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EXPERIENTIAL AND BIOPHYSICAL EFFECTS OF THE ART OF LIVING

PROGRAMME
ON ITS PARTICIPANTS
Andrej Trampuž (1), Igor Kononenko (2), Velko S. Rus (1), University of Ljubljana,
Slovenia
(1) Faculty of Philosophy, Department of Psychology, Aškerčeva 2, Ljubljana
(2) Faculty of Computer and Information Science, Tržaška 25, SI-1001 Ljubljana
e-mail: andrej.trampuz@siol.net; igor.kononenko@fri.uni-lj.si

ABSTRACT used also for analysing the effect of


complex social interactions when the
Lately new trends have appeared in the criterions of personal change/growth are
field of personal and human potential treated as biophysical and psychological
development, health care and the ones. Another reason is that there are
promotion of psychophysical well-being. several indicators which show a relatively
They are holistically oriented and promote high effectiveness of The Art of Living
the harmony between the various human (AOL) Programme as a complex programme
dimensions. One of the most important of health, life quality and human potential
organisations in that field is The Art of development based on social interaction
Living Foundation which implements its and on a special methodology. The high
programmes world-wide. In Slovenia they number of participants world-wide (over
are carried out by the Institute for 500,000 people) and wide applicability of
Strengthening of Human Values (for the programme to different social groups
individuals as well as institutions, e.g. the (AOLF Health Initiative,1999) also aroused
Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of our interest. Namely, the programmes of
Justice, Institute for Rehabilitation of The The Art of Living Foundation are being
Republic of Slovenia etc.). implemented in more than 85 states all
The article aims to present the results over the world and are designed for
of our research about the effects of The Art different populations.
of Living Programme on its participants. We The goal of the AOL programmes is to
were interested in whether the programme improve the quality of life in the sense of
has significant influence on the chosen physical condition of a person as well as
biophysical and psychological indicators. their emotional, mental and psychosocial
We used the recently developed technology well-being (AOLF Health Initiative,1999).
for recording the human electromagnetic The programme aims to achieve these
field based on the Gas Discharge goals by using a special methodology,
Visualisation (GDV) technique which which, among other approaches, includes
renders new information about the unique breathing techniques. They are
biophysical and psychical state of a person. considered as useful tools for improving the
Apart from that, some selfevaluation scales health condition of the participants, their
were used. cognitive effectiveness, ability in coping
with stress and eliminating its effects,
which all together leads to a more
I. INTRODUCTION successful and joyful life and better
interpersonal relationships. The first phase
I. 1 Short Theoretical Background of the AOL programme is a 6-day
introductory seminar which provides the
One of the reasons that we decided to
participants with the basic knowledge,
carry out this project is the latest
techniques and skills. After that, the
development of technology which offers the
participants can deepen the acquired
possibility of new approaches in
knowledge at regular meetings and
biopsychological researching, which can be
continue with advanced educational
____________________________________________________
1
in the USA at the High Desert Medical Oncology Center, Charlotte Maxwell Complementary Clinic etc.
2
in Slovenia through the Institute for rehabilitation of The Republic of Slovenia
3
at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences in Bangalore in India there is a large-scale
programme of treating patients suffering from depressive disorders
4
American express, British airways, Citi bank, Exide industries, International chemical industries, Texas instrument,
Volvo, Exide industries, Morgan Stanley etc.
5
at the Southeastern University in USA the programme is included in the curriculum of the university; in Slovenia
it operates through the Organisation of Students of University of Ljubljana and the Organisation of High School
Students of Slovenia
6
in Croatia for the Municipality of Buje there was a programme victims of war
7
a large-scale programme for convicts in prisons in the USA (Northeast pre-release center Cleveland, Barnstable
county house of corrections, etc.) and in India; in Slovenia for the Administration for Penal Sanctions at the
processes. effects, therapeutic benefits and clinical
The AOL programmes (AOLF Health feasibility of the AOL programmes and its
Initiative,1999) are meant not only for the related techniques on patients suffering
general population, but also for groups that from depression (see Murthy and authors,
are especially stressed due to their special 1997 and 1998; Janakiramaiah and authors,
medical, psychosocial or socioeconomic 1998; Meti and authors, 1996). These
status. Namely, the programmes are being studies were carried out by the
carried out also for patients with serious multidisciplinary team of experts of
illnesses such as cancer1, multiple N.I.M.H.A.N.S.
sclerosis , AIDS, psychic disorders3 etc., for
2
The main findings of the studies were
addicted people, managers and other summarised by Newman (1998): the AOL
employees in companies4, high school and techniques have been shown to be highly
university students5, people with post- effective in treating patients suffering from
traumatic stress syndrome6, convicts and depression. There was a 68-73% remission
staff in prisons7, young offenders, rate (anything over 50% is impressive).
