Basics

Personal Development: Part 10

Imagination

Our journey of personal development has reached its end-point. Thus far, the journey has been incremental, each step building upon prior progress. In a broad sense, we can see that in the first three stages (survival, sex and exchange) the goal is to explore opportunities for personal expression. The second three stages (healing/trust, truth and creativity) shift to collaboration and social responsibility.

Hewing to the priorities of the hypnotherapist, our focus has been on changes in behavior. That growth may bring conflict with the self or others. Each segment has surveyed the tools hypnotherapists may offer to support those struggling with a transition.

Psychiatry offers some detailed insights. The brain also changes as we mature. When learning to survive, the brain is designed to capture as much experience as possible. Neurons form dense webs of interconnection. During adolescence and early adulthood (sex and exchange), the brain sheds many of those connections, focusing its energy toward identifying and amplifying social advantages.

Along with those gross changes, the brain develops new structures. Reason and relationships are our highest cognitive functions, and as we learn neurons are recruited to their service. Each new node requires the services of its predecessors. The highest relationship function – altruism – often develops only in our mid-twenties (in the region called the posterior superior temporal sulcus).

From these insights, however, we have no reason to expect that the basic model of behavior development might begin to break down. Remember how this goes: due to the complexity of social existence, around eight years of age the brain divides into the conscious and subconscious, with exchange mediated by the critical mind. Could it be possible that as we age, the more powerful subconscious might come to trust our abilities to survive in society, and come back into the light?

Such a change is not incremental. It completely upends our concept of self.

This is the nature of the final stage of personal development, the stage of imagination.

The dissolution of the critical mind begins in dreaming. Dreams are the forum in which the subconscious invents new behaviors, free from the prejudices of the conscious mind. But the process is inefficient at best and often obscure. Many remembered dreams are vague if not incoherent. But if through dream analysis we cultivate a dialog, the subconscious learns to be more precise. And when that dialog is pursued gently and respectfully, it eventually begins to call upon the conscious mind during sleep, allowing it to help resolve choices. This is called lucid dreaming.

Dream researchers and enthusiasts have developed methods to cultivate lucid dreaming. The first wanted accurate descriptions of the content of dreams and later discovered that it could be used to overcome trauma. The second enjoyed the thrill of the dream. It is important to remember, however, that unstructured dreaming is a critical part of behavior development. My recommendation is to allow the subconscious to open the door naturally, according to its own understanding of the benefits of greater conscious participation.

Beyond lucid dreaming, however, comes lucid waking. Trust works both ways, and when the conscious mind respects the creative powers of the subconscious, it can facilitate their activation without falling asleep. This is the natural state of many artists: they switch rapidly between abstract analysis and physical sensation as they work. Hypnotherapists call this mental pattern “somnambulism,” and discovered that many neuroses are related to “hypersuggestibility”: the tendency for the subconscious to reinforce negative thought patterns. But when the conscious mind is disciplined to cultivate positive thoughts, when a new opportunity presents itself it can drop into a meditative state to ask the subconscious “Where does this lead?” A rich set of possibility are presented immediately.

As the critical mind continues to dissolve, eventually a new brain state emerges: the gamma state. Observed in dedicated meditators and religious devotees, the gamma state appears to be the most highly energized of the known brain states, operating almost 50% higher than the beta state that we entered when alarmed.

These experiences all lead to increased imaginative capacity. But there is far more open to us in the space of imagination.

To understand the richness of that experience, I must challenge the psychiatric model of thought. Observing that damage to the brain causes loss of cognitive function, psychiatrists believe that all thinking occurs in the brain. Another possibility, however, is that the brain is an interface to the soul. Damage to an interface also causes loss of function.

My experience of the space of imagination led me to that second model: the brain is a kind of multi-channel receiver that tunes into a realm of ideas. In that space, injection of noise is the worst disaster. It disrupts the coherence of ideas. To gain full access, therefore, we must learn to sublimate our concern for the physical self, guarding against the impulses of greed, anger, fear, envy, lust, etc. In fact, failure to do so activates powerful intellectual antibodies that hurt our brains.

