Sunday, May 30, 2010

Friday, March 26, 2010

Blog is Now on as "Psychology and Spirituality"

Dear Reader:

Two people in the know tell me that blogs on get wider Internet circulation, so I've moved my blog to that website. I was also told it would get more notice if the name of the blog more closely reflects its contents. So I've renamed the blog "Psychology and Spirituality."

Here's the link to my blog's new location.

I hope to see you there!

Gary Seeman, Ph.D.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Aura and Psychology: Where's the Science?

Since I posted notice of my new writing on psychology and the aura on the listserv for APA Division 36: Psychology and Religion, many questions arose about whether there's valid science here. In response, I wrote a similar post to this, which is minimally edited for the readers of this blog. Here's how the scientific research will be included and where I'm coming from with all of this.

Part 5 of this new series will survey the literature of those who claim to detect and measure the human biofield, its conventional and subtle energies. I will do my best to do a thorough job on that aspect. But before anyone jumps in asking for a detailed discussion of that material, know that this will take awhile.

This project doesn't start off with detailing the physics, neuroscience and so on but rather with proposing a model that will act as a lens for reviewing the science. However, please know that I'm open to the science (or lack of scientific findings) changing or disproving my model. I started developing my model during the creative process of writing my doctoral dissertation on Jung's Kundalini Seminar. The model has also been emerging as I see apparent connections between many psychological phenomena and what I've read and sense about the aura. As posted earlier, I'm influenced by my own mystical experiences and an ability to intuit the aura as a meditation discipline for more than 30 years. I train with advanced practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism and Kundalini Yoga, and will be discussing this project later this month with an expert in the latter, Joan Harrigan, Ph.D., who was my dissertation reader.

So far I've come across interesting research by Hiroshi Motoyama (1981 and much more), Valerie Hunt (1996), Konstantin Korotkov (1999) and others who claim to detect and measure subtle energies. Motoyama, for instance, has developed a device for detecting and measuring changes in the acupuncture meridians. And my dissertation research revealed that the major chakras correspond directly with certain acupoints (Raheem, 1984). Motoyama also measures photon emissions from chakras. He has an active lab and his research is ongoing although he's now in his 80s.

Korotkov has invented a different kind of device for sensing the subtle field and Beverly Rubik, Ph.D., a Berkeley trained biophysicist, works with that device. She hosted a visit by Korotkov to the U.S. a few years back. I've known Dr. Rubik for many years and plan to interview her.

I'll also look at research and theories about subtle energy and psi. During my dissertation research about 10 years ago I came across a very fine book by Dean Radin (1997) summarizing the findings of 100 years of parapsychology, including the results of his statistical meta-analysis. His book also has a chapter I really like about rigid skepticism. There's a subsequent book by Dean Radin (2006) called Entangled Minds that I will also review.

I'll also read the new book by Charles Tart (2009) on the conflict between materialism and parapsychology. A book by John Arden (1998 ) entitled Science, Theology and Consciousness looks worthwhile, and I'm in contact with him.

I've found an extensive web site by William Tiller, professor emeritus of Stanford University, who proposes a theory of subtle energy and has been running some interesting distant influence experiments. See I've been in contact with William Braud, the recently retired transpersonal psychologist and researcher who has had his own mystical experiences. He has posted many papers on an extensive web site here:

But I won't just be exploring those who agree with my current view. I look forward to reading a new book by Gibbs Williams (2009), who employs contextual analysis to refute Jung's theory of synchronicity. I've come across some writing by George Hogenson (2001, 2008 and more) that offers alternate explanations to Jung's mystical ones about archetypes and synchronicity. He's very interested in mirror neurons.

And of course I want to research the writings of skeptics. I invite any skeptics reading this post to suggest sources for me to review.


Arden, J. B. (1998). Science, theology and consciousness: The search for unity. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.

Hogenson, G. B. (2001). “The Baldwin effect: a neglected influence on C. G. Jung’s evolutionary thinking.” In Journal of analytical psychology. 2001, 46, 591-611.

Hogenson, G. B. (200). “Synchronicity and moments of meeting.” In Journal of analytical psychology. 2008, 54, Number 2, 183-197.

Hunt, V. V. (1996). Infinite mind: Science of the human vibrations of consciousness. Malibu, CA: Malibu Publishing Company.

Korotkov, K. (1999). Aura and consciousness: New stage of scientific understanding. St. Petersburg, Russia: St. Petersburg Division of Russian Ministry of Culture, State Editing & Publishing Unit "Kultura.”

Motoyama, H. (1981). Theories of the chakras: Bridge to higher consciousness. Wheaton, IL: The Theosophical Publishing House.

Radin, D. S. (1997). The conscious universe: The scientific truth of psychic phenomena. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

Radin, D. S. (2006). Entangled minds: Extrasensory experiences in a quantum reality. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Raheem, A. (1984). A transpersonal integration of the whole person through the meridian and chakra energy systems. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, California Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, Menlo Park, California.

Seeman, G. (2001). Individuation and subtle body: A commentary on Jung’s Kundalini Seminar. Doctoral dissertation, Pacifica Graduate Institute, Carpinteria, CA.

