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: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
ABSTRACT (AOLF Health Initiative,1999) also aroused our interest.
Namely, the programmes of The Art of Living Foundation are
Lately new trends have appeared in the field of being implemented in more than 85 states all over the world
personal and human potential development, health care and and are designed for different populations.
the promotion of psychophysical well-being. They are The goal of the AOL programmes is to improve the
holistically oriented and promote the harmony between the quality of life in the sense of physical condition of a person as
various human dimensions. One of the most important well as their emotional, mental and psychosocial well-being
organisations in that field is The Art of Living Foundation (AOLF Health Initiative,1999). The programme aims to
which implements its programmes world-wide. In Slovenia achieve these goals by using a special methodology, which,
they are carried out by the Institute for Strengthening of among other approaches, includes unique breathing
Human Values (for individuals as well as institutions, e.g. the techniques. They are considered as useful tools for
Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Institute for improving the health condition of the participants, their
Rehabilitation of The Republic of Slovenia etc.). cognitive effectiveness, ability in coping with stress and
The article aims to present the results of our research eliminating its effects, which all together leads to a more
about the effects of The Art of Living Programme on its successful and joyful life and better interpersonal
participants. We were interested in whether the programme relationships. The first phase of the AOL programme is a 6-
has significant influence on the chosen biophysical and day introductory seminar which provides the participants with
psychological indicators. We used the recently developed the basic knowledge, techniques and skills. After that, the
technology for recording the human electromagnetic field participants can deepen the acquired knowledge at regular
based on the Gas Discharge Visualisation (GDV) technique meetings and continue with advanced educational
which renders new information about the biophysical and processes.
psychical state of a person. Apart from that, some The AOL programmes (AOLF Health Initiative,1999)
selfevaluation scales were used. are meant not only for the general population, but also for
groups that are especially stressed due to their special
medical, psychosocial or socioeconomic status. Namely, the
I. INTRODUCTION programmes are being carried out also for patients with
serious illnesses such as cancer1, multiple sclerosis2, AIDS,
I. 1 Short Theoretical Background psychic disorders3 etc., for addicted people, managers and
other employees in companies4, high school and university
One of the reasons that we decided to carry out this
students5, people with post-traumatic stress syndrome6,
project is the latest development of technology which offers
convicts and staff in prisons7, young offenders, policemen8
the possibility of new approaches in biopsychological
and others. In addition to the programmes for adults, there
researching, which can be used also for analysing the effect
are also programmes for children and teenagers.
of complex social interactions when the criterions of personal
The effectiveness of the programmes is above all
change/growth are treated as biophysical and psychological
indicated by the anecdotal records about the experiences of
ones. Another reason is that there are several indicators
people connected with the AOL programme, including the
which show a relatively high effectiveness of The Art of
participants9 (see Wittman, 1996), professionals (see AOLF,
Living (AOL) Programme as a complex programme of
1996 and 1997) – especially doctors and health care
health, life quality and human potential development based
practitioners (with their experiences at the programme and at
on social interaction and on a special methodology. The high
their work with patients), as well as by a number of case
number of participants world-wide (over 500,000 people) and
studies (see AOLF, 1996 and 1997).
wide applicability of the programme to different social groups
In addition to that, some research studies were
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
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 Ministry of Internal Affairs
8 in Slovenia for the Ministry of Internal Affairs
9 in Slovenia they are recorded especially from policemen, leading employees, staff and convicts in prisons and university and high school students
implemented, of which at least two should be mentioned. At equalised according to the most important irrelevant
the Institute for Rehabilitation of The Republic of Slovenia variables.
they carried out a research about the influence of the AOL The research has multiple goals: apart from
programme on the functional condition of multiple sclerosis examination of the effect of the AOL programme, our goal
patients (Erjavec and Košorok, 1998). The application of the was also to implement new, complex and holistic criterions of
AOL breathing techniques improved the monitored the effectiveness of complex social interaction which is
parameters significantly – in spite of the fact that the manifested in the programme. These criterions are
techniques were used for a short period of time. The ability of biopsychosocial and embrace different interdisciplinary
the patients, measured in meters covered in a 5-minute walk, measuring areas. This approach has also different applicable
was improved. Improvement was also observed in the control implications, especially connecting the validation of complex
of breathing (abdominal-thoracic) and in the breathing ability programmes of health, life quality and human potentials
as a whole (measured in litres of air when inhaling and development.
exhaling), which not only has a general positive influence but The experimental hypothesis of the first and the
also facilitates coughing up. Considering the important second study was: The change ("after" vs. "before") of
results of the pilot study researchers on the Institute expect certain biopsychological indicators (biophysical and
further positive influences to the functional condition of psychological) differs significantly between the experimental
individuals after a regular and permanent application of the and the control group, to the advantage of the experimental
mentioned breathing techniques. one.
