Updates and topics of interest from the public pages of the Scientific and Medical Network, SMN. David Lorimer is the programme director and editor of Network Review. Use the search button to research such diverse  topics as NDE (near death experience); OBE (out-of-body experience); the participatory universe;  the inscape;  mythic inner journey; personal experiences of mysticism and much more. Some of the theological implications of the topics explored in depth here have been summarized in David Bell's video series The Naked Theologian.

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Interview with David Lorimer on SMN 2017 Survey

David Lorimer guides us through his summary of the SMN Survey results. Each interview considers one Survey data set at a time.
1. Introducing David Lorimer
2. Health approaches - complementary medicine
3. Religious affiliation
4. Consciousness studies
5. Science and religion/spirituality
6. Actual practices
7. Experience resulting in transformation
8. An inexplicable and real phenomenon

Introducing the Interview

1. About the SMN

2. Health Approaches

3. Atheist/Agnostic?

4. Consciousness - Beyond the Brain?

5. Science Interacts with Religion/Spirituality

6. What Are the Spiritual/Religious habits of Scientists?

7. Kinds of Spiritual Experience

Our shared PSI experience

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2009 papers from Friends of SMN RSS

The posts from the FSMN group 2009, as a stimulus to new activity in thinking about the faith-science interaction. These were written by Dr Leo Hobbis, who founded FSMN in 1996. 

Tags: FSMN, science, SMN

Transcendence in Music and Education - Stuart Manins

At our last meeting of 2009 member Stuart Manins continued the exploration of aspects of transcendence as he has observed them from his experiences as a music educator. He has been interested in the process of “flow”, or the peak experience, as understood by educators, and looks for connections with religious experience and other branches of knowledge. The work of Csikszentmihalyi on flow has shown how the skill of the individual may combine with an appropriate level of challenge to produce a wonderful level of euphoria. Transcendent experiences, whether in the arts, through human relationships, or of the natural world, are spontaneous and ineffable. It is the experience every teacher hopes to capture in the process of learning.

Conducting the Christmas cantata, “Born a Saviour”, recently gave him an opportunity to survey the Personal Transcendent Musical Experiences (PTMEs) of some of the performers. Amongst the findings: most have had many PTMEs during their lifetimes; most had some PTMEs during the choir performance; most could not induce PTMEs; and nearly all were surprised by their PTMEs.

Turning to religion, Stuart suggested, with William James, that it is individual transcendent experiences which have led to religious expression in ritual and worship. The essential experience is what matters, a truth which is frequently lost in the words of doctrine and narrow dogma.

Stuart’s audience enjoyed this presentation which drew so much on his personal engagement with music and education and, in the discussion, found much to contribute from their own experience.

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The Early Topics of FSMN 1996-2008 RSS

The topics have been curated by Dr Leo Hobbis.

2008

Wednesday 12 March, 2008. Open Forum

For our first meeting in 2008 we held an 'Open Forum' to explore with members some possible topics for meetings during the year. Suggestions included:

  • Cycles and Periodicities in Nature and Cosmology. Interesting questions emerge as to the validity of Big Bang theory.
  • Music – How it works aesthetically and emotionally.
  • Distributed Intelligence.
  • The Heart and Consciousness
  • Mind and the Nature of Conscious Experience.
  • Geoffrey Hodson---Mystic and Clairvoyant.
  • The Body – Mind Connection---- A presentation focusing on the “How To” side of Energy Psychology, putting the theories into practice.

The suggestion was also floated, and favourably received, that we try providing resource reading before the presentations, possibly with appropriate questions to stimulate thinking prior to the talks. This would facilitate more interaction and the potential to get deeper into topics than currently achievable.

Wednesday 9 April 2008. The Science of Happiness.

At our April meeting Dr Tony Fernando spoke about “The Science of Happiness”. Tony is a Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry in the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences of Auckland University. Having noticed that many of his students seemed unhappy and easily depressed he developed a workshop on the science of happiness which has proved very popular. In his talk to us he reviewed some aspects of this workshop material. It has been found that there is a sound scientific basis for the connection between happiness and physical health. We can positively influence our happiness by appropriate cultivation of the mind, such as developing attributes like compassion, gratitude and living in the moment, and engaging in some form of meditation. Those who do this are likely to have improved immunological function, cardiovascular status, longevity and mental health. Tony’s own introduction to some of these ideas came from reading the Dalai Llama’s book, “The Art of Happiness”.

We see here another example of the Mind-Body Connection. Participants at the meeting had a thoroughly enjoyable and instructive evening.

Wednesday 14 May. Energy Medicine, Psychology and Healing -- Is it Coming of Age?

This meeting, to have been led by Robin Kelly, was cancelled. His presentation was re-scheduled for later in the year.

Wednesday 11 June. The Heart and Consciousness.

Member Murray Stentiford spoke in June on “The Heart and Consciousness”. Poetry and tradition abound with expressive sayings about the role of the heart as central to our whole being. From another quarter, psychic descriptions, ancient and contemporary, describe energy vortices or chakras over the heart and other organs.

Since the concept of a functional heart brain was introduced by Dr. J. Andrew Armour of the University of Montreal in 1991, there has been a veritable explosion of research in both neurocardiology and the neuroscience of emotions.

Murray described the activity of the neurons and ganglia in the heart and their two-way relationship with the brain. He recounted several views of the role of the heart to human consciousness, bringing together Western and Chinese medicine as well as Eastern non-dual understanding. He also gave a demonstration of the HeartMath Institute's heart rate and emotion-monitoring measuring device, the "Freeze Framer".

