[An ASKLEPIA FOUNDATION Book]
THE CREATIVE CONSCIOUSNESS PROCESS
ABSTRACT: We can speculate on certain aspects of the Creative Consciousness Process. We describe it in theoretical terms that unite many previously unassociated elements. It is sort-of the unified field theory of psychology. But we stress this process is not a theory, but an experiential phenomenon. This process seems to repeat itself at all levels of scale, like the fractals of nonlinear dynamics. It seems to have an over-riding purpose and intent shown in the progressive movement of evolution. It is reflected in the nature of dreams as a meaningful adaptive process which facilitates survival. CCP can help us gain a deeper understanding of our Personal, Environmental, and Transpersonal states of consciousness.
For convenience, history is often viewed as a conflict between the instinct for order and the impulse toward chaos. Both are necessary: both are manifestations of the need to survive. Without order, nothing exists: without chaos, nothing grows. And yet the struggle between them sheds more blood than any other war.
The instinct for order is an expression of humankind's devout desire for safety (which permits nurture), for stability (which permits education), for predictability (which permits one thing to be built on another) -- for equations of cause and effect simple enough to be relied upon. Indeed, without resistance to change, growth itself would be impossible: resistance to change creates safe, stable, predictable environments in which change can accumulate productively.
The instinct for order is therefore aggressive. It actively opposes any alteration of circumstance, any variation of perspective, any hostility of environment or intention. It fights to create and defend the conditions it seeks.
The impulse toward chaos is a manifestation of humankind's inbred knowledge that the best way to survive any danger is to run away from it. The instinct focuses on the resources of individual imagination and cunning, rather than on the potentialities of concerted action. Its most common overt expression involves an insistence upon self-determination (freedom from restriction), individual liberty (freedom from requirement), and nonconformity (freedom from cause and effect). However, such insistence is primarily a rationalization of the desire to flee -- to survive by escape.
Therefore the impulse toward chaos is also aggressive. The very act of escape breaks down systems of order: it contradicts safety, avoids stability, defies cause and effect. Like the instinct for order, it fights to create and defend the conditions it seeks.
Nevertheless stability and predictability themselves would be impossible without chaos. Chaos exerts the pressure which requires order to shape itself accurately. Without accuracy, order would self-destruct as soon as it came into being.
For these reasons, the struggle between order and chaos is eternal, necessary -- and extremely expensive. By nature, human beings are at their most violent and belligerent in self-defense. The cost of their survival would be prohibitive in any less fecund universe.
--Stephen R. Donaldson, FORBIDDEN KNOWLEDGE
THE EDGE OF CHAOS ECHOES EVOLUTION
Nonlinear dynamics is the basis of chaos theory. Chaos theory is a subset of Complex Dynamics. In the dance of order and chaos in the process of natural evolution there are three patterns: 1) an ordered, static, subcritical state; 2) a random, dynamic, supercritical state (chaos); and, 3) a complex, dynamic, critical state (true complexity). This process takes place through nonlinear dynamics.
Yet chaos is only part of the behavior of complex systems. The transition, both ways, between order and chaos is the place where important shifts, changes, and developments take place. It is where evolutionary dynamics comes into place. Systems performing a range of simple tasks can flexibly adapt rapidly simply by accumulating useful variations. In other words, they can make creative "choices."
More and more science speaks in terms of systems and describes interactions in terms of systems theory. Human beings are one of the most complex, dynamic systems we know. Systems science also applies to the study of relationship at each level of a human system, including cell, organ, organism, group organization, society, and psyche It relates to the personal, environmental, and transpersonal self.
Current research indicates that both nonliving and living systems seem to evolve toward a boundary between order and randomness. They seem to naturally evolve away from both extremes of complete order and complete randomness.
Echoing evolution, there is a drive in the natural world toward complexity, which creates the need for adaptation. There are patterns and fundamental principles in the way various systems organize themselves, learn, remember, evolve, adapt and persist and eventually disintegrate and disappear. There are varying degrees of complexity in systems, each building on what has gone before.
The study of complexity goes beyond the explorations of chaos theory, which provides the mathematical tools for the study of complex dynamical systems. Complex adaptive systems from single-celled organisms, to individuals, to societies learn and adapt to changing conditions in the environment with which they interface.
Chromosomes endow us with encoded offensive and defensive strategies, including the prospect of cooperation. Positive and negative feedback, both external and internal is a complex dynamic system. Input is both experiencial and self-generated.
There is evidence to show that self-organized criticality plays a role in many complex systems, from chemistry to geology and perhaps biology. Darwin never suspected the power of self-organization in conjunction with natural selection.
If we look at the "edge of chaos" which self-organizing systems naturally evolve toward we find four plausible principles, as expressed by Stuart Kaufmann of Los Alamos National Laboratory (SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, Jan. 1993):
1) A system goes through a phase transition from order to randomness if the strength of the interaction between interconnected agents is gradually increased. Intensification. Dis-ease.
2) A system can perform the most sophisticated computations at the boundary between order and randomness. Adaptive agents can develop good solutions to extraordinarily difficult problems. Transition. Dissolution.
3) Complex adaptive systems tend to evolve toward the boundary between order and chaos. Liminality. Solution.
