One person can have reliable, repeatable experiences and the other one can dismiss them in any number of ways, due to lack of a scientific model of what the experiences are. Nothing I can do about that. I can't compete with your (or any scientist's) knowledge and education in these matters, but I CAN do a simple chi-gung and have a familiar experience, and watch as that experience intensifies with ongoing practice.
It may surprise you to know that I've practiced chi gung. In 1983 a professor at the University of Virginia who was born, raised, and trained in China took me (and several others) on as one-on-one students. At the time I was living on a graduate school stipend, and for me those lessons were not cheap. Given the personal sacrifice I went through to experience the training myself, one can hardly classify me as someone dismissive of the art and/or what comes from its practice. At the time I was also teaching Uechi karate at UVa, studying yang style tai chi from Robert Smith (treks to Bethesda on Saturday mornings), and studying Goju Ryu, kobudo, and aikido from Steven King (a mixed martial artist, chiropractor, and former green beret combat instructor). I was in the "ABD" mode in school (All But Dissertation) where students are left on their own to finish their research or be proven unworthy of a doctorate. I used that time period well, plunging myself into a myriad of activities. I wasn't going to let school get in the way of my education.
Meditative practices have long been a part of martial arts. Through some oral and some written history, Bodhidharma is traditionally credited as the leading patriarch and transmitter of Zen from India to China. He is the patron saint of the Shaolin Monastery, and is credited with developing the physical training methods for his monks that later evolved into the practice of Kung Fu.
The tie-in of meditation to physical martial ways is not without merit. Modern neurophysiologic researcher LeDoux et al have done much research to show how life-threatening fear works with (and against) the upper and lower brain to create the myriad conditions that become part of the self-defense experience. Mastering the brain means learning to find the neurohormonal "sweet spot" which gives us more of the benefits (enormous strength) and less of the incapacitating side effects (e.g. loss of complex motor coordination).
However there's absolutely nothing wrong with personal exploration in this internal frontier with no martial endpoint in mind. This is often the goal of many meditation practitioners - for better or for worse.
Tie in now the admonitions of a very famous monk.
Dalai Lama wrote:
The practice of meditation has been abused by people. They want immediate and quick results, just as they expect quick returns for everything they do in daily life . . . the mind must be brought under control in slow degrees and one should not try to reach for the higher states without proper training. We have heard of over-enthusiastic young men and women literally going out of their minds because they adopted the wrong attitudes towards meditation.
So exactly what are these "higher states"? They are referred to both in eastern meditative arts and in western spiritual experiences.
The most reputable and interesting research I can find is by Andrew B. Newberg, a Neuroscientist who is the Director of Research at the Myrna Brind Center for Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and Medical College. He is also an Adjunct Professor of Religious Studies and an Associate Professor of Radiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
Dr. Newberg has a theory about the transcendental feeling of being one with the universe. One area of research has focused on the activity of the posterior superior parietal lobe in long-term practitioners of Buddhism while they were meditating. He discovered that blood flow to this region decreased significantly during meditation. So what's the connection? This area of the brain is involved with processing the boundaries of one's body with respect to the 3-dimensional world around us.
We know that the posterior superior parietal lobe plays that particular role because there are patients with damage in this same region who literally cannot move around without falling ... They'll miss the chair they intended to sit on, and generally have a fuzzy understanding of where their body ends and the rest of the universe begins. ... If you block that area, you lose that boundary between the self and the rest of the world.
So what does it all mean? What we've shown is that there's no magic. There are no unknown forces involved. We've identified an area of the brain responsible for the sensation of how one's body exists with respect to the world around it. And we've shown that those with significant experience in meditation have unusual control over that region of the brain.
More in another post.