In this interview, Dr. Larry Dossey, author of Healing Words: The Power of Prayer and the Practice of Medicine, discusses the inherent wisdom of premonitions -- the topic of his third book The Power of Premonition.
He is trained in internal medicine and is the former Chief of Staff of Medical City Dallas Hospital, and has lectured in medical schools and hospitals throughout the US. In 1988 he delivered the annual Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Lecture in New Delhi, India. He’s the only physician ever invited to do so.
He has also served as the co-chairman of the Panel on Mind/Body Interventions, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health.
Premonitions are extremely common. In fact, human beings appear to be hardwired for premonitions, and the ability to know what we "can't" possibly know is definitely a natural part of the human experience.
The word "premonition" means literally "a forewarning," indicating that they often announce upcoming events that are unpleasant e.g., a health crisis or a natural disaster. This is not absolute, however; premonitions may also foretell pleasing events of both minor and major importance.
Dr. Larry Dossey, has written 11 books primarily focused on consciousness and spirituality and the impact of spirituality on your health. He's been an important teacher of mine for many years.
His most recent book, The Power of Premonition, delves into what these forewarnings are, the role they play in the human condition, and, ultimately, what they say about the nature of consciousness.
Over the years, Dr. Dossey amassed a large number of stories of health related premonitions from patients and other health practitioners that played out in a clinical context.
Then, about five years ago, solid scientific studies began emerging, showing that these capabilities are not random chance.
Dr. Dossey says:
"So many of these are health related that I have come to believe that premonitions are a kind of preventive medicine… If you take action, you can actually prevent some calamity happening to your health."
The Re-Emergence of Mind-Body-Spirit Medicine
In 1993, only three of the United States' 125 medical schools offered any sort of course work exploring the area of spirituality and medicine.
Today over 90 of these medical schools have formal courses where they explore randomized controlled studies and the effects of spiritual practices on longevity and health outcomes – a sure sign that what was once considered taboo is beginning to receive the discussion and serious investigation it deserves.
"I think we're opening up," Dossey says. "I'm sure you remember, about 40 years ago when meditation burst upon the scene in medicine, it was put down. It was called California Woo woo. Nobody wanted to have anything to do with it. But now nobody raises an eye about meditation and yoga, even in medicine.
We're in the same place with spirituality that we were with meditation about 20 years ago. People know you can't ignore it. The correlation between spiritual practice and health outcomes is just too strong.
For example, the data shows that people who follow some sort of spiritual path in their life… live on average seven to 13 years longer than people who do not follow a spiritual practice."
Yes, the more we learn about energy and physics, the more impossible it becomes to avoid addressing the impact of consciousness and spirituality on your physical health.
Most ancient cultures knew this, and there are few lines dividing spirituality; the mind, and medicine in these cultures. Ironically, modern science now allows us to rediscover these ancient truths, which fell by the wayside with the advent of medical science and its narrow focus on individual parts as opposed to investigating the connections within the whole.
There are now a couple of dozen major human studies showing the correlations between healing intentions and improved health outcomes.
"The data is so strong," Dossey says. "It's strong not only in human beings but in non-humans [as well]. You can show the same effects in biological systems such as rats and mice; even in microbial cultures in test tubes.
So we have a huge spectrum of data that shows, I think compellingly, that your thoughts really matter when it comes to someone/something else getting well."
Dr. Dossey is clearly not alone in this field. Other modern-day researchers who are having a dramatic impact and slowly but surely are helping to turn conventional dogma on its ear include Dr. Bruce Lipton, one of the foremost experts in the field of epigenetics, and Gregg Braden, a true pioneer who bridges science and spirituality with clear-spoken ease, just to name a couple.
The Concept of Non-Locality
In 1988, Dr. Dossey wrote a book called Recovering the Soul: A Scientific and Spiritual Approach, in which he introduced the term "non-local mind."
"The old idea that your consciousness is produced by the brain; that it's confined to your cranium and to the present moment and can't operate outside your own brain and body in the present, is an idea that just doesn't fit with the data anymore.
Studies, for example in remote healing -- where someone can affect the clinical outcome of someone else who is on the other side of the earth… are forcing us to create a new image of consciousness.
… Non-locality is the term borrowed from modern quantum physics. It's a synonym for the term "infinite."
If something is non-local with respect to space and time, it's infinite in space and infinite in time. Well, this is the way consciousness behaves in these experiments.
For example, it doesn't matter how far away from the object of your healing intentions that you happen to be. Healing intentions work as effectively at the bedside and the other side of the earth. Spatial separation doesn't matter.
We have evidence now that consciousness can work outside the present. It can anticipate things to come and it also appears to be able to work into the past."
One of these quantum physics concepts is Bell's theorem, which shows that two 'entangled' electrons will continue to operate as one, simultaneously, even when separated by vast distances.
