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Spirituality

The Shamanic View of Mental Health

Jonathan Davis, Uplift
Waking Times

In November 2014 the peak psychology body in the UK, the British Psychological Association, released their new flagship report Understanding Psychosis and SchizophreniaIt was a watershed moment in the mainstream treatment of mental illness, containing statements such as this:

Hearing voices or feeling paranoid are common experiences which can often be a reaction to trauma, abuse or deprivation. Calling them symptoms of mental illness, psychosis or schizophrenia is only one way of thinking about them, with advantages and disadvantages. ~The British Psychological Association: Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia

With mental health problems reaching epidemic proportions in the UK and throughout the western world, this document reads as no less than an admission that the current model of mental health treatment has failed; and a cry for help to anyone with an approach that may be useful. There are indeed a great many cultures who have had, and still carry, a deeper understanding of mental illness. While these perspectives don’t fit within the boundaries of rationalist reductionism, this has little relevance to their efficacy.

From American Indian shamanism* to esoteric judaism, this concept has dominated for millennia. As it has now become clear, western civilisation is unique in history in it’s failure to recognise each human being as a subtle energy system in constant relationship to a vast sea of energies in the surrounding cosmos.
– Dr Edward Mann, Sociologist

What Is The Shamanic View Of Mental Health?

Broadly speaking any form of awareness around mental health that includes spiritual, mystic and/or mythic considerations could be included in a shamanic view of mental health. This ranges from ancient indigenous shamanic practices to yogic methods involving kundalini awakening, through to Jungian and transpersonal psychology (which draw heavily from ancient cultures). Jung, for example, characterised schizophrenia and psychosis as a natural healing process.

When conscious life is characterised by one-sidedness and false attitudes, primordial healing images are activated – one might say instinctively – and come to light in the dreams of individuals and the visions of artists… Schizophrenia is a condition in which the dream takes the place of reality. – Carl Jung

Another foundation stone of this perspective is the phrase made famous by Joseph Campbell: ‘The schizophrenic is drowning in the same waters in which the mystic swims with delight’ (an idea borrowed from Jungian psychiatrist RD Laing).  There has been a long history throughout human culture of people having mystical experiences, and then becoming ‘weller than well’ as Dr John Weir Perry put it.  The key here is that in these instances the person completed a process that western medicine would have labelled as sickness and then medicated. They instead passed through it and went on to lead lives without relapse into ‘psychosis’, instead living a more fulfilled existence than if they had never gone though their temporary break with consensus reality. Throughout history there have been examples of people who have gone on to use their visionary insights, newly found drive and focus to create great social reform for the benefit of all.

Psychospiritual Crisis / Spiritual Emergence

Proponents of transpersonal psychotherapy, like one of its founders Prof. Stanislav Grof suggest that ‘spiritual emergence’ experiences are often misdiagnosed as psychosis and medicated unnecessarily. Grof sites 11 different types of spiritual emergencies, including the classic initiatory experience of the shaman, unitive experiences of oceanic oneness, kundalini awakening, the crisis of psychic opening, and the messianic experience common within what John Weir Perry called the ‘renewal process’.

Interpreted from this point of view, a schizophrenic breakdown is an inward and backward journey to recover something missed or lost, and to restore, thereby, a vital balance. So let the voyager go. He has tipped over and is sinking, perhaps drowning; yet, as in the old legend of Gilgamesh and his long, deep dive to the bottom of the cosmic sea to pluck the watercress of immortality, there is the one green value of his life down there. Don’t cut him off from it: help him through. – Joseph CampbellSchizophrenia: The Inward Journey

John Weir Perry, who put these ideas into practice in a medication free facility called Diabasis, suggests these experiences are a dramatic re-ordering of the person’s psyche from a distorted state to an more ordered one.  To me this is like cleaning a messy house, sometimes it needs to get messier in order to sort everything out. Perry also said that ‘it is justifiable to regard the term “sickness” as pertaining not to the acute turmoil but to the prepsychotic personality…  the renewal process occuring in the acute episode may be considered nature’s way of setting things right.’ This is echoed by Jiddu Krishnamurti‘s statement that ‘it is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.’

