Anna Anderson Wise, born on July 13, 1950 in Selma, Alabama, to the mayor’s daughter and a future two-star Air Force general, was one of the most influential practitioners of instrument-assisted meditation in the world. She followed a hybrid east-west approach which married the timelessness of contemplation with the precision of technology. Her great love and destiny was the development of her Awakened Mind Program. She devoted her life to it.
Growing up on Air Force bases throughout North America, Anna had wings on her feet and a heart built for spiritual transcendence. A series of near-death experiences sparked her need to understand and master altered and higher states of consciousness. Her first NDE likely occurred when she was five years old and underwent open heart surgery. Looking back, she realized that she must have opened the portal to the other side at that time. “That portal was very familiar to me,” she told her a group of practitioner trainees decades later.
At age 16, while attending high school in Golden, Colorado, Anna was looking at a Bible in her Christian church and asked God to prove his existence. “The sky opened up and a golden light came down,” she told this writer. “There were celestial choirs and I completely blissed out. I was in the evolved mind pattern. It started at 2 a.m. I came back at 6 a.m., still holding the Bible. I heard a voice from far away saying, 'Faarrrr out.' I felt my face, and there was gum stuck to it. The voice was mine."
The next year, while she was tubing on a rain-swollen river with a friend, her inner tube got caught on a fallen tree branch, submerged her, and water streamed into her mouth, drowning her. Leaving her body, she said goodbye to her personality and flashed by a series of events that would have occurred had she died. She saw her parents mourning at her funeral and a newspaper article with the headline, "Coed Drowns."
"I had a brief moment of remorse, where I saw that my death was a waste and I would have to come back and start over," she told a practitioner training group. But then she found the light and heard the same celestial choirs. "I can't describe that sound. It's mind-boggling. I was floating toward the light and suddenly, the guy I was with pulled my head out of the water, and I snapped back painfully into my body." Anna cursed him.
"There's no pain in that state," she said a soft, musing voice filled with longing. "The body is painful, hard, cumbersome. Part of me feels that I should be able to point over there to what I want – that my body shouldn't be gravity-bound and heavy." Not long after that, she nearly drowned in an ocean.
What Anna wanted more than anything else was to re-experience that state of consciousness without having to die first. Her opportunity came in 1975, when she visited her friend, Elizabeth St. John, at The Franklin School in London and met Max Cade, who was teaching classes in meditation and mind expansion. “Max got me there, to higher states, through guided imagery and Zen,” Anna said fondly. Her teacher taught her “to get into deep, peaceful, blissful states,” she said. “His guidance took me back to a state of bliss."
Anna was a student of Max’s when he and electronics engineer Geoff Blundell invented the Mind Mirror in 1976. She attended their experiments with psychics, healers, yogis and swamis, and with her friend Elizabeth, began to conduct EEG-led meditation sessions for others. Anna was a fascinated student of the yogis who visited London and a dedicated meditator who had a powerful and sustained kundalini awakening. Decades later, that kundalini energy remained so strong that she was able to point her finger at her young son’s remote-controlled car and move it around the room.
In London, Anna became the director of the Franklin School of Contemporary Studies and, with her future husband, James MacRitchie, formed an international dance troupe, The Natural Dance Workshop, which toured Europe and used Awakened Mind principles to help dancers attune to their creativity.
The radiant Anna Wise in her youth: dancer and mind researcher
Anna's 11 years in England, studying and researching with Max, Geoff and Isabel seem to have been among the happiest of her life.
The photo at left shows a birthday party Anna threw for Max, who is wearing a light-diode headband. She crowned him "the king of biofeedback."
From left to right, first row: Isabel Cade, Max Cade, and Helen Stapleton, wife of Geoff Blundell. Second row: Barbara Siddall, long-time supporter, the lovely Anna Wise, and Geoff.
A graceful and talented dancer, Anna married her dance partner, the English acupuncturist Jim MacRitchie. When they moved to Boulder in 1981, she boarded the plane with Max Cade’s blessings and a Mind Mirror in hand.
Jim later said that Anna’s work with the Mind Mirror immediately “took off like a rocket.” Soon she was teaching corporate CEOs how to become more productive, helping rap groups unblock their creativity in recording studios, and traveling to distant shores like Taiwan to monitor the brainwaves of meditation gurus.
Researching Masters, Horses, Mothers and Married Couples
Anna told Geoff that her most exciting teaching trip was to Taiwan, “where I taught in five different locations with translators for different dialects. One seminar was held at the University of Taipei and—the most thrilling of all—was teaching in a Taoist Temple to a group of students and their Master."
She began by explaining the Mind Mirror pattern to the Taoists and then asked for a volunteer to be connected to the machine. No one moved. Finally, the Master himself volunteered. He showed an excellent State 5 pattern, exactly as she had just described. Then everybody wanted the experience.
