There is a long tradition of people seeing holy men or women surrounded by light. St. Francis of Assisi and Theresa of Avilla are two such figures. Some meditation techniques focus on sending light to others, or to nature. Are there observable changes in brain activity during such meditations? A recent neurological study by Peter Fenwick, Caroline Di Bernardi Lu and others explored this phenomenon — particularly the question of whether a meditation teacher transmits information to pupils in his presence, while he/she is meditating, and whether the brain activity of pupils responds.
The study involved a meditation teacher, and two students. All were fitted with EEG electrodes that measured their brain signals. Experiment sets consisted of three minute sessions during which the teacher sent light to the students, did not send light, students were instructed to receive, or not to receive.
The study showed an increase in high frequency neural oscillations ion the gamma band of the teacher while he was giving light, versus when he was not giving light. Also, while he was giving light, there was a measurable flow of information to the students as observed in the students’ alpha, gamma1 and gamma2 bands. Whereas such information flow could be hypothesized as due to a “telepathic” link, the authors admit that other factors, such as joint attention, or visual cues could be at play.
The phenomenon of light, surrounding people who are meditating, specifically visualizing light was recently explored by Dotta, Saroka, and Persinger at Laurentian University. They found that in such cases light is emitted around the head and can be measured by a photomultiplier tube. The authors attributed the light to an increase in biophotons associated with brain activity. While Fenwick et al. did not investigate light given off by the meditation teacher, their study together with the work at Laurentian University, suggests that there may be a physical basis for the impression that meditation masters, while meditating, are surrounded by light.
Neural Correlates of Induced Light Experience during Meditation: A Pilot Hyperscanning Study Peter Fenwick, Caroline Di Bernardi Lu, Andreas A Ioannides, Joydeep Bhaacharya, NeuroQuantology, Volume 17 Page 31-41, January 2019,
Increased photon emission from the head while imagining light in the dark is correlated with changes in electroencephalographic power: support for Bokkon’s biophoton hypothesis. Dotta, B. T., Saroka, K. S. and Persinger, M. A. (2012). Neuroscience Letters, 513, 151-154.