Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Experience of higher planes of consciousness in long -term practitioners of integral yoga
by Kramer, Michele Riley, Ph.D., Saybrook University, 2008, 441; 3396802
Abstract (Summary)

Integral Yoga, developed by Sri Aurobindo, unites the ascending spiritual aspiration of the individual to access the Divine, found in many mystical and spiritual traditions, with the expectation of the descent of the Divine into the individual. The outcome of Integral Yoga is the evolutionary transformation of a human being to a spiritual being. Sri Aurobindo described the order of higher planes of consciousness, which form the conduit between the individual and the Divine. This study proposed the following questions: What is the experience of being in higher planes of consciousness in Integral Yoga: levels of consciousness beyond higher mind, described as the beginning of the superconscient realms of consciousness? Can reading about these experiences somehow impact or change the reader? Studies on such experiences are rare.

Fourteen long-term practitioners from the Integral Yoga community participated in semi-structured interviews directed at exploring their spiritual practices and significant experiences. The range of Integral Yoga practice was 10 to 35 years, with 9 practitioners having at least 30 years experience. Data from the transcribed interviews were analyzed for themes and patterns. Interview transcripts served as the basis for developing narrative stories about their experiences. The impact of participation in the study for the researcher, practitioners, and story readers was assessed.

Themes that emerged from the data were that spiritual practices are as unique as the individual but possess commonalities with others, experiences and the integration of them are equally important, and the spiritual path is a lifelong process. Feedback from 10 practitioners and 3 readers indicated that their participation affected them in some way.

Findings were unexpected. While 6 practitioners described experiences in higher planes of consciousness, they were not as important as the integration and usefulness of the experiences afterward. Other experiences were equally significant. The findings resulted in a re-evaluation of the original research focus. Story readers’ reactions suggest that research information in the form of stories has an impact. Findings and stories contribute to the fields of transpersonal psychology, consciousness evolution, and Integral Yoga.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Combs, Allan
Commitee: Kremer, Jurgen, Lukoff, David
School: Saybrook University
Department: Consciousness and Spirituality
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 71/03, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Developmental psychology
Keywords: Consciousness, Integral yoga, Organic inquiry, Planes of consciousness, Spiritual development, Transpersonal psychology, Yoga
Publication Number: 3396802
ISBN: 978-1-109-66014-2
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