Psychologists might recognize my “space of ideas” as Jung’s “collective unconscious.”

Now ideas obviously strive for expression, and with our complex brains, human beings are a wonderous partner in the evolution of ideas. Unfortunately, we are still in transition from the long era of biological evolution (running back almost three billion years) that was driven by competition, conflict and pain – sources of noise that degrade the coherence of ideas. Intellectual evolution took root in us only when we learned to moderate our primitive impulses. That evolution, unfortunately, is a known threat to our evolutionary predecessors – including people that were not raised into intellectual opportunity. To avoid extinction, they are suspicious of intellectual change.

Our religious avatars explore the path through this thicket of mistrust. Buddha offered the concept of “compassion for all sentient beings.” Christ went further, promising “unconditional love.” In both cases, the avatar achieved intellectual authority only by resolving to witness sorrow as an intermediary for ideas that accumulate power from the gratitude of those that receive healing. Buddha tortured himself to achieve that status; Christ surrendered himself to death at the hands of those he loved.

The ongoing work done by our avatars is a transformation of the spiritual ecology in the space of ideas. Unconditional love seeks virtue in all things, transforming eventually even our vices. Anger becomes passion; destruction becomes creative transformation. Of course, the primitive impulses resist that transformation. Their program of repression, however, is frustrated by the sacred martyr, who endures physical wounds as a method of infecting the motivating ideas with love’s virtue.

Trapped in the world of material exchange, such acts seem insane. What history teaches us, however, is that material exchange is a dead end. It creates nothing that endures. Despite all the promotion and wailing of the 20th century, the most enduring personalities in our cultures are our religious avatars. When I was a child in the 1960’s, we still hated Hitler. Now only a few remember him, and increasingly they are ridiculed as anachronisms.

The future lies in acceptance and celebration of our differences – differences that permutate in the space of ideas to build ever richer possibilities for the expression of love.

Which brings us back to sex. Sex has a biological expression in male and female forms. That expression has a parallel in the space of ideas, in principles that I call “masculine” and “feminine.” The masculine principle facilitates change and must achieve temporal and spatial isolation to accomplish that end. The feminine principle sustains continuity through temporal and spatial diffusion. Even in our age, few appreciate the transformative power of their integration: transformation under the guidance of prescient intuition. The possibilities are literally magical.

But I have drifted into speculation, and the reader, following experience, must be wondering what hypnotherapy has to offer in this process. The answer, unfortunately, is “nothing.” Hypnotherapy is necessary only to divided minds. Those operating in the space of imagination no longer suffer from that limitation.

Of course, a hypnotherapist operating in the realm of imagination is an incredibly powerful aid to personal development. John Kappas and Milton Erickson are recent examples. I am suspicious, reading the reports of his faith healings, that Jesus also deserved the title.

Basics

Personal Development: Part 9

Creativity

For a loving couple, the womb is a sacred vessel in which spirit is joined to flesh. In the instant of germination, the sperm and ova merge the intentions of parents. The spirit of the growing fetus guides the seeking of cells as tissues and organs emerge. Mother, with patience and forbearance, attends, filters and provides all that is necessary for growth. Father protects the sacred process, affirming the emerging virtue and clearing away psychic weeds.

We don’t usually talk about pregnancy with the focus on spiritual process. We talk about eating, exercising, working, stroking and growing. But each of those physical acts has a corresponding spiritual consequence. It is in the service of creativity that those correspondences become clear to us.

No participant wholly determines the way a child enters the world. Any one can corrupt the outcome, creating wounds that may take a lifetime to heal. But pregnancy unfolds according to its own timing, each serving in their own way, and only with birth is the outcome known.

Truth empowers us to create change. In creating a child, parents manifest that fact at the cellular level. After birth, the susceptibility of a child continues to expose our strengths and weakness. We cannot impose adult expectations upon our children; character emerges in stages. We must respond to children as they are, rather than as we imagine they should be, while still seeking to support them as they become what we hope they can be.

