THE CHANGING HEALING PARADIGM
Dreams, New Science and the Consciousness Restructuring Process
by Graywolf Swinney, M.A.
Asklepia Foundation, c1996
The Consciousness Restructuring Process represents a basic paradigmatic shift in the healing arts. To make this shift requires a fundamental shift in perspective, a change in the very models by which we describe how nature works. The old Cartesian philosophy of "I think, therefore I am," is turned on its head and the intellect is reprioritized to a less controlling and confining role: "I am, and therefore I think, I feel, I experience, I act..." Being, rather than thinking is the core of existence. The new philosophy is one that offers evolution and creativity as a way of life.
Culturally and socially, we are entering a major evolution, and science will play a significant role in this. For 300 years, Newtonian Science has ruled and along with the Cartesian philosophy (that supports a mind/body split) from a basic level, has shaped our civilization and culture. This model depicts a clockwork universe in which we stand outside of nature and objectively manipulate it. It gave us the technology that elevated us even further from nature but now pushes us off balance and threatens our existence. It sets us apart from all; it is a model of separation.
Then Einstein disproved some of its tenets, the basic ones of objectivity and absoluteness. "Everything is relative," he said. "There is no absolute frame of measurement anywhere in the universe." The ideas of standing outside of nature and measuring it objectively was invalidated. Relativity says that your frame of reference determines your measurement of reality.
Quantum Physics goes one step further and implies all is relationship--the universe is an interconnected web of relationships. One electron knows what another electron is doing and one molecule knows what another is doing, even if they are at opposites sides of the universe. Somehow they coordinate their efforts to include the observer who is also part of that system which is part of every other system in the universe all cooperating in harmonious relationship to create unique realities for each of us. Suddenly, the whole framework of reality is like jelly. There is nothing firm to stand on. We are part of a natural process, influencing it and being influenced by it at subtle levels, where structure is only a passing creation of continuing evolution. Quantum reality lies at the edge of chaos and of creation itself.
Nowhere are these ideas more important than in the healing arts and professions and in enhancing our understanding of natural healing processes. The natural healing process is something medical science does not understand and so hides from it behind the labels of "placebo effect," and "spontaneous remission," but it is something which the Consciousness Restructuring Process describes and guides people through.
Psychotherapy and allopathic healing approaches are based on the old paradigm, the old Newtonian view which sees reality, including human beings, as nothing but mechanical systems. Part of us is. But most of us isn't. We are complex dynamic organisms, and the theory of complexity or chaos theory, far better describes our interactions with reality. We experience quantum effects directly as synchronicities, sensory and extrasensory phenomena, placebos and spontaneous remission. True healing takes place at this quantum level--the level at which transformation is the essence of reality--that reality created from infinite potential.
Healing is a sensory phenomenon and so are dreams. Our senses let us know when we are sick. Senses show us when we are well. Mind and intellect can't do it. We have to go beyond that, beyond the "I think, therefore, I am," mentality and into a reality of beingness. "I am, and how I am I know through my senses."
Consider depriving people of dream time--let them sleep, but prevent dreaming. After about a week, hallucination and mental/emotional problems begin to appear. Within a couple of weeks, the immune system weakens and there is greater proneness to illness and fatigue. Even an unremembered dream heals; we need dream activity during the night to heal the day's traumas, and the healing power of dreams is not limited to just this. Dreams are altered states of consciousness in which we transcend space and time as we know them, states in which such phenomena as clairvoyance and prognostication occur. These phenomena cannot be explained by linear cause and effect, they are consistent with Quantum Physics and Chaos Theory.
One of my earliest encounters with the implications of this paradigm shift came about eleven years ago during some dream therapy that I was facilitating. Gestalt was my main form of dream work. Its power and strength lies in the notion that the healing power of the dream is in its experience, not in interpretation or analysis. Gestalt dream-work has one re-experience the dream and become different components of it. The premise is that every symbol is reflection of a deeper part of one's self. Becoming different symbols in the dream one enters into a dialogue with the different parts of the self to resolve conflicts at this level of ego functioning.
I was working with a woman who, as a child, had been sexually abused by her brothers. She became very hard and cold. We had been working on these issues, making the usual progress as far as psychotherapy goes--but not finding deep resolutions. Then she related a dream. At the end of it she was being drawn "on a rack, into something like a saw-blade, which was not a saw-blade, but a hub, on which there were razor sharp knives rotating and spinning." She had awakened at this point.
What I did was unusual in my context as a psychotherapist but consistent with my shaman mind bent and an intuitive urge. I said to her, "Instead of waking up this time, why don't you let yourself be drawn into the knives?"