4) Organisms change how strongly they interact with others in such a way that they reach the boundary between order and randomness, thereby maximizing the average fitness of the organisms. Dynamic adaptation. Stabilization.
So, amplifying a situation, intensifying it, leads to de-stabilization. This leads to a phase transition (bifurcation). Passing through and beyond the threshold of chaos, the system de-structures which allows the new adaptation to emerge. Order is self-generated from chaos.
Each of us has access to limited resources, and our survival strategies are encoded in our genetic material and nervous systems. We can change our strategy, individually and collectively, in an attempt to maximize our fitness, which can arguably be defined as the chance we will survive. We have strategies that yield fitness levels, depending on whether we are in a phase of ordered (subcritical), chaotic (supercritical), or complex (critical) existence.
Kaufmann claims that "...the highest mean fitness is at the phase transition between order and chaos. By selecting an appropriate strategy we can tune our coupling to the invironment to whatever value suits us best. If we adjust thhe coupling to our own advantage, we will reach the boundary between order and randomness -- the regime of peak average fitness."
Kaufmann says that "complex adaptive systems adapt to and on the edge of chaos. It now begins to appear that systems in the complex regime can carry out and coordinate the most complex behavior, can adapt more readily and can build the most useful models of their environments. I have this feeling that there is something very general going on about how far from equilibrium systems have organized themselves. I don't know what that something is yet. But I can taste it."
Dreams are complex dynamic systems. Modern research tells us they are influential in adaptation by processing short-term memory information into long-term storage. Dreams help us survive. They take us into that edge of chaos each and every night. They are uncensored messages from the twilight zone of chaos-order, reaching into our awareness and communicating with us at the most sensory levels imaginable.
According to neuroscientist, Jonathan Winson (SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, Nov. 1990):
Based on recent findings in my own and other neuroscientific laboratories, I propose that dreams are indeed meaningful. Studies of the hippocampus (a brain structure crucial to memory), of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and of a brain wave called theta rhythm suggest that dreaming reflects a pivotal aspect of the processing of memory. In particular, studies of theta rhythm in subprimate animals have provided an evolutionary clue to the meaning of dreams. They appear to be the nightly record of a basic mammalian memory process: the means by which animals form strategies for survival and evaluate current experience in light of those strategies. The existence of this process may explain the meaning of dreams in human beings.
Later in the article, he reiterates and amplifies:
Dreams may reflect a memory-processing mechanism inherited from lower species, in which information important for survival is reprocessed during REM sleep. This information may constitute the core of the unconscious.
Because animals do not possess language, the information they process druing REM sleep is necessarily sensory. Consistent with our early mammalian origins, dreams in humans are sensory, primarily visual. Dreams do not take the form of verbal narration.
Also in keeping with the role REM sleep played in processing memories in animals, there is no functional necessity for this material to become conscious. Consciousness arose later in evolution in humans. But neither is there any reason for the material of dreams not to reach consciousness [as Freud alleged]. Therefore, dreams can be remembered--most readily if awakening occurs during or shortly after a REM sleep period.
Consistent with evolution and evidence derived from neuroscience and reports of dreams, I suggest that dreams reflect an individual's strategy for survival. The subjects of dreams are broad-ranging and complex, incorporating self-image, fears, insecurities, strengths, grandiose ideas, sexual orientation, desire, jealousy and love.
Dreams clearly have a deep psychological core. . .I propose that the unconscious is a cohesive, continually active mental structure that takes note of life's experiences and reacts according to its own scheme of interpretation. Dreams are not diguised as a consequence of repression. Their unusual character is a result of the complex associations that are culled from memory.
CREATIVE CONSCIOUSNESS PROCESS AS A META THEORY
Graywolf's quest to better understand the nature of healing led him to develop SECURE dream work. Unlike lucid dreaming or interpretations, the point is not to take the ego into the dreamworld. We need to bring the dream images into our conscious awareness and life.
Dreamhealing was the natural expression of his experiences with both psychology and shamanic work--a practical method that represented the Shaman/Therapist model. The results of this new approach to dream work were mind-boggling, and seemed to reveal a natural evolutionary aspect inherent in the journey to the edge of chaos.
The method and maps he was developing from the work seemed to formulate more than just a practice or healing technique. He began to see it as a specific case for what seemed to be a deeper and more universal process. His first task became to formulate a more general theory to explain the processes and results that he observed.
The cutting edge of mathematics and physics shows us a theory that bridges and joins all the sciences as well as embraces the mystic and spiritual. It teaches that perhaps we don't always need to fear and avoid chaos. In fact that is impossible since it is an integral aspect of natural order and change.
Chaos theory reveals through computer graphics that there is great beauty hidden in the heart of chaos. And it teaches that all chaos eventually yields to deeper orders. Indeed, there are chains of order that reach into the infinite depths of pure chaos. Its implication is that we exist in a twilight zone between structure and chaos, and constantly flow back and forth between the two. It is the permanence of either that is the illusion.
These words also describe what we have learned about the nature of consciousness and the healing process in dream journeys. Chaos is a very personal experience. We relate to it viscerally as well as emotionally and intellectually.
