by Christopher Dow
The idea that a master of chi is aware of and can react to and manipulate not only his or her own personal chi field (biofield, bioelectromagnetic field) but also that of others opens a host of possibilities that clamor for attention. After all, it is said that various psychic phenomena become real to the traveler on the road to enlightenment. So, let’s both speculate and have some fun at the same time.
The bioelectromagnetic force we call chi very likely does more than have an affect on the physiological structures and functions of an individual’s body, especially if it is true that the bioelectromagnetic field can be shown to be affected by and have an effect on external magnetic or electromagnetic fields. (For a more complete account of the link between electromagnetism and chi, see my book, The Wellspring: An Inquiry into the Nature of Chi.)
The latter aspect didn’t escape bioelectric researcher Dr. Robert O. Becker, who realized that such interactions must be present.
Elementary physics told me that the currents [associated with nerve impulses] and their associated electromagnetic fields would have to be affected in some way by external fields,” he writes. “In engineering terms, the biomagnetic field would be coupled to the DC currents. Hence changes impressed upon it by external fields would be ‘read out’ through perturbations in the current. Outside fields would also couple directly to the currents themselves, without acting through the biofield as intermediary, especially if the currents were semiconducting. In short, all living things having such a system would share the common experience of being plugged into the electromagnetic fields of earth, which in turn vary in response to the moon and sun. (1)
Becker wanted to investigate the interactions, but he couldn’t see a way to approach the problem until an opportunity appeared serendipitously. During the International Geophysical Year of 1957–58, he volunteered to collect data for the Aurora Watch Program, which was an effort to find out whether the northern lights appeared simultaneously throughout the north latitudes in response to changes in the Earth’s magnetic field. It turned out they do, but the data also gave Becker the opportunity to explore an entirely different phenomenon. He reviewed the data to see if they showed any correlation between the disturbances in the Earth’s field caused by magnetic storms on the sun and the rate of psychiatric admissions. (2)
To aid in the research, he enlisted Howard Friedman, chief of psychiatry at the VA Hospital in Syracuse, New York, whose credentials and reputation afforded access to the records of state psychiatric hospitals. The researchers matched the admissions of more than twenty-eight thousand patients at eight hospitals against sixty-seven magnetic storms over the previous four years and noted that a statistically significant greater number of people were admitted just after magnetic disturbances than when the field was stable. (3)
Becker and Friedman then looked for the same type of influence in patients already hospitalized, selecting twelve schizophrenics scheduled to remain in the VA hospital for several months with no changes in treatment. They asked the ward nurses to fill out a standard evaluation of the patients’ behavior once every eight-hour shift. Then they compared the results with cosmic ray measurements taken every two hours from government measuring stations in Ontario and Colorado.
Because magnetic storms generally decrease cosmic radiation reaching Earth, the researchers reasoned that they might find changes in the patient’s actions and moods during these declines. They used cosmic ray data instead of direct reports of the magnetic field strength because of technical problems in distinguishing magnetic storms from other variations in the Earth’s field. (4) Sure enough, various behavioral changes were noted in almost all the subjects one or two days after cosmic ray decreases. The delay was interesting because this is the same interval that incoming radiation from low-energy solar flares takes to produce strong disruptions in the Earth’s field. (5)
Encouraged, the researchers went on, in 1967, to confirm that atypical magnetic fields do produce abnormalities in various human and animal responses. They noted slowed reaction times in humans and a generalized stress response in rabbits exposed to fields ten or twenty times the normal strength of the Earth’s field. This led them to speculate that the Earth’s field plays a major role in keeping the DC system’s control of bodily functions within normal bounds. (6) Two other researchers—Frank Brown, at Northwestern University, and Rutger Weaver, at the Max Planck Institute in Munich—soon provided further proof of Becker and Friedman’s assertions. (7) Weaver, in particular, showed that an electric field pulsing at 10 hertz—which is the dominant frequency in the EEG in animals—is the prime timer of biocycles. (8)
These various findings jibe with Harold Saxon Burr and Björn E. Nordenström’s separate observations that there are definite interactions between bioelectromagnetic fields and other magnetic fields, whether they are produced by biological systems or by other means.
