Table of Contents
- Introduction To The Subtle Energy Body
- But Are We Just Glorified Machines?
- Is Subtle Energy Real?
- The Human Energy System: The Aura, Chakras, Subtle Bodies
- References To Subtle Energy In Religious Traditions
- The Subtle Bodies
- The Anatomy Of The Subtle Energy Body
- The Chakras: How Subtle Energies Moves Through The Body
- Subtle Energy Elements: The The Sushumna, Ida and Pingala And Nadis
- Chakras And Their Associate Nadis
- Our Subtle Energy System & Health
Introduction To The Subtle Energy Body
We are all familiar with the make-up of our bodies on physical levels. We have a heart and lungs, a liver and pancreas, kidneys, muscles and bones. Our bodies are also made up of a series of glands. These include our thyroid and pituitary, which secrete hormones and regulate our bodily functions.
All in all, it believed by many that we are merely made up a complex series of bio-chemical processes, period. This view of health, healing and medicine has been around for hundreds of years. It is based upon a Newtonian view of the world, which sees all life as a series of intricate mechanisms. According to this viewpoint, doctors are taught to conceptualize the body as simply a glorified machine. In turn, modern medicine endeavors to repair maladies of the body with a monkey wrench, a pair of pliers and some bailing twine.
But Are We Just Glorified Machines?
As we move into the new millennium, we are poised at a unique point in human history where science and religion are becoming one. With it, a new standard of health and medicine is beginning to unfold. This new model sees the body, not only as a series of organs, glands and biological processes, but as a network of complex subtle energies that interact with one another. This explanation of the life experience is called the Einsteinian paradigm.
The Einsteinian paradigm corroborates many of the esoteric principals and spiritual beliefs that have been part of our world’s cultures for millennium. These traditions hypothesize that all things, including man, are made up of a vast array of interconnecting subtle energies and energetic fields. This perspective makes it easy for us to appreciate how we are all connected to one another and to everything that occupies our universe, both seen and unseen.
In western society, humanity’s view of our existence on earth based is solely on our interaction with the physical plane, where we live in a 3-dimensional world. The physical world, however, represents only one dimension of the human experience and embodies only a fraction of the reality of the universe.
Is Subtle Energy Real?
It is theorized that the subtle energy that makes up our being vibrates at a frequency faster than electromagnetic radiation. According to Don Paris, author of Regaining Wholeness Through the Subtle Dimensions, everything in the universe emits subtle energy, every living thing as well as nonliving object so, in a sense, everything is alive. This unseen, yet undeniable part of who we are is something that many of us take for granted; yet it is always with us, every minute of every day. It fills us from the tops of our heads down to the tips of our toes, ever moving and flowing in and around us.
Subtle energy provides an organizing principle to nature – if it weren’t for this predisposition, we would only be a collection of cells or disordered pile of chemicals.
Scientists Ignore Subtle Energy Implications
In science news, western scientist have traditionally ignored the energetic implications of our subtle being, primarily because they have been unable to document them. Scientists who have investigated the movement of subtle energy in the body assumed that they would find it on physiological levels where it would work like our nervous or circulatory systems.
When they were unable to find “it”, they concluded that it didn’t exist or was the stuff of myth. They never considered the notion that the tools they were using might be insufficient or that their assumptions might be wrong. Yet, throughout time, the greatest advancements and breakthroughs in science have come into being because of the discovery of a new scientific instrument or groundbreaking technology. Recent findings in quantum physics are now validating the existence of subtle energy and subtle energetic systems.
When Will Scientists Recognize Subtle Energy?
If you think about it, only in the last century have scientists been able to measure, validate, harness and utilize electromagnetic radiation in the form of medical x-rays, indoor lighting and microwave ovens. For example, it is common knowledge that if you go outside on a sunny day, you run the risk of getting burnt, but only recently has this effect been attributed to ultraviolet radiation.
So while we have all experienced ultraviolet radiation on a qualitative level, this is based purely on its effect. Even today, while scientists understand the laws and principles upon which electromagnetic radiation is based, they still don’t know exactly how or why it works.
The same holds true for subtle energy. To date, there are not any tools to measure it or quantify it. Until that day comes, mainstream science will most likely ignore the role subtle energy plays in our lives, the regulation of our health and the manifestation of disease.
