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Subtle Energy: Healing and Transformation
A THESIS SUBMITTED TO THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS
INTERDISCIPLINARY GRADUATE PROGRAM CALGARY, ALBERTA JULY, 2010
© Giuseppe Rosato 2010
Abstract The purpose of this hermeneutic phenomenological study was to make intelligible order out of the whole phenomenon of subtle body energy in relation to healing and transformation in the present day meaning of health, psychology and spirituality. This was done by drawing on meditational, transpersonal and health science literature. Health science literature on the application of specific yogic subtle body modalities supports the initial notion that these are non-invasive, safe and effective. However, this study argues for a further implementation of research on the transpersonal multidimensionality of individuals, as this could produce effective application of alternative subtle energy modalities. My final overall conclusion, based on the interpretative phenomenological analysis of the interdisciplinary literature and experiential data, is that the theory of subtle energy in healing is quite likely to be more than mere speculation.
Acknowledgements I would like to express the deepest appreciation to my supervisor, Dr. A. W. Barber, who has continually and convincingly conveyed a spirit of adventure and encouragement from the very early stage of the thesis. Without his guidance and persistent help this thesis would not have been possible. I would like to thank my committee members, Dr. Nancy Dudley and Professor Darcy McGehee for their encouragement, guidance and support from the initial to the final writing of my thesis. Their talent and originality triggered and nourished my intellectual maturity. I am much indebted to Dr. Thomas Mouat for supporting me in fine tuning the thesis, and using his precious time to provide his valuable and critical comments about it. Words fail me to express my appreciation to my loving life long friend and partner Sunitha who shares a passion for yoga and ―point of awareness‖ with me. I am grateful for her love, patience, and persistent confidence in me. A special thank you to Vladimir, my yoga teacher, who more than other yoga teachers gave me a strong foundation in understanding and mastering yogasanas and kept the flame of yoga alive; to Sonia, my Reiki teacher, who introduced me to the healing art of subtle energy; to Swami Shyam Lal, who with his siddhi powers helped me focus on various chakras causing an activation of that specific energy; and, finally, to Sujata and Captain Menon for their keen interest in the subject of my thesis and their inspiring mantras towards the success of the project. Finally, I prostrate myself at the feet of ―my‖ Guru Ji.
Dedication This thesis is dedicated to my father, who taught me that knowledge has no value unless it was put into practice. It is also dedicated to my mother, who taught me the value of perseverance and patience. Finally, I dedicate my hard work to Lakshmi and Daisy who bestowed me with oodles of love and care that I will treasure forever.
Table of Contents Abstract ............................................................................................................................... ii Acknowledgements ............................................................................................................ iii Dedication .......................................................................................................................... iv Table of Contents .................................................................................................................v List of Tables ................................................................................................................... viii Epigraph ............................................................................................................................. ix CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................1 Theoretical Framework ............................................................................................2 Personal Framework ................................................................................................6 Purpose and Rationale............................................................................................12 Potential Significance ............................................................................................14 Thesis Overview ....................................................................................................14 Methodological Background ..................................................................................15 The methodological rationale behind the study. ...........................................15 Phenomenology and hermeneutics. ..............................................................18 Applying hermeneutic phenomenology. .......................................................23 Philosophical Background .....................................................................................26 Historical Background: Indic Meditational Literature on Subtle Body System ....31 Hindu tantric literature. .................................................................................32 Hindu non-tantric literature...........................................................................34 Buddhist tantric literature. ............................................................................36 Background and Definitions Related to the Subtle Body System .........................38 Background of Transpersonal Psychology and Integral Theories .........................45 Definitions of transpersonal psychology. .....................................................47 Therapeutic framework of transpersonal psychology. ..................................48 CHAPTER 2: REVIEW OF LITERATURE ....................................................................52 Introduction ............................................................................................................52 Yoga as a way of personal development.......................................................53 Kundalini yoga as a new opportunity. ..........................................................59 New understanding of human evolution. ......................................................60 Personal development and spiritual growth. .................................................61 Subtle body system. ......................................................................................67 Main structure.....................................................................................67 Healing and transformation. ...............................................................68 Ontological and phenomenological meanings. ..................................69 Therapeutic benefits. ..........................................................................71 Measurement of yoga practices. ...................................................................72 Conclusion .............................................................................................................73 Integral Framework ................................................................................................74 Subtle energy-consciousness. .......................................................................74 Conundrum of consciousness. ......................................................................76 Spectrum of consciousness. ..........................................................................80 v
Pinnacle of consciousness: Transcendence. ..................................................82 Overview ................................................................................................................83 Integral development model of growth: Chakras & psychological stages. ..86 Body-mind and spiritual awareness. .............................................................88 Creativity and transcendent consciousness. .......................................88 Body-mind relationship. .....................................................................93 Summary and Conclusion. .....................................................................................95 CHAPTER 3: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY ..............................................................97 Descriptive Phenomenological Analysis of Literature ..........................................98 Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of Experiential Literature.................100 Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of the Overall Study.........................101 CHAPTER 4: EXAMINATION OF MEDITATIONAL LITERATURE......................103 Examination of Ancient Meditational Literature .................................................103 Hindu tantric literature. ...............................................................................103 Hindu non-tantric literature.........................................................................105 Buddhist tantric literature. ..........................................................................110 A Comparative Study of the Main ‗Subtle Body Systems‘ .................................116 Two main chakras models. .........................................................................117 The main nadis system................................................................................118 The life-force-energy and its mechanics. ....................................................120 Yogic subtle body practice and its purpose. ...............................................120 Interpretation of the subtle body system. ....................................................124 Summary of comparative findings. .............................................................126 Some conclusions to the preliminary section..............................................129 CHAPTER 5: A BROAD STUDY OF ‘ENERGY-HEALING-THEORY’ ...................131 Consciousness: A Theoretical Study ...................................................................131 Conundrum of defining and sorting out consciousness. .............................132 Theoretical systems. ....................................................................................133 Western scientific-materialistic group. .............................................133 Towards integral vision. ...................................................................135 East-West integral movement. .........................................................139 Tripartite system of consciousness: Body-mind and spirit integration. ......141 Spectrum of consciousness. ........................................................................145 A brief summary of consciousness theories................................................146 Conclusion. ..........................................................................................................147 Integral Framework ..............................................................................................149 Basis for integral psycho-therapeutics. .......................................................149 Integrating yoga and psychotherapy. ..........................................................150 Integrating yoga and western medicine. .....................................................151 The raison d‘être of integral practice. .........................................................152 Chakras as psychotherapeutic development models. .................................153 Characterization of the development stages. ..............................................154 Energy-Healing Theory: A Study ........................................................................157 Examination of yoga based modalities. ......................................................158 vi
Measurement of psychosomatic health benefits. ...............................158 Neuro measurement of altered state of consciousness. ......................162 Summary/overview. ....................................................................................164 The work of energy as a basis in yoga practice. .........................................166 Relationship between health and spirituality in yoga. ................................167 A case study of mantra application. ...........................................................170 Energy activation through mantra. ...................................................171 Possible implication of mantra modality. ........................................174 Applying sonic entrainment. ............................................................175 Discussion and Conclusion ..................................................................................177 Self-experiential Study on Subtle Body Patterns .................................................180 An integral creative approach to energy activation. ...................................180 Tantra and artistic inquiry: Integral approaches. ........................................184 Summary and preamble. .............................................................................189 Identify the main constituents of this self-experiential study. ....................191 Self-experiential laboratory. .............................................................191 Participant: Myself. ..........................................................................195 Chakras as an integral developmental model...................................197 Journaling. ........................................................................................203 Methodology. ...................................................................................203 Main direction and purposes of self-experiential study. .............................204 Report of journal and chakra analysis. .......................................................204 Discussion of findings and conclusion. ...............................................................215 CHAPTER 6: DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION ......................................................222 Ontological Meaning of the Subtle Body System................................................222 Consciousness and Energy Interrelations ............................................................226 Overview. .............................................................................................................228 Conundrum of Sorting Out Consciousness. .........................................................229 Chakra System: An Integral Psychotherapeutic Development Model. ...............230 Implication of Yoga and Mantra Modalities .......................................................232 Intepretative Phenomenological Analysis of the Subtle Energy Phenomenon ....234 Conclusion to the Methodology ...........................................................................237 Overall Conclusion ..............................................................................................240 Disclaimer ............................................................................................................241 REFERENCES ................................................................................................................243
List of Tables Table A: Hindu Chakra Model ...................................................................................... 109 Table B: The Hevajra Tantra Chakra Model ................................................................. 112 Table C - The Inner Kalachakratantra Chakra Model .................................................... 112 Table D - Kalacakratantra Chakra Model ...................................................................... 116 Table E - Hindu and Buddhist Anatomy of Channels .................................................... 119 Table F - Vedic and Buddhist Structure of Mind-Consciousness................................... 143 Table G - Yoga‘s Therapeutic Paradigm ........................................................................ 168 Table H - Chakras‘ Psychological Energies/Emotions and Tasks ................................. 201
Epigraph ―There are numberless energy rays in the Universe…All rays…come from the subtle nature of the Universe…The interwoven energy net influences the lives of individual human beings, whole societies and entire races…A virtuous individual who responds to the high, pure, harmonious Subtle Energy rays and integrates them with the positive elements of his own inner being may strengthen his life, enhance his health and power and lengthen his years‖ Lao Tzu (500 B.C., 1979)
1 CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION This thesis is about the subtle energy phenomenon that positively affected my psychosomatic system, resolving physical health issues and enhancing my sense of psychological well-being and spiritual perception. When I use the words health, healing and transformation, I am talking about the holistic welfare of the individual, which includes physical and psychosomatic health and well-being, as well as the expansion of consciousness and spiritual evolution. In my experience, confirmed by the main classic literature on subtle energy phenomenon, wellness does not simply occur on its own accord; rather, a systematic self-awareness and spiritual discipline is needed so that this subtle energy can be purposefully activated and directed. One of the few systems of selfawareness and spiritual discipline that affirms entirely the prescribed phenomenon and its mode of operation is Tantric yoga, which in the West is more commonly known as Kundalini yoga. In this thesis, by focusing through the lens of Kundalini yoga and other Indic spiritual traditions such as Hinduism and Buddhism, that were directly influenced by the tantra body of knowledge, I endeavour to understand the fundamental theoretical and practical principles that govern the subtle energy phenomenon. My aim is to broaden my potential for personal and professional development, while enhancing my spiritual growth. I am physically and psychologically involved with the phenomenon; because, in practical terms, I directly experience its therapeutic work. In addition, I am also involved with it at the intuitive and conscious levels; because I feel driven by unfathomable forces to investigate academically the prescribed phenomenon in the context of ancient Indic traditions and Western modes and principles of artistic inquiry, in a present-day integral
2 meaning. In a very broad sense, this research is not only meant to resolve issues of personal development and spiritual purpose in my life; but also to contribute, albeit little, to the huge effort that scholars and professionals around the world are making to understand this putative energy phenomenon and its governing system. My thesis is inspired by the great spiritual traditions of the East, particularly tantric yoga; new emerging integral science of the West, particularly transpersonal psychology; and the inspiring modes and principles of artistic inquiry. Theoretical Framework Many Eastern spiritual traditions hold that that the prime element permeating all living beings is vital energy. Vital energy is also referred to as vital breath, life-force, life-energy and subtle energy in Western culture, and as chi in China, ki in Japan, and prana in Sanskrit. Vital energy is one of the underlying theoretical and practical principles that many Eastern spiritual and therapeutic traditions share. In simplistic terms, vital energy can be understood as energy that is important for sustaining life. Also, another prime principle of the Eastern philosophies is that subtle energy responds to human awareness or consciousness. Moreover, these Eastern traditions share the common belief that this vital energy can be channelled along a complex energetic body positioned within and without the human anatomical structure. This complex energetic body system is also referred to as the subtle body system or anatomy. Although many Eastern traditions incorporate the concept of vital energy, all research requires some degree of focus. Therefore, notwithstanding the fact that China has produced a rich systemic knowledge and literature (e.g., for example, the spiritual tradition of Taoism with its traditional materia medica of Acupuncture) that directly
3 works with the ‗subtle energy‘ (chi) and ‗subtle body anatomy‘ (meridians); and, however interesting and fruitful the contribution of Chinese thought would be to this thesis, my research tackles the prescribed topic by focusing on another important Eastern geographical area: the Indian subcontinent. Early on in my research, for reasons which will be made clear in the section that elucidates my personal framework, I proposed to concentrate solely on the spiritual and practical discipline of Kundalini yoga--the specific yoga that deals with the phenomenon of subtle energy and its subtle body system. However, the importance of including mainstream Indian spiritual traditions, namely Hindu and Buddhist, which have been influenced by the practical disciplines of tantrism and yoga, became clear after a scrupulous examination of the issues with my academic supervisor, Dr. A. W. Barber. As I discovered, an examination of the literature of these traditions allows the research to have a multidisciplinary framework, which is a fundamental aspect of the research. It also allows more exact, accurate data to be obtained. This breadth increases accuracy because the intermingling of the mainstream spiritual traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism with tantric yoga movements, and the commingling of them all, otherwise makes distinguishing where one thought or practices ends and the next begins extremely difficult. However, with regards to the topic of study, the specific literature that deals with the phenomenon of subtle energy and its sustaining subtle body system is the Tantra. The word Tantra applies to any of the Indic spiritual scriptures that are commonly identified with the worship of Shakti (Brahmacharini, 1990, p. 77). Feuerstein (2003) defines ―Shakti (―power‖)‖ as ―The dynamic or creative principle of existence‖ (p. 269), which, in conjunction with prana or kundalini, comes to represent a creative force found
4 in life-energy (prana/kundalini-shakti), which is essential to healing and transformation. A review of the Tantra literature permits an interdisciplinary perspective on how subtle energy operates, for example, in relation to healing and transformation, within the Indic spiritual and meditational context. This is a necessary prelude to contextualizing the researched topic within a present-day meaning. Parenthetically, according to the Indic meditational traditions, the subtle body anatomy comprises chakras, which are ―the psychoenergetic vortices from the major ‗organs‘ of the body composed of life energy (prana)‖ (Feuerstein, 1997, pp. 67-69) and nadis, which are ―the flow of the psychosomatic energy‖ (Feuerstein, 2003, pp. 193-194) and/or ―the networks of subtle energy channels that sustain the physical body‖ (Feuerstein, 1997, p. 194). Therefore, I will interchangeably use the word prana with vital energy, life-energy or subtle energy; and, I will use the terms subtle body system, chakras system or pranic body/anatomy interchangeably, when I refer to the subtle energy body/anatomy. The Indic meditational traditions broadly assert that subtle energy manifests within and without the subtle body system or anatomy, both in gross and subtle forms. For example, it manifests as oxygen, which is a less subtle aspect of vital energy; and it manifests as a subtle energy or prana that permits healing and transformation. Of course, a variety of Indic traditions presupposes diversity of interpretation. Nevertheless, I believe that by focusing on the intersecting commonalities, clarity can be achieved. For example, anticipating some of the findings illustrated in chapter 4, these traditions share many systemic concepts of particular interest for this study. This occurs with the notion of subtle energy or prana, the subtle body system or chakras and nadis, and their modus
5 operandi; and, most notably, in their common quest for transformation and evolution of consciousness and spiritual enlightenment or samadhi (in skt.). Samadhi can be defined as ―liberation‖ from bondage (Bhattacharyya, 1986, p. 174), thus, in ultimate analysis is ―the prevailing of a person‘s true nature, and the overcoming of limitations and suffering‖ (Fields, 2001, p. 6). These traditions unanimously affirm that a prerequisite for the obtainment of samadhi is the strict observation of a practice of realization or ―spiritual practice‖ (Flood, 1996, pp. 92, 156, 160, 167) or sadhana (in skt.). Specifically, what these traditions describe in their literature is the prime notion that subtle energy is an essential and common life-force, which one needs to bring to a focus in the practice of self-realization or sadhana. In other words, life-energy is not only accepted and understood through philosophical and theological constructs, but also through direct experience obtained through the employment of a subtle practice taught in all the Indic spiritual traditions. Moreover, many of the tantric techniques are used as remedies in Indic whole medical systems such as Ayurveda. In this regard, Wallace (2001) points out that ―the early Buddhist materia medica was also similar to that of the Ayurveda‖ (p. 49). Healing is another aspect that is directly related to subtle energy and the yoga that governs it. Healing, in its holistic definition, is very much a tantric way of seeing: Tantric teaching admits that we need ―a sound mind in a sound body,‖ (Fields, 2001, p. 6) with the aim of ―recovering the wholeness‖ ( p. 6). This perspective includes an evolutionary spiritual path, leading to transformative consciousness. Fields (2001) further explains that, although ―recovering the wholeness‖ (p. 6) or samadhi is the ultimate goal of yoga, nonetheless, a practice of realization (or sadhana) is required to recover such wholeness; and the practice always deals with the spectrum of an individual‘s development, ranging
6 from physical to emotional and from mental to spiritual, which is ultimately necessary in order to achieve healing in the holistic sense, including transformation of consciousness. Also implicit in the tantric traditions is the concept that imbalance in and stagnation of the flow of vital energy or prana, within and without the gross (e.g., vital organs) and subtle body anatomy, results in illness and lack of well-being. Therefore, health and well-being are achieved by restoring the balance and the flow of subtle energy. However, the Indic spiritual traditions argue that health and well-being are only the preliminary and necessary stage for a third stage associated with healing that involves consciousness development and spiritual transformation. Personal Framework The phenomenon of the subtle body system, which I scrutinize in this research, is of great personal interest. I have, since I was very young, felt an existential need to make sense of my life outside the realm of materialism. When I speak of materialism, I mean both a view of life as being governed by the pursuit of capital for consumerist power and a vision of reality confined to logical sensory perceptions. I seek to surpass materialism; because, in the past, the feelings that had been most constant in my life-pattern were characterized by an intuitive awareness that something was missing in my life and a subconscious sense that the absence was causing a deep feeling of being disjointed. At that time I was not equipped to comprehend the possible reasons for such feelings and I was not ready to explore in-depth the possibility of extension beyond the parameters of logical thought. This disjointed condition aggravated my moods, which were characterized, at best, by a temporary frustration, sensed as a painful isolation from my surroundings, an incapacity to relate to others (e.g., family and friends), and a lack of
7 personal fulfilment, and, at worst, by a depressive psychological state, full of negative thought patterns. Despite my lack of professional training in psychology, I had learned to associate these moods with neurotic futures. Nonetheless, I have so far experienced a fairly normal life, with many personal and professional accomplishments. As a matter of fact, neurosis seems to be a very general kind of mental disorder. A quick Google search on the meaning of neurosis yields comforting results. For example, Dorland‘s medical dictionary defines neurosis as: Former name for a category of mental disorders characterized by anxiety and avoidance behavior. In general, the term has been used to refer to disorders in which the symptoms are distressing to the person, but reality testing does not yield unusual results, behavior is not outside the socially acceptable, and there is no apparent physical condition to cause it. Disorders that used to be called neuroses are now classified as anxiety disorders, dissociative disorders, mood disorders, sexual disorders, and somatoform disorders. (Dorland, 2007) This initial explanation for my interest in this field is important to my thesis, because it links my research and earlier intuition of what Jung (1990) considers the importance of energising with spiritual forces. I also believe that it was this visceral quest that led me to future life-events characterised by an ever increasing inner awareness. In my case, such enlightenment as I have gained has been achieved through exploration of the Eastern spiritual discipline, yoga. Today, yoga accounts for many authoritative schools and manuals, which are the collected knowledge of a written and oral collection of ancestral, ―scientific‖ knowledge.
8 I learnt to understand that each of these schools is like an appendage to something larger or more important. However, this something can somehow still perform a primary function with or without this appendage. My first experience with this discipline was in Hatha yoga. Generally, in the Western context, Hatha yoga is related with a form of yoga mistakenly taken to be the simple practice of asanas (physical postures), pranayama (breathing techniques) and mind concentration techniques. Moreover, based on my experience during the first five years of practice in England, where I had enrolled in many Hatha yoga courses, a typical class of 1 to 1.5 hour duration, only 5 to 10 minutes was dedicated to pranayamas and meditation. Thus, yoga is generally thought in the West to be mere physical gymnastics of the body. Fortunately, some of my teachers were genuine about the discipline, and I benefited immensely from the repetitive and strenuous physical exercise and the communication of theoretical knowledge. I became more aware of my body and mind in those years of practice. I also noticed that my mental concentration skills were enormously enhanced, which is a prerequisite for body control and physically demanding postures. Moreover, to achieve certain advances in performing the postures, I had to train mentally to manage pain, to make use of proper breathing techniques, and to enhance endurance in holding these postures. Another element that is proper to yoga postures and its relation to mind is the initiation to cumbersome postures, which I felt not only enabled my body to be more flexible but also made my mind more receptive to difficult situations, in other words, more elastic and receptive. However, eager to know more, after a few years I began a self-practice using readily available manuals that contained mostly practical explanations about how to perform exercises, but very little detail about yoga theory. After almost ten years of ups and downs in the
9 practice, I committed myself to training that prepared me to teach professionally and that taught more advanced techniques, specifically in breathing and meditation. During the years 1998 to 2001, I began an intense training schedule. I progressed to creatively exploring with pranayamas, kriyas, meditation and other subtle body practices, which gradually revealed to me insights into the complex relation between the body, mind and breath. During these years I noticed slow but steadily advancing result from this continuous exploration of the various aspects of the complex yogic discipline: my lifestyle changes were leading me to increasing physiological harmony; my mental poise was improving; and my mental outlook was more positive. Usually, after a yogic practice, I felt more graceful, rejuvenated, grounded, relaxed, balanced and clear-minded. The benefits increased after longer periods of subtle body practice and diminished when I stopped or reduced the practice. However, until 2004, I had not truly glimpsed the power of subtle energy and its connection with the subtle body system of the chakras. In 2004, I was experiencing a period in my life that I would describe, in a non-medical term, as a ‗mental breakdown‘, due to emotional imbalances. (I will omit the personal details as I believe they are not germane to this thesis). A series of critical events during this period weakened my immune system and psychological equilibrium, manifesting in disorders. For example, I experienced upper gastrointestinal bleeding (i.e., acute ulcer), skin rash, panic attacks, anxiety, low self-esteem and so forth. Moreover, during this crisis, I decreased my yoga practice and teaching significantly. Phenomenally, I was introduced to a local healer, a combination of Reiki master, chakra healer and medium (at time I was living in Cuba), who introduced me to the concept of subtle energy and chakras in a practical way. She systematically instructed me in various techniques for becoming aware
10 of the subtle energy present within and without my body; and, most important, she trained me to channel subtle energy to the various chakras centres. As part of my training, I was given a fortnight of self healing treatment that consisted mainly of attuning the chakras centres with the channelling of subtle energy through self hands application, meditation on visualization of my chakras as healthy, and so forth. At the end of the treatment I was given a series of healing sessions and subsequently initiated into becoming a Reiki master, at which time I had the visual experience of the forefront chakra, so that theoretical and corporeal understanding became even more a sensible manifestation. This period of training, with a mix of theory, practice, and application of therapeutic treatments, either by this healer or self applied, allowed me not only to become physically, mentally and spiritually aware of the subtle energy and the chakras subtle body system, but also to experience, in a relatively short time of about three months, a general enhancement of health and well-being at the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels. This improvement could be measured in terms of improved health, my ulcer was cured completely; mentally and emotionally I was more balanced, I had become more reliable to myself and others; and my panic attacks and anxiety subsided. In a few months, I was not only feeling a higher self-esteem that brought meaningfulness back to my personal life but I also advanced my professional life as a yoga teacher and Reiki healer. Worth mentioning is that, during the some period, I had taken parts in various professional workshops on psychosomatic disciplines relating to such artistic inquiry modalities as dance movement, creative writing, and drama. Like yoga and Reiki, these workshops suggested to me, albeit based on a short exposure, the
11 validity of certain principles (e.g., creativity, aesthetic motifs, and movement) as possible factors enhancing energy and aiding healing and transformation. While in Cuba, I completed Reiki masters initiations and certifications. As a result of these events, I travelled in India during 2005, taking the opportunity to retrain in various yoga ashrams and Reiki centres. In that year, I completed intensive yoga teacher training, at the Sivananda International School of Yoga, and further Reiki master training and certification. Upon returning to Europe, I started teaching yoga full time in various community centers, and discovered the possibilities of working with others by sharing my newfound knowledge of subtle energy at a theoretical and practical level, specifically by giving Reiki healing sessions. At the personal level, since that stage of my life, I have noticed a slow but gradual increase in experiences with subtle energy and chakras that I have learnt to associate with psychological characteristics, some of which have been mentioned above, that are recognised as clear signs of consciousness expansion, also broadly known as altered states of consciousness. Expansion of consciousness includes changes in emotional expression, alterations in thinking, an altered sense of time, perceptual alterations, perceived changes in the body, unitive experiences, loss of control, changes in meaning or significance, feelings of grace and rejuvenation, development of the noetic sense and the sense of the ineffable (Deikman, 1963; Grof, 1975; Levine, Ludwig, and Lyle, 1963; Ludwig, 1966; Tart 1990, 1969). What I consider important from this retrospective analysis of personal experience is the realization that I have reached a stage in my life where I want to commit to the study of the phenomenon of the subtle body system, and, thus of the employment of life-
12 energy at a more conceptual and empirical level. Also, I have a keen interest in exploring such principles of artistic inquiry as creativity that, although I had already explored from one perspective through the practice of artistic disciplines, seemed also to be implicit in the tantric yoga discipline. Purpose and Rationale The purpose of this study is to make intelligible the phenomenon of subtle energy, which includes its subtle body system, its mechanics and its practices, in relation to healing and transformation. The terms healing and transformation imply a holistic meaning that includes such issues as health, well-being, personal development, expansion of consciousness and spiritual growth. The intelligible order which I attempt, draws its foundations from newly emerging integral theories and practices on the subtle energy phenomenon. This integral construct is based on my experience with Eastern practices such as yoga and Reiki, Western psychosomatic therapies related to expressive and artistic practices such as dance, and my literature review, that proposes an integral approach to the scrutinized phenomenon and related issues. Therefore, these integral theoretical and practical approaches to the interpretation of subtle energy in healing and transformation may lead to the validation of this phenomenon, for example, in terms of applying ancient subtle body practices or techniques in a present day alternative health system or in terms offering new interpretative possibilities of the meaning and purpose of the phenomenon as a tool for personal development and spiritual growth. The study was conducted by strictly adhering to hermeneutic phenomenological approaches. In the attempt to come to an intelligible interpretation that could uncover the inherent meaning and purpose of the phenomenon, I began an intense study of tantric
13 literature with a strong desire to further my knowledge: 1) of the phenomenon of subtle energy and its chakra system; 2) with a present horizon of meaning, ―on being able to hear what the text did not say‖ (Palmer and Heidegger, 1969, p. 234); and 3) in finding answers, ―in the temporal context of work and, also in the present day .... to hear, in other words, what it [the text] did not and could not say‖ (p. 235). Thus, I needed to come in direct contact with the phenomenon through a self-experiential study, within whose safe boundaries I could engage, observe and report findings. Naturally, I could not eschew my personal background in such body-mind disciplines as yoga and Reiki (i.e. energy medicine), given that I had developed knowledge in their practice of techniques for the arousal and control of subtle energy and other general theoretical principles and techniques of self-awareness that aid the understanding and investigation of energetic fields such as body sensations, emotions, thoughts and consciousness (Carleton, 2002; Rogers, 1993). However, although my direct experience of practical and theoretical principles of Kundalini yoga are adequate, as Rama et al. (1976) explain, achieving a focused inward awareness of subtle energy by means of yoga requires a proficient level of practice. Thus, based on the positive results obtained during my previous, brief exploration of artistic inquiry into drama, dance movement, and creative writing, I opted for an integral laboratory, where I engaged directly with theoretical and practical Western dance movement course-work. Various forces of a personal, interpersonal and transpersonal nature, previously experienced by me, were allowed to come together so that possible embodiment of life-energy could be aided and explored. Examples of these forces are creativity, aesthetic motifs, dance movement and music, intuition and selfawareness (these forces are described in both tantric literature and artistic inquiry).
14 Potential Significance This thesis endeavours to investigate, at a theoretical and pragmatic level, within a strict academic framework, Indic energy-based principles and modalities, and explore integral, new opportunities to employ such knowledge. I foresee that the work presented in this thesis could provide some basis for therapists, health care professional, and others to actively support the newly emerged theoretical discourse and pragmatic approaches to an integral vision of health and well-being, where spiritual-energetic constructs of the complex human body are taken into consideration, based on integral approaches that include Eastern experiential understanding of the nature of reality or ―being in the world‖ (Myss, 1996, pp. 129-130). This thesis aims to contribute, albeit modestly, qualitative and critical data which maintain the efficacy of energy-based modalities for healing; and are thus apt for employment in the alternative and standard health-care system. However, the original principles need to be thoroughly explored before adoption. Thesis Overview Specifically, in this thesis I proceed as follows: First, within the introduction, I provide a theoretical and personal framework of the study, including directions and overview. In the sections that follow I provide a philosophical background of the given disciplines, a historical background of the Indic meditational literature and glossary of technical yogic terminologies and definitions. In chapter 2, I review primary topics that relate to my personal involvement with the subject of this thesis, which basically cover my self-discovery journey through yoga and the events that brought me into direct contact with the subtle energy phenomenon and the yoga that governs it. Subsequently, in an attempt to look at the prescribed phenomenon holistically, I cover primary issues that
15 develop around personal and concrete, and transpersonal and abstract themes. In chapter 3, I expound on the methodology employed in this thesis, hermeneutic phenomenology. Then, in chapter 4, I conduct an analysis of the specified Indic meditational literature and present the findings of a comparative study of the main models of the subtle body system and its mechanics. After that, in chapter 5, I conduct a broad study of energy-healing theory, where the integral mode of understanding and applying energy modalities is considered. Finally, within the conclusive chapter 6, I discussed the overall findings of this research in regards to the controversial theoretical and practical interrelatedness (e.g., energy-consciousness) and implications (e.g., in healing and transformation) of the scrutinized subtle energy phenomenon. Methodological Background The methodological rationale behind the study. In this study, the methodological design emerged from a creative and intuitive learning process that attempts to holistically understand the phenomenon of subtle energy in healing. These general design criteria fit well within the broad framework of qualitative research and naturalistic methods of inquiry. Creswell (2007) describes qualitative research as follow: Qualitative research is an inquiry process of understanding based on distinct methodological traditions of inquiry that explore a social or human problem. The researcher builds a complex, holistic picture, analyzes words, report detailed views of informants, and conducts the study in a natural setting. (p. 249) According to Polit and Beck (2004) ―qualitative research involves an emergent design--a design that emerges in the field as the study unfolds‖ (p. 267). In other words,
16 according to them, qualitative research admits to ―ongoing decisions reflecting what has already been learned‖ (p. 245), which is hardly ―known or understood at the outset‖ (p. 245) of the study. Furthermore, they (2004) explain, ―qualitative researchers tend to be creative and intuitive, putting together an array of data drawn from many sources to arrive at a holistic understanding of phenomena‖ (p. 267). According to Polit and Beck (2004) another important factor that is implicit in qualitative research in the naturalistic methods of inquiry, which: Attempt to deal with the issue of human complexity by exploring it directly. Researchers in the naturalistic tradition emphasize the inherent complexity of humans, their ability to shape and create their own experiences, and the idea that truth is a composite of realities. Consequently, naturalistic investigations place a heavy emphasis on understanding the human experience as it is lived, usually through the careful collection and analysis of qualitative materials that are narrative and subjective.... Naturalistic researchers tend to emphasize the dynamic, holistic, and individual aspects of human experience and attempt to capture those aspects in their entirety, within the context of those who are experiencing them. (p. 16) On the collection and analysis of data Polit and Beck (2004) affirm: In naturalistic research, the collection of information and its analysis typically progress concurrently; as the researcher sift though information, insights are gained, new questions emerge, and further evidence is sought to amplify or confirm insights. Through an inductive process, researchers integrate information to develop a theory or description that helps explicate processes under
17 observation.... Naturalistic studies result in rich, in-depth information that has the potential to elucidate varied dimensions of a complicated phenomenon. Because of this feature-and the relative ease with which qualitative findings can be communicated to lay audiences--it has been argued that qualitative methods will play a more prominent role in health care policy and development in the future. (p. 17) Polit and Beck (2004) acknowledge that ―findings from in-depth qualitative research are rarely superficial, but there are several limitations of the approach‖ (p. 17) amongst these concerns are the ―idiosyncratic nature of the conclusions‖ (p. 17) and the ―small group of people under study‖ (p. 17). However, she maintains, in response to the many scholars who argue that quantitative research is scientifically more exact than qualitative research, that ―qualitative studies often serve as a crucial starting point for more controlled quantitative studies‖ (p. 17). Kuhn (1961) suggests that the two are codependent and that ―large amounts of qualitative work have usually been prerequisite to fruitful quantification in the physical sciences‖ (p. 162). Thus, I will argue here that the above assumption that favours quantitative research over qualitative research needs to be structurally revised. It is in this broad framework of qualitative research that I selected a specific method that served my research purposes. The overall purpose of my study is to understand the phenomenon of subtle energy in healing and transformation. To this end, the study ttempts to determine the conscientious claims of ancient and modern meditational literature and therapeutic specialists alike, by relying whenever possible on existing quantitative measurements. However, for reasons that span from the inability of present-day scientific technology to
18 measure phenomena of a spiritual nature, to a systematic disregard by conservative scientists of the need to investigate transpersonal phenomena, I had to rely heavily on experiential, thus qualitative, data. In my endeavour to scrutinize the subtle energy phenomenon under strict scientific parameters, I considered hermeneutic phenomenology the ideal research method to be employed. First, hermeneutic phenomenology borrows largely from qualitative and naturalistic modes of inquiry (Giorgi, 2000). Second, the breadth of inquiry in qualitative research ―is necessitated by phenomenological principles‖ (Giorgi, 2000, p. 62). And third, as we will see in the chapter on methodology, hermeneutic phenomenology provides a precise method to describe, structure and interpret textual and experiential data in an equitable scientific procedure and framework (Giorgi, 2000). Phenomenology and hermeneutics. Leading philosophers such as Heidegger, Gadamer, Merleau-Ponty and Sartre moved, with their valuable contributions, phenomenological philosophy from a focus upon the matter of interpretation [or hermeneutics] itself (Smith, Flowers, Larkin, 2009, pp.11- 39), towards: The view of the person as embedded and immersed in a world of objects and relationships, language and culture, projects and concerns …. toward a more interpretative and worldly position with a focus on understanding the perspectival directness of our involvement in the lived world--something which is personal to each of us, but which is a property of our relationship to the world and others, rather than to us as creatures in isolation. (p. 21)
19 Hermeneutic phenomenology is a research method informed specifically by the phenomenology philosophy and inquiry and hermeneutics principles (Smith et al., 2009). Polit and Beck, in their 2004 writing, affirm that phenomenology philosophy ―is an approach to discovering the meaning of people‘s life experiences. Phenomenological researchers ask: What is the essence of this phenomenon?‖ (p. 253). This essence is understood as ―an essential invariant structure‖ (p. 253), which can be investigated as ―subjective phenomenon in the belief that critical truths about reality are grounded in people‘s lived experiences‖ (p. 253). Thus, the essence of the phenomenon under research, subtle energy in healing, is investigated here by asking the questions: What is the nature or meaning of subtle energy? What is the nature or meaning of healing? And, what is the nature or meaning of the subtle body system? According to Polit and Beck (2004), ―the focus of phenomenological inquiry, then, is the meaning of people‘s experience in regard to a phenomenon (descriptive phenomenology), and how those experiences are interpreted (hermeneutics)‖ (p. 253). Finally, in accordance to A. Giorgi (2000), ―the phenomenological method [requires] that the phenomenon be given directly to one‘s own experience‖ (p. 64). Palmer and Heidegger (1969) state that hermeneutics poses ―major challenges to widely held ideas in prevailing [literary] criticism .... Hermeneutics can and should serve as a foundational and preliminary discipline for all literary interpretation‖ (p. 4). Thus, hermeneutics is a methodology of choice when interpreting texts (texts in a broad sense). Palmer and Heidegger (1969) point out that ―one of the essential elements for an adequate hermeneutical theory, and by extension an adequate theory of literary
20 interpretation, is a sufficiently broad conception of interpretation itself‖ (p. 8). Smith et al. state (2009): Our attempts to understand other people‘s relationship to the world are necessarily interpretative, and will focus upon their attempts to make meaning out of their activities and to things happening to them …. Thus … the complex understanding of experience invokes a lived process; an unfurling of perspectives and meanings, which are unique to the person‘s embodied and perpetuated relationship to the world. (p. 21) Husserl‘s call to return to the investigation of the things as they appear, tried to overcome examining and explaining only their material conditions, extrinsic causes etc., without finding out what they are and mean intrinsically. He extended the Cartesian cogito, ergo sum (I think therefore I am) to cogito, ergo die Welt ist (I think, therefore the world exists). Accordingly, the objective world is ―proved‖ through subjective identification. Thereby, ontology is consequently founded upon epistemology, more precisely on transcendental (inter-)subjectivity that is a reflection of the possibility for knowledge and experience. (Küpers, 2009, pp. 54-55). Küpers (2009) argues that there is a need ―for a proper understanding of transcendence, for not falling into solipsism‖ (p. 71), and he further affirms that this argument was already made explicit in classical phenomenology by Husserl, who asserted: Is phenomenological research therefore solipsistic research? Does it restrict the research to the individual ego and precisely to the province of its individual psychic phenomenon? Not in the least. [A] misunderstanding of the particular
21 meaning of transcendence and its exclusion leads to a confusion of psychological immanence (that which is precisely solipsistic) and phenomenological [immanence] (Husserl, 1910-11, p. 154). (p. 71) Küpers (2009) further explains: At the heart of the phenomenological method is the assumption that human experience follows fundamental structural principles that express themselves differently and contingently. Experience is necessarily personal, but not necessarily private. Therefore, phenomenology is not reiteration of introspective solipsism, for it assumes that the study of particular experience leads to the recognition of generative structures that are common to human beings more generally. (p. 71) Küpers (2009) further elucidates on the important notion characterizing phenomenology: The program of phenomenology aims for disclosing and clarifying the true epistemic [of or relating to knowledge or to the degree of its validation] and ontological significance of consciousness. As mentioned before, phenomenology is specifically dedicated to describing and reconstructing the structures of experience as they present themselves to consciousness. This implies a systematic study of the structures of consciousness that enable consciousness to refer to objects outside itself. Thereby, phenomenology deals with phenomenon, that is, with those objects as we experience them in consciousness and with our different ways of relating to these objects experientially as contents of consciousness. Accordingly, phenomenology investigates conscious experience [as experienced]
22 by analysing the structure, that is the types, intentional forms and meanings, dynamics, and [certain] enabling conditions of various forms of experiences. (p. 55) Heidegger and Gadamer, amongst others, forged the phenomenological and hermeneutics approaches into one: hermeneutic phenomenology (Smith et al., 2009, pp. 11-39). Smith et al. (2009) manage to convey concisely and precisely the existing relation between hermeneutics and phenomenology: Hermeneutics is the theory of interpretation. It enters our story as a much older and entirely separate body of thought from phenomenology, but ... the two strands are due to meet, in the work of hermeneutic phenomenologists - notably Heidegger. Originally, hermeneutics represented an attempt to provide surer foundations for the interpretation of an increasingly wider range of texts, such as historical documents and literary works. The sorts of things which concern hermeneutic theorists are: what are the methods and purposes of interpretation itself? Is it possible to uncover the intentions or original meaning of an author? What is the relation between the context of a text‘s production (e.g. its historical genesis in the distant past) and the context of a text‘s interpretation (e.g. its relevance to life in the present day)? (pp. 21-22) For Schleiermacher: Interpretation involved what he called grammatical and psychological interpretation. The former [Heidegger] is concerned with exact and objective textual meaning, while the latter with the individuality of the author or speaker .... For Schleiermacher, interpretation is not a matter of following mechanical rules.
