Indian Journal of Clinical Psychology
Volume 24 No 1 March 1997 p46-51



Meditation has contributed to mental health in India since the beginning of its civilization. It is now used along with psychotherapy in many places in the West. It should be studied by clinical psychologists in India, both theoretically and practically; the result of this research could be one of their important contributions to an emerging world psychology. The state of 'deep trance' is a single common basis for relaxation, hypnosis, mental imagery and meditation. The psychological mechanisms through which meditation heals the mind are studied in some detail. The indications of meditation for various psychopathological patients are suggested.



Key words: Meditation, Transpersonal psychotherapy, hypnotic trance, emotional abreaction, relaxation.

 It may seem paradoxical to see a western psychiatrist write an article on meditation in an Indian journal; there should be more than enough Indian psychologists to treat this subject; but my itinerary for research made me a resident of India for the last decade.

The specificity of psychotherapy in India has already been deal with in publications like Psychotherapy in India by H.G.Singh or Psychiatry in India by De Sousa. In the West, the most active movement for the meeting of eastern and western psychology is the Transpersonal Movement, with its journal which has been publishing good level articles on meditation research and psychology for the last thirty years. They had their first conference in India at Bombay in 1982. I went from India to France in 1991 to talk at the Conference of the European branch of the movement.

There are broadly four types of psychotherapies: those inspired by psychoanalysis, behavioral, humanistic and transpersonal. Humanistic psychology was a reaction against psychoanalysis which had a tendency to reduce inner life to its verbal expressions, and against behaviorism which was reducing the richness of human psyche to elementary behaviors; humanistic therapies stressed the manifestation of emotions. But that was a kind of reductionism too, since emotions are not the whole of the picture. Transpersonal psychology emphasized the limitations of a psychology restricted to the ego and introduced the notion of reality beyond ego and personality. This notion is indeed familiar to the implicit psychology of various traditions. In India to my knowledge, humanistic psychotherapy is not much represented in its western form, but the emotional therapy is quite well known in traditional setting through sessions of trance (not only in the famous Balaji temple between Agra and Jaipur, but all over the country). Taking into account the part of the individual which is beyond the ego is done practically by quite a few psychotherapist in India when they treat their patients, but they do not care to give to their feelings a theoretical expression as it is attempted in the West. An exception to that are two books published first in the West but available as well in India by the late Swami Rama, founder of the Himalayan Institute. He was from Indian origin but studied some psychology in the West as well. Swami Ajaya, and American Ph.D in psychology, joined him to write Yoga and Psychotherapy and wrotye himself Psychology East and West -A Unifiying paradigm.

 We could define meditation in a broad way as it is done in Katha upanishad (4-1) 'Turning one's sight towards oneself. More specifically, meditation is a non-analytical, non verbal method to look at oneself. It is an intuitive presence to the messages of the body from moment to moment and an attempt to perceive a steady consciousness above the continuous noise coming from automatic sensations and the thoughts they induce. There have been a number of scientific studies on meditation. Walsh and Shapiro (1984) in a kind of encyclopedia on the subject produce the integral text of fifty research papers or so, and quoted 700 other studies, most of them conducted after 1970. Since that time, research continued, both in physiology and psychology. A few years ago, in the United States only, there was more than 4000 thesis written on meditation. In my own book in French on meditation and psychology (1996), I try to systematically review the different levels of action of meditation on the body (self healing, placebo effect, etc...) on the states of consciousness (deep trance, awaken dreaming, etc.) on emotions, ego and mental imagery. I discuss the role of endorphines in the intense well-being felt by experienced meditators, and I report a self experiment I did with naltrexone, an antagonist of endorphines, to show the role of the latter in meditation. I consider also the mechanisms of attention and in the last chapter the traditional perspective of pure consciousness to which meditation leads. I cannot easily summarize my ideas on all these subjects, so I prefer to take one of them, for instance the mechanisms of deep trance and analyze how it can change the mind.

Deep trance is a sage reached by different methods: by relaxation, classical or Ericksonian hypnosis, in the wake of emotional acting-out, in the methods of creative visualization or mental imagery, and of course in meditation. I came to the conclusion that whatever

the techniques, their common basis is a state of consciousness where mind and body communicate easily, where the unconscious clearly pops up in the conscious and where suggestions coming from outside or from oneself are well received and integrated. We will now focus on the mechanisms of this state which we choose to call deep trance. We will be particularly inspired by E. Rossi in this description. He was Milton Erickson's disciple and his 400 pages comprehensive book on the psycho-physiology of healing (1993) gathers useful information on the subject. As a conclusion, we will consider in which way some kind of simple meditation can be indicated for patients.

Mechanisms of the therapeutic action of deep trance

Memory is linked with mood: we better remember which occurred in a sad state if we are in such a state. Experiments of memorization while drunk, or under the effect of amphetamins (exciting) or amobarbital (depressing) have been conducted. Subjects had to take the substance again to remember well what they memorized in the same state (Rossi, 1993) This is also true for emotional states, body postures (see the memory of a dream which comes back when one takes the same posture than when it happened) or the memory linked to a place, even to a season. Some depressions, for instance, recur in the same period of the year regularly. This kind of conditioning linked with a state is used when for instance meditators are advised to practice at the same place and at the same time of the day in the same posture. To facilitate the integration of the experience of meditation to daily life and the outer world, it is also recommended in some Buddhist schools like Zen to meditate with open eyes. However, this memory linked to the state can be an obstacle as well and explains the difficulties for meditators to transfer the experience they had while practicing, into their daily life. There is no simple recipe, what matters is global integration. Let us see now the main mechanisms involved in deep trance and meditation.

1) Facing up the symptom

In this state, deep fear may arise, they must be faced. Fearlessness is a basic quality of a meditator. Advising the patient to go 'in the sense of the symptom', to listen to it has often be called paradoxical injunction; but a symptom when it arise wants to tell us something and the paradox is rather the usual habit of silencing it rather than listening to it. The crux of the matter is going progressively towards the place of suffering. We could speak of a mechanism of 'association-dissociation': by a chain of mnemonic associations, one comes back to the traumatic event and there, thanks to a deep relaxation, one dissociates the traumatic image from the negative underlying emotion, from the tension which was automatically associated with it, to replace it with a deep rest. Many therapies agree with this mechanism, each one with its particular vocabulary. In psychoanalysis, they will speak of 'following the resistances' and from the therapist's side 'to be a mirror of the distortions' of the patient, etc... In behaviourism, they will evoke the implosion, the flooding by the symptom, the stimulus to satiety.... In gestalt therapy, the patient will be able to stress the symptom rather than to avoid it, and in the systemic therapies, they will speak of paradoxical injunctions, of prescribing the symptom or the relapse in the symptom, or else of double bind.

