Let us look at the air around us and consider in particular the role of ions in the atmosphere. The formation of ions begins when enough energy acts on a gaseous molecule to eject an electron (a negatively charged particle). Most of this energy comes from radioactive substances in the earth's crust and some from the cosmic rays in space. The displaced electron attaches itself to an adjacent molecule which then becomes a negative ion, the original molecule becoming a positive ion. Then natural gas or water molecules from the air cluster around the ions to form small ions of four types, viz. H+, H3O+, O2 and OH-. (O is oxygen and H is hydrogen.) Thus the four types are the hydrogen ion- H=, the hydroxyl ion - H3O+, the oxygen molecule- O2 and the hydroxide ion OH-. Associated with these reactions in each case is the formation of a small number of water molecules. In the clean air over land where there is minimum pollution, there are about 2,000 to 4,000 ions per cubic centimetre. However, negative ions are more mobile and the earth's surface has a negative charge, so negative ions are repelled from the earth's surface. The normal ratio of negative to positive ions is 1.2 to 1.00.
Unfortunately we do not always live in an unpolluted atmosphere and often our environment has a count of only 50 or 60 ions per cubic centimetre. This is the case where 4 or 5 people are working in a city office. If you travel to work in polluted air and spend 8 hours a day in an office or factory, you inescapably breathe ion depleted air for a large portion of the day.
There is now a large amount of scientific evidence to show that ion depletion in the atmosphere leads to discomfort, ennervation, lassitude and some degree of mental and physical inefficiency. This condition appears to be quite different and distinct from the direct toxic effects of atmospheric pollutants. It also occurs in rural schools and libraries where the air is pure but where there are special factors which remove ions, such as stray electric fields.
Evidence also proves that a substantial increase in ions can have highly beneficial effects, from relieving burn pains to helping the growth of plants. Negative ions are especially beneficial for healing purposes. They are known to increase resistance to influenza. High concentrations of positive or negative ions are known to produce more alpha frequency brain waves. Alpha waves have a frequency of 8 to 12 cycles per second and are emitted from the brain whenever an individual is calm, relaxed and passive.
Much research has also been done into the way in which atmospheric ionic conditions affect the consciousness of man. For example, Israeli research has demonstrated that famous winds such as the mistral in France, the Sirocco in Italy, the Zonda of Argentina and the Chinook in Canada all give rise to high positive ion concentrations in the atmosphere, and symptoms such as sleeplessness, irritability, tension, migraines and vomiting have been observed from individuals who live in these regions. The symptoms experienced by these people are not due to other factors accompanying the winds such as rise in temperature or decrease in humidity. The symptoms resemble the effects of a large production of serotonin, a hormone secreted by the pineal gland which is known to be intimately connected with emotions, perceptions, sleep and wakefulness. It is serotonin which makes these aspects of our consciousness possible, and enables us to relate to everyday reality. Many scientists are trying to discover the precise mechanism by which this hormone affects our consciousness, and many of them have made psycho-physiological studies of individuals. It has been found, for example, that in the case of mice, positive ions raise the level of serotonin in the blood and the brain, whereas negative ions depress them.
Conversely, when the negative ion density of the air is relatively large, such as near a waterfall or on a high mountain, the general effect of the local environment is tranquillizing and conducive to good health. For this reason, some people have installed negative ion generators in their homes. This helps to maintain a normal electrostatically balanced atmosphere. To breathe the air in their living room is like being out in the crisp clean air of the mountain slopes.
Electromagnetic phenomena also play an important part in the ecology of consciousness. The earth has its own magnetic field which is very weak (about 100 times weaker than the field of a small horseshoe magnet). This field extends around the planet like a large doughnut, and is probably created by the flow of molten metals in the earth's core. The average intensity of the field is about 0.5 Gauss (a small horseshoe magnet has a field strength of about 500 Gauss). This field also pulses, like the blood in our veins and arteries. The predominant frequency range of the magnetic pulses is known as the Schumann resonance, and is around 7½ cycles per second. Researchers have suggested that this resonance has various effects on the human nervous system and even on the consciousness itself.
