People with psychic ability and spiritual traditions such as Buddhism and Jainism talk about ‘auras’ – a glorious field of vibrating colour linked to energy centres in the body or chakras, said to surround each individual person. Auras are believed to contain clues to each individual’s life force energy or kundalini, their emotional state or even the emotional imprint of events that are in the field of their past, present and future. Some psychics are said to be able to read auras like a book.
Such claims have tended to be dismissed by the scientific community, but a recent article in the New Scientist reveals new research that suggests this is yet another area where science may be catching up with spiritual tradition and psychic practice – and it all rests on the understanding of synaesthesia.
Synaesthesia occurs when you get input through one sensory channel that registers in another. For example, a friend’s vivid description of an exotic holiday may have you feeling the sun on your skin and smelling the fragrant air as though you were there yourself. It can also explain why some of us are very squeamish and can’t bear to hear or see anything that makes us go weak at the knees!
The article in the New Scientist discusses the findings of Vilayanur Ramachandran and colleagues at the University of California, San Diego who have studied one particular man whose emotions trigger colours that can in turn take the form of auras surrounding others.
Up until now, our understanding of the way that we see the world has been shaped by two broad approaches – a growth in understanding of the literal mechanics of sight, or how all the parts of the visual system work together to translate what comes in through our eyes into images. Here, a study of many different species has led to an understanding that we quite literally see a different world according to the mechanics of our vision. A dog sees the world very differently to you, as does a fly, and a horse, and so on. Alongside that, there is also a wealth of material on the meaning that we bring to images. In the very early days of cinema, audiences leapt from their seats to flee when shown a black and white film of a train puffing towards them as they hadn’t yet learned the ‘meaning’ of projected images. We might find that funny, but then how many of us jump in our seats at the cinema when someone leaps out of the shadows in a film?
Synaesthesia is said to be rampant across many streams of brilliance. Some say that Van Gogh had synaesthesia and his scintillating paintings that seem to shimmer in front of our eyes are his attempts to capture the world and show it to us as he saw it. Outstanding mathematicians and people who are good at spelling associate colours and sensations with numbers and letters and can feel physical pain if they come across something that is ‘wrong’.
All in all, it seems there might be a lot more to our sight – and all of our senses – than we are currently able to understand. What we do understand so far has led many to suggest that we quite literally do not see the world as it is and some to conclude that the recognition of synaesthesia might be a route to understanding how people with psychic ability do what they do.
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