The Inner Dynamics and Energetics of Acupuncture

Compiled by John G. Connor, M.Ac., L.Ac. Edited by Barbara Connor, M.Ac., L.Ac.

Distinction Between the Gross, Subtle and Mental Worlds
Acupuncture Energetics and Craniosacral Dynamics
Similarities between Yoga-Based Energetics and Acupuncture Energetics
Health, Disease and Medicine
How to be a Good Practitioner
The Importance of Prayer
Physician Heal Thyself
Love and Pain

More and more of us are realizing that modem medicine sometimes falls short of solving our health problems. One reason for this is because it is based on the concept that health solutions exist outside of us. So for example, if we have a pain, we’re advised to take a pill. If an organ causes problems, we may even be advised to have it removed.

The idea that illness or disease begins with an imbalance or restriction within us is given little credibility. Another of our cultural biases is that newer information and techniques are always better than older belief systems and techniques. Consequently, most people only know how to search outside themselves or look to modern science for answers to health issues. Ancient approaches to understanding disease and body healing often viewed illness from the perspective of the human spirit or the body’s life-force energy.

According to Dr. Richard Gerber these somewhat mystical viewpoints may now hold the key to understanding why people become ill and how they can regain their health.  Donna Eden in her book Energy Medicine believes that we are a “latticework of energies”.  She feels that the return of energy medicine, which is based on the energy systems that make up the subtle infrastructure of every body, is one of the most significant cultural developments of the day.

We are in a period which Meher Baba calls an Avataric period.  He says “such periods bring a new release of power, a new awakening of consciousness, a new experience of life – not merely for a few, but for all.  Qualities of energy and awareness, which had been used and enjoyed by only a few advanced souls, are made available for all humanity.  Life as a whole, is stepped up to a higher level of consciousness, is geared to a new rate of energy.  The transition from sensation to reason was one such step; the transition from reason to intuition will be another.”

Barbara, and I are discovering that more and more of our patients are longing for a deeper and more meaningful spiritual life.  We dedicate this article to the Divine Spark in them and in all of us. We hope this article may shed some light on how acupuncture energetics and craniosacral dynamics work synergistically and energetically together; and how, by applying the inner dynamics and energetics of acupuncture and craniosacral work, it can help our patients to regain control over their own healing processes and ultimately lead them to optimal health of body, mind and spirit.

Before we go into the dynamic relationship between acupuncture and the craniosacral system it is important to get a clear idea of what energy is in terms of the gross (physical), subtle and mental worlds. Meher Baba in his book God Speaks gives a very clear explanation and description of these three worlds.

Pictorial Representation of the Different Bodies
Firstly, he explains that the gross or physical sphere consists of numberless worlds, suns, moons, stars and in fact everything material from the crudest to the finest. Because we are gross conscious we are conscious only of the gross world and not of the subtle world or mental world.

Secondly, he emphasizes that the subtle sphere is the sphere of energy itself. And through its energy, its angels, and through man’s subtle-consciousness, while penetrating the gross sphere itself, it also penetrates infinite space with its suns, stars, planets and, in fact every thing and every being in all the worlds within the gross sphere. It is interesting to note that the unlimited diversity and intensity of subtle sights, sounds, feelings and powers have no parallel in the gross sphere, save energy which becomes limited within the bounds of the gross, and human consciousness which is surrounded by gross limitations.

The subtle world then is the domain of Infinite Energy. The infinite and unlimited power, which is an aspect of the infinite three-fold nature of God, when radiated from unbounded Infinity into the finite worlds of illusion, is translated into the finite and manifested in the domain of the subtle world in the form of the infinite energy of the subtle world.

As the poet Insha (1752-1818) expresses so eloquently:
What is it that doesn’t throb with the fire divine?
Every stone at its heart a spark of fire doth own,

And finally, Meher Baba explains that the mental sphere is the very abode of MIND itself, individual, collective and universal. The Mind pervades its own sphere as much as it does throughout the subtle and gross spheres. The sphere of the Mind includes everything relating to intellect, intuition, insight and illumination.