23 Rather it is a craft or art, involving the combination of a range of skills, including intuition. Part of the aim of the interpretative process is to understand the writer, as well as the text, and Schleiermacher believes that if one has engaged in a detailed, comprehensive and holistic analysis, one can end up with ‗an understanding of the utterer better than he understand himself‘. (Smith et al., 2009, pp. 21-22). Applying hermeneutic phenomenology. Heidegger stated, ―The phenomenology….is a hermeneutic in the primordial significance of this world, where it designates this business of interpreting‖ (2005/1962, p. 62). Palmer and Heidegger (1969) see ―in phenomenological hermeneutics, as against other forms, the most adequate context for exploring the question [what is interpretation?] (p. 5). However, because Palmer and Heidegger (1969) admit that ―interpretation ... is a complex and pervasive phenomenon‖ (p. 10) he explains that ―… a radical critique of realistic conceptions of perceiving and interpretation is phenomenology‖ (p. 6). Palmer and Heidegger (1969) give the following suggestion to a researcher preoccupied with the task of applying hermeneutic phenomenology in literary interpretation: A work of literature in not an object we understand by conceptualizing or analyzing it; is a voice we must hear .... understanding is both an epistemological and an ontological phenomenon. Understanding of literature must be rooted in the more primal and encompassing modes of understanding that have to do with our being-in-the-world. Understanding a literary work, therefore, is not a scientific kind of knowing which flees away from existence into a world of concepts; it is a
24 historical encounter which calls forth personal experience of being here in the world. (pp. 9-10) Palmer and Heidegger (1969) expand these precepts to the fields of ―humanities‖ and ―sciences‖ and affirms that ―through a study of hermeneutical theory, the humanities can achieve a fuller measure of self-knowledge and a better understanding of their character of their task‖ (p. 10) Guba and Lincoln (1994, p. 108) categorize alternative inquiry paradigms according to their stance on the following three questions: (1) the ontological question-What is the form and nature of reality? And, therefore, what is there that can be known about it? (2) The epistemological question--What is the nature of the relationship between the knower or would-be knower and what can be known? (3) The methodological question--How can the inquirer go about finding out whatever he or she believes can be known? Furthermore, Palmer and Heidegger‘s (1969) attempt to answer this fundamental question: What is interpretation?, leads to the set up of a fundamental principle that, according to him, elucidates another fundamental question: What does understanding a text mean? Understanding is always positional; it stands at a given point in history .... A genuine comprehension of the way that history is constantly at work in understanding, and a consciousness of the creative tension between the horizon of the work and that of one‘s own present time. (p. 224) Within this framework of ideas, I conducted my examination of the texts on the subtle body system. Most importantly, I used contemporary phenomenological
25 interpretation of these texts (e.g., Zimmer, 1951 and Eliade, 1969-1973), in an attempt to experience the literature in terms of a present horizon of meaning (Palmer and Heidegger, 1969, pp. 231-235). For example, the subtle body system (of chakras, prana, nadis) is decontextualized from its past historical context and interpreted in line with a modern theory of energy-healing, in other words, within a transpersonal and integral psychology framework. Another important element that characterizes hermeneutic phenomenology is ― being able to hear what the text did not say‖ (Palmer and Heidegger, 1969, p. 234). This allows, according to Palmer and Heidegger (1969), finding answers ―in the temporal context of work and also in the present day .... to hear, in other words, what it did not and could not say‖ (p. 235). Armed with this principle, I have interpreted the teaching of tantric and yogic texts by cultivating Palmer and Heidegger‘s (1969) horizons: A dialectical questioning which does not simply interrogate the text but allows the thing said in the text to interrogate back, to call the interpreter‘s own horizon into question and to work a fundamental transformation of one‘s understanding of the subject. This does not mean a denial of the interpreter's horizon, nor does it mean making one‘s own horizon absolute, as implicit in most analysis and method; it means a creative fusion of horizons .... In true experience there is a partial negation of one‘s own horizon, and through this a more encompassing understanding emerges. (p. 234) I have intentionally conducted the research by examining and interpreting important literature on the subtle energy in healing and other related aspects of this phenomenon such as the subtle body system, mechanics and practice. Specifically, I
26 examined: classical Eastern meditational literature; prime interpretational contemporary literature on the classical texts; contemporary literature on energy-healing theory; and literature on contemporary experimental studies on the healing effect of energy-based interventions. Finally, I have also included an interpretative phenomenological analysis of data on experienced subtle energy through the subtle body work results of a selfexperiential study in contemporary dance movement. Philosophical Background At the time when Western society is experiencing a revolutionary encounter with the East, the need arises for a cultural symmetry, for the ability to look beyond cultural perspectives. Since mental processes are partially related to body processes, the descriptions of human beings that the natural sciences provide play an important role in the philosophy of mind. Many scientific disciplines study body processes related to the mental processes (e.g., biology, computer science, cognitive science, cybernetics, linguistics, medicine, pharmacology and psychology). Most of these scientific disciplines, with traditional scientific psychology in the forefront, attempt to apply quantitative measurements to the mind‘s psychological processes or phenomenon. However, none of these disciplines account for the spirit component as proposed by Eastern traditions. In the case of scientific psychology Wilber (2000) affirms: ‗... the law of the connection between the mind and body can be found in statements of quantitative relation between mental sensation and material stimulus‘. Fechner‘s law, as it was soon known, is stated as S = log I (the mental sensation varies as the logarithm of the material stimulus). (p. viii)
27 Nevertheless, according to Wilber (2000), it is certain that ―because of Fechner‘s work, for the first time scientists could measure the mind‖ (p. viii). This, however ―... had saved psychology from contamination of the … spirit, and had happily reduced the mind to measurable empirical doodles‖ (Wilber, 2000, p. viii). He further notes that Fechner had stated in his book Life after Death (1835) the following: In the first stage man lives in the dark, alone; in the second, he lives associated with, yet separated from, his-fellow-men, in a light reflected from the surface of things; in the third, his life, interwoven with ... universal spirit ... is a higher life. (Wilber, 2000, pp. viii-ix) According to Wilber (2000), this statement proves beyond doubt that Fechner believed in the ―spirit‖ (pp. viii-ix). In this thesis, ‗consciousness‘ plays an important role. However, as we will see, consciousness is a conundrum. When the attempt is made to define, classify and identify it, two fierce contenders arise, ready to fight for the rights to interpretation: Pure spiritualism and pure materialism. The current research attempts to avoid these two extreme poles of interpretation, by mediating between the two with a comprehensive interpretation. This comprehensive interpretation can be found, for example, in the integral theory/movement (which includes disciplines such as integral philosophy and integral psychology). Integral Theory attempts to synthesize the map of consciousness into a cross-cultural one, where major Western and non-Western psychologies, the perennial philosophy, and religious practices come together. According to Huxley (1969) ―perennial philosophy‖ can be described as:
The metaphysic that recognizes a divine Reality substantial to the world of things
and lives and minds; the psychology that finds in the soul something similar to, or even identical with, divine Reality; the ethic that places man's final end in the knowledge of the immanent and transcendence Ground of all being; the thing is immemorial and universal. Rudiments of the perennial philosophy may be found among the traditional lore of primitive peoples in every region of the world, and in its fully developed forms it has a place in every one of the higher religions. (p. vii) Within the refrain of time and the space of this master thesis, it will suffice to synthesize its complexity by saying that the advocates of extreme ‗materialism‘ (e.g., in science) deny the existence of ‗spirituality‘ and all its manifestations, by understanding them simply as brain-biology input-output. This approach is reductive and sectarian. On the other hand, the advocates of extreme ‗spiritualism‘ reduce the body and its manifestation as a simple obstacle in the way of pure spirit. In this thesis, the discussion of spiritual extremism (usually associated with the sectarian form of fanatical religiousness) will be omitted, as it would not contribute to our study and would completely distract our research from its center. However, the ‗materialism‘ orthodox point of view needs to be discussed, as it often corresponds with an established scientific paradigm that refrains from any form of integration between, the material and the spirit. This thesis will further illustrate studies where results assert that the scientific dismissiveness of spirit, consciousness, and energy is incorrect. Such data could play an important role in the establishment of a paradigmatic shift from a dichotomy of mechanistic science of mind and body, to a trichotomy of spiritualistic science working
29 with a tripartite human anatomy: body, mind and spirit. However, a strong urge exists to explain and demonstrate that the physical and mental body, together with the spiritualenergetic one, is paramount for the achievement of healthy human beings. Thus, this work attempts to integrate a substantial body of evidence, wherein mainstream medicine can operate within a ―tripartite system of body, mind and spirit [versus] nociceptive model of pain [where] human beings are conceived of as extreme machines‖ (Leskowitz, 2008, p. 226). Hopefully, this integration of knowledge will help to establish the theological and philosophical beliefs that human consists of three parts (i.e., a body, mind, and spirit), and most importantly, pave the way to an increase in (1) the popularity of holistic health interventions and practices in the West, and (2) a comprehensive employment of putative ‗Energy Medicine‘ as CAM in the conventional health care system. Cornell (1994) states: Despite the great advances in modern medicine, there is growing discontent with the restrictive view of Western medical science and the practice that focuses exclusively on the biochemical operations of the body, disregarding the human mind and spirit. A growing number of physicians have begun to incorporate holistic techniques such as the art of the mandala, yoga, creative visualization, and meditation into their practice. (p. 3) In view of the different conceptualization of the ‗I‘ in East-West paradigms, Meadow (1993) notes: The individual's growth and personal development are common threads of concern in both modern psychology and religious or spiritual traditions. Each
30 discipline has strategies and techniques for fostering growth, and each has likewise produced models of the manner in which growth occurs. (p.67) The philosophy of yoga and its meditative yogic practice are continuous sources of inspiration for new theories found, for example, in directive disciplines such as Transpersonal Psychology, and an ever-increasing mode of alternative holistic healing— based not only on physical and mental dictates but also on the spiritual one. In ancient cultures, the subtle body system and its mechanics held center stage in the maintenance of body-mind and spiritual well-being (Flood, 2005; Samuel, 1989; Campbell, 1991; Campbell, 1968; Eliade, 1969; Avalon, 1951) and, within this broad mark of reference subtle body system theory makes its entrance: firstly, in the Western philosophical construct (e.g., through the Integral Movement); secondly, in the field of applied psychology (e.g., through transpersonal and integral psychology); and, finally, in the field of modern health science (e.g., through alternative medicine, embracing umbrella fields such as CAM, Holistic Medicine, Body Energy Psychotherapy, Energy Medicine‘). This ever increasing and systematic appearance in the global scene of ―existing new technology[ies] of healing‖ as Judith Cornell (1994) aptly affirms, ―brings together the body, mind, and spirit and focuses on the whole person‖ (p. 5). This tripartite body system, with a pivotal ‗energy-consciousness‘ element, points to a holistic health approach by some, referred to as the ‗new Art of Healing‘. For example, according to Carleton (2002): Energy and consciousness are the two dimensions of the life force, which operate at all levels of the personal reality. Consciousness shapes and directs our energy
31 …. Energy is a living force that emanates from each level of consciousness. It is characterized by pulsation, motility, rhythm, abundance, flexibility and malleability. Human consciousness uses energy to sculpt the shape of the body and determine the basic form of existence. The physical body is the laboratory of life and the vehicle through which emotions, thoughts, and spiritual self are expressed. (p. 37) Thus, this thesis is also intended as a convergence of Eastern and Western thought towards an integral vision, wherein recognition of the ‗ancient theory of life energy‘ by mainstream health professionals (e.g., in psychology, medicine, nursing, etc.) is considered and added to the framework for the construction of a comprehensive (i.e., integral) theoretical work. Historical Background of Indic Meditational Literature on Subtle Body System The Indic meditational literature was eventually narrowed down, for sake of convenience and clarity, into texts gathered from three main Indic spiritual traditions: Hindu and Buddhist tantric and the Hindu non-tantric Hatha yoga. As a result, the specified literature is a mix of Indic spiritual doctrines. With regard to this Indic meditational literature, I determined to provide some historical background for each text, in line with the dictates of Asian Religious Studies, who deem it necessary to discuss the original sources for contemporary investigation; nevertheless, it important to acknowledge that, because of the extreme intermingling of these traditions, for some of the texts studied, ascertaining with absolute accuracy their historical origins is not possible. However, most of the material available on the subtle body system and its mechanics is dealt primarily within the tantra literature, and most material on the subtle
32 body practice is found within the Hatha yoga literature. However, the subtle body system, its mechanics and practice is also dealt with in others Hindu and Buddhist texts. The primary source of information on the phenomenon of subtle energy, the subtle body system and its mechanics and practice is ancient Indic (e.g., yogic) meditational literature, including root and non-root text sources. Texts that have traditionally been dictated by Hindu deities or Buddhas are considered root texts (it has been recorded that the description of the subtle body system and its mechanics were presented in Hindu and Buddhist literature at least 1000 years ago and therefore these texts are considered the earliest texts) and texts written by historic individuals (e.g., yogis) are considered non-root texts (e.g., commentaries). According to the Hindu tradition, a text written by a yogi is not as important as one uttered by a god. It is important to mention here that root texts have been written in Sanskrit, the classical language of India, and others in regional languages (some preserved in Tibetan translations). I have selected for this study only root texts that are available in English translations from Indic classical languages. This section is to be considered the foundational basis for the review of Indic meditational literature, since it compiles information from classic manuscripts that have been the subject of investigation in identifying data on the subtle body system and its relation with healing and transformation, as reported in chapters 2 and 4. Hindu tantric literature. The most comprehensive text available in English translation on the subtle body system has been, perhaps, the Sat-Cakra-Nirupana. This text was written more than five hundred years ago, in Sanskrit, by the Bengali tantric yogi ―Purnananda-Svami‖ (Avalon,
33 1974, p. xi). Although this text is a part of the commentary tradition and not a root text, it has nevertheless been highly esteemed through the centuries and has, itself, been the subject of numerous commentaries. The manuscript of Sat-cakra-nirupana, in the original Sanskrit, was obtained by Arthur Avalon (also known as Sir John Woodroffe), who was the first to translate the text into English. The translation was subsequently included, with an introduction, a commentary, and other unpublished tantric work, in the book entitled The serpent power; being t -cakra-nirupana and Paduka-pañcaka: Two works on Laya-yoga (first
published in 1919). The Sat-cakra-nirupana ―forms the sixth chapter of his [PurnanandaSvami] extensive and unpublished work on Tantric Ritual entitled ‗Sri-tattvacintamani‘‖ (Avalon,1974, p. xi), whose work belongs to ―a particular form of Tantric Yoga named Kundalini Yoga‖ (Avalon, 1974, p. 1). The word sat-cakra-nirupana means ―‗description of an investigation into the six bodily centres‘‖ (Avalon, 1974, p. xi) or ‗cakras‘ (please note that Avalon spells ―cakra‖ instead of chakra). Ultimately, in this text the essence and purpose of the primary system of the subtle body is revealed from the first verse throughout the remaining fifty-four verses. It is noteworthy that Avalon‘s commentary and translation of the Sat-cakra-nirupana became so famed that Carl Gustav Jung, in his 1932 seminar given to present findings on kundalini, made extensive use of Avalon‘s commentaries. Heinrich Zimmer (Zimmer, 1951) states that Avalon‘s studies ―are the most important examinations of the Tantra published in modern times‖ (p. 570). The Tantraraja tantra (King of Tantras) as the name implies is an important work of ‗tantric‘ literature. The specific text scrutinized in this thesis is the 1981 edition by Arthur Avalon (translator and commentator) and Lakshmana Shastri (Ed.) who wrote a
34 short analysis of the chapters and introduction (the first edition of the some authors is 1926). Arthur Avalon, in the introduction (pp. 1-11), affirms that this is a root text supposed to have been dictated by Siva to Devi to remove any possible confusion existing in the previous tantric texts. He further states that the first transmission of this work, with a commentary called Manorama by Subhaganandanatha of the Kashmir School (the philosophical school of consciousness that started in Kashmir about 1200 years ago), deals with the multifaceted aspects of the tantric theological doctrines and myths. Specifically, the work considers the principles involved in tantric worship and practices—which are mantra, chakras, and so forth—in the larger context of Hindu tantric tradition. The Vijnanabhairava (Divine Consciousness - A Treasury of 112 Types of Yoga) is considered a root text. While this text cannot be exactly dated, there are recorded accounts of its existence and popularity in the 8th century C.E (Singh, 1979, p. x). This manuscript has also ―been referred to as Agama‖ (Singh, 1979, p. ix) and by other various names. Throughout the text we find multiple accounts on practical ways of obtaining self-realization. The specific text reviewed in this thesis is the one translated and commented on by Jaideva Singh (1979). Hindu non-tantric literature. The Hathayoga-pradipika of Svatmarama was written by Svatmarama in 15th C.E., and is one of the most treasured treatises on yoga. The specific edition studied herewith is the English translation by Srinivasa Iyangar with commentaries Jyotsna of Brahmananda (Svatmarama, 1972). According to Brahmananda (Svatmarama, 1972), Svatmarama compiled the Hathayogapradipika ―in view of the combined advantage of
35 the two systems [Raja-yoga and Hatha yoga]‖ (p. xvii). Brahmananda also affirms that this is perhaps the text that most attempts ―the task of reconciling the [two yoga] systems‖ (1972, p. vii). Brahmananda goes on to explain that the Hathayoga-pradipika contains the yoga-sastra (or the science of yoga), which is a body of knowledge on metaphysical and practical aspects of the human consciousness, the means to attain self realization (moksha); overall, this ancient treatise is a comprehensive manual on specific yogic techniques (e.g., physical postures [asana], breathing exercises [pranayama], attitude [mudras] aimed at rousing prana for the obtainment of ultimate absorption [samadhi]) (1972, pp. vii-xvii). The Gheranda samhita (The collection of verses of Gheranda) is a late 17th century Sanskrit text considered to be the most detailed encyclopaedic text amongst the three classical Hatha yoga texts. The text used in this study is the commentary by James Mallison with the original Sanskrit and English translation (Gheranda and Mallison, 2004). According to Mallison this text ―was copied in Bengal in 1802 C.E.‖ (p. xiii) and ―it was never cited by medieval commentators in their works on Hatha yoga‖ (p. xiii). Mallison further affirms that ―the early texts of Hatha yoga showed no trace of Vedanta and that their doctrinal framework was Tantric‖ (p. xiv). However, ―Tantric influences have been toned down considerably‖ (p. xiv). The Gheranda samhita speaks of a sevenfold yoga aiming at activating the subtle body system. The Siva samhita, (The Collection [of Verses] of Shiva) was, according to Mallison (2007), a root text ―composed over five centuries ago‖ as many ―eminent medieval authors‖ have mentioned this root text (p. x) and ―it proclaims a Yoga teaching, yet also calls itself a tantra‖ (p. xi). For example, Svatmarama in the Hathayoga-
36 pradipika (1972) states that the Siva samhita gives the yoga-sastra‘s ―discipleship and method of their observance‖ (p. viii). The particular Siva samhita text studied here is the English translation and critical version by James Mallison (2007). The Siva samhita provides a thorough account of the subtle body system and its mechanics (Mallison, 2007, p. x). Of particular interest for the aim of this thesis are the thorough description of the microcosmic model of the subtle body system in the second chapter; of the mudras, which are considered psycho-spiritual techniques of rising energy thus, considered more than mere asanas (as described in the Gheranda Samhita) in the fourth chapter; and, of the ―esoteric centres and energies in the body‖ in the fifth chapter (Mallison, 2007, p. x). Buddhist tantric literature. The Hevajra tantra (Hevajra tantraraja nama), possibly published in India between the seventh and eighth century C.E. (Snellgrove, 1959) or "late ninth or early tenth century" (Davidson, 2005, p. 41), is one of the prime (root) texts in the Buddhist tantric classification system (Wayman, 1977; Snellgrove, 1959). According to Chattopadhyana (1970), Tāranāthaa Lama of the Jonang school of Tibetan Buddhism (1575-1634 C.E), lists Saroruha and Kampala (also known as "Lva-va-pā, "Kambhalī", and "Śrī-prabhada") as its "bringers" (pp. 245-246). A translation of the Hevajra tantra into English from Sanskrit and Tibetan was published by Snellgrove in 1959, from Chinese by Wellman in 1983, and with a complete translation of the commentaries Yogaratnamala by Farrow and Menon in 1992. The texts reviewed in this thesis are The Hevajra tantra: A critical study by Snellgrove (1959 -composed of two volumes: Vol. I, introduction and translation; and, Vol. II, Sanskrit and Tibetan text); and, The concealed essence of the Hevajra tantra, with the Commentary Yogaratnamala, translated into
37 English and edited by Farrow and Menon (1992). The theories described in the Hevajra tantra teach Buddhist Vajrayana philosophy in correlation with the yogic method of subtle body practices. Thus, this text is strictly focused on the subtle body system and its mechanics. The Kalacakratantra ―is an early eleventh-century esoteric treatise belonging to the class of unexcelled yoga-tantras (anuttara-yoga-tantra). This is believed to be the last manuscript of this tradition that was ‗published‘ in India‖ (Wallace, 2001, p. 3). The main classic commentaries reviewed for this thesis were: A Commentary on the Kalachakra Tantra taught by Geshe Lharampa Ngawang Dhargyey, translated by Gelong Jhampa Kelsang and commented on by Allan Wallace (1985); The Practice of kalachakra by Glenn H. Mullin, which includes a translation of important texts on the Kalachakra tantra, with foreword by H. H. the Dalai Lama (1991); and, Wallace‘s work (2001). The inner kalacakratantra: A Buddhist tantric view of the individual is a rich textual source that expresses the relevant doctrinal and social theories ―of the individual as cosmos, society and gnosis‖ (Wallace, 2001, p. vi), and tantric practices deliniating ―the path of spiritual transformation‖ (Wallace, 2001, p. vi). ―In this text the topics of the inner Kālacakratantra are dealt with in their relationship to the larger context of Kālacakratantra‘s theory of ‗nonduality‘‖ (Wallace, 2001, p. vi). Wallace‘s work (2001), the text I am using for this study, profoundly analyzes: ―The kalacakratantra‘s view of the nature of the individual and one‘s place in the universe and society‖ (p. v); and the Kālacakratantra's practical tradition giving the relevant tantric practices for spiritual transformation that were characteristic of north Indian Buddhism in its final stages.
38 Nevertheless, for this thesis specific attention was given to the practical aspect, which is dealt with in the form of a textual, historical, and philosophical analysis of the second chapter of the Kālacakratantra, the ―Chapter on the Individual‖ (adhyātma-paala), and the Vimalaprabhā, its primary commentary. The Vimalaprabhā (the Stainless Light) by Pundarika ―became the most authoritative commentary on the Kalacakratantra and served as the basis for all subsequent commentarial literature of that literary corpus‖ (Wallace, 2001, p. 3). Moreover, as Wallace (2001) says, the Vimalaprabhā commentary on the Kalacakratantra was of great importance to her translation of the Kalacakratantra work, as without this commentary it would have been practically impossible to penetrate ―the Kalacakratantra's cryptic verses and often grammatically corrupt sentences‖ (pp. 3-4). Referring to the notorious openness and directness of the tantric teachings, Wallace (2001) states, this ―is actually far more characteristic of the Vimalaprabhā than of the Kalacakratantra itself‖ (p.4). This text makes cumbersome reading for a non specialist in Buddhism. However, when the attempt to study this text is made, one thing that becomes clear is that the Kālacakra tradition's theory of the human being permeates all the chapters of the Kālacakratantra. Thus, all the chapters on tantra are intimately related to the other chapters. Background and Definitions Related to the Subtle Body System The Doctrines of Yoga: According to Bhattacharya (1992), Yoga means ―disciplining of the body for various purposes-physical, mental and spiritual‖ (p. 483). According to Eliade (1969), ―Four basic and interdependent concepts, four ‗kinetic ideas,‘ bring us directly to the core of Indian spirituality. They are karma, maya, nirvana,
39 and yoga‖ (p. 3). These four concepts are the fundamental philosophy underpinning Indian doctrines. Yoga, according to Eliade (1969) is ―the means of attaining to Being, the effectual techniques for gaining liberation‖ (p. 3) or ―to ‗free oneself‘ is equivalent to forcing another plane of existence, to appropriating another mode of being transcending the human condition‖ (p.4). ―Patanjali defines yoga as the suspension of the modification of thinking principles…‖ (Jyotsna, 1972, p. x) which can be achieved in many ways but none of them ―without controlling the … breath, which is intimately connected with the mind…‖ (p. x). ―Prana is the chief principle of motion in the … gross … subtle … and casual bodies‖ (p. xii). ―The regulation of breath for the purpose of checking modification of the thinking principle is called Hatha yoga‖ (p. xii). According to (Bhattacharyya, 1982) Hatha yoga is ―a form of physical exercise for making the body so disciplined as to serve all spiritual purposes …. In the Hathayogapradipika I. 10 it is regarded as the source of all forms of Yoga‖ (p. 428) According to Eliade (1969): There is a ‗classic‘ Yoga, a ‗system of philosophy‘ expounded by Patanjali in his celebrated Yoga-sutras; and it is from the ‗system‘ that we must set out in order to understand the position of Yoga in the history of Indian thought. But, side by side with this ‗classic‘ Yoga, there are countless forms of ‗popular,‘ non-systematic yoga; there also non-Brahmanic yogas (Buddhist, Jain); above all, there are yogas whose structure are ‗magical,‘ ‗mystical,‘ and so on. (p. 4) Thus, yoga is characterized not only by ―its practical side, but also by its initiatory structure‖ (Eliade, 1969, p.5). One concept linked to this ―initiatory structure‖
40 is the rite ―that pursues the creation of a ―‗new body,‘ a ‗mystical body,‘‖ that ―plays a considerable part in all forms of Yoga, and especially in tantrism‖ (Eliade, 1969, p. 6). According to the Yoga-sastra, each individual has the power to undergo transformation, including spiritual transformation, or in other words, expand his/her consciousness. This power is achieved and made possible through the mechanics of awakening and raising life-force (prana) (e.g., through the psychic centres, channels and so on). The initiatory rebirth is defined, by all forms of Yoga, as access to a nonprofane and hardly describable mode of being, to which the Indian schools give various names: moksa, nirvana, asamkrta, et cetera (Eliade, 1969, p. 6). Now, an important factor of all Indian philosophies and all Indian mysticisms is ―pain‖ or ―suffering‖ and the emancipation from it (Eliade, 1969, p. 12). Most of the Indian doctrines—Vedanta and Samkya, for example—teach that the emancipation from ―suffering‖ and the ultimate liberation from the human conditions is possible through means of ―knowledge‖; however, others doctrines—Yoga and Buddhism—by means of experience. (Eliade, 1969, p. 12). Chakra derived from the Sanskrit cakram, is a Sanskrit word that translates as spinning vortex or wheel or disc (―wheel‖ from root car, ―to move‖; adopted into the English language as chakra) (Feuerstein, 1997, pp. 67-69). Yoga asana: “Posture, seat, pedestal. The term denotes a mystic or any attitude exhibited in the lower limbs‖ (Bhattacharyya, 1982, p. 410) Yoga-tantra: ―In principle, the Buddhist tantras are divided into four classes: kriya-tantra, carya-tantra, yoga-tantra, and anuttara-tantra, the first two focusing on rituals and the others on yogic procedures for attaining supreme truth (Eliade, 1969, p.
41 201). According to Lessing and Wayman (1978) ―that which is held in common between the two Tantras, Yoga and Anuttarayoga, is called yoga-tantra‖ (p. 251). Tantra or tantram: ―Tantra was a body of religious practice that evolved through similar phases both within India and throughout its expansion into greater Asia ... all the features, however, are specific to tenth-century Indian Tantra, whether Hindu, Buddhist, or Jain‖ (White, 2000, p. 24). According to Brahmacharini (1990), Hindu tantra is a religious philosophy in which Shakti is usually the main deity worshipped, and the universe is regarded as the divine play of Shakti and Shiva. The word Tantra also applies to any of the Hindu scriptures commonly identified with the worship of Shakti (Brahmacharini, 1990, p. 77). Flood (2006) explains that the ―Buddhist Tantras‖ are ―believed to be the word of the Buddha, which became incorporated into the vast Buddhist canon between c. 400 and 750 CE ...‖ (p. 7). Tantra deals primarily with spiritual practices and ritual forms of worship, which aim at liberation from ignorance and at rebirth (Brahmacharini, 1990, p. 77). The tantric movement has influenced the Hindu, Buddhist and others religious traditions. Tantra in its various forms has existed in India, Nepal, China, Japan, Tibet and others Asiatic countries (D. G. White, 2000, p. 7). White (2000), while being cautious in providing a rigid definition of tantra in a Hindu context, offers the following definition: Tantra is that Asian body of beliefs and practices which, working from the principle that the universe we experience is nothing other than the concrete manifestation of the divine energy of the Godhead that creates and maintains that universe, seeks to ritually appropriate and channel that energy, within the human microcosm, in creative and emancipatory ways. (p. 9)
42 According to Flood (2006): Arriving at definitions of 'Tantra' and 'Tantrism' has been notoriously difficult and has varied between presenting external accounts of a phenomenon named 'Tantrism' … and internal accounts of what the term tantra refers to. An important indigenous distinction is between tantrika, a follower of the Tantras, and vaidika, a follower of the Vedas. This distinction operates across the sectarian divides of Saivas, Vaisnavas and so on. The former refers to those who follow a system of ritual and teaching found within the Tantras, in contrast to those, especially the Brahman caste, who follow the Veda as primary revelation or sruti (and so called Srautas), or who follow the later texts of secondary revelation called smrti (and so called Smartas). (p. 8) Kundalini yoga (or tantric yoga): According to Avalon (1974) this yoga is related to the principles of kundalini-shakti (e.g., its arousal), which are dealt extensively in the various definitions of the Tantra scriptures and practices (pp. 285-289). According to Geoffrey Samuel (1989), ―The Tantras are a well-known, if not always well-understood, part of Hindu and Buddhist religious practice .... The Buddhist and Hindu Tantras employ a non-dualist conceptualization of body and mind based upon the anatomy of the subtle body with its ‗centres‘ (chakra), ‗channels‘ (nadi) and flows of ‗energy‘ (prana)‖ (p. 197). The ―Tantras contains description of ritual practices, sacred formulae (mantras), mystical diagrams (yantras), gestures (mudras), postures (asanas), initiations (diksa), and yoga or mystic practices‖ (J. Singh, 1979, p. x).
43 Kundalini: “The serpent power remaining latent in the muladhara .... as the source of all energy, kundalini reveals itself when aroused by Yogic exercise ... It has two-forms, dynamic or kinetic, and static or potential …‖ (Bhattacharyya, 1982, p. 443) Kalacakra Tantric tradition: ―The Kalacakra Tantric cycle was conceived in Northwest India around the X-XI centuries (C.E.) and is an exact historical and chronological reconstruction of the Kalacakra Tantric tradition (protagonists, events and works) is not realistic, mainly because of history-myth entanglement‖ (Cicuzza, 2001, p. 11). However, the works that belongs to the ―Kalacakra literary corpus … express … the relevant Tantric practices … of north Indian Buddhism in its final stages … and role of Indian tantric Buddhism of that era in particular‖ (Wallace, 2001, p. v). Nadi (or yoganadi): is generally translated as ―conduit‖, ―channel‖ ―vein‖, or ―artery‖ and can refer either to ―any of the blood-carrying veins or arteries‖ but ―also, any of the subtle (sukshma) channels in or along which the life force (prana) circulates. ―Nadi is derived from the root nad, ‗motion,‘ and means a channel (Vivara)‖ (Avalon, 1974, p. 318), ―a nerve which carries the vital air‖ (Bhattacharyya, 1982, p. 483) Prana (―life‖; lit. ―breathing forth,‖ from the prefix pra and the root an, ―to breathe‖), in the Rig Veda (10.90.13) stands for the breath of the cosmic purusha and for the breath of life in general. In the sacred scriptures of Hinduism, prana almost invariably signifies the universal life force, which is a vibrant psychophysical energy similar to the pneuma of the ancient Greeks. Fields (2001) explains: ―Prana means breath, but, more important, it means vital energy, life-force, spirit, and power‖ (p. 117). Singh (1988) defines prana as ―vital power; vital energy; life energy ...‖ (p. 249).
44 Mantras: ―Mantra [is] a verbal formula or sound, which is full of power‖ (Knott, 1998, p. 125). Bhattacharyya‘s (1982) technical definition of the word mantra is ―Brahman or ultimate reality in the form of sound. Letters, words, and sentences are its different forms‖ (p. 448) and also ―Sakti or power in the form of sound, words and letters .... which appears in the individual‖ (p. 448). However, in its most literal sense, mantra means ―getting rid (trai, trana) of worldly fetters‖ (p. 448) or "to free from the mind" (Radha, 2005, p. 23; Russil, 1983, p. xi) and at its core it is used for this purpose Bhattacharyya, 1982, p. 448; Radha, 2005, p. 23; Russil, 1983, p. xi). While the notion that sound reverberates spiritual and healing experience is embedded in most of the ancient civilizations and cultures (Alvin, 1975, pp. 7-15; Ashley-Farrand, 2006, p. 1; Blofeld, 1977, pp. 83-95; Beck, 2006, pp. 5-6; Newham, 1999, p. 123; Lavezzoli, 2006, ¶ 2), one geographical hub has preserved its essence right until the present day: the Indian Subcontinent. In the Indian subcontinent it is believed that the methodical recitation of Sanskrit Vedic hymns and sacred formulas, mantras, over thousands of years has generated powerful fields of energy in sacred places and mystical seers. Mystical seers are known to be endowed with psychic powers, used in the attempt to obtain freedom from mental and physical illness and, ultimately, to experience transcendence and the expansion of consciousness (Beck, 2006, ¶ 4). Accounts of the nature of mantra energy may vary according to the various degree of described experience, ―spiritual‖ (Radha, 2005, p. 23), ―psychic‖ (Blofeld, 1977, p. 100) ―auditory‖ (Russil, 2004, p. 46) or ―physical as well as subtle‖ (AshleyFarrand, 2006, p. 14).
45 Samadhi: according to Bhattacharyya (1982), samadhi is the last of ―six Yogic practices‖, which is described in the Buddhist and non-Buddhist tantras as ―obtaining perfect wisdom‖ (p. 230), or a ―state of perfect bliss in which the world of senses disappears from mind of the aspirant. It is the aim of all yogic exercises…‖ (p. 467). Feuerstein (1997) affirms that samadhi or ―the final limb (anga) of the yogic path‖ (p. 251) is described by various texts as a ―spectrum of ecstasy‖ (pp. 251-252); Mallison (Gheranda and Mallison, 2004), in his English translation of the Gheranda Samhita, talks of samadhi as the last of the sevenfold yoga, namely ―isolation‖, aimed at activating the psycho-spiritual possibilities closely inherent in the subtle body system; specifically, the chapter on Dhyana teaches ―three types of samadhi‖ (p. xii) or psycho-spiritual transformational stages obtained by means of specific yogic practices. The kalacakratantra, ch. 4, v.117, and the Vimalaprabhā speak of the yoga of samadhi ―a meditative concentration of the form of gnosis (jnana-bimba). It is also interpreted as the imperishable bliss that arises from the union of the apprehended object (grahya) and the apprehending subject (grahaka)‖ (Wallace, 2001, pp. 203-207). Background of Transpersonal Psychology and Integral Theories From the beginning of the twentieth century, researchers, mostly in the fields of psychiatry and psychology (humanistic psychology, behaviourism and psychoanalysis), took an ever-increasing interest in the study of broader perspectives on consciousness. This resulted later on in the twentieth century in the formation of a new discipline of psychology, transpersonal psychology. Transpersonal psychology is considered by many the natural prolongation of other major schools of psychology such as the school of Psychosynthesis founded by Roberto Assagioli, the Analytical school of C. G. Jung and
46 the Humanistic psychology of Dr. Abraham Maslow. For example, transpersonal psychology‘s particular focus in studying transpersonal psychological phenomena was one of the pioneering aims proposed by Dr. Abraham Maslow (1970). Maslow (1970) considered that the scientific study of transpersonal events, that he had defined as ―peakexperiences‖ could enhance a better understanding of man's existence. Since Maslow‘s preposition many psychologists and psychiatrists have incorporated in their study a broader perspectives on consciousness (for example, altered states of consciousness), and many transpersonal psychologists are theorizing on the phenomenon of expansion of consciousness (Grof, 1988; Deikman, 1966; Ludwig, 1966; Ornstein, 1972; Tart, 1975). Transpersonal psychology perhaps has been the discipline that has completely originated from specific interest in the study of consciousness and its assumed phenomena of expansion, also known as Altered States of Consciousness (Grof, 1988; Deikman, 1966; Ludwig, 1966; Ornstein, 1972; Tart, 1975). Nevertheless, there are also leading exponents of transpersonal psychology who are already talking of the exigency of a more comprehensive psychology where the full range of the human consciousness, its full ―spectrum‖ is taken into consideration, the notable example being Ken Wilber (1993, 1996, 1995, 2000). Wilber (2000) explains the aim of Integral psychology: For an integral psychology, this means that the basic levels of consciousness available to men and women need to be carefully differentiated into various developmental lines. Through the levels or waves of the Great Nest (body, mind, soul, spirit) run numerous different developmental lines or streams (cognitive, moral, aesthetic, affective, needs, identities, perspective, etc.). It is the job of an
47 integral psychology to track all of these various waves and streams as they unfold in any given individual. (p. 191) Among the forerunners to the development of integral and transpersonal theories of consciousness we find the Integral Philosophies of Sri Aurobindo Ghose, Jean Gebser, Haridas Chaudhuri, and Indra Sen amongst others. Other contemporary transpersonal and/or integral theorists that conducted bold research and studies on consciousness are Michael Murphy, Michael Washburn, Allan Combs, Jean Gebser, Don Beck, Clare Grave, Sean Esbjörn-Hargens, Ashok Gangadean, Ervin László, George Leonard, Steve McIntosh, Michael Murphy, Richard Tarnas, William Irwin Thompson, Peter Wilberg, Michael E. Zimmerman, just to mention a few. In the last two decades we have witnessed a somewhat natural development toward integral models and theories of consciousness and the application of these integral perspectives to therapeutics applications. Transpersonal Psychology has a new discipline has played an active part to host together the diverse cluster of theories on man‘s psychological spectrum including transpersonal consciousness in a contemporary EastWest integral paradigm. Definitions of transpersonal psychology. There are many recognised definitions and aims of transpersonal psychology. However, it can be stated that transpersonal psychology is a discipline in psychology aiming at bridging the East-West perspective on the nature of consciousness and reality. Its strength comes from its attempt to unify modern psychological theory, which draws upon scientific disciplines (such as neurology, biopsychology, physics, and chemistry), with different forms of Eastern knowledge, which draws upon mysticism.
48 Charles Tart (1975) states: Transpersonal psychology is a fundamental area of research, scholarship, and application based on experiences of temporarily transcending our usual identification with our limited biological, historical, cultural and personal self and, at the deepest and most profound levels of experience possible, recognising ‗‗something‘‘ of vast intelligence and compassion that encompasses the entire universe. From this perspective our ordinary, ‗‗normal‘‘ biological, historical, cultural, and personal self is seen as an important, but quite partial (and often pathologically distorted) manifestation or expression of this much greater ‗‗something‘‘ that is our deeper origin and destination. (p. 156) According to Lajoie and Shapiro (1992) transpersonal psychology is "the study of humanity‘s highest potential, and with the recognition, understanding, and realization of unitive, spiritual, and transcendent states of consciousness" (p. 91). Visser (2003) describes transpersonal psychology as ―a school of religious psychology set up at the end of the sixties which endeavours to study the field of mystical spirituality in a scientifically sound way‖ (p. 1). Therapeutic framework of transpersonal psychology. As we have seen so far, transpersonal psychology attempts to unify modern Western psychology, with Eastern spiritual disciplines. However, transpersonal psychology does not seem to have in its main agenda exclusively the study of higher states of consciousness; rather, it includes the study of many others aspect of consciousness related to healing and transformation; in other words, transpersonal psychology is also concerned with the health and well being of individuals.
49 This therapeutic concern of transpersonal psychology can be found right from conception. For example, the term transpersonal psychology is closely associated with the work of Abraham Maslow and his understanding of ―peak experiences‖ (1970, pp. 97-99, appendix H). He clearly expounds the therapeutic concern and aims in his work: Descriptively, we can see in each person his own (weak) tendencies to grow toward self-actualization; and, also descriptively, we can see his various (weak) tendencies toward regressing (out of fear, hostility, or laziness). It is the task of education, therapy, marriage, and the family to ally themselves to the former, and to be conducive to individual growth. But why? How to prove this? Why is this not just a covert smuggling in of the arbitrary, concealed values of the therapist? (1970, p. 97) Caplan, Hartelius and Rardin (2003) conducted a survey that represents a sizeable spectrum of perspectives and ―offers a framework around which the reader is invited to contemplate both foundational themes and shifting emphases within transpersonal psychology‖ (p. 143). The survey shows how contemporary viewpoints on transpersonal psychology are ―multifaceted and wide-ranging‖ (Caplan et al., 2003, p. 143), and generally they are in line with the therapeutic aim of humanistic psychology and other Integral disciplines (Caplan et al., 2003). Grof (2000) defines transpersonal psychology as a discipline that includes various aspects of concerns including the therapeutic one: Transpersonal psychology is a discipline that expands, complements, and modifies the conceptual framework of mainstream psychology and psychotherapy in several important ways: (a) field of study and source of research data (uses
50 scientific methods to study the full spectrum of human experience, including an important subgroup of non-ordinary states of consciousness ... (b) model of the psyche (c) architecture of ―psychopathology‖ (d) therapeutic mechanisms (e) spirituality. (p. 148-149) We could readily include in the ―full spectrum of human experience‖ the visualization and use of ‗the subtle body system‘, the ‗kundalini awakening‘, or healing energy, the topic of this thesis. According to Sovatsky (1998): Transpersonal Psychology sees all psychological maturation and pathology as forward-moving struggles with faith (confidence combined with humility), hope (optimism), love (deepening powers of gratitude, appropriate contrition, forgiveness, and ecstasy), the palpability of eternal time (awe, endlessness) and the mystery of time-passage (anicca (Sanskrit) in Buddhism, Kali-Shaivism in Hinduism, grace in Judaism and Christianity), and the attainment of ‗‗extraordinary‘‘ mental, moral, and emotional intelligence/maturity. It holds special regard for nonlinguistic gnosis (meditation, ecstatic states and bodily sensations such as ‗‗Kundalini,‘‘ ‗‗chi,‘‘ ... et cetera) and for the limitations of linguistic ‗‗knowledge‘‘ in general. (p. 154) Walsh and Vaughan (1980) stress, more than do others, transpersonal psychology‘s therapeutic (and transpersonal studies in general) proposal and main agenda of implementing psycho-spiritual growth and well-being; thus, they explain: Transpersonal Psychology is concerned with expanding the field of psychological inquiry to include the study of optimal psychological health and well-being. It recognizes the potential for experiencing a broad range of states of consciousness,
51 in some of which identity may extend beyond the usual limits of the ego and personality. (p. 16) In the above sentence Walsh and Vaughan (1980) are clearly pointing to the full spectrum of human consciousness, which will be extensively examined within this thesis. Furthermore, Walsh and Vaughan (1980), referring to the importance that the therapeutic aspect has for transpersonal psychology, state ―… it is the aspect of therapy that goes beyond ego goals and bridges psychological and spiritual practices‖ (p. 161). Thus, transpersonal psychology‘s perspective spans many research interests and fields (such as meditation, consciousness, near death experience [NDE], kundalini awakening, health, nursing, et cetera), and, as already mentioned, is also preoccupied with bridging and integrating them (notable example is given by Wilber‘s 2000 work, Integral Psychology).
52 CHAPTER 2: REVIEW OF LITERATURE Introduction With the following review of literature, I intend to unfold to the reader the diverse themes that I have encountered, and struggled with, and meditated upon. I will briefly narrate, first, how my thesis research derives from my interest in personal development; then, I will explore topics extracted from my personal and professional life-narrative; subsequently, I will introduce the literature review that inspired my research proposal; finally, I will describe, as comprehensively as possible, the topics that inspired the literature review throughout the writing of this thesis. The main themes abridge the need for an in-depth explanation of what personal development and spiritual growth (which I understand as being a part of human development that spans the entire life) imply for the therapist and nonprofessional alike. The main topic is a specific phenomenon reflected in yoga: subtle energy in healing and transformation. The sections that follow are in many ways a retrospective journey through my inner effort to understand the meaning of human development. This journey, as any journey, has been full of obstacles. It has taken me through topics of personal and professional interest, topics assimilated first through a commitment to deeply contemplate them. Contemplation led to a thorough examination of the relevant literature. This examination has been structured by a precise interdisciplinary framework, already identified in the introductory chapter and elsewhere in this thesis. Finally, my examination of the literature, coupled with my commitment to direct experience, has led me to reach a phenomenological understanding of what the phenomenon of self development implies, for me.