The Problems Of Pathology, Symptom Suppression, Stigma and Trauma

Pathology: A fundamental difference between the approach of calling these experiences mental illness, psychosis or schizophrenia and ‘other ways of thinking about them’, is the very act of pathologising them. The labelling of something as a sickness, when working in the realms of the psychospiritual can have a dramatically negative effect on what happens next. Like a person experiencing an overwhelming psychedelic experience, a person in this kind of state is highly influenced by their surroundings including what they are told, for good or for ill. A suggestion that the experience is a sickness can become a self fulfilling prophecy.

Having been encouraged to see the voice, not as an experience, but as a symptom – my fear and resistance towards it intensified. Now essentially this represented taking an aggressive stance towards my own mind – a kind of psychic civil war, and in turn this caused the number of voices to increase and grow progressively hostile and menacing. – Eleanor Longden

Symptom Suppression: The next big challenge is symptom suppression. Critics of the current model of care (who now seem to include the British Psychological Association) argue that psychiatric medication merely suppresses symptoms.

Many people find that ‘antipsychotic’ medication helps to make the experiences less frequent, intense or distressing. However, there is no evidence that it corrects an underlying biological abnormality. Recent evidence also suggests that it carries significant risks, particularly if taken long term. – The British Psychological Association: Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia

Those of the shamanic or transpersonal persuasion go further in suggesting that medication tends to ultimately prevent the person from completing a natural experience such as the ‘process of renewal’ John Weir Perry describes. Instead this process keeps trying to complete itself and symptoms keep reappearing, and then drugs suppress it again in an endless cycle.  It’s unsurprising that the phrase ‘you have a mental illness, and you will have it for the rest of your life’ is so often heard by people experiencing psychosis.

Stigma:

They [shamanic cultures] have a cultural context. The physiological crisis, although it’s difficult, it’s believed to be… they put it in a positive light.  It’s something the person’s going to come out of and be stronger in the end, and have more abilities in the end.  The other thing that’s a big advantage is – it’s not stigmatized. – Phil Borges, maker of upcoming film CrazyWise

Trauma: Thankfully, even in the western model there is a strong surge of recognition occurring around the fact that trauma and neglect in childhood (and in adulthood) can lead to serious mental health crisis.

We had a lot of trouble with western mental health workers who came here immediately after the genocide and we had to ask some of them to leave. They came and their practice did not involve being outside in the sun where you begin to feel better. There was no music or drumming to get your blood flowing again. There was no sense that everyone had taken the day off so that the entire community could come together to try to lift you up and bring you back to joy. There was no acknowledgement of the depression as something invasive and external that could actually be cast out again.Instead they would take people one at a time into these dingy little rooms and have them sit around for an hour or so and talk about bad things that had happened to them. We had to ask them to leave. – A Rwandan talking to writer, Andrew Solomon

The Bridge Between Two Worlds – Sickness or Acute Sensitivity?

Dr Joseph Polimeni states that ‘In most traditional societies those persons who were overcome by hallucinations in young adulthood were more often than not destined to become shamans’. If someone presented with symptoms we would call psychosis, the people of their tribe or village would send them for training with someone who had learned a level of mastery over the sensitivity that once overwhelmed them. Phil Borges states that ‘they have a mentor; they have somebody who has been through this process that can take and hold their hand and say listen, I know what this is all about and this is how you manage it’. In cultures around the world, before western civilisation the idea of schizophrenia as a disease was, quite simply, non-existent.  The assumption was that a person experiencing the challenges known in modern times as psychosis was in fact experiencing things that were actually real, but only able to perceived by those who were gifted.

They have a community that buys into what they’ve gone through, and not only that, they have an outlet for their talents – and many of these people have specific talents that the normal person doesn’t have. Phil Borges, maker of upcoming film CrazyWise

To me it is clear that we live in a culture that immediately labels these moments of crisis as sickness, and our culture has almost no level of acceptance for the people that go through it.  When face to face with a person experiencing involuntary states of non-ordinary consciousness, most of us – to put it bluntly – just want them away from us.  It’s almost as if we fear that ‘crazy’ is contagious and we want it quarantined.  It’s unfortunate that this approach may be compounding the problem, however another way forward is re-awakening.  When I look at a person in such a crisis, I see a future potential mentor for others.  The more we can assist people in passing through their dark night of the soul, the more guides we will have with lived experience to help others come through in the future. In an upcoming article I’ll be writing about how shamanic training can assist people going through ‘spiritual emergency’.

