Energy Medicine - Underlying Principles By Dave Cowan
The field of energetic medicine is vast in scope and broad in its applications. This presentation offers a brief overview of the underlying principles behind holistic health, energetic medicine, quantum physics, and the healing arts. We will begin by exploring the demise of modern scientific reductionism and the emergence of a more holistic worldview.
Where Art and Science Meet
Life is much too complex to be reduced to linear concepts, or even linguistic restraints. At best, we can only describe aspects of life's complexity, and occasionally intuit the larger patterns and creative genius within and around these patterns. Much of what passes as "knowledge" in our science is merely descriptive. Data is only information that can be arbitrarily manipulated to "prove" virtually anything. However, the more we can step back, gain perspective, and perceive the patterns, the more complete our understanding can become. We see both the 'parts' through linguistic and conceptual means and the 'whole' via intuitive and non-verbal capabilities. This is where art and science meet.
The Scientific Paradigm - Limitations of Reductionism
To appreciate the meaning of Holism in today's world, we must see it against the historical and cultural background from which it has emerged as a modern movement. Reductionism describes the predominant view in Western civilization that emerged out of the era of the Industrial Revolution. This began around 400 years ago when it became profitable for some to amplify human labor through the use of machines. Philosophers, writers, and leading intellectuals of the time were enamored with the power of machines, and projected the mechanistic mode of thinking onto the natural world. The Universe was believed to operate according to predictable physical laws, and was described as a 'clockwork universe.' Prevalent thought was filled with confidence and optimism that one day, all life processes, including human biology, could be 'reduced' to simple, physical laws easily described in terms of Newtonian physics and linear mathematics. These sciences used the language of reductionism, and 'proved' to most people's satisfaction, that the complexity of the 'whole,' whether mechanical or biological, could only be understood by looking at the 'parts.' This viewpoint does make sense when it comes to mechanical devices and simple physical events, like describing the effect of gravity on a falling object or understanding the physical relationship between two gravitational bodies (the Sun and Earth, for example). However, as soon as you begin to move to a higher level of complexity, such as the relationship between three gravitational bodies, Reductionist physics and linear math are insufficient.
Reductionist science, then and now, is rooted in a belief in the value of measurement; inventing new terms to describe things, and a belief that observation in an experimental setting is a completely reliable and trustworthy means to come to valuable conclusions. The sense-perceptions are assumed to be entirely reliable indicators of the nature of 'reality.' A problem with this view, however, is the human tendency to mistake labeling with understanding - like mistaking the 'map' for the 'territory.' This is known as 'reification' - when we elevate the label or concept to the status of the thing or event we are attempting to describe. Much of 'higher education' is just this - memorizing the descriptive language of a field of study sufficient enough to sound knowledgeable!
Scientific Reductionism - Linear Logic
The philosopher Laplace (1749-1847), along with many reductionist 'believers,' honestly felt that Life would eventually be reduced to one simple equation. Today, this quest continues with the search for a final 'theory of everything.' Trouble is, Life is proving to be much more complex and unpredictable than expected - it always changes and never stays the same, and therefore resists measurement. Indeed, 'that which changes' is a good definition of Life itself.
Sadly, Reductionist Science is firmly entrenched in society's major institutions, including Big Science, Big Education, and Big Religion. Most tragic is the effect of the reductionist paradigm on medical science. Vested interests in the military industrialist petro-chemical and pharmaceutical cartels have a huge investment in maintaining the paradigm of reductionist science. Reducing people to to a simple 'diagnosis' requiring a specific 'prescription' has created a captive market.
However, more recent discoveries in Science have seriously challenged basic reductionist premises. Chaos Theory was the result of weather scientists discovering previously unsuspected patterns in the details of coastlines that were only revealed by the degree of detail provided by satellite photography. Basically, Chaos Theory proposes that chaos or randomness only exists in our limited perception, and that given enough perspective (a wide enough view), a pattern will emerge out of any apparently chaotic event. Our lives themselves are testimony to this observation - despite the apparent chaos of our lives in the past, we are focused and organized around today's experience.
Fractal geometry (or 'fractal art') are images created by extending mathematical equations many times over into graphic form. Here we see many of nature's patterns emerge, indicating Nature herself is a master mathematician. A deeper level of intelligence is at work, 'hidden' behind the obvious, but revealed and made visible by a change in our perspective.