53 In my quest to understand self development, Yoga constitutes one of the fundamental lenses, as this holistic discipline integrated organically complex prospective principles for understanding human development and human nature. Thus, yoga as a method for personal development becomes the first topic that needs to be dealt with in this review of the literature. Yoga as a way of personal development. My thesis research and the literature review that it inspired derive from my interest in personal development, which became apparent at about the age of twenty one. As I moved into my adult years, I joined a class in the ancient self-care discipline of yoga. I see my partaking of this first yoga workshop as a personal life landmark that initiated my journey to discover and learn how to integrate new modes of understanding personal development, so that I could better understand myself. For example, yoga introduced me, in a pragmatic way, to principles entirely new to me, such as body-mind awareness and the concept of an inner spirituality that had nothing to do with the religious beliefs that had been imparted to me since my early childhood. Many years have passed since that first yoga course. Since then, a strong commitment to further my selfknowledge through practical training and theoretical literature about yoga principles has gradually shaped me into a yoga practitioner and therapist. Nonetheless, despite the fact I have accumulated some teaching experience in the yoga discipline and have experienced its therapeutic benefits for a few years now, I feel a complete beginner and that I am a far away from reaching the peak of my potential. Moreover, I have reached a stage at which I am aware that yoga discipline as a tool for working with oneself and others, on issues related to personal development, is a path constructed, step by step, through a continuous
54 process of learning and growth that eventually takes the practitioner beyond a logical (by logic I mean here reasoning conducted or assessed according to strict principles of present day scientific understanding) understanding of what personal development, and for that matter, human evolution and life structure might involve. The words that describe the sentence ‗beyond a logical understanding‘ are many: Spirituality, transcendence, mysticism, transpersonal or higher consciousness are but a few of them. The first issue that I had to resolve within me was the need to better understand yoga as an ancient discipline. The second was yoga‘s significance in a present-day context of personal development. While this process of resolution had begun at a preliminary stage, when I was still contemplating my specific thesis proposal, and was to a certain degree an issue that I had resolved within the preliminary review of literature that informed my master‘s proposal, I believe that a brief review holds significance, since it helps explain how I arrived the specific area of interest for my overall master‘s degree and thesis, which is ‗subtle energy: healing and transformation.‘ Although I originally engaged in the practice of yoga from an interest in personal development, in recent years I have had the opportunity to further train myself in this discipline, so that I have become a professional yoga teacher and therapist (my personal framework has been dealt with already in the thesis‘ introduction). I saw, in the opportunity to teach yoga professionally, an opportunity to share and pass on to others the self care and therapeutics principles implied in the whole system of yoga, more than an opportunity to make a living. Within the true yoga philosophy, which had been my overall approach to this systemic discipline, a strong spiritual bond exists with the idea of sharing without expecting anything in exchange. Essentially, the idea of teaching yoga or
55 employing yoga as a therapeutic tool in exchange for monetary benefits does not lie at the foundation of the discipline, in the way it is ‗unfortunately‘ conceived nowadays. Instead, yogi adepts have traditionally relied on ‗trust‘ that their survival and basic needs would be met. Whatever the term ‗professional‘ might imply in a present-day context, I share here in short my idea of becoming a professional yoga teacher and therapist: Professional yoga teachers have the spiritual opportunity to share their knowledge of yoga, in whatever form possible, for the physical, mental and spiritual benefit of others, in exchange for energy, in whatever form it may appear, including, but not necessarily, money. I understand this principle to be related significantly to my pursuit of personal development and spiritual growth. However, my primary need to address issues related to my personal development and spiritual growth were much later merged with the need to address issues related with the need to teach a yoga true to its teachings, which ultimately aims at healing and transformation (in the broad sense explained in the introduction chapter of this thesis), and to achieve a better understanding of certain evolving issues. Examples of concerns are: difficulty in relating to others; life-style issues; self-management; and personal balance. Thus, in the process of reviewing the main literature on yoga, I was determined to find a literature that could provide new information that addressed my personal and professional misgivings. The study by Valente and Marotta (2005), The impact of yoga on the professional and personal life of the psychotherapist, which explores the impact of a regular practice of yoga in the personal and professional lives of psychotherapists, provided, in a conclusive way, definitions and clarifications of yoga and its complex and fundamental meanings for personal and professional development. These definitions, in my opinion,
56 more than others, capture the complex yoga discipline in a way that resolved my uncertainty about yoga as a path to personal development and spiritual growth, and satisfied my need to bridge past and present understanding of yoga as a holistic system. Valente and Marotta explain that: ―Yoga is an ancient form of meditation used to bring awareness and balance to one‘s life and to develop human physiological, psychological, and spiritual potentials‖ (p. 71). Moreover, they provided a comprehensive categorization of ―… common patterns … addressing professional growth and the self care of the therapist‖, ―that emerged as four themes …. These themes are: internal/self awareness, balance, acceptance of self and others, and yoga as a way of life‖ (p. 65). Although the authors concentrate specifically on psychotherapists, I believe that these patterns are universal and can be applied to any professional therapists. They are, therefore, indicative of my need for personal and professional fulfilment. Moreover, I believe that Valente and Marotta conceptualize the holism implied in yoga, as well as meditation, and for that matter in other disciplines, in a way that is very clarifying and inspiring to my own search for meaning, since they seem to understand well the implication of this discipline. A description by these authors encapsulates the whole implication of the yoga discipline: ―The movement involved in yoga not only prepares the mind and body for sitting meditation, but is itself a meditation. Beyond being a meditation, yoga is a system of physical and mental practices aimed at intellectual and spiritual growth‖ (p. 70). This study, perhaps more than other, reaffirmed my belief in ‗yoga as a way of life,‘ and nourished my life-long commitment to a practice which is holistic, thus multifaceted for excellence, wherein the physical (primordial), emotional (relational), mental (intellectual) and spiritual (intuitional) aspects of the self-individual growth are included. I found this
57 study inspiring in many ways, but also I felt that I could personally relate to their explanations. For example, a reference in Valente and Marotta addresses an issue that mirrors my current dichotomy as yoga professional amd graduate student: For therapists to reach an optimum level of self-regulation, they must work to prevent their energy from being consumed by a single aspect of their life. A highly demanding and frantic schedule initiated upon entering graduate school and continued throughout professional training can perpetuate a lifestyle that is imbalanced and consuming. (pp. 67-68) On the other hand, what surprised me is that Valente and Marotta (2005) in directing in many ways a valid study on the impact of yoga on the professional and personal life of the psychotherapist, display a lack of basic knowledge of the yoga principle of subtle energy and the subtle body system as a medium for healing and transformation in general. For example, Valente and Marotta, in the above statement that highlights the need for the therapist ―to work to prevent their energy from being consumed by a single aspect of their life,‖ do not point out as either a preventive measure or a remedy the value of subtle energy work. This oversight comes as no surprise when one considers that the authors, in an attempt to summarize the main understanding of yoga in the West, draw heavily from classic and classical citations on Patanjali‘s Yoga Sutras. For example, they explain: Yoga is one of the six orthodox systems of Indian philosophy and has been used for millennia to study, explain, and experience the complexities of the mind and human existence (Feuerstein, 1998). Patanjali, an ancient yoga sage, defines yoga as a technique used to still the mental fluctuations of the mind to reach the central
58 reality of the true self (Iyengar, 1966). Patanjali‘s Yoga Sutras, dated around 200 C.E., outlines a skillful way of conducting life that fosters moderation and harmony (Becker, 2000). These guidelines, which include ethical and moral standards of living in addition to postural and breathing exercises, are used to foster spiritual growth and evolve one‘s consciousness. (p. 70) This litany is common to accounts of Yoga reported in the West, based on Patanjali‘s yoga sutras. Although Patanjali was the first to record in written form sutras collected in a manuscript format, and hence the first to codify the ancient spiritual tradition of yoga, which until that time had only been passed orally, and while his work remains an authoritative source on a specific type of yoga, it does not report on the subtle body phenomenon (Kundalini yoga‘s principles of the prana energy, chakra system, its related techniques, mechanics, purpose and so forth) that was later observed and reported in tantra literature. Also, Patanjali-yoga only relates the general outline and not the details of such specific yoga techniques as asanas and pranayamas. What is rare knowledge is that yoga consists of many schools, and many of the most popular yoga techniques, such as asanas and pranayamas, come from the Hatha yoga tradition, which is also an integral constituent of Kundalini yoga practice. The main difference between Hatha yoga and Kundalini-yoga lies in the fact that the latter discipline has a specific focus on directing the practice so as to enable life-energy and its governing subtle body system (e.g., chakras) to work in favour of the practitioner‘s personal development, which is healing and tranformation. As Swami Sivananda Radha (2006) explains:
59 Hatha yoga is one aspect of Kundalini Yoga and plays an important part in the development of the aspirant. The scriptural interpretation of the word Hatha expresses the polarity in which all beings function. Ha is said to be the positive or active principle of existence, symbolized by the sun, heat, light and creativity. Tha is correspondingly the negative or reflective principle, symbolized by the moon, cold, darkness and receptivity. (pp. 249-250) Preceding the proper review of the literature that directly informed the writing of this thesis, I will relate in the next section more on my personal experience, specifically on how I first come across Kundalini yoga, the yoga that deals with the specific interest of my thesis, the kundalini phenomenon and its yoga practice and metaphysical principles that has been observed and reported predominantly in tantra literature. Kundalini yoga as a new opportunity. I first came across Kundalini yoga and its governing principles of subtle energy and chakras system through reading yoga training manuals such as Asana, pranayama, mudra, and bandha by Saraswati, Swami Satyananda (1996), who limits his account to a brief explanation of the existence of an esoteric subtle body that permeates our physical body. His writing introduced me to a new and obscure knowledge that, in turn, led me to ponder to such questions as: How is it that in our Western culture there is no record of such knowledge? How is it that, during my many years of yoga training, no one has ever mentioned the existence of another aspect of my body? However, what I initially discovered of the subtle energy (and chakras system) and its potential for healing and transformation did not come from text, but from direct experience at a time of personal difficulties. An account of this direct experience is comprehensibly described in the
60 section ―Personal Framework‖ of the Introduction. Through this personal framework narrative, I retrace my own progress to the point of discovering the specific subject of interest for my thesis, a single phenomenon: subtle energy. I believe that this personal framework also provides a solid platform upon which the main topics that I intend to research in my review of literature should be laid out. The topics are: human evolution, characterized by personal development and spiritual growth; and transformation, characterized by healing. Since these issues are addressed elsewhere, I will simply affirm, here, that my personal narrative in essence relates to human evolution (personal development and spiritual growth) and was transformed (healed) by the discovery of a single phenomenon: subtle energy. The topics that have subsequently been assessed to broaden my understanding of human evolution are informed by the subtle body system phenomenon and other aspects that will unfold in the following sections of this review of the literature. What follows encapsulates my exploration of these two topics: human evolution and the subtle body system, so ordered, because I believe that they inform subsequent themes in this review of the literature. I hope that the review of the literature that follows will provide the reader with a satisfactory theoretical framework for and a clear understanding of the principles of my thesis. New understanding of human evolution. To meet the contextual requirements for my interdisciplinary study in Asian Religious Studies, Transpersonal Psychology and Arts therapy, the literature had to be selected according to disciplines and according to ancient and contemporary authors. At the same time, I was determined to achieve an in-depth understanding of the phenomenon
61 under study, subtle energy. As a result, although I reviewed the literature in a chronological and disciplinary manner, my exposition focuses on specific topics that concerned my personal development and spiritual growth as part of a bigger framework, human evolution. Thus, the literature was approached as follows: first, I read the ancient sources, the Indic meditational literature, for the specific purpose of collecting data on the subtle body system. I undertook this reading with the aim of determining the main anatomical model, mechanics, practice, purpose and meaning. Subsequently, I had to rely on contemporary commentaries to increase the coherence of my understanding of the phenomenon. Finally, I began to look for theoretical and practical evidence of how this ancient knowledge has been and can be further integrated in a present day context. Nevertheless, the topic that follows, human evolution, abstains from the chronological set-up explained above; since, I feel a need to better contextualize the subject of human evolution within the broad intention of this thesis. Personal development and spiritual growth. Committed to yoga as a way of life, I have experienced a phenomenon, subtle energy in healing and transformation, which I understand as a prospective body of knowledge (generally referred to as Kundalini yoga or tantric yoga) that can be used to empower human evolutionary self-development. However, human evolution is a term that leaves open boundaries to its interpretation. My spontaneous understanding relates it to stages of development that an individual, or the human race as a single unit, has to traverse to improve circumstances which are essentially marked by material, intellectual and spiritual requirements. I feel that the different stages mark the order of importance given to the requirements; in other words, an individual or the human race in its totality,
62 at a specific stage of development, transforms necessities in an ascending manner, from material needs at the bottom, to spiritual at the top. The pioneering contribution to my intuitive understanding comes from the Integral philosophy of Aurobindo Ghose. According to Varma (1990) ―Aurobindo‘s philosophy of the universe emphasizes the double mechanism of involution and evolution‖ (p. 9). He further states that the single concept was central to Aurobindo‘s philosophy, which is the ―Satchidananda” or ―supermind‖ or ―supramental truthconsciousness‖ that includes the ―infinite‖ static and infinite ―movement‖ (p. 9). Cosmic creation, with human beings in it, is an energetic manifestation of this supra-conscious movement. This movement is an instrument for the creation of infinite forms of consciousness energy that seek progression from its involutive state to its original evolutive one (Varma, 1990, p. 9). A deep philosophical explanation of these ideas is out of the scope of this thesis; instead, here I am concerned more with an understanding of theories that include in the concept of human evolution the idea of evolution of consciousness. However, a clear understanding of how this study was conceptualized and executed cannot refrain from introducing the researcher‘s personal frame of reference, which is profoundly spiritual in form, although also aspired by an understanding of psychosomatic developmental stages. Varma (1990) explains that Aurobindo‘s understanding of ―the universe then is a refraction of the divine existence, and inverted order of ascent and descent‖ (p. 10); thus, spanning from existence that is matter, consciousness-force that is life, bliss that is psyche to supermind that is mind (Varma, 1990, p. 10). From what is just said, it is my understanding that pragmatic aspects of human existence are energetic reflections of consciousness and seek evolution through
63 movement that creates bliss, which is ascension toward divine life. Consciousness is thus, for Aurobindo, the primary element necessary for evolution to occur, ―the mechanism of liberation of the supreme spirit from its involuntary imprisonment to the material inconscience‖ (Varma, 1990, p. 11). Finally, also of importance is the idea that ―evolution is a mechanism of two significant processes, ascent and integration .... Ascent signifies the growing manifestation of the inherent unmanifest consciousness-force .... Integration as a process in evolution signifies the reconciliation and harmonization of the higher and the lower states of being ....‖ (Varma, 1990, p. 11); whereas, higher consciousness intervenes to reconcile and permit the ―processual transformation and the transmutation of the lower by the higher‖ (Varma, 1990, p. 13). Similarly, the above concept of the evolution of spirit is also found in the concept of Divine Ground in Aldous Huxley‘s perennial philosophy (1945), revisited by Wilber (2000) in his concept of The Nest of Being (chapter titled ―the Great Nest of Being‖, p.6), which posits that all cosmic manifestations are grounded in the divine and that human consciousness has the power to transform and integrate their duality, which is governed by lower, ego centred mind, and higher, divine centred mind, into union with the Divine. While Aurobindo attempted to translate into practice this grand philosophy of evolution (1990) through a new integral yoga (1993), Wilber transplanted his grand theory of evolution into a new integral psychology (2000) based on the idea that human consciousness spans from pre-personal, to personal and on to transpersonal qualities that are the manifestation of the same Divine Ground. He termed this range of qualities in human consciousness as ―Spectrum of Consciousness‖ (1993). Wilber‘s (2000) ―Spectrum of Consciousness‖ and integral psychology, however, can be traced back to
64 Aurobindo and his close correspondents. For example, Satprem (1968) throughout his subjective analytical exploration, premieres the essence of Aurobindo‘s new philosophical and spiritual theory (1990) of the transformation of human evolution, that operating from the level of the corporal-cellular to the energetic-spiritual, marks the beginning of a new phase of physical-energetic evolution, which foresees humanity replaced by a ―supramental consciousnesses,‖ a sort of superior being, spiritual in its Essence. Haridas Chaudhuri was already proposing the idea of an integral psychology back in the 1970s. Chaudhuri (1974) postulated ―a triadic principle of uniqueness, relatedness and transcendence, corresponding to the personal, interpersonal and transpersonal domains of human existence‖ (pp. 7-15). A larger group of researchers deserve to be mentioned in this literature review, however, I believe that due to space and time constraint it will suffice to say that this group, generically defined as the ‗integral movement,‘ is composed of the forerunners of integral philosophy and transpersonal and integral psychology; amongst them we find exponents such as Abraham Maslow, Jean Gebser, Indra Sen, Roberto Assagioli (founder of the school of psycho-synthesis), and C.G. Jung (founder of the analytical school of psychology). This group, characterized by a strong commitment to interdisciplinary and cross-cultural research, contributed to a paradigm shift in the West, from the vision of human evolution as measurable only with brain-mechanisms or biological life, to the vision of human evolution as part of a spectrum of consciousness that equally incorporates materialistic and spiritualistic life-dimensions. This paradigm shift was made possible through the integration of Eastern-contemplative and Western-empirical investigative approaches and the body of knowledge for understanding human evolution
65 that includes the spiritual phenomenon. For example, after a life dedicated to extensive exploration of the depths of the human psyche, Carl Gustav Jung gives indications that man‘s essential nature is spiritual (2001). In fact, he states: ―the psychologist must ... remember that certain religious convictions not founded on reason are necessity of life for many persons‖ (p. 198). And, more clearly, he states this reality of the human‘s nature by saying: I am accused of mysticism. I do not, however, hold myself responsible for the fact that man has, everywhere and always, spontaneously developed religious forms of expression, and that the human psyche from time immemorial has been shot though with religious feelings and ideas. Whoever cannot see this aspect of the human psyche is blind, and whoever chooses to explain it away, or to ‗enlighten‘ it away, has no sense of reality. (2001, p. 124) I believe that with this intimation, already implied in the above mentioned philosophical and psychological ideas (i.e., the Divine Ground, the Supermind and The Nest of Being) and others similar, that spirituality is, apart from any possible dispute on its psychological sustainability, nonetheless, an irrefutable reality of human psychological structure. With regard to its disputable psychological sustainability, it seems to me that Jung (1990) admits to the prime importance of spiritual values or selfrealization in what he names ―individuation‖ (p. 173), a well-known Jungian concept that describes the innate human growth process necessary for psychologically sound individuals. For example, he believes that psychologically unsound individuals, affected by neurosis, although possibly appearing at a superficial level to be coping well enough with everyday life, are not. As he states:
66 As a result of their narrow conscious outlook and their cramped existence they save energy; bit by bit it accumulates in the unconscious and finally explodes in the form of a more or less acute neurosis. This simple mechanism does not necessarily conceal a ‗plan.‘ A perfect understandable urge towards selfrealization [‗higher consciousnesses‘] would provide a quite explanatory explanation. (Jung, 1990, p.184) This self-realization is, according to Jung, individuated: ―a process of psychological development that fulfills the individual qualities given …‖ (1990, p.155). Jung seems to acknowledge that an individual, by consciously recognizing the ―unconscious processes … would extend the range of consciousness‖ (p. 184), though, he affirms that, at a neurotic level of personality, ―we are still a long way from the summit of absolute consciousness‖ (p. 184). Thus, for Jung, the impelling motive of neurosis seems to be an outburst of forces towards self-realization, and a realization of spiritual meaning and purpose is a possible solution to neurosis and requires the realization that the unconscious has a connection to life-giving spiritual forces and subsequently a willing commitment of the whole person to experience directly this evolutionary process, which is a possible way to resolve the conflicting struggle of the ego (Jung, 1990). To conclude, all the Indic meditational literature reviewed has one, common, identifiable concept that implies this holism in human evolution, and this is the concept of samadhi. The commentaries and studies on the tantric doctrines understand this concept as the ability of the individual to recover the wholeness or unite the personal with the universal and other similar descriptions (Radha, 2006; Flood, 1996; Bhattacharyya, 1982, 1986; Fields, 2001; Brahmacharini, 1990; Feuerstein, 1997).
67 Subtle body system. As result of my direct experience with subtle energy and the subtle body system, by now I knew that an in-depth theoretical understanding of the phenomenon and its governing principle was paramount to me achieving further understanding of the way human consciousness evolves in body-mind and spirit. The specific texts of Indic tantric and non tantric literature (available in English translation) that I reviewed are: The SatCakra-Nirupana (Avalon, 1974); The Tantraraja tantra (Avalon,1981); The Vijnanabhairava (Singh, 1979); The Hathayoga-pradipika of Svatmarama (Svatmarama, 1972); The Gheranda samhita (Gheranda and Mallison, 2004); The Siva samhita (Mallison, 2007); The Hevajra tantra: A critical study (Snellgrove, 1959); The concealed essence of the hevajra tantra (Farrow and Menon, 1992); The Kalacakratantra (Wallace, 2001); The Inner kālacakratantra (Wallace, 2001); A commentary on the kalacakra tantra (Ngawang, 1985); The Practice of kalachakra (Mullin, 1991). For an in-depth historical background on these texts, please refer to the section ―Historical Background of Ancient Indic Meditational Literature‖ in the introduction. Main structure. The specific Indic meditational literature reviewed here presents accounts of a subtle energy that is contingent to a complex subtle body system. According to these accounts, this subtle body system is organized mainly by conduits (nadis) and vortex or centres (chakras) of consciousness. After reviewing all of the Hindu texts, I found that I had descriptions of six chakras (Avalon, 1974, 1981; Singh, 1979; Svatmarama, 1972; Mallison, 2004, 2007). By contrast, Buddhist tantric texts variously describe a system of four, five, or six chakras. However, general consensus identifies four main chakras
68 (Snellgrove, 1959; Farrow and Menon, 1992; Wayman, 1977; Wallace, 2001; Ngawang, 1985; Guenther, 1972). All the Indic texts and other contemporary scholars (e.g., Feuerstein, 2003) agree that there are three main nadis and that the central channel is the one paramount to freely convey or channel the purified subtle energy in its ascension along the axis of the chakras, which is located along the spine and opens out from the fontanelle on the top of the head. Healing and transformation. Each specific tradition or author uses different language to describe the subtle body system‘s structure, mechanism, purpose and so forth. For example, Avalon (1974) describes ―a process technically known as … piercing of the Six Centres … of the body … by the agency of … Cosmic Energy in bodies…‖ (p. 1). Singh (1979), in his commentary of the Hindu tantric text The Vijnanabhairava, reports that this specific text (belonging to the Kashmir Saivism or ideal of Saivagama philosophical school) teaches various ways of centring awareness and entering divine consciousness, which include ordinary and extraordinary experiences (e.g., kundalini) obtained by the individual through tantric methods of spiritual practice (e.g., chanting mantras and practicing pranayamas). The aim of the practitioner is to assimilate, and not reject, the universal divine source. Singh (1979) explains this process as ―the integration of the individual self to the Universal Self [Lord Shiva] … and the realization of the universe as the expression of His Sakti or spiritual Energy‖ (p. ix). In my own interpretation of these texts, the chakras can be understood as catalysers that administer and regulate energy to the human system, producing fundamentally psychosomatic healing and spiritual transformation. Moreover, it seems that the work of the chakras (e.g., to administer and convey energy)
69 is also subjected to consciousness; for this reason, besides being translated into English as centres of energy, they are also translated using such terms as psychic centres, centres of consciousness, and spiritual-energetic centres. The reviewed texts also agree about the need for a practice of realization, consisting mainly of physical postures, breathing exercises and meditative techniques, to activate subtle energy found positioned in a static and dense form in the lower or base chakra; and, subsequently, purify such subtle energy with an intensified practice, consisting of more advanced techniques that include various meditative techniques such as chanting mantras. For example, the yogic subtle body practices taught in the Hevajra tantra, which include mundane and non mundane rituals, yogas, visualization meditation, mantras, mandalas, consecration, and so forth, are aimed at generating energy (prana) affecting the psychic centres (chakra/padmas) for spiritual realization (Snellgrove, 1959; Wayman, 1977; Farrow and Menon, 1992). Thus, each chakra centre seems to be responsible for employing subtle energy for transformation of consciousness. When the subtle energy reaches its final course, the top chakra, it allows the adept to reach the pinnacle of human consciousness, the ultimate stage of human evolution or development, that is identified by various names according to the tradition (a tradition‘s specific examination will be the subject of concentration in chapter 4 and other data also can be found in the introduction and throughout the thesis). Clearly, the various descriptions indicate an interrelation that exists between consciousness and energy forces that, through a diversified practice, work for healing and spiritual transformation. Ontological and phenomenological meanings. In a present day context, commentators and scholars of this Indic meditational literature are debating how to interpret this body of knowledge. One of the main
70 questions that unanimously arises from leading scholars is: Should we understand the subtle body system as a figurative or literal representation? (Flood, 1996; Snellgrove, 1959; Avalon, 1951, 1974; Zimmer, 1951; Samuel, 1989). Snellgrove (1959) seems to suggest that the illustration of the subtle body system might work as an external device like a mandala; thus, it is a representation of a macrocosmic reality that the tantric adept can meditate upon and attempt to embody. Avalon (1974) reiterates this important principle of man being a microcosmic correspondence of the macrocosmic reality. By contrast, Zimmer (1951) propose that the transformation mechanism happens for real in the physical body and is not an imagined process (p. 592). Avalon (1951) points to a topic that is of prime importance in an attempt to answer the above dilemma. He puts forward the tantric principle that ―the realization of divine absolute is obtained through an empowerment of the self through the understanding that we can embody the power of the Brahman‖ (pp. 259-260). Samuel (1989) indicates that the non dual principle of self and universe is conveyed in tantras through the subtle body structure. What I would like to introduce here is my opinion that, although the debate is very significant in terms of scientifically measuring and thus proving the existence of a physical subtle body system made of chakras and nadis and so forth, the significant factor that scholars of tantric literature have collectively not undermined is the certainty that the employment of the subtle body system, in either way, as a representation or as a real physical system, is ontologically and phenomenologically important, because it affects the nature of being (i.e., self-related) and the existence or reality (i.e., related to consciousness). The phenomenological importance is reaffirmed by psychologists and therapists, with transpersonal researchers at the forefront, employing the chakra system as a
71 psychological model of personal development. Again here, the debate is quite animated in terms of coming to an agreement as to the true meaning of this system; nevertheless, the chakras are ever-increasingly gaining importance as assessment and psychotherapeutic tools. (Breaux, 1998; Meadow, 1993; Judith, 1987; Myss, 1996; Rama et al.,1976). Therapeutic benefits. All the texts comprising the Indic meditational literature point out, to a greater or lesser extent, that adepts who actively engage in yogic tantric practices experience an evolutionary process, which involves healing and transformation at the various levels of body-mind and spirit. Moreover, contemporary hermeneutics scholars (Fields, 2001; Avalon, 1974; Bhattacharyya, 1982; Feuerstein, 2003; Flood, 2002; Mallison, 2007; Samuel, 1989; Singh, 1979; Wallace, 2001) and authors who have had direct experience with the phenomenon of kundalini (Krishna, 1971; Krieger, 2002) seem to unanimously agree upon the healing and transformative power that this develops. Another question that naturally arises here is: Does healing and transformation occur because the adept has to subject himself/herself to an assiduous practice of realization? If we consider that these practices of realization are comprised of physical postures/exercises, breathing exercises and meditative activities that enhance the human system at both the physical and mental levels (cardiovascular, nervous, muscular and so forth) and also induce relaxation, concentration and so forth, then it is no wonder, some would argue, that practitioners have to experience, to a greater or lesser degree, some therapeutic benefits in their complex psychosomatic system. In other words, we are faced with the dilemma of whether or not it is the practice that causes healing and
72 transformation of the putative subtle energy. Again, the opinions expressed regarding this proposal are varied. Studies are being conducted in various scientific fields; and, despite findings that are sometime inconsistent, what I reiterate is important, again, is the fact that there is unanimous consent that yogic practices, at any or all of the physical, mental and spiritual levels, induce benefits for the practitioners. The following section presents studies that corroborate this assertion through encouraging findings. Measurement of yoga practices. Determined to integrate some of the theoretical data with quantifiable data, I have surveyed scientific studies that were able to show a relationship between spirituality, better health and improved quality of life. Bormann and Carrico (2009) report a long list of studies that show ―growing evidence supports the premise that spirituality is associated with better health outcomes (Seeman et al., 2003) and improved quality of life (Aguirre, 1998; Brady et al., 1999; Paloutzian and Ellison, 1982)‖ (p. 359). Other studies reported by Bormann and Carrico (2009) show that ―both religious and spiritually-based practices may buffer the effects of stress‖ (p. 359). For example, studies on mantra applications display positive findings ―associated with stress reduction .... reduced hypertension ... improved pain management ... improved cerebral blood flow ... and EEG changes‖ (p. 359). Bormann and Carrico (2009) also point to studies, one conducted by Bernardi, Sleight, Bandinelli, Cencetti, Fattorini, Wdowczyc-Szulc, and Lagi (2001) which ―found that reciting the rosary prayer or yoga mantras enhanced cardiovascular rhythms and slowed respirations in healthy adults‖ (p. 360) and another by Janowaik and Hackman (1994), which ―found a positive association between mantra chanting and stress reduction‖ (p. 360). Moreover, many studies surveyed show that ―meditative techniques
73 are believed to reduce stress by initiating the relaxation response, a state of subjective and physiological calm opposite to the fight or flight response‖ (Bormann and Carrico, 2009, p. 360) I have personally examined studies by Bormann and Carrico (2009) and Bernardi et al. (2001) on mantra application; by Carson, J. W., Carson, K. M., Porter, Keefe, Shaw, Miller (2007) Khalsa and Cope (2006) and Khalsa, Shorter, Cope, Wyshak, and Sklar (2009) on yoga applications; by Singh, Kyizom, Singh, Tandon, and Madhu, (2008) and Arambula, Peper, Kawakami and Gibney (2001) on pranayamas. All these studies demonstrate that a certain degree of psychosomatic enhancement and/or psychological well-being occurred in participants. Also, I have examined studies by Carter, Presti, Callistemon, Liu, Ungerer, and Pettigrew (2005), Newberg, D‘Aquili and Rause, V. (2001), Newberg and D‘Aquili (1999), Baijal and Narayanan (2009) on various types of meditation. These studies were specifically aimed at measuring neurological patterns of brain activation in participants undergoing altered states of consciousness during meditation. The findings corroborate neurological activities in all participant meditators, where different neurological activities correspond with different accounts on the content of altered states of consciousness. In chapter 5, these studies will be further described and their findings will constitute the basis for an analytic attempt to establish the significant implications of my thesis. Conclusion From the review of the meditational literature, I understand that two theories account for the subtle body system: one portrays it as a figurative model; the other holds that it is literal. However, in either case, agreement exists about the ontological and
74 phenomenological importance of the subtle body system. Also, the confirmation, through scientific measurement, of the therapeutic and transpersonal effects of such yoga subtle body practices as mantras, pranayamas, and meditation are extremely important to the validation of this thesis. Moreover, based upon my personal experience with the phenomenon and its practice, I conclude that despite the difficulty of reaching a general agreement on the specificity of the meaning of the chakra system, its employments, either as a literal or metaphorical tool, positively affects healing and transformation. Thus it influences personal development and spiritual growth, producing human evolution. In the next section, I explore an integrative model of human development interpreted through the hierarchical lens of personal, interpersonal, transpersonal. In other words, personal development is an opportunity for enhancing the interpersonal relationship with the external; and, in this integration, a subsequent exploration of the transpersonal reality can be initiated, leading to spiritual growth and the pinnacle of human evolution. Integral Framework Subtle energy-consciousness. The foregoing examination of meditational literature regarding the phenomenon of subtle energy seems to interrelate with the phenomenon of expansion of consciousness. In other words, both connect to personal development and spiritual growth. Meditational tantric literature also describes the possibility of placing in motion evolutionary processes through the employment of subtle energy. Moreover, the meditative and aesthetic enactment of its systemic representation of evolutionary stages of consciousness, despite expanding boundaries of consciousness to transpersonal realms,
75 does not deny or degrade the personal constructs of individuals. In truth, some of the doctrines that have been examined teach that reality is configured by the transpersonal and that the personal, body and mind, are mere illusions. Such interpretations tend to exclude rather than include the body-mind. However, this is not the approach of the tantric traditions, in which, contrary to classical yoga or other Vedantic philosophies, the body plays an important role and becomes the materialization of the divine transpersonal reality. In other words, the personal reality includes the transpersonal by realization of a greater reality. Tantric doctrines are also distinguished by their favorable orientation towards aesthetic experience; whereas, divinity is realized only through embodying its essence (e.g., qualities, etc.) and rituals play an important role for the embodiment of divine of consciousness. Basically, the individual employs his or her physical body to become a true representation of the macrocosmic dimension, by means of personal realization. Thus, there is no denial of the personal, but a union of the personal with the transpersonal or a reincarnation of the spiritual experience. In a way, I see this is similar to when a tantric says something like, ―I am this and now I realize that I am that also‖; rather than the Vedantic dictum so’ham ―I am that,‖ a realizer would state that, ―because I realize I am that; I also realize I am not this.‖ Finally, according to my understanding, tantric disciplines admit various stage of personal consciousness and use each stage as a building block for higher stages; so that, in the end, the final building is made from all the blocks and not simply by its roof. On the other hand, there is a clear acknowledgment in tantric philosophy of the full spectrum of human consciousness as proposed now-days by leading integral psychologists (i.e., Wilber and companions); or, to return to my metaphor, there is a clear recognition of
76 foundations and roof, without excluding the blocks that fill the in-between. The chakra system should, as I understand it, be seen in this way, as different stages of the building process; prana is the building material present in each block and other building materials employed for the construction; consciousness is different in different stages, can be the builder, the architect, the engineer or the house owner who will enjoy the final construction; however, all these characters had and have something in common: the ability to step back and look at what is being built or has been built. However, there are various hierarchies in the various doers and viewers; the builder, architect, engineer can enjoy the building process and the final result of the construction; however, they must recognize that they are simply intermediaries, metaphors for the mind; finally, however, they need to admit that only the owner will be able to enjoy living in the building, the metaphor for consciousness; lastly, the owner can learn to enjoy living within or without the building, the metaphor of non-duality. This non-duality is the commonality found within all the Indic meditational traditions: where the implicit or explicit awareness is the moment that the viewer, builder and so forth realize that there are no boundaries between the doer and the doing; then, the ultimate spiritual realization will occur. Conundrum of consciousness. The importance of analyzing diverse modes of understanding consciousness made me realize that consciousness, which is ultimately our conscious experience of self and world, must be important in setting, for better or worse, personal limits for development and growth, thus, affecting, for example, according to meditational literature, the potential for healing and transformation.
77 I gathered sufficient information from the meditation literature on the matter of consciousness and I was now determined to survey scientific studies, which would provide me with further valid reasons to break away, conclusively, from the scientific materialistic perspective. Naturally, to comply with an unbiased analysis of the diverse orientations on consciousness, I first looked at theories of consciousness based on scientific materialistic literature. From my review of this scientific materialistic literature, I learned that it promotes, first, an orientation that envisions the mind, thus consciousness, as a mere brain construct, solely in terms of neuro-brain mechanisms resulting from neurological processes and reducible to methods of research and interpretation measurable only with mechanical equipment (Dennett, 2005; Humphrey 2006), and, second, that when man‘s brain-mind structure experiences expansion of consciousness beyond an ordinary understanding of life/universal structure and so forth, this is deemed to be a pathological brain-mind distortions of reality. In other words, the firing of neurons in the brain-mind mechanical structure created a dysfunctional (psychological, etc.) non-reality. It would certainly be puzzling and difficult for many mystics throughout the ages, including present day meditators, transpersonal therapists and people of various backgrounds, to try to comprehend this explanation based on their personal experience; and I think that hermeneutic phenomenological methods of research have provided an important medium to make their voices heard in the scientific forums. Moreover, at a personal level, based on limited experience, through yoga and other healing arts, of higher states of consciousness, the materialistic point of view, which has categorized higher states of consciousness as mere pathologies and excludes spirituality all-together, does not match my inner intuition regarding personal development and
78 growth. However, I was deeply reassured to discover some important literature that expounds on scientific work that provides some grounding and reassurance for the infinite possibility and reality of the phenomenon of transcendence or expansion of consciousness. Reading the book Why God won’t go away: Brain science and the biology of belief, (A. Newberg, E. D‘aquili V. and Rause, 2001) was revelatory, in that I learned something was changing in the way science interprets spirituality and related experiences. This specific book condensed many years of neurological research studies on functional brain imaging of meditators (e.g., included the use of SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography). The findings, according to the authors, led to an understanding of key brain structures, for example, how the neural pathways conduct perception to the brain, or the way information is channelled along neural pathways, and how the processes of the brain finally result in the creation of the phenomenon of mind that can be identified in expansion and transformation of consciousness. This study resulted in the hypothesis that the brain possesses a neurological mechanism for self-transcendence and that when driven to its farthest viewpoint constitutes the groundwork for the transpersonal state of conscious awareness ―from the mildest case of religious uplift, to the profound states of union described by mystics‖ (p. 146). According to Newberg et al. (2001), transpersonal states of consciousness are possible in the brain as a neurological commotion. Yet, Newberg et al. (2001) argue that if all perceptions are scientifically explained to exist in the mind as ―blips and flashes racing along the neural pathway inside the skull‖ (p. 146) and we assume that our perception of the material world is real, then we can equally assume the same to be true of spiritual experience. This work is important for the purpose of my research, as it provides a scientific basis for understanding that higher or
79 transcendental states of consciousnesses are neurologically as real as the material world as we understand it. The authors‘ breakthrough is to openly admit that spiritual transcendence is not a theory or fictitious pathological illusion, but more like a real healthy reality existing as a neurological structure of the brain — already the subject of study in the new scientific field of Neurotheology (Newberg et al., 2001). Dr. A. W. Tiller‘s Science and Human Transformation: Subtle Energies, Intentionality and Consciousness (1997) draws conclusions that support the idea of mindconsciousness being a significant factor responsible for shaping, for better or worse, the physical structure of the universe. Tiller‘s effort is oriented to postulating the existence and evolvement of subtle energies, with the aim of presenting a theory of physical reality. He presents a fascinating model of the universe as being multidimensional by incorporating more than the familiar four fundamental forces including the spiritual component. More extraordinary are his studies on demonstrating that human conscious intention does affect the physical world we live in. Tiller and Dibble (1999) state: Although it has been a long-standing postulate of the general scientific community that there is no meaningful interaction between human experimenters and their experiments, a variety of recent studies (Dossey, 1993; Keller, 1986; Krieger, 1973; Quinn, 1984; Quinn and Strelkauskas, 1993) suggest that it is perhaps time to seriously question this postulate. Effects associated with what have been termed "subtle energies" (Tiller, 1993) appear to indicate that humans can, at times, produce robust changes in physical phenomena (Jahn and Dunne, 1987; Tiller, 1997). (p. 155)
80 These findings are not simply speculation towards a theory of a universe affected by a subtle energy that is driven by a conscious spiritual force, but groundbreaking technological discoveries that will have redundant effects on the way we experience the world. Also important is the fact that Tiller‘s theory does account for spirituality to the extent that in his 1997 writing he used new metaphors such as ―biobodysuits‖ to suggest the idea that we are spirits dressed in human beings, which ultimately span from physical to spiritual subtle dimensions, where consciousness is as integral an aspect of this spirituality ―as an aspect of the biobodysuit, representing spirit as it exists in matter, and relates these layers to theories of physics‖ (Tiller, 2003, p. 2). Spectrum of consciousness. My research into the realm of personal development and spiritual growth, along with the realization that consciousness plays a pivotal role in understanding the subtle body system and human life structure, shifted my focus of attention to transpersonal psychology. Transpersonal psychology is considered by many as the natural extension of other major schools of psychology: psychoanalysis, behaviourism, and humanistic psychology. However, I became aware, as a result of my review of the literature that transpersonal psychologists, although moving away from a specific interest in the study on the phenomenon of the expansion of consciousness, had very soon broadened their field of interest to consciousness that included various psychological stages already the subject of study for the forerunner schools of psychology. A single theory postulated by the transpersonal and integral psychologists encloses the various levels of human consciousness and psychological stages, namely ―the spectrum of consciousness‖. Wilber (1995) aptly explains the theory of the spectrum of consciousness as below:
81 Man, as Absolute Subjectivity, is the Godhead--this is the concern of the East; man, as an object of knowledge, is the phenomenal ego--this is the concern of the West. Taken together they span the entire spectrum of consciousness. If Western investigators--confirmed as they are to the Existential, Ego, and Shadow Levels, feel that they shall have the last word in consciousness, then so much the worse for them and their delusions of adequacy. On the other hand, the Eastern investigators--who have the final say on consciousness--nevertheless sorely neglect the levels of the spectrum on which most of us are destined to remain. So while we completely agree with the pronouncements of Eastern sages, we have slightly shifted emphasis by supplementing their psychologies with the findings of Western scientists. The weary chemist, the frantic businessman, the depressed housewife--they neither understand enlightenment nor seeks it. If they do, so much the better; if not, shouldn‘t we address ourselves to the levels on which they now exist? (p. 165) With regard to the final point that Wilber makes on the necessity of addressing the lower psychological developmental stages of individuals, I believe that his reference to the ―Great metaphysical traditions‘‖ (p. 165) understanding that ―all of the levels of the spectrum (except the ―no-level of Mind‖) do exist, but only in an illusory fashions‖ (p. 165), is partially true. Personally, I believe that he is undermining the fact that these ―Great metaphysical traditions‖ have delivered pragmatic disciplines, such as yoga, and whole medical systems, such as Ayurveda, that offer a practice that is suitable for all levels of human needs and furthermore identify the different typologies (physical, emotional, intellectual and so forth) of human beings, thus identifying weaknesses and
82 providing remedies for their healing (e.g., specific treatments) and transformation (Douillard, 2004; Kak, 1997). However, the integration of Eastern models of understanding consciousness, as proposed in the theory of the spectrum of consciousness, further reassures me that the subtle body system, as a prime principle of such ancient Eastern traditions as Hinduism and Buddhism, can be adopted, albeit by integration, to a present-day context of personal psychological and spiritual development. Pinnacle of consciousness: Transcendence. Wilber (1975, 1995), in asserting the idea of the ―spectrum of consciousness,‖ describes some of the fundamentals of Huxley‘s (1945) ‗perennial philosophy‘ in psychological terms. Wilber (1975) names it ―psychologia perennis,‖ which means perennial psychology. In it, he attempts an amalgamation of Eastern doctrines and Western psychology, including a wide-ranging explanation of the nature of consciousness that he later defines as ―integral psychology‖ (Wilber, 2000). However, one of the aspects that Huxley (1945) stressed in his perennial philosophy is that the purpose of human evolution is the transformation of consciousness ―in the knowledge of the immanent and transcendence‖ (1969, p. vii), thus, union with the divine or absolute. This topic lays the groundwork for all the Indic philosophies considered in this study (Hindu, Buddhist, tantra and yoga). Along these lines, Carl Gustav Jung (1962) made an important contribution to the concept of personal development and spiritual growth with his idea of ‗individuation,‘ that is: a holistic integration of the individual. It is though this integration that the individual experiences a profound healing, which involves physical and mental health; and, it is through this healing that expansion of consciousness and transformation is experienced. Ultimately, healing and transformation is measurable in terms of changed
83 personality, where generally ethical values mature and understanding about human life (e.g., life-structure) and nature (e.g., universe structure) broadens extensively (Jung, 1962). Walsh and Vaughan (1996) clearly state that: … the depth psychology of Carl Jung—also called analytical psychology—has been … concerned with transpersonal levels of experience. The in-depth exploration of the psyche in Jungian work extends beyond both the ego and existential levels when it deals with archetypes and the collective unconscious. Jung himself affirm[s] the importance of transpersonal experience for mental health (p. 26). Overview My first approach in reviewing the literature around the topic of subtle energy in healing and transformation was to determine how ancient and contemporary meditational literature and subsequently psychologists (e.g., transpersonal or integral theorists) and other related fields‘ specialists were theoretically explaining such phenomena, and, most importantly, to look at theories that integrated such knowledge within the present day body of knowledge. My encounters with a rich bioenergetics and neuroscience literature that by studying brain and energetic phenomena are somehow measuring the phenomenon of expansion of consciousness to transcendence, confirmed my initial beliefs, personally tested in the yoga discipline. What entailed the notion of the existence of a subtle body system being an active part of our human life structure (and the structure of the universe) was obviously an issue much more complex than anticipated. Nevertheless, we have seen that scientists can measure the effects of the subtle energy phenomenon on our physical
84 realm (e.g., in terms of therapeutic and spiritual benefits). Experiments such as the one conducted by Tiller (1997) and others (e.g., Jahn and Dunne, 1987) are prominent examples indicating that we need to seriously reconsider how the power of human consciousness, informed by the subtle energy phenomenon, can shape our physical reality, which can include our health and well-being. As I have made clear from the very beginning of this thesis, a genuine interest galvanises my pursuit of an in-depth understanding of what personal development and spiritual growth, or healing and transformation, imply. To accomplish this, I had to address any reservations that could arise and in any way threaten the trust that I have for self care development and growth through the practice of body-mind and energy-based modalities such as yoga (where I had the opportunity to learn how to manage subtle energy throughout the subtle body system of the chakras and experience healing and transformation). Thus, I carefully considered various points of view on consciousness, from the scientific materialistic point of view (Dennett, 2005; Humphrey, 2006 and generally expressed by other materialist scientists) that do not often ―support the investigation of extreme psychological well-being‖ (Walsh and Vaughan, 1980, p. 26), and when it does, parameters are limited to materialistic reality, such as biological life (Walsh and Vaughan, 1980), to the transpersonal, that on the contrary highlight the possibility for human consciousness to reach a pinnacle of psycho-spiritual transcendence. As a result of my investigation, I have aligned with the interesting groundwork theories advanced by transpersonal theorists and therapists. I have been allowed to do this as the result of the freedom inherent in the methodology adopted in this thesis,
85 hermeneutic phenomenology. According to Guignon (2009), ―this involves resolutely taking responsibility for one‘s actions and knitting those actions together into a meaningful whole that one can stand up for and own‖ (p. 6). Although I will illustrate in depth the thesis‘method in the next chapter, at this point I will give a brief example that illustrates how I processed and mediated, in a sensible way, certain breakthrough neuroscientific discoveries that claim through neuro-imaging data on brain activities to corroborate, neurologically speaking, higher states of consciousness as being as real as any other given reality (Newberg et al., 2001; Newberg and D'Aquili, 1999). To mediate sensibly, I make a meaningful choice by taking a step further than the step proposed by the arguments of Newberg et al. (2001) and Newberg and D'Aquili (1999). They argue that neurological activity demonstrates the existentence of a transpersonal potential in humankind, at the brain level, but leave unresolved the possibility that such potential exists outside of the brain‘s structure. By so doing, they stand in a middle way between the materialist scientists and the transpersonal theorists. In contrast, I pronounce in unison with the transpersonal psychologists that the reality of a transpersonal state of consciousness can be identified in the spiritual phenomena. In a hermeneutic phenomenological mode of understanding, I, in line with Guignon (2009), run counter to naturalism as an approach to the study of humans. First, this sort of phenomenology brackets the uncritical presuppositions that make up common sense and the sciences. These presuppositions include the seemingly self-evident assumption that human reality must consist of physical organisms, products of evolution, who function and interact with the physical world in ways characterizable in terms of scientific principles .... [In other words] these structural
86 aspects of the human cannot be reduced to empirically discovered, law-like causal determinants of objects. They are instead characteristics of what we might think of as the ‗‗scaffolding‘‘ or underlying ‗‗armature‘‘ that makes possible the creative, constantly changing self-interpretations of humans‖ (p. 3) Finally, as a result of comprehensive contemplation, I have aligned with the outreaching pragmatic approach proposed and employed by integral philosopher and therapists. This integral view, which focuses the object of study not on the transcendental phenomena, but on the experience directly, that is, on the transpersonal phenomena, by embodying it, thus comes to a direct understanding of the given phenomena and shares its findings through hermeneutics phenomenology procedures. Integral development model of growth: Chakras and psychological stages. During my review of the main literature in transpersonal psychology and transpersonal therapies, I came across a selection of texts that illustrate similarities between the chakra development models of growth and Western psychological development models of growth. As for the Indic meditational literature explored, the Western transpersonal and integral psychology literature tends to illustrate growth that ascend similarly from lower to higher stages and that transits through physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual (Breaux, 1998; Leskowitz, 2008; Maslow, 1968; Meadow, 1993; Nixon, 2001; Kak, 1997; Krieger, 2002; Jung, 1996; and Wilber, 1996). Significant examples of these similarities are Maslow‘s (1968) hierarchy of needs (i.e., stages of physiological safety, survival and self-protection, belongingness and love, selfactualization, self-esteem and transcendence), and Meadow‘s (1993) development stages (i.e., sexual and sensual impulses, concern with power, turning to issues of heart and
87 responsibility and possessions, development of higher sensitivities, and a high level of personal integration). Meadow (1993) explains the following: Western psychology has spawned many models of personal development; most major personality theories describe an understanding of personality growth. These models focus on different components of personal growth according to what each theorist emphasizes as important among the different aspects of personal functioning. The highly sophisticated ego model of Jane Loevinger agrees with other psychosexual, moral, and cognitive development frameworks in positing that development occurs in an orderly sequence of stages. She conceives of ego development as consisting of four main streams of personal growth: impulse control, interpersonal style, conscious preoccupations, and cognitive style. These can easily be considered "secular" representations of traditional religious concerns. (pp. 67-68) Noteworthy is the diverse background of some of the scholars that provide accounts of stages of development. For example, Leskowitz (2008) is a psychiatrist and fervent exponent of the energy healing theory; John Douillard (2004) is a doctor in Ayurvedic Medicine; Kak (1997) is a quantum and neuroscience researcher; Wilber (1996) is an integral thinker; Gary Nixon (2001) is a psychologist working with alcoholism; and, Krieger (2002) is a transpersonal healer; just to mention a few amongst others. All these authors confirm the principle of a transformation of consciousness based on a spectrum interacting at each stage of the human tripartite system made of physical, mental and spiritual elements. Some of them even go further, acknowledging subtle energy as an important medium for this transformation. For example, Krieger (2002)
88 affirms, ―The transpersonal is always grounded by experience. For the therapist, this occurs during the enactment of the TT [Therapeutic Touch]. One can, in fact, see a progression in the stages of the transition to the transpersonal ...‖ (p.p. 94-95) and in these transition stages she places subtle energy as a significant medium activating progression. And looking further back, one of the first and perhaps most prominent authors to clearly point out that the chakra system plays an important role, not only in the potential development of consciousness, but also in the psyche or the psychological stages of individual development, was Carl Gustav Jung (1996). Body-mind and spiritual awareness. Creativity and transcendent consciousness. One concept that clearly comes from the study of the Indic meditational literature is creativity as ―the dynamic or creative principle of existence‖ (Feuerstein, 2003, p. 269), a force which activates subtle energy and is essential to the transformation of consciousness. This principle is defined in the Hindu texts as kundalini-shakti (Singh, 1979; Avalon, 1974; Jyotsna, 1972; Mallison, 2004, 2007; Bhattacharyya, 1982), or the Chandali (Snellgrove, 1959; Wallace, 2001), or ―red bodhicitta” (Samuel, 1989) in Buddhist texts. According to Bhattacharyya (1982), the concept of creative energy is found in mantra. Swami Sivananda Radha (2006) explains that creativity is expressed through Hatha yoga‘s ―positive or active principle of existence‖ (p. 49). Feuerstein (1989) defines the kundalini phenomenon as ―a microcosmic manifestation of the primordial Energy, or Shakti. It is the Universal Power as it is connected with the finite body-mind‖ (p. 264). Kason (2000) includes inspired creativity, symbolized in tantric yoga as kundalini awakening, as one of the factors that provokes the journey of
89 transformation that can transform ordinary life; in other words, creativity is placed as a prime factor that she calls Spiritually Transformative Experiences (STEs). Miller (Miller and Jung 2004) affirms that Jung identifies, in the notion of ―active imagination,‖ the capacity for individuals to regenerate the primordial creative process, links to the concept of ‗psychic energy‘. More precisely, Miller (Miller and Jung 2004) states that ―active imagination is used to coax material from the unconscious toward the threshold of consciousness and, in turn, can act as a mediator to bring unconscious imagery into dialogue with consciousness and, in a sense, catalyze the transcendent function …‖ (p. 24). Miller further affirms that Jung identifies two ways to deal with the psychic energy emerging from stirring the unconscious: one would be ―in the way of creative formulation, or response in an intuitive or artistic way, processing the material by generating aesthetic motifs …‖ (p. 24); and, the other would be in understanding the meaning intellectually (p. 24). However, it is most important here to place emphasis on Jung‘s notion of ―the role of the transcendence function and active imagination in restoring equilibrium to the relationship between consciousness and the unconscious‖ (p. 22), where psychic energy, which in the ultimate analysis is creativity manifest as ―‗undifferentiated biological form‘‖ (p. 198), needs to be transformed into a ―‗culturalspiritual form of aesthetic activity‘‖ (p. 198). Mary Whitehouse (1979) developed dance movements on the premises of Jung's ‗active imagination,‘ however she adjusted Jung‘s techniques for therapeutic purposes and created an offshoot of DMT known as Authentic Movement (AT). Joan Chodorow (1991), a leading pioneer in DMT and AT, in line with Mary Whitehouse (1979), speaks in the same Jungian terms and proposes that DMT originates from the Jungian notion
90 (1916) of ―active imagination‖ that implies the capacity to regenerate a primordial creative process linked with the concept of ―psychic energy‖ (p. 48), what Freud defines as sexual energy or ―libido‖, which for Jung represents a more broadened notion that includes descriptions as ―dynamic, energetic, transformative … basically creative energy‖ (p. 48). We should not overlook the fact that Carl Jung was directly influenced by his study of Eastern thought, specifically Kundalini yoga. He actively studied the psychological implication of Kundalini yoga and reported some of his findings in his 1932 seminars notes (Jung, 1996). For example, if we consider the importance that Carl Jung assigns to the unconscious creative processes as healing and transformative forces leading to the ―transcendent: connection with a greater consciousness‖ (Miller and Jung, 2004, p. 115), there is evidence of a close parallelism with the tantric notion of static creative force or the shakti power, which is represented as a coiled dormant serpent on the base of the human spine, that through its activation leads the adept to union with the absolute transcendental reality (i.e. shiva in tantric mythology). Similar concepts are found also in Buddhism and are referred to as ―...‗residues,‘ ‗latencies‘ [samasara]-that constitute what depth psychology calls the contents and structures of the unconscious‖ (Eliade, 1973, p. xvii). Another parallel can be drawn between the actualization of the sadhana or path of yoga in all Indic meditational traditions, which consists of practical (e.g., ritual, postures, mantra) and intellectual realizations (e.g., meditation), resulting in the liberation from obstacles (samsara) that leads to transcendent reality, and Carl Jung‘s role of active imagination that through creativity in practice (e.g., aesthetic motifs) and intellect (e.g., in the understanding of meaning) results in healing and transformation.
