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The Fundamental Process

During my 20s I experienced a lot of depression and emotional pain. At times I felt suicidal, but having children and believing that life had some purpose, I never did take the step of attempting to kill myself.

What I did do was to see if there were ways in which I could help myself or heal my condition. I read every possible book I could, not just the orthodox ones but also alternatives and crazy books. Fortunately I have one of those minds, or perhaps it’s my attitude, that doesn’t take what people say for granted. I don’t have a great respect for authority, so although I listen I do not necessarily think they know what they are talking about.

Also I seem to be able to just pull out of the immense amount of stuff that I read, the things that are relevant. Or maybe it is the skill of putting various bits of information together and seeing what they mean. But I didn’t stop at reading. I tried many approaches as well – meditation; relaxation; hours of prayer; diet; exercise; yoga; dream work and psychotherapy.

 

Realisations

Gradually I began to see that throughout the ages, in the different religions and traditional practices of East and West, there was a certain similarity. This was not apparent unless you could see right through to what the fundamental essence of the practices were. For instance one of the books I read was about Anton Mesmer, the father in the West of what has become hypnotism. What Mesmer stumbled upon was that, while experimenting with magnets on patients who had some physical or psychological problem, they began to tremble or experience spontaneous movements and often relived the source of their trauma and arrived at a cure. (The book was Mental Healers).

When I put this together with the description of the Christian Pentecost or the practice of Seitai in Japan, I saw that fundamentally they were the same. With Mesmer he thought at first it was the magnets producing the release, but later discarded the idea and thought that perhaps it was his own personal magnetism. But when I compare that with what happened at Pentecost, and other similar practices East and West, I saw that fundamentally it was about the person relaxing and allowing what ever arose to happen.

So the Christian disciples, in their words, surrendered to God. Mesmer’s patients surrendered because they trusted him. In Indonesia the practice of Subud had the same principles. The people came together in a group, surrendered their conscious will, and spontaneous movements, sounds and fantasies arose. In all of these practices people were gradually transformed and healed.

 

The Secret

I felt there was a great secret here and tried to see if I could access it myself. But for years I was never able to be have that wonderful influx of something other than my conscious self taking over and producing healing experiences. But one day it happened. I was with friends with whom I felt completely relaxed, my body started trembling and I lay down and allowed it to happen. In doing so I re-experienced a tonsil operation I had at six years old that had produced a very powerful neck tension and also some psychological fears. After that experience, the neck tension that had troubled me for ages disappeared, along with some emotional difficulties also From then on I could simply surrender and the process would continue to work. The process as it unfolded led me through some of the most amazing and wonderful experiences I have ever met. Also I was healed of long standing depression and sexual problems.

Over the years I have gradually put together some ideas that I believe explain the fundamentals of how this amazing thing can happen. My search for meaning arose because over a period of time enormous transformation occurred in me through allowing the spontaneous to break through into my waking life. And recently I tried to arrive at a simpler and more compact expression of what I have learned about what lies behind these experiences, and wrote the following.

Fundamental to what I experienced and what was behind Pentecost and the other approaches mentioned, is, I believe, the process of self-regulation. Self-regulation is another term for what in physiology is called homeostasis. This is a name for the processes in our body and mind that all the time keep a balance amid the immense changes we meet physically and psychologically – changes such as temperature, stillness or rapid movement, stress or ease, growth or ageing.

Physical examples of self-regulation (SR) are of vomiting, sneezing or trembling. Vomiting occurs when we have taken something poisonous or irritating into our body. Sneezing when our body is trying to get rid of an irritant or infection. Trembling can occur when we are cold, and is an attempt to bring our temperature up.

Psychological examples of SR are crying after a shock, reliving a past traumatic event, or a dream in which past fears or traumas are met, as when we experience a nightmare.

Overall the process of SR is an attempt to bring us back to balance after our environment, or events, have in some way unbalanced us or interfered with our healthy functioning physically or psychologically. It also underlies the process of growth that takes us from conception through to adulthood and beyond.

Dr. Peter Knapp, Professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine was asked the question as to why some people come through a crisis such as bereavement or ill health better than others. His reply was, ‘I believe that the ones who stay healthy actively grieve. They allow themselves to feel and express their emotions.’ If you lock feelings away, it seems your body mourns for you by becoming sick. Very often we unconsciously work against these processes in us, whether they manifest physically or psychologically. We are thereby attempting to block the self-regulatory activity that is trying to get rid of dangerous things we have taken into ourselves and to move on to growth and creativity.

The reasons we block the action is the same reason some people repress vomiting or a sneeze. They don’t like the discomfort or even pain. It is also the same as when we pull our hand back from something hot. In other words there is an inbuilt urge to draw away from pain, whether physical or emotional. Discharging old pains, grief or trauma is uncomfortable as it emerges, but an enormous relief and healing when allowed. So one of the things we need to learn in order for the action of SR to take place is to allow the uncomfortable. If we do it is not painful at all as it emerges. All the pain is involved in repressing the poisonous or traumatic emotions and physical tensions.

 

The Secret of Dreams

Dreams are one of the major ways our inner process tries to do this old housework of cleaning up our inner problems or conflicts. But because we resist it the process cannot complete itself even though we are asleep. Think of nightmares for instance. They are the major way the dream tries to present us with things that have really disturbed us, and most people wake trying to distance themselves from such feelings as fast as they can.

