Extraordinary ability occurs across the lifespan and begins very early in life. It first seems to erupt around the age of 3 or 4 years of age and some report another burst of ability around puberty. Carl Jung, the famous psychiatrist, saw a ghost at age 6 or 7. Other children see fairies or angels. Some see lights or auras around objects. One intuitive reported learning to travel out of body as a child, a knack she taught her sister.
Some children report past lives. Psychiatrist Ian Stevenson has spent years studying these cases. He has been able to verify numerous cases of children claiming to have had a recent past life. Through extensive research, he has been able to verify many of the details of the lives reported by these children: where these children say they lived, whom they had married and aspects of their family and home environment.
What happens to these abilities depends on the environment the child lives in. Environments that validate such experiences and nurture them can produce adults who feel at home with this aspect of their nature and may develop it. Families that fear or denigrate such abilities find that over time their children have forgotten or suppressed them.
Author, Lewis Sinclair, and his wife worked for years with telepathic ability. In the end, they came to believe that telepathy could be developed if certain qualities were cultivated. Specifically these were cultivation of undivided attention/concentration and the inhibition of the impulse to evaluate, examine, appraise or otherwise think about the task at hand. At the same time, they believed that you must learn the dual task of relaxing while maintaining a neutral observing role.
Researcher, Charles Tart, postulated that psi ability would increase if subjects were given feedback about whether they were right or wrong on a psi task. In research up to that time, subjects were not given any feedback about their responses for fear of contaminating the results. Dr Tart noted that any behavior, whether riding a bike or juggling balls, needed feedback in order to develop. Without feedback, any behavior would be expected to remain random. When feedback was included in the studies, the rate of correct answers did indeed increase, supporting the notion that psi ability can be learned.
Another factor supporting the learned aspect of extraordinary ability is the role of abuse during childhood. It is the case that many talented individuals report abusive or neglectful childhoods. Some researchers suggest psi abilities enhance survival, allowing the child to anticipate the mood and intentions of the abusive adult. Others suggest that abuse forces children to turn inward to escape the pain in their lives and develop psi abilities as a secondary product.
Other things can also predispose the individual to the extraordinary. One of the most obvious may be preparation. This includes peak conditioning, detailed knowledge, belief and desire. Roger Bannister, the first runner to break the four minute mile, would not have accomplished this feat without serious preparation. One must be able to function at the farthest edge of the possible whether that is physical or mental. At this level of preparation, the ability to visualize in detail the desired outcome sets the stage for the impossible.
The type of extraordinary ability seems to be tied to state of consciousness. In ordinary states of consciousness (i.e. those arising at or near waking states) extraordinary ability is limited. The activity of our rational mind, thinking, evaluating, rationalizing, impedes our ability. We certainly have a capacity for the extraordinary, as shown by years of research in telepathy and psychokinetic ability, but the effect is small. For example, in an experiment on coin tossing where the odds are 50-50 of getting heads, a person attempting to influence the number of heads will over many trials get heads about 52-3 percent of the time. (This is a small difference but because of the large number of tosses, statisticians can confirm that the difference is real).
Certain strategies, such as hypnosis, dreaming, or the kind of focused concentration we see in professional athletes, can shift us out of our normal waking states. When this happens psi ability increases significantly. Changes occur in the physical body. Perception changes: Time seems to slow. The physical body is capable of exceptional strength of endurance. A mother can now lift a car off her child. Tolerance of pain, heat or cold increases to extraordinary levels.
Extraordinary things can happen at other times too. In every case, something happens which throws the person out of their average waking state into a non ordinary state of consciousness. Under these conditions, we find out of body experiences and visitations by angels, spirit guides or relatives who have passed away along with the psi and physical abilities mentioned above.