A parent’s surrender of control seems obvious – we cannot see what is going on in the womb, nor would we hope to control our child’s every act. Why should we? We have lives of our own.

This long introduction is offered to prepare us for the change in perspective involved when we enter the realm of creative collaboration. Living in truth, as loyal partners we learn that commitment remains as we emerge from the psychological chrysalis. To change is allowed us; our partners adapt with us.

Given that privilege, we naturally ask “Who do I want to be?”

This seems to return us to the second step on the path to maturity (Sex). The difference is that we aren’t driven by untamed urges. We have years of experience managing personal and professional relationships. In working with our partners, we identify skills, attitudes and behaviors that we’d like to add to our personality.

The introverted accountant might wish to project the personal warmth of the sales representative. The pragmatic housewife could learn to paint. The jet-setting athlete may yearn increasingly to remain with family.

What controls those choices is the weight of our involvement in the realization of goals pursued by our community. That community might be a household with school-age children, a high-tech corporation, or a society confronting a drug epidemic. Under the right circumstances, a single person might be committed to serving each of those communities.

But under no condition is anybody able to focus exclusively on a single community. We all serve in multiple roles. The housewife will be asked to authorize pediatric vaccinations and sex education. Consent implies informed trust in the medical system and school board. Objection might require home schooling of her children, and compliance with complex educational standards.

Again, this seems to reiterate the considerations of an earlier stage of development – exchange. We must weigh costs and benefits to each action and seek to maximize the return to our community. The difference is that during exchange the community’s commitment to our survival is contingent upon the value we generate. When we are creative, we instead find our security in spiritual immersion.

As we inspire and adapt, the barriers between self and other begin to melt. Our intellectual, physical and emotional strength is dependent upon theirs. We discover gratitude for the gifts that we receive from them. Life isn’t about measuring and counting – it’s about being in harmony.

The greatest challenge in expressing creativity is the dislocation experienced by those still in earlier development stages. Those persons are not fully immersed in the creative process. Change is continually forced upon them, undermining the behaviors they use to survive. If they fall back into fear and anger, the creative gestalt can be wounded.

A sophisticated hypnotherapist helps to manage those boundaries and heal those wounds.

Within the community, an old self-centered behavior pattern may not be triggered except in specific circumstances. When those arise, a session or two with a therapist can release the pattern so that the creative effort can be resumed.

Other situations are less malleable: relocations, marriages, divorces, births and deaths focus the need to change. Group imagery sessions can help communities visualize change and prepare for a smooth reorganization. When dislocation comes as a sudden shock, individual or group grief process can be facilitated by hypnotherapeutic imagery.

Individuals also benefit when hypnotherapy is used to focus attention and energy for key events: corporate board meetings, final exams and a sports competition are all examples. Hypnotherapeutic imagery is again a powerful tool in ensuring effective outcome in contexts certain to include distractions and disruptions.

Part 1 || Part 8 | Part 10

Mind Management

Healing with Behavioral Energetics

Every healer – whether Western or Eastern – knows when a patient feels well. That Western healers focus on biology is not because they’re spiritually insensitive – it’s because Western industrial practices of employment and war create spiritual damage that is beyond the skills of most practitioners.

I wish that I could say that it was simply a matter of scale – that the wounds come to fast and run too deep. But it’s worse than that.

From China to Greece, the ancient healing arts all recognized auras and their colors. They correlate with the evolution of the organs that they manifest through: gut, gonads, musculoskeletal, circulation, lungs, brain, and cortex. Understanding of these allows practitioners to heal most physical ailments. The methods are simple: examine the aura, clean blotches, and inject healing energy of the right color.

That method corresponds to ancient patterns of biological struggle. Over the last three thousand years, unfortunately, mankind has shifted the space of conflict into the intellect. We don’t breed bigger muscles, we develop propaganda. We don’t fight against tyrants, we band together politically. Through global media and education, those strategies have mushroomed into powerful psychic patterns that invade all our energy systems.

