Partial Disengagement of Subtle Body Parts
Hereby meant is the feeling of body parts (in most cases arms or legs) taking off. It feels like still being in the material body while arms and legs aren't bound anymore. The body parts can be moved willingly or perform spontaneous proper motion. They may also seem to float above the physical body. The latter is commonly observed with the legs that spontaneously drift upwards what feels like laying in a bathtub full of salt water. I often made that experience. I very often had a doubled consciousness in which I felt the material body as well as the subtle body parts.
Own experiences in late-night meditations:
In the first years of yoga I often experienced partial disengagements of body parts because I often tried meditating late in the evening when I was already exhausted. I did that to do my daily stint (which was rank nonsense). The process toke place as follows:
I practiced despite fatigue and came in a state of doze. Whenever I doze off my body tipped over to the front what woke me up again and what made falling asleep impossible. The symptoms of fatigue came with interesting side effects:
I observed the hearing of voices and noticeable apparent movements of head and limbs (mostly my arms).
I felt like my arm was performing spontaneous proper motion.
In extreme cases the subtle body can fall out of the material body.
"I think that the movements are resulting from a partial disengagement of the subtle body and are no hypnagogic deceptions. This theory is supported by two incidents in which I saw the room resp. the desk from another perspective.”
“Every now and then I take a midday nap on the couch at the weekend. When I do that I lie on my back. Often I 'wake up' and am aware about where I am, what day we have etc. but my body feels like I am still sleeping. Sometimes when I am in this state I try to lift my subtle arms. It feels like they are tied to my physical body with elastic band but when I slowly amplify the pulling force I can (apparently?) manage to release my subtle arms.
After that I do some experiments like touching my hand, pushing my palms together or touching my face and holding my nose. What I touch feels completely normal. I can feel my face, my nose etc. and also clearly feel that I hold my nose. Then I am 'amused' about the fact that I can still breath. I can clearly feel my hand holding my nose but it cannot be my physical nose because otherwise I couldn't breath. I am able to think logical the whole time and I think I know that I am not sleeping.
I can also feel the touch of my hands in my face but I cannot see my hands though! Sometimes I manage to open one eye or even both and see my living room. But when that happens my eyes often shake or I have a clouded view. I cannot lift my head from my body – just my arms and legs.”
“I lie down, close my eyes and relax beginning from my feet. After breathing out I let every body part fall one by one. The physical body becomes heavy instantly. At the same time I imagine the corresponding part of my etheric body to 'inflate' and thereby separate from the physical part. It often happens that I don't even reach the point where I let my head fall because I am already asleep. That's because the relaxation not only effects the body but also the mind.
When I stay conscious the physical body is then relaxed and the etheric body loosened.
Now I pay attention to latter. I start with the arms because they are the easiest body part to detach. They feel like balloons that are filled with hot air and are attached with a cord to my physical body so they don't float away. Often I sense a liquid surrounding my arms which is ectoplasm. Regardless of that and without me doing anything, my etheric hands move back and forth. Sometimes they move sideward and then go back to their starting position. After that the forearms start moving left and right as if they want to make room. Soon the whole arm reacts.
The most difficult part is to avoid waking up. Often it happens that a part of my body – mostly the arms – perform jerky movements. This is a spontaneous partial disengagement. One might think it was the physical body that moved but that is not actually the case. Unfortunately, these spontaneous partial disengagements lead to waking up and the state is being interrupted. Even though it is possible to stay in the state if the nature of this spontaneous partial disengagement is known. Over time the state becomes more stable so that it is possible to leave the physical body.” (Gauri)
The loosening is a phenomenon where the etheric body parts only a few centimeters to a hand's width from the physical body.
This state facilitates Kundalini phenomena, clairvoyance and communication with spirits. Often the etheric body is loosened while perceiving sleep paralysis.
Perception of Orbs
Commonly the subtle body is an image of our current physical body. Otherworldly beings appear in their former worldly body.
But there are also exceptions. When the apparition or emanation toke place unconsciously, the guise of dynamic motions of subtle matter displaces the self-conception. That is the case with the occasionally seen orbs.
A light-gray orb floated over the head.
Sometimes clairvoyant people report that they saw subtle emanations in form of orbs or balls. These orbs vary greatly in size. Some are pea-sized others reach the total of approx. one meter diameter. The small orbs often consist of denser astral matter and therefore are very colorful or glowing, while larger orbs often seem fainter, cloudier and less compact. Theosophists consider the orbs as mental body. However I don't think this interpretation is correct.
