Monthly Archives: November 2011

Recovering Your Soul

So what’s a person to do? They’ve laid the groundwork described last post, in some form. They’ve learned how to shift their emotions and started to open some meridians and points, experiencing a palpable uptick in their baseline mood and outlook on life. They’ve experimented with meditation and found a way that has started to deliver. They’ve experienced some moments of surprise at how deep this goes, seeing inside their mind and finding something a lot bigger than what they had previously reckoned as an identity, whose hitherto silent influence makes a better basis for living than the everyday stream.

That’s stage one. Sometimes stage two comes up automatically, sometimes it waits until the next phase of meditation is embarked upon. If the person is willing perhaps they’ve checked out the kinds of approach I favour, opened the energetic microcosmic orbit which loops up the spine and down the front of the body, tracked some other meridians more deeply, addressed the chakras, and so on. They’ve been building energy with particular patterns and intentions.

The Micrcosmic Orbit loops up the back and down the front of the body

At some point they may have put food into their mouths and remembered how amazing it is to taste things, realising some of what their culture and lifestyle have done to degrade their senses and deep vitality. The warmth of building energy will have started to transform their bodies back to a youth whose immediacy had been lost, and a realisation that this is better than most ways of spending time may have obtruded. They’ll have experienced their body wanting to move in unexpected ways, sometimes perhaps doing so without permission. They’ll have had moments of superconscious clarity plus ESP episodes with others, and will be starting to think of Richard Dawkins as one of life’s less useful guides. Heck they may even be starting to realise they have a shot at some of the foothills of enlightenment.

At some point, nonetheless, the emotions will be triggered, and stage two of dealing with them will begin, which involves (as mentioned last week) more than just shifting them, instead tracing them through to an underlying nature by removing what could variously be called worldviews, social masks, personae, false maps etc., and coming to different viewpoints on life than held formerly in the process.

Why does this have to happen? The first stage already starts clearing energy, the second intensifies the process and begins to put a new connectedness in place which has major effects on the psyche, showing undreamed-of possibilities of healing which have nothing to do with the old expectations. But those older expectations are still present, along with their emotional patterns. They are sometimes very well rooted and will conflict with the deeper truth so these conflicts need resolving. The effect is almost like a part of you saying, “if all this new stuff is so great why didn’t that part of life work out?” Forgiving and letting go are going to free up a goodly segment of previously blocked capacity. Since many of the old patterns had survival upmost in mind, this can be referred to as a death-rebirth process. Emotions guide here.

What exactly are “emotions” anyhow? There are theories of them scattered throughout spiritual philosophy since humans have been through the above process enough times to learn a thing or two, but I really like modern ways of looking at this and have found uses for them that tie into the process. Of the scientific attitudes to emotions, when psychology can be bothered to admit they even exist, you have broadly two to investigate, cognitive and somatic (body-based). I think the cognitive stuff is great for some purposes — it basically gives you a belief structure to hunt down for each emotion, for example Richard Lazarus would tell you that if you are angry, it is because some essential aspect of what you consider important has been violated. That is obviously true and can be helpful when you take it to a higher level as he has.

But the approach I tend to take in this context is the somatic one which implies a feeling orientation and a kinaesthetic awareness. Babette Rothschild, in her excellent book on trauma therapy, The Body Remembers, 2000, uses a simple sixfold emotional taxonomy that gets people who’ve been scared out of their skins back into their bodies, and will work for anyone when discordant emotion strikes (pp. 57-8). Muscular tension, particularly jaw/shoulder, accompanied by a desire to yell and fight, is associated with anger; redness in the neck is a sign on the outside. A feeling of rising heat in the face accompanied by a desire to avert gaze or hide is a good sign of shame. A ‘lump’ in the throat and a desire to cry would be sadness whilst a feeling of nausea which makes you want to wrinkle your nose is a sign of disgust, and so on.

People can easily start to notice these (the term ‘mindfulness’, borrowed from Buddhism, is a current buzzword) and may realise some feelings have hung around a decade or two without being expressed because our cortex has the power to interrupt their flow and that power is not always helpful. As you get deeper life looks different. It might not be realised that some aspect of gait or posture is a frozen emotion, with a life-context attached and waiting to be explored. Soberingly, most such potential realisations never happen in most people. The neuroses then get passed on to the children, remaining unacknowledged in the parental shadow for the next generation to have a try at.

As Rothschild says:

There are several theoretical models of emotion. What to call individual affects is subject to debate, though most models include some form of “anger,” “sadness,” “fear,” “disgust,” “happiness,” and “shame” among their lists.