In meditation, unlike in psychoanalysis, there is a thread (mantra, etc....) and while following this thread, distractions arise; the meditator dissociates from them and repetitively comes back to this state of well-being which characterizes the practice. So, this mechanism is more of 'free dissociation' than of 'free association'. Meditation allows one to go into the symptom and into the dark side of his being thanks to the quality of fearlessness, as we mentioned earlier. Moreover, a deep understanding of the functioning of the mind by pair of opposites naturally leads us to accept the symptom we would like to suppress and to acknowledge that it has something to tell us, and may even suggest us a way out. Practically, the immobility of the meditator is a means to face up to the psychological resistances , every small movement corresponding to the beginning of an escape. If one meditates for a minimum amount of time during each session and as a whole every day, then he is prevented from running away from himself by reducing his time of practice. A method of meditation consists in sweeping each part of the body one after the other with consciousness, and to stop in front of insensitive, 'blind' areas until they become felt.

It allows us the opening of a window on the unconscious thanks to the feeling of hitherto suppressed sensations. When they come back, beginnings of image appear in the mind and by association give a clue to understand the reason for the suppression.

In the life of yogis, we learn that during their samadhis, the breath used to slow down, be superficial and even stop completely for some time. This appears to mean that the yogi is directly plunging into the fear of suffocation and death and once in it, learn how to smile of the situation. Hypoxia (a decreased amount of oxygen in the blood) probably favors the release of hormones associated to euphoria (cortisol and perhaps endorphins) and thus creates a fundamental mechanism of desensitization, the basic fear of death (stoppage of breath) being associated with an intense well-being. In Tibetan tradition, the practice of samadhi and the preparation to death are considered to be parallel process.

2) Evaluating the symptom

This method is related to the first point, inasmuch as it allows one to face up to the symptom. For instance, the patient is asked to rate on a scale from 1 to 1000 the intensity of his symptom, and then to see how it evolves during the deep trance. This persuades him of its impermanence because most of the time it eventually disappears at least for a while. In this sense, this method can be compared to meditation where one realizes the impermanence of the sensations be they painful, pleasant or neutral by simply observing them: thus, one gradually gets rid of their influence on the basis of the mind.

3) Coming back to the resources which are already present in the subject

This base for therapy is typically a foundation of meditation as well: resources permanently present at the core of ourselves correspond to the Self, or the true nature, or the divine according to the tradition we consider. It is interesting to note that the Alchoholic Anonymous (AA) ask the patients to use this power to detoxify themselves; and they are one of the most effective groups to cure addiction.

4) Making the mental functions communicate between each other

The lack of communication between the mental functions is one of the reasons of inner suffering. Too often, verbalization, mental imagery, emotions and sensations are like tight compartments, and therapy clearly aims at circulating information between them; meditation does this as well. In practice, regularly returning one's attention from the mind to the body makes a real communication between these levels possible.

5) Ultradian regeneration

Rossi stresses the global versus the specific efficiency of twenty minutes rest sessions when the need is felt during the day. He thus disagrees with the claim of various schools of psychotherapy which want to appear very specific to look as scientific as poossible. In fact, we should allow ourselves to question this relationship between specific and scientific. Global efficiency, as soon as it is proved, is a scientific fact, even if every mechanism of it is not yet understood. Moreover, behind claims of specific action, vested commercial interests may of course creep in:' Follow my method, they say, it is the most specific, the other ones will never give you such results...' The interest of a general study on meditation in its relationship to psychology is to show the common basis of different methods. To come back to the ultradian (i.e., recurring several times daily) rythm, we may notice that it is adviced to people doing a retreat in Tibetan Buddhism to start by repeating often short sessions of meditation (ten-fifteen mn) during the day whenever they feel like. It seems they had discovered the process of ultradian regeneration a long time ago...

6) Emotional acting-out

Emotions are a basis of the psyche, and they have their place both in therapy and in meditation. Emotions should not play with us, but we should be able to play with emotions. Three types of acting-out, of abreactions may be distinguished: pathological, therapeutic and meditative.

The pathological abreactions correspond to the hysterical fit, which is very theatrical and little therapeutic; however, it was noticed that until the beginning of this century, hysteria could be manifested physically without guilt and that at the same time psychosomatic diseases were little developed; now-a-days hysteria of conversion are less frequent but psychosomatic diseases are more so; and the latter, unlike hysteria, can kill (through high blood pressure, stress related diabetis, etc...)

Therapeutic abreactions occur during the sessions; they are effective, but they can nevertheless be suspected of theatralism, be it that the patient wants to please the therapist or frighten him.

Meditative abreactions usually happen inside, although they may also manifest outside through what is called kriyas (spontaneous movements). They are subtle, but real. Their only witness is the Self, i.e., the Witness par excellence. The energy they released during meditation can be directly utilized for an inner evolution.

7) Other mechanisms

We will limit ourselves to enumerating them, because we cannot study them in detail in the context of this article. If deep trance is practiced for a long time, there is a sensorial deprivation effect. It is not devoid of danger, because it is known that a long deprivation may elicit psychotic reactions. This is why intensive courses of meditation are counter-indicated for people with a psychotic tendency or history. On the other hand, going back to oneself regularly through the practice cuts the root of defence mechanisms like projection, transference, etc...What is sown in meditation develops more and more in the mind, this corresponds to the mechanism of positive biofeedback. In that state, psychic life is accelerated, inner conflicts are experienced more intensely, but solved more quickly. There is a traditional story which well illustrates the potentiality of this mechanism of positive feedback: a dog enters a room which was entirely covered with mirrors. It sees everywhere other dogs. As he was anxious about its territory, it starts to bark. All the other dogs suddenly start barking. He becomes so frightened that he barks to exhaustion and dies. Now, a few days later, a smiling sage enter the room of mirrors; everywhere, he sees sages which are smiling, which induces such a joy in him that he gets the Realization.

In the traditional context, even when meditators practice alone, they feel one with others who meditate at the same time, and with those who followed the same path before. Definitely, there is what could be called a group effect, even if the other members of the 'group' are not physically present. What matter for the psychological evolution is the strong belief that others are there in a subtle form. Moreover, in a traditional path of meditation, expectation is maximum; the practitioner does not expect less than Realization itself, while a patient hopes only to become an ordinary neurotic as everyone is...This makes a lot of difference in the long run, since results are somehow proportional to expectations.

