Exploring the concept of beyond waking experience.
|Article Type:||Clinical report|
Sleep-wake cycle (Research)
|Publication:||Name: Visions: The Journal of Rogerian Nursing Science Publisher: Society of Rogerian Scholars Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health; Health care industry Copyright: COPYRIGHT 1998 Society of Rogerian Scholars ISSN: 1072-4532|
|Issue:||Date: Annual, 1998 Source Volume: 6 Source Issue: 1|
|Topic:||Event Code: 310 Science & research|
|Geographic:||Geographic Scope: New Jersey Geographic Code: 1U2NJ New Jersey|
Beyond waking experience has been a concept in Rogers' Science of Unitary Human Beings since at least the late 1970s, but she never defined it and gave only two examples of the experience--meditation and paranormal phenomena. In this paper, theoretical and empirical aspects of the concept are discussed, and a beginning definition of the concept is proposed. The reasoning for the idea that dreaming is a beyond waking experience is presented. Suggestions for other phenomena that may be beyond waking experiences are given, as are recommendations for future theory development and research.
Key Words M. Rogers, Beyond Waking Experience, Nursing Theory Development
Beyond waking experience has been a concept in Martha E. Rogers' Science of Unitary Human Beings (SUHB) for decades (Rogers, 1977, 1992). She never defined it, however, giving only examples such as meditation and paranormal experiences. This writer attempted to investigate the concept in her dissertation research (Watson, 1993, 1997c). Based upon the findings of the study-as well as those of several other researchers--a definition of beyond waking experience was proposed. The purpose of this paper is to share ideas about the concept and to propose areas for further investigation.
Sleeping, Waking, and Beyond Waking Experience
When developing the research proposal, this writer's primary concern was not the concept of beyond waking experience (Watson, 1997b). Rather, the main area of research interest was studying sleep patterns in older adults using Rogers' (1970, 1992) Science of Unitary Human Beings. An initial review of Rogers' ideas about sleep in older adults had revealed some interesting statements that raised questions. Rogers (1980) stated that "the aged need less sleep" (p. 336). Yet one could walk about in almost any hospital or nursing home in the middle of the afternoon and observe many older adults sound asleep in their "geriatric" chairs.
After an extensive review of traditional (i.e., non-Rogerian) literature about sleep patterns in older adults, it was found, however, that Rogers was partially correct. Older people do have different sleep-wake patterns than younger adults, but the key word here is pattern, not duration. The amount of sleep taken by older adults in a 24-hour period can be more, less, or the same as that of younger adults, as repeatedly documented in traditional sleep research (Bliwise, 1993; Pressman & Fry, 1988). Upon reviewing Rogers' 1980 statement, it was noted that attention should be given to the assertion that "the patterned frequencies of sleep/wake are more diverse [in older adults]" (Rogers, 1980, p. 336). Changes in sleep-wake patterns in older adults occur commonly both in people who are healthy and in those who have health problems. The most consistent finding is increased awakening after sleep onset at night (Buysse, et al., 1991; Pressman & Fry). Daytime napping is increased in some individuals, although this is not true for all older adults (Bliwise, 1993).
Although several competing theories have been offered, it is interesting to note that no one has been able to fully explain why these sleep-wake pattern changes occur. This writer used Rogers' conceptual model as the framework for her study because it provided a theoretically more plausible view in explaining these sleep changes than offered by traditional explanations. Rogers' explanation for them in 1980 was that "aging is a continuously creative process directed toward growing diversity of field pattern and organization.... it is not a running down" (Rogers, 1980, p. 336). She made a similar statement in 1992, when she said that "aging evolves from conception through the dying process. The aging of a unitary human field is not a running down. Rather, field patterns become increasingly diverse ... and sleep-wake frequencies become more varied" (Rogers, 1992, p. 32).
In selecting the framework for the study, it was recognized that Rogers (1992) had included "longer sleeping/longer waking/beyond waking" in her "Manifestations of Field Patterning in Unitary Human Beings" (p. 31). It was thought that because Rogers had identified only a few other manifestations of patterning, this must be an important one. Further, it was determined by this writer that to be consistent with Rogers' model in the proposed study, the manifestation of sleep-waking patterning needed to be examined in its entirety. "In the Rogerian model, the sleep-wake manifestation of patterning is conceptualized as encompassing experiences beyond those traditionally seen as sleep-wake behaviors. ... Human sleep-wake rhythms cannot be fully explored without consideration of beyond waking manifestations" (Watson, 1993, p. 2). The challenge was to find a way to address the concept of beyond waking experience in the study.
