I’ve been doing a lot of author interviews and book reviews lately. This month, TreeHouse Arts turns the table on me with some great questions. If you want to learn more about my experiences and where this blog is heading, check this out. http://treehousearts.me/2014/05/31/an-interview-with-author-and-blogger-ellis-nelson/
Tag Archives: spiritual development
Bradford Keeney’s book, Shaking Medicine, takes us into the heart of healing with ecstatic movement. While the East and West delights in powerful, relaxing healing modalities of meditation and acupuncture, Keeney bravely asserts we are missing the other half of healing medicine- the shaking forms of arousal from Africa and other cultures. Mostly absent from our culture are the healing techniques of The Shake and it’s time we got over our prejudice. Keeney believes that it is only when we fully cycle through being hyper-aroused and then deeply relaxed, can we powerfully realign and evolve in a pattern consistent with holistic medicine. Fifty years ago or so, meditation was new and seen as a fringe movement and now it is so accepted and commonplace, doctors recommend it. Keeney predicts Shaking Medicine is coming west and it’s healing benefits will be open to all. At first I wondered about that, but my latest foray into my local meetup groups, revealed that there is a group dedicated to ecstatic dance.
Of course, some of the hurdles for society to overcome are the immediate associations we have for those shaking. Historically scholars (and the general public) have associated ecstatic movement with mental or neurological disease. Some would even go so far as to say evil or satanic, but most of that is either blatant prejudice or cultural ignorance. There is also a fear of being out of control that western cultures so value. Conformity and predictability are pillars of our society, what would happen if everyone shook? Would we….lose it? And those still prevalent fears have led Keeney to call shaking The Last Great Taboo.
So what is shaking all about? Simply put it’s an experience, a journey into the ecstatic state brought forth by trembling joy. You tremble, quake, and shake losing control and entering into healing and transformation. Like other mystical practices, you surrender to higher authority and wisdom. For Keeney, it’s the thing most missing from our spiritual table in the West. Cultures who practice it value it for its ability to renew and restore vitality. It takes us into the unknown and connects us to life in all its forms.
This is a book I truly loved. I knew nothing about the subject and enjoyed visiting the diverse cultures Keeney portrays. Lest you think shaking is confined to the African continent, Keeney starts out with a tale about settlers in the Pacific Northwest and later the Quakers and Shakers all of whom participated in ecstatic movement in pursuit of spiritual growth. Keeney has strong ties to the Kalahari bushmen earning the title of Heart of Spears, a title of respect acquired by learning and experiencing their shaking medicine. Some of the other cultures explored in the fascinating book include the: Spiritual Baptists of St. Vincent (Caribbean), African American Church, Seiki Jutsu (Japan), and Hindu/Buddhist traditions (India). The book comes with a CD and instructions to begin your own journey of discovery. Highly recommended!
“The trembling in academic journals over how science must be falling apart because of positive evidence for psi is a desperate attempt to maintain a stable worldview where psi can’t exist.” Dean Radin, PhD
Welcome back old and new friends. It’s been a while and I wanted to share something I’m really enjoying. I’m reading Supernormal by Dean Radin. From the mystical side I’ve known that many (if not all) spiritual traditions hold that spiritual progress, especially through meditation practice, directly leads to the emergence of what we commonly call psychic ability (PSI). And these traditions also warn the seeker not to be distracted or side-lined when it happens because the spiritual path’s goal is Truth or union with the Universe (God, divine, Absolute, Reality, etc.). Leave it to scientist Dean Radin to put this to the test.
About two thousand years ago, Pantanjali (The Yoga Sutras) wrote in rather cookbook terms that if you sit down and quiet the mind and dedicate yourself to this practice, you will eventually gain supernormal powers (siddhis). Elementary siddhis as outlined by the text include telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, and psychokinesis. And to open your mind further, Pantanjali goes on to discuss the more advanced siddhis of invisibility, levitation, invulnerability, and superstrength (homage to comic book superheroes here). Are you still with me or are you rolling your eyes and scoffing? I sense a few of you are… smiling.
If you’ve read some of my previous work, you already know that science long ago established the existence of precognition with the Rhine experiments and the meta- analysis which followed (Honorton/Ferrari). There is statistically significant evidence for precognition although its effect is small in the general population. The point is that it’s there.
In the 1990s Radin went on to look at presentiment (prefeeling instead of preknowing). Radin used a random number generator and a stock of color photos which contained calming or emotional images that were flashed on a computer screen. He collected the subject’s reaction via skin conductance levels using electrodes attached to the palm. (Radin gives an exhaustive description in the book in case anyone wants to examine all the experimental protocols.) The results indicate that people react physiologically BEFORE they see the image on the screen. The experiment is strong evidence for presentiment even though the subject does not have conscious awareness of the image.
Back to Pantanjali. In a fairly complicated experiment, Radin looked at a group of meditators and non-meditators (sixteen individuals total). Meditators with a lot of experience in non-dual techniques often can achieve a deep state of absorption (Samadhi/Samyama) where time and space evaporate. The yogic perception is that an underlying deeper reality exists beyond time and space. In this reality, past and future influence the present. We are used to thinking about the past influencing the future, but it may also be that the future is at work as well. In this way of looking at things, presentiment/precognition can be viewed as the future influencing present awareness.