Several research studies were conducted also at the The quasi-experimental hypothesis of the third study
National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences was: the AOL "participants" group differs significantly from
(N.I.M.H.A.N.S.), Bangalore, India, which comprised the "non participants" group according to certain
independent clinical and laboratory studies about biopsychological indicators, to the advantage of the first
neurophysiological effects, therapeutic benefits and clinical group.
feasibility of the AOL programmes and its related techniques
on patients suffering from depression (see Murthy and
authors, 1997 and 1998; Janakiramaiah and authors, 1998; II. METHOD
Meti and authors, 1996). These studies were carried out by
the multidisciplinary team of experts of N.I.M.H.A.N.S. II. 1 Research design and subjects
The main findings of the studies were summarised by The first study examined the influence of the first phase
Newman (1998): the AOL techniques have been shown to be of the AOL programme – the 6-day AOL introductory seminar
highly effective in treating patients suffering from depression. meant for the general population – on its participants. We
There was a 68-73% remission rate (anything over 50% is were also interested in the effect of a single group practice of
impressive). Relief from all forms of depression studied was the most important basic AOL techniques which are
quite rapid – substantial relief was found generally by three practised at the regular AOL meetings (duration 2-3 hours).
weeks. Results persisted over time – patients remained This was tested in the second study. The third study aimed to
stable and asymptomatic at the three-month follow up. This find out if general participation in the AOL programmes has
success rate in treating depression was found regardless of any influence on the chosen indicators of psychophysical
the degree of depression, length of time suffering from state.
depression, the amount of stress in their present lives, and The research design of the first two studies was
whether treatment was offered in a hospital or outpatient conceptualised as a mixed two-factor experimental design.
setting. A study comparing anti-depressant drug therapy and We compared the participants according to whether they
electroshock therapy to AOL techniques found that AOL were included in the examined phase of the programme or
techniques alone are as effective as any other treatment. not (experimental vs. control group) and according to their
Nothing was statistically more effective than AOL techniques condition after the programme in comparison with the
alone. AOL techniques have also been found in several condition before the programme. The period factor (before
depression studies to produce highly desirable biological vs. after treatment) was elaborated as a within-subject
effects on brain and endocrine (hormone) functioning. design, while the group membership was elaborated as a
Janakiramaiah, Director of the Research Group at the between-subject design. The third study was a general
N.I.M.H.A.N.S. concluded that AOL techniques have comparative study of two groups according to the criterion of
remarkable therapeutic effects, are clinically feasible and general participation or not-participation in the programme.
effective and have the potential to become a first-line The compared groups were equalised according to the
treatment of dysthymic [chronic mild depression] patients and following irrelevant variables: sex, education, age, cultural
possibly in mild and moderate forms of major depressive environment and similar characteristics of life style, and also
disorder. according the chosen indicators of psychophysical state. The
numerus of the experimental group in the first study was 21,
I. 2 Problem, Basic Goals and General Hypothesis and in the control group 20; the second study tested 20
We were interested in the question of the effects of the persons in the experimental group and 10 in the control
AOL Programme on the biopsychological status of its group. In the third study we compared 35 people who are
participants. Three studies were conducted, the first and the included in the AOL programme with 36 people who aren’t.
second as the experimental/control group design. The The groups consisted of people of both sexes. The age span
research design of the third study was quasi-experimental; was between 19 and 48 years; the majority being aged
two groups ("participants" and "non participants") were between 19 and 28. The educational profile varied from
primary to university education; most participants were
students. The research took place in Croatia, mainly in the mixed research design and with estimation of the statistical
Zagreb region, where it was easier to obtain a sample of significance of differences between the distribution of
subjects than it would be in Slovenia at that time. According differences (after minus before) in the experimental and
to the world-wide implementation of the programme, control group with the t-test – both approaches give identical
however, we assume that nationality is an irrelevant factor. results. In the third study we estimated the statistical
