How the Mind uses Crisis to Make New Connections
Patrick Mazza Interviews Graywolf, Summer 1995
[Reprinted from Reflections]
Does it ever seen like your mind and life are in chaos? You search for solutions and draw a blank? Instead of regarding these as negatives, embrace them as signs you might be on the brink of a breakthrough experience.
That is the key tenet of the Creative Consciousness Process [now known as the Consciousness Restructuring Process] developed by thinker-therapist Graywolf of Aesculapia Wilderness Retreat and Asklepia Foundation.
"When the whole system goes chaotic is where have our moments of transformation," the Southern Oregon based healer says. "Chaos and creativity are really synonyms. In creative moments, all of a sudden your mind goes into a blank space when you're thinking about a problem, and out of that nothingness comes a new perception, a new way of ordering everything."
This approach is backed by neurological research into brainwave patterns, Graywolf notes. "In creative problem solving, the more difficult and creative the solution to the problem, the more randomized the neural patterns become at the point of solution. A neural pathway is nothing more than a thought, emotion, or image. If there are no neural pathways going on, there is that state of total, timeless blankness."
Graywolf and Asklepia Foundation are deeply involved in studying the relationship of consciousness to healing. He is also documenting how wilderness experiences can be profoundly healing. This is recounted and explored in Dream Healing: Chaos and the Creative Consciousness Process (Swinney and Miller, 1992).
Chaos and change are not only normal--they open new doors, the healer says. "Each time a new structure come out of the chaos, it is a self-organizing improvement. No structure is permanent."
Reflections Editor Patrick Mazza recently delved into the nature of creative change with Graywolf:
Mazza: Could you please give a brief description of your work?
Graywolf: It's based on the premise that healing is an evolutionary crisis. When we run into a crisis in our lives, whether it's physical or emotional, it's a sign that the organism is incapable of dealing with a problem within its current structure. So essentially it's an opportunity to evolve past what restricts us. We do this through consciousness journeying, similar in some ways to hypnotherapy, similar in some ways to a shaman's journey, but quite unlike either one of them. It shares with them the waking dream, or wakened side of REM.
Our illnesses have a structure to them. That structure is held as a consciousness structure. It's also held as a neural structure, as a sensory structure in the sensorimotor cortex. So we use a process of multisensory imagery beginning with a dream or some other way of identifying the pattern that we're looking for. When we follow that pattern down to its very primal level, where it's experienced as nothing more than a sensory response, you'll always find one more gateway, which leads to a pace that I call chaotic consciousness, which seems to follow the rules of chaos theory. One of the rules is that out of chaos comes a new structure. The new structure begins to re-pattern the entire organism. In a nutshell, that's what we do with CRP at Asklepia Foundation.
M: In terms of chaos theory, how does the strange attractor idea play in? (A strange attractor is a point around which information organizes itself. Does the mind organize itself through strange attractors?
GW: Strange attractors, in terms of consciousness work, are experiences. Some of them we have very early, maybe even as early as the moment of conception, or certainly in the womb and in childhood traumas. They are so intense that they essentially define the limits of our organism. Out of that pain and fear, we establish boundaries, essential beliefs about the self. I think consciousness exists as a chaotic field. It organizes into the organism through the strange attractors.
M: It seems a number of therapies, such as Reichian or Rapid Eye Movement, are working on this idea that experiences actually embed themselves within our body/mind and form enduring sources of illness until we deal with them.
GW: My belief at this point is that the body/mind connection is sensory imagery, because it's of both the mind and the body. Those therapies are on the right track. We're a total organism. This is a part of the shamanic model--any problem is going to express itself in all aspects, at all nested levels of the organism. We're basically holographic in nature. Therefore, any part is in the whole, yet reflects less detail.
M: So if we are this holographic bit, reflecting the whole, how does the mind connect to nature; how ware we connected to each other, in less than obvious ways?
GW: I'm looking at consciousness as a universal field. It's an energy form that we haven't been able to measure with any instruments other than the mind. When we go into relatively pure consciousness states, they represent an additional dimension beyond space and time. Jung talked about that with dream spaces. He sought to unite psyche and physics. Dreams exist beyond space and time. Telepathy, clairvoyance and extrasensory phenomena all seem to take place outside of time and space. The rules and regulations of the Newtonian universe are set aside. That's how we connect, on this deep consciousness level, beyond energy and form. It's not a thought level, which is nothing but a symbolic level--the content of thoughts are symbols. Thoughts themselves are things--the embodiment of psychophysical processes.
We all touch into a universal consciousness field. It's one of the basic energy systems underlying all matter, up there with electricity, magnetism, gravity and time. When we dip into this consciousness field, we are interconnected with the entire universe. When we get into that state, we do have connection with nature, with other people, with the furthest reaches of the universe. One of the premises of quantum physics is that every particle in the universe somehow has information what every other particle is doing. This is the principle of nonlocality. This is also the state that people call the inner wisdom. People go there and come back and know that everything we could possibly need to know is there.
M: People have been working on the connection mysticism and science pretty strongly for the last 20 years or so.
GW: As human beings we're extremely complex systems. What chaos theory or quantum physics deal with is this extreme complexity. Newtonian science, the premise on which psychology and medical practice is based, is really a very mechanistic model, albeit a useful one. It doesn't come anywhere near approaching the complexity of what we're really dealing with, the human condition with its unexplainable richness of interior life.
M: Reducing our sense of how complex we are does a real damage and disservice to us as human beings, doesn't it?
GW: Of course. That's why we have all of these side effects. We look at one system to the exclusion of others. Here's a medicine or therapy that will take of this. It doesn't, but it affects other systems. It all has to integrate. I think we fit into nature in a harmonious and balanced way. We are nature; we are not separate from that manifestation of universal flow. That's basically my criteria of health--flowing. We resonate with everything around us.
M: But the resonances we seem to achieve in industrial civilization are...
M: So what inside is causing that outer dissonance between humans and nature?
GW: The underlying thing is that there's a tremendous level of pain and scare. Something happens. We get hurt. So we immediately begin to compartmentalize and put it off to the side. We develop some defense mechanisms.
The other part is that we get attached to structure. The true nature of reality--this is what I'm coming to believe through chaos theory and quantum physics--is that we exist in a twilight zone that is neither structure nor chaos. It is process. Structure evolved and reaches a point where it's no longer useful. It breaks down. Thing go into great disorder. Out of that disorder comes a new structure.
M: Our illness becomes the compost out of which we grow a new garden.
M: What we've been talking about, fear, pain and utter complexity, all stand as fairly imposing barriers. How specifically do you help people move beyond the fear and pain and understand the mindboggling complexity of us and the universe?
GW: It's a guided process. I liken it to a trip down a whitewater river. We do a lot of that; I take people on the river. We come up on a set of rapids and those suckers are scary. That river is pounding and roaring. There are thousands of cubic feet of water rushing by every second. It's total chaos. Most people are scared. But if you're a good guide, you take them through the rapids.
The inner process is a lot like that. As a guide you go into a co-consciusness state with a person. By that I mean you're sharing a consciousness state. So you're there in that river with them. You come up on a set of rapids--this is a rough time in their youth. They may not even remember the experience intellectually. But you pick up a flavor of the sensory patterns, and they're very turbulent. You go in there with them.
I don't know any guide that would stand on the bank of the river. This consciousness journey, facing these fears and pains, is very much the same thing. If you're in the boat with a person, they're not going to jump out. If you're not, maybe they're not going to go through them, because they really don't know how.
M: One thing I've learned from the little bit of white water rafting that I've done is that you really to let go into the river and work with it, or else you're just going to get smashed by it.
GW: The river is totally chaotic. If you're in the river, you begin to sense that there are currents and flows--if you catch this current here you miss that big rock down there.
M: What do you do to get at these consciousness states?
GW: We might start with a feeling, symptom, or dream. A dream is basically pure, unstructured consciousness that percolates up to the surface of the mind and gets shaped by what's in the subconscious. The surface of the dream is really like a map that helps me to understand some of these patterns, the interactions and symbols and how they're put together. I'll have the person become different elements in the dream, or yield to different elements of the dream. Eventually we get down to the primal image, the primal sensory pattern. This is a combination gestalt and shamanic soul journeying.
M: What you're talking about is re-connecting a fragmented ecosystem of the mind.
GW: I call it the selfscape of the mindbody.
M: Is it fair to say that the neural roots of illness have a lot to do with holding things away, being disconnected, and that the healing process has very much to do with reweaving relationships in the mind?
GW: That's one way to put it. The healing process is re-perception. It's coming back to a sense of oneness with the self and perceiving the self and the world differently. There's no goal involved in this. Peace and harmony are processes. I really want to emphasize that healing is getting back into a process of flow, not reaching an end-state.
Dreams, the Placebo Effect, and Creative Consciousness
by Graywolf Swinney, M.A.