A graduate of and lifelong researcher at Yale University, Burr outlined his work with bioelectricity in his book Blueprint for Immortality. His findings encouraged him to postulate the existence of electro-dynamic fields around living things that can be measured and mapped with standard voltmeters. He discovered characteristic patterns in each life form that he tested, and these life-fields—or L-fields—are inherent in all living things and help determine an organism’s particular shape and function. “Every living thing is a storage battery charged with energy we call electricity,” he writes. “All of the seeds, plants, and animals we have tested show a direct relationship between electric potentials and vigor.” (9) In a sense, L-fields are similar to the morphogenic fields advanced by Paul Weiss in the 1930s, developed by H. V. Bronsted in the 1950s (10), and championed more recently by Rupert Sheldrake and others.
Burr reasoned that if there is an L-field, then unusual fluctuations in it might indicate illness or disease. In his book, he details experiments designed to determine the validity of this thesis that were carried out by Louis Langman, MD, of New York University and Bellevue Hospital Gynecological Service. Of more than 1,000 patients examined using electro-metric measurements of the L-field, 90-plus percent of those who showed a marked change in the voltage gradient had malignancies confirmed by biopsy. In subsequent experiments on mice, Burr reported changes in voltages as tumors were initiated and grew, while the control animals showed no changes.
Some of the most important work on the bioelectric system itself was done by Björn E. Nordenström, professor of diagnostic radiology at the Karolinska Institute and Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden, and published in his book Biologically Closed Electrical Circuits: Clinical, Experimental, and Theoretical Evidence for an Additional Circulatory System. (11) His research was sparked by a curious pattern in a chest x-ray he observed in the 1950s. What he saw was a corona-like emanation surrounding a primary lung tumor, and for the next thirty years, he delved into the implications of this corona, observing it in benign as well as malignant tumors. This led to experiments on electrical potentials in various tissues, the effects of electrical energy on healing, electroosmosis (the movement of liquid out of or through a porous material or biological membrane under the influence of an electrical field), and the effects of molecular and electric field forces on tissue.
Finally, Nordenström postulated the existence of a hitherto unknown circulatory system based on spontaneously occurring electrical potentials that drive electric currents through the body, which he called "biologically closed electric circuits." This electrical circulatory system, he said, does not consist of its own set of tubes, as with the blood and lymph systems, or of fibers as with nerves. Instead, he believed that the currents flow through tissues that surround the nervous system. Hence, this system does not have independent physiological structures that can be distinguished from structures whose functions already are surmised to be known. This also could serve as a description of chi and the meridian system.
Nordenström’s work not only demonstrates how circulating currents influence the structure and function of organs, but the electrical circulatory system he discovered may help explain many poorly understood physiological phenomena and processes such as diurnal cycles, embryogenesis, the spontaneous remission of cancer, and—not coincidentally to the premise of this article—the efficacy of prayer, meditation, and chi-enhancing exercises.
A number of other fascinating correlations exist between bioelectromagnetic fields and geomagnetism, such as the fact that dozens of species of animals—including bacteria, bees, newts, turtles, sharks, whales, homing pigeons, and migrating birds—have been found to have magnetic sensors. Research on the mystery of how bats navigate while hunting in the dark was solved by a team of scientists who reported their findings in Nature. The researchers showed that, while bats use echolocation at short ranges, they rely on the Earth’s magnetic field to keep their bearings over long distances. The scientists also discovered that bats “calibrate” their internal compasses each day at sunset, though the exact nature of the internal compass remains unknown. (12)
There also seems to be a definite historical correspondence between increases or changes in the Earth’s geomagnetic field and evolutionary bursts in human brain size. (13) But more to the point are speculations into the effects of one biofield on another. Such interactions might help explain extrasensory perception. Telling in this aspect is research into the pineal gland, which is equivalent to the head chakra. (Figure 1) “This tiny organ in the center of the cranium has turned out to be more than the vaguely defined ‘third eye’ of the mystic,” Becker writes. “It produces melatonin and serotonin, two neurohormones that, among many other functions, directly control all of the biocycles.” (14) It turns out that the pineal gland is influenced by very small magnetic fields, and several research groups have demonstrated that applying a small magnetic field, oriented so as to increase or decrease the Earth’s normal field, increases or decreases the pineal’s production of melatonin and serotonin. (15)
Interestingly enough, the pineal gland, because of its position in relation to the governing channel, naturally would be suffused with chi energy flowing up the spine and through the head. The increased flow experienced by a master of chi might serve to boost the workings of the pineal gland, not only increasing its secretion of serotonin and melatonin but making it more sensitive to the magnetic flux around it, giving the master, in truth, a sort of alternate view or sense of surrounding reality.