91 Walsh and Vaughan (1996) aptly individualized the major gap between a scientific approach such as Jung‘s depth psychology and a meditative discipline such as Yoga: Analytical psychology recognizes that the psyche has within it the capacity for self-healing and self-realization [with ―creative imagination‖ as one of the ―powerful therapeutic agents‖] …. However, Jungian work remains predominantly concerned with the contents of consciousness rather than with consciousness itself as the context of all experience. It therefore stops short of valuing the direct, imageless awareness attained in the practice of some meditative disciplines. (p. 27) However, when we move into the field of expressive therapies, such as DMT and AM, we find a wealth of literature in which there is a determination to explore further Jung‘s depth psychology and overcome its possible limits by directly engaging with the phenomenon of consciousness. For example, Adler (2007) states: Direct experience is at the core of energetic phenomena ... [or] unitive phenomenon, occurring when the felt separation between the moving self and the more familiar experience of the inner witness dissolve. There is an awareness of and immersion in the ineffable experience of nonduality. This description of direct experience with nonduality is similar to the description of the concept of samadhi in the Indic spiritual traditions. (p. 29) Also artistic inquiry modalities are employing approaches very much parallel to those already found in the spiritual tantric discipline, for example, direct experience, embodiment of consciousness, creativity, mind-body relationship. Similarly, the two poles of the spectrum of consciousness, the source and the aim, are found in both
92 Kundalini yoga, where they are symbolized as Shakti and Siva, and in Jung‘s psychoanalysis, where they are characterized as the unconscious and the transcendent. It is through this re-conciliation that artistic modalities are developing into holistic therapies (e.g. DMT and AM). Moreover, in the new framework of integral and transpersonal movement and psychotherapies, it is my analyses/understanding that Tantric yoga (which is the means of union) and Expressive Arts therapies such as DMT and AM, moreover if rooted in the Jungian‘s psychotherapeutic analysis and techniques, are concerned equally with the source, body; the aim, mind; and the journey, healing and transformation. Healing and transformation distinguished/underlined by creativity give rise to the new art of healing, which is living in the experience of the now. In an attempt to draw a holistic map, marked with possible routes of the healing and transformation journeys, what I understand to be significant is the ability to draw a comprehensive map of the entire territory. Thus, both tantric thoughts and artistic inquiry methods (which include Jungian integral thought) place at the core of the map and/or the journey the exploration of the body-mind relationship. And both do this by creative means such as performance-enactment or movement, energy and aesthetic experience. These creative means are reminiscent of evolutive or involutive understandings of the integral universe (Aurobindo, 1993). Moreover, these theories of creativity are generally considered a prime source of all arts, for example as a basis for DMT (Meekums, 2002-develops, based on case studies, a new theory of creativity divided into ―four cycles‖ [pp. 3-14]). While the tantric texts describe the creative force (kundalini) awakened by the power of tantric rituals performed through artistic or intellectual means (e.g., dance, music) of the practitioner, which ultimately employ the body to channel the psychic
93 energy created and consciousness (i.e. contemplative power of the mind) to realise the evolutionary journey back to absolute reality (Fields, 2001) Body-mind relationship. In my search for a basic understanding of how to make sense of the body and the mind within a latent/potentiality of creation that is not yet realized, the static energy of the shakti or Jung‘s unconscious, and the realization of a transpersonal consciousness which is realized beyond the limits of the rational ‗self‘, I struggled once more with an interdisciplinary literature that can inspire my personal journey of self development and realization. Most importantly, I needed to answer the questions: How do tantric yoga and the expressive arts therapies, with their obvious focus on spirituality, contextualize the body and the mind? In other words, how do I make sense of my corporal experience and mental understanding in my inquiry for a personal development that includes spirituality? Another question that arises is: Can integration of Tantric and Western body-mind therapeutic practices be actualized? We have already seen that, within expressive body-mind therapies such as Dance Movement Therapy in general and Authentic Movement in particular, a prime connection with Jungian therapeutic principles exists that acknowledges both latent inner and transcendental forces, or, to use Penny Parker Lewis‘s (2007) own words, ―Authentic movements provides direct access to unconscious material [and] …. utilize transpersonal, ultraconscious or archetypal collective phenomena‖ (p. 74). Thus, within movement therapy, the inclusion of spiritual development ultimately implies transformation of consciousness. However, as I penetrated within the cutting-edge literature on Authentic Movement, I discovered a clear acknowledgement of the direct influence that tantric
94 thought has had on this movement therapy. Penny Parker Lewis reports that ―movement has been employed in rituals throughout the ages as a trance inducer, which has allowed individuals to bridge the gap between themselves and their universe in order to have access to healing and wisdom …‖ (p. 74). Janet Adler (2007) point outs that: In the discipline of Authentic Movement I find the term direct experience, which originates within mystical traditions of monotheistic religions, to describe best moments of purely embodied awareness … This term is proving helpful as we attempt to bridge such experience as it moves from body, through language, toward consciousness …. What occurs in this practice has occurred similarly in different ancient and contemporary mystical traditions. (p. 261) Adler (2007) goes on to analyze experiences reported by individuals participating in Authentic Movement workshops, by using concepts such as ―Here there is an experience of non-duality …. Moving from embodied relationship with associative phenomena toward direct experience of energetic phenomena‖ (p. 262). She further accounts for possible contradiction when speaking of esoteric ―direct experience‖ of ―higher realms,‖ ―kundalini experiences‖ (p. 263), experienced as real in the ―‗the chakra system of yogic body‘‖ (p. 263) and the importance within Authentic Movement: to practice toward speaking the experience, not speaking about it .... toward the words energetically becoming the vibrations that they are, and thus directly being the meaning themselves. Practising in this way opens pathways for a natural process of integration, which reduces the tremendous intensity of the longing to speak such unnamable forces as they become directly embodied. (pp. 263-264)
95 These processes, Adler (2007) affirms: Are practicing awareness of the grace of direct experience when it occurs. The meaning, if any occurs beyond the experience itself, cannot be known until after the experience of conscious embodiment. We are trusting that insight will appear within inherent, synchronistic order of inner process, developed within the intuitive realm. (p. 264) Once again, my analysis of authentic movement theorists and therapists (e.g., Adler) is that, though not reproducing tantric doctrines, they are integrating tantric virtues into a present day therapy in such a way that it shifts the focus from the profane mind to the body as a sacred vessel of healing energy and to a transformation of consciousness anchored to the supreme mystery of life. Summary and Conclusion My journey to personal and professional development underpinned by a single Eastern discipline, yoga, led to a contemplative investigation that transited through central themes such human evolution with its cosmic theories, human life-structure with its energy-consciousness theories, holistic therapeutics or healing implications with its de facto scientific measurements of yogic modalities and un-unanimous theories of expansion of consciousness and, finally, back to the body-mind relationship and its significance for an integral approach to the phenomenon of human energyconsciousness. An anticipated conclusion is that a single theory, which crosses ancient and modern knowledge, is the ―Spectrum of Consciousness‖ theory that allows investigators to look upon personal development in stages, each worthy of attention in terms of
96 positively accepting the specific psycho-somatic and spiritual tasks they require. However, most important is to understand that the spectrum of consciousness is a perspective on psycho-physical or spiritual developmental stages of growth that is shared by various Eastern philosophical traditions and practical disciplines, such as Hinduism, Buddhism and tantric yoga, and Western philosophies and disciplines, such as ―perennial philosophy‖ (Huxley 1969) and ―psychologia perennis‖ (Wilber, 1975), to mention a few of them. Thus, in the light of this shared, albeit sometimes divisive understanding of the broad framework that could imply human evolution, my main achievement in reviewing such an inspiring literature is the proposition put forward by many, with the integral theorists at the forefront, of an integral approach to theoretical prospects and therapeutic applications (in a very broad sense which includes healing and transformation). Since this thesis cannot eschew rigid methodological approaches, I will proceed to: first, discuss the methodology employed in this thesis, hermeneutic phenomenology; second, investigate the main meditational literature for the purpose of further understanding ancient theories of human life structure, which adds the energetic body to the physical and mental bodies; third, attempt a broad study of the energy-healing theory by blending critical analysis of the theories and practices of subtle energy in healing and transformation; and, finally, I will discuss the main findings and attempt to draw some conclusions.
97 CHAPTER 3: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY In this research, the primary literary source of information on the phenomenon under scrutiny, subtle energy and its related subtle body system, mechanics, subtle body practice and so on, is found in the ancient tantric literature. These texts belong to a cultural, historical and linguistic extraction which is extremely different from the one in the Western hemisphere. However, we can avail ourselves of many leading contemporary Western commentaries on these classical Indic texts, in which such commentators as Eliade and Zimmer apply a hermeneutic phenomenological approach in their attempt to unfold the present-day meanings of these literary works. I have chosen texts that take this approach, because I believe that hermeneutic phenomenology is the methodological approach that best serves the specific interdisciplinary framework of my master‘s thesis. My belief is based upon the observation that hermeneutic phenomenology employs a combination of descriptive and interpretative processes for the analysis of written texts and experiential data of the specific phenomenon or phenomena under study. Since I am including the data from a self-experiential laboratory in this study, which naturally lends itself to a hermeneutic phenomenological approach, I see all the more reason for conducting literary analysis and data collection using an interpretative phenomenological analysis. However, ultimately, the report of my experience needs to be organized in a relatively linear, textual format, specifically a written journal, and as with any other written text, needs to be subsequently described (organized and structured) and, finally, interpreted, so that an understanding of the phenomenon can be gained. Purposely, a descriptive phenomenological approach is employed in Chapter 4, where I examine the ancient meditational literature by creating a synthetic structure of the
98 subtle body system by means of describing, comparing, distinguishing, and inferring the essence of the information provided by the texts. Later on in the same chapter, a presentday horizon of meaning of the phenomenon under scrutiny is presented by describing modern interpretations. However, yet later within the thesis, specifically in the selfexperiential stage of the study, although I use a descriptive phenomenological approach to structure and describe the gathered data, I engage in a direct interpretation of the phenomenon by means of hermeneutic phenomenology principles (i.e., IPA). The overall phenomenon is then interpreted in the final ―Discussion and Conclusion‖ chapter by means of hermeneutic phenomenology, specifically, by employing Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. I will now proceed to illustrate the precise research method employed in this study. I will subdivide the research methodology, for the sake of transparency, into three sections: Descriptive Phenomenological Analysis of Literature; Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of Experiential Literature; and Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of the Overall Study. Descriptive Phenomenological Analysis of Literature Descriptive phenomenology, in the Husserlian tradition, aims to capture the essence of participants‘ experience through structuring phenomena. In descriptive phenomenology, participants are considered the experts, and the researcher is an instrument for describing, comparing, distinguishing, and inferring information provided by participants, then constructing the information into a structured description (Giorgi, 2000). In the specific case of my study, in Chapter 4: Examination of Meditational Literature, I treat the ancient meditational literature, including Hindu and Buddhist tantric
99 and non-tantric texts and their commentarial meditational literature (texts of leading authors--amongst them hermeneutical phenomenologists of the calibre of Eliade and Zimmer) as ―the experts,‖ and myself, ―the researcher,‖ as ―an instrument‖ who structures, describes, compares, distinguishes and infers literary information in order to structure and capture the essence of the researched phenomenon. My aim in so doing has been to create a synthetic model of the subtle body system by means of a comparative study. For the purpose of textual analysis, I have opted for a descriptive phenomenological approach that is in line with the broad specification of descriptive phenomenological approaches, and that specifically embraces ―the descriptive commitments and transcendental interests of Husserl‖ (Smith, 2009, p. 21); wherein, the researcher is an instrument for constructing and structuring the experience of a phenomenon provided by participants who are considered the experts (Giorgi, 2000). My specific aim in using the descriptive phenomenology method was to gather and structure significant data provided in the selected literature, with the aim of broadening the theoretical framework of the phenomenon under study, so that, in the latter stage, interpreting the experiential data, the framework would be sound and hopefully allow for a more in-depth understanding of the whole phenomenon, while suggesting the possible meanings that govern such phenomenon. In other words, my objective has not just been to investigate the what, where, when of the phenomenon, but also the why and how: the meaning of the phenomenon.
100 Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of Experiential Literature The Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of the self-experiential study is sustained by qualitative research and inquiry throughout the entire research. For example, the Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis conducted in the chapter ―Examination of Meditational Literature‖ was made possible by the theoretical data obtained from the chapter ―Review of Literature‖. Ultimately, the in-depth research conducted for the compilation of both chapters two and four provided the necessary understanding of the underlying principles and concomitant perspectives present in the classical and classic meditational literature, which served as a basis for Chapter 5: ―A Broad Study of EnergyHealing-Theory‖. Consequently, it is in chapter five that this research will look at the entire phenomenon of subtle energy in healing and transformation, and qualitatively describe and structure the subtle energy phenomenon in its full spectrum of possibilities, from theories of transpersonal states of consciousness (i.e., higher states of consciousness), to energy theories of personal states of consciousness and their pragmatic application and integration in body-mind therapies. The specific methodology selected to analyze experiential data in this thesis was interpretative (hermeneutic) phenomenology. Interpretive (hermeneutic) phenomenologists take the liberty of interpreting the unspoken, unconscious, and hidden meaning that they perceive to exist in the phenomenon under investigation, rather than simply providing a full description of the data. This approach permits researchers to make inferences about informants‘ experiences beyond that which is conveyed (Cohen and Omery, 1994). Thus, the approach is ideal for interpreting the data gathered in the overall research on the phenomenon of subtle energy in healing and, specifically, for gathering
101 data in the self-experiential laboratory, including the possible meaning of experiencing the researched phenomenon, subtle energy and the subtle body system. As per Schleiermacher‘s hermeneutic theory, a ―combination of a range of skills, including intuition‖ (Smith et al., 2009, pp. 21-22) can and should be employed in the Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of the phenomenon. In my specific case, such skills originate from many years of theoretical research and experimental practice in the fields of arts, with a specific focus on performing arts, and the East-West psychotherapeutic and energy based modalities, yoga and Reiki. These years of research and training have enhanced my self-awareness of body-mind and energy, and developed my practical skills for managing subtle energy in personal healing and transformation through the experience of Reiki and Kundalini yoga. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of the Overall Study The final chapter, Discussion and Conclusion, will provide an interpretative phenomenological evaluation of the theoretical and practical framework constituting my study. The Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis and evaluation of the theory will make use of qualitative approaches such as comparative analysis and critical theory building to show relationships between the findings in this study and the examined literature. The experiments will be further surveyed and interpreted in a synthetic mode, to clearly demonstrate evidence-based results. The self-experiential laboratory will be summarized by expounding on its experimental and personal creative purpose. Creative process is one of the perennial themes that transverses the interdisciplinary fields of this research. Meditational and transpersonal theories acknowledge the contribution of creative processes to synthesizing and analyzing
102 theoretical and evidence-based data. Qualitative methods of inquiry and, most importantly, fundamental Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis acknowledge the creative process. In Art-based research, creative process is also considered fundamental. For example, according to Hervey, writing in 2000, Shaun McNiff defines constitutive elements of creative research in this statement: If experimentation is to correspond to the spontaneous and complex movements of art and the therapeutic process, it cannot be planned and controlled. We can observe patterns, receptions and similarities, but the conditions of art and psychotherapy are not subject to experimental replication. (p. 59).
103 CHAPTER 4: EXAMINATION OF MEDITATIONAL LITERATURE This chapter is meant as a thorough investigative study of the rich Eastern spiritual body of knowledge on ‗the subtle body system.‘ The texts that are examined range from ancient primary sources of Hindu tantric and non-tantric literature and Buddhist tantric literature, to contemporary commentary on Hindu and Buddhist traditions. Examination of Ancient Meditational Literature Purposely, in this section I will evaluate the primary ancient literature in an attempt to determine: (1) the anatomical representation; (2) the governing principles and mechanics through which it works; and, (3) the purpose of ‗the subtle-body system,‘ (i.e., individuate the assumed therapeutic value of practices and energy). Hindu tantric literature. In the Sat-Cakra-Nirupana, the essence and purpose of the primary system of the subtle body is revealed from the first verse throughout the remaining fifty-four verses. For example, in verse 1 it is stated: ―Now I speak of the first sprouting shoot (of the Yoga plant) of complete realization of the Brahman [italics added], which is to be achieved, according to the Tantras, by means of the six Cakras [italic added] and so forth in their proper order‖ (Avalon, 1974, p. 317 - verse 1). Specifically, we learn from this text that each of the six centres (chakras) is placed in a particular body location: the perineum; genitals; solar plexus (or navel); heart; throat; and, the third eye centre (between the eyebrows). Also, we learn their corresponding Sanskrit names, viz.: ―Muladhara, Svadhisthana, Manipura, Anahata, Visuddha, and Ajna‖ (p. 317 - footnote n. 2). In addition, we learn that each chakra,
104 visualized as a lotus, is characterized by a specific number of petals, seed syllable (i.e., lam, vam, ram, yam, hum, and om), elements, and so forth. Also, the text illustrates that the flow of the ‗energy‘ (prana) happens mainly in ‗channels‘ (nadis). According to this text, by meditating on these subtle centres centresand their entire interconnected system (of nadis), one can achieve ―‗complete realization‘‖ also referred to as ―the union of Siva and Sakti” or ―Nirvaha‖ (Avalon, 1974, pp. 318-319). Of particular interest to our study is Avalon‘s (1974) commentary on verse 1 (pp. 320-325), in which a detailed description is provided of the whole organization of the channels, which can be summarized as follows: In the space in front of the spinal column there are placed two channels, on the left the ida nadi, is of the essence of the Moon, pale and ‗female‘ in nature; on the right pingala nadi, is of the essence of the Sun, lustrous red and ‗male‘ in nature; and, ―These two Nadis go upward singly from the Mula [i.e., Muladhara or base chakra], and, having reached the Ajna Cakra, [i.e., the penultimate chakra], proceed to the nostrils‖ (p. 321). The ‗susumna‘ channel ―is in the middle‖ and ―she is the form of Moon, Sun and Fire‖ (Avalon, 1974, p. 320 - see also footnote n. 5 on pp. 320-321). This main nadi ―extend from the middle of the Kanda‖ (p.320) or bulb located in the perineum between the anus and urethra, ―and the Vajra inside Her extends, shining, from the Medhra [Penis] to the head‖ (Avalon, 1974, p. 320 - see also footnote n. 5 on pp. 320-321). More precisely, the susumna is described as ―she who extends from Mula to the place of Brahman is the fiery Susumna, the very self of all knowledge‖ (Avalon, 1974, p. 321 - see also footnote n. 2 on p. 321 for the exact source of this description).
105 Avalon (1974) suggests that this text ―speaks of the good to be gained by the study of the verses relating to the six Cakras‖ (p. 479 commentary of v. 55): ―heart unperturbed ... i.e., engrossed in his own true spiritual being‖ (p. 479 commentary of v. 55), and ―concentrated mind ... i.e., he who by practice of Yoga has steadied and concentrated his mind on the inner spirit‖ (p. 479 commentary of v. 55). This commentary on the conclusive descriptive verses of the six chakras by suggesting that with the application of the subtle body practice described in the scriptures psychospiritual benefits are obtained, highlights one of the reasons for my study, which is the healing and transformative aspect of the yogic system of practice. The Tantraraja Tantra, (Avalon, 1981), and the Vijnanabhairava (Singh, 1979) do not describe the psychic centres in an organized and structured way as does the SatCakra-Nirupana. Nevertheless, both texts concur with the Sat-Cakra-Nirupana in the description of the structural model of the subtle body system and confirm the existence of a subtle body practice. Avalon in his 1981 writing explains that the Tantraraja Tantra confirms the existence of the subtle body system and expounds on its structure, agreeing with the main Hindu Tantric and non-Tantric literature (p. 3). Also, fundamentally all these text relates the psychic centres to the therapeutic purpose of practice and energy. For example Singh (1979) talks of the ―yogic practice of healing energy ... development of pranasakti ... [and] awakening of kundalini” (pp. xiii-xiv). Hindu non-tantric literature. The model of the subtle body system described in the three classical Hindu nontantric (Hatha yoga) texts (Hathayoga-pradipika; Gheranda Samhita; and the Shiva Samhita) is fundamentally the same as in Hindu Tantric Literature. In particular, this
106 literature, like modern comprehensive manuals, instructs us on yogic techniques: physical postures (asana); breath control (pranayama); mental attitudes (mudras); and so forth. Ultimately, these yogic techniques form the ―limb‖ or practice of yoga that is characterized by its therapeutic benefits and spiritual aim of reaching samadhi or ―the final limb (anga) of the yogic path‖ (Feuerstein, 1997, p. 251). The Hathayoga-pradipika instructs the practitioner on the subtle body system with its centres or wheels (chakra), channels (nadi), energy or life-force (prana) and its mechanics and practice (Svatmarama, 1972, p. vii). More precise connections between life-force (prana), mind/consciousness (citta), conduits (nadis), and yogic techniques are established in chapter two (Svatmarama, 1972). The Hathayoga-pradipika (of Svatmarama with commentary by Jyotsna, 1972), describes in great detail the yoga practice with its techniques (e.g., asanas, mudras and bhandas), mechanics and therapeutic value. For example, in verse 17 it is taught, ―asanas make one firm, free from maladies and light of limb‖ (p.11); verse 27 (p. 13) instructs that with the regular practice of one of the postures, namely matsyendrasana, (see verse 26, pp. 12-13 for its description) one stimulates ―gastric fire‖ that ―destroys all terrible diseases of the body‖ (p. 13). Also, this posture is believed to be one of the most effective practice of generating body healing energy, the mechanics named ―kundalini awakening‖ in the Hindu Tantric tradition; verse 29 teaches the pascimatanasana posture that is supposed to aid ―the breath flow through the Susumna‖ (p. 13), which is believed to be the main channel for the flow of ‗energy‘ along the subtle body psychic centres that generate healing: ―stimulates the gastric fire, makes the loins lean and removes all diseases of men‖ (p. 14); verse 39 states that ―one should always practice siddhasana [see verses 35
107 and 36 for a detailed description of this posture]‖ (p. 16) as ―it purifies the 72,000 Nadi-s [the conduits of energy]‖ (p. 16). The verses mentioned above refer to ‗the practice and mechanics of generating body energy‘ and reveal that, together with ‗spiritual‘ purposes, they also serve ‗healing‘ purposes. This observation is affirmed in Hathayoga-pradipika, which states that the practice of yoga removes ―diseases‖ and ―facilitates concentration‖, and activates ―various nerve centres‖ (Jyotsna, 1972, p. 11). Regarding the spiritual aim of such practice, we are informed in verse 33 that there are in total 84 ‗postures‘ that largely account for the practice of awakening the ―subtle healing energy‖ (Jyotsna, 1972, p. 15). For example, verses 104-124 (pp. 56-59) illustrate the entire process of ―liberation by [the power of] kundalini‖ (verse 104, p. 56). The Gheranda Samhita (Gheranda and Mallison, 2004) speaks of a sevenfold yoga aimed at activating the subtle body system: shatkarma for purification; asana for strengthening; mudra for steadying; pratyahara for calming; pranayama for lightness; dhyana for perception; and, samadhi for isolation. The text within this sevenfold yogic practice reveals many facets of the psycho-spiritual possibilities closely inherent in the subtle body system. Specifically, the chapter on Dhyana teaches ―three types of samadhi‖ (p. xii) or psycho-spiritual transformational stages obtained by means of specific yogic practices. Examples of these yoga practices are the three mudras: shambhavi, khechari, and yoni (pp. xi-xii) and other meditational techniques enhancing the human potential to perceive and therefore activate various body forms from gross to subtle, for example being able to visualize ―Light between the eyebrows‖ (p. xi).
108 The Siva Samhita (Mallison‘s translation, 2007, chapter 2) contains a detailed description of the ‗microcosmic‘ model of the subtle body system; this description corresponds to the previous main models illustrated in other Hindu texts presented so far. Also, as in other Hindu Hatha yoga texts, the Siva Samhita includes relevant yogic techniques and practices (e.g. asana, mudra, etc.) that ultimately aim at awakening and raising life-force (prana) for the obtainment of spiritual transformation. Through the description and analysis of these texts it can be deduced that this transformation in turn results in the achievement of body-mind and spirit health; thus, it is holistic. A few examples of the verses found throughout Mallison‘s translation (2007) of the Siva Samhita may help clarify these main points: Verse 21 states ―when the sleeping kundalini awakens through the grace of the Guru, all the lotuses and knots are pierced‖ (p.77); verse 22 stresses the importance of mudras for energetic awakening; verse 23 goes further by citing the best mudras to awaken energy: mahamudra, mahabanda, mahavedha, khechari, jalandhara, mulabandha, viparikarani, udyana, vajiroli, and the tenth, shaktichalana (p.77). And, verse 1 of chapter 4 of the mudra states ―The Lord said, ‗Now I shall teach the sublime Yoga of mudras. Just by practicing mudras the yogi is freed from all disease‘‖ (p. 72). All the above verses and specifically verse 1 confirm the energy-healing mechanic and the therapeutics benefits of the ‗practice‘ (p.77). In the Siva Samhita the location of all the six centres are described throughout verses 56 (p. 62) -101 (p. 70): verses 56-74 muladhara chakra, “Two fingers above the rectum and two fingers below the linga [genital]‖; verses 75-82 swadhistana chakra, ―situated at the base organ [or prostatic plexus]‖ (p. 65); verses 79-82 manipura chakra, ―near the navel‖ (p. 66); verses 83-89 anahata chakra, ―in the heart‖ (p. 67); verses 90-95
109 vishuddha chakra, ―in the throat‖ (p. 68); and verses 96-101 ajna cakra, ―between the two eye-brows‖ (p. 69). In the Siva Samhita, throughout verses 57 to 62 (pp. 62-63), ―goddess Kundalini” (energy) is described as residing in ―the root‖ (v. 57); ―luminous by its own light‖ (v. 58); ―Full of energy‖ (v. 59); ―It is also called the great energy‖ (v. 61), ―which rests in the perineum, and is called the … self-born‖ (v. 62); ―It is endowed with the power of action (motion) and sensation, and circulates throughout the body. It is, and has a flame of fire; some times rises up…‖ (v. 62). The main model of the subtle body system that is recurrent both in the Hindu Tantric texts and Hindu Hatha yoga texts is summarized below: Table A: Hindu Chakra Model Name Of Chakra Number of Lotus Name of Bija Petals 1. Muladhara 2. Svadhisthana 3. Manipura 4. Anahata 5. Visuddha 6. Ajna Four Six Ten Twelve Sixteen Two Elements and Its Seat
(Seed) Letters Colors Lam Vam Ram Yam Ham Om Red Orange Yellow Perineum Genitals Solar plexus/navel
Green or pink Heart Light Blue Throat
Indigo/deep Region between the blue/white two eyebrows
110 Buddhist tantric literature. The critical study of the Hevajra Tantra by Snellgrove (1959) introduces us to the subtle body system and its mechanics (including visualization meditation, mantras, mandalas, consecration and various other yogic practices). According to Snellgrove (1959), within the Hevajra Tantra there is a detailed description of the structure, governing principles and mechanics of the subtle body system: To the left and right are two ‗veins‘ Lalana and Rasana, corresponding with Wisdom and Means in their separate condition, which is the state of samsara. Up and down these channels passes the breath, conceived of as vital force .... so long as breath continues in this manner, so thought continues to wander uncontrolled. The initial part of the process consists therefore in harnessing through to breath, achieved by concentrating the thought upon the breathing process .... Running up the centre of the body a third vein is imagined … Avadhuti that represents the union of Wisdom and Means. Meeting it at cross section, at the navel, the heart, the throat, and the head, there are imagined four lotuses .... or radiating circles (chakra) .... These four lotuses correspond with the four stages of spiritual advance viz., the four Joys [see table B] .... At the base of the genitals where all the three channels come together … there resides the bodhicitta in its relative condition ... and quiescent. At the summit of the head (brahmarandra) there resides the bodhicitta in its absolute condition … also quiescent and known as Moon. (p. 36) Farrow and Menon (1992) explain bodhicitta as:
111 Enlightened consciousness. The Enlightened Consciousness is said to be of two kinds, absolute or unlimited and relative or limited. In its limited, restricted aspect it is said to be semen. The goal of the tantra is to experience the Enlightened Consciousness and to achieve this, a refined utilization and activation of the seminal energy becomes the means. (p. 298) The subtle body mechanic described in the Hevajra Tantra (Snellgrove, 1959) can be summarized as follows: The bodhicitta found at the base aroused by the meeting of ―the two psychic stream‖ ―envisaged as Fire which is Candali [kundalini] ... burns ... moving upward‖ through the central channel ―from navel to the heart and thence to the throat and the head .... reaches the bodhicitta in the head ‖ (Snellgrove, 1959, pp. 36-37). The Hevajra-tantra recognizes that breath control technique plays a predominant role in advanced yoga practice, which also requires ―control of the physical process of the body‖ for the achievement of a ―desired mental condition‖ (Snellgrove, 1959, p. 39). The Hevajra Tantra’s main description of the subtle body system is of four psychic centres (chakras/padmas) (Snellgrove, 1959, p. 38 - The English translation of the Four Joys taken from Glossary of Special Terms - p. 134). According to Snellgrove (1959), within this fourfold scheme are fitted all possible terms of reference of the whole Buddhist doctrine and philosophy which ―is comprehended within the body‖ (p. 38), ―in which the place of importance is at the top, namely, in the head‖ (p. 38). Snellgrove‘s (1959, p. 38) interpretation is detailed in the table below:
112 Table B: The Hevajra Tantra Chakra Model Chakras/ Padmas Head Bodies of a Buddha Svabhavikakaya (Self-Existent Body) Throat Sambhogakaya Viramandana (Joy of Cessation) Heart Dharmakaya Paramananda (Perfect Joy) Navel Nirmanakaya Ananda (Just Joy) Earth A Water HUM Fire OM Joys Sahajananda (Joy Innate) Four Elements Air Syllable HAM
The Inner Kalachakra tantra is main description of the model of the chakras/padmas (Wallace, 2001, p. 159) is summarized below: Table C - The Inner Kalachakratantra Chakra Model Chakras/Padmas Bodies of a Buddha Secret/Head Navel Forehead Heart Throat Forehead Dharmakaya Sambhogakaya Nirmanakaya Paramananda Viramandana Ananda Sahajakaya Joys Sahajananda Elements gnosis space earth wind fire water HUM OM A Syllable HAM
According to the Inner Kalachakra tantra (Wallace, 2001):
113 The four bodies of the Buddha, which are latently present within the individual, are located within the six cakras of the individual's body due to the gunas (qualities) of those cakras. Thus, the Sahajakaya, which is free of ideation and is similar to a prognostic mirror, is in the secret cakra, in the usnisa [head], and in the navel-cakra, which arise from the elements of gnosis, space, and earth, respectively. The Dharmakaya is located in the heart-cakra, which arises from the wind-element. The Sambhogakaya is in the throat-cakra, which arises from the fire-element. The Nirmanakaya is in the lalata (3rd eyes center) which arises from the water-element. (pp. 158-159) The locations of the four bodies of the Buddha and of the six families within the individual's four cakras are expounded in the second section of the Inner kālacakratantra (vs. 27-47). Wallace (2001, ¶ 8) further depicts the ways in which the presence of time and the universe is to be recognized in one's own body and shows the correspondences between the passage of time in the world and the passage of pranas within the body; this last section also discusses the different functions and locations of the diverse types of pranas in the body (p. 23). The rationale for the Kālacakratantra practices for eliminating mental afflictions and actualizing the four bodies of the Buddha (see table C above) is provided in the first part of the last section/chapter of A commentary on the kalacakra tantra (Ngawang, 1985). Particularly, this text discusses the path of actualizing spiritual knowledge in relation to the individual: The Kālacakratantra consists of the theory of the nature of gnosis, pranas (life force or life winds), spiritual ignorance, and mental afflictions, as well as the relationships between them.
114 In the Inner Kalachakra tantra (Wallace, 2001), we find a detailed description of the yoga practice defined to be ―six-phased yoga (sad-anga-yoga)‖ (p. 203). This yoga begins with the manifestation of the mentally nonconstructed appearance of one‘s own mind [everyday thought and night dreams], and ends with the manifestation of one‘s universal form. In this way, the whole process of the sad-anga-yoga is a meditative process of bringing into manifestation the successively more subtle and more encompassing aspects of one‘s own mind. (p. 203) The six types of yoga are respectively (1) the yoga of retraction (pratyahara); (2) the yoga of meditative stabilization (dhyana); (3) the yoga of pranayama; (4) the yoga of retention (dharana); (5) the yoga of recollection (anusmrti); and, (6) the yoga of samadhi (Wallace, 2001, pp. 203-206). Wallace (2001) aptly précis the meaning and function of samadhi yoga, which appear to include two facets: In the samadhi phase, the object of gnosis (jñeya) and gnosis (jñana) itself become unified and give rise to supreme, imperishable bliss. For that reason, the samadhi that is practiced here is defined as ‗a meditative concentration on the form of gnosis (jñana-bimba).‘ [The Kalacakratantra, Ch. 44, v. 117, and the Vimalaprabha] It is also interpreted as the imperishable bliss that arises from the union of the apprehended object (grahya) and the apprehending subject (grahaka) [The Vimalaprabha commentary on the Kalacakratantra, Ch. 44, v. 119]. (pp. 206-207) Due to a lack of space, I will not be able to describe what each path of yoga consists of and how they actively relate to working with the subtle body system.
