Asklepia Foundation
"Journey to the Healing Heart of Your Dreams"



How the Mind uses Crisis to Make New Connections

Patrick Mazza Interviews Graywolf, Summer 1995
[Reprinted from Reflections]

Does it ever seen like your mind and life are in chaos?  You search for solutions and draw a blank?  Instead of regarding these as negatives, embrace them as signs you might be on the brink of a breakthrough experience.
That is the key tenet of the Creative Consciousness Process [now known as the Consciousness Restructuring Process] developed by thinker-therapist Graywolf of Aesculapia Wilderness Retreat and Asklepia Foundation.
"When the whole system goes chaotic is where have our moments of transformation," the Southern Oregon based healer says.  "Chaos and creativity are really synonyms.  In creative moments, all of a sudden your mind goes into a blank space when you're thinking about a problem, and out of that nothingness comes a new perception, a new way of ordering everything."
This approach is backed by neurological research into brainwave patterns, Graywolf notes.  "In creative problem solving, the more difficult and creative the solution to the problem, the more randomized the neural patterns become at the point of solution.  A neural pathway is nothing more than a thought, emotion, or image.  If there are no neural pathways going on, there is that state of total, timeless blankness."
Graywolf and Asklepia Foundation are deeply involved in studying the relationship of consciousness to healing.  He is also documenting how wilderness experiences can be profoundly healing.  This is recounted and explored in Dream Healing: Chaos and the Creative Consciousness Process (Swinney and Miller, 1992).
Chaos and change are not only normal--they open new doors, the healer says.  "Each time a new structure come out of the chaos, it is a self-organizing improvement.  No structure is permanent."
Reflections Editor Patrick Mazza recently delved into the nature of creative change with Graywolf:

Mazza:  Could you please give a brief description of your work?

Graywolf:  It's based on the premise that healing is an evolutionary crisis.  When we run into a crisis in our lives, whether it's physical or emotional, it's a sign that the organism is incapable of dealing with a problem within its current structure.  So essentially it's an opportunity to evolve past what restricts us.  We do this through consciousness journeying, similar in some ways to hypnotherapy, similar in some ways to a shaman's journey, but quite unlike either one of them.  It shares with them the waking dream, or wakened side of REM.

Our illnesses have a structure to them.  That structure is held as a consciousness structure.  It's also held as a neural structure, as a sensory structure in the sensorimotor cortex.  So we use a process of multisensory imagery beginning with a dream or some other way of identifying the pattern that we're looking for.  When we follow that pattern down to its very primal level, where it's experienced as nothing more than a sensory response, you'll always find one more gateway, which leads to a pace that I call chaotic consciousness, which seems to follow the rules of chaos theory.  One of the rules is that out of chaos comes a new structure.  The new structure begins to re-pattern the entire organism.  In a nutshell, that's what we do with CRP at Asklepia Foundation.

M:  In terms of chaos theory, how does the strange attractor idea play in? (A strange attractor is a point around which information organizes itself.  Does the mind organize itself through strange attractors?

GW:  Strange attractors, in terms of consciousness work, are experiences.  Some of them we have very early, maybe even as early as the moment of  conception, or certainly in the womb and in childhood traumas.  They are so intense that they essentially define the limits of our organism.  Out of that pain and fear, we establish boundaries, essential beliefs about the self.  I think consciousness exists as a chaotic field.  It organizes into the organism through the strange attractors.

M:  It seems a number of therapies, such as Reichian or Rapid Eye Movement, are working on this idea that experiences actually embed themselves within our body/mind and form enduring sources of illness until we deal with them.

GW:  My belief at this point is that the body/mind connection is sensory imagery, because it's of both the mind and the body.  Those therapies are on the right track.  We're a total organism.  This is a part of the shamanic model--any problem is going to express itself in all aspects, at all nested levels of the organism.  We're basically holographic in nature.  Therefore, any part is in the whole, yet reflects less detail.

M:  So if we are this holographic bit, reflecting the whole, how does the mind connect to nature; how ware we connected to each other, in less than obvious ways?

GW:  I'm looking at consciousness as a universal field.  It's an energy form that we haven't been able to measure with any instruments other than the mind.  When we go into relatively pure consciousness states, they represent an additional dimension beyond space and time.  Jung talked about that with dream spaces.  He sought to unite psyche and physics.  Dreams exist beyond space and time.  Telepathy, clairvoyance and extrasensory phenomena all seem to take place outside of time and space.  The rules and regulations of the Newtonian universe are set aside.  That's how we connect, on this deep consciousness level, beyond energy and form.  It's not a thought level, which is nothing but a symbolic level--the content of thoughts are symbols.  Thoughts themselves are things--the embodiment of psychophysical processes.

