In my last article I wrote about the body’s energy centers, the chakras. In this article I explore the energy circuits associated with the chakras. Many of the concepts of this article will be from the book, Esoteric Anatomy: The Body as Consciousness, by Bruce Berger (1998). Much of the source material that Burger used comes from the writings of Dr. Randolph Stone, D.C., D.O.
Dr. Stone was born in the year 1890 and passed in the year 1981. He was a doctor of chiropractic and osteopathy who traveled to India to study their indigenous medical system called Ayurveda. Dr. Stone combined the concepts he learned from Ayurveda along with his western training in chiropractic and osteopathy and began practicing what he called Polarity Therapy. Dr. Stone envisioned Polarity Therapy as “energy medicine,” as a healing art that understands the body as a field of energy. The Polarity practitioner seeks to release blocks to the free flow of the body’s “wireless anatomy,” its energy circuits (p. 3-6).
The three gunas
In Ayurveda, the energy currents of the body are a reflection of universal principles that are inherent both in the macrocosm in nature and in the microcosm in the body. These three principles are called sattva guna (neutral), rajas guna (positive), and tamas guna (negative). The use of the terms “positive,” “negative” and “neutral” and are not value judgments. They are terms borrowed from physics describing the vector of the magnetic field that describes its influence on moving currents of energy. Thus, “positive” moves away from the magnet, and “negative” brings the current towards the magnet (Feyman, et al., 1963). Neutral of course does neither.
The gunas are described as spiraling vortices of vibrating fields of energy. Sattva guna is the neutral principle and is the force of equilibrium in nature. The qualities associated with sattva are truth, light, grace, and stillness. I think of a healthy body in homeostatic equilibrium. Berger (1998) asks the reader to think of the inherent beauty in nature (p. 8). Rajas guna is a positive centrifugal field of force; of passion, excitement, and vital creative energy. Its energy expands outward. Rajas is associated with kinetic, directive and transformational energies (p. 8). Tamas guna is the negative centripetal field. Tamas is the structure that contains and limits energy, thus it is the contracting magnetic field that underlies all matter. Tamas sustains form (p. 8). The ancients who developed Ayurveda conceived of the three gunas as a stable core (sattva), around which centrifugal (rajas) and centripetal (tamas) energies wound around it, like a rope. Berger writes, “All vibration is the spiraling undulation of three forces. Centrifugal ascending, centripetal descending around a stable core. All vibration is the spiraling balance of these three forces” (p. 9).
According to Dr. Stone, these three poles, positive (centrifugal), negative (centripetal) and neutral (equilibrium/fulcrum) are found in the body. The head is the positive pole, the feet are the negative pole and the spinal column is the neutral pole. In the drawings of his “wireless anatomy” Stone shows currents of energy emanating from the top of the head (centrifugal flowing outward), surrounding the body and being drawn back into the body through the feet (centripetal flowing inward) (Berger, 1998, p. 4).
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The three energy currents
Another iteration of the three gunas is in what Dr. Stone calls the three currents. The currents are also associated with three of the five elements in Ayurveda, which are: Ether, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. Ether is associated with the quality of space, thus any place in the body in which there is space, for example, the spaces between the joints which house the synovial fluid, the space within the intestines and blood vessels, the empty space between the vocal cords, and the central channel of the spinal cord that houses the cerebral-spinal fluid. Dr. Stone refers to the Ether element in the spinal column as the ultrasonic core. He sees the ultrasonic core as the nucleus of the subtle energy fields of the body (Berger, 1998, p. 218).
Emanating from the ultrasonic core are what are called the transverse currents, which are associated with the element of Air. These transverse currents spiral out of the crown of the head and move east to west around the surface of the body. In Dr. Stone’s wireless anatomy the currents act as sensory and feedback mechanisms. Because they flow around the surface of the body, they connect the energy fields of the periphery of the body with its core. The Air element governs the beat of the heart, respiration, and peristalsis, and the parasympathetic nervous system. It also rules the sense of touch, the agility of our minds, the flexibility of our joints and the rhythms of our breath. The Air element is the neutral balancing force between centrifugal and centripetal energies. Berger writes, “Air governs movement, and sustains the harmony of the cycles which attune all vibration in the body…”(Berger, 1998, p. 13).