The last mechanism of this particular type of deep trance which is meditation is the 'mechanism without mechanism': fortunately, everything is not reducible to a kind of machinery in meditation, which aims to manifest this very consciousness which witnesses the play of mechanisms. The increasing importance given in psychology to the memory linked to the state of consciousness rediscovers three pillars of meditation: first, our ego is not the steady entity it appears to be, but a changing mosaic of variegated states; second, mental states evolve from moment to moment according to the memories which are brought back by a particular state of consciousness or mood at a given time; they do not have the continuity which is superimposed on them afterwards. Third, it should be noticed that what is liberating in meditation is not so much the depth of trance than the quality of dissociation between psycho-physical phenomena and the one who observes them. Thanks to this dissociation, a subject can feel that his leg is operated on but he is not identified with the pain. To take a concrete example of this, the well-known vedantic sage Ramana Maharshi had been operated for a tumor on his arm without anesthesia; this was at the end of his life. When he was asked how much pain he had, he answered peacefully: 'It is like the sting of a million scorpion, but it is for the body, not for my Self'. Until the end, he remained quiet and luminous. Then, when he passed away, his face expressed an intense pain. This means that as long as the consciousness was there, the dissociation was functioning, but once it left, the body followed its course. This dissociation between what is observed and the observer (drishti and drishta) is much more than a therapy; it is a spiritual path in itself, the Path of Jnana (Knowledge).

Beyond the various psychological mechanisms of deep trance and meditation, what is basically active in the process is attention; and above all, attention is a practice, not a theory; there ends psychology. This is exemplified in the following story: "A zen monk was unhappy because his meditation was not good. He approached his master who was observing silence at that time and explained his predicament to him. The master answered on a piece of paper which he handed down to the disciple. There was a single word on it: 'Attention'. He asked for further explanations, and the master added something on the paper. The disciple read 'attention, attention'. Annoyed, he asked for further clarifications. The master wrote a little more, and returned it to the disciple who read: 'Attention, attention and attention means attention".

Can meditaton be used with pathological subjects?

To be clear, it is better to distinguish between meditation in the ordinary sense of the term which corresponds to a daily practice of fifteen minutes or one hour, and an intensive practice for the whole day during retreat, and perhaps for half a day during the periods in between. It the latter case, meditation is definitely not indicated for psychopathological patients, because it intensifies everything good or bad and put a strain on the weak points of his personality. Traditionally, an aspirant for intensive meditation must be ready, adhikari, and be able to observe the rules of conduct, yama-niyama, rather well. In the case of patients, these prerequisites are not fulfilled. However, simple practices may be beneficial for them if performed for a short duration during several sessions in the day. What happens during these sessions should be freely discussed with a therapist who has some experience of meditation. Thus, it will give the patient a habit of 'mental hygiene' which will be the best guarantee of his tong term improvement. I have often noticed that when I introduced traditional practices in a therapy -however simple they may have been- it was received as a clear signal of encouragement by the patient, even in France where tradition is much less trusted than in India. Patients can find a way out of the psychopathological labeling and enter the general stream of humanity which is certainly suffering, but which has since long also devised ways out of suffering.

There are two types of meditation, the first where one concentrates the mind, the second where one observes it. Concentration is a basis for beginners and for patients as well. It gives some knowledge and capacity to master the mind, even if it does not solve every problem,. Observation of the mind is more difficult for people who have a strong tendency towards dispersion, as most patients do, but can be performed in a limited way with the help of the therapist. There must be a clear technique for that: it may be observing the sensations throughout the body in a regular way, or another method. Usually, coming back to the body is beneficial because it keeps one away from mental wanderings, and indeed shows the basis of these wanderings which are the changing sensations. But this method of Vipassana is not indicated for hypochondriac patients who have a tendency to be focused on the smallest sensation and to interpret it as the beginning of a serious disease.

The main question is to decide whether the technique of meditation should go in the sense of the symptom or against it. Let us consider an obsessive neurotic for instance. He likes repetitive and ritualized methods: should one give him this sort of technique to practice, or on the contrary insist on the spontaneous aspects of meditation? Or for a depressive who has a psycho-motor inhibition: should one advice him relaxation or on the contrary dynamic techniques? Perhaps a balanced attitude consists in advising first something which goes in the sense of the symptom -some very detailed technique for the obsessive, relaxation for the depressive; quick pranayama (breathing exercises) for the drug addicted, because these give an altered state of consciousness in a short while. In this way, patients will get interested in the practice. And then, gradually, one introduces an 'antidote' to the symptom, pure observation of the mind for the obsessive, techniques with physical, dynamic movements for the depressive, and so on.

In any case, the therapist should be attentive to the taste, the desire of a given patient for these techniques. Nothing can be done without his active interest and collaboration; the therapist should closely follow the experiences the patient has. The real rule is 'try and see'; there is no need for the therapist to get a false sense of security from simplistic recipes. The one who helps should have a personal experience of meditation besides his proficiency as a therapist. He should remember that helping someone else for his or her inner life is not a mechanical work and that -fortunately- this remains an art.


De Sousa A and D.A (1984) Psychiatry in India Bombay; Balani Book Depot

Rossi E.L. (1977) Psychobiology of Healing p.80 and 160, New York; Norton.

Shapiro and Walsh (1984) Meditation, Classical and Contemporary Perspectives (700p) New York, Aldine.

Singh H.G, (1977) Psychotherapy in India - From Vedic to Modern Times Agra, National Psychological Corporation

Swami Ajaya (1984) - Psychology East and West -An Unifying Paradigm' The Himalayan Yoga Institute, Honesdale, Pennsylvania, USA

Swami Ajaya and Swami Rama (1976) Yoga and Psychotherapy (4000 p) An Indian edition of these two books is available from the Himalayan International Institute, Nil -24 A , Malviya Nagar, New Delhi 110017.

Vigne Jacques (1997) a. The Indian Teaching Tradition b.Indian Wisdom, Christianity and Modern Psychology BRPC, Delhi. See also the articles published in the English section of this very website.

With the authorization of SS Nathawat, Editor, Indian journal of Clinical Psychology, University of Rajasthan, C-135 A, Dayanand Marg, Tilak nagar, Jaipur 302004 India.

For the style of paper, follow the Vancouver style : Title of the paper, names of the author (s), abstract and key words, introduction, material, methods results, discussion and references, in three copies, double spaced.