8
policemen and others. In addition to the Relief from all forms of depression studied
programmes for adults, there are also was quite rapid – substantial relief was
programmes for children and teenagers. found generally by three weeks. Results
The effectiveness of the programmes is persisted over time – patients remained
above all indicated by the anecdotal stable and asymptomatic at the three-
records about the experiences of people month follow up. This success rate in
connected with the AOL programme, treating depression was found regardless of
including the participants9 (see Wittman, the degree of depression, length of time
1996), professionals (see AOLF, 1996 and suffering from depression, the amount of
1997) – especially doctors and health care stress in their present lives, and whether
practitioners (with their experiences at the treatment was offered in a hospital or
programme and at their work with outpatient setting. A study comparing anti-
patients), as well as by a number of case depressant drug therapy and electroshock
studies (see AOLF, 1996 and 1997). therapy to AOL techniques found that AOL
In addition to that, some research techniques alone are as effective as any
studies were implemented, of which at least other treatment. Nothing was statistically
two should be mentioned. At the Institute more effective than AOL techniques alone.
for Rehabilitation of The Republic of AOL techniques have also been found in
Slovenia they carried out a research about several depression studies to produce
the influence of the AOL programme on the highly desirable biological effects on brain
functional condition of multiple sclerosis and endocrine (hormone) functioning.
patients (Erjavec and Košorok, 1998). The Janakiramaiah, Director of the Research
application of the AOL breathing techniques Group at the N.I.M.H.A.N.S. concluded that
improved the monitored parameters AOL techniques have remarkable
significantly – in spite of the fact that the therapeutic effects, are clinically feasible
techniques were used for a short period of and effective and have the potential to
time. The ability of the patients, measured become a first-line treatment of dysthymic
in meters covered in a 5-minute walk, was [chronic mild depression] patients and
improved. Improvement was also observed possibly in mild and moderate forms of
in the control of breathing (abdominal- major depressive disorder.
thoracic) and in the breathing ability as a
whole (measured in litres of air when I. 2 Problem, Basic Goals and General
inhaling and exhaling), which not only has a Hypothesis
general positive influence but also
We were interested in the question of
facilitates coughing up. Considering the
the effects of the AOL Programme on the
important results of the pilot study
biopsychological status of its participants.
researchers on the Institute expect further
Three studies were conducted, the first and
positive influences to the functional
the second as the experimental/control
condition of individuals after a regular and
group design. The research design of the
permanent application of the mentioned
third study was quasi-experimental; two
breathing techniques.
groups ("participants" and "non
Several research studies were
participants") were equalised according to
conducted also at the National Institute of
the most important irrelevant variables.
Mental Health and Neurosciences
The research has multiple goals: apart
(N.I.M.H.A.N.S.), Bangalore, India, which
from examination of the effect of the AOL
comprised independent clinical and
programme, our goal was also to implement
laboratory studies about neurophysiological
new, complex and holistic criterions of the
effectiveness of complex social interaction indicators of psychophysical state. The
which is manifested in the programme. numerus of the experimental group in the
These criterions are biopsychosocial and first study was 21, and in the control group
embrace different interdisciplinary 20; the second study tested 20 persons in
measuring areas. This approach has also the experimental group and 10 in the
different applicable implications, especially control group. In the third study we
connecting the validation of complex compared 35 people who are included in
programmes of health, life quality and the AOL programme with 36 people who
human potentials development. aren’t. The groups consisted of people of
The experimental hypothesis of the first both sexes. The age span was between 19
and the second study was: The change and 48 years; the majority being aged
("after" vs. "before") of certain between 19 and 28. The educational profile
biopsychological indicators (biophysical and varied from primary to university education;
psychological) differs significantly between most participants were students. The
the experimental and the control group, to research took place in Croatia, mainly in the
the advantage of the experimental one. Zagreb region, where it was easier to obtain
The quasi-experimental hypothesis of a sample of subjects than it would be in
the third study was: the AOL "participants" Slovenia at that time. According to the
group differs significantly from the "non world-wide implementation of the
participants" group according to certain programme, however, we assume that
biopsychological indicators, to the nationality is an irrelevant factor.
advantage of the first group.