To read any of the theories from Darwin to Damasio may be smart, but even better could be a personal experiential understanding based on sitting and doing lots of actually feeling. I do like Peter Levine’s explanations based on the polyvagal theory of Porges, but Levine and Rothschild, and other trauma therapists, are perhaps relevant more because they have a practice that works to clear traumatic feelings. And part of that practice involves carefully feeling into the body, based on such cues as outlined above, willing to put brakes on if should it get severe (which is less relevant if prior groundwork has been laid but good to know), and gradually coming to understand what the body itself is saying. Another type of work that goes that way is Gendlin’s Focusing which is non-trauma-based and suitable for everyday enquiry.

Then the task is to get down to the quick and resolve things, which can be done in many ways. Wanting to feel or behave differently on a particular subject or environmental trigger will kick off the process, or else a problematic emotional surge will arise indicating something unresolved. But what then? I’d stress with Rothschild (see the excellent Body Remembers Casebook in particular, that’s a real motherlode of examples of healing tough stuff) that the more ways you know of proceeding at that point, the better, even if it’s just yourself you’re working on. Some find that simply bringing emotions up and letting them go does a lot, but I’d like to widen the palette here with a couple of favourites of mine.

As the Reading List attests I’m a fan of systems that work with so-called subpersonalities. Some of these call themselves ‘parts therapies’ (as in, “part of me feels x”) or ‘ego states therapies’. The idea has much in common with Jung’s old notion of complexes which is by no means unscientific. The two things on the List that work in that way, and which I particularly recommend, are Internal Family Systems therapy and Psychosynthesis. My review of Earley’s book on the first, IFS, is here. This can be a fertile path even for the soloist.

How would someone get into that? Well tuning into the bodily feeling may already have given the sense of a personality that is in some way separate from the one called “me”. The realisation can dawn that “it” feels a certain way about the subject matter at hand, where “I” am quite sure “I” feel rather differently. Should the idea come up of asking “it” why, and should “it” answer, accompanied by shifting body sensation and using words and attitudes not a part of the everyday persona — that’s the subpersonality thing. (It’s probably quite obvious how that relates to getting past social masks.)

There are various ways to proceed from here. The IFS system, as the name implies, involves multitudes of parts simultaneously which can be fun to try but honestly I didn’t find it necessary in the end, although who knows, I might look at it again and it’s a nice option to have. What I do take from IFS which I’m sure is true is that childhood difficulty, or possibly an actual trauma, will underlie a problematic part. In meditation you are always looking to get into the present moment. Problematic stuff on the past and future will therefore always need addressing as you try to get parts of you back to the now. Here’s an example of that happening in real time as a direct result of biophysical work:

Ilana [Rubenfeld, inventor of Rubenfeld Synergy] went to work on my feet… I closed my eyes, went into no-mind, and turned my attention inward to see if I could catch any of her skills. She stretched my legs out and started a little relaxation massage when all of a sudden these nuclear bombs of energy started to flow up my meridians to explode behind my eyes. I was lost. She had me… I was semi-comatose [= tranced with high absorption] when I heard her saying, “What’s going on? How old are you?” I heard myself replying, “Five,” in a small high voice. “Why are you crying?” she asks. “I’m being beaten by my Sunday School teacher,” I wail. “She caught me eating the oatmeal paste and she’s mad.”

We then went into a three-way discussion with adult Glenn, little Glenny, and Ilana as interlocutor. We had a lot of fun and wrapped it up with me giving the little tyke words of wisdom like “Eat the goddamn oatmeal. It too will pass.”… That oatmeal incident could explain a lot of mistrust of authority.

Path Notes of an American Ninja Master, 1993, pp. 147-8

Great example of a subpersonality issue being resolved. I don’t suggest the oatmeal was any major trauma, but although longer, the process of handling something stronger wouldn’t have to be too different. As mentioned, Earley, Schwartz or Firman & Gila would be good reads for anyone who wants work out how to get into such a ‘three-way discussion’ when there’s just ‘oneself’ (for want of a better term. ^_^)

It’s only really doing stage one that allows you to do stuff like that solo. Without some minimal stability and ability to see the mind as separate from the thoughts plus social chatter/emotional flow I can see it getting too confusing and possibly upsetting. That is what basic energy, ch’i kung and meditation are for — they give anyone a space where they can operate.

(That Glenn story is also a classic example, by the way, of how physical touch with energetic additions can operate as a trance induction just as the early handwavers of ‘animal magnetism’ I talked about 2 posts ago, who didn’t regard speech as part of their induction, would have said.)

Longer term readers won’t be surprised to learn that I’ve also used trance directly for emotional transformation, with success. This is an incredibly fun way to go and it’s quite easy to do as a lone individual. I like to get company in doing it from time to time for the sake of companionability but most of what I do self-resolves. Unfortunately space restrictions mean I can’t show a whole lot here but maybe I will later.