English version revised by Kate Zeiss, Ph.D (Phil)


Emotions are linked to beginnings of gestures in different parts of the body. This can be felt in the form of skin sensations also. By feeling these differently, one can change emotions, for instance into their opposite. Moreover, balancing the left and right side of the body in a very precise way has the power to rebalance the mind in a much deeper way than Western psychology could expect. This is a part of Yoga called Svara-Yoga and has direct implications for the way of practising meditation.

    At the request of some people who attended workshops which I conducted during my last series of seminars in France, I decided to write down a few practices which I have previously given orally. For 18 years, I have been living in India, including two years and a half in a hermitage where I am still now, and I have been able to experience a lot of ways of practising meditation. For those who want to develop a good foundation for their meditation, it is important to get a clear idea of the correlations and correspondences between physical sensations, emotions and mental imagery. In this sense, methods inspired by Vipassana, the clear inner vision of the Buddhists, are quite useful. One will find equally helpful to get some practical notion of how the subtle body works according to the conceptions of the age-old science of Yoga, so we will develop these two topic in this paper.

Clear Inner Vision and Localization of Emotions.

    There are many ways to practice Vipassana. Jack Kornfield, in his book Living Buddhist Masters, speaks of different methods according to a few masters from Thailand and Myanmar. What is in common among their different approaches is an emphasis on the mindfulness of breathing as it is, and equally on the sensations as they are. A logical manner to proceed, such as explained by SN Goenka for instance, is simply to operate a swe eping observation of the body part after part and to wait in each of them for sensations to arise. One does not allow these fresh sensations to be tossed about from an area of the body to another as it happens in the usual day-dreaming or in relaxed mental activity, because this very chain of sensations form the basis of emotional arousal. Should they be stopped right from the beginning, the snake of disturbing emotions will be as if cut into pieces and so will not be able to do any harm. Let us suppose for instance that we observe the sole of the left foot and a sensation of nervous clenching arises, associated with a memory of anger. The usual chain will be a subconscious propagation of this tension first to the right foot, then to the hands which will clench as if they were ready to give a punch, then to the jaws and to the nape of the neck, all without realizing it, because the mind is projected on the supposed cause for anger “outside”, that is to say somewhere far away in our memory. On the contrary, if one just quietly observes the tension of the left sole in an objective way, it will tend, after appearing, to increase, reach a maximum, decrease and get dissolved. Afterwards, what remains is a harmonious, unified sensation of the area. When one trains oneself to observe this harmonious background behind every sensation of the body, one is no longer far away from nirvana consciousness – or the luminous (svaprakâsh) fundamental consciousness of the Vedantic Self.

    In practice, it is enough to wait in front of a part of the body so that eventually sensation might arise. This is an attitude of pure observation which is better when the body is very relaxed, as if slightly asleep; in this situation, one looks like the cat which pretends to be asleep in front of the hole of a mouse, but is ready to jump and catch it as soon as it comes out. Another simile could be the Eskimo who makes a hole in the ice floe and waits there for a fish to com e: as soon as he sees one, he catches it. Nevertheless, it may be useful to have a few tricks to facilitate the awakening of sensations in a given part of the body; this may make the method less dry for beginners who often complain that they do not feel anything. For instance, it is possible to imagine that the breath comes and goes through the skin as through a very thin handkerchief, that this very breath makes a live charcoal there which was almost extinguished, burn again, that fire is coming out of the area which you are observing, or else again that you massage it or have it massaged by someone else.

    This practice represents a direct training to get equanimity. To check the latter, remembering the face is helpful. The reason for this is that as soon as a sensation pops up in a part of the body –this may not be at once- there is a reaction on the face, however subtle it may be; it is as if the visage could say by its expression after a quick evaluation: “I like”, “I don’t like” or “I am indifferent”. This beginning of emotional reactions touches certain areas of the face specifically, moreover there is a direct link between each particular part of the body and the face. Pelvis corresponds to the chin and the mouth, the chest rather to the level of the nose, the higher part of the sternum and the neck rather to the brow. To take another example, the knees which represent an outer bony protuberance when we are sitting cross-legged will naturally stimulate the perception of the cheekbones which are themselves outer bony protuberances at the face level, even though they clearly differ by their size from the knees. For every part of the trunk and the limbs, there are, in this way, preferential areas of projection. When one somehow keeps an eye on the part of the body which one is observing and the other on the face, one can locate these areas, relax them and come near a state of perfect equanimity.

    An alternative technique enables one to m ake a fine analysis of opposing emotions. I like to teach it during my seminars because I have found that it helps beginners practically, especially to better understand and control their emotions, a skill which they are keen to develop. It is a well-known fact that muscles in the body work in both cooperative, “agonistic” and antagonistic ways. It is only because the triceps muscle relaxes that the biceps can, when it contracts, make the arm bend. Otherwise the limb would be tetanized but still motionless. In the same manner, sensations have also their agonist and antagonist poles. To come back to the example of the contraction of the left sole linked to anger, if one chooses to concentrate on the antagonist area, i.e. the back of the foot, one will be able to feel that it elicits a feeling of relaxation, peace and forgiving. The same rule is in force in every part of the body, and this opens the possibility of making sensation analysis much subtler – and all this without w ords, directly by perception.

    For instance, if a disturbing emotion is peculiarly repetitive, one can choose to remember it well, first globally throughout the body, and then to analyse each and every part of it. One will realize that in most parts, disturbing emotions stimulate an area only, at the expense of the complementary area which remains insensitive, like blind. When we relax the stimulated area and we make the sensation glide towards the “blind” area, we realize that the mental associations will suggest the opposite emotion. We believe that an emotional wave overwhelms us completely, but this is a mistake; it touches only certain parts of the body, and if we take the analysis further, we notice it actually only touches sub-parts. The idea underlying all that is that we should make a very accurate physical and emotional “diagnosis” in every part of the body so that the “therapy” might be accurate as well. It is true that global positive thinking is still valuable; it will always be good to say to oneself: “I won’t get angry any more, from now on I will keep quiet”, but this is not as efficient as we would like it to be. The reason for this may be that we are like a surgeon who operates on a tumour without knowing where it is.