II. 2 Applied instruments, data
collection and elaboration
II. METHOD
The recently developed technology for
II. 1 Research design and subjects recording the human bioelectric field which
uses the Gas Discharge Visualisation (GDV)
The first study examined the influence technique (Korotkov, 1998) provides a
of the first phase of the AOL programme – possibly useful information about the
the 6-day AOL introductory seminar meant biophysical and psychical state of the
for the general population – on its person. Korotkov (1998) and his team in St.
participants. We were also interested in the Petersburg, Russia developed the
effect of a single group practice of the most instrument, Crown-TV, that can be used
important basic AOL techniques which are routinely. This opens practical possibilities
practised at the regular AOL meetings to study the effects of GDV. Besides
(duration 2-3 hours). This was tested in the studying non-living objects, such as water,
second study. The third study aimed to find various liquids, and minerals, the most
out if general participation in the AOL widely studied are living organisms: plants
programmes has any influence on the (leafs, seeds, etc.), animals, and of course
chosen indicators of psychophysical state. humans. For humans, bioelectric fields of
The research design of the first two fingers and of blood excerpts are most
studies was conceptualised as a mixed two- widely recorded (Gurvits and Korotkov,
factor experimental design. We compared 1998).
the participants according to whether they The GDV images are described with a
were included in the examined phase of the set of Table 1: Main and interactional effects of period
programme or not (experimental vs. control 610 and group membership on certain
group) and according to their condition dependant variables
after the programme in comparison with fracta bright-
the condition before the programme. The GDV parametrs area shape l nees
period factor (before vs. after treatment) dim.
was elaborated as a within-subject design, aver. (aft.- 701,6 9,099 -0,13 1,13
bef.)
while the group membership was exp.
t-test (aft.; 0,009 0,007 0,07 0,005
elaborated as a between-subject design. bef.)
The third study was a general comparative 1. aver. (aft.- -44,8 4,887 0,091 0,354
study of two groups according to the study c bef.)
criterion of general participation or not- ont. t-test (aft.; 0,854 0,23 0,25 0599
bef)
participation in the programme.
sig. of 0,035 0,4 0,037 0,311
The compared groups were equalised interactional effect
according to the following irrelevant aver. (aft.- 626,4 1,819 0,097 0,206
variables: sex, education, age, cultural bef.)
exp.
environment and similar characteristics of t-test (aft.; 0,001 0,597 0,149 0,625
life style, and also according the chosen bef)
2. aver. (aft.- -108 -5,74 -0,12 -0,05
study c bef.)
ont. t-test (aft.; 0,631 0,278 0,041 0,95
bef)
sig. of 0,012 0,213 0,036 0,746
interactional effect
parameters, up to 70 for one finger (see third study we estimated the statistical
Kononenko et al., 1999 in this Volume for significance of the difference between
brief description of parameters). Experience "participants" and "non-participants" with
of prof. Korotkov (1998) and his team and of the t-test.
some other researchers as well (e.g.
Chalko, 1999) indicates that the Area (F1),
Brightness (F5), Shape (F3) and Fractal III. RESULTS
Dimension (F4) parameters of the coronas
of fingertips are directly related to the The results are shown in Table 1. Each
physical as well as psychical state of a column represents one of the chosen GDV
person. The larger the Area and Shape are, parameters or selfevaluations. In the
and the smaller the Fractal Dimension and presentation of the first and the second
Brightness, the better the bioelectric field study the first two rows show the change of
and the psychophysical state of the person arithmetic means according to the period
are. Therefore, in the following sections we (after minus before) and statistic
will limit our discussion to those parameters significance of it for the experimental
only. group. The next two rows show the same
The Crown-TV instrument was used in for control group. The last row represents
all three studies. In the first study we the significance of interactional effect of the
additionally used four selfevaluation scales period and group membership factors. In
(grades 1-5) for evaluating the physical and the presentation of the third study the two
psychical state, mood and level of rows show the change of arithmetic means
tiredness. according to the general participation in the
The data were collected individually. In AOL programme (included minus not
the first two studies we recorded the included) and the statistic significance of it.
