The Subtle Body

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The Ketheric Template body

Posted on March 8, 2012 at 1:05 PM Comments comments (0)


Energy-field body: The Ketheric Template body

Expression of Consciousness: Higher Concepts

Statement Consciousness makes: "I know.  I am"

Consciousness is expressed in higher concepts of knowing or belief systems.  This is where the initial creative impulse begins; not just linear knowing, but integrated knowing."

Plane of existence: Spiritual Plane

Chakra: Sahasrara (Crown)

colour: Golden


The Ketheric Template or Causal Body (Seventh Layer)"The seventh level is the mental level of the spiritualplane called the ketheric template. It extends from about two and one halfto three and one half feet (75 to 105 cm) from the body.

When we bringour consciousness to the seventh level of the aura, we know that we areone with the Creator.

The outer form is the egg shape of the aura bodyand contains all the auric bodies associated with the present incarnationan individual is undergoing.

This body, too, is a highly structured template.It appears to my vision as composed of tiny threads of gold-silver lightof very strong durability that hold the whole form of the aura together.It contains a golden grid structure of the physical body and all the chakras.

When "tuning" into the frequency level of theseventh layer, I perceive beautiful golden shimmering light that is pulsatingso fast that I use the term "shimmering!' It looks like thousands of goldenthreads.

The golden egg form extends out beyond the body some three tothree and a half feet depending on the person with the smaller tip beneaththe feet and the larger end about three feet above the head. It can expandeven more, if the person is very energetic. The outer edge actually lookslike an eggshell to me; it appears to have a thickness of about a quarterto a half inch (6 to 13 mm).

This outer part of the seventh layer is verystrong and resilient, resistant to penetration and protects the field justas an eggshell protects the chick. All the chakras and body forms appearto be made of golden light on this level. This is the strongest, most resilientlevel of the auric field.

It could be likened to a standing lightwave ofintricate shape and form vibrating at an extremely high rate. One can almosthear a sound when looking at it.

I'm sure a sound could be heard if onemeditated on such a picture. The golden template level also contains themain power current that runs up and down the spine and is the main powercurrent that nourishes the whole body.

As this golden power current pulsatesup and down the spine, it carries energies through the roots of each chakraand connects the energies that are taken in through each chakra.

The main vertical power current induces othercurrents at right angles to it to form golden streamers that extend directlyoutward from the body.

These in turn induce other currents that circlearound the field, so that the entire auric field and all the levels belowit are surrounded and held within this basket-like network.

This networkshows the power of the golden light, the divine mind that holds the wholefield together in its entirety and its integrity.

In addition, in the ketheric template level arealso the past life bands within the eggshell. 

These are colored bandsof light which completely encircle the aura and can be found anywhere onthe eggshell surface.

The band found near the head-neck area is usuallythe band containing the past life that you are working to clear in yourpresent life circumstance. Jack Schwarz speaks of these bands and how totell their meaning by their color. 

The ketheric level is the lastauric level in the spiritual plane. It contains the life plan and is thelast level directly related to this incarnation.

Beyond this level is thecosmicplane, the plane that cannot be experienced from the limiting view pointof only one incarnation.


The Celestial body

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The Physical to Causal Bodies Combined


The Celestial body mirrors the subconscious mind that is a part of the inactive part of our brain. By listening to your subconscious, your intuition, you can make your journey through life more simple and rewarding.

Consciousness expresses itself as higher feelings like universal love; love that goes beyond human beings and friends into a universal love for all life. Connected to the Third eye chakra.

The enveloping Causal/Soul Body (golden orb) is the subtlest level of persona lindividuality, the enlivening source of life and consciousness for the current personality, all past life personalities, and all future life personalities. Itcould be called the Higher-Self.

The Mental/Intellectual Body (next inner level, bluish), is the vehicle for understanding, beliefs, thoughts, knowledge, and cognitive processes.

TheAstral/Emotional Body (next inner level, multicolored), is the vehicle foremotion, desire, imagination, personal power, and is a focus of feeling.

TheEtheric/Vital Body (next inner level, light bluish), is the vehicle for energyand vitality, the subtle basis for the physical body.

ThePhysical Body (at the center, tan colored), is the vehicle for stability,separation, and individual focus.

ThePersonality is composed of the Mental/Intellectual Body, the Astral/ EmotionalBody, the Etheric/Astral Body, and the Physical Body, as a unit. 

The Personality is very temporary and is changed or recreated every lifetime,effectively erasing past life memories on a personality level.

All past life experience, knowledge, and developed ability is retained on a The Celestial body  level.

The Celestial Body contains clouds of luminescent, translucent, shimmering pastel colours. This is where we contact our Guardian Angel.

Through this medium the awesome love, inspiration and intelligence of the angels communicate with us.  Angels are embodiments of divine qualities.

This is like the emotional body that is beyond duality: there is joy without cause, love without cause, hope and faith without cause, strength without cause etc.

These are spontaneous arisings of our divine nature, they radiate from our core. Angelic beings can awaken these aspects within us.

Healers holding this level can feel a love which goes beyond the duality of me and you, it is like an awe-inspired gratitude for creation, like the feeling you get when you see a beautiful newborn baby. 

Angels exist in constant remembering of the divine so this is all they see and experience; they do not experience our forgetting.

When we awaken this body of consciousness, we are inspired by life and feel a love of creation; we see the miracles that are happening around the world.

This is where we find our inspiration and unconditional love for ourselves and others.

This consciousness is always available to uplift us, yet sometimes we are surrounded by denser frequencies in the other bodies, which cloud our perception so we don’t notice that the sun is still shining.




The Causal/Soul Body

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The Causal/Soul Body is named "Causal" because it is the originating source of each personality that incarnates in each lifetime. It is the sourceof your personality, causing it to be and exist.

When your personality ends,the essence of you is absorbed back into the Causal Body.

It is the first levelof your individuality that is relatively immortal as the Causal Body exists formany millions of years, during your journey as a human through manyincarnations or lifetimes.

Animals have yet to obtain a Causal Body andsuper-humans that are liberated from the cycle of rebirth discard the CausalBody and move on to higher levels.

The word"Soul" is used as a label for many bodies or human aspects by various religions and cultures.

Generally it is meant to designate the innermostindividuality. Limitations of perception has caused this label to be applied tothe astral body, the mental body and other inner aspects.

Here it is applied tothe Causal Body because it is the pinnacle of personal consciousness.


The Causal Body is the depository for all consciousness and virtues cultivated in each personality life time; especially developed will/power, love-wisdom, and creative intelligence.

It is built out of all the benefits of all past lives.It is the treasure chest that safekeeps the fruits of all past experiences. Itis the vehicle that facilitates the unfolding of consciousness that we use physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

It is the vehicle for humanimmortality, whether a personality is in incarnation or not.

Range of Consciousness:

The Causal Body/Soul is the central focal point of consciousness itself for the entire human being. Therefore its range of consciousness includes the physical,etheric, emotional/astral, mental/intellectual. As it awakens spiritually it becomes aware of other souls on its own level and participates in a universe and an existence independent of the personality. The Soul's life is one of unity, group consciousness, love, wisdom, bliss, and purpose. As it spirituallyawakens with the aid of the meditating personality, it extends its range of consciousness into the Higher Mind.

The CausalBody has two additional mental/manasic senses: Response to Group Vibration(used to find its soul group), and Spiritual Telepathy (used to communicate with other souls),  is a key component to ones ability to "dimensionalize" or to manifest and bring about change.

It is the liaison and caveat between thought form, emotional form and physical material form.

When a human being is consciously living they are very aware of nurturing their casual body and work in a spiritual practice to maintain it in a state of well being. When a human being is not aware of their energy, or consciously living the causal body drops into the unconscious and is sometimes called "The Shadow" (See Carl Jung), "Pain Body" (see Eckart Tolle), "The Dark Side".

Within a balanced spiritual practice the causal body is a key component in turning ones concepts into material manifestation delightfully.

In an imbalanced practice one would blame the world around them for that which is experienced and not take responsibility for how they contribute to or manifest the experience.

The Causal Bodyalso known as the Spiritual  Body is a body of consciousness associated with your true spiritual path and direction in life. It is your highest potential and reflects your ability to manifest your souls true potential here on earth.

The essence of your soul's reality is the expression "to be" and this ultimately is the reason for your existence. It has the highest vibration of the auric bodies and depending on the development of your spiritual nature.

