All About Premonitions and How To Use Them

Cover of the book, The Power of Premonitions
Hay House

Best-selling author Larry Dossey explains how to make best use of our premonitions

PREMONITIONS IS a subject I am frequently asked about by readers. They are either puzzled by, frightened of or frustrated with the premonitions they are having. They don't know what to do with them, how to make them stop, or how to cultivate them in a useful way. In this interview with Larry Dossey, M.D., author of The Power of Premonitions: How Knowing the Future Can Shape Our Lives, based on extensive research and real-life case studies, he answers those questions.

Q: From the cases described in your book, The Power of Premonitions, there seems to be no doubt that the phenomenon of premonitions is quite real. How common are premonitions?

Dossey: Half of Americans say they have premonitions, most commonly in dreams. But waking premonitions are also very common. If we enlarge our definition of premonitions to include intuition and gut feelings, nearly everyone experiences them from time to time.

Q: Do most premonitions have some importance to the experiencer? Or are mundane premonitions (such as knowing who's calling on the phone) just as common?

Dossey: The word "premonition" literally means a "forewarning," which hints at the importance of these experiences. They often warn us of something unpleasant - a health challenge, physical disasters and impending dangers of all sorts. These are haphazardly mixed with all sorts of other premonitions, such as neutral or pleasant things - who is going to call on the phone, who I'll meet at the party, when I'll get a job promotion, when and where I'll meet my soul mate, and so on.

Q: Why do we have premonitions?

Dossey: Premonitions are a huge gift. They serve a survival function. They probably arose early in our evolutionary development in the predator-prey relationship, because any organism that knew when danger would happen in the future could take measures to avoid it. This meant they would be more likely to remain alive and procreate, passing this ability to future generations.

By now, the capacity to know the future is probably engrained in our genes and is widely distributed in the human race. Recent computer-based studies - the presentiment experiments by Dean Radin and others - suggest the capacity to know the future is indeed extremely common and is present in some degree in just about everybody.

I regard premonitions as a form of preventive medicine, because they so often warn us of threats to our health. For instance, one woman reported a dream premonition of a breast cancer before it appeared on breast exam or on a mammogram, when there was no lump or symptom of any kind. She even saw the specific location. A breast biopsy confirmed her premonition, and minor surgery completely cured her.

Q: Do you have a theory as to how premonitions - seeing something that hasn't happened yet - work? What's the mechanism involved?

Dossey: Information seems to be coming from the future into the present. There are several theories how this might happen, such as "closed, time-like loops" in which time might curve back on itself, bringing information from the future into the present, which we might experience as a premonition. An old idea called the "block universe" is also occasionally put forward by physicists to explain knowledge of the future.

In this hypothesis, everything that has happened or will happen is already a given; the mind could theoretically gain access to any of this information under certain conditions (dreaming, meditating, impending danger, etc.).

Nearly all the current hypotheses rely on redefining the mind as a nonlocal phenomenon that is spread throughout space and time. This means that the mind is not confined to specific points in space, such as the brain, or to specific points in time, such as the present. It is infinite in space and time. This view fully permits premonitions, a kind of knowing that is nonlocal with respect to time. I have long favored this image of consciousness, and in 1989 introduced the term "nonlocal mind" in print in my book Recovering the Soul.

Nonlocal mind is unbounded, which means that at some point minds come together and form a single, unitary mind.

Some of the greatest physicists of the twentieth century have held this view, such as Schrodinger, Margenau, Bohm and Eddington. The idea of the One Mind clearly permits telepathy and clairvoyance, and the sort of person-to-person contact we often see in premonitions, such as when one individual has a premonition that another individual is in danger.

Next page: How to develop premonition power; what to do with it

Q: What's the scientific proof that premonitions exist?

Dossey: There are several categories of proof:

  • Presentiment experiments, which have been replicated by many researchers around the world. In these controlled, computer-based studies, a person unconsciously demonstrates exaggerated bodily changes before the computer shows a certain type of randomly selected image.
  • Remote viewing experiments, in which a "receiver" "gets" detailed information hours or days before it is sent by a receiver, and before the image that will be sent has even been selected by a computer.
  • Various online experiments in which hundreds of thousands of individuals, in millions of trials, are able to select ahead of time certain random behaviors of the computer, as in computer-based card-guessing experiments.
  • There are countless uncontrolled, spontaneous experiences of people worldwide attesting to one's ability to know the future. Anecdotes aren't science, but they reveal how lab-based evidence favoring premonitions are translated into real life.
  • Controlled studies in which individuals specify who is going to call them on phones.
  • Controlled studies in which animals demonstrate behaviors that indicate that they know when their owners are returning home.

Q: Is there a connection between premonitions and ESP?

Dossey: Premonitions are indistinguishable from precognition, one of the major categories of ESP. I use "premonitions" and "precognition" interchangeably.

Q: Is there a connection to human emotion?

Dossey:Yes. Empathy, love and compassion between people make premonitions more likely. The classic example is the mother-child connection, as when a mother "just knows" her child is in danger and acts immediately to prevent injury or death. I provide several examples in The Power of Premonitions of this sort.

Q: What should people do with their premonitions if they believe they are important?

Dossey: The important thing is to decide if the premonition is valid or not. There is no sure-fire way to know whether any single premonition is valid, but there are some very helpful guides in knowing which premonitions to act on and which to ignore:

  • If the premonition involves death or injury, take it seriously because, as the psychologist Carl Jung said, you may not get a second chance.
  • If the premonition is recurrent - a dream, say, that returns night after night, as if demanding to be noticed - pay serious attention.
  • If the dream premonition or waking intuition is extraordinarily vivid - "realer than real," as some put it - pay attention.
  • If a premonition is shared by someone else - a spouse or partner who reports the same dream premonition without being cued - consider this a warning that deserves your attention.

Q: Can a person develop his or her ability to have premonitions?

Dossey: Yes. The two best ways of becoming more premonition prone are:

  • To keep a dream diary, in which you immediately record your premonitory dream on awakening. This does two things: it makes it more likely you'll recognize your premonition when and if it comes true, and your premonitions will likely become more frequent as you consciously make a place for them in your experience.
  • Develop a meditation practice. This may be the best way known to enhance one's premonitions. Meditation helps us tune in. It helps us be in touch with the reservoirs of unconscious thought and feeling that often surface in the form of premonitions.

Larry Dossey, M.D. is also author of the best-selling books The Extraordinary Healing Power of Ordinary Things, The Power of Meditation and Prayer, among others. Visit his website.