The spiral current is ruled by the element of Fire. This current originates at the umbilicus and radiates in a spiral in the coronal plane, defining the body from front to back, from within to without. It is the centrifugal force that rules our muscles, internal organs, our metabolism, and the sympathetic nervous system. The element of Fire is associated with directed energy, purpose, willpower, motivation, desire and excitement (Berger, 1998, p. 14).
Long line currents are ruled by the element of Water. They emanate from the chakras to create five currents of energy which travel in a downward direction along each side of the body. The currents flow out into the body and then return to their respective chakras. The long line currents govern the five senses and rule bodily physiological processes. They are associated with the central nervous system and cranial-sacral rhythms. The element of Water is characterized by centripetal force; by receptivity, resistance, and inertia, “Water resonates with the tamasic, contracting, descending arc which is always flowing downward as the negative fields of the body” (Berger, 1998, p. 15). Because of the downward movement of the Water element, it is also associated with cleansing, and more specifically with the bladder and lymph. Berger describes the element of Water as a magnetic force, ruling attraction, cohesion and love; it’s the element that allows us to give and receive, that nourishes and connects us.
I am sure we are all familiar with the caduceus even if we don’t know it by name. We have seen it countless times as the logo for the American Medical Association; a staff with two snakes twirling in opposite directions around it with a knob at the top and two wings on each side. The caduceus is an ancient symbol that is traditionally associated with the Greek god Hermes. According to Dr. Stone, the caduceus is a symbol of the body’s wireless anatomy. Dr. Stone writes:
The wings of the Caduceus represent the two hemispheres of the brain. The knob in the center is the pineal body…The two serpents represents…the positive pole as vital energy on the right side of the body…On the left side…the cooling energy…These two currents cross over…and change their polarity. Thus they flow in and out of each other constantly and produce alternative currents in their action….(Stone, Book III, p. 9).
Berger (1998) explains how the caduceus is a representation of the ultrasonic core and the subtle energy fields of the body. The central rod is the sushumma, which houses the ultrasonic core. I think of it as the center most aspect of the spinal column in which the cerebral-spinal fluid flows. In the symbolism of the caduceus, the positive centrifugal force is represented by one snake and is called pingala. The other snake represents the centripetal force, which Dr. Stone poetically called “cooling,” is called ida. Berger asks us to envision sushumma, pingala and ida as being the representation in our physical bodies of the more universal energy principles of sattva, rajas and tamas, “Sushumma, pingala and ida resonate with the universal vibrational quintessence of the gunas (sattva, rajas, and tamas)” (Berger, 1998, p. 218).
As I discussed in my previous article, “The Body’s Energy Centers,” modern scientific inquiry has discovered that all living beings create electromagnetic fields which can be measured by sensitive instrumentation. Electrical fields are detected by electrocardiograms (ECG) or electroencephalograms (EEG), whereas magnetic fields are detected by magnetocardiograms (MCG) and magnetoencephalograms (MEG). “Biofield physiology” is the term coined by researchers to encompass the electromagnetic fields that living systems generate and respond to as integral aspects of biological function, be that cellular, tissue, whole organism, or organization and regulation. Biofields are a spatially distributed set of forces and physical properties that encode information and exert influence on cells and tissues. For instance the DC fields that are generated by epithelial cells play a key role in directing cell migration and wound healing (Hammerschlag et al., 2015, p. 35-36).
Hammerschlag et al. (2015) explains that when an electric charge is in motion, whether it is along a wire or the axon of a nerve, it produces a magnetic field in the surrounding space. According to Hammerschlag and colleagues, the strongest rhythmic electrical and magnetic fields in the body are produced by the synchronous activity of each individual the heart cell. The magnetic field generated by the synchronous activity of heart cells can be detected up to several feet from the body surface by MCG. These magnetic fields appear to carry information that can also be detected by other persons or animals (McCraty, Atkinson, Tomasino, & Bradley, 2009).