Asklepia Foundation, c1997
The placebo effect and spontaneous remission are two of the most powerful yet discounted healing phenomena known to the healing arts and sciences. Healing occurs with any or all illnesses, yet nothing, no treatment or substances has been done or administered to the patient that can account for it. In studies of a new treatment, it must always be compared to the placebo and outperform it in order to be considered effective. Even here the placebo effect is pushed into insignificance and discounted.
Consider the following: As a control in studies, the placebo consistently brings about symptomatic remissions and healing for at least 30% of the individuals taking them, often much more. If the test drug performs in the 60% range (as many, if not most, do) and the 30% rate for placebos was also at work with the test group, it accounts for at least half of the effectiveness of the test treatment. The new drug is only working at about the 30% level or no better than a placebo. In most cases, the drug company or proponent of the treatment generally prefers to credit the drug or treatment with all the healing and claim the new treatment 60% effective. The placebo effect operating in the test group is ignored and illusion created about the drug's effectiveness.
The same observation also applies for any treatment: allopathic, naturopathic, homeopathic, shamanic, or spiritually based. For any healing modality, in at least 30% of those treated, the placebo effect is most likely responsible for the healing. Seen from this perspective, the placebo is indeed a powerful healing force, perhaps the broadest and most powerful one known. In our rush as healers to claim credit for healing and justify ourselves and our profession, it is convenient to take this stance, claim the credit, and discount the placebo effect. To do so, however, is to turn our backs on understanding the body's inherent natural healing capacities and processes and the power of our consciousness and spirit in that. It also, incidentally, disempowers our patients and discounts their ability to self-heal by taking credit for what they have somehow done themselves.
When I first entered the healing arts and sciences as a pragmatic engineer and encountered this phenomenon and studied this data, it was my notion that we could not really understand the true nature of healing without understanding placebos. I was dumbfounded that no explanation of how it worked existed then, and that began my now twenty-eight year search for explanations of how the placebo works. The result is the Consciousness Restructuring Process of natural healing (CRP). It has been described in several articles, published in Dream Network Journal and elsewhere.
The Science of Placebos
Quantum Mechanics: the Dreams that Stuff is Made of...
The placebo effect is a conscious event, and more specifically an event in which consciousness and matter interact to change or transform a disease structure into a healing process or flow. At this level of reality events in consciousness and matter interact to change or transform a disease structure into a healing process or flow. At the level of reality at which this event takes place, it is not even possible to say that it is an interaction. This is a level at which consciousness-matter, or as it is more popularly known, mind-body, are not different but are a "stuff," for want of a better word, which is not committed to either condition, yet is both. It is, in other words, a level of quantum reality.
Quantum reality describes a reality in which something, for example light, can display properties of being both matter and pure energy as waveform. The laws of quantum mechanics apply rather than the linear cause-effect laws of more conventional science, (including medical science). Sudden changes in state, or quantum shifts, occur instantaneously. It is a reality in which all is interconnected and uncertainty reigns. We are part of natural process, influencing it and being influenced by it at subtle levels where structure is only a passing creation of continuing evolution. True natural healing takes place at this quantum level where mind and body are the same, transformation is the essence of reality, and reality is created from infinite potential.
This level of reality exists on the edges of chaos or infinite complexity/possibility. From this vast potential of infinite possibilities reality is created. There are principles by which this creation emerges out of chaos, known as strange attractors. Strange attractors, as defined in chaos theory, are essentially organizing principles that limit the patterns or structures that manifest from chaos and give them form. The CRP reveals even more fundamental principles (conscious experiences encountered at the deepest levels of the journeys) identified as "archetypal strange attractors." Not archetypal in strictly the same sense as used by Jung, the term refers to principles so primordial that they underlie the fundamental shaping of all structures from the universe and its galaxies to the most fundamental of sub-atomic particles. These experiences are commonly encountered from person to person and underlie the individual's self structures.
The CRP model identifies this level of experience/reality as the "edges of creation," and at this level self and every element of our being is created, including the structures that manifest as diseases in our physical and emotional being. This level is also the source of the unstructured or chaotic consciousness that passes through us and is shaped in its interactions with our organism and psyche to manifest as dreams. The implication is that our dreams are reflections or symbols of the structures that underlie our beingness and in particular our disease states.
In that the placebo effect is a consciousness event, to understand it also requires understanding the nature of consciousness and its dynamics. What people mean by consciousness is varied. Some mean no more than awake or aware, (conscious), as opposed to asleep or unaware, (unconscious). Some see it as the essence of self-awareness, (i.e. humans have consciousness, and animals don't). However, we have come to understand and define consciousness far more broadly along shamans' lines. It exists in all things and at all levels of being. There is nowhere or nothing in which consciousness is not involved.
To be true this implies that consciousness is a field in the way that physics uses that term. Fields exist before energy, force or matter and are the source of these manifestations. Einstein's life-long quest to explore the nature of space-time and fields and his theories of relativity showed that space itself has structure and is permeated with fields. Electric, magnetic, and gravitational fields have been identified, but our exploration into consciousness dynamics suggest that in addition to those, there are two others: time and consciousness fields. We suggest that the interactions of these fields in various combinations create the physical and energy structures of reality. Strange attractors influence these emerging structures of consciousness in its interactions with other fields to create the essence of self and reality. A more detailed presentation of this conjecture and its implications is beyond the scope of this particular article and will be presented in a future article. For now, consider it a working hypothesis.
The last element of science involves neuroscience or the study of the brain, how it works and, in particular, its role in disease and healing. The brain's extension throughout the body is the nervous system. It connects the brain with every part of the body and nerve impulses control and monitor the functioning of every organ and muscle in the body. Nerve impulses underlie all sensory inputs to provide the fundamental basis for our perceptions of self and reality.
This is all controlled in and by the brain itself and more specifically by synaptic firing sequences or patterns. The pineal and pituitary organs or glands are of the brain and control moods and secrete the hormones that control how we function and our body chemistry. Increasingly the brain is known to operate in a holographic manner, which means that change in any part of the brain affects the whole. In brief, the brain is the basis of the entire body's functioning and of all our perceptions of self and reality, and dysfunction in any part of it affects the entire brain and organism.
The Disease Model
Work with CRP has led to certain speculations about how consciousness interacts with the brain to influence its operations to, in turn. shape our personality and physicality. To illustrate this, consider the following case study:
Sonja is a health professional who suffers from relatively debilitating slow progressive multiple sclerosis. During the course of several dream-based journeys, we encountered severe states of restriction on a sensory level, experienced for example as kinds of crushing pressures. Following one particularly intense journey, both her mother and son called later the same day to complain of feelings that Sonja had experienced in her journey. Their experiences had happened at the same time as Sonja's. Moreover, in chatting, uncharacteristically her mother offered unsolicited information about conditions surrounding Sonja's conception and birth, which confirmed our speculations during re-entry. Her mother had been feeling extremely restricted in her life and Sonja was conceived to provide meaning and purpose in this restriction. Another factor was that Sonja was ready to be delivered on Christmas Day, but because both the doctor and mother did not want to interfere with their families' Christmas celebrations, mother was instructed to "sit on a pillow" and hold Sonja back, which she did. Moreover, the onset of Sonja's disease followed a plea, or prayer she herself had expressed while trapped in an abusive, physically demanding and restrictive marriage. "I pray for something to happen that will free me from this and all that he expects me to do," she begged, and very soon thereafter was afflicted with her disease, which did.
This thread of restrictiveness that weaves throughout Sonja's life was present during her conception, birth, up bringing and further manifested in her first marriage and subsequent disease. Restrictiveness defined her world and imprinted in her consciousness and neural structures to shape her organization of self and world from her earliest beginnings. In essence it was a strange attractor. As a consciousness structure present in her parents at her conception it influenced the mix of genes coming from them. It influenced how the consciousness field interacted with the other fields to create the essence of her body and mind out of all the infinite possibilities. It imprinted itself in her neural structure both in the fetal stage and as a baby-child. It evolved into a specific "neural organ" or pattern of synaptic firings that defined a very deep primal sensory existential image of self.
Now stored in the brain it influenced how her nervous system functioned and how her personality developed. Sonja's mind and body in taking on this primal image and consciousness structure eventually manifested it as multiple sclerosis, which restricts and suppresses the flow of nervous energy throughout the body by affecting the sheath, which surrounds the spinal nerve bundles. In this way, her inner senses of self created the same in her outer world. (One model of brain functions holds that for every movement we make, for example, moving our hand to scratch our nose, the brain creates an image and sequence of synaptic firings, and the hand conforms to this model.. The outer reflects the inner).
In quantum reality, the beginnings of the structures that form the universe appear as wave fronts arising out of infinite possibility to form electrons and other subatomic particles that interact to become the structure of matter. Neural firing patterns are hybrid chemo-electro phenomena that are in essence consciousness wave fronts arising out of infinite possibility. They are ordered in part, as implied in the preceding paragraph, by environmental consciousness structures and events acting as strange attractors to shape the neural firing sequences that define self-image and influence the functioning of the entire organism.