My choice for the most important technique on emotional transformation doesn’t require literal ‘hypnosis’ (whatever in the cosmic order that might be) and although it’s not quite so conversational as the previous example, I prefer to make it loose. I don’t do a word-by-word ‘script’ or recording. Call it a semi-improvised guided meditation. Very deep trance in which you are ‘semi-comatose’, as Glenn was there, sometimes (temporarily) cuts off superconsciousness (“I was lost…”) and if I’ve just been meditating I don’t want to lose that. Also in deep trance I find it hard to feel emotion in an expressive manner — to cry for example. This being about transforming emotion, sometimes in this process I like to do that, so a lighter state helps.

I have no definite way to know, but I suspect anyone could do this. If you are naturally high on the absorption scale like me, have enjoyable experience with hypnosis, guided med or altered states of any non-chemical variety, and/or are able to fantasise with strong involvement, you are probably particularly suited. If not, try spending some time in a dark room earplugged and blindfolded, as this will up your susceptibility according to some good science. (Areed Barabasz did nice work on that using floatation tanks after observing a hike in hypnotisability with men wintering in Antarctica — he called it REST, for reduced environmental stimulation therapy.)

The point of this process is to trigger one’s own subconscious mind and genius to show a different way of looking at the problem which caused the emotion. Yes, an Ericksonian idea, no-one is surprised. :) For more on the basics see the three volumes in the Reading List but I’ve added a lot that makes this specific to the goals under discussion. For me this is a most elegant way because the emotion clears, but not only that — when I’m going about my daily business I’ll get constant ideas from out of nowhere which show me a better way to think or behave on the topic in question. And the result is that the issue shifts. It will always expand my world. That’s something I’ve always taken away from this. Sometimes reading virtue ethics in old lore you get the impression of restriction but the cure for a mask is freedom, creativity. (Yes this is also a humanistic psych approach.)

Since this isn’t hypnosis, what is it? I guess if you saw a person doing this they would be glancing at a piece of paper and then staring off into the distance for a while, rinse and repeat. It doesn’t take long, depending on how much you want to do. The staring-off part could be mildly tranced but is basically just a visualisation. One starts with a few written notes that are skeletal, presetting a few things to anchor the process. The absolute bare minimum, although I don’t usually go so basic any more, requires just two elements: 1) A visualisation that transforms the particular emotion into something positive, followed by 2) A visualisation of a beautiful environment (free choice) which works as a rest or safe place wherein one suggests to oneself that the subconscious is finding a new way to look at the issue which has been triggering the emotion.

That’s the whole skeleton, believe it or not. For part 1 you can use many different things. The Earley IFS book I mentioned before gives examples of transforming by elemental symbolism which works, eg. you take off a cloak of sadness and burn it in fire, transforming it for the good of all beings. You can get ideas from visualisation books too. There’s a charmingly eccentric medical visualisation book by Gerald Epstein that has good ones such as unknotting a rope around your neck for getting rid of habitual anger. I always use a visualisation of giving the substance of the emotion to light for healing, too. Part 2 can take place anywhere, so a person can pick a rainforest or a Venetian Palazzo etc., and the main thing is the assurance of beauty and safety all around and within, plus as mentioned the suggestion that the subconscious is finding a new way to see the problem. You explore the environment and can employ a huge number of more interesting approaches.

Following are some of the possibilities that really make this worthwhile, once you have the basics. I know there are some keen readers who will take a hint, but also, if you’d like a more detailed explanation later use the comments or ‘Contact Me’ box, etc. I’m talking about elaborations such as:

1. How to heal the body simultaneously with the emotional problem. (Having somatically experienced one’s feelings it may be noticed they are interfering with sinuses, liver, sacrum, whatever. A sequence can be built in where you travel through the body and make adjustments. For doing just this, see the Epstein book or Achterberg. Use also any knowledge of meridians, chakras etc. that you have got.)

2. How to transform energy directly in the process too. How to take energy from a particular subpersonality and transform it.

3. A hundred other ways to shift emotion. For example, do the whole thing in the third person, meet other people, use a narrator etc.

4. Other ways to signal the subconscious. For example, shifting symbols subconsciously. Getting the subconscious to design the visualisations.

5. Use of chakra psych to build particular emotional states.

6. Build an Ericksonian metaphor into the environment to work on specific aspects of the problem.

7. Further uses of the safe place. After you’ve done this a few times you can use it in every day life and it’s like a switch that transforms emotion. This is the use Babette Rothschild makes of it.

The beauty of this technique, as with all similar ones, is that you just relax into the results and it is absolutely natural to change. You just find yourself doing it. There is an underlying theory for this to do with how emotion is transformed but again I haven’t the space right now.

