IN SEARCH OF OUR VITAL ELIXIR
Words: Gérard Sunnen, M.D.
This article posits the existence of a spectrum of energies that activate our human organism during life’s journey. Derived from core metabolic energies, are other energies that progressively push forward the limits of human transcendence, namely nervous system energies that use electro-chemical and micro electromagnetic forces. And beyond that, are others, generated by massive neuronal network aggregates, such as the brain, producing higher order energies that express themselves as states of consciousness.
From the ongoing aftershocks of the Big Bang’s primordial detonation to the forces that spin windmills, and from our body’s physical motions to the incessant workings of our individual bodily cells, resides a core common element: Energy. Think about it, without it, everything would stand still, and all living forms would eventually devolve to rejoin the inanimate world. On our human plane, our energy is a precious elixir. At any one time, we are provided with some idea of its
levels, high, normal, or low, giving us a sense of our power reserves. A still unlocated gauge residing in our brains tells us, in the here and now, how much energy circulates in our bodies and minds, and how much could be made available for anything we contemplate doing. We perennially long for access to higher magnitudes of this magical substance. From where does this elixir spring, which dynamics move it, what embodies its core, and how can one tap into its source?
Imagine yourself a robot. How much energy would you need to do all the things you’ve done in the last twenty-four hours? How many times, as a robot, would you recharge your lithium batteries to provide for the Watt-hours powering all your movements and the totality of your operating systems? As a mammal, add all the motions of all your internal organs, such as the faithful pump of your heart’s beat and the peristalsis of your digestive system. And what of your mind’s thoughts and emotions? Do they not require significant energy to spark their neuronal workings? Indeed, each perceived thought and felt emotion represents a sequence of firing neurons, engaging, each time, a corresponding illumination of consciousness. Robots are energised by the direct force of flowing electrons. Amperages and voltages make robots move. Humans, similarly, make use of electron flows, but in gradual ways that will not electrocute them. This extraction process, honed for
billions of years from the time the first unicellular organisms populated the earth’s primordial seas, is chemical magic. From our fuel source, food, we instinctively seek the nutrients that harbour its chemical reserves. Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats cumulated by plants and animals via comparable processes feed our life’s voracious machinery for energetic sustenance. Another element essential for burning our nutrients is oxygen. Required minute by minute without let-up, oxygen lends its electron exchange powers to a carefully choreographed cascade of metabolic events whose final product is the energy needed for doing what cells do. Cells not only look for continuity of their own individual life, but as members of trillions-celled humans, they are also given assigned roles. Thyroid, pancreatic, and pituitary
“We perennially long for access to higher magnitudes of this magical substance. From where does this elixir spring, which dynamics move it, what embodies its core, and how can one tap into its source?”
cells make hormones; bone cells make skeletons, and nerve cells electrify communications. In huge aggregates, like brains, neuronal cells generate intelligence and creativity. What’s more, in a miraculous tour de force, they can create – or access – a very special dimension: Consciousness. In the extraction of nutrients’ energy, electrons are transacted in reactions called reduction oxidation or “redox,” where the final electron acceptor is oxygen itself. Without oxygen, our metabolism stops, and indeed we must keep breathing lest we rejoin the inanimate. Unlike a log’s ardent oxygen-driven flames, however, metabolism is a slow burn quest for energy, the force constantly required to feed life’s glow. Like all living things, humans are fundamentally energy extraction organisms. We take power from energy-rich molecules, reducing them to energy-poorer molecules. The first one-celled living organisms, emerging some 4 billion years ago in the earth’s amino acid broth, found ways to form communities, becoming multi-celled entities. Given time, cells discovered electro-chemistry and developed abilities for rapid responsiveness to ambient conditions. They also learned faster communications among themselves, a distinctly advantageous capacity. What really happens as we siphon energy from foods? In wondrous biochemical creativity, metabolic energy finds its destination in a unique compound, a molecular battery that can be endlessly discharged and recharged, ATP, or adenosine triphosphate, which is used by all earthen species and has even been searched for in other planets as a proof of life.
Manufactured by each living cell, ATP is essential for most basic cellular functions, from protein construction, immune defense, and muscle contraction, to RNA and DNA synthesis and brain bioelectric reactivity. One sugar molecule, for example, will yield about 30 ATP offshoots, and with all our combined cellular activities, we manufacture close to our weight in ATP daily. Lamentably, ATP cannot be stored nor injected. Tracing our metabolic energy back to its roots, we see that it all ultimately trickles down from our sun’s benevolent radiation. Our star bestows us its energy, which it creates from atomic fusion. And looking far beyond our antediluvian past, all the energies we humanly possess at this very moment have their fundamental source in a cosmic deflagration some 13.8 billion years ago, that birthed all galaxies, and eventually our sun. In 1927, Visionary Belgian physicist Georges Lemaître called the source of this genesis the “primeval atom,” now known as the Big Bang.