These patterns or sequences are stored in the brain experientially as fundamental primal sensory self-images defining the nature of self and reality. They shape our perceptions of self and world out of the raw flow of sensory input. It is why eight people will have eight different perceptions of the same event. The CRP suggests six zones and characteristics of consciousness dynamics that stem from these images and eventually manifest as physical and behavioral functioning as self. These are described in chapter 12 of CLINICAL CHAOS: A Therapist's Guide to Nonlinear Dynamics and Therapeutic Change," edited by, Chamberlain and Butz, Taylor and Francis Pub.
The Healing Model
Since healing's a matter of mind over matter,
And matter's a matter of mind,
In matters that matter, when healing's what matters,
Chaotic's the transforming mind.
Healing is an ongoing process of ever evolving consciousness energy flow, as opposed to disease which is consciousness energy bound in unchanging and unadaptable structures. Fundamental healing involves reaching these levels of primal disease consciousness structure to release the bound energy. To do this we begin with a surface manifestation of the disease, usually a dream image although not necessarily limited to that.
Dreams begin as chaotic consciousness energy. In its journey through our organism and psyche this consciousness energy is influenced to take on the shapes of deeper aspects of self. On the aware or dream level these shapes become the plot and symbols in our dreams but whatever else they are, built into them are the roots of our deeper self, including the roots our disease states.
Using a Gestalt method and encouraging the imaginative process of the client, we invite them to imagine and yield ever deeper into these consciousness structures and dynamics. We encourage sensory rather than just visual or auditory imagery, and it is a process of "becoming." The discomfort is followed since this represents the dis-ease state, and in the journey the fears and pains encountered are embraced to fully identify with them. To help, the mentor enters a state of co-consciousness and shares the experience, in a sense modeling the way. It is in this becoming and identification that the fundamental image or neural firing pattern becomes activated. The client is fully identified with it and experiences it as self. This self-identification is important as will be seen shortly.
The experience at this level is now even beyond the sensory. It is a reality filled with the elemental structures of the archetypal strange attractors, which shape our personal, and the general universe. It is the level of quantum reality in which distinction between matter and energy is not clear. It is a zone that on one side is experienced as the primordial patterns of sensory flow that define self, and on the other, pure complexity and chaos....undifferentiated or chaotic consciousness...infinite possibility.
We invite the client, now fully identified with the disease structure, to let go into this infinite universal solvent, to yield to it and become it. The disease pattern dissolves and from the chaos a new self image emerges. On the neural level, the synaptic firing pattern that holds the disease structure loses coherency and randomizes, or becomes non-linear and complex. From this complexity emerges a new firing pattern that represents the healed sense of self.
This new self -image gradually affects the entire organism, The new synaptic firing pattern defines a more healed self and shapes the sensory inflow differently, influencing the whole brain to operate more appropriately. Sense of self and the world is more easeful. Hormonal secretions are changed and mood is improved. Through this, eventually the body and mind take on a new configuration.
For Sonja, her journeys have brought her to a more flowing and free sense of self. There is ease and peace in this new primal existential image. She is experiencing tingling and sensations in her legs, which for many years were numb. A bladder problem associated with her MS has gone into about 95% remission. She is walking more easily without her canes and seems to need them less often now. All this began happening after her first journey at which time she also stopped taking any medication for her condition.
Endings and Beginnings
Placebos do not work in the linear world of mechanistic science, and this is one reason medical science and psychology, which are based in this model, have failed to understand or honor this powerful healing force. Placebos operate in the realms of consciousness dynamics, which are far more adequately described and modeled by quantum, relativity and chaos theories. Dreams, imagination and other creative consciousness processes provide doorways into these realms, and the primordial images and neural structures that define our sense of self, world, and dis-ease. At this deep level the transformations that reshape our entire organism occur. And the beauty of it is that it is the imaginative self that creates this miracle of healings. And it is from here that we begin to really live.
This article was first published in Dream Network Journal, Vol. 16; No. 4.
What's New with My Subject?
The Changing Healing Paradigm
Dreams, New Science and the Consciousness Restructuring Process
by Graywolf Swinney, M.A.
Asklepia Foundation, c1996
The Consciousness Restructuring Process represents a basic paradigmatic shift in the healing arts. To make this shift requires a fundamental shift in perspective, a change in the very models by which we describe how nature works. The old Cartesian philosophy of "I think, therefore I am," is turned on its head and the intellect is reprioritized to a less controlling and confining role: "I am, and therefore I think, I feel, I experience, I act..." Being, rather than thinking is the core of existence. The new philosophy is one that offers evolution and creativity as a way of life.
Culturally and socially, we are entering a major evolution, and science will play a significant role in this. For 300 years, Newtonian Science has ruled and along with the Cartesian philosophy (that supports a mind/body split) from a basic level, has shaped our civilization and culture. This model depicts a clockwork universe in which we stand outside of nature and objectively manipulate it. It gave us the technology that elevated us even further from nature but now pushes us off balance and threatens our existence. It sets us apart from all; it is a model of separation.
Then Einstein disproved some of its tenets, the basic ones of objectivity and absoluteness. "Everything is relative," he said. "There is no absolute frame of measurement anywhere in the universe." The ideas of standing outside of nature and measuring it objectively was invalidated. Relativity says that your frame of reference determines your measurement of reality.
Quantum Physics goes one step further and implies all is relationship--the universe is an interconnected web of relationships. One electron knows what another electron is doing and one molecule knows what another is doing, even if they are at opposites sides of the universe. Somehow they coordinate their efforts to include the observer who is also part of that system which is part of every other system in the universe all cooperating in harmonious relationship to create unique realities for each of us. Suddenly, the whole framework of reality is like jelly. There is nothing firm to stand on. We are part of a natural process, influencing it and being influenced by it at subtle levels, where structure is only a passing creation of continuing evolution. Quantum reality lies at the edge of chaos and of creation itself.
Nowhere are these ideas more important than in the healing arts and professions and in enhancing our understanding of natural healing processes. The natural healing process is something medical science does not understand and so hides from it behind the labels of "placebo effect," and "spontaneous remission," but it is something which the Consciousness Restructuring Process describes and guides people through.
Psychotherapy and allopathic healing approaches are based on the old paradigm, the old Newtonian view which sees reality, including human beings, as nothing but mechanical systems. Part of us is. But most of us isn't. We are complex dynamic organisms, and the theory of complexity or chaos theory, far better describes our interactions with reality. We experience quantum effects directly as synchronicities, sensory and extrasensory phenomena, placebos and spontaneous remission. True healing takes place at this quantum level--the level at which transformation is the essence of reality--that reality created from infinite potential.
Healing is a sensory phenomenon and so are dreams. Our senses let us know when we are sick. Senses show us when we are well. Mind and intellect can't do it. We have to go beyond that, beyond the "I think, therefore, I am," mentality and into a reality of beingness. "I am, and how I am I know through my senses."
Consider depriving people of dream time--let them sleep, but prevent dreaming. After about a week, hallucination and mental/emotional problems begin to appear. Within a couple of weeks, the immune system weakens and there is greater proneness to illness and fatigue. Even an unremembered dream heals; we need dream activity during the night to heal the day's traumas, and the healing power of dreams is not limited to just this. Dreams are altered states of consciousness in which we transcend space and time as we know them, states in which such phenomena as clairvoyance and prognostication occur. These phenomena cannot be explained by linear cause and effect, they are consistent with Quantum Physics and Chaos Theory.
One of my earliest encounters with the implications of this paradigm shift came about eleven years ago during some dream therapy that I was facilitating. Gestalt was my main form of dream work. Its power and strength lies in the notion that the healing power of the dream is in its experience, not in interpretation or analysis. Gestalt dream-work has one re-experience the dream and become different components of it. The premise is that every symbol is reflection of a deeper part of one's self. Becoming different symbols in the dream one enters into a dialogue with the different parts of the self to resolve conflicts at this level of ego functioning.
I was working with a woman who, as a child, had been sexually abused by her brothers. She became very hard and cold. We had been working on these issues, making the usual progress as far as psychotherapy goes--but not finding deep resolutions. Then she related a dream. At the end of it she was being drawn "on a rack, into something like a saw-blade, which was not a saw-blade, but a hub, on which there were razor sharp knives rotating and spinning." She had awakened at this point.
What I did was unusual in my context as a psychotherapist but consistent with my shaman mind bent and an intuitive urge. I said to her, "Instead of waking up this time, why don't you let yourself be drawn into the knives?"
Her first report was of being "slashed to ribbons with flesh and blood flying all over." I asked her what she noticed most about the experience and she replied that it was the coldness of the blades, they were a razor sharp, deep penetrating old I invited her to become the cold. And as she did she reported feeling like a thick frigid layer of ice on top of a lake, very cold, very hard and very frozen. I noticed that she had precisely described her condition. I invited her to go deeper. She reported passing through the ice and entering into water. I invited her to let go into the water, to become it. Some time passed. Then her body began to relax. I watched the muscles that I had seen tense since I first met her begin to soften and flex.