It often begins as a crisis that draws us into a seething cauldron of events, and tosses us about at random until all that we have known or counted on disintegrates. Then as chaos theory predicts, we find that in passing through the chaos we have somehow come to a new sense of order and self. In mythology, it is the archetypal journey of the hero or heroine.
We are surrounded by chaos, indeed we always have been. But we create illusions of order, and then come to confuse that with reality. It is the loss of our illusions that seems so frightening to us when we perch on the edge of chaos. Yet it is relinquishing our illusions that can set us free and empower us.
This modeling of chaotic consciousness took several interim steps: developing a new ego or personality model, new consciousness models, and a theory of dis-ease process. Eventually it led to a more generalized understanding of what we now call the "Creative Consciousness Process," (CCP). It is a theory which also describes a number of other depth therapies as well as many other phenomena.
CCP theory is consistent with--in fact, it is really just another expression of--the new sciences of chaos theory and CDS (complex dynamical systems), as well as quantum and relativity theories. It is their expression in the human psychophysical organism. Graywolf's intuitive perceptions about the nature of reality as witnessed in co-consciousness journeys has been echoed in scientific pursuits including evolution, fluid dynamics, chemistry, cosmology, sociology, biology, and medicine.
Within CCP, the ego or personality model integrates, and is in general consistent with most ego models, including Freudian, Jungian, Gestalt, T.A., Humanistic, Family Systems Theory, etc. Counselors and therapists from all schools of thought find an affinity for it, because it dovetails with their own models, theoretically and in practice.
Yet it also goes further than most in integrating the spiritual or transpersonal aspect of the human condition, and providing a practical method. Growing from an experientially-based process, CCP theory is highly existential in its orientation. But this is not the old existentialism with its fundamental assumption of alienation. This existential view sees man as deeply rooted in the ecological ground of the universe.
The old psychological notions of man as an isolated, alienated, fragmented ego floating hopelessly in the vast emptiness of the void of space sounds very much like the old mythic theme of the king/ego in the wasteland. This notion was rooted in the cultural and scientific belief of the time (2nd law of thermodynamics) that entopy rules the universe, which would end in heat-death. In this mechanistic model, life, mankind, and mind were meaningless aberations in nature. This view creates existential angst.
But in the last few decades this old mechanistic paradigm has been radically disproven in many scientific fields. A brief look at even non-controversial scientific ideas shows that we are deeply rooted in nature and the cosmos in the most fundamental way. And whatever it is, we are that. Scientists are beginning to speak in more poetic metaphors about the "life" of the cosmos, and we see the fundamental form of consciousness in the behavior of sub-atomic entities.
The ENVIRONMENTAL SELF is rooted more deeply than the surface pathologies. It is our primal relationship with the natural environment, which extends to the farthest reaches of the universe and down into the deepest depths of the sub-quantum reality. The sense of primal connectedness promotes a new ecological vision -- ecosophy. We are not separate.
When we experience the TRANSPERSONAL SELF, we realize we don't end where our skin does. We are not discrete from the environment. Our brainwaves are out there, we radiate heat, we are constantly emitting gases and other molecules. We intermingle with the environment in unconscious ways--at the level of being our environment. There are tremendous implications if dreams can help us do that.
In the consciousness journeys, people become the mother planet, the molten core of magma at her heart, or they feel themselves making mountains. This has major implications for philosophy and how we view ourselves. It heralds a basic philosophical change in how we view ourselves and reality. When we realize we are this transpersonal self, carried to its natural conclusion, we are basically interacting with the entire universe at some level or another.
Cosmology tells us that only a universe of a certain age and size can support the growth of life-bearing planets such as Earth. The universe must be within a certain temperature range, and subject to certain laws. We live in such a fortuitous situation, and are a natural product of that evolutionary course -- the "fruit" of the process. There appears to be purpose and intent behind all systems, revealed by the choice to cooperate.
Experience of the transpersonal means going back below the ego, into this infinite place, back into this basic formless consciousness. We become All, become infinite possibility. It completes the circle. Chaos, the mirror image of a constantly decaying universe (entropy), shows us that a simultaneous creative process is going on which has to do with consciousness. This negentropic principle is the matrix of evolution. Of course it is an infinite process--constantly creating itself and destroying itself at all levels.
Dreams reflect that, and so does the natural philosophy emerging from the New Sciences. This philosophy incorporates the human condition, rather than vilifying or pushing it away. Chaos helps us feel our way through an unstable world.
The impact on our planet and in terms of our culture might find us defining ourselves differently. This is being expressed now in the Gaea Hypothesis and the Anthropic theory in cosmology. This approach is born out by shamanic and mystical worldviews. It is poetic, yet likely to end up being "the Truth." When we are not viewing ourselves as isolated organisms, we can experience multiple states of consciousness.
A simple change in perspective, with experience to back it up, can allow a person to move from a feeling of isolation, anxiety, and alienation to one of connectedness, rootedness, and belonging. It is a relative viewpoint, one of many ways of viewing the world and our place within it. We can experience a sense of that multiple system Being which constitues the universe through experiencing various states of consciousness.
CCP theory maps and describes areas of the subconscious and collective unconscious that Freud and Jung were only able to understand through inference and indirect methods. CCP theory may provide a better means of understanding the formation, structure and processes of the sub- and collective consciousness states.