coronas of all ten fingers before the Shadowed fields represent statistically
beginning of the programme and after the significant results; double-framed for p<
programme. In the third study we used the 0,05 and normal-framed for 0,05<p<0,10.
data collected in the first two studies before Figure 1 presents arithmetic means of the
the programme and divided them according Area parameter (which is usually
to whether the subjects were already considered as the most significant
participating in the AOL programme or not. parameter) according to the period and
The data were elaborated with group membership for all three studies.
Microsoft Excel and SPSS package. We
averaged the numeric parameters over all
ten fingers. In the first two studies we IV. INTERPRETATION
estimated the size and direction of
differences as well as their statistical The results of the first study (about the
significance
according to the
7000
period factor in before
6500
area

both the
6000 after
experimental and
5500
the control group.
5000
To evaluate the
statistical exp. cont. exp. cont. incl. not-incl.
significance we 1. study 2. study 3. study
used the (paired)
t-test that returns Figure 1: Arithmetic means of the Area parameter according to the period and
the probability that group membership
the difference is effect of the six-day AOL basic course)
pure chance. We also estimated the indicate that the Area, Shape, Fractal
statistical significance of the interaction Dimension and Brightness parameters differ
between both factors - period and group statistically significantly (for the probability
membership – in two ways: with see Table 1) in experimental group between
multivariant analysis of variance for mixed before and after, and none of those
research design and with estimation of the parameters differ significantly in control
statistical significance of differences group. We discovered statistically
between the distribution of differences significant interactional effect of period and
(after minus before) in the experimental group membership on Area and Fractal
and control group with the t-test – both dimension. If we assume that Area, Shape,
approaches give identical results. In the Fractal Dimension and Brightness
parameters are indeed directly related to 5 . CONCLUSION
the psychophysical state of the person (as
suggested by studies of other researchers) The three studies clearly demonstrated
our results suffice to conclude that an AOL the effect of The Art of Living Programme
basic course significantly improves the on the bioelectric field of the human
psychophysical state of persons. fingertips. If we assume that the Area,
The results of all selfevaluation scales Brightness, Fractal Dimension, and Shape
indicate that all evaluations of the parameters are in fact related to
psychophysical state (physical and psychic psychophysical state of the person then our
state, mood and level of tiredness) study confirms the influence of The Art of
significantly improved after the course in Living on the improvement of a person's
comparison to the period before. No similar state, which is also confirmed by the
effects were found in the control group. We improvement of the selfevaluation of
also discovered a statistically significant psychophysical state after The Art of Living
interactional effect of period and group Course.
membership on selfevaluation of psychical Apart from that, The Art of Living
state, mood and level of tiredness. This Programme has several other favourable
results confirm the findings gained by the characteristics: the method is cheap, non-
GDV technique. invasive, holistic, preventive as well as
The results of the second study (about curative and easy to learn and use. It
the influence of a single group practise on a enables one a more active engagement in
two-hour AOL regular meeting) indicate that promoting one’s own health and quality of
the Area parameter differs significantly in life. And it brings more than just physical
the experimental group between before and well-being; it brings harmony in other
after, but the Fractal Dimension parameter aspects of life as well.
differs significantly in the control group. We
discovered a statistically significant
interactional effect of period and group References
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the most significant parameter is usually (NIMHANS) of India, Bangalore.
considered to be the Area, and this [3] Murthy, P.J.N.V. and authors (1998). P300
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Brightness are smaller for the followers of it's Related Practices, internal report of
The Art of Living. This suffices to conclude The Art of Living Foundation.
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the bioelectric field as registered by the results of patients with multiple sclerosis
GDV technique. In this analysis also the after doing breathing techiques. Institute
Number of Fragments (F7), the Average for Rehabilitation of The Republic of
Area of fragments (F8) and the Relative Slovenia.
Area (F10) parameters confirm that the [7] The Art of Living Foundation Health
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better (with less fragments, and larger
Promotion.
area) bioelectric field.
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[9] The Art of Living Foundation (1996).
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