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The Miracles of Directed Pulses

Majid Ali, M.D.

What is the hardest of all? That which you hold the most simple; seeing with your own eyes what is spread out before you.


The heart beats to pump blood into the arteries. Then it relaxes and its chambers open up to receive blood from the veins. During systole (the contraction phase of the heart), the pressure of the blood in the arteries rises suddenly, creating a peak pressure. During diastole (the relaxation phase of the heart), the pressure of the blood within the arteries falls, creating a trough. The difference between the high (systolic) and low (diastolic) pressures creates a wave effect in the arteries that can be palpated at the wrist, feet, neck and other areas in the body.

Under ordinary conditions, we are not aware of pulses in our arteries. I coined the term directed pulses (the "pulses") to describe a method by which a person can sense pulses in the arteries in any given part of his body. I use this as the first step in my autoregulation training for all patients.

What do pulses feel like? Most people have experienced the throbbing sensation with headaches, tooth abscesses or inflamed tissues. Of course, in such circumstances the throbbing sensation is associated with pain of varying degrees. The pulses are also felt as a throbbing sensation that follows the rhythm of the heart but is not uncomfortable. Indeed, the experience of the pulses is very calming for the novice and deeply comforting for the experienced.


Autoregulation, as I define it earlier in this volume, is a process by which a person enters the natural state of healing energy. Once the energy of the pulses—or tissue energy in other forms—is perceived, one simply allows oneself to be guided by that energy. Perception of tissue energy might seem improbable to those who have never practiced self-regulation. In fact, it can be experienced physically, not merely understood intellectually, and it is easy to learn and simple to understand once one learns effective methods of self-regulation. Indeed, it is rare for me to see a patient who does not succeed in sensing the essential energy of his living tissues in the very first training session.

For more than 10 years, I have taught self-regulation to all my patients regardless of the nature of their illnesses. In these sessions, I introduce the principles and practices of self-regulation in basic terms. In my autoregulation laboratory, I use electrodes to monitor the energy levels and functions of the various body organs. The data are then fed into a computer that formats the information into easily understandable, multicolored, moving graphs on the computer screen.

Extensive clinical experience has convinced me that this training is the most valuable method for teaching patients to become aware of the energy patterns of living tissues. I advise my patients to follow up on the training with autoregulation, using tapes that I prepared specifically for this purpose. (The text of the basic autoregulation tape appears at the end of this chapter.) After initial training, the use of the tapes becomes unnecessary.

Visceral Resistance

Earlier in my autoregulation work, I observed that some patients slide effortlessly into deep meditative states. These patients showed clear electrophysiological evidence of profound and demonstrable changes in the function of various body organs. Others found autoregulation hard to understand and its practice difficult. It appears the patients in the second group had some "visceral" resistance, an internal impediment to the practice of autoregulation that they could neither explain nor overcome.

Whereas the first group succeeded in regulating some of their biologic functions with just one or two training sessions, those in the second group required extensive training with several sessions to learn even the basic steps. After several unsuccessful attempts, some of them gave up autoregulation. The reason why some succeeded so readily while others failed, even after considerable effort, puzzled me. I searched for some simple method of teaching patients how to dissolve their internal, visceral resistance in order to perceive their tissue energy, an essential step if autoregulation is to succeed.

Intellectually, sensing tissue energy with autoregulation is a simple concept. However, it is unsettling for most physicians who have no real sense of the energy of living tissues. Often they contemptuously dismiss all references to energy in healing as witchcraft and sorcery. This is regrettable. All matter is condensed energy. This is elementary physics, not an abstract metaphysical notion. Living tissues are energy beings. (Indeed, from such a perspective of energy dynamics, nonliving entities such as stones are also energy entities: There is no difference between a grain of sand and a sandfly—both are energy beings.) Thus, whether a person can or cannot sense energy in his tissues is a matter of knowledge and training, and not that of witchcraft or sorcery.

Hand Warming

Hand warming is one of the oldest, simplest, and most widely practiced methods of self-regulation. It is especially suitable for beginners. The warming of hands is easily sensed by the subject. The changed skin temperature of hands can be monitored and documented readily with inexpensive thermometers or suitable electronic devices. Beginners often have initial self-doubts. But the objective evidence of significant temperature changes effectively dispels any doubt about whether the beginner is really witnessing a true change or simply imagining it.

The hand-warming method generally worked well for most of my patients during the early years of my work with autoregulation. The computerized autoregulation equipment graphically demonstrates such changes. However, some patients face much difficulty in learning this simple skill. The absence of a response in their skin temperature—sharply contrasted by the changes seen in other patients during the training sessions—seems to intimidate and discourage them. How might I help such patients overcome this hurdle? I wondered. Rather than being instruments of enlightenment about the inner workings of the human frame, the moving graphs of their biologic functions on the computer screen became obstacles for them. The electrophysiologic sensors were a hindrance—cold, intimidating electronic devices adding to the suffering of the sick. I became increasingly doubtful about the relevance of my work to such patients—the very people who I knew needed self-regulation most.

A Miracle in the Shower

One day, it occurred to me that I might try to break the visceral resistance to hand warming by incorporating a simple procedure that the patient can try at home. Patients with strong visceral resistance almost always have cold hands. Could a warm bath or a hot shower help dissipate an individual's visceral resistance? I wondered. I decided to test the idea.

After standing under a hot shower for several minutes, I remained in the shower, dried myself with a towel, and began my experiment. I let my arms hang loose at my sides and repeated several times the sentence, "My arms and hands are heavy, warm, and loose."

The results of this simple experiment astounded me. My arms and hands flushed to an almost uncomfortable degree. My hands became heavy like lead and throbbed with raw energy. What I expected was a mild hand-warming response—perhaps more pronounced than the responses I was accustomed to with my simple hand-warming exercise. What I did not expect was that my fingertips would throb and pulse so powerfully. I became excited as I recognized how valuable this phenomenon could be in dissolving visceral resistance.

