Am engrossed in Vladimir Megre’s Anastasia series, currently on book four.
I wonder if there are any groups formed here in the U.K?
Am engrossed in Vladimir Megre’s Anastasia series, currently on book four.
I wonder if there are any groups formed here in the U.K?
To understand neurological space, Dr. Leary assumes that the nervous system consists of eight potential circuits, or “gears,” or mini-brains. Four of these brains are in the usually active left lobe and are concerned with our terrestrial survival; four are extraterrestrial, reside in the “silent” or inactive right lobe, and are for use in our future evolution. This explains why the right lobe is usually inactive at this stage of our development, and why it becomes active when the person ingests psychedelics.
We will explain each of the eight “brains” briefly.
I. The Bio-Survival System
This invertebrate brain was the first to evolve (2 to 3 million years ago) and is the first activated when a human infant is born. It programs perception onto an either-or grid divided into nurturing-helpful Things (which it approaches) and noxious-dangerous Things (which it flees, or attacks). The imprinting of this circuit sets up the basic attitude of trust or suspicion which will ever after trigger approach or avoidance.
II. The Emotional-Territorial System
This second, more advanced bio-computer formed when vertebrates appeared and began to compete for territory (perhaps 500,000,000 B.C.). In the individual, this bigger tunnel-reality is activated when the DNA master-tape triggers the metamorphosis from crawling to walking. As every parent knows, the toddler is no longer a passive (bio-survival) infant but a mammalian politician, full of physical (and psychic) territorial demands, quick to meddle in family business and decision-making. Again the first imprint on this circuit remains constant for life (unless brainwashed) and identifies the stimuli which will automatically trigger dominant, aggressive behavior or submissive, cooperative behavior. When we say that a person is behaving emotionally, egotistically or ‘like a two-year-old,’ we mean that s/he is blindly following one of the tunnel-realities imprinted on this circuit.
III. The Time-Binding Semantic System
This third brain was formed when hominid types began to differentiate from other primate stock (circa 4-5 million B.C.) and is activated for the linear left-lobe functions of the brain, determines our normal modes of artifact-manufacture and conceptual thought, i.e., third circuit ‘mind.’
It is no accident, then, that our logic (and our computer-design) follows either-or, binary structure of these circuits. Nor is it an accident that our geometry, until the last century, has been Euclidean. Euclid’s geometry, Aristotle’s logic and Newton’s physics are meta-programs synthesizing and generalizing first brain forward-back, second brain up-down and third brain right-left programs.
IV. The Social-Sexual System
The fourth brain, dealing with the transmission of tribal or ethnic culture across generations, introduces the fourth dimension, time.
Since each of these tunnel-realities consists of biochemical imprints or matrices in the nervous system, each of them is specifically triggered by neuro-transmitters and other drugs.
Notice how drugs that stimulate the first four circuits, which are already activated, tend to be dangerously addictive, roughly ordered ascending from the first circuit.
To activate the first brain take an opiate. Mother Opium and Sister Morphine bring you down to cellular intelligence, bio-survival passivity, the floating consciousness of the newborn. (This is why Freudians identify opiate addiction with the desire to return to infancy.)
To activate the second tunnel-reality, take an abundant quantity of alcohol. Vertebrate territorial patterns and mammalian emotional politics immediately appear when the booze flows, as Thomas Nashe intuitively realized when he characterized the various alcohol states by animal labels: “ass drunk,” “goat drunk,” “swine drunk,” “bear drunk,” etc.
To activate the third circuit, try coffee or tea, a high-protein diet, speed or cocaine.
The specific neurotransmitter for circuit four has not been synthesized yet, but it is generated by the glands after pubescence and flows volcanically through the bloodstreams of adolescents.
None of these terrestrial drugs change basic biochemical imprints. The behaviors which they trigger are those which were wired into the nervous system during the first stages of imprint vulnerability. The circuit II drunk exhibits the emotional games or cons learned from parents in infancy. The circuit III “mind” never gets beyond the permutations and combinations of those tunnel-realities originally imprinted, or abstractions associated with the imprints through later conditioning. And so forth.
But all this Pavlovian-Skinnerian robotism changes drastically and dramatically when we turn to the right lobe, the future circuits and extraterrestrial chemicals. The four evolving future ‘brains’ are:
V. The Neurosomatic System
When this fifth “body-brain” is activated, flat Euclidean figure-ground configurations explode multi-dimensionally. Gestalts shift, in McLuhan’s terms, from linear visual space to all-encompassing sensory space. A hedonic turn-on occurs, a rapturous amusement, a detachment from the previously compulsive mechanism of the first four circuits. I turned this circuit on with pot and Tantra.
This fifth brain began to appear about 4,000 years ago in the first leisure-class civilizations and has been increasing statistically in recent centuries (even before the Drug Revolution), a fact demonstrated by the hedonic art of India, China, Rome and other affluent societies. More recently, Ornstein and his school have demonstrated with electroencephalograms that this circuit represents the first jump from the linear left lobe of the brain to the analogical right lobe.
The opening and imprinting of this circuit has been the preoccupation of “technicians of the occult”–Tantric shamans and hatha yogis. While the fifth tunnel-reality can be achieved by sensory deprivation, social isolation, physiological stress or severe shock (ceremonial terror tactics, as practiced by such rascal-gurus as Don Juan Matus or Aleister Crowley), it has traditionally been reserved to the educated aristocracy of leisure societies who have solved the four terrestrial survival problems.
About 20,000 years ago, the specific fifth brain neurotransmitter was discovered by shamans in the Caspian Sea area of Asia and quickly spread to other wizards throughout Eurasia and Africa. It is, of course, cannabis. Weed. Mother Mary Jane.
It is no accident that the pot-head generally refers to his neural state as “high” or “spaced-out.” The transcendence of gravitational, digital, linear, either-or, Aristotelian, Newtonian, Euclidean, planetary orientations (circuits I-IV) is, in evolutionary perspective, part of our neurological preparation for the inevitable migration off our home planet, now beginning. This is why so many pot-heads are Star Trek freaks and science fiction adepts. (Berkeley, California, certainly the Cannabis Capital of the U.S., has a Federation Trading Post on Telegraph Avenue, where the well-heeled can easily spend $500 or more in a single day, buying Star Trek novels, magazines, newsletters, bumper stickers, photographs, posters, tapes, etc., including even complete blueprints for the starship Enterprise.)
The extraterrestrial meaning of being “high” is confirmed by astronauts themselves; 85% of those who have entered the free-fall zero gravity describe “mystic experiences” or rapture states typical of the neurosomatic circuit. “No photo can show how beautiful Earth looked,” raves Captain Ed Mitchell, describing his Illumination in free-fall. He sounds like any successful yogi or pot-head. No camera can show this experience because it is inside the nervous system.
Free-fall, at the proper evolutionary time, triggers the neurosomatic mutation, Leary believes. Previously this mutation has been achieved “artificially” by yogic or shamanic training or by the fifth circuit stimulant, cannabis. Surfing, skiing, skin-diving and the new sexual culture (sensuous massage, vibrators, imported Tantric arts, etc.) have evolved at the same time as part of the hedonic conquest of gravity. The Turn-On state is always described as “floating,” or, in the Zen metaphor, “one foot above the ground.”
VI. The Neuroelectric System
The sixth brain consists of the nervous system becoming aware of itself apart from imprinted gravitational reality-maps (circuits I-IV) and even apart from body-rapture (circuit V). Count Korzybski, the semanticist, called this state “consciousness of abstracting.” Dr. John Lilly calls it “metaprogramming,” i.e., awareness of programming one’s programming. This Einsteinian, relativistic contelligence (consciousness-intelligence) recognizes, for instance, that the Euclidean, Newtonian and Aristotelian reality-maps are just three among billions of possible programs or models for experience. I turned this circuit on with Peyote, LSD and Crowley’s “magick” metaprograms.
This level of brain-functioning seems to have been reported first around 500 B.C. among various “occult” groups connected by the Silk Route (Rome-North India). It is so far beyond the terrestrial tunnel-realities that those who have achieved it can barely communicate about it to ordinary humanity (circuits I-IV) and can hardly be understood even by fifth circuit Rapture Engineers.
