One of the best non-fiction books to come out of the mid-1970s was this wonderful tongue-in-cheek exploration of a whole raft of different mind-expansion techniques by the best-selling author Adam Smith. From Rolfing to EST, Smith includes us in his often humorous attempts to gain genuine insight into how the human mind works, and how we can each individually overcome the limitations, liabilities, and lamentations associated with living with our minds. And, as Smith tells us again and again, your mind is not necessarily your friend.
Although he writes in a self-deprecating and quite comedic way, often he uses his wry and laser-sharp mind to show us things well worth knowing. Indeed, this book is not a throwaway effort, but is a very helpful and essential guide to a plethora of different philosophies, techniques, and modalities dealing with different ways of gaining further self-awareness. Smith asks himself if he really could, as is claimed by some adherents, learn to control his blood pressure, stifle headaches, or learn to pop himself into an alpha state? And by the way, he asks, what is an alpha state, and why do we want to achieve it? How useful is meditation, and what can it really do for us?
In reality, this is aground-breaking effort to introduce the field of consciousness psychology, of the whole field surrounding questions of the mind-body connection and how to approach getting involved. What makes sense and what doesn't become more apparent as we accompany Smith through adventures in Arica, or Transcendental Meditation, or what Dr. Herbert Benson of Harvard refers to as the post-relaxation response. In an aside, Smith begins to question his own ideas about what is real and what is not, and the ways in which our own so-called reality paradigm predisposes us to seeing, interpreting, and experiencing the world around us in a particular way.
I found myself particularly astounded by his own experiences in a sensory deprivation tank, and how he seemed to experience out-of-body experiences associated with these excursions to the far reaches of consciousness exploration. I lost my only copy of the book in a fire last year, and just recently re-acquired another copy through the Amazon out-of-print book service. It is an unqualified joy to be re-reading it again after all this time. Do yourself a favor a get yourself a copy too. I know you will love reading it too. Enjoy!