THE STORY SO FAR
Armed with the hypothesis that a "spiritual awakening" is actually an undiscovered physiological growth process, I conducted an experiment to test whether meditation could induce any unexplainable chemical or neurological changes in my body—but what I didn't realize was that this process had likely already occurred in me.
ONE STEP FORWARD
Whenever the human body goes through a large-scale change—puberty, pregnancy, or even illness—it causes a corresponding change in the chemical output of our cells.
Anyone who goes through a spiritual awakening will tell you that it's one of the most psychologically and physically destabilizing events of their life. Such an event would almost certainly be reflected in some way by our cellular metabolism.
A popular lab chart illustrates our understanding of human metabolic pathways.
Over the course of the film we took 13 blood samples and analyzed them for changes across over 1,700 compounds via a process called metabolomics, and although I experienced many symptoms consistent with a "spiritual awakening", I went through virtually no period of disruption and we found only marginal metabolic changes—why?
PUTTING THE PIECES TOGETHER
I had always believed myself to be a spiritual neophyte, but I began to realize I was wrong. In my 20's I had gone through a period of psychological instability that culminated in a series of full-blown panic attacks. It took me over a year to recover, during which time I could barely function. I was unable to eat normal foods, felt a strange desire to start meditating and leave civilization, and I had to take almost a year off school. At the time I didn't know what was happening to me. It felt important, but mostly I just wanted it to stop. I chalked it up to a nervous breakdown and continued on as if nothing had happened.
Fast-forward to today. While producing Super Meditate Me I encountered person after person who stressed how destabilizing their experience was, and how long and arduous the adjustment. One mentioned she'd had a series of panic attacks, couldn't eat normal foods, and had taken time off school, and with a shock I realized—that's exactly what happened to me.
TWO STEPS BACK
There was no escaping it. The fabled process had clearly begun 15 years ago, but having not performed any of the necessary meditation or yoga it had stalled, and was now being reanimated.
On the one hand, I was relieved to finally understand what had happened to me, but on the other hand I was disappointed—there was no way we could measure something that had happened 15 years ago. We would have to find another way. But how?
One option would be to test whether there is there a "spiritual gene"? If all those who experience a spiritual awakening share certain genetic or epigenetic markers, it would not only be possible to proactively identify those carrying such traits, it would lend weight to the theory that spirituality is a product of evolutionary pressure.
This would be a major boon—by allowing for early detection, individuals could actively seek out ways to foster their abilities and would be able to take appropriate action as their awakening occurred.
Another option is to use predictive modeling to establish who is likely to have a spiritual awakening, and conduct the same experiment again on these individuals. The Emerging Sciences Foundation's analysis of spiritual personality traits could function as a starting point for a predictive model accurate enough to be used immediately.
Fig.1 - Frames from Super Meditate Me
ONE STEP FORWARD
Whenever the human body goes through a large-scale change—puberty, pregnancy, or even illness—it causes a corresponding change in the chemical outputs of our cells, known as metabolites.