The Human Energy System: The Aura, Chakras, Subtle Bodies
Are we more than skin, bones, organs and tissues? The human subtle energy system consists of a number of parts that include the Aura, Chakras, Subtle Bodies and Nadis. Each of these components, unlike our appendix, work to help us interact with the world around us. They are like a cat’s whiskers, they are constantly sensing things in our environment and providing us feedback regarding our environment.
Each of us is made up of these component parts found in the human subtle energy system. Without them, we would be blind deaf and dumb to the energy and information that is constantly being transmitted by other. We would also be unable to send our own “vital” information into the world. People who take medications to shut down input from this invisible world describe their lives as being flat or 2-dimentional.
What is the human energy system? Dr. Rita Louise offer a compelling description of its component parts.
References To Subtle Energy In Religious Traditions
If we look back at some of the most ancient religious and philosophical texts, the notion that other dimensions exist beyond the physical plane can easily be found. Sanskrit texts, for example, describe four distinct planes of consciousness that exist beyond the physical world. Called “bodies”, they include the etheric, astral or emotional, mental and causal bodies. In Qabalistic texts, these same alternative planes of existence, called “worlds”, are identified as Assiah, the World of Matter, Yetzirah, the World of Formation, Briah, the World of Creation and Atziluth, the World of Ability.
The concept of a person being made up of a subtle energy body has actually been around for millennia. Described by ancient schools of healing in both the East and the West, this mysterious life force energy is the basis of all life. Its life giving properties are referred to in almost every spiritual tradition and culture worldwide. According to a National Institutes of Health study, there are well over 50 different and distinct terms used to describe this subtle life force energy including chi, prana, holy spirit, manna, ether, orgone, biomagnetism and zeropoint.
Doctrines that incorporate the conception that we are made up of subtle energy can be found in ancient philosophical traditions, particularly those of India and China. It also is part of the teaching of the Qabalah, the basis of Jewish mystical traditions.
Each of these philosophical traditions holds a piece of the puzzle as we seek to understand subtle energy and how it interacts with the world around us.
Subtle Energy In China
In China, Taoists view all life as being whole and undifferentiated as it moves and flows, ever changing and dependent on the viewpoint of the observer. Here the concept of subtle energy is called chi’. Taoists believe that we are all filled with chi’ which runs through the bodies in a series of energetic vein-like structures called meridians. It is thought that the meridians are lines of communication that carry the necessary information to guide the growth of a fetus and play a pivotal role in the repair and healing of the body proper.
According to Taoist beliefs, the whole of life is dualistic in nature with the two parts, the yin and the yang, being aspects of and making up the whole. The movement of chi’ is likewise expressed in the form of the Yin/Yang. The Yin/Yang speaks purely of energy and the energy dynamics found in the universe. The universe and all things within it are seen as positive or negative, light or dark, male or female.
Subtle Energy In Hindu Tradition
In the Yogic tradition, an ancient philosophical doctrine from India, the nature of the subtle energy body is described in a more structured manner. According to this system, we are more than just a physical body. In fact we are made up of 5 separate bodies, each vibrating at different frequencies, which include the physical body, the etheric body, the emotional body, the mental body and the causal body. Each are seen as controlling an aspect of our physical form as well as regulating our action/reaction to stimuli from the world around us.
We are also made up of a number of unique energetic components including the aura, or electromagnetic field around the body, the chakras, or energy centers within the body and the nadis or energetic channels that run through the body. In this tradition, our life force energy is called “prana.”
Subtle Energy In The Qabalah & Jewish Tradition
In the Qabalah, the concept of our subtle energy system takes on an even more pragmatic appearance. The movement of subtle energy is expressed in a linear format, where it’s creative, formative and limiting nature is identified. It explores the dynamics of energy and energy flow, thus providing a detailed and comprehensive explanation of its workings.
These concepts are represented by the Tree of Life, which is made up of 10 sephiroth or centers of energy on 7 separate yet distinct levels. The sephiroth are arraigned on 3 pillars, one positive, one negative and the last one being neutral. According to Qabalistic traditions, consciousness manifests itself in four different worlds: Azilut, Beriah, Yezirah and Asiyyah.
