Suggestions are not just directed at the mind; nor are they restricted in their impact on just the mind. We are used to the process of people making suggestions to us constantly about what we could, or should, do or how we could, or should, respond to a situation. We weigh these suggestions not solely with mental logic, but with emotional reactions, vital feelings and even, in some cases, physical responses.

Some suggestions are non-verbal in nature. They may take the form of a concentrated exercise of mental will. A ‘pressure’ is created in the atmosphere which is not always recognised as the power of suggestion, but people nevertheless respond to it. It can also take the form of an emotional energy or vital intensity that makes one want to respond in certain ways. This can be easily seen in mob psychology where the very presence of the mob, and its rising intensity of feelings, creates a reaction in individuals who might otherwise not support the kind of actions that they eventually undertake! There is yet another type of suggestion which is more of an impact of a physical force on the vital envelope, or aura. A very virulent infection or virus pushes on this envelope and we feel like there is some illness in our environment. In some cases this is supported by a mental acknowledgement of a disease vector going around, but in others, it is purely the subjective feeling of possibly becoming ill. If one is aware of this and is able to strengthen the response of the vital envelope, the illness does not actually take hold; if not, then the individual eventually may succumb to a bout of illness.

Of course, not all suggestions, overt or subtle, are negative. In the presence of a concentrated field of focus, one naturally is aided in achieving inner concentration. A spiritual teacher, or guru, may guide his disciples through the force of inner suggestion, non-verbally, yet powerfully, palpably and without leaving any room for doubt. If the disciple is receptive to such guidance, it can aid the sadhana immensely. Sometimes these suggestions come in the form of ‘teachings’ during the dream state. In Tibetan Yoga they have a term for this type of support, which they call (as translated) ‘gift waves’. It is not unique to Tibetan Yoga however, and visitors to Sri Aurobindo Ashram have frequently remarked about the pressure of the atmosphere to open their awareness and uplift the consciousness to new and unexpected levels.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “By suggestion I do not mean merely thoughts or words. When the hypnotist says ‘sleep’, it is a suggestion; but when he says nothing, but only puts his silent will to convey sleep or makes movements of his hands over the face, that also is a suggestion. … When a force is thrown on you or a vibration of illness, it carries to the body this suggestion. A wave comes in the body — with a certain vibration in it, the body remembers ‘cold’ or feels the vibration of a cold and begins to cough or sneeze or to feel chill — the suggestion comes to the mind in the form ‘I am weak, I don’t feel well, I am catching a cold.’ “

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Disturbances of the Body and Physical Consciousness, Faith and Suggestion, pp. 94-98

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast at He is author of 16 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.