burning sky

When I went through the spiritual experience I wrote about here, a part of me simply couldn’t handle it. Some of the events that unfolded in the wake of The Experience made absolutely no sense to my cognitive mind, which I have come to trust. How can you dissolve clouds with your intention? How can you telepathically communicate with people and animals? How can objects speak to you? How is it possible that sand was moving around us when nothing in the sand was moving? How is it that I can suddenly stay underwater without breathing three times longer than I could a month ago? How did my perfectly cognitive scientist friend Dennis suddenly become psychic?

And why did this all happen?

When I was asking these kinds of questions to Rachel Naomi Remen, Rachel said, “Perhaps understanding how and why are the booby prize.”

Ouch. What if I’ve spent my whole life in search of something that really doesn’t matter. Double ouch.

The Quest For Understanding

The last eight years have been a journey of trying to explain that which is hard to explain. I was very proud of myself for researching and writing Mind Over Medicine, which offers scientific proof explaining the how and why of the body’s seemingly magical ability to heal itself sometimes with what doctors like to call “spontaneous remissions.” I’m currently researching and writing my next book, The Fear Cure about the scientific proof that fear not only makes you miserable; it makes you sick, and how courage can heal. I can prove this theory with cold hard data, and I can explain the physiological mechanism by which this happens. This makes my cognitive mind happy and leaves me feeling safe with how the world works.

Then something like this “kundalini awakening” happens (I explained it here) and mystical things are suddenly happening which defy those pesky laws of physics. This makes my cognitive mind go batty and leaves me feeling very very unsafe. What if everything I thought was true about the world really wasn’t? Then who am I? What can I hang my hat on? What do I get to hold onto?

Cognitive Validators Vs. Intuitives

When Rachel and I were talking about this, she said, “Lissa, we each have a part of ourselves that we trust- our frontrunner. When we come into a new situation, we send different parts of ourselves in first to check out the scene. The cognitive person sends in their cognitive self.  Who’s there? How reliable are they? Let’s suppose it’s not the cognitive mind that you trust? What if you trust the heart? What if you send your heart in as the frontrunner? What’s the vibe in here? Are they loving? Are they connecting? Are they competing? The thing that’s difficult is that a smaller part of you cannot validate a larger part of you easily. So if you’re a cognitive validator, you can’t validate the soul with cognition. You can validate cognition with the soul, but not the opposite. We must use the cognitive mind as a servant of the soul rather than the soul being okayed by the cognitive mind.”

Rachel says that, as children, when we don’t feel safe, we go cognitive. It makes us feel like we have some control over the world.

Rachel went on to say, “In our culture, we trade off mystery for mastery, but in doing so, we choose deadness over aliveness. What stops the world is our quest for certainty. To the cognitive mind, everything has to be complete. What you’re looking for is something that is not growing, something that is not changing, we swap certainty for aliveness. These are bad trades. These trades don’t make us happy. When we make these tradeoffs for certainty or mastery, we disconnect from the soul.”

Oy. Triple ouch.

10 Ways Your Soul Guides You In Daily Life

In our free teleclass 10 Ways Your Soul Guides You In Daily Life (you can sign up here), Rachel came out in front of 21,000 as a “flaming mystic.” We explained that Rachel and I view the world in very different ways. I am a cognitive validator. I feel safe when I understand things, so when I went through The Experience with April and Dennis, my soul felt total ecstasy, Divine Oneness, union with God consciousness, but to the smaller part of myself, my whole world felt threatened. It’s funny, really, when you think about it. Dennis and I are both scientists, so to have this experience happen to us must be hysterical to the Cosmos. I can just see Universal Intelligence plucking us up like tulip bulbs and saying, “Hey, look at these two. Let’s play a little game and blow their cognitive minds to smithereens!”

Dennis and I were blown radically open, humbled by what we don’t understand and can’t explain.

