The Noetic Change Model — Living a Life of Meaning by Lee Lipsenthal

We all have experience of a noetic nature: things we know to be true even without external “proof.” We often refer to these “knowings” as intuitions or synchronicities, yet they are common. Sometimes, for many of us, in workshops, retreats, or deep meditations, these events can be large and even shake us up.

Science is just beginning to understand the nature of such spiritual moments. There are two areas of the brain, the right angular gyrus and posterior right temporal region, that when triggered electrically gives us spiritual experiences: out of body adventures, the sense of something bigger than ourselves. It can also be triggered or stimulated by drugs, meditation, prayer, shamanic journeying, guided imagery, or sleep.

But what is the “meaning” of these events? We may never know, but the Noetic Sciences Change Model developed at IONS suggests a way of finding purpose from these events. Instead of asking “What doe this mean?” or “Am I being given a message?” ask yourself, “How does this inform my life and how can I bring this out to the world in a way that has meaning?” After all, our actions are what matters in the world.

There are traps in bringing our experience, our meaning, our action, to the world; such effort can swallow us up, distract us, or even diminish our power. We can believe we are special and act as if special was real, likening ourselves to a guru or wise one; this is the trap of ego. We can get so engrossed in our experience that we want to study, read, and learn anything that can be known about it; this is the trap of intellect. We can seduce ourselves into believing that it’s all about “me” and forget to bring our actions into a spirit of service. We can forget that there are many paths, and that we have only been shown one, and that our path may not be for others.

Or…we can sit and practice, go deeper and ask ourselves, How does this noetic moment inform my life and my ability to serve others in a way that they wish to be served? How can I live it fully? It’s a choice.

Living Fully

Living fully is having an ongoing transcendent experience.

It is not studying and analyzing the experience.
It is not wanting more of the experience.
It is not buying the right clothing to remind you of the experience.
It is not telling the world that you are the experience.

It is being within the experience.
It is asking “How does this experience inform my life?”
It is asking “How does this experience help me to serve others?”
It is doing the work of love without being seen.

Dr. Lipsenthal was a member of the IONS Board of Directors and Founder & CEO of Finding Balance in a Medical Life. He was also the Medical Advisor for HeartMath, LLC and received numerous awards in the Academic and Medical field.

How Consciousness Can Go Beyond Life and Death by Sadhguru

Have you heard of the woman who made a tombstone for her husband with the inscription, “Rest in peace until we meet again”? Resting in peace, unfortunately, comes for most people only in death.

Most people only experience peace and transcendence when they are dead. But in the yogic tradition, the word “samadhi” is used to describe a state in which one has transcended the limitations of the body and mind, and this happens in life. For those who are in a state of samadhi, there is no such thing as death. Death belongs to the realm of the body.

Your body is just something you accumulated. It is a piece of earth you imbibed through food, and it is on loan from the planet. All the countless number of people who have lived on this planet before us have all become topsoil, and so will you. This planet will collect back atom by atom what it has loaned you.

When one is constantly, experientially aware that both the body and the mind are accumulations that one has gathered, that is samadhi. You are in the body, but you are not it. You are of the mind, but you are not it. That means you are absolutely free of suffering because whatever suffering you have known enters you either through the body or through the mind. Once your awareness is keen enough to create a space between these two accumulations and who you really are — this is the end of all suffering.

The root of ignorance is in being identified with the accumulations you call the body and mind. Your clarity of vision is cluttered with all your identifications and your personality. It is because of this limited identification that the distinct lines between what is “me” and what is “you” have been drawn. All disharmony, conflict and suffering are rooted in this. Samadhi is a state where you have obliterated these distinctions, and you are looking beyond the wall.

Samadhi can be a step toward enlightenment, but it is not essentially so. Staying in these states certainly hastens one’s realization of boundlessness by setting up a clear space between what is you and what is not you. However, one can know and enjoy these states but still not know the essential nature of existence or become liberated from all the compulsive aspects of life.

You may meditate for 12 years and then come out of it, and even then you may not be a realized being, although you may be a little closer. When you go into another reality and stay there for long hours or years, the grip of this present reality is broken for you, and you have an experiential understanding that present reality is not all there is. That’s the whole purpose of long meditations.

Yogis, mystics and saints from all traditions have experienced and spoken about these things. One of the Christian saints, Saint John of the Cross, spoke of the necessity to go beyond all boundaries one has known. Form, he said, must yield to the formless in order for the soul to be fully emptied. Samadhi is a certain state of equanimity, where the intellect goes beyond its normal function of discrimination. Once the intellect is on hold, the boundary of what is you and what is not you collapses.

