Mind Management

“Gateway” Drugs

I’ve had two people point me at Michael Pollan’s new book “How to Change Your Mind.” It’s the latest celebration of drugs as a gateway to psychological balance and spiritual experience. Predecessors include the writings of Aldous Huxley, Timothy Leary and Sam Harris.

What few remember is that the same thing was said about cocaine in the ’70s – doctors considered it a mild addiction, and users celebrated the clarity that it brought to their mental process.

But the fact is that a drug elevates your mind in an unsustainable manner, and in spiritual affairs every gate opens both ways. When the high comes down and it slams shut, you no longer are able to manage the demons that have taken up residence in your psyche, and they slowly begin to amplify your weaknesses as they take over your motivations.

I raised my children with the precept that “Love is the Anti-Drug.” Drugs are merely a way of creating the state that is achieved when you are in a committed, loving relationship. If you have to take a drug to achieve that state, then the real problem is that you are resistant to that kind of intimacy.

The benefits of submitting to the discipline of commitment to another are immense. They see aspects of you that you can’t see yourself because your consciousness resides at the surface of your psyche. This is why Shamballa Buddhists celebrate tantric sex – it’s not just a physical experience, but a bearing of witness that is a powerful aid to achieving spiritual clarity and connection.

But just as with gateway drugs, the Shamballah tradition does not see tantric sex as a foundation of spiritual development. It’s a refinement intended for mature practitioners.

If you’re not ready to open yourself to the spiritual winds but want to prepare yourself for that engagement, please contact me. If you look at my blogs (everdeepening.com and love-returns.org) you’ll see that I’ve been refining my capacity to express love unconditionally for a long time. I’ll bear witness to your journey, and ensure that what comes through the gate serves only your best interests. All for a fee that does little more than ensure that I’ll be there next week for the next step – and the next, until you’re ready to fly on your own.

Basics, Mind Management

Hypnotherapy and Polyvagal Theory

In the basic Kappasinian Theory of Mind, we all need balance between adventurous (euphoria-seeking) and protective (fear-avoiding) behaviors. The goal of all therapy is to establish and maintain a healthful balance for the client. In this post, I consider how Kappasinian practices relate to Stephen Porges’ Polyvagal Theory (described wonderfully here).

As emphasized by Porges, our bodies are designed to seek homeostasis (the restful state in which we “feed and breed”). When threatened by unfamiliar or overwhelming experiences, we drop into a simple decision-making process: should we fight (“Can I eat it?”) or flee (“Can it eat me?”). If neither of those tactics resolves the conflict, we simply freeze (conserve energy until an escape presents itself). In the animal kingdom, survivors use shaking and quivering to discharge the residual energy, restoring homeostasis.

These kinds of experiences are traumatic, and if repeated drive us into protective behaviors. On the other hand, in safe social circumstances, those same kinds of experiences can evolve as play. When playing our pretend threats are accompanied with gestures and statements that reassure our partner. The classic pet behaviors are the dog crouching on its fore-paws, or the cat gnawing on our finger in between licks. During play, both euphoria and fear are at elevated levels.

The nerve that mediates our overall physical state (the vagus nerve) has an ancient (reptilian) part that manages the freeze response, and a more recent (mammalian) part that controls excitement. As these responses involve complex coordination among all the body parts, the vagus returns ten times as much information back to the brain as it sends out.

One of the challenges in overcoming traumatic experiences is that fear suppresses our ability to exchange reassuring gestures and statements. This permanently suppresses our ability to feel euphoria, leaving us at the mercy of fear. That prevents us from restoring homeostasis, leaving us in a perpetual state of self-induced stress that damages our physical and mental well-being. If the trauma occurred early in childhood (such as a difficult birth), we may be unable to remember the circumstances, and thus release the trauma.

Porges’ solution is to deal with the problem symptomatically. Exposing the sufferer to soothing sounds, sights or sensations overcomes the blocks to reassuring stimulation. When accompanied by mindful relaxation, the mind learns to tie that reassurance to homeostasis.

The classic Kappasinian therapy for fear and anxiety builds an experience that mixes these same elements – but with the amplifying factor of hypnosis (our optimal learning state).

Therapy begins with a progressive relaxation that establishes homeostasis.

If the trauma is mild, circle therapy is used to walk the client through a remembered experience. If the fear is irrational or of unknown origin, systematic desensitization is used to command the subconscious (the true source of the reaction) to produce the emotion. Ideomotor finger raising is used to control the level of anxiety. When discomfort is visible, the client is told to lower the finger and “pass it,” directing them back into homeostasis. As the process is repeated, the mind becomes confident in its ability to control the transition, and eventually chooses homeostasis.

If the trauma is deep, these practices are preceded with sessions that build a safe haven in the subconscious landscape, ensuring that the learned skills take root in a context free from debilitating memories. For this purpose, today’s practitioners will often use therapeutic imagery, but even they will reinforce that work with a staple of Kappasinian therapy: a staircase deepener that projects a positive, confident self-image into the subconscious.

The final element of Kappasinian therapy is to suggest that the client begin to chuckle and smile as they come out of hypnosis. As the therapist smiles and speaks soothingly, this reinforces the ability to exchange reassuring signals. Of all the suggestions offered by Kappasinian therapists, this is the most playful.

Porges first articulated his polyvagal theory back in the early 1980’s and the therapeutic practices were not popularized until well into the new millennium. Hypnotherapists trained with Kappas’ methods have been performing these therapies since the sixties. Not only do those techniques have the same effect as those offered by Porges, but they are coupled to far broader strategies for overall behavior development.

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.

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.