Page 28 - LCT December 2019
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 Defining NOSC
In an interview with Walter Mead and Stan Grof, Grof, a leader in the field of non-ordinary states, described NOSC as the following: “NOSC is characterized by dramatic perceptual changes, intense and often unusual emotions, profound alterations in the thought processes and behavior, and by a variety of psychosomatic manifestations” (Grof & Mead, 2015, para. 2). Grof explains that NOSC has always been a part of human and sacred traditions and was considered extraordinarily relevant and esteemed in spiritual and ritual practices, rites of passage, and as a diagnostic and healing practice in all cultures dating back to antiquity. Grof additionally revealed that the lack of recognition regarding the importance of NOSC is occurring for the first time in human history in our current Western industrial society. Grof affirmed that many positive benefits could happen with the proper understanding and use of NOSC, including emotional and psychosomatic healing, personal transformation, and the evolution of consciousness (Grof & Mead, 2015).

Kylea Taylor is the author of The Ethics of Caring: Honoring the Web of Life in Our Professional Healing Relationships, a remarkable book on the subject of ethics-related explicitly to NOSC. She broadly states that “non-ordinary states of consciousness (. . .) includes any state of consciousness characterized by a heightened sensitivity and awareness” (Taylor, 1995, p. 13). She explains that our sense of connection to people and our environment increases when we enter into a non-ordinary state, and this broader sense of awareness can help us to find deeper meaning in our lives. Taylor suggested that these moments in NOSC allow us to become more in touch with our emotions and intuition and help us understand our energetic and spiritual natures (Taylor, 1995).

Taylor also described how the power in group rituals or meditations often grows as the energy from individuals in the group seeks out to connect with the energy of others, activating emotions or
energetic shifts within the group. The secure connections amplified during a NOSC experience can affect an individual’s level of vulnerability and susceptibility to persuasiveness and seduction, which is why understanding the ethics of using NOSC within a counseling or coaching relationship is essential (Taylor, 1995).

Many influential coaches and other professionals who provide workshops, seminars, and different types of group gatherings may understand the power of igniting group energy when they intentionally create opportunities for the attendees to “drop in,” yet they may not truly understand (or perhaps care about) and take necessary action related to the ethical considerations of avoiding the dangers and pitfalls for those entering into non- ordinary states of consciousness. One of the most potentially destructive elements of the group setting is the increased vulnerability to persuasion by the group or group leader. For example, the group or leader can reap significant financial gains when enticing participants to purchase products or services that they do not need or cannot afford. Moreover, the group setting may inflate the influence and authority of a charismatic group leader and inspire a vulnerable assemblage of devoted and dedicated followers. Some of the more theatrical group leaders may know precisely how to use this energy and increased vulnerability to entice attendees to sign up for whatever they are selling, typically with the incentive of a highly discounted price if purchased during the event by using high pressured sales tactics.

There is nothing inherently wrong with inducing NOSC, as the experience can be a very beneficial and positive, but the individuals exposed to this technique should be informed about the expectations, benefits, and dangers, and they should not be encouraged to make crucial decisions or to sign any legally binding contracts while in this altered state. I work with NOSC in a therapeutic setting and have received years of training to increase my awareness and understanding of the benefits and risks associated

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