At our centers in India and the U.S., we have created powerfully consecrated spaces where experiencing a samadhi state comes about very naturally. These samadhis are very pleasant, blissful and ecstatic. There are also samadhis that are beyond this.

Once you are liberated from all that you think is you, you will know the blissfulness of creation and creator. This blissfulness is the basis for you to experience dimensions beyond the physical, and it is the basis of true love and compassion.

Isha Yoga’s “Inner Engineering” program is now available online. For more information, visit:

Aging as a Spiritual Practice ~ Lewis Richmond

Growing old is something we all experience (if we are lucky) — except that the parameters of “old” continue to expand. As recently as 1900 the life expectancy of the average American was 45 or 50. Now it is 80, and many people can look forward to living an active, productive life even into their 90s. What are we going to do with all that extra time? I am coming out with a book on aging in January, and based on my research and workshops over the last 2 years, I hear many answers.

“I can’t retire,” one man in his early 60s said to me. “I can’t afford it. I’ll be working forever!”

“One word,” said a woman about the same age. “Grandchildren. I have five with a sixth on the way. That’s my life now, and I love it.”

“I don’t know,” said a busy executive in his fifties. “It scares me. I watched both my parents go under from Alzheimer’s and it was ghastly. If that happens to me I think I’ll just shoot myself — if I can still remember where my guns are.”

Meanwhile, the financial, political, and familial implications of millions of baby boomers reaching 65 continues to reverberate throughout our society. Not only are we all going to live longer, but there are so many more of us! What indeed are we all going to do with that gift of years?

As someone who has been a Buddhist meditation teacher for over thirty years, I have come up with my own answer, summed up by the title of my new book: Aging as a Spiritual Practice: A Contemplative Guide to Growing Older and Wiser. I think that aging is an ideal time for spiritual practice — for growing not only older, but wiser. In other words, “growing older and wiser” is not just a saying, it is an activity. OK, my workshop participants say, but then they ask, What do you mean by a spiritual practice? I have a simple definition, one that transcends any particular religion or faith. I define spiritual practice as “paying close attention to the things that really matter.”

I think it takes having lived a full life to finally figure what really does matter. When we are children, what really matters is growing up, being an adult — we want to be older! When we are in high school, we want to get into a good college, then get a good job (good luck!). Then there is career, family, children of our own and our aspirations for them. The answer to the question “what really matters” keeps changing.

When we finally are older — middle aged or beyond — but not yet OLD (no one wants to say they are OLD), we are finally in a position to reflect on all the provisional answers that have come to us throughout our life, and consider again, What really matters? What is really important?

I’ve asked this of older people, individually and in groups, and their answers tend to be similar. They say, “Family”, “Being kind”, “Leaving the world a better place than I found it”, “Feeling that what I did in my life counted for something”, “Love”, “Children”, “Grandchildren”, “the planet,” “figuring out what it all means.”

Few people say money, beauty, power, or fame — though since it is a Buddhist meditation teacher doing the asking, there is probably some self-selection going on. Putting those answers together — or reading them one after another like a kind of talking poem — evokes a feeling that I would call spiritual. Those words point to spiritual matters, and they are indeed important — to everyone in every society and culture. We are united by these universal aspirations; together they serve as a description of a life well lived, a life oriented toward wisdom and a higher purpose.

This is what I call “Aging as a Spiritual Practice,” and each chapter of my book explores a different aspect of aging from this wisdom perspective. I don’t shy away from the negative or difficult aspects of aging — illness, financial insecurity, worry, loss — but I make sure to also stress the positive side. I must, because so many people to whom I have talked to tell me that on balance they are, as they age, happier than they have ever been. Yes there are fears, and the older we become to closer we come to the end of this life’s adventure. But to the question I posed at the outset — what will we do with this extra gift of years that modern life expectancy has offered us — I answer, Enjoy it! Enjoy it as much as possible, and share that joy, because the younger generations coming up behind us need our example and our encouragement. So it has been in every generation, and will continue to be.

This is our job, those of us who are older but NOT YET OLD! It’s a good job, arguably the most satisfying we have ever had, even though the pay is not great and the opportunities for advancement are — well, we have to create them as we go.

Lewis Richmond
Author and Buddhist teacher

Lewis leads a Zen meditation group, Vimala Sangha, and teaches at workshops and retreats throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. He has published three books, including the national bestseller Work as a Spiritual Practice.
This website is dedicated to his teachings on aging as a spiritual path.
Lewis also leads a discussion on aging as a spiritual practice at Tricycle magazine’s online community site.

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