Category Archives: Wellness

The Hard Science Of Energy Healing

Energy Healing

How do the numerous cellular interactions between the endocrine, immune, nervous and stress systems in the body impact functioning? What are the scientific underpinnings of the connection of mind, body and spirit and its effects on overall health? How do the emerging fields of neurophysics, psychoneuroimmunology and biophysics document the impact of stress and relaxation on the physical functioning of the body? What is the scientific basis for integrating mental, emotional and spiritual functioning in the healing process? These are some of the hard question we will answer in this article.

The Holistic Paradigm

In confirming that chronic stress compromises health by creating an unremitting suppression of the immune system, hundreds of seminal research studies conducted over the last three decades have established that comprehensive health care must address not only the connection of the mind and body, but also the spirit. In this context, the physiology of spirit or spirituality considers and accounts for the existence of energy fields, both within and outside the human body. Specifically, this research documents how factors such as light, sound, electromagnetism, meditation, faith, prayer, and love translate into chemical and electrical signals that profoundly influence our physical health and mental well-being. These studies confirm a biological energy exchange consistent with ancient philosophical concepts and support alternative and complimentary modalities of energy healing. [1]

Brainwaves

Practices such as biofeedback, autogenic training and especially mindfulness meditation have shown that deep relaxation― deep enough to induce the theta brainwave state―leads to and maintains physical health.

Infograph: Meditation and its Effects on Brainwaves

Infographic courtesy of synchronicity.org. You may view the original post at: Free Infographic: Meditation and its Effects on Brainwaves

Studies demonstrate that theta brainwaves spawn cascades of relaxation hormones which substantially benefit physical and emotional health. These hormones include endogenous benzodiazapines, anandamide and other endogenous cannabinoids, melatonin, and N,N-dimethyltryptamine, a chemical thought to engender feelings of inner peace and spiritual enlightenment.

“The ideation that can take place during the theta state is often free flow and occurs without censorship or guilt. It is typically a very positive mental state.”   ~Ned Hermann, Scientific American

Hormonal cascades resulting from the theta brainwave state provide a physiological basis for emotions and experiences that Western medicine has previously been unable to explain. [1]

Heart Intelligence

Groundbreaking research at the HeartMath Institute has revealed the heart as a sophisticated sensory organ that receives and processes information—an organ capable of learning, memory, and functional decision making independent of the brain’s cerebral cortex. Furthermore, numerous experiments have demonstrated that the heart continuously sends signals to the brain which influence the functions of perception, cognition, and emotional reactivity.

Spectral analysis has demonstrated that heart beat patterns change significantly as we experience different emotions, and that these changes correlate with the structure of the electromagnetic field of the heart. Brainwaves synchronize with this energy field, which is the most powerful electromagnetic field generated by the human organism and permeates every cell in the body. Negative emotions engender erratic, disordered, non-rhythmic heart beats, while positive emotions create heart beat patterns that are smooth, coherent, and rhythmic. During sustained feelings of compassion, appreciation, gratitude and love, blood pressure and respiratory functioning, among other oscillatory systems, naturally entrain to the heart’s soothing rhythms. Heart entrainment also occurs naturally during deep relaxation practices such as meditation, which induce the theta brainwave state.

These discoveries in neurophysics indicate that the heart is an organ of far greater intelligence than previously thought, and evidence suggests a profound cognitive interrelationship between brainwaves and the powerful electromagnetic energy signals emitted from the heart. These findings have led scientists and physicians to conclude that consciousness is a function of both the heart and brain, and that ethereal forms of sentience such as intuition, precognition, mood, and emotion may formulate and resonate within this realm. [2]

Integrative Biophysics

Biophoton emissions prove auras exist

Peer-reviewed scientific evidence of biophoton emissions supports the underlying precepts of energy healing.

Expressions for traditional Eastern concepts of vital life energy, such as prana, chi and aura, have transcended New Age esoterica and joined the mainstream lexicon, both in the general public and the health care community. A certain degree of this legitimacy, along with a growing move in science from classical physics and chemistry into quantum mechanics and field theory, is due to the pioneering work of Dr. Fritz-Albert Popp and his colleagues in the biophoton field.

The biophoton theory holds that biophotonic light is stored in the cells of the organism—specifically in the DNA molecules of their nuclei—and a dynamic web of light constantly released and absorbed by the DNA may connect cell organelles, cells, tissues, and organs within the body and serve as the organism’s main communication network and as the principal regulating instance for all life processes.

In his widely acclaimed book, Biophotons – The Light Of Our Cells, Marco Bischoff summarizes ninety years of peer-reviewed, published research in the biophoton field as follows:

“All living organisms, including humans, emit a low-intensity glow that cannot be seen by the naked eye, but can be measured by photomultipliers that amplify the weak signals several million times and enable the researchers to register it in the form of a diagram. As long as they live, cells and whole organisms give off a pulsating glow with a mean intensity of several up to a few ten thousand photons per second and square centimeter, also known as ‘cellular glow’ or ‘ultraweak bioluminescence.’ These biophotonic phenomena could point to long-range interactions between biological organisms. This possibility is supported by observations of intercellular signaling mediated by biophotons via a field containing coherent states.”  ~Marco Bischoff

The holographic biophoton field of the brain and nervous system, and possibly that of the entire organism, may also serve as the basis of memory and other phenomena of consciousness, as postulated by renowned neurophysiologist Karl Pribram and others. The coherent ‘conscious’ properties of the biophoton field are closely related at a fundamental level to the properties of the physical vacuum and indicate its possible role as an interface to the non-physical realms of mind, psyche and consciousness.

The term integrative biophysics emerged from this groundbreaking work, which is a modeling of the organism based on quantum mechanics and the primacy of the unseparable whole. This addresses the essential interconnectedness within the organism as well as between organisms, and that of the organism with the environment. The foundation of integrative biophysics—contemplation of the existence of a pre-physical, unobservable domain of potentiality in quantum theory, which forms the basis of the fundamental unity and wholeness of reality from which the patterns of the material world arise—provides a new model for understanding the holistic features of organisms, such as morphogenesis and regeneration[3]

The Pineal Gland

The pineal gland, also known as the mind’s eye and the third-eye chakra, is the psychological interface of mind, body and spirit. This critical endocrine gland, steeped in ancient lore and mythos, functions as a liaison between our internal body systems and the external world, transducing environmental information into chemical and electrical signals within the body. Sensitive to all magnetic fields and directly wired to the visual cortex in the brain, the pineal gland catalyzes our sensory perceptions into images and modulates consciousness.

Pineal Gland, Mind's Eye & Third-Eye ChakraA more accurate understanding of pineal gland functioning has emerged in recent years, largely as a result of isolating the major pineal hormone, melatonin. Research presents convincing evidence that the pineal, and not the pituitary, is the master gland of the endocrine system. By converting light, sound, temperature and magnetic environmental information into neuroendocrine signals, the pineal gland regulates and orchestrates our internal clock, body functions, and influences a broad array of life rhythms.

As the energy transducer of hormonal and electrical signals within the body and modulator of consciousness, the pineal gland also processes enigmatic forms of awareness that transcend the five senses—such as heart intelligence, biofield signaling and brainwave states—which are actuated into thought, emotion and spiritual reckoning. In their book, The Scientific Basis of Integrative Medicine, authors Len Wisneski, MP, FACP and Lucy Anderson, MSW, postulate on the ways in which the pineal gland interfaces with the other energy portals of the body, or chakras, as depicted in Eastern religious philosophies and medical systems. Many energy healing modalities are reviewed and scientific studies presented, including the putative effects of prayer and meditation and the impact of spirituality on physical health. [1]

Complimentary & Alternative Medicine

The movement of life energy has been part of virtually every traditional healing system throughout history. Unfortunately, Western medical science removed the concept of “vitality” in the 19th century and as a result, still encounters resistance to these critical ideas which are fundamental to Eastern medicine systems. During the last three decades, however, Americans and Canadians have embraced the many therapeutic approaches offered by the proponents of these traditional healing modalities.