As noted, Rogers did not define the concept of beyond waking experience and gave only examples of it such as meditation and paranormal experiences. For example, in 1992 she wrote, "meditative modalities ... bespeak 'beyond waking' manifestations" (Rogers, 1992, p. 32). As the proposal for the study was being developed, this writer asked Rogers (personal communication, March 15, 1985) if she could give a definition of beyond waking experience. Rogers' response was a smile and a challenge to develop one. It was received with some frustration. If she did not define her concepts, how could a novice researcher in Rogerian nursing science do so? A beginning definition, however, was proposed, but not until after the study was completed.
Dreaming as a Beyond Waking Experience
Initially, beyond waking experience was viewed from what now could be considered a very limited perspective. That is, in the study, [dreaming.bar] was identified as a beyond waking experience (Watson, 1993, 1997c). The reasoning for this follows. In addition to citing meditation and paranormal experiences as beyond waking phenomena in her more recent writings (Rogers, 1992), in an earlier work, Rogers (1970) wrote that "dreams are often noted to be associated with paranormal phenomena ... [and] provide a further means whereby integration and patterning of life occur" (p. 72). This writer, in reviewing Rogerian and non-Rogerian literature, noted that dreaming had been described as similar to or having characteristics of those experiences considered by Rogers to be beyond waking manifestations.
Miller (1984), in what is the only study of the sleeping/waking/beyond waking manifestation of patterning in its entirety, defined beyond waking experience as "states of awareness ... that transcend sleeping and waking" (p. 3), and cited peak or transcendental states and extrasensory states as examples. Maslow (1971) indicated that peak experiences transcend space and time. Similarly, Dement (1976) described dreaming as a "transcendent dimension ... the wandering of an abstract being in the infinite reaches of time" (p. 53). Hartocollis (1980) also described the timeless aspects of dreams and suggested that dreams are closely related to mystical experiences. Finally, Namilov (1982) stated that dreams are "meditation in its natural form" (p. 121).
Both Chuman (1983) and Hobson and McCarley (1977) have suggested that the human sleep-wake rhythm be viewed in relation to three principal states: waking, sleeping, and dreaming. Sleeping and dreaming are not, however, mutually exclusive experiences. Dreaming occurs in all stages of sleep, and it has been asserted that "reportable mental activity is always present in the sleeping human" (Foulkes, 1962, p. 24).
There are both psychologically- and physiologically-based theories of dreaming, but these are not consistent with Rogers' model as they offer reductionist views of human experience. A more consistent theory of dreaming is Tart's (1989) position that dreaming represents an altered state of awareness that is different from waking. Similarly, Globus (1987) asserts that "we are sentient in our dreams and perceive a sometimes fantastic yet authentic life world" (p. 61). According to Tart, in dreams, the individual draws upon knowledge from other states of awareness. Underlying this position is the notion that there is "some aspect ... of our basic awareness that transcends any particular state we are in at the time (Tart, 1989, p.198). Tart asserts that dreams that occur during sleep may be the gateway to other states of awareness, and in particular, to lucid dreaming. In lucid dreams, individuals know they are dreaming. The experience is more like the waking state, but lucid dreams may provide for experiences not possible in ordinary waking (Gackenbach & LaBerge, 1988; Tart, 1989). In lucid dreams, one may hold conversations with the characters met, including people known to have died. According to Tart, almost everyone has lucid dreams at one time or another.
Based primarily on the writings of Tart (1989) and Globus (1987), this writer concluded that dreaming may be said to represent a different reality. According to Rogers (1992), "all reality is postulated to be pandimensional" (p. 31). Pandimensionality provides for an infinite domain without conventional spatial or temporal attributes (Rogers, 1986, 1992), and that synthesizes the past, present, and future (Phillips, 1990). "The present as a point in time is not relevant to a [pandimensional] model. Rather, the [pandimensional] human field is the 'relative present' for any individual" (Rogers, 1980, p. 332).
In discussing paranormal phenomena, Phillips (1990) stated:
Such perspectives are consistent with Barrett's (1990) description of a client whose precognitive paranormal experience occurred within a dream.
This writer posited, therefore, that dreaming, as a beyond waking experience, represents a manifestation of human field pattern. It was also noted that Cowling (1990) stated that "pattern appraisal includes ... visualizations or images described by the person" (p. 53). The case being made for dreaming to be construed as a beyond waking experience, this writer developed an instrument to measure dream experience within the context of the Science of Unitary Human Beings (Watson, 1993, 1998; Watson, Barrett, HastingsTolsma, Johnston, & Gueldner, 1997), and the study was undertaken. The concept of beyond waking experience, however, still had not been defined.