The discoveries of Quantum Physics in the last century have also seriously challenged the assumptions of Reductionism. Fundamentally, the understanding that all matter is a form of 'frozen energy' and is therefore subject to 'energetic laws' compels one to go beyond the boundaries of Materialism and Empiricism in truly understanding the nature of reality.
Reductionism, although applicable to machines and mechanical processes, fails miserably when applied to Living Systems.
Scientific Reductionism is Dangerous
Nowhere is Reductionism more harmful than when applied to Human Health. Western medicine, despite its successes in dealing with physical trauma, has failed miserably in addressing and preventing the major killers of the industrialized world: degenerative diseases rooted in diet, lifestyle, and mental & emotional stress. Recent studies by JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) and Dr. Mercola (www.mercola.com) have identified Modern Reductionist Medicine as the number one killer in modern society. "Iatrogenic Disease" is the term coined by Ivan Illich (1926-2002) many decades ago to describe 'death by medicine.' See www.nexusmagazine.com for a complete article on this shocking subject. This is truly Orwellian. As the philosopher Goethe says, "Nothing is more terrible than active ignorance." Although there are many sincere individuals in the Health Care system today, the system itself is calcified by academic arrogance, vested moneyed interests, and a 'disease-care' mentality that profits from disease management rather than prevention.
To put things in perspective, consider than in China, a traditional doctor is paid as long as his patients are healthy; when they become ill, the patient may withhold payment. Naturally, the Chinese doctor is financially motivated to keep you well. S/he is also responsible to keep the incidence of illnesses under a prescribed level for his or her assigned population. If the levels rise above the acceptable average, the doctor is returned to school for more education or re-training in another field.
Roots of the Holistic View
Around the turn of the 20th century when mass production was introduced, a new way of looking at how machines worked together was called for. This led to the development of 'Systems Theory' - a mathematical model that addressed the need to navigate greater complexity.
In the 1920's, the philosopher Koestler (1905-1983) proposed the concept of the 'holon.' A holon is anything that can be viewed as a separate 'thing' while at the same time being part of a larger 'thing,' or whole. For example, a baby is a 'holon,' but at the same time is part of a family, which is another 'holon.' A family is also part of a community, which is part of a nation, continent, planet, solar system... and on and on. In fact, the entire phenomenal universe is simply a set of 'nested holons' - every separate part intimately involved in greater and lesser levels of complexity and organization, ultimately comprising one whole 'thing' - a 'uni-verse' or 'one song.'
So, while Reductionism purports, 'to understand the whole, look at the parts,' Holism suggests 'to understand the parts, look at the whole.'
'Seeing' the Whole, however, requires that we change the way we perceive reality. Most of what we perceive is linguistically mediated and the result of conditioning. By necessity, we mentally 'break up' reality into little digestible 'bits' (words and concepts) so we can 'digest' our perceptions. We then make the mistake of assuming our little 'bits' actually describe 'the way it is.' We then have a difficult time seeing the larger patterns of our experience because we become overly focused on the details - the 'bits' we have created with our minds.
In order to begin to think holistically, we need to use our perceptual tools - our minds - differently. Linear observations ("this" caused "that") and linguistic intelligence is a product of the left hemisphere of the brain. This type of brain activity produces a measurable electrical brain wave in the "Beta" range.
In order to break free from the strict boundaries of linear thinking, we need to incorporate the right hemisphere of the brain. This part of the brain is involved in non-verbal activities, such as the appreciation of color, sound, or feelings. When both left and right hemispheres of the brain are active at the same time, this produces a more relaxed "Alpha" brain wave state, which is more conducive to pattern recognition. We experience Alpha brain wave states when we are caught up in a beautiful sunset or an inspiring piece of music.
The Alpha state is inherently healing. It helps us see the whole, even as we focus in on specific details. We take specific "bits" of information into account, knowing that a larger pattern is always involved. For the most part, our perception is linear, but only partial, and what is most significant is not likely known by the conscious mind.