In the United States, energy healing or ‘energy medicine’ is officially recognized as a sub-specialty within the larger field of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), a center within the National Institutes of Health, is the federal government’s lead agency for scientific research on CAM; its mission is “to explore complementary and alternative healing practices in the context of rigorous science, and to disseminate authoritative information to professionals and the public.”

NCCAM divides energy medicine into the following applications:

  • Veritable Energy Fields: Energy fields that can be measured for diagnosis and treatment, including mechanical vibrations such as sounds, electromagnetic forces including visible light, magnetism, monochromatic radiation such as lasers, and rays from other parts of the electromagnetic spectrum.
  • Putative Energy Fields: Energy fields that defy measurement by reproducible methods. Putative energies are based on the idea that a subtle form of energy—vital energy or life force—infuses living systems, a concept that has been known in traditional healing practices by many names, including pranic healing, etheric energy, auric healing, fohat, orgone, Odic force, mana, and homeopathic resonance.

A generally hostile orientation of skepticism, some of which originates from factions of the health care industry with materialistic conflicts of interest, has cast aspersions on the CAM community and created confusion among the general public. Nonetheless, each year nearly half of Americans use some form of alternative therapy, often as a complementary modality to conventional Western medicine. Medical schools and hospitals now offer courses and programs in CAM approaches, many of which are rooted in the underlying principals of energy healing. [4]

Subtle Energy

Biofields & Energy Healing

The role of endogenous biofields in regulating living organisms is a guiding construct in new research on energy healing.

The family of energy healing modalities that have been widely practiced since antiquity contemplate biocommunication and energy transfer through endogenous biofield interactions. Evidence of endogenous biofields in living organisms now exists, and current theoretical foundations are being rigorously explored and developed. A review of biofields and related topics from the scientific community reveals an emerging body of knowledge regarding the underlying origin and principles of such fields, including macrolevel concepts of our planet as a complex, self-regulatory living system. The properties appear to be based on electromagnetic fields, coherent states, biophotons, quantum and quantum-like processes, and ultimately the quantum vacuum.

A growing acceptance of these endogenous biofields, which are commonly referred to as subtle energy, is the foundation of a new medical paradigm, an integral physiological approach uniting the enormous contributions of Western medicine with the profound insights of Eastern systems of health. Subtle energy bridges belief systems and offers a neutral ground of communication for people of myriad backgrounds to communicate about phenomena that science is still endeavoring to settle. Subtle energy not only steps beyond the connection of mind and body and validates experiences of an ‘intuitive’ or ‘spiritual’ nature, but acknowledges their influence on the natural self-healing abilities of the human body.

Consideration of the complex homeodynamic regulation of living systems through the lens of subtle energy is a harbinger to the hard science that is still emerging, providing a framework for dialogue and learning about the non-physical aspects of healing. Indeed, understanding how the human body interacts with and utilizes subtle energy is the new frontier in medical research. [1] [3] [5]


References

  1. The Scientific Basis of Integrative Medicine, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health 
  2. HeartMath Institute Research Library
  3. Biofield Science: Current Physics Perspectives, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health
  4. Energy Medicine in the United States, Foundation for Alternative and Integrative Medicine
  5. Biofield Science and Healing: History, Terminology, and Concepts, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health 

The Temple Of Sleep: Communion With Our Mystical Otherworld Of Consciousness

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We spend a third of our lives sleeping. Our identities dissolve into a realm that exists beyond time, electronic stimulation and the demands of the waking world. Phantom presences swirl about as we drift through dreams. Where do these subconscious journeys lead us? And what are the benefits of a devotional relationship with sleep?

Sleep is a medium to which we are all bound, a profound and often mysterious relationship of mind, body and spirit—an ethereal connection with the conscious energy of the universe. Sleep is a sacred vessel we share in common, a circadian journey into uncharted territories of subliminal awareness and self-discovery.

Throughout history man has pondered the enigma of sleep. Many indigenous cultures hold that while sleeping, the soul transcends the body. It is believed that unencumbered by flesh and bone, the soul, or spirit, wanders to distant places or alternate realities and communes with divine powers—with angels and emissaries—giving rise to certain dreams and visions. This is akin to what is known as astral projection, a phenomenon acknowledged by science (see the article Understanding The Out-Of-Body Experience From A Neuroscientific Perspective here).

The hypotheses on sleep rendered by the scientific community over the years are numerous, yet in a profound departure from the purely physiological theories commonly preferred by physicians, Swiss neurologist and child psychologist, Edouard Claperède, observed that:

” . . . sleep has its significance not as a passive state, but as an active instinct, like all the other instincts of animal life.”

Claperède’s observation formed a valuable and influential contribution to science’s evolving theories on sleep, casting new perspectives beyond mere chemical and mechanical considerations. Many of the obscure and unexplained occurrences of sleeping, those existing more in the realms of psychology and the innate functioning of the subconscious mind, were contemplated in light of this viewpoint.

Our Dream Symbols

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Dreams have served as a portal to other realms for shaman, holy men, prophets, and medicine men from indigenous cultures throughout time, reminding us of the importance of this mystical otherworld of consciousness.

Symbols occur in dreams when events take place in our lives that we are subconsciously aware of but are not yet willing to acknowledge; consequently, the awareness manifests symbolically in the dream state. Symbols also recur in dreams, or the dreams themselves recur, sometimes in slightly varying episodes. Recurring dreams and dream symbols that invoke a similar emotional response can be rooted in a past anguish or forgotten trauma, or represent an attempt to compensate for some perceived defect in character or attitude.

Yet expressions of repressed emotions, memories, traumas, challenges of character, or events we are not ready to consciously acknowledge, are not the only basis for symbolic dreams. Indeed, certain elements of dreams commonly occur which are not necessarily particular to, nor derived from, the personality or individual experience of the dreamer. Sigmund Freud first observed such elements and called them “archaic remnants.” Carl Jung referred to them as “primordial images” or “archetypes,” and described them as:

” . . . mental forms whose presence cannot be explained by anything in the individual’s own life and which seem to be aboriginal, innate, and inherited shapes of the human mind.”

Jung connected archetypes across cultural boundaries and conceptualized them as fundamental, instinctual forces that somehow exist beyond our comprehension. He believed these archetypes represent mythical characters residing within the collective unconscious of people worldwide.

The Doorstep Of The Temple

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There is a difference between valuing and respecting sleep.

Science tells us that sleep plays a critical role in immune function, metabolism, memory, learning, and many other vital functions. Considering its restorative properties, psychological benefits, and overall value to our health and well-being, sleeping well is of paramount importance. Swagger, bravado, and false pride about not needing to sleep, which often go hand in hand with unhealthy lifestyles and the glorification of being busy, suggest an underlying lack of self-regard. And as for productivity, research studies show that we are far more creative and productive when we are well rested.

Sleeping well means dreaming well. We naturally hallucinate in dreams, where our thoughts, feelings, experiences, expectations, memories, and attachments are mixed together. This is a subconscious releasing and balancing necessary for emotional growth. Dreaming is imminently important in its psychological benefits. Many challenges of wisdom—assimilating, integrating and moving ahead with new insight and maturity—are related to dreams and their symbols. Dreaming is our primal and instinctive way of releasing the old and accepting the new. Not surprisingly, many who find themselves stuck in unhealthy patterns and familiar disappointing outcomes in life, practice poor sleep habits and suffer from sleep deprivation.