For peer support and further information of this kind you can join The Shamanic View Of Mental Illness on Facebook.

About the Author

Jonathan Davis is an Australian writer focusing on shamanism and alternate modes of healing.

This article (The Shamanic View of Mental Health) was originally posted at Uplift Connect, and is reposted here with permission.

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Spirituality

Scientists Say The Universe Itself Is Conscious

According to a scientific concept from scientists with the name of Panpsychism, the universe might be capable of consciousness. If it is, then everything could change.

Scientists Have Always Struggled To Understand the Universe

The universe has always been something scientists have struggled to understand with them asking questions of where it came from and more importantly why we are here.

Scientists have always fallen short of being able to truly understand the universe; that is until now. Scientist Gregory Matloff offered his ideas about the universe if proven right the scientific world will never look at the universe through the same eyes again.

Matloff is a physicist at the New York City College of Technology. He published a paper which revealed that humans might be like the rest of the universe when it came to spirit and substance. He said a “proto-consciousness field” might extend out in all of space. This means the whole of the cosmos might have self-awareness.

The Concept of Panpsychism Is Supported by Others

Matloff is not alone in his thoughts as Christof Koch from the Allen Institute for Brain Science also supports the concept of Panpsychism. He went on to say that biological organisms have a consciousness. Koch based this on the fact that when a new situation is approached they can alter their behavior to change a bad situation. Koch wants to measure the level of consciousness that beings display.

In order to do this, he is running experiments, with one that includes wiring brains from two mice together to find out if information flows between them as a fused integrated system would.

Koch said:

“The only dominant theory we have of consciousness says that it is associated with complexity — with a system’s ability to act upon its own state to determine its own fate. The theory states that it could go down to very simple systems. In principle, some purely physical systems that are not biological or organic may also be conscious.”

If the scientists can prove it is real, the science world would be shaken up while thoughts about the universe would never be the same again.

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Spirituality

Is The Power To Heal Ourselves Increasing?

IN BRIEF

  • The Facts: New studies are showing that placebos are becoming more effective in treating illness. Doctors are continually perplexed by these new understandings. But many of us have known intuitively for centuries.
  • Reflect On: How much do you believe in the possibility that you can heal yourself? Could you see this a new form of ‘medicine?’

Researchers are perplexed by recent studies that have placebos performing very well compared to new and experimental pharmaceuticals. Meanwhile the science of Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) is echoing what mystics and shaman have been saying forever which is that we have untold powers to heal ourselves!

Spirit and Science Converging

This coming together between the spiritual and scientific communities shows an unprecedented opportunity for humans to embrace vibrant, healthy, thriving lives. Recent research on placebos comes from a McGill University and is published in Pain, the Journal of the International Association for the Study of Pain. I first learned about this in a wonderful article by Carolyn Gregoire in Huffington Post titled, Placebo Effect Puzzle Has Scientists Scratching Their Heads.

I highly recommend reading the entire article which shows how the placebo effect is exploding in the United States, but nowhere else. This may have something to do with the fact that the United States has 5% of the worlds population yet consumes 75% of the worlds prescription drugs.

The ‘sugar pill’ is working.

The analysis revealed that in U.S. trials conducted in 1993, pain medications were rated to be an average of 27 percent more effective than placebo pills. In the 2013 trials, however, the pain medication was only 9 percent more effective than the placebo. The difference wasn’t attributed to decreased effectiveness of the medication, but instead to a greater response to the placebo. In other words, the sugar pill has become nearly as effective as medication in alleviating pain. – Carolyn Gregoire in Placebo Effect Puzzle Has Scientists Scratching Their Heads.

People are curing themselves through placebo.