significance of the difference between "participants" and
II. 2 Applied instruments, data collection and elaboration "non-participants" with the t-test.
The recently developed technology for recording the
human bioelectric field which uses the Gas Discharge III. RESULTS
Visualisation (GDV) technique (Korotkov, 1998) provides a
possibly useful information about the biophysical and The results are shown in Table 1. Each column
psychical state of the person. Korotkov (1998) and his team represents one of the chosen GDV parameters or
in St. Petersburg, Russia developed the instrument, Crown- selfevaluations. In the presentation of the first and the
TV, that can be used routinely. This opens practical second study the first two rows show the change of
possibilities to study the effects of GDV. Besides studying arithmetic means according to the period (after minus before)
non-living objects, such as water, various liquids, and and statistic significance of it for the experimental group. The
minerals, the most widely studied are living organisms: plants next two rows show the same for control group. The last row
(leafs, seeds, etc.), animals, and of course humans. For represents the significance of interactional effect of the
humans, bioelectric fields of fingers and of blood excerpts period and group membership factors. In the presentation of
are most widely recorded (Gurvits and Korotkov, 1998). the third study the two rows show the change of arithmetic
The GDV images are described with a set of 610 means according to the general participation in the AOL
parameters, up to 70 for one finger (see Kononenko et al., programme (included minus not included) and the statistic
1999 in this Volume for brief description of parameters). significance of it. Shadowed fields represent statistically
Experience of prof. Korotkov (1998) and his team and of significant results; double-framed for p0,05 and normal-
some other researchers as well (e.g. Chalko, 1999) indicates framed for 0,05p0,10. Figure 1 presents arithmetic means
that the Area (F1), Brightness (F5), Shape (F3) and Fractal of the Area parameter (which is usually considered as the
Dimension (F4) parameters of the coronas of fingertips are
directly related to the physical as well as psychical state of a Table 1: Main and interactional effects of period and group
person. The larger the Area and Shape are, and the smaller membership on certain dependant variables
the Fractal Dimension and Brightness, the better the fractal bright-
bioelectric field and the psychophysical state of the person GDV parametrs area shape
are. Therefore, in the following sections we will limit our exp.
aver. (aft.-bef.) 701,6 9,099 -0,13 1,13
discussion to those parameters only. t-test (aft.; bef.) 0,009 0,007 0,07 0,005
The Crown-TV instrument was used in all three 1. study aver. (aft.-bef.) -44,8 4,887 0,091 0,354
studies. In the first study we additionally used four t-test (aft.; bef) 0,854 0,23 0,25 0599
selfevaluation scales (grades 1-5) for evaluating the physical sig. of interactional effect 0,035 0,4 0,037 0,311
and psychical state, mood and level of tiredness. aver. (aft.-bef.) 626,4 1,819 0,097 0,206
The data were collected individually. In the first two t-test (aft.; bef) 0,001 0,597 0,149 0,625
studies we recorded the coronas of all ten fingers before the 2. study aver. (aft.-bef.) -108 -5,74 -0,12 -0,05
beginning of the programme and after the programme. In the t-test (aft.; bef) 0,631 0,278 0,041 0,95
third study we used the data collected in the first two studies sig. of interactional effect 0,012 0,213 0,036 0,746
before the programme and divided them according to aver. (includ.-not includ.) 750 0,683 -0,15 -1,07
whether the subjects were already participating in the AOL t-test (includ.; not includ.) 0,022 0,867 0,039 0,068
programme or not. phys. psych. tired-
selfevaluations state state
The data were elaborated with Microsoft Excel and
aver. (aft.-bef.) 0,333 0,619 0,905 0,714
SPSS package. We averaged the numeric parameters over exp.
t-test (aft.; bef.) 0,005 0,004 0,001 0,002
all ten fingers. In the first two studies we estimated the size
1. study aver. (aft.-bef.) 0,1 -0,05 0,1 0,15
and direction of differences as well as their statistical cont.
t-test (aft.; bef.) 0,629 0,716 0,649 0,481
significance according to the period factor in both the sig. of interactional effect 0,318 0,007 0,017 0,056
experimental and the control group. To evaluate the
statistical significance we
used the (paired) t-test
that returns the probability 7000
that the difference is pure 6500 before
chance. We also 6000 after
estimated the statistical 5500
significance of the 5000
interaction between both
factors - period and group ex p. cont. ex p. cont. incl. not-incl.
membership – in two 1. study 2. study 3. study
ways: with multivariant
analysis of variance for Figure 1: Arithmetic means of the Area parameter according to the period and group membership
most significant parameter) according to the period and human fingertips. If we assume that the Area, Brightness,
group membership for all three studies. Fractal Dimension, and Shape parameters are in fact related
to psychophysical state of the person then our study confirms
the influence of The Art of Living on the improvement of a
IV. INTERPRETATION person's state, which is also confirmed by the improvement
of the selfevaluation of psychophysical state after The Art of
The results of the first study (about the effect of the six- Living Course.
day AOL basic course) indicate that the Area, Shape, Fractal Apart from that, The Art of Living Programme has
Dimension and Brightness parameters differ statistically several other favourable characteristics: the method is
significantly (for the probability see Table 1) in experimental cheap, non-invasive, holistic, preventive as well as curative
group between before and after, and none of those and easy to learn and use. It enables one a more active
parameters differ significantly in control group. We engagement in promoting one’s own health and quality of
discovered statistically significant interactional effect of life. And it brings more than just physical well-being; it brings
period and group membership on Area and Fractal harmony in other aspects of life as well.
dimension. If we assume that Area, Shape, Fractal
Dimension and Brightness parameters are indeed directly
related to the psychophysical state of the person (as References
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5 . CONCLUSION State Editing and Publishing Unit Kultura.
The three studies clearly demonstrated the effect of
The Art of Living Programme on the bioelectric field of the