I asked some of my patients to do this simple experiment without telling them about my own experience. Most of them reported exciting responses. The observations of some were identical to mine. Next, I asked a few of them to repeat the experiment and tell me if they succeeded in perceiving clear, strong pulses in their fingertips. Some replied that they already had. Others promised to repeat the experiment and let me know about the results. Most confirmed the perception of unmistakable pulses.

It is one thing for a health professional to ask patients to warm their hands in a laboratory surrounded by complex electromagnetic equipment. It is an altogether different thing for an individual to make a personal discovery of tissue energy in his or her bathroom. That's when I realized how valuable pulses could be for introducing patients to autoregulation. Still, I did not know at that time how important this phenomenon would become to my work.

A Surgeon Senses His Heart Rhythm

In 1988, at my 25th medical school class reunion, I met Mazhar Jan, M.D., a close friend who practiced general surgery in Milwaukee. He had heard of my interest in self-regulation. We talked about various aspects of this approach to reverse chronic disease and promote health. I asked him if he had ever tried to sense his heart rhythm without feeling for his pulse at the wrists or some other location in his body. To my surprise, he smiled knowingly and said he could, and that he often did, and that he did so without employing any of the autoreg methods that I use with my patients. I asked him how he learned this. He said he just knew he could do it. I wondered how.

Dr. Jan had suffered a heart attack in his early forties. Lying in a bed in an intensive care unit and watching his heart rhythm on a cardiac monitor for interminable hours, an experienced surgeon, no doubt, would have learned how to sense his heart rhythm. So, that is one way of achieving an awareness of one's heart, I mused. But is that the only way one can acquire such awareness of his heart rhythm? I wondered.

Does a person have to suffer from a heart attack to acquire a sensitivity to his heart? Or can do so by learning some simple method of self-regulation?

The answers to such puzzles usually do not become clear to me at the time that I become aware of them. Rather, such puzzles resolve themselves when I least expect it—when driving to and from the office, when accompanying my wife for various errands, or when I am bored by the proceedings of many hospital committee meetings that I am expected to attend.

Was it possible, I wondered, to sense my heart rhythm through some method of self-regulation? The cortical monkey wasn't letting up. I thought of several approaches and tried many, but to no avail. Finally I admitted that clever thinking after all wasn't going to reveal to me the answer to that puzzle. My head fixation wasn't enough. Rather, I had to wait for the answer to take form at its own time.

Pulses Lead to the Heart

Exercise speeds up the heart rate. Most people who do not exercise regularly often feel a loud thumping of the heart in the chest during sudden and unexpected bursts of physical activity. A mother dashes after her child, who is running toward a speeding car. After snatching her child, she halts and suffers from heart palpitations.

After my morning limbic ghoraa run, I often do some leg-raising exercises while lying on a carpet. Sometimes this follows a brief period of jumping rope briskly. On one particular day, as I lay down on the carpet for stretching my back muscles, I could feel my heart beating fast. Rather than let the mind wander, I stayed with and became keenly aware of my heart rhythm. I decided to follow the heart rhythm rather than continue with my usual back exercises. As I expected, my heart rate gradually returned back to normal. But something was different this time. Even though my heart was beating with its normal, regular rhythm, I was still able to clearly sense the heart rhythm. The obvious question was whether it would be possible for me to bring back this awareness without first going through a period of exercise. This is where directed pulses seemed to offer an interesting and clinically useful possibility. What would happen if I first sensed pulses in my fingertips, then directed them to my heart?

The question raised an exciting prospect. To this end, I did the following simple test: I brought strong pulses to my fingertips with my standard autoreg exercises. I then tried to carry these pulses to the area of my left chest where I had felt the heart rhythm after jumping rope briskly. It worked. I was now able to sense the heart rhythm just as I had after the exercise. (See the latter part of this section for a description of pulse methods.)

Success in autoregulation requires that we abandon our usual competitive, cortical strife for control. It calls for a non-goal-oriented, if-it-happens-it-happens, limbic mode. The core concepts of autoregulation are:

1. Canceling cortical clutter.

2. Sensing tissue energy.

3. Allowing that gentle energy to guide us to a higher healing states.

Autoregulation is not about clever thinking. In fact, the principal hurdle in its path is head-fixation. Chronic thinking leads to an unending recycling of past hurts and precycling of feared, future misery—the two favorites of the cortical monkey. Recycling misery feeds the reverberating cycles of old hurts, long-gone pains, and past memories of sadness.

The discovery that I could perceive my heart activity with self-regulation—the answer to the riddle of heart rhythm—was exciting. The perceptions in a limbic mode had revealed the answer which had eluded the thinking cortical mode for so long.

The next step was simple. I tested this method with many of my patients. With few exceptions, they were able to feel the pulses in their fingertips, then direct them to the heart and perceive the heart rhythms.

I did not need any further proof of the safety and efficacy of autoreg. But some questions remained:

First, would the pulses work for everyone?

Second, how many other clinical disorders can be successfully addressed with directed pulses?

First, Do No Harm

I now started looking in earnest for ways to build upon these observations. Do no harm, first and foremost, is the enduring principle of good medicine. I recognized that beyond my full commitment to the principle of doing no harm were many essential ethical, moral and legal issues that had to be addressed. Informed consent, safety and efficacy, proper research protocols and controls, even the placebo effect, are among the most important issues. But most critical of all was being truthful to myself.

Autoregulation and Healing

When a physician teaches self-regulation, the patient, by definition, knows that the physician is not playing the role of healer. The patient knows that healing is a spontaneous phenomenon in injured tissues and that the physician is only facilitating the healing process. Fully aware of the body's ability to heal itself, the patient is now seeking self-regulation, and is willing to be guided by the natural healing energy of the body.

Autoregulation is a path to independence. Hypnosis and the placebo effect are paths to dependence on someone else.

