What is the purpose of Yoga? “Yoga is meant to be a system of increasing awareness and decreasing disease. It was able to enter into the American mainstream by presenting itself as a tool with many benefits, including reduced stress, increased relaxation and greater flexibility. It has continued to grow through American gyms as something that cultivates aerobic capacity and builds strength. But many gyms that offer yoga emphasize the physical exercise without teaching the essential self-awareness that differentiates yoga from any exercise.” http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/01/12/is-yoga-for-narcissists/the-purpose-of-yoga
The greater strength, endurance, flexibility, improved balance, and greater feeling of physical wellbeing that one derives from a yoga practice is excellent. But Yoga was intended to be and can be so much more when coupled with deep meditation. The difficulty however, is that most individuals have a difficult time achieving a deep meditative state and thus focus only on the physical benefits and miss out on the deeper experiences and truths.
Unfortunately, achieving a deep meditative state is easier said than done. “You’ve begun your meditation practice. You know all the amazing benefits of meditation (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/08/mindfulness-meditation-benefits-health_n_3016045.html) and are excited about this change in your routine. And then problems set in: body aches, itching, thoughts, and sleepiness. Who ever thought just sitting could be so hard?!” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sarah-rudell-beach-/meditation-practice_b_5519349.html
Dr. Dan Cohen, a neurologist and inventor, and his team spent 15 years developing and perfecting a technology to induce profound states of meditation, effortlessly. He tells a story where after a lecture a man in the front row stood up and said, “I hate you.” When asked why, the man responded, “I’ve been a meditator for 20 years. I thought I was good at it. Then I did a session in your lounge. It was the best meditation session I’ve ever had. I feel like I wasted 20 years.”
If a person wishes to build muscle mass, he or she adds resistance or weight in the training regimen. The SolTec Lounge is the added weight to a meditation practice. Dr. Cohen is trained as a neurologist, but he’s also had a lifelong interest in meditation and spirituality. As a result, he approached meditation as a Western-trained scientist with an Eastern-practiced, open mind. As he sees it, there are two major obstacles in achieving profound levels of meditation – egoic interference and poor spiritual integration. Therefore, the first goal of achieving a deep meditative state is to overcome or turn off the egoic or lower mind. The second goal is to significantly integrate one’s spiritual self or higher mind with one’s brain and nervous system.
These were lofty goals, which is why it took 15 years of experimentation. Their efforts resulted in technology that consists of multi-layered music, played through specialized transducers that stimulate the user’s body, mind and spirit with synchronized sound, vibration and magnetic fields, while comfortably reclined in a zero-gravity seating platform. The user instructions – only two of them – are also quite novel for a meditative practice: Step 1 – fall asleep and let the technology wake you and keep you in a drowsy drifty state of being. Over time you will gain greater awareness. Step 2 – whenever you have a thought, direct your attention to your body and feel the vibration throughout all of you and then allow yourself to drift off once again.
The neurologist in Dr. Cohen realized that he could employ the neurophysiologic process of habituation to overcome the ego. First let’s explain the ego. The egoic mind is actually nothing more than our beliefs, which inspire our thoughts, feelings and actions, including our coping strategies or defense mechanisms. All of these processes are stored and play out in the human brain. The goal, therefore, became one of turning off the brain. This is where habituation comes into play.
To really turn off the brain we must make it feel safe and secure. We must convince it that it is in no danger, as its’ most important and basic function is to insure our survival. The brain is constantly surveying our environment, consciously and subconsciously, for signs of danger. It primarily uses our 3 senses of sight, hearing and touch to vigilantly be on the lookout. So, what happens during a SolTec Lounge session that turns this process off?
The user is in a darkened room and is instructed to close their eyes and fall asleep – no more sight. They hear multi-layered music, which is pleasant, but due to the constantly changing melodies and rhythms, the auditory cortex gives up after it recognizes that this ever-changing stimulus poses no danger. The exact same habituating phenomenon happens to our sense of touch as we feel the ever-present vibrations associated with the multi-layered music. This too poses no threat, as it is quite pleasant. As a result, our brain is lulled into a deep trance-like state, which yields a profoundly relaxed brain and body. Goal one accomplished – the egoic mind is turned off.