The Freeze Framer is one of several techniques devised by the HeartMath Institute to help people transmute stress and negative emotions to achieve more coherent inner states, improve performance, and enrich the quality of life. There is a wealth of information on the internet about the work of the HeartMath Institute, for example, at http://www.heartmath.org/

Thursday 17 July 2008, jointly with the Auckland branch of the NZ Theosophical Society.

Dr Robin Kelly spoke on “Energy Medicine, Psychology and Healing - Is It Coming of Age?"

Robin Kelly is a local general practitioner who uses a synthesis of Eastern and Western medicine to form a modern mind-body approach with a focus on deep healing. In recent months Robin has been engaging with many in this field, and has had extended interviews with some US internet and syndicated radio shows around the content of the US version of his book, "The Human Antenna", which has been adopted by an American publisher as a foundation text for the field of Energy Psychology.

After first entertaining us with his song, “We All Let Go”, about staying calm in the eye of the storm, Robin gave a sweeping survey of his approach to healing, referring to some of the many ideas on which he draws to inform his understanding of the human mind-body. These range from well-established scientific concepts to new areas where quite novel theories have been proposed. One such is the Wave Genetics hypothesis of Dr Peter Gariaev which links in with the concept of morphogenetic fields. Robin is enthralled by the patterns in the structure of the universe, from macroscopic cosmology to the minutest sub-nuclear scale, and sees these as manifestations of an ordering energy or information field which also controls our own bodily structure. The unity of this vast scale range is strikingly depicted by the ancient Oroboros figure, in which the snake’s mouth at the macroscopic limit is shown swallowing its tail at the sub-nuclear limit, with the human scale positioned mid-way.

 Robin summarised the principles he seeks to follow in healing practice, including the need for compassionate intent and non-attachment of the healer. Wherever possible the aim is for the patient to learn appropriate techniques after which they can practice self-maintenance.

 Wednesday 13 August 2008. Member Ray Tomes spoke on "The Wobbly Universe".

In the past Ray has talked about the theoretical aspects of cycles in the Universe. This talk was a more basic one covering only observations of cycles and vibrations from the largest to the smallest scales, and especially cyclical processes in human beings. We live in a world of cycles, of day and night, the seasons, monthly cycles, as well as the rhythms of breathing, heart beat, brain waves and other bodily processes. The world we live in is also subject to cyclical fluctuations, with climate being especially topical at present. Ice age cycles occur fairly regularly. The associated temperature changes have been much larger than those which can be attributed to human activity to date. However the precise effect of humans compared with that due to the sun and other forces remains uncertain so it behoves us to do all we can to minimise our influence.

Wednesday, 10 September, 2008. Theresa Grainger and Denise Garner spoke on "Energy Psychology in Practice".

Both Theresa and Denise have extensive training in the application of Neuro-Linguistic Programming. In this largely experiential session they presented some practical suggestions to improve the quality and effectiveness of our thinking about ourselves. They referred to the language blocks we sometimes create through thoughts such as 'can't' and 'shouldn't' and they proposed release from these restrictions by counteracting with ones such as 'according to whose or what expectations?' and 'Is that me or a belief about me?'

They outlined some accelerators designed to shift us into a forward focus such as 'What would happen if I could?' and 'What are some new possibilities?' and then some very practical transforming thoughts to change ideas into action such as 'What is within my power to act on now?' and 'How am I going to adjust my focus differently in the future?'

We were invited to discuss our personal response to this material with a partner and then share further with the whole group some of the resulting important ideas. This was an informed, helpful, interactive, group session.

Wednesday, 8 October, 2008. Murray Stentiford spoke on "How Music Works"

Murray Stentiford is well placed to discuss “How Music Works” because of his familiarity with the worlds of Science, Music, and Spirituality, although, from the start, he emphasised the need to follow the title with a question mark. He began with a practical demonstration of harmonics in sounds of the voice, double bass and clarinet, and how their combination determines tone colour. The origin of musical scales was linked to the harmonic series in natural sounds. A reference to brain science looked at brain activation patterns in different states of consciousness, and the role of left and right hemispheres. Does the performer need to feel a specific emotion in resonance with the intention of the composer? How can we know?

We shared the mystery of the bridge between structural and physical aspects of music and its power to evoke different emotions. The cross-stimulation of the senses in synaesthesia was illustrated in the linking between colour and shapes experienced by some people. This led on to the consideration of clairvoyants such as Geoffrey Hodson who have described a range of subtle forms in the energy field. Active listening to the Haydn “Emperor “ quartet, and Bach’s Prelude #4 in C# minor (Book 1, The Well Tempered Clavier) while viewing the associated images was a great way to end a fascinating evening.

Wednesday, 12 November, 2008. AGM

Our Annual General Meeting was followed by an update from Robin Kelly.

After our Annual General Meeting Robin Kelly spoke again about his approach to healthcare and some of his impressions from recent conferences he had attended in Canada.

He began by referring to two current news items. A pharmaceutical company wants to give a cholesterol lowering drug to everyone from an early age, irrespective of potential side effects. On the other hand, a 13 year old girl in Britain has won her fight against hospital authorities for the right to decline treatment for a fatal heart condition. What is at stake is the recognition of the importance of patients’ taking ownership of their health and of the medical practitioners’ role to assist them do so. Most of his patients welcome this and it is supported by the developments in epigenetics and therapies such as the Emotional Freedom Technique. Robin aims to simplify procedures such as acupuncture and EFT so that patients can easily apply them by themselves.

As well as the usual opportunities to share experience with other practitioners the recent meetings in Canada provided inspirational encounters with people such as quantum physicist Amit Goswami, a proponent of consciousness as the ground of all being. This concept leads naturally to the recognition of our interconnectedness and the constructive spiritual value of compassion and empathy in healing.

 

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