Holistic Psychology: Premise & Research

When we think about psychology, our focus typically moves to the human mind, to the measurable origin of perception, emotion, thought and behavior. There is a substantial and impressive breadth of research available attempting to shed light on the brain’s makeup and on the predictive antecedents to emotion, cognition, behavior, and their mechanisms of action. Yet a holistic theory of psychology and a holistic approach to improving psychological functioning continues to elude us. The complexity of human experience, within which psychological functioning is weaved, cannot be explained without taking into account a broader view of the existential sphere.

    Researchers are integrating the tenets of quantum theory into the study of neuropsychology, which looks at the brain in relation to psychological processes and behaviors. Tang & Dai (2011) support the presence of measurable energy particles, light energy, in brain function. They note that while “traditional theories seem to give valuable explanations for the basic functions of the nervous system,” they are inadequate in describing “higher brain functions and mental activities, such as perception, learning and memory, emotion and consciousness (p. 71).” They confirm that electromagnetic movement, not only bioelectrical and chemical in nature, is critical to the transfer of information in the brain. Integrating quantum theory principles into the study of psychology enables us to begin to consider the similarities between us and the universe at large, both governed by similar principles. It brings us closer to conceptualizing a holistic viewpoint. It also compels us to consider how to provide interventions that keep up with current research.

    Schwartz, Stapp, & Beauregard (n.d.) also integrating quantum theory concepts into understanding neuropsychological function, suggest that during information transmission in the brain, there is a vast potential of possible outcomes which are dependent upon the will of the person within whom these processes are occurring. The transmission of light energy is both present and can be self determined. Biofeedback approaches and their efficacy (Schoenberg & David, 2014; Peria, Fredrikson, & Pourtois, 2014; among many others) lend additional support to our ability to act upon our own minds. When individuals are made aware of their brain’s EEG patterns, heart rate, breathing rate and sweat reactions, they are able to exert control over these mechanisms over time. Muscle relaxation, the slowing of the breath, visualization and meditation enhance our ability to make such changes and are commonly taught to those undergoing biofeedback treatments (Schoenberg & David, 2014). Coaching individuals on how to meditate and how to reduce their heart and breathing rates through relaxation training are two ways of implementing available research into psychological work.

    As referenced in the biofeedback findings, it is not only the brain that is of interest when discussing human experience and the psychological elements imbedded within. Dr. Armour, M.D., Ph.D. has been working since 1991 in the field of Neurocardiology. He describes a system entitled the “heart mind,” which details how the heart has its own ability to encode and process information, first independently of the brain and then interactively (Kember, Armour, & Zamir, 2011).  Also, McCraty (2004) found that the heart is acutely linked to not just physical, but also psychological and spiritual experiences, without the brain playing an intermediary role. Taking it one step further, he showed that electromagnetic energy emitted by a person’s heart influences brainwaves of those around him. The brain, in its chemical, bioelectrical and electromagnetic processes, the heart and our awareness of physiological markers such as the beating of our hearts, and our breathing and sweat reactions are all powerful tools for understanding and acting upon our psychological worlds.

    We are moving toward a more integrated system of understanding ourselves and quantum principles are enabling us to do so. Photons are the energy particles found in quarks, the smallest unit of matter described in quantum physics thus far. Biophotons are the energy in living things, which are a weaker form of photons introduced by Dr. Alexander Gurvich and his wife (1944) and confirmed by Fritz Alpert Popp and others (Popp, Becker, Konig, & Peschka, 1977). Biophotons have been found to originate predominantly in our DNA (Rattemeyer, Popp, & Nagl, 1981; Popp, Nagl, Li, Scholz, Weingärtner, & Wolf, 1984), which punctuates their importance and our developmental reliance upon them.

    Garjajev & Poponin (1997) confirmed that our DNA molecules communicate in the form of ultraviolet photon transmissions and not only receive and transmit information, but also absorb and interpret the information presented. The same energy that is associated with brain and heart activity, that is found in and originates from our DNA, is also emitted by our bodies. “The human body literally glimmers. The intensity of the light emitted by the body is 1000 times lower than the sensitivity of the naked eye. Ultra-weak photon emissions are known as the energy released as light through changes in energy metabolism… The human body directly and rhythmically emits light” (Kobayashi, Kikuchi, & Okamura, 2009, p. 1).

    As we observe how our system functions, we also see the potential for how we can affect one another at the quantum level. The electromagnetic energy of one entity has been found to affect the electromagnetic energy of another (McCraty, 2004). It may not be visible to the naked eye, but energy is being transferred between people. Roe, Sonnex, & Roxburgh (2015) confirmed in their analysis of 106 studies that a practitioner’s intention to heal is powerful enough to produce “positive effects on the recipient’s wellbeing (p. 11)” while controlling for both placebo effects and expectation. Again, light energy has a measurable effect.  In our movement toward a holistic understanding of psychology, recognition of the far-reaching presence of light energy compels us to wonder about the interconnectedness within us (in our minds, brains and bodies) and between us.