Tart, C. T. (2009). The end of materialism: How evidence of the paranormal is bringing science and spirit together. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications. A copublication of New Harbinger Publications and Noetic Books.

Williams, G. (2009). Demystifying meaningful coincidences (synchronicities): The evolving self, the personal unconscious, and the creative process. New York: Jason Aronson.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Seeing the Aura?

Today I received the first responses to posting my articles to several psychological listservs on psychological change in the human aura. Several readers were immediately interested in this subject and some were turned off by the very idea. Reading the responses of supporters and critics allows me to respond to readers' curiosity and concerns, so I can write more effectively about this subject. Those who objected did so on the basis of reading my announcement about the articles, not the articles themselves. Their objection was that since they don't "see" any "aura," the subject is irrelevant at best. At worst, they think I'm probably promoting pseudoscience. I actually address the concern about not being able to sense the aura in Part 1 of the series, which you can read here. This blog responds to the question about being able to see the aura.

I wouldn't be writing about such things if I hadn't had life-changing mystical experiences. I've been been able to see and feel the aura for many years, if I decide to focus that way, which I usually don't do (see below). The ability to see auras isn't common in western culture and not even among experienced meditators, who generally don't train to develop such specific abilities (also see below).

After a classic spiritual opening in early 1977, I trained in the reading and healing of the aura at a local offshoot of the Berkeley Psychic Institute for a year and a half. Part of this training involved doing what we called "line readings," where students would meditate upon and speak about their perceptions of the auras of people who would come for such readings. We found that when practicing with each other or reading these complete strangers, we would see similar energy structure and color in our minds' eyes. This is a common experience among intuitives. Valerie Hunt, Ph.D., in her book, Infinite Mind, describes assembling a panel of intuitives who would see similarly to each other. Although some intuitives were always able to see this way, others, like me, gained that ability only after doing specific meditation exercises. And much of the training involves stilling the mind sufficiently that you're not projecting what you expect to see rather than intuiting directly. To get a sense of what intuitives like me perceive when meditating upon someone's energy field, see the illustrations by Joseph A. Smith in the book, Hands of Light by Barbara Brennan.

Another experience of what it's like to see the aura comes from a friendship I had while attending my Master's in Psychology program. One of my classmates was an accomplished meditator who typically sat in meditation for at least six hours each day. He reported seeing subtle energy in great detail as if he was seeing through his eyes. He could see all of the chakras, acupuncture meridians and acupoints as moving dashes of white light. For him, this ability opened up spontaneously as a result of his extensive meditation. Such experiences are probably more common in cultures where many more people do extensive meditation under expert guidance.

Skeptics reading this blog will think that because they can't sense such things, what I'm writing cannot be true or honest. But I'm telling you my actual experience. Think of it this way. Some people and animals perceive things that others don't, and this is objectively known. Your dog, for instance, can perceive sounds far above the range of human hearing. Seeing auras is a similar ability in that some people have inner visual representations of energy when others see nothing. The difference is that with training, some people can develop this extra sensitivity.

I'll also tell you that as a psychotherapist, I usually don't pay much attention to subtle fields but instead hold myself in a meditative calmness and pay close attention to my clients' words while peripherally observing their facial expressions and body language. But mostly I'm taking in what they're saying, trying to empathize with what it's like to have their experiences, and reflecting on evidence-based or case-based psychological theory to try and help them work through their issues.

Rather than be vigilant to what may be happening in the aura, I center myself in a calm and alert state. If a client is very emotionally activated, my being centered may have a field effect that helps to calm them. Certainly doing so helps me think more clearly in the session. My current lack of focus on psychic reading is consistent with what is taught in Buddhism and Hinduism, which both consider too much focus on siddhis (special powers) to be a hindrance to growth of character and attainment of deep mental calmness. When going through my psychic training, I found it a strain to try and sense that way too much and am glad to have gotten out of the habit. If I do use subtle sensing, it's not very different from anyone having a feeling, getting a hunch, and asking the other person whether my intuition fits their experience. If not, I go with what they tell me because aura reading is vulnerable to distortion by one's projections.

The series of articles I'm writing will survey the scientific attempts to detect the subtle energies intuitives like me see and feel. I will also review experiments that have been done to differentiate subtle sensing from the inner imagery created through reading another's physical cues. All in due time. I'm at the beginning of this project and look forward to reporting my findings to you.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Where the Blue Sky Meets the Ether(net)

On this exciting day, the blue sky of imagination finally meets the ether(net)! I'm excited to explore this new medium and discover its ability to reach out to interested readers. Welcome to all of you who find this. The "finding" part is what I'm hoping to help you do, because I believe many of you will enjoy the content.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Seeing is Understanding

Welcome to my blog!

I've chosen the name to allow for writing about a variety of topics that are all about seeing and understanding:

- Psychotherapy
- Surfing life's turbulent times
- Jungian psychology
- Transpersonal psychology
- The human aura and psychological experience

And whatever may come to mind about issues like these.

Please visit my website for in-depth articles about these issues: