Resources: Science


“Science is the Yoga of the West.
“Yoga is the Science of the East”

John Lilly

What is Science?

“To me, science is a quest for the most intimate understanding of nature. It is not an industry set up for the purpose of validating existing theories and indoctrinating students in the correct ideologies. It is an adventure of the free enquiring spirit that thrives not so much on answers as unanswered questions. It is the enigmas, the mysteries and paradoxes that take hold of the imagination, leading it on the most exquisite dance.” Mae-Won Ho

Mission Statement from Mae-Won Ho’s Institute for Science in Society


What is Creation? What is creativity? How did the universe come into being? What sustains the universe? What leads to the multiplicity of forms, seen and unseen, extinct, manifest and yet to be? What is life? All cultures have attempted to answer these fundamental questions of existence. Mythology, story telling and religion served this purpose well throughout most of history, but over the last few centuries a new way of understanding and explaining the world has begun to flourish. We call this science, from the Latin ‘scientia’ , meaning knowledge. In modern times, the word science signifies two very general and related meanings.

First of all science refers to the way of discovering knowlege about the world using observation, speculation, repeated experimentation and the accumulation of empirical evidence. This mode of enquiry, also known as the scientific method, is a rigorous and disciplined way to unfold understandings of how the different layers of the world function. Observations are made about the world we see; theories or hypotheses are suggested to explain the observations or to connect them to other observations; experiments are performed to provide evidence that either validates or invalidates the hypotheses; and then further experiments are attempted to replicate or further refine the conclusions.

In this way, an objective body of knowledge emerges that can be universally agreed upon. Science books, science courses and scientific journals all document the current levels of scientific understanding providing the second definition of the term science as the sum total of knowlege accumulated through such investigations.

Of course, ‘universally agreed upon‘ encompasses a very narrow segment of the scientific world and is not necessarily the current state in many of the diverse fields of scientific enquiry. The scientific community spends a large amount of its time in interpretation, speculation and hypothesis as uncertainty is one of the fundamental features of the relative world. Also, because of extreme specialization, the incredible diversity of fields of enquiry and the explosion of information that has emerged in the last fifty years, it has become very difficult in science to step back and see the big picture, to locate the large scale themes integrating the diversity. Fortunately, interdisciplinary studies are emerging and scientists are communicating with others in related fields and beginning to develop more powerful integrative themes. Our approach will be an integrative exploration of physics, biology and neuroscience and how these disciplines help deepen our understanding of the spiritual expression of hatha yoga practice.

The traditional or dualistic scientific perspective is fundamentally objective. That is, it is interested in the study of objects that can be detected, from large scale structures like stars and galaxies, to microcosmic possibilities such sub-atomic particles, to patterns of thought. It is not concerned with the study of the subject, the nature of the self who makes these observations, which is the major interest in the spiritual or yogic enquiry into the nature of reality.

The non-dual yogic enquiry into the nature of reality with its own language, metaphors, imagery and stories, includes enquiries into the objective realities as does modern science, but also enquires as to the nature of the self, the subjective “I”. It describes the objective creation and also the subjective observer, confidently venturing into the subjective territory that science fears to tread with a penetrating objectivity worthy of the finest scientist and this is the approach we will be taking here.

In our studies, we will integrate yogic terminology on the nature of forms with that of modern science to create an embodied integral languaging relevant to both. In our general science section, we will focus on the work of three contemporary scientists who embrace an integral understanding of science, demonstrate a capacity to teach that is inspiring and transformative, and whose work is directly related to our meditation/yoga practice. Mathematical cosmologist Brian Swimme will introduce the emergence of the universe, biologist Mae-Won Ho will guide us through the emergence of life and pediatric psychiatrist Dan Siegel will help unfold the emergence and development of self reflexive awareness in the human mind. We will see that these three stages of evolution are aligned on a continuum of creativity and increasing complexity and all three are present today, in us, as we awaken to the depths of the emerging present moment.