It appears as a whitish glow and contains your true spiritual essence.

"Casual consciousness deals with the essence of a subject while the mental level studies the subject's detail. The casual body deals with the essence of substance and the true causes behind the illusion of appearance... The causal plane is a world of realities... deals with essence and underlying nature of things in question. Healing at this level is more powerful than the mental body." (Gerber)


The Mental/ Casual Body

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The Mental Body facilitates cognition, the faculty of knowing. It gives you the ability to discern, and to have thoughts, beliefs, concepts, and higher psychic abilities.

Range of Consciousness:

Mental consciousness ranges from discernment of the very specific, detailed,particular to the discernment of the very general, inclusive, abstract. Separative, distinguishing thought to unitive, embracing thought.

The five mental senses are: Higher Clairaudiance (mental hearing), Planetary Psychometry(mental feeling), Higher Clairvoyance (mental sight), Discernment (mentalequivalent of taste), and Spiritual Discernment (mental equivalent of smell).

The Mental Body has its own range of feeling. When there is excessive focus within the limiting, separative range of thought then there is judgment, mental fear, anddepression. When thought expands into the more unitive ranges then there is compassionate-understanding, peace, joy, awe, and bliss.

It is filled with light - primarily white, blue and gold, although the full range of pastel colors are common.

Mental consciousness is more objective, factual, and impersonal than astral consciousness. However, individual personality and character reach their pinnacle of development in mental consciousness.


The Mental Body has a figure like form in the shape of the Physical Body. It also has an aura that is ovoid shaped with pointed ends. The aura extends about 4 to 10 feet from the Physical Body.  It has 7major energy centers, 21 minor energy centers, and many smaller centers, just like the etheric and astral bodies.

Radiations of light extend from the heart area.

The Spiritual body (the second of the subtle energy bodies) is the blueprint to your spiritual potential. However, it requires the creation of patterns of energy for this potential to be expressed and experienced. These patterns of energy are stored in the Mental body as thoughts - both conscious and sub-conscious.

The patterns stored within the mental body creates the character framework for the soul to project its personality. The "self" manifests and expresses concrete intellect through the mental body.

This body appears as a golden yellow light radiating out and around the head and shoulders and extending around the whole body. It expands and becomes brighter when its owner is concentrating on mental processes.

The mental body filtrates thoughts down to the emotional body which reacts to the thoughts with an emotional association be it love, fear, happiness, anger, and so forth. A balanced mental body will provide an individual with clarity and direction.


The substance that composes the Mental Body deals with thoughts and mental processes. They are sometimes called "thought forms."The Mental Body is the region where our thought forms are initiated.

Thus, what we think can affect both us and those with whom we are in contact. On one hand, if we lead our lives in a positive and helpful way and think lots of lovely thoughts toward others and ourselves, then we feel well. On the other hand, if we lead our lives with negativity, hatred, pessimism, grief, sorrow, and depressive tendencies, thenthose thoughts are eventually reflected in our physical make-up.


The Intellectual mental Body by itself is not subject to the laws of automation; that is to say, the intellectual body is capable of a degree of free will beyond that of the astral body.

Also, the perceptions of the intellectual body are capable of being of an objective nature in matters regarding both one's self, and things outside of one's self.

An intellectual body is considered a prerequisite to maintaining a state of "objective consciousness" which is the fourth possible state of man.

The energetic understanding of the brain and the mental body is fantastic. Spiritual awakening begins when one steps outside of the analytical confines of brain patterning because spirit can not be perceived as logic.

In understanding of the brain we activate a higher form of genetics, awaken the 6th chakra, the higher mind, and begin re patterning the hypothalamus and center inside of the pituitary for an overall sense of well being.

We begin assuring the lymbic system and reptilian mind of celebration resting the fears of the small self and step outside of the ego control over the thought centers and allow the spirit to take over the function of mental conceptualization. With this one can open their full spectrum within the playing field of limitless possibilities.

The mental body gives off waves of energy electrical in nature, in synchronicity with the emotional body the mental/emotional emanation combined are the electromagnetic dynamic which effectuates harmony and balance.

The Astral Body, Emotional body.

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The Astral Body, emotional body, gives you the ability to have desires, emotions, imagination,and psychic abilities. To thought it lends power which is essential for effective action and manifestation.

Range of Consciousness:

Astral consciousness includes the full range of emotions from fear, hate, and sorrow to love, happiness, and ecstasy.)

It also includes the full range ofdesire from totally selfish and destructive desire to common personal desire tohigh spiritual aspiration to selfless serviceful desire.

Astral experiences include dreams, fantasies,out of body experiences, near death experiences, hallucinations, imagination,and visions.

The five astral senses are: Clairaudiance(astral hearing), Psychometry (astral touch/feeling), Clairvoyance (astralsight), Imagination (astral equivalent of taste), and Emotional Idealism(astral equivalent of smell).

Astral consciousness and the Astral Universe includes anything imaginable, from the worst possible hells to the most glorious heavens.

The Astral Universe contains an astral replica of the higheruniverses. It is filled with imagery, feeling, and above all a personal pointof view.


The Astral Body has a figure form in the shape of the Physical Body and an aurausually in an ovoid shape pointed at both ends.

The aura extends about 4 to 9feet from the Physical Body. It has 7 major energy centers, 21 minor energycenters, and many smaller centers, just like the etheric body.

It is constantly changing color, dark to brilliant colors depending upon your mood.

Is the third body. The outer border of the Emotional (Astral) Body follows roughly the outline shape of the Etheric Body with an outer boundary of approximately ten to twelve inches(twenty-five to thirty centimeters).

Barbara Ann Brennan in her excellent bookHands of Light writes, "This body interpenetrates the denser bodies that it surrounds. Its colors vary from brilliant clear hues to dark muddy ones.

Clear and highly energized feelings such as love, excitement, joy or anger are bright and clear ; those feelings that are confused are dark and muddy" (1987). Brennan is agifted healer and clairvoyant and is able to describe the Emotional (Astral)Body in great detail.

The ability to read the Emotional (Astral) Body in this way may take many years of learning experience.

In the Emotional Body, multitudes of different changes are constantly taking place, though an individual may or may not be aware of those changes. Each person is literally bombarded by stimuli from both external and internal sources.

The main fanction of the Emotional Body is to act like a filtration system in a similar way to the Etheric Body. Only when there is imbalance inthe Emotional Body or with the chakras that penetrate it do we become consciousof a shift from our normal state of being.

Changes in the Emotional Body canultimately lead to changes and hence symptoms in the Physical Body.


The Emotional Body (the third of the subtle energy bodies) is more fluid and of a higher vibration than the etheric body.

It appears as colored clouds in continual motion, reflecting the quality and intensity of the emotions.

This is the part of you that likes to "jump out" in times of trauma and shock, to produce a feeling of emotional numbness, which will allow you to slowly integrate the knowledge of the shock in your own way.

The Emotional body, which is also known as the Astral body, is the seat of your emotions. It is the bridge between the mind and the physical body.

Your emotional energy governs your fears and hopes, loves and pains. It governs the extent and nature of one's personality expression upon the physical plane.

This body is the projection of your longings, moods, feelings, appetites, and fears. The emotional "self" is the expression of your mental "self" thus the emotional body is the expression of the mental body.

The energy of the emotional body impacts the Etheric body, which in turn impacts the physical body.

Consequently emotional blockages prevent the manifestation of clarity of thought and direction in the physical body.


The astral body is made of matter of very fine texture as compared withthe visible body, and has a great tensile strength, so that it changesbut little during a lifetime, while the physical alters every moment....The matter of which it is composed is electrical and magnetic in its essence,...


Etheric body The Vital Body

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The Etheric Body gives vitality, health, life and organization to the Physical Body.  It attunes our consciousness to the principle of Energy. It steps energiesfrom the higher bodies down into our physical consciousness.

Range of Consciousness:

An awareness of various types of subtle energy moving through the Physical Body and in the environment. Subtle/etheric energy can be seen as well as felt.


The Etheric Body is the subtle level of the Physical Body. It is composed of various energies such as electromagnetic, chi, prana, ki, vitality, etc. It isalso composed of subatomic particles, the finest of which are quarks.

The Etheric Body (the fourth of the subtle energy bodies) appears as a bluish-grey colour or shadow, extending approximately one inch from the physical body. It is responsible for the transfer of life energy or vitality from the universal energy field to the physical body.

