The Emerging Science of Subtle Energy

In my nearly two decades as a member of Issseem (International Society for the Study of Subtle Energies and Energy Medicine), I’ve learned that when people use the phrase “science of subtle energy” (SSE), they are generally referring to one or more of the following lines of evidence:•direct personal experiences of healing, out-of-body experiences (OBEs), auras, pre-monitions, meditative experiences, and so on—also described in a huge body of popular literature and shared in many forums (like this one)•the teachings of such non-Western healing and spiritual practices as acupuncture, qigong, and yoga, as well as shamanism and alchemy

•the frequent use of the terms “science” and “subtle energy” (or related terms) in the many materials “channeled” over the past several hundred years from various not-in-the-body sources

•a growing number of studies that appear to show the effects of energies not otherwise measurable—overviews of such studies have been published by NCCAM (National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine) and others (e.g., The Scientific Basis of Integrative Medicine by Leonard Wisneski and Lucy Anderson)

•a large array of devices (e.g., electrodermal screening, bioresonance therapies, electro-photonic imaging) used in alternative health practices around the world, some of which were used in the studies cited above and all of which remain controversial

•a variety of “New Physics” theories that feature subtle energy and are widely regarded as plausible, including the work of Stanford scientist William Tiller, biophysicist Beverly Rubik, and former Princeton University physicist Claude Swanson.Given the above, why does mainstream science seem so dead set against even thenotion of subtle energy? Four reasons readily come to mind:

•There is no agreed-upon scientific definition of subtle energy, and hence no reliable meth-odo logy for detecting or measuring the energies so defined.

•There is no broadly accepted scientific theory of such energies.

•The very notion of subtle energy originates in pre-scientific esoteric traditions, which havebeen systematically marginalized by the scientific enterprise for more than a century.

•The notion is thus considered far too subjective, or worse, a point of religious belief, or worse yet, a mere superstition

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