As well as everyday belief and behaviour changing I must add that events in the world ‘out there’ seem to shift themselves too. Jung called this synchronicity and it’s real. One of the main reasons for needing to see past worldviews is that they do to some extent have a determining effect on reality. If what I’m working on could use a meeting with a certain person or book it will show up as a result of the practice. Particular possibilities are actualised by particular focuses. I relate this to William Temple’s dictum, “When I pray, coincidences happen, and when I don’t, they don’t.” I bring in superconsciousness and interact with presences in the safe place (beyond this post’s remit) so the comparison with prayer isn’t that much of a stretch.

(“The Secret”/”Cosmic Ordering” commercial gak has turned this vacuous to the point of drivel — I don’t see Buddha interrupting sutras to describe how you can summon up a villa in the Seychelles — but the synchronicity thing itself is certainly real.)

Obviously transformation of emotion is only one part of spiritual awakening but it’s big. All spiritual systems have ways of getting through it, from the primitive to the sophisticated. Glenn’s chakra psych is very relevant as are things like the Fusion of Chia. The end result of meditation and kundalini is a much higher state yet in my opinion, where identity is permanently bonded to the non-physical with the result that the world looks very different and is something one is constantly seeing past/through. The worldviews and masks kind of turn out to have been what everything was composed of. Emotion is rather different at that point although one is still human. I’m not trying to touch high spiritual stuff in this blog yet but most spiritual systems are clear about that. Whatever methods are used, whether those above or others, the idea is really to learn and transform, to shift, to know you aren’t stuck, and to find the deep place that was hidden. I probably don’t need to say how wonderful it is to be free of the load. It really is like being reborn.

Afterword & Jin Shin Jyutsu

I should mention that all the stage-one practices can find a home in stage two as well. Meditation is the most obvious — if you practice a thought-watching or insight-meditation approach you can often see to the heart of issues.

I’ve been experimenting with Jin Shin Jyutsu and I’m going to give it an extra boost here because it’s now officially one of the best things I’ve ever come across. I won’t be giving up my favourite basic acupoints but this system gets results that have really amazed me and after much thought I’m going to recommend it ahead of ordinary acupressure. It has great depth, ability to address enormous amounts of emotional and spiritual issues, and always seems to work immediately, consistently and cumulatively.

All you need to access Jin Shin Jyutsu

I’ve got just one book on this, the now-standard one by Burmeister and Monte, and it has everything in it to keep me happy a long, long time. It includes things for individual ailments and general tuneup energy locks plus the ability to work on the orbit. Using the ch’i generated from my practice I can really spread things beautifully through the system and have experienced bliss from this alone. The organ cleansing locks are particularly cool. The system is extremely easy to use. One day I may get certified.

As a final point on this recommend, some of the holds in JSJ are things I was prompted to do by the energy itself before I saw them in a book. I’ve never seen that happen before on this kind of scale and it’s a great sign. In addition I’ve seen Jin Shin creeping unacknowledged into other systems — the Gach/Henning acupressure book has holds that must have come from JSJ, Mantak Chia presents finger-wrapping techniques in Chi Self-Massage, 2006 that are lifted from JSJ (pp. 23-4) and Rob Williams in Hoshinjutsu, 2009 has a method of clearing the orbit (pp. 74-5) which comes directly from JSJ. Possibly these authors don’t know the origin of what they’re presenting. Either way, the reason those things have spread outside their original context is because they work.

If you have this method available at stage one your stage two will be easier particularly if you work it Glenn’s way because the energetics are compatible. And you will have a much better time overall. I’ve tried things like Eden’s Energy Medicine and a little EFT and this outperformed it by a long, long way.

Next time I’ll be returning to some questions like: what are paradigms and alternate realities, and how do they relate to this one? See you next Saturday.


What Lies Beneath

As with many, part of my spiritual awakening dealt and still deals with difficult feelings on occasion. Here are a couple of posts on that. I hope investigators will find them helpful. My initial question is, why should such feelings so often be a part of spiritual emergence, and what are the keys to dealing with them?

The way I’ve come to see this, from my own and others’ experience, there are two stages to emotional cleansing. The second stage is the inevitable one, coming up naturally as the awakened subconscious genius aims to complete itself and join with the infinite. But it’s difficult to get all the way through that second stage without having laid an initial groundwork, and that groundwork is the first stage.

For those who haven’t had the pleasure, is it really necessary to go into extended preparation for something like this? Well I think so yes, at least a little extended. That second stage can be more or less tough depending on method — the ultimate hard one was perhaps Gopi Krishna — but I don’t think anyone gets by sans weirdness. The emotional side generates self knowledge and is well-described by Glenn Morris. I sometimes call it the ‘PN20 process’ because he sketches it on page 20 of Path Notes. Here’s a shortened version of what he says.