Autoregulation fosters healing through self-exploration and self-regulation of one's own biology, but, in order to succeed, the patient must have a full knowledge of his illness. And because the measurable and reproducible electromagnetic responses that accompany healing are clearly visible in the laboratory, issues of informed consent and valid experimental model can be resolved.

Ever mindful of the first principle of good medicine—do no harm—I extended my early personal observations to some selected patients. I focused first on disorders I thought had a reasonable chance of responding to autoregulation with some degree of success. At the very least, I selected cases in which I felt the risks were minimal. I also chose patients who understood the principles of autoregulation, and whom I could trust in terms of close follow-up.

Are Pulses Real?

Are pulses real, or an imagined response to hypnotic suggestion? Do arteries really throb with pulses, or is it an illusion created by a professional with his clever words?

Many of my patients asked this question during the initial period of autoregulation training. This question is also raised often by professionals who have not experienced such energy responses themselves. Their interest in the subject is purely intellectual and that, of course, is the problem.

During training sessions, I ask everyone in the laboratory to tell me whether or not they felt any energy response. Most individuals say yes, then go on to describe their individual responses. It is not uncommon for some people to feel no energy response during the first couple of exercises. When asked if they think pulses are a real phenomenon, they usually shrug and look askance at the others who said they felt them. In such instances, I make a mental note of that and proceed with subsequent exercises. With rare exception, those who didn't feel pulses in the first exercises do so during subsequent training. When asked the same question about whether pulses are real or not, they grin broadly and nod affirmatively.

The pulses are indeed a real phenomenon. They can be readily monitored with a plethysmograph, an electronic device that measures the range of expansion of tiny blood vessels in the skin. This noninvasive device can be expediently attached to a fingertip with a Velcro band. In my autoregulation lab, I demonstrate to my patients the dynamic moving graph of their pulses on a computer screen.

The Way We Look at the World Around Us Determines the State of Our Biology

During initial autoregulation training, most of my patients are amazed at the way their biologic profiles change from cortical to limbic modes with autoregulation and back to the cortical mode when they stop autoregulation. These patterns often change instantaneously as the individual moves from a meditating mode to a thinking mode.

It is my practice to guide my patients through 15-minute periods of autoregulation, then stop to explain the various elements of their electrophysiologic profiles. Invariably, during a training session of two and a half to three hours, I am able to demonstrate rather dramatic examples of this phenomenon to my students. The way we look at life around us determines whether we keep our arteries open or closed. All we need to do in the context of autoregulation is to be aware of our tissues and not to allow our minds to punish the tissues by closing off the arteries.

Temperature Shoots up from 79 to 91 Degrees

Patients with severe environmental sensitivities among civilians, the Gulf War syndrome among veterans, and those suffering a host of autoimmune disorders frequently complain of excessive cold sensitivity—cold hands and feet in common language. I include below some brief comments about this problem. Cold sensitivity is caused by one of the following four mechanisms:

1. Hypothyroidism—underactivity of the thyroid gland—caused by oxidative injury to enzymes involved with thyroid hormone synthesis.

2. Spasm of arteries caused by oxidative stress of adrenergic hypervigilance—excess of stress hormones.

3. Malfunction caused by oxidative injury of the autonomic nervous system that regulate the caliber of arteries.

4. Clumping of blood cells that become sticky—rouleau formation in technical language —caused by oxidative stress on their cell membranes.

Pesticides—organophosphate and chlorinated compounds —and related chemical pollutants are well-recognized for their autonomic receptor toxicity. Damage to such receptors causes spasm of muscles in the wall of blood vessels and leads to vasoconstriction and impaired circulation of tissues, which results in cold hands and feet.

At the Institute, we routinely perform blood tests for an underactive thyroid gland and ask the patient to give us a record of oral and axillary (armpit) temperatures taken before getting out of bed, then three and six hours later. This is followed by appropriate therapies that, in most cases, include a natural thyroid extract. However, repairing injured enzymes and autonomic receptors requires a broad restorative management plan that incorporates the diagnosis and treatment of allergies, nutritional and herbal therapies and training in self-regulation. I discuss this subject at length in The Canary and Chronic Fatigue.

Self-regulatory methods that improve circulation are an essential part of any management program for treating cold sensitivity. In my clinical experience, pulses are the best method for this purpose.

It is not uncommon for me to see skin temperatures at the fingertips as low as 77 degrees. (That's where I usually attach sensor electrodes to monitor changes in body temperature during autoregulation.) After years of clinical experience, I can now teach almost all patients with very cold hands how to warm their hands during the first autoregulation session. Indeed, on many occasions I have seen skin temperatures shoot from 77 or 78 degrees to as high as the low 90s in a single session. Such patients are usually very surprised by these dramatic responses. Among their typical reactions:

"I didn't think my hands could get flushed like that."

"If it hadn't happened to me, my God, I would have never believed it!"

"My hands are always freezing. I didn't think this could ever happen to me."

"Who would believe this?"

"Why didn't anyone ever tell me about this? Why did I endure cold hands all those years?"

On some occasions when the hand temperature shoots up, I see patients choke with emotion. Sometimes, they break down and cry.

Cold Hands, Cold Bowels, and Battered Bowel Ecosystems

It is important to recognize that the biologic stresses we observe in one body organ do not affect that organ alone. Energy patterns in arteries, heart, skin, muscles and other body organs are all interrelated. In fact, a kaleidoscope of biologic inter-relationships is at play. In biology, when we change one thing in one way, we change everything in some way. If stress, depression or injury to autonomic nerve receptors cause spasms of arteries and make a person's hands cold, such a change does not simply affect the arteries in the hands. It affects arteries everywhere to a lesser or greater degree. That person needs to know that not only are the arteries in his hand in spasm, the arteries in his bowel are also in spasm—his bowel is also "cold." A cold bowel is also an oxygen-starved bowel and is a fertile field for various types of yeast that inhabit the bowel ecosystem in health and disease.