As the poet and master Kabir (1440-1518) says:
When the lower mind dies and thoughts come to an end
the man knows he is not the body.
My mind is pure as the real pearl
and in me only God resides!

In Avatar of the Age Meher Baba Manifesting Bhau Kalchuri explains that every individual limited mind has two sections – one is of thoughts and the other is of feelings. The thought-section of the mind is where the process of thinking occurs, and the feeling section is the heart, i.e., the seat of mind, where the process of thinking slows to the pure state of feeling.  The heart is the abode wherein the mind can slow down its activities and finally stop. The heart is called the “abode of God”  for herein the mind can finally stop and when the mind stops, God is realized.

As the poet, Mir Taqi Mir (1723-1810) says:
Everyone doth talk of heart, do you know what heart may be?
For those with discerning eyes, the heart presents a sight to see,
The tempest of its rising tides fills the space of earth and sky,
Seemingly a drop of blood, the heart, conceals a mighty sea.

Kalchuri further explains that because we are gross conscious we cannot experience the breath of prana which is in the subtle world and inspires the subtle conscious person with subtle powers within his own hands. However, we can experience the breezes of the subtle energy that come down to fill our gross conscious minds with inspiring words, images or melodies that echo through our poetry, songs and artistic images like shadows of the subtle powers. Thus gross conscious poets, musicians, writers and painters have inspiration but their inspiration comes down from the subtle world and is basically of the overwhelming force of inspiration that erupts throughout the entire subtle realm. Although it is said that no more than one percent divinity can be experienced in the gross world, the implications of our being able to experience even one percent divinity is enormous!

Hugh Milne in the Heart of Listening observes that acupuncture and acupressure have addressed the energy field of the human head for four thousand years, as witnessed by Chinese records of acupuncture and “the art of listening.” He also notes that shiatsu has incorporated cranial work using visualization, pressure and “kime” (directed energy work) for almost a hundred years. In his book Craniosacral Biodynamics Franklyn Sills notes that in Chinese medicine the emphasis is on the balance of qi and the potency of jing in the body and that jing, or essence, is sensed to be an inherent ordering principle in the human body that is intimately related to its fluid systems. He goes on to point out that within the heart of all motion is a stillness that organizes. Stillness is at the heart of all polarities and polarity motions, such as the classic yin and yang polarities.

In Helen Dziemidko’s book The Complete Book of Energy Medicines she writes that in Traditional Chinese Medical theory life energy (qi) flows along invisible channels of energy known as meridians. Modern research suggests that the meridians lie at the interface between the etheric and physical bodies. It is at this level that Chinese medicine considers disease to arise. In our acupuncture treatments fine needles are inserted into the skin at specific points to affect the flow of this qi.  It is also speculated that the acupuncture points are located where two nadis or etheric channels cross.  

Acupuncturist and author Kiiko Matsumoto believes that the meridian systems lie in the superficial fascia and that the qi circulating within them is in fact the bioelectric energies associated with the connective tissue structures of the fascia.

The etheric body is defined as the innermost part of the body’s energy field. It is closely linked to the physical body and disturbances in it correspond to problems in the physical body. It can be likened to a blue-print of the physical body that forms a force field within which the physical body condenses.

Hugh Milne, in his book on visionary craniosacral work sees craniosacral work as a combination of sensitive hands-on body work with meditative use of the inner eye and inner ear. It draws techniques from osteopathy, energy work and Taoism. It is a way of “doing non-doing” honoring both the analytic understanding of how things happen and the intuitive perception of how things really are thereby allowing the soul to be touched and real healing to occur.

He feels that the brain cannot be in the right place in the head until the heart – the spiritual or energetic heart – is in the right place in the chest. And the heart cannot be in the right place if its energetic foundation, the sacrum, which is the home of the energy center known as swadisthana, the second chakra, is not in the right place in the pelvic girdle.
Milne believes that chakras, which are local condensations of qi, exert an equal, if not more powerful, effect upon the dense physical body than the meridian system does, He also feels that the hara (Dan Tian) and heart centers affect the position, field and movement of the cranial bones both directly and indirectly in the most decisive of ways. On a practical level Milne sees the ability to sense another person’s chakra system as a valuable diagnostic tool; and even if one wants to limit his or her work to a mechanical level of interaction when physically palpating the craniosacral rhythm, when one touches a person’s head what happens is alchemical.