The characteristics of the neuroelectric circuit are high velocity, multiple choice, relativity, and the fission-fusion of all perceptions into parallel science-fiction universes of alternate possibilities.
The mammalian politics which monitor power struggles among terrestrial humanity are here transcended, i.e., seen as static, artificial, an elaborate charade. One is neither coercively manipulated into another’s territorial reality nor forced to struggle against it with reciprocal emotional game-playing (the usual soap-opera dramatics). One simply elects, consciously, whether or not to share the other’s reality-model.
Tactics for opening and imprinting the sixth circuit are described and rarely experienced in advanced rajah yoga, and in the hermetic (coded) manuals of the medieval-Renaissance alchemists and Illuminati.
No specific sixth circuit chemical is yet available, but strong psychedelics like mescaline (from my 1962-63 “sacred cactus,” peyotl) and psilocybin (from the Mexican “magic mushroom,” teonactl) open the nervous system to a mixed-media series of circuit V and circuit VI channels. This is appropriately called “tripping,” as distinguished from straight-forward fifth circuit “turning on” or “getting high.”
The suppression of scientific research in this area has had the unfortunate result of turning the outlaw drug culture back toward fifth circuit hedonics and pre-scientific tunnel-realities (the occult revival, solipsism, Pop Orientalism). Without scientific discipline and methodology, few can successfully decode the often-frightening (but philosophically crucial) sixth circuit metaprogramming signals. Such scientists as do continue to study this subject dare not publish their results (which are illegal) and record ever-wider tunnel-realities only in private conversations–like the scholars of the Inquisitorial era. (Voltaire announced the Age of Reason two centuries too soon. We are still in the Dark Ages.) Most underground alchemists have given up on such challenging and risky self-work and restrict their trips to fifth circuit erotic tunnels.
The evolutionary function of the sixth circuit is to enable us to communicate at Einsteinian relativities and neuro-electric accelerations, not using third circuit laryngeal-manual symbols but directly via feedback, telepathy and computer link-up. Neuro-electric signals will increasingly replace “speech” (hominid grunts) after space migration.
When humans have climbed out of the atmosphere-gravity well of planetary life, accelerated sixth circuit contelligence will make possible high-energy communication with “Higher Intelligences,” i.e., ourselves-in-the-future and other post-terrestrial races.
It is charmingly simple and obvious, once we realize that the spaced-out neural experiences really are extraterrestrial, that getting high and spacing out are accurate metaphors. Circuit V neurosomatic rapture is preparation for the next step in our evolution, migration off the planet. Circuit VI is preparation for the step after that, interspecies communication with advanced entities possessing electronic (post-verbal) tunnel-realities.
Circuit VI is the “universal translator” often imagined by science-fiction writers, already built into our brains by the DNA tape. Just as the circuits of the future butterfly are already built into the caterpillar.
VII. The Neurogenetic System
The seventh brain kicks into action when the nervous system begins to receive signals from within the individual neuron, from the DNA-RNA dialogue. The first to achieve this mutation spoke of “memories of past lives,” “reincarnation,” “immortality,” etc. That these adepts were recording something real is indicated by the fact that many of them (especially Hindu and Sufis) gave marvelously accurately poetic vistas of evolution 1,000 or 2,000 years before Darwin, and foresaw Superhumanity before Nietzsche.
The “akashic records” of Theosophy, the “collective unconscious” of Jung, the “phylogenetic unconscious” of Grof and Ring, are three modern metaphors for this circuit. The visions of past and future evolution described by those who have had “out-of-body” experiences during close-to-death episodes also describes the trans-time circuit VII tunnel-reality.
Specific exercises to trigger circuit VII are not to be found in yogic teaching; it usually happens, if at all, after several years of the kind of advanced rajah yoga that develops circuit VI facility.
The specific circuit VII neurotransmitter is, of course LSD. (Peyote and psilocybin produce some circuit VII experiences also.)
Circuit VII is best considered, in terms of 1977 science, as the genetic archives, activated by anti-histone proteins. The DNA memory coiling back to the dawn of life. A sense of the inevitability of immortality and interspecies symbiosis comes to all circuit VII mutants; we now see that this, also, is an evolutionary forecast, since we stand right now on the doorstep of extended longevity leading to immortality.
The exact role of the right-lobe circuits and the reason for their activation in the 1960s cultural revolution now becomes clear. As sociologist F.M. Esfandiary writes in Upwingers, “Today when we speak of immortality and of going to another world we no longer mean these in a theological or metaphysical sense. People are now traveling to other worlds. People are now striving for immortality. Transcendence is no longer a metaphysical concept. It has become reality.”
The evolutionary function of the seventh circuit and its evolutionary, aeon-spanning tunnel-reality is to prepare us for conscious immortality and interspecies symbiosis.
VIII. The Neuro-Atomic System
Hold on to your hats and breathe deeply–this is the farthest-out that human intelligence has yet ventured.
Consciousness probably precedes the biological unit or DNA tape-loop. “Out-of-body experiences,” “astral projection,” contact with alien (extraterrestrial?) “entities” or with a galactic Overmind, etc., such as I’ve experienced, have all been reported for thousands of years, not merely by the ignorant, the superstitious, the gullible, but often by the finest minds among us (Socrates, Giordano Bruno, Edison, Buckminster Fuller, etc.). Such experiences are reported daily to parapsychologists and have been experienced by such scientists as Dr. John Lilly and Carlos Castaneda. Dr. Kenneth Ring has attributed these phenomena to what he calls, very appropriately, “the extraterrestrial unconscious.”
Dr. Leary suggests that circuit VIII is literally neuro-atomic–infra, supra and meta-physiological–a quantum model of consciousness and/or a conscious model of quantum mechanics by the turned-on physicists discussed previously (Prof. John Archibald Wheeler, Saul-Paul Sirag, Dr. Fritjof Capra, Dr. Jack Sarfatti, etc.) indicates strongly that the “atomic consciousness” first suggested by Leary in “The Seven Tongues of God” (1962) is the explanatory link which will unite parapsychology and paraphysics into the first scientific empirical experimental theology in history.
When the nervous system is turned on to this quantum-level circuit, space-time is obliterated. Einstein’s speed-of-light barrier is transcended; in Dr. Sarfatti’s metaphor, we escape “electromagnetic chauvinism.” The contelligence within the quantum projection booth IS the entire cosmic “brain,” just as the micro-miniaturized DNA helix IS the local brain guiding planetary evolution. As Lao-tse said from his own Circuit VIII perspective, “The greatest is within the smallest.”
Circuit VIII is triggered by Ketamine, a neuro-chemical researched by Dr. John Lilly, which is also (according to a wide-spread but unconfirmed rumor) given to astronauts to prepare them for space. High doses of LSD also produce some circuit VIII quantum awareness.
This neuro-atomic contelligence is four mutations beyond terrestrial domesticity. (The current ideological struggle is between circuit IV tribal moralists-or-collectivists and circuit V hedonic individualists.) When our need for higher intelligence, richer involvement in the cosmic script, further transcendence, will no longer be satisfied by physical bodies, not even by immortal bodies hopping across space-time at Warp 9, circuit VIII will open a further frontier. New universes and realities. “Beyond theology: the science and art of Godmanship,” as Alan Watts once wrote.
It is therefore possible that the mysterious “entities” (angels and extraterrestrials) monotonously reported by circuit VIII visionaries are members or races already evolved to this level. But it is also possible, as Leary and Sarfatti more recently suggest, that They are ourselves-in-the-future.
The left-lobe terrestrial circuits contain the learned lessons of our evolutionary past (and present). The right-lobe extraterrestrial circuits are the evolutionary script for out future.
Thus far, there have been two alternative explanations of why the Drug Revolution happened. The first is presented in a sophisticated way by anthropologist Weston LaBarre, and in an ignorant, moralistic way by most anti-drug propaganda in the schools and mass media. This explanation says, in essence, that millions have turned away from the legal down drugs to illegal high drugs because we are living in troubled times and many are seeking escape into fantasy.
