"Journey to the Healing Heart of Your Dreams"
Placebos and Consciousness Restructuring through REM
©1999 by Graywolf Swinney
This paper first appeared in DREAM NETWORK; reprinted with permission.
The placebo effect and spontaneous remission are two of the most powerful yet discounted healing phenomena known in the healing arts and sciences. Such healing occurs with any or all illnesses, yet nothing, no treatment or substances, has been administered that can account for it. In studies of new treatments, as a control, the placebo consistently brings about symptomatic remissions 30-50% of the time. If a test drug performs in the 60% range (as many, if not most, do) the placebo was also at work in the test group and accounts for at least half or more of the effectiveness of the test treatment. The proponent of the treatment generally prefers to claim it to be the entire 60% effective. The half or more that is accountable by the placebo effect is ignored and illusions created about the drug's effectiveness.
The placebo effect and spontaneous remission are consciousness events, and more specifically events in which consciousness and matter interact to naturally change or transform diseased structures into healing process or flow. At the level of reality at which this event takes place, it is not even an interaction, it is a reality in which consciousness-matter, or as it is more popularly known, mind-body, are not different but are virtualities not committed to either condition, yet the potential of both. It is, in other words, a level of quantum reality.
Quantum theory describes the state of reality in which something, for example, light simultaneously displays the properties of being both matter and pure energy waveform. Here, sudden shifts of state, quantum shifts, instantaneously occur, all is interconnected and uncertainty reigns. We too exist on this level, part of this natural process, influencing it and being influenced by it at subtle levels where outer structure is only a passing reflection of this continuing deep inner evolution.
Dreams are our personal experience of REM consciousness and very much embody the quantum reality described above. There are a number of interesting facts that have come to light from scientific studies of REM that suggest it is probably the mechanism or consciousness-state which underlie the healing power of the placebo. There are clues from these studies that suggest that REM-Consciousness may also help in forming the roots of our diseases.
The Chaos-REM Process of Natural Healing
The CRP (Chaos-REM or Consciousness Restructuring Process of natural healing) is a healing process that resembles the placebo effect. Studying of its mechanisms has led to understanding how placebos may operate. This process (CRP) uses imaginative sensory imagery in wakened REM state to follow dream symbol or action to its root consciousness structure. This structure, stored deep in the subconscious, is a primal, existential, sensory self-image and it defines personal reality both inner and outer. It is a personal existential hologram that underlies perceptions of self and world.
This deepest sense of self is imprinted on the brain as neural firing patterns which, as suggested by Karl Pribram, create the interference wave pattern of this self-hologram. Our disease structures are incorporated within it. Reaching this root image and activating it while in REM draws it into implicate or chaotic consciousness field, and at this pre-quantum level of reality, it dissolves. A quantum shift occurs and from free or unstructured chaotic consciousness a new, more easeful image forms and becomes a transformed existential hologram except minus the disease structure. The shift is deeply felt on sensory and pre-sensory levels. One model of how the brain operates is that any action or behavior is first imaged in the brain, e.g. to turn this page one first creates an image of doing so and the hand then conforms to the image. The healed image is externalized in this way.
Access to the consciousness dynamics (hologram) that underlie our self and diseases is best accomplished in the Consciousness State associated with their formation. In the CRP, we have found that this requires working in wakened REM consciousness. We have also found that the basis of many disease structures is in consciousness structures formed while still a fetus.
REM Consciousness in Disease and Healing
How REM helps form disease at fetal levels is implied in the work and findings of several scientists studying REM. Dr. Allan Hobson, a noted sleep and dream researcher at Harvard Medical School, states that, "REM may stimulate immature brains while they're in utero." Dr. Mark Manhowald of the Minnesota REgional Sleep Disorder Center states that: "The fetus is in REM consciousness during most of its term in utero. Because the new baby's brain begins development with only the basics, like a new computer, the life process, [REM], programs the brain with capabilities in each developmental state and continues doing so after birth."
Dr. Stanley Krippner and Dr. Montague Ullman, in their work at Maimonides Dream Laboratory, demonstrated that REM consciousness is a psi-conductive state. They demonstrated that two people in REM could share common dream experiences, even when separated by walls and space. All this suggests that a fetus in REM shares its parent's dream states and is preprogrammed by them.
Dreams are known to be necessary for dealing with waking traumas and events. Through REM sharing a fetus is therefore exposed to the past and present traumas and experiences affecting its parents' lives. In this way programming the fetal development is determined by both parents, and the events in their lives that require dream (REM) processing. This is in addition to physiological conditioning through the chemical environment created in the womb by the mother's personal life choices.
Through REM, the fetus taps not only into co-consciousness with the parents, but also into the collective consciousness of the species. These experiences ae imprinted into the neural network and developing cells of the fetus and form the basis of its existential self-hologram. (Physicist Amit Goswami believes all structure in the Universe is based in consciousness). This mechanism continues after birth, except also incorporates the post natal life experiences of the individual.