She realized that the group had needed the Master to validate the machine before they would try it, whereas in the West an excellent pattern instead would give confidence in the Master; that is, the machine would validate the master.
During this same session, the Master’s pattern suddenly disappeared; he seemed to be in a deep trance, with only two straight lines indicated on the Mind Mirror display. Anna asked the Master to “come back,” and he confirmed that he been out of his body. Thus did Anna discover the flatline out-of-body pattern.
In the 1990s, her unique work and sparkling charisma attracted the attention of Jeremy Tarcher, who served on the board of Esalen Institute and invited Anna to teach there. Soon he invited her to write a book which became a classic: The High-Performance Mind: Mastering Brainwaves for Insight, Healing and Creativity. In 2003, Tarcher, an imprint of Random House and the literary giant, Penguin-Putnam, published her second book, Awakening the Mind, which also became a classic in the field of mind research.
A brilliant teacher and writer, Anna was first and foremost a mind researcher. She hooked up her son, John, to the Mind Mirror when he was just six months old. She wired up horses, which led to a lasting relationship with the healer Linda Tellington-Jones, who formed an international educational network for the healers of horses and dogs and has authored many books.
Anna hooked up women in an Asian factory and discovered that their infants would not breast feed because they were stressed and operating in beta. She taught the women to deepen into delta and connect with their babies in those low, slow frequencies of the instinctual unconscious mind. She hooked up married couples and discovered that at least some of their difficulties related to the husband's thinking in beta and the wife's feeling in theta. She taught them to converse in the Awakened Mind pattern.
Having moved to the San Francisco area in 2001 with her four-year-old son, John, Anna lived in the thick of things. She hooked up spiritual leaders including Deepak Chopra and Barbara Marx Hubbard. She said that Barbara Marx Hubbard had the most advanced brainwaves she had ever seen: a sustained Evolved Mind pattern.
Teaching and Growing at Esalen
Beginning in the 1980s, Anna traveled three or four times each year, often with John in tow, to Esalen Institute near Big Sur to teach two- and five-day seminars. Her classes of 24 were always full, and there was usually a waiting list. People came from all over the world to learn from Anna and enjoy Esalen's stunning facilities: the organic gardens and delicious meals, steaming cliff-side hot tubs, an oceanside swimming pool, walking trails through ancient forests, and the beautiful, domed meditation sanctuary overlooking the bay.
When she lived in Berkeley, this writer served as her assistant, traveling cross-country to pack her lumbering van to the ceiling with cases of Mind Mirrors, switchboxes, EEG harnesses and extensions, dozens of ESRs, and boxes of supplies, swapping stories on the winding, mountainous drive along coastal Highway 1 to Big Sur.
Whether her Esalen seminars were seven or 10 days long, Anna played as hard as she worked, holding court with her students late in the evening on the high, seaside deck of the Big House, where people enjoyed the fresh sea air and watched flocks of birds dip and wheel over the frothy waves of the dark blue Pacific.
Inside the Big House on the cliffs, which had been founder Michael Murphy's family home, her students applauded when she glided majestically into the bright, spacious training room, clad in beautifully colored and patterned shawls, and they listened intently to every word their master said. Her students hooked each other up then leaned back against large, colorful pillows to meditate off and on all day long and into the evening.
Nine people were monitored on the Mind Mirror simultaneously, with the rest of the class monitored on ESRs. This arrangement alternated until everyone received feedback from Anna and her assistant on their brainwave patterns. Her assistant sketched the patterns and managed the volume levels of the music while Anna read her meditations to the group. Her powerful meditations gradually awakening their awareness, often into cosmic consciousness.
Anna's classes at Esalen began at 10 a.m. in the morning, broke for lunch and dinner, and usually continued until 10 or 11 p.m. at night. She was seemingly tireless, even after Multiple Sclerosis took her health during the last 15 years of her life.
Her students loved her wit and deeply held attention to them and their meditative experiences. Her self-mastery and intuitive grasp of the heart of things deeply touched students of all ages and nationalities.
Anna made people shine, simply by listening respectfully and guiding them to their own insights as they spoke. She was the consummate wise and loving humanistic psychologist and teacher.
The Anna Wise Protocol
While at Esalen, many students asked Anna to create a program that would train them in her methods for careers in this work. In 2001, she held her first practitioner training program, which consisted of the Anna Wise Protocol for Awakened Mind brainwave training. The Anna Wise Protocol is still the basis of the Practitioner Training Program taught today by practitioner trainers affiliated with the Institute for the Awakened Mind.
