How Meditators Voluntarily Enter Void States

Meditation is a practice that has been around for centuries and has been known to promote inner peace. However, what many people don’t know is that experienced meditators can voluntarily induce unconscious states known as cessations.

Entering the Void

This unique ability is deeply rooted in Tibetan Buddhist practice and allows meditators to immerse themselves in a momentary void of consciousness, which results in profound mental clarity upon reawakening.

Tibetan prayer wheels used as part of the mediation process.

Recent studies conducted across borders have employed electroencephalography (EEG) spectral analysis to measure brain activity during cessation events objectively. This has offered unprecedented insights into the intricate modulation of consciousness through advanced meditation practices.

There are several situations in which a person can lose consciousness. These include anaesthetisation, brain concussion, intoxication, epilepsy, seizure, or other fainting/syncopal episode caused by a lack of blood flow to the brain. However, some people wonder if it is possible to induce unconsciousness without the use of drugs. One such event is known as cessation, or Nirodha in Tibetan Buddhist terminology. During this event, meditators briefly lose consciousness, but upon re-awakening, they experience significant changes in the way their mind works. This includes a sudden sense of profound mental and perceptual clarity.


  • Experienced meditators can voluntarily enter a state of cessation, momentarily losing consciousness without external aids. 
  • The study analysed 37 cessation events in one expert meditator across 29 sessions using EEG spectral analysis. 
  • This research opens new avenues for understanding consciousness modulation through meditation.

Meditation induces void states that change the brain’s structure and function, with increased connectivity between brain regions and changes in brain wave activity. These changes lead to improved cognitive function, emotional regulation, and overall well-being. Advanced meditation practices open up new avenues for understanding the human brain and consciousness. Further research will reveal more about the mysteries of the human mind.

Advanced meditation practices open up new avenues for understanding the human brain and consciousness.

Neurophenomenological Approach

The BIAL Foundation (private Portuguese foundation that focuses on supporting scientific research and projects in the fields of health and biomedical sciences) has published a new study that sheds light on the extraordinary ability of experienced meditators to modulate their consciousness during meditation voluntarily. The researchers from Australia, the Netherlands, and the United States recognised the broad implications of this ability to “turn off” consciousness, presenting a paradigm shift in our understanding of cognition. 

The study analysed 37 cessation events in one expert meditator across 29 sessions using EEG spectral analysis, and the findings opened new avenues for understanding consciousness modulation through meditation. The neurophenomenological approach used in the research correlated the first-person descriptions of cessations with objective neuroimaging data, providing a nuanced understanding of the mental and physiological processes involved. 

The intensive case study featured an expert meditator with over 23,000 hours of meditation training, allowing for a comprehensive analysis of the 37 cessation events recorded in multiple sessions. This research helps to advance the understanding of consciousness modulation through meditation and may pave the way for further studies in this field.

Spectral Analysis

Spectral Analysis in EEG data has provided valuable insights into the patterns surrounding cessation events. Recent studies show a significant decrease in alpha-power, observed approximately 40 seconds before the onset of cessation. This decrease reaches its lowest point immediately after.


Further examination of the data using a ROIs (Regions of Interest) approach indicated that the occipital and parietal regions experienced a linear decrease in alpha-suppression during the pre-cessation period. Additionally, there were modest increases in theta power for central, parietal, and right temporal ROIs in the pre-cessation timeframe. However, power in the Delta and Beta frequency bands remained relatively stable throughout the observation period.

These findings suggest that Spectral Analysis can effectively unveil the brain activity surrounding cessation events. The results also highlight the importance of examining specific ROIs to understand the underlying neural mechanisms of such events.

Implications and Future Directions

The study conducted by Matthew Sacchet provides initial evidence for the ability of adept meditators to voluntarily and profoundly modulate their consciousness. The findings lay the foundation for further exploration of these unique states using neuroscientific and empirical approaches. This intersection of ancient contemplative practices and modern scientific methods opens new avenues for expanding our comprehension of the human mind and the transformative potential of meditation-induced void states. These findings have significant implications for neuroscience and psychology, as they shed light on the possibility of meditation to reshape our understanding of consciousness. Future studies in this area may help us uncover new insights into the mechanisms of consciousness and how we can harness its transformative power to enhance our well-being.

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