115 However, I will report on the first type of yoga, which will serve as an example of the possible mechanisms and processes involved in the phased yoga: The yoga of retraction (pratyahara) involves the meditative practice of retracting the pranas from the right and left nadis and bringing them into the central nadi. In this phase of practice, the contemplative stabilizes his mind by concentrating on the aperture of the central nadi in the lalata, having the eyes opened with an upward gaze called the gaze of the ferocious deity, Usnisacakri. As a result of that, the pranas cease to flow in the left and right nadis and begin to flow in the central nadi. The cessation of the prana's flow within the left and right nadis severs the connections between the five sense-faculties and their objects. Consequently, the five sense-faculties and their objects become inactive, meaning, the six types of consciousness cease to engage with their corresponding objects, and bodily craving for material things diminishes. This disregard for the pleasures of the body, speech, mind, and sexual bliss is what is meant here by worship. As the ordinary sense-faculties disengage, the extraordinary sense-faculties arise .... Wisdom and gnosis become the apprehending mind, and the ten signs, which are like an image in a prognostic mirror, become the apprehended objects. Thus, gnosis apprehends itself in the same way that the eye sees its own reflection in a mirror. This entering of the apprehending mind (grahaka-citta) into the apprehended mind (grahya-citta) constitutes its nonengagement with external objects. (Wallace, 2001, pp. 203-204) According to Dhargyey (1985, p. 114-116), the Kalacakratantra talks of four energy-centres according to the table below:
116 Table D - Kalacakratantra Chakra Model Cakras (Sanskrit) Khor.Lo (Tibetan) Mahasukha Location Etymology Element Color
Crown Of The Head
Centre Of Great Bliss Centre Of Enjoyment
White, Green, Red And Black
Centre Of Dharma
Centre Of Emanation
Kalacakratantra, when presenting the five energy-centers, adds the cakra below: Genital Bliss Guarding Centre
Dhargyey (1985) notes that, ―there is also a presentation of the six-energy centers‖ (p. 114; Waymen, 1977, p. 63). The six branches of yogic practices are described in the some manner as in the Inner Kalachakra tantra (Dhargyey, 1985, pp. 128-133). A Comparative Study of the Main ‘Subtle Body Systems’ Throughout the examination of this primary ancient literature and assisted by the secondary contemporary literature, I will conduct a comparative study of the various existing main models of the subtle body system and its assumed practice, as well as the
117 mechanics of generating body healing energy. Initially, I will identify and compare the main existing models of psychic centres (chakras), channels (nadis), the subtle energy (prana) and its mechanics, and the subtle body practice and its purpose; subsequently, I will present interpretations of the subtle body system; consequently, I will provide a summary of the comparative findings; and, lastly, I will draw some conclusions. Two main chakras models. After a thorough analysis of the primary literature, I have determined that there are two main chakra models: the Hindu (tantric and non-tantric) model with six chakras (see Table A), located at the perineum, genitals, solar plexus (navel), heart, throat and forehead (3rd eye centre); and, the Buddhist tantric model with four chakras (see Tables B, C, D), namely navel, heart, throat, and head or forehead (3rd eye centre). These two main models were determined according to the main emphasis that seems predominant in each tradition. Specifically, during the study of the cited Hindu literature I found reference only to the representation of six chakras models (however other models do exist); on the contrary, in the study of the main Buddhist Tantric literature, I found reference to the representation of four, five and six chakras models (Wayman, 1977; Ngawang, 1985). However, ―a fourfold correspondence is especially prevalent in the [Buddhist] Yogatantra [specific subject of our study]‖ (Wayman, 1977, p. 63), and, I also determined that, generally, the main model accepted by Buddhist tantric tradition is of four chakras, and that this results because the model corresponds to the four qualities of the Buddha; thus, the others do not seem to play much of a role in practice (Guenther, 1972). On the other
118 hand, both traditions agree on the actual location of the psychic centres (chakras) along the spinal column or the primary central nadi. The main nadis system. The exact number of nadis is hard to determine due to a lack of consistency in the textual tradition. Generally, they are affirmed to be any number between 72,000 (e.g., the Hathayoga-pradipika) and 350,000 (e.g., The Gheranda Samhita). However, ―some works state 72 nadis are particularly important, but most mention only 10, 12, or 14 by name‖ (Feuerstein, 2003, p. 194). In particular, in all the Indic literature used in this thesis, three prime nadis of vital-force (prana) are considered key: sushmna-nadi; ida-nadi and the pingala-nadi (Avalon, 1974; Avalon, 1981; Singh, 1979-1988). Feuerstein (2003) substantiates such evaluation by affirming that according to Hindu terminology ―among the multitude of the pathways of life force, three have special esoteric significance: the central channel called sushmna-nadi and the two channels that wind around it in helical fashion, which are known as the ida-nadi and the pingala-nadi‖ (p. 194); The Hevajra tantra (Snellgrove, 1959) describes the structure of the channels in the same mode: three main ―veins‖ (nadis), but terms them as ―lalana, rasana and avadhuti‖ (pp. 35-38), as do the other main Buddhist Tantric texts. For example, Wayman (1977) affirms ―This body is said to have 72,000 ‗veins‘ (nadi), of which three are the chief ones located in the position of the backbone. These three, the chief conduits of the ‗winds‘, are differently named in the Hindu and Buddhist Tantras‖ (p. 65). Fundamentally, the entire primary literature examined in this research agrees upon the existence of three main channels and with the
119 description of their mechanics and position in the body, despite the differences in their respective names. The following table (E) attempts to summarize the main Hindu and Buddhist symbolic and metaphysical structure of the channels: Table E - Hindu and Buddhist Anatomy of Channels Name of Nadis Name of Nadis Location in Its nature Buddhist Hindu reference with spinal column 1. Avadhuti 1. Susumna In the middle or The form of in front of the spinal column 2. Lalana 2. Ida In the space in front of the spinal column: on the left Its motion
Extend from the
Moon, Sun and middle of the perineum Fire Is of the nature of the Moon, pale and ‗female‘ or to the head Upward from the perineum and having reached the head proceed to the nostrils.
white moon-like Contains descending vitality--apana. 3. Rasana 3. Pingala In the space outside the spinal column: on the right Is of the nature of the Sun, Upward from the perineum and having
lustrous red and reached the head ‗male‘; or the red sun-like proceed to the nostrils. Contains ascending vitality--prana.
120 The life-force-energy and its mechanics. Feuerstein (2003) defines ―Shakti (―power‖)‖ as ―The dynamic or creative principle of existence‖ (p. 269), which in conjunction with prana comes to represent creative life-force (prana-sakti); and, ‗the mechanics‘ of this life-force as ―the mode of operation for the arousal of the ‗serpent power‘ (kundalini sakti)‖ (p. 224). Describing the various forms of shakti, Feuerstein (2003) adds ―practically speaking, the most significant form of shakti is Kundalini-Shakti‖ (p. 224); this Kundalini-Shakti is the creative life-energy that by an advanced and intense yogic practice (e.g., asanas and pranayamas) can be aroused until it enters the central channel (susumna), starting the process known in the various Hindu philosophical doctrines and yogic traditions as ‗Kundalini awakening-arising‘ through ‗the piercing of chakras‘ (p. 224). Within the Buddhist Tantric philosophy, life-force-energy is known as the ―Fire which is Chandali‖ (Snellgrove, 1959, p. 36) or ―red bodhicitta” (Samuel, 1989, pp. 197-210). According to Singh (1979) the tantric yogi aims to direct the subtle energy (prana) from the two main side channels into the primary channel, activating the flow of the latent energy-power (kundalini-shakti) from the base chakra (Muladhara), to the crown chakra, ‗Brahmarandhra‘, thus achieving ‗Liberation‘ (p. 152). Yogic subtle body practice and its purpose. The ancient literature strongly concurs that the body, from the grossest to the subtlest forms (i.e., body, mind and energy-spirit), is the vehicle of spiritual transformation. In support of this, Fields (2001) states: In tantric practice, body is central in the quest for liberative self-knowledge …. A main tenet of Tantric practice or sadhana is that ‗the Absolute is to be realized in
121 and through the human body …. The body is the quintessence of the physioconscious creation, and the Tantric practitioner or sadhaka awakens the divinity within him-or herself. (pp. 34-35) Eliade (1969) supports Fields assertion by stating: ―In the Hevajra-tantra, the Buddha ... proclaims that without a perfectly healthy body, one cannot know bliss‖ (p. 227). Moreover, according to Eliade (1969): we can distinguish at least two orientations, different yet convergent, in this emphatic valuation of the body and its possibilities: (1) there is the importance accorded to the total experience of life as constituting an integral part of sadhana, and this is the general position of all tantric schools; (2) there is, in addition, the will to master the body in order to transmute it into a divine body, and this is especially the position of Hatha yoga. (p. 228) Fields (2001) restates this idea that seeking health and achieving health are both purposes and marks of success, when he quotes Upanisadic: Although liberation is the highest aim of Upanisadic yoga, the Upanisads note the health benefits of yoga: sickness, old age, and death are avoided by one ‗who has obtained a body made out of the fire of yoga‘ (Svetasvatara Upanishad 2:12a). Health is named as one of the signs of progress in yoga (Svetasvatara Upanishad 2:13a). (p. 89) Each specific technique of this complex subtle body practice is designed for the attainment of a healthy (e.g., purified) psychosomatic system that is able to channel life force or energy for the achievement of absolute pure-consciousness. Thus, the pranic activation is not feasible without a previous purification of the psychosomatic system (or
122 gross body) and the subtle body system. The prerequisites are the purification of the gross body or sense organs (achieved through the practice of asana, mudras, and kriyas); control of the life-force-energy or prana (e.g., achieved through the practice of pranayama); control of the thought-mind wave and concentration on the divine essence (e.g., achieved through the practice of mindfulness meditation, sound repetition mantra, etc.). The process of consciousness transformation is also obtained by eliminating mental afflictions and actualizing body cleansing and purification techniques that will result in the novice awakening the dormant life-force-energy (prana-shakti) for spiritual enhancement (Avalon, 1974; Bhattacharyya, 1982; Feuerstein, 2003; Flood, 2002; Mallison, 2007; Samuel, 1989; Singh, 1979; Wallace, 2001). Singh (1979) adds that the ―Tantras contains descriptions of ritual practices, sacred formulae (mantras), mystical diagrams (yantras), gestures (mudras), postures (asanas), initiations (diksa), yoga or mystic practices‖ (p. x). Bhattacharyya (1982) affirms that there are in the Buddhist and non-Buddhist tantras ―six Yogic practices‖, which are ―control of the sense organs (pratyahara); meditation (dhyana); breath control (pranayama), concentration on mantra (dharana); remembrance (anusmrti) and obtaining perfect wisdom (samadhi)‖ (p. 230). The Hatha yoga texts studied here (Hatha yoga-Pradipika, Gheranda-Samhita and Siva Samhita) describe advanced Hatha yoga subtle body practices, which originate from the classical yoga of Patanjali. Avalon (1974) states: The practice and exercise connected with Hatha yoga are divided into seven parts or stages–namely, cleansing…; the attainment of strength or firmness…by bodily postures (Asanas); of fortitude…by bodily positions (Mudras); of steadiness of
123 mind…by restraint of the senses (Pratyahara); of lightness …by Pranayama; of realization…by meditation (Dhyana); and of detachment…in Samadhi. (p. 200) Mallison (2007) argues that the Hindu Hatha yoga texts (e.g. Siva Samhita) typically are non tantric but generally are in agreement with the Hindu tantric texts (e.g. Sat-chakra-nirupana) in terms of their described subtle body practice: They teach that through the practice of the various complex postures, breath control, ‗locks‘ (the muscular constrictions of breath and energy flowing through the body), and so forth, the novice aims to awaken the energy lying dormant at the base of the central channel for spiritual enhancements (pp. xiii-xiv). According to Flood (2002) this process of transformation is obtained by eliminating mental afflictions and actualizing ―the purification of the elements in the body‖ (p. 25). Wallace (2001) states that such transformation is achievable through the rationale of the Kalacakratantra practices: Thus, in the context of the Kalacakratantra, by completely extinguishing one's own psycho-physiological constitution and processes, one extinguishes the source of one's own cycle of rebirth and attains the state of the eternal manifestation of the gnosis of supreme, immutable bliss. From the premise that one's ordinary psychophysical factors, which are composed of atomic particles, are the source of one's mental obscuration, arises the necessity of transforming the ordinary, physical nature of one's body and mind into their blissful nature. The Kalacakra tradition considers that process of transformation as the most direct means to the state of the mutual pervasiveness and unification of one's own body, speech, and the mind of immutable bliss. (p. 183)
124 Elaborating on the significance of body, speech and mind, Guenther (1972) explains that in tantra: The body is a god, speech a mantra, and mind absolute Being. To see the body, by which the body as lived by me is meant, as a god is to appreciate it as a value in its own right; similarly speech as mantra is not empty talk, rather it is communication which does not depend on words with their conventional meaning in usage. Lastly, mind as absolute Being is not the absolutization of subjectivism, it is rather the cognitiveness of Being-as-such which expresses itself in and through the activity of our Mind. (p. 62) Taking into consideration that the Buddhist and the Hindu traditions vary in certain metaphysical and ontological aspects of their doctrines, which will be dealt with in the Summary of Comparative Findings subsection, we can readily state that the same principles apply within both traditions in respect to what appears to be the fundamental reason for the need of a yogic practice: It is generally agreed that the objective of yogatantra practice is to create a harmonious balance between the physical body, the vital energy (prana) and mind (citta); whereas, the evolution of consciousness is possible only when the impulses generated by this harmonious balance stimulate the awakening of the central force (Sushumna Nadi). The original objective of yoga and tantra is lost if it is not used for this purpose. Interpretation of the subtle body system. The subtle body system is interpreted in the tantric scriptures as a microcosmic manifestation in the human body of a macrocosmic reality (Avalon, 1974; Fields, 2001; Feuerstein, 1989, Rama et al., 1976; White, 2000). Samuel (1989) indicates that, ―the
125 Buddhist and Hindu Tantras employ a non-dualist conceptualization of body and mind or self and universe based upon the anatomy of the subtle body with its ‗centres‘ (chakra), ‗channels‘ (nadi) and flows of ‗energy‘ (prana)…‖ (p. 197). Wayman (1977) states, ―The remarkable occult physiology of the tantric books is really based on the theories of this subtle body” (p. 65). Flood (1996) comments on ―whether such systems of esoteric anatomy were meant to be understood in a literal or ontological sense‖ (p. 99); and he further speculates ―they were rather systems of visualization in meditation for the purpose of achieving Samadhi‖ (p. 99). Snellgrove (1959) puts forth questions such as: ―Are the chakras within the body conceived of as real psychic centres, or are they an imagined device like the external mandala?‖ (p. 33 – footnote n.3) However, he is aware that such questions would probably contradict ―the whole basic theory from the standpoint of the texts‖ (1959, p. 33 - footnote n. 3). He asserts: For them the whole process, internal and external, is bhavana (mental production), and the mandala, although imagined (bhavita) exists on a higher plane of reality than the phenomenal world it represents. Likewise the idealized representation of the body, consisting of the veins and cakras, exists on a higher plane than the normal physical structure of the body. (1959, p. 33 - footnote 3) Zimmer (1951), on the other hand, does not hesitate to assert that through Kundalini yoga the adept manages to lead the kundalini force up the chakras system initializing a real and not imagined process of transformation and transcendence in the practitioner. Zimmer (1951) describes the mechanics of the subtle body system as follows:
126 Whereas the ... devotee practicing bhutasuddhi (the ritual purification of the elements of the body in preparation for an act of dualistic worship) has to imagine the purifying ascent of the Kundalini through the centres or lotuses (cakras, padmas) of the susumna, the ... adept in the exercises of the tantric Kundalini Yoga, actually brings this psychosomatic miracle to pass. Asana and mudra (proper set and posture), pranayam (control of the breath), dhyana and mantra (interior visualization and the concentrated recitation of certain ―seed‖ sounds and formulae), following a long and severe preliminary training in physical and emotional self-purification, led actually to a physical effect which is described as the channeling of all the energies of the body into a subtle channel up the interior of the spine (susumna). In this case, the rise of the ―Serpent Power‖ (kundalini) and awakening of the lotuses (padmas) does not have to be imagined, it actually comes to pass. And when the sixth center is attained--the ―Lotus of Command‖ (ajna) between the eyebrows--the Lord (isvara) is actually seen, not simply imagined, and the beholder is completely lost in savikalpa samadhi--communion with the Brahman ―with limitations‖ (savikalpa), where the distinction between the subject and the personal God is retained. Whereas the moment the rising force enters the ultimate thousand-petalled lotus at the crown of the head (the sahasrara) ... the experience of duality is in sheer experience ... . (p. 592) Summary of comparative findings. Bringing the various Tantric and non Tantric theories into accord with one another has been challenging. However, I have come up with some conclusions regarding the fundamental similarities that are found across traditions regarding the
127 ontological meaning of the subtle body system, its structure, its mechanics, its practice, and its purpose. The first and most important similarity is the recurrent reference in all tantra to an etheric body – the subtle body system empowered by life-force energy. Regarding the actual structure of the subtle body system, in spite of some fundamental differences between Buddhist and Hindu models that have already been mentioned and examined above, important similarities exist. For example, all the traditional texts examined in this study indicate the spinal column as the anatomical axial for the whole organization of the subtle body system. In addition, in both traditions, the description of the principal structure of the ‗channels‘ correspond and three are given prime importance: Hindu with pingala, sushumna and ida; Buddhist with rasana, avadhuti and lalana, to the right, middle and left of the spinal column respectively. Moreover, ‗the central channel‘ (avadhuti in Buddhism and sushumna in Hindu) always seems to play a major role, for example, when it comes to the mechanics of raising pranic subtle energy, which is similarly described in both traditions of the tantric literature that has been analyzed. Thus, the tantra traditions share the actual internal mechanics of subtle energy or ‗prana’ activation that is always initiated from the base chakra (normally associated with the physical body and physical consciousness) and flows upward through the central channel to the top, the place of psycho-spiritual importance (Snellgrove, 1959). With reference to the various interpretations and English translations found in our primary and secondary literature on the concept of prana-sakti, Singh (1979) affirms that nevertheless it can be summarized in a few terms: ‗life force‘; ‗vital breath‘; ‗biological energy‘; ‗bio-plasma‘ or ‗vital energy‘ (p. 156). More peculiar to Buddhism is the correspondence of the word ‗prana’ with ‗karmic winds‘ doctrines; or, as Samuel (1989)
128 asserts: ―The Buddhist Tantra adds the central concept of Boddhicitta, which is conceived of as both a motivational state and a pattern of energy-distribution within the subtle body‖ (p. 197). He (1989) further notes that: It is interesting that it is only the Buddhists who describe the internal processes of Tantric yoga in terms of bodhicitta. As far I know there is no real Hindu analogue here. However the processes themselves occur in recognizable similar forms within both Buddhist and Hindu Tantric practices. (p. 200) In fact, the classical Tantric Buddhist texts recurrently describe this pattern of energy-distribution within the subtle body system as the ―Fire which is Chandali‖ or ―red bodhicitta” (Snellgrove, 1959, p. 36; Samuel, 1989, pp. 197-210). These Buddhist terms correspond with the Hatha yoga terminology of the Hindu tradition to the fierce hot energy or ―The Serpent Power‖ ‗kundalini’ (Samuel, 1989; Avalon, 1974). Of significant importance, this process, in both Buddhist and Hindu traditions, symbolizes a sort of psycho-spiritual development of the practitioner. In respect to the assumed aims of the complex tantric practice, the perennial concept is that the practices were employed by the yogis as a means of physical and mental purification, a necessary preliminary and preparatory stage that either anticipated or led the advocate to a psycho-spiritual journey of transformation and final redemption from suffering. The yogis, through the employment of such direct practices, would benefit from optimal health, which is both psychophysical and spiritual. Finally, the idea of ―union,‖ shared by both traditions, should not be overlooked. It is constantly portrayed as the unification of the body, speech and mind in Buddhist tantra or in the union of the female and male (Red and white Boddhicitta in Buddhism;
129 Shakti and Siva in Hindu). The concept of union is also an intrinsic aspect of yoga, which means yoking: ―yoking of a team or equipment, union, contact, combination, mixture, connection, relation‖ (Fields, 2001, p. 85). Fields, in his 2001 writing, further states: Liberation in classical Yoga is thus .... integral to the meaning of Yoga in that the practice of Yoga—physical and meditational—entails an effort of one-pointed focusing. One-pointed concentration helps to yoke together the activities of body, breath, senses, and mind, which supports the achievement of non-fragmented mental stillness in the state of Samadhi. (p. 86). Some conclusions to the preliminary section. Despite the lack of unanimous agreement on the representation and the assumed meaning of the models of the subtle body system and its mechanics, fundamental similarities exist: the perennial element involved in the entire process is life energy; complex mechanics are implicated in the work of life energy; the free energetic flow is always ascending and corresponds to a psycho-spiritual journey—i.e. body, mind and spirit transformation. For both models, the ultimate aim of this transformation is metaphysical and can be conceptualized according to whichever traditional system one decides to adhere: Buddhist or Hindu. Despite discord over the representation of the subtle body system and its interpretation as literal or figurative, broad agreement exists that the representation of the subtle body structure is employed as a visualization tool in meditation for the purpose of achieving psycho-spiritual transformation. Ever increasing evidence substantiates the claim that through specific subtle body practices such as chanting mantra or performing breathing exercises pranayamas, the individual is able to activate a positive psychophysical response. If this response is subtle energy flow, then
130 we can affirm that this translates to extreme psychophysical health and spiritual wellbeing--healing. Purposely, later in chapter 5, in the subsection ―Energy-healing theory: A study‖, I will further corroborate, using contemporary scientific findings, the importance of yogic and tantric subtle body practice in enhancing psychophysical health, and I will elaborate on the subtle body system as a transpersonal model for the transformation of consciousness.
131 CHAPTER 5: A BROAD STUDY OF ‘ENERGY-HEALING-THEORY’ Consciousness: A Theoretical Study In the preliminary examination reported in Chapter 4 of this thesis, I endeavoured to study the significant Buddhist and Hindu tantric and non tantric literature relating to the subtle body system. This study was mainly intended to provide multiple accounts of the assumed existence of the subtle body system and its mechanics. In other words, I attempted to present some ancient mystical theories of life-vital energy, that are documented in this meditational literature and, subsequently, to scrutinise the governing systems. I concluded that, although secondary differences exist in respective to subtle body models and yogic practices, primary similarities occur in the adjoining subtle body mechanics and energetic-spiritual healing principle. This energetic-spiritual system is based on the belief that a life structure, including all natural phenomena, is governed by mechanisms going beyond biological existence. These traditions believe that the subtle body system‘s mechanism affects the individual‘s consciousness, and can transcend the limits of personal psycho-physical identity, expanding to transpersonal or higher states of consciousness. Although the ancient tantric and non tantric literature reviewed in Chapter 4 posits a ‗subtle body system‘ whose existence is beyond current scientific validation, as expressed through the empirical, mechanical explanation which requires observable measurement through physical and chemical means, in recent years, an ever-increasing, significant body of evidence has been assembled by health care professionals, scientists, and scholars, that seem to increasingly validate ancient mystical theories of life energy and promote its current medical employment. This body of knowledge, which within a
132 modern context can be defined as energy-healing theory, poses two important notions: human nature is made of a tripartite system that essentially asserts the existence and significance of a subtle-body-system or energetic-spiritual system along with physical and psychological body systems, namely the spectrum of consciousness; and, the integration of the subtle body system and other constitutive elements of the tripartite system could have significance for healing and transformation. Putting forward these important notions not only opens up the platform for the study‘s examination, but broadens it enormously—a cumbersome task—since there are strong disagreements among scholars (e.g., scientists and transpersonal-integral researchers such as philosophers, psychologists and therapists) about the theoretical and practical principles underlying and forming energy-healing theory. As a result, in the next section I will be dealing largely with sorting out the conundrum of consciousness, which I do in consideration of my thesis‘ interdisciplinary and integral framework. This examination of consciousness and the solution that I foresee in the integral development model, ―the spectrum of consciousness,‖ will be a source for a more pragmatic section where I will be dealing largely with the practical implications inherent in the ―spectrum of consciousness‖ model and integral theory and applications in general. Conundrum of defining and sorting out consciousness. Perhaps no aspect of mind is more familiar or more puzzling than consciousness and our conscious experience of self and world. The problem of consciousness is arguably the central issue in current theorizing about the mind. Despite the lack of any agreed upon theory of consciousness, there is a widespread, if less than universal, consensus that an adequate account of mind requires a clear
133 understanding of it and its place in nature. We need to understand both what consciousness is and how it relates to other, nonconscious, aspects of reality. (Van Gulick, 2009, ¶ Introduction ) In an endeavour to conduct a theoretical study of consciousness within a scientific framework, I came across contrasting paradigms. This in turn led me to the realization that perhaps no aspect of human nature can be more subtle and subjective than consciousness, which relates to our ability to experience within the self and without. In this study, I acknowledged that the lack of an agreed universal theory of consciousness is too huge a problem to be solved within the space and time given for this subsection; I will, however, attempt to integrate divergent (complex and extensive) theoretical systems on consciousness into the theory known as the ―spectrum of consciousness‖. The theory of the spectrum of consciousness fundamentally projects the idea that when considering consciousness we are facing ―an extraordinary spectrum ... reaching from prepersonal to personal to transpersonal states … spanning subconscious to self-conscious to superconscious‖ (Brad Reynolds, 2004, p. 315). Theoretical systems. In order to conduct a more comprehensible examination of consciousness theories, I will integrate and organize the diverse theoretical systems into two groups: the Western traditional scientific-materialistic perspective and the East-West integral movement. Western scientific-materialistic group. Traditional Western scientific models of consciousness can be as multifaceted as are the disciplines of natural and social sciences, but they all share a common approach
134 ―that starts with objective, empirical, and often quantifiable observables‖ (Wilber, 1995, p. 5). We can identify approaches such as classical behaviourism and cognitive behaviourism in psychology; classical positivism, structural-functionalism and system theory in sociology (where cultural productions are considered significant insofar as they are aspects of an objective social action system). Even in theology and metaphysics, we find objectivist or naturalistic approaches, where the attempts to deduce the existence of transcendental realities are still based on ―empirical and natural events‖ (Wilber, 1995, p. 111), as opposed to subjective and introspective approaches that ―turns the light of consciousness directly onto the interior domain itself‖ (Wilber, 1995, p. 111). Ultimately, scientists whose approaches are materialistic, deny the validity of the existence of spiritual knowledge and any of its predicates (for example, the existence of a universal consciousness residing outside the neurological brain-mind structure). According to Kak (1997) ―The innermost aspect of consciousness … considered to be beyond a finite enumeration of categories" (p. 10), as proposed by Vedic and yogic doctrines, is denied in its entirety. Dennett (2005), in the following statement, epitomizes the approach to consciousness of the Western material-scientific establishment: It seems to many people that consciousness is a mystery, the most wonderful magic show imaginable, and an unending series of special effects that defy explanation. I think that they are mistaken: consciousness is a physical, biological phenomenon – that like metabolism or reproduction or self-repair – that is exquisitely ingenious in its operation, but not miraculous or even, in the end, mysterious. (p. 57)
135 Dennett (2005), furthermore, is convinced that the mystery of consciousness is a simple ―state of magic” and explains that: Part of the problem of explaining consciousness is that there are powerful forces acting to make us think it is more marvellous than it is … a set of phenomena that exploit our gullibility, and even our desire to be fooled, bamboozled, awestruck. (p. 57) Nicholas Humphrey (2006), known for his work on the evolution of human intelligence and consciousness, in reply to one of the ―big questions‖ that one of his ‗anxious‘ readers puts forward on whether or not consciousness survives the biological death, states: It‘s the most natural of all questions to ask. I think we human beings are made to ask it. I even think that in asking it we become better people. But my straight answer, as a scientist, is: not a chance. Consciousness is something we do with our brains. (p. 133) Towards integral vision. When spirituality becomes a subject of scientific research (e.g., cognitive psychology, behaviourism, biology and neurology) it is drained of its metaphysic, and treated and analysed as mere physical experience. In other words, a scientific materialistic parameter is used for the study of certain spiritual phenomena. On the contrary, transpersonal psychology (and all the integral movement) attempts to study transcendental and mystical experiences, without the dissipation typically obtained by natural science, while, instead, preserving the intrinsic value, the spirituality, of these experiences whenever possible. Most importantly, in my opinion, as the following quote
136 from Walsh and Vaughan (1980) makes clear, is that the nature of reality is in the eye of the beholder: Every point of view rests on certain assumptions about the nature of reality. When this is recognized, assumptions function as hypotheses; when it is forgotten, they function as beliefs. Clusters of hypotheses create models or theories, and clusters of theories constitute paradigms …. It is in the view of this realization that whenever the hypothetical nature of paradigms, indeed any model, is forgotten that ―they act as distorting perceptual filters‖. (pp. 25-26) Newberg et al. (2002, pp. 3-4) conducted specific studies (that will be described later in this chapter) on neurological brain processes. Their research used imaging techniques to detect brain activity during altered states of consciousness or spiritual experiences. One important finding was that a quieting of sensory activity led the OAA (orientation association area) in the brain to fail to see the duality between self and the outside. This finding describes exactly the type of spiritual experience recounted by ―generations of Eastern mystics‖ (p. 6). Newberg et al. (2002) affirm that, since research demonstrates that spiritual contemplation affects brain activity, the experience gains validation as a demonstrable reality that psychologists and neuroscientists had long denied. They also argue that this research explains why people experience altered states of consciousness. Moreover, Newberg et al. (2002) are certain, ―based upon our current understanding [of brain science] of the manner which the brain turns neural input into perceptions of human experience ...‖ and of the fact that ―all spirituality and any experience of the ultimate nature of God‖ can ― be reduced to a fleeting rush of electrochemical blips and flashes, racing along the neural pathways of the brain...‖ (p.
137 143). However, they deny the conception that spirituality or ―God is just an idea, with no more substance than fantasy or dream...‖ (p. 143). They state this ―based upon‖ their scientific ―understanding of how mind interprets the perceptions of the brain‖ (p. 143). Ultimately, Newberg et al. (2002), embrace a new tendency in the scientific world to overcome the strong sense of divergence between structured perspectives of consciousness based on religious or scientific orthodoxy, and mitigate the scientificmaterialistic discourses by clearly asserting that ―our own brain science can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God, at least not with simple answers‖ (p. 143) In their role as neuroscientists, Newberg et al. (2002) are openly admitting the inability of science to prove the non existence of a spiritual source outside our brain and their current inability to find answers to a plethora of provocative questions, such as: Is consciousness only a neurological brain-mind process, which therefore ceases with the biological-death of the body? What is spirituality, transcendence or consciousness for that matter? However, Newberg and colleagues manage, I believe, to create the foundation and the focal point from which the contemporary integral movement can further investigate. As Newberg et al. (2002) admit, questions about the nature of absolute reality are the subject of much research in philosophy of mind, psychology, neuroscience, cognitive science, and artificial intelligence (just to mention a few of the disciplines involved). Even as scientists (psychologists, and also physicists, biologists, cognitive psychologists, neurologists, etc.) all over the world are making concerted efforts to understand various topics that belong to the vast spectrum of consciousness, there is a need to integrate these theories (for example, with Eastern scientific investigations of
138 inner spirituality) as proposed by exponents of the integral movement and transpersonal disciplines. Obviously, scientific investigations such as the one conducted by Newberg and colleagues (2002) are not undertaken to produce simple literature with which to mesmerize laymen. They are undertaken to investigate such serious scientific questions as: How do we understand and expand consciousness? In the process, they seek to show whether man is more than a physical body, even if only in the neurological system. Thus, we can talk of a major shift: from the critical opinions that considered expansion of consciousness to such higher states as divine bliss, enlightenment, and union with the universe, as mere fictitious accounts or pathological mind constructs, to the search for empirical, quantifiable data, with which understand the expansion of consciousness from a scientific perspective. However, the search may be long, and any merger between the current scientific paradigm and those who study consciousness through direct experience, may still be some way off. Underpinning the Eastern thought (Hinduism, Buddhism) and integral research is the theory that one can experience altered state of consciousness by means of direct, subjective experience that certain traditions describe, in their ultimate essence, as absolute objectivity. This absolute objectivity or absolute consciousness is, as far I understand, the whole idea of the spectrum of consciousness theory and exists at least one step beyond the limits of the traditional-scientific paradigm. Newberg et al. (2002), in the practice of analyzing and describing such complex phenomena, do not attempt to affirm that religion is nothing more than brain function. They simply state that religion is the province of philosophy and epistemology. Many scientists before them have marvelled at this mystery. According to Wilber (1995),
139 modern physicists such as Einstein, Heisenberg, Schrödinger, Broglie, Planck, Pauli, and Sir Eddington ―were united in the belief that the universe simply does not make sense-and cannot satisfactorily be explained--without the inclusion, in some profound way, of consciousness itself‖ (p. 107). Wilber (1995) adds that ―the vast majority of them were idealists or transcendentalists of one variety or another‖ (p.107). According to Wilber, writing in 1995, Broglie asserted, ―the mechanism demands a mysticism‖ (p. 107) and, Sir James stated ―using words that virtually none of these pioneering physicists would object to … that it looks increasingly certain that that the only way to explain the universe is to maintain that it exists in the mind of some eternal spirit‖ (p.107). It is in the light of this attempt to provide some answers to the many unanswered questions of the universe‘s structure that the integral movement provides a new vision to bridge the gap between the two extremes: scientific-materialistic realities and spiritual-metaphysical realities. Kak (1997) points out that experiments conducted by quantum theorists ―led many to argue that basic advances in physics would eventually require one to include consciousness in the scientific framework‖ (p. 3). East-West integral movement. Models of consciousness can be as multifaceted as there are consciousness research groups and individuals directly or indirectly investigating this topic. These research groups consist of psychologists, philosophers, neuroscientists, physicists, engineers working in artificial intelligence, anthropologists, artists, and exponents of ancient Eastern tradition, as well as people working in other, emerging disciplines. Since it is unlikely that any single theoretical perspective can suffice to explain all the features of consciousness that we wish to understand, one might ―without contradiction accept a
140 diversity of models, that each in their own way, aims respectively to explain the physical, neural, cognitive, functional, representational and higher-order aspects of consciousness‖ (Van Gulick, 2009, ¶ 10. Conclusion). Thus, a comprehensive understanding of consciousness will likely require synthetic and pluralistic approach of many types. Contemporary health professionals, scientists and scholars prone to adhering to the ideal of a balanced integration between mechanistic and mystic theories of consciousness may provide the best perspective for future progress. Expressly, within the framework of this study, we are dealing with Eastern spiritual and Western scientific theorists, who are in line with evolutionary models that maintain the importance of science and spirituality in testing lower, ordinary, and higher level--spiritual or transcendent--states of consciousness; and, are increasingly sharing their vision on consciousness models as creative living art. Based on this broad orientation, I will continue to further discuss in this subsection the East-West integral theory of consciousness. Specifically, I will deal with disciplines such as integral and transpersonal psychology, both preoccupied with an all encompassing, universal holistic approach, where notions of lower, ordinary, and spiritual--transcendent states of consciousness are investigated. In this examination, I will further elucidate the energy-healing theory by illustrating the ideal of the unity of consciousness found in the interconnection of the elements constituting the tripartite system. Expectantly, I will attempt to create a solid foundation for the next section to be examined, which deals with the integral framework and proposes a therapeutic application of the energy-healing theory.
141 Tripartite system of consciousness: Body-mind and spirit integration. Leskowitz (2008), a fervent exponent of the energy healing theory, explains the fundamentals of the tripartite system of consciousness: In Western medicine, human beings are conceived of as extremely complex machines …. Within this model, the sense of the ―I,‖ the individual awareness that we all experience, is simply an artefact or by-product of our incredibly complex nervous system and brain; there is no independent self or consciousness. In the energy model, however, human beings are conceived of as multidimensional organisms.... The ―I-ness‖ of consciousness is seen as primary, operating within the tripartite system of body, mind and spirit. Mind is composed of thoughts and emotions, while spirit includes the transcendent level of soul as well as the more tangible force of subtle energy. (pp. 226-227) Thus, the third constitutive element of the human structure is stated to be an independent consciousness. Leskowitz (2008) referring to the energy model explains: The yogis described a series of nested sheaths ranging from the densest one, the physical body, to the most ethereal, the Spirit. One of these layers, the subtle energy sheaths [i.e., the tantric subtle body system of chakras, nadis, and prana] …. is considered ... to be merely another subdivision of the physical body …. energy and matter were thought of as poles of a continuous spectrum of which Western medicine [and psychology] considers only a very limited portion. (p. 227)
142 The subtle body system ―regulates the flow of subtle energy in the body. It uses prana (subtle energy), the nadis (subtle nerve flow), and chakras (subtle-energy centers) to transform thoughts into action allowing the mind to affect and direct the body. It is here that many of the [therapeutic] benefits ... are experienced‖ (Douillard, 2004, pp. 2425) (the therapeutic benefits will be further discussed in the next sections). Kak (1997) elaborates on the tripartite system by commenting on certain yogic doctrines, ―One may look at an individual in three different levels. At the lowest level is the physical body, at the next higher level is the energy systems at work, and at the next higher level are the thoughts [mind]. Since the three levels are interrelated, the energy situation may be changed by inputs either at the physical level or at the mental level‖ (p. 9). According to Kak (1997), these yogic doctrines, because they provide a detailed illustration of the structure of the mind, help us to understand how consciousness works. The mind is composed of: an external ―lower mind, which collects impressions‖ (p. 10) through the five senses; and, three other levels of the mind that "are collectively called the internal instruments of the mind" (p. 10) consisting of "the sense of I-ness that associates some perceptions to a subjective and personal experience" (p. 10), the intellect, which makes evaluations and takes decisions; and, lastly an extremely complex level, which works as ―the memory bank of the mind. These memories constitute the foundation on which the rest of the mind operates.…The organization of the new impressions throws up instinctual or primitive urges that creates different emotional states" (p. 10). This complex aspect of the mind "surrounds the innermost aspect of consciousness … [which is] considered to be beyond a finite enumeration of categories" (p. 10). To an attentive analysis, Kak‘s (1997) illustration of the Vedic view of mind-
143 consciousness structure corresponds to the Buddhist theory of five aggregates, which are form, feeling, perception, volition, and consciousness. In the following table, Kak‘s (1997) illustration of the Vedic Mind (consciousness) structure is compared with Buddhist aggregates of being: Table F - Vedic and Buddhist Structure of Mind-Consciousness Being‘s Aggregates: Buddhist system Form Feelings Perceptions Volitions (includes memory) Consciousness Structure of the Mind: Vedic system Body Primitive urges Lower mind Intellect ―I-ness‖
Kak (1997) provides further clarification of the agents interrelated to the tripartite system: Since the state of mind is mediated by the pranic energy, it becomes useful to determine how this is related to the focus on the various parts of the body. In the tantras … points of primary focus which are called cakras are described …. Their positions appear to be areas in the brain which map to different points on the spinal cord …. It may be assumed that the stimulation of these cakras in a proper way leads to the development of certain neural structures that allow the I-ness to experience the self. In other words, the cakras are points of basic focus inside the brain that lead to the explication of the cognitive process. (pp. 10-11)
144 According to Kak (1997), current research on consciousness mirrors ideas ―in the Vedic theory, which dates back to at least 2000 BC,‖ (p. 2) since both view ―awareness in terms of the reflection that the hardware of the brain provides to an underlying illuminating or awareness principle called the self‘‘ (p. 2). Specifically, earlier yogic ideas allude to the notion that ―Consciousness is the Self‖ (p. 11) and that the ―The knowledge of one's innate nature leads to Siva's state [transcendental/universal consciousness]‖ (p. 11- Similar ideas are reiterated in Abhinavagupta, 1989; Singh, 1979; Dyczkowski, 1987). Woods (1927), in his translation and annotation of Patanjali‘s sutras, points to the attainment of non-violent consciousness and possibly the subduing of the affliction (kleshas); in addition, to the neutralization of the law of cause and effect (law of karma) through the progressive awakening of discriminative insight and intuitive wisdom by effortlessly and gently mind directed prana (p. xxxvi). Wilber (1996) aptly points out that ―beginning with … the sixth chakra . . . consciousness starts to go trans-personal‖ (pp. 76-77). A similar concept is presented also in Walsh and Vaughan (1980), where they explain that the word transpersonal refers to stages of human development through which a person's self-awareness extends beyond the personal and the rational, going beyond the mystical. This section delves into the effects of the full range of potential energy, which, through its variegated agents and processes, stimulates the growth of the individual‘s psycho-physiological system. Such stimulation ultimately leads to the discovery of the self, thus unfolding the potential of consciousness, including transcendental stages. Kak (1997) clearly states, "Ordinary consciousness is bound by cognitive categories related to
145 conditioned behavior. By exploring the true springwells of ordinary consciousness one comes to recognize its universal …. potential energy that leads to continuing transformation ... and pure consciousness‖ (pp. 11-13). In 1992, the Association for Transpersonal Psychology described transpersonal psychology as follows: Today, a more comprehensive view of human nature is developing. It recognizes our personal uniqueness, as well as a transpersonal dimension -- something which is beyond our individual egos, and yet still a part of us. This perspective offers an expanded view of human capabilities, and combines a probing assessment of personality with an affirming vision of the full range of human psychological and spiritual development. Based on observations and practices from many cultures, the transpersonal perspective is informed by modern psychology, the humanities and human sciences, as well as contemporary spiritual disciplines and the wisdom traditions. (Waldman, 2006, p. 1) Spectrum of consciousness. Ken Wilber (1993) recapitulates the aforementioned idea in his theory of psychospiritual-transformation and multifaceted consciousness-evolution in the ‗the spectrum of consciousness‘. This spectrum was already identified in ancient Eastern traditions and Charles T. Tart, one of the founders of the field of transpersonal psychology, reiterates this when he states, ―mind, or consciousness, has multiple significant facets, and that this high diversity is well known …. Sanskrit, for example, has more than twenty terms that are translated into English as various aspects of mind or consciousness‖ (Krieger, 2002, p. 50). According to Kak (1997), ―The Vedic theory of consciousness speaks of a process of evolution‖ (p.15) ―devoted to the question of consciousness. Although a part of this
146 tradition deals with philosophical issues, there are other aspects, as in yoga and tantra, that deal with structural aspects [e.g., physical and mental]‖ (p. 2). The spectrum of consciousness is a complex model that in Indic tantric traditions (e.g., Hinduism and Buddhism) has been thoroughly defined and illustrated by the chakra system. This system is seen as a development model that addresses ordinary and nonordinary states of consciousness. Kundalini is the potential energetic force that ascends from the lower emotional chakras centres, concerned with the primal survival needs such as shelter, food, emotion and ambition, to the psycho-spiritual medium and higher chakras centres, concerned with such issues related to consciousness as communication, encompassing love, and expanded consciousness. So, the chakras are a full manifestation in the human body of the spectrum of consciousness. A brief summary of consciousness theories. When we refer to personal consciousness, we are considering the individual-ego consciousness of the subjective my, his, her, your, their, ours; thus, consciousness is normally synonymous with body-mind or existence-thought, the two Cartesian status quos for excellence: ―I think therefore I am‖ or ―I am therefore I think‖. These two approaches to consciousness are predominant in the Western paradigm (Chaudhuri, 1974, pp. 34-35; Krieger, 2002, p. 47). Conversely, when we talk about transpersonal consciousness, we are transcending the body-mind parameters, moving into abstract realms. These realms are abstract because the simple reasoning process of the mind cannot possibly grasp them. They are named differently, according to the religious, philosophical or cultural context: God, divine, absolute joy or absolute bliss (Brahma), cosmic, radiant, enlightenment (Nirvana), and so forth. These mystic approaches to
147 consciousness are predominant in the Eastern paradigm. A third contemporary approach blends the best (hopefully) of Eastern and Western paradigms. It is the product of the progressive and integral thinking of East-West minds (by minds here I mean to include brainpower and the consciousness element), conveyed in the ideal of unity between psychology that is investigating the personal--psychosomatic--and transpersonal psychology that is investigating the transpersonal—psycho-energetic and spiritual. Conclusion In this study of a cross-disciplinary subject such as consciousness, we were faced with various theories. If we consider the models of consciousness surveyed by the natural and social science, we need to consider them more as a rich biological phenomenon, likely requiring the specification of detailed mechanistic models. Naturally, this subsection accounts for and acknowledges the importance of ground breaking scientific discoveries and revolutionary theories, as upon these are built definitive models. Nevertheless, I conclude that most of the scientific-materialist approaches lack a structural basis; more precisely, they lack a will to relate to the arrangement of and relations between the parts or elements of a complex whole, which, on the other hand, seems to be the central element of the Integral movement. Although, the scientific-materialistic group has obvious merits, for example, highly accurate tests that are readily quantifiable and replicable, they seem to collapse under the analysis and judgment of their faults. For example, there are strong critics, which this study agrees with, that accuse the proposal of the traditional scientificmaterialistic exponents as having a bias tendency. In other words, they seem to want to dictate their norms, and do not often ―… support the investigation of extreme
148 psychological well-being and higher states of consciousness‖ (Walsh and Vaughan, 1980, p. 26); and, when they do, the parameters are limited to materialistic reality, such as biological life. In the opinion of many integral scholars, with Wilber (1995) in the forefront, scientists of the calibre of Dennett and Humphrey constitute a sort of scientificmaterialistic conspiracy against the spirit, encouraging the view of the universe as a material reality. Dennett (2005) responds to these criticisms by accusing his detractors of strong sectarian religious orthodoxy aimed at exploiting our trustfulness. This study posits that scientific-materialistic exponents (e.g., Humphrey and Dennett), by conveying a lack of tolerance for the idea of spiritual-transcendental consciousness, obstruct the way to scientific progress. Therefore, scientific experiments of any kind (such as the one by Newberg et al., 2002), where the limitations of science are acknowledged in explaining the full range of mind-consciousness manifestations, are needed, if progress is to be made. Finally, in this conclusive section, I admit that, at present, no single model of consciousness appears sufficient to fully account for the multidimensional properties of conscious experience; and that the hypothesized subtle energy system is still beyond the grasp of scientific and rational minds, much like the Higgs Boson physicists so ardently seek. However, balanced scientific research should, in my opinion, put emphasis on balanced orientations: For example, balanced research should promote the scientific investigation of extreme psychological well-being and higher states of consciousness, without refraining from exploring Eastern cross-cultural beliefs (e.g., in the spiritualenergetic existence). Researchers ought to constantly place in ballot the validity of any given theories by testing them through experimentation and open discussion, especially
149 when they do not adhere to the currently dominant scientific theories. It comes as no surprise that principles of energy-healing theory and energy-healing practices are making their entry into the health science domain and the health care system, contributing significantly. One proposed energy system model is the Indic model of the subtle body system, the subject of my current study, which proposes to scrutinize some of the modus operandi of such energy-healing modalities. Integral Framework In the light of a new integral understanding, I will attempt in this section to explore the intricacies of intertwining and inextricable psychophysical and spiritual interventions (e.g., Eastern and Western psychotherapies) that are contributing to the establishment of an alternative holistic health care system. Basis for integral psycho-therapeutics. In the preceding argument, I have tried to: fundamentally delineate, at the theoretical level, the subtle body system, as reported in the tantric and yogic belief systems; decontextualize it from its mystical ontology; and recontextualize it in a modern integral orientation. When this is achieved, the result becomes an energy-healing-theory. It is well worth mentioning here that the integral movement, with transpersonal psychologists in the forefront, has played an important role in the integration process of Eastern and Western parameters on consciousness. In other words, quoting Walsh and Vaughan (1980), ―transpersonal psychology represents a paradigm shift in Western psychology, resulting in part from exposure to cross-cultural beliefs about the nature of consciousness and reality‖ (p. 26).
