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Anahata as Heart-centered Consciousness


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Anahata as Heart-centered Consciousness

  1. 1. Heart-centered Consciousness: one of the seven modes of consciousness Robert Beshara “Now here is my secret, very simple: you can only see things clearly with your heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye.” The fox from The Little Prince
  2. 2. In search of a model of consciousness (Fludd, 1619) (Wilber, 1996) AQAL modelMicrocosmos
  3. 3. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (1943)
  4. 4. The chakra system (c. 1800 – 800 B.C.)
  5. 5. The hierarchy of chakras? (Tomasulo, 2011)
  6. 6. The brain as the seat of consciousness?
  7. 7. What are the problems with the brain being the seat of consciousness? 1. It’s a metaphysical assumption formulated by a number of neuro- and cognitive scientists. Sometimes it’s treated as a fact by many even though there is no evidence thus far that the brain is the seat of consciousnesses. 2. Let us remember Max Velmans’s advice in Understanding Consciousness: correlation and causation ≠ ontological identity. 3. Scientism as the dominant strand in mainstream science has not been questioning some of its dogmatic assumptions, which has resulted in an environment of confusion regarding consciousness studies to say the least. 4. To some physicalists, consciousness and the mind for that matter don’t exist, so it’s irrelevant to even talk about them, but we know from our direct experience that that’s not the case.
  8. 8. Reductionism vis-à-vis Hinduism • The reductionist view on consciousness and the mind is that they are an illusion albeit a useful one, for they have helped us—the human species—to survive and adapt for millennia. • What we experience in our 3D reality through our 5 senses is a representation of the noumenal world, which we have no access to. We call that representation the phenomenal world. Even though it’s not an accurate representation of the thing itself, it is quite close. • Interestingly, in the Hindu tradition the world we perceive is considered an illusion known as maya. To reference Edgar Allan Poe, maybe everything is a dream within a dream, after all.
  9. 9. Do we live in a participatory universe? And what would that mean? It would mean that we are co-creators of the universe, however…
  10. 10. All of what we scientifically know so far is within the 4% below And we still don’t know everything in that 4%. I would even add that we never will. It’s not pessimism, it’s just the limitation of any field. I propose, however, cooperation between seemingly opposed disciplines, such as science and spirituality. “‘Cooperation is a fundamental principle of evolution,’ Nowak says today. ‘Without it, you don't get construction or complexity in life. Whenever you see something interesting, like the evolution of multicellular creatures or human language, cooperation is involved’” (Ohlson, 2012).
  11. 11. Electromagnetic theories of consciousness This is my assumption regarding what consciousness may be. The electric wave stands for the brain (body) while the magnetic wave stands for consciousness (mind).
  12. 12. What alternatives do we have to scientific materialism? 1. Instead of the monist position of biological reductionism, we can adopt the outdated position of idealism or reduce everything to the mind. 2. Alternatively, we can adopt the Cartesian dualist model, which is also outdated with its reliance on the pineal gland as the point of interaction between the mind and the body. 3. Velmans’s Reflexive Monism, however, may be the most accurate explanatory model out there bridging the gap between 1st person and 3rd person perspectives. 4. But I am, however, interested in a descriptive nondual model, which is why I have adopted and adapted the chakra system as a biosociopsychospiritual model of consciousness.
  13. 13. An overview of the chakra system
  14. 14. Chakras • Chakra is Sanskrit for wheel or circle. • “Subtle Energy” supposedly goes through the seven main chakras. • Historically, since their conception in the Hindu tradition until today, chakras have been believed to energetically regulate different functions in our bodymind.
  15. 15. Criticisms of the chakra system • The chakra system is perceived as a pseudoscience by skeptics because there is little physiological evidence that chakras and “Subtle Energy” are real. However, there is a new branch of psychology called Energy Psychology which tries to investigate the nature of such Subtle Energy. • Also, there is disagreement among scholars of chakrology as to how many chakras there are in the human body.
  16. 16. Why seven? • I stick to seven because that is the number that most scholars agree upon. But I ask: why are there seven days in a week? Why are there seven colors in a rainbow? And why are there seven notes in the traditional Western diatonic scale?
  17. 17. Why chakras? • I use chakras as modes of consciousness. This is a metaphysical nondual descriptive model, which does not pretend to be otherwise. • Even though there is some research regarding the neurobiology of chakras (see Maxwell, 2009), I am more interested in chakras as metaphors that can have biosociopsychospiritual manifestations.
  18. 18. Anahata or the heart chakra
  19. 19. Why the heart? • Historically, the heart has been believed in different parts of the world to be the seat of consciousness usually as the compound heart-mind or heart-soul (Lind, 2007). • To go back to my roots: “For the Egyptians, the brain (being bloodless in death) was not important and was generally ignored; the heart was the power of life, and the source of good and evil. Thus, in their funerary literature, the Book of the Dead, the heart was weighed, against feathers, to determine the balance of good and ill at death.” (Gregory, 1989). • Anahata (Sanskrit for unstruck) is the fourth chakra, so as a mode of consciousness it’s exactly in the centre, which is a very important location and we’ll soon find out why by looking at some of the qualities associated with the heart chakra.
  20. 20. The Big Bang and OM • In Hinduism, OM is considered the first (unstruck) sound in the universe as a result of the Big Bang. That silent mantra (or the sound of the universe) is associated with anahata.
  21. 21. The two hearts My metaphysical position is to focus on heart-centered consciousness and to expand on the concept by investigating the roles of the two hearts: the anatomical and the metaphysical. I also explore how they may be connected. My emphasis, however, will be more so on the latter.
