Yoga and Paradoxical Wakefulness

Alternative_Medicine.jpgDr Auriol proposed the term “of paradoxical wakefulness” rather than “of fourth state of consciousness” in order to mark the symmetry of this state of consciousness in its function of cleaning memory, restoring, purifying, in opposition to imaginary enrichment and to the setting in memory related to the state of paradoxical sleep. Horne (1988, 2000) ensures that the body, at the cellular level, recovers better in this state that during the sleep. The study of relaxation techniques and their effects, allows us to bring them close, on the physiological level, to the states of consciousness modified by various methods of meditation or orison.

Methods of relaxation allow to describe a “fourth state”, a special state of conscience to which we can give a special value. This state comprises peace, serenity, “absorption”, even “presence”, ineffability, etc. On the metabolic level, rest which can become deeper than the deepest sleep. This state of wakeful super-rest is called “fourth state” by some of neurophysiologists who were interested in, others, especially in linguistic English area call it: “hypnagogic state”. The term “fourth state” is derived from the fact that we knew so far only three states of normal consciousnesses: wakefulness, sleep and dream. But this fourth state was described in every culture. The knowledge of it, is generally related to a theological or philosophical construction belonging to each of that cultures. The state of consciousnesses can be defined by means of physiological and psychological criteria, phenomenological subjective insight. They produce also a certain number of observable consequences, either in laboratory or in the wild life.

Melinan discovers the difference between the experience of dream and wakefulness as “we never awake of what we call wakefulness. We never pass in another state, of where we could, in its turn, judge reality by far and top, as reality judges the dream”.

Dr Auriol B. summarizes the meditative state as experimented by Yogi:

  • EEG: Dominating Alpha (sporadic Theta); (1)
  • Synchronizing intero-internal interactions (mental vacuity);
  • Hormonal stabilization;
  • Psychological unification and simplification through abandonment of information. Intuition, global integration, distanciation, increased tolerance to frustration;
  • State in which fruition, jouissance dominates;
  • Regional cerebral change in glucose metabolism; (2) and
  • Increased regional cerebral blood flow measures during meditation.(3)

eveil = awaken
sommeil = sleeping

(1) The power of alpha frequency bands peaking at around 10 Hz was much increased during meditation over occipital, parietal and temporal regions, when compared with the non-meditative state.

Kakigi R, Nakata H, Inui K, Hiroe N, Nagata O, Honda M, Tanaka S, Sadato N, Kawakami M. Department of Integrative Physiology, National Institute for Physiological Sciences, Nishigo-Naka 38, Myodaiji, Okazaki 444-8585, Japan.

(2) Measurements of the regional cerebral metabolic rate of glucose (rCMRGlc)
the ratios of frontal vs. occipital rCMRGlc were significantly elevated (p less than 0.05) during Yoga Meditative Relaxation. These altered ratios were caused by a slight increase of frontal rCMRGlc and a more pronounced reduction in primary and secondary visual centers. These data indicate a holistic behavior of the brain metabolism during the time of altered state of consciousness during YMR.

Herzog H, Lele VR, Kuwert T, Langen KJ, Rota Kops E, Feinendegen LE.Institute of Medicine, Research Center Julich, FRG.

(3) Cognitive event-related potential evaluation of meditation implies that practice changes attentional allocation. Neuroimaging studies indicate increased regional cerebral blood flow measures during meditation. Taken together, meditation appears to reflect changes in anterior cingulate cortex and dorsolateral prefrontal areas. Neurophysiological meditative state and trait effects are variable but are beginning to demonstrate consistent outcomes for research and clinical applications.

Meditation states and traits: EEG, ERP, and neuroimaging studies.
Cahn BR, Polich J. Department of Neurosciences and Medical School, University of California, San Diego, CA, USA.

(4) Dr Kokoska A. from the Copernicus School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, Krakow, Poland defines two meditative altered states of consciousness:

He differentiates “techniques for relaxing” leading to the “relaxing states” and “meditative techniques” leading to the differentiated waking states of consciousness. These latter include specific “only the relaxation response states” and the “ultraconsciousness states”. Each state is described along the following dimensions: of biological rhythms, i.e., Sleep-Wakefulness and the Basic Rest-Activity Cycle; brain hemispheric activity; the threshold of the extero- and interoceptive stimuli reception; perceptual dominance of stimuli from external or internal sources; spontaneous versus goal-oriented imagination activity, i.e., passive or active state of mind; feed-back relation with the surroundings.