150 Based on the principle of integration of the tripartite system (i.e., body-mind and spirit) for psycho-physical and spiritual growth and transformation, the subtle body system is primarily proposed as a consciousness development model that from its lowest to its highest expansion intersects in the spectrum of consciousness. In the preparatory and exploratory theoretical subsection, the emphasis had been given to higher or transpersonal development stages of mind-consciousness, within integral world-view theories (Indic doctrines, transpersonal psychology, etc.); thus, only a fraction of the spectrum of consciousness has been substantially examined so far. In this subsection, I will investigate a substantial body of knowledge that is not simply preoccupied with metaphysical reasoning on transpersonal aspects of consciousness, but more often seeks to explain ordinary ego-functioning as a normal feature of psychosomatic categories. These categories are not only a prelude to transcendental states of consciousness, but often equally significant to the enhancement of psycho-somatic health and spiritual well-being and growth. The psychotherapeutic facet, which comprises the scientific modus operandi of the integral movement and transpersonal psychology, is a subject of great interest for this study as the emphasis is switched from the inability to explain and test metaphysical phenomena, to the ability to test and corroborate the results of the energy-healing theory at a more pragmatic level, directly on ‗what‘ is being delivered in term of the psychosomatic health and spiritual well-being of individuals. Integrating yoga and psychotherapy. Rama et al. (1976) suggest: Yoga psychology offers a perspective from which these two theories [Hierarchy of consciousness--spectrum of consciousness--proposed by Freud and Jung] can
151 be integrated. Its concept of a hierarchy of consciousness is more extensive than Freud‘s, extending beyond the level of functioning which can be described verbally to include the more transpersonal areas of consciousness explored by Jung as those which stretch far beyond. (p. 107) They, (Rama et al.,1976), conclude: Because modern psychotherapy has its roots in the treatment of illness, whereas yoga is oriented toward developing beyond ordinary adaptation; they complement one another very nicely. Yoga may provide the concepts and philosophical framework which enable Western psychotherapy to escape its illness-orientation and respond more fully to each person‘s search for growth and evolution. (p. 107) Integrating yoga and western medicine. Fields (2001) rightly points out that the dominant Western medical conception of physical health does not include attention to the spiritual dimensions of life. Rather, with regard to body and spirit, it is dualistic and, with regard to the body, it is mechanistic (pp. 14-19, 70). By contrast, the Hindu conception of spiritual health tends to regard spiritual self-realization as completely transcending the physical dimension. Similarly, classical Yoga supposes that the ultimate experience of the sacred entails separation of the sacred self from the psychophysical entity. However, classical yoga adds that the psychophysical entity must be healed and clarified at a step prior to experiencing the sacred (pp. 69, 140, 153-157, 164-168). In distinction to the Western, Hindu and classical yoga concepts, Tantra holds that religious experience entails physical and aesthetic aspects. Fields (2001) further suggests that a complete conception of health must entail, in addition to a holistic conception of the psychophysical person, a religious component
152 or a relation to the sacred (pp. 47-50). He notes that practices such as classical yoga and tantra (including Ayurveda) regard embodied life as being inherently connected to the spiritual state (pp. 112-121), and holistic (p. 64). According to him, this holistic view could serve as an instructive model for the present medical system (p. 64) and perhaps aid the alternative health care system that is currently developing in the West. Eastern practices, or for that matter any practice that targets such different areas of personal development as physical, emotional, creative and psychosocial in a combined, synergistic fashion, can be defined in a contemporary context and considered all inclusive or integral self-care practices. All inclusive self-care practices may receive different emphasis, depending on the theory that supports each approach, but most include a tripartite view of the human system and the importance of their integration. According to Kak (1997), integration occurs through ―prana, or energy, [which] is described as the currency or the medium of exchange of the psychophysiological system‖ (p. 9). The raison d’être of integral practice. My understanding is that integral practice should be aiming at various facets of personal development and spiritual growth, thus addressing the broader topic of human evolution. Integral practice should also take into consideration research methodologies and practices that incorporate contemplative or meditative processes and principles, since these methodologies augment the spiritual evolutive journey that is an underpinning element of humankind--in this thesis such methodology is embodied by hermeneutic phenomenology. However, integral practice is primarily an outgrowth of different integral theories and philosophies (Dacher, 2006; Aurobindo, 1993) as they intersect with various spiritual, alternative health, self-care practices (e.g., holistic health modalities),
153 and self-transformative regimens (e.g., Buddhism and human potential movement). Ultimately, integral practice can be described as the experiential application of integral theory (Bowman, 2008; Wilber et al., 2008). Chakras as psychotherapeutic development models. In order to pave the way for a new Integral practice, theories of the psychological stages of personal development need to be supplemented with the rich chakras psychology model, employing terms recognisable by both professionals and lay-persons (in the Eastern ancient doctrines the chakra system is hermetically enclosed in an anachronistic ontological language). Many researchers, with Carl Gustav Jung in the forefront, have put significant effort into transliterating the tantric subtle body‘s rich symbology into the contemporary parameter of Western psychology. We have nowadays an extensive experiential chakra literature to draw from. Perhaps one validation of this literature is that it arises from a contemplative, thus phenomenological approach to the chakras system. Many scholars have directly experienced the power of the chakras as psychological development model and as therapeutic tools; others have employed them as meditational tools, which not only bring about healing, but also personal growth and the transformation of consciousness. As already mentioned elsewhere in this thesis, contrasting opinions exist regarding the assumed literal existence of the chakras; however, even a figurative interpretation acknowledges to some extent the ontological and phenomenological significance of the chakra system. Meadow (1993), in a study titled Yogic chakra symbols: Mirrors of the human mind/heart, discusses how the classic understanding of the tantric system of chakras, or
154 centres of spiritual energy and consciousness, can be transliterated into the theory of contemporary psychological stages of personal development; however, this requires the adjunction of a new element: spirituality. Dr. Gary Nixon (2001), in a study on alcoholic treatments, identifies the chakras model as one of the existing development models used by theorists who have ―been preoccupied with the problem of full recovery [of the alcoholics]‖ (p. 82). He further affirms that: For a basic model of full recovery, one can look to Maslow‘s hierarchy of needs, which moves through stages of physiological, safety, belongingness and love, self-esteem, self-actualization and transcendence (Maslow, 1968). Alternatively, Whitfield (1984) pointed to a hierarchy of consciousness in accordance with the perennial philosophy (Huxley, 1945). Similarly, Small (1982) describes seven levels of chakras or psycho-spiritual energy centers to be worked through in the journey of transformation from addictions. (p. 82) Characterization of the development stages. Looking in more detail into the characterisation of the development stages in both Western personality models and models of yogic spiritual development, Meadow (1993) elucidates: The stage descriptions in both models cover many aspects of human functioning, including expected behavior, bases for decision making, interpersonal relations, self-management, principal motivating forces, goals and aspirations, concerns and interests, tasks for the stage, and mode of conceptualizing one's existence. (p. 68) Meadow (1993) further explains:
155 Earlier stages must be successfully traversed before later stages can be reached, and no stages are skipped. Growth requires successively dealing with the tasks of each stage, as each lays the groundwork for stages to come. Individuals progress through the stages at different paces, and differ also in the highest level of development attained. Growth can occur across an entire lifetime or be aborted at any point. (p. 68) Concerns about growth (i.e., growth as a spiritual challenge) were already explained by Maslow (1970): Descriptively, we can see in each person his own (weak) tendencies to grow toward self-actualization; and, also descriptively, we can see his various (weak) tendencies toward regressing (out of fear, hostility, or laziness). It is the task of education, therapy, marriage, and the family to ally themselves to the former, and to be conducive to individual growth. (p. 97) Rama et al. (1976) point out: Growth is a unitary process: Biological evolution from protozoan to man, psychological evolution from child to adult, therapeutic evolution from mental illness to health and the development of universal consciousness in the mystic are all included in this process of growth. Each deals with one leg of a long journey. Each describes one segment of the whole. (p. xxiv) Rama et al. (1976) further assert: Having viewed the process of growth as it can be conceptualized in yoga psychology, we have seen how a limited sense of ―I‖ is progressively replaced by a more expanded one. This process extends from infancy when a fragile and
156 tentative I-ness is first created through the acquisition and development of an ego to stages of development in which the ego is transcended. (p. 156) According to Fields (2001), growth implies not simply biological growth; but also intellectual growth, social growth, and progress towards self-awareness, which moves one towards development, ―without such lifelong development, a person tends more towards stagnation than towards optimum health‖ (p. 51). He further explains ―nature‘s tendency is towards thriving--adaptation, equilibrium and development. In the religious domain, the human being in its true nature is whole and well, needing only the healing that removes impediments to its perfect nature‖ (Fields (2001, p. 172). Meadow (1993) elaborates: In both Western and the yogic models, development progresses through the same arenas of concern in the same order: survival and self-protection, sexual and sensual impulses, concern with power and possessions, turning to issues of heart and responsibility, development of higher sensitivities, and then a high level of personal integration. It must, however, be noted that progression through stages of similar content in psychological models does not mean the level of attainment that controlling the chakra energies means. Rather, the completion of each chakra's work implies a prior high level of personality integration in the areas related to that chakra. (p. 77) Rama et al. (1976) assert: All understanding is distilled here [in the chakras] …. This is what is meant by saying that ‗the microcosm reflects the macrocosm‘. By immersing oneself in this
157 inner experience, an understanding of the coordination between the various aspects of oneself and the universe begins to grow. (p. 176) Thus, according to Meadow (1993), ―Yogic chakra development appears to begin during later stages of spiritual development [than is] described in Western understanding‖ (p. 69). In addition, she (1993) explains, ―chakra psychology asserts that each person's spiritual energy tends to concentrate around one of these centers of energy‖ (p. 69). Therefore, the preoccupations, concerns, and attitudes associated with each chakra are portrayed as a mirror of the human developmental stages when spiritual energy is concentrated in that location. Energy-Healing Theory: A Study In this section, I will: present specific psychosomatic and neurological brain studies conducted on yoga applications, and briefly illustrate findings suggested by the authors. The findings generally suggest that yoga interventions positively enhance the psychophysical health of individuals and acknowledge the importance of further exploring elements directly related to transpersonal aspects of human consciousness and spiritual well-being. In addition, later on in this section I will discuss studies that expound on holistic yogic theories that elucidate such fundamental principles as the relationship between health and spirituality in yoga; the fact that energy seems to be one of the underpinning elements of yoga; and the relationship existing between the activation of energy and the various yoga practices. Finally, in an attempt to identify the holistic implications of the neuro-brain and health studies, I will discuss, in a case-study, the rich Indic traditional body of knowledge. In doing this, I will look at an existing traditional
158 theoretical construct and new scientific knowledge that throws light on and expands upon fundamental yoga principles such as energy-healing theory. Examination of yoga based modalities. Various health care professionals (for example, Registered Nurses) are increasingly focusing their attention on transformative spiritual practices. We have already seen in the review of the literature that there are many significant scientific studies that support the principle that spirituality-based practices may reduce the effects of stress that weaken the immune system. Bormann and Carrico (2009) provide a good survey of studies that have been conducted (the list is already provided in the Chapter, Review of Literature). Similar suggestions that portray the validity of traditional techniques, which make up the complex Eastern traditions, associate better health outcomes and improvement in quality of life with the application of these practices. For this thesis I have examined a few studies that concentrate on such yoga modalities as asanas, pranayams, and meditation techniques (e.g., mantra), which I will describe below: Measurement of psychosomatic health benefits. Bormann and Carrico, in their 2009 study, clearly indicate that the verbal or mental (silent) repetition of a mantra, word or phrase with spiritual significance, may reduce stress and anxiety, and improved quality of life and spiritual well being, as well as reducing related symptoms in HIV-Positive patients. Bernardi et al. (2001), in their study, observed that reciting yoga mantras, spiritual rhythmic formulas, ―slowed respiration to almost exactly six breaths per minute, and enhanced heart rate variability and baroreflex sensitivity‖ (abstract); whereas, ―Rhythm formulas that involve breathing at six breaths
159 per minute induce favourable psychological and possibly physiological effects‖ (abstract). Carson et al. (2007) affirm that ―Yoga is one of a variety of complementary and alternative medicine [CAM] adjunctive approaches that cancer patients of all cultural backgrounds have been seeking out in dramatically larger numbers in recent years‖ (p. 332). Carson et al. (2007) further affirm that cancer studies are increasingly indicating positive findings, with the result that yoga ―is now offered at several major treatment centers (e.g., M.D. Anderson, Memorial Sloan-Kettering, UCLA/Jonsson) via their complementary therapy services‖ (p. 332). They themselves, Carson et al. (2007), conducted a pilot study, in which they observed the efficacy of yoga-based palliative interventions ―in a sample of women with MBC‖ (p. 331). This study, named Yoga of Awareness Program, ―systematically integrated a broad spectrum of traditional yogic techniques and tenets‖ (p. 335), such as ―gentle asanas (physical stretching postures), pranayama (breathing exercises), dhyana (e.g., awareness of breath, awareness of awareness itself), group discussions, etc.‖ (p. 335). ―The results were assessed through a personal diary kept by the participants to evaluate their quality of life at the beginning and end of the program‖ (p. 332). The results of this study prove interesting, as the authors observed that the participants assigned to the yoga program, compared to the participants in the control group, showed marked reduction of depression, increased feeling of peace and well being, and improved energy (p. 336). The study further demonstrated that the participants who practiced yoga regularly experienced ―signiﬁcantly lower levels of pain and fatigue, and higher levels of invigoration, acceptance, and relaxation‖ (p. 331). Khalsa and Cope, in their 2006 study, noted that
160 yoga and meditation practices helped alleviate anxiety and musculoskeletal problems, improve mood, and improve cognitive and physical performance (p. 325) on performance-related characteristics of musicians. Furthering the findings from this study, Khalsa, Shorter, Cope, Wyshak, and Sklar (2009) studied the effects of yoga practice on musicians. The authors specifically selected musicians as they note ―musicians experience a number of challenges in their profession, including high levels of stress, performance anxiety, and performance-related musculoskeletal conditions (PRMD)‖ (p. 279). The authors gathered qualitative data that indicate participants enrolled in the yoga program were able to manage performance anxiety better than the control group; and they all experienced an extraordinary ―life changing clarity‖ (p. 286), which included benefits such as improved stamina and concentration, increased self confidence, increased enjoyment of music performances, lessened fatigue from the intensive music program, and improved ability to manage the fellowship program. Singh, Kyizom, Singh, Tandon, and Madhu, (2008), in a study on the use of various yoga-asana and pranayama techniques by type 2 diabetes sufferers for a period of forty-five days, found that such practices ―modify certain biochemical parameters on type 2 diabetes participants, which may be the direct cause of an overall improvement in rejuvenating cells of the pancreas‖ (p. 366). They conclude that, from the ―beneficial effects of yoga on diabetes patients shown in this study, the adoption of yoga on a long term basis would bring proper control of blood sugar, lipid profile and insulin levels in diabetes‖ (p. 368). Besides these physical effects, participants reported an improved feeling of well-being. Some of the indicators reported by the participants included: a sense of relief from anxiety; increased satisfaction, alertness and energy; alleviation of
161 apprehension and stress; feelings of well being; and hormonal balance (p. 367-368). The authors conclude that diabetes can be better controlled if yoga can also be simultaneously administered along with the conventional medicines. Arambula, Peper, Kawakami and Gibney (2001) studied the physiological correlates of an advanced Kundalini yoga meditator (the specific form of meditation was not classified). They collected ―physiological data‖ (p. 58) and recorded the yogi‘s abdominal and thoracic respiration. The subject was continuously observed while he meditated in the yoga posture called siddha asana (a position similar to half lotus), with eyes closed. The authors reported a noticeable ―decrease in respiration rate during the meditation (M = 5 [breaths/minute]) when compared to the pre- (M = 11 breaths/min) and post-baseline periods (M = 13 breaths/min)‖ (p. 149), and ―an increase in theta EEG activity immediately following the meditation‖ (p. 147). The authors affirm that: Many of the findings here are similar to those in previous reports on the physiological correlates of meditation and yoga .... The uniqueness of this investigation is in the level and expertise of the subject that was studied. Examining such individuals may help to better identify the physiological correlates, and benefits of the exercise by revealing development that takes place only after achieving a high level of proficiency. This may help explain the contradictory findings surrounding the physiological correlates of meditation by creating a more accurate and complete picture of physiology during meditative practices. (Arambula, 2001, p. 152) Although respiration patterns have often been associated with meditation, few studies report on this data. The finding that a subject can breathe continuously at about 5
162 breaths/min without experiencing any air hunger or excessive arousal, with a concurrent increase in occipital alpha EEG activity, demonstrates the meditative skills of the subject. Breathing may also be one of the physiological mechanisms by which the meditation experience can easily be integrated and anchored into daily life. By refocusing on breathing during the day, the meditative state may be re-established. Further studies comparing advanced practitioners of yoga to those who are less proficient would be desirable, as would research on larger groups of expert practitioners so that meaningful statistical analyses could be done (Arambula, 2001, p. 151-152). Neuro measurement of altered state of consciousness. In his comparative study of various Eastern meditation techniques, Hankey (2006) states: Long-term practice of traditional South Asian meditation techniques, be they of Buddhist or Vedic origin, result in changes in cognitive style consistent with the development of a more balanced and stable mode of awareness, characterized by increased wakefulness, and simultaneous sensitivity to outer stimuli and inner patterns of cognitive and mental processing. Such changes are consistent with improved mental health. (p. 520) Generally, psychological characteristics that are recognized as clear signs of expanded consciousness, also broadly known as ‗altered states of consciousness‘ or ‗higher states of consciousness,‘ are changes or alterations in emotional expression, thinking, sensorial perception, bodily structure, feelings (e.g., a sudden sense of grace, joy, rejuvenation), meaning, intellectual qualities amongst others (Deikman, 1963; Grof, 1975; Levine et al., 1963; Tart, 1990, 1969).
163 As Hankey (2006) notes: Many techniques used in contemporary mind–body medicine have as their ultimate goal states of improved psychophysiological functioning, similar, or directly related to enlightenment such as meditation techniques and forms of psychotherapy based on transpersonal psychology, neurolinguistic programming and their various outgrowths. (pp. 513-514) Hankey (2006), reporting on a study by Carter, Presti, Callistemon, Liu, Ungerer, and Pettigrew (2005), reaffirms, in agreement with the authors, that the experienced monks who reported perfect visual stability during their entire practice may prove that ―long-term meditation practice can improve psychophysiological stability‖ (p. 515). Newberg et al. (2001) conducted specific studies on meditators‘s neurological brain process, using imaging techniques to detect which regions of the brain are active during spiritual contemplation that induces altered states of consciousness. They observe that neuron-cerebral activity experienced by meditators engaged in spiritual contemplative practices explains overwhelmingly the realism of transcendent experience. The researchers Baijal and Narayanan (2009) investigated the neural activity underlying a concentrative type of kundalini meditation (that has as the objective the purification and balance of the subtle body system and the activation of subtle energy). Baijal and Narayanan (2009) conclude that ―reduced theta over posterior areas of the brain especially the left hemispheric sensory regions potentially linked to the increase in frontal theta activity‖ (p. 37) during deep meditation, achieved only by participants who are well advanced in meditation, may be the principal factor responsible for experiencing altered
164 states of consciousness, ―associated with timelessness and reduced awareness of one‘s surroundings‖ (p. 37). The authors Lehmann, Faber, Achermann, Jeanmonod, Gianotti and Pizzagalli (2001) used repeated measurements to research different meditations repeatedly practiced in sequence by a Buddhist Lama and noted that each meditation produced unique neurological measurements. Lehmann et al. (2001) state: Our results add to a growing body of evidence suggesting that altered states of consciousness are associated with different patterns of brain activation depending on the content of consciousness .... The different meditations were consciously self-induced, volitionally generated by the subject without systematic input of external origin …. The present results confirm a key role of brain electric activity of the gamma frequency band in the mechanisms implementing states of consciousness. (pp. 115-116) Summary/overview. The above surveyed studies systematically demonstrate to one degree or another that increasingly researchers are carrying on studies on the psycho-somatic effects of yoga body-mind techniques. And that findings support the incorporation of these yoga body-mind modalities in the health care system. Examples of somatic effects include enhanced immune function, chronic pain relief, lowered blood pressure, decreased heart and respiratory rates, increased blood flow, and other measurable signs of the relaxation response. Examples of psychological effects include increased cognition emotions such as compassion and empathy that generate a positive feeling toward others, and other improvements in psychological factors that enhance a strong sense of self-esteem.
165 However, it is important to note that the above described scientific experiments, and for that matter most of the current experiments, reveal findings that do not focus as much on ‗whys‘ and ‗how‘ yoga techniques such as mantras work, but, more exclusively on the specificity of ‗what‘ these yoga interventions delivered to the patient‘s overall quality of life; thus, it is my opinion, because very few studies consider that these yoga modalities are energy-based, the overall implication of these studies and their findings are somehow altered. Consequently, in this section, I argue that, although the findings of such studies are extremely valuable as a step toward the integration of these yoga modalities in the orthodox Western health system, in a truly new, integral and holistic health care system that sustains personal development, including higher states of psychological well-being, spirituality, and higher states of consciousness, there is a need to understand and therefore augment, the complex theoretical and practical spiritual framework that is a fundamental pre-requisite of Whole Medical Systems such as yoga. So, while attempting to place the findings of scientific studies on yoga interventions back in their original spiritual context, I am also asserting the importance of an integral approach; and that, in the specific case of the studies conducted on the yoga interventions, they may have consistently overlooked, amongst others aspects, the fact that yoga as a whole Medical System is sustained upon the fundamental principle that human beings are infused with a subtle energy. Moreover, another fundamental principle attached to the yoga system is that the activation of biofields or putative energy fields is supposed to occurs through a complex practice of self-realization, such as asanas, pranayamas, mantras, meditation and so forth. Finally, according to the yoga discipline, it is this energy activation that brings about healing and transformation.
166 The work of energy as a basis in yoga practice. Meadow (1993), in her analysis of the chakras model, rightly posits that, for growth to occur, the flow of energy must be enacted by working with specific yogic practices such as asanas, pranayamas and mantras; ―typically, an aspirant practices some other form of meditation before being given a Kundalini [energy] initiation, which heralds serious work on movement through the chakras …. The spiritual task is to draw this energy [Kundalini] upward from the lower to the higher centers‖ (p. 69). More precisely, when the spiritual energy is stagnant at a particular chakra, one has to activate its flow for a full ignition of the psycho-spiritual transformation of the practitioner. Rama et al. (1976) in their comparative analysis of the Western psychotherapies and Yoga psychotherapy explain: A great deal of energy is tied up in keeping repressed material outside awareness. Work is involved in holding a memory or impulse away from the conscious mind. This energy can be released and made once more accessible when the unconscious material is brought into consciousness. The patient in psychotherapy which is able to bring repressed material to consciousness is usually found to have more energy available. This reduces chronic fatigue and makes work more effective and dynamic. This is usually a gradual process .… Similarly, the person who successfully through the discipline of meditation enters the unknown world and explores the increasing amount of energy that ‗rises up‘ and becomes symbolized by a raising serpent which is called kundalini …. As the process of meditation continues and the unconscious is gradually made conscious, the
167 kundalini ‗rises‘; the energy it was absorbing is released, and one feels an upsurge of vitality. (p. 108) Relationship between health and spirituality in yoga. Georg Feuerstein (2001), in his attempt to contextualize yoga in a Western context, states ―In our struggle for self-understanding and psycho spiritual growth, we can benefit immensely from a liberal exposure to India‘s spiritual legacy. We need not, of course ... accept yogic ideas and practices without questioning‖ (pp. xx-xii). However, he further notes that millions of Westerners benefit from the practice of Hatha yoga and other meditational techniques: Yet only few people deeply and consistently commit themselves to exploring the intricate psychotechnology of the various branches of the Yoga tradition. It is they who are discovering that consciousness, the human-body-mind, is a wellequipped laboratory in which [its full potential] can be found. (p. 567) Ultimately, Feuerstein (2001) recapitulates: Yoga deserves far more careful attention from scientists than it has so far been granted .... Scientists, who are after all committed to understanding reality, have a special obligation to explore the great intuitions of the spiritual traditions of the East, which vigorously challenge the current scientific view of the world. (p. 427) These challenges are captured by Fields (2001, p. 131), when he says: Analysis of Yoga reveals two major domains of the relationship between health and religiousness [or spirituality]: 1. Health as an aid to religious progress: purification and conditioning of the body and mind in order to support greater spiritual awareness and progress.
168 2. Liberation as healing: attainment of freedom from limitations and suffering, resulting from realization of one‘s true Self-nature as consciousness. Fields (2001) further points out that, as per Yoga-Bhyasa (2.15 - commentary to Patanjali‘s Yoga Sastra by Vyasa, a yogi of fifth/sixth century C.E.) there is a ―common therapeutic paradigm‖ between yoga and medical science, which is illustrated in the following table (p. 132): Table G - Yoga’s Therapeutic Paradigm Medical Science Illness Cause of Illness Goal: Restoration of health Yoga Cycle of suffering and rebirth (samsara) Cause of samsara: ignorance (avidya) Liberation (moksha): Independence (kaivalya)
Discriminative Knowledge (vivekakhyati)
Fields (2001), in his study based on the classical Yoga of Patanjali (along with its commentaries the Yoga-bhyasa of Vyasa [c. fifth/sixth century C.E.] and the Tattvavaisaradi of Vacaspati Misra [ninth century C.E.] (p. 83), observes how yoga can be seen ―as a comprehensive system of psychophysical healing and religious liberation. Yoga accounts for the human body/mind and spirit so as to guide practitioners in ethics, health, and progress toward enlightened embodiment‖ (p. 83); a system that ultimately portrays a model of yogic spiritual therapeutics. However, Fields (2001), in his further analysis of the therapeutic significance of yoga notes:
169 In Yoga, health in the psychophysical domain is subsidiary to the wholeness and well-being of the Self‘s abiding in its true nature.... Therefore in Yoga, the fundamental meaning of health is the well-being of liberated consciousness.... [Where] one attains immunity ... of the material natural world and those of one‘s own body and mind. (p. 137) Moving to the tantric tradition, Fields (2001) affirms that tantra ―is the form of yoga that most strongly emphasizes physical health and the soteriological role of the body‖ (p. 139). According to my understanding, the theoretical construct expounded above gives clear signs of the importance of considering, in the scientific study of yoga, the modalities‘ original essence: spirituality. In other words, I am referring here to the need to remove any bias against spirituality, and I second criticisms such as the one put forward by Wilber (1995) (already included in the first section of this chapter), where he says that science denies spiritual knowledge when it attempts to deduce the existence of transcendental realities based on objectivist or naturalistic approaches or ―empirical and natural events‖ (p. 111). Such concepts are reiterated in this section for example by Georg Feuerstein (2001), when he states that science should not be afraid to explore theories that ―challenge the current scientific view of the world‖ (p. 427), such as those provided by ―the great intuitions of the spiritual traditions of the East‖ (p. 427). Similarly, Fields (2001) emphasises the holistic meaning of health in yoga that looks at the whole picture of the human essence and not at specific parts, like physical health. This holistic meaning is what, within this study, has been identified as healing and transformation. It is
170 my opinion that in order for scientists to conduct a holistic investigation, they should consider the specificity of Eastern spiritual heritage. A case study of mantra application. In this sub-section, I endeavour to put forward the ideas that while certain yoga modalities have been progressively given far more attention as a CAM, thanks to the slow but steady increase in interest from scientists and researchers determined to study the effects of yoga mind-body modalities, mantras intervention, on the contrary, has been almost entirely neglected. Reasons for its relative absence in the health care system (for example, as complementary treatment for integrative oncology) were uncertain to me. However, through a review of the literature, I have arrived at some of the possible reasons for the slow inclusion of mantra by the alternative health care system: mantra application is totally based on less measurable principles, such as the newly discovered sonic entrainment law (Goldman, 1991). Moreover, because mantra modality is less understood than other alternative yoga techniques, I believe that it is wrongly categorised as a mind-body therapy (Wesa, Gubili and Cassileth, 2008 ). These topics will be dealt with in the next sections to follow. I have already corroborated, by examining the experiments above, how yoga techniques such as mantras can enhance the health and well-being of individuals; however, I have also argued that science does not seem to be interested in the possible implications of yoga techniques such as mantra that would fully explain why it works. I am also arguing that, in my opinion, possible answers can be found in both the ancient meditational literature and new scientific discoveries. I have partially anticipated some definitions and a theory of the significance of mantra in the introductory chapter; except
171 that they will not suffice to support the many implications that mantra seems to have for psychosomatic healing and spiritual transformation. Thus, I will provide an extra theoretical framework on mantra that will form the foundation for my later presentation of a case-study suggesting that the newly discovered sonic entrainment law can be one of the implications that make mantra meditation an effective means of healing and transformation. Energy activation through mantra. Fields (2001) explains that ―Tantra shares classical Yoga‘s aim of spiritual Selfrealization‖ (p. 140). However, ―while Self-realization [in Yoga] entails ... independence of consciousness from material and psychological nature‖ (p. 39), in tantra, the importance of spiritual incarnation or the notion that ―the body is a vehicle for the attainment of spiritual aims‖ (p. 139) is prime. This fact is evident, for example, in the specificity of ―kundalini‖ or ―one‘s vital cosmic energy‖ that ascends by piercing through the several energy-centers or chakras ...‖ (p. 147) located along the physical body, in the attainment of absolute consciousness. Moreover, it is through a path of inner selfdiscovery that one controls the undalini energy. Rama et al. (1976) explain the difficulty of achieving a focused inward awareness of subtle energy by means of yoga: In yoga, energy is studied as it is sensed during the inward focusing of the attention, a practice not usually cultivated or developed in the West. The result is a sort of constantly evolving ―internal map‖ of experiential ―energy patterns‖ as they are discovered during one‘s personal exploration on inner space. (p. 35) Fields (2001) affirms that ―both classical Yoga and Tantra incorporate the power of mantra as a focal point for meditation‖ (p. 158). From this description, it seems that
172 mantra in all Indic meditational traditions plays a central role in terms of its possibility as a medium for gaining the ―inward focusing of the attention‖ on subtle energy. However, from a thorough study of meditational literature and contemporary scientific research, mantra seems to be much more than a simple technique. That is the reason why mantras have been employed in the East as a religion ritual, psycho-spiritual practice (a branch of the Indian yoga discipline) and holistic remedy (a branch of Ayurvedic medicine). Ultimately, mantra is a multifaceted topic; each spiritual traditions and schools of yoga and the Ayurveda Whole Medical System include mantra either as an important meditational techniques, therapeutic remedy, or spiritual-energetic formula. Frawley and Vedacharya (2008), the first being a pandit and latter an oriental medical doctor, assert ―Yogic concentration, mantra, and meditation practices are important for treating all psychological disorders, according to Ayurveda, and are a necessary part of any healthy lifestyle for body and mind‖ (p. 23). Both in the Hindu and Buddhist Tantras, the power and efficacy of mantras are indisputable. For example, ―it is said in the Buddhist Tantras that if the mantras are applied according to the proper rules anything can be performed; their power and efficacy are beyond dispute. They can even confer Buddhahood on the aspirant‖ (Bhattacharyya, 1982, p. 230). Ultimately, the purpose of mantras is to keep a thread of continuity, a relationship between this physical world and the subtle inner worlds. Paul Newham (1999) concisely and appropriately explains the underlying holistic approach to healing through mantras: The Sanskrit chanting is connected to a perception of the human body quite different from the westerner allopathic body-map [the subtle body system described in this thesis made of chakras, nadis and prana] .... In Hindu and yogic
173 literature the unique source which activates the energy of the chakras and assists in the awakening of higher consciousness is called Kundalini .... The most widely practiced means to achieve this awakening and rising of energy is that of meditation, which, when practiced regularly over a long period of time causes the chakras to open and clear ... One of the means to achieve this meditation is through vocalization and in Hindu chanting, certain sounds [mantras] stimulate and purify the chakras, serving not only to awaken the soul and the spirit but to awaken the body‘s energetic and spiritual aspiration to health. (p. 50) Katz‘s (2000) research on ancient texts shows that mantras are listed as the first element used in treatments in therapeutics based on symptomatology and in elaborated medical material lists. He further affirms that ―there is clear enough recognition in the classical Indian medical treatises of the ritual and therapeutic importance of … mantra ... both in the collection and preparation of medicines and in the treatment of certain symptomatic, psychosomatic and spiritual conditions‖ (p. 85). The author notes that authoritative ancient texts recognize that there are ―…three distinct type of therapy … ‗resting on the spiritual‘… ‗resting on the rational‘ (consisting on the rational administration of diet, drugs, and so on) and the … ‗subjugation of the mental disposition‘‖ (p. 85-86) normally, obtained through the application of mantras. Since the principles that govern mantra are both extensive and differ somewhat from tradition to tradition and since specific principles could be the cause of the effectiveness of mantra in healing and transformation, a full understanding of its governing principles and mode of employment is prerequisite to a full assessment of utility, but too complex a topic of study to be tackled in this thesis. Therefore, in this
174 section I will limit my focus to a single aspect of mantra that is increasingly finding scientific favour, namely: the sonic entrainment principle. Possible implication of mantra modality. Sonic entrainment is explained by Jonathan S. Goldman (1991) in this way: All life consists of rhythmic processes. From the simple pulsations of a single-cell organism to the rising and falling of the breath, life is filled with rhythm. This is also called ―periodicity‖ meaning that the activity of something falls in cycle. Much of life is directed by external rhythms of nature …. Sound can be understood as being rhythmic. Sound takes the form of waves, which are measured in cycles per second (hertz or hz). This periodicity is rhythmic in nature …. Entrainment is an aspect of sound that is closely related to rhythms and the way these rhythms affect us. It is a phenomenon of sound in which the powerful rhythmic vibrations of one object will cause the less powerful vibrations of another object to lock in step and oscillate at the first object‘s rate. This phenomenon of nature has to do with the conservation of energy …. Within our bodies, we are constantly locking in our own rhythms. Our heart rate, respiration and brain waves all entrain to each other. Slow down your breath, for example, and you slow down your heart beat and your brain waves. Conversely, if you are able to slow your brain waves, you can affect your heart rate and respiration. This is one of the principles of biofeedback. (p. 217-218) Gordon Limbrick (1991, pp. 307-316) clearly explains: ― Scientifics have affirmed that, in terms of vibrational possibilities, all that is the universe is present in man. In fact, man is the vibrational reality of Sound, Color and Form, the different states
175 of which are only differences of vibrations‖ (p. 307). He further refers to the ―Logoic modes of operation‖ that relate to the ―descending‖ flow of the spirit that becomes matter and ―ascending‖ flow ―upon which life essence appears to be returning to its Source … or highest spiritual planes‖ (p. 309). This higher plane is also described as the ―Voice of the Silence‖ or ―the Soundless Sound. So called because it is beyond the range of acoustical frequency‖ (p. 309). He further explains that ―eastern Philosophy, describes Integrated Sound (Nada) as ‗a super-integration of all possible kinds of vibrations which can find expression‖ (p. 309) in Nature. And, that ancient Indic scripture describes exactly how this vibration can be expressed in each chakra, with specific sounds for the awakening of subtle energy kundalini that ultimately is absorbed in the soundless dimension (represented by the seventh chakra). The adept can learn how to listen to these vibrations and transcend them one by one through ―Nada Yoga‖. However, he/she needs to master specific postures, explained in ―Hatha yoga‖ (p. 311), to be properly enabled to listen to the vibrations. Applying sonic entrainment. Mantra can be described, obviously, as a sound. We know that one of the distinguishing attributes of sound is vibration (Bunt, 1994, p. 158). Sound can be described as a form of vibrating energy, which operates in ways best described in the language of physics or music as entrainment. We have seen that the entrainment law is defined as a synchronization of two or more rhythmic cycles. In other words, when two closely related rhythmic cycles interacts, they synchronize with each other to conserve energy (Goldman, 1991). For example, an individual‘s brainwaves, respiration and heartbeat can be altered by other vibrations, such as sound that emanates when mantras
176 are chanted (Goldman, 1992, pp. 194-197). The musical elements of rhythm in mantra chanting cause rhythmic entrainment, which in turn produces synergy (Goldman, 1992); also, the combined action of sound and breath produces such synergy (Russil, 2004, pp. 134-135). The mantra directly affects the vibrations of the energy system and through repetition, over time, it overrides (entrains) all the weaker vibrations. Ultimately, the mantra produces a state in which the living organism vibrates completely in tune with the spiritual state or energy contained within the mantra. These reasons could give some explanation of why mantras can be used to re-pattern or re-programme undesirable and blocked energy patterns within the subtle body system. For example, we have seen that, in the study conducted by Bernardi et al. (2001), mantra repetition slowed respiration to almost exactly six breaths per minute, inducing psychological and physiological benefits. Referring to combined action of sound and breath, Fields (2001) states ―the breathpatterns required for chanting [mantras] is another feature of Sanskrit that supports meditative awareness‖ (p. 163). According to Fields (2001), chanting Sanskrit mantras requires: Correct pronunciation ... and cultivates breath control ... thus chant ... has qualities like those of pranayama: regulation of breath leads to calming of the vrttis, the activities of the mind that produce bondage and suffering. Meditative awareness gained in Sanskrit chant is thus rooted in the physical experience …‖ (p. 163). Furthermore, Fields (2001) explains ―Sanskrit is a language designed for maximum uninterrupted resonance‖ (p. 163) and ―‗Sanskrit sounds are combined according to rules of euphonic combination ... [which] permits the most perfect uninterrupted flow of the most euphonic blending of letters and words and verse‘‖
