Posts Tagged paramahansa yogananda

Approaching the “Source”: Right-Left Brain Integration, Theta Waves … Hypnogogic Experiences, and Delta Waves … A Nightly Return to Our Roots in the Infinite

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The Awareness of a “Larger Reality”: A Primal Perspective on Spirituality, Part Five — Brain Correlates to Primal and Spiritual Experience … Wave and Structure

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Brain Waves

The relations between these levels of growth and the techniques under consideration can be demonstrated by their correlations with brain wave activity.

Theta Waves … Hypnogogic Experiences

Beta waves on the EEG correspond to normal waking consciousness while alpha indicates a more relaxed, tranquil state. The consciousness correlated with theta waves, which are even slower than alpha, is characterized by a dream-like or “reverie” state during which one is immersed in a world of images. It has long been known that these dream-like states (called “hypnogogic experiences”) play some part in scientific and artistic creation. (Rama, Ballentine, & Ajaya, 1976, pp. 146-147)

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Delta Waves—A Nightly Return to Our Roots in the Infinite

An even more relaxed state is the delta state, which usually is only experienced in the phase of “deep sleep.” It is unknown what exactly goes on during this state of sleep as, unlike REM sleep, which is characterized by dreaming, this appears to be a dreamless state. Yogananda (1946, p. 493) has indicated that it represents a nightly return to our roots in the infinite. Regardless, it is a more relaxed state than even the very relaxed and creative theta state.

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Theta has been called a measure of feeling states by Janov (1974b, p. 40). He also has brought forth research showing a trend toward theta and delta states in advanced primalers (cf. Janov & Holden, 1975, p. 493; Janov, 1971, pp. 214-215). Lake (1981) also makes this connection between theta states and integrative primal access and relivings. Similarly, research on meditators has indicated that they also exhibit alpha, theta, and delta wave patterns while awake, with more advanced meditators exhibiting the slower brain-wave patterns (cf. Rama et al., 1976, pp. 159-161; Walsh, 1979, p. 166).

The Awareness of a “Larger Reality”

We see that at least in regard to brain-wave activity the effects of primal and meditation are parallel. The effects include increasingly relaxed patterns and greater synchronization. One might speculate that the correlate of these slower rhythms is the awareness of subtler and subtler energies (a primaler would say “feelings”). These energies and awarenesses are unavailable in the normal beta state and could therefore be said to represent the awareness of a “larger reality.”

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Brain Structure

In addition to brain-wave activity, one might also find correlates to this process in terms of actual parts of the brain.

Right Brain—Left Brain Integration

Much has been made of late correlating states of consciousness and areas of the brain along right brain/left brain lines. Left brain dominance has come under attack and an integration of the two is called for. It is becoming clear that this kind of integration is an important aspect of both the primal and spiritual processes. Evidence for this is presented by Janov (1973; Janov & Holden, 1975). And evidence of this kind of integration occurs in the spiritual disciplines, particularly in its most advanced stages (Earle, 1981).

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Approaching the “Source”

What I am saying is that contact with subtler energies may involve awareness of brain activity existing closer to the brainstem, the “source” of brain activity, while normal consciousness is awareness of brain activity that is primarily cortical. Both the much acclaimed ability of yogis to control physiological processes that normally are unconsciously regulated and the reports that primalers are more aware of internal biological processes attest to this conception of the process.

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Continue with Levels of Pain, Levels of Bliss and the First Shutdown: “I Went from Birth to an Intrauterine State to Conception to Floating in the Icy Vastness of Space.”

Return to The Primal Serene — A Primal Perspective on Spirituality, Part Four: How Passion Promotes Serenity and the Detached Observer in Catharsis — The Eye of the Storm

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“At Times I Hopped Like a Frog … Between Smiles and Tears, I Continued my Inward Journey.” — Guru Muktananda: A Primal Perspective on Spirituality, Part Three — Cathartic Meditation

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The Path Is Different from the Goal: The Truth About Meditation Can Only Now Be Told — Real Meditation Is About Letting Go and Experiencing Not About Controlling Oneself

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What Really Happens in Authentic, Deep Meditation

Janov’s position that meditation is simply an attempt at inducing relaxation, which is then called bliss and couched in terms like “oneness with God” (1970, pp. 221-222), is an uninformed opinion that leaves out of consideration the variety of spiritual experiences that occur during meditation.