Let us first suppose that what we consider our self seems to be more a collection of masks… We might discover that our impulses towards achievement and compassion spring from a fear of failure and feelings of helplessness. As we delve deeper we may be forced to discover… anger, resentment and envy… and allow ourselves to open even further to find shame, yearning, terror, sadness, and other dark emotions… finally… we find another layer of calm connectedness…

(The full thing is available here for free and many may find it worth their time.)

Why are these ‘dark emotions’ always present? The word ‘trauma’ is probably unwelcome, but I think it’s at least part of the answer. It doesn’t sound very spiritual but consider the following for sec:

1. Trauma often awakens kundalini in and of itself. See Kason, 2008 for examples. Strong emotions naturally accompany this process. Closeness to death, in a controlled or less controlled context is also a predictor of spiritual awakening.

2. Peter A. Levine Ph.D., trauma therapist, lists many direct parallels between kundalini and trauma relating it (correctly IMO) to the first chakra. Trauma recovery can initiate surges of joy reminiscent of kundalini kriyas.

3. Trauma and awakening have physical symptoms in common. Bodily shaking, for example, is a common side-effect in kundalini and ch’i kung, also an important resource in trauma recovery (suppressing the shakes buries and prolongs trauma), and a direct spiritual method for some, see for instance Kunlun, or Bradford Keeney’s shaking medicine. It allows energy to penetrate the system.

4. Trauma seems as universal to human beings as spirit. In Psychosynthesis it is sometimes known as ‘Primal Wounding’ and is the basis of the life quest to heal. I think we’d be wise to believe Stanislav Grof on the trauma of the birth experience itself as primal.

5. Trauma doesn’t only awaken kundalini but is also directly responsible for triggering psychic experiences. Psi anecdotes often take place surrounding traumatic death or fearful moments telepathically conveyed to close family, for example. Buhlman has a whole chapter on OBEs during traumatic situations (battle or rape or giving birth.) Trauma is thus bound up with the altered-states potential of human beings in general.

I could go on, but the pattern seems clear, and if you awaken shakti herself it starts to become obvious there is a real reason for these connections, though hard to express. I believe it is to do with worldview-survival. As a matter of fact, on the widest possible level, the only thing that can really survive, or that we worry about dying, is a worldview. The ‘masks’ mentioned by Glenn are bound up with worldviews and worldviews are bound up with survival, yet real living means altering and breaking through them. Trauma thus shares something in common with altered states, Milton Erickson hypnotic inductions, many paranormal experiences, and all zen koans: it is hard to cognitively process. The symbolic map of the world is broken through and we experience some territory.

We know a lot more now about how the nervous system responds both to trauma and to kundalini. Tao Semko talks usefully about the vagus nerve as the physical correlate of central channel transformation in the kundalini experience, where Peter Levine points up that nerve as central to the experience and healing of trauma. It all fits together very well. This is the anatomical scenery of emotion and it is transformed by spiritual experience.

Talking of difficult emotions, guilt or shame are often irrationally present with trauma which is why I’d be careful with some religious interpretations. That element has always been in and around human spiritual experience but maybe not always for good reason. Guilt-inducing deity stuff could all be just a holdover from early tribal survival laws in a world where trauma was hard to heal. If the birth process is traumatic and leads to shame, criminalisation of sex becomes possible. Rape and abuse victims often feel guilty for no good reason at all and there are perfectly rational reasons for them to cease doing so, which they in fact do when the trauma clears up. Almost all infant trauma and upset wrongly “feels deserved” to the child, or “natural”. Worth thinking about.

With all this trauma and weirdness around, a keynote of stage one becomes safety. Setting up a home place of security, a base within from which the weirdness can be dealt with gradually on the journey to freedom. Ultimately kundalini rising is blissful and involves complete comfort within oneself.

Points have been known for centuries and are confirmed in modernity

As to how that safe home base is developed, I’ve mentioned plenty of stage one skills previously, and they are basically ways to shift mood. There are many more than I’ve tried — people tend to settle on what they like. I always like acupressure and there’s Jin Shin Jyutsu or Shiatsu which derive from the same theories. The six healing sounds go back a long way in Taoism and work to shift stuck ch’i in different organs and areas of the body. Being able to use such things profitably, regularly and reliably gets people’s bodies used to the idea that they don’t just have to live with any bad emotion that comes up, and that’s how the base is built.