I asked her what she was experiencing. She answered that as she went deeper into "being" the water she became warmer and the fluid, limitless and boundaryless. I invited here to stay there and experience this side of herself. When she returned from the experience in about ten minutes, there was a profound change in her personality and physiology. We were both inspired. This was the kind of healing work I aspired to facilitate but seldom saw; the tools I had seemed too limiting and unreliable.
Something remarkable had happened, but I was not sure how. I continued exploring this deep journey process further with other clients and, among other things, was struck by the realization that, as with the placebo, I was not the healer, it came from deep inside the person healing and involved profound consciousness change. All I did was guide. It was the person's own imagination and dreams that took them to the healing state. And the healings were proving to be profound involving both somatic and mental diseases.
Since I had first encountered the concepts of spontaneous remission and the placebo effect, initially as an engineer, and then later from the "inside" as a student of psychology, I was plagued by not knowing how they worked. There were no satisfactory answers from psychology or medical science, indeed they seemed to do little more than grudgingly admit to their existence and then ignore them. However, when I began dream journey work, I knew I was on the trail of these phenomena. The journey process duplicated their effects and how they operated, but more reliably and frequently.
There is a similarity from journey to journey, not in the sense that the images are the same, or follow the same sequence, but they lead to similar states or processes of consciousness activities or dynamics. Leading into these, the imagery describes the diseased self in vivid sensory terms, such as being very hard, rigid and cold. But there are openings, elements of the diseased energy patterns that invite one to go even deeper into a place of conscious dynamics.. There the sensory image materializes, disassociates into chaos or unstructured consciousness stuff.
Emerging from this sensory image are new images and sensory experiences to replaced the diseased ones and give resolution to them, for example a deep felt sense of warmth, flow and freedom. But, it is a deep felt sensory experience rather than a more superficial intellectual or emotional experience and it begins a deep evolutionary process in the senses and nervous system that eventually manifests as healing throughout the entire organism.
Another step came after reading an article in OMNI, "The Role of Chaos in the Brain" ( McAuliffe, 2/1990), about the work of Dr. Paul Rapp of the University of Pennsylvania. The entire article sang to me, certain specifics quite loudly. Rapp was working with chaos theory and its implications in brain functioning and had studied problem solving--a problem that exceeds the limit of a person's current thinking, it has to be solved creatively by finding an entirely new perspective. The article implied that in such instances, neural activity tends to become more random or chaotic. When the neurons settle back into more structured firing, there is a new perspective and solution. As chaos theory predicts, out of chaos comes new structure.
I began to think about how one would subjectively experience chaotic or random neural firings? One very obvious way suggested itself. A neural pattern is a feeling or emotion - or a sensation - or a thought, or a coherent image of some sort. And so the lack of any of those things is essentially a blank mind. Another possibility was a confusing and overwhelming deluge of impressions. Both of these experiences were typical of the healing states I was studying. The first experience is also typical of meditative states that are known to improve health and well-being. I had seen the inducement of the second type in shamanic rituals that also seemed to lead to healing. This leads to the notion that healing is indeed a creative process.
I began thinking in terms of consciousness energy and dynamics, and reevaluating my understanding of it. I now think of consciousness as a fundamental energy field that exists as a ground state and as a part of every structure in the universe, much like alchemic ether. It is the medium through which the information that Quantum Physics is talking about is exchanged.
Shamans journey through consciousness - they are masters of consciousness dynamics and altering consciousness dynamics and altering consciousness. And indeed, what I was doing was using a shaman technique with Western Gestalt dream principles to guide people deep into dreams using their imagination to bring them to the healing states within. From this union of practices, came the first name, the shaman/therapist model because it bridged both worldviews. It was not strictly a shaman nor a therapist, but the essence of and more than both. There was balance in this. The premise that science and spirituality are separate is faulty. This work I was exploring brought them together in an elegant way.
Chaos is a mathematical discipline and mathematics is the language of science. The science it describes along with quantum theory demonstrates fundamental principles of natural process more fully and accurately than the older Newtonian Sciences. The principles from Chaos Theory describe not only the human condition and behavior, but also dreams and natural healing process.
For example, a fractal program in a computer shows changes called bifurcations: something is developing in a certain way and then all of a sudden it changes direction, position, or pattern for no apparent reason. That, too, is the experience of a dream. I also noticed that when I went into chaos with people, from the chaotic or unstructured consciousness, a new structure would emerge. This is precisely what chaos theory reveals: Chaos is only apparently chaotic. It is really an infinity of possible forms, which can come into existence.
In Chaos Theory we are indeed dealing with the essence of creative spirit. The Second Law of Thermodynamics says that the universe is always tending irreversibly toward disorder or chaos, a very depressing thought when I studied it in college. Now Chaos Theory returns the balance by revealing the creation of structure from the disorder. Thus, science once again reflects a balance in the universe.
The Consciousness Restructuring model considers reality to be a twilight zone between structure and chaos, form and fomlessness, neither one nor the other, yet both. Structure evolves from chaos in an environment of complex interacting systems, and is responsive to and shaped by that environment. Eventually, structures act and grow rigid and in doing so become less responsive to the environment ensures fracturing and disintegration back into chaos. At the person level this is experienced as a life crisis or a disease. But eventually new form or structure emerges from the chaos. It is this dance of evolution and change that is real; not the temporary forms and structures that we fix on nor the chaos, which we avoid. They exist only in passing.
During the journey process we noted that at the deeper levels of consciousness dynamics we encountered forms that were similar enough that they were readily identifiable and appeared spontaneously in people from many backgrounds and cultures from journey to journey.
As I explored these forms and image, once again Chaos Theory and psychology came together. Carl Jung had identified archetypes, images and themes that occur in our myths and stories, independent of time, culture, or geography. These are, in a way, building blocks and seem to arise out of a collective conscious state; they form nuclei about which ourselves and cultures form. In many ways they are illustrated by the ancient Greek dramas which seem to depict patterns and characters that can still be encountered today.
Chaos theory has identified energy systems called "strange attractors". Operating near a complex or chaotic system, they shape and set limits to the patterns formed from the chaos. We have discovered a number of what seem to be archetypal strange attractors in the consciousness states on the edge of chaos, patterns that appear from journey to journey spontaneously in people from many backgrounds and cultures, and which seem to give shape to matter and psyche at all levels of organization. There are perhaps a dozen or so of these that we have identified.
One example is a spiral or vortex which when present in the imagery inevitably leads to chaotic consciousness. However, this form appears at all levels of the organization of matter. For example, this spiral pattern is how most galaxies in the universe took their form from the big bang of their creation. It is also the form water takes in flow at the edge of chaos, where white water and still water come together. We see the same pattern at the edge of chaotic atmospheric conditions as tornadoes or hurricanes. They also are the forms of the DNA molecule itself, the primary molecule that shapes our being from the chemical soup of the womb.
In terms of consciousness dynamics these strange attractors also operate to form our personality or persona. When we are born we don't experience limits--we are part of everything. Experiences becomes strange attractors that impress on our consciousness to shape us and limit our ability to move beyond. They become fixed in our neural structures, as specific synaptic firing patterns in the brain.
Dr. Wilder Penfield first noticed full dimensional sensory memories in his work on the brain. He was able to stimulate complete sensory recall, virtual reality-like experiences in which early memory is experienced on the sensory level, by stimulating locations in the brain. This is also what is reported in the Consciousness Restructuring Process (CRP).
If the experience is painful, it incorporates the pattern of the pain and exists in a state of dis-ease. The brain controls body chemistry, by its neural pathways and patterns. So are psyche and personality. So the disease eventually takes somatic and psychic form. Both somatic and psyche healing can happen at this level. It is the level of quantum reality in which the distinction between particles and wave fronts, matter and energy, blurs. It is the level in which consciousness impressions become neural patterns and they in turn shape the body and mind. It is the elusive mind/body connection and how the placebo effect and spontaneous remission work. It is the healer within.
During a dream or healing journey we go from thinking and emotional levels to progressively deeper consciousness dynamics until we get to the fundamental primary sensory images that are our subjective experience of these neural structures; then still deeper into unbound or unstructured consciousness. Out of it comes the evolved sensed self-image, which reflects the changed neural patterns, and over a period of weeks or months realigns the physical and mental being to reflect the inner change.
Consciousness Restructuring Process considers healing a matter of evolution where disease is the crisis of old structure needing to disintegrate to allow the emergence of a new one better suited to the present. Healing is a verb, a process, rather than a noun or an end state. One embraces a life of creativity and evolution. The healer is within and the embodiment of one's own imaginative and creative processes. "I am, therefore..." opens the being to an infinity of possibilities unrestricted by the limits of mere thought.
c1996, Asklepia Publications, All Rights Reserved
THE FOUR DIRECTIONS OF HEALING
The Medicine Wheel and CRP
by Graywolf Swinney, 2001
Old Ezekial saw a wheel a-rolling way in the middle of the air.
A wheel within a wheel a-rolling, way in the middle of the air.
And the big wheel ran by faith, and the wheel ran by the grace of God,
Old Ezekial saw a wheel a-rolling, way in the middle of the air.