An observation from my circle of acquaintances:
“In the first few months of my affiliation in the ashram (yoga communion), I could observe the following occurrence in a yoga class:
The ashram (yoga room) lay in comforting twilight. Our two gurus sat in the same places as always. When I looked up I saw two bright orbs – one floating over Guru Ananda's head and one floating over Swami Vayuananda's head. Silently, they floated over their heads in approx. 1 meter distance to the parting of the hair. The orbs measured approx. 1 meter diameter. I was able to clearly see the orbs for quiet a long time, at least 10 to 20 minutes. Although their density varied over time, they remained – aside from minimal changes in position – unchanged.” (So.)
Apparitions are understood as the perception of otherworldly intelligence in the current surroundings.
Apparitions are commonly know since the Old and the New Testament report about these phenomena. Back then but also today, many people believe that these apparitions are materializations.
To perceive apparitions, a special state of mind is required that can be achieved through relaxation or arousal. Hypo arousal as well as hyper arousal similarly lead to this altered state of consciousness through a tipping process.
From: 'Anandas Erscheinungen und Jenseitsreisen' by Elvira Ballabene
“It was my ninth birthday. After the birthday party my grandfather toke my hand and said: 'After all the joy you received on your birthday, we don't want to forget that everything on earth is ephemeral. That's why we will visit the old graveyard.'
I toke my diligently stored and carefully washed pebbles with me and we went to the graveyard. It is a custom of the desert to put stones on a grave instead of flowers. I often went to the cemetery with my grandfather that's why I always had these small stones prepared.
I was already familiar with many of the tombs there. Dearest to me, however, was the tomb of a 16 year old youngster (rabbinic student) because I knew his personal history that was very sad. I always prayed there reverently.
Silently, we stood at his final resting place. Even though many years have passed since then, the experience I made there is still very vivid inside me.
Nobody but me and my grandfather was at the cemetery. Suddenly, I heard an powerful murmuring and at first thought of a downpour, but then I saw directly in front of the round stone of the tomb the bright figure of a young man.
The figure looked at me and clearly said: 'Death is not the end!'
Solidified, I stood there and put out my hand to the gleaming man. My grandfather understood me even before I could tell him about the harrowing experience. I never knew if my grandfather had also seen the figure and heard its clear words.”
In later years:
“Often, the encounters with the apparitions were very short. Some were only a few seconds long. Rarely, an encounter lasted up to a few minutes.”
“At about three o'clock in the morning the room was illuminated by an orange light. I felt the murmur that is a common side effect of an apparition and so I went to my meditation chair and sat down. Suddenly, the angel-like Guru S. manifested in a golden robe. From his hands flowed bright beams that seemed warm and that I could almost feel physically. Then he unrolled a very long meadow-green scroll. The letters were large and I could clearly read them.....”
“My beloved Guru Vayuananda manifested in a noble light-blue robe and with bright face. He met me warmly like he did years ago with the Indian greeting that was a folding of the hands and spoke to me ...”
Visions are understood as the seeing of symbolic-religious images and scenes in an ecstatic state of consciousness. While apparitions are the perception of otherworldly intelligence in the current surroundings, vision show the characteristics of a cosmic view in which god, heaven or hell manifest as inner images. Often such a cosmic view is accompanied by the feel of being present at the location that is seen (as passive viewer without interfering with the situation). It is an ecstatic state and different from astral travel in its nature.
Ecstasy, Enlightenment, Samadhi
These three common terms refer to a trance-like state in which the outside world is no longer perceived. In deeper and more intense states of this category even the body feels paralyzed. In Yoga these states are subdivided in several categories.
Reports concerning Enlightenment States by People of Western Society
R.M. Bucke, 'Kosmisches Bewusstsein', Celle 1925; translated from Carl Albrecht, 'Das mystische Erkennen', Bremen (1958), page 102:
“It is the experience of an inner light. Without any premonition you feel embraced by flames, surrounded by a rosy-burning cloud and somehow as if a fire flares up from within you. At the same time you feel ineffable joy, bliss, certainty, triumph. All the mind and feeling forces are being enlightened. The cosmos is no longer dead matter. In a flash, the sense and the goal of the creation of the world is revealed.”
“... Suddenly and at no notice, I found myself embraced by a fiery cloud. For a second, I thought of a great fire nearby but then I realized that the fire was within me. A moment later a feeling of ineffable joy and bliss came over me. An immediate intellectual enlightenment followed that was beyond description. Anyhow I came to the conviction – not only through belief but through experiencing it myself – that the universe is not dead but full of life and motion. I became aware of the eternal life within myself. The vision lasted only a few seconds.”