Rachel, on the other hand, has no need to explain the unexplainable. It’s easier for her to be comfortable with uncertainty, as is the case for many mystics and intuitives. Frankly, I’m jealous. I wish my cognitive mind would just get the hell outta dodge and leave me with my unexplainable ecstasy.

I’ve since spoken to many people who lead with their intuition and have trouble understanding us small-minded cognitive validators. They’re comfortable with magic. It thrills them, actually. They don’t need to be able to explain mystery, and they’re in awe at what is possible when we don’t need to explain how or why.

I think I agree with Rachel. Perhaps how and why are the booby prize, and when we trade mystery for mastery, it’s a bad trade.

I feel incredibly blessed to have shown how wrong I am. My intention from here on is to be outrageously open to the mystery. It may be a rocky road, because my cognitive mind will still try to explain what it can. But I hope it will let me move beyond it, without putting up so much resistance to that which is beyond explanation.

Rachel is going to be teaching all of us how to make this shift in the 6 week teleclass series we’re leading together Medicine For The Soul: Reclaiming & Trusting Your True Self. So if your soul is telling you you’d benefit from learning with us, we invite you to join us on this adventure.

Are You A Cognitive Validator Or A Flaming Mystic?

I’d LOVE to hear your perspectives and learn from you all. Please share your thoughts and stories.

Trying to free myself from my small mind,

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  1. Leah Badertscher

    Love all of this, Lissa. Thank you.

  2. Elle Griffin

    Oh yes, a flaming mystic. Things I can’t explain are almost more comfortable to me than that which “can.” Because everything they say in the bible is true! Move mountains, bend copper. All of that! But we chose not to take it literally, and we forgot that the disciples were mystics too!!

  3. Jennifer Lynne Flint

    I feel I’m equal parts of both, and pretty happy with that arrangement. I think we have a cognitive mind for a reason, to help us make good and judicious decisions, and to avoid believing in things that might lead us or others to harm. When people say things like “get out of your head and into your heart,” I tend to reply that I would prefer them to work together in harmony, like a system of checks and balances.

    But the mystical mind is a wonderful thing too, and there is no need to have explanations for everything. My cognitive mind validates for me that mystical things exist, and for me that’s a nice combination. I do tend to believe in things that I’ve seen direct evidence of, but I don’t need to understand how they function. It’s enough to know that they do. 🙂

  4. Eva Rivera

    Flaming mystic with an idea! Create t shirts for each and sell them with.the money going to a good cause! 🙂 I am proud to be a mystic!

  5. Anonymous

    I don’t like to put myself in a box of being one or the other. I am definitely a critical thinker, but I think that following your emotional instinct is also important… even if it may seem impractical or irrational. I don’t think they need to be pitted against each other or that we have to be one or the other. When people become overly rational they lose their compassion. When become lean too heavily on their emotional instinct they can become trapped into belief systems and wind up in a cult-like mindset that can be very destructive (e.g. money)… this is especially destructive because of how easy it is to fall to selection bias and cherry pick evidence and interpret that information in a biased way, especially when people isolate with their “tribe” and confirm each others biases.

    I think intuition is just receiving information from our subconscious mind. It is based on information we have received in the past, our beliefs, connections we have already made and our emotional experiences. Our conscious mind would fry and go into information overload if we had to consciously process everything. Just like when you play a musical instrument without having to consciously make the effort; it is automatic but it required learning and practicing to make it that natural and effortless. In addition, when you are stressed and nervous while playing an instrument you become more conscious of your movements and make more errors as a result. That said, if what you have programmed into your mind and have automated is flawed, then it can be very difficult to correct.

  6. chicagoborn

    I am a flaming mystic and totally at home with this. I have learned to listen to the inner me without fear but actually welcoming the messages I let through. Nothing earth shaking, but sometimes disconcerting these messages come from my gut, my heart, they
    make life so much easier because I know that I can count on the Universe to guide me when I ask for it. And even if I don’t , I just have to pay attention. It’s fun!