The Subtle Bodies
This shift in viewpoint also makes it ease to comprehend that we are made up of more than just a physical body. Actually we are made up of 5 separate bodies. They include the physical body, the etheric body, the astral body, the mental and causal bodies. Existing at different vibratory rates or frequencies, each of these subtle bodies occupies the same time-space continuum as our current 3-dimensional world, but exist on subtle levels that are unseen by the naked or untrained eye.
The each subtle energy body can be equated to the octaves on a piano, with each body vibrating at a different rate or frequency. The etheric body (Assiah) vibrates at the slowest frequency, while the causal body (Atziluth) vibrates the fastest. These bodies move from the gross, dense form of the physical body until they merge again in the world of spirit in the causal body.
It is believed that the four subtle bodies correlate to the four primary ranges measured by an EEG. (An EEG, or Electroencephalograph is a graphic record of the electrical activity of the brain.) Delta waves, for example, operate at a frequency of 1-3.5 Hz and are related to the physical body. Theta waves are associated with the emotional or astral subtle energy body and operate at 3.5-7 Hz. Alpha waves in turn operate at 7-14Hz and are related to the mental subtle energy body. And finally, the causal subtle energy body is said to operate at 14-30 Hz, where it correlates with beta waves.
The Anatomy Of The Subtle Energy Body
Each subtle energy body has its own distinctive features. For instance, each body contains chakras or energy centers. They contain 7 separate yet distinct layers and are connected to each other via the nadis or energy channels. It is through the action of the chakras and nadis that the bodies interact with each other as well as with emanations received from the environment.
Our subtle energy system occupy the same time-space continuum as our physical body does in our 3-dimensional world. This occurs in the same way radio and television waves pass through the same space without interference.
If you take a moment and think about it, the air around us is filled with the energy of hundreds of radio and television broadcasts in any given moment. It is also filled with hundreds if not thousands of telephone conversations that are transmitted by cordless and wireless phones. We are not aware of the broadcasts because they exist outside the range of our perception.
If, however, we turn on the TV, the energy of the television broadcast is translated into our favorite television show. In addition, when we change the channel and tune into another station we don’t end up watching channel 2 on channel 39. This is because each channel is relayed at slightly different frequencies, which keeps the signals from mixing. This allows them to occupy the same space without interfering with one another.
The Subtle Energy Body: The Physical Body
Each subtle energy body has a unique property or characteristic. The chief property of the physical body and physical world is matter. It is expressed the world in which we live. It is represented by the things we can see, touch, hear and experience. It works to provide us with a basis for our consensual reality. By its very nature matter has no power or ability to move on its own and must always be acted on by some form of energy from an outside force.
We interact in the physical world by the use of our physical bodies. We are all familiar with the physical body. It is made up of two arms, two legs, a head, a torso, organs and glands as well as many other systems and subsystems that function on bio-chemical levels. The physical body uses the foods we eat and the air we breathe to provide it with energy. It is also fed by our life force energy, which energizes its cells, tissues and organs.
The physical body serves as a foundation for the other bodies and as a way for the soul to express itself on the physical plane. It is often perceived of as the shell we inhabit as we interact on the physical plane. It allows us to function successfully in the physical world.
The Subtle Body: The Etheric Body
The etheric body vibrates at a frequency closest to the physical body. This non-physical body has the same characteristics as the physical body, such as organs, glands and other anatomical features, but these structures exist outside of our normal perceptual range. Many times the etheric body can be seen by intuitives and is often referred to as the aura.
The etheric body is concerned with the processes and activities of energy, in and around the physical body. It is believed by some that the etheric body is superimposed upon the physical body. The reality is that physical tissues exist because this energy field supercedes the physical body. It acts as the blueprint of the physical body, providing it with a framework or pattern upon which it is shaped and anchored. It is said to supply information to the cells of our body by means of which it guides the body through its automated processes such as growth and development, repair and healing.
For example, it is the function of the etheric body to direct the cells of an embryo through the development of the organs, glands and other bodily systems. It is this same energy that supports the growth and development of a newborn taking him or her from birth to maturation. This energy allows for and guides the repair of the physical body when we break a bone or skin our knees. This innate ability for growth, development and repair is something scientists still can’t explain.