This process suggests a means to access and attain more direct multi-sensory experiences of these formerly untouchable areas and states. It provides immediate personal experience of various strata of the unconscious. It is a meta-ego model in that it explains and integrates previous ego models, but also goes beyond. The old cartographers labeled unknown regions with the phrase, "Here there be Dragons". Freud's way of saying that was "Here be the Id".
We have also found that CCP theory explains a large number of other healing phenomena such as the placebo effect, which have been described and acknowledged but never understood nor adequately explained. These phenomena include the archetypal elements of shamanic philosophy and practice (holism, shamanic flight, magical healing, trance, visions, spirit guides, elemental forces, etc.)
The theory seems to integrate and explain most of the mystical and spiritual elements of healing, not just shamanism, but also alchemy, witchcraft, magic, reincarnation, Taoism, Buddhism, and any number of other philosophies and practices. So, the theory reflects in mysticism and philosophy, as well as bridging the gap to science.
It is based in the notion of a "Consciousness Field," which underlies all observable reality. The holographic universe (Pribram; Bohm) is essentially a three-dimensional image containing matter/consciousness in a single field which is projected into space. This undifferentiated consciousness stuff or energy field interacts with other undifferentiated energy fields such as electric, magnetic and time fields to create the material reality within which we function--the spacetime continuum. It is virtually the intangible essence which is the matrix of the material universe.
This consciousness field meets the criteria defined in alchemy for the Universal Solvent, the liquid version of the Philosopher's Stone, the Panacea or cure-all. This water of life was also called the universal medicine, elixir vitae, or "philosophical water." In shamanism the consciousness field underlies the belief that all is alive and connected, in a vast webwork or interconnected net of life.
Before quantum mechanics, physicists sought a material universal ether as a medium for the propagation of light waves. The notion of the ether returns as the virtual field of consciousness as the basis for all existence. Quantum mechanics confirms the interrelatedness and information sharing that connects every atom in the universe. The probability field defines which of the infinite number of possible realities comes into existence (Schroedinger Wave).
HEALING ECHOES CREATION AND EVOLUTION
A return journey to this primal, chaotic consciousness field is a return to the state in which realignment of physical and emotional structure occurs--the healing state.
More than being merely a method or therapy, CREATIVE CONSCIOUSNESS PROCESS is a generalized, perhaps a meta-theory of healing. It identifies, for example, that healing and health is a process rather than a goal or end state as it has largely been modeled -- static equilibrium or homeostasis. It further introduces the radical notion that all healing is a creative process, a process of evolution, rather than the mere correction of something that is wrong. This leads directly to the philosophical implications of the theory.
CCP links consciousness to healing, and provides a new definition or concept of consciousness itself. It provides insight on the nature of some unexplained phenomena such as placebo and spontaneous remission. It relates all of that to the natural process as defined by Chaos, Quantum, and Relativity theories.
As a meta theory, it spawns a philosophy of healing as an internal, self-generated, self-organizing creative force. It integrates with the new natural philosophy of order/dis-order that is being defined in physics. Contemplating chaos and the processes that CCP generalizes and describes soon yields notions about the nature of life and reality, and the roles and purposes of life. These notions automatically work in the mind, readjusting old perspectives, leading to different understandings of the nature of self, reality, and existence.
The essence of all creation myths is revealed when we contemplate chaos theory or watch fractal geometries unfold spectacularly beautiful nonlinear, ordered systems. Chaos is the matrix of creativity. We intuitively sense that chaos is the ultimate state of creativity, as our myths show. It is the philosophy that underlies evolutionary process--indeed all processes of change and creation. It is a philosophy of reality being an ongoing creative process from infinite possibility.
It is also a philosophy that allows contemplation of the nature of creativity itself at all levels of reality formation. It is a philosophy that touches the essence of all religious and scientific myths about our origin and the nature of Deity. It is a philosophy that allows us to reclaim the other side of ourselves and reality that we have pushed away and ignored even though it has always played a part in our lives and history: the opposite side of order itself, chaos. Agents of chaos are also agents of creativity, and agents of evolution. It is a philosophy that explores the mirror-side of entropy -- self-renewal.
In specific terms with respect to healing it defines a new philosophical paradigm that disease is a crisis that is presented to an organism that creates the opportunity to dissolve the old structure and evolve into a new one, better adapted to survival. This process is the nature of profound healing and indeed, as noted, is the process of natural flow that creates the changing nature of reality itself. It is also evolution.
The CCP theory ties healing process to all the spiritual and scientific myths, providing a means of seeing how they fit together. It spans the healing process from the scientific model to mysticism, the arcane, religion and the nature of reality itself. We have been viewing the same phenomena for centuries with the eyes of spirituality, the mystic arts, and science, attempting to describe fundamental operational principles for what we see and our experience of our existence. Each discipline is a translation of the subjective experience and observation of those deeper states of consciousness.
CCP theory attempts to define or place in context, the consciousness field, a new concept emerging in consciousness studies. It posits that what we are defining scientifically as Chaos and this primal consciousness field are one and the same. Is this a valid connection? Graywolf intuitively believes so, seeing it reflected in the experiential journeys. Scientific proof? The concept of proof itself is perhaps an illusion. Go there, and see for yourself!