Implications for Energetic Medicine
The primary implication of the above discussion is that what despite what the verbal mind thinks it knows, there is always a bigger picture. And the wider our view, the more comprehensive and effective our assessment. This is why a lack of symptoms is not necessarily a sign of good health, and why reducing symptoms is not "curing." This is akin to pretending the tip of the iceberg is all there is, simply because that is all we can see! Yet, the symptom is always a sign of a deeper imbalance. The physical body is the "tip of the iceberg" representing many other levels of existence and deeper levels of being. If our definition of "Spiritual" is simply that which incorporates all possible levels and dimensions of existence - material and non-material - then it can be said that health and the healing process is always ultimately Spiritual. This is Holistic Health.
"Dimensions" simply refer to specific frequency bands where matter and non-material energy vibrate at different speeds. The multi-dimensional model of reality is consistent with many wisdom traditions, including the Ayurvedic and Buddhist world-views, as well as Albert Einstein, who postulated six non-material dimensions to support what he was observing in four (3 space + 1 time).
To be truly Holistic, we must acknowledge the rightful place of Reductionist Science and Allopathic medicine. The strength of Allopathy is in the management of trauma, which is essentially the medicine of a military-industrialist war-based economy, which it is well suited for. Therefore, the Holistic view, which sees life in all of its complexity, is a "bigger" view, and not necessarily "better."
The Human Energy Field
Every known human culture, past and present, has to various degrees recognized an "energetic" aspect of life. Often this understanding was embedded in religious or metaphysical beliefs, myths, and practices. Nevertheless, there seems to be a universal acceptance of something non-physical, or "spiritual", co-existing along with the physical aspects of life. To believe otherwise would be to reduce "reality" to only what our senses are capable of perceiving. This assumption is the basis of much of the modern world's beliefs regarding the nature of reality, and the foundation of many of our scientific and educational institutions. This orientation towards an extremely narrow perspective of reality is also consistent patriarchy and the domination of western culture by economic systems dedicated to the exploitation of nature and the unlimited profit of the few at the expense of the many. Left-brain thinking, conducive to linear logic and "cause-and-effect" perceptions, is encouraged and supported by the materialistic culture and society. Right-brain intelligence, more conducive to intuitive and artistic modes of perception, is generally regarded as the domain of the feminine, and has traditionally been regarded as largely "unreliable" when it comes to operating in the "real" world of people and things.
In recent times, a few maverick researchers have stepped outside the limits of materialism to experimentally prove the existence and function of "invisible" forces operating in nature. Among these is Yale researcher Harold Saxon Burr. In the late 1970's, he was experimenting with Kirlian photographs of plant seeds - ultra-sensitive photography that reveals an energetic force-field around living organisms. This proved the existence of an energy field , or "Life Field", around seeds that roughly correlated to the shape of an adult form of that particular plant. For example, the "Life-Field" around an acorn was found to be in the shape of an Oak Tree! A wheat kernel revealed a field in the shape of a stalk of wheat.
Another pioneer in this area is Valerie Hunt, who for decades has been involved with EMG Biofeedback research at the University of Southern California. Early on in her research, she was recording EMG levels emanating from the body of her subjects at levels far beyond the EMG levels generated by muscle action. Her curiosity aroused, she invited people she knew who displayed the gifts of Extra-Sensory Perception (ESP) to come to her lab and help her understand what was being measured. She learned that the very high frequencies coming from the body were emanating over points on the body regarded by ancient cultures as "Chakras" - energy portals which are vortexes of energy integrating and balancing the various frequency bands of the energy field, as explained in ancient ayurvedic tradition. Valerie Hunt went on to scientifically validate much of what was already known by energy healers and others familiar with the Human Energy Field.
Another seminal researcher in this area is Dr. Richard Gerber, author of the classic "Vibrational Medicine." Once again, this was a "mainstream" educated MD looking "outside the box" and creating a compendium of theoretical and practical validation of so-called "esoteric" practices such as crystal healing, homeopathy, energy work, and prayer. One of Gerber's many contributions was his explanation of the "Tiller-Einstein" model of light and energy. Einstein believed that the speed of light was the limit of the ability of energy to express itself in the Universe. It was inconceivable, in his mind, that energy could be accelerated beyond this limit. One of the trademark attributes of energy operating within this limit is that it is subject to certain "immutable" laws, including the "2nd Law of Thermodynamics," which explains how matter and energy (which Einstein had proved were interchangeable in his famous formula E=MC2) are unconditionally affected by entropy, which is the tendency of matter/energy to decay and return to its environment. An example of this is an apple that rots and returns to its environment.