The above study focused on pain-killers, but similar results have been observed for anti-depressants. With more than 1 in 5 Americans taking mental health drugs the number of people seeking alternatives and preventative measures continues to grow. Yoga, meditation, healthy diet, and exercise do not come in the form of a pill but tend to address the larger picture of wellbeing that is too often overlooked by the medical establishment.

Although placebo may not be a viable treatment option, there are other treatments that on average work as well as antidepressants, [such as] physical exercise and cognitive behavioral psychotherapy. As far as we know, these alternatives don’t make people worse. – Irving Kirsch, Time Magazine

Tuning Into Our Trauma

All of this points to the innate ability our bodies have to self-regulate, seek balance (homeostasis), and heal. You would think that we would be eager to listen to our own bodies when they speak to us through symptoms, yet we usually do the exact opposite by numbing the pain or ignoring what we feel. Peter Levine, author of Waking the Tiger, is an expert in trauma resolution and a lead voice in field of Somatic Experiencing, which invites us to tune in to our bodies as well as our emotions in order to reclaim our health.

Through hundreds of hours of client sessions, Levine began to witness how clients’ bodies told their stories of trauma, even if the clients had no specific memories. Once Levine guided them into the sensate experience of trauma, the body then took over and finished what was unprocessed, or incomplete. Clients receive the added gifts of increased body awareness, a stronger connection to self, a shift in deep-seated patterns, a more regulated nervous system, and a sense of mastery.

Why do humans need to be guided at all? The biggest obstacle is how inattentive and unfamiliar we are with our physical sensations. Our big, sophisticated brains constantly out-think and override our bodily needs. We are trained to ignore signs of hunger, pain, discomfort, injury, danger, as well as pleasure, saturation, and fulfillment. What’s astonishing is how forgiving and responsive the body is. As soon as we tune into it, shifts begin to happen. – Peter Levine

Prescription of The Future

The mind, our beliefs, emotions, and lifestyle play a much larger role in our wellbeing than we tend to recognize. While researchers are wondering how to avoid the dreaded monkey-wrench of the placebo effect in testing new drugs, the general public is recognizing that taking charge of ones health doesn’t need to always start with a call to the doctor or a new prescription.

As Carolyn Gregoire underscores in her Huffington Post article, “If the placebo effect continues on its current trajectory, American pharmaceutical companies may find it increasingly difficult to get consumers to buy new drugs.”

By learning the bodymind language of symptoms and illness you can learn what is being repressed or ignored in your psyche and emotions and the affect this is having on your physical body. – Deb Shapiro, author of Your Body Speaks Your Mind

Popular books like Your Body Speaks Your Mind are a significant indicator that a new paradigm in health is upon us. Science and spirituality, like the brain and body have lots to gain by embracing the wisdom that the other has to share. We are evolved enough to know that the answers we seek aren’t always either/or.

A balanced and holistic approach is a prescription for wellbeing. So keep your doctors number close by but also take the power of your health into your own hands. Your body will thank you for listening to it, your emotions will release freely when they feel welcome and your quality of life will increase. Placebos may not be the miracle cure after all, but what they might be showing us is that we already possess an untold capacity for self-healing.

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Spirituality

Army Remote Viewer Peers Into The Origins of Humanity To Find Out If Humans Were Created

IN BRIEF

  • The Facts: Joseph Mcmoneagle, one of the most successful Army-trained remote viewers, peered into the past to look into the possible origins of human history. He saw that we were created by intelligent beings in what he called a ‘laboratory.’
  • Reflect On: Why is the mainstream story of human history still limited to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution? Why have so many discoveries, like giants, and life on other planets, been completely concealed and brushed off as a conspiracy theory?

The true origins of human history remain a mystery, but that’s not what mainstream academia would have us believe. Since Darwin, human evolution and ‘the survival of the fittest’ has been pushed on the population as some sort of scientific truth, despite the fact that it remains a theory with multiple loopholes and ‘missing links.’ If you question it, in some circumstances, you are almost considered a nut.