People routinely seek pharmaceutical solutions for sleeping problems. Yet results from studies on prescription sleep aids demonstrate the average sleeping time increases by only a few minutes each night, and the disturbing side effects of these habit forming drugs include amnesia and episodes of somnambulism (otherwise known as ‘sleep walking’). Most sleep medications function by blocking the formation of memories, which, among other negative aspects, interrupts normal rapid eye movement dream cycles and significantly alters or negates the intuitive benefits of dreaming. Users of prescription sleep aids commonly report waking up feeling groggy and unmotivated. The use of other sedative or narcotic prescription medication, drinking alcohol, or consuming illicit drugs can exacerbate this situation.

Equilibrium

The homeostasis of the total functioning of our bodies, including the critically important role of sleep, is maintained within the subconscious mind. This includes aligning our physiological and psychological processes—the relationship of our bodily functions to our attitudes, beliefs, thoughts and words—such as those about sleep. If we say “I don’t sleep well” or “can’t sleep at night,” we won’t. If we do not believe in the value of sleep or treat it with the proper reverence, we will not reap the rewards. If we disrespect ourselves around sleep, we will not manifest the inherent benefits of health and well-being associated therewith.

“We are such stuff as dreams are made on; and our little life is rounded with sleep.”  ~William Shakespeare

The importance of dreams, in particular, cannot be underestimated. Indeed, as acknowledged by Freud and Jung, the founding fathers of modern psychology, dreams are a lucid gateway to the exploration of consciousness. Maintaining a healthy relationship with sleeping—and dreaming, involves a steadfast resolve in both actions and words. This requires being mindful about our thoughts and attitudes, our internal and external dialogue, and our behaviors related to sleep.

Here are some more helpful suggestions for sleeping well:

  • Exercise regularly and meditate or practice yoga to manage stress
  • Limit refined sugars in your diet, especially in the evening
  • Moderate alcohol and caffeine consumption
  • Turn off electronic screens for at least 30 minutes before going to bed
  • Read prose, poetry, whimsical tales or literary works steeped in metaphor before sleep (remember those bedtime stories?) to stimulate your subconscious mind

We spend a third of our lives sleeping. To sleep well, to rest and rejuvenate, to regenerate and heal, to learn and grow . . . requires embracing and respecting sleep in all its mystical and ineffable qualities. Revere it. Speak well about it. Avoid interfering with it. Practice devotions and rituals to cultivate a healthful communion with sleep, this hallowed and sublime connection of deeper consciousness.

©2016 Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht. & Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery. All Rights Reserved.


Cathexis Logo Pic MemeCathexis Therapeutic Imagery specializes in innovative approaches to workplace wellness, mindfulness training, and personal development. Via private coaching, presentations, workshops, training events, and our partnership in the unique online wellness community Your Wellness Room—used by Kaiser Permanente, EFactor and other notable companies—our nationally recognized programs and practices help people and organizations make positive changes. Please call for a free consultation at (818) 512-4371 or contact us via email.

Healthy Body Image & The Inner Child

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Acknowledging and nurturing the inner child is critical to achieving a healthy body image. The framework of this relationship determines the degree to which our mind and body are connected . . . or disconnected.

Positive body image is more than merely how we see ourselves physically. It’s how we feel about our physical appearance. And more specifically, the ways in which liking our appearance differs from disliking our appearance, and how this translates to our relationship with ourselves and the world.

Genetic inheritance influences our bone structure, body size, shape, and weight. Consequently, we are all different. At the same time, the equation for weight and body mass is the same for everyone: the calories we intake each day versus the calories we burn. Yet if everyone ate the same and did the same amount of exercise for a whole year, we would not all look the same in the end. This has to do with body type and metabolic rate. And the fact is that liking one’s body, or disliking it, is not all about appearance. People of all shapes and sizes, even some with incredible physiques, suffer from negative body image.

The Silver Screen

The media is a powerful influencer in the body image scenario because it propagates cultural images and sells advertising space. Of course, this drives the movie and television industry, as well as industries such as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, food, and yes . . . diet and exercise. In fact, weight loss and exercising products are particularly notorious for proliferating body image stereotypes.

Here are some relevant statistics:

  • More than 80% of Americans watch television an average of three hours each day
  • Children engage in increasing amounts of media use fueled by internet access through phones and laptops
  • Eight to eighteen year-olds are engaged with some form of media about seven and one-half hours per day

Even animated cartoons and children’s videos commonly emphasize the importance of being physically attractive. It is also relative to note that although sexually objectified images of females in advertising are most likely to appear in men’s magazines, the second most common source of such images are advertisements in teen magazines directed at adolescent girls. The sexual objectification of men— which is less frowned upon socially and receives far less negative attention, but is nonetheless impactful on influencing body image—is also popular in advertising and media portrayal.

While this is merely the tip of the iceberg, what we know is that body image is primarily formed during our upbringing and is heavily influenced by media. Of course, there are other factors that affect body image which can occur at any time in life, such as sexual harassment or assault, bullying or body shaming, and any of the many forms of discrimination that occur based on appearance. But what does that really mean on a deeper level? How do body image and the focus on being attractive effect our perception of ourselves and our individual reality?

Mirror Mirror On The Wall

Body Image Mirror Mirror

Physical beauty is a powerful and influential imagery paradigm in our media-driven culture, one in which hearts, minds and dollars are deeply invested.

The concept of physical beauty is core to body image, yet it is a perception that can be false or ambiguous. Indeed, physical beauty is a highly subjective, cultural, equivocal, ever-changing, and historically trend-influenced phenomenon. Enhancement of physical beauty can be purchased in many forms. Physical beauty can be marketed, packaged and sold in dizzying numbers of ways. Physical beauty can be a mask and it can be masked. Physical beauty—vague, mercurial and moody—is even more difficult to define than love.

We abide externalized standards for physical beauty despite a deeper wisdom of diversity and empathy that considers it shallow and superficial, something which only goes ‘skin-deep.’ Some innate part of us knows physical beauty is only so relevant in the greater scheme of things; we understand that it is not the same as physical attraction, yet we still allow it to affect our perceptions of ourselves and others. Thus, if our life experiences, whether based on genetics, lifestyle choices, past traumas or a combination thereof, have led to negative body image based upon this volatile concept of physical beauty—if our self-esteem suffers because we have ‘bought-in’ to the idea that we do not meet socially accepted standards of physical beauty that serve as a prerequisite to love and acceptance—we are harboring false or ambiguous perceptions of ourselves which need to be reconciled.

What Love Has To Do With It

Negative body image is a manifestation of fear—fear that we will not receive the love and acceptance we need—fear that we are unworthy of love because of how we look. This fear reaction occurs on a primal, instinctive level which, in psychological terms, is commonly referred to as a trauma of the inner child. Negative body image underlies addictions, eating disorders and other self-destructive habits, and is rooted in a subconscious disconnection of the mind and body.

Thought processes, behavior patterns and lifestyle choices can emerge that reinforce this negative body image. These often include poor eating habits, lack of physical activity, and a general disregard of accepted wisdom on achieving and maintaining good health. Choosing to be unconcerned about such things is a manifestation of the mind/body disconnect.

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Denial of troubled emotions empowers the inner child to take possession of our personality at times, to hijack our ‘adult’ decision making process.

A common way we compensate for this underlying fear of being unlovable is with food. Eating can be thought of as self-love because it stimulates the pleasure centers of the brain—it makes us feel good­—yet this can become a deceptive form of self-abuse and inner conflict, as we realize on a deeper level that that we are mistreating ourselves. Physical activity, particularly exercising, can serve as an uncomfortable reminder of this dysfunction; in order to appease this inner conflict, many adopt attitudes such as: “I don’t like my body anyway, so I don’t really care.”