All the above affects both biology and mind. REM is associated with womb experience such as the generation and development of the nervous system and tissue-cells. Nervous system and personality developments are very susceptible to mood and experience. These are matters with which depth psychiatry and psychology deal. Tissue and cell formation and functioning are also associated with mood and experiences.
Dr. Carl Simonton demonstrated this in relation to the development of cancer and its remission. For example, many cancers develop within two years of a major loss such as death of a relative or loss of one's career through retirement. He also identified a psychological profile based on childhood experiences that are associated with cancer. He found that remission of cancer was very much facilitated by visual imagery combined with other informational and therapeutic psychological techniques. Norman Cousins demonstrated that healing was induced through laughter, peace of mind and positive attitude.
The Role of Chaos in Natural Healing Process
We know from chaos theory that any complex system is very much influenced by minor perturbations or differences in its initial conditions. This is known as the "butterfly effect." The human organism is certainly a very complex system and so very much influenced in its formation by influences in its earliest developmental conditions. Early conditions of REM consciousness in the womb greatly influence our future physiology and personality.
We suggest that the potential for our future illnesses is programmed into our consciousness structure and also our neurological and tissue structure during these sensitive initial conditions. It is incorporated into the person existential hologram into outer reality creating the somatic and psychic presentations inherent in it.
Returning to these consciousness structures in the REM state in which they were formed allows restructuring of this hologram. We suggest this restructuring occurs in REM sleep, for example, when a placebo has been administered and expectations for its effectiveness are held. This is also the consciousness-state required for the profound self-healing observed in the CRP Journeys.
Further validation of the healing powers of REM comes from dream deprivation studies which show that the mind, the nervous system and eventually the body and physiology deteriorate when the organism is deprived of REM sleep. Also, it has long been an observation in medical therapy that sleep is regenerative, and that people recovering from illness or surgery need more sleep and thus REM than usual.
Studies in neurofeedback addressing the interface of chaos with the brain and its role in the brain's functioning also provide validation. Although measurements of brain waves result in their division and categorization into certain frequencies or states such as the alpha state, the theta state, and delta, etc, such is not really the case. The frequencies of the brain waves vary randomly within a given state. The distance between peaks is highly variable and disordered around the average. When these varied frequencies are used to program a fractal (the mathematics describing chaos theory) it becomes possible to measure the degree of chaos or complexity in the brain's functioning. These degrees of complexity are known as dimensions and the higher the dimensionality, the more complex or chaotic the neural firing patterns.
Lower dimensionality is associated with such dysfunction of the brain as epilepsy, comas and strokes. Similarly, dysfunction such as obsessive compulsive behavior may be associated with linearity or lower dimensionally. On the other hand, high dimensionally is associated with healthy brain functioning. Chaos theory itself implies that the more complex a system is, the more self-correcting it is. This is because disruption to a linear system will throw the whole system off, but only affects a portion of a complex system, which soon adjusts to "fill in the gap." In a way this is the reverse of the butterfly effect and operates in the complex system once past its initial conditions. It emphasizes the need to deal with illness at formative levels, i.e. at the organism's initial conditions. However, the important data to note here is that the highest level of dimensionality, complexity, or chaos measured in the brain, a dimensionality of nine, occurs only in REM consciousness.
The Chemistry of Natural Healing
Changing the neural firing patterns (hologram) of the brain through the aforementioned REM-chaos process affects the body's chemistry and the existential perceptions of the entire organism. Since the brain is known to operate holographically, change to any part affects the whole. Chemistry is modified through the pineal and pituitary glands, parts of the brain itself. These glands affect the release of neurotransmitters, which control mood, and the hormonal chemicals which control how our various organs function throughout the body. Messages sent to and received by the brain throughout the entire nervous system are also affected. Fundamental perceptions of self and reality change. Outer soon follows inner. Somatic and personality presentation changes.
In CRP journeys, we infer that this chaotic, implicate or complex (REM-Chaos) consciousness is the state in which the healing chemical transformations are initiated by changes in the primal existential hologram. This model suggests a similar process for placebos.
Implications of REM-Chaos Natural Healing Process
Spontaneous healing is closely associated with REM. These clues all imply the mechanism through which dreams, placebos, and the CRP do their healing and regenerative work. Chaos is always associated with change and is usually seen as its aftereffect. Chaos is actually the mechanism of the change itself. REM-Chaos consciousness is the most chaotic or complex state of dynamics in the brain. It is the state that most supports its self-correction (the homeostasis effect) and the natural transformation of any organism to healthy flow. It is the state that supports profound self-healing.
This information also implies a major change in the way we can view illness and healing. Seen from a consciousness viewpoint and consistent with the new physics of quantum holographic, and chaos theories, illness and wellness are more a matter of basic consciousness structure than mere chemistry. Chemical change are an effect rather than a cause, an associated phenomenon. We can no longer view illness as merely the invasion of the body by carcinogens or germs and viruses and healing as the mechanistic or chemical correction of these conditions. Natural healing happens at quantum-implicate levels of reality. Accessing it through the REM-Chaos state brings about subsequent changes in brain chemistry and may be the mechanisms by which placebos heal. The CRP is an awakened means of doing this in REM-Chaos consciousness.
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