Chapter 8: Recognition
All through the last 15 years of his life Max spent several hours at his typewriter each day writing papers to use in his courses. He produced more than 250 on a wide range of subjects from zen, yoga, mystic states, to aspects of consciousness and healing. Here are a few titles: Ways to Meditation and Deep Prayer; Scientific Self-knowledge and Mystical Self-knowledge; Is a Guru Necessary?; The Search for the Self; Mysticism and Meta-therapy; Imagery, Alpha-states and ESP; The Physiology of Superconsciousness, and so on. Some of this writing was the basis of talks that he gave to various societies and groups but mostly the papers were intended to be given to his Thursday evening advanced biofeedback group, which continued for about a decade.
People who came to Maxs groups were often influential in their own fields such as publishing, healing, the arts and relaxation groups of many kinds. Some became very active in making his work better known. His training - linking meters with the perennial wisdom of knowledge beyond words - captured their imagination because it offered an objective basis for the many things they had learned, or were teaching intuitively. It mirrored Maxs salutary experience as a youth at the Budokwai where his master told him that he was sitting in the meditation posture but actually doing nothing.
It was a student from the Thursday group who paved the way for probably the most influential means of putting Maxs work before a wider audience - a book explaining his methods. Johnny St John was an editor at Heinemann the publisher who had already written about Maxs work in his own book Travels in Inner Space (ref 8-1). He tried to involve Max in writing a book but Heinemann wanted it to be about meditation or about biofeedback but could not imagine a book could be written which combined both. Max was wary. Because of such reservations and having had experience of the publishing world, he refused to get involved.
Finally, in desperation, St John stated he would find a writer and a different publisher if Max would guide the writing. His choice was Nona Coxhead, a writer with many published books, both fiction and non-fiction, to her credit and who was passionately interested in all aspects of the mind. She had already written Mindpower - The Emerging Pattern of Current Research (ref 8-2) which mentioned Max. They met and agreed to do a book together.
Their working relationship proved though to be very fraught precisely because of their respective passionate interests. On the one hand Coxhead was very involved in a group that had its origins in the writings of Thomas Troward, a British psychologist who had been a divisional judge in the Punjab. It was his Edinburgh Lectures on Mental Science (ref 8-3) which lead to the formation of the Science of Mind organisation in America. Coxhead was the head of Science of Mind in England for a number of years.
By contrast, the basis of Maxs teaching was understanding through direct experience; his emphasis on the use of biofeedback meters intended to enhance this direct awareness of mental states as mirrored by and grounded in physiological states. These two approaches to the spiritual path have existed since time immemorial: the one believes that we can develop higher modes of intelligence through faith based on reasoning while the other is convinced that any conceptual path is a barrier to spiritual enlightenment. The first will reason that the supreme principle of life must also be the ultimate principle of intelligence, the second will say that consciousness comes first and that the only sin is lack of that understanding.
Nona Coxhead introduced Max to her editor in New York, Eleanor Friede, who was effectively an independent publisher within Delacorte Press. Friede had already published the highly successful 1970s book Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach, and this gave her choice considerable authority. Finally the book was published as The Awakened Mind in America in 1979. In 1980 an associate company, Delta Books, reprinted it as a paperback and the book then went through a number of reprints in England, first at Wildwood House and then Element Books. It has also been translated into Dutch and Spanish.
In America, most reviews of The Awakened Mind in the specialist press were very enthusiastic. For example: It is a fine effort to explain in Western terms the philosophy of the East; listening to the body . . . and listening to the soul; biofeedback as a spur to the mind.
The studies of healers described in the book created considerable interest. However, some people who read it at that time still held the medieval opinion that if healing was not mediated by God then it must be the work of the Devil. One reviewer for an education magazine, in a review entitled Machines may start a new biofeedback religion, was typically dismissive: Such writers do not write from evil motives, of course, but one would hope that they be careful before they promote a new secular religion that, of all things, is linked to machines which tamper with the human brain. (ref 8-4).
The Awakened Mind has stayed continuously in print and though the machines have developed, the message remains relevant. Now, two decades later, a few people each month are still discovering the book and writing for further information saying how exciting they have found it.
The need for such a book became apparent in the 1970s as an increasing number of people became aware of knowledge and faculties that lay beyond orthodox disciplines. For example, at the Conference on Health and Healing, at Loughborough University in 1977, Max was introduced to Dr Alec Forbes, a hospital consultant with a clinical practice in Plymouth, Devon. He wanted to discuss healing with Max because, he said, he would sometimes would find himself unable to help a patient with conventional medicine and had wondered what would happen if tried laying on of hands as a last resort. He did not have the courage to try this nor did he have any confidence in having any healing capability.