Figure 1 A cross-section of the brain showing the location of the pineal gland.
When we meet people, first impressions count a lot. Most of us probably have had the experience of meeting a person we know nothing about and finding ourselves instantly liking and feeling an affinity with them. And there are those we instantly detest. Psychologists might attribute those reactions to subtle body language or verbal cues or associations with past people we love or hate, but an electromagnetic theory of chi provides an alternative explanation.
“Opposites attract,” it is said of romantic relationships, and friends are “on the same wavelength.” These old sayings may have more of a foundation in the physics of bodily energy than we realize. If the particular fields of two individuals have energy frequencies that mesh harmoniously, they are attractive to one another. If they do not, then repulsion results. Most people, of course, fall into some vast midrange where the multifarious and complex magnetic forces of attraction and repulsion cancel out each other or find some median ground.
Although experiments in 1978 by E. Balanovski and J. G. Taylor, who used a variety of antennae, skin electrodes, and magnetometers to monitor a number of people claiming paranormal powers, found no electric or magnetic fields associated with successes in telepathy experiments (16), this does not preclude the possibility that interactions between bioelectromagnetic fields is a valid medium for telepathy—receivers do not produce signals.
There are, however, other problems with identifying bioelectromagnetic fields as the medium for telepathy. One that Becker examines is that the biofields of individuals are embedded in the far stronger magnetic field generated by the Earth, and the latter might overwhelm the former. But this might be overridden, he points out, if the sender and receiver are locked into a common frequency. “Such a lock-in system might explain why spontaneous ESP experiences most often happen between relatives or close friends.” (17)
But there also is the possibility that reception might not be strictly an all-or-nothing proposition. With hearing, for example, individuals unconsciously filter out noise and focus on particular elements of sound, such as a friend’s voice. “Hearing” on a psychic level might be equally selective. And just as some people hear better or are more able to filter extraneous sounds, some individuals might naturally be more sensitive or attuned to electromagnetic signals.
A second problem Becker notes is that psychic transmission doesn’t seem to fade with distance. The electromagnetic field around an animal’s nervous system is miniscule and diminishes rapidly. But he also points out that extremely low frequency transmissions (from 0.1 to 100 cycles per second) interact with the ionosphere in such a way that even weak signals in this frequency range travel completely around the world without dying out. (18) In addition, while electromagnetic influences do fade with distance, electromagnetism is one of the four fundamental forces of the universe. Like gravitation, electromagnetic force diminishes over distance, but it will continue to propagate infinitely outward from its source.
Telepathy could be one effect of electromagnetic transmission between two individuals, but other paranormal phenomena also can be explained by the interaction of biofields with other magnetic and electromagnetic fields. One of these is dowsing, which might be a sensing of localized fluctuations in the Earth’s magnetic field due to the presence of underground water, metals, or minerals.
This notion has received some support through experiments conducted in the 1960s by Nikolai N. Sochevanov of the USSR’s Ministry of Geology. Sochevanov discovered that the accuracy of forty professional dowsers diminished by about seventy-five percent when a current-carrying wire was wound around their wrists or magnets were brought near their heads. (19)
Auras are another paranormal manifestation that might be explained by bioelectromagnetic fields. Perhaps the body’s biofield creates a sort of shimmering effect around a person that, like any surface or medium, absorbs some of the frequencies of light striking it and reflects others, giving an impression that the person is enveloped in an intangible ovoid of transparent color. In fact, there is strong anecdotal evidence that the halo floating above the heads of saints in religious paintings is a simplified depiction of the powerful aura that surrounds such people.