Dr. John Upledger explains how he works craniosacrally in his book Your Inner Physician and You. He says that he uses the perception of very subtle energy activities in the body to focus on the source of abnormal energy patterns. 

The Sufi musician and mystic Hazrat Inayat Khan recognizes the relationship of rhythm and disease when he says “There is a rhythm of pulsation, the beating of the pulse in the head and in the heart; and whenever the rhythm of this beating is disturbed it causes illness because it disturbs the whole mechanism which is going on, the order of which depends upon the regularity of rhythm.”


According to Rosalyn Bruyere the whole yogic chakra and energy system is electromagnetic. A chakra may be blocked wherein the energy flow is restricted. In any case, however, a chakra is always there, it is always spinning. Each chakra is both unique and potentially interactive with each other chakras. An auric or electromagnetic field is generated by the spinning of the chakras. As it spins each chakra produces its own electromagnetic field. This field then combines with fields generated by other chakras to produce the auric field. The seven major chakras of the Eastern yoga system are located along a central axis parallel to the spinal column of the physical body.

Like acupuncture points, yogic chakras are specialized energy centers throughout our bodies where a unique form of subtle environmental (life) energy is absorbed and distributed to our cells, organs and body tissues.

According to Dr. Richard Gerber each of the seven chakras is individually linked to small nerve bundles known as ganglia. Each ganglion is like a little brain center. It appears that each of the seven chakras (and their associated nerve centers) processes and “remembers” different emotional events and traumas that affect us throughout our lifetime.

In his book Meditation as Medicine Dr. Dharma Singh Khalsa explains that the chakras transmit ethereal energy to the physical body primarily by bringing energy to nerves and endocrine glands. Each chakra is located in the exact same area as a major nerve plexus, and an important endocrine gland. These nerve plexuses and endocrine glands are vitally important, because they enable ethereal energy to be transmitted to the physical plane.

Acupuncturist and author Jeremy Ross agrees that the human energy body or etheric body, permeates and surrounds the solid physical body. It is the sum of the energy fields or the individual cells, tissues and organs, acting in coordination and reflects the activity of the physical body, thoughts and emotions. As such, the energy centers, or chakras, represent central areas for the coordination of energy flows within the energy body. The main chakra energy centers are along the central vertical axis of the body, which is also coincidentally where the Governor and Conception channels traverse carrying qi up and down the vertical axis of the body. These two channels are also closely linked with the other Extra channels and with the Kidneys.

So during an acupuncture treatment we can consciously direct energy to a particular center. For example, the Head center can be accessed through the acupuncture point Yin Tang; the Heart center can be accessed through CV-17and the Body center can be accessed through CV-4 and so on. The acupuncture points and channels can therefore be seen as an interface between the physical and energy bodies, having aspects of each.

Each energy center has its own specific functions and pathologies, so that point combinations can be selected from the Governing Vessel or Conception Vessel points located over the affected energy centers. For example, the Throat center governs communication and the Heart center governs the flow of feelings in close relationships. Thus CV-23 and CV-17 can be combined for feelings of constriction and discomfort in the throat and chest, associated with stress within relationships.

The area around CV-4 (Gate to the Original Qi) and CV-6 (Ocean of Qi) is called the Dan Tian. This is the energy center of the body which is concerned with the storage and distribution of energy, both Qi and Jing (essence). CV-4 is used mainly to strengthen the storage aspect of the Dan Tian. CV-6 corresponds more to the distribution aspect of the Dan Tian.According to Japanese acupuncture theory the Dan Tian is the center from which the energies emanate; and virtually all pathologies are seen as stemming from stagnation of the basic qi.