Movement is very useful to change state. Ordinary stretches and workouts seem to help many, others will opt for yoga or t’ai chi etc. It doesn’t have to be in any way complex. I love my ch’i kung forms. Getting used to the wonderful cushioned/floaty feeling of having done a good round of ch’i kung starts to get one’s system feeling it has more options. A bad mood will not survive and ch’i will build and harmonise. Shifting can also come from improvised movement and expression. Developing relationships with music, poetry, etc. that works to shift in the direction of peace can be good. Slow or completely tempoless music can often be worthwhile which could mean anything from Handel Largos to Max Corbacho.

Ba Duan Jin -- classic qigong

It seems simple, but bear in mind ch’i kung (or indeed yoga) does have testing that shows real and often profound effects on the nervous system. These modalities are all ancient and have been repeatedly used to clear energy and prepare spiritual aspirants for millennia. The religious can add prayer to the list.

When meditation itself is thrown into this mix things get really interesting. The evidential literature on sitting meditation is very rich indeed. Even this ageing summary book (which needs a third edition, someone please commission it!) is pretty unequivocal for a pure-science document. I doubt I’ll ever quite understand how anyone can afford to be without the improvements in reaction time, perceptual skill, concentration, relaxation, memory, intelligence, empathy, creativity, and self-actualisation, all as measured objectively, in exchange for twenty minutes a day on one’s ass! Not to mention the effects on blood chemistry and pressure, hemispheric sync, and a couple of dozen other physical indicators. Subjectively the peace and sense of coming home that accompany the initial achievements of mastering the social mind are very welcome. Most of the other stage one skills can act as meditations in themselves once you have the idea.

Frankly most people who get into meditation seem to enjoy it a lot anyhow, and I suppose there’s not much more to say, other than the usual caveat of testing for oneself. It matters to click with a particular method much more than where it came from. There is no truth to the ‘one right way’ approach.

So it’s the combo of meditation with the other mood-altering stuff that amounts to what I’d call stage one. It does alter a person, or rather, it shows a person they can alter themselves. Which is very beautiful when it all clicks.

A final elaboration is Glenn’s special technique, the so-called ‘Secret Smile’. Hypnotists would call this a daily retrieval of positive resources. The following description may be helpful to meditators. Simply, it’s about bringing positive states into the feeling mind and saturating the system with them. Glenn’s classic states are relaxation, fun, love and achievement. (Others can be added as the practitioner desires, based on what they want to actualise.)

To get resources flowing, the person thinks of a time when that resource appeared and someone else was with them to confirm it — ie., someone else felt the love in return, recognised the achievement, etc. (That corroboration prevents narcissistic fantasy). In a meditative state, saliva is then allowed to gather in the mouth. The occasion is brought vividly to mind with the feeling building strongly, and then the actual circumstances are forgotten whilst the essence of the feeling is allowed to remain. At this point one can actually run this feeling all through the body as an energy, catch it on the tongue, mix it with the saliva, swirl it around a bit, and swallow it. This is then repeated for the two or three other traits.

This tends to lock the positivity in place and lay the groundwork for being able to deal with what the second stage will throw out. Anyone wanting to know reasons for the saliva stuff will have to wait for my own understanding in a couple of posts’ time; in the meanwhile call it a food-style signal to the subconscious, which it also is anyhow. But in short, building up good feeling and being able to shift into it from any ordinary or less pleasant state, repeatedly, is the ticket, plus overcoming the basic social mind with meditation as a prep for seeing how much more there is to reality. Probably anyone can imagine the cumulative effects and how this helps with the darker stuff later (or even immediately if you’re long-term depressed as so many seem to be.)

A final point here is that although the stage one shifting of mood and mindset is not the big universalised altering of state we associate with mysticism and enlightenment, it still is altering state, on a personal level. And some of the shifts can be very interesting. That makes it a good habit to get into for anyone wanting to shift realities on a larger scale later. Keeping a diary is recommended.

Stage two takes it a step further, but that’s for next post.


Claude Swanson, "Life Force, the Scientific Basis"

Claude Swanson’s 700-page brick from 2009 is a great summary of the state of evidence for “The Force”. A physics Ph.D. (Princeton), he plies his authority on available subtle energy/qi/prana research and despite the odd overcredulity demonstrates we actually have made progress and know more than we did. More people have worked on the questions I’ve raised than I knew.

Never mind the current state of things, the history is cool too. It goes back past the extraordinary Wilhelm Reich to people like Walter Kilner for example, whose method of seeing auras involved coloured screens with, unfortunately, toxic dyes and effects. His writeups in The Human Atmosphere, 1920 remain interesting. Reichenbach’s clever investigations are detailed too and are relevant as ever.

But one name is missing — we still don’t think of him as energy-based. A Swiss doctor who met him relates that at the age of 70 he was handsome, well built, strong and vigorous, as a ch’i master ought to be. He preferred discussion of his own theories to any other subject but his manner and style were friendly and highly engaging. A decided contempt for conventional medicine by this time had transmuted to full blown hatred in him; he had caused a storm which turned against him. He was a first victim of the pseudoskepticism that came into being with the ‘enlightenment’ and perhaps didn’t fully realise the usefulness of self-knowledge or forgiveness. More or less no difference is discernible between the arguments against him and the ones used these days.