Now the tricky part – how do we integrate the higher mind or spiritual self with the nervous system, including the brain? The scientist in Dr. Cohen kept replaying old tapes – what are we talking about? There’s no scientific proof that there is a higher mind or spiritual self. Fortunately, Dr. Cohen was trained as a clinical neurologist. He was taught to listen to and respect his patients. He also spent a lot of his free time growing up in a pool room and he knew when he was being told the truth and when he was being hustled.
The medical establishment claims that the mind emanates from the brain. That is definitely true when it comes to the lower mind or ego, which is based on our programmed beliefs and coping strategies. But is that all we are? Do we have a higher mind or spiritual self? The medical establishment doesn’t acknowledge such, primarily because we don’t have any scientific proof of it. We also used to believe that the sun revolved around the earth, but as we developed scientific instruments we learned otherwise. Dr. Cohen has little doubt that in the future we will have scientific instruments that can measure our spiritual self and after some debate our egoic beliefs will change about this as well.
Why does Dr. Cohen believe that we have a higher mind or spiritual self? He listened to his patients and to some of his respected professors. When Dr. Cohen was in training, neurologists cared for patients with narcolepsy, a sleep disorder. Narcoleptics have sleep attacks and a few other symptoms that are reported in the medical literature. However, before the doctor walks into a narcolepsy support group meeting, the patients aren’t talking about those symptoms. They are all discussing another symptom that the medical establishment doesn’t like to talk about – out of body experiences.
What is an out of body experience? They’re not that common, but they’re also not that rare. An out of body experience is simply experiencing one’s conscious awareness from outside of one’s body. It turns out that these experiences are far more common amongst narcoleptics, probably having something to do with another of their symptoms – sleep paralysis. The narcoleptic brain functions a bit differently and somehow, that difference, allows an aspect of their conscious mind or spiritual self to separate from their physical brain and body. A first time experiencer of an out of body experience will often remark, “I was up at the ceiling looking down at my body.”
Clearly, that aspect of them that confers consciousness or awareness was no longer a part of the body or brain and was in fact, physically removed from the brain and body and yet, still had the perceptive capacity to see their own body. Dr. Cohen knows what it feels like to be lied to and knows what it feels like to be told the truth. He reports that these folks don’t seem to be lying and why would they. What would they possibly have to gain by telling anyone such a strange story? Why would they wish to open themselves to ridicule?
Let’s assume for a moment that they are telling the truth. After all, many people believe that they have a soul or spiritual self. What if it’s true? What if that’s our higher mind? If it is our higher mind, how does it interface with our brain?
These are the thoughts that went through Dr. Cohen’s mind, but remember he’s also a scientist and inventor. The brain is an electro-chemical organ with an electromagnetic field permeating and surrounding it. Since this out of body mind is energy, could it interact with or interface with the electromagnetic energy of the brain? Is that how the higher mind interfaces with the brain?
He reasoned that if this higher mind or spiritual self, interacted with the electromagnetic field of the brain then we could stimulate the higher mind with electromagnetism. He further reasoned that if the goal was to better integrate the higher mind or spiritual self with the brain and nervous system he could do so by synchronously stimulating body, brain and higher mind with the same frequency content. This was the basis of simultaneously stimulating body, mind and spirit with synchronous sound, vibration and magnetic fields, all with the same frequency content.
Goal two – integrate our higher mind or spiritual self with our brain and nervous system. Dr. Cohen’s study of spirituality informed him that we as human beings can only become our most authentic self when we are fully manifesting our spiritual self. What is it like to be and experience one’s authentic self? Extremely accomplished meditators and/or spiritual teachers have an energy or a way about them that is distinctly different. They are calm, compassionate and grounded in their humanity and they are so much more connected to the greater whole. After incorporating the magnetic stimulation, followed by years of testing and refinement, Dr. Cohen and his team were finally able to achieve Goal two. With repeated use of the SolTec Lounge there was an ever deepening experience of one’s spirituality.
According to Dr. Cohen, the profound relaxing and stress reducing effects of the technology are obvious from the first session. The spiritual integration effects become more evident after weeks and months and much more profound after several years of regular use.
What do you want from your yoga practice? We use all sorts of equipment to help us improve our levels of fitness and conditioning. Maybe it’s time to start using some equipment to improve our mind and spirituality. It certainly seems like a pleasant approach.