Thought experiments allow us to test our theories, in principle. Einstein "rode" on a beam of light and developed relativity theory. We can ride the stream of consciousness back down to the most primal layers where we find chaos reigns supreme. As in thought experiments, we can observe conceptually evidence which helps formulate and correct theory. If the theory allows us to confirm, explain, predict, or tie in other facts that have been previously inexplicable, unreliable, or unrelated, it is a good workable model. CCP theory meets this criteria.
These processes and states are directly experiencable phenomena that can be reached and described in dream journeys and by other means. They have been described by countless others who were attempting to convey the essence of their own deep spiritual or healing experiences. They also have been encountered during clinical experiments with L.S.D., in religious experiences, and as the states entered and described by those working with alternative healers.
The Creative Consciousness Process is a meta theory of the process of natural order and change as encountered in deep healing. It reveals our deep bond with nature. Trust the natural process. It allows a direct-awareness type experience of the states of consciousness we believe are responsible for healing. CCP explains a broad variety of healing phenomena from placebo and visual imagery work to Holotropic Breathing, T.A. Redecision and Reparenting work.
Within the broader CCP theory that evolved from Dream Journeys, we are not limited to any specific technique or practice for healing, but use a deeper understanding of the nature of the healing process itself to create whatever technique is needed for the client at whatever level we are working.
For example, Graywolf's holistic practice includes using breath work and other shamanic practices, as well as dream work, standard psychology, and allopathic and homeopathic medical methods. In conjunction, he also employs diet and nutritional approaches, as well as prayer, and river adventures. Each is used only if they evolve in the course of treatment as a natural part of and reflection of whatever level of CCP and personality is being worked on.
THE IMMUNE SYSTEM, ADAPTABILITY, AND SURVIVAL
The immune system helps an organism adapt, survive, and thrive. It is therefore an agent of the evolutionary force. For many years science studied systems in isolation. So, orthodox medicine considered the immune system as functioning on its own, simply because it could not find its physical links to the brain or mind. Now those connections have been directly observed.
Signals and chemical messengers are exchanged, and through this means the state of the mind directly affects the state of the body and vice versa. This affect is not always beneficial. Stress, grief, separation, isolation, and depression can suppress the immune system. The simple expression of feelings and a sense of connectedness and community leads to immunity.
Relaxation training, or deep relaxation, has been shown to enhance cellular immune function. This response is part of the prophylactic nature of dreamhealing. It is deeply refreshing, rejuvinating, yielding a sense of re-creation. Humor is also a way of coping with the stress of life which has beneficial effects.
Dreamhealing influences the body directly through the immune system, (ref. Ernest Rossi's THE PSYCHOBIOLOGY OF MIND-BODY HEALING; MIND-BODY THERAPY by Rossi and Cheek). It may be applied as a form of preventive medicine, or psychological self-care. It may not be self-administered but we choose to participate. We adapt through creative choices, and one of those choices is to seek healing in therapy.
The least we can say about dreams is that they are diagnostic. This has been noted since ancient times, and Jung and later researchers have re-iterated it, (ref. Robert C. Smith's "Traumatic Dreams as an Early Warning of Health Problems" in DREAMTIME AND DREAMWORK, 1990). What comes up in the dream is shaped by the underlying dis-ease states, regardless of whether symptoms are present yet, or not. So, any dream, any time is going to lead there. It might make more sense to do dreamwork before dis-ease becomes literalized or concretized in symptoms or chronic conditions.
Regular journeying into dreams might be a part of preventive medicine. In the beginning of therapy, dreamhealing seems to deal with very deep images. After a while the issues are not so deeply buried, and the dreams deal with surface images again. Once the initial images have been dissolved, we still have this tendency to create frozen structures within ourselves. Periodic dreamwork, outside the crisis situation, helps maintain general well being by reducing stress.
Usually, after the initial course of therapy, we don't have to go as deep. For example, in getting into a dream early in therapy, it may take an hour. Later, it seems to happen quicker, easier. It is right at the first or second level that the healing occurs. The lower levels seem to be cleared out.
This honoring of our dreams and recognition of their role in our adaptation has a deeply spiritual aspect. The acknowledgement of the spiritual side of ourselves is an on-going process, not just something we do in a crisis. Regular dreamhealing helps us resolve internal conflicts and thereby reduces stress.
If we approach the healing process, crisis or state of disease--not as something that is wrong--but as a process of evolving into a new form, that process of recreating oneself makes a difference as to what happens to us. We see the disease process in a new way. A small change could make a phenomenal difference in outcomes, which are most often attached to expectations. This gives us a model for a positive expectation. It is not a big implication, perhaps, yet a profound one.
We are no longer helpless and hopeless, not heroically curative, trying desperately to "get rid of our symptoms." The healing potential is there within our system all the time, if we let go and open to it. There is evidence we can strengthen the mind/body link in adaptive ways.
Does the brain "know" about the immune system? On certain levels, yes, definitely. The brain is just one of the organs of the body coordinated through the immune system. The brain regulates the body to preserve the well being of the whole organism. It directs the body's responses based on external and internal changes.
Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) has shown that the mind directly influences the immune system and therefore well being. The immune system is one of the most complex in the body, consisting of many different cells and molecules distributed throughout the entire body. The state of the immune system is the heart of resistance of the organism, and functionally more important than exposure to disease agents or toxins.
The immune system interfaces through nerves which come into direct contact with its mobile agents. The immune system is not autonomous, but it does have its own decision-making capacities. It adapts and learns. We can even be conditioned to produce specific antibodies, or not, through experience and internal states. When suppressed, the immune system does not fend off invasion, and the process of natural selection runs its course.
It gets instructions from the brain and talks to the brain. It has its own memory and can instantly create new cells in countless combinations. It responds to the mental state of the individual and influences whether we adapt and survive to our stressful conditions, or not. When we are not adapting, for example to grief or stress, the mind/body makes a choice toward greater vulnerability.
The link between severe psychological stress and the immune function has been established. Under stressful conditions, we learn to suppress our immune functions. Dreamhealing breaks this cycle, providing positive support, which has been shown to buffer the effects of stress. Experiments have shown that our immune systems can be trained to defend more vigilantly or to relax defenses.
The immune system is essentially another sensory organ, which digests outside information and regulates the body accordingly, by responding in a variety of ways. It senses what is foreign to the body and normally defends against it. It is always scanning, and always on full alert, ever-vigilant and ready to spring into action with a cascade of reactions. Sometimes it over-reacts to harmless agents (allergins) or attacks the native cells of the body (autoimmune disorders). Yet this miraculous system which patrols constantly can make millions of duplicate cells on demand.
Does a healthier immune system influence us medically? There is evidence we can voluntarily improve our immune function through visualization, and dreamhealing goes even deeper. Perhaps it won't cure a full-blown tumor. But a small one, or any group of pathological cells, might easily be sent into remission through the chemical and autoimmune systems of the body following the positive input from the mind.
Changes in the immune system may be small, but when their source is primal chaos, these effects are pumped up into large-scale changes in the organism. By "getting into" the disease, rather than "getting rid of" it we follow nature's call to healing--to notice our disease and open ourselves to new patterns, new awareness. Healing is a process, not a state that can be attained. This natural philosophy almost eliminates the idea of a cure--but there is a curative process. "Curing" is symptom-oriented, while healing is person-oriented.
DREAMHEALING IN SOCIETY
We can speculate on how dreamhealing and CCP might percolate into the fabric of our society, our culture. Some of it may take place at a grassroots, self-help level. But an infra-structure could also be developed.
Some venues for dreamhealing, other than standard therapy include its inclusion in health spas and hospitals and nursing homes.
The plethora of health spas are well-placed to include a dreamhealer among their numbers. Doing so would essentially bring back, or re-create, the old Aesculapian dream temples. Retreats and sanctuaries in beautiful natural settings provide that sense of protection and safety which facilitates healing.
In terms of hospitalization it could be used as preventive medicine and for recovery. It might fit in while waiting for surgery, or coming out of it. Nurses might be trained in the process. After surgery, dreams could be useful for healing of the body, and the healing of scars. Since cellular changes take place with imagery work, dreamhealing might go even deeper. It might cut down hospital stays, bringing down the high cost of medical treatment.
For example, with heart bypass surgery, dreamhealing could be useful for implimenting deep lifestyle changes. Our self is our lifestyle, so we have to give up ourselves in that sense to change. Techniques like biofeedback for stress management only change the behavior, not the underlying images, much less clear them. We can use dreams as a process of changing lifestyle--the dreams lead there.
Yet our medical system is highly invested in the technology of healing. The mythical split in healing approaches is basically Apollonian vs. Dionysian--technology vs. nature. It is a question of intervention and technology compared with deepening our relationship to the greater whole.
Lots of money, hardware and jobs are tied up in the medical system, which it is loath to give up. Doctors don't have much stake in referring clients for alternative therapies. Dreamhealing relies on the patient himself to initiate the healing process, which the medical team merely supports.
This is where medicine began, but it has become something else. The doctor used to "set the scene" for healing, but didn't claim that the treatment was the thing. To change current philosophy might mean resistance from the medical establishment, drug companies, etc.
If chaos theory ties into the healing process, it would dramatically change medicine's role to a supportive one. The stabilizing is done by medicine, while real healing happens internally. For example, viruses adapt, mutate, and resist our drug therapies. The more we fight them, the stronger they become.
Medicine is a static, causal system (we do this and that happens...), while a virus is a chaotic system. So it adapts and ultimately overcomes any medical treatment not based in chaos. Medical science is all protocol, prescriptive. Dreamhealing is chaos based. It follows a homeopathic principle of healing like with like. Homeopathy is a system of using minute doses of medicines that produce the symptoms of the disease treated.
CHAOS, CONSCIOUSNESS, AND BRAIN WAVES
Recent developments in the theory of nonlinear dynamics that have been applied to brain theory have substantially expanded our understanding of the neural mechanisms by which large-scale patterns of brain activity are self-organized. Walter J. Freeman is the leading researcher in this area.