    A few beginners in this method may object, believing that looking for the root of a negative emotion means increasing it. It should be clearly understood that this exercise is just a beginning, in order to clarify the place where the disturbing emotions lie. Immediately after, this is counterbalanced by the shifting of attention towards the complementary sub-areas: Here, everyone should be able to organize his duration of practice between the observation of negative emotions to discover their exact localization and the concentration on sub-areas corresponding to positive complementary emotions. The traditional point of view, which applies especially for those who practise a lot, is to simply wait for negative emotions to come out; they will surely do so when the meditation is intense enough. Systematic practices are useful for beginners because they fix their ideas but afterwards, there is more room for pure spontaneity, or for methods which arise spontaneously and that we decide to practise for some time systematically.

    Our ordinary inner functioning is similar to a game of billiards. A new sensation stimulates a given area of the body. It can be related to a happening outside or to an arising memory inside; this creates an imbalance which will have an effect elsewhere just as a billiard ball on the table will tend to bump against another one and so on. These chains of reactions imprison the body as surely as a net, this is what is called “emotion”. The art of the meditator is to know how not even to start the game: This is not suppression, since we sweep with consciousness all the parts of the body, so none of them is left in the shadow; this helps the suppressed memory directly linked with the “blind” area of the body to come into view. One could compare this process with the lighting of a cellar with a torch-lamp: where the beam is directed, one sees clearly, elsewhere one does not even look.

    If feeling the sensory polarities linked to opposite emotions is difficult in the beginning, it is still possible to think of the gesture connected to an emotion in a given part of the body. Let us take the shoulder for instance: in fear, it is raised and goes slightly inside, in courage, one stands straight and swaggers, so the shoulders will rather go backwards and outside. In love and attachment, there is the movement of hugging, shoulders will be directed inside and somewhat downwards. On the other hand, in anger and indignation, they will be thrown backward, upward and outside. To each of these opposite movements related to complementary emotions, there are corresponding opposite sensations which have opposite localisation on the skin which cover s the stimulated muscles, for instance biceps and triceps muscles, corresponding respectively to the emotion of possessiveness and rejection.

    Every time that a true sensation arises in a part of the body, there is an effect of surprise, even if it is very short. This creates a small warp, an irregularity, a kind of notch, of hiatus in a breathing which otherwise we would like nice and smooth. This is why the observation of sensations is traditionally associated to a training of the mindfulness of breathing. By coming back ceaselessly to a fully natural breath, we free ourselves from the effect of sensations on mind, whatever they may be. Thus, there is a hope to reach genuine serenity. This natural breathing can even be associated to a name of Buddha, the Tathagata, he who has come, agata, as such, tatha or in a second interpretation, he who has gone, gata, as such, tatha. When breathing is observed without interfering, it comes and goes “as such”. Therefore, this very brea thing deserves the name of Tathagata. Moreover, it tends to the perfection, siddhartha, of spontaneity and is fully conscious, bouddha. Thus, it deserves these two other names of Gautama as well.

    By not letting sensation diffuse to another part of the body, we get rid of all kinds of inner links which are parasitic, not to say pathological. They are the ones which prevent us from keeping a good posture in spite of our repeated attempts. However, there are certain links which help to reinforce an exact posture of meditation and observation, so they should be encouraged, we will come back to this point in part two. In Vipassana, we develop a series of openings which take the place of chains of blockages. This is not so different from the practice of Yoga in a definition given by the Bhagavad-Gita, in which there is a play on the very word Yoga: yoga dukha-samyoga viyoga “Yoga is the dissociation of association to pain” (6, 23). If we sweep the body upwards, the effect will be energizing; if we do it downwards, it will be rather relaxing. This rule works well when the rhythm of sweeping is quick enough, but if it is slow because we do a detailed work on each part, this distinction will be less apparent.

    Every area of our body is associated to a given part of our subconscious mind. Going deep into the sensations of an area means making in it a kind of vertical drilling with deeper and deeper layers which come up, as if we could vertically descend in our inner ocean with a diving suit and see variegated fish in front of our mask. In this way, we will be able to interpret, on our own, the meaning of certain symptoms or disease which we may suffer in any given part of the body. There is a popular book in France Dis-moi où tu as mal “Tell Me Where It Hurts” which gives the psychological meaning of the localization of troubles in the body. Its author, Michel Odoul, acknowledges nevertheless that the patients themselves are in the best position to feel th e associations coming up from a given part of their body. Likewise, the dreamers themselves are in the best position to interpret their own dream-imagery. 

    There is a fabric of links woven inside our body: one of the names for body in Sanskrit is tanu, from the root tan which means ‘to stretch’, like in English ‘tension’. Secondary senses may be weaving, creating or manifesting; indeed, tanu may mean ‘manifestation’. These two fundamental manifestations which are the world and the body are woven like a fabric. For instance, among all the threads of the links which compose the cloth of the body, some are obstacles to a good observation of the mind, and others a help. In short, as we have said above, we could say that associations of sensations which lead to a disturbance in the exact posture of meditation are obstacles, and the links which improve it are help. For example, in lotus position, if knees are firmly pushed in the floor, it induces a reflex tending to make the spin e erect, so it is a help; on the other hand, letting the joint between the lumbar spine and the sacrum run away backwards will make the whole back slouch and the head sink forward, which is definitely not good; it will be as if one has one’s own nose falling into the problems one has to face.

    E.L. Rossi, a well-known American psychotherapist successor to Milton Erikson, clearly explains in his book Psychobiology of Healing (1992) that psychosomatic troubles and diseases originate in an excess of compartimentalization within our body, as well as in between this body and such superior mind functions as emotions, imagination and reason. In the Tibetan tradition, we can see an allusion to these multiple links which we were speaking of at the level of the subtle body when they mention the “diamond body”: for what constitutes the beauty of a diamond is all these rays, these secondary reflections between the many chiselled facets. In Kabala, they speak of mirrors which make a reflec tion of all the parts of the subtle body in one another: we are not far from the same idea.

    In Theravada Buddhism, there are two main ways of meditation, Vipassana, the clear inner vision and samatta which means ‘equality’ –and also for all practical purposes, ‘concentration’. In the method of emotional analysis of the body part by part, one starts with Vipassana every time: this corresponds to the diagnosis so to say and then one goes to samatta which is indeed the therapy. By taking the sun of an intense consciousness into sub-areas opposed to the ones stimulated by the disturbing emotions, one favours the positive opposite emotion which could be called “restoring”. We may even choose to directly focus on positive emotions by concentrating on each sub-part of the body which corresponds to them exactly; then, the sub-areas corresponding to the complementary disturbing emotions will be illuminated like darkness by the sun. 