  22. 22. The three states of any chakra • The chakras are modes of consciousnesses between which we can oscillate. It is possible to experience reality via all seven modes of consciousness simultaneously, but that usually requires a lot of training over time. Why? Because all chakras would have to be balanced if our perception of Reality to be accurate. • The three states that each chakra can be in are: under-active, balanced, or over-active.
  23. 23. Triune Consciousness • I use the model of triune consciousness (Tallon, 1997) to group the seven modes of consciousness into three general categories of action, affection, and cognition. I set an ideal goal for each of the three dimensions if all chakras associated with them are balanced. I do this to overemphasize the interbeing, to use Thich Nhat Hanh’s term, between all of the seven modes of consciousness. • Chakra 1 – 3: action: health: individual: dualistic • Chakra 4: affection: happiness • Chakra 5-7: cognition: peace: global: nondual
  24. 24. Tendencies • The lower three chakras (1-3), which are more physical, are associated with the greatest tendency toward selfishness when imbalanced. • The upper three chakras (5-7), which are more spiritual, are associated with the greatest tendency toward selflessness when balanced. • Anahata or the heart chakra is associated most strongly with the following two qualities: balance and transformation.
  25. 25. Qualities associated with the anahata mode of consciousness • direct knowing and ego-transcendence (Louchakova, 2007), intuition (McCraty et al., 2004), compassion and wisdom (Bai et al., 2009), synchronization and coherence (Bischof, 2008), direct cognition (“The seven chakras,” 2011), integration (Catalfo, 2006), intentionality (Tallon, 1997), balance (Judith, 2002), healing and empathy (Nelson and Evans, 1996), self- acceptance (Tomasulo, 2011), universal love (Waldman, 1992), and transformation (Barrett, 2012).
  26. 26. Imbalanced vs. Balanced Heart-centered Consciousness • When anahata is over-activated, we may experience ourselves being co-dependent, sentimental, smothering, inordinately responsible, and given to overdoing it and burning out; however, when that mode of consciousness is under-activated, we may experience ourselves being hard-hearted, stingy, uncaring, thoughtless, callous, greedy, and calculating. On the contrary, when our heart- centered consciousness is in balance we may feel generous, compassionate, sensitive, showing unconditional positive regard for others, and caring of self and others (Catalfo, 2006).
  27. 27. Implications of a heart-centered consciousness • Now, we shall look at the biosociopsychospiritual implications of the anahata mode of consciousness.
  28. 28. Biologically, the goal is health "The heart generates the largest electromagnetic field in the body. The electrical field as measured in an electrocardiogram (ECG) is about 60 times greater in amplitude than the brain waves recorded in an electroencephalogram (EEG)” (McCraty, 2003).
  29. 29. Ischaemic heart disease • Usually due to coronary artery disease. It is the number one cause of death worldwide amounting to 7.25 million deaths according to the World Health Organization (2008). • In the Science of the Heart (2001), researchers at IHM have concluded that: “Scientific research now tells us plainly that anger, anxiety and worry significantly increase the risk of heart disease, including sudden cardiac death. Landmark long-term studies conducted by Dr. Hans Eysenck and colleagues at the University of London have shown that chronic unmanaged emotional stress is as much as six times more predictive of cancer and heart disease than cigarette smoking, cholesterol level or blood pressure, and much more responsive to intervention.”
  30. 30. Tools developed at the Institute of HeartMath (IHM) to improve emotional health • Freeze-Frame (which stops stress by shifting perception in the moment). • Heart Lock-In (which establishes increased physiological efficiency, mental acuity and emotional stability as a new baseline). • Cut-Thru (which extinguishes recurring, intrusive thought patterns and emotions).
  31. 31. Socially, the goal is peace Richard Barrett’s model of Seven Levels of Societal Consciousness (2012). Based upon Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which is based upon the chakra system.
  32. 32. Global Coherent Initiative • “[W]hen enough individuals and social groups increase their coherence and utilize that increased coherence to intentionally create a more coherent standing reference wave in the global field, it will help increase the global consciousness. This can be achieved when an increasing ratio of people move towards more balanced and self- regulated emotions and responses” (McCraty et al., 2012). • What is coherence? "Coherence is the state when the heart, mind and emotions are in energetic alignment and cooperation […] It is a state that builds resiliency – personal energy is accumulated, not wasted – leaving more energy to manifest intentions and harmonious outcomes” (McCraty, 2012).
  33. 33. Psychospiritually, the goal is happiness
  34. 34. Healing techniques on heart-centered consciousness • Breathing through the energy centers, centering through the heart, chakra meditation sequence, etc. (Hover-Kramer et al., 1997) • Meditation as the key to the Eightfold Path and compassion as a Zen principle of psychotherapeutic value (Mruk and Hartzell, 2003) • Bhakti yoga and chanting through the chakras (Nelson and Evans, 1996) • Prayer of the Heart (Louchakova, 2007) • The symbolic act of incense altar offering (Meadow, 1993) • Breath work: mindfulness of breathing or Anãpãnasati (Bai et al., 2009) • Synchronization and coherence of body systems and biofields through sustaining states of positive emotion and relaxation (Bischof, 2008) • Balancing exercises include chest openers in yoga (Cobra, Camel, backbends), mentally examining our relationships, and volunteer work (Catalfo, 2006) • The Arch Exercise (Judith, 2002) • Self-love (Cohen, 2006) • Quick Coherence Technique (“The quick coherence”)
  35. 35. How about an experiential exercise? • Balancing our the anahata mode of consciousness through chanting the mantra OM or AUM: http://youtu.be/pyct8IVeDr0 The gesture Namaste represents the belief that there is a Divine spark within each of us that is located in the heart chakra […] namaste [Hindi] literally means ‘bow me you’ or ‘I bow to you’” (Palkhivala).