This theory, at its best, only partially explains the ugliest and most publicized aspect of the revolution–the reckless drug abuse characteristic of the immature. It says nothing about the millions of respectable doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc., who have turned away from second circuit intoxication with booze to fifth circuit rapture with weed.
Nor does it account at all for the thoughtful, philosophical sixth circuit investigations of persons of high intelligence and deep sensibility, such as Aldous Huxley, Dr. Stanley Grof, Masters-Houston, Alan W. Watts, Carlos Castaneda, Dr. John Lilly and thousands of scientific and lay researchers on consciousness.
A more plausible theory, devised by psychiatrist Norman Zinberg out of the work of Marshall McLuhan, holds that modern electronic media have so shifted the nervous system’s parameters that young people no longer enjoy “linear” drugs like alcohol and find meaning only in “non-linear” weed and psychedelics.
This is certainly part of the truth, but it is too narrow and overstresses TV and computers without sufficiently stressing the general technological picture–the ongoing Science-Fiction Revolution of which the most significant aspects are Space Migration, Increased Intelligence and Life Extension, which Leary has condensed into his SMI²LE formula.
Space Migration plus Increased Intelligence plus Life Extension means expansion of humanity into all space-time. SM + I² + LE = infinity.
Without totally endorsing Charles Fort’s technological mysticism (“It steam-engines when it comes steam-engine time”), it is obvious that the DNA metaprogram for planetary evolution is far wiser than any of our individual nervous systems–which are, in a sense, giant robots or sensors for DNA. Early science-fiction of brilliant writers like Stapledon, Clarke, Heinlein; Kubrick’s 2001–all were increasingly clear DNA signals transmitted through the intuitive right lobe of sensitive artists, preparing us for the extraterrestrial mutation.
It is scarcely coincidental that mainstream “literary” intellectuals–the heir of the Platonic-aristocratic tradition that a gentleman never uses his hands, monkeys with tools or learns a manual craft–despise both science-fiction and the dope culture. Nor is it coincidental that the Whole Earth Catalogs – created by Stewart Brand, a graduate of Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters–are the New Testament of the rural drop-out culture, each issue bulging with tons of eco-technological information about all the manual, dextrous, gadgety know-how that Plato and his heirs consider fit only for slaves. Not surprisingly, Brand’s latest publication, Co-Evolution Quarterly, has been devoted to publicizing Prof. Gerard O’Neill’s space-habitat, L5.
Nor is it an accident that dopers seem to prefer science-fiction to any other reading, even including the extraterrestrial-flavored Hindu scriptures and occult-shamanic circuit VI-VIII trip-poets like Crowley and Hesse.
The circuit VI drugs may have contributed much to the metaprogramming consciousness that has led to sudden awareness of “male chauvinism” (women’s liberationists), “species chauvinism” (ecology, Lilly’s dolphin studies), “type-G star chauvinism” (Carl Sagan), even “oxygen chauvinism” (the CETI conference), etc. The imprinted tunnel-realities which identify one as “white-male-American-earthian” etc. or “black-female-Cuban” etc. are no longer big enough to enclose our exploding contelligence.
As Time magazine said on November 26, 1973, “Within ten years, according to pharmacologists, they will have perfected pills and cranial electrodes of providing life-long bliss for everyone on Earth.” The 1960s hysteria about weed and acid was just the overture to this fifth circuit break-through. Nathan S. Kline, M.D., predicts real aphrodisiacs, drugs to speed up learning, drugs to foster or terminate any behavior. … Those who were jailed or beaten by cops in the 1960s were forerunners of the Revolution of Inner Technology.
Star Trek is a better guide to the emerging reality than anything in the New York Review of Books. The life-support and defense-system engineer, Scotty (circuit I), the emotional-sentimental Dr. McCoy (circuit II), the logical science officer Mr. Spock (circuit III) and the alternately paternalistic and romantic Captain Kirk (circuit IV) are perpetually voyaging through our future neurological history and encountering circuit V, VI, VII, and VIII intelligences, however crudely presented.
In short, the various levels of consciousness and circuits we have been discussing, and illustrating, are all biochemical imprints in the evolution of the nervous system. Each imprint creates a bigger tunnel-reality. In the Sufi metaphor, the donkey on the which we ride becomes a different donkey after each imprint. The metaprogrammer continually learns more and is increasingly able to be aware of itself operating. We are thus evolving to intelligence-studying-intelligence (the nervous system studying the nervous system) and are more and more capable of accelerating our own evolution.
1. The Bio-survival Circuit is concerned with the earliest modes of survival and the basic separation of objects into either harmful or safe. This circuit is said to have first appeared in the earliest evolution of the invertebrate brain. It is the first to be activated in an infant’s mind. Leary says this circuit is stimulated by opioid drugs. This circuit introduces a one-dimensional perception: forward and backward (i.e., forward towards food, nourishment and that which is trusted as safe, and backwards — away from danger and predators; Also called the “Oral Bio-Survival Circuit” by Robert Anton Wilson in reference to the oral stage of human development from Freudian Psychology).
2. The Emotional Circuit is concerned with raw emotion and the separation of behavior into submissive and dominant. This circuit appeared first in vertebrate animals. In humans, it is activated when the child learns to walk. Leary associates this circuit with alcohol. This circuit introduces a second dimension, up-down, linked with territorial politics and tribal power games (up, as in swelling ones body in size to represent dominance, and down, as in the cowering, tail-between-the-legs submissive stance; called by Robert Anton Wilson the “Anal Emotional Territorial Circuit” in reference to the anal stage of human development from Freudian Psychology).
3. The Symbolic Circuit is concerned with logic and symbolic thought. Leary said this circuit first appeared when hominids started differentiating from the rest of the primates. Leary believed this circuit is stimulated by caffeine, cocaine, and other stimulants. This circuit introduces the third dimension, left and right, related to the development of dexterous movement and handling “artifacts”. (Also called by Leary The Dexterity-Symbolism Circuit; called by Robert Anton Wilson the Semantic Circuit.)
4. The Domestic Circuit. This circuit is concerned with operating within social networks and the transmission of culture across time. This circuit is said to have first appeared with the development of tribes. This fourth circuit deals with moral-social/sexual tribal rules passed through generations and is the introduction to the fourth dimension — time. (Also called by Leary and Wilson the Socio-Sexual Circuit). Leary never associated a drug with this circuit, though some have hypothesized that Oxytocin (released during and after childbirth) or MDMA might activate this circuit. Additionally, endorphins and other psychoactive substances produced by the body itself during social interaction can be connected to this circuit. The lack of knowledge about the cause and mechanism of these chemicals, as well as lack of a method to stimulating their production, would explain their non-mention in his works.
5. The Neurosomatic Circuit is the first of the right-brain, “higher” circuits which are usually inactive in most humans. It allows one to see things in multi-dimensional space instead of the 4 dimensions of Euclidean space-time, and is there to aid in the future exploration of outer space. It is said to have first appeared with the development of leisure-class civilizations around 2000 BC. It is associated with hedonism and eroticism. Leary says this circuit is stimulated by cannabis and tantric yoga, or simply by experiencing the sensation of free fall at the right time.
6. The Neuroelectric Circuit is concerned with the mind becoming aware of itself independent of the patterns imprinted by the previous five circuits. It is also called “metaprogramming” or “consciousness of abstracting”. Leary says this circuit enables telepathic communication, and that this circuit is impossible to explain to those who have only left-brain activity and is difficult to explain to those with active fifth circuits. It is said to have appeared in 500 BC, in connection with the Silk Road. Leary associates this circuit with peyote and psilocybin. (Robert Anton Wilson called this circuit The Metaprogramming Circuit, and places it 7th in the hierarchy.)
7. The Neurogenetic Circuit allows access to the genetic memory contained in DNA. It is connected to memories of past lives, the Akashic Records, and the collective unconscious, and allows for essential immortality in humans. This circuit first appeared among Hindu groups in the early first millennium and later reappeared in Sufi sects at the end of the first millennium (ca. 9th century). This circuit is stimulated by LSD, and Raja Yoga. (Robert Anton Wilson called this circuit The Morphogenetic Circuit.)
