My co-host, Angie, and I recently attended ‘The Science of What Connects Us’, which is a conference presented by the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS). We learned about IONS from our mentor Douglas Drane, who has attended their conference several times in the past and is a cheerleader of their work. He planned to attend the event this year, but was unable to and gifted us with tickets, so we could report back to him with what we learned. Little did we know that our experience would be transformational.
We found ourselves encountering a series of serendipitous events and profound human connection. Soon after our arrival, we bumped into one of our former podcast guests, Laurie Marshall. Laurie is not only an incredible human being and dear friend, she is also a gifted artist and educator. She recently illustrated a new book in collaboration with a young person, called The Flood of Kindness, which is a beautiful story about human connection after a natural disaster.
While at the conference, we learned about Laurie’s involvement with IONS and their Worldview Exploration Program which is “a research-based experiential program for middle school, high-school, and college students”. The program helps young people become more aware of their perspectives and how they experience the world, so they can ultimately use self-awareness to become more open-minded and compassionate leaders. And we were pleased to discover that the Worldview Exploration Program is just one of the amazing educational programs IONS provides for individuals from all stages of life.
Their educational programs are deeply aligned with their mission to transform consciousness worldwide, a mission which stems from their founder, Edgar Mitchell. Edgar Mitchell was an Apollo 14 astronaut and the sixth man to walk on the moon. During his journey back from the moon he sat in the window seat of the spacecraft, and as the spacecraft would slowly spin around in space he looked out at the earth, the sun, the moon, and the stars. This experience guided him to a revelation that everyone and everything was connected within a universal consciousness, and this radically altered his worldview and inspired him to further explore the uncharted territory of the human mind and consciousness. He founded IONS in 1973 and his legacy lives on through the exploration of noetic science.
Noetic science is described as “a multidisciplinary field that brings objective scientific tools and techniques together with subjective inner knowing to study the full range of human experiences”. So much of the work at IONS is research-based, but they also incorporate a broad range of human capability that go beyond science, like imagination and intuition, into their mission. IONS holds space for understanding that the relationship between the physical and the nonphysical is far more complex than we might have imagined.
They also bring to light that when we explore nonphysical realms with openness and curiosity we have the capacity to discover the truest versions of ourselves and we learn how to connect with others in more profound and meaningful ways. It’s no wonder that much of the research at IONS focuses on transformation and connection, for these themes seem to dominate their mission to uncover universal consciousness.
Angie and I have found ourselves especially impressed with the leadership and representatives at IONS. Their members were welcoming, well-spoken, and very knowledgeable. And in learning more about the Institute’s mission, it seems fitting to say they are a very enlightened group.
We were very fortunate to interview IONS President, Cassandra Vieten, while attending the conference. Dr. Vieten is also an author, a licensed clinical psychologist, and a scientist at the Mind-Body Medicine Research Group at California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute.
Stay tuned for our interview with Dr. Vieten to learn more about this exciting Institute and the work they are currently doing to change the world!