Blood sustains life for all tissues. Tissues need a continuous supply of blood rich in oxygen to continue to live, but tight arteries rob tissues of such supply. Hence, there is a shortfall of oxygen and essential nutrients. Since chronic fatigue is a state of accelerated oxidative injury to enzymes and neurotransmitters of the autonomic nervous system, it should come as no surprise that chronically fatigued patients almost always show a pattern of tight arteries. I devote the companion volume, The Canary and Chronic Fatigue, to an in-depth discussion of the cause, prevention and nondrug management of chronic fatigue.


Oxygen kills yeasts and sugar feeds them. This is well-established. But how relevant are those two facts of biology to the care of the chronically ill is seldom appreciated by my colleagues. I strongly urge my colleagues who care for the chronically ill not to gloss over this passage. I ask them to take time to study a drop of blood of a patient with cancer, disabling chronic fatigue or other sever autoimmune disorders with a high-resolution microscope equipped with phase-contrast and dark-field optics. I know they will never forget what they will see, and will never look at chronic illness the same way. As the oxygen in that drop of blood is utilized by red blood cells and the oxygen tension under the cover slip on the microscopic slide diminishes, the yeasts simply blossom. I often examine such slides several hours later and find yeasts assume a hundred creeping, crawling forms, much like the diverse sea life one sees snorkeling. They feed on dying and dead blood cells and their mycotoxins create "microclots" of blood plasma wherever they float. I see such microclots, in smaller amounts and in less dramatic forms, and evidence of cell membrane damage in most fresh blood samples of patients with disrupted bowel ecosystems. I consider such patterns of oxidative injury caused by mycotoxins as one of the core mechanism of molecular and cellular injury in chronic ecologic and immune disorders as well as in cancer. Where do yeasts in the blood stream come from? Obviously from the bowel ecosystem. I include here the above brief comments about the role of yeasts and their mycotoxins in the bowel and blood ecosystems to emphasize the need for enhancing blood supply to the bowel with autoregulation. For additional information about such essential ecologic concepts of health and disease, I suggest to the reader relevant chapters in companion volumes RDA: Rats, Drugs and Assumptions and The Canary and Chronic Fatigue.

A Choice

When patients complain of cold hands and feet, I explain to them the relationship between tightened arteries in the hands and feet and those in the bowel, heart, liver and other body organs. Then I give them a choice:

They can keep their arteries tight, rob their organs of energy and stress their biology.


they can keep their arteries open, nourish their organs with nutrients and energy, be kind to their biology and stay healthy.

During initial training, it is sometimes useful to give patients pictures of their biologic profiles, showing points of stress and how they are relieved by autoregulation. Such pictures provide a method of directed imagery. However, once an individual learns the basic methods of autoregulation, directed imagery in my experience is not only unnecessary, it indeed interferes with reaching higher states of healing energy. Notwithstanding its early and rather limited advantages, directed imagery is still a cortical device and best avoided after the initial stages of autoregulation.

Pulses Become a Regular Part of Our Institute Vocabulary

Within a year after beginning my work with autoregulation, pulses became a regular part of our vocabulary. This simple word allows us to talk freely about the basic concept, training and practice of auto regulation. I include some examples below:

Kathy, a 57-year-old college professor with a chronic, unrelenting headache, spoke the following words during a visit four weeks after her initial training in the methods of autoreg:

"I brought the pulses to my fingertips and felt something like a bubble burst in my temple areas. Then, suddenly, my headache was gone."

For many years, Doris, a 53-year-old woman, had been on Synthroid (a synthetic form of thyroid hormone) for an underactive thyroid gland. Over the years, her attempts to discontinue the drug's use or reduce the dose had resulted in a recurrence of the symptoms. She consulted me to see if we could use the autoregulation approach to help her discontinue the drug therapy, or at least cut back the dosage.

I instructed her in autoregulation, taught her how to direct pulses to her thyroid gland, then reduced the dose of her thyroid replacement medication by one half. Such patients often suffer symptoms such as loss of vigor, tiredness, irritability and weight gain when the thyroid replacement hormone is withheld. I cautioned her to increase the drug dosage if any of these symptoms developed. I didn't know how the thyroid would react to the increased blood supply brought on by autoregulation.

She called me several weeks later and reported:

"I have reduced the dose of the thyroid hormone by one-half as you recommended. I have had no symptom recurrence this time as I did on previous occasions. By the way, I have no trouble with pulses in my thyroid gland. I bring them on five or six times a day."

Stephanie, a woman in her early sixties, suffered from intermittent claudication—painful muscle spasms in the legs caused by arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) that also clogs the vessel lumen. Robbed of their blood, oxygen, and energy, muscles go into spasms that cause intense pain.

Here is what Stephanie told me during a follow-up visit several weeks later:

"I woke up with the sharp pain of a cramp in my leg. I could not remember the steps of autoreg you taught me. I was very confused. So I just yelled, ?tingle, legs, tingle.’ My pain subsided. I went to back to sleep."

Here are quotes from some other patients:

"When you started the class, I had a lot of stiffness and some pain in my neck. Now it is gone."

"I wanted to cancel this class. I've had this intestinal virus and didn't know if I could go through the class without running off to the bathroom every 20 minutes. But nothing has happened during the last three hours."

"My sinuses have cleared up. Amazing!"

"I still had a wheeze from my asthma attack when we started. Now I breathe much easier."

"Skin itching is gone."

"Relaxed! Very relaxed! I had a tough day. I was very tense. Now I'm relaxed."