Translated from: Heinrich Zimmer, 'Der Weg zum Selbst', page 76:
“... In this experience I had the feeling as if a lot of ants were scuttle upwards my back and I felt embraced by gentle, bright flames. I felt disembodied and submerged in blaze of light. The shine of this light was like evening sunshine paired with a slight drizzle. I began to cry.
Near the end of this experience I emitted a sound – some kind of call – and canceled the meditation. I started to say the rosary like I always do.”
Different Kinds of Samadhi (Enlightment) in Indian Yoga
- Bhava Samadhi
Ecstatic state of 'cosmic love'
- Sa-Vikalpa Samadhi
Leaving of the physical body in a state of ecstasy
- A-Vikalpa Samadhi
Fading of the ego
- Nir-Vikalpa Samadhi
Dissolution of world and ego
- Sahaja Samadhi
Perception of the world in state of Nir-Vikalpa Samadhi
Physical Symptoms in Ecstasy
- The body is in a state of immobility and becomes cold in Samadhi. The memories of the event are lost when waking up.
Also immobility but the memories are still there when waking up.
No state of immobility but a state of rapture, often in shape of an ecstatic dance or ecstatic doxology.
- Body and mind are under control and the worldly actions are unaffected. The super conscious state manifests as bright eyes, bright face and very strong charisma.
A recommendable book with a collection of reports from canonizations and beatifications is August Ackermanns work 'Mystik und außerordentliche mystische Vorgänge' (Einsiedeln, 1952).
The east tended and tends to mythologize the experiences of mystics what makes these reports unsuitable for serious scientific research. In contrast to that, the catholic church has maintained countless serious reports which pose a valuable cultural heritage. These reports describe the processes of canonizations and beatifications. These processes are similar to litigations where witnesses and objections of an 'advocatus diaboli' are heard to come to a reliable result. The accurate records of processes of canonization and beatification are a treasure trove that is unfortunately overlooked or flouted by parapsychologists and others who should be interested in such phenomena.
Excerpts from: August Ackermann, 'Mystik und außerordentliche mystische Vorgänge' Einsiedeln (1952) (no English version available):
“The ecstasy comes all of a sudden. It surprises at any occasion and any place. 'As soon as the ecstasy breaks out like gunpowder from a rifle' …
After the ecstasy they carry on with the preaching (St. Thomas von Villanova, St. Nikolaus Factor) or with the reading (St. Aegidius von Santarem and Maria von Maille) where they stopped when the ecstasy started. The ecstatics seemed to have no sense of time. Occasionally, they claimed that they thought the ecstasy did last only a moment (Cherubin von Stroncone).
The ecstatics are motionless like marble statues and stay in the position they are currently in.
The ecstatics convulsively hold on to objects that they got in their hands and take these objects with them when getting into deeper ecstasy (levitation) up into the air. Nobody can take the objects from them. Countless cases like that are reported. For example Passidea toke the hands of a ladies and went into an ecstasy. The lady could pull back her hands not before the ecstasy was over. In this respect, the most delightful incidents are reported from the lifes of ecstatics.
The facial expression transfigures. The face with closed eyes shows the expression of sweet sleep or of deep reflection.
There are also cases where the face shows delight and joy. The person is awake with eyes wide open, looking towards the sky. The face is fierce and with the expression of enlightenment, shows different kinds of passion such as joy, love, pain, happiness depending on what contents are experienced during the ecstasy.
Numbness or insensitivity or absence of all senses had been observed at many occasions during ecstasies by stabbing, burning etc. No fly on the open eyes could get them to blink as observed in many cases. Examples for that are St. Joseph von Copertino, Maria von Moerl, Anna Katherina Emmerick and others.
The cooling of the body and the apparent breathlessness are other symptoms of the ecstasy. The body becomes as cold as ice. 'The hands and the whole body becomes so cold that it seems like you are dead.' (St. Theresia von Jesus O. Carm. Von Avila)
There is no actual dying in ecstasy and the death is only apparent. This was experienced four times by Agnes von Langeac: 'The time when the abilities of the soul vanish because everything is one with god, I call point of culmination. From my experience, nothing is seen and heard and felt at this point.' (St. Theresia von Jesus, 'Leben', chapter 20)
The ecstasies occur at every age.
The ecstasies occur with one person more or less frequent. In the case of Elisabeth Spalbeck seven times a day. In case of Mother Agnes von Jesus two to three times a day... In case of Franziska von den fünf Wunden for many years steady. In case of Franziska Passidea more than the half of her life ...”
© Alfred Ballabene (Vienna) translated by Seth