8. The Psycho-atomic Circuit allows access to the intergalactic consciousness that predates life in the universe (characterized as the Godhead, the Overmind or aliens), and lets humans operate outside of space-time and the constraints of relativity. It tunes the brain into the non-local quantum communication system suggested by physicists such as Bohm, Walker, Sarfatti, Bell, etc. Israel Regardie compared this to the Buddhist concept of Indra’s Net. This circuit is associated with Ketamine and DMT by Leary. While Wilson agreed Ketamine was associated with this circuit, he also believed very strong doses of LSD could unlock it. (Called also by Leary The Neuro-Atomic Circuit or The Metaphysiological Circuit, Robert Anton Wilson called this circuit The Non-Local Quantum Circuit.)
Leary claims that this model explained, among other things, the social conflict in the 1960s, where the mainstream, said to be those with circuit 4 active and characterized as tribal moralists by Leary, clashed with the counter-culturists, said to be those with circuit 5 active and characterized as individualists and hedonists.
Leary’s book on the subject was called Exo-Psychology, and has been republished with additional material in recent years under the title Info-Psychology.
(New Falcon Publishing)
My pranayamic skills doth progress.
lots of new insights flowing from my practice of late.
In sense withdrawal I now pull in to the third eye (as usual), but also into the heart chakra and the jupiter chakra too.
Then flowing into concentraton I visualise my object with ajna, then totally relax my brain and allow the heart centre to open. Watching the brain whilst meditating I began to feel certain physical areas moving when types of thoughts or motor actions occurred. Focusing on totally physically relaxing the brain and then brainstem allows for much deeper concentration.
When the heart centre opens, today I saw rainbow coloured auric waves emanate from there. It felt very wonderful.
Then I allow my concentration to move to the jupiter chakra and which feels completely different than anything I have sensed before. It feels ancient, pre language. I am looking forward to exploring this new method of perception.
When I flow into meditation and feel unconditional love in these three chakras, my whole being quivers with delightful ripples of sensation.
When I go into contemplation after this new improved method, I go much deeper. Today, whilst easily shutting off the brain and going deep inside patterns of energy whirled inside my inner vision. I felt I was on the verge of something big, but I did not feel totally ready for it, and gently pulled back.
Last night whilst watching a movie I experienced a strange shift in my perception. I suddenly felt quite disassociated, dislocated, almost like an acid flashback i felt very centered though and was able to lock into anything I wished to. I focused on my companion and had a rush of information about/from her. This info was very personal, it seemed as if I was able to lock into her thoughts and feelings and decode them.
I am aware that this was subjective experience and was unable to confirm with her whether these were indeed her thoughts and feelings because of the extreme personal nature of the thoughts, feelings.
I did feel them to be true. I would even say know them to be true.
I didn’t want to examine the ability further and willed to go back to normal, which I did.
Later that night I felt the ability return but again didn’t wish to explore it.
I got the fear.
I soon returned to normal.
I have felt this ability previously when practising in-depth pranayama. I feel it to be the beginning of the opening. This is when you have been practising and living well for a certain time, cleared out your nadi channels, saved your sexual energy and the cerebral spinal ganglia seem to say,
“Ok, he is ready!”
I find my ability to concentate and perform tasks greatly increased and I seem to need much less sleep than normally.
back in manchester now and after several daze of no pranayama am back in the saddle. Feels good. Real good.
Shall get pranayama times posted soon and start doing mo bloggin.. Simply had to much to be doing of late. My life has been in a strange kinda tumult, nice to settle down a lil.
Nine weeks holiday has been a real blessing, tho tis nice to be back. Travelling is great, for a while.. These days I much prefer inner travelling.
To some the phrase “Taoist yoga” may conjure up the ancient stances of the Chinese martial arts or the stylized poses of the Peking opera. But Taoist yoga has little to do with poses or stances: rather, it is a precise science of cultivating the body’s subtle energy, or ch’ i, for balancing and healing the body and mind. And according to old Chinese texts and a handful of modern master, it is a safe and sure practice for attaining enlightenment as well.
One such modern master is Mantak Chia who has been teaching the methods of his Taoist lineage in North America since 1977. Neither a scholar of ancient texts nor a workshop educated purveyor of fashionable growth techniques. Chia is apparently the genuine article – a man who has studied since childhood with a series of authentic masters and has been specifically empowered to pass on to others the ancient teachings of Taoist yoga.
Taoism and Taoist Adepts
Taoism is a religion a philosophy and a wav of life that has existed in China for over 2,500 years –
and parts of it are several thousand years older than that. Over the millennia. Taoism has meant different things to different people. According to Orientalist John Blofeld, scholars identified it with the philosophies of Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu. To most ordinary folk, Taoism was a loose agglomeration of shamanistic and occult practices.
Yogis who wanted to rejuvenate their bodies and prolong their lives combined philosophy and practice with the secrets of internal alchemy. And to mystics seeking union with the Sublime, the Tao was the esoteric heart of all those teachings. According to Blofeld. Tao (literally, “way” or “path”) can mean the undifferentiated unity from which the universe evolved or the supreme creative and sustaining power that nourishes all creatures. It can mean the wav nature operates as well as the course or path we should follow in order to rise above mundane life and achieve enlightenment.
Taoist philosophers see the world and everything in it as “a seamless web of unbroken movement and change.” What look to us like separate entities -people, animals, events, thoughts – are really just temporary patterns and wave in a dynamic flux. The aim of Taoist spiritual practice is to recognize and cultivate the harmony inherent in this flux, inherent in every dynamic situation or relationship: between oneself and the Earth, between oneself and others, and between the emotions and energies within oneself. Pursuit of inner harmony has led to great spiritual accomplishment in some, tranquility and peace of mind in others, and supernatural powers (used for good or ill) in still others.
The emperors of China traditionally were fascinated with the Taoist yogis reputation for seeing into the minds of others, controlling the weather, and in some cases manipulating or harming others at a distance. They would attempt to cajole and sometimes force their Taoist advisors to use their magical powers for political ends. An unfortunate effect of this was that great secrecy and intrigue grew up around the Taoist practices. The original esoteric system was often taught only piecemeal, lest any one individual become too powerful. As a result, the teachings became scattered or were held secret by a select few. Communist suppression of religion in the 1950s and 1960s forced many Taoists underground or to Taiwan.
One story, told to Master Chia, is particularly chilling. Apparently soldiers of the People’s Republic of China, out combing the countryside for a periodic census, stumbled on nearly a thousand mysteriously immobile old men sitting in meditation in caves of the Five Sacred Mountains of central China. These hermits didn’t respond to any stimuli, didn’t seem to have any need for food or sleep, and didn’t even seem to breathe. The soldiers collected them and placed them, still sitting cross-legged, in a grassy field. Then they tried to wake them. But nothing the soldiers could do would rouse them. The old men were apparently absorbed in deep meditation and were out of their bodies traveling in other dimensions – a very high state in Taoist practice. To the Chinese army, however, these silent meditators were a menace. Word of their existence might spread among the populace and rekindle the peasants’ deep-seated reverence for the ancient teachings. The Chinese government, still embattled with traditional Chinese culture, could not afford to have the people learn of these remarkable adepts – so the army doused them with gasoline and set them a fire.
In the light of such stories, it should not be surprising that Taoism has only begun to reemerge in the last few years. Yet Taoist practices continue to permeate Chinese culture. Today hundreds of millions of mainland Chinese practice chi kung exercises and t’ai chi ch’uan; and acupuncture and herbology, offshoots of Taoist internal alchemy, remain very popular. In addition, Peking’s White Cloud Taoist Monastery now boasts 40 young adepts, who are strictly celibate and vegetarian, wear traditional black robes, tie their hair in Top knots, and study the internal alchemy of the Dragon Gate Sect. Yet translations of Chinese texts and Taoists willing to teach their secrets have remained scarce for Westerners until Mantak Chia decided that these Taoist methods were far too valuable to be kept hidden.