Autoregulation Stops Cough

In the summer of 1995, Carol Grieden-Burger, Director of Nursing at our Institute, began teaching autoregulation at the Institute. One day, she and I prepared to begin for a class. A patient coughed incessantly. Carol became very concerned that her cough would distract everyone. I suggested to Carol that we might give her our Throat Protocol, a vitamin gargle formula that works well for such problems, to soothe her throat and reduce cough. As Carol stood up to fetch the gargle formula, I wondered what would happen if we tried to soothe her cough reflex by eliminating the stress on it with autoregulation. "Carol, let's wait. Let's see what autoregulation can do for her," I said, half jokingly, not knowing what to expect. She gave me a quizzical look, then smiled and proceeded with her instruction.

That autoregulation class lasted for about three hours. The patient troubled by the incessant cough hardly ever coughed when we did various autoregulation exercises, but did so whenever we stopped to explain to the group their biologic profiles on the video screen. Everyone in the laboratory was pleasantly surprised—and evidently amused—by what they saw. The next day, I asked Carol what she thought of the incident. "I was shocked!" she grinned broadly as she spoke in her Swiss accent.

Reins on Pulses

Normally the walls of arteries in our body are held in a state of partial contraction. In medical terminology, this is called vascular tone. It is regarded as the peripheral resistance that is essential for maintaining pressure inside these blood vessels. This is a precise scientific definition of the term "blood pressure."

The state of partial contraction of the arterial wall is maintained by electro-magnetic impulses generated in a small area in the lower part of the brain called the vasomotor center. These impulses travel along specialized nerves called sympathetic and parasympathetic nerve fibers. These nerves, along with their relay stations (autonomic ganglia), have been given the name autonomic nervous system.

Taking the Foot off the Brake Pedals

Some very anxious patients tense up visibly when I begin instruction in simple methods of autoregulation. The simple act of closing their eyes raises their stress level. That sometimes reminds me of my first driving lesson.

My father had a tiny British-built Morris 8 model car, which was driven by his driver (a colonial expression for chauffeur). We had a long oval driveway in front of the government bungalow where we lived in the city of Multan. In the afternoon when my father would return from his court, my brothers and I would ask the driver for a ride in the car and to let us control the steering wheel of the car as he controlled the gas and brake pedals. I was barely thirteen. After some time, I became good at steering. Then one day I persuaded the driver to let me operate the whole thing, the gas and brake pedals, the clutch and, of course, the steering wheel. I never forgot the first spine-jolting experience the car gave me. As I took my foot off the brake pedal, the car simply took off (at least that's the way it seemed to me then). Rather than gently apply the brakes, in utter confusion I slammed my foot on the gas pedal, then abruptly turned the steering wheel. A thick hedge of strong bushes stopped the car. My whole body shook for a while.

The stress of life works our bodies in a somewhat similar way. Many people exist in an overdrive mode. It is hard for them to simply ease off the brake pedals and gently put their foot on the gas pedal. They keep their muscles taut, eyes strained, hearts pumped up, and lungs hyperventilating. For them, anything that attempts to shift their state of hypervigilance to an even, calm mode exaggerates the stress. This is the simple and—in my view—the only valid explanation of events that take place when people move from a noisy, overdrive state to limbic silence. Silence for them is insufferable. Earlier in my work with self-regulation, I lost some patients for this reason. Now I take time to explain such aspects of autoregulation before I begin instruction and prepare them for the initial turbulence.

Cortical Debraking

"Cortical debraking" is a term I sometimes use to explain to my patients the nature of initial visceral resistance to autoregulation.

Typically, a patient becomes uncomfortable as he closes his eyes to begin autoregulation. He may feel constriction in his chest. He may feel tightness in his abdomen. If he is reclining in a chair, he may suddenly sit up with evident distress. I have seen patients suddenly become tense just as they were beginning to feel their muscles become limp, loose and limbic. In most instances, they are able to proceed with autoreg and overcome the initial visceral resistance.

The idea of using this term "cortical debraking" came to me once as I watched a patient begin to relax, then jolt with obvious discomfort. It was as if she slammed her foot on her cortical brakes with full force just as she was beginning to ease her foot off it, much like a teenager taking his first driving lesson. A student driver requires patience and practice to become good at gently taking his foot off the brake pedal so his car can roll forward smoothly and without any jolts. It is the same way with cortical debraking. A sudden release can be jolting. A beginner needs patience and practice with autoreg.

Most of the time, such cortical debraking—negative energy responses—are of mild degree and of short duration. Uncommonly, such responses can be extremely troublesome and require persistent efforts. I discuss this subject at length and describe some specific examples of such phenomenon in the chapter, The Bite of the Gray Dog.

Autonomic and Somatic Nervous Systems

The nervous system in the human body—I was taught in medical school—comprises two distinct and discrete systems: a somatic nervous system that is under our voluntary control and an autonomic nervous system that is beyond our control. When we lift a glass of water, we willfully use muscles in an arm. This is an example of the functioning of the somatic nervous system—the thinking mind directs activity in muscles. When a person's blood pressure rises due to tightness in his arteries and he tries to order his tightened arteries to loosen up, nothing happens. (If the thinking mind was capable of such a feat, none of us physicians would ever take drugs for high blood pressure.) That is an example of autonomic function—a bodily function that is outside the reach of the thinking mind.

All our prevailing medical ideas of the function of the heart rate and rhythm, arterial tone, electro-magnetic energy in skin and muscles are based on this fundamental distinction between somatic and autonomic nervous systems. And so are ideas concerning the treatment of diseases affecting these organs.

Earlier work with biofeedback research led many investigators to conclude that autonomic nervous functions were also under voluntary control. The evidence for this viewpoint was derived from changes observed during biofeedback in heart rate, blood pressure, brain wave patterns and a host of other autonomic functions. This led to the widespread—and, in my view, mistaken—belief that mind-over-body healing works. And that the thinking mind can learn to control the function of the heart, arteries, bowel and other body organs previously thought to be outside its reach. This erroneous belief also spawned the now thriving mind-over-body industry.