  7. Lidia

    I was born a flaming mystic, then life tragedies made me a cognitive validator in order to survive abuse, and in the last 3 years I am transitioning back full circle to become a flaming mystic again. Pieces of my cognitive mind still try to sneak in, but the more I connect with other souls that have opened their minds to the universe, and the more I am now able to recognize the miracles that have already happened, the more my cognitive mind backs away….boy am I blessed!

  8. Victoria Silas

    We trade off mystery for the illusion of mastery. And we become slaves to that illusion.

  9. Maureen Silos

    Dear Lissa, I have been following you for a while now and I think you’re doing great work. I just want to say that every time you say something about your ego or your cognitive mind as being limited I want to scream at you: ‘There is NOTHING wrong with your ego or your cognitive mind’. They are part of the divine cosmic design of which I don’t understand a damn thing. But we didn’t design ourselves. So ego and the cognitive mind must have been put there for a reason. And your work is a perfect and beautiful example of the reason why we have ego and a cognitive mind. I am also very much in love with my brain and my intelligence, gosh, it is a high to get to understand how things work, including how I work. But …. there is more. And I understand your yearning for the ‘more’ which is in fact a yearning for other ways of knowing that will expand perception and experience beyond ordinary language, emotions and cultural constructions. That other way of knowing can only be accessed and developed in the deep silence of your being and it often goes in baby steps. Once in a while it opens up, like your recent experience, like a tease, and closes again to give you time to adjust. So now that the yearning has awakened, just be gentle with yourself and stop judging God’s design, please. Develop the other modes of knowing and remember what the Buddha said (in my words): ‘personal growth is a process of making objective what was subjective before until there is nothing left to make objective’. Which means: until You (experience of individual self) are gone. When you unite with the source, which is the fulfillment of the yearning, you are not there. It is death before dying, as the Sufi’s say. It is fantastic. And you will need your cognitive mind and your ego to fully appreciate the experience of your disappearance, beyond the duality that language inevitably creates. Good luck and best wishes from Suriname.

    • Lissa_Rankin

      Maureen, this was medicine for my soul. Bless you.

      • Maureen Silos

        Keep up the good work Lissa. Your messages from the ‘Inner Pilot Light’ are a blessing every morning when I open my email. Often it is a message I needed to hear. The cosmos is amazing.

  10. Gordon Yumibe

    Love and light….they just are….we just are…we are nothing and everything….there are so much out there…just imagining being loved by the inner totality of it all…that is the start ….look into your unvarnished fear …see the truth of it all….remember we are all just a part of it all….

  11. Wynnie

    I feel I’m about 3/4 a “Flaming Mystic” and 1/4 “Congnitive Validator” only because I’ve been in the FM mode more these last 6 years, but prior to that I was more CV as a science/math teacher. I like being both parts because I feel “whole brained”. I love leading with my heart and soul most of the time, but because of my science background I do understand “how” some things work. I am very excited about all the Physicists who are finding the actual connections between the mystical and the scientific.

  12. Gordon Yumibe

    There must be a better word for mastery in the context you used…I think it would not make sense to have your cognitive part of your brain to make sense of the ineffable…remember your ordinary third dimensional brain is being asked to understand things that matter only in that dimension…from a higher dimension there seems to be little or as much conflict in our understanding…some of these higher dimensions are where many of the ascended masters are….there light and love are there for the simple asking…with all my love…

    • Gordon Yumibe

      I was thinking of this term mastery…it is a inner state of being that has been able to balance this internal dichotomy between the masculine mental side…the mental…the understanding….with the inner feminine side…the soul….the intuitive sense…from a gnostic standpoint reflects the straight path…where the the feminine and masculine sides of ourselves are reunited…

  13. Gordon Yumibe

    Quantum….different levels of light…higher vibrational energy…

  14. Gordon Yumibe

    The Kabalistic tree of life …sustaining different levels of energy yet united and rooted in the Oneness…rooted in the earth….upper crown in the heavens…

  15. Wendy

    I am *so* enjoying hearing about your transformation, Lissa! I am half-way through naturopathic medical school, and I frequently find my right and left brain at odds. I suspect that part of my life’s path is to serve as a translator of sorts between the “muggles” in the scientific realm and the larger, seemingly inexplicable realm of spirit. I want to understand how the Universe works — not just the concrete, measurable parts, but ALL of it.
    Is it possible to be both intuitive AND a cognitive validator? I mean, I don’t *have* to understand the nuts and bolts of my experiences to enjoy or accept or be comfortable with them, but I really, really WANT to understand.

