Swami Rama (of the Himalayas ; as he is known) was one of the greatest Yogis of the latter half of the 20th century. Perhaps the first Yogi who placed himself within the laboratory set-up to scientifically validate what Yogis have known for centuries. The research findings were mind-boggling and have greatly enhanced the western understanding of psychology. In one such experiment, Swami Rama claimed that he would willfully change his state of consciousness from Conscious (Awake) -> Sub-Conscious (Dream) -> Unconscious (Deep Sleep). This was tested in a lab in the US by monitoring his brain thought-cycles per second. (Based on the state that we are in, our brain shows a different speed of thought function; measured in brain wave cycle per second. While in Awake state its about 10-14 cps, in Dream about 6-10 cps, and in Deep Sleep about 0-4 cps.)
One must understand that up until that point in history, Psychology maintained that as humans we had no control over the states of consciousness, and that we alternated between states without our volition. So here was an Indian yogi claiming to have complete control over his consciousness! Swami said that he would stay in Conscious state for 5 min, Sub-conscious for 5 min, and Unconscious for 5 min – which could be measured on the machines plugged into his body/brain. As the experiment started the scientists were amazed to find him moving effortlessly through teh states at the precise time mentioned till in the last 5 min he was found deeply snoring as is the case in deep sleep. Furthermore, when the experiment concluded, the researchers were totally astonished when Swami Rama narrated to them the words they were speaking whilst he was deeply snoring! This was the first time that what Yoga calls “Thuriya” state was scientifically demonstrated!
It led to a paradigm shift in the understanding of human consciousness, and in modern psychology. A fourth state of consciousness: Super-Consciousness was spoken about. (Don’t we all keep the alarm for 6 am and find ourselves waking at 5:59 am to switch it off! ….Showing that there is still a part of us that remains awake throughout life, even when we are asleep!) This has led to many new and fundamental understandings and psychology has moved towards Transpersonal Psychology – a more holistic view of the human.
Here’s Swami Rama talking to a bunch of lucky students about the “Yoga Sutras of Patanjali”. There are 85 videos, all wonderful. Enjoy!