Think of it this way: just as the mind can use the entire body to manifest different behaviors (love or war), so these psychic patterns can invade every chakra simultaneously.

The pranic healer’s response to this kind of invasion is to shift into the transpersonal point (the eighth chakra) and use white light. That’s unfocused and doesn’t address the root issue –susceptibility to psychic patterns that project dis-ease into the whole being. These invasions can’t be uprooted in the classic way – they take too much out of the patient.

What follows reflects my personal experience in mastering afflictions projected from the intellect, rather than through injury and infection.

The basic principle evolved from as I developed a Christian apologetics out at my personal blog (everdeepening.com). I discovered that rather than trying to uproot sloth, for example, I looked at is as an opportunity to receive love. This eventually permeated every aspect of my psychic development: love heals all ills by elevating them to virtue.

What remained was to formulate a catalog of psychic affliction with correspondence to the virtue created in love. What follows comes again via Christian apologetics, this time from the Scroll of Seven Seals in Revelation 6.

In employing this system, the client should meditate on their disease as each possibility is described. The degree of resonance of each affliction with their condition is noted, prioritizing therapy. In therapy, love is invoked and projected in to the physical site of the disease, and the transformative virtue is elevated, brightened and heightened.

Through this method, we not only liberate the client from their affliction, we dilute and transform the psychic pattern at its source. Through concerted effort, eventually the affliction will be healed for all time and space.

So, the list:

  • Domination is felt as a pressure to focus only on the process of the disease. Through love, it becomes stewardship of the resources needed to preserve health.
  • Conflict is felt as a turning of the parts of the self against each other. Through love, it becomes harmony in their interaction.
  • Opportunism is felt as a sapping of strength intended for creative effort. It undermines the expression of our beneficial motivations. Through love, it becomes innovation that seeks the best way to organize those same energies.
  • Where opportunism undermines individual creativity, death is felt as a separation from creative society. With love, it becomes peace that ensures that we can commit our full energies to shared service.
  • Vengeance is felt as an attachment to past wrongs – committed or perceived. With love it is transformed into the making of amends that achieves justice.
  • Anger is felt as a baseless clamoring for attention. With love is becomes passion for life.
  • Destruction is felt as a purposeless disintegration of the being. With a love it becomes the impulse of creativity that brings meaning to life.

When the afflictions are prioritized, the client should be asked to visualize the manifestation of the virtue in their future. Along with the projection of love to produce the virtue, that imagery should be utilized as hypnotic suggestion.

Book Reviews

We Are All Energy Workers (A Book Review)

In The Women’s Book of Healing, Diane Stein presents both theory and practice for developing our natural skills to project healing energy.

In the theory, physical dis-ease (Stein used hyphens to emphasize the tendency of the being toward wellness) is the manifestation of energetic imbalances in the psychic layers that surround it. Those layers focus the emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of our lives. As Stein explains, the layers also host one or more chakra energy centers, each chakra having a corresponding color in the rainbow. Red is the color of the body, progressing outward to purple at the highest spiritual layer. Beyond that is the transpersonal layer, which as the source of all colors is white.

Obviously much of this is metaphorical – concepts built over milennia that humanity uses to access energies that reach all the down to subatomic realities. For that reason, there are some inconsistencies. As Stein testifies in discussion of practice, healers that honor the intentions of the “Goddess” can dispense with the metaphors.

Stein explains not only how to use the metaphors for healing, but how to heighten sensitivity through meditative practices. That begins with the ability to see the psychic layers as auras. Next comes color visualization as the healer scans upwards through the chakra centers in the physical body. In remote healing, dis-ease is imagined as blotches on the psychic layers. “Tinker Woman” work describes the development of personal healing metaphors (stapling cuts closed, putting in faucets and drains for blockages).

Laying on of hands is more abstract, dealing directly with energy flows. The book ends with chapters on crystal work, building and enhancing the color metaphors at the beginning of the book.

The resources of the earth is emphasized throughout as essential to grounding energies, thereby avoiding transference and to ensuring that both parties (healer and healed) are not left open to harmful invasion.

