The word “Sensation” in a simple term is nothing but an experience. It comes from the latin word ‘sensus’, which means “the faculty of perceiving.” A “sensation” is the product of perception felt or experienced.
We experience sensation at various levels- be it physical, mental or deeper.
At Physical (body) level, it is experienced as being local or general. Various sensory receptors residing in sense organs, nerves and sensorium located in the brain play a vital role for development of such experiences.
Nevertheless there are certain sensations that are difficult to explain either physically or mentally. The Webster’s dictionary beautifully provides one of its definitions that quite well resonates with this – “A purely spiritual or psychical affection; agreeable or disagreeable feelings occasioned by objects that are not corporeal or material.” We have heard many spiritual personalities like saints talking about such experiences in their deeper practices of meditations. They attribute such sensations to be direct reflections of their inner energy .They often name it Divine Sensations or Divine Experiences.
To summarize, there are sensations that are experienced by planes of Mind and Body and there are sensations that are experienced in a plane beyond Mind and Body, which happens to be reflecting the deeper energy directly upon it.
Coming back to Homoeopathy, we find the founder, Dr. Samuel Hahnemann also talking upon the subject of vital energy, sensations and the relations between the two. Aphorism 11 in his sixth edition of Organon of Medicine defines “Disease” thus-
When a person falls ill, it is only this spiritual, self-acting [automatic] vital force, everywhere present in his organism, that is primarily deranged by the dynamic* influence upon it of a morbific agent inimical to life; it is only the vital principle, deranged to such an abnormal state, that can furnish the organism with its disagreeable sensations, and incline it to the irregular processes which we call disease; for, as a power invisible in itself, and only cognizable by its effects on the organism, its morbid derangement only makes itself known by the manifestation of disease in the sensations and function of those parts of the organism exposed to the observer and physician, that is, by morbid symptoms, and in no other way can it make itself known.”
Thus, we learnt that sensations are the product of vital energy. In disease they are presented as disagreeable sensations since they are produced by deranged vital energy.
Now, since it is the same deranged vital energy present everywhere in the organism (including mind and body) why do we see such disconnections and discrepancies amongst the presented signs and symptoms? (For example, a patient complaining of severe burning sensation at body level whereas mind shows severe agitation state). Or is there a common link, a deeper language, which can help us understand the connections between seemingly disconnected expressions (sensations)? If these sensations reflect the vital force, is it possible to understand its exact pattern through them?
These questions remained a constant source of mystery till we saw some light coming in when Dr. Rajan Sankaran introduced his idea upon the concept of “Vital Sensation”. According to him, a vital sensation is the common sensation that connects mind and body, a common point where the emotional symptoms and physical symptoms are described in the same terms. It is a very deep level to mind and body. (His book “The Sensation in Homoeopathy” describes this concept with well-illustrated case notes.)
This understanding upon the vital sensation helped us to find a missing link, a language that helped us to understand the deeper connections between seemingly disconnected expressions (sensations) of a deranged vital force in the organism. This further understanding of vital sensation and its relation to vital force, mind and body have all come from the basic understanding of the concept of “Vital sensation” laid down by Dr. Rajan Sankaran.
Vital sensation as a base to explore vital energy:
The following diagram helps us to understand the relationship of the vital sensation with various components (vital energy, mind and body) that constitutes the whole human being-
The Vital sensation is the base for the exploration of vital energy through the entire world of Mind and Body. Despite disparities in the physical and mental presentation, there is an underlying unifying theme at the level of sensation, which is exactly the nature of the disturbed vital force.
More about Vital Sensation:
A vital sensation in a patient is presented as a sense of a live phenomenon experienced by them in their deeper planes, which they can not label as mind / body.
Its description has taken a beautiful shape in the book “A Journey into the Human Core” by Dr. Dinesh Chauhan. Some excerpts follow-
“It is an internal aura, which comes up, in all situations and is a kind of deep bodily awareness, profoundly influencing our lives. It cannot be expressed just in the form of words or thoughts or other separate units but comes as a single bodily unit. Understanding the sensation means being home, being there, and being present in our body. By understanding the vital sensation, we can understand our feelings, perceptions, fears and associated reactions.