We will then delve deeply into the science of hatha yoga including: how the tensegrity model, tonic function and the concept of the living matrix awaken new insights into the relationship of gravity, posture, movement and ultimately intelligence; the nature of tissue, from cell wall to skin, bone and muscle; and a detailed look at anatomy, physiology and kinesiology as they relate to the study and teaching of hatha yoga. We will also unfold the yogic science of the 3 bodies and 5 sheaths as well as prana, nadis and chakras and relate these to the emergent revelations of contemporary neurobiology.

Finally we will look at some contempory scientific models of evolution and examine how, through creating and sustaining sympathetic resononant network of tuned living matrices, we can more consciously and compassionately participate in the evolutionary journey of our home planet, mother earth, and give birth to a new way of being for the human species that honors and nurtures creation and the creative processes.




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Recent Posts

Micro-Cosmic Orbit: Pt 2

Exploring and Embodying Three Dimensions

In the previous post we explored the micro-cosmic orbit as a means to refine our focal attention (samadhi) through bringing our attention to specific points along the orbit and linking these points into lines, arcs and circles. As we work more deeply this way, we may discover that we can find these points at three levels. The first is out beyond the confines of the skin, in an ‘orbit’ in the energy field around the body. The second is directly on the skin, where an acupuncturist or shiatsu practitioner would apply needles or pressure. The third is in the interior of the body along the planes of fascia interwoven through the organs, blood vessels and nerves. When we can feel all three of these levels simultaneously, we are inhabiting our spherical energy field and can begin to fully realize the possibilities of having three dimensional/spatial sensitivity, perception and consciousness.

images-5The girdle vessel (Dai Mai,) the fourth vessel we use, is a latitude line and is essential in finding our three dimensional perceptual field. This yang vessel pairs with the yin ‘thrusting vessel, the vertical center axis, creating horizontal stability, and allowing us to rotate/twist. Rotation inherently builds the third dimension of depth ( A circle has length and width. To create a sphere you add depth. ) and is the gateway to cosmic awareness as well as a more vibrant embodied presence.

Rotation drives the whole manifest universe. In our solar system, the planets spiral around milky_waythe sun. In our Milky Way galaxy, the stars, including our sun, spiral around a center (probably a giant black hole! If you can find Sagittarius in the night sky, and you will probably have to wait until next summer, look through and imagine 26,000 light years off in the distance.) The earth rotates on its own axis creating weather patterns as well as a sense of day and night.

The spinning top (one of the oldest toys known to humans, found in archeological sites all over the world) demonstrates the cosmic principle in physics we are embodying. The faster it rotates, the more stable the vertical line. When the top slows down it starts to wobble and when it stops spinning, it falls over. To keep the rotation, you need to keep feeding it with energy. The bicycle uses this same principle, flipped 90 degrees. Another aspect we explore is the radius of the horizontal circle. Rotation pushes from the center outward (yang) in what is called centrifugal force. As this is counterbalanced by theGM2434B-1 yin centripetal (center seeking) force, we can change the volume of the energy field by playing with this ‘expanding – condensing’, yang – yin relationship.

In this top, the widest circle with the most outward thrust, the purple one, is below the center of the vertical axis. Lowering the center of gravity adds even more stability, which is why we emphasize the lower dantien in our breathing, movement and meditation practice. When we discover how to work with this principle in the energy field, our twisting poses can actually help expand the body. If we work muscularly, you will feel constricting in twisting poses.

SBK_1711254-24Traditionally the ‘dai mai’ girdle vessel surrounds the body at the level of the pelvis in the lower dantien. but we can move our attention to awaken other ‘latitudes’ of the body. To begin in the feet, stand with the right foot forward, the left foot back, as if you are about to move into a standing twist (without the forward bend), but haven’t yet begun. Before you move any further, imagine a spiraling coil of energy beginning below the floor (the Antarctic Circle) and traveling up the center. Notice how this mimics the girdle vessel. Now imagine the coils widening as they rise up from the base ( moving toward the equator), as the yang energy expands outward. The girdle vessel is very yang so this is quite natural. Feel the energetic volume expanding and condensing with the breath, but slowly expanding in overall volume