   Schwartz, Stapp, & Beauregard (n.d.) note that one example of how people can directly impact their neuropsychological functioning is through meditation. The act of meditating has been found to produce changes in biophoton emissions, the energy particles of quantum theory, as well (Van Wijk, Koch, Bosman, & Van Wijk, 2006;  Van Wijk, Ackerman, & Van Wijk, 2005). How does this translate to our psychological experiences? Research supports that the ability to sit in silence, in contemplation or with focused attention is helpful in improving emotional well-being (Murphy, Donovan, & Taylor, 1997).  Meditation is also described as an emotional regulator (Guleria, Kumar, Sri Kunai Kishan, & Khetrapal, 2013). Brain centers associated with the regulation of the emotional states, attention and working memory were all found to be altered during a state of meditation among experienced meditators.

    It is not surprising that yoga, a physical, and for some, a spiritual practice which integrates meditation, increases mindfulness and slowing of the breath and has been gaining prominence in the field of mental health because of its ability to help regulate emotional states (Novotney, 2009). Essential to yoga theory is the presence of seven chakras or “integrated energy centers that are considered to affect physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being… These energy [centers] are positioned or embedded in the spinal column at various locations starting at the coccyx and rising to the crown of the head” (Deshpande, Madappa, & Korotkov, 2013, p. 982). These authors studied the electromagnetic measurements of individuals before and after a three-hour program teaching breathing exercises, a loving-kindness intention exercise and meditation. Biophoton measurements revealed an over-all change in bodily photon emissions after the intervention as well as improvement in the alignment of the subjects’ chakra systems along the spine. There is a similar structure within Kabbalistic teachings also elaborated upon with quantum theory concepts (Afilalo, & Schipper, 2012-13), building another interesting bridge between the scientific and the spiritual.

    Nonhuman biological systems, such as the food we eat also emit electromagnetic energy in the form of biophotons (Popp, Becker, Konig, & Peschka, 1977; Yan, Popp Sigrist, Schlesinger, Dolf, Yan, Cohen, & Chotia, 2005). These researchers found that the more alive the food, the closer it is to its natural state, the higher its biophotonic energy. Freshly picked vegetables have the highest measured biophoton emissions of all foods while cooked foods, meats and meat derivatives such as eggs and milk have the lowest. Given that light energy is found to interact between biological systems, contemplating the effects of eating raw foods from a quantum particle perspective is worth considering. Interestingly, Gabriel Cousens, M.D., in his book, Creating Peace by Being Peace (2008), notes that a person eating mostly junk food displays a biophoton reading of approximately 83,000 times less than those consuming raw foods. It appears that the energy particles found in the body are reinforced by the eating of raw fruits and vegetables and alternatively, depleted when raw foods are not eaten.

    There is a breadth of data that supports eating fruits and vegetables for the promotion of physical health (Takaoka & Kawakami, 2013; Cousens, 2008; Clement, 2007) and emotional health (Blanchflower, Oswald, & Stewart-Brown, 2012; McMartin, Jacka, & Colman, 2013; Jacka, Mykletun, & Berk, 2011). Now, we can begin to understand these findings from the perspective of quantum principles and, in so doing, continue to move toward a holistic framework. We are made of light energy, we transmit light energy and we are most nourished by foods that emit light energy.

    The integration of a healthy lifestyle through meditation, yoga and living foods into our emotional development is a powerful way to address psychological functioning from a naturally holistic perspective. To lend additional support to the inclusion of meditation, yoga and living foods consumption into psychological programs, lifestyle improvement has also been found to significantly reduce symptoms of depression. This includes: exercising more, improving relaxation, mindfulness meditation, as well as improving sleep and social interaction (Sarris, O’Neil, Coulson, Schweitzer, & Berk, 2014). The researchers note that poor air, water and noise quality as well as pollution also negatively impact depressive symptoms. It is no surprise that the health of our environment affects our emotional health. What is fascinating is that the way we choose to nourish ourselves can impact our environment. Eating live, plant-based foods, while certainly nourishing our minds and bodies, also dramatically reduces our carbon footprint (Scarborough, Appleby, Mizdrak, Briggs, Travis, Bradbury, & Key, 2014; Soret, 2011).

    The healing of our earth is an example of the far reaching effects of our actions as our self-awareness deepens through psychological growth and our minds and bodies heal. There is a natural expansion of the drive to improve oneself that translates into healing others and also to the healing of the world around us. As we grow introspectively, we begin to see more of what is around us with developing ease. Our connection to one another, while expanding to include our physical globe does not end there. There is a universe beyond us, undefined realms still beyond that and of course the unseen energy between us. Quantum theory supports the absence of clear physical boundaries among all forms of matter. While we may appear to be separate beings, gazing upon a person or object, speaking to someone or simply passing someone in the street alters our physical makeup as we exchange properties at the subatomic level. Likewise, we affect and are affected by the trees, plants and animals around us. “An act of observation here and now can affect not only the object being observed but also an object far away… the universe is characterized by interconnectedness… [there is a] feature of wholeness inherent in atomic physics, going far beyond the idea of the limited divisibility of matter (Sokal, 1996, p.221).”

    The concept of holistic psychological health, given cited research and perhaps an element of intuitive knowing, also researched and defined scientifically (McCraty, Atkinson, & Bradley, 2004), seems more representative of reality than the compartmentalization of wellness. Our psychological and physical worlds, the foods we eat, the way we choose to exercise our bodies, our internal meditative space and the universe at large are ultimately connected. Let’s explore human experience and improve it while maintaining keen awareness of this reality.




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