177 (Fields, 2001, p. 163). ―In the chanting of Sanskrit scripture or of mantras, the experience of unbroken resonation pervades one‘s entire body and extends beyond oneself‖ (Fields, 2001, p. 163). Discussion and Conclusion Currently, as we have seen, there are systematic studies that support the incorporation of yoga body-mind-energy modalities in the health care system. This is due mainly to the fact that yogic techniques have enacted a positive health response. Physically, they have yielded dramatic results in many areas, like effective management of pain. Psychologically, they have eased anxiety, depression and hostility; they have increased participants‘ ability to relax; and participants have improved self-esteem, greater energy and enthusiasm for life, an increased the ability to cope with stress, and so forth. Spiritually, they have helped patients going through crisis by producing an enriched and expanded sense of consciousness. Most importantly, Eastern yoga techniques, specifically asanas, pranayamas, mantra and meditation interventions have not only shown positive outcomes towards enhancing physical and psycho-spiritual comforts, but have also supported the initial notion that these are a non-invasive and safe therapies. However, in this section, I also put forward the notion that a better understanding of the fundamental principles of such ancient traditions as mantra meditation would most probably result in a holistic benefit to individuals, allowing not only enhancement of body-mind health and well-being, but also a psycho-spiritual transformation of consciousness, which in this thesis is termed as healing and transformation, fundamental requirements of comprehensive human evolution—which is the original aim of the Indic spiritual tradition. Moreover, it is my opinion that, because a psycho-spiritual
178 transformation is intricate and because measuring these phenomena, even when using the most sophisticated technological devices existing nowadays, remains mostly impossible, mantra therapy has not been fully understood and has been misconceived in its entirety. Clear support for my contention regarding the misconception surrounding mantra therapy was found by me while reviewing a study focused on surveying complementary therapies for cancer survivors that was included in the field of Integrative Oncology. A study by Wesa, Gubili and Cassileth (2008) confirms that ―the different meditation techniques produce similar physiologic response, with the resulting benefit of stress reduction and improved mood‖ (p. 347); and, that rigorous scientific research has produced evidence that ―complementary therapies are noninvasive, inexpensive, and useful in controlling symptoms and improving quality of life, and they may be accessed by patients themselves‖ (p. 347). However, I find arguable their categorization of ―mantra meditation‖ (p. 347) as a ―less intense meditation‖ (p. 347) and equally arguable their inclusion of mantra meditation in the category of the mind-body therapies (pp. 345-347). Moreover, Wesa et al. exclude ―Energy medicine, [which is] the manipulation of purported energy fields‖ (p. 344) from the ―evidence-based therapies that can serve well as adjuncts to mainstream cancer care‖ (p. 344). Personally, after a thorough review of the main literature showing new evidence on the efficacy for health and improved quality of life of spirituality (Aguirre, 1998; Brady et al., 1999; Paloutzian and Ellison, 1982; Seeman et al., 2003) and mantra (Bormann and Carrico, 2009; Bernardi et al., 2001; Lee, Lin, Wrensch, Adler and Eisenberg, 2000; Murray, 1995), I have serious doubts about the conclusion drawn by Wesa et al. (2008). For example, Lee et al. (2000) specifically include mantra in a report of alternative therapies used by individuals affected by cancer;
179 they state that ―these techniques have been shown to produce distinct biochemical changes in the body, including the lowering of blood pressure, pulse rates, and levels of stress hormones in the blood‖ (p. 46). Murray (1995) also seems to believe that mantra is effective in meliorating the health of cancer patients. However little is known by science about the putative energetic fields claimed by the meditational literature. I attempted in this section to present a theoretical framework that support my statements that mantra meditation is clearly based on sound-energy principles and that this modality should be included in the energy medicine category. I also attempted to argue that there is a fundamental need to revise certain limitations imposed on Energy Medicine in this section, I have explored some possibilities why yoga modalities such as mantra can work; I have mentioned that one field that should be explored in the search for answers is the still relatively unknown ‗sonic entrainment‘ law, which applies, for example, to sound and breath, and which seems to have the potential to effect the function of the brain, and thus the whole human system. I would like to further infer that in consideration of the aforementioned point of views, the above described studies on mantra (including Wesa et al.‘s, 2008, survey) may have overlooked, amongst others: the sound-entrainment phenomenon in mantra recitation; the notion of biofields or putative energy fields, based on the concept that human beings are infused with a subtle form of energy; and the fact that mantra therapy originated as and is sustained upon a complex system of theory and practice, which is a pre-requisite of Whole Medical Systems. In fact, to conclude, according to the Vedas (Sanskrit, véda, "knowledge"), the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature originating in Ancient India and the foundation of the Hindu philosophy, ‗the fundamental reality‘ or
180 ‗divine essence‘ (in Sanskrit Nada Brahman) is sacred sound (in Sanskrit Shabda) vibration, mantra (Blofeld, 1977, p. 84; Lavezzoli, 2006, ¶ 2; Beck, 2006, ¶ 4). Self-experiential Study on Subtle Body Patterns An integral creative approach to energy activation. In the following section, I put forward some of the principles that I interpret as fundamental to contextualizing the specific self-experiential study that is a hermeneutic or interpretative phenomenological analysis of the subtle energy directly experienced by myself, the researcher and participant subject. Thus, the whole or integral body (physical, psychological, energetic and spiritual) is taken into consideration, in the specific laboratory of dance movement. This study is informed by artistic inquiry principles, through the employment of personal skills, which include various body-mind disciplines that cross the boundaries of the dance movement practice. The specific principles are integration, creativity and the body as medium for personal development or selfrealisation. We will look closer at these principles through a theoretical lens, based on the review of the literature and through my interpretation of my own background experience with these principles. What I imply here with ―self-realization‖ is in line with the definition given for this term in Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary: ―the fulfilment by oneself of the possibilities of one's character or personality‖ (Self-realization). I purposely use the term self-realization as a synonym for personal development, since I intend to create a parallelism with the same term employed in the Indic, meditational, non tantric traditions. This synonym implies a spiritual awakening that uncovers the divine and transpersonal dimension of the self. As I understand it, this requires doing away with a false to facts
181 personality as it is identified by the true personality. This false to facts personality is usually recognized in Western tradition as residing in the ego, which is nothing more than a fictitious construction of our true identity. The meaning given here moves away from the Eastern concept of self-realization and brings to center stage the character and personality of the individual: the healthily realized ego. I will avoid going into any ontological or mystical discussion of this topic; however, I will simply argue here based on my personal point of view that human beings have a duty to realize their true nature as human beings confronted with personal and interpersonal issues, before they can aspire to realizing themselves in transpersonal dimensions. In a certain way, we can talk of a non hierarchical model of development, a spectrum that is simply progressive, evolutionary or integral. This concept has been reiterated throughout the thesis and embodied by the theory that human consciousness manifests itself as a spectrum. When personal-psychosomatic and transpersonal-spiritual possibilities are taken into consideration, the emphasis is on the importance of dealing with the task at hand, whatever that task may be, given that each individual is at a particular and unique stage of his/her life (Ken Wilber, 1993, 1996, 1995, 2000; Grof, 2000; Walsh and Vaughan, 1980; Maslow, 1970; Meadow, 1993). I strongly feel that in our present day context of human evolution, as a race, we are far from being directly concerned with transpersonal development; we are more concerned with and aware of issues of the personal and interpersonal. For me, the proof of what I am stating is the current world situation, which is dominated by ego centred societies, and where violence manifests in the form of wars, famine, crimes, domestic abuse, child pornography, racism and so forth. Violence, in whichever form it manifests, is a clear sign of lack of self-
182 realization. In my experience teaching yoga, and I am confident that this is the case for most body-mind therapists and health professionals, I have been engaging with individuals who are in need of resolving issues of basic personal and interpersonal development. These issues are dictated by our physicality, our basic need to integrate body-mind, our need to develop body-mind awareness, and our need to learn breath awareness. In other words, ordinary individuals are concerned with being able to become aware of their bodies and the world, and in working with a body-mind discipline they are expecting through the practice (movement, action and so forth) they conduct in the 'lab' (mat or studio) to achieve the ability to ‗integrate sensing,‘ and to enhance through the practice their personal and interpersonal relationships, once they are off the mat. I personally recall that, as a beginning yoga student, everyday was a discovery about my personal awareness of sensing my body (e.g., perception) and how it improved my relationship with the outside world; that is to say my ability to interact with people and to interpret events. For example, in my personal yoga practice journey, the simple fact of learning to become aware of and use my breath, influenced or aided a stretching movement, with the subsequent cascading effect of inducing relaxation. This, in turn, was significant in releasing and managing my stress and pain, which subsequently allowed others‘ positive feeling to surface that could be broadly described as enhancement of selfesteem, general sense of well-being and so forth. These personal improvements had important repercussions in my interpersonal sphere. Thus, I realized that a practice such as yoga was not only an enormous journey of inner of self-discovery, but also a journey of outer or world discovery. In my yoga practice, as a novice, achieving even a modest
183 level of self-awareness was important in shaping the way I reacted to external determinants. Creativity expressed through performance and aesthetic experience is another principle that becomes prominent in my journey of self-realization. Creativity has been an underlying constant denominator in my life, in marked difference to the societal construct that I grew up in, where creativity wasn‘t encouraged. Thus, as I started to work later on with practices underlined by the principle of artistic inquiry and which promoted creative outlets such as aesthetic motifs, movement, sound and so forth, I finally experienced the importance of these mediums (proper in tantric yoga or artistic inquiry), to empower my whole self by activating an energising force capable of provoking immediate and tangible changes and integration. Working at the energetic level through creative modes was more like doing away with the necessity of a bridge (with its supporting pillars) in order to cross into an integrated zone necessary for growth; and allowing myself to be catapulted from a state disintegration, where the body, mind and breath were madly splintered and rushing in clashing directions, which in real term I can describe as psychosomatic turmoil, with symptoms such as panic attacks and anxiety states, to a state of absolute integration of body, mind and breath, which I could describe as a sense of being at peace, relaxed, aware, fulfilled and grounded. It was in this state of being grounded in a physical reality, in a relaxed, aware and fulfilled state that I became aware of my personal identity, tuned with the everyday tasks that needed to be carried out, and so forth. Being able to be simply Giuseppe and being OK to be Giuseppe and nothing more than Giuseppe, without disjointed fears, preoccupations, and emotional distress was, perhaps, more extraordinary and
184 enlightening than being able to visualize in my forefront space spiralling colors or feeling a sense of the absolute through meditation. Again, I will not debate here the possible ontological meaning of this ordinary state of consciousness (related to personal experience), or how it could contrast with the extraordinary state of consciousness (related to transpersonal experience), as at this experiential stage of my thesis I am exploring consciousness phenomenologically ―as experienced from the first-person point of view‖ (Woodruff, 2009, ¶ Phenomenology). My phenomenological interpretation of the state of being integrated that I achieved, also through creative mediums, made me realize the interrelatedness between energy and consciousness. They were, in my experience, both prone to be easily activated in creativity and movement. As a matter of fact, I also realized that these forces were most observable when they were moving, and their movement corresponded to occurring transformation and change. For example, in the case of energy, I can easily observe it while it is flowing, and in the case of consciousness, while is expanding. Also, the way that I observe these forces, when they are in a realised state, is through the simple feeling of being fulfilled or integrated with my newly found or rediscovered character or personal identity. Thus, while both are part of the underlining element constituting a newly integrated identity, what one is aware of is ultimately the experience of being one, not necessarily merged with the external, thus transpersonal and non-dual, but also being one in relation with the external, thus personal and dualistic, but integral. Tantra and artistic inquiry: Integral approaches. Based on my examination of the tantric literature, I have found sound evidence that the ancient tantric doctrines (e.g., Hinduism and Buddhism), and disciplines (e.g.,
185 Kundalini yoga) support the notion that, in the journey of self discovery, an integral approach is essential. The term integral approach is employed here to describe, first, its attempts to integrate body (personal), mind (intrapersonal) and spirit (transpersonal) and, second, its employment of a complex subtle body practice (e.g., rituals, meditation, recitations, etc.). For example, one reason that I became wholehearted in a practice such as tantric yoga was that it ―provides useful articulations of the spiritual potential of engagement with art‖ (Fields, 2001, p. 157). As Fields (2001) explains: ―Tantra embraces the somatic and the aesthetic within its religious domain, and provides a conception of art that is both therapeutic and religious‖ (p. 157). In other words, ―tantra adds to the model of religious therapeutics [already discussed above and described in Table G] the domain of aesthetic therapeutics, that is, healing of body/mind and spirit through sensory experience and religious arts, such as music and dance‖ (Fields, 2001, p. 140). Noticeably, the tantric literature acknowledges the body as a preliminary element for selfrealization and not a mere obstacle to this as for others types of yoga. Flood (2006) explains this specificity of the tantra doctrines by stating: The tantric practitioner ... identifies his body with the cosmos and deity in daily ritual and in yogic practice, identifying himself with something outside of himself that then he becomes .... Any distinctions between knowing and acting, mind and body, are disrupted by the tantric body in the sense that what might be called imagination becomes a kind of action in tantric ritual and the forms that the body takes in ritual are a kind of knowing .... the tantric body is a corporeal understanding. This corporeal understanding shows itself in the great emphasis on transformative practices in the tantric traditions, ritual inseparable from vision, the
186 body becoming alive with the universe within it, and vibrant with futurity in the anticipation of the goal of the tantric paths. (p. 6) Fields (2001) reiterates this concept when he explains that ―Central to Tantra is the polarity of macrocosm and microcosm, wherein the human body is realized—through the interiorization of ritual—as a microcosm of the universe‖ (p. 35); or when he states: ―Tantra, embodiedness and sacredness remain compatible‖ (Fields, 2001, p. 140). In practical terms, although I have been confronting myself with classical Hatha yoga practice for the last twenty years, and I have discovered that tantric yoga differs from classical yoga in two major ways: one, for its aim, which is to directly acknowledge and work with the subtle energetic body present in us; and, two, for its diverse approaches that allow for exploring different dominions of the human possibility, such as creativity. What I have come to realize is that the tantric point of view allows existing boundaries in the practice to be eliminated; and, moreover, that it openly invites you to cross boundaries of practice in any sphere of life. The tantric approach is very much in line with my natural inclination to explore the possibility for self-realization/personal development in a practice such as dance, creative writing, or acting, as each of these practices allows me to tackle unexplored territory and increases my energetic level and psychosomatic health and well-being. Bringing this personal experience into the arena of thesis research has allowed me to combine practice with theory. For instance, as I was reviewing literature for my dance movement coursework, I found reference of the fact that artistic inquiry such as dance movement invites the application of similar principles to those found in tantric literature,
187 which had already been intuited by me. Hervey (2000) encapsulates my understanding when she says: Art offers an aesthetic experience .... which can be described as cognitive, perceptual, emotional, and spiritual (Csikszentmihalyi and Robinson, 1990) and could therefore be understood as one impacting most dimensions of human consciousness …. those familiar with dance and music would probably argue that the aesthetic experience is also kinaesthetic, making it veritably holistic. (pp. 1516) Hervey (2000) goes on to explain that arts-based inquiry professionals, such as: Dance/movement therapists also value the body as a vehicle of expression and a rich source of information …. [they] assess meaning through the expression of the body. Therefore they trust the body as a source of data and rely on their understanding of body experience as a form of data analysis. (p. 83) Payne, in her 2006 writing, defines dance movement therapy as ―The psychotherapeutic use of movement and dance through which a person can engage creatively in a process to further their emotional, cognitive, physical and social integration‖ (p. 3). Grow, in his 1990 writing, conveys the notion that: Older ideas, based on a compartmentalization of "mind," "body," "reason," and "emotion," have thoroughly changed in current psychosomatic practice. Though no single new paradigm has gained wide acceptance, what used to be dismissed mechanically as "the body" is now widely discussed (e.g., in Bliss) as a knowing, conscious, and wise organism which has a multifaceted relationship to other human faculties. (¶ The Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence)
188 There is a belief in current psychosomatic practices, which I agree with, that intelligence pervades every aspect of the human being, but also the interpersonal. Janet Adler in her 1999 writing captures my feeling quite accurately, when she emphasizes: Willing membership just with our minds cannot create the shift in consciousness for which we long. The shift must be an embodied shift. It is in our bodies where the phenomenon of life energy, a physical reality, is directly experienced. One by one, knowing (and knowing implies consciousness), knowing in our bodies that we belong, creates a collective body in which life energy is shared. I imagine the collective body as the energetic consciousness of the earth body, which includes all living beings. It is the body-felt connectedness among people profoundly related to the source of our humanity (pp. 192-193). Adler (2007) accounts for an energetic experience that weakened her physically. ―During this time‖ she realized the importance of ―the need for a strong enough body ego to contain energetic material that was arising—the up welling of feelings, imagery and life energy that rose from the ground up, through the spine and out through the crown chakra, often described in yogic practices and in East Indian spiritual literature‖ (p. 247). However, Adler (2007) recognises the importance of dance moment (that she defines as ―Authentic Movement‖) to prepare her body (e.g., ―the pelvis‖ [p. 247]) to channel such powerful energy; and, also that ―Authentic Movement‖ teaches individuals to ―attend to one‘s own natural bodily experience, [which] can provide an outlet for the development of this awareness, which in turn fosters embodied consciousness‖ (p. 247). Moreover, she emphasises the importance of the experience of the body ―from the inside out,‖ ―subjective body,‖ and the safe environment that an ―Authentic Movement practice‖
189 provides for someone who wants to explore this (p. 247). These accounts are, to me, clear expressions of the interrelatedness of personal, interpersonal and transpersonal, necessary to achieve integration. Subtle energy is recognised both in tantric and artistic inquiry as being at the centre of growth, which is ultimately a matter of allowing integration at the personal, interpersonal and transpersonal levels. Summary and preamble. There is a clear understanding, according to my reading of the literature, in both tantra and dance movement, that integration and creativity, and therefore spirituality, need to be explored through the body. As amply discussed elsewhere within this thesis and chapter, the spiritual discipline of tantra avails itself to ―aesthetic therapeutics, that is, healing of body/mind and spirit through sensory-motor experience and religious arts, such as music and dance‖ (Fields, 2001, p. 140); and, most importantly, ―Tantra embraces the somatic and the aesthetic within its religious domain, and provides a conception of art that is both therapeutic and religious‖ (Fields, 2001, p. 157). It becomes evident to me that there is a sort of common thread between these two disciplines, with the only main difference being that the two depart at the extremes, but gradually meet at a midpoint where the body is accepted and thus integrated in the evolutive human process and not simply discarded as an unwanted impediment to spiritual growth. This commonality is unsurprising, since Dance Movement Therapy borrows heavily from the Indic traditions, an exemplar case being Adler‘s Authentic Movement, which is sourced from her personal experience with the kundalini phenomenon. She developed this movement based therapy in order to prepare bodies to channel such powerful energy (1999). Many professional body-mind therapists are discovering,
190 willingly or unwillingly, the power of kundalini awakening, through direct experience or through incorporating its principles and practices into their daily practice and therapy. Noteworthy are the kundalini awakening experience had by Gopi Krishna (recounted in his 1971 writing), Krieger (accounts of her experience can found in her 2002 writing) and Adler (a detailed account of her experience is found in Stromsted, 2007). The above expounded theoretical framework constitutes the groundwork for my self-experiential study. Within this self-experiential study, I engaged in a Western contemporary dance movement course, which I employ in the broader framework of expressive and creative arts therapy theories, as a laboratory to explore creativity and movement. In this specific case, the laboratory was inspired by dance movement and music, as possible forces to set in motions the flow of subtle energy within me, so that I could subsequently describe its patterns and, finally, interpret its meanings. Purposely, I searched for an alternative discipline that included the basic tantric principles and in a way expanded them through Western artistic and scientific approaches. (This is the main reason why I decided not to work directly in the medium of tantric disciplines.) For example, I have followed hermeneutic phenomenological directives, which suggest approaches such as direct experience, employment of personal and intuitional skills and so forth. Also, it is my deduction that only through hermeneutic phenomenology I am able to understand and, hopefully, augment meanings of phenomenon scrutinized in this self-experiential study. Finally, I endeavour, in line with the general integral precepts and propositions of this thesis, to give specific emphasis to the fact that there are many practices that have the potential to create and enact the activation of life-energy (in tantric tradition the Shakti
191 power), in a similar way to the tantric discipline; creative and expressive arts therapies in their multifaceted forms (e.g. dance, music, etc.) embody, as we have already seen, many of the tantric principles. Identify the main constituents of this self-experiential study. Self-experiential laboratory. My laboratory was comprised by a three-month practical course on Western dance movement, which met twice a week for two hours per session. Although the course was designed to teach foundational theory on the practical aspects of dance movement, in effect it served as a laboratory that allowed me to conduct a self-experiential study of the phenomenon. In other words, the dance movement practice provided the means to investigate my body-mind connection, to arouse and subsequently observe the subtle energy phenomenon. Furthermore, because the course was comprised by self-directed comparative studies that required a thorough review of the literature on diverse topics, traversing disciplines from expressive arts therapies to psychotherapies, somatics, and transpersonal psychology, amongst others, the coursework in dance movement was identified as an ideal self-experiential laboratory. I say ideal, because the self-experiential laboratory demanded research that could gather concrete data, albeit at a very experiential level. Specifically, dance movement was selected as a mode of ‗artistic inquiry‘ as it is assumed to provide an aesthetic experience similar to the tantric yoga discipline, for the ―awakening of sensation, emotion, and imagination‖ (Hervey, 2000, p. 15). On the whole, dance movement disciplines that have a therapeutic focus, such as Dance Movement Therapy and Authentic Movement, and are grounded in the ‗artistic inquiry‘ methodology, can be, similarly to tantric yoga, connected to earlier discussions that imply
192 integrative healing in creative endeavours (I will expounding more on this theme in the discussion section in this chapter). My participation in the Western dance movement course was designed to meet a series of other objectives, in addition to my investigation of subtle energy. One was to research holistic approaches to mapping the body-mind-spirit experience. This objective was met through a review of the interdisciplinary literature that covered this theme, the findings of which were presented in the theoretical section introducing the selfexperiential study. Another was to embody an ability to communicate and re-pattern the experience of the scrutinized phenomenon. Meeting this objective was made possible by the employment of hermeneutic phenomenology and artistic inquiry methodological approaches. Yet another objective was to frame personal research questions in a bodybased experiential paradigm, where creative body-mind expressions (e.g., aesthetic experience) could be enacted to activate subtle energy patterns. This objective was achieved through cognitive and learning processes that include sensorial awareness, psychological reasoning and intuitional understanding. One last objective was also important: I needed the data collection to take place within a safe and active environment, which the University of Calgary presented, as the ability to relax, coupled with physical activity, aids creativity that sparks the flow of energy. This flow of energy can be observed through body-mind awareness, and its patterns described in a journal, which in this thesis constitutes the self-experiential study and forms the basis from which to extract sample data for further examination and interpretation. All of these objectives were met. Moreover, this dance movement coursework provided a safe and scientific laboratory in which to observe subtle energy patterns
193 (blockages, release, etc.) -- safe because it was conducted within an enclosed professional environment where I found, within a self oriented research, direct supervision by Professor Darcy McGehee, an academic professional; and scientific because it was oriented by a precise methodological exploration, hermeneutic phenomenology, combined, obviously, with qualitative aspects of artistic inquiry, dance movement therapy and yoga theory and practice. To conclude, this coursework allowed me to intentionally explore aspects known in the Indic tantric tradition as ―Chakras and Kundalini‖, and in a Western context respectively as the subtle body system and the subtle energy, with a view to gathering data (in a journal and paper) to be further organized, described and interpreted in this self-experiential study. In my self-experiential study, I am not comparing tantric yoga with dance movement, although I might comparatively reflect upon the two disciplines in my interpretative phenomenological analysis. I have already determined, for example in the theory preamble, that through my personal experience, I have many times crossed the information boundaries between disciplines and crossed boundaries of practice that have made me realize that tantric yoga is a philosophy and a discipline that truly allows for exploration into any discipline that tackles the energetic possibility and the realisation of transcendence. I affirm this by realising that the body and artistic inquiry are, as far I am concerned, an extension of tantric yoga. I believe that sometimes it is not the practice that makes the discipline, but the practitioner. Thus, finally, I am not arguing that tantric yoga and dance movement are the same practice, despite the fact that certain dance movement therapists are increasingly incorporating spirituality through the practice of tantric
194 techniques and concepts such as the chakra system and the raising of energy through this. What I am arguing is that a tantric practitioner can adopt a tantric approach in any mundane act of life. In the case of dance movement as a practice, for reasons already delineated above, it is an ideal candidate to enhance a tantric practice, which is ultimately aimed at activating and transforming subtle energy for realizing one‘s character and personality, and subsequently reaching a unitive state with the transpersonal. My intuition tells me that spirituality implies acknowledging the natural limits that the body has; the body is destined to perish; thus, we self-realize within the body as a preparatory training to explore the transcendental dimension. However, only a man or woman who realizes with their body can think of exploring the spiritual. In a way, I am inclined, as I need to make clear that this is me talking in first person, to believe that the potential of the chakras system, as with many western development models, lies in the non hierarchical order of the various psychic-consciousness centres, each of which, if realized in its qualities, is perfect and ready to carry on the journey to growth. None is better or worse; comparison is futile; no growth stage has authority over another; the integration is organic; and the realization of a the tasks residing in a specific chakra becomes the foundation for the next building block that rises toward the spiritual dimension of reality. Finally, my personal experiences with dance practice and other artistic inquiry practices are very similar to my experience with tantric practice. However, in my opinion, dance movement could be included in tantric practice, but not vice versa; because tantric yoga is a practice with a precise philosophy that clearly aims at transcendence, at the union of the spiritual essence of self with the absolute.
195 Participant: Myself. This experiential study demanded a certain degree of background foundation in the psycho-physiological and spiritual structure governing our being, and an ability to sustain psychosomatic body-mind-energy activities and training. Most important, the conduct of this self-experiential study required a certain degree of confidence that one possesses the necessary self-awareness skills for an adequate, if not full, cognition of organic changes in our integral persona—body, mind, and energy. Working with mind-body disciplines, ―which includes … creative outlets such as art, music, and dance‖ (Wesa et al., 2008, p. 344) can be physically and mentally overwhelming, and is certain to prove demanding of any individual. In this specific study, besides being actively engaged in performing dance movement, I needed to be focused on becoming aware of reactions naturally produced in myself, the human organism under study; wherein, together with the physical and mental elements, I had to observe a third element, namely, subtle energy. I embarked on this study with a full understanding that it was going to be challenging, albeit possible to achieve some results in terms of observing and collecting data. My confidence arose from my past, successful experiential training in yogic and Reiki techniques, during which I was able to learn how to associate psychophysical symptoms (e.g., emotional distress, mental stress, digestive ailments, etc.) with energy blockage in specific chakra centres. Similarly, I had been trained within yoga and Reiki modalities to meditate by focusing on the chakras model (i.e., subtle body system) and to use the inherent subtle energy as a medium for self-healing and personal growth. This specific aspect was also improved upon by an enthusiastic review of the main relevant
196 literature, which I began reading right from the moment when I committed to my master‘s research. As described in the personal framework section of the introduction, and which I believe it will not be superfluous to restate here, I have accumulated knowledge throughout years of continuous professional in-depth studies and training in psychosomatic, somatopsychic and spiritual practices such as Yoga and Reiki that directly work with both body-mind and energy states. I participated in intense professional workshops on many of the psychosomatic disciplines, including: performing arts (e.g., dance movement and creative performing arts such as acting), martial arts (e.g., karate and tae-kwon-do), healing arts (e.g., Hatha yoga and meditation) and other modalities specifically related to energy-healing, for instance, Kundalini yoga, chakra meditation and Reiki healing. Through the application of specific techniques, derived from yoga and Reiki, I have learned to direct pranic energy from within and without the subtle body, to and through affected areas (at the physical, mental and emotional levels) of my whole body. With time, I developed a certain degree of self-awareness of psychophysical processes (e.g., change of mental mood from negative to positive, release of physical tension, etc.) and changes in my state of consciousness, in which I experienced a general sense of knowing my true inner nature as being different from my body-brainmental structure. As a result, I can sense being pure energy and experience the flow of energy throughout the chakras by channelling energy (using Reiki technique) and balancing energy (with chakra meditation and channelling of subtle energy through the application of the hands on each chakra or affected areas) at various levels of chakra centres (subtle body). This personal background is also important, because a participant who is not used to an active engagement in physically demanding disciplines would most
197 probably be overwhelmed by physical and mental fatigue that would impede directing attention to the task of observing. In my case, I was extremely confident that I would not be mentally and physically exhausted from participating in the dance movement practical coursework, and that I would be able to direct attention to the task of actively observing within and without for the purposes of this study. Chakras as an integral developmental model. The chakras as an integral development model for psychological and spiritual growth are used as a measurement instrument, where the inputs provided are the data observed in the laboratory, that due the ―naturalistic‖ design of the self-experiential study (as already mentioned in methodological background in the introduction chapter) ―… place a heavy emphasis on understanding the human experience as it is lived, usually through the careful collection and analysis of qualitative materials that are narrative and subjective ― (Polit and Beck, 2004, p. 16). These ―qualitative materials‖ are recognized as energy patterns that are, as we have seen throughout the thesis, manifested in a spectrum that goes through different levels of subtleness; in other words, energy can be manifested at the physical, mental and spiritual or transpersonal level. As it will become clearer in the section that concludes this study, examples of energy manifestation are superficial corporeal sensations such as blushing, flushing, tickling, temperature, goose bumps and tingling; mental vibration-patterns manifest as emotions, thoughts, feelings and moods; and, intuitions are detected as driving forces that create awareness of change and transformation at distinct stages of transpersonal consciousness (e.g., experience of the absolute reality, etc.).
198 Because energy bridges the various aspects of our human body, its patterns can be multiform. However, my understanding holds that a conscious awareness is needed to employ such energy for personal development and spiritual growth, human evolution. Growth is the underlining theme of evolution. But, growth, to become active (as I have already pointed out), needs combustion to activate it. The purpose of integral body-mind practices, and yoga and dance movement as part of them, is to produce such propelling forces that can start the process of growth, against stages of stagnation and regression (Fields, p. 51; Maslow, 1970, pp. 97-99; Rama, p. 156). Meadow (1993) proposes that ―growth‖ can be subject to arrested development (p. 68). Artistic inquiry, in my opinion, is one of such propelling forces. Thus, I need to clarify here that the dance movement classroom was in effect the laboratory that allowed the dance movement practice that was observed; on the other hand, another laboratory was my self; and through this container I am allowed to explore by moving creatively, drawing in psychic energy, connecting distant memory with the present, and amplifying consciousness. So my entire sensory motor or inside-out integration has been observed in a sort of integral laboratory, comprising both the dance movement classroom and my body, where inputs (e.g., theoretical and practical knowledge, skills, intuition) from various sources are allowed to pour in at any given time. Moreover, admittedly, the groundwork for the self-experiential study wasn‘t in my opinion the practice employed, since the practice, sometimes, in my opinion, is limited by imposed boundaries, but what was truly relevant to my self-experiential study was the employment of the principles that governed it. I have already discussed some of
199 the principles of artistic inquiry and identified that they can be similarly recognised in the tantric and dance movement practices. And I have also discussed some of the tantric philosophical principles that can be similarly recognized in dance movement. That is why dance movement as a form of artistic inquiry was chosen; however, I could have used any other practice that is trustworthy as a vehicle for exploring one‘s personal inner/outer space. As we have already mentioned, artistic inquiry (e.g., arts and expressive therapies) has identified in aesthetic experience a means to direct focus inward, on one‘s personal investigation of how the macrocosm is experienced in the microcosm and the discovery that there are no boundaries within and without the inner space (Hervey, 2000). However, I believe that the boundaries are drawn by the functional mind in a functional world, the true mystery of life; it is the functional life itself, in other words, the real mystery is that human consciousness is able to engage with an independent observation of life-processes including complex mental processes. A question that I would like to propose here for a possible reflection concerns the mystery of life: are we human beings trying to be soul or souls trying to be human beings? Throughout the dance movement laboratory, my observations were systematically reported in a journal. At a later stage these observations were analysed within the parameters of an integral chakras psychological model that is based upon ancient tantra yoga and the literature on interpretative psychology and the symptomatic reading of chakras centres (e.g. Breaux, 1998; Meadow, 1993; Judith, 1987; Myss, 1996). This literature and other relevant literature on meditational, body-mind, nursing, and health science topics was used as reference for the hermeneutic phenomenological analysis of
200 subtle energy-patterns, body-mind emotional experience, and the specific interpretation of the symptomatic chakras psychology. Moreover, although in this self-study I have made ample use of the integral chakras development models to determine symptomatic signs of energy-blockage or free-flow, the integral principle of the chakra model also has philosophical and practical correspondence. Judith (1987) aptly explains this yogic principle as follow: Each chakra receives its charge of energy by being in alignment with the sushmna, as the central column of energy. If we are not in balance with ourselves, our chakras fall out of alignment, much as the vertebrae in the spine can fall out of alignment. (p. 205) She also explains how the same principles of balancing not only apply to the chakras but also ―between the mind and the body ... inner and outer ... self and transcendence‖ (p. 205) On the experiential level, I have learned by training with energy-based applications (e.g., Reiki and Kundalini yoga) that one of the fundamental rules for reaching a state of meditation and allowing the energy to flow from one chakra to the other in an ascending motion is to sit in a steady posture and keep the spine erect at all times. Although I cannot possibly explain what the relation is between the physical body, the spine, and the subtle energetic body, at the experiential level, keeping the spine erect can be clearly observed as beneficial for the flow of energy. Rama et al. (1976) explain: The chakras provide a sort of central point, an underlying framework, in which a multitude of factors intersect and interact. It should be clear that the experience of these centers is a highly intricate and complex affair. Any attempt to express it in
201 words is certain to prove to be only partially successful. The experience of the centers of consciousness or chakras is a non-verbal one. (p. 175) Meadow‘s (1993) psychological interpretation of development stages found in the subtle body system of six chakras (p. 68) was synthesised in Table H below. This table is meant to facilitate an understanding of the main psychological symptoms attached to each chakra. Moreover, Meadow‘s interpretation of the chakra system, synthesised in a table for the convenience of the reader, is suggestive of contemporary theories of the chakra system portrayed as a model of psychological development (e.g., preoccupation, concerns, and attitudes) thus corresponding in general with other prominent literature (such as Breaux, 1998; Meadow, 1993; Myss, 1996; Judith, 1987). In fact, in the analysis of my observation on subtle energy patterns and the attempt to give meaning, I will use randomly the above-mentioned literature. In the creation of this table, I intentionally placed a specific emphasis on the principal of ―motivating forces‖ or ‗energy/motivation‘ and ‗tasks‘ that the individual has to manage to surpass each stage of development, as I believe that these two factors are significant in establishing psychosomatic symptoms and understanding possible issues related to each centre: Table H - Chakras’ Psychological Energies/Emotions and Tasks
Chakras Muladhara Root Energy/Emotions Not conscious; under control of instincts; fear; paranoia Tasks By learning to control impulses one advances toward the beginning of wisdom
Chakras Energy/Emotions Tasks
Svadhisthan Sexuality and sensuality; pleasure and Transform/channel instinctual energy in Genital fertility; lust, greed and cravings for sensual delights Manipura Navel Associated with the autonomic Develop power to cast out, reject and eject spiritual force
nervous system and emotional arousal and refuse to allow something to be part of (e.g., anger and violence); centre of digestive heat; urge to be powerful and influences others; psychoone‘s life. One is a step away from higher energy so by dominating the energy in this chakra one achieve mastery of material and
physiological disorders manifest in the phenomenal world thus creating a higher digestive system, etc. Anahata Heart Maturity; Om, the sound of the creative energy of the universe; creative nature of love. vibration at the heart chakra. One must acquire selfless and caring for others, clear-sighted detachment with compassion in order to bestow both nurturing and healing. Visuddha Throat Accepting nurture, being receptive and acquiring a full sense of trust; awareness of things; realization of Realize one‘s true identity, and trusts in the goodness of that which lays behind the manifest self. To become sensitive to when
oneself as an active centre of creative surrendered receptivity is appropriate; the energy and as a unique individual with outpouring in symbolic form of what has intrinsic values; artistic endeavor, true been received. art.
Chakras Ajna Eyebrow Energy/Emotions Perfect control of the personality; Intuition begins operating and becomes a reliable source of knowledge and information. From a Tasks In the divine union at this level, however, there is still a duality the "thou" and "I". The task is to leave all images, symbols, and dualities. One need to know directly with
higher consciousness, this new way of one's entire being, rather than piecemeal by knowing brings an integrated awareness. laborious discursive thought.
Journaling. I will briefly identify the key-points for journaling. First, I wanted to document patterns of internal body energy characterised either by observed blockages or subsequent the releases of blockage, characterised by patterns of free-flow of internal subtle energy. Second, I wanted to document whether creative dance movement was useful for stimulating the free-flow of internal body energy and improving relationships between receptive and expressive. Third, I wanted to compare, when present, experiential relations between dance movement and yoga practices. Methodology. Although this self-experiential study was conducted within the methodological framework of hermeneutic phenomenology, nonetheless, the creative framework of dance movement methodology, embedded with arts' essential qualitative principles and methods of inquiry, is strongly present.