Meditation in Yoga and Balancing the Sides of the Body 

    The general method of meditation in Raja-Yoga consists of having the body sensations converging in the central canal, slightly in front of the spine, and to make them ascend to the third eye, even to the top of the head when body consciousness is no longer either on the right or on the left but in the middle. Then, the fundamental vital energy can makes its ascension. In a similar way, only when the balancing pole of the tightrope walker is in good equilibrium, can he go forward on his rope. 

    The body is already unbalanced due to our anatomy: the heart is on the left, the liver on the right for instance, and they are definitely not symmetrical. This difference between the two sides is reinforced by an opposition between the open and closed nostrils. For ages, the yogis have noticed that usually one nostril is fully open while the other is either half or fully closed. After about two hours, the sides change over. Roughly speaking, the side of the body corresponding to the closed nostril is felt as more closed, rigid, shrunk or dense while the other side will be looser, suppler, lighter and indeed more open. By a careful observation we will feel for instance that eyelids on the side of the closed nostril are more tightly pressed up on each other while on the other side their contact is lighter, almost as if they were going to open. The same is true for intervertebral spaces which are more pinched on the side of the closed nostril due to a contraction of the paravertebral muscles, which leads to a deviation of the spine towards the side of the closed nostril and a rotation of the head in the same direction. I have developed all that in detail in my book Le mariage intérieur (Inner Marriage). I come back to this topic now to introduce another alternative way to sweep the body with consciousness: the idea is to focus on the bilateral and symmetrical parts one after the other, for example the right and left foot; first, we observe the differen ce of sensation which exists between the two, which depends on the side of the open nostril, and we continue with ankle, tibia, and so on up to the top of the head. As soon as we succeed in perceiving two bilateral parts as fully symmetrical, as if identical, as if they overlap completely, the energy of consciousness enters the central channel. We may reinforce this by visualizing these symmetrical parts as if projected on the central axis, for instance at the level of the brow or the chest. Thus, we are able to experience what Buddhists call samatta and Yogis samatvam, equality or equanimity. In French, there is a colloquial phrase “aller de travers” (to go on the side”) to express that one feels bad. In fact, on these occasions, we can clearly feel that the sides of the body are more unbalanced, one being much more tense that the other; this may also show clearly on the face. On the contrary, by fully balancing the two sides, one “comes back to the right path”, the middle one; is there not a Latin maxim which says: in medio stat virtus, “In the middle, the virtue resides”? 

    A complementary way of working is “taking the energy” in an area of the body on the side of the closed nostril and “putting” it into the symmetrical one, as if we were taking water buckets an overly full tank and pouring them into another which were half-empty. Again, another manner of practising may be constantly checking the verticality of the spine which tends to deviate to the side of the closed nostril, and the orientation of the head itself which tends to turn to this side as well. This effect adds to or contradicts another deviation coming from the dissymmetry of the inferior limbs in any cross-legged position. Correcting these small deviations which may seem minor is a meditation in itself, as a matter of fact, to the extent that as one has a clear enough idea of the underlying principles of this practice. 

    In old Chinese phraseology, one finds the concept of the inversion of polarities at the time of birth, when one passes from the “anterior heaven” to the “posterior heaven”, which means from the life in the womb to that outside. In this case, after birth, and contrary to what is said in the West and in India, the man side corresponds to the left and the woman side to the right. Thus, changing over the sensation between right and left in every part of the body for rebalancing symbolically leads us through the wall of birth to return to the “anterior heaven”. In Kabala, they also speak of the “inversion of lights”, this may have something in common with the meditation above, to be sure one should ask specialists of this old science.

    A traditional way of inducing sensations coming from the right and left sides of the body is to concentrate on the third eye in the middle of the forehead thanks to an ocular convergence. It seems to intensify the effects of the corpus callosus and the fibres which link the two frontal lobes. It is kno wn that in lobotomy, the surgeon cuts this connection and thus separates the two lobes of patients with serious epilepsy. This is an effective way of controlling fits, but it has the disadvantage of transforming the people into couch potatoes. They no longer have any personal will and are fully submissive to the influence of others. Conversely, by concentrating on this sort of globe or sphere which the third eye is, one creates an indivisible mass, which is the etymological sense of the word “atom”. Here, contrary to a lobotomy, one performs what could be called a lob-atomy, creating an inseparable junction of the lobes, and thus reinforcing one’s ability to make independent personal choices, free from the pressures of one’s surroundings or culture. 

    Those who are emotionally unstable should not practise the concentration on the central axis and the ascent of energy in it, because they would be unable to stand the intensity coming from it. Besides, the ones who want to me ditate intensively in this sense, even if they are balanced at the beginning, would be better off doing it in solitude. Thus, it will be much easier for them to manage the energy which awakens. During eight months of tour in France recently, several people came to see me to consult for what they believed to be “kundalini awakening”. None of these experiences were genuine in my opinion. Often, what was involved was rather hysterical fits –they often had the interior terrain for that- or border-line conditions, which consists of an intermediary state between hysteria and psychosis. Actually, hysteria consists of an ascent of energy too, but it happens rather in the anterior part of the body, from uterus to face –this is just why the ancient Greeks called this ailment “hysteria” .In the case of rising kundalini, ascension is through the mental channel, which rather means at the back of the body. This makes a lot of difference. In the back is found this channel which the Chinese call tu-mo, the “governor-channel”, this means that focussing on this area will develop self-control. On the other hand, the anterior part of the body is intrinsically entangled with a nexus of emotions, which is just the thing we want to be disentangled from. Hysterical patients are typically caught in it. 

    The main signs of hysteria have remained the same in the course of history since the Greek, but hysterical patients are always greedy for little-known new diseases, coming from obscure causes, to subconsciously dissimulate the real nature of their crises. At the time of Charcot and Freud, it was convulsions, because the distinction between psychological hysteria and neurological epilepsy was not yet clearly established, afterwards came depressive moods, in the 80’s it has been the turn of tetany, defined in France as a convulsion supposed to be related to a deficit in calcium, and in the beginning of this new millennium “kundalini awakening” is fashionable. When the public and psychotherapists will better know these phenomena, hysterical patients will discover some other pretext in which to have their fits. The real awakening usually comes to people who are engaged in an intensive practice and observe complete celibacy, which, as a matter of fact, was not the case of people I referred above. Moreover, a few well-wishing new-age psychiatrists feel inspired to promote the kundalini awakening syndrome, but when one reads their description, it includes almost the whole range of psychopathology, so it represents a kind of self-defeating attempt at classification: a diagnosis which is abundantly invoked is diagnosis no more. 