Becker, though, is doubtful that auras are visible. “Our biofields,” he writes, “even if they were many times stronger, couldn’t possibly emit light, but an appropriately sensitive magnetic detector in the brain, if it had nerve connections to the visual cortex, might ‘see’ the magnetic field in a manner of speaking.” (20) In this context we should recall the pineal gland from earlier in the discussion. And then Becker makes this statement: “On the other hand, the aura could literally be a form of light, perhaps at frequencies invisible to all but a few of us.” (21)
Ironically, this offhand statement has some credibility, as shown in research by Mitsuo Hiramatsu, a scientist at the Central Research Laboratory at Hamamatsu Photonics in Japan. Hiramatsu has demonstrated that humans—and most living things—actually do emit light. Although the light is too faint to be visible to the average human eye, the photon emissions are most powerful at the hands (especially the fingernails), the bottoms of the feet, and the forehead. It is increased by the presence of oxygen and warm temperatures—both physiological byproducts of deep breathing and exercise. Furthermore, disease and illness appear to affect the strength and pattern of the emission. (22)
Becker also explores the possibility that biomagnetic interaction doesn’t necessarily have to be passive. “All matter, living and nonliving, is ultimately an electromagnetic phenomenon,” he writes. “The material world, at least as far as physics has penetrated, is an atomic structure held together by electromagnetic forces. If some people can detect fields from other organisms, why shouldn’t some people be able to affect other beings by means of their linked fields?” (23) The ability of masters of chi to manipulate the fields of others is often discussed, but the same logic also applies to so-called faith healers. If the cellular workings of bodies are controlled by DC currents and their attendant electromagnetic fields, it is quite possible that gifted healers are able to generate supportive bioelectromagnetic effects that they use to manipulate or alter the patient’s internal currents in ways akin to acupuncture. (24)
In an interview, Parvathy Amma, a faith healer and psychic surgeon from Kuala Lumpur, India, indicated that she diagnoses a patient from the color and condition of the patient’s aura. She also states, “The healer manipulates magnetic energy to penetrate the body, both the spiritual and physical body.” (25)
Astrology is another esoteric system amenable to illumination by the idea that chi is electromagnetic in nature. It is said that astrologers have studied behavioral characteristics of people born at different times of the year and noted the annual cyclic nature of particular sets of traits. But what sort of mechanism could imprint those traits?
The universe, as stated earlier, is awash in electromagnetic radiation, and it presents a generally uniform and stable background electromagnetic field to the Earth as a whole. But for people at any given moment and location, the exact characteristics and interplays of those fields alter because the Earth is traveling around the sun and changing its orientation with the planets of the solar system, most of which contribute nodes of varying force—magnetic, electromagnetic, and gravitational—that continually shift their bearings within the general background field. And those forces continue to progress throughout the course of the year, altering their bearings, until the Earth once again is positioned with all the magnetic and gravitational forces aligned in roughly the same orientation they had 365 days earlier—though by now, even that background has changed, if only slightly.
We know that electromagnetic fields affect one another. In fact, if a magnetic field interacts long enough with a normal piece of iron, the iron eventually magnetizes. We also know that iron molecules in a semifluid medium, such as clay or magma, align themselves with the Earth’s magnetic field and that when the semifluids harden, the iron particles become fixed according to the Earth’s polarity at the time. Geophysical scientists use the alignments of these fixed iron particles to help gauge changes over time in the orientation of the Earth’s crust and magnetic poles.
Certainly the powerful general electromagnetic field of the universe, altered cyclically throughout the course of a year by the changing positions of the closer magnetic fields generated by the sun and the planets that do produce such fields, would have a significant affect on the much weaker fields generated by people. This means it is possible that the stronger universal field might, in some way, imprint itself on the weaker personal field, shaping it or giving it a certain frequency or character.
This is where the timing of birth comes in. Birth is the singular moment when the individual’s field first stands completely on its own—until then, it has been immersed within, buffered by, and oriented with the mother’s more dominant personal field. Only when it emerges as its own entity does the newborn’s field receive its own personal imprinting. Thus, an individual’s personal field becomes inextricably linked to the particular characteristics of the universal field as it manifested at a certain time and place. Notably, birth also is the moment when postnatal chi—the chi generated in the tantien after birth—assumes such great importance to an individual’s energy makeup.
I’ll leave it to the reader’s imagination to find possible connections between electromagnetic biofields and phenomena such as ghosts and hauntings, astral projection, and remote viewing. But if, at a basic level, the universe—the space/time continuum—is nothing more than a vast electromagnetic field containing areas or loci of varying densities vibrating in different frequencies, then, just as a stone thrown into a pond produces waves that radiate outward from the splash, an electromagnetic event—such as a supernova—should send out waves through the general universal field, the size and power of the wave being directly proportional to the size and power of the event.