To awaken the front body-yin energy field, we can take the hoop forward to fully engage the arms and shoulders. Now imagine the hoops extends through the back body, receiving the rising spiral and expanding as the action of twisting. SBK_1711254-2SBK_1711254-9Most students eventually leave half of the body behind and end up contracting rather than expanding, especially along the spine column. Imagine the center of the spinal canal opening outward in an expanding circle/spiral, melting the tissue, feeling spaciousness, transcending the limitations of structure.SBK_1711254-4 (My front foot turns out much more than average to release the inner groin. Don’t feel you have to imitate this, but find out for yourself where openness and balance meet.) The hoop is moved to the front to expand the yin/organ/front body qi field and expand the ‘wings’ of the body, but also feel the back body softening and opening. This feeling can be evoked in sitting, lying and inverted twists as well. If you do not have a hula hoop handy, you can also use a thera-ball to find the volume.SBK_1711254-8


Another key component awakened here is the Pericardium 8 point, PC-8 (or P-8) in the center of the palms. Analagous to the K-1 points on the feet, P-8 is a gateway between the inner and outer qi fields. The SBK_1711254-11Pericardium, the fascial connective tissue membrane surrounding the heart, arises embryologically from the same cells and tissues that create the diaphragm and liver. The ‘heart protector’ literally does this, on many levels. As someone with a well-armored heart, I am finding that opening and nurturing the heart protector so that is does its job with over doing it is awakening a level of sweet vulnerability that is both precious and scary.

SBK_1711254-12In acupuncture, the pericardium meridian is part of the JueYin channel and connects all the way through the femoral canal to the legs. For those of you who have been practicing ‘climbing the wall’ for the last few years, you can actually trace the whole fascial continuity of the Jue Yin. (Use imagination to fill in the blanks.) Rise up from K-1 (not the heels, even though they do rise on their own) (DFL for those of you who know Tom Myers’ ‘Anatomy Trains’ system) to P-8, passing through liver, diaphragm and pericardium.

You can also track the qi from P-8 back into the body horizontally, again using the wall.SBK_1711254-14 Using the tip of the  middle finger of your other hand (PC-9) to feel the connections, trace the qi from the the wall and P-8 into the area around the pec minor muscle and then go inside the body to the pericardiam itself, along with the liver and diaphragm. Use the breath and your imagination. Then go back and try the twistings shown above with these new perceptions.

SBK_1711254-20To continue our building of a three dimensional perceptual qi field, we can return to the thera-ball to provide sensation and visualization. I like the feel of my third chakra having organ support, so I find placing the ball there and using a wall creates a powerful presence on the inside. Embryologically speaking, this is the extemely yin yolk sac which becomes the entire gut body. The conception vessel points on the micro-cosmic orbit are stimulated by the ball, bringing sensation and perception here. The liver comes from the yolk sac, so I can use this position to also find the Jue Yin channel we explored above. Lying SBK_1711254-19over the ball in a forward bend creates a similar feeling, with even more yielding and softening to the yang back body erector muscles. By moving the ball to the sternum, I can activate a new set of points on the conception vessel and engage the inner tissues surrounding the 4th chakra

If I want to build up my back field perception, I use the ball from behind and awaken sensation on the yang Governing Vessel.SBK_1711254-16 Here I have dropped it a bit lower to find the sacral-lumbar junction and here I can feel the possibility of both lumbar flexion and extension, from S curve to C curve and back.  The very important GV-4 Qi gong Image‘gate of vitality’ is here The inner abdominal space also opens and the front back and center plane begin to become conscious. This becomes trickier as you move upwards towards the liver. You can place the ball anywhere and feel different points coming alive. Feel their inner as well as outer presence. Back support can also help open the front. I haveSBK_1711254-17been trying to open my throat more for my sax sound and using the ball (or any elastic support) helps soften and melt tight tissue.

SBK_1711254-21Fish body support, opening some Gall Bladder Meridian points is another way to use the ball. I am using the wall, but this can be done on the floor as well, with slightly different effects. All of these ways of playing with the three dimensional field are ways of awakening and establishing a dynamic energetic field, centered in your heart, and radiating out throughout the whole of the cosmos. When you are out in Nature, feel this. When you are out and about in the human sphere, feel how you respond. It is fascinating to see what happens.

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