The Etheric body is a body of Etheric or subtle matter which furnishes the basic blue print for the physical body. Every cell in the physical body has an etheric counterpart.

This body also serves as a filtration system. Universal life force energy filters down through the Spiritual, Mental, Emotional and Etheric Bodies into the physical body. The Etheric Body is the interface between the physical body and the other subtle bodies of the Aura.

When the flow of this energy is disrupted, the physical body is affected and if this imbalance is not corrected, illness and dis-ease can manifest in the physical body. There is a synergistic relationship between each subtle body of the aura.


Read more:


The Etheric Body has a figure form in the same shape as the Physical Body.

This figure form is made of numerous energy channels called nadis or meridians.

There are seven major energy centers, called chakras, that are connected to the endocrine glands and process seven main types of consciousness.

There are 21 minor energy centers and many smal lerenergy centers.

The Etheric Body has two auric layers. The first extends about one foot from the Physical Body. The second extends aboutthree or more feet from the Physical Body.

Each auric layer has luminousstring-like hairs that radiate out and always move in wave like motions. From the inner body, sparkles of vitality move outwards.


 (Etheric Field)


The etheric body is the conditioning vehicle upon which the physical body is built and is the means whereby lifeforce energy is transmitted from all the higher dimensions to animate the physical body. 

It is the inner substantial form upon which the physical body is built or constructed.  It is the inner scaffolding which underlies every part of the whole outer being.  It is the framework which sustains the whole.  It is the inner structure on which the outer form is patterned. 

Regulating the chakras, it comprises the network of nadis which constitute the count

part or the duplicate aspect of the entire nervous system which forms such an important part of the human mechanism. 

The etheric body is most definitely, along with the blood stream, the instrument of the lifeforce.  


So, the etheric field is the matrix of the physical, emotional and mental bodies manifested as a unified reality.  It is the divine pulse and matrix that holds everything together.  It is the principle of life. 

It is through the etheric field that the past, present and future, mind, emotions and the physical all come together and can be healed.


The soul pours its consciously directed energy into the dense physical body through the medium of the etheric body.

This is composed of the following:


Lines of force and of points where these lines of force cross each other; in crossing they form centres of energy. 

Where many such lines often cross each other there is a larger centre of energy, and where great streams of energy meet and cross, as they do in the head and up the spine, these are the seven major energy gateways/centres (chakras);

Forty-nine minor centres of force.  These are found scattered all over the body;Streams of energy, which connect all the centres into two systems - one major and one minor - which radiate out from the centres all over the entire body;The nadis (infinitesimal small threads of energy or force fibres which radiate out from every part of the network and underlie every part of the triple system). 

There are millions of nadis and they produce the sensitive response apparatus through which we work and of which the mechanism of the five senses is one of the externalizations.

A healthy etheric body/field manifests as a group collective consciousness within humanity that embodies the soul.  


How Does the Etheric Body get Damaged?

The opposite manifestation of the etheric body/field is the astral field which separates the physical, emotional and mental bodies and manifests personality with symptoms of suffering, desire, illusion, delusion and glamour. 

The astral field draws the physical, emotional and mental bodies down in vitality into disease and density, bringing about a lack of receptivity and veiling the inner light of the etheric body/field.  


Astral qualities such as bad habits, vices, etc violate the physical, emotional and mental bodies. 

The etheric body shrivels and the physical, emotional and mental bodies harden and habitual patterns form.  The soul suffers greatly from an inability to live properly within the physical-etheric body.


Worry, fear, doubt and other low vibrational negative energies cause congestion in the etheric body/field's network of fine energy lines which supply you with your lifeforce.


If there is weakness between the etheric body and the outer form, obviously difficulties will result which could take the following form:

The physical form in its dense aspect is too loosely connected with the etheric form or counterpart. This leads to a devitalized and debilitated condition which predisposes you to sickness or ill health;The connection is poor in certain directions or aspects. 

Through certain focal points or centres the lifeforce cannot flow adequately, with consequential weakness in some parts of the physical body;

The connection can be basically so loose and poor that the soul has very little hold upon its vehicle for outer manifestation, and obsession or possession can be established.Various ways of maintaining good health clear, balance and energise the etheric body.

According with Barbara Ann Brennan  in her book, HANDSOF LIGHT, the Etheric Body(from "ether", the state between the energy and matter)is composed of tiny energy lines "like a sparkling web oflight beams" similar to the lines on a television screen. 

It has the same structure as the physical body including all theanatomical parts and all the organs. The color of the ethericbody varies from light blue to gray.

The light blue color has been connected to a finer form than the gray; a more sensitive person with a sensitive body willtend to have a bluish 1st layer, whereasa more athletic, robust type of person will tend to have a more grayish etheric body.

All the chakras of this layer are thesame color as the body. That is, they will also range betweenblue to gray in color.


Accounts of the Etheric Body

Lingasarira is a Sanskrit term for the invisible double of the human body, theetheric body or etheric double (or astral body in some Theosophical concepts).It is one of the seven principles of the human being, according to Theosophicalphilosophy.

RudolfSteiner, the founder of Anthroposophy, often referred to the etheric body (Ätherleibor "Life Body") in association with the etheric formative forces andthe evolution of man and the cosmos.

According to him, it can be perceived by aperson gifted with clairvoyance as being of "peach-blossom color".

Steiner considered the etheric reality or life principle as quite distinct from thephysical material reality, being intermediate between the physical world andthe astral or soul world. 

The etheric body can be characterised as the lifeforce also present in the plant kingdom. It maintains the physical body's formuntil death. At that time, it separates from the physical body and the physicalreverts to natural disintegration.

Accordingto Max Heindel's Rosicrucianwritings, the etheric body, composed of four ethers, is called the "VitalBody" since the ether is the way of ingress for vital force from the Sunand the field of agencies in nature which promote such vital activities asassimilation, growth, and propagation.

It is an exact counterpart of ourphysical body, molecule for molecule, and organ for organ, but it is of theopposite polarity.

It is slightly larger, extending about one and one-halfinches beyond the periphery of the physical body.

Onthe Tree of Life of the Kabbalah, the vital body is often related to thesephirah Yesod.

Some researcher in this matter have produced drawings and paintings that recordtheir perceptions of the etheric body; see Leadbeater's Man Visible and Invisible for one example.

The images produced by Kirlian photography bearobvious resemblances to these graphics, showing a spiky-looking energy fieldextending a few inches around the human body (as well as other biological specimens,like leaves, and objects like coins).

The fact that Kirlian photography cancapture the acupuncture points of the body links the technology with conceptsof prana, qi, bioplasma, and related ideas and theories.

For some believers inthe etheric body, Kirlian photography provides important supportingevidence—though skeptics are generally not swayed.

Relation to physics

A Newconcept appears in physics, the most important invention since Newton's time:The field. It needed great scientific imagination to realize that it is not thecharges nor the particles but the field in space between the charges and theparticles which is essential for the description of physical phenomena....

In the beginning, the field concept was no more than a means of facilitating the understanding of phenomena from themechanical point of view....

The recognition of the new concept grew steadily,until substance was overshadowed by the field. It was realized that somethingof great importance had happened in physics.

A new reality was created, a new concept for which there was no place in the mechanical description.

Slowly and by a struggle the field concept established for itself a leading place in physics and has remained as one of the basic physical concepts.

The electromagneticfield is, for the modern physicist, as real as the chair on which he sits.


The conception of the dynamic [mass-free energy] aether, possessing afluid-crystal structure, sub-divided in different levels of density, withdensity proportional to the density of any physical substance occupying thearea of space concerned, increasing around large bodies such as stars andplanets, acting as a refracting medium, affecting the speed of propagation oflight and conveying electromagnetic forces, etc.—for all the experimental data and astronomical observations currently cited in support of the special andg eneral theories of relativity, including the phenomena known as vacuum energyand other unsolved problems in physics that baffles the current standardtheories. It should also be noted that the internal inconsistencies and unwarranted assumptions of standard relativity theory have been pointed out bydozens of scientists. It must be re-iterated, though, that these ideas should in no way be construed asbeing indicative of generally accepted scientific opinion on the subject.