Alec Forbes asked to be connected to the Mind Mirror to see if he could learn anything about his potential abilities. He showed quite disappointing patterns but when Max asked him to imagine the situation he had just described - of helping a patient in his surgery by laying on hands - the Mind Mirror quickly showed an impressive State 5. From this, Forbes understood, he said, the importance of giving himself permission to explore other avenues of healing.
Soon after this he set up the Friends of the Healing Research Trust, which evolved into the Natural Health Network. In 1980 he set up the Bristol Cancer Help Centre with Penny Brohn and Pat Pilkington. The centre uses complementary therapies, yoga, relaxation and diet to help people cope with their illness. Again Max had an influence because Brohn had also attended his classes. (ref 8-5) Another link with Max at the centre is Barbara Siddall, who has worked there from the beginning as a therapist, and who makes use of methods gained from the courses to help people attending the centre.
Television producers have been fascinated by biofeedback. The first programme, for BBC1s Panorama, was filmed at the house in Chesterford Gardens where the classes were held. The producers idea, for the Queens Silver Jubilee in 1977, was to suggest the kind of personal development methods that people might be using in 2002, the fiftieth anniversary of her reign. So a dozen of us were duly connected to the meters and Mind Mirrors and performed very creditably for the camera while Max gave one of his usual classes. During the rehearsals we took the opportunity to wire up the producer and director and found that they showed excellent patterns.
It was through this experiment that we first learned that the State 5 pattern could be the hallmark of inner security not only in healers but in anyone who was very competent and interested in their job. My memory of this programme is of the TV crew connected to the machines, and of them lying on the floor giving or receiving massage; for the afternoon they became part of our group ambience. They were quite impressed by what would be happening in 25 years time!
We gave an excellent demonstration and discussion for the BBC programme A Plus on healing presented by Elaine Grand. Ann Woolley-Hart took part in this programme with Max and myself, stating with some conviction that, as a someone working in the medical field, she was frustrated by the contradiction between the medical professions technical brilliance and its reluctance to look at the patient as a whole person. Lee Everett, a healer who showed an excellent State 5 pattern, offered a clear-cut point of view, from her own experience, about the role of the machines, saying that the results she achieved working with clients showed her that healing worked: If there is a machine that shows that healing is taking place, thats marvellous.
Many individuals and groups became interested in our work. We gave a demonstration to members of the Rosicrucian Society in London. Maxs methods and the Mind Mirror were written up in their study papers which emanate from the societys American headquarters.
By now, as well as appearing on a number of television programmes, we were taking the opportunity to wire up as many of the presenters as we could. As we had discovered with the Panorama director and producer, we found consistently that they had excellent balanced brain rhythms. It became obvious that the immediacy of being in front of a live TV camera demanded all ones faculties of presence and awareness and so was another demonstration of the value of the State 5 pattern in a very different context. This echoes the description by Maslow, the humanistic psychologist, of the self-actualising individual who is confident in his or her being. By extension, it seemed that we should find a stable State 5 pattern in any individual whose competence and inner security are unshakeable.
Interest by television and radio teams in our work could have an impact on them they did not expect. They sometimes found that these unseen realms were, to their surprise, more real than they had expected. One day, for example, I had a visit from a BBC researcher to discuss our studies for a radio programme on healing. When she arrived, it was clear she was visibly shocked. She explained that, 15 minutes previously, she been speaking on the phone to Bruce MacManaway in Scotland about his healing abilities. She was efficiently asking some questions to aid her investigation when Bruce suddenly announced: You have a cracked shoulder blade. It was true, she explained to me. She had fallen off her moped a few weeks earlier and had indeed cracked her shoulder blade. She hardly knew what questions to ask me as she struggled with this experience, which absolutely did not fit in with her role of dispassionate researcher. She was not to know that Bruce was in the habit of using his dowsing pendulum to check the state of anyone phoning who might benefit from his help.
In America, Maxs work has become increasingly known through the efforts of Anna Wise, the American who was instrumental in helping him to expand his classes at the Franklin School. Anna had returned to teaching dance as therapy after the Franklin closed, then began teaching biofeedback meditation classes with Elizabeth St John, another student of Maxs.