Born in Thailand in 1944 of Chinese immigrant parents. Chia says he learned the internal alchemy directly from an accomplished Taoist adept. White Cloud Hermit, who fled his mountain cave in China during World War II and settled in the mountains outside Hong Kong. Young Chia was a particularly apt candidate to inherit this venerable tradition. As a child of six he practiced Buddhist meditation with local Thai monks and white in grammar school in Hong Kong, learned t’ai chi chuan, aikido, and Hatha Yoga from two Chinese masters. Later while in his 20s, he studied Kundalini Yoga from an Indian yogi in Singapore.
From various other masters the young Chia learned a synthesis of Taoist. Southern Buddhist and Ch’an (Zen) teachings: a healing technique called Buddhist Palm: a new martial arts system combining Thai Boxing and kung fu: a secret Shao-lin technique for collecting internal energy and powers and the Iron Shirt and Steel Body techniques for strengthening muscles and tendons. His primary teacher however, was White Cloud hermit, who taught Mantak Chia every level of what he mow calls Taoist Esoteric Yoga.
What is Taoist Yoga?
Like meditional Indian yoga. Taoist Esoteric Yoga cultivates the subtle life force its Indian counterpart, Taoist yoga recognizes various kinds and levels of chi. The goals of both systems are the same spiritual growth and ultimately, enlightenment. In other ways, however, Taoist yoga differs from the Indian system.
For one thing Taoists do not see the body and its pleasures as maya, illusion. But rather as a valuable storehouse of energy and impulses, Physical pleasure is thus not to be transcended immediately, but first cultivated and utilized, and then transcended only in the final stage of development. Taoist also do not use subtle vibrational methods, such as mantras and visualizations, to transform gross emotions and impulses into higher, spiritual ones. Rather, they use subtle energies to awaken even subtler and more powerful energies, which are used in turn to awaken yet more refined and powerful energies.
The first technique Master Chia teachers, for example, is called the Micro cosmic Orbit. (See the sidebar accompanying this article.) In this practice, ch’i is first collected in the navel area and tailbone, up the spine to the perineum and tailbone, up the spine to the crown, and down the top of the head and face to the palate. The tongue is then touched to the roof of the mouth, completing a circuit between the “governor meridian” along the back and the “functional meridians” along the front of the body.
After returning to the navel along the throat and chest, the ch’i continues to circulate around the body along this new orbital path. Taoist believe that all ch’i is generated in the navel area, in the subtle energy center called the tan t’ ien (corresponding to the Japanese hara and the yogic third or manipura chakra). The energy from other subtle dimensions is believed to enter the physical realm at point. If one concentrates on the navel.
Taoists teach, one can feel an accumulation of warmth and tingling energy in the area, and with proper instruction and practice one can learn to use this ch’i to great advantage, awakening the innate healing energy in the book and conferring ever-increasing health benefits, this technique is said to open up the circular meridian route, which is used later in more advanced practices. It is also the first step in learning to consciously direct ch’i another technique needed for advanced inner work. After mastering the Microcosmic Orbit, the Taoist yoga student learns how to send ch’i along several other subtle channels, the arms and legs: the vertical channel, or “thrusting route.”
That is said to arise through the middle of the body from the perineum to the crown: and the waist, or “belt route.” In the Fusion of the Five Elements practice the student learns to harmonize the different kinds of internal energies recognized by Chinese medicine (hot, cold, warm, cool and dry, and mild), energies traditionally associated with specific internal organs. This harmonization is said to create what Master Chia calls a kind of perfect inner weather, which greatly enhances digestion and, more importantly, balances and harmonizes the emotions.
Transforming Sexual and Emotional Energy
According to Master Chia, negative emotions, instead of being released, acted out, or “dumped” on others, can be gathered in the pakua (crucible or cauldron) in the tan t’ien and transformed back into neutral ch’i. When these negative emotions have been drawn from their organs of origin (anger from the liver, sadness from the lungs, arrogance from the heart, fear from the kidneys, and worry from the spleen), the various corresponding virtues begin to emerge. These virtues can then be blended and transformed into compassion, which is the essential food of the spirit body.
“Without compassion.” Chia explains, “advanced spiritual practices are impossible.” “But most people are not ready to develop compassion.” he continues. “They need to develop their physical and energy bodies first. Se we teach them about energy and health. The energy or soul body is like a booster rocket to boost the spirit body’ free of this incarnation.”
Taoists claim that when the physical energies are properly balanced and transformed, the physical body gives birth to an energy (or soul) body, which in turn gives birth to the spirit body, the vehicle through which we achieve enlightenment. In other words, basic ch’i can be used to generate subtler and still more powerful ch’i, and so on as one works one’s way through ever-more spiritual dimensions of being.
The most powerful way to generate ch’i, say the Taoists, is to cultivate and transform – or, as Master Chia puts it, “recycle” – sexual energy. He teaches methods for utilizing sexual energy while in an unaroused state by tapping the abundant reproductive energy of the ovaries and testicles. He also teaches methods for utilizing the energy of full sexual arousal, the most powerful ch’i generator of all, both in solitary practice (self-stimulation) and together with one’s lover.
Master Chia differentiates between ejaculation and orgasm and between what he calls “inward” (or “upward”) and “outward” orgasm. “Sexual energy is spiritual energy,” he claims, “and should be worked with rather than suppressed. One can’t perform advanced spiritual practices without first working directly with the physical energy.” As a result, Chia encourages his students to have orgasms during lovemaking but teaches them how to rechannel the energy inward and upward for spiritual purposes. According to Master Chia, a man can have many “inward” orgasms without ever ejaculating.
The most advanced practices of Taoist yoga, known in traditional texts as “internal alchemy,” utilize the subtle channels that have been opened, the internal elements and emotions that have been balanced, and the energies that have been stimulated and accumulated in other techniques. Western readers have often been confused by the coded language used in these texts, with their reference to “cinnabar,” “lead,” and various internal pots, furnaces, and cauldrons for forming a “golden elixir’ and an “immortal fetus.”
According to Chinese scholar and Taoist practitioner Kenneth Cohen, even texts in the original Chinese are difficult to understand, probably because, he says. the words were meant as mnemonic devices for those already initiated into the yogic practices. Cohen says that even the well-known classic The Secret of the Golden Flower was grossly mistranslated, by Richard Wilhelm, into ethnocentric Western psychological terms.
Mantak Chia explains and teaches these heretofore secret alchemical processes very simply, to those of his students who have learned co generate an abundance of the more refined levels of ch’i. He calls them the Lesser and Greater Kan and Li practices, or “steaming.” In these practices the energies of two or more chakras are combined with the energy of the sexual organs and drawn to the navel. The heat or internal fire generated is said to “boil” the energy in the navel cauldron (pa kua) to a steam, which is forced under pressure up the subtle channel in the middle of the body to the crown of the head. According to Mantak Chia, this “steaming” practice causes the physical body to undergo a profound change.
The heart and circulatory system become much more efficient: the circulation is increased, but the heart rate is slowed. The immune system function is enhanced, as is the general physical vitality. The thymus gland in the chest, which in most adults has atrophied, begins co regenerate and grow larger, and the pituitary gland in the middle of the head also alters and grown. These glandular alterations start to enliven and expand the person’s spiritual faculties – or, as mentioned earlier, the physical body “gives birth to the soul (or energy) body.” At first this soul body is just a baby, “fed” by the nourishment of the regenerated glands, particularly the thymus.
At a certain point of development, after the soul body is fully grown, it in turn gives birth to the spirit body, and the pineal gland, just above the pituitary in the middle of the head, begins to enlarge. At first the spirit body too, is just a baby, but it receives, nourishment from the ever-more-refined ch’i of the physical and soul bodies. Ancient Taoist texts make reference to “immortals,” Taoist masters hundreds of years old who live on dew, pine nuts and the invigorating high mountain air.