The Subtle Energy Body: The Astral Or Emotional Body
The astral or emotional body vibrates at a frequency higher than that of the etheric body. It is often thought of as being separate and independent of the physical body yet is an inseparable part of who we are. It is shaped by our feelings and expresses itself through our emotions. It is instrumental in our ability to express ourselves.
Feelings are experienced in the physical body as bodily sensations, where they always involve a tangible bodily sense. When we encounter an emotionally charged event we undergo physiological changes in our bodies, which result in a bodily sensation or feeling. We may not know or understand what we are feeling, but we ordinarily are aware of some kind of physical sensation. Throughout the day, we experience a number of different feelings, each of which contains a distinct meaning. When we are able to express these physical sensations they are called emotions.
The Subtle Body: The Mental Body
The mental body is the world of thoughts and concrete ideas. It reflects our ability to think and construct images. It is where our ideas and imagination transition from the nothingness of the causal body and enter into the constructs of the mind. It is through the mind and the mental body that the soul communicates with us.
The mental body should not be confused with the brain but instead represents the energy of our ideas, beliefs and values. Thinking, imagery, perceptions, judgments, creativity, invention and inspiration are all expressions of the mental body, and represent a projection of our inner reality that is conveyed to the world.
The Subtle Energy Body: The Causal Body
The causal body is the world of spirit, the world of pure energy. It is oftentimes referred to as the Soul body or our higher self. It is where our soul joins with the cosmic conscious, the universe, or God. Where the mental body was concerned with the creation of concrete thoughts and ideas, the causal body is involved with the creation of abstract ideas and concepts. It is the part of us that works to guide us to health, harmony and wholeness.
While it is believed that there are bodies that exist beyond the causal body, the causal body represents the part of us that is closest to the source, or God. It is the divine spark around which all of the other bodies are built. It can be seen as a gatekeeper where it sees what is going on in our lives from a higher perspective and attempts to share this information with the conscious mind.
The intrinsic wholeness of a person cannot be considered apart from his or her totality. Although each of the bodies may seem independent and separate from the workings of our physical body, they make up a vital part of who we are. It is only by understanding the workings of our all of our parts and their relationships to each other that we can ever hope to create and maintain health, wellness, harmony and wholeness in our lives.
The Chakras: How Subtle Energies Moves Through The Body
Each of these subtle bodies interacts with us on physiological levels. Energy or information flow between the subtle bodies via the “chakras” or energy centers. Like the physical body, there are seven major chakras in each of the subtle bodies.
Chakras function similar to electrical transformers, stepping down energy from one frequency to another. Energy is exchanged via a series of tubes or vortexes from one level to another, with the chakra functioning as a sort of relay station.
Incoming energy is slowed down until it reaches a vibration or frequency that our bodies can assimilate. In essence, the chakras regulate the flow of energy into our bodies. They provide this energy to us in a form in which our bodies can handle.
The chakras of the mental body, for example, reduce the vibrational frequency of the energy it receives from the casual body. From here it is either disseminated into the mental body, or is passed on and slowed down even further as it travels on to layers of a slower vibratory rate. This continues through each of our subtle bodies, until it reaches the physical body, where a physiological or hormonal response occurs.
Subtle Energy Elements: The The Sushumna, Ida and Pingala And Nadis
In order to fully understand the function of the chakras and the nature of our subtle energy system, it is important to understand how energy moves through each subtle energy body individually and as a whole. All energy and information is transported through the subtle bodies via energy channels called nadis. The function of the nadis is to transfer or funnel energy into and out of the chakra. There is a nadi connected to each side of the chakras in each of the subtle energy bodies where they transport energy and information from the world around us through the subtle body to nerve ganglia (bundles of nerve cells that lie outside the central nervous system) in the physical body.
Subtle Energy Bodies Element: The Nadis
The nadis are made up of fine threads of energetic matter that exist purely on subtle levels. These energetic structures connect one chakra to another and work to direct and transfer energetic vibrations through the subtle energy bodies in the same way our veins and arteries direct and carry blood through our body or like a phone cord carries our conversations over its copper wire. Sources have described up to 72,000 nadis in the subtle body.