It is important to realize that the vital sensation is not merely a word but is a whole process. It is the whole process of something, which is happening beyond all systems, beyond all thoughts, perceptions and feelings. It has a definite pattern. It is a live phenomenon happening at that moment of time. It is not just a past experience. It is a complete package of something experienced beyond the mind and body with a definite pattern……….”
Let us understand this with a case example. There was this case that came to me with the problem of acidity and severe gastritis since many years. He experienced a sensation of burning retrosternally due to acidity. I asked him to describe more about his problem to understand him better. He said this burning is too much (while describing this, tone of his voice got raised and his hands moved. I could sense a lot of energy here).
“It causes a lot of discomfort (again same HG [hand gesture] of some thing coming out from behind the sternum region. He used the hands with a lot of force upwards and then outwards). I feel I’ll vomit, but that does not show up. It causes a sense of uneasiness (again the same HG with similar force).”
“It’s as if something very hot is lying inside. It’s very hot, full of heat. It causes burning. It’s trying to come out with force (same HG). It wants to come up and out (same HG). It comes up with lot of energy (same HG). …”
[He went on and on with this description of his sensation of burning]
We can explain burning with the problem of acidity. But, then in order to describe burning, various expressions used by the patient are beyond the understanding of his present pathology of acidity. It’s an abstract, completely out of context, nonsensical, pattern, described with the help of words, gestures, intensity, movement, etc. It’s not a thought process, it’s a spontaneous description of an inner experience. This is a sign of vital sensation.
“It wants to come out. It’s very hot, causes burning, like chilly powder is sprinkled (delusion). It moves up, and whenever it moves, it causes a lot of heat and burning, it’s like a fire. As if fire is coming out. It comes up till the neck and …(pause) .and (a long pause, but both his hands showing something coming out with force)..I experience a lot of difficulty in breathing in closed, crowded places (HG still showing from a closed fist something moving out with force)”
While, describing his experience of local burning sensation associated with acidity, he spontaneously says, ” I experience it in…..” giving another incidence of his life. So, from “experience with acidity” becomes “my experience ” This signifies it’s no longer the local experience with acidity, it’s a general experience of the patient himself.
The case went further and he explained the same sensation of burning, uneasiness, heat, with more expressions of oppression, narrow passage and finally coming out with the same HG with his encounter with closed, crowded places.
Then, while, he was asked to describe his nature, he said he is a very short-tempered man. The further exploration of his anger and his experience in such situations again went to the same sensation and hand gestures as described by him with his acidity. He had a severe fear of crowded trains. He would never travel in train in the city like Mumbai where trains are the major means of transportation for people. And, his fear again bogged down to the same sensation of uneasiness, burning, fire like, coming up, narrow passage, and finally coming out with force. Burning with acidity is common, but how can one explain that happening with fear? This sensation is present in the places and occasions where it is least expected to be present.
Also, we can appreciate its presence as a common experience with his fears, anger as well as his local pains of burning.
Thus, the vital sensation of the patient is this experience of burning, hot, fire like thing coming up, through a narrow opening finally comes out with force. It’s the description of an entire phenomenon experienced live within his deeper planes.
A patient can come to us with various sensations, which may be of varied natures. They can be the most common sensation produced because of underlying disease pathology (example itching because of fungal infection, burning pain in anus because of piles, etc) or they can be an intense sensation out of proportion to the disease process. There are certain factors that help as signals to the doorway of vital sensation. Those are as follows-
– They are expressed with lot of intensity, energy, and vivid expressions.
– The sensation experienced at the local part is described as an entire live phenomenon.
– Spontaneously, patient starts using various other expressions of energy like gestures, sound, movement, etc to describe that sensation.
– While describing the common sensation, patient actually starts describing the entire phenomena and then a pattern, which he experiences deep within, and which is difficult to follow in the context of the present pathology.
– In the light of the pathology, this sensation is an abstract, completely out of context, illogical, nonsensical, very strange to follow pattern that emerges not as a part of thought but as spontaneous expression of inner experience.