Einstein is often quoted here, famously referring to this phenomenon as simply "spooky action at a distance."
Erwin Schrödinger introduced the term 'entanglement' in the 1930s, and as Dossey states, we do seem to have ample evidence that "things cannot be separated, even though they appear to be separated in space."
"We have to go with the data," Dossey says. "The explanation usually comes later, as it often does in medicine and science in general. But we have profound evidence that there is some strange unity connecting people, even at a distance, and that unity seems to be mediated by concepts such love and compassion."
Dr. Dossey goes on to tell a fascinating story about one woman's incredible encounter with premonition related to the health of her son that truly defies explanation. I highly recommend you listen to the entire interview so as not to miss this and several other anecdotal stories.
Premonition certainly appears to be a natural part of human consciousness, and these stories serve as vivid examples of how this 'non-local connectedness' operates within the lives of individual people.
How to Hone Your Ability to Receive Premonitions
Dr. Dossey recommends developing a mediation practice, should you be interested in honing your innate intuitive abilities.
"Many people say that as they become more adept at meditating that their heart seems to open," Dossey says. "A lot of people will use the descriptor that they feel sort of "at one with everything there is," during a transcendental moment during meditation.
I think they're tapping into this, what I call, non-local mind."
He also recommends not taking it, or yourself, too seriously.
"A lot of people really get serious about their spiritual work and their spiritual practices," he says. "I think this is one of the best ways to derail your efforts, that I know of. I just think a light heart and a serious discipline are the best combination."
Dossey recommends the book How to Meditate: A Guide to Self-Discovery , written by psychologist, Lawrence Leshan in 1974, as a good primer for beginners, especially if you want to avoid having to delve into the more esoteric Eastern points of view.
He also recommends simple affirmations as a tool for opening up your consciousness to receive "more."
"If you just simply affirm to the universe, "I want to be open to this stuff," I think that helps your unconscious communicate with your conscious mind and makes these premonitions much more readily available to your conscious awareness," he says.
Keeping a dream diary is yet another way to help you connect with your larger, subconscious awareness.
Overcoming Your Own Resistance
Many people have difficulty wrapping their minds around the possibility of infinite, unlimited mind, with all that that implies -- because this opens up the door not only for premonitions, but for a whole host of other inexplicable phenomena.
For those who want to further investigate what modern science has discovered about premonitions can find those studies in Dr. Dossey's book. I highly recommend keeping an open mind and at least reviewing the data before closing your mental door on this subject.
"I have yet to meet a skeptic who has read even a handful of the relevant studies," Dossey says. And that's certainly no surprise.
"Their typical strategy is to find one flawed study… and then generalize to condemn the whole field. This is an embarrassment to science. That's just not the way science should be done.
I collect statements from skeptics and some of them are just downright humorous. My favorite is a skeptic who said, "This is the sort of thing I wouldn't believe even if it were true."
I always keep that one handy because I think it just captures the ideological, dogmatic, prejudicial, bigoted response of most skeptics toward these issues we're talking about."
Science, in many ways, has really become a 'religion' in and of itself. Much of it these days has become based on antiquated, misconceived beliefs, as opposed to unbiased, rigorous investigation and review of evidence.
This is why I simply encourage you to think for yourself. Keep an open mind. And remember: honest scientific investigation will naturally require you to update your knowledgebase from time to time as new evidence emerges. Some of it may support and uphold previously established paradigms. Some of it may shatter those rigid, dogmatic belief systems entirely…
What Can Premonitions Tell You About the Human Condition?
Although Dossey believes premonitions can be an invaluable tool within the field of health and medicine, this may not be the most important take-home message from this phenomenon.
"Over the years, I have come to believe that even though these practices -- such as prayer, meditation and so on -- can give us a health advantage… I think the messages that are most important are what they imply about the destiny of human beings, and the nature of your own consciousness.
… If you have some non-local quality in your mind which says that it is infinite in space and time -- which I firmly believe is pointed to by the data -- that's a way of saying that there is some quality of human consciousness that's immortal, that is eternal; that is not located specifically to a point in time…
I think these studies in remote human functioning, psychologically speaking, point like an arrow to immortality.
… I think it totally turns around the old materialistic notion we've lived with for the past 200 years in science, which says that when you die; when your brain dies and your body rots, that's the end of everything.
These studies say that's not the end of everything. That's hardly the beginning. There is no beginning. There is no end… because we're not local with respect to time.
In some sense, we have an immortal quality to our consciousness. I think that's the biggest lesson we can gain from this work."
If you want to read a quick summary of The Power of Premonition, please see my previous report on this book. It also includes a list of ten things you need to know about premonitions, and how you can hone your intuition to make better choices in your life.