Suffering from negative body image means we exist in a stasis of emotional apprehension and apathy; that we have adapted and become comfortable with a way of life which may include unhealthy lifestyle choices impelled by a subconscious fear of being unloved. In order to move ahead, we must begin utilizing deliberate acts of self-discovery, such as mindfulness training and practice, to recognize and alter these psychological, physiological and behavioral dynamics. Perhaps the most critical element in this process is learning to acknowledge and nurture a conscious relationship with our inner child.

The Inner Child

The concept of the inner child is traceable to Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and more recently, Eric Berne, among others. It is a basic principle used in therapeutic applications and 12 step recovery approaches. The idea of the inner child is well-known and accepted in popular psychology because it makes sense; it resonates with people. The concept commonly arises in the context of healing the psyche—of the inner child being wounded, stifled or otherwise emotionally compromised. Yet whether or not injury to the psyche has actually occurred and to what degree, there are many fundamental and holistic reasons to embrace our innate, childlike nature.

“A torn jacket is soon mended, but hard words bruise the heart of a child.”      ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Even if one is raised in the ‘best of families’ under the most ‘normal’ of circumstances, it is possible for a parent to have a challenged moment and say something like: “You’ll never amount to anything.” After all, parents are human and far from infallible. Yet statements like this, which undermine a child’s conviction that the parent loves and believes in them, can cause developmental setbacks that carry into adulthood. It is also common for parents to have expectations of children that either go unfulfilled or to which children grudgingly conform; this erodes self-esteem and creates the feeling of wanting to ‘leave childhood behind.’

Children in dysfunctional, impoverished, or circumstantially challenged families often take on adult roles such as cooking and cleaning instead of playing with friends. They may care for siblings or ill parents instead of having free time to simply be a kid. And sometimes, in more dire situations, a child may become hyper-vigilant to the emotional state of their parents or other adults in the household in order to protect themselves or siblings from neglect or abuse.

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In attempting to leave our child-like self behind, we become emotionally attached to the past. We diminish spontaneity and the joy of cherishing each moment with awe and wonder.

The inner child is deeply affected by the sense of being unloved, or unlovable, or both; this perception can readily transfer to poor self-esteem and negative body image. Experiences such as bullying, physical abuse, psychological abuse, abandonment, and physical or sexual assault are the kinds of events that engender shame, guilt, rage and resentment, and can radically traumatize the inner child. Any experience of being physically or psychologically violated, even when it happens in adulthood, can create this trauma.

The mind/body disconnect occurs when we endeavor to avoid, deny, or set aside feelings associated with troubling events such as these. The inner child is the part of the psyche where emotion is experienced, so when we try to block out fear, anger, shame, rage, resentment, guilt, sorrow, and disappointment, we also inhibit feelings of joy, love, happiness, compassion, empathy, and contentment. As well, we create negative associations and emotional attachments to the past that define us as victims, which is an identity the inner child experiences as being left behind or exiled. By attempting to protect ourselves from unwanted reminders of our trauma, we project fear into new situations that confuses our perceptions and divides our attention between the past and present. This phenomenon is known as emotional looping and is a symptom of what psychology calls “arrested development.”

Broken Crayons

Love and fear are the primal elements of human motivation. Love is the connecting force upon which we thrive. Fear is the dividing force that protects us from threats. Owning shame based on negative body image catalyzes fear founded upon an inaccurately perceived threat, which polarizes our love energy and creates a disconnect within ourselves and with the world around us.

In whatever ways the events of our lives have shaped us, we can only accept our fate and embrace our misfortunes as opportunities. While we cannot forget the past, it is important to acknowledge that change occurs in the present. This is why mindfulness training and the practice of mindfulness meditation have been a successful medium of transformation for so many people. By developing the self-possession and connective consciousness to actually be present with what is happening in the moment, we leave behind knee-jerk, defensive reactions sourced in the past and experience the freedom to reclaim our child-like trust and wonder.

colorful artistic crayons

It is only natural for some of our crayons to get broken along the way; in fact, we sometimes break them ourselves. But that does not mean the days of coloring vibrant meaning and purpose into our lives are behind us. Even with an entire box of broken crayons, we are capable or recreating ourselves.

It is this life force and energy of love—love that diffuses fear and invites empathy and self-possession—which is the foundation upon which healthy body image and a positive inner child relationship resides. Here lies the motivation of physical activity, the preparation and partaking of nutritious food, the sacred acts of caring and nurturing, and the exuberant, child-like outlook that stimulates and invigorates us. Indeed, this loving connectivity is how we pick up the broken crayons of our lives and carefully put them back into their precious boxes. 

©2016 Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht. & Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery. All Rights Reserved.


Cathexis Logo Pic MemeCathexis Therapeutic Imagery specializes in innovative approaches to workplace wellness, mindfulness training, and personal development. Via private coaching, presentations, workshops, training events, and our partnership in the unique online wellness community Your Wellness Room—used by Kaiser Permanente, EFactor and other notable companies—our nationally recognized programs and practices help people and organizations make positive changes. Please call for a free consultation at (818) 512-4371 orcontact us via email.

Heart Entrainment: Connecting Our Love Energy

Heart Intelligence

The heart generates the human organism’s most powerful electromagnetic field and permeates every cell in the body. Compared to the brain’s electromagnetic field, the electrical component of the heart’s field is about 60 times greater in amplitude, and the magnetic component is approximately 100 times greater.

There are many familiar expressions that include the organic use of the word “heart,” such as: They had a heart to heart. She wears her heart on her sleeve. His heart is in the right place. They were heart-broken. Follow your heart. These are a few of the enduring idioms that demonstrate we have long realized the heart has its own special way of perceiving, experiencing, and knowing. And, of course, the heart ideogram ( ) is a traditional symbol representing the heart as the center of emotion, particularly love and affection.

Science is now illuminating this inherent understanding of the heart’s conscious properties and influence on our perceptions, interactions. and overall functioning. According to recent discoveries in neurophysics, the heart is an organ of far greater intelligence than previously thought, and evidence suggests a profound cognitive interrelationship between brain waves and the powerful electromagnetic energy signals emitted from the heart (see Examiner.com article here). These findings have lead scientists and physicians to conclude that consciousness is a function of both the heart and the brain, and that ethereal forms of sentience such as intuition, precognition, mood and disposition, and most certainly emotion, formulate and resonate within this realm.

In our innovative programs and practices for holistic health, Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery uses the trance state mediums of meditation, hypnosis, and therapeutic imagery to develop mindfulness and emotional intelligence. A key component to our approach is heart entrainment; this is a synchronized flow of energy between the heart and brain natural to the trance state experience that can be intentionally integrated into daily mindfulness practice. The intriguing facets of heart entrainment and its transformative qualities are explored in this article.

HEART INTELLIGENCE

Since 1991, the HeartMath Institute has researched and developed the science of bridging the connection between the heart and brain, and used these discoveries to help people connect more deeply within themselves and with one another. The HeartMath Institute pioneered the concept of heart intelligence, also known as “heart entrainment,” which is defined as:

” . . . the flow of awareness, understanding and intuition we experience when the mind and emotions are brought into coherent alignment with the heart. It can be activated through self-initiated practice, and the more we pay attention when we sense the heart is speaking to us or guiding us, the greater our ability to access this intelligence and guidance more frequently. Heart intelligence underlies cellular organization and guides and evolves organisms toward increased order, awareness and coherence of their bodies’ systems.”