SR which as a practice I call LifeStream is not simply about the action behind healing hurts. It is also part of the process of our physical and psychological growth, or the emergence of our potential. Our creative potential cannot unfold while there are still childhood pains or conflicts, or adult traumas blocking the process. In fact this natural process lies behind our growth even from the beginning of conception. It has opened us up from that tiny seed, directing and organising our growth. It is a profound influence in our life, and continues to attempt further unfoldment.

But there is a way we can cooperate with it. A way of speeding up our healing and growth. Its first step lies in recognising how the processes of our growth and healing declare themselves – how LifeStream emerges into conscious life and how we block it.

When we consider that the self-regulatory process in regard to perspiring or vomiting is a spontaneous movement or function from within, one can see that personally we are all the time immersed in processes which we have not willed into action. Learning to work with LifeStream is a way of relating constructively to these spontaneous activities. These self-regulatory activities and your relationship with them are seen very clearly in the dream process.

If you have observed a cat, a dog, or a human being while they sleep, their limbs can often be seen to twitch or move. Perhaps you can see their eyes moving and they may even make sounds or speak. If you could see the images of the dream they are experiencing, then you would see the movements and speech as expressions of the dream. All this happens when their conscious self is relaxed and surrendered in sleep. Perhaps the dog or person are completely unaware of the powerful sounds or movements being made, so that if asked about them on waking, they would have no memory. Some people move to the extent of sleepwalking without later memory. The movements, the strong feelings, the speech, are all done without conscious volition. They are emerging from a level of oneself that we call the unconscious. The important thing to recognise here is that you have two levels of will – your conscious will, and the unconscious will that moves and lives in dreams. It is this unconscious will that LifeStream is govern by.

 

The Way In

From this it can be seen that when LifeStream is working it produces – if not interfered with by conscious volition, fears or decisions – spontaneous movements, emotions, fantasy (dreams), speech and drama. In its action it can be seen to produce a totally real full surround virtual reality that we call a dream. This includes all of the things mentioned above, full emotion, sexual experience, sounds such as other people’s voice, physical movement, and realistic surroundings. Not only is that active in sleep and dreams, but it can occur while awake, and people call it a vision or an hallucination. It is the same process though. Anything that blocks that is blocking LifeStream in some measure. So for most people only a fraction of the power of LifeStream ever manages to function because as individuals and society we are taught to inhibit anything other than our conscious and rational self expression. People are taught to be frightened of hallucinations, visions or voices talking to them as if it were a sickness. Recently I came across the following news item.

A University of Manchester investigation follows a Dutch study that found many healthy members of the population in that nation regularly hear voices in their heads. Although hearing voices has traditionally been viewed as abnormal and a symptom of mental illness, the Dutch findings suggest it’s more widespread than thought, estimating about 4 percent of the population could be affected. Manchester Researcher Aylish Campbell said: “We know many members of the general population hear voices, but have never felt the need to access mental health services; some experts even claim that more people hear voices and don’t seek psychiatric help than those who do. “In fact, many of those affected describe their voices as being a positive influence in their lives, comforting or inspiring them as they go about their daily business.”

In most social settings we usually restrain everything except what may be acceptable to others, expedient in the situation, or judged as correct. This means that we may not give ourselves the freedom to allow our own creative imagination – our body to discharge tension through movement – experience our intuitive process – and our full range of feeling responses. In this way we gradually diminish ourselves, blocking out much of ourselves that is not of immediate use in everyday affairs. We may in fact diminish our relationship with life itself.

Can you therefore imagine a situation in which while you are still awake, you allow a state of mind and body in which active decisions, judgements and purposive aims are dropped for a while? This is the necessary step you take in approaching the experience of SR. You take on a quiet, accepting attitude, then the sleep/dream process can begin to function even though you are wide awake. SR can work with your cooperation instead of against your inhibitions. The process doesn’t need you to be asleep, only to stop interfering, judging, deciding what you ought or should be doing. If you can stop forever interfering with your process, and for a time at least, listen and allow, then the self-regulatory action, the creative response from full experience and the other functions usually only found in dreams, can emerge into waking consciousness. See – People’s Experience of LifeStream

 

Accessing Lifestream

Therefore to access LifeStream you can explore your dreams while awake, using such as approach as described under Techniques for Exploring your Dreams, or you can give yourself free space and the permission to experience spontaneous movement, feelings and vocalisation. This needs to be done at least twice a week, alone or preferably with one or more partners. To learn to do it see: Arm Circling Meditation.

Your personality is dependent upon the deepest cellular and organic processes of your body. These processes are directed and kept healthy by homeostasis. Usually we hold onto the idea that somehow we are the prime mover, or that life is meaningless and mechanistic. But your body has an integrity that it defends moment by moment against the assaults of temperature change, against bacterial invasion, against the rubbish and poisons we take in from our atmosphere and food. This integrity and its potential want to unfold. It cannot while we are not working with it. Even when it tries we sometimes feel it as an assault. “I am having strange fantasies; my body is moving spontaneously, I talk in my sleep – am I going mad?”

No, just your being trying to heal and grow. (For fuller description see Life’s Little Secrets.)

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