The four directions of healing is one model or organization that can be used to describe the steps in healing processes in general. It does not drive the processes, but is a means of organizing four key steps or stages in healing, and most specifically relates to natural or spiritual healing. It directly applies to the Consciousness Restructuring Process (CRP) and derives from the medicine circle, or wheel used by aboriginal tribes throughout the world but, most particularly the Americas.
The particular version of the wheel described in this article comes from Central America as described by shaman Don Edwardo who was studied and his work chronicled by Dr. Alberto Villaldo, a well known psychological anthropologist, (author of Healing States with Stanley Krippner). We have added our own notions about the way that the wheel relates to the more contemporary healing processes and specifically the CRP.
All healing processes involve passing through each of the four directions of the wheel, and each direction represents a principle that applies to life in general, as well as healing. Each of the four directions has a guide or totem that represents this principle. Each of the four directions also represents a cardinal compass point. In native American teachings, it is stated that one constantly travels around this circle and in so doing attains harmony and balance, and comes full circle. This may indeed be the purpose of any or all diseases, to provide an evolutionary opportunity for an individual organism to evolve.
I derived this model in a brief flurry of panic under the following circumstances: I had been invited to address an early breakfast meeting of a large group of healers of all persuasions. The talk was to be on Shamanism, and in particular to discuss the contents of medicine bag, how they had come to me and how I used them. That morning when I went to get into my car, it had been burglarized and my medicine bag had been stolen. I was due to talk in about ten minutes and now had no topic, or at the very least had lost my props. The following model is what I presented. It seemed that by just speaking and listening to what I said, the following notions came forth. This event is chronicled in my article The Empty Medicine Bag.
The first of the four directions is the East. It is where the sun rises and comes back into our sight and awareness each day. It is the direction that brings light into the world so that we can see what is about us. It represents the beginning of each day when we re-awaken to the seeing and sensing of the outer world.
The teacher or totem of the east is the Eagle and the lesson it brings to us is that of the "eagle's eye." The eagle can spot a tiny mouse in a field from great heights and swoop down to feed on it. It is this acuity of vision that represents the lesson of the east.
The healing principles involved are about seeing or sensing. The first step in healing is to see or sense that we have a disease, the nature of it, and that healing is needed. For us personally, this is the stage when we become aware of the symptoms either directly or though our dreams. We must sense or see that we do indeed have a disease and understand its nature.
The symptoms alert us to a condition that needs attention. Indeed in all forms of healing we must identify what it is that needs to be changed, physical, mental, or spiritual. In medical practice this is the stage at which the diagnosis is made. Only by making a valid diagnosis can the physician provide treatment according to medical criteria or protocol.
In psychological healing we must realize that we have a condition that needs to be resolved. The joke about "How many psychologists are needed to change a light bulb?" is germane here. The answer is "Only one, but the bulb has to want to be changed."
Spiritual malaise is often much more difficult to identify. We often only realize it through our physical or mental symptoms.
The first step when one goes to an allopathic doctor is for the doctor to diagnose the illness. It is only after knowing what the illness is, that the doctor can undertake a treatment. Added to this, the comment made by Sir William Ostler is applicable, "It is much more important to know what sort of a patient has a disease, than what sort of a disease a patient has." One needs to see the patient as a full person rather than as only a disease. In this much more holistic and humanistic approach, one still needs to see or sense the nature of the condition and come to know the nature of the one with the condition before treatment can be administered.
With respect to the CRP, this stage of the East involves identifying the nature of the problem in its many manifestations. This is done in partnership with the patient. For example a client shows up suffering from great discomfort of being in confined spaces. The psychologist might get more specific information but has probably already formed a tentative diagnosis of claustrophobia. He would probably ask questions to confirm the diagnosis and perhaps explore the etiology of the condition. The mentor, however, would further pursue the matter by asking about how the condition may present physically or spiritually as well. In this he might also discover that the patient has fibromyalgia and in further questioning may find that the person also feels restricted in their marriage and occupation. They may be feeling the limitations of their religion or lack of it. (See Fibromyalgia and CRP by Swinney and Kuehn, Chaosophy 2000).
Thus the fundamental nature of the illness is seen to be a factor much broader than merely a psychological disorder, and to manifest in many aspects of the patient's life. It weaves a thread throughout the tapestry of their experience of life. It is this sense of being restricted that is more fundamental to the disease, and that manifests as many other symptoms. This is to be discovered and revealed in the phase of the East. During treatment the mentor and the mentored may revisit the east many times as the layers of the disease reveal themselves.
Dreams have within them the ability to help us to sense or diagnose that there is a problem long before it manifests as an actual disease. This has been a recognized characteristic of dreams since the dawn of human presence on the planet.
In the CRP journey process, the journey itself often addresses this stage of healing. What might identify such a journey is an apparent lack of resolution, and being left without completion. However, both the mentor and the mentored have had a fuller experience of the disease or discomfort and may find that the information presented by the unconscious during the journey gives a fuller and more multi-dimensional experience of the issue, and provides information about its etiology.
One client, for example, bolted out of a journey and was unwilling to resume the process. He had encountered a deep blackness that scared him. This was consistent with one of his diagnoses, paranoia. On re-entry, he stated that the blackness had triggered thoughts of a Black Widow spider. His mother had considered herself as such and had even signed notes to her family as the "Black Widow."
He had been over controlled and the life taken out of him by this woman. The journey was in and of itself complete in that it revealed this heretofore unknown data at a very visceral level and demonstrated its effect on the patient. This image of the female as a black widow had adversely shaped his attitudes and perceptions of relationships with women his whole life, and proved to be necessary to his future work and evolution.
In other senses, all CRP journeys may incorporate this as one component of the process. We can not begin to heal until we know that healing is needed and understand the nature of the crisis. This is the lesson of the east. For example, when one encounters the experience of the Primal Existential Sensory Image, this is a profound insight into the dynamics or nature of the self and the disease's dynamics. In that most journeys reach the level of experiencing the primal existential sensory image, they reveal the primal sensory pattern of the disease. This is the last stage in which the ego is involved and leads to the next step of the healing process, and entering into the transpersonal. This happens in the South.
The medicine wheel is based on the circle of the sun. When the sun is seen to be in a given direction, in this case the south, it is characterized by what happens there in the southern sky. When this is the case, it is the time of winter. It is cold, not much happens outside and most of our activities take place in the shelter of our buildings or lodges. What leads or brings into the south or winter is the fall or autumn, when the trees let go of their leaves and cold takes its grip on the earth.
Echoing this natural pattern the CRP is almost entirely a process of letting go and becoming; of entering into the cold or blackness of the void.
In the cold, things become still; they do not grow. Indeed, even the very motion of the atoms ad molecules is slowed down. Things become brittle and shatter easily, losing their form as they break or dissolve into the chaos of many scattered pieces.
The guide of the south is the Snake. The snake grows by shedding its old brittle skin. Once new, soft and flexible, it protected and defined the snake. The skin, eventually, however, becomes old and brittle and confining. The snake becomes confined by this old skin and cannot grow inside it but must shed it to develop a new larger and more flexible skin. So too the diseases we incorporate were once solutions to problems we faced, and these solutions protected and defined us. As times evolve and our lives change, these old solutions become brittle and confining to us, so we must shed them.
The problem is that we often become attached to the old skin, and are unwilling to let it go, so the next stage of healing is to be willing to let the disease go. It is not always easy to do. Many who seek psychological help have the agenda of wanting the therapist to magically change those who they consider to be their problem.
For example, the paranoia of the client about the Black Widow nature of women was very protective for him. It also defined who he was around women. He had developed his body strength and muscle through rigorous daily workouts with weights, however his obsession with this had created a stiff and inflexible body, which was contributing to fibromyalgia or arthritic like muscle pains. He was strong but brittle, and could not flow. Moreover, he kept asking and plotting how to get his current girlfriend(s)) to change.
The skin he had developed to help him survive with his mother, who was likely insane, was now no longer serving him, and in fact was the basis of his physical and mental afflictions. As a child he had come to believe that only by being very strong and tough could he survive his mother. The idea of giving up that protective skin was terrifying to him and he fought to hang on to it. He was as a snake, not wanting or willing to lose its skin and become vulnerable and sensitive. His evolution was stuck.
The task of the south is to let go of the disease, as the snake sheds its skin. This exposes our sensitive inner being to the world, and makes us vulnerable. Many failures in healing stem from this stage. Often the patient will discontinue or stop treatment if it looks about to succeed.
For example, an other mentoree suffered from multiple sclerosis. It had manifested in response to a prayer in a particularly abusive relationship and eventually got her out of it. This disease, however, now identified her and largely defined her relationship with her new husband. It allowed her leisure, space and safety which had been lacking in both her family of origin and her first marriage. When the MS appeared to be going into remission, this threatened her relationship with her new husband, which was based in her illness and his need to have someone ill in his life, and also threatened her identity. These factors caused her to discontinue her healing work on it, at least with me.