These texts also refer to generating a “fetus,” through alchemical practices, that later becomes an “immortal spirit body” capable of taking the adept all the way to the highest enlightenment. According to Mantak Chia, this is exactly what “steaming” and other advanced practices are designed to do. The Taoist yogi does not become physically immortal, but rather becomes capable of exceptional longevity and youthful health and vigor. These elderly adepts often look like men and women of middle years.
White Cloud Hermit, for example, Mantak Chia’s primary teacher, still had black hair, an unlined face, and the vigor of a young man at the age of 96. The yogis’ remarkable longevity and health allows them to continue their advanced practices for many decades in one lifetime. “The physical body is the starting point,” says Mantak Chia, “and it contains the potential ‘wealth.’ or ch’i, to take the person all the way to enlightenment.” In the Taoist system the “wealth” is increased by the preliminary and advanced practices, particularly the conservation and recycling of sexual energy.
This “wealth” is then transferred to the next body, the energy body, where it is refined further and ultimately passed on to the infant spirit body. When the spirit body has grown to adulthood, the Taoist adept can leave the physical and energy bodies behind and ascend to full enlightenment. “Which is more important in reaching a distant shore,” asks Mantak Chia, “the boat, the engine, or the captain?” The physical body is the boa, he explains; the soul body is the engine that powers the boat; and the spirit body is the captain that is in charge of the whole trip, the one who eventually steps onto the shore and leaves both boat and engine behind.
The idea of growing new subtle bodies for spiritual purposes sounds very much like the old Indian yogic belief, which is shared by some Western metaphysical schools, that we have different subtle sheaths, or bodies, on different dimensions – the emotional astral body, the mental body, the causal body, the soul body, and so on. As we grow spiritually, these higher bodies are said to awaken from their latency, and we begin to inhabit them more, and our physical bodies less.
Taoist and Indian Yogas Compared
One major difference between the Indian and Taoist yoga systems is that the Taoist do not combine ch’i cultivation with devotion to a teacher. Master Chia is very insistent on this point, claiming that Taoist students do not seek the teacher’s grace or power for spiritual awakening, but rather look to the master for instruction on how to awaken their own latent energy potential. He does admit that Taoist teachers will direct some of their own ch’i into a student’s meridians to give a momentary boost, as his own teachers did and as he does with his Microcosmic Orbit students. But one need not surrender one’s will to the master or create an alliance of devotion and dependence.
Indian and Taoist years also differ in their handing of kundalini energy. Certain meditation practices, breathing techniques, and other methods are said to arouse this latent energy, causing it to ascend through the central subtle channel in the body, piercing and opening each chakra as it rises, until it fuses with the crown chakra at the top of the head, (See ” Kundalini Demystified” in the September October 1985 issue of Yoga Journal.) So powerful is this arousal that practitioners – particularly those without adequate instruction or guidance – occasionally undergo a “kundalini crisis.” an arousal that has apparently gone awry.
People in crisis may experience hallucinations, intense and unpleasant physical sensations, or frightening and seemingly uncontrollable rushes of energy or emotion. Mantak chia has a simple explanation for such problems: the energy is being improperly channeled. Taoists believe that running energy from the tailbone to the crown is only completing half the circuit.
Since the head and brain are “hot” and the tailbone is “cold.” so much heat accumulates that the person may become extremely uncomfortable, and the body may even be damaged. They feel the kundalini energy should be directed down the top of the head to the forehead and palate, then through the tongue (which is placed against the roof of the mouth) to the throat chakra, and on down the functional meridian to the tailbone. This of course is exactly the route traced by the Microcosmic Orbit. The Taoists believe that the hot energy should be cooled off by its route through the lower part of the body.
In their view, to achieve a balanced spiritual development, one shouldn’t just go to “Heaven” in the crown chakra, but one should also come back to “Earth” in the root chakra, thus maintaining a perfect equilibrium between the two components while still in physical existence. Bringing the energy back into the denser, more physical dimension of the root chakra and the physical body’ does not coarsen the individual nr retard his or her spiritual growth. they say. After all, the physical body’ is the only vehicle available to us for generating spiritual experience in the first place.
Mantak Chia has worked with a number of Western meditators and yoga students who came to him, usually as a last resort, to help them with their kundalini crisis. He simply taught them how to complete the Microcosmic Orbit, and many had profound relief from what in some cases was unbearable discomfort.
Unveiling the Ancient Secrets
Although Taoist philosophy has long been available to us through translations of Lao Tzu and books about Chinese history and culture, the specific techniques of its ” alchemy” or yoga have been kept as closely guarded secrets, passed from master to student only after years of preparation and initiation. Why is Mantak Chia so freely teaching these ancient teachings now? “The world can really use some help right now.” he says. “And the peacefulness, calm, health and vigor the Taoist system can give to individuals can be multiplied in our societies. Just think of what the world would be like if we were all calm and healthy and emotionally balanced.”
Microcosmic Orbit Meditation:
The Microcosmic Orbit meditation does not consist of stilling the mind, watching the breath, visualizing a deity or symbol, or reciting a mantra. It is rather a process for generating and circulating a warm, tingling current of ch’i (vital energy) around the body at the midline: up the spine, over the head and face, down the chest and belly, under the genitals, and back up the spine, over and over again. This is not an imagined movement of one’s attention over the skin, but a very palpable flow that takes the meditator into a peaceful yet energized state. According to Master Mantak Chia, when properly performed, the Microcosmic Orbit meditation confers profound and lasting health benefits, strengthening and cleansing the internal organs from within. Once the Taoist student is proficient in the technique, he or she need only focus the attention on the navel, and the circulation of warm, healing energy will begin automatically.
To become proficient, however, the student must first learn to generate ch’i in the navel, then to “open” 12 more centers along the Microcosmic Orbit route, and then to pass the ch’i through each center until it begins to circulate by itself. According to Master Chia, with 15-30 minutes of practice twice a day, this practice can be learned in anywhere from several days to a year or two. Students usually learn the Microcosmic Orbit directly from Master Chia or one of the teachers he has trainee. With that in mind, we offer the following abbreviated description not as a set of complete instructions, but rather as a brief glimpse of the process, designed to whet the reader’s curiosity for further, study.
Generating Chi in the Navel:
The Microcosmic Orbit meditation is done sitting on the edge of a chair, the back comfortably erect and the head bowed, slightly. Because sexual energy is a part of the ch’i that circulate through the body, men should allow the scrotum to hang freely off the edge of the chair, to keep it from being constricted in any way.
The hands are clasped gently in the lap, with the left hand on the bottom and the right hand on top. The process used fur generating energy in the navel is also used for generating energy in and “opening” each successive point along the route. The Taoist student concentrates on the navel and directs the inner vision there, even though the eyes remain closed. He or she presses firmly on the navel with the index finger for a minute or so, then returns to the hands-folded position, concentrating on the residual sensation of finger pressure. This is done repeatedly until a sensation of warmth, tingling, tightness, or expansion (or all of these) arises at the navel center.
Once the sensation has been established, the student sits with it until the end of the meditation. (Each meditation session lasts from 15 to 30 minutes.) Some people will feel a strong and continuing warmth in the navel after only a few session: others may need to focus and concentrate there twice daily for several weeks before any stable sensation arises. Each meditation is ended by circling the navel with the right fist. Men circle the navel 36 times clockwise, making ever larger circles (but no larger than 6 inches in diameter), and 24 times counterclockwise, in circles that gradually become smaller. Women make 36 counterclockwise and 24 clockwise circles.
Opening the Microcosmic Orbit Centers
After the meditator has learned to summon energy easily to the navel center (and the finger technique is no longer needed), he or she begins to practice on the next center, the “ovary palace” or “sperm palace,” using the same techniques as for the navel center. After this center is easily filled with ch’i – that is becomes warm and tingling – the student learns to open the next center, and so on around the route. Several days to weeks may be spent on each center in turn. However, the meditation always starts with the navel center and the “open” centers that follows it, with, several minutes spent concentrating on each.