After an 11-year stay in Britain, Anna Wise decided to return to America. She arrived in Boulder, Colorado in 1981 with a dozen ESR meters and a Mind Mirror to find that no one had any knowledge of biofeedback and consciousness training. The work was an immediate success a testimony not only to Maxs ideas, but also to his training and nurturing of me as a teacher.
At first I offered one basic course in biofeedback meditation. There was such a demand that, over the next eight years, I developed a whole series of courses called The Awakened Mind Program, with a certification training programme for those wishing to teach using my methods. At the same time she was busy developing a private practice, gained an MA in psychology, produced relaxation and guided-imagery tapes and led weekend workshops throughout America. My most exciting teaching trip was to Taiwan, where I taught in five different locations with translators for different dialects. One seminar was held at the University of Taipei and - the most thrilling of all - was teaching in a Taoist Temple to a group of students and their Master."
She began by explaining the Mind Mirror pattern and then asked for a volunteer to be connected to the machine. No one moved. Finally the Master himself volunteered. On connecting him up, he showed an excellent State 5 pattern exactly as she had just described. Now everybody wanted the experience. She realised that group had needed the Master to validate the machine before they would try it, whereas in the West an excellent pattern instead would give us confidence in the Master - i.e. the machine would validate the master.
During this same session, the Masters pattern suddenly disappeared; he was seemingly in a deep trance, with only two straight lines indicated on the Mind Mirror display. She asked him to come back and he confirmed that he been out of his body. Such enlightened teachers know how to impress us when we arrive with our modern machines!
In 1991 Anna was invited to lead her first workshop at Esalen Institute, at Big Sur. This renowned personal growth centre in California, with its resident community of 100 people, has existed for 30 years and extends for half a mile on remote, spectacular cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Hot springs flow from the cliff face and fall into the sea. When last I was there, I remember discussing the implications of training using the stroboscope, while lying in the hot pool under the light of the full moon at 2am. Probably all the best-known teachers in the personal growth movement have taught at Esalen: Fritz Perls, Will Schutz, Roger Woolger, Raymond Moody, Candace Pert and Stanislav Grof - while Anita Roddick, founder of Britains The Body Shop chain, teaches on the subject Reconnecting Business with its Soul. Everyone who leads courses at Esalen does so by invitation only. I accepted with excitement, Anna said.
The Awakened Mind Brainwave Training seminars she has run at the centre comprise weekend and five-day workshops using Mind Mirror and ESR meters for biofeedback monitoring in conjunction with meditation and visualisation techniques. The aim, as the course programme explains, is to help participants bridge the conscious and unconscious mind to develop their inner resources. Having the continuity and seclusion that Esalen offers is a dream come true for my work, Anna says. And it takes Maxs techniques to the heart of the personal growth movement.
Her book The High Performance Mind appeared in January 1996 (ref 8-6) and in paperback a year later. She gave a presentation based on it at the Key-West 1996 EEG conference which was very well received with very little reservation from those with a more orthodox viewpoint. Jeremy Langford from Israel had presented his work with the Mind Mirror in 1995. Anna has also previously presented her work in 1994 at this conference but many found it a little too novel at that time. So interest in Maxs work is undoubtedly growing. Anna is sure that Max must be very proud of us.
The Awakened Mind Training, under whatever name it exists, is kept alive within each of us by our intention to explore the depths of our inner being. If you have some success you may want to share this with others; indeed if you do not then any knowledge gained will die with you. But how do you test yourself to see if you have anything valuable to impart to others? A solution which Max offered was to examine yourself closely to see if what you are matches what you say. Biomonitoring with machines offers a quick and easy way to examine this correspondence.
If you have a penchant for machines, then such methods can enliven and validate many other approaches, remembering always that it is not the biofeedback that is important but rather the information it provides about your inner resources and processes. Perhaps you have already taught relaxation, yoga, dream interpretation or any of the whole range of therapies available today and feel inspired by this book to widen the scope of what you are teaching. This book, we hope, shows even the most sceptical that there is a sound physiological basis for the biomonitoring methods described.
8-1 Johnny St John. Travels in Inner Space. Gollancz 1977.
8-2 Nona Coxhead. Mindpower - The Emerging Pattern of Current Research.
8-3 Thomas Troward. The Edinburgh Lectures on Mental Science. A M Philpot. Pre-1910.
8-4 The Star-Ledger, Education & Youth, Jan 7 1979
8-5 Penny Brohn. The Bristol Programme. Century Paperbacks 1987
8-6 Anna Wise. The High Performance Mind. Jeremy P Tarcher / Putnam 1996