In talking about these methods, the book is generally light-hearted and generous. According to Stein, the ethic of the woman healer is to work without compensation. Respect for the autonomy of the dis-eased is emphasized again and again.

Where most fault is to be found is in Stein’s militant feminism. Matriarchy is good, patriarchy is evil. Conflation of patriarchy and allopathic medicine is rampant. Both serve to suppress women’s self esteem, seeing their bodies and intentions as foul and inferior. Male practitioners are recognized, but their contributes are cast as “finding the Goddess within.” Conversely, Stephen Harrod Buhner (The Lost Language of Plants) reports that many country doctors were intuitive herbalists.

I have reached out to Stein with the observation that the ethic she mandates is modern. Allopathic medicine (surgery and medicine) was pursued in part to guarantee that both patients and doctors were protected from psychic entanglements. Negative intentions can be projected in both directions. I know that a tender of money justifies abusive rage in clients that don’t receive the benefits they expect. But how else is a practitioner to stay alive? And how can we believe that those dependent upon their craft might not be moved to extort money from their clients?

The slipperiness of this slope is evident in one particular practice offered by Stein. This is the use of an imaginary “healing bag” to store negative energies collected during visualizations. These can be splotches on the aura or pools of negative energy. The practice, at the end of the session, is to imagine the bag burning up along with its contents.

But how did those splotches originate? Stein tends to the perspective that they all originate from patriarchal abuse, but I have met dragon ladies that fail to honor Stein’s ethic. Just as a healer can remove blotches, the dragon lady can tear pieces out of the souls of her victims. Those pieces never integrate properly, and so manifest as blotches that generate dis-ease in the dragon lady. Is it right to remove them and burn them up? Or should they be returned to their point of origin?

This contextuality is not acknowledged by Stein. It is non-trivial. Priests talk about predators the “lie with their whole being.” This is a practice used by abusers to hide their intentions behind the façade of victimization. (Their victims, after all, will naturally fight back against them.) Peering past that façade is safe only for practitioners that have progressed past the use of metaphors to work directly with the underlying spiritual forms.

When I was in graduate school, I met a massage therapist at a bar in Boulder. He troubled me with his difficulties clearing the negative energies he accumulated while working with Wall Street bankers. I finally told him “Look, don’t be an enabler.” Reading Stein’s work, I am concerned that she is unwittingly creating a culture of enablers. That concern is reinforced by the way my skin crawls every time she inveighs against “the patriarchy.” Damn it, Diane, their wives profit from that system as well.

So put away the hatred, and write a book that offers useful metaphors for transforming negative associations in the psychic layers. I’ll offer my own system in the near future.

And for those that wish to use the beautiful metaphors and practices collected by Stein: make sure that you know your clients well. To do otherwise is prideful, and leads down harsh and painful roads.

Mind Management

The Brain on Meditation

Cognition has two mechanisms: neural connections and supporting blood flow. The second has an underappreciated impact on our thinking.

Negative thought patterns are sustained because the inner mind believes that they are useful for our survival. Unfortunately, to sustain the supporting blood flow they require exercise now and then – else they atrophy (just like a muscle does). On the other hand, if we’re not careful they begin to run in loops in the background, starving other thoughts.

We can’t blame the negative thoughts – they’re just trying to maximize their ability to perform their function.

A function performed by the rational part of our mind (what Freud called the “super-ego”) is to regulate wayward thought patterns by pruning, and to fortify functional thought patterns. Where most of us think of this as changing the pattern of neuronal firing, the rebalancing of blood flow is also important.

We shouldn’t seek only happy thoughts, for they tend to passivity. We shouldn’t tolerate anxiety either, for it tends to isolation. We need balance. In building our capacity to control our thoughts, meditation helps us attain that balance. In emphasizing non-attachment to our thoughts, I think that the principal mechanism is reorganization of the blood flow in the brain. This achieves balance, while preserving the store of knowledge that allows us to move skillfully through the world.

Inspired by Rhi-Inspired’s post out at An Accidental Anarchist.