We already know that electromagnetism propagates in waves through space/time, and gravitational waves, first proposed by Oliver Heaviside in 1893 and predicted by Albert Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, were finally detected in 2016. Waves such as these would pass through each and every one of us, altering or warping the shape or density of our personal biofields, even if only minutely or briefly. Ever notice that sometimes everyone seems to be having a bad day for no explainable reason? The reason just might be chalked up to one of those massive but subtle waves messing with our energy structures on a fundamental level.
We know it is probable that some people are more aware of, or are more sensitive to, changes in their biofields or in external magnetic fields—perhaps because of natural proclivities or through training—and this sensitivity can take a variety of forms. One person might be a Tai Chi master, another a highly empathetic therapist, and another a culturally attuned artist or thinker. And there might be some who are able to visualize elements of the particular events that cause the waves because certainly such waves carry information in some form. Further, it might be that waves produced by particular types of events transcend the limitations of the three-dimensional world and have the ability to affect reality across time or other dimensions. People who experience a heightened personal sensitivity to such field-distorting waves and can “read” the information carried by them, might be those we call precognitive psychics, seers, and prophets.
The mechanics of abdominal breathing—as practiced in the internal martial arts—stimulates and strengthens the chi, increasing the strength and sensitivity of an individual’s biofield. Perhaps this is why world-famous psychics, such as Frederica Hauffe, Eileen Garrett, Phoebe Payne, Olive Pixley, and Edgar Cayce all place or placed great emphasis on abdominal breathing, acknowledging that it is the indispensable preparation for trance or astral projection. (26)
We can see that we don’t have to resort to a belief in uncanny magical forces to explain many so-called psychic abilities. Rather than being mystical, in and of themselves, such abilities may simply be offshoots of the natural bioelectromagnetic force we call chi, among its many names, which produces a biofield that can, and does, interact with the innumerable magnetic/gravitational forces at large in the universe. This is not to negate the many elements of life and existence that truly are mystical. It is simply an attempt to point out that physical mechanisms may exist that can give rise to and explain some phenomena formerly shrouded in mystery.
1 Becker, Robert O., and Gary Selden, The Body Electric: Electromagnetism and the Foundation of Life (Quill, 1985), p. 243.
2 Becker and Selden, p. 244
3 Becker and Selden, p. 244–245
4 Becker and Selden, p. 245
5 Becker and Selden, p. 245
6 Becker and Selden, p. 245
7 Becker and Selden, p. 245
8 Becker and Selden, p. 248
9 Burr, Harold Saxon, Blueprint for Immortality (C.W. David Company, 2004)
10 Becker and Selden, p. 50
11 Nordenström, Björn E., Biologically Closed Electrical Circuits: Clinical, Experimental, and Theoretical Evidence for an Additional Circulatory System (Nordic Medical Publications/Ursus Publications, 1983)
12 Morelle, Rebecca, “Magnetic Field Puts Bats on Track” (BBC News Online, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6213402.stm)
13 Becker and Selden, p. 263
14 Becker and Selden, p. 248
15 Becker and Selden, p. 248
16 Becker and Selden, p. 265
17 Becker and Selden, p. 266
18 Becker and Selden, p. 266
19 Becker and Selden, p. 266
20 Becker and Selden, p. 268
21 Becker and Selden, p. 268
22 Viegas, Jennifer, “Human Hands Emit Light,” (DiscoveryNews, September 25, 2006, http://www.novaspivack.com/science/new-study-human-hands-feet-and-foreheads-emit-light). Mitsuo Hiramatsu’s research was published in “Ultra-weak photon emission from human hand: Influence of temperature and oxygen concentration on emission,” by Kimitsugu Nakamura and Mitsuo Hiramatsu (Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology, Volume 80, Issue 2, 1 August 2005, p. 156–160).
23 Becker and Selden, p. 268
24 Becker and Selden, p. 268
25 Cruez, Annie Freeda, and Azura Abas, “Faith Healers: Tools of Their Trade Revealed” (New Straits Times Online, October 28, 2006: LINK BROKEN
26 Crookall, Robert, Psychic Breathing (Aquarian Press, 1979), p. 9–23
by Christopher Dow
Excerpted from The Wellspring: An Inquiry into the Nature of Chi
(Phosphene Publishing Co., 2008)