    • Lissa_Rankin

      I just had this conversation with Rachel Remen, and she says we both have both sides- of course. It’s just that one side is usually more dominant. So no- we don’t have to choose! Good luck with naturopathic school. The world is lucky to have you…

  16. Ruth Cloud-Hetrick

    I am definitely a cognitive validator…I always need it all to make SENSE. When it doesn’t, I discard it. I don’t want to, I want to believe or at least trust, but it seems impossible for me to do that. So wishing I could relax and accept…that is truly a gift!

  17. Mary Ellen

    I’m loving this post and totally describing myself from now on as a Flaming Mystic. I would add to that I’m an empowered flaming mystic…when I was younger I wanted to believe in something so badly I was ripe to be led into a cult. Now I question everything, but abundant magic and mystery flows from the questioning!

    Mary Ellen

  18. avila629

    Hi Lissa!

    I hope I can make your second offering of the teleclass; however, the movers are coming on Friday and we are still frantically packing! lolol

    Regarding your question, the older I get, the easier it is for me to just let go and trust the Universe. Although I would really like to know the how and why (because I am so curious!), it’s really not necessary. So many unexplainable things have happened throughout my life that I understand we only “see through a glass darkly.” The thing am MOST grateful for is the Loving Presence holding me carefully while I thrash around learning to trust completely. After a lifetime of being afraid, it’s nice to have some real peace.

    Although I think it would be totally amazing to have your Experience, if there is anything I have learned, is that if I need it AND it helps others, it will come to me (whatever- money, mystical experiences, you name it.) I am content trusting on a day-to-day basis, and I am so grateful to have found your blog. It helps me to feel less crazy knowing I am not alone with my own kind of “mystical” experiences! Every time I have tried to tell people about what happened to me, the FIRST thing they always ask is if I was using drugs. Sheesh. I have never, ever used anything! Ever! All the experiences I have had were as real as the chair I am sitting on!

    Peace be with you, you sweet spirit!

  19. Meredith White

    I don’t know if you are familiar with the MBTI personality test (it is based off of Carl Jung’s 8 cognitive functions), but it sounds like you are describing thinkers and feelers (we all have both thinking and feeling functions, but one is dominant over the other). Although, I think that all the letters could play a role in being your description of “cognitive validators” or “intuitives”. I’m also curious how many people here are a “highly sensitive person”.

  20. kayross

    I used to be a cognitive validator; now I’m definitely much more of a flaming mystic. And I’m enjoying life much more. One thing that helps me to explore my mystic side is performing improv – I have to let go of knowing or controlling what will happen, and just trust the process.

  21. kayross

    And another comment, Lissa: I love your question “What if everything I thought was true about the world really wasn’t?” It’s something I’ve been pondering for a long time, and it’s really fun and liberating. I’ve been developing a deck of cards with 52 thought-provoking questions to inspire me to imagine and believe what would be possible for me when I re-consider and transform my thoughts, beliefs and stories about myself and the world.

  22. magsent

    What a privilegeto read of your wonderful experience Lisa. Thank you for your honesty and openness.
    These consciousness/cognitive questions have occupied me for most of my life.
    What my struggles have taught me is the Ego cannot conceive of any other sort
    of consciousness because it operates through the limitations of the intellect.
    It will always believe itself to be in control and defend that position until
    it is given ‘proof’ of something ‘other’

    This, in my opinion, is the greatest stumbling block on the journey. That
    ‘Proof’ is not easy to find.
    The experience that Rachel facilitated for you was the ‘Proof’ your ego needed
    of the existence of the ‘other’ in you.
    When this happened to me and my Ego beheld my Soul it cried tears of relief. .