The HeartMath Institute’s groundbreaking research has revealed the heart as a sophisticated sensory organ that receives and processes information—an organ capable of learning, memory, and functional decision making independent of the brain’s cerebral cortex. Furthermore, numerous experiments have demonstrated that the heart continuously sends signals to the brain which influence the functions of perception, cognition, and emotional reactivity.

This signaling process occurs as the heart generates and transmits a continuous series of electromagnetic waves, or pulses, which are distributed across the neural pathways of the central nervous system and throughout the bloodstream. In the brain, this relationship involves the pineal gland, “the mind’s eye,” which is sensitive to all magnetic fields, allows more blood flow than any other gland in the body, and modulates consciousness.

The Mind's Eye

The pineal gland is directly wired to the visual cortex in the brain and catalyzes our sensory perceptions into images, the language of the subconscious.

Studies using a technique called spectral analysis have demonstrated that heart beat patterns change significantly as we experience different emotions, and that these changes correlate with the structure of the electromagnetic field of the heart. Negative emotions engender erratic, disordered, non-rhythmic heart beats. Positive emotions, on the other hand, create heart beat patterns that are smooth, coherent, and rhythmic. Brainwaves synchronize with the heart’s electromagnetic field, so during sustained feelings of compassion, appreciation, or gratitude, blood pressure and respiratory functioning, among other oscillatory systems, naturally entrain to the soothing rhythm of the heart.

HEART FIELD INTERACTIONS

There is remarkable evidence that the heart’s electromagnetic field transmits information between people, and that this is an innate function which starts inside the womb. According to the HeartMath Institute:

  • The heart of the fetus develops and functions before the brain, and naturally synchronizes with its mother’s electromagnetic heart field
  • The exchange of heart energy, which continues with infant and mother after birth and immediately begins developing with others, can be measured between individuals up to five feet apart
  • One person’s brain waves can actually synchronize to another person’s heart
  • When an individual generates a coherent heart rhythm, their brainwaves are more likely to synchronize with another person’s heartbeat
  • Individuals with increased psychological and physiological self-awareness are more cognizant of the information encoded in the electromagnetic heart fields of those around them

Social Structure

In a longitudinal study of forty-six social groups, data gathered only from the relationships between pairs of members was found to provide an accurate image of the social structure of each group as a whole. The global organization and collective consciousness of these groups appears to have been transmitted by a socio-emotional field of energy based on positive emotions such as passion, excitement, and enthusiasm that connected all members. Remarkably, this emotionally energized network encoded and transmitted information about the group’s social structure as parts of the whole, which is consistent with the principle of holographic organization.

Intuition & Precognition

Fascinating data from a rigorous experimental design also produced evidence suggesting that electromagnetic heart field interactions are conducive to transmissions from energy fields beyond the space/time continuum, accounting for perceptual aspects of consciousness such as intuition and precognition.

Intuition & Precognition

Holographic waveforms of energy encode systemic information in a nonlocal order that represents organization of the system as a whole.

The studies showed that while the heart and brain both receive and respond to information about future events before they actually happen, the heart appears to receive this information before the brain. This indicates that the heart’s electromagnetic energy field may link to more subtle fields of energy that contain holographic waveforms, i.e. those which encode systemic information in a nonlocal order that represents organization of the system as a whole. Considered by the late eminent brain scientist Karl Pribram, acclaimed theoretical physicist Stephan Hawking, and others as the spectral domain—a fundamental field of potential energy throughout which informational properties are spread—this refers to heart field interactions with what is known in the scientific community as the unified energy field. These compelling findings, which align with the evidence from the social field interaction studies referenced above, have profound implications and support holonomic brain theory and the concept of reality as a quantum hologram.

Intention

In a controlled study published in a 2003 report entitled Modulation of DNA Conformation by Heart-Focused Intention, participants were instructed to focus their intention on making DNA strands wind or unwind while holding a test tube containing a DNA sample. Individuals familiar with heart entrainment enhancement techniques taught at the HeartMath Institute were able to alter DNA conformation according to their intention, while individuals in the control group were not. The results showed cellular functions that could be affected included DNA replication, DNA repair, and the generation of proteins and enzymes. The HeartMath Institute researchers issued this statement:

“The results provide experimental evidence to support the hypothesis that aspects of the DNA molecule can be altered through intentionality. To our knowledge, this study was the first to correlate specific electrophysiological modes with the ability to cause changes in a biological target (DNA) external from the body. The data indicate that when individuals are in a heart-focused, loving state and in a more coherent mode of physiological functioning, they have a greater ability to alter the conformation [or shape] of DNA.”

This landmark research validates long held beliefs about the self-healing ability of the mind and demonstrates that our thoughts, beliefs and emotions can impact the immediate world around us. The findings also affirm the conviction that positive feelings and attitudes contribute to health and well being, and lend credence to other well known but often misunderstood phenomena such as the placebo effect, spontaneous remission in cancer and other diseases, and the power of faith and prayer.

For more information on the HeartMath Institute’s research and publications, please visit www.heartmath.org.

CONCLUSIONS

The electromagnetic field of the heart is the most powerful electromagnetic field generated by the human organism and permeates every cell in the body. Heart entrainment is the calibration of the heart and brain through physiological and psychological positivity, a state in which this field is in a smooth and coherent rhythm and synchronizes with myriad energy fields and wave frequencies along the infinite electromagnetic spectrum. The rhythmically pulsing waves of electromagnetic energy generated by the entrained heart create energy fields within energy fields, and manifest interference patterns when interacting with magnetically polarizable tissues and substances.

Heart Entrainment

Evidence demonstrates we can consciously affect our physiology and health through focused intention and heart entrainment.

The considerable research evidence presented herein demonstrates that by focusing our intention and practicing heart entrainment techniques, we can consciously affect our physiology and health. Yet these studies also invite deeper epiphanies, those about the transcendent qualities of love that connect us to the subtle, ethereal ordering of the universe enfolded in the energy fields surrounding us. The innate “wisdom of the heart” serves as the impetus for self-awareness and discovery, altruism, philanthropy, social grace, creativity, and spiritual identity. And it is our positive heart energy, our embrace of compassion, empathy, and the power of love that aligns our conscious intention and inspires a more meaningful understanding and life purpose.

©2016 Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht. & Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery. All Rights Reserved.

Shawn picture-52

Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht.

Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery specializes in innovative approaches to workplace wellness, mindfulness training, and personal development. Via private coaching, presentations, workshops, training events, and our partnership in the unique online wellness community Your Wellness Room—used by Kaiser Permanente, EFactor and other notable companies—our nationally recognized programs and practices help people and organizations make positive changes. Please call for a free consultation at (818) 512-4371 or contact us via email.

The Healing Power Of The Mind: Research Debunks The Snake Oil Mythos

Science does not yet have a way of explaining how thoughts and beliefs materially affect our brain and body. This is in part because traditional neuroscience is based on a materialist view of reality. Yet this view—the assumption that the physical world exists beyond subjective perception—has not been proven by mathematics or empirical observation. In fact, reality is known only through sensory interaction, the way our mind relates to light, sound, smell, touch and taste. From a materialist viewpoint, however, these conscious functions are considered secondary to the physical processes of the universe.

This limiting perspective greatly plagues Western medicine. In his book Irreducible MindUniversity of Virginia neuroscientist Edward Kelly notes that most scientists avoid the problem of how our subjective mind, or consciousness, acts on the objective physical body. He goes so far as to suggest that we cannot answer this question within the materialistic framework of our current medical system.

Nonetheless, Western medicine and complimentary therapy practices that rely on the healing power of the mind share many common facets. This is particularly self-evident in the controlled testing of new medications, which involves the use of placebos. But what exactly is “the placebo effect?” And what is the relationship of the placebo effect to the healing power of the mind?