1. Core K. The Etheric Body and Wellbeing. 2006.

2. HH Buddha Maitreya. Etheric Weavers, Church of Shambhala Vajradhara,  2007.

The Physical body,

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The Physical Body




The Physical Body provides an experience of complete separation, which is unavailable in any

other body. This experience of separation clarifies persona lcharacter and the essence of

individuality. The Physical Body also provides stability, a solid foundation for all the other

bodies. The Physical Body also assists in the crystallization of consciousness - any lessons

learned while in a Physical Body, any experiences processed through it, become clearly

defined and permanent consciousness as result of the Physical Body's separative and

stabilizing influence. This is why the Physical Body is so valuable in ourgrowth process.

Range of Consciousness:

The five physical sensory organs giving perceptions of sight, sound, touch,taste, and smell

limited to solid, liquid, and gaseous matter - painful and not painful. The five physical organs of

action: hands (grasping, etc.), feet(motion), digestive system (eating and excreting), throat

(speaking), and genitals (sex and reproduction).



associated with different consciousness functions, many neuroscientists do admit that they

cannot locate emotions, mind, and soul in the brain. Nor can they fully explain the human

psyche with neuroanatomy.

THE PHYSICAL BRAIN IS A RELAY STATION, translating emotional, mental, and spiritual

events and information into neuro-electro chemical events and information.


All states of consciousness exist independent of the physical body. This relay station works in

both directions: spiritual, mental, or emotional states trigger neuro-electrochemical events in

the brain (physical consciousness) and neurochemical stimulation (for example through drugs)

open access to specific states of emotion, thought, or spiritual awareness.

The Physical Body is composed of the energy states of solids, liquids, and gases and is

dependent upon the Etheric Body for its vitality, life, organization, and many processes that

result in health.

Looking at a person from a purely energetic viewpoint, the physical or dense body has little

significance. A yogi or sage, for example, would not be interested in a Physical Body condition

just a person's emotional and spiritual make-up. To therest of us, it is the body that is treated

using physical therapy,manipulation, acupuncture, and massage therapy. Most importantly, the

body shows us the signs and symptoms of energy imbalance when tested.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a practitioner discovers bodily imbalance through tests

such as pulse diagnosis, hara abdominal diagnosis, tsing point diagnosis, iris diagnosis, or

Listening Post analysis.

Symptoms are golden pearis ofinformation that are used to identify the cause of the disease (dis-ease), andthey show us how steps can be taken to treat the patient.

It is my opinion thatmost of our ills are caused by imbalance in our Emotional Bodies, and thesymptoms of disease are merely housed in the Physical Body.

If the chakra points are used, acupuncture affects the subtle bodies, thus treating theetiology of

the condition, making acupuncture an equally viable treatment toother traditional Western

medical treatments.

Thereis a profound evolutionary shift that is taking place in the world that can beseen in the

growing recognition of the fundamental role that energy plays inhealing (Benor,


The grandfather of this revolution of energy healing in the West is Dr. Robert Becker.

In the early 1980s, he was one of the first scientists to measure the “current of

injury” associated with healing wounds and bone fractures. In his early research on the

healingand regeneration of salamanders, Becker (1985) showed that the control system

thatstarted, regulated, and stopped healing was electrical.

Becker’swork built upon the work of other scientists, such as Harold Burr, a Yale

Schoolof Medicine neuroanatomist who measured the electrical field around an

unfertilizedsalamander and put forth research that physical illness is preceded by

changesin an organism’s electromagnetic field (Burr & Northrup, 1935). Scientist Owen

Frazee reported in 1909 that passing electrical currents through water containing young

salamanders speeded up the regeneration of amputated limbs (as cited in Becker, 1985, p.


Since that time, there have been numerous well-researched studies showing the

efficacyof various forms of energy in healing.Some have described this paradigm shift

as arevolution, signaling a move from a Newtonian to an Einsteinian medicine model.

FromEinstein’s insights about how energy is a key to opening the mysteries of the

universe,and the physical sciences developing that idea further, we are now on the edge

ofharnessing those mysteries in the arena of medicine and healing. As paraphrased from Gerber.

Newtonian hinkers see the human body as a series of intricate chemical

systems powering a structure of nerve, muscle, flesh, and bones. The

physical body is viewed as a supreme mechanism, intricate physical

clock work down to the very cellular structure. Einsteinian Medicine sees

human beings as networks of complex energy fields that interface with

physical/cellular systems. There is a hierarchy of subtle energetic systems

thatcoordinate electrophysiological, hormonal, and cellular structure of

thephysical body. It is from these subtle levels that health and illness

originate.These unique energy systems are powerfully affected by

emotions,spiritual balance, nutrition, and environment. They influence cellular patterns of growth.

Thisenergy-related revolution is affecting a wide variety of disciplines, including

physics,biology (Pert, 1997; Lipton, 2005), and medicine, and should no longer be

consideredfringe science—it is now thought to be mainstream. Western knowledge of

energyin the human organism has come a long way from believing that nerves are the

onlypart of the body that contain electricity. We now know that the body emits abroad

spectrumof electromagnetic and acoustic radiation that has been measured by magnetic

resonanceimaging (MRI), electroencephalogram (EEG),

electrocardiogram(EKG),electromylogram (EMG), thermography, and ultrasound.

These instrumentsare used to monitor and diagnose diseases.

Behindthe everyday use of instruments to measure energies lies a once-in-an-era

changein the very foundation of science. It was Dr. Lipton (2005), cell biologist and

authorof The Biology of Belief, who wrote that the pyramid of science ischanging. With

thisshift at the bottom of the pyramid showing physics changing from a Newtonian

mechanisticview to one of quantum mechanics, energy and energy fields have come to

theforefront of importance. Lipton says that once the bottom of the pyramid ofscience in

physics shifts, all of the levels—chemistry, biology, andpsychology—need to shift as


AlthoughWestern medicine uses instruments, such as the EEG, to read energy

fields,it has not taken the next step in understanding the role energy plays in otherways,

according to Dr. Lipton. He shows how animals, from single cells tohumans, convert

environmental stimuli into physiological and behavioralresponses. Dr. Lipton says that scientific

research has revealed that “everyfacet of biological regulation is profoundly impacted by the

‘invisible forces’of the electromagnetic spectrum … electromagnetic radiation regulates DNA,

RNAand protein synthesis, alters protein shape and function, and controls generegulation, cell

division, cell differentiation, morphogenesis [the process bywhich cells assemble into organs

and tissues] hormone secretion, nerve growthand function.…” Dr. Lipton laments that “though

these research studies havebeenpublished in some of the most respected mainstream

biomedical journals, their revolutionaryfindings have not been incorporated into our medical

school curriculum” (Lipton2005, as cited by Feinstein & Eden, 2006b). Most important for this

book,Dr. Lipton speaks about the implications of this for the field of psychologyand shows

howthe newly identified cellular mechanisms include master switchesthrough which our

thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs create the conditions of ourbody and of our place in the world.

From Energy Psychology by MichaelMayer


Psychotherapy and Neuroscience

Posted on March 8, 2012 at 7:55 AM Comments comments (0)

A short paper given at the 7th UKCP Professional Conference on ‘Revolutionary Connections:

Psychotherapy and Neuroscience

This talk formed the basis for a longer chapter in Revolutionary Connections: Psychotherapy and Neuroscience,(2002) ed. Corrigall, J & Wilkinson, H. (Karnac, Lo ndon )

“At the border between chaos and order”; what psychotherapy and neuroscience have in common   “Understandings that are derived at the border between chaos and order where, according to some, many of the problems of nature lie,  may not provide exact solutions but rather those which can allow application and understanding to emerge.” (Coveney xiii)

  I want to start by putting both neuroscience and psychotherapy in a larger context , and suggest that we are undergoing a shift in our cultural and scientific paradigm. The cutting edge of neuroscience represented here this weekend offers us more than fragments of interesting information and alternative models of the mind. It highlights a new way of thinking in science which - I am going to argue – is not just a familiar way of thinking for psychotherapy but actually is fundamental to its inception. This new scientific paradigm goes by various names – catastrophe, chaos or complexity theory, or non-linear dynamic systems theory. Its radical principles have significantly extended research methods and processes and have lead to tremendous advances in fields such as neuroscience.