And every meditation ends by gathering energy back into the navel with the fist – circling method. Ch’i is not generated in the centers, as it is in the navel rather, the centers are opened so the ch’i can flow freely. The Taoists believe (and the meditation confirms this belief) that the ch’i will flow nationally through the Microcosmic Orbit as long as the various centers arc not blocked. Since many centers on most people are blocked, however the initial stages of the Microcosmic Orbit concentrate on unblocking them. The most effective way of cleansing a blocked center is to focus ch’i there twice daily for several weeks.
The following centers along the “governor” (back) and “functional” (front) meridians are used in the Microcosmic Orbit:
“Sperm Palace” and “Ovary Palace”: Approximately 1? to 2 inches above the pubic bone at the level of t he prostate gland in men (acupuncture point CO3) and midway between the ovaries in women (point C04). Slightly higher in women than in men.
Perineum: On the small patch of skin midway between the anus and the penis or vagina.
Coccyx: At the tip of the tailbone, an inch or so above the anus.
Kidney Point: On the “governor meridian” along the spine opposite the navel, between the second and third lumber vertebrae (G04).
Adrenal Point: On the “governor meridian” slightly above the adrenal glands, between the 11th and 12th thoracic vertebrae (G06).
Cerebellum: At the bony protrusion on the bottom half of the back of the head, at the level of the cerebellum or lower brain.
Crown of the Head: The top of the head, corresponding to the crown chakra in Indian yoga.
Brow Point: On the forehead between the eyebrows corresponding to the brow, or sixth chakra.
Palate: The medirator places the tongue firmly against the soft part of the roof of the mouth. This conducts the ch’i energy from the brow center (in the middle of the head) through the bridge and tip of the nose into the palate and on down to the throat center.
Throat: At the base of the throat, at the level of the thyroid gland, corresponds to the throat chakra (C021).
Heart: Above the heart on the breastbone, corresponding to the heart chakra (C017).
Solar Plexus: In the inverted “V” of the ribs, over the stomach. Corresponds to the solar plexus chakra (C012).
Navel: The meditation ends at the navel, with the clockwise and counterclockwise circle.
Are you smiling or frowning to yourself? Smiling is the secret to health and serenity according to several spiritual traditions. The Inner Smile practice propounds that when we smile like a Buddha, the world beams back.
“peace begins with a smile.”
A sincere smile shines from our soul, making the world a warmer place. As Joseph Addison expressed,
“What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity.”
A genuine smile puts us at ease whilst a frown creates unease, promoting disease and depression according to modern and traditional medicine. Smiling to others and ourselves is a gift of love. The universal language of a smile speaks straight to the heart, bypassing the intellect and ego. To nurture loving relationships Ayurveda advises one greet others with a pleasant face, Buddhism encourages friendliness to all (maitri) and Taoism teaches that giving ourselves a grin is the best medicine.
A deep inner smile spreads like a relaxing elixir making us receptive to transform negative energy into positive. Conversely, a scowl suppresses our immune system by increasing stress, contracting channels and blocking energy. Research by French physiologist Dr Israel Waynbaum indicates that facial muscles used to express emotion trigger specific brain neuro transmitters.
Smiling signals happy healing hormones such as ecstatic endorphins and immune boosting killer T-cells whereas frowning triggers the secretion of stress hormones. Smile therapy actually lowers the stress hormones cortisol, adrenalin and noradrenaline and produces hormones which stabilise blood pressure, relax muscles, improve respiration, reduce pain, accelerate healing and stabilise mood. If you’re feeling down the stress hormones secreted with a scowl may increase blood pressure, weaken the immune system, increase susceptibility to infections, and exacerbate depression and anxiety.
But what if we don’t feel like smiling? Can we fake it till we make it? Though a heart-felt smile has a deeper effect, even a surface smile tricks the brain into releasing happy hormones according to facial biofeedback research2. And the more we smile, the more we want to smile concluded a study where people allowed to smile found cartoons funnier than those suppressed from smiling by holding pencils in their lips. This is because each time we smile we reinforce happy neural pathways that fire more spontaneously with each subsequent use. Self- love smiling circuits then release healing nectar and self-hate messages release poisons that breed disease according to Taoism.
A Smile Trial
How often do you smile? Try a smile trial for a minute. Relax your face and let a subtle ‘Mona Lisa’ smile spread from your eyes to your lips. Now frown and sense the emotional and energetic shift. Feel the difference? Considering it takes only 26 muscles to smile and 62 muscles to frown, why wear the strain of a scowl? As motivational speaker Les Giblin felt
“If you’re not using your smile, you’re like a man with a million dollars in the bank and no check book.”
Smiles seem to have a cultural element. Japanese rate so low on the smile-o-meter they’re being encouraged to smile to increase profits.
“Japanese are truly hopeless at smiling. That’s caused the loss of many business opportunities,”
says Makoto Tonami, president of Mac Corp, owner of beauty salons offering thirty-minute smile sessions using exercises and a machine to uplift the mouth muscles and spirits. Britain has sorry smile statistics also as recent research revealed that if you smile at 100 people, 70 people will smile back in Bristol, 68 in Glasgow, 18 in London and only 4 in Edinburgh. Writing this in Thailand I noticed how people go out of their way to smile to others while in many other places I’ve found people often avert their gaze as if avoiding a smile ambush.
It’s easy to share a smile with others, since it’s the second most contagious facial expression next to yawning. Smiling faces are always beautiful and the most endearing accessory. Whereas if people wear an ugly expression meticulous attention to grooming and clothes are overshadowed. But smiles do more than increase your face value; British researchers found that receiving a smile could give more pleasure than sex or eating chocolate. And receiving a smile generated much higher levels of stimulation to the brain and the heart than being given money or having a cigarette.
Don’t underestimate the power of a smile. Use yours and you’ll find it helps to disperse sadness and dissolve stress. So when dressing in the morning remember author Jim Begg’s advise, “Before you put on a frown, make absolutely sure there are no smiles available.”
The Cellular Smile
A genuine smile glows from our deepest layer of self-love, radiating like sunlight through clouds and embracing everything as an extension of oneself. Starting as an inner hug it spreads to soften the whole body, melting malevolent energy to emerge from benevolent eyes and lips. The smile says, “I accept and love you unconditionally.” Our being warms to this kindness, dissolving walls of psychic and physical isolation that prevent wholeness and health. Just as others respond to our loving smile, our cells soak up smiling rays, creating new cells from the inner love affair.
Taoist Master Mantak Chia has taught the inner smile for the past 40 years. He explained its significance to me on my recent visit to his Thailand retreat, “In ancient China, the Taoists taught that a constant inner smile to oneself, insured health, happiness and longevity. Why? Smiling to yourself is like basking in love: you become your own best friend. Living with an inner smile is to live in harmony with yourself.” The smiling energy emanating from Mantak Chia was reminiscent of enlightened souls such as the Dalai Lama. He has an aura of contentment and kindness that put me at ease immediately. Mantak Chia also explained that as sickness starts from negative emotions settling in the organs, the inner smile breaks this cycle. “By transforming destructive emotions into positive energy the inner smile removes the cause and symptoms of disharmony,” he said.
The subtle inner smile is different from a superficial smile set on a fake face with hidden motives and meaning. The inner smile is as innocent and natural as a blissful baby’s smile. It doesn’t impose, demand or expect anything in return. Nor is it a spiritually superior or condescending smile but accepts everything as it is. A genuine smile as opposed to a posed mask makes a significant impact on people’s lives according to Dacher Keltner, a psychology professor at the University of California. After studying college yearbook photos since the 1960’s, Keltner found people with Duchenne smiles, those which involved the eyes, were happier since graduation than the phoney mouth smilers. Keltner concluded,
“Happy smiley people cheer others up around them, which in turn makes them more stable and less prone to depression or divorce than those who faked it in their yearbooks.”
Though laughing has significant benefits, as evidenced by the word-wide laughter clubs, excessive or loud laughing can cause excess surplus chi and increase blood pressure according to Chinese medicine. A mild smile is a more sustainable and inward expression. The soft smile dissolves hardened patterns without struggle or force, gently coaxing a shift in stuck energy. Attacking problems with aversion and aggression only increases resistance and abusing our frailties makes us weaker. Alternatively, sending ourselves loving smiling energy empowers us towards strength and restoration.