THE PLACEBO EFFECT

Even though medical science utilizes placebos in conducting research, it doesn’t understand the phenomenon. The placebo effect is commonly defined as the known tendency for people to improve when given a treatment they believe will be effective. In clinical trials, a certain number of subjects (the control group) think they’re receiving the medication being tested, but are instead given an inactive substance, or placebo. The medication being tested must perform significantly better than the placebo to pass the trial. Yet this common aspect of medical research brings to mind an important question:

“Is the positive response to a placebo an inauthentic form of healing?”

Research on the placebo effect indicates that for many people, simply believing that a therapeutic approach or medication has healing qualities begins creating physical improvements in their body. This implies that thoughts and beliefs are not merely making us feel better, they are altering brain chemistry and physiology.

Some significant studies involving the placebo effect have shown the following:

  • A study comparing the effect of a placebo versus the drug L-Dopa in patients with Parkinson’s disease demonstrated that even when taking a placebo, the patients’ nervous system function improved and reduced the effects of the disease (see Huffington Post Article ‘The Placebo Effect: Harnessing The Power Of The Mind’ here)
  • A review of randomized controlled trials in which patients were given either antidepressants or placebos demonstrated that approximately 75 percent of the effectiveness of antidepressants was due to the placebo effect (see peer reviewed National Institutes Of Health article here)
  • A University of Colorado study found that participants who believed that they had received pain medication produced specific and measurable physiological activity within the neural pathways of their brains similar to taking the medication itself (see peer reviewed National Institutes Of Health article here)

While the placebo effect clearly demonstrates the healing power of the mind, let’s examine the considerable body of research on trance states and complimentary therapies such as hypnosis and meditation, which directly reinforce the ability of thoughts and beliefs to alter brain chemistry and physiology.

TRANCE STATES

Placebo & Trance State Healing

Research demonstrates that a common physiology underlies trance states induced by a variety of different procedures.

A wide range of experimental laboratory research on shamanistic practices suggests an operative connection between trance states and healing. Trance states are dominated by slow wave patterns of discharge from parts of the brain including the limbic system, frontal cortex, and hippocampal area, which are optimal for energy, orienting, learning, memory, and attention. A review of eighty-seven parapsychological laboratory studies (see American Anthropological Association citation below) indicates that trance states such as meditation and hypnosis induced relaxation, and that sensory deprivation significantly improved extrasensory perception and psychokinetic performance. These studies also demonstrate that humans have the ability to affect and heal a variety of biological systems through psychokinesis.

Meditation disciplines value trance states as providing the basis for a more objective perception of reality. Yoga traditions indicate that healing and other psychic abilities are a by-product of spiritual development which involve direct and profound alterations of consciousness. A large body of research exists suggesting that trance state healing and well-being practices are psychobiologically based. The empirical evidence includes the universal nature of such practices, the psychobiological characteristics of trance states, and the functional relationships and association of trance with the abilities of healing and divination. (See ‘Shamans and Other Magico-Religious Healers: A Cross-Cultural Study of Their Origins,’ published on behalf of the American Anthropological Association [PDF], here).

HYPNOSIS & MEDITATION

Numerous scientific studies have been published confirming clinical hypnosis as a viable and effective intervention for alleviating chronic pain with cancer and a variety of other conditions (see Medical Hypnosis & Hypnotherapy, Mayo Clinic Reports here). These randomized and controlled studies, along with medical reports, reviews, and a sizable amount of literature in the fields of health and alternative medicine, indicate the complimentary benefits of hypnosis in facilitating healing by countering stress, enhancing immune system responses, and empowering patients to actively participate in their wellness process.

The Mayo Clinic has used hypnosis for pain control and other medical applications for over a century. And since 1995, the National Institutes of Health have recommended hypnotherapy as a treatment for chronic pain.

“Hypnosis is safer than virtually any medication any of us doctors use.”  

      ∼ David Spiegel, M.D., Stanford University, School of Medicine

As for meditation, over 1500 studies conducted by more than 250 independent research institutes show the practice to be clinically effective for the management of stress, anxiety and panic, chronic pain, depression, obsessive thinking, strong emotional reactivity, and a wide array of medical and mental health related conditions.

Meditation & The Placebo Effect

Scientific research on meditation has shown enduring changes in baseline brain function demonstrating brain plasticity and its effects on the immune system.

Medical outcomes of 15,000 patients from the Center for Mindfulness Stress Reduction at the University of Massachusetts’ Medical School shows a 35% reduction in the number of medical symptoms and a 40% reduction in psychological symptoms (see Meditation Science Weekly article here).

(The findings of these and other peer reviewed research studies are available in my article: A Review Of The Significant Research On Hypnosis, Meditation & Trance States.)

THE SNAKE OIL MYTHOS

The placebo effect is inherent to medical research and reflects the ability of our thoughts and beliefs to alter brain chemistry and physiology. Trance state healing modalities such as hypnosis and meditation are alternative therapies validated by an impressive and ever-growing body of scientific research. In light of the considerable evidence demonstrating the mind’s influence on the body, one must question how and why derogatory terms such as pseudoscience, woo woo, quackery, and snake oil, among others, have become associated with the healing power of the mind. Where does this skepticism come from? And in what ways does it reflect upon the limiting and materialistic framework of our current medical system?

Historically, much of the disparagement of alternative healing practices, along with the outright opposition to all forms of health care outside the conventional health industry, can be traced to the American Medical Association. The article “A Symbiotic Relationship, The AMA & The For-Profit Health Lobby” published by Think Progress, explores the disturbing evolution of the American Medical Association into a lobbying giant and member services entity—one tethered to the pharmaceutical companies and deeply entwined in the profit-based health industry. Indeed, in 2015 the AMA was the third largest lobbying spender in Washington.

To what lengths do such self-serving politics go? Is it possible that the snake oil mythos, at least in part, is rooted in a disinformation strategy built on fear, uncertainty, and doubt (“FUD”)—one that negatively influences perceptions of alternative and complimentary therapies—thus preserving the interests of the health care industry and upholding its profiteering agenda? Alas, could a systematic and well funded FUD campaign constitute part of the limiting and materialistic framework of our current medical system?

The considerable and credible peer reviewed and published evidence demonstrating the healing power of the mind cannot be ignored, dismissed, or characterized as fraudulent. And perhaps it is medical research protocol itself that bears the most persuasive witness. The placebo effect is part of the efficacy of both Western medicine and alternative therapies, and reflects the power of consciousness to influence the regenerative processes of the human organism. Trance states merely function to positively reinforce this innate mind/body connection, effectively altering brain chemistry and physiology.

©2016 Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht. & Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery. All Rights Reserved.

Shawn picture-52

Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht.

Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery specializes in innovative approaches to workplace wellness, mindfulness training, and personal development. Via private coaching, presentations, workshops, training events, and our partnership in the unique online wellness community Your Wellness Room—used by Kaiser Permanente, EFactor and other notable companies—our nationally recognized programs and practices help people and organizations make positive changes. Please call for a free consultation at (818) 512-4371 or contact us via email.

Light Of Winter

Winter Solstice

A WINTER SOLSTICE MEDITATION

(Note: The following article is from a presentation on MIndfulness Meditation given during the Winter Solstice service at Emerson Unitarian Universalist Church in Canoga Park, California, on December 20, 2015.) 

