"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
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
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
M: But the resonances we seem to achieve in industrial civilization
M: So what inside is causing that outer dissonance between humans
GW: The underlying thing is that there's a tremendous level of pain
and scare. Something happens. We get hurt. So we immediately
begin to compartmentalize and put it off to the side. We develop
some defense mechanisms.
The other part is that we get attached to structure. The true nature
of reality--this is what I'm coming to believe through chaos theory and
quantum physics--is that we exist in a twilight zone that is neither structure
nor chaos. It is process. Structure evolved and reaches a point
where it's no longer useful. It breaks down. Thing go into
great disorder. Out of that disorder comes a new structure.
M: Our illness becomes the compost out of which we grow a new garden.
M: What we've been talking about, fear, pain and utter complexity,
all stand as fairly imposing barriers. How specifically do you help
people move beyond the fear and pain and understand the mindboggling complexity
of us and the universe?
GW: It's a guided process. I liken it to a trip down a whitewater
river. We do a lot of that; I take people on the river. We
come up on a set of rapids and those suckers are scary. That river
is pounding and roaring. There are thousands of cubic feet of water
rushing by every second. It's total chaos. Most people are
scared. But if you're a good guide, you take them through the rapids.
The inner process is a lot like that. As a guide you go into a co-consciusness
state with a person. By that I mean you're sharing a consciousness
state. So you're there in that river with them. You come up
on a set of rapids--this is a rough time in their youth. They may
not even remember the experience intellectually. But you pick up
a flavor of the sensory patterns, and they're very turbulent. You
go in there with them.
I don't know any guide that would stand on the bank of the river.
This consciousness journey, facing these fears and pains, is very much
the same thing. If you're in the boat with a person, they're not
going to jump out. If you're not, maybe they're not going to go through
them, because they really don't know how.
M: One thing I've learned from the little bit of white water rafting
that I've done is that you really to let go into the river and work with
it, or else you're just going to get smashed by it.
GW: The river is totally chaotic. If you're in the river, you
begin to sense that there are currents and flows--if you catch this current
here you miss that big rock down there.
M: What do you do to get at these consciousness states?
GW: We might start with a feeling, symptom, or dream. A dream
is basically pure, unstructured consciousness that percolates up to the
surface of the mind and gets shaped by what's in the subconscious.
The surface of the dream is really like a map that helps me to understand
some of these patterns, the interactions and symbols and how they're put
together. I'll have the person become different elements in the dream,
or yield to different elements of the dream. Eventually we get down
to the primal image, the primal sensory pattern. This is a combination
gestalt and shamanic soul journeying.
M: What you're talking about is re-connecting a fragmented ecosystem
of the mind.
GW: I call it the selfscape of the mindbody.
M: Is it fair to say that the neural roots of illness have a lot
to do with holding things away, being disconnected, and that the healing
process has very much to do with reweaving relationships in the mind?
GW: That's one way to put it. The healing process is re-perception.
It's coming back to a sense of oneness with the self and perceiving the
self and the world differently. There's no goal involved in this.
Peace and harmony are processes. I really want to emphasize that
healing is getting back into a process of flow, not reaching an end-state.
"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.
(541)476-0492 Aesculapia Wilderness Retreat; http://asklepia.org
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