    In border-line states and in the onslaughts of psychosis, there may be an ascent of sensations towards the head with an impression that the body is emptying itself through the top of the head, although other localizations are possible: for instance, it may happen on the spot of an injection, and the patient as the impre ssion of deflating like a balloon, as strange as it may sound… It is interesting to note that traditionally, there is a sort of prevention of this process when the meditator is asked to visualize a strong luminous presence on the top of his head. For instance, he is asked to feel that upon the top of his head sits his guru, or his beloved deity, ishta-devata such as Shiva or Shakti. Tibetan teachers warn also that meditations of transference of consciousness from one’s own body to another are dangerous. They involve an intensive and protracted concentration on the top of the head. They say that reflecting thus may lead to an emptying of energy resulting in an insuperable feeling of weakness and even in some cases, death. I feel that in modern terms, one would speak of an onslaught of psychosis. There are two essential qualities for spiritual seekers, discrimination, viveka and detachment, vairagya. Their absence or weakness may definitely create problems, even if they are no t directly related to the pathologies above.

    We saw that one word for “body” in Sanskrit was tanu. This term is very close to dhanu which means “bow”: classical authors in India took pleasure to often associate the two notions. Body is indeed a bow which, if properly stretched, enables one to shoot the arrow of consciousness in the target of the Self. For that, one should know how to gather the current of sensations in the anterior-posterior plane which is sometimes termed as “sagittal plane”, the plane of the arrow”. It includes the central axis, the series of charkas, the third eye as well as the points beyond, above and in front on which one may perform a useful concentration. 

    Another helpful practice may be done early morning right at the beginning of our first sitting. We “go down” in our body and make a tour of it to say ‘good morning’ to each and every part of it: our body is similar to a small company whose director we are. If, as ‘director’, we arrive in the morn ing and just dash into our office not speaking to the staff unless we have to scold them, we will become rather unpopular. On the other hand, if we take enough time to shake hands with every employee and hear what he or she has to say, we will be certainly love and the company will run well. Such is the right attitude towards our body as well.

    When we connect the various part of the body to the consciousness of the third eye, we attach them to the Divine friend, he who is called in Sanskrit bandhu, the friend, from the root *bandh which means link. Thus, we weave the fabric of a divinised body day after day, and even if the work seems to fray again and again, we should be ever ready to renew our efforts: the Divine spouse will find us in the end, just as Ulysses came back to Ithaca to find his wife Penelope who was weaving the same cloth, again and again.

    We have seen that one should favour certain links within the body, for instance the ones which help us to have a perfect posture, and shun the others. Doing this, we will be entitled to be called “the master of the links”, “Pashu-pati”, pashu meaning literally “the one caught in links, bondage, ex. the cattle” This is in reference to individual consciousness in bondage, but which is itself a servant of Shiva. A well-known name of Shiva, corresponding by the way to that of the main temple Hindu temple in Kathmandu, is Pashupatinath, the Lord of Pashupati, i.e. individual consciousness. 

    In the ordinary mental activity as well as in dreams, we do not care to be centred, our inner sight simply goes right and left, running after mental object which captivate its attention. In dreams, these mental moves are accompanied by physical rapid eye movements, a phenomenon characteristic enough to have given its name to this phase of sleep: Rapid Eye Movements, REM sleep. Our mind is similar to a clock pendulum which indefinitely oscillates between right and left; however, if it can stabilize in the centre, time stops, energy can freely ascend towards the Self, the Divine, the Eternal.

“Isomorphies”, or the variegated facets of this diamond which is the conscious body. 

We have already alluded to the fact that certain parts of the body were preferentially experienced in correspondence during meditation. This may be caused by an analogy of form or position, often of both, which should probably result in a common processing area somewhere in the brain. We call this kind of experienced correspondences among the parts of the body “isomorphies”. This notion is not without ties with the “homologies” of Dr Francis Lefébure (see Les Homologies, Le Courrier du Livre, Paris, 1978); we could also speak of internal morphic resonance, to refer to Rupert Sheldrake’s studies on morphic resonance in nature. Let us give a few examples of how these networks of correspondences play within the body : first, we may consider the nose; if we accept to link it to the trunk, the septum will correspond to the perinea, the sides of the nostrils to the hips, the bridge of the nose to the spine (there is an inversion, the bridge looking forwards and the spine backwards, but this does not prevent the phenomenon of isomorphy, any more than the difference of size of the two structures), the root of the nose to the nape of the neck and the area above to the top of the head. 

    Let us now consider the chest: the part below the breast will be connected to the basin, the higher part of sternum rather to the forehead. As for the sacrum, with its shape of a triangle with the point looking downwards, it will be easily projected up to the shoulder-bones with their kindred forms and will possibly be visualized at the level of the forehead, with the point between the eyebrows. It will means that its root will merge in the root of the nose. These insights greatly facilitate the ascent of energy, for instance from sacrum to forehead. Energy in the sacrum may not be that sacred, but once rais ed to the level of the forehead, it will have much more opportunity to become so, this is the underlying principle of Raja Yoga.

    Another chain of correspondences is helpful for the transmutation of vital energy: it is related to the practice of siddhasana, the first posture described in the classical Hatha Yoga Pradipika. The heel of one foot is against the perinea while the other is just above the root of the sexual organ. At the same time kechari mudra is practised, with the top of the tongue directed up and behind, touching the uvula, at the root of the palate. Speaking of this, uvula is called in Sanskrit talu-mulam, i.e. “the root of the palate”; as for the heel, it is termed as “pada-mulam” i.e. “the root of the foot” which is placed during the practice of siddhasana at the muladhara, literally “the root of the basis, or of the stream”; we may understand this as the root of the stream of kundalini gushing up from the pelvis to the head, or else, as the root of the body. Besides, the eyes should look inside in the middle of the forehead, which means in the area of the root of the noose. Thus, in this posture are disposed almost on a straight line six “roots”, i.e. both heels, the root of the body, that of the sexual organ, of the palate and of the nose. These analogies among structures induce an attraction from a distance and a kind of resonance: this facilitates the opening of current of sensations, of channels of energy which make the link in between these structures.

    In my opinion, isomorphies play an important role as well to give a beginning of explanation to certain reflexes involved in the treatment by acupuncture. For instance, the point ro-ku, a name which means “the bottom of the valley”, is located to the end of this “valley” made up of the first and second metacarpal. It is used to treat pains in the molars and wisdom teeth. If we ponder over this, we will realize that there is a correspondence of form, isomorphy between the ton gue composed of the thumb and the index and that comprising the superior and inferior jaws. Thus, there is no surprise to see that the “bottom of the valley” is linked to the “bottom” of the mandibles tongue, i.e., the wisdom teeth and molars. 