Kiiko Matsumoto proposes that because the lower Dan Tian is located roughly where the Swadisthana Chakra is found in Indian energetic anatomy, it may share a relation to the sacral plexus and to a lesser degree the solar plexus with the Indian energetic concept.The relationship between acupuncture and yoga is described in a book entitled Moola Bandha.  In this book it is explained that the conception vessel (also called the Ren channel) and governor vessel (or the Du channel) of the Chinese and Japanese acupuncture systems, correspond to the arohan and awarohan pathways of kriya yoga.  Kriya yoga seems to have been known in China, for a system which possesses many similarities is mentioned in a scripture called the Tai Chin Hua Tzang Chih (The Secret of the Golden Flower). 

The conception and governor vessels run end to end to form an unbroken ellipse, and chi is visualized to travel in an anticlockwise direction beginning at GV-1 circulating the body and ending at CV-1 in the perineum.  Ren 1 is the meeting point of the conception and governor vessels and the site for moola bandha.  In acupuncture theory it is also known as a General Lo point through which any disequilibrium of yin and yang in the whole body (in particular the small intestines, heart, lungs, colon, bladder, kidneys, circulation and three heaters) can be rectified. The author goes on to conclude that Ren 1, by virtue of its connection with the governor vessel, is the seat of qi for the entire body in much the same way as the mooladhara chakra is the source of kundalini energy.

 In Acupuncture Today June 2001: Vol 2, No. 6 p.l9 it is reported that Dr. Binod Kumar Joshi and his two colleagues, Drs. Ram Lal Shah and Geeta Joshi have found new information showing that the roots of acupuncture come not from the Orient but from ayurveda, an Indian form of healing. They found evidence showing that marmas mentioned in an ancient treatise called the “Sushrit Samhita” correspond precisely with traditional acupuncture points used to treat the vital organs and that the dhamnis and siras mentioned in the treatise depict meridians and channels that aid in the flow of qi. This may help us better explain some of the similarities found in the energetic Indian chakra system with the qi and meridian energy system of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Many of us have felt that the nadis of the Eastern yogic system are the same as the meridians which we talk about in Chinese Medicine.  So we were very happy to read the following from a conversation with the musician K. Sridhar:  “We use certain forms of music to raise the chakras (energy centers in the body).  Every human body has 72,000 nadis — or meridians as the Chinese call them — and they represent the sympathetic strings on an instrument, while the seven main notes represent the chakras.  So when we start playing a scale those sympathetic strings on the instrument or the 72,000 nadis in the body all start vibrating — even without being plucked.  Even if I keep the instrument away from me and start talking or making a noise the strings will vibrate.  So likewise, the 72,000 nadis are awakened by the sound.  Once you get control of this through a particular yogic posture or mantra chanting or meditation you will be able to control any form of desire.” (From the CD notes accompanying the CD of K. Sridhar (sarod) and K. Shivakumar (violin) (Shrinagar, 1989)

The first lesson in health according to Inayat Khan is the understanding that illness is nothing but disharmony and therefore the secret of health lies In harmony. In reality every disease means something is wrong with the rhythm. As the doctor says congestion is the root of diseases, so to a Sufi congestion means lack of rhythm.

He feels that disorder of the tone and irregularity in the rhythm are the principal causes of every illness. There is a certain tone which the breath vibrates throughout the body, through every channel of the body; and this tone is a particular tone, continually vibrating in every person. For example, if an instrument is not kept in proper tune, if it is knocked about by everyone who comes and handled by everyone, then it gets out of order. The body is the most sacred instrument and if it is kept in tune then it becomes a means of that harmony for which God created man.

The great Sufi poet and master Hafiz (1320-1390) has a unique perspective about being in tune. He says:
Ah! passing glad I’d be,
Could I but taste Thy favours soon;
Yet, after all, my grief for Thee
Doth keep my heart in tune.

Inayat Khan feels that the one and central cause of each disease and of all diseases is lack of movement. We see this all the time in our work when we deal with craniosacral restrictions and qi and blood stagnation. He feels that behind everything there is movement, vibration. If lack of movement and disharmony causes illness then movement and harmony can bring the cure. Our goal in all of our treatments is to bring movement and harmony wherever restrictions, stagnation or imbalance appear in the fascia or body. To do this we combine acupuncture, which works on the body energetically, with craniosacral therapy, which works on the body’s fascial network.

