever be! You can start to see why this work is so controversial in psychological circles...
The Peak State induction process results:
What were the statistical results of the test? Since we were working with large groups of people all at once, we made the process totally generic and eliminated several features that would have increased the effectiveness of the process at the risk of causing distress in some of the volunteers. Given this decision, we predicted that about a third of the volunteers would achieve the target state. And in fact, of the 100 volunteers, we got 31% confirmed into the state (their traumas went to 0), another 6% almost got into the state (as one of their traumas wasn't quite to a 0), another 21% had better than 50% reduction in their trauma scale, another 23% didn't fill out the questionnaire properly so we don't have any idea if they made it or not, and we eliminated 5% because they were already in a peak state of one type or another before the process started. Thus, for an hour and 15 minutes effort, somewhere between 31% to 54% of the volunteers went into the state. Not bad at all!
Just to point out how dramatic the change can be when you go into this state, let me briefly list some of the types of emotional pains that suddenly disappeared in our volunteers: sexual abuse as a child; a divorce; an alcoholic spouse; death of father; death of husband; estranged child; mother's cruelty; physical abuse; theft by relative; rejection by a friend; fight with roommate; panic attack; wisdom teeth pulled; child's birth; allergic reaction in a hospital; grief about giving up a child to adoption; financial difficulties; fear of public speaking; putting cat to sleep; no love from father; loss of job; whiplash in accident; feelings about polio; arm injury by another; daughter's death; all the negative aspects of these traumas, often in the 8-10 range, suddenly went to 0. And recall that not just these two events, but all emotionally charged traumas suddenly went to zero simultaneously in their lives due to being in the state - they just picked two to notice the state by. Of course, I don't want to give the impression that this peak state is just for people whose lives have been terrible - every life has it's traumatic moments. And these moments, large or small, continue to affect our behavior and cause us emotional pain long after we've forgotten the events when we're not in a peak state of consciousness. Even if we look at our life and reflect that it's pretty good right now, the state also makes a good life much much better in ways that really can't be imagined ahead of time. For all of these reasons, this peak state is a very desirable thing to have.
Is the state permanent? In our tests so far, we've seen about 5% of the people leave the state we put them in. If you were a participant in the ORI workshop, acquired the state but then later it left, please phone me at 250-413-3211 or email me via this website and let me know. We anticipate some people to leave the state after using our fast and simple process, but as I've indicated, the number should be fairly minor. The more complex and longer process is inherently permanent, but unfortunately it's impractical for use on groups of people.
What about any negative consequences? Of the people who responded, 3% indicated that they felt worse after the process than they did before. However, it's important to note that the distress was NOT something that the process brought to the people involved - instead, the process merely triggered old traumatic material that had been somewhat buried by the person. This points out that the process would be most efficiently and effectively done in a setting where individuals who had adverse reactions could be healed on a case by case basis. And even so, the amount of problems we had in the group setting were as minor as could be expected in just about any group psychological process, in my experience.
Implications for the future
At the present, we're focused on improving this simple process. Our model predicts that we can get this fast method up to a theoretical maximum of 75% effectiveness in the general population into the Beauty Way state or better. Our current task is to do more work on the simple approach to raise it's effectiveness even further.
As far as better states of consciousness go, we already have an extension to the method to put people into a state of consciousness that's infinitely superior to the Beauty Way. It takes currently about 3 hours, which made it impractical for the ORI test. It too needs more work to get it up to it's theoretical maximum of 50% using the simple and fast approach, but it has been successful on a number of the people we've tried it on in our Whole-Hearted Healing training workshops.
As for people whom this simple process won't help, we have other more complicated methods, but they're simply too complex for group work. We anticipate improving our methods as time goes on, however.
In the years to come, we hope to see this method or a variation of it a part of standard psychology practice. By analogy, we might say that clients are suffering in hell with pitchforks of trauma stuck in them. We would like to see these clients not only get the pitchfork out of their side, but be relocated to heaven to boot.
This is an incredibly exciting time for us, as we explore a whole new field of knowledge. As you might imagine when you look at some of the states of consciousness we're working with, there are tremendous implications for religions, psychology, spirituality, and mental and physical healing. Plus we have spinoff projects in the areas of autism, schizophrenia, addictions, etc. If you would like to know more about what we're doing, learn our processes, or join our Institute, please refer to our website www.PeakStates.com.
Finally, I want to deeply thank Harold McCoy and the wonderfully helpful people at the Ozark Research Institute, the volunteers who went through the process, and the kind donation from Rev. Colleen Engel to help us continue our work.
Revision 1.0, 2001. First draft.