I’ve done a very crude sketch of the  evolution of scientific thinking. These stages I’ve outlined – pre-rational, classical and new science – overlap. Sometimes they are in apparently irreconcilable conflict but also potentially they can integrate at another level.  It is a dialectical progression. (see Wilber) For example, we can talk about human relationship from any of these perspectives, and we can acknowledge the truth of each.(Footnote: For a concise and vivid account of the shift towards New Science and its key ideas, see Capra.  For a more overarching theoretical view of the evolution of ‘matter – life – mind’ with a strong consciousness/spirituality perspective, see Wilber. Also relevant: Coveney,Sardar)

(Pre-rational science – intuitive, magical, mythical, traditional, folk)

Classical science




Isolates events 


Focuses on stability


Closed system 




Time is uniform 




Fixed relations   



New Science

emergent properties


includes subjectivity

emphasises context


focuses on sensitivity

deeper pattern

open system




sensitive critical periods

feedback loops



network interconnections



Classical science explains closed systems. New Science was born from the attempt to understand dynamic, complex, open systems, such as  the ecosystem, the weather system,and the behaviour of living creatures.  In these systems, change is a matter of complex interconnected events, where there can be an extraordinary sensitivity to timing and minute changes in the environment.  Highfield and Coveney describe the brain as “organised by chaos – a complex non-linear feedback system.”  (286) As you will have gathered from the speakers this weekend the characteristics of the brain cannot be reduced  to the function of its different parts but  to very dynamic complex interactivity. Consciousness, feelings, ego functions are emergent properties of the system. (“Within science, complexity is a watchword for a new way of thinking about the collective behaviour of many basic but interacting units [….] their interactions lead to coherent collective phenomena, so-called emergent properties that can be described only at higher levels than those of the individual units.” (Coveney, 7)

Psychotherapy has always sought to work with the apparently irrational, the quirky uniqueness of each individual or group. Its key thinkers have been gifted in seeing through the veil of madness to a deeper pattern,  which takes account of the context and dynamic from which it emerged. Freud said of  the unconscious: “we call it a chaos…” (1933)  and he described it as a dynamic system.  Winnicott and Bion recognised that development and psychotherapy involved negotiations with catastrophe.  Reich and Jung perceived the  re-establishment of self-regulation – one of the core tenets identified by New Science – as the basis of healing in psychotherapy.

In contemporary psychotherapy, the use of the countertransference  across a broad spectrum of therapies, epitomises a chaos or complexity oriented style of work. Countertransference is an emergent property of the therapeutic encounter – its manifestations are inherently non-linear, it is unpredictable,  we may notice it first in a very subtle detail of our own process; it is characterised by an extreme sensitivity to relational cues; its meaning has to be derived from  the context; it relies on an objective use of subjectivity.

The point I want to make is that psychotherapy already has a relationship with chaos and complexity even if its principles are not an explicit part of our theory and practice.  It is precisely because neuroscience at the cutting edge is informed by these principles that there is a new basis for dialogue. (footnote: the parallel between psychotherapy and chaos/complexity/catastrophe has been considered by several writers, including:   Field, Eigen, Postle ; and in passing by Samuels. I also find Christopher Bollas evocation of psychotherapy imbued with the metaphor and resonance of this paradigm, though he does not explicitly make the connection. Schore (1994) quotes studies of psychotherapy which analyse the client’s autonomic state changes from a chaos perspective. And in a paper on ‘Early organisation of the nonlinear right brain ‘ uses non linear dynamics theory and self-organisation theory to explicate the complex process of brain development through interaction with the environment)

Neuroscience has helped us, for example, to re-define and differentiate trauma, particularly by illuminating how trauma is internalised on a structural level throughout the brain and the body.  But it is not just the establishment of more intricate neuroscientific detail about the function of the brain but the actual principles they illustrate which are of major importance to psychotherapy. This is because the mind is not a thing but a process.  The embodied brain is the dynamic structure through which this process operates.

 Neuroscience confirms that the earliest years of a child’s life are intensively and extensively formative: the interactions between infant and primary caregivers strongly influence the  developing structure of the brain. (Schore, 1974)  Whilst such concentrated change cannot occur in the adult brain – because the sensitive ‘windows’ of development have passed and with it the young brains neural plasticity -  the adult brain continues to evolve according to the principles of self-organisation. (Schore  1994, 473)

Psychotherapy offers a particular opportunity for intensifying the normal self-organising process of life. ‘Self’-organisation is a bit of a misnomer in a way since the process it describes is intrinsically bound up with relationship and environment which impinge directly as  feedback.  Self-organisation is a term which can describe any system which is changed structurally by its dynamic interactions with the environment. In the case of humans, self-organisation is perpetuated via multiple  interconnected feedback loops which continually modify the micro-structure of the brain-body. This process parallels and is a direct corollary of socialisation, both individual and large-scale. (Schore interview) Psychotherapy is painful precisely because it involves a conflict between established structures and an emergent process.

Self-organisation through  and in psychotherapy depends on three interrelated aspects of feedback: re-presenting, relating and feeling.

Re-presentation of the client to him or herself happens in numerous ways. Psychotherapies vary most obviously in the way in which they implicitly and explicitly manage this feedback process: verbal intervention, eye contact, non-verbal attunement, movement, touch,  and other strategic interventions, such as maintaining boundaries. All these interventions are to one degree or another interpretative within a framework. Every therapist imparts a set of principles and concepts which, whatever their intrinsic value, reframes the client’s experience , and therefore  represents it.

Re-presentation is complex, conflicted and multi-levelled: conscious and unconscious, triggered self-reflexively and directly and indirectly in relation to the therapist. And it is holistic: affecting many systems of the brain and the body, producing images, sensations, fantasies, feelings and thoughts. The nature of the brain makes this inevitable – for representation of the self is distributed through many systems of the brain, from the brain stem to the cortex. Creative activity, dreaming and play share some of these characteristics of re-representing– hence their therapeutic (in the broadest sense) value. Metaphor in particular is a highly integrative form of re-representation.

What is interesting about neuroscience is that its emphasis on the highly distributed nature of brain functions does not exclude the intuitive structural models grasped at by therapy. Our psychic structure – grounded in the structure of the brain and the body– is labyrinthine, with re-transcriptions occurring on all planes. Ascending and descending from brain stem to cortex, with higher and lower functions, as Freud envisioned. Working cross-laterally from right to left and left to right brain, whose functions clearly differentiate in ways reminiscent of the  Jungians idea of feminine and masculine principles. And this is not to mention the circuits in the brain which are familiar via the all too human tendency to go round in circles! The ongoing process of re-presenting in therapy helps sort, strengthen and modify the connections on which self and self-other representations are based. (Footnote: for a clear introduction to current neuroscientific thought on processing, the concept of ‘re-entry’ and ‘distribution’, see Pally)

In essence the therapeutic relationship is a cultivated form of mutual feedback –  particular attention is paid to subtle changes and nuances that hint at hidden dynamics. When a behaviour, phrase or gesture – or all three together – are noted, even if not verbalised, awareness is amplified.  Empathy in the therapist, and the client’s attachment to the therapist, and curiosity in them both will increase the potential for resonance. The structure of therapy itself re-inforces the propensity to heightened engagement which Schore describes as “synchronised energy exchanges” (1997, 595). The Process Oriented Psychologist Mindell suggests that the varieties of psychotherapy are “spontaneous creations which arise by amplifying events in given channels of the client therapist interaction”. (Mindell, 8)

In science two kinds of feedback are recognised: amplifying or (+ve) feedback  which expands and intensifies patterns; and dampening or (-ve) feedback  which has the opposite effect. The tension between these forms of feedback are at the crux of psychotherapy.  Through amplification subtle transactions are magnified and experienced in their intensity as pain, excitement, fear etc. This positive feedback will alternate or even oscillate with negative feedback which operates psychologically as a defense, an attempt to limit the catastrophe and chaos of experiencing intensity. With an imbalance of negative feedback, the individual/system becomes static and closed. Too much positive feedback dysregulates in the other direction – there is chronic instability.

At the risk of over-generalising, we could say that the humanistic tradition has been characterised by its emphasis on positive feedback, ‘letting it happen’ expression etc. Its raison d’etre was the encouraging of growth. By contrast some psychoanalytic psychotherapies have focussed on naming and interpreting defences, in order to modify the effect of negative feedback. In practice  all therapies probably use a mixture of both. We work with the dynamic tension between safety and not being too safe, between conscious insight and disinhibition, between structuring and disrupting.

The paradox of therapy is that when the client can bear what is unbearable to think and feel, their experience changes – the self re-organises. The critical factor here is sponteneity which is equivalent to chaos, in the sense that scientists are using the term. Chaos, in this context, represents “a lifting of constraints on information processing”. (Schore 1997) Of course, client and therapist naturally fear that chaos – in the ordinary sense – may be unleashed. Both neuroscience and psychotherapy would agree that change is not linear but rather a continual process of organisation, disorganisation, and re-organisation. 