Her first report was of being "slashed to ribbons with flesh and blood flying all over." I asked her what she noticed most about the experience and she replied that it was the coldness of the blades, they were a razor sharp, deep penetrating old I invited her to become the cold. And as she did she reported feeling like a thick frigid layer of ice on top of a lake, very cold, very hard and very frozen. I noticed that she had precisely described her condition. I invited her to go deeper. She reported passing through the ice and entering into water. I invited her to let go into the water, to become it. Some time passed. Then her body began to relax. I watched the muscles that I had seen tense since I first met her begin to soften and flex.
I asked her what she was experiencing. She answered that as she went deeper into "being" the water she became warmer and the fluid, limitless and boundaryless. I invited here to stay there and experience this side of herself. When she returned from the experience in about ten minutes, there was a profound change in her personality and physiology. We were both inspired. This was the kind of healing work I aspired to facilitate but seldom saw; the tools I had seemed too limiting and unreliable.
Something remarkable had happened, but I was not sure how. I continued exploring this deep journey process further with other clients and, among other things, was struck by the realization that, as with the placebo, I was not the healer, it came from deep inside the person healing and involved profound consciousness change. All I did was guide. It was the person's own imagination and dreams that took them to the healing state. And the healings were proving to be profound involving both somatic and mental diseases.
Since I had first encountered the concepts of spontaneous remission and the placebo effect, initially as an engineer, and then later from the "inside" as a student of psychology, I was plagued by not knowing how they worked. There were no satisfactory answers from psychology or medical science, indeed they seemed to do little more than grudgingly admit to their existence and then ignore them. However, when I began dream journey work, I knew I was on the trail of these phenomena. The journey process duplicated their effects and how they operated, but more reliably and frequently.
There is a similarity from journey to journey, not in the sense that the images are the same, or follow the same sequence, but they lead to similar states or processes of consciousness activities or dynamics. Leading into these, the imagery describes the diseased self in vivid sensory terms, such as being very hard, rigid and cold. But there are openings, elements of the diseased energy patterns that invite one to go even deeper into a place of conscious dynamics.. There the sensory image materializes, disassociates into chaos or unstructured consciousness stuff.
Emerging from this sensory image are new images and sensory experiences to replaced the diseased ones and give resolution to them, for example a deep felt sense of warmth, flow and freedom. But, it is a deep felt sensory experience rather than a more superficial intellectual or emotional experience and it begins a deep evolutionary process in the senses and nervous system that eventually manifests as healing throughout the entire organism.
Another step came after reading an article in OMNI, "The Role of Chaos in the Brain" ( McAuliffe, 2/1990), about the work of Dr. Paul Rapp of the University of Pennsylvania. The entire article sang to me, certain specifics quite loudly. Rapp was working with chaos theory and its implications in brain functioning and had studied problem solving--a problem that exceeds the limit of a person's current thinking, it has to be solved creatively by finding an entirely new perspective. The article implied that in such instances, neural activity tends to become more random or chaotic. When the neurons settle back into more structured firing, there is a new perspective and solution. As chaos theory predicts, out of chaos comes new structure.
I began to think about how one would subjectively experience chaotic or random neural firings? One very obvious way suggested itself. A neural pattern is a feeling or emotion - or a sensation - or a thought, or a coherent image of some sort. And so the lack of any of those things is essentially a blank mind. Another possibility was a confusing and overwhelming deluge of impressions. Both of these experiences were typical of the healing states I was studying. The first experience is also typical of meditative states that are known to improve health and well-being. I had seen the inducement of the second type in shamanic rituals that also seemed to lead to healing. This leads to the notion that healing is indeed a creative process.
I began thinking in terms of consciousness energy and dynamics, and reevaluating my understanding of it. I now think of consciousness as a fundamental energy field that exists as a ground state and as a part of every structure in the universe, much like alchemic ether. It is the medium through which the information that Quantum Physics is talking about is exchanged.
Shamans journey through consciousness - they are masters of consciousness dynamics and altering consciousness dynamics and altering consciousness. And indeed, what I was doing was using a shaman technique with Western Gestalt dream principles to guide people deep into dreams using their imagination to bring them to the healing states within. From this union of practices, came the first name, the shaman/therapist model because it bridged both worldviews. It was not strictly a shaman nor a therapist, but the essence of and more than both. There was balance in this. The premise that science and spirituality are separate is faulty. This work I was exploring brought them together in an elegant way.
Chaos is a mathematical discipline and mathematics is the language of science. The science it describes along with quantum theory demonstrates fundamental principles of natural process more fully and accurately than the older Newtonian Sciences. The principles from Chaos Theory describe not only the human condition and behavior, but also dreams and natural healing process.