In the experiment, 32 channels of EEG were measured before, during, and after exposure to unpredictable light and sound stimuli. If meditation practice developed a way to extend consciousness through time, then we would expect the meditators to exhibit prestimulus differences in EEG responses over the control group (non-meditators). The research revealed that meditators did show brain activity that anticipated an audio signal. Non-meditators did not show any significant prestimulus differences between light v. sound.* The outcome supported the idea that the meditators were accessing the future in a way consistent with Pantanjali’s description.
A reversal of the cause-effect sequence is compatible with classical and quantum physics. Physicists already accept time reversal for the quantum world, but the evidence for precognition suggests it also takes place in the macro-world.
The evidence for precognition/presentiment may excite you or it may make you very nervous but either way, it should make you pause to consider how our worldview must change. Science has to take us to new places and challenge us to think and see in new ways. Scientific laws are not carved in stone and to reject all PSI research because it doesn’t fit a materialistic worldview only slows down the inevitable. We are starting to see the ground shift. Seventy-five years of scientific evidence from all over the world indicates that humans do possess one of the siddhis Pantanjali listed. We can glimpse the future.
More Summer Reading:
Emotional Freedom (Energy Psychology)- Judith Orloff, MD
The Biology of Belief- Bruce Lipton, PhD
The Way of the Explorer- Edgar Mitchell (astronaut)
The Genie in Your Genes- Dawson Church (epigenetics)
*Reasons why the non-mediators didn’t exhibit presentiment (in this small study) may be due to the stimulus not being emotionally charged and/or the choice of measuring physiological changes might not be the best one.
I recently finished reading In Search of the Miraculous- Healing Into Consciousness by Eliza Mada Dalian. It’s a book for spiritual seekers wanting a manual on the path out of fear, pain, and suffering. This is a largely down to earth book that attempts to simplify the mystical and make it accessible to the average reader. It is not St. Theresa of Avila, The Cloud of Unknowing, a Buddhist sutra, or a Sufi text. Dalian grounds her work and for that we can be thankful.
The one section I found to be particularly useful was the part concerning the development of the ego-mind in each of the chakras. Chakras can be thought of as circular energy centers, and for our purposes, we will use the traditional Indian system of seven chakras. Dalian is careful to point out that spiritual development through the chakras is not necessarily a linear one. I take that to mean that life’s trials and tribulations can have us working in any chakra at any time or in several (which seems likely given the complexity of life). Let’s take a look at the spiritual work associated with each chakra and see if you can identify where you are in the process.
1st Chakra (Root): Foundations of Life: (located at the base of the spine)
Although some writings on chakras are different, Dalian identifies this chakra as the center for sexuality. The spiritual work here involves breaking through sexual fears, taboos, and conditioning.
2nd Chakra (Hara): Survival of the Physical Body: (located 2” below navel)
Here the spiritual seeker deals with fears or insecurities over your physical survival. Eventually you develop trust that the universe will take care of you.
3rd Chakra (Solar Plexus): Developing Self Power & Decision Making Ability: (located in solar plexus region)
Spiritual work here involves developing the courage to make decisions, set boundaries for protection, and accept the responsibility for one’s actions. Considerable maturing of the ego-mind happens here.
4th Chakra (Heart): Developing Unconditional Love: (located behind the sternum near the heart)
The heart chakra is the bridge between the lower instinctual chakras and the higher spiritual chakras. Dalian believes that 90 percent of humanity is stuck in the first three chakras and I’d tend to agree. The work of the spirit in the 4th chakra is to transform the body’s need for survival and the instinctual lust of self- gratification into unconditional love.
5th Chakra (Throat): Developing Individuality & Self Expression: (located at the base of the throat near the thyroid) The spiritual challenge here is to develop honesty and integrity that allows an individual to break free of old patterns, beliefs, and social conditioning to bring freedom of expression and individuality into the world. There is a turn inward for truth and compromising the soul is no longer possible. People begin to speak and live their purpose.
6th Chakra (Third Eye): Developing Wisdom & Intelligence: (located in the center of the forehead between the eyebrows)
Spiritual growth in the 6th chakra is associated with the revelation and expansion of psychic knowing. Sometimes called the opening of the third eye, the door to cosmic reality opens. An individual begins to develop extra-sensory abilities, intuition, and begins to glimpse who he/she really is in cosmic terms. Interconnectedness becomes apparent.
7th Chakra (Crown): Dissolving the Ego: (located at the top of the head, acts as the transition point between physical reality and cosmic reality)
This is what Buddhists call Enlightenment. It’s the ultimate goal, the end game. Here, spiritual work involves the death of the ego-mind and ultimate liberation. Through the 7th chakra, the life force moves from time/space reality into timeless reality of ever-evolving consciousness. It’s important to remember that enlightenment (or liberation) is available at every moment of life or at the point of physical death.
If you’d like to learn more about any of the specific challenges associated with the chakras or techniques and meditations that may be useful, grab a copy of the book. There is a whole chapter packed with resources to help. You can also visit the author’s website at www.madadalian.com.