In his book, Berger (1998) often mentions how Polarity Therapy helps to balance the energy systems of the body (p. 3). Is it possible to bring the various systems of our bodies into a greater state of “harmony?” The endogenously produced biofields certainly create a more subtle communication system than the nerves, neurotransmitters and hormones with which we are more familiar. According to researchers, our physiological activity is encoded in patterns as waveforms of electromagnetic and oscillatory pressure wave patterns of energy that communicate its physiologic information throughout our bodies. Thus, the organs of our bodies continually transmit information to our brains as different patterns of afferent biofield input (McCraty et al., 2009, p. 18). Research has demonstrated there is a mode of physiological coherence wherein our physiology operates in an organized and harmonious pattern of activity. McCraty calls this mode of operation “psychophysiological coherence” and reveals that it is associated with sustained states of positive emotions.
In physiology, coherence is the term used to describe harmonious coupling between two or more of the body’s oscillatory systems, such as respiration and heartbeat. They can operate independently on their own frequencies or they can become entrained and oscillate at the same frequency. McCraty uses the image of a sine-wave to give the reader a visual representation of coherence. He explains that a sine-wave is an ordered distribution of energy in a waveform that is read on a graph. The more stable the amplitude, frequency, and shape of the wave, the higher the degree of coherence. In physiological systems, when viewing the oscillatory patterns on a graphic readout, a sine-wave like waveform is the graphic representation of coherence in a system. For example, if the ECG reading of your heart rhythm shows a wave that looks similar to a sine-wave, then your heart rhythm is said to be coherent. When coherence increases in a single system that is coupled to other systems, it can pull the other systems into coherence with it (McCraty et al., 2009, p. 18).
Psychophysiological coherence is associated with increased coherence in the heart’s rhythmic activity, increased synchronization between the two branches of the autonomic nervous system, blood pressure oscillations, respiration (McCraty et al., 2009, p. 24) and even alpha brain waves can become entrained when the physiology is operating coherently (McCraty, 2004). McCraty (2009) sees our thoughts and our emotions as intertwined with our physiology. Thus, our mental, emotional, and physiological systems “must be viewed as an integral part of the dynamic, communicative network of interacting functions that comprise the human organism” (p. 19).
Will modern scientific inquiry ever reveal the three energy currents as described by Dr. Stone? Who knows? But I find it fascinating that ancient knowledge, rediscovered by Dr. Stone and brought to the West and modern scientific inquiry, both point to a “wireless” communication system in which information is communicated via energy waveforms.
- Berger, B. (1998). Esoteric Anatomy: The Body as Consciousness. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books.
- Feynman, Richard P.; Leighton, Robert B.; Sands, Matthew (1963). The Feynman Lectures on Physics. 2. California Institute of Technology. ISBN 9780465040858.
- Hammerschlag, R., Levin, M., McCraty, R., Bat, N., Ives, J., Lutgendorf, S., & Oschman, J. (2015). Biofield physiology: A framework for an emerging discipline. Global Advances in Health and Medicine, 4(supplement), 35–41. https://doi.org/10.7453%2Fgahmj.2015.015.suppl
- McCraty, R. (2004). The energetic heart: Bioelectromagnetic communication within and between people. In P. Rosch & M. Markov (Eds.), Bioelectromagnetic medicine (pp. 541–562). New York, NY: Marcel Dekker.
- McCraty, R., Atkinson, M., Tomasino, D., & Bradley, R. (2009). The coherent heart: Heart-brain interactions, psychophysiological coherence, and the emergence of system-wide order. Integral Review, 5(2), 1–115.
- Stone, R. (unknown). Polarity Therapy: Volume III. Sebastopol, CA: CRCS Publications.