It is widely agreed now that the client needs to experience  feelings in the relationship with the therapist.  This makes sense because, as Doug Watt has argued, “emotion binds together virtually every type of information that the brain can encode”. (Watt, 5)Intensity of feeling,  transitions between feelings, and the identifying of unfamiliar feelings, all feed self-organisation.

These are bodily relational processes. Allan Schore has detailed the transformations in the infant’s psychobiological state as it regulates and is regulated by the attachment relationship. There is a direct parallel with the therapeutic relationship which has the added complexity and inherent conflict of being both a more and  less equal relationship. In the talk given as the overture to this Conference he suggested that the process of therapy can utilize  right brain to right brain communication  to work with projective identification. The complex interactions he describes ultimately come down to a developed capacity for empathy, for allowing the client to affect the therapist and the therapist being able to tolerate that impact and feed it back to the client in a useful way.  In other words to work “on the border between chaos and order”.

The fears of the Neurosceptics are that the findings of neuroscience will diminish the subtlety and complexity of psychotherapy. But its not a matter of giving up the sterling of our evolved and involved practice, or handing over our authority to the equivalent of Brussels bureacracy. Its about being willing to cross the channel which has divided the two disciplines for over a Century and get stuck into dialogue

Any theory – no matter how brilliant, how robust – can be misapplied

One danger is that Neuroscience  could be funnelled into a medical system in a way which exacerbates its tendency to  think in terms of  damage.  

That would be an example of positive feedback (in the negative sense, if you see what I mean) . But New Science theory of life is actually one of extraordinary creativity rather than bleak determinism. 

In conclusion, I suggest that neuroscience can nourish psychotherapy in two ways. By providing a description of human processes from a different perspective, it offers us feedback for us to chew over. Secondly, developmental neuroscience is accumulating further evidence  that we cannot isolate human psychological function from its somatic foundation and from the network of relationships in which it has been formed and is embedded. I believe that neuroscience can be on our side in the argument that people need people, that psychotherapy needs due time for its process and that simple statistical facts cannot adequately  represent complex effects of psychotherapy.

Bibliography Boadella, D. (1987) Lifestreams: An Introduction to Biosynthesis (Routledge, London )

Boadella, D. (1997)‘ Awakening sensibility, recovering motility: psycho-physical synthesis at the foundation of body psychotherapy: the 100 year legacy of Pierre Janet (1859-1947) in International Journal of Psychotherapy, vol 2, no.2

Bollas, C (1997) Cracking Up: The work of Unconscious Experience (Routledge, London )

 Capra, F. (1996) The Web of Life: A New Understanding of Living Systems (Anchor Books, New York )

Coveney, P & Highfield, R (1995) Frontiers of Complexity (Faber, London )

Damasio, A. (1999) The Feeling of What Happens: Body, Emotion and the Making of Consciousness (Heineman, London )

Damasio, A. (1994) Descartes Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain (Putnam, London )

Field, N (1996) Breakdown and Breakthrough: Psychotherapy in a New Dimension (Routledge, London )

Freud, S. (1950[1895]) A Project for a Scientific Psychology  SE.1

Grinberg, L (1977) New Introduction to the work of Bion  ( Aronsom , New Jersey )

May, R. (1977) The Meaning of Anxiety (Simon and Schuster)

Mindell, A ( 1989) Rivers Way : The Process Science of the Dreambody ( London , Arkana)

Moore , M. S, (1998) ‘How can we remember but be unable to recall? The complex functions of multi-modular memory’ in ed. Sinason, V. Memory in Dispute (Karnac)

Pallly, R.  (2000) The Mind-Brain Relationship (Karnac, London )

Panksepp, J (1998)   Affective Neuroscience: The foundations of human and animal emotions (Oxford University Press)

Postle, D  Catstrophe Theory and Psychotherapy

Reich, W. (1973) The Function of the Orgasm (Reprinted Souvenir Press, 1983)

Reich, W. (1972) Character Analysis (Reprinted Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, New York, 1990)

Rothschild, B (2000) The Body Remembers: The Psychophysiology of Trauma and Trauma Treatment (Norton, London )

Samuels, A  (1993) The Political Psyche (Routledge, London )

Sardar, S &I. Abrams (1998) Introducing Chaos (Icon,Duxford)

Schore, A (1994) Affect Regulation and the Origin of the Self ( Lawrence Erlbaum, Hove )

Schore, A. (1997) Early organisation of the non-linear right brain and development of a predisposition to psychiatric disorders’ Development and Psychopathology 9 (1997) 595-631.

Soth, M. ‘Body/Mind Integration. AChP Newsletter, nos 17,18,19

Staunton , T (ed) (2001) Advances in Body Psychotherapy (Routledge)

Totton, N. (1998) The Water in the Glass: Body and Mind in Psychoanalysis (Rebus

Press, London )

Trevarthen, C & Aitken, K.J. (2001) ‘Infant Intersubjectivity: research, theory and clinical application’ Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry vol 42, no 1 pp3-48

Solms, M. & Kaplan-Solms, K. (2000) Clinical Studies in Neuro Psychoanalysis (Karnac, London )

Watt , D  ‘Emotion and Consciousness

Wilber, K (1995) Sex, Ecology and Spirituality (Shambala, London )

Whitmont, E.C. (1993) The Alchemy of Healing: Psyche and Soma ( N. Atlantic Books)


The Subtle Body

Posted on March 8, 2012 at 7:30 AM Comments comments (0)

TheSubtle Body

If one can successfully work throughthe subtle body realm, there is often a chance to transform not only psychicstructure but physical structure as well.(Schwartz-Salant: 25)

 The idea of the subtle body goes back to Eastern traditions of invisible energycentres and pathways Reich M.Dengaged with this idea but not with the spirituality of the concept because hedisliked the esoteric. He  perceived any kind of mysticism as dissociationfrom a direct experience of vegetative sensation in the body. (Conger) Recently,there has been a growing interest within the medical community to study thephysiological effects of Kundalini and Subtle body, Many modern experimentalresearch seeks to establish links between practice and the ideas of Wilhelm Reich. the father of Orgonomy, thescience of the functional laws of cosmic Orgone energy which comprises allnatural phenomena from living things to the universe itself. Reich was Freudʼs most important pupil.

 Meanwhile Jung took a greatinterest in Buddhism, Taoism and Sufism and suggested that the Eastern idea ofthe subtle body could be compared to his idea of the somatic unconscious. Hedefines this as the unconscious asperceived in the body. Man as a living being, said Jung, outwardly appearsas a material body, which inwardly manifests itself as ‘a series of images ofthe vital activities taking place within it. These are two sides of the samecoin.’ (Jung: 173) Rather than working directly on the body, as Reich did, Jungchose to work with the symbols, knowing that they had a materiality of theirown, and profoundly shifted the energy of the body.

  Jung’s emphasis on thefruitfulness of work with imagery has influenced a whole spectrum ofpsychotherapies, including many streams of body psychotherapy. Of thesepsychotherapies, only a few work explicitly with the subtle body as anenergetic phenomenon. In some therapies the subtle body – or energy field - isexplored directly through bodywork. In this chapter, however, I want to focus on onespecific aspect of the use of the subtle body in psychotherapy and quantummedicine.

What is the subtle body?

In writing about the subtle body Iam exploring a model of consciousness, which is relevant not only topsychotherapy, but to healing, creativity and life in general. The subtle bodyis a matrix, which actually exists; though it transcends our normal commonsense understanding of reality, including ordinary parameters of space and timeand sense perception. I believe that it is not the experience of the subtlebody itself which is problematic – it is well within everyone’s capacity toexperience it in some way – but that as a concept it defies consensual material‘scientific’ reality.

  The subtle body is an energyfield which has a structure, which influences and gives life to the physicalbody. This body has several interconnected layers, the etheric body, thetemplate of and interface with the physical body, where sensation is perceived;the astral/emotional body, which relates to the individual's emotional state;the mental body, which contains the thinking patterns; and the causal body, thesoul or level of higher intuition.

  According to theparapsychologist Donald Watson, ‘only when the finer (i.e. subtle) bodies areround the physical body and joined to it (in gear) is the physical bodyconscious (centred). When they separate from the body (step out of the body),consciousness also withdraws.’ This gives us a possible model for splitting:major distortions and divisions can literally occur on and between any level(s)- sensation, feeling, thinking, or intuition - creating a variety of kinds ofmind-body split.