There are many forms of energy on earth: Thermal, magnetic, gravitational, electrical, mechanical, chemical, and nuclear, among others. Any one energy can morph into any other. As humans, we make use of all of them. The most mysterious and elusive of all energies, however, is Dark Energy, because it still cannot be observed or measured, and yet, by all estimates, it accounts for some 68% of our universe. The first neurons emerged early in animal evolution around 600 million years ago. First found in sea creatures like jellyfish, sponges, and cnidarians such as sea anemones, the push for connectivity eventually grew spinal cords, nerves plexuses, and brains. It is vibrantly ongoing today. While not refuting the findings of biomedical sciences, there are other notions of human energy that predate contemporary systems by thousands of years. They were gleaned, not by way of test tubes and measuring machines but by the sheer meditative exploration of human consciousness. These models posit forces coursing through our bodies, intersecting with our physical self and giving it life.
There need not be any competition between these systems. A more sensible approach may be integration, if not a fusion of systems. The practice of mind-body arts increasingly demonstrates that the energy dynamics they access can beneficially impact all bodily functions.
And what about our human consciousness? Is consciousness energy? If so, can it morph into other energies, and vice versa? Can consciousness translate to known energy sources, or, akin to Dark Energy, does it belong to an independent dimension with its own proprietary workings and laws?
In the literature of human transcendence, ancient and modern, multiple references are made to special states of consciousness known as “Pure Consciousness.” Meditators, sages, rishis and even “ordinary people” report states of experiencing human energy in drastically novel forms. Often described as so poignantly transfixing that they surpass all common thoughts and emotions, “Pure consciousness” experiences are conceptualised as the direct perception of human energy, the core of consciousness, devoid of all ego structures and expressions. Richard Bucke, M.D., a Canadian physician, and mystic, in his classic “Cosmic Consciousness: A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind,” (first published in 1901), wrote that “simple consciousness,” shared by much of the animal kingdom, eventually added a higher mental stage, “selfconsciousness,” embodying greater self-reflective capacities. From there, a new layer is emerging, “Cosmic consciousness.” Citing examples of numerous historical figures who reported analogous phenomena, he describes the sweeping transformative experience that spawned the renaissance of his world vision. Gopi Krishna, a humble yogi meditator with linguistic gifts, reporting on his transformative experience in “Kundalini: The Evolutionary Energy in Man,” describes the wondrous energy he accessed via this metaphor, “a stream of liquid light entering my brain from my spinal cord.” Human energy derives from the aggregate contribution of trillions of cells, each living cell diligently producing energy molecules. Within this community of cells are neurons which, over eons, developed the skill of electrochemical signalling, taking life energy to higher possibilities. Our human energy finds its primal origin in the sun’s benevolent radiation. Further afield, however, its primordial genesis belongs to the cosmic phenomenon known as the Big Bang.
Human consciousness itself is an expression of energy. Like known energies, does it also derive from the explosive illumination of the Big Bang? Or does it belong to another network with its own proprietary laws? Meditation on energy can activate all bodily organs. It can also activate itself and open landscapes to new self perceptions.
MEDITATION ON ENERGY
At times, meditation focuses on gathering insights, realisations, and even revelations. Here, we are exploring connections to the wellspring of our own life forces. Our intention is first to contact them, then expand them. Find your best meditative position so that there is a minimal effort in maintaining it. Yoga or supine positions are fine. Eyes closed, connect with the feeling of your body’s interior, reaching your calmest physiological rhythm. Learn to develop total body awareness.
Once in your meditative destination, request a connection to your energy. Where is it, what does it look like, and has it a source? How does your energy feel, and how is it expressed in your mental imagery? Open your meditative field to colours, luminosities, sounds and tonalities, internal vibrations, and perceptions of bodily currents. Also, accept any imagery that may come from any other source, be they eidetic images of our sun’s warmth and light, the wonder of spiral galaxies, the beauty of the Aurora Borealis, or the force of luxuriant vegetation, as may be found in the paintings of Henri Rousseau.
Linking to your energy core is likely to be fleeting at first, as your meditative forays strive to connect to its sensory signals and to its mental images. More direct pathways emerge along the way. Meditating on energy stimulates the mind-body interface, activating brain and nervous system functions and the vitality of bodily systems.
Dr. Gérard Sunnen is a medically trained psychotherapist practicing in New York City. Certified in psychiatry and neurology, his areas of specialty include hypnotherapy, medical hypnosis, meditation therapy, and Autogenic Training. Drsunnen.com