In this article and accompanying meditation (see the link below), we celebrate Winter Solstice in a very special way, as we join in mind, body & spirit to invite reborn light into the fertile depths of our individual and collective souls. We shall contemplate and explore the seeded darkness of our inner being; the transcendent mystery of midwinter and its promise of renewal wrought by the pale sun and cold earth; the ancient, echoed wisdom woven by countless seasons into bone and sinew and sense. We shall partake in the interconnected sentience of our living, breathing and enigmatically conscious universe. At this revered confluence of endings and beginnings, this holiest of all seasons beneath the turning of the Celestial Wheel, let us rejoice in ambient communion with the resplendent wonder of the sun’s rebirth in our hearts, and create a cradle of spirituality from which to draw inspiration.

Mindfulness

My practice includes teaching both private and corporate clients mindfulness meditation. There have been thousands of studies conducted by hundreds of independent researchers demonstrating the benefits of mindfulness meditation in reducing stress, managing emotional reactivity, improving focus and concentration, strengthening immune system function, and treating an array of medical and mental health related conditions. It is being widely used in business to facilitate healthy and productive environments and positive workplace culture. There are still skeptics, however, many of whom assign a degree “woo-woo” to the practice of meditation. Having meditated daily for nearly 40 years, I can tell you first hand that whatever woo-woo that occurs is not in the meditation itself, but rather in the experience of higher conscious. We shall consider this phenomenon in relationship to Winter Solstice a bit further, both conceptually and experientially.

I invite you to take a deep breath. Match your inhale to your exhale. Now repeat this deep, measured breathing and focus your attention on it. Notice the air moving. Touch your thumbs and fingertips together; wiggle your toes. Observe yourself in relation to the space around you. Just be present with yourself . . . in this moment. Let go of all resistance, expectation and judgment. Simply allow yourself to experience the here and now.

     “Still yourself. Listen. Breathe.”

This is what is known as a mindfulness moment. The Zen of mindfulness, the bone and sinew of it, the essence of being truly present, is momentarily absolving oneself of intentional thought. And the most effective way to learn the art of mindfulness is through mindfulness meditation, which is a western, non-sectarian, research-based form of meditation derived from the ancient Buddhist practice known as Insight Meditation.

MindfulnessMindfulness meditation develops the skill of paying attention to our internal and external experiences with acceptance, patience, and compassion. The idea of enlightenment, of shifting and expanding perception beyond the realm of human intelligence, is grounded in this subtle and remarkable discipline of inviting a pure awareness that diffuses the habituation of fearful thoughts, emotions and behaviors. In mindfulness meditation, one of the oldest and most venerated practices for exploring the ineffable dimensions of consciousness, the seeded darkness of our inner being, has come of age.

Unity Consciousness

But let’s set aside ancient wisdom for a moment. Instead, let’s use modern science to embrace this old world perspective of the interconnected sentience of our living, breathing and enigmatically conscious universe. I quote Neil deGrasse Tyson, popular astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space:

“The atoms of our bodies are traceable to stars that manufactured them in their cores and exploded these enriched ingredients across our galaxy, billions of years ago. For this reason, we are biologically connected to every other living thing in the world. We are chemically connected to all molecules on Earth.  And we are atomically connected to all atoms in the universe.”

According to quantum physics theory, beneath molecules, atoms, subatomic particles, and quarks lies a singular unified field of energy, an intelligence from which all forces and particles emerge, a ‘conscious’ structural matrix that exists everywhere in the universe. This energy field is considered ‘conscious’ or ‘intelligent’ because it encompasses the basic behavior of all things within the functioning laws of nature. The scientific community calls this concept unified field theory, or unity consciousness. In his book, A Brief History of Time, Stephan Hawking refers to the phenomenon of unity consciousness as “the mind of God.”

This consciousness, or organic sentience, is foundationally influenced by the interconnection of the Sun and Earth, a transmission of galactic energy communicated through light and vibrational wave frequencies along the infinite electromagnetic spectrum (radio, microwave, infrared, visual, ultraviolet, x-ray, and gamma rays); much of which we cannot see or feel.

In his book, ‘The Social Conquest of Earth,’ pre-eminent Harvard biologist and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner E.O. Wilson sets forth a stunningly vivid and succinct description of the limited aperture through which human biology allows us to perceive our world.

Unity Consciousness

The migration patterns of birds are a primary example of the ability of animals to sense electromagnetic fields

What is most fascinating and relevant about this account is not that technology can reveal realities to which we are insensate—colors we don’t see, sounds we don’t hear, energy fields we don’t sense—what is most compelling is that all of these are perceivable to biology, just not human biology. It is established biological fact that animals see colors we can’t see; hear sounds we can’t hear; feel vibrations we can’t feel; and sense electromagnetic fields.

All living things are comprised of energy that radiates an aura, a “bio-electromagnetic field,” which results from electrical impulses generated by the movement of electrons around the nucleus of our cells. The human aura includes physical, emotional, and mental/spiritual aspects, and represents this chemical, biological, and atomical connection to the living universe. Research utilizing infrared and Kirlian photography has demonstrated that meditation intensifies or “charges” this aura, which enhances its interactivity with the geomagnetic energy fields of the earth and the cosmos.

From this scientific perspective then, is it such a leap to conceive of creation’s wonder, the transcendent mystery, perhaps even divinity itself, as this conscious matrix of unified energy that surrounds and connects all living things? And is this conception not distinctly akin to what Unitarian Universalism calls “the Interconnected Web of Life?”

Winter Solstice

Winter solstice is the time to honor the transcendent mystery—the wonder of the seeded darkness and the beauty of light reborn. Celebrations of longer days to come and the turning of nature’s seasonal wheel have been common throughout cultures and history. Winter solstice is the promise of patient wisdom beneath the turning stars, a time to embrace the rebirth of the sun with great hope and compassion in our hearts.

Pagan author T. Thorn Coyle wrote that the solstice is:

” . . . a chance to still ourselves inside, to behold the glory of the cosmos, and to take a breath with the Sacred.”

For many people, the Winter Solstice season marks the only occasion all year they set foot in a house of worship. Indeed, midwinter’s confluence of endings and beginnings—the night of greatest darkness and the sun reborn in hope—stirs a searching of the soul’s belonging. It is a time of coming together in fellowship, of setting aside enmities and ideologies, of observing rites and rituals that allow us to glimpse the spiritual cradle of life’s miracle. It is a time of gratitude and wonder, of compassion and grace, of peace and goodwill.

I invite you to join me for a few minutes of Mindfulness Meditation, as we contemplate . . .

Light Of Winter

Winter Solstice Meditation

Light Of Winter Meditation

(click on the link, close your eyes, and enjoy the meditation)

©2015 Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht. & Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery. All Rights Reserved.

Shawn picture-52

Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht.

Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery specializes in innovative approaches to workplace wellness, mindfulness training, and personal development. Via private coaching, presentations, workshops, training events, and our partnership in the unique online wellness community Your Wellness Room—used by Kaiser Permanente, EFactor and other notable companies—our nationally recognized programs and practices help people and organizations make positive changes. Please call for a free consultation at (818) 512-4371 or contact us via email. 

Story Medicine: The Medium Of Leaders & Heroes

Story Medicine

Storytelling is a healing art and mankind’s oldest form of psychology. Stories have the power to calm, heal, rejuvenate—to invoke deeper comprehension and reflection while inviting a shift in perspective. Ancient cultures revered storytelling, which was a sacred practice reserved for the learned and holy men, and served as a powerful medium for helping tribes and clans cope with the hardship of survival.

The Hero Within

On a psychological and spiritual level, we profoundly resonate with tales of crisis, conflict and transformation. We individually and collectively identify with the hero of the story, who overcomes insurmountable obstacles in a confluent realization of innate potential and purpose. The storytelling traditions of our indigenous ancestors are the foundation of the hero’s journey, which evolved into the archetypal right of passage common to world mythologies.