204 Main direction and purposes of self-experiential study. The report that follows will present significant information from the journal, which was used to record direct experience during the dance movement self-experiential laboratory. The report will provide, in an organized way, information on the presence of my psychosomatic symptoms, energy patterns, and other intuitive reflections related to dance movement and/or its relation to the tantric yoga discipline. Psychosomatic issues will be defined and thus identified in a common non-medical language; for example, I will use words such as tension, pain, stress, discomfort (either emotional, mental or physical), mood, feeling, low or high energy and so forth. I will attempt subsequently to identify the specific chakra centres that psychometric issues and observed subtle energypatterns are related to, as per the synthetic table. I will also relate these to the main literature and my personal skills. In the conclusive section, I will summarize and further discuss the findings. Report of journal and chakra analysis. I will now provide some extracts on energy-pattern observation that I documented in my dance movement journal and attempt a subsequent analysis using classical psychological understanding of the chakra system. Week # 2 - January 21, 2008. Observation prior to dance movement class: Before the class, I was experiencing mental agitation, a state of anxiety or nervous excitement; I was also feeling physically tired due to accumulated tension and lack of inner peace. Observation prior to and during dance movement warm-up: Despite this general lack of well-being, I carried on the dance movement class determined to experiment with
205 my body (within what I judged to be a safe environment). As I continued with the warm up movements (basic leg exercises in parallel and first position: for example, pressing the floor with the toes, lifting the feet, raising the feet at joint level) I started to connect with my physicality and became vividly aware of a burning sensation present in the area around my solar plexus (i.e., navel chakra) which caused a sudden shooting feeling of hunger. After a few warm-up dance movement exercises, I felt a slow, gradual release of tension and I started to feel more relaxed in body and mind. During the class: We started exercises that incorporated swinging of arms up and down, and then as we moved to a freestyle dance movement, the dance instructor asked us to simply let ourselves connect with the music and our body. I engaged my self (body and mind) in a spiraling/whirling dance for some time. I placed one hand palm facing down and the other palm facing up (like a Sufi dance) which cleared the prior sense of negativity and replenished me with new vigor and energy. I recall that when I was engaged in these movements, there was, in my core, a still, calm place from which the movement could emanate. With an open, quiet centre operating, I felt awake and able to observe positive energy concentration while negativity dissolved in the whirlwind of movement. Furthermore, I was able to determine that no effort was actually necessary to accomplish the movement, the body (perhaps my full-being) seemed to know exactly what it wanted. Final observations: I felt somewhat lighter and generally more joyful and playful in spirit. My body, mind and spirit felt invigorated and awakened by the combination of technical and expressive dance movements and energy awareness. For example, the
206 twirling and frantic ―dervish‖ like dance movement helped clear the old energies out of my body. Chakra Analysis: In my own analysis I foresee a probable imbalance of energy in the third chakra. I was obviously conscious of the main causes that were affecting me, which were mostly emotional (in relation with close individuals). In Breaux‘s (1998) analysis of the third chakra, he informs us that this chakra ―regulates the flow of vital energies throughout the body‖ (p. 81). Moreover, this chakra tends to get blocked from emotional struggle and as a result brings on physical lethargy, depression and irritability. ―Self-expression can be used positively to channel emotions and serve as a vehicle of self-discovery ...‖ (p. 83). ―Creative endeavors, such as dancing ... or art, encourage emotional expression and generate feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment‖ (p. 92). According to Breaux (1998), ―emotions‖ (pp. 19, 81, 89-93) can be transmuted into positive energy by the sentiment of acceptance alone that occurs though the third chakra, which‖ regulates the flow of vital energies through the body‖ (p. 81). Week # 7 - February 25, 2008. Observation prior to dance movement class: The instructor reminds us of the importance of respecting other participants‘ movements and affirming our own movements; the importance of the diversity in unity and unity in diversity. I need to admit that I am curious to observe, thus perceive and feel the group‘s energy. Until now I have observed an uneasy unwillingness of participants to open up to each other. The lack of fusion is aggravated in my own perception of the subdivision during the course into small, isolated groups. I sense, uneasiness to mingle, open, and relate to others. Without attempting to analyze the possible reason, I always find it interesting in trying to discern
207 how much the picture of a given situation is a source of one‘s own imagination or truthful interpretation of reality. My personal experience of the rest of the class begins in me each time I enter the dance studio. To my enthusiastic ―hi everyone‖ I seldom meet with any response. I mentally repeat to myself to discard any of the negative thoughts ―hey guys, I am cool! I have backpacked around the world! I keep young at heart despite my apparent age‖. I have formulated the theory that it could be a generation gap, since I am the oldest in the class. This is a speculation, if somewhat confirmed from the fact that I always get a warm response from Mario, the musician, and the teacher, who are much closer to my age. Another exception to this general rule of indifference is a particular participant who is always extremely warm and assertive in her attitude toward everyone including me. During the class: I had asserted myself in front of the class by moving, even if I wasn‘t particularly inspired today. I empathize with various individuals, especially who revealed, in my perception, vulnerability in expressing themselves. On the other hand, I was able to spot a few individuals with paramount confidence, perhaps aided by a strong familiarity with certain dance or body techniques like jazz, ballet, acrobatics. I naturally admire their dance techniques, but see in a few of them no emotions or vulnerability. Final observations: Today the class was exposed to free dance movements accompanied by music or without music, with a theme or without a theme, single or in groups, with particular emphasis on the lower body, upper-body, space, dimension, and input from other styles. This kind of class was reminiscent of the first class; but, contrary to the first class, I was able to be aware of other people‘s tendency to move in different styles and characters, wherein at times, technicalities, tensions, fear, limits, strength, emotions are revealed. I would like to emphasize that I particularly enjoyed this class. In
208 part, I liked it because we were able to reaffirm the importance of full deep breathing that I learned from the yogic discipline. In part I liked it because it allowed my to restore the right of asserting my existence, wherein determination and expressiveness are important elements. And in part I liked it because it allowed me to begin establishing connection with others. Somehow, it provided me with a space within and without, where I could determine that what I am feeling is sourced in actions and not mere imagination. Action, which I understand as being the direct-experience, reveals the reality of a livedexperience; thought is a possibility based on insight, which can be based on thousands of (my) fears. Ultimately, how do I know what is real if I do not intervene with actions, perhaps what I am feeling toward my surroundings is simply nourished by my imagination, not only of myself, but of other people, and others people‘s imagination of me. To put it in Bernstein‘s (1975) words ―motion or dancing is a direct means of expression. It is often more direct than verbalization, for its origin quite often stems from an unconscious spontaneous reaction to how the person perceives his environment‖ (p. xi). Chakra Analysis: In an analysis of this class, I indentified its themes: relationship and asserting oneself. Myss (1996) relates that ―form of relationship, and explore their [one‘s] power of choice‖ (p. 129) is related to the second chakra. She further states (1996) ―with the second chakra energy shifts from obeying tribal authority to discovering other relationships that satisfy personal, physical needs. ... a lower chakra energy that pushes up toward relating to external forces‖ (p. 130). Further more she adds: This chakra resonates to our need for relationship with other people and our need to control to some extent the dynamics of our physical environment .... The
209 energy in this chakra enables us to generate a sense of personal identity and protective psychological boundaries. As we continually assess our personal strength in regard to the external world and its physically seductive forces. ... energy of self-sufficiency, a survival instinct for being in the world. (Myss, 1996, pp. 129-130) Without the need to go more in-depth, I can recognize these energy patterns going on within others and myself. The class was an opportunity to remind myself of a fundamental principle, conveyed to the group by the dance teacher, during the initial orientation: the importance of ‗honouring one another‘. Myss, (1996) emphasizes: This truth applies to our interactions with each other and with all forms of life. From a spiritual perspective every relationship we develop, from the most casual to the most intimate, serves the purpose of helping us to become more conscious. Some relationships are necessarily painful because learning about ourselves and facing our own limitations are not things we tend to do with enthusiasm. We often need to be spiritually ‗set up‘ for such encounters .... release our compulsion to judge what and who has value and instead focus on honoring the person and the task with which we are involved. (p. 131) Week # 9 - March 10, 2008. Observation prior dance movement class: It had become clear to me in the days prior to this class that while working many hours on the computer I had completely forgotten to stay connected with my body. Without going into details and analysis of the mind-body process, I will simply state here that as a result of spending many hours working on a PC and being completely absorbed with finishing the task at hand, I was not
210 paying attention to the tension in my shoulders, or maintaining a correct posture and natural breathing pattern. I arrived in this class with a painful sore-knot in my left shoulder, a slight soreness in my lower back, and a tight pressure on my chest. During the class: This class gave me a chance to explore a more sophisticated sequence that required a greater extent of concentration and coordination than I had needed in the previous classes. Although generally speaking class is becoming more difficult in terms of remembering long sequences of dance movements, I am particularly enjoying the sense of understanding how intention and meaning can be added to the movements. For example, by linking sight to each movement I can contract or expand the explored territory. By rotating the arms from an upward stretch to a downward one I can shift my visualization from an unlimited space to limited one. More precisely, by stretching my body and simultaneously extending my sight upward I can visualize a space above that is broader, opened, unlimited, free flowing as the sky, the universe, the ether, the air, et cetera. If I contract downward and I direct my sight to the floor, I can see that it is by its nature limited, constrained; but, on the other hand, that it can enhance a sense of being grounded, rooted, firm, et cetera. I am gradually incorporating the dance movements in a way that I can experience integration of both body and mind towards expanding self-awareness in relation with its inner-outer space. I find myself continuously working to assimilate outer vibes – in the form of instruction from the teacher and fellow students – and the inner one – within my personal body-mind needs. I feel I am grounding to the necessity of the self. Final observations: I have grasped today that with full awareness one is able to intrinsically shift between light/subtle and heavier/gross movements, between the need
211 for the mind to portray its ethereal dreams and the need for the body to stay grounded. In real terms, each stage can be the given necessity of a different moment. However, without awareness, which include the body, one is condemning their body to illness and mind to homelessness. Chakra Analysis: Grounding, as a vehicle for motion, seems to be a quality related with the first chakra. Analyzing the correspondent meaning of what was occurring in relation with chakra psychology, I learnt that the importance of being rooted is a predominant characteristic of this first chakra, symbolized by the elephant and the square earth symbol, both of which represent the necessity to be grounded in the body (Breaux, 1998, pp. 38-47; Judith, 1987, pp. 61-73; Avalon, 1974, pp. 355-364). Breaux (1998) states: In general, the primary function of the root chakra is to translate the life force into the survival needs and activities of the physical organism. Feelings of physical security and confidence instil in us the trust necessary for the positive expression of the root chakra. Without the sense of feeling safe in the body and the physical environment, a deep fear undermines all other levels of consciousness. (p. 39) Breaux continues on this theme, explaining that the body is directly affected by the mind and further describes the mechanism and effects: Thoughts and feelings as psychic energy in the aura affect the physical body via nerve centers and endocrine glands, altering its apparent structure and function. ... On the cellular level, the processes that maintain a whole and healthy body are constantly disrupted by a war between actions: emotions and concepts. For example, when emotions are triggered (sexual excitement, crying, anger), energy
212 begins to flow from the emotional body into the physical, preparing for action. The ego says ―No!‖ and the action is suppressed. ―No‖ means contraction in the body-the muscles tighten, the breath becomes shallow, and the body is frozen in conflict. ... This repression of awareness in the body protects us from unacceptable feelings, but is also curtails vitality and pleasurable feelings. ... We deprive ourselves of what we need to grow and thrive ... . (pp. 43-44) In a retrospective analysis, I can recognize many channels of the energy-flow disruption in the root chakra. Naturally, I have only scratched the surface of the unlimited possibility of analysis corresponding with this specific chakra. Nevertheless, I believe I can see the autonomous conflicts between an ego centered mind and the body segregated from the conscious mind, of the ego that refuses to acknowledge the importance of the body in the given task, and the unhealthier tendency for the ego manoeuvred mind to be greedy for achievements at the cost of its own body. Ultimately, as Breaux (1998) affirms: The contemporary wave of bodywork techniques [and I can place dance movement here, from my own experience] clearly demonstrates the protean qualities of the body. Blocked emotions and inner tensions can be released and the body can become free, loose, and healthy. ... In addition to the release of blocked pain and frozen emotions, the ability to experience pleasure in the body can be reestablished. (p. 44) In dealing with symptomatic signs of our own limitations, distress, pain, et cetera, there is a need to feel firsthand the exact meaning of such symptoms. Investigating further the possible causes of the shoulder knot, or the possibility of more severe shoulder
213 and neck issues, I quote Breaux‘s (1998) statement that ―tension in the neck and shoulder‖ (p.124) can also be a manifestation of dysfunction of the fifth or throat chakra. This chakra works as a ―mediator between mental and emotional stimuli‖ (p. 124). When this chakra ―overloads‖ (p. 124) through continuous ―conflict between mental and emotional stimuli‖ one can feel severe forms of body tension, mostly around the neck and shoulder, or be affected by psychosis, a mental illness where the mind is completely disconnected from the physical realities, resulting in serious harm to the body (pp. 124125). Week # 2 - January 23, 2008. This class was characterised by an analytical thinking process, corroborated by direct experience of the intuitive relation between Hatha yoga, Kundalini yoga and Western dance movement. In my position as a yoga teacher, I had noted that the dance movement discipline emphasises the need to focus on full awareness of the entire body in a similar fashion as the Hatha yoga discipline. Also, the two disciplines shares similar body posture and mind projection. For example, both in dance and yoga, stretching exercise can be used in conjunction with mental intentions such as expansion, opening, receiving, releasing and so forth. It seems to me that, in dance movement, aesthetic motifs, sometime suggested by the teacher or simply improvised, when enacted in movement, are able to stir energy and can transform the dancer. A yoga adept, performing physical postures in a different way but with similar results, learns that each posture has an aesthetic motif and that by associating with this, transformation can occur. In yoga, each asana represents a figure, for example, an animal (e.g. lion) or a human character (e.g. warrior) and the practitioner mentally and physically associates with the
214 particular qualities of each representation. Moreover, there are specific techniques called mudras that are specifically designed to shape the mental attitude of the yoga adept. Many other exercises could be illustrated as examples to demonstrate my comment, however, let this suffice. Thus, it is my understanding that movement is allowed to embody meanings, and awareness of meanings always brings about change. Another observation that I made as a result of this class was that dance movement most probably is an important body-mind and spiritual medium. This intuition that I had during the class relates to the ability to experience transformation during the practice or to be completely absorbed in the practice, which most of the time is based around an aesthetic motif, and by living in a momentary transcendence, to experience the creative inside and outside integration which brings change and transformation. In other words, the entire process of experimenting with dance movement is reminiscent of Hatha yoga and Kundalini yoga practices. A pertinent example could be the employment of the chakra system and the flow of energy as a figurative development model, and thus as a tool to embody the psychological and spiritual. Another contemplative process I went through in the dance movement class that made me comment later on in my journal was that Kundalini yoga, in distinction from Hatha yoga, employs the subtle body energy, kundalini, to raise awareness to each centre of consciousness present in the individual. However, the kundalini energy in its original stage lies dormant, in a state of potentiality. It is only through the work of a creative practice that it is activated and the latent potential released in full. This creative force– the kundalini energy – is then conveyed by a conscious adept to the peak of human evolution. However, intuitively, I feel that while dance movement and Kundalini yoga
215 share the idea of creativity as the fundamental base for their practice, Hatha yoga transcends creativity by taking the adept on a journey of faithful observance to doctrines that teach body and mind austerities, thus negating personal creativity. It is my personal opinion that Kundalini yoga differs from Hatha yoga in the process and means of reaching the ultimate aim of spiritual transcendence. Conversely, dance movement theory is not specifically preoccupied with the spiritual transcendence of the dancer; however, it places no limits on the creative process of the individual. A conclusive idea that I have is that various types of yoga (Kundalini yoga, Hatha yoga, Patanjali yoga and so forth) stand together within what is sometimes referred to as ―the yoga science‖ and are the ultimate source of guidance for various type of adepts, each with a different predisposition and different needs and possibilities. That is why, in my experience and understanding, a true yoga adept seeks a specific Guru, rather than a specific type of yoga. Discussion and Conclusion In my opinion, the ability to observe and embody patterns of internal body energy and subsequent releases of blockage or stimulation of the free-flow of internal body energy patterns, it is my conclusion that dance movement, with its aesthetic motifs and other qualities such as the ability to relax the body and the mind, allows for creative responses to take place and for energy to be set free to flow. However, within this specific self-experiential laboratory, self-awareness was brought in from my personal yoga experience. This accumulated experiential knowledge was what allowed me to observe, with a heightened awareness, the subtle energy phenomenon. During the dance movement classes, I felt my whole self, the corporeal, the psychological, and the
216 intuitional, engaged in experiencing. Examples of the perceived sensation that I intuited as energy were superficial corporeal sensations such as blushing, flushing, tickling, temperature, goose bumps and tingling; mental vibration-patterns such as emotions, thoughts, feelings and moods; and, intuitional driving forces that created vivid awareness of changes and transformation at distinct stages of consciousness. These stages of consciousness were felt through a holistic personal identity that eschewed the tripartite division of the self-composed body-mind and spirit (the tripartite human system is understood here as a spectrum spanning from the personal psychological state governed by material-psychological needs to transpersonal spiritual-energetic transcendence from the material realms). So that I could interpret the self-experiential laboratory according to the reviewed classic and classical meditational literature, I investigated subtle energy flow, and found that, according to Indic texts, subtle energy flows from a lower energyconsciousness centre to a higher one. In classic western psychology, this raising of energy is described somewhat differently, according to the different schools of psychology, but generally corresponds to a sense of personal development and growth. In the case of transpersonal psychology, this flow is defined as an ‗expansion of consciousness‘, also broadly known as an ‗altered state of consciousness‘. Possible ways to measure this expansion of consciousness have already been indicated in the introduction; however, it may be worth reiterating that general psychosomatic (e.g., emotional, mental and perceptual) changes occur (Deikman, 1963; Grof, 1975; Levine et al., 1963; Tart, 1990, 1969). Thus, to recapitulate: the self-laboratory was able to stimulate, similar to a tantric approach, body and mind. This permitted the self to re-enact and perceive, to a certain degree, activated energy-patterns that function as a medium of
217 healing and transformation. In my opinion the different degrees of conscious awareness are noticeable during work with the body and mind. However, there is a superior observer--already identified in the Indic traditions, but also by notable psychologists such as Freud and Jung—that is generally understood as transpersonal consciousness, where the specific body-mind awareness is integrated and transcended. I feel that energyconsciousness work is a compound that integrates and transcends. Moreover, from my own experience, I believe that healing and transformation do not necessarily imply major sublime life-events that reform our sense of reality entirely, in a short time. They can also occur at a very slow pace in sensible, progression. Also, based on my own personal experience of growth and transformation, I agree here with the major school of psychology that suggests regression stages occur in the development of individuals. Maslow (1970) terms these as ―Regression-Values‖ (pp. 97-99, appendix H); while Meadow (1993) talks about the necessity of ―successively dealing with the tasks of each stage‖ for ―growth‖ to occur (p. 68). In other words, the individual is prone to experience critical stages that can raise temporary or permanent obstacles (e.g., illness and or sufferings) that halt the individual‘s development. These obstacles can also cause relapse to a prior stage (Meadow, 1993, p. 70). I will not discuss here the many implications that these regressive development stages have, according to the different Indic meditational doctrinal traditions. It suffices here to say that the Whole Medical System of yoga, which operates within the concepts of subtle energy and the chakras developmental model, acknowledges and understands these negative stages as symptomatic, recognizable signs of blockage of energy, which eventually lead to illness of body and mind. In response, yoga prescribes remedies which might consist of performing physical or breathing
218 exercises, chanting of a specific mantra, or performing other rituals or actions to reassert the free-flow of energy, which can occur only when the individual achieves a certain level of psycho-physical and spiritual purification. Also, Meadow (1993) affirms that: Most Western models allow for regression under stress, saying that occasional lower level behavior always remains possible. The yogic model considers it possible to control completely the manifestation of energy at a particular level; this level has then been absolutely transcended. (p. 70) In respect to regression, I personally have experienced many regression stages, and I believe these are a clear sign that there is a lack of integration and balance between the direction of the body, mind and spirit. Personally, when I experience the release of energetic blockage, I find an overall improvement in the relationship between sensory and motor and receptive and expressive. For example, occasionally, I find myself shifting from a situation of physical and mental contraction, where I fold towards pain, discomfort, and an inability to be receptive to the external and expressive, to a more balanced situation, in which I feel comfortable, receptive, expressive, opened, stable and creative. When this occurs, there is always an integral correspondence of physical and mental, receptive and expressive, interpersonal, spiritual and transpersonal. I also believe that this connectedness can exist at any stage of human evolution, as individuals can fulfil their unique potential in the specific organism they are presently embodying. In regard to purification, I do agree with the meditational literature that purification is a key to integration and self-realization. The act of cleansing, at the physical, mental and spiritual levels, is the act of getting rid of the unhealthy; thus removing an obstacle in the way of fulfilment and self-realization. This
219 requires a constant conscious effort to balance the personal, interpersonal and transpersonal, which affirms the right of individuality within the universality of all things. Purification makes one realize that they are one with the all. The dance movement aesthetic experience is ―cognitive, perceptual, emotional, and spiritual‖ (Hervey, 2000, p. 15), and awakens the ―sensation, emotion, and imagination‖ (Hervey, 2000, p. 15). Within this mode of ‗artistic inquiry‘, the selfexperiential study determined that dance movement is validated because it generates ―active imagination‖ (Miller and Jung 2004, p. 24). It is further validated through the emergence of psychic energy, which arises from stirring the unconscious through creative representation or ―in the way of creative formulation‖ (p. 24) such as ―drawing, painting ... and even movements‖ (p. 24). In the dance movement laboratory, I personally experienced the free-flow of internal body energy in response to blockage or stagnation. Moreover, dance movements allowed me through methodology such as artistic inquiry to influence uninformed as well as informed emotional material. The hermeneutic phenomenological approach allowed me to describe and interpret, in an organized way. My analysis of the observed patterns of subtle energy utilized the chakra integral development model, by first identifying psychosomatic issues that were observed prior to and during each dance movement section. Subsequently, I observed any discharge of such psychosomatic symptoms. Although the researcher possessed a strong intuition in assessing psychosomatic symptoms and some knowledge of main literature on psychological interpretation of chakras, it was necessary to employ the reviewed literature for a better analysis of symptoms and their relation to various chakras. Overall, I reviewed a few leading authors, who wrote extensively on the chakra development
220 model, and I found many matching similarities in their content. For this specific study, I have extensively used Meadow‘s (1991) understanding of the chakras, together with other authors such as Breaux (1998), Judith (1987) Myss (1996), and Avalon (1974). However, for the purposes of this thesis, I intended simply to communicate and re-pattern my personal experiences with the process, by using an ever-increasing integral psychological understanding of the psychosomatic issue that stands in the way of personal development and spiritual growth (or well-being). Nevertheless, my attempt should be understood as a learning process, in which I endeavour to interpret, through the application of ready available psychological methods, the blockage or flow of energy in the chakras. In other words, in this study, I have attempted to become aware of healing and transformation or the stasis of these positive processes by using Applied Psychology, a field unfamiliar to my personal and professional knowledge. My experience in spiritual or energetic modalities such as Reiki and to certain extent yoga, is based purely on cognitive knowledge (e.g., intuition, trust, ability to embody understanding in a non verbal or non intellectual level, etc.). However, in order to keep such possibilities alive, one has to adhere to a strict spiritual discipline, so that the human system remains receptive to channelling such knowledge. I would be interested in conducting a similar study, using participants who are highly advanced in a spiritual practice such as yoga, but have no knowledge of ‗psychology‘, so that I could test to see whether their interpretation of psychosomatic symptoms based on cognitive knowledge would match contemporary psychological interpretations. Finally, I believe that in a present day context, information needs to be shared across boundaries of practice. Basically, there is a need for more interdisciplinary and
221 integral research, as integration holds answers and solutions for a more organic human evolution.
222 CHAPTER 6: DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION In this final chapter, I will consider seven interrelated aspects of my research and then draw overall conclusions based upon my findings. First, I will evaluate the possible meanings of the subtle body system; and then, I will look at what I have discovered about consciousness and energy interrelations. Since consciousness is seriously complex, I will dwell briefly on the conundrum of sorting out consciousness. Having, hopefully, built a stable platform, I will return to the integral aims of this research and look at the chakra system interpreted as an integral psychotherapeutic development model; then at the implications of yoga and mantra modalities for integral psychology. At the penultimate stage, I will discuss what I have learned about interpretative phenomenological analysis of the subtle energy phenomenon; and draw conclusions about this methodology. Finally, I will attempt to create unity, by drawing overall conclusions to my research. Subsequent to my conclusions, and as a final act, I will provide a brief disclaimer, as I feel that I might have sometimes throughout this thesis conveyed the false idea that an East-West dichotomy exists. Ontological Meaning of the Subtle Body System During this thesis research, within the section ―Examination of Meditational Literature‖ in chapter 4, I progressed from a preliminary stage of investigating ancient Indic meditational literature in search of descriptions of existing models of the subtle body system, to a subsequent comparative study of the dominant models presented in the literature. I will now proceed to restate the detailed results of my comparative study of the main subtle body systems before discussing its possible meanings.
223 In the classic meditational literature, two similar representations of the chakra system model are presented, one from Buddhism and one from Hinduism. However, a further result of this preliminary investigation established that, despite the lack of unanimous agreement on the representation and assumed meaning of the models of the subtle body system, there are nonetheless fundamental similarities to the main structures, mechanics and purposes. The perennial element involved in the entire life process is subtle energy; complex mechanics are implicated in the work of subtle energy; the work of subtle energy is aimed at cleansing the subtle channels (nadis); free flow of life energy releases blockages existing at the various centres of consciousness (chakras); and the energetic flow is always ascending and corresponds to a sort of evolutionary psychospiritual journey. Some contemporary scholars on meditational literature, as we have seen, suggest the importance of thinking about the perspective that the subtle body system or chakra system should perhaps be viewed as a figurative rather than a literal tool used for meditation. For example, in his 1996 writing, Flood asks ―whether such systems of esoteric anatomy were meant to be understood in a literal or ontological [figurative] sense‖ (p. 99). This query will be left unresolved in this thesis. Notwithstanding, there is a need to emphasize here that a conclusion that favours the figurative understanding would be based on the examination of contemporary meditational literature, where there seems to be a predominant agreement that the representation of the subtle body system is employed as a visualization tool in meditation, as an aid to and focus for the psychospiritual journey the yogi adept has to traverse in an ascending motion, a sort of Eastern psychological growth model. This model is prospected by many Western transpersonal
224 and integral psychologists as a psychotherapeutic model that can be used to assess and resolve possible psychological stages in which individuals may find themselves stranded. The individual that meditates upon the model of the chakra system can associate the need to deal with certain psychological tasks in order to be able to move forward to the next psychological stage of the growth development model (i.e., always ascending, with the implication of healing and transformation). However, I favour a literal understanding of the subtle body system, which I consider more likely to be the valid hypothesis. This belief, which I cannot currently prove, is based, firstly, on the classic meditational literature, where the initial descriptions of the chakra system are found. This literature affirms that ancient seers discovered the subtle body system through a contemplative process, during which they sensed such psychic-energetic centres and progressively drew an illustrative map of their characteristic attributes. (Parenthetically, while some literature holds that such knowledge has been passed on directly from the gods, I believe that these accounts still include the contemplative aspect of human beings processing such information.) Secondly, while denied by a scientific materialistic approach, this conclusion is supported by an interpretative hermeneutic phenomenological approach, the approach utilized in this thesis, which holds that the lived experience is valid. The interpretative phenomenological analysis that I make is based on two primary sources, the descriptive literature of the subtle energy phenomenon and my lived experience. As regards the literature, we can look to, for example, the case of pundit Gopi Krishna, who, in his 1971 autobiography, recounted extensively his lived experience with Kundalini awakening or subtle energy phenomenon. And, as I have already discussed in other parts of this thesis, we can look at my direct experience with the phenomenon of subtle energy.
225 My experience has enabled me to visualize, occasionally, specific chakras and to be aware on a regular basis of the chakra system and subtle energy on the corporal, mental and spiritual level. According to first person accounts and my experience, both the chakra centre and subtle energy seem to respond to psychosomatic and spiritual, internal and external stimulus that can increase, decrease or bring to a halt the flow of life-energy. These stimuli can be controlled by contemplative techniques that directly or indirectly influence the flow of energy, thus affecting the subtle body system‘s functionality that is directly related with the psychosomatic health and spiritual well-being of individuals. Flow of energy corresponds to improvement of health and/ spiritual well-being, and blockage of energy correspond to poor health and/or spiritual regression. Having said this, I acknowledge here that the literal hypothesis, although corroborated by others‘ notorious and more significant qualitative testimony (e.g. Krisna, 1971), when confronted by a rigorous scientific materialistic methodology requires a research methodology and instruments that produce more quantifiable/measurable data. Nonetheless, I should also reiterate that, according to a hermeneutic phenomenological approach, the qualitative case studies of individual/s that experience a given phenomenon, (e.g., subtle energy in relation with healing and transformation) represent an unquestionable reality for such individuals, and are thus factual and not figurative. Moreover, if I had to prospect a final conclusion based on my interpretative phenomenological analysis of subtle energy literature and personal experience with the phenomenon, I would need to add that that, in order to be able to literally perceive the subtle body system, the most sensible approach would be a full commitment to a practice
226 of realization designed to enhance the inner process of attuning oneself to these subtle dimensions. Finally, I believe, that one conclusion that more than others finds a general acceptance, both within the examined literature (i.e., the ancient Indic and commentarial meditational literature; present day interpretative and integrative therapeutic literature) and my own experiential findings, is that both interpretations, whether we believe in a figurative or literal existence of the subtle body system, do account for the ontological capital importance of the subtle body system for personal development at the psychosomatic and spiritual level. Thus, I propose that, regardless of the factual or figurative meaning one can give to the subtle body system, the basic application of its governing principles would be of great benefit for those individuals who are working for the development and growth of others or themselves. Consciousness and Energy Interrelations So far, we should be clear that this subtle body system, arising from Eastern classic literature, but also utilized in a variety of methodological approaches by contemporary scholars, is governed by very complex phenomena. Clearly, it was not the aim of this thesis to attempt a complex and far reaching explanation; instead, the aim was to inspect and elucidate such resilient elements that permeate the phenomenon as its working mechanisms. However, I have found the contemplation of subtle energy and consciousness to be interesting and thought-provoking, both as regards the comparative study and the overall interpretative phenomenological analysis. Since these concepts are described recurrently in the Indic meditational literature, they have been a continuous source of self contemplation during the entire process of writing this thesis.
227 These two concepts, which can also be thought of as two main mechanisms that govern healing and transformation, form a theme that is the ‗interrelatedness between consciousness and subtle energy‘. What remains ambiguous, as far I am concerned, is the question of which mechanism stirs the other: Is consciousness, alone, responsible for stirring or creating and governing subtle energy? Or, is life-energy the igniting impulse from which consciousness emanates at each centre, each chakra of the subtle body system? From my study of the meditational literature, I gather that the activation of this dormant subtle energy in the lower centre of consciousness, the genital area, is started by a realization practice, or sadhana. As we have seen, the practice of realization consists, for the most part, of a rigorous yogic practice that interestingly enough reflects the ascending order that is a recurrent theme of all Indian spiritual traditions and many Western psychological models of growth. First, the adept needs to work on aspects of the gross body, for example the body has to be calmed by the performance of physical postures or asanas. Then, the same work is required by the mind; exercises for focusing the mind are performed for this purpose. When the foregoing has been accomplished, breathing exercises, pranayamas, are supposed to stir subtle prana and also prepare the adept for more advanced, sophisticated work in subtle practice, which includes the chanting of mantras and the performance of rituals aimed at transforming and expanding the consciousness of the adept. In short, once the gross body is purified or healed, subtleenergy is stirred and human consciousness expands. However, it is my assumption that, for any adept to take action towards the realization of a practice, whether physical, mental or spiritual, s/he has to experience an expansion of consciousness, which leads to my
228 final understanding: that one has to look at consciousness and life energy as interconnected elements – two faces of the some coin – in healing and transformation. Overview I would like to suggest that this discussion served perhaps as a prelude or the groundwork for another important and controversial issue tackled in my essay: the conundrum of defining and sorting out consciousness. I believe that the discussion of this issue opens a space for each of us to reflect on how we perceive the lived world. The notion that the perceived world is fundamentally subject to personal interpretation is primary for the evaluation and understanding of the hermeneutic phenomenological methodology used in this thesis. At the same time, sorting out consciousness also serves as a basis for understanding the whole subtle energy phenomenon related to healing and transformation. As I have discussed, life-energy and consciousness go hand in hand, and both play an important role in delivering healing and transformation. Incidentally, the spiritual aspect and, broadly, the approach that one has toward consciousness are, in my opinion, important, as upon these, according to the meditational literature, depends the process of healing and transformation that subtle energy is supposed to deliver. In other words, we should not forget that the classic meditational texts are scripture, to be taken on faith, which suggests that adepts trust the entire process. I believe that the faith issue goes a bit astray from the main purposes of the research and is too great of a dilemma to be attempted in this thesis, or, for that matter, in any scholarly paper. Rather, belief should be left to each individual to reflect upon. However, it suffices here to say that spirituality, referred to as an ultimate reality or transcendent dimension of the world, or as an inner path enabling healing and transformation, or as the
229 ―deepest values and meanings by which people live‖ (Sheldrake, 2007, pp. 1-2), is a central point of the conundrum of sorting out consciousness. Conundrum of Sorting Out Consciousness. Determined to further investigate within the interdisciplinary framework of this study, the many facets of the governing theoretical principle and practical aspects of the subtle body system and its mechanics, I moved within this thesis from a reflective stage to the acknowledgment that one single notion, namely consciousness, permeates directly or indirectly the raison d'être of the overall Indian spiritual doctrines and is, furthermore, ―the central issue in current theorizing about the mind‖ (Van Gulick, 2009, ¶ Introduction). Thus, in the second stage of my research, I accepted that a further investigation of the scientific understanding of structural models of consciousness was indeed necessary. With this purpose in mind, within chapter 5, in the ‗Consciousness: A Theoretical Study‘ section, I investigated and discussed variegated theoretical approaches to the issue of consciousnesses. The scenarios of current researchers shift the focus back and forth from Indic modes of understanding consciousness, which illustrates a thorough knowledge of subtle energy as it relates to healing and transformation, to Western science, which is governed by the need for quantifiable and reproducible experimental results. Yet, in the ultimate analysis, after considering pro and contra of the variegated theories spanning from mechanistic to spiritual understanding, I embraced a pioneering scientific orientation known as integral theory (leading philosophers, scientists, and educators that contributed to this theory include Aurobindo, Jean Gebser and Ken Wilber); wherein, consciousness is studied by considering the full human spectrum of spirituality, together with psychological and biological functioning. The idea of the
230 spectrum of human consciousness proposes that human consciousness evolves along the ascent or axis of a spiritual evolution, predetermined by cosmological patterns describing existence at large or personal patterns describing the development of the individual, or both. Within this thesis, I leave out the theological debate over whether the theory of spiritual evolution, reflected in the spectrum of consciousness model, has to be understood as holistic, holding that higher realities emerge from and are not reducible to the lower, idealist, holding that reality is primarily mental or spiritual, or non-dual, holding that there is no ultimate distinction between mental and physical reality. However, it is most important to mention here that transpersonal and integral psychology advanced human models of development that expanded the holistic concept of health, by integrating personal, interpersonal, and transpersonal concepts. In the next section I will briefly describe how. Chakra System: An Integral Psychotherapeutic Development Model The integral theorists have designed a psychotherapeutic development model by suggesting that the chakra subtle body system and the Western psychological system can be understood, if not as similarly characterized by growth stages, at least as fitting well together to produce an integral model that includes all the personal, interpersonal and transpersonal growth stages. This suggestion proposes that the chakras system integrates in such a way that the framework expands to include higher states of consciousness. This integral model has been systematically advanced by such leading transpersonal psychologists and therapists as Leskowitz (2008), Maslow (1970), Meadow (1993), and Nixon (2001). This progressive theory has made a significant contribution to my research, as it constitutes the grounds for applying interpretative phenomenological
231 analysis in the self-experiential study. In the larger context transpersonal and integral modes of understanding consciousness as a spectrum encompass the notions of a tripartite system and an energy-healing theory. Having reached, as far as this thesis is concerned, a fairly comprehensive understanding of the governing principles and structure of life-energy phenomenon, its subtle body system and its mechanics; and having further identified the solution to the conundrum of defining and sorting out consciousness within an integral framework, which ultimately proposes the chakra system as a personal developmental model that allows for a better appreciation of the phenomenon of consciousness--subtle energy in healing and transformation, the section that follows will restate the scientific findings on the study of the subtle body practices or the yogic practice of realization, sadhana (Sadhana are, by definition, spiritual practices, including: meditation, chanting mantras, and so forth, which are intended to develop an individual's inner life and a more holistic self than a self defined by separate physical, mental and spiritual aspects). The scientific findings relate to a positive response in psychophysical health and spiritual well-being of yoga practitioners. However, due to the fact that the scientific understanding of how subtle energy relates to psycho-physical health and spiritual wellbeing is an issue that is being almost neglected in current studies, as the survey on energy-based intervention clearly shows, I have within this thesis attempted to illustrate that the subtle body practices are essentially energy-based modalities, and that the study of applications of these subtle techniques require the understanding of possible implications, mostly deduced by a comprehensive analysis of the Indic meditational
232 literature, and by further inclusion of such pioneering theories as sonic entrainment theory. Implication of Yoga and Mantra Modalities In the section ‗Energy-Healing Theory: A study,‘ I have surveyed contemporary scientific studies which remarkably show that an ever increasing body of evidence is documenting that, through specific yogic subtle body practices such as chanting mantra and performing breathing exercises, pranayamas, the individual is able to activate a positive psychophysical response. Specifically, significant results were provided in such areas as effective management of pain, anxiety, depression, and hostility, as well as increased ability to relax, improved self-esteem, greater energy and enthusiasm for life, and the ability to cope with stress. They also support alternative yogic mind-body therapies as being non-invasive and safe modalities. On the basis of these results, such yogic body-mind modalities as asanas, pranayamas, mantras and meditation are progressively being incorporated into the health care system. This research also delineates the now sustained point of view that, to provide the best assessment and care to affected patients, mental, emotional, energetic, and spiritual dimensions need to be incorporated into the physical one. Also, studying the transformation of consciousness and subjective awareness associated with various meditation techniques, in long-term meditation, requires empirical research that should aim to study and characterize such changes using psychological and physiological tests, and correlating them with subjectively experienced changes in awareness reported by the advanced meditators. Thus, this final issue posits the importance of further elaborating on the subtle body system as a transpersonal model
233 for transformation of consciousness that does not necessarily exclude the importance of the personal psychophysical level, but simply adds other transpersonal levels such as energetic, consciousness and spiritual toward supporting the theory of a spectrum of consciousness. Finally, I acknowledge the great difficulty that science has in effectively measuring putative phenomenon such as subtle energy. Thus, it is my assumption that yogic applications such as mantra have been entirely misconceived as simple mind-body therapies. I feel that qualified scientists should be looking into ancient knowledge and current scientific theories, and designing new experiments based upon this contemplative and innovative knowledge. It my belief that, if researchers decide to tackle this area firmly, using less explored and break-through knowledge, they should be able to gain a greater understanding of the subtle energy phenomenon and subtle body practices. For example, the experiments surveyed in this thesis, although able to confirm that chanting mantras or breathing to a certain rhythm brings positive psychosomatic and spiritual benefits to individuals, were unable to, and in some case unwilling to, investigate the implications of why such modalities work. I have personally, previously, proposed, following my analysis of the ancient literature, that yoga modalities such as mantra are de facto described as energy-charged sounds. In an attempt to further my exploration into possible implications of why the mantra modality works, I have endeavoured to link ancient knowledge with the still relatively unexplored scientific theory based on ‗the sonic entrainment law.‘ The sonic entrainment law observes that powerful rhythmic vibrations, proper to sound, but also appropriately applied to breath or other rhythmic phenomena, cause the less powerful vibrations of one entity to tune with the more
234 powerful vibrations of another. Mantras are undoubtedly sounds, and, if we admit, for the various reasons expounded in meditational literature, for example that the methodical recitation of Sanskrit Vedic hymns and sacred formulas, mantras, over thousands of years have shown the potential of mantra to charge this sound with powerful vibrations, we can assume that these sounds, by reason of the entrainment law, have the potential to effect the function of individuals that systematically chant mantras. Therefore, we should not be sceptical of the findings in the surveyed studies that sustain mantra meditation as affecting physical correlates of the neurological activities in the brain and thus the whole human system. Intepretative Phenomenological Analysis of the Subtle Energy Phenomenon In the finale of chapter 5 in the section Self-Experiential Study on Subtle Body Patterns, I engaged in a self-experiential investigation of energy patterns and attempted to interpret them into recognizable developmental meanings. I have done this based on hermeneutic phenomenological directives that allowed for the employment of a combination of personal practical skills and interpretative literature. The coursework in dance movement was identified as an ideal self-experiential laboratory, where creative body-mind expressions, like aesthetic experience, could be enacted in delivering observable data on such things as subtle body energy patterns. Specifically, the self-experiential laboratory demanded research that could gather concrete data, albeit at a very qualitative, naturalistic and cognitive level, as intended by Polit and Beck (2004). Working with body-mind disciplines can be overwhelming for and demanding of any individual. In this specific study, besides being aware of the physical and mental reactions naturally produced in the human organism, I had to observe
235 a third element, namely subtle energy. In the process of gathering this data, I relied heavily on past experiential training in yogic and Reiki techniques and meditative practices, through which I had learned to associate psychophysical symptoms such as emotional distress, mental stress, and digestive ailments with energy blockages in specific chakra centres. However, I believe that the self-experiential laboratory was most important in terms of observing subtle energy patterns. This was true, not only because at a subjective cognitive level these observations corroborate the presence of subtle energy phenomenon that can be recognised in variegated parallel and systematic patterns which shift between corporeal, mental and spiritual awareness; but also, because the subsequent interpretative phenomenological analysis required, aside from an ability for critical thinking, immersion in a continuously contemplative state. This state requires engaging in direct experience, knowing, not with body, mind or spirit; instead, knowing in pure consciousness, holistically. In summary, the dance movement laboratory was an attempt to open up new explorative and therapeutic spaces in tantric ritual (Flood, 2006, p. 6). Highlights were given to the significance of employing integral creative approaches as a unique way of opening imagination and narrative that becomes a kind of action for personal healing and transformation to take place. The intent was to allow the creative processes of inner evaluation to be experienced by employing mixed modes of personal inquiry. For example, the employment of the chakra system as a tool for conducting an interpretative phenomenological analysis was possible because the application and integration with Western models of psychological growth allows for further elaboration on integral
236 growth. Meadow, in her 1993 writing, rightly points out that a close parallel exists between Western and yogic models of development: Development progresses through the same arenas of concern in the same order: survival and self-protection, sexual and sensual impulses, concern with power and possessions, turning to issues of heart and responsibility, development of higher sensitivities, and then a high level of personal integration. It must, however, be noted that progression through stages of similar content in psychological models does not mean the level of attainment that controlling the chakra energies means. Rather, the completion of each chakra's work implies a prior high level of personality integration in the areas related to that chakra. (p. 77) To sum up, I employed an expressive body-mind intervention, contemporary dance movement, as a medium for understanding tantric perspectives on dance and sound as a ritualistic mode of enacting energy and developing consciousness. The employment of body-mind and subtle energy techniques – from yoga and Reiki – aided the process of insight into body-mind and energy patterns, which were recognized as positive or negative thought patterns and consciously dissociated from. In addition, these techniques allowed me to recognize blockages of energy and gave me the ability to work with these energy-patterns in an attempt to attenuate or release blockages and ultimately transform negative energy patterns into a positive response. Such positive responses raised my energy level, allowing various psychophysical and spiritual phenomena to manifest. In classic Western psychology, the term that describes the various phenomena is ―expansion of consciousness.‖ This expansion of consciousness, also known as ―altered states of consciousness‖ is measurable through changes in emotional expression, alterations in
237 thinking, an altered sense of time, an expansion of consciousness, and so forth (Deikman, 1963; Grof, 1975; Levine et al., 1963; Tart, 1990, 1969). Conclusion to the Methodology This thesis comprises a phenomenological inquiry. Descriptive phenomenology is the lens that allowed me to describe ―the meaning of people‘s experience‖ (Polit and Beck, 2004, p. 253), which in this study is textual. This descriptive focus was achieved in the first stage through an in-depth analysis that considered the phenomenon within its classic meditational literary traditions--the result was a synthetic model of the phenomenon. Hermeneutic phenomenology is the lens that allowed me to interpret the phenomenon of the subtle energy in healing and transformation in a present-day context, which in this study is experiential. The hermeneutic focus was achieved in the second stage, through an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis that considered the phenomenon first, within its present-day literary interpretations, which engaged fields such as philosophy, psychology and health; and, second, within a dance movement laboratory, which engaged the self-experiential study. I will now discuss further the hermeneutic phenomenological approach as it marks this in-depth study. This thesis is a hermeneutic phenomenological study, as ‗I‘ the researcher attempt to come in contact with the phenomenon of subtle energy in relation with healing and transformation and understand the extremely varied and divergent religious data existing around the phenomenon. The hermeneutics principles used are in line with those suggested by Palmer and Heidegger (1969), Polit and Beck (2004) and other hermeneutic phenomenologists. For example, with reference to the present-day literary interpretation this thesis is in line with the phenomenological approach outlined
238 by Kristensen (1971) and Palmer and Heidegger (1969). Kristensen (1971) states that phenomenology seeks the ―meaning that the religious phenomena have for the believers themselves‖ (p. 11), which correspond to the descriptive approach to phenomenology; however, Kristensen (1971) further argues that phenomenology is not complete in grouping or classifying the phenomenon according to their (descriptive) meanings, but in the act of understanding (hermeneutics) (p. 11). Kristensen (1971) explains, ―Phenomenology has as its objects to come as far as possible into contact with and to understand the extremely varied and divergent religious data‖ (p. 11). Palmer and Heidegger (1969) believe that ―one of the essential elements for an adequate hermeneutical theory, and by extension adequate theory of literary‖ (p. 8) should be a ―broad conception of interpretation itself‖ (p. 8). They further affirm that hermeneutics is a methodology of choice when interpreting texts (texts in a broad sense, it could mean any accounted written experience) (p. 8). I found that only through a contemporary view was I able to make sense of the hermeneutic meaning of past truths. The openness of interpretation proved very liberating and provided me with a significant stimulus as I attempted to integrate classic textual accounts on the phenomenon of subtle energy in healing with such contemporary views as those expounded by integral philosophers, transpersonal theorists, healthcare professional and so forth. Purposely, in this study I dissect the phenomenon and interpret its details as seen through the eyes of ancient yogi adepts (past experiencers accounts=descriptive phenomenology), by utilizing their surviving scriptures (tantras). However, later on, I attempt to reassemble the dissected phenomenon within the context of a contemporary
239 health system. I do this by borrowing heavily from such contemporary holistic and integral principles as energy-based therapies that dominate the complementary and alternative health care approaches to healing, and which are currently working their way into the traditional health care systems. To give an example that could explain the above, yogic practice that was adopted by ancient yogis resulted in the scientific discovery of energy-pattern stimulation. Nevertheless, in a contemporary context, distant from, for example, societal and cultural modus operandi of the yogis, certain techniques could prove less effective or obsolete; in contrast, we can argue that new techniques that account for the new modus operandi of a society and culture could be more effective in delivering important results. Purposely, in my self-experiential study on subtle energy patterns, I choose to interpret principles of the tantric practice in which the body is ―central in the quest for self-knowledge‖ (Fields, 2001, p. 34) and is considered ―the quintessence of the physioconscious creation as the vehicle of spiritual transformation‖ (p. 35). In tantric thought a close relation exists between body and spirit. The spirit manifests through the body its qualities, and the energy is the conductor of the spiritual manifestation in the material world (Fields, 2001, p. 6). Thus, in the self-experiential study, I intended to experiment with the aid of a somatic practice such as dance movement on the body as a means of channelling subtle energy and thereby translating into current understanding the tantric thought of the physical body as a laboratory of life and the vehicle through which motional, psychological and spiritual self growth are expressed. I have described the lived experience of the phenomenon in a journal, subsequently structured the information in
240 relation to psychophysical data, and finally interpreted the data by stressing the importance of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis procedures. Overall Conclusion My final, overall conclusion of the phenomenon under scrutiny, based on an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of the interdisciplinary literature and a selfexperiential laboratory, is that it is indeed likely there is much more than speculative thought behind the classical yoga and tantric literature on the existence of a subtle energy and its relation to healing and transformation. The main achievement of the examination of ancient Eastern meditational literature was the drawing of a broad outline on the body of knowledge that includes directives on the controlled arousal of subtle energy, achieved through intense yogic subtle body practice. Moreover, from the findings expounded in the surveyed experiments and my self-experiential laboratory, there is a relationship between yogic subtle practices and healing and transformation. This justifies the employment of mind-body and energy-based modalities. Finally, further studies should investigate the multidimensionality of human beings, since a multidimensional framework would provide a significantly more effective application of energy-based modalities. In the scientific world, the ever increasing number of experiments conducted on specific practitioners of Eastern body-mind and energy-based modalities and spiritual practice such as yoga, mantra, meditation and pranayamas is resulting, over time, in findings that confirm and reconfirm the occurrence of positive psychosomatic and spiritual changes achieved through these practices. Healthcare professionals should employ such scientific data to offer highly effective solutions that allow, for example, individuals to manage their own health, vitality and healing. Noteworthy, the research
241 further suggests that the health care system should acknowledge as fundamental the psycho-spiritual assessment of the patient and actively investigate spiritual principles surrounding such Whole Medical Systems as yoga. Disclaimer For the sake of this study, I might have sometimes conveyed throughout the thesis the idea that a dichotomy exists between Eastern and Western spirituality, science and alternative medicine. However, I realize that a better case can be made against this myth of an east-west dichotomy. The reality is that spirituality and science are not bound by east-west dichotomies. Further, fanciful metaphysical healing systems are not limited to Eastern cultures. For example, homeopathy, herbalism and chiropracty all derive from the West. Similarly, spiritual traditions as an insight into understanding the true nature of the human phenomenon are not limited to the East, for example, Western cultures are rich in a broad spectrum of spiritual traditions. This includes, but is not limited to, Western hermetic tradition, Western mysticism, Western inner tradition, Western occult tradition, and the Western mystery traditions that includes the very foundation of science as we know it. These are alchemy, theosophy, herbalism, occult tarot, astrology, Rosicrucianism and Western forms of ritual magic. These traditions do not have one source or unifying text, nor do they adhere to a specific, unifying dogma; instead, they place their emphasis on inner knowledge or Gnosis. In reference to the false idea that Eastern knowledge is not scientific, again, a strong case refutes such claims. It suffices here to say that I believe that the issue is an epistemological concern. In particular, theories of knowledge are concerned with whether or not there is more than one way of acquiring knowledge, and if such methods for seeking knowledge can be improved upon
242 (Williams, 2001). Regardless, there is unanimous agreement that all epistemologies are based on some or all of four basic premises, which are logic, intuition, authority, and observation (Graziano and Raulin, 1993, pp. 8, 16, 115, 125-126, 143). Thus, we can argue that every knowledge system, including Western science and Eastern traditional knowledge, utilizes some or all of these four basic premises. What defines each knowledge system is how they use these premises to distinguish truth from fiction. I argue throughout this thesis that an integral approach where both Eastern and Western knowledge can be brought together is taking roots in the Western scientific world, thus confirming that there must be scientific method in both societies.
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