In the study, the variables of main theoretical interest were sleep-wake rhythm and dream experience. The independent variables were time experience and human field motion. It was expected that correlations among these variables would be found. Cowling (1983) stated that the manifestations of patterning are postulated "to evolve consonantly with one another in unitary human development" (p. 2). Similarly, Phillips (1989) said that "as change occurs in one part of the [human] field, change takes place in the whole field" (p. 58) and is evidenced in pattern manifestations of human and environmental fields.
Admittedly, seeking correlations among the variables was a linear approach. Based on Phillips' (1989, 1997) more recent ideas that the manifestations of patterning should not be viewed as "three separate columns" (Phillips, 1989, p. 59), this may not have been the best thing to do. Interestingly, a significant positive correlation was found between sleep-wake rhythm and dream experience ([r.bar] = .2945, [p.bar]<.05). This finding gave support to the idea that dreaming is a beyond waking experience and that it is consistent with Rogers' model to explore dreaming in studies involving the sleeping/ waking/beyond waking manifestation of patterning. The shared variance between sleep-wake rhythm and dream experience was, however, only 8.73%. This finding led to consideration of other variables that may be indicators of the sleeping/waking/beyond waking manifestation of patterning, as well as to consideration of how beyond waking experience should be defined.
Definition of Beyond Waking Experience
Miller's (1984) definition of beyond waking experience as "states of awareness that transcend sleeping and waking; examples include peak or transcendental states and extrasensory states" (p. 3) has been noted. Indeed, meditation and paranormal experiences occur during waking hours, whereas dreaming occurs during sleep. Building on this, and on the ideas about pandimensional reality in the Science of Unitary Human Beings, this writer proposed the following definition of beyond waking experiences: "Beyond waking experiences are complex human field phenomena that occur during periods of waking and sleeping, yet transcend both, and involve the perception of pandimensional realities in 'an infinite domain without limit' (Rogers, 1992, p. 31)" (Watson, 1993, p. 132).
Examples of Beyond Waking Experience
Within this context, a variety of experiences in addition to those already identified could be viewed as beyond waking experience. Daydreaming, for example, may be a beyond waking experience that is similar to dreaming but occurs when one is awake. As Starker (1974) has stated, "dreams and daydreams share common properties" (p. 55). Butcher and Parker (1988) studied the experience of guided imagery in relation to time experience and human field motion within Rogers' (1970, 1986) framework, using a two-group, pre-test/post-test design with 60 participants. Although they did not identify guided imagery as a beyond waking experience, they described it as having characteristics associated with daydreaming or meditative experiences. Their findings revealed that participants in the experimental group (N = 30) had significantly lower (F = 4.348, g<.05) scores on the Time Metaphor Test, indicating a sense of timelessness, after listening to a pleasant guided imagery tape.
Lucid dreams (Gackenbach & LaBerge, 1988; LaBerge, 1985; Tart, 1989), that occur during sleep but have characteristics associated with being awake, also may constitute beyond waking experiences. As mentioned, in lucid dreams, individuals "know while dreaming that they are dreaming, they feel much more in control of their mental functioning, and they are able to exercise more control over subsequent dream events" (Tart, 1989, p. 3).
Out-of-Body and near-death experiences could be considered beyond waking experiences which occur during the dying process. Rogers (1986) stated that "unitary human and environmental rhythms find expression in the rhythmicity of the living-dying process" (p. 8), and she noted that phenomena associated with dying such as near-death experiences would be appropriate areas for investigation within her model. Tart (1989) has attempted to link theoretically lucid dreaming with out-of-body experiences. His descriptions of out-of-body experiences are similar to the descriptions of near-death experiences reported by Moody (1976) and Morse (1990).
Spirituality, which has been defined as "a way of being and experiencing that comes through awareness of a transcen dent dimension characterized by certain identifiable values in regard to self, others, nature, life, and whatever one considers to be the Ultimate" (Elkins, Hedstrom, Hughes, Leaf, & Saunders, 1988, p. 10), could constitute a beyond waking experience that transcends usual waking and sleeping experiences, as well as the dying process. Smith (1992) studied this concept using Rogers' (1992) model. In her investigation, she compared spirituality and power in polio survivors ([bar.N] = 301). Power was defined as the capacity to participate knowingly in the process of change (Barrett, 1983; Rogers, 1990). Smith elicited a significant positive correlation ([r.bar] = .34, [p.bar]<.005) between power and spirituality for the total sample. She also found that spirituality was greater in polio survivors than in people who had not had polio ([t.bar] = 3.79, [df.bar] =250, [p.bar]<.001). In discussing her findings, Smith (1992) postulated that practices associated with greater spirituality such as meditation and prayer are related to "states which are timeless and beyond waking, enhance awareness of a transcendent dimension ... [and] are congruent with Rogers' nursing model" (p. 79).