The distinction between the somatic (voluntary) and autonomic (involuntary) nervous systems is the primary reason why mainstream physicians do not put much stock in the mind-over-body healing notions espoused by the New Age gurus and so heartily accepted by the general public. On this issue I stand firmly among my colleagues in the mainstream. The thinking mind does not—it cannot—heal the injured tissues. How can it? How can the thinking mind direct the healing phenomenon in injured tissues when it does not even understand it? To date, I have never met a person who claims to understand how healing occurs. Specifically, how does an injured cell know it is injured? How does a cell know its neighbor cell has died, so it must multiply to fill the void left by the dead cell? And how do multiplying cells know when there are enough of them and they can cease replicating? A cell is a cosmos. Within it lie myriads of organelles. How do the organelles on one side of the cell know those on the other side have been zapped by radiotherapy or chemotherapy? When a child is hit by a car and loses a lot of blood, the cells in his bone marrow multiply rapidly to make up for the blood loss. How do the parent cells sitting smugly in the bone marrow know their offspring cells have been lost through gaping wounds in the skin?

One can ask such questions endlessly. Pathologists like me who have studied injured cells and tissues with microscopes for decades know there are no valid answers to any of those questions. The thinking mind simply does not know the answers. And yet, the gurus of mind-over-body healing continue to incubate grand schemes for using the mind to ordain healing in injured tissues.

I do not believe the thinking mind can ever heal injured tissues. In the same vein, to date I have never seen any evidence that the thinking mind can normalize raised blood pressure or slow the heart rate. These functions of the autonomic nervous system are manifestly outside the domains of the thinking mind. I address this subject in greater detail in the companion volume, RDA: Rats, Drugs and Assumptions.

Artists, musicians, and poets usually find the principles of autoregulation—autonomic training with energy dynamics—simple to understand and its practice easy to follow. I suppose it is because they are comfortable with abstract notions of life and energy. This group usually progresses rapidly, and I am able to see objective, electrophysiologic evidence of this progress during the very first training session. Lawyers and accountants often have more difficulty in the initial stages. Physicians often find autoregulation tedious, as do nurses to a lesser degree.



In my view the core belief of the biofeedback community that individuals can be trained to bring involuntary autonomic nervous functions under voluntary control of the thinking mind is erroneous.

So then, how does one reconcile the commonly observed phenomena of "mind-over-body" control of asthma, colitis, and PMS with the clear inability of the thinking mind to understand the healing response in injured tissues, let alone direct it with volition? The answer to that question is really quite simple: In self-regulation, the mind does not do any healing. Rather, when it is excluded—canceled out with any method—the body slips into its natural state of healing energy. Thus, healing in self-regulation isn't a mind-over-body phenomenon, it's the exact opposite.

I address this subject in more than one place in this volume because I see it as the single most important obstacle in the path of healing among my patients.

Healing occurs when we are unfocused. Energy events that bring about healing in injured tissues are facilitated when we escape the tyranny of the thinking mind.

I measure the results of such training sessions with accurate, objective, and reproducible electro-magnetic technology. It is quite rare for me to see a patient who fails in this completely. Needless to say, some people learn much faster than others. At times, the progress of patients in the throes of intense chronic suffering is slow.


I will give one more example. This is not an actual case history, but it will allow me to make an essential point.

A patient consults me for a skin tumor. I recommend a biopsy that reveals a basal cell carcinoma. A basal cell carcinoma is a meek cancer. It grows slowly. It takes months and years to invade the underlying tissues. It almost never metastasizes (spreads to distant organs).

Now, suppose this patient previously had learned autoregulation for some other disease such as asthma. He had been successful in controlling asthma attacks with autoreg methods (without drugs but with nutritional support and allergy treatment). He is well-versed with the principles and practices of autoregulation. I will give him the option of healing his skin cancer with autoreg methods.

I know this method will not be a very difficult task for him. Both he and I can easily keep a close watch on his skin cancer.

Next, let us consider a different setting. The biopsy discloses a melanoma. A melanoma is a rabid, highly malignant tumor that shows no respect for body tissues. It can invade the blood and lymphatic vessels within weeks to months, spread to lungs and other body organs, and prove fatal. In this case I will insist that the patient have the tumor removed by surgery without any delay. Only after that will I support the patient's request for use of autoreg methods to enhance immunity and reduce the chance of tumor recurrence.

I relate here another case history. A woman in her mid-fifties consulted me for breast cancer that had spread to lymph glands in her axillae, lungs and bones. Her breast cancer was a small lump when it was diagnosed with a biopsy about three years earlier. Small-sized cancer of the breast—less than one half an inch in diameter—when not associated with node involvement can be cured by a simple surgical removal in over ninety percent of women. Her physician had recommended surgical removal of the tumor, which she had forcefully declined. She visited me to see if I could add something to her comprehensive program for control of cancer comprised of herbs, vitamins, coffee enemas, exercise and meditation. Evidently, her program of natural therapies had not worked. (No therapies work in all cases.) I reviewed the whole case, made some recommendations, and suggested she might spend several hours with me during autoregulation classes. She thanked me, stood up, and walked to the door. There, she stopped, hesitated for several moments, then turned and asked, "Dr. Ali, do you think I made a mistake in turning down surgery when the cancer was very small?" I felt the anguish in her words, wondered how I could mitigate it, then decided to reply in simple words. "Yes, in my view, that was an error."

Making the right choice when facing therapies for cancer is always a very hard decision. There is no simple way out. I discuss this subject at length in the companion volume The Crab and the Other Side of Cancer.


In self-regulation, meditation and spiritual work, the experience of others can be an interesting topic for conversation at the dinner table, but it is never truly enlightening. There is seldom anything profound in such conversations. Autoregulation, I write earlier, is a process by which one enters a healing energy state. When in such a state, all intellectual function ceases. There are no perceptions except those of energy. There are no clever healing words. There are no mind-over-body schemes. There is no point to any conversation.

Many people find easy relief of symptoms in hypnosis. That is desirable. However, in my experience such symptom relief rarely lasts long. There are no profound insights in hypnosis.