  The relationship between thelayers is understood as a 'step-down' process, going from the finest, lightest,highest vibration to the final slow density the physical body. According toSchwartz-Salant, Jung makes a clear statement that `the subtle body refers tothat part of the unconscious that becomes more and more identical with thefunctioning of the human body, growing darker and darker and ending in theutter darkness of matter’. Another way of putting it is that our unconsciousthoughts and feelings exist in the subtle body and the less access we have tothem at the higher levels, the greater likelihood that they will becrystallised as physical structure and physical symptoms. In becoming denser,the patterns are pressing up against the limits of our conscious mind. Thissomatizing process is a step towards embodiment, and away from the morecontinuous dissections of the layers of the subtle body, and thus a movetowards wholeness.

  There are seven major chakraswhich are the focal points (the point of intersection between planes) fordrawing in and transmuting energy from the subtle bodies into a utilisableform. A chakra is a vortex, ‘a significant gathering of organised life-energy’,and a gateway between dimensions. Clare Harvey, a complementary therapistcomments that ‘the chakras may be regarded as transformers, simultaneouslyreceiving, assimilating and transmitting energy. They are capable of gatheringand holding various types of energy, and can also alter their vibrations sothis energy can be used for different purposes’.

 The chakra is a vorticalenergy form created by two streams of energy weaving together:

One ofthese, flowing in the spinal cord, is thrown out from the centre and flowstowards the periphery in a widening spiral; this represents the motor stream. The second stream,impinging on the surface of the etheric body, spirals inward, narrowing as itgoes; this is the receptive or sensorystream. These two spirals flow parallel to one another, but in oppositedirections, and may be compared to interlocking screw threads, in that one maybe said to run in the grooves of the other. They give an impression ofspinning, like the fluid in the vortex of a whirlpool. (Payne and Bendit,quoted in Boadella, 1987, 210)

According to Payne and Bendit, it isimportant that these two streams are co-ordinated with one another. If themotor or outgoing field is weak, the person is vulnerable to psychic invasion,or shock. An individual with a depleted or unstable energy field is easilyoverwhelmed by another person’s psychic energy. 

  This model of the chakras canhelp us understand how we take in information about our clients (and viceversa), and process it as sensations, feelings, fantasies, images andultimately as intervention and interpretation. The energy which is processedthrough a chakra is then distributed through the body or discharged from it.Perhaps information that we block out - because it threatens to overwhelm us insome way - can hang around in our subtle bodies, potentially accumulating tothe point where we become exhausted or ill.

Jung actually developed the idea that the subtlebody is the medium through which projections are transmitted, but - probablybecause it was considered a bit esoteric - this has not been taken up byJungians or others until recently.

Jung considered Kundalini energy or MISTERYSINDROME (according with Le Fanu  Journal of The Royal Society of Medicine) aninteraction of the subtle body along chakra energy centers and nadis channels. Westernawareness of the idea of kundalini was strengthened by the Theosophical Societyand the interest of Carl G.Jung ("Jung's seminar on kundalini yoga,presented to the Psychological Club in Zurich in 1932, has been widely regardedas a milestone in the psychological understanding of Eastern thought. Jung presentedKundalini yoga with a model for the development of higher consciousness, and heinterpreted its symbols in terms of the process of individuation".


 In ThePlural Psyche, Andrew Samuels has explored the concept ofcountertransference in relation to the idea of a 'mundus imaginalis', animaginal world, a third order of reality between subjective and objective.(1989: 143-74) This reflects the journey being made in some fields ofpsychotherapy  - in what Samuels calls ‘the countertransferencerevolution’ - from a largely objectifying attitude towards the client, to anapproach which values ever more highly the subjective body, or somaticcountertransference. (1993: 24) In this case the 'object' becomes thetherapist's body sensations, feelings, images and fantasies, which, throughappropriate processing can become information. This equation is: subjective +objective = awareness. Awareness suggests interest, reflection, and some degreeof openness. If I have a sensation or feeling in my body which I am observing,I can neither be totally detached (because it's in me), nor totally merged(because I am looking at it).

  This understanding has aparallel in the conclusions of quantum physicists that an individual cannotobserve an event/object without altering it. The observer is aparticipant.  The therapist is always embroiled in the client's dynamicand needs to be in order to get an 'in-sight'. Somatic countertransference canbe viewed as a conscious use of a capacity for, or a tendency to, resonate. Bytaking the position of therapist you are implicitly agreeing to subjectyourself to the distorting effect of the client's particular energy field inorder to understand it (this does not preclude the client's attempts to do thesame for the therapist, nor the fact that therapists have plenty of'distortions' of their own).

  In a chapter which surveysvarious definitions of and attitudes to countertransference, Andrew Samuel'smakes an interesting division into 'reflective' and 'embodied'countertransference. What he calls 'reflective'countertransference, is evokedwhen the therapist, observing his/her own feelings, is aware that they somehowreflect the client's unconscious feelings. 'Embodied' countertransference, onthe other hand, is when the therapist seems to be experiencing the client'sunconscious objects - the therapist embodies ‘an entity, theme, or person oflong-standing intrapsychic inner-world nature’ (1989: 151). The first seems tohave more to do with identification - the therapist becomes 'one' with theclient on some level - and the second is a form of opposition - the therapistbecomes 'two' with the client, taking on a role that goes beyond the immediaterelationship between client and therapist.

  Samuel's discussion ofcountertransference draws on the ideas of the French philosopher, Henry Corbin.Corbin's 'mundus imaginalis' ‘refers to a precise order or level of reality,located somewhere between primary sense impressions and more developedcognition. [It has] a central mediating function’. (Samuels 1989: 162-3) Corbinrefers to ‘the organ of visionary knowledge’. (164). In terms of psychotherapy,writes Samuels, ‘that organ is [the therapist’s] countertransference’. Thisfits well with the emphasis on somatic resonance in body psychotherapy. Bodypsychotherapists learn to deliberately cultivate access to primary senseimpressions, which form the basis of energetic perception. The physical sensesconnect us to a primary process, they give us a touchstone for ‘making sense’,and they provide a channel through which we can be irnpressed upon/ affected byour clients. At the same time we want to hold onto and utilise effectively our'more developed cognition'.

 'Imaginalis' refers to bothimage and ability to create forms in the mind. These words originate from theLatin, imitari, to imitate. We could then say that countertransference is aform of involuntary imitation, which,in order to be understood, has to be translated from one system to another;from an energetic vibration into a more concrete form such as a visual orsensory image, or some recognisable pattern or relationship.

  Information can betransported between persons via any of the subtle body layers and at differentlevels of force and velocity, and these differences account for the varietiesof experience and definition of countertranference. The model of consciousnessI am using is of two fields of vibrating energy which operate in ways bestdescribed in the language of physics or music. The fields have layers ofdifferent frequencies  - they may harmonise or be dissonant in differentplaces across the spectrum. Where two wave forms of similar frequency ‘lockinto phase’ with each other, there is what might be described variously assympathetic vibration, resonance, or rhythm entrainment. This has the effect ofamplifying the pattern. In other words, when therapist and client are 'tunedin' and conscious/centred they are like to become more aware of a pattern.Schwartz-Salant comments that the subtle body ‘may be projected and imaginallyperceived as operating between people. Furthermore the intermediate subtle bodyrealm can be a conjoined body, made up of the individual subtle bodies of twopeople ’ (25) This gives a new dimension to the term ‘merging’ which has beenused in psychoanalytic literature to describe the client’s regression to astate characteristic of infancy.

 In projective identification,there is a more dramatic and violent energetic interaction: the client's subtlebody may literally eject an idea/object/ feeling into the therapist's subtlebody with considerable force. In this case, the amount of energy created by thebringing together of two parts is so great as to threaten to fragment theclient's ego/body. It is like a bomb about to go off which has to be hurled intoa potentially stronger container. The therapist might with various degrees ofsuccess be able to contain the explosion, or they might be swept up in aself-preservative counter action which involves throwing back the bombshell.

 Schwartz-Salant emphasisesthat the active, imaginal experience of the subtle bodies coming together cancreate a powerful feeling of being pulled together in fusion, and then pulledapart towards separation. He argues that this is why work with the subtle bodyis healing for clients who have suffered critical failures around separation,allowing them to work through these splits.