Although there is continuing debate about whether the concept of spirituality is appropriate to Rogers' model, both Malinski (1994) and Smith (1994) have presented compelling discussions as to why the concept can indeed be seen as consistent with the Science of Unitary Human Beings. More recently, Butcher (1997) noted that "spirituality can be understood as a pandimensional awareness of increasingly diverse and creative higher frequency patterning in the continuous mutual process of the human and environmental fields" (p. 16).
In discussing her research findings, Smith (1992) stated:
This suggests that the concept of power as knowing participation in change also may have some link with lucid dreaming, in which people participate knowingly in their dreams and report being able to change the nature of their dream experience.
Further, during a discussion of beyond waking experience at a recent Rogerian conference (Watson, 1997b), members of the audience suggested several other comments that could be subsumed within the idea of beyond waking experience. These included: centering and intentionality, the mutual process that occurs each year at the Rogerian Dialogues, hallucinations, psychedelic experiences, and prayer. It is noted that Donahue (1997) posited that prayer is a "manifestation of our non-local reality" (p. 33).
Conclusions and Recommendations
The variety of phenomena that could be viewed as beyond waking experiences illustrates the complex nature of the sleeping/waking/beyond waking manifestation of human field patterning. Looking only at dreaming, paranormal phenomena, or meditation as beyond waking experiences is too limited. We need to explore in greater depth what the concept of beyond waking experience means. We also need to identify the kinds of experiences that can be linked to the concept. Both qualitative and quantitative studies should be conducted to further explore the nature and meaning of beyond waking experience within the content of the Science of Unitary Human Beings. Although debate continues on research methods that are consistent with Rogerian science (Butcher, 1997; Cowling, 1997; Parse, 1997, Watson, 1997a), Rogers (1994) stated that both quantitative and qualitative methods work in Rogerian science. In this writer's opinion, a [set.bar] of measures may be needed to more fully explore the concept of beyond waking experience. Perhaps an instrument could be developed that incorporates most or all of the known experiences linked theoretically to it.
In addition to identifying indicators of beyond waking experience, perhaps the concept itself needs a new name. Phillips and Bramlett (1994), for example, proposed the concept of "integrated awareness. "They explained this concept as involving "the creation of a matrix in which one is cognizant of a heightened transcendence of self and environment, including living and non living entities as well as the potential for mutual process to occur" (p. 22). They also stated that "this potential exists for all human beings ... [and that] integrated awareness represents a dynamic, non-linear domain which is always present (p. 22). This description is somewhat similar to the definition of beyond waking experience proposed by this writer. Moreover, Phillips and Bramlett discussed a number of concepts that they asserted are related to integrated awareness. These include: field motion, power, mystical/paranormal experiences, empathy, human field image, and time experience. Although in this writer's study, time experience and human field motion were not found to be statistically related to dream experience and sleep-wake rhythm, the results were thought to be due to problems with instrumentation, not with the postulated theoretical relationships. Perhaps we are addressing the same concept without realizing it, as the term "beyond waking experience" tends to be associated--at first glance--with sleep-wake phenomena.
It is fascinating to speculate about what Rogers meant when she first included the concept of beyond waking experience in her model. Was it simply part of a continuum of sleep and waking experiences? If this is so, where does this continuum lead? Or is the idea of a continuum too linear for Rogers' model? Phillips (1997) has suggested "[placing] all the manifestations in one column in random order to get rid of what appears to be linearity" (p. 19). If this is to be done, however, we must endeavor to more thoroughly elucidate what each individual manifestation of patterning represents. This is certainly true of beyond waking experience, and further elaboration of this concept could be fertile soil for both theory development and future research.
Perhaps more questions have been raised than answered in this paper. It remains for us to continue our explorations of Rogerian concepts--both those originated by her and those identified by newer Rogerian theorists--and synthesize them into a coherent whole within the framework of the Science of Unitary Human Beings.
Received February, 1998 Accepted June, 1998
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Juanita Watson, RN; PhD
Assistant Professor of Nursing
Camden College of Arts and Sciences
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
311 North 5th Street
Camden, NJ 08102
it is reasonable to assume that one person's relative present encompasses the future of another person or one's own future. It is a person's perception of the [integralness of] here and there, the past, present, and future manifests in what we call paranormal. (p. 17)
As people manifest greater power, they also manifest greater spirituality. As individuals become more aware of being pandimensional energy field integral with the environmental field, they tend to make different choices. Involvement in creating change becomes the process of actualizing one's choices toward greater creativity and diversity, developing the unseen dimension of oneself as a human field. (p.68)
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