Received wisdom is of limited value in autoregulation and other similar energy states. Those are paths to self discovery at deeper, visceral energy levels. The healing energy I refer to in this context is in the domain of the invisible. It is about linkage with the larger presence that permeates and surrounds each of us at all times. That is the source of all healing. One needs to understand fully that there is nothing profound in the words that I use in autoregulation training to the beginner. Words help only in canceling the cortical clutter. Nor do I believe there can be anything profound in the words that someone else might propose for preparing to enter the healing energy state. In essence, autoregulation is about spirituality. What is found easily in life is rarely profound. Perhaps nowhere else is that truer than in the case of healing and spiritual work.


Anger is a major risk factor for disease. Angry people do not heal well.

Jane, a 30-year-old school teacher, consulted me for chronic joint pains, bowel cramps with flatulence, sinus allergy, and chronic fatigue. What she did not include in her complaints, but was quite evident during her first visit, was anger that permeated her whole being. By the second visit, some of her anger was directed at me. By her third visit, I began to have serious reservations about my ability to help her. But autoreg and allergy and nutritional protocols did work and gave her considerable relief. Slowly, over a period of months, Jane became mellow and I didn't see the fury of anger beneath the common words she used during the visit. She began to relate to me her experiences with autoregulation, especially the benefits of minute-reg. One day she spoke the following words in a follow-up visit:

"You know, I don't get angry at my students anymore, and I don't curse the drivers ahead of me on the road."

Heavy loads of tension and anger are common among patients who have suffered for years, whose conventional laboratory tests have been negative, and who have been told they have all-in-the-head problems. Such patients do not get better until they learn to extinguish the oxidative fireworks under their skin. I discuss this subject in the companion volume What Do Lions Know About Stress?

Exercises for the Pulses

The following is the text of the autoreg tape I use for my patients. You may wish to use this text to prepare a tape for your own use in your own voice. I encourage my patients to do so. I also encourage them to add to this text additional material which they may find suitable. For the beginner, I recommend my own tapes (available from the Institute, (201) 586-4111).

This text for my tapes is copyrighted material and may not be used to prepare tapes for sale or distribution to others in other ways.

In autoregulation, words are not important; the energy responses to which they lead are. Words are used only to cancel the cortical clutter and escape into limbic openness. The gentle guiding energy knows how to direct itself to the parts of the body under duress.

The tone of the voice, the emphasis on certain words, the spacing between successive sentences, and intervals between the various steps of this autoregulation exercise enhance its clinical benefits. The reader may begin autoregulation with my tapes, suitable tapes prepared by other professionals, or make his own tapes using the text that follows. Again, the core idea of autoregulation is to enter a healing energy state. It matters little what particular words, phrases, or sentences can help an individual to enter the healing energy state that I describe in this volume.

In the tape text that follows, I take the beginner through some simple but effective steps that I have found to be useful after extensive clinical experience. This tape is for initial training in autoregulation. Our objectives at this stage are to learn how to be aware of our patterns of circulation, our breathing cycles, and the electro-magnetic energy in our skin, muscles and other tissues. These basic skills are essential for success in advanced methods of attending to different parts of our biology with autoregulation. It is important for the reader to practice basic autoregulation methods before seeking higher energy states that are only possible with deep methodless spiritual work.


Assume the comfortable position you were in when we did autoreg in the lab together. You are sitting comfortably, at the edge of the chair. Your back is straight, maintaining the natural forward curve. Your knees are about 12 inches apart. Your feet are flat on the floor. Your hands are resting on your thighs, your palms facing upwards. Your eyes are closed. Move your shoulders gently and let the muscles settle in so you feel your arms hanging loose and free from your shoulders. If you wish to change your position to make yourself more comfortable during autoregulation training, please feel free to do so. The position I describe is the ideal position for most people who practice autoreg.

As we begin autoreg, our cortical mind rebels. It asserts itself in many ways. It will wander off. When that happens, we will let it do so. We will not fight it. We will stay with the autoreg steps. Our cortical mind will begin to judge and censor us. We will let it do so. If it distracts us with angry thoughts, we will let it do so. If it brings us images of past hurts, we will let it do so. We will stay with the autoreg steps. If it argues with us and tells us autoregulation will not work, we will let it do so. We will stay with the autoregulation steps.

After the initial instruction, I give my patients a tape that I specifically prepare for this purpose. (This tape is available from the Institute.) With practice, most people can learn, within days or weeks, how to do the pulses without any external help from a tape or a professional.

Patients with severe chronic ailments, as I mentioned earlier, usually require extended training with a professional.

Together we will free limbic healing energy from the captivity of the thinking cortical mind.


Breathe in and feel your stomach gently roll out.

Breathe out and feel your stomach gently roll back in.

Breathe in and feel your stomach gently roll out.

Breathe out and feel your stomach gently roll back in.

Breathe in and feel your stomach gently roll out.

Breathe out and feel your stomach gently roll back in.

Breathe in and feel your stomach gently roll out.

Breathe out and feel your stomach gently roll back in.

My hands are heavy and warm.

My hands are heavy and warm.

My hands are heavy and warm and limp.

My hands are heavy and warm and limp.

My hands are heavy and warm and limp and loose.

My hands are heavy and warm and limp and loose.

My hands are heavy and warm and limp and loose.


My feet are heavy and warm.

My feet are heavy and warm.

My feet are heavy and warm and limp.

My feet are heavy and warm and limp.

My feet are heavy and warm and limp and loose.

My feet are heavy and warm and limp and loose.

My feet are heavy and warm and limp and loose.


My hands and feet are heavy and warm and

limp and loose.

My hands and feet are heavy and warm and

limp and loose.

My hands and feet are heavy and warm and

limp and loose.

My hands and feet are heavy and warm and

limp and loose.

My hands and feet are heavy and warm and

limp and loose.