    “I’m not the Captain then?” . . . . .. “Thank god for that! I never really did feel
    qualified for the job!”. .
    The magnificence of the soul within can never be understood by the Ego but when those two aspects of your being collide the Ego bends its knee without hesitation and declares itself the servant. Its . . . Game Over!
    When the Ego remembers its true role as servant of the Soul, neurosis falls away and balance is restored.
    Facilitating that meeting with the Soul is the greatest gift you can give someone.

    I have wasted years analyzing, debating, dissecting, theorizing around these issues but nothing changes until you ‘experience’ the Soul. After that there is no argument.
    I give thanks for people like Rachel and Lisa who, with their wisdom are bringing their brothers and sisters home.

    • Lissa_Rankin

      I love what you wrote! “I’m not the Captain then?” Genius!

  23. Kay Star

    Dear Lissa, I read your book – Mind Over Medicine – and appreciated that you used the word *design* to explain how the body can repair itself. When we look at the *design* of the body we understand the intention of the designer. The body being *designed* with a brain and a heart lets us know it was intended that we use our brain to learn – ask why – and use our heart to – feel – how special are our experiences. Best wishes with this wonderful time of discovery in your life.

  24. Susan Gallacher-Turner

    It’s so wonderful and courageous for you to share not only your mystical experience but your reaction to it with so many on your blog, I’d have a hard time doing that, myself, worried that I’d be seen as crazy.

    I, along with many others I’m sure, was raised to be a congnitive validator when I know I am in truth, I am not. I wouldn’t dare to call myself a flaming mystic. I don’t see that I have that great a gift. But there have been many times and still are times when I just seem to know things without any training or experience to back it up. My challenge is to remember how I was right in the past and use it to give me the courage to embrace the present situation. I must admit that a part of me is scared to embrace it.

    I’m not always successful. But your free teleclass, your courageous blog posts help to give me validation and support.

    • KDfrAZ

      Susan, thank you. I could have written that second paragraph of yours myself. You’ve expressed it precisely for many of us validators!

  25. Jennifer

    You had said in a previous post that sometimes when you start to become more aligned with your soul people will start to think you’re crazy? That happened to me the other day!!! It was so funny actually!

    Me and my peeps are definitely of the cognitive validators type. But I’m starting to be more okay with spirit and following my soul and all that I call the ‘hippy dippy’ stuff. I’ve always been spiritual but I’ve never embraced it because I don’t like structured religion (it’s just not for me) and I’ve always been fearful of the unknown – especially death, ghosts and ‘evil’.

    I’m just trying to be more open 🙂

  26. Demetrius Sarigiannis

    Lissa, There was no magic, telepathy or influence over matter with your thoughts. Your mind just experienced events differently than you usually do. The research in meditation is clear: meditation can physically change the structure of the brain, the mind & body are inseparable. As a typical “left brain” thinker, it wasn’t till I saw this TED talk by brain scientist Jill Bolte Taylor that I really understood that the “mystics” are not actually crazy, they’re just seeing the world differently. They’re probably using more of their right brain, or less of their left, than us more logical, scientific types – so called cognitive validators. https://www.ted.com/talks/jill_bolte_taylor_s_powerful_stroke_of_insight.html

    • Lissa_Rankin

      Yes, LOVE Jill Bolte Taylor’s work!

  27. KDfrAZ

    I do hate coming into the conversation late. Hope someone sees this.

    Lissa, I am very much a cognitive validator, and thank you for the term! Since I’m also a writer and musician, I KNOW there is more and there is mystery. But every time I encounter the mystery, that darned cognitive validator starts throwing up objections and arguments.

    This is why one of my favorite lines from the Bible is, “Lord, I believe. Help thou my unbelief!”

    • Sandy Finegood



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