Letting go of the disease takes us away from what has grown to be familiar and casts us into the chaotic maelstrom of the unknown. Yet it is a necessary step. It is in this chaos and vulnerability that the old forms dissolve or die so that we can be reborn. We must let go into chaotic consciousness and trust or have faith in our organism's ability to heal or self regulate. ("The big wheel rang by faith...").
In my own recent brush with death I recall as I was being wheeled into emergency surgery, letting go and putting my faith into the process I was experiencing. I am convinced that this was very crucial to my surviving the ordeal.
In the journey process, this going into a death experience is integral to the process. Otherwise we are only putting a superficial patina down to cover the disease. The old must die in order for a true rebirth to occur. The energy of the illness must pass into the cold of winter and death to be shattered and transformed into the renewed life and energy that emerges with spring. This is the lesson of the south and carries us around the wheel into the west.
When the sun travels into the western sky, it brings the night. During the night we are still inside our lodges and it is in this time that we find release in the little death of sleep. In this little death we encounter our dreams. Night is the time of darkness, and in the darkness our senses are enhanced. This too is in the nature of dreams, this enhanced sensitivity and also the ability to see or imagine what is yet to become, to dream.
The totems of the west are the black bear, the wolf, the panther, creatures of the evening and night who are familiar with finding their way through the darkened landscape, in this case the selfscape. They do so through their enhanced senses. Dreams too, through their enhanced sensitivity, guide us through the darkness, but dreams also provide us with occasional glimpses of the future, tell us what is to be. It is in the west that the new image of who we are to become emerges from within us.
This is the next stage of healing. After shedding the old skin, entering the chaos of loss of self to become unbound Self, ("And the little wheel turned by the grace of God..."). We must find within this realm of spirit, the image of our new self. It is a case of creating the seed image that will grow to become what we may be, that will provide the new image that will shape us, and let us experience what we may become.
It takes place in REM and we have hypothesized elsewhere ("Remembering REM," and HOLOGRAPHIC HEALING), that REM may indeed be the consciousness in which we restructure both physiological and mental dynamics into healthy process.
In the CRP, this is experienced as the emergence from the chaotic consciousness or the unbound Self of a new sense of self. In the CRP, the old image, the primal image dissolves into chaos and from this emerges a new and different sense of self; it is a creative, self-organizing process. The organism begins to take on this new image but it is formed in the chaos and creativity of our REM or dream consciousness. This is the lesson of the west. It is the gift of REM. It is the newly born self, a gift from the Self.
When we experience, embrace and indeed become this new sense of self, it provides the blue print for the eventual presentation of new behaviors and body structures. This takes place in the completion of the circuit around the wheel, to the direction of the North.
As the sun moves into the northern sky, it brings with it the warmth and rebirthing of spring. When the sun reaches the northern sky it becomes the time of summer, the time when the seeds planed become mature, and the fruits and seeds ripen to feed and sustain us.
These are the healing principles of the journey into the North. Once we have experienced the birth and inner presence of the new sense or image of self, we must let it grow and mature, much as the fruits and seeds need to mature in the summer heat or become useful to us in our lives. The totem of the North is the Owl, and Owl guides us "through the valley of the shadow of death." Indeed each healing journey is the death of something within us, a mental problem, a cancer or an ulcer, or millions of viruses, to allow our continued evolution. In this way the north and the owl see us throughout the entire circuit around the medicine wheel.
In the CRP this follows after the inner journey and represents the bringing out of the new self image. It begins during the re-entry process as the mentor and mentored dialogue about the journey and how to allow this new image of self to express in daily life. It continues on for months or years after the journey, providing new insights into the healing and revealing new skills expressed in behavior, attitudes and perceptions of life. In deed it is the emergence of a new wisdom about the self.
This wisdom is another characteristic that we have imparted to the owl, the image of the wise old owl. This coming to wisdom brings us to a new enlightenment about the self and allows us to see ourselves in a new light which in its turn brings us back to the East, and the next healing journey around the medicine wheel. In this way the the wheel is seen to be wheels rotating within wheels, spirals of evolution bringing us to every increasing maturity, health and wisdom. May the circles be unbroken and lead one into the next.
c, 2001, Asklepia Foundation
THE QUANTUM BODY-MIND
by Graywolf Swinney and Iona Miller
Asklepia Foundation, c2000
ABSTRACT: Where does a thought or an emotion come from? How is it formed? Sometimes thoughts are suggested by previous thoughts; they are part of a serial flow, one following the previous one. Sometimes they arise out of nothing, and sometimes we find ourselves seeing things differently and thinking about them differently than ever before--a burst of creativity. How does this happen? This could be a description of spontaneous emergence through complex dynamic processes at the quantum level. The quantum body-mind exists on the creative edge of spacetime reality. It is a self-organizing, emergent force of consciousness which arises from the formless level of reality in which there is no distinction between matter and energy. This quantum zone is where something is created from nothing or the sum of all possibilities. The primordial consciousness field patterns and conditions our primal existential self.
Chaos is the transformative process by which outmoded structures dissolve and new ones create themselves. The quantum mind-body floats on an ocean of undifferentiated potential or chaotic consciousness. It draws on the emerging waves to form our personal reality. Our ordinary reality forms just this side of the Unbound Self--our state of Godness. Consciousness does exist and operate at the quantum level of reality and affects the nature or course of reality just as our thoughts and other consciousness activities do at the macro levels of reality. Individual consciousness may be abstracted from an underlying pool of consciousness, in the same way as the observed quantum wave packet is collapsed from an overall wave function. A basic unit of consciousness is described as a "conscioutron," which is neither a wave nor a particle of consciousness but is the potential for both. Conscioutrons are fundamental units of consciousness energy-matter arising from the consciousness field. They are the basis of all our sensations, thoughts, emotions, and conscious awareness. Out of infinite possibility, out of the constant flux of infinite possibilities, a quantum shift can create a different reality, a healing shift, a creative restructuring of the whole person.
KEYWORDS: consciousness, quantum physics, biophysics, chaos theory, complex dynamic systems, psychotherapy, healing, spirituality, self-organization, dreams, REM, shamanic psychotherapy, transpersonal psychology, Graywolf Swinney, Asklepia Foundation, David Bohm, quantum mechanics, Zero-Point Field (ZPF), shamanic consciousness journeys, new physics
Physicist H.P. Stapp states that, "The recent resurgence of interest in the foundations of quantum theory has led increasingly to a focus on the role of consciousness in the unfolding of physical reality. It has become clear that the revolution in our conception of matter wrought by quantum theory has completely altered the complexion of the relationship between mind and matter."
Quantum physics describes a fundamental or primal level or zone of reality formation. It is the level of reality in which there is no distinction between matter and energy. It is the level at which this matter-energy stuff arises (is created) from an infinite field of possibilities. If these are the fundamental dynamics from which the universe is being created, then these dynamics must also exist and express within each of us and must also be the basis of each of us. We will coin the phrase "the quantum body-mind," to use when referring to this level of the self.
The quantum body-mind exists on this creating edge of space-time reality. On one side of this zone or level lies a vast complexity of formlessness, or unrealized infinite potential, the complex forces and dynamics that underlie the creation of reality. It is the implicate order defined by physicist David Bohm. On the other side of it are the structures that we perceive as our personal reality, the experiences and forms of self and environment that structure the existential perceptions that are our experience of self, environment and the relationship between the two. This quantum zone is where something is created from nothing or the sum of all possibilities. It is where the processes of the Creator work in each of us to produce an experience of reality and personal evolution. (See Figure 1).
Structure and formlessness embrace on this line and dance to the rhythms of creative processes. On the one hand the dance solidifies the patterns that are experienced as our primal existential Self. On the other hand the old structures and rhythms or patterns that need transformation dissolve in this dance to ever evolve into new expressions of physical and mental self. In the most fundamental sense, it is the eternal evolutionary dance of the Hindu God, Shiva. The old and outmoded structures dissolve--die--and new ones create themselves. It is here that space-time reality starts and evolution is the everlasting, ever-present and ongoing process of reality.
It is at this level where the conception of a thought and the birth of a cell are just different presentations of the same dynamic consciousness processes. Both cell and thought emerge from the same underlying stuff that expresses itself as either matter or energy. At this level of quantum reality, the undifferentiated stuff has the potential to be both, and perhaps even more than that. The quantum mind-body floats in this ocean of undifferentiated or chaotic consciousness. It draw on the emerging waves to form our personal reality. It is just this side of the unbound self or our state of Godness.
The consciousness dynamics of the quantum body-mind, or what we label "quantum consciousness" is different than the "chaotic consciousness" identified in other writings, (Swinney, 1999). To understand this difference we must first explore the nature of consciousness.
Figure 1: Quantum Continuum
We propose the hypothesis that Consciousness, too, operates at the quantum level. It exists as energy-matter, and at its most basic or primal level is a field. Field processes can be described either in terms of fields or particles. We further presume that the natural processes describing field phenomena in general (such as electric or magnetic fields) as they manifest and operate in the reality of the space-time continuum also apply to consciousness field as it too emerges into space and time. In fact, we speculate that consciousness field may actually be the unified field or the basis of all fields that Einstein was seeking throughout the last half of his life.