In particular, these new concepts give us fresh insight into the neurodynamics of goal-seeking behavior (purpose, intent), how it emerges within the brain, and how it regulates the influx of sensory information into the cerebrum. It has become clear that the stimulus-response paradigm fails to address the most basic properties of biological intelligence, which are its autonomy and its creative powers.
According to Freeman, chaotic dynamic systems not only destroy information, they also create it. Brains are chaotic systems that do not merely "filter" and "process" sensory input; they use sensory stimuli as "instructions" to create perceptual patterns that replace the stimuli.
When a neural activity pattern emerges by chaotic dynamics that express a drive toward a goal, it has two facets. One is in the form of a motor command that activates the descending motor systems. The other is a set of messages to the central sensory systems that prepare those systems for the consequences of motor actions that are about to take place (reafference).
Philosophical and psychological considerations suggest that the cyclical process of emergent goal-seeking, reafference, and sensory feedback constitute the basis for what we perceive as subjective consciousness.
This cycle suggests a further inference: the physiological basis for our human conception of CAUSE AND EFFECT lies in the mechanism of reafference; namely, that each intended action is accompanied by motor command ("cause") and expected consequence ("effect") so that the notion of causality lies at the most fundamental level of our capacity for acting and knowing.
This trait results in the blocking of sensory stimuli by self-organized activity patterns that are contingent on past experience, present motivational state, and expectancy of future action.
The intuition of causality is essential for human understanding and action but it cannot validly be applied to the process by which the intuition emerges. So, consciousness cannot be said to have a cause, an origin, a seat, or beginning in time and place within the brain. It is fallacious to seek for its cause, location, or time of onset in phylogeny and ontology.
According to Freeman, consciousness is bidirectional: it simultaneously reaches out into the world as an expression of the brain's goal-directed dynamics and folds in reflexively upon its own operations.
Consciousness is always in rapid change, for it marks the place where the formed disposition and the immediate situation touch and interact. It is the continuous readjustment of self and the world in experience.
"Consciousness" is the most acute and intense in the degree of readjustments that are demanded, approaching the nil as the contact is frictionless and interaction fluid. It is turbid when meanings are undergoing reconstruction in an undetermined direction, and becomes clear as a decisive meaning emerges.
John Dewey, 1896
The concept of EMERGENCE is central to any understanding of consciousness and the brain. As a technical term, it describes a process by which order appears "spontaneously" within a system (Prigogine, 1980). When many elements are allowed to mingle, they form patterns among themselves as they interact.
This emergence of order from a network of interacting parts may appear sudden to a casual observer, but it is in fact the result of a sequence of small steps, each based on a preceding step and leading to the next--a continuum, in other words. What seems fast to us may to the process itself be slow and vice versa.
Brains are self-organizing. Behavior is determined not by the motor and sensory cortices found in the outer brain shell but also by systems inside the shell. The combination of corollary discharge with the burst of sensory input, both proprioceptive and exteroceptive, produces a transformation of neural activity patterns that have been established by and within the cortex.
It is this transformation then that we call perception. It is also molded by the innumerable influences during past experiences with the same and similar stimuli. That is, the basis for remembering a particular experiences lies embedded in the modified strengths of neural connections.
Order emerges from chaos on limbic command. The world image is built on ordered patterns that emerge from the chaos in which the brain is immersed by its own hand. Everywhere throughout the brain is disorder--chaos--from which order emerges.
There has been considerable interest lately in the role played by chaotic generators in the origin of neural activity. This kind of activity, although it looks erratic, random, and unpredictable, does have structure. We should not think of brain waves as "noise", but consider them as manifesting forms of nerve cell activity deliberately generated and shaped to meet the brain's requirements.
CHAOS IS AN INTRINSIC PROPERTY OF LARGE MASSES OF NEURONS INTERACTING WITH OTHERS OF A SIMILAR KIND AND THUS IS A CHARACTERISTIC OF THE NEURAL SYSTEM AS AN INTERACTIVE WHOLE. A chaotic generator can create information, as well as destroy it. We should look to these patterns of activity for information about the neurological origins of consciousness and the creative powers of the brain.
A conscious "willed" action begins as a self-organized pattern of neural activity in the limbic system. It links with kinesthetic and visceral sensation and becomes conditioned. Consciousness is the flickering process that combines corollary discharge with the messages on all the sensory lines. These sensory lines at once carry fresh input and are shaped by previous experience.
CONSCIOUSNESS BEARS THE IMPRINT OF BOTH THE RECENT PAST AND THE EXPECTATION OF FUTURE ACTION, REAL OR IMAGINED. Herein lies the influence of the consciousness journeys in the creative consciousness process. A multi-sensory imaginal journey is just as real in terms of producing natural consequences in real-time as an actual physical journey. It may be slightly different, yet just as real.
The purpose of consciousness is to report in the brain on the consequences of that organ's actions, thereby preparing the next step in the brain's evolution. We experience consciousness just as we do time, force, space, and the extension of our own bodies. These are the unarguable givens that form the basis of being human.
Consciousness is an intrinsic and essential attribute of a functioning brain operating in a responsive body. Consciousness occurs in a continuum accompanying the flow of matter and energy in and through brains. IN THE BEGINNING IS THE CHAOS OF NEURAL ACTIVITY, WHICH IS ALREADY PRESENT IN THE WOMB WHEN THE BRAIN IS NO BIGGER THAN A GRAIN OF RICE.