This continues to happen in many different fields of knowledge; when you question beliefs that have been ingrained for so long you get a harsh response, and in some cases, you’re liable to be fined, put in jail or at the very least you receive tremendous amounts of hate and censorship.  What we don’t hear about is the fact that there are several hundred scientists, if not several thousand, who have spoken up against the scientific validity of the theory of evolution.  I recently wrote an article about more than 500 scientistscoming together to reject Darwin’s theory of evolution and explain why it’s not really valid at all.

Our DNA Originated Somewhere Else

Even one of the founding fathers of DNA, Francis Crick, believed that human DNA must have originated from somewhere else in the galaxy, whereby “organisms were deliberately transmitted to earth by intelligent beings on another planet.” You can read more about that here. I also recently wrote about a paper that was published by 33 scientists in the Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology Journal suggesting that the flourishing life during the Cambrian era (Cambrian Explosion) originated from the stars.

“With the rapidly increasing number of exoplanets that have been discovered in the habitable zones of long-lived red dwarf stars (Gillon et al., 2016), the prospects for genetic exchanges between life-bearing Earth-like planets cannot be ignored. ” (The study)

There is a great little blurb from Cosmos Magazine, one of the few outlets who is talking about the study.

Serious inquiry into the origins of human history are not encouraged in the mainstream. Yet as we dig a little on what’s being done, there is a lot to find out, with new theories and discoveries that seem to be popping up every single year.  Modern day education is hardly keeping up with this, and in fact continues to promulgate old theories and notions that have long been disproven. As a result, nobody beyond ardent self-motivated researchers are learning about new developments or have any knowledge of these viewpoints.

Opening Our Minds

The suppression of the discoveries of giant humanoid skeletons falls directly into this category, though the secrecy that wraps up the Smithsonian is a topic for another article. Suffice it to say that successful cover-ups of information are possible in part due to the phenomenon of ‘cognitive dissonance’, which speaks to the extreme discomfort that a piece of information that disrupts the worldview you grew up with can have on you. Many of us have and do experience this, including myself. In today’s day and age, it’s important to practice overcoming the discomfort to keep an open mind.

Consider entertaining new ideas without necessarily accepting them, just give them a chance to swirl in your mind a bit. With new information constantly emerging at a rapid pace in all fields, an open mind is what serves us best. If we stay closed and refuse to even look at or acknowledge evidence that contradicts what we believe, we will never advance towards actual truth, and simply be caught up in an agnostic state while never really getting to the bottom of the questions that are naturally on our mind.

The StarGate Program

The StarGate program was co-founded by Russell Targ (watch his banned TED talk about ESP here), Hal Puthoff, who is now a member of the ‘To The Stars Academy’ with Tom Delonge, and other notable names who have worked on Deep Black Budget programs within the U.S. government. They are currently spearheading an effort to let the American public know that UFOs are real and that there is sufficient evidence to suggest that, as Louis Elizondo says, “we are not alone, whatever that means.”

The StarGate program investigated parapsychological phenomenon like remote viewing, telepathy, telekinesis, and clairvoyance. The program yielded high statistically significant results and was used multiple times for intelligence gathering purposes. A lot of interesting information came out of the literature that was declassified in 1995 after the program ran for more than two decades.

It was a complete mystery why the program was shut down: remote viewing, for example, which is the ability to describe the physical characteristics at a given location irrespective of distance, was found to be repeatable, even more than findings in the hard sciences, with a success rate of over 80 percent. Remote viewing was how the rings around Jupiter were actually discovered by Ingo Swann before NASA was able to measure them. You can read more about that here.

To summarize, over the years, the back-and-forth criticism of protocols, refinement of methods and successful replication of this type of remote viewing in independent laboratories has yielded considerable scientific evidence for the reality of the [remote viewing] phenomenon. Adding to the strength of these results was the discovery that a growing number of individuals could be found to demonstrate high-quality remote viewing, often to their own surprise. . . . The development of this capability at SRI has evolved to the point where visiting CIA personnel with no previous exposure to such concepts have performed well under controlled laboratory conditions.” (source)

The Breadth Of Remote Viewing

There are examples in the literature, from remote viewers looking at classified Russian technology during the cold-war era, locating a lost spy plane in Africa and the prediction of future events. Yes, along with remote viewing comes the ability to view into the past, and view into the future. Obviously, this gets tricky, especially if we look at quantum physics, which works in tandem with parapsychology. In quantum physics, experiments have also shown how what happened in the past can change the future, and what happens in the future can change the past, on a quantum scale. You can read more about that here.

There were multiple people working within the Remote Viewing Program, which was conducted at Stanford Research Institute (SRI) in conjunction with multiple intelligence agencies, and one of them was Joseph Mcmoneagle. Many of these people, after decades in the program, continued on with their research and experimentation long after the program was declassified. Joseph was one of the most successful Army-trained remote viewers, and one of the original members of project Stargate. He was actually awarded the Legion of Merit for “producing crucial and vital intelligence unavailable from any other source” to the intelligence community.

The Origins Of Humanity

In 1983, McMoneagle worked with Robert A. Monroe, founder of the Monroe Institute in Faber, Virginia, which provided basic out-of-body orientation for many of the military remote viewers. There, he conducted a session seeking to discover the origin of humanity. As the late great author and researcher Jim Marrs points out in his best selling book Our Occulted History points out:

During the 129-minute session, he described a shoreline on what appeared to him to be a primitive Earth. He later estimated a time of about thirty million to fifty million years after the time of the dinosaurs. Cavorting on this shoreline was a large family of protohumans-hairy animals about four feet in height, walking upright and possessing eyes exhibiting a spark of intelligence despite a somewhat smaller cranial capacity. Two things surprised McMoneagle in this session. These creatures appeared to be aware of his psychic presence, and they did not originate at that location.

McMoneagle described his experience in his 1998 book, The Ultimate Time Machine:

This particular species of animal is put…specifically in that barrier place…called the meeting of the land and the sea…I also get the impression that they’re…ah…they were put there. They mysteriously appeared. They are not descended from an earlier species, they were put there (by a) seed ship…no, that’s not right. Keep wanting to say ship, but it’s not a ship. I keep seeing a…myself…I keep seeing…oh, hell, for lack of a better word, let’s call it a laboratory, where they are actually inventing these creatures. They are actually constructing animals from genes. Why would they be doing that? Can we do this yet…here and now? Like cutting up genes and then pasting them back together. You know, sort of like splicing plants…or grafting them, one to another…Interesting, it’s like they are building eggs by injecting stuff into them with a mixture of DNA or gene parts of pieces.

He described these creatures as delicate-looking aquiline-featured humanoids, unclothed, in possession of a prehensile tail and large “doe-like” eyes. They seemed to be using some sort of light that McMoneagle had a hard time describing, but eventually described it as a “grow light.”

Marrs got the impression that it was like someone tending to a garden, and planting seeds, but “there isn’t any concern about the seeds after they are planted…It’s simply like…well…put these seeds here and on to better and bigger business. No concern about backtracking and checking on the condition of the seeds. They can live or die, survive or perish.” The session ended with him moving closer in time and perceiving these beings growing in size and ability, eventually becoming herding humans.

The surveillance of and interference with humanity is documented in the lore of almost all civilizations that have roamed the planet. Although some have called this mere ‘interpretation,’ it reminds me of people referring to the confirmation of spiritual and metaphysical realms as a result of quantum physics. It is simply labelled as an interpretation due to the fact that it upsets so many belief systems and long-held preconceived ideas.

The Takeaway

The story of human history has a lot of holes. From the UFO extraterrestrial phenomena to the discovery of strange skeletal remains, to the rejection of Darwinism all the way to the existence of intelligence ancient civilizations like Atlantis, and others that thrived possibly millions of years ago, we are like, as author Graham Hancock coined, a species with amnesia. But perhaps we are starting to remember. Perhaps our only two explanations are incorrect, or perhaps they’re both correct, combined with other factors. The point is, what we’ve been told is not true, and the recognition of that fact will lead us on the path towards true discovery, and away from the concealment and manipulation of information and truth.

I’m not saying this is how humans are created, perhaps it is just some sort of glimpse into something much bigger that took place billions of years ago?

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