Franklyn Sills writes that stillness is the root of our being, and it is also the root of creativity.  It is a stillness that is alive and pregnant with potential manifestation.  Stillness expresses the potential for creativity, and through stillness one can begin to come into relationship to the deeper manifestations of Health within the human system.

Western medicine has its place, even drugs and surgery, when there is a need for them. But when drugs and surgery are used for little things that can be treated by other means, in the end one’s health gets out of hand and even drugs and surgery can’t help. From the spiritual point of view the best medicine would seems to be a pure diet, nourishing food, fresh air, regularity in action and repose, clearness of thought, pureness of feeling and confidence in the perfect Being with whom we are linked and Whose expression we are.

One of the most uplifting and profound statements I have come across relating to the practice of medicine is by Meher Baba where he says “If you love your work you can do it with love, and anything that is done with love has perfect results. To be a good doctor, always have in mind that to you all patients, good or bad, big or small, are equal. Treat with as much care and interest a beggar as you would a millionaire, and in case you find you are not paid the price, you must not for a moment think of refusing.  It is simple and practical and yet a good many doctors don’t observe this simple rule. Only if a doctor realizes that One Infinite God is within all, then that doctor works like a saint!”   

Rumi (1207-1273) on the healing value of love writes:
Hail to thee, then, 0 Love, sweet madness!
Thou who healest all our infirmities!

According to Inayat Khan one of the greatest errors of this age is that activity has increased so much that there is little margin left in one’s everyday life for repose. Repose is the secret of all contemplation and meditation, the secret of getting in tune with that aspect of life which is the essence of all things. Avicenna (AD 908-1037), the great physician on whose discoveries medieval science was based, used to sit in meditation, and by intuition would write his prescriptions.

Inayat Khan gives great significance to the importance of breath and creating an atmosphere in healing.  When the breath is developed and purified the atmosphere that the healer’s breath creates, the very presence of the healer brings about a cure, for the whole atmosphere becomes charged with magnetism. All the other various manifestations of the magnetic current which come, for example, from the tips of the fingers or from the glance are indirect manifestations of the breath.

He feels that by directing the energy through the finger-tips and developing the magnetic power of the finger-tips one develops the power of healing. He emphasizes that the healer must from beginning to end hold the thought of a cure and of nothing else. The physical hands are needed to help the hands of the mind, and when the thought is directed from the mind through the hand its power becomes double and its expression fuller. The healer operates the power of the mind through his fingers in much the same way as a musician produces his feelings on the violin. It is not the placing of the finger on a certain place on the instrument, it is the feeling of the musician’s heart manifesting through his finger-tips that produces a living tone.

According to Inayat Khan to a healer there is no better means than the eyes to send his thought of healing; and there is no better means of receiving this thought in the patient than his eyes. 

Being a musician he believes that there is nothing that can thrill a man’s being as sound can. This explains why suggestion is much greater and more beneficial in healing than any other remedy. The healer, of course, must be sincere in his suggestions, because all the power lies in his sincerity. He must also be self-confident and a good man.

About the power of words Kabir says:
None knows there is no wealth like sweet words,
Diamonds can be bought, but the word is invaluable.

Inayat Khan observes that when a healer thinks he is healing, his power is as small as a drop but when he thinks God is healing then his power becomes as large as the ocean.

The Urdu poet Amir Ahmed Amir Meekai (1826-1900) says:
What need to consult physicians, considerate and kind?
Was he not a physician great, who caused this ache of mine?

According to Subhuti Dharmananda the spiritual aspects of healing involve what might be called right behavior. As the Taoists point out, right behavior is, in one sense, doing nothing. That is, much of human activity revolves around trying to be something or trying to get something, rather than allowing the fulfillment of one’s destiny to proceed, as mandated by heaven. Right behavior is doing that which is necessary and appropriate for the situation that has been presented, which one recognizes by having an open heart (therefore being able to listen correctly).