    Still at the level of the hand, the third, middle finger, by its middle position, will be associated to the spine. Particularly if hand is raised, the last interphalangian articulation will correspond to the nape of the neck, the nail to the occiput and the top of the finger to the top of the head. It should be understood that these isomorphies are not univocal, they may vary according to the place of mobile parts, hands and feet for instance. There is a kind of isomorphy which is now well-known in reflexology: the projection of the entire body on a given part, for example the inverted homunculus (small man) on the auricle which gives the possibility of auricular reflexology, and the projection on the sole of the foot which enables one to practice reflexology there. There is another homunculus which is used in Yoga, especially in Kriya Yoga practices : Lahari Mahashay, the founder of the modern form of Kriya-Yoga, calls it angushta purusha, the man, purusha, thumb, angushta. In practice, one visualizes in the middle area of one’s forehead one’s own body seen from the back and having the size of a thumb. This visualization facilitates the transmutation of energy, be it the one arising from sensations of the body or the sonic energy coming up from the belly through the practice of Om. Nothing prevents us from pursuing this ascent of energy by imagining in the forehead of the “thumb-man” another smaller “thumb-man” and so on.

    An important basis for associations, isomorphies in the most classical hand gesture for meditation is simply the meeting of the two thumbs when both hands rest on each other. It works as a structure of crystallization for the experience of confluence of the current of sensations comi ng from left and right in the central axis. Whatever may be the points of the anterior-posterior plan where one wants to have the two currents converging, visualizing these points held between the two thumbs facilitates the process of confluence. The last phalanges of the thumbs are like two drops of water, when they come into contact, they naturally tend to coalesce. Thumbs which meet above hands draw a kind of sphere which evokes the unity of the original being: it will be remembered for instance that for Plato, the original being was spherical. It is not so surprising that inner states, here for example the experience of unity, could be manifested in the hands: the very word manifest does contain mani- which means “hand”, after all.

    In French, there is an interesting phrase among school children to say “Pax! I don’t want to play anymore”: they say “pouce! Je ne joue plus”, literally “thumb!”. This reflects some subtle connection between thumb and peace. When we join both t humbs in a same horizontal line, it feels like all the pairs of children who fight within us, the polarities which sometimes seems irreconcilable, suddenly say: “Pax! Thumb! I do not play anymore!”. In acupuncture, the thumbs are related to the lungs’ meridian. Keeping thumbs in a middle position could thus be associated to a desire of balanced breathing between the higher and lower parts of the lungs as well as between anterior and posterior ones during thoracic movements. For the Chinese, the disturbing emotion connected to lungs is sadness; it is generally associated to a feeling of loneliness. If the two “lonely” thumbs unite, loneliness disappears and sadness goes to the wind. The astonishing fact is that it actually works: once we get into the habit of this practice, it gives immediately a joy which is indeed that of union.

    Small children tend to suck their thumb in order to calm down, feel secure and naturally remember the presence of the breast and of the mummy who fed them. The union of the two thumbs also reminds one subliminally of the merging of child and mother –it is sufficient for that to associate one side to the child and the other to the mother- but free from the oral dependency as happens in the sucking of the thumb. Thus, the feeling of security does not come from this dependency any longer, but from a newfound inner balance between left and right which symbolically includes all the pairs of opposites within the individual. When we see things in a deeper way, we may associate contact of thumbs and recitation of mantra: in both cases, a basic oral satisfaction (movement of the tongue in the case of mantra and presence of the thumb in the mouth in that of sucking) is transformed into spiritual experience. Let us conclude by a last remark: the auricular, or ‘pinky’ finger is sometimes associated with superficiality: for instance, one makes fun of someone snobbish by imagining him taking his cup of tea with a raised small fing er. It may due to its frail structure or to its external position when the palm looks down. In any case, by contradistinction, the thumb is more easily associated to a notion of depth and strength.

    In Indian tradition, there is a secondary chakra in the centre of the palm; like a flower it opens towards the sky when the hands are in a meditative position. This flower naturally looks for the Self as the sunflower does for sun. The central axis of the body is equally a stalk, whose flower is the brain. This organ is also like a sunflower looking for the sun of the Self.

    If we now take interest in the isomorphies, homologies which go beyond the physical body, we may pursue this simile of the flower. Francis Lefébure rightly points out that the very form of the spine corresponds to the arrangement of leaves in usual plants: first small, they rather quickly grow larger, then gradually smaller to end up with a minimum size just under the petals. In this way, they look sort of spear- headed. We can compare this with the increasing size of the sacred vertebras up to the fifth lumbar, the gradual decrease up to the atlas and the final blossoming of this ‘flower’ the brain is. There are inverted correspondences between the plant and the human body which are worth pointing out: the plant gets its nourishment through the roots, particularly through these innumerable radicels directly in contact with the soil, and breathe through their leaves. Therefore, its organs of breathing and nutrition are outside while lungs and intestinal villi which remind us of rootlets are in the innermost part of the human body. It seems that natural evolution wants to tell us that, to come to the level of human being, a process of interiorization is indispensable. Again, in plants, nutrition is received down in roots while reproduction occurs up in the flower with pistil, stamens and pollen. Conversely with human being, the function of nutrition is up in mouth, while that of repr oduction is down in the lower trunk. Many esoteric traditions have noticed that the human being is like an inverted plant which has its top down and its roots in the sky from where it extracts a sap of light.

    To continue meditating on “lighting” images, we could say that sensations which arise in the body during meditation evoke the different colours of the rainbow which converge towards the third eye. There lies a prism which transforms these various currents into a unique beam of white light that finds its way directly back towards the sun of the Self, to which it has ever belonged. 

A word of caution : Meditative practices which are dealt with in this text are meant for spiritual seekers who are ready; this corresponds to the notion of adhikari which is so important in Indian tradition. For instance, meditations centred on body sensations are not recommended for hypochondriacs, who already tend to take these too much as a basis for imaginary diseases. In a general way, it i s true to say that people who are disturbed mentally may benefit from simple meditative practice, but on two conditions: first, they should have a personal interest in practising, and second, they should be followed by a psychotherapist who has himself practised the methods that he teaches. For normally balanced spiritual seekers, these meditations where the relationships between body sensations, emotions and mental imagery are studied in detail form a basis: these are to other meditative practices what mathematics is to other sciences: they enable one to go further with stronger foundations.