The long experience of yogic practitioners has developed an understanding of consciousness that goes far beyond what commonly passes for psychology in the West. One of the insights is that there are various nexus points of consciousness that roughly correspond to locations in the body, but which are actually a nexus of awareness and energy, not physical locations. These centres are called “chakras” or “lotuses” and they sequentially focus the physical energy, the vital energy, emotional energy and mental energy as they rise from the base of the spine to the top of the skull. Yogic practitioners also have reported the experience of the consciousness rising above the mind so that it is stationed above the physical body.
Sri Aurobindo validates this approach and observes that the gnostic consciousness itself is stationed above: “There has to be a certain elevation of the Purusha out of the physical and even out of the mental into the vijnanamaya body. No longer can the brain nor its corresponding mental “lotus” remain the centre of our thinking, no longer the heart nor its corresponding “lotus” the originating centre of our emotional and sensational being. The conscious centre of our being, our thought, our will and action, even the original force of our sensations and emotions rise out of the body and mind and take a free station above them. No longer have we the sensation of living in the body, but are above it as its lord, possessor or Ishwara and at the same time encompass it with a wider consciousness than that of the imprisoned physical sense. Now we come to realise with a very living force of reality, normal and continuous, what the sages meant when they spoke of the soul carrying the body or when they said that the soul is not in the body, but the body in the soul. It is from above the body and not from the brain that we shall ideate and will; the brain-action will become only a response and movement of the physical machinery to the shock of the thought-force and will-force from above. All will be originated from above; from above, all that corresponds in gnosis to our present mental activity takes place.”
The transition to a standpoint of consciousness centred above the mind takes place in stages, with first an action “in higher mind itself and more completely in what we may call an overmind consciousness between mentality and gnosis.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 23, The Conditions of Attainment to the Gnosis, pp. 470-471