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Only Now Can It Be Told

Why Janov might think this is understandable, however. Explicit information on meditation experiences, especially during the earliest stages, has not always been easy to come by. For centuries there existed the belief that spiritual experiences were to be kept secret and not freely discussed. But the belief that emerges in our age is that the times are such as to make possible certain allowances that formerly were denied. In this vein several masters have in this century written personal accounts of their spiritual experiences; some even have allowed themselves to be tested by scientific methods. Adding to this are the findings of the ever increasing body of meditation research that, for the first time in history, has been taking place in the last half century.

Cathartic Meditation

“Between Smiles and Tears, I Continued my Inward Journey.” — Guru Muktananda

From the writings of Paramahansa Yogananda (1946) and Swami Baba Muktananda (1974), we are able to derive a conception of meditational experiences that is totally at variance with the notion that it is merely an attempt at relaxation or that it is, as Wilber claimed, distinct from “pre-” states. Muktananda writes, for example, “Various feelings emerged during meditation,” and “Sometimes I was happy, sometimes sad. Alternating between smiles and tears, I continued my inward journey” (p. 75).

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He talks about innumerable movements that occur in the process of meditation (p. 77). Most interestingly, he notes that these movements are automatic and “continued for a prolonged period” (pp. 82-83). “At times I hopped like a frog. Occasionally my body moved violently as if possessed by a spirit” (p. 78).

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The Yogic Experiences No One Tells You About

Muktananda explains that “the practitioners of Siddha Yoga have a vast variety of experiences about which one neither hears nor reads” (p. 76); that because of this an aspirant might abandon the path out of sheer fright (p. 77). Unaware of the variety of emotions and experiences entailed in the spiritual process, expecting perhaps only “bliss” (or relaxation?), the aspirant may think he or she is going insane (p. 77). He himself, however, sees all these experiences as part of a natural process that is cleansing in nature and makes possible access to higher levels of consciousness.

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“Meditators Commonly Experienced Intense Feeling States….”

Additional examples of these kinds of meditational experiences are given by Kapleau (l980) and Kornfield (1979). In fact, Kornfield reports that incidences of “spontaneous movement” were the most common experiences reported by beginning meditators (p. 45). He notes also that “Meditators commonly experienced intense feeling states and frequent dramatic changes of mood,” with examples of such including “screaming mind trips,” “violent crying,” “huge release of anger,” and “heavy sadness” (pp. 47-48).

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The Goal Is Different from the Path

In these descriptions of emotional discharge/release we can see similarities to what is described as occurring in primal therapy.

Spontaneous, Automatic Movement in Meditation ~ First-Line Feelings in Primal Therapy

But the descriptions of spontaneous and automatic movement are especially interesting. In many respects they recall the experiences that primalers with access to their “first-line” pain (preverbal, usually surrounding birth) frequently encounter. In fact, it is exactly this kind of relation (between the physical and emotional experiences reported by Kapleau, Kornfield, and others and perinatal experiences occurring outside of the spiritual disciplines) that is noted by Bache (1981).

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The bliss and equanimity described in the spiritual literature are thus associated most strongly with the advanced stages of meditation and should not be confused with the experiences entailed in the process of getting there.

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Most of What Passes for Meditation Is Anything But Mystical

The point is that there is more to meditation than mere relaxation or undiluted “trans-” states. Although evidently, as Rowan (1983) put it, “Most of what passes for meditation has nothing much to do with mystical experiences at all—it is just the achievement of a very calm state” (p. 21). From what I have seen, most of meditation as understood today is about learning to become more repressed and neurotic … less alive. It is all about trying to push out of consciousness all the upsetting things of life–all the things which when faced, embraced, and integrated can be gone beyond and can enrich one.

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Still, Rowan continues, “it is possible to get small or large peak experiences through meditation” (p. 21).

Real Meditative Experience May Not Be So Relaxing

Thus, it appears that the techniques of relaxation have to do with attempting to still the vagaries of pain-derived tension, the internal dialogue, so as to gain access to areas of consciousness that are “outside” and more fundamental than these vagaries. And contact with those areas may not be so relaxing!

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Continue with The Primal Serene — A Primal Perspective on Spirituality, Part Four: How Passion Promotes Serenity and the Detached Observer in Catharsis — The Eye of the Storm

Return to Is God a Defense? Is Passion not Spiritual? A Primal Perspective on Spirituality, Part Two — To Travel Unafraid Through All the Rooms of One’s House

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