My hands and feet are heavy and warm and

limp and loose.

My hands and feet are heavy and warm and

limp and loose.


My leg muscles are heavy and warm and limp and loose.

My leg muscles are heavy and warm and limp and loose.

My leg muscles are heavy and warm and limp and loose.

My leg muscles are heavy and warm and limp and loose.

My leg muscles are heavy and warm and limp and loose.

My leg muscles are heavy and warm and limp and loose.

My leg muscles are heavy and warm and limp and loose.


My thigh muscles are heavy and warm and limp and loose.

My thigh muscles are heavy and warm and limp and loose.

My thigh muscles are heavy and warm and limp and loose. My thigh muscles are heavy and warm and limp and loose.

My thigh muscles are heavy and warm and limp and loose.

My thigh muscles are heavy and warm and limp and loose.

My thigh muscles are heavy and warm and limp and loose.

My shoulder and neck muscles are limp and loose.

My shoulder and neck muscles are limp and loose.

My shoulder and neck muscles are limp and loose.


I am on a beach. It is a clear day. The sky is deep blue. The breeze is soft and gentle on my face. I see the waves breaking on the white sand. I see gulls floating on the water. The breeze is soft and gentle on my face. I see the waves breaking on white sand.

I see water waves breaking on the white sand.

I see water waves breaking on the white sand.

I see water waves breaking on the white sand.

I see water waves breaking on the white sand.

I see water waves breaking on the white sand.

I see water waves breaking on the white sand.

I see water waves breaking on the white sand.

I see water waves breaking on the white sand.


I see seagulls floating in the air.

I see seagulls floating in the air.

I see seagulls floating in the air.

I see seagulls floating in the air.

I see seagulls floating in the air.

I see seagulls floating in the air.

I see seagulls floating in the air.

I see seagulls floating in the air.


I see water waves breaking on the white sand.

I see water waves breaking on the white sand.

I see water waves breaking on the white sand.

I see water waves breaking on the white sand.

I see water waves breaking on the white sand.

I see water waves breaking on the white sand.

I see water waves breaking on the white sand.

I see water waves breaking on the white sand.


My hands are heavy like lead, and limp and loose.

My hands are heavy like lead, and limp and loose.

My hands are heavy like lead, and limp and loose.

My hands are heavy like lead, and limp and loose.

My hands are heavy like lead, and limp and loose.

My hands are heavy like lead, and limp and loose.

My hands are heavy like lead, and limp and loose.

My hands are heavy like lead, and limp and loose.


My fingertips are throbbing.

All ten of my fingertips are throbbing.

All ten of my fingertips are throbbing.

All ten of my fingertips are throbbing.

My fingertips are tingling.

All ten of my fingertips are tingling.

All ten of my fingertips are tingling.

All ten of my fingertips are tingling.

My fingertips are pulsating.

All ten of my fingertips are pulsating.

All ten of my fingertips are pulsating.

All ten of my fingertips are pulsating.

My toes are throbbing.

My toes are throbbing.

My toes are throbbing.


I can imagine the space in the back of my throat.

I feel the space in the back of my throat expand when I breathe in.

I feel the space in the back of my throat expand when I breathe in.

I feel the space in the back of my throat expand when I breathe in.

I can imagine the volume of my right hand.

I can feel my hand swell up as I breathe in.

I can feel my hand swell up as I breathe in.

I can feel my hand swell up as I breathe in.

I feel energy in my right hand.

I feel energy in my right hand.

I feel energy in my right hand.

I feel energy in both my hands.

I feel energy in both my hands.

I feel energy in both my hands.

I feel energy in my hands and feet.

I feel energy in my hands and feet.

I feel energy in my hands and feet.

I feel energy in all parts of my body.

I feel energy in all parts of my body.

I feel energy in all parts of my body.


I will now count to three, and this will end the autoreg session. If you feel that your body tissues are loose and limp and limbic and wish to stay that way, please do so. You may end autoreg at a later time when that feels right to you.


You may gently open your eyes.

Gently stretch your fingers and toes.

Sit comfortably for a few moments. Then you may slowly rise. Practice minute-reg as often as you can during the day while doing your day's work.


Sensing tissue energy is an essential element in all types of self-regulation with energy. Autoregulation is no exception. Just as a person can sense warmth in hands or pulses in fingertips with simple self-suggestive sentences, it is possible to sense energy of other tissues with a similar approach. Sensing is then followed by "staying with the energy" in the tissues or body organ in question.

Talat, my wife, uses the expression "scan the body, then respond to what needs responding." It is a succinct description of a method that she has used extensively for herself and for her students. She recommends the following simple steps:

1. Scan the whole body for unease, discomfort or pain—moving slowly from hands, arms, shoulders, neck, head, face, torso and limbs.

2. Isolate tissues under duress—keep your awareness fixed to those tissues.

3. Sense the energy or absence of it in the tissues that are the focus of your awareness.

4. Breathe into—or into and through—the tissues under duress. A simple method for this is to repeat any of the following sentences several times until one begins to sense an energy response in that particular tissue:

4.1 I breathe in and my right hand swells up with energy.

4.2 I breathe in and feel both hands swell up with energy.

4.3 I breathe in and feel my eyes swell up with energy.

4.4 I breathe in and my right thigh swells up with energy.

4.5 I breathe in and feel my back muscles swell up with energy.

4.6 I breathe in and feel my abdomen swell up with energy.

Some reader may raise an obvious question here: Aren't these examples of mind-over-body healing? On a superficial level, yes they are. But as I discuss in many parts of this volume, these are in reality examples of giving the cortical monkey a taste of his own medicine. By breathing into or through a tissue under duress, what we really achieve is stillness in the mind. We exclude the mind from our state. Or, to be more precise, we use breathing methods to break the chains of the cortical clutter. Once we perceive the tissue energy, we are guided by the gentle limbic healing energy.

We can only know as much divinity as exists within us.



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