Having explored the relevance of thesubtle body for an understanding of countertransference, I want to look in moredetail at the chakras. In all subtle body traditions, the chakras are seen asrelating to specific psychological themes (grounding, sexuality, power etc),and physiological functions, for example each chakra is linked with a specificsense, gland, and nerve plexus. (Myss) In addition each chakra is associatedwith a particular type of psychic perceptual functioning. The root chakra, forexample, gives us information on sensation. We may become aware of a holding ina client's legs through feeling how our own legs are tensing, while it isthrough the solar plexus that strong emotion strikes us. The heart isassociated with compassion and emotional balance. The sixth chakra or third eyeis clairvoyant, giving us what may be experienced as a direct insight.

 It is the fifth chakra, thethroat, that I want to explore in more depth here because it is of primeimportance with regard to communication in the therapeutic setting. It ispredominantly through this chakra that we process the information that iscoming to us via any of the chakras or directly through the throat chakra intorecognisable and communicable patterns.

The fifth chakra is the realm ofconsciousness that controls, creates, transmits and receives communications.These communications - or patterns of energy - are symbolised for storage anduse in the brain, whether in the form of words or images. The throat chakra'sinner state relates to the synthesis of ideas into symbols, thus drawing limitsand decreasing the level of abstraction.  (It is one thing to 'pick up'energy, it is quite another to be able to describe coherently what you havepicked up) It includes the capacity to create meaning from information. This isimportant - for it is in ascribing meaning that we move from merely 'vibratingwith' to giving the information a context, and a more explicit relationship tothe here and now interaction. Jung comments that the throat chakra is the placewhere we learn to own our projections.  This underscores its relevance forpsychotherapy, where other traditions – such as healing, meditation, or yoga –might emphasise the importance of the heart chakra, or the third eye.

  Sound (vibration) is theelement of the fifth chakra, both expressive sound and articulate speech. Whenexpressed in language,  the information is released from the therapist'sbody and may find its home in a new way in the client.Thoughts voiced withfeeling – by client or therapist – create vegetative movements which cleanseand re-balance, the throat chakra is strongly associated with and activatedthrough the hands.   This connection supports my own experience thatwork with the hands  - for example, massage – can heighten the ability tosynthesise information from many different levels,  creating powerfulimages that succinctly encapsulate the client’s energetic state. The hands alsoact as intelligent reflectors, giving back the client his/her vibrationcombined with the vibration of the therapist’s perception and intention.

  I have focussed on the fifthchakra because it plays a significant role in mediating between the consciousand unconscious, between self and other. Of course all chakras are equallyimportant and work in concert. An open root chakra keeps us grounded and intouch with the matter-of-fact reality of individual bodies, two separate people.The seventh chakra consciousness, on the other hand, is about non-separation,everything as connected. The heart chakra is the balance point , but it isthrough the throat chakra that understanding can be defined and focussed. ‘Whatis’ can be symbolised and therefore known.

The therapist’s ability to utilisetheir fifth chakra helps maintain a necessary level of separateness whileremaining connected. It also challenges the notion that energetic perception isonly conceivable in terms of the archaic, primitive, regressive or symbiotic.Even with ideas as esoteric as the subtle body, it is possible to be rigorousas a psychotherapist, both in terms of challenging as well as supporting theclient, and in terms of appropriate reflection on one’s therapeutic work. Thetherapist’s perceptions are always pushed through the mesh of their ownconsciousness, so that whatever blind spots, unresolved issues and points oftension are in their subtle bodies will affect the process. Clients have anuncanny ability to use their  own subtle body perceptions to hook onto,penetrate or overwhelm parts or all of the therapist’s subtle body.

  Most therapies that work withthe subtle body focus on the healing process in an individual, with thefacilitation of another.  Psychotherapeutic work with the subtle body,however, explores the subtle body as it emerges in the relationship betweenclient and therapist, as an aspect of transference and countertransference.When the two subtle bodies are interacting, it is felt as ‘a change in thequality of space between them’, a more energised, heightened state.(Schwartz-Salant, 21) [v] Such is the quality of the change in atmosphere,that a sense of peeling away layers of history can be evoked. The Jungian RogerWoolger, for example, explicitly uses subtle body work to work with pastlives and trauma.

  My own experience is mostoften of the face of my client changing as though masks are being pulled offone by one to reveal older, deeper identities. The faces seem to present verypowerful aspects of the individual that may have been repressed and distortedthrough fear. They may embody fantasy figures such as a witch or a pirate. Thetherapist needs the capacity to tolerate these heightened states, preciselybecause they hold the unconscious feelings from which the client has split off.The client’s intense anxiety is part of a process of embodiment, and thetherapist’s task is to remain embodied as the heat is turned up.Schwartz-Salant argues that ‘such subtle body encounters strengthen psychicstructure and build a firmer mind-body unity, one which is less afflicted bysplitting and projective identification’. At key moments in this process it isas if the subtle bodies are linked in a dance: a dance between two subtlebodies which may be imaged as nurturing, grotesque, comical, erotic, barbaric,playful, sombre, scintillating…


Boadella, D.  (1987) Lifestreams: An Introduction to Biosynthesis ( London : Routledge)

Boadella, D (1990) ‘Somatic Psychotherapy: Its Roots and Traditions’ Energy and Character, vol 21, no 1 (Abbotsbury Publications)

Conger, J.P. (1988) Jung and Reich: The Body as Shadow ( Berkley : North Atlantic Books)

Goodison, L.  (1990) Moving Heaven and Earth: Sexuality, Spirituality and Social Change ( London : Women’s Press)

Harvey, C and Amanda Cochrane (1995) The Encyclopedia of Flower Remedies ( London : Thorsons)

Judith, A (1988) Wheels of Life: A User’s Guide to the Chakra System ( St Paul : Lewellyn Publications)

Jung, C.G (1980) The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious trans. R.F.C Hull, ed.Read, Fordham and Adler, Bollinger Series XX vol 9 (Princeton: Princeton University Press)

 Myss, C. (1997) Anatomy  of the Spirit ( London : Bantam)

Samuels, A. (1989) The Plural Psyche ( London : Routledge)

Samuels, A. (1993) The Political Psyche ( London :Routledge)

Schwartz-Salant, N. (1986) ‘On the Subtle Body Concept in Clinical Practice’ in The Body in Analysis, ed.

Schwartz-Salant and Murray Stein ( Wilmette :Chiron Publications)





Harold Saxton Burr

Posted on March 7, 2012 at 12:15 AM

Harold Saxton Burr (April 18, 1889 in Lowell, Massachusetts—February 17, 1973) was E. K. Hunt Professor of Anatomy at Yale University School of Medicine. His early years were spent in Springfield, Massachusetts, while most of his later life was spent in New Haven. In 1908 he was admitted to the Sheffield Scientific School at Yale and received his Ph.B. in 1911. On December 27 of that year, in Chicago, he married Jean Chandler, with whom he had a son, Peter. In 1914 he was appointed Instructor in Anatomy at Yale. He received his Ph.D. in 1915 and was a teacher at Yale until 1958, becoming an Assistant Professor in 1919, an Associate Professor in 1926, and Professor in 1929.[1][2]

Over forty years, from 1916 to 1956, Burr published, either alone or with others, ninety-three scientific papers.[3] Early studies mostly focused upon the development of the meninges and other neural bodies, often studying the amblystoma or larval salamander.

In 1932, however, his observations of neuro-cellular proliferation in the amblystoma led him to propose the "electro-dynamic theory of development" for which he is now most widely remembered. 1935 saw the publication of his general papers (with F.S.C. Northrop) "The electro-dynamic theory of life" and (with C.T. Lane) "Electrical characteristics of living systems". Burr is noted for his use of the voltmeter to detect the electromagnetic potential of the body, first reported upon in his 1936 paper (with C. T. Lane and L.F.Nims) "A vacuum tube microvoltmeter for the measurement of bio-electric phenomena". Burr proposed the term "L-Field" for the bio-electric fields of living systems.

Burr's research contributed to the electrical detection of cancer cells, experimental embryology, neuroanatomy, and the regeneration and development of the nervous system. His studies of the bio-electrics of ovulation and menstruation eventually led to the marketing of fertility-indicating devices. His late studies of the electrodynamics of trees, carried out over decades, suggested entrainment to diurnal, lunar and annual cycles. He also contributed a few papers on the history and sociology of his field.