– While describing the local sensation, he actually makes it general. Meaning from the experience of a local part, it comes as “I experience / my experience in general….”
– All the fears, delusions, and other uncompensated areas lead to the same sensation.
– They come up strangely in places where they where least expected, (example burning sensation with fear and uneasiness)
Coming back to the case, when the patient was then asked to describe more and more on the vital sensation, he gave various images and finally he came down to the source. He described volcano with the same energy, force, and gestures that he used to describe his vital sensation. Till we understood this energy and the entire vital pattern with the help of further exploration of vital sensation, all the expressions (burning, hot, like fire, heat, coming up, narrow opening, comes out with force, etc) appeared strange, mystical, out of context. It was completely nonsense with the understanding of his acidity or anger or fear etc. but it made a complete sense in the light of the energy of a volcano.
Significance of understanding the Vital Sensation in a patient:
As we understood, this vital sensation is nothing but an experience of deeper disturbed energy, mother all the deep-seated characteristic delusions, feelings, emotions, and thus is responsible for all the discomforts at the physical level, be that general or particular. Besides playing a vital role in the understanding of the human being, it has other significance as well, for example:
- The level of the vital sensation is where the Kingdom and Subkingdom of a patient’s disturbed energy becomes clear. One is able to discern Plant (sensitivity and reactivity), Animal (survival), and Mineral (structure) respectively.
- If explored and one persists at this level, the patient often reaches the level of source.
- The entire world of apparent Non-sense that we come across as glimpses, hints and bits in a given case gets more complete, more clear; it starts making sense as it starts alluding to some energy pattern which is at the base of these expressions.
- It helps us realize that presence of non-sense is actually sense if viewed through the ‘source’ energy.
- Awareness at this level often proves to be not only diagnostic but also therapeutic for the patient. It helps the patient to become aware about several of his inappropriate feelings, delusions, sensations and reactions. It kind of makes them aware about that inner source / disturbed vital pattern responsible for all these. The process adds more clarity to such inner game of energy, which brings awareness and clarity. This often proves quite self-healing.
The concept of vital sensation and the further understanding of vital energy patterns have sharpened the vision in terms of looking at the world of disease and health and life in general. It’s the difference between viewing a patient through a 3 mega pixel camera and a 7 mega pixel camera. Does that not change the sharpness, clarity and the beauty of that object? This concept has added the depth to our perception of patients and our surroundings. The entire process has made the journey of the Case Receiving Process challenging, interesting and exciting at the same time. At each step in the Case Receiving process, we can find out to what depth we have reached and how much more we need to zoom in and explore deeper in order to reach the disturbed vital pattern / core of the patient. Also, it has broadened the scope of understanding of each remedy in the materia medica as well as other substances from nature yet not a part of our materia medica to their deepest core.
Our recent proving of “Water from Ganges River” is one such example. We were amazed to witness the language of the source energy unveiling its beauty in the form of various sensations through human instruments (provers)
And above all, the outcome after understanding and applying this concept to practice has proved really promising with more successful and consistent results and deeper satisfactions. And, for all these, I am thankful to my respected teacher Dr. Rajan Sankaran for bringing this concept to my wisdom. This concise discussion upon the subject “Vital Sensation” was with the intension to provide a general sketch about the concept. The subject is vast and deep like an ocean, difficult to explain completely in one go. There are a lot more developments happening so far as the more refined aspects of the subject are concerned. With each case, failures, and successes alike, there is a development of a better and clearer understanding. Dr. Sankaran has recently come up with his next book “Sensation Refined” which I am sure speaks more on this topic in particular and various others in general.
I like this quote a lot –
“Perception is only a special kind of knowledge and sensation a special kind of feeling (experience)… knowledge, feeling, perception and sensation, though always coexistent, are in the inverse ratio of each other.”
Dr. Urvi Chauhan
SWASTHYA HOMOEOPATHIC CLINIC
106, Dinar Building, 1st floor, 20- station road, Santacruz (West), Mumbai- 54. Maharastra. India.
Email: [email protected]
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