The seven major chakras are connected to each other via a vertical column of energetic matter that runs up and down the spine, which according to Yogic traditions is called the Sushumna. The Sushumna’s function is to transport energy through the subtle bodies, which provides power and energy to each of the chakras. Where the nadi can be thought of as functioning like an electrical wire or like an individual nerve that runs through our body, the Sushumna, can be thought of as a major electrical power bus or as functioning similar to our spinal cord that acts as an electrical highway for nerve transmission.
Subtle Energy Bodies Element: The Sushumna
By means of a nadi that extends out of the 7th chakra, subtle energy is funneled into the body and transported through the Sushumna to the 1st chakra. Energy exits the Sushumna through a nadi that is connected to the 1st chakra, where it is ultimately grounded. The flow of this energy can be thought of as functioning like a DC or direct current circuit. A DC circuit is an unbroken path through which an electric current flows from positive to negative. That is it moves from a power source such as a battery to an output or to ground where the excess electricity is dissipated.
When a circuit is complete, that is, when all of the connections are made properly, current flows. If the connections are not made properly and the circuit is broken the current cannot flow. Likewise, if the circuit that makes up the Sushumna is broken, the flow of subtle energy through the chakras stops. Like the electrical circuit, if there is no power or energy coming in via the 7th chakra, or if the circuit isn’t grounded by means of the 1st chakra, energy will not flow as well.
Subtle Energy Bodies Element: The Ida and Pingala
Also moving up the spine and intertwining the Sushumna are the Ida and Pingala nadis. The Ida is located on the left side of the spinal column and is associated with the feminine, negative and yin aspect of our being. The Pingala in turn is located on the right side of the spinal column and is associated with the masculine, positive and yang aspects of our being. These nadis move upward from the 1st chakra alternating from left to right as they travel up the spine where they surround and activate each chakra. It is believed that when these two aspects of ourselves are balanced, our spiritual energy or Kundalini can unfold.
Chakras And Their Associate Nadis
Attached to each side of our 2nd thru – 6th chakras are nadis as well. Each of these chakras has both a front and a back aspect to them where energy flows in perpendicular to the stream of energy through the Sushumna. Barbara Brennan, in her book, Hands of Light has identified the functioning of the front of each chakra as being related to our feelings and the rear of each chakra as being related to our wills. Another way to look at the dual nature of the chakras means that the front of the chakra relates to things we are processing on a conscious level, while the back correlates to things we have pushed behind us or are processing on an unconscious level.
Physically, we are able to look at or see what is in front of us, but are unable to see, or have difficulty seeing, what is going on behind our backs. The same holds true on energetic levels. Typically, we carry the information that we are actively processing in the front of the chakra and energies and issues that we are unable to or unwilling to process in the back. It does not mean that we aren’t experiencing the effects of this energy; it is just that it is outside of our conscious awareness. “Why couldn’t I see that” is a phrase we use to reflect this idea. When we are hurt, we “push it behind us”, or at times find ourselves feeling as if we were “stabbed in the back” when something hurtful is done to us in a sly, sneaky or deceiving way.
Now that we understand how energy moves through the subtle energy bodies, lets move on and take a look at how energy and information is transported, received and assimilated by and between each of the subtle bodies.
Our Subtle Energy System & Health
When our energy is moving and flowing, we remain in a state of health and wellbeing. When our energy slows down, becomes stagnant or blocked, we manifest dis-ease. Dis-ease is the reaction to an imbalance in the flow of our life force energy. Imbalances in the energy of the mental body can manifest as narrow-mindedness, disrespect for life and nature, or materialism. Issues of the astral body manifest as anger, rage, phobias, depression, and hate. When they appear in the etheric body they can manifest in the form of a cold, back pain, arthritis, or cancer.
Once an imbalance is experienced and takes hold in one of the subtle bodies it can then trickle down and manifest on a physical level. Dis-ease is typically first experienced on subtle energetic levels weeks, months or longer, before it is felt physically.
With the dawn a new age in science, medicine and healing, we are now rediscovering our multidimensionality. Science is coming full circle, back to the thoughts and beliefs of our ancestors. They are discovering that we are “spirit”, living in a physical body. With this, they are also finding out that the key to wellness lie not only with diet, pills and exercise. It extends to our thoughts, feelings and emotions as well. They are learning that healing needs to occur on all levels, physically, mentally and emotionally. This is when true healing begins!
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