Lonny Jarret author of The Spirit of Traditional Chinese Medicine, writes that ideally, the patient’s transformation is initiated by the presence of the practitioner. This approach de-emphasizes acupuncture as a technology and places the responsibility of spiritual development and upright behavior on the practitioner.

Larry Dossey has been trying to convince health care professionals to view studies of prayer, etc. as legitimate evidence of a soul-like dimension of human experience that can result in miraculous or radical healing. He feels that if we are ever to understand the role of prayer in healing, and the relationship between spirituality and health, we shall have to grow more tolerant of ambiguity and mystery. We shall have to be willing to stand in the unknown.

He observes that the impulse to do when sick is understandable – to take the antibiotic with a cold’s first sniffles, to rush to surgery, and so on – and a certain amount of doing is always valuable and can even be lifesaving. But doing must also be supplemented by being – looking inward, examining focusing wondering asking.

Some studies on prayer showed that a simple “Thy will be done” approach was quantitatively more powerful than when specific results were held in mind. In many experiments, a simple attitude of prayerfulness–an all-pervading sense of holiness and a feeling of empathy, caring and compassion for the person or entity in need–seemed to set the stage for healing.

Experiments with people showed that prayer positively affected high blood pressure, wounds, heart attacks, headaches and anxiety. Remarkably, the effects of prayer did not depend on whether the praying person was in the presence of the person or organism being prayed for or not. Nothing seemed capable of stopping or blocking prayer.

 Larry Dossey does not pray for specific outcomes for his patients, rather he invokes the Absolute asking only that “Thy will be done” or “May the best possible outcome prevail” not specifying what “best” means.

 Bhau Kalchuri says that prayer should become the lighting of the lamp of love in our hearts. This will allow the lamp of love to perform the prayer of the Beloved. This lamp cannot be seen externally; it burns within to consume in its flame all of our bindings, freeing us, the lovers, to become united with the Beloved.

As Kabir says:
The ridiculous thing is that while in pain one remembers God
And not while he is comfortable.
If one remembers God all the time,
How can there be suffering and pain?
Misery is lessened and disappears ultimately by taking God’s Name.  
If one remembers God continually, he becomes One with Him!
0 Kabir! Real wealth is God realization and real pain is in being away from Him!

Inayat Khan reminds us that as health care practitioners we must first get our own rhythm right in order to be able to make our patient’s rhythm regular.

The Tao Te Ching states: The sage guides his people by putting himself last. Desiring nothing for himself he knows how to channel desires. And is it not because he wants nothing that he is able to achieve everything?

As Kalchuri says “The path of spiritual life has always been the path of desirelessness. This state of desirelessness is achieved through divine love. It is the fire of divine love that burns the roots of all desires.”

Kalchuri beautifully explains to us that for a gross conscious person God is felt through the medium of pure love. Divine intoxication of God slows down the human mind. When a man is in a God-intoxicated state, he does not react to good or bad, natural or unnatural things, because his mind has slowed down sufficiently to see beyond these differences, he reacts only to the level of his own intoxication.

Mir Taqi Mir proclaims the glory of love in the following lines:
Love has organized this show, a director great is he,
Everything that lives and breathes, is by love conceived. Love the substance, love the shadow, real apparent, all that be, There he rules the world celestial, here controls the land and sea.
All pervasive in the world, active everywhere you see,Somewhere hid inside the heart, somewhere stands revealed.

Hafiz ties everything together so beautifully in the following couplet:
I have room within my heart for grief for Thee,
I make the pain itself my poor heart’s remedy!

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14) Jarrett, Lonny S., LAc., The Spirit of Traditional Medicine: the return to original nature. Traditional Acupuncture Society Journal (England) 1992; (12): 19-31
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29) Workingboxwalla, Feram, Kabirji’s Couplets Unpublished manuscript
30) Buddhananda, Swami, Moola Bandha, The Master Key, New Delhi: Thompson Press (India) Ltd., 1996

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Compassionate Acupuncture and Healing Arts, providing craniosacral acupuncture, herbal and nutritional medicine in Durham, North Carolina. Phone number 919-309-7753.

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