For example, a fractal program in a computer shows changes called bifurcations: something is developing in a certain way and then all of a sudden it changes direction, position, or pattern for no apparent reason. That, too, is the experience of a dream. I also noticed that when I went into chaos with people, from the chaotic or unstructured consciousness, a new structure would emerge. This is precisely what chaos theory reveals: Chaos is only apparently chaotic. It is really an infinity of possible forms, which can come into existence.
In Chaos Theory we are indeed dealing with the essence of creative spirit. The Second Law of Thermodynamics says that the universe is always tending irreversibly toward disorder or chaos, a very depressing thought when I studied it in college. Now Chaos Theory returns the balance by revealing the creation of structure from the disorder. Thus, science once again reflects a balance in the universe.
The Consciousness Restructuring model considers reality to be a twilight zone between structure and chaos, form and fomlessness, neither one nor the other, yet both. Structure evolves from chaos in an environment of complex interacting systems, and is responsive to and shaped by that environment. Eventually, structures act and grow rigid and in doing so become less responsive to the environment ensures fracturing and disintegration back into chaos. At the person level this is experienced as a life crisis or a disease. But eventually new form or structure emerges from the chaos. It is this dance of evolution and change that is real; not the temporary forms and structures that we fix on nor the chaos, which we avoid. They exist only in passing.
During the journey process we noted that at the deeper levels of consciousness dynamics we encountered forms that were similar enough that they were readily identifiable and appeared spontaneously in people from many backgrounds and cultures from journey to journey.
As I explored these forms and image, once again Chaos Theory and psychology came together. Carl Jung had identified archetypes, images and themes that occur in our myths and stories, independent of time, culture, or geography. These are, in a way, building blocks and seem to arise out of a collective conscious state; they form nuclei about which ourselves and cultures form. In many ways they are illustrated by the ancient Greek dramas which seem to depict patterns and characters that can still be encountered today.
Chaos theory has identified energy systems called "strange attractors". Operating near a complex or chaotic system, they shape and set limits to the patterns formed from the chaos. We have discovered a number of what seem to be archetypal strange attractors in the consciousness states on the edge of chaos, patterns that appear from journey to journey spontaneously in people from many backgrounds and cultures, and which seem to give shape to matter and psyche at all levels of organization. There are perhaps a dozen or so of these that we have identified.
One example is a spiral or vortex which when present in the imagery inevitably leads to chaotic consciousness. However, this form appears at all levels of the organization of matter. For example, this spiral pattern is how most galaxies in the universe took their form from the big bang of their creation. It is also the form water takes in flow at the edge of chaos, where white water and still water come together. We see the same pattern at the edge of chaotic atmospheric conditions as tornadoes or hurricanes. They also are the forms of the DNA molecule itself, the primary molecule that shapes our being from the chemical soup of the womb.
In terms of consciousness dynamics these strange attractors also operate to form our personality or persona. When we are born we don't experience limits--we are part of everything. Experiences becomes strange attractors that impress on our consciousness to shape us and limit our ability to move beyond. They become fixed in our neural structures, as specific synaptic firing patterns in the brain.
Dr. Wilder Penfield first noticed full dimensional sensory memories in his work on the brain. He was able to stimulate complete sensory recall, virtual reality-like experiences in which early memory is experienced on the sensory level, by stimulating locations in the brain. This is also what is reported in the Consciousness Restructuring Process (CRP).
If the experience is painful, it incorporates the pattern of the pain and exists in a state of dis-ease. The brain controls body chemistry, by its neural pathways and patterns. So are psyche and personality. So the disease eventually takes somatic and psychic form. Both somatic and psyche healing can happen at this level. It is the level of quantum reality in which the distinction between particles and wave fronts, matter and energy, blurs. It is the level in which consciousness impressions become neural patterns and they in turn shape the body and mind. It is the elusive mind/body connection and how the placebo effect and spontaneous remission work. It is the healer within.
During a dream or healing journey we go from thinking and emotional levels to progressively deeper consciousness dynamics until we get to the fundamental primary sensory images that are our subjective experience of these neural structures; then still deeper into unbound or unstructured consciousness. Out of it comes the evolved sensed self-image, which reflects the changed neural patterns, and over a period of weeks or months realigns the physical and mental being to reflect the inner change.
Consciousness Restructuring Process considers healing a matter of evolution where disease is the crisis of old structure needing to disintegrate to allow the emergence of a new one better suited to the present. Healing is a verb, a process, rather than a noun or an end state. One embraces a life of creativity and evolution. The healer is within and the embodiment of one's own imaginative and creative processes. "I am, therefore..." opens the being to an infinity of possibilities unrestricted by the limits of mere thought.
c1996, Asklepia Publications, All Rights Reserved
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