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Planning To Design Peak Experiences

During the 1960s, Abraham Maslow devoted considerable research to the concept of peak-experiences. Maslow engaged in a variety of experiences and based his experiments on data from phenomenological reports derived from people of various ages. He became found that ordinary people may undergo genuine experiential peaks in even the most ordinary events and surroundings; such as seeing the beauty of nature, listening to music, or performing routine chores. A peak experience is an event that is memorable, establishes oneself as being present in the moment, exhilarating bliss, or deeply moving, there's also a feeling of transcendence or spiritual connection associated with it. The search for peak experiences is a common human motivation. The majority of people view peak experiences as accomplishments that are vital developments of their identity and guiding feedback for how they live their lives.

Maslow found ordinary people, often his undergraduates and colleagues at Brandeis University unknowingly described their peak-experiences with sentiments of rapture. These joyful experiences were ecstatically described and found to be incredibly similar to the experiences of students of famous spiritual teachers and gurus of the 1960's. Maslow discovered that everyone needn't be a religious mystics or even a tantric practitioner to undergo an unforgettable experience of joy and ecstasy. Nor, is it necessary to meditate in a Taoist monastery or travel exotically to hope to capture these wondrous encounters. Maslow observed mystics and accounts of Saints who described these same experiences while performing menial tasks. Maslow described the great lesson learned from the devotees and mystics is that the sacred is present within the ordinary. All of us can cultivate the conditions to undergo these peaks of experiential awareness and bliss.

Maslow came to believed that the more balanced a person was in body, mind, and spirit the healthy they were. The healthier a person was the greater the likelihood that a person would have a peak-experience spontaneously, and also the more frequent such episodes would become in the course of daily-to-daily living as they attuned with this feedback. Maslow also proposed that as we age the experience and intensity of peak experiences develop into a gentler, more sustained state of serenity that he called plateau-experiences. Unlike peak-experiences, Maslow advised, such plateaus can be cultivated through intentional exercises and diligent effort.

Just before Maslow's sudden death from a heart attack in 1970, he began developing state control exercises to guide people to achieve the plateau state of consciousness in our daily life. Exercises such as gazing at a tiny flower with total attention and filling oneself up with the feeling of a flower, or observing a loved one and imagining that you, or they, are going to die soon. Maslow used these simple perspective changes to break the habitual stream of thinking and relational connection to others. This method of thinking was used so that a person might see their world, their life, and everything in it with freshness and delight. We all lose forget about the importance of impermanence and that every beautiful and loved knows pain. Whatever you think or hope, something is always changing. In order for the flower to flower, things have to be impermanent, otherwise, a child would never grow up forever. Impermanence is the basic condition for life encouraging everything to be possible.

As I explore hypnosis, trance, and meditation my study brings me to designing peak experiences into my life and interactions with others. I seek out ways to create a connection between all parts of oneself. You are not just a physical being, but a spirit. You are not just a speaker, but a listener. You think and you feel. You create and you make use of. You are a complete individual, not just separate parts, but a whole. Together, we are an extension of the universe and all potential. Directing that potential is a personal process that has taken me back over and over again to Maslow and the harmony of connection. Peak experiences have helped me ground myself in what mattered to have a good life, and what I have wanted to seek more of. It’s not just the peaks in life that define us. Designing peak experiences implies a field of individuation in which differences in intensity are distributed here and there in the form of excitations and habitations. In the broadest sense, peak experiences are those moments when we become deeply involved in, excited by, and absorbed in the world. Peak experiences are a little different for each person.

Peak experiences are exhilarating, but they no more define what life is about than so-called mundane experiences. Life-affirming emotions such as gratitude, compassion, and love are now documented as being triggers for life-promoting conditions such as lower blood pressure, the release of “good” hormones, and enhanced immune responses. Feelings are energizing. The right feelings, thoughts, and perspectives empower you and those who serve you to live your best life. If you are a Hypno Dom, MC, Guru, or regular Joe there is a lot of benefit for designing and streamlining the states and set points you seek to stay within and maintain every day of your life. Think about the feelings you have on a daily basis and ask yourself if you could enjoy living in the moment more. Take stock of what matters and in the language of Maslow; its time to self actualize.

Joseph Crown

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