The Case for Consciousness Field:
We suggest that a consciousness field exists because there are certain observable and well-documented phenomena that are best or most simply and elegantly explained by the existence of a consciousness field. We know that fields exist in general because they interact with and affect matter and energy, through such means as polarization. In fact, all fundamental fields known to physics correspond to specific vacuum polarization-states. It seems likely that cosmos and consciousness are interconnected by a continuous information-conserving and transmitting field, as suggested by Bohm's implicate order. This flow is what determines the geometrical structure of space-time.
These observable effects are what imply the existence of a field. For example, when we pass a wire close by a magnet (and through its field), this induces the flow of electricity in the wire. This implies the existence of a magnetic field producing an observable and measurable space-time phenomenon in the form of an electric current.
These phenomena are best described and understood by quantum physics, the physics that describes the reality of microcosmic events. However, as with electricity, their effects are also observable in the macro world of human experiences. One of many examples of this with respect to consciousness is the experience of synchronicity.
As the term, coined by Jung, is currently used synchronicity occurs when events mysteriously line up to create an effect on matter or influence events' outcomes or directions. There is a meaningful coincidence at the level of both psyche and matter simultaneously. For example, I need to find an obscure reference and am not sure where to start looking, or where I had first encountered it. I unexpectedly receive a phone call from an old friend who hasn't contacted me for several years. In our conversation recalling old times together, without prior reference to it, he casually mentions the missing data and its source. Often we are thinking of a friend, and as we go to pick up the phone to call, it rings and they are on the line.
Synchronicity or psi? Spontaneous healing, a mind-body phenomenon, is another example. All things are simply connected, through a fundamental pattern: the information-conserving and transmitting universal holofield.
Although classical science has tended to explain these types of events away as coincidence or accidental chronistic alignments, we tend to think that Einstein's contention that "God would not play dice with the universe," is more likely true. There seem to be, in our experience, just too many such synchronicities that occur to seriously consider statistical chance as the only or even the best explanation for them.
Quantum Theory itself suggests that consciousness exists at the levels of quantum reality, and in fact may ultimately be responsible for quantum level events. "How," the physicists ask, "does an electron know what its pair partner is doing unless they are connected or conscious of one another?" This refers to the theory that for every electron with a positive spin, there is another electron, its pair partner, with a negative spin.
Physicists have demonstrated this experimentally. By changing the spin on one electron they are able to measure the complimentary change in the spin on its pair partner even though the two electrons are separated in space. Another example is the double slit experiment. An electron arriving at one slit and passing through it must have consciousness about another electron arriving at the other slit in order to produce the observed interference pattern beyond the slits.
The simplest and most direct answer to these questions suggests that the electrons are exchanging information and each is "conscious" of the dynamics of the other. This consciousness or connection suggests among other things that a consciousness field is operating on or influencing events in the universe just as do magnetic and gravity fields. Non-locality is one way that this characteristic is often labeled in quantum physics, but this label does not exclude consciousness field -- it elaborates it and can help us define it. Inherent in this is the notion that consciousness, in the broadest sense, may in part be information or awareness about the state of beingness has of itself, and the rest of the universe. That is certainly one way we can define human consciousness: the awareness of self and the environment.
Another example of consciousness field operating is the phenomenon of entrainment. As it operates in either non-living or living systems, it has never really been explained by classical physics. Both types of system display the ability to become synchronous with other similar systems when their frequencies are close to one another.
Some examples of entrainment we experience are observing two swinging pendulums slightly out of phase come into phase on their own with no known external connection or mechanism operating. Electronic circuits do the same (the automatic fine-tuning feature of FM radios), or women's menses becoming synchronous when living closely together or in close relationships. When each system is in proximity to another similarly periodic system, they soon match up. We believe this too suggests the existence of a consciousness field operating in and affecting the material universe at the fundamental level of information.
This notion of consciousness field can also explain widely reported ESP phenomena such as remote viewing, which classical science cannot. In fact, it generally ignores such phenomena because it has rejected and excluded consciousness from all its considerations and models. Henry P. Stapp (1995), a theoretical physicst, states it well. He notes that, "Classical mechanics arose from the banishment of consciousness to find that the readmission of consciousness requires going beyond that theory."
We also suggest that it is far simpler to go beyond the limits of classical science in these instances and to posit the existence of a consciousness field to explain the aforementioned, and many other similar phenomena. It is much more elegant to do so than to embrace the many convoluted contentions of chance, coincidence, fraud or other non-answers and denials usually offered by classical science when it considers such phenomena.
The point here is that consciousness does exist and operates at the quantum level of reality, and it does seem to affect the nature or course of reality through minor perturbations in the flow of microevents, just as our thoughts and other consciousness activities do at the macro levels of reality.
The Nature of Quantum Reality: Consciousness Field and the "Conscioutron"
One can conceive of fields as potential energy-matter existing on the edges of space and time. In this quasi field phase, neither matter nor energy yet exists. A field is potential for such. A magnetic field has no substance. It is only potential matter or energy. When influenced by a magnetic field, electrons (quanta of electricity) are influenced to flow through a conductor as an electric current. This current is an event and measurable in the reality we sense and perceive and it is what tells us that the electro-magnetic field exists.
The electron is the basic unit of energy-particle or the quantum that is created from the field. It is the primal or initial way that the underlying field manifests into the space-time universe. Similarly a photon is a quantum of light and graviton is a quantum of gravity. Light expresses itself as energy or wave patterns, or in its solid form, as photons of matter.
Physicist and author Fritjof Capra (1981) states that, "independent of my mind, my conscious decisions about how to observe say an electron will determine the electron's properties. If I ask it a particle question, it will give me a particle answer, if I ask it a wave question it will give me a wave answer. The electron does not have objective properties." Which aspect is manifested depends on the observer and what is being studied. These types of dynamics are what define the level of quantum reality and its inherent anti-intuitive strangeness, which doesn't conform to the observable mechanics of ordinary experience.
The same process goes on in the body-mind at subtle levels. Deepak Chopra (1989) points out that, "Thanks to messenger molecules, events that seem totally unconnected--such as a thought and a bodily reaction--are now seen to be consistent. The neuro-peptide isn't a thought, but it moves with thought, serving as a point of transformation. The quantum does exactly the same thing, except that the body in question is the universe, or nature as a whole."
Thus, thoughts are somehow connected to hidden processes that transform nonmatter into matter, by going directly to the source of the body-mind's existence in space-time. A journey into this mysterious zone can have amazingly positive results; the transformation must occur here or the rest of the cascading events will not happen. What makes DNA mysterious, according to Chopra "is that it lives right at the point of transformation, just like the quantum. Its whole life is spent creating more life...constantly transferring messages from the quantum world to ours."
Matter and energy come out of the primordial state as a "singularity," the compression of all the expanded dimensions of the universe. When a mental event needs to find a physical counterpart, it works through the quantum mechanical human body, molecules that are "smart" instead of inert. We again invoke physicist David Bohm's (1980) notion of an "invisible field" that holds all of reality together, a field that inherently possesses the property of knowing what is happening everywhere at once.
Like the thought and the neuro-peptide, light cannot be a wave and a photon at the same time; it is either one or the other. Light is one small band in the electromagnetic spectrum. The amount of electromagnetic energy that makes up a particle of matter is described by Einstein's famous equation that Energy equals mass times the speed of Light, squared. But this quantitative equation only tells us the amount of energy associated with the particle. It does not, however, describe how the energy and matter coexist and manifest as reality.
Bohm's theory is that the waves of energy created or emerging from the infinite potential or implicate order form an interference pattern or hologram that we perceive as the solid universe. This holonomic theory provides the basis for all the material phenomena in the universe, with solidity, substance and motion being added by interactions of electromagnetic, gravity, and time fields, (Swinney, 1999).
Similarly we suggest that consciousness field exists as a potential throughout all the space-time universe and operates by the same principles. The basic quanta of consciousness might be called a "conscioutron," which is neither a wave nor a particle but is the potential for both. Both our physical substance and our psyche's energy are continually forming at this level. The realms of mind and matter are complementary aspects of the same transcendental reality.
This transcendental realm is the subquantum virtuality of the vacuum potential (Zero-Point Field, ZPF), a field which has the properties of a superfluid. Objects move through this fluid without encountering resistance as in ordinary flow-states. The quantum vacuum is a universal torsion wave carrying medium. All objects, from quanta to galaxies, create vortices in the vacuum. The vortices created by particles and other material objects are information carriers, linking physical events quasi-instantaneously.
Since not just physical objects, but also the neurons of our brains create and receive torsion-waves, not only particles are "informed" of each other's presence (as in the EPR experiments), also humans can be so informed and integrated in the cosmic Whole, or universal holofield. Our brain is a vacuum-based "torsion-field transceiver," (Laszlo, 1996). This suggests a physical explanation not only of quantum non-locality, but also of synchronicity, telepathy, remote viewing and other psi effects.