The inner smile arises from a loving intention, surfaces on the face then suffuses our internal and external reality. Though a smile may feel fake initially our psychophysiology responds with happiness anyway. As respected Monk Thich Nhat Hanh explains,
“ Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” Eventually our being is saturated in smiling benevolence and it becomes a constant, effortless expression of our inner bliss. ”
If smiling feels so good why don’t we do it more? Negative thoughts become entrenched in our energy and imprint themselves on our facade. Helen, a recent participant in an Inner Smile Workshop observed-
“Its easier to remain closed and blame externals for our problems. The inner smile requires us to look inside ourselves, accept ourselves and extend that loving energy to everything.”
Ironically we smile least when we need it most. Depression, pain and stress often rob us of the healing humour that can transform our state. Though smiling may be the last thing we feel like doing, it will do us the world of good. When we smile at our pain, worry, troubles and perceived inadequacies we dissolve compounding tension. As Allen Klein, author of The Healing Power of Humour expressed,
“The hardest thing you can do is smile when you are ill, in pain, or depressed. But this no-cost remedy is a necessary first half-step if you are to start on the road to recovery.”
Smiling puts everything into a brighter perspective as we observe the psychodrama of life objectively. As Charlie Chaplin understood,
“Life is a tragedy in close-up and a comedy in long-shot.”
A challenge many experience in practicing the inner smile is the tendency towards negativity. We can catch an inner frown from others negative outlook or our own. When you get tense simply remind yourself to smile again and any inner wrinkles will soon smooth over, uplifting others energy. Strengthen your inner smile by practicing it in difficult situations such as during exercise, traffic jams, long queues and when annoyed.
As it doesn’t take any extra time or effort like other meditation practices, nobody can say, “I don’t have time to smile”. Smile as often as you remember to, knowing it will override negative reactivity and reawaken your core unity of self-acceptance.
A Smile File
Before practicing the inner smile install smiling energy into your cellular memory by creating a smile file. Scan your past for moments of joy and laughter. Then recall your capacity for happiness by reliving that emotion. One can also visualise a peaceful natural scene to imbibe serenity and dissolve stress. Seeing a smiling baby or your own smiling face is another useful image. Looking at funny old photos, jokes, cartoons and movies can help to recapture one’s innate sense of humour.
Start the day with a smile by writing smile on your ceiling and invite more smiles into your life by playing with kids, giving to others and finding the humour in all situations. If you can’t conjure up a smile frown for as long and hard as possible until you get tired and flip to the other extreme of a smile.
Emotional Detox Smile
Our organs store emotional garbage so to clear up inner clutter Mantak Chia recommends first smiling to major organs to detoxify negative emotions. This
“refines and recycles harmful energy into healing energy,”
says Mantak Chia. Our organs work hard to maintain our homoeostasis so we can thank them with an inner smile. The specific order for the inner smile follows the organs cycle of creation. The inner smile can be practiced at any time and for any duration. Familiarise yourself with the location of all the major organs before the practice to establish a strong mental connection with them. You may feel more in touch with your organs if you place your hands over them as you send your smile as well as visualising them. Feel the grateful response from your organs as they release blockages and receive loving energy. Open your eyes if you choose to make the healing sounds then close them to resume. To clear your negative emotions follow these simple Inner Smile Steps-
1. Begin by closing your eyes and relaxing your whole body. Breath slowly and smoothly, letting go on the exhalation.
2. Smooth facial muscles and focus attention on the third eye.
3. Feel inner joy. Visualising a peaceful scene, a smiling baby or your smiling face may evoke this feeling.
4. Gather this bliss behind your eyes and watch it internally as it travels down your body.
5. Let the smiling energy flow like a sweet stream down your nose to wash over your lips.
6. Raise the corners of your mouth slightly in a sublime inner smile. Simultaneously feel this soften your eyes.
7. Place the tongue behind the teeth to connect the energy circuit for the entire practice.
8. Relax your jaw.
9. Swallow your saliva and feel your throat open and relax as you smile to your voice box. Thank them for giving you the power of balance and speech.
10. Visualise your thymus like a blossoming flower and smile to it with thanks for strong immunity and healing energy.
11. Let the smile radiate to the happiness centre of your heart. Feel your heart soften and fill with red love nectar. Release cruelty, harshness, hastiness, impatience and hurt from the heart on the exhalation. You can also say Haaw to release negativity. Send a smiling love letter to your open heart. Thank it for giving you compassion, kindness, joy and good circulation.
12. Gather the loving energy from the heart and spread it to your lovely lungs. Sense every cell relax as it releases grief and depression, exhaling the sound Sssss. You can also visualise them as glowing white wings carrying you to your higher mission. Swelling with smiling sap let your spongy lungs soak up joy, love and courage. Thank them for oxygenating your body.
13. Smile to your liver as it emanates a forest green hue, releasing grey murky light on the exhalation. Release anger and resentment with the sound Shhh. On the smiling inhalation absorb kindness, forgiveness and acceptance. Thank the liver for its role in assimilation, metabolism and purification.
14. Send pure smiling streams to your stomach, pancreas and spleen. Visualise these organs basking in a golden yellow light as they relax to release worry and anxiety while exhaling the sound Huuuu. Feel faith, fairness and present-minded consciousness saturate this region. Thank the organs for maintaining healthy digestion, immunity and blood sugar levels.
15. Keeping your body relaxed, send the loving smile to the kidneys. Visualise them like deep blue ears, releasing fear and stress from them whilst exhaling the sound Choo. Smile to them as they fill with soothing security, wisdom and calm. Thank them and the adrenals for filtering blood, balancing water and increasing stress resistance. Strong kidneys also give us the willpower to act on our convictions.
16. Smile to your orgasmic sexual area. Fill it with a tender loving energy, appreciating the pleasure and power it gives you. Thank it for producing hormones that nourish the mind and body.
17. To finish smile up your spine, washing the whole body with golden nectar flowing from each vertebra through the nervous system, bone marrow, bones, muscles, skin and hair.
18. The smiling waterfall rises to your crown showering your whole body in smiling ecstasy.
19. Allow the energy to flow back down behind your eyes and pool into your naval.
20. To complete the practice spiral energy around your navel. Men place their palms left over right and spiral clockwise 36 times whilst women place their palms right over left and spiral counter clockwise 36 times. Next reverse the direction and spiral back 24 times. By storing the smiling energy in the navel you will avoid accumulating excess heat in the head or heart.
Mantak Chia also teaches special postures to cleanse each organ.
Once we are filled with an inner smile it naturally overflows to others. The smile resonates with outside vibrations and reverberates back to us as a collective smiling wave. This creates an endless exchange of loving energy, invigorating and uplifting us on all levels. To keep this smiling circuit flowing remember to smile as often as possible. Smile to your past, present and future so you may continue on the spiritual path. Send an inner smile to those you love, hate, empathise with and are indifferent towards. Extend it to your house, family, work, community, teachers, well-wishers, country, continent, earth and universe. Send a special smile to the natural world of plants, animals, water bodies, mountains, the sky and planets.
The inner smile is considered a complete, non-sectarian spiritual practice that will benefit everyone. When consistently practiced it can nurture the enlightened awareness that we are all part of the same smiling energy. For world peace may we all share Paramahamsa Yogananda’s prayer to,
“Let my soul smile through my heart and my heart smile through my eyes, that I may scatter rich smiles in sad hearts.”
Wishing you a lifetime of smiles.
Excerpt by Caroline Robertson
|Chart of organs||transform emotions||colours||animals||element||Sounds|
|Heart||Hate, cruelty to love, compassion||Red||Eagle||Fire||Haaw|
|Lungs||Grief, depression to joy, courage||White||Tiger||Metal||Ssss|
|Liver||Anger, resentment to forgiveness, acceptance||Green||Deer||Wood||Shhh|
|Stomach/ Spleen/ Pancreas||Worry, anxiety to faith, fairness||Yellow||Monkey||Earth||Huuu|
|Kidney, Fear||Stress to security, calm Deep||blue||Bear||Water||Chooo|