Let us consider the following. The 7½ cycles per second brain wave frequency is the boundary between alpha (waking) and theta (sleeping) waves. When this frequency predominates in your brain, you are in a condition which is the borderline between being awake and falling asleep. The theta wave is often observed in the EEG patterns of experienced meditators who pass through the Schumann resonance portal without falling asleep. This interesting point is a valid explanation for the phenomenon which most beginners in meditation or pranayama practice experience, namely the problem of sleep. Just as the meditation or pranayama practice starts to become better or deeper, sleep intervenes. This is due to the brain wave frequency reaching that of the Schumann resonance. It is only by an effort of mind that one can remain awake with the frequency remaining stable. This is why it is said that meditation is better whenever one is not completely awake but just on the borderline between waking and sleeping. We may say that this is the best frequency for gaining access to the subconscious mind.
Psychic phenomena are no longer a matter of speculation. They are proved, well documented facts. New sciences are being created virtually overnight to seek ways of applying knowledge of the interactions of consciousness with other research items.
On the basis of his research, Professor Michael Persinger of the Laurentian University Psychophysiology Laboratory, hypothesizes that extremely low frequency (E.L.F.) Schumann waves may serve as carriers for information connected with psychic phenomena (psi information), and it is nearly impossible under normal circumstances to shield oneself against such waves. He based his hypothesis on the following main factors concerning E.L.F. waves.
E.L.F. waves propagate more easily between midnight and 4 a.m. They are easier to transmit from west to east than from east to west. When he surveyed esp literature, he found that telepathy and clairvoyance have a tendency to rise strongly around 4 a.m. and they too were easier to transmit from west to east than from east to west. He also observed that, comparatively few psychic experiences were reported whenever there were disturbances in the earth's magnetic field, because such disturbances impair propagation of E.L.F. waves.
In deep space (one sixth of the distance to the moon) the magnetic field intensity is near zero, and scientists are investigating whether this affects the consciousness of astronauts. The earth's magnetic lines of force and the human consciousness are so intrinsically linked that any disturbances in the earth's magnetic field are immediately reflected in human behaviour.
These magnetic disturbances are particularly correlated with solar storms which displace large clouds of plasma. (You may have seen pictures of these storms taking place around the outer layer of the sun.) These clouds or waves generally impinge on the earth's magnetosphere about two days after a solar flare, causing polar lights, radio interferences and a compression of the earth's magnetic lines of flux. (The earth has lines of flux just like a magnet, whose lines can be made visible by sprinkling iron filings on paper placed over the magnet.) A definite correlation exists between these solar storms and outbreaks of heart attacks, lung diseases, eclampsias and the activity of microbes. Epidemics of diphtheria, typhus, cholera and smallpox have also been associated with solar activity. Several other correlations have been shown to exist, for example, magnetic field disturbances affect the behaviour of patients in psychiatric wards and the number of road accidents increases.
Magnetic and particularly electromagnetic fields have enormous implications for our understanding of consciousness. All objects in our universe with a temperature above absolute zero emit electromagnetic radiation. In the view of two pioneers of the electro-dynamic theory of life, Professor Harold Burr, professor of anatomy at Yale University, and Leonard J. Ravitz, a psychiatrist, electromagnetic fields guide the growth and repair of living protoplasm. The field they discovered they called the life field or L-field.
According to Professor Burr, L-fields are detected and examined by measuring the difference in voltage between two points on or close to the surface of a living form. L-field voltage can be measured by placing one electrode on the forehead of the person, another on the chest or hand. Alternatively, the index finger of each hand can be dipped into bowls of saline solution connected to a special type of voltmeter. The important point to be clarified is that these voltage readings have nothing to do with the alternating electrical currents which doctors find in the heart and the brain. They are pure voltage potentials which can yield only an infinitesimal amount of direct current. This is why L-fields could not be detected before the invention of the vacuum tube voltmeter, which requires virtually no current for its operation. The normal voltmeter needs so much current to swing the needle that it would drain away the L-field potentials and make any reading useless if not impossible.
The L-field can be used not only in diagnosis of local conditions, but also in assessing the overall state of the body. A remarkable fact is that the L-field can be measured at a distance from the particular organ, that is, not in physical contact. This indicates that it is a true field and not just some surface potential.
The main points which have been demonstrated by all this research are: