Jonathan Davis, Uplift
In November 2014 the peak psychology body in the UK, the British Psychological Association, released their new flagship report Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia. It 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 Campbell, Schizophrenia: 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.
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.
An End of Life Caregiver Has a Message About Death that You Need to Hear Right Now
Speaking from his experiences working in an ER and witnessing death first hand, then going on to work in end of life care with Hospice, Zach Bush MD, shares a few powerful observations about the way we look at death and life.
As a guest on the Rich Roll Podcast, Bush spent considerable time talking about the impending ecological crisis the human race is facing, and how our current course of action will almost certainly lead to the death of our species and of life on earth, he helps us to reframe our concept of death.
“We have the belief, I think in our subconscious, because of the movies we watch, because of the TV shows we watch, because of our big divorce from the death process, it’s become sterilized. You have probably not seen many people die. You have probably not seen your loved ones die. They’ve probably died in operating rooms, or ICU’s… and so very few human beings are now watching this process of death, and its allowed death to be defined as an endpoint. As a contraction, or a disappearance, rather than what I’ve actually seen it to be.” ~Zach Bush, MD
He goes on to point out examples of people have biologically died but have been brought back to life. These are the people who’ve experienced what we’ve come to call near death experiences, a remarkable phenomenon in which people from all ages, backgrounds, ethnicities, cultures, and so on, all share a very common experience.
“And what I’ve seen it to be is a massive expansion, of consciousness, of reality, of awareness, and ultimately of love.” ~Zach Bush, MD
As an ICU doctor, Bush was a firsthand witness to resuscitation of many patients, and he expresses his awe with the fact that the most common thing a patient would first say after being brought back to life was, ‘why did you bring me back?’
“In the hours that follow, they are telling their loved ones, ‘I went into this space, and it was bright white light everywhere, and in that moment I felt completely accepted for the first time in my life.” ~Zach Bush, MD
Now, this is the part you really need to hear right now and share with others:
“I think we’re all walking around right now lonely as hell. And our opportunity to rebirth, because death is not an endpoint, is a transformation moment. It’s an expansion beyond limits of this frail, biological shell that we carry around. And the instant that we step outside of that, we find out that the universe embraces us in every single second of our existence, in complete acceptance of who we are. We are enough, in and of our own identity of ‘I am,’ at every second of every point of our existence.” ~Zach Bush, MD
He goes on to ask a very big question about our existence, that is, what if we need a death moment in order to evolve into who we are really supposed to be?
Watch the short clip for yourself, here, and please share with friends, family, and loved ones.
About the Author
Vic Bishop is a staff writer for WakingTimes.com. He is an observer of people, animals, nature, and he loves to ponder the connection and relationship between them all. A believer in always striving to becoming self-sufficient and free from the matrix, please track him down on Facebook.
This article (An End of Life Caregiver Has a Message About Death that You Need to Hear Right Now) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Vic Bishop and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio and internal links.
10 Quotes from Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha That Will Truly Inspire You
Christina Sarich, Staff Writer
Hermann Hesse’s timeless book, Siddhartha, should be required reading for any spiritual seeker. The book is about Siddhartha’s journey as a respected son of a Brahmin. Everyone expects that he will follow in his father’s footsteps. He enjoys an idyllic life and follows the tenets of his religion expecting that they will bring him peace and happiness. He feels the pangs of discontent though, and observes that his father and elders have not yet reached enlightenment, even though they too have followed the instructions of their religion. When starving and naked ascetics cross Siddhartha’s path one day, his journey truly begins. On this endeavor, he comes to a river that teaches him many life lessons.
If you haven’t had a chance to be profoundly awakened by this book yet, here are ten quotes from it that will move you to question your own environment, religion, culture, and relationships, to possibly find something more.
“Wisdom cannot be imparted. Wisdom that a wise man attempts to impart always sounds like foolishness to someone else … Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.”
We so often misunderstand the difference between wisdom and knowledge in this world. Wisdom is timeless. It can only be arrived at with discernment and the development of our consciousness to a level that understands paradox and true freedom.
Knowledge simply binds us to erroneous, concrete beliefs, making it nearly impossible to understand the truth of the Universe. Wisdom, however, discloses Truth in ways that cannot even be explained with a thousand books, a million teachings from religious figures, or a hundred million facts memorized and assimilated. Wisdom is so pure, that even language corrupts it.
“When someone seeks, then it easily happens that his eyes see only the thing that he seeks, and he is able to find nothing, to take in nothing because he always thinks only about the thing he is seeking, because he has one goal, because he is obsessed with his goal. Seeking means: having a goal. But finding means: being free, being open, having no goal.”
There are numerous literary and mythical examples of the seeker. Joseph Campbell describes the seeker in the quintessential quest for the Holy Grail – a representation of some outer prize that can be obtained with enough valor or sacrifice, but what we truly seek can be found only within our own hearts. When we seek an outside goal, this is an indication that our own hearts long to be understood. Striving for something outside ourselves causes us to forever remain a seeker.
“I have always believed, and I still believe, that whatever good or bad fortune may come our way we can always give it meaning and transform it into something of value.”
All people, places and circumstances in life are fodder for spiritual advancement. Tears are a spiritual release. Hearing a song on the radio that reminds us of someone is a clue from the Universe to send that person love and compassion. Seeing someone else go through something horrible and thinking, “that could have been me,” is a reminder to be thankful.
Getting stuck at a red light is a reminder to breathe deeper. An argument is a gentle tug from the Universe to look inside yourself. Everything that we experience can help us grow. It isn’t just the positive, airy fairy things that help us grow.
When we do a life review, the times we acted with courage and faced our pain, fear, and sadness will be the moments when we smile the biggest.
“We are not going in circles, we are going upwards. The path is a spiral; we have already climbed many steps.”
This point is described in great detail by Don Beck and Christopher Cowan in their discussion of spiral dynamics. The way they visualize change is in a spiral. Though we may circle around to the same challenges, each time we do, we are higher up on the spiral, hopefully with a higher level of consciousness with which to approach the problem.
Beck explained that if we try to impose our ‘solutions’ too far ahead of the curve the result can be rebellion rather than transformation. Because of this, the authors use the term “more complex” instead of “better” or “higher” to describe humanity’s stages of evolutionary development. Even if we haven’t quit reached the apex of what we can visualize, we have already taken many steps to make a better world a reality.
“So she thoroughly taught him that one cannot take pleasure without giving pleasure, and that every gesture, every caress, every touch, every glance, every last bit of the body has its secret, which brings happiness to the person who knows how to wake it. She taught him that after a celebration of love the lovers should not part without admiring each other, without being conquered or having conquered, so that neither is bleak or glutted or has the bad feeling of being used or misused.”
Sex is so often a mindless exchange between people these days. It is not an act to be engaged in so recklessly, though. When we share each other’s bodies, subtle energies are exchanged between us. The cultivation of these energies can even be used to achieve higher states of consciousness. When we act as though our bodies are just sacks of flesh, instead of the physical manifestation of energy, then we are missing the point of sensuality.
“It may be important to great thinkers to examine the world, to explain and despise it. But I think it is only important to love the world, not to despise it, not for us to hate each other, but to be able to regard the world and ourselves and all beings with love, admiration and respect.”
One of my own spiritual teachers once said to me, you only have to learn to love. That is your only lesson while you are here. Even when we think we are loving, there are usually ways that we are not acting, thinking, and feeling from a loving place. This includes how we think and treat ourselves, not just other people.
“My real self wanders elsewhere, far away, wanders on and on invisibly and has nothing to do with my life.”
Whatever you define yourself as in this life – a father, a mother, a daughter, a son, a husband, a friend, a lover, a worker, etc. – these are only labels. They don’t not encase your infinite soul. You have been all these things and more in many lifetimes, and in many more places than where you are now.
“Opinions mean nothing; they may be beautiful or ugly, clever or foolish, anyone can embrace or reject them.”
You know that other saying about opinions and asses. Enough said.
“One can beg, buy, be presented with and find love in the streets, but it can never be stolen.”
With everything that has been taken from us by an evil, destructive, psychotic, corrupt cabal, isn’t wonderful to know that love cannot be traded like a stock or destroyed like gold, faked like paper money, or made to be more, or less valuable at the whims of a few elite. Love is eternal, indestructible, and pure. It is our greatest treasure.
“I shall no longer be instructed by the Yoga Veda or the Aharva Veda, or the ascetics, or any other doctrine whatsoever. I shall learn from myself, be a pupil of myself; I shall get to know myself, the mystery of Siddhartha.” He looked around as if he were seeing the world for the first time.”
Every single major religion on this planet has been corrupted. This doesn’t mean that religion has nothing left to teach us. It also doesn’t mean you need to believe in God or be an atheist to arrive at true wisdom, but as long as you are looking to an institution or a person to bring you enlightenment, you’ll miss it.
About the Author
Christina Sarich is a staff writer for Waking Times. She is a writer, musician, yogi, and humanitarian with an expansive repertoire. Her thousands of articles can be found all over the Internet, and her insights also appear in magazines as diverse as Weston A. Price, Nexus, Atlantis Rising, and the Cuyamungue Institute, among others. She was recently a featured author in the Journal, “Wise Traditions in Food, Farming, and Healing Arts,” and her commentary on healing, ascension, and human potential inform a large body of the alternative news lexicon. She has been invited to appear on numerous radio shows, including Health Conspiracy Radio, Dr. Gregory Smith’s Show, and dozens more. The second edition of her book, Pharma Sutra, will be released soon.
This article (10 Quotes from Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha That Will Truly Inspire You) was originally published at The Mind Unleashed and is re-posted here with permission.
Holy Relics: Miraculous Powers Of Icons
Orthodox Christianity provides the faithful with many sacred objects of worship, especially icons – artistic depiction of holy figures. It is commonly believed these holy relics possess spiritual powers to perform miracles and protect individuals and even whole country from possible danger.
What is holy icon?
An icon (from Greek “image”) is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, where the most common subjects include Christ, Mary, saints and angels. In Orthodox Christianity the icons provide inspiration and connect the worshipper with the spiritual world, sometimes they are called “windows into heaven.”
These objects are important for believers because they depict patron saints, people who are chosen as special protectors or guardians over all areas of life. Traditionally people see them as symbols of how to live a better life. Most of Orthodox Christians understand that they are merely expressing honour and respect for the people and events depicted, and not for the icons themselves.
Since the time of Byzantine Empire the icons had become a major part of worship and devotion among the Orthodox Christianity followers. The walls of churches were covered inside from floor to roof with icons, scenes from the Bible, allegorical groups. Icons were taken on journeys as a protection, they marched at the head of armies, they hung in a place of honour in almost every house etc.
More reverence has been always paid to icons believed to have miraculous origins.
‘Our Lady of Vladimir’
Our Lady of Vladimir
Our Lady of Vladimir is one of the most venerated Orthodox icons. Regarded as the holy protectress of Russia, the icon is displayed in the Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.
Patriarch Luke Chrysoberges of Constantinople sent the newly-painted icon as a gift to Grand Duke Yury Dolgoruky of Kiev about 1131. The beautiful image was coveted by Yury’s son Andrei the Pious who brought it to his favourite city Vladimir in 1155. When the horses that transported the icon stopped near Vladimir and refused to go further, this was interpreted as a sign that the Blessed Virgin wants to stay in Vladimir. To house the icon, the great Assumption cathedral was built there, followed by other churches dedicated to the Virgin throughout northwestern Russia.
In 1395, during Tamerlane’s invasion, the image was taken from Vladimir to the new capital, Moscow. The spot where people and the ruling prince met the icon is commemorated with the Sretensky monastery. Vasili I of Moscow spent a night crying over the icon, and Tamerlane‘s armies retreated the same day. The Muscovites refused to return it back to Vladimir and placed it in the Assumption cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin. The image was also credited with saving Moscow from Tatar hordes in 1451 and 1480.
One of the most exquisite icons ever painted, Our Lady of Vladimir is imbued with universal feelings of motherly love and anxiety for her child. By the 16th century the Vladimirskaya (as the Russians call it) was a thing of legend. It was even rumoured that the icon was painted by St Luke on the Lord’s table of the Last Supper. The venerated image was used in coronations of tsars, elections of patriarchs, and other important ceremonies of state.
But its most important service was yet to come. In December 1941, as the Germans approached Moscow, Stalin order that the icon be taken from a museum and placed in an airplane and that it be carried around the besieged capital. Several days later the German army started to retreat.
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