As the years passed, even as she succumbed to the ravages of Multiple Sclerosis, Anna taught with the energy and verve of the master she was. Seven to 10 students attended each of her practitioner training classes, which she organized into six 4.5-day seminars. Students flew in from many countries to learn from her, each lit with inner excitement that sometimes erupted into chaos in her small teaching areas. "You are all in high beta," she would say sternly. "This is about mastery." You could hear a pin drop in the room.
A determined and demanding taskmaster, Anna wanted only the best students to take her work out into the world. She gave everything she had and more. She started class at 11 a.m. and often taught until 1 or 2 a.m. the next morning.
Current research and a high-tech new Mind Mirror with advanced analytical capabilities have only proved the validity of Max and Anna's research, while furthering it with new understanding of high-frequency gamma waves. The new research has added to the knowledge base two higher-state brainwave patterns: the Superconscious Mind of Gamma Synchrony (Max's State 7) and the gamma-infused University Consciousness pattern (Max's state 8).
Entering the Light
Determined, feisty, funny, a brilliant teacher and visionary, a humanistic psychologist, Christian and Taoist, Anna put her heart and soul into awakening and enlightening her clients and students.
She courageously wrote her books, taught at Esalen, and worked with many private clients while battling Multiple Sclerosis for 15 years until her death in March of 2010. She was teaching her sixty-sixth workshop at Esalen, the last before her retirement, when she grew ill and was taken to a hospital in Monterrey, where she passed on a few days later with her son John by her side.
At her memorial service in San Francisco, her former husband Jim MacRitchie quipped that she “died with her boots on,” teaching her beloved work until the very end. No doubt, when she floated through that portal of light for the last time and heard her beautiful celestial choirs, she was met on the other side by Max and Isabel Cade and Geoff Blundell. Jim suggested that, once they were all together again, they would most certainly try to brainwave God.
But indeed, Anna had been doing that all along, in the form of countless numbers of people who continue to be inspired and changed for the better by her Boddhisattva presence on Earth.
Written by Anna's student, Judith Pennington, May 2020
Special thanks to James MacRitchie for his unflagging support of his soul mate Anna Wise and for his many contributions to her work. After Anna passed away in March of 2010, Jim sifted through hundreds of files and thousands of emails to gather the contact information of practitioners she had trained. This led to a steadily growing Practitioner Directory and formation of the Institute for the Awakened Mind, an international consortium of Awakened Mind trainers carrying on the work of Max Cade and Anna Wise today.
Born in Liverpool, U.K., Jim studied painting and drawing for five years at Liverpool and Manchester Colleges of Art then caught the music wave of the 1960s through his Nova Express Light Show, which worked with Pink Floyd, The Who, and other greats.
Jim's attraction to the arts extended to participatory theater, cooperative games, film, and video with Great Georges Community Arts Project, which led to his first book with Bill Harpe, The State of Play, and a year's study with Anna Halprin at the San Francisco Dancers Workshop, which led to his second book, Exit to Enter. Jim met Anna Wise at the Franklin School, where she was working and studying with Max Cade, and the two created The Natural Dance Workshop, which taught and toured through Europe from 1975 to 1981.
Jim studied acupuncture in 1974 and had a practice in downtown London for three years. With Anna, he was one of 12 signatories who founded the European Association of Humanistic Psychology. He and Anna married and moved to Boulder, Colorado in 1981. By then, Jim had begun his study of Qigong (chi kung). He founded a school in Boulder and then the National Qigong Association USA in 1996. Between 1982 and 1988, Jim and Anna operated The Evolving Institute: A Center for Personal and Social Evolution which integrated acupuncture and Qigong with biofeedback consciousness training. They separated in 1988, following their own trajectories.
Jim moved back to Liverpool in 2013 and founded The Personal Energy Center - Qigong, Acupuncture and Tao Studies. He has written several books on Qigong and the energy meridians, which are available on his GlobalQiProject.com website. If you are interested in the "Energy Mastery" album in the Meditation Center, be sure to enhance your experience with Jim's free instructional course and audio tracks on the Eight Extraordinary Meridians, downloadable on his main website and at Eight Extraordinary Meridians Training Program.
Thanks for everything, Jim. You are dearly loved.
Special thanks also to John Michael Wise, Anna's son, for permission to record her previously unpublished meditations. John has been an excellent friend to this work, in memory of his beloved mother and her lasting legacy.
Having been wired up to the Mind Mirror at six months young, John grew up surrounded by the world of brainwaves. He traveled with Anna to her Esalen workshops for years and was a familiar and welcome face there.
John is highly accomplished in the arts. A jazz guitarist and filmmaker, he was graduated from Pratt Institute in New York City with an MFA in Digital Arts. He is currently working in the technology and design field in UX/UI and motion graphics in San Francisco. Recently married, he is happy and loved.