When we address the dynamics of systems, each with many elements and many reflexive pathways for the exchange of energy, matter, and information and when these putative actions and reactions reach far over time, distance, and sequential stages, we can only comprehend relationships within the whole, and the cause-effect metaphor is overwhelmed.
Any circular relation that we can characterize as a reflexive or feedback loop will ultimately surpass our metaphor. The search for an "origin" for consciousness is an anthropomorphic fallacy. The process is much too complex, contradictory, and chaotic to be so treated.
EEG is a quasi-deterministic sensory-cognitive activity. EEG represents an integrative signal stemming from deterministic processes and is a strange attractor. The brain does not always operate with strange attractor states (or deterministic states). In the waking stage there are also "noisy states" during long periods of time. All EEG microstates are not due to deterministic processes.
But some EEG reflects properties of a strange attractor. If a brain structure under study is in a desynchronized states, then excitation (sensory stimulation) puts its activity into a temporary attractor, an instantaneous attracting cycle.
The theory of nonlinear dynamic systems states that nonlinear systems are able to generate determinsitic chaos under selected conditions. Chaos in the sense of nonlinear dynamics means that the behavior of a system is not predictable over longer periods of time, but nevertheless there exists a prescription (i.e. in terms of differential equations) for calculating the future behavior from given initial conditions.
AN ATTRACTOR IS THE QUANTITY OF SELECTED STATES OF A DYNAMIC SYSTEM THAT ARE DETERMINED UNDER VARIOUS BUT DELIMITED CONDITIONS. IN SOME CASES THE SEQUENCE OF THESE STATES, CALLED A TRAJECTORY, SEEMS TO BE CHAOTIC OR UNPREDICTABLE.
In dreamhealing we follow the dreamstream back and down from the surface symbol through a labyrinth of imagery to more primal levels leading to chaos consciousness. In Chaos Theory, transition from one attractor to another is called a state change or bifurcation. In dreamhealing it means a state change in terms of consciousness states, a quantum leap in consciousness.
Sensitive dependence on initial conditions means similar causes do not produce similar effects. This statement refutes the causality principle of natural philosophy. However, by examining the properties of a strange attractor more precisely, one finds that it may have a strong conformity, called SELF-SIMILARITY, which is an invariance with respect to scaling. It repeats its conformations from the most fundamental to the most complex level.
We can link the concept of the strange attractor with physiological and behavioral changes of the CNS. Two different brain structures may show various degrees of freedom. There are a number of independent strange attractors simultaneously recorded (Babloyantz, 1989). There is a strong chaotic Alpha attractor at 10-Hz. Reproducible Alpha is the most convincing demonstration of this finding. The greatest power in studied cases is in the Alpha frequency range.
The experimental cognitive task consisted of mental marking of an omitted signal and not a physical stimulation. The EEG of a subject can reach such patterns as a constant template during a constant mental task. This pattern has a defined phase-reordering and alignment during the execution of the mental task, which start approximately 500 msec before the event. Expectation and experience influence the response.
Researchers focused on EEG rhythmicity in a frequency range of around 8 to 13 Hz during the described cognitive task. Earlier studies found activities of slower (1-7 Hz) and higher (40 hz) frequency with phase-reordering could also be observed during cognitive tasks. We also assumed that synchronization of the electrical activity in Delta (1-3 Hz), and Alpha (8-13 Hz) frequency ranges seems to occur during operative stages of the brain in which the brain processes information coming from sensory and cognitive signals.
By using a sensory-cognitive paradigm the EEG can go over to coherent and ordered states that are of a repeatable nature. Linear and nonlinear analysis show that the transition from a disordered state to an ordered state occurred in the range of 40 Hz and 4 Hz. When the probability of occurrence of a target signal is increased, the 10 Hz, 40 Hz, and 4 Hz EEG goes over to coherent phase-ordered states WITHOUT THE APPLICATION OF PHYSICAL STIMULATION. (Ref. dreamhealing phenomena).
The Theta rhythm is also interesting. Jonathan Winson's research showed that when animals were awake, Theta rhythm seemed to show when they were behaving in ways most crucial to their survival. In other words, Theta rhythm appeared when they exhibited behavior that was not genetically encoded--such as feeding or sexual behavior--but rather a response to changing environmental information.
He further suggests that theta rhythm reflects a neural process whereby information essential to the survival of a species--gathered during the day--is reprocessed into memory during REM sleep.
These COHERENT STATES depict almost phase-ordered patterns. The manifestation of a strange attractor has an activity that appears to be random. However, this activity is deterministic and reproducible if the input and initial conditions can be replicated. (E. Roy John, MACHINERY OF THE MIND, 1990)
When we think about something, intend something, expect something the molecules in our brain shift slightly. That in turn changes their gravitational attraction. According to chaos theory, this effect will be pumped up. The slight ripple is felt in the gravitational web of space. This incredibly tiny disturbance will grow following the butterfly effect. Thus the real yet intangible (virtual) experiences of dreamhealing and consciousness journeys have a physical effect which is pumped up by chaotic dynamics from a micro- to macro-effect.
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