We all touch into a universal consciousness field.  It's one of the basic energy systems underlying all matter, up there with electricity, magnetism, gravity and time.  When we dip into this consciousness field, we are interconnected with the entire universe.  When we get into that state, we do have connection with nature, with other people, with the furthest reaches of the universe.  One of the premises of quantum physics is that every particle in the universe somehow has information what every other particle is doing.  This is the principle of nonlocality.  This is also the state that people call the inner wisdom.  People go there and come back and know that everything we could possibly need to know is there.

M:  People have been working on the connection mysticism and science pretty strongly for the last 20 years or so.

GW:  As human beings we're extremely complex systems.  What chaos theory or quantum physics deal with is this extreme complexity.  Newtonian science, the premise on which psychology and medical practice is based, is really a very mechanistic model, albeit a useful one.  It doesn't come anywhere near approaching the complexity of what we're really dealing with, the human condition with its unexplainable richness of interior life.

M:  Reducing our sense of how complex we are does a real damage and disservice to us as human beings, doesn't it?

GW:  Of course.  That's why we have all of these side effects.  We look at one system to the exclusion of others.  Here's a medicine or therapy that will take of this.  It doesn't, but it affects other systems.  It all has to integrate.  I think we fit into nature in a harmonious and balanced way.  We are nature; we are not separate from that manifestation of universal flow.  That's basically my criteria of health--flowing.  We resonate with everything around us.

M:  But the resonances we seem to achieve in industrial civilization are...

GW:  dissonance.

M:  So what inside is causing that outer dissonance between humans and nature?

GW:  The underlying thing is that there's a tremendous level of pain and scare.  Something happens.  We get hurt.  So we immediately begin to compartmentalize and put it off to the side.  We develop some defense mechanisms.

The other part is that we get attached to structure.  The true nature of reality--this is what I'm coming to believe through chaos theory and quantum physics--is that we exist in a twilight zone that is neither structure nor chaos.  It is process.  Structure evolved and reaches a point where it's no longer useful.  It breaks down.  Thing go into great disorder.  Out of that disorder comes a new structure.

M:  Our illness becomes the compost out of which we grow a new garden.

GW:  Precisely.

M:  What we've been talking about, fear, pain and utter complexity, all stand as fairly imposing barriers.  How specifically do you help people move beyond the fear and pain and understand the mindboggling complexity of us and the universe?

GW:  It's a guided process.  I liken it to a trip down a whitewater river.  We do a lot of that; I take people on the river.  We come up on a set of rapids and those suckers are scary.  That river is pounding and roaring.  There are thousands of cubic feet of water rushing by every second.  It's total chaos.  Most people are scared.  But if you're a good guide, you take them through the rapids.

The inner process is a lot like that.  As a guide you go into a co-consciusness state with a person.  By that I mean you're sharing a consciousness state.  So you're there in that river with them.  You come up on a set of rapids--this is a rough time in their youth.  They may not even remember the experience intellectually.  But you pick up a flavor of the sensory patterns, and they're very turbulent.  You go in there with them.

I don't know any guide that would stand on the bank of the river.  This consciousness journey, facing these fears and pains, is very much the same thing.  If you're in the boat with a person, they're not going to jump out.  If you're not, maybe they're not going to go through them, because they really don't know how.

M:  One thing I've learned from the little bit of white water rafting that I've done is that you really to let go into the river and work with it, or else you're just going to get smashed by it.

GW:  The river is totally chaotic.  If you're in the river, you begin to sense that there are currents and flows--if you catch this current here you miss that big rock down there.

M:  What do you do to get at these consciousness states?

GW:  We might start with a feeling, symptom, or dream.  A dream is basically pure, unstructured consciousness that percolates up to the surface of the mind and gets shaped by what's in the subconscious.  The surface of the dream is really like a map that helps me to understand some of these patterns, the interactions and symbols and how they're put together.  I'll have the person become different elements in the dream, or yield to different elements of the dream.  Eventually we get down to the primal image, the primal sensory pattern.  This is a combination gestalt and shamanic soul journeying.

M:  What you're talking about is re-connecting a fragmented ecosystem of the mind.

GW:  I call it the selfscape of the mindbody.

M:  Is it fair to say that the neural roots of illness have a lot to do with holding things away, being disconnected, and that the healing process has very much to do with reweaving relationships in the mind?

GW:  That's one way to put it.  The healing process is re-perception.  It's coming back to a sense of oneness with the self and perceiving the self and the world differently.  There's no goal involved in this.  Peace and harmony are processes.  I really want to emphasize that healing is getting back into a process of flow, not reaching an end-state.

"Journey to the Healing Heart of Your Dreams."
Asklepia Foundation offers counseling for individuals (couples and groups), retreats, whitewater adventures, and trainings in dreamhealing (CRP); life coaching for peak performance.
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