We misremember the great Franz Anton Mesmer. This may be an accident. The effects which he claimed to achieve were put down to imagination, and the treatment systems developed downstream acquired the name of ‘hypnosis’ for which ‘mesmerism’ is a synonym. What we currently mean by ‘mesmerise’ is more acceptable to scientism than the ‘animal magnetism’ Mesmer actually employed. (His immediate successor the Marquis de Puysegur, used both suggestion and energy, an excellent idea that petered out.)

The advent of Mesmer’s method is one of those moments when energy bursts out to confront the culture, and was an initial opportunity for medical science to try integration of what had been religion-only. The establishment soon made it clear they didn’t want this chance and frantically stuffed Mesmer’s genius back in the bottle.

From his beginning experimenting with magnets for healing, Mesmer discovered another form of ‘magnetism’, present throughout nature, and an inexhaustible supply of it within himself. He was able to ‘charge’ human beings with it and to control the sensations of it in their bodies, even from behind a wall. Astonished Parisians felt the flow and motion of this ‘animal magnetism’ as a “wind, sometimes warm and sometimes cold” emitted from the tip of his finger. Those au fait will be nodding. He saw this energy as distributed throughout the cosmos, moving with an ebb and flow action which the body can experience and which sets up relationships between bodies. He could have been quoting the Taoists.

The cures included paralysis, blindness, hernias, haemorrhoids, cancer, dysmenorrhoea, jaundice, dysentery, epilepsy, hemiplegia, and deafness amongst others. Even allowing for flawed diagnosis they have their modern counterparts.

As society absorbed all the claims, the inevitable “anti-magnetists” appeared, with whom modern pseudoskeptics would resonate, if they admitted humans could resonate that is. These were in charge of the various hand-wringingly ignorant medical institutions of their time and span fairy tales which still keep us asleep that we may not know the awful truth. Wasn’t Mesmer tested and found fraudulent, and hasn’t this passed into legend? Well actually Mesmer himself was never tested, only his pupil d’Eslon. The investigating commission had undertaken to study patients under treatment but never did, and ignored cures, saying there was no way to prove energy produced them.

Commissioners pointed out many patients never felt anything, although no-one had claimed otherwise; meanwhile the patients who did feel energy were not mentioned in their reports. One commission member, a Dr. Caille, himself told a group of patients that he felt a great warmth during treatment which seemed to have a strong effect on his nervous system, but his statements didn’t make the final draft. According to d’Eslon, amongst what wasn’t reported was a patient seen by the commission who could sense where magnetism was applied on her body whilst blindfolded. He argued meanwhile that babies and the comatose were treated so how could imagination explain anything? Etc… readers who have discussed paranormal phenomena on internet forums will find the back-and-forth only too familiar.

Frank A. Pattie, historian of hypnosis and author of a Mesmer bio, reports all the pamphleteering with heroic neutrality, but can’t hide his generic modern puzzlement. He wonders, how can there be blocks in an energy which is universal? How can the emitter of an energy treat himself with that energy, “turn it around” to run through his own body? The subtext appears to be, what a silly thing to invent since it makes no sense. Of course all such objections are answered by any actual energy practice (see Reading List).

The link with hypnosis, which came about so accidentally, is still interesting though. As I mentioned in an earlier post, experience indicates the usefulness of modern clinical trance for energy purposes — shared experience in my case. Spontaneous agreement from a fellow ch’i-seer that our hypnotherapy tutor, the excellent Terence Watts, extended energy from his third eye whilst working on a subject, was one example. In another a lady who knew nothing about anything energetic felt a shot of ch’i along her arm as I hypnotised her and later said, “I didn’t imagine that!”. Etc. Learning to reliably gather and sense energy allows you to see the role it plays, mostly unnoticed. Probably more hypnotists are using energy than realise it, just as more therapists are using trance than realise it.

