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When the Impossible Happens: Adventures in Non-Ordinary Reality Paperback – April 1, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Stanislav Grof, MD, received his doctorate in medicine from the Charles University School of Medicine in Prague and his doctorate in the philosophy of medicine from the Czechoslovakian Academy of Sciences. Dr. Grof has served as a research fellow at John Hopkins University and chief of psychiatric research at the Maryland Psychiatric Center. He currently teaches psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Stanislav Grof is the founding president of the International Transpersonal Association. He is the author of 11 books, including Realms of the Human Unconscious; Beyond the Brain; The Holographic Mind; and The Stormy Search for the Self (with Christina Grof).


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Sounds True; First Edition edition (April 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159179420X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591794202
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #252,589 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

100 of 105 people found the following review helpful By Renn Butler on December 7, 2006
Format: Paperback
Stan Grof's new book, "When the Impossible Happens," has become an instant transpersonal classic. The most personable and accessible of his many projects, I recommend this book enthusiastically to anyone interested in human consciousness, including the study of synchronicities, pre- and perinatal experiences, racial and collective memories, ESP and paranormal abilities, karma and reincarnation, the convergence of science and mysticism, and survival of consciousness after death.

Drawing upon fifty years of disciplined research into the extraordinary properties of the human psyche, Grof presents a series of representative experiences of himself, his colleagues, and his patients of powerful journeys in non-ordinary or holotropic ("moving toward wholeness") states of consciousness. The content of many of these experiences were then objectively verified afterward, often to incredible surprise. These included obstetric details from birth, experiences of the subject's mother during pregnancy, obscure episodes from the lives of parents and ancestors, unknowable details from past lives, minute physiological characteristics of various animal and plant species, arcane details of world mythologies of which the subject clearly had no prior knowledge, and many other examples. A number of these fit the criteria for later objective verification through hospital records or research libraries; that is, they have the credibility of paradigm busters. The sheer volume and quality of these remarkable documented experiences suggest a radical revisioning of the outmoded mechanistic and monistic vision of reality, and point instead toward a cosmos governed by higher intelligence, numinous meaning, and even sophisticated humor.

What makes this book so special is the depth of personal sharing.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Isis on January 4, 2007
Format: Paperback
Grof describes in a very intimate and almost autobiographical manner his experiences with witnessing altered states of consciousness in others (namely his patients) and his own experiences with non-ordinary reality. It is a fantastic read, truly an adventure into this rarely explored part of the subconscious mind. I also thought he was quite brave in his candor in revealing his own experiences, particularly as a person from a traditional medical/psychiatric background. His work and explorations, I feel, are ground breaking and opens up a whole realm of possibilities for future work in the study of the human psyche. His book shows that we are truly much more than we could ever imagine we are! I highly recommend it.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By P. Strayer on June 19, 2007
Format: Paperback
Most of Stan Grof's books are full of Big Thoughts, but this one is on the light side. Good bedside reading. Short chapters are just the right size for a one a night rhythm.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Sharon Moriarty on November 29, 2007
Format: Paperback
Grof throws it all at you in this delightful little book on consciousness and transpersonal psychology, which is also an easy read. He discusses and elaborates on many topics that are of interest in exploring paradigm shifting views on the nature of consciousness and existence and so migrating us out of the straight jacket of materialistic monism and Freudian psychology, that have so dominated western thinking.

Topics reviewed include Holotropic breathwork, Crop Circles, Siddha Yoga, LSD and Ketamine Based therapy sessions, past life regression therapy, Synchronicities, Shamanic Influences, Primal Therapy, ESP, Remote viewing, Basic Perinatal Matrices (BPM), Astrological Archetypes etc. and it is mostly through direct experiential based vignetttes garnered from the authors 50 years in the field.

The Holotropic breathwork itself seems like a variant on Osho's dynamic kundalini pranayama, and active meditations that is combined with music. Knowing from my own experience the relationship between breathing rhythm and the quality and one's conscious state and moods, ( a fact that is also known for millennia from the teachings of Siddhas such as Thirumoolar), it is highly likely that it can be used to raise deep unconscious and traumatic states so that they can be therapeutically resolved. Just like people remember things based on a trigger from the time the memory was implanted, each traumatic event in a person past life or past lives will have its own characteristic breathing rhythm and going into this upsetting breathing rhythm can be used as a trigger to raise it once again.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Michael on May 24, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Sorry Captain Kirk.

Space is limited to the known universe which, vast as it is, pales in comparison to the unknown universes that exist just behind the shadows of our consciousness.

Like millions, I too have enjoyed the fabulous imaginary worlds, incredible futures and technological wizardry that bubble up from the minds of great science fiction writers.

Then I began to read about a part of each of us that we know relatively little about: our consciousness. What we know about consciousness comes from the very limited vantage point of our waking state, and a bit more from our dreams. This experience fools us into believing that this reality is all there is.

Western Science reinforces this idea since it is grounded in a philosophical worldview spread by a distinctly un-spiritual Christian mindset that sees true mystical experiences as the domain of only saints and psychotics.

But in 1943, a Swiss chemist named Albert Hofmann gave to the world a molecule that could allow anyone to experience conscious states far beyond our survival-mode highly-filtered reality.

This molecule, of course, was LSD and before the United States government rushed to judgement and declared all psychedelic substances as wholly unbeneficial for human research, amazing results were being published in the literature about the effectiveness of psychedelics in psychotherapy, in drug and alcohol addiction, in easing the fear of death in terminal patients and in non medical areas as creativity, problem solving and other intellectual and artistic endeavors.
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