The quantum body-mind is the level of our organism in which conscioutrons operate. Just as electrons are the smallest energy-particle of electricity, conscioutrons are the fundamental units of consciousness energy-matter rising from consciousness field. How many conscioutrons it takes to make up, say a protein, a thought, an emotion or a sensation is open to speculation.
The flow of conscioutrons is the basis of all consciousness just as the flow of electrons is the basis of electricity. Conscioutrons are the basis of all of our sensations, thoughts, emotions, and conscious awareness. Electricity is most readily detected when it flows as a current and it is when it is flowing that it directly influences or effects the material world. In an analogous manner consciousness flow is the way consciousness field affects the material world and is what we usually refer to as being conscious.
We can conceive of consciousness field as being a primal sea of chaotic or undifferentiated consciousness. Emerging from this sea of consciousness are conscioutrons which define the quantum level of consciousness or quantum consciousness. Thus, quantum consciousness operates by the same principles that define the quantum level of reality. There are many texts and popular books defining the dynamics and principles that operate in and define this quantum level of reality (see References).
The quantum view is a surrealistic view of reality, one which is not based on some fundamental particle or building block. Instead substance arises out of apparent nothingness, or disappears into nothingness to perhaps reappear in some other location or form. Here, between space-time, and the oceans of chaos and infinite possibility, wave fronts or energy clouds appear that have not yet committed to being matter or energy. They are somehow both and yet neither.
When we observe something in this primordial "soup" it seems to assume either matter or wave configuration but unobserved remains uncommitted energy-matter virtuality, known as quanta. One physicist, Nick Herbert, comments about this and the quantum reality that he sometimes imagines is behind his back as "a radically ambiguous and ceaselessly flowing quantum soup." When he turns around and tries to see it, his glance instantly freezes it, and turns it back into ordinary reality.
In this quantum reality, time itself is far more than the inevitable linear ticking of a clock. Particles can travel backwards or forward through time (precursor or "pilot" waves). They appear out of seeming nothingness, moving through time and disappearing into the past or the future. Here, it is not possible to merely observe an event; the act of observation itself actually shapes or influences the event. It is also a reality of uncertainty, where you can't really pin anything down.
The more one focuses on and learns about one aspect of an event, the less one can know about the rest of it. This is known as Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. We cannot measure an electron's position in space and its speed or dynamics simultaneously. The more we know about its velocity, the less certain we are about where it is.
Reality is in constant flux arising momentarily out of the infinite possibility, and in the next moment, too short to even be time, a quantum shift can create a different reality. An electron cloud shifts from one energy state (orbit) to another, and the atom becomes more, or less reactive. All reality is changed.
The Quantum Mind
This is also true of what creates body-mind and the level of the quantum body-mind also operates in this fashion. In other words, each of us is a part of reality and is formed at the quantum level by the same principles that form the rest of reality. Nature is our healer, because we are Nature.
It is this flow that defines or operates in the quantum mind. We can change like quicksilver, transforming or healing spontaneously, because the flowing quality of life is natural to us. The material body is a river of atoms, the mind is a river of thought, and what holds them together is a river of intelligence--what has been referred to as the stream of consciousness--consciousness which informs the entire holomovement. We are all navigators in the stream of consciousness.
If there is not a flow, if all the conscioutrons are tied up in rigid structures, we are disconnected from the flow of universal evolution and thus in a state of stress or disease. The disease may present itself as mental or physical dissonance, or symptoms, whose forms repeat at all levels of organization. This notion of the fractal reiteration or repetition of structures is an important aspect of Chaosophy, this definition of disease and health.
We consider disease as stagnation and the stress caused by a structure's opposition to free consciousness flow and evolution--a stuckness. Health is the flow and evolution of both our physical structure and mentality.
An excellent analogy is that of a river. The rocks or obstructions in the river are what creates the rapids. The bigger the rocks and the faster the flow, the more dangerous are the rapids. Similarly, we are constantly creating self at the quantum level, drawing on the consciousness potential to create the flow and substance of our body and mind. This potential exists as a field dispersed throughout and indeed underlying all of known space and time. The rocks are analogous to fixed and highly structured consciousness patterns or dynamics. The bigger the fixations and the faster the flow, the more dangerous the disease.
Continuing with the water analogy, picture an ocean of water. It is analogous to the field underlying reality. As the sun evaporates or draws water from the ocean, it becomes humidity in the air. As the winds blow and encounters with geographical features move the humid air about, raising it, cooling it, etc., the water vapor takes the forms of clouds, then rain and finally becomes the lakes and rivers that flow back into the ocean, and in doing so shape the geography or topography. This cycle ultimately shapes all the landmasses of the planet.
In the context of this analogy, we, our personal experience of self and reality, are analogous to the river. Quantum reality is represented by the evaporation into the air of the ocean water. It is neither water (matter) nor vapor (energy), but has the potential to be either. It is uncommitted. As this moist air flows in the winds, it encounters a land mass and the flow is altered. It rises and cools, and in doing so very tiny particles of water form suspended in the air mass and become clouds and mists.
These micro particles of water (mists or clouds) eventually join or unite into globules or drops of water from the turbulence (non linear or chaotic dynamics) in the moving air. At the quantum level, physicists claim that an electron is more like a cloud distribution about a nucleus, rather than being a discrete particle. The drops eventually condense, as rain, fall to the ground where they continue to unite and flow until they become streams and eventually rivers. The shape of the river is determined in part by the existing terrain, but at the same time it is also modifying the terrain, shaping the river valleys and dissolving even the greatest of mountains.
Analogously, we are constantly drawing consciousness out of its field form (ocean). At the quantum level conscioutrons are formed, the smallest dynamic structures or patterns of consciousness. As this encounters our organism (landmass) these conscioutrons blend, mix and unite to produce the substance of our body (the cells, bones, and tissue) and mind (thoughts, emotions, etc.).
As with the rain, the drops unite and become water flowing eventually as a river shaped by and shaping the terrain through which it flows. So too the pattern of the consciousness flow is determined by the existing energy and matter structures in our organism and creates our conscious flow through life. It is our personal river of life and a well-used metaphor.
The quantum level is equivalent to the water evaporating from the ocean and becoming a quasi-liquid. So too we draw on, or perhaps more accurately consciousness is drawn from the field level as water evaporates from the ocean. Even the particles of our existence "evaporate" into existence from the ocean of pure potential. It can become the substance of our body (the water of the river) or the energy of our mind that flows and is both shaped by and shapes our experiences of life reality. It shapes our perceptions and existential self-image.
The point we are making is that at the level of the quantum mind our self is formed both physically and mentally in one seamless movement. It is at this level that the characteristics that define us, including our diseases are dynamic patterns or clouds of consciousness quanta (conscioutrons) that arise out of potential, and it is from here that the most profound changes to both mind and body must originate. We allege that CRP consciousness Journeys perturb this system to facilitate spontaneous psychophysical healing. It is more than mere coincidence that we heal when we focus our attention deeply within, reconnect with our primordial Source, and allow that cosmic creativity to restructure us and emerge in a new, rejuvenated form.
We know about the quantum reality through inference and experimentation, and we can also experiment on ourselves by looking within. We suggest that similarly the quantum mind is not directly experienced except through its influences. We can facilitate our healing by intentionally entering the flow through the Journey process.
For example, where does a thought or an emotion come from; how is it formed? Sometimes thoughts are suggested by previous thoughts; they are part of a serial flow, one following the previous one. Sometimes they arise out of nothing, and we find ourselves seeing things or ourselves differently than ever before. We call this spontaneous emergence creativity, but how does this happen? This could be described as how things operate at the quantum level which is governed by spontaneous self-organizing emergent processes. When this process is unblocked we experience psychophysical well-being or health; when blocked we experience dis-ease. Conversely, dissolving the old, outworn structures, forms, or patterns leads to spontaneous healing.
At the very least, this is the mechanism sought after in the psychotherapy professions. How do we effect fundamental changes in the functioning of the mind? We also suggest that it will soon be the overriding question in physical healing as well. Does a drug or a pharmaceutical change the mind or even the general physiology at this level? Usually not. For example, psychotropic drugs take over for the body and eventually further decrease its ability to produce it's own healing or feel-good chemistry. In what way does the administration of a medicine bring about a change at this more fundamental level? Most often the medicine is also poisonous at some level. The cure can be worse than the disease, though its negative effect may be delayed in time. Indeed, how does it cure at all; or is such healing an endless chasing of the end of a rainbow?
Bohm, David (1980); Wholeness and the Implicate Order; New York: Ark Paperbacks.
Capra, Fritjof (1981); The Turning Point, New York: Bantam Books.
Chopra, Deepak ((1989); Quantum Healing; New York: Bantam Books.
Laszlo, Ervin (1996); "Subtle Connections: Psi, Grof, Jung, and the Quantum Vacuum,"
Stapp, H.P. (1995); "Why Classical Mechanics Cannot Naturally Accommodate Consciousness, but Quantum Mechanics Can," PSYCHE 2 (5) May 1995.