Lawrence LeShan back in the day

A barrier to acceptance of such a viewpoint is that not everyone who talks about energy actually does sense it. Wild cards like Mesmer are rare and without them expertise is required. Some teach without experience, thinking that energy is genuinely just imagination. I rightly praised Lawrence LeShan highly last week; in 1966 he was writing of healing using energy, which he transferred to a patient who felt it too and who could practically see its effects occurring as she watched, but before a decade was out he plainly had altered some of his views:

”Energy” is probably the most widely misused term by meditational schools… Recently a highly trained scientist, who had also been fairly well trained in meditational techniques, was leading a movement in meditation… she instructed the group… “draw up energy from the centre of the earth.” I suggested that she would be making more sense if she let the group know that these were metaphors… She insisted that they were not metaphors but facts, and that she could not, in conscience, present the exercise in any other way. And this, mark you, was a mature and extremely able individual with wide reading and training behind her. Sometimes this is a pretty discouraging field! That confusions of this sort can occur thirty years after the work of Cassirer staggers the mind…

Usually you are tempted to follow the example of the courtiers when the Emperor’s new clothes were being displayed and agree you can see the chakras, Kundalini forces, etheric bodies, energy streams and God knows what else.

How to Meditate, 1974, pp. 121-3

In this big old misunderstanding LeShan, having lost his patience, slots into the debunking position, hot retorts and ridicule and all — even forgetting his own former idea that there are different rules in different states. But with proper training there is no guesswork involved, and no surmise, when it comes to energy. You actually do sense it, and the more you work with it the better you sense it. I regularly draw up energy from the earth and that’s no metaphor. Something from Glenn:

Glenn Morris

My next group [at a healing gathering] included a woman from Puerto Rico who was attending because she had an ovarian cyst. She did not like the prospect of going under the knife. A small elf-like woman was kneeling before her, directing energy into her lower abdomen. I could see the elf didn’t have the juice for what she was trying to accomplish, so I laid my hand on her shoulder and began to pump energy down her heart meridian. The look on her face was classic. Her name was Lisa Graves and she said, “Wow, what the hell are you doing?”

“I’m just feeding you. Take it and do what you know how to do. I use this stuff for breaking bricks. I can generate for hours. Go for it.” She returned to her work and I continued to breathe energy into her while she directed it into the lady from Puerto Rico. The woman snapped to attention, her eyes rolled back in her head, and she went into orgasm… Blue light was running in little streams all up her body and over her face… Finally Lisa says, “I got it”… Lisa told me that she’d never worked with anyone that way before. I didn’t tell her it was a first for me; I responded like old and knowing.

Path Notes of an American Ninja Master, 1993, pp. 144-5

The excerpt illustrates you can see this energy (“I could see the elf didn’t have the juice…”, “blue light was running in little streams…”), you can pass it to another in such a way that they can feel it and use it, and it can do work. Sorry folks, sorry LeShan old boy, if that’s hard to understand, sorry if we know less about it than we might, sorry if it doesn’t make sense to you. But that is what it is. (And this example is nothing from a guy who could knock people over with energy alone.)

Of course the best scientific “energy” evidence by far has been collected since LeShan wrote those paragraphs, and his meditation book in general is worth anyone’s time, when it doesn’t fly off the handle. The chapter on actual methods will get anyone started since it has a huge range of approaches to choose from. A remark in another of his books, Alternate Realities, 1976, probably explains LeShan’s attitude: “I started as a complete cynic. The original project was to study the problem of how people I seriously respected… could believe in this ‘nonsense’.”

That’s where the Patties of the world probably still are and it’s the wilder ideas of Mesmer that will really have them scratching their heads. Amongst the best: animal magnetism can easily be exchanged over enormous distances, even with the sun and moon (“draw up energy from the centre of the earth…”). Mesmer has experimented, channelling magnetism via the sun. Pattie can’t keep his face straight, but the exchange of ch’i with heavenly bodies is a reality in the Taoist and Yogic disciplines, and in Kabbalah. Distances don’t carry their usual meaning in relation to an energy which is at best only partly physical. Naturally materialists aren’t ready for that stuff, although LeShan perhaps ought to be. Becker provides some interesting ideas on the physical angle of how it could work, showing we have as I say actually made good, patient progress on all this. Those of us who haven’t been practicing our opprobria in the mirror can enjoy the benefits.

Where there is energy there is argument but I pay less and less attention to it. The argument has nothing to do with progress since it was the same from day one. The truth can’t be discovered with that mindset. Emotional healing is fundamental to enlightenment and often occurs best in an atmosphere of safety, beauty, happiness, and lack of criticism. Mesmer perhaps never managed to get past the fact that, since his discovery worked and was demonstrably real, the treatment he had received from the authorities could be considered appalling. That attitude might have limited his actualisation. A heart at peace is a good idea when using this stuff, and his never was (although he did treat the poor for free which would have helped).

There may be psychological principles behind the dismissal that have yet to be uncovered, but certainly, if one can’t expect a healing atmosphere from the materialists, one has to expect it from oneself. We can learn that much from Mesmer, and that’s progress too. :) It’s what history is for and a major advantage of human culture.

Next Saturday I’ll present to you my favourite psychedelic artist who embodies what creativity can do in concert with spiritual vision, humanitas and sheer fun. See you then.