“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”           ~Joseph Campbell, from ‘The Hero With A Thousand Faces’

The metaphor of an unfolding adventure of discovery, one which presents confounding problems and challenges—each representing a threshold of realization and growth—subconsciously motivates us to reconsider the powers of faith and possibility in our lives, inspiring new viewpoints of ourselves and the world around us. Indeed, stories are how we make sense of ourselves.

Leadership Tales

There are three primary elements of story that play into the human experience:

  1. Identity: A context to interpret the past and anticipate the future
  2. Integration: A narrative for affirming life meaning and purpose
  3. Socialization: A dialogue with which to interact with others

Research in psychology has shown that people realize meaning and purpose in their lives through personal stories; this is especially true in tales of individual redemption through which pain and suffering are transformed into self enlightenment, and then conferred as a benefit to others. (See ‘The Redemptive Self’ by Northwestern University psychology professor Dan McAdams here). 

This is why storytelling is fundamental to leadership, especially the trial and redemption aspect, which provides the backdrop of crisis, conflict and transformation necessary to resonate with the listener’s inner hero. Incorporating these elements engages and motivates others to consider why they should change their world, while at the same time opening their receptivity as to how that might be achieved.

An effective leadership tale compels people to experience and examine their values on an emotional basis rather than as abstract principals, inspiring a calling to action of their own leadership qualities and ability. This personal inspiration is then integrated through social interaction to become part of the organizational identity, exemplifying why storytelling is one of the most powerful leadership tools of organizers and movement builders.

Therapeutic Imagery

According to research by psychology professor Jonathan Adler, PhD, therapy patients who experience themselves—rather than the therapist—as the focal point of the story, show the most improvement (see American Psychological Association publication, ‘Our Stories, Ourselves’ here). This is the fundamental principle of Therapeutic Imagery, which is a mindfulness meditation modality that facilitates imagination and visualization with all the senses.

A large and growing body of research demonstrates the efficacy of mindfulness meditation modalities in treating various medical and mental health related conditions. Therapeutic Imagery is particularly effective for wellness, mindfulness training, and personal development initiatives such as:

  • Increasing Emotional Intelligence
  • Managing Stress & Anxiety
  • Overcoming Physical Debility & Relieving Pain 
  • Resolving Psychological Trauma
  • Treating Autoimmune Conditions

Therapeutic ImageryThe predisposition of the subconscious mind to interpret imagery in story form, and the persuasive power of stories to dramatically shape thoughts, memories and emotional attachments, is the heart of this artistic and extremely client friendly approach. Universal symbols, mythological archetypes, and personal metaphors empower new and enlightened encounters with personal challenges, stimulating self-discovery and a meaningful rescripting of life stories.

Why The Medicine Works

Sometimes words such as ‘problem’ and ‘challenge’ elicit the need to visit our misfortunes. Stories help us stay positive and focus on the ways in which our struggles are born of personal choices. We learn to recognize attitudes and beliefs that are limiting and self-defeating. We begin reframing our narrative of self. Instead of pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps, we endeavor to climb mountains. The ability to inspire ourselves and others prompts us to take leadership roles and embrace opportunities to serve. Indeed, stories affirm that we each possess the innate ability and determination, the courage and wisdom, the compassion and force of will to be leaders and heroes in our own lives.

©2015 Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht. & Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery. All Rights Reserved.

Shawn picture-52

Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht.

Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery specializes in innovative approaches to workplace wellness, mindfulness training, and personal development. Via private coaching, presentations, workshops, training events, and our partnership in the unique online wellness community Your Wellness Room—used by Kaiser Permanente, EFactor and other notable companies—our nationally recognized programs and practices help people and organizations make positive changes. Please call for a free consultation at (818) 512-4371 or contact us via email. 

Finding The Psychic Science

  • Is it possible to actually read the thoughts of others, or somehow sense and influence the state of their mood or health?
  • Are there really such things as angels, spirit guides, or totems that speak to us or otherwise present themselves in our lives?
  • What about clairvoyance, telepathy, precognition and divination?

Certain answers to questions like these lie in the realm of quantum energy theory, which is gaining tremendous traction in the ever merging spheres of science and spirituality. The psychic phenomenon of psychokinesis is defined as the mind’s ability to influence matter, time, space, or energy by means unknown to current science. Interestingly, quantum physics shares this concept in its hypothesis of a universal energy field, also known as ‘unified field theory’ or ‘unity consciousness’, which contemplates reality as all life forces, all existence, interacting within a single, unified framework (see Huffington Post article Global Spirit: The Journey Toward Oneness here).

Organic Sentience

From a quantum physics perspective, psychic ability could be thought of as organic sentience in energy form—a sensory transmission of intelligence—an ambient communion beyond a linear time/space continuum. A primary example of this kind of communication occurs in nature, where very distinct and sensuous forms of ‘language’ exist to remind us that everything is alive, aware and interconnected. In these interactions with the natural world, receptivity manifests in all our senses as a joining of mind, body and spirit; at times we are even held spellbound, and can be moved to profound insights, heightened emotions and enlightened thoughts. Wisdom and deeper knowledge flash before us and we are often motivated to write down or otherwise record such inspirations.

Tree Of Life

The first prophecies were the word of an oak. ~Plato

The human organism is especially attuned to organic sentience. Eyes, skin, tongue, ears and nostrils are sensory gateways for negotiating the living world. We hear winged chatter in the trees, taste the tangy sweetness of wild-picked berries, feel sand between our toes, see lightning flash in the sky, and smell moisture in the air. Indeed, the wind, the rain, the mountains and rivers, the woodlands and meadows and all their inhabitants animate our psyche. Even in a highly mechanized and information-driven world, these communications call upon our elemental relationship with nature and stir deep empathic responses, luring us into altered states of perceptual possibility.

The Mind’s Eye

Unified field theory considers the electromagnetic field of vibratory energy as a structural matrix that exists everywhere, an organic sentience from which all forces and particles emerge. This energy field is deemed conscious or intelligent because it encompasses the basic behavior of all things within the functioning laws of nature. We individualize perception through our own mind processes, yet consciousness itself is the quantum stuff of the universe and represents the interconnection of all of life.

Therefore, as a manifestation of consciousness, we must deliberate psychic ability as involving the innate interaction between the body’s natural electromagnetic fields and the electromagnetic field of vibratory energy. Since the heart generates and distributes electromagnetic waves throughout the bloodstream, which includes the pineal gland in the brain, let’s take a closer look at the role of this fascinating organ.

Pineal GlandAs part of the endocrine system, the pineal gland is located between the two hemispheres of the brain and has many unique aspects and functions, including:

  • Detection of light (the pineal gland is directly wired to the brain’s visual cortex)
  • Allowing more blood flow than any other gland in the body
  • Regulation of circadian rhythms which affect our sleep/wake cycles
  • Production of melatonin and serotonin hallucinogens that influence mood and perception
  • Sensitivity to all types of magnetic fields

Historically considered ‘the mind’s-eye’ and linked to the sixth in the series of seven energy and spiritual chakras of the body (also known as the third-eye chakra), this tiny pinecone shaped organ is steeped in ancient spiritual symbolism and iconography. The interior lining of the pineal gland is composed of rods and cones—photoreceptors just like the eye—and is the only organ besides the eye that senses light. With the vast amount of blood and electromagnetic energy that flow through it, the pineal gland appears to modulate consciousness, catalyzing imagination, visualization and creativity to transform our perceptions into images, the language of the subconscious mind.

A significant body of neurochemical and anthropological evidence suggests that the pineal gland may produce a neuromodulator that enhances a state of consciousness conducive to psychic ability. This research further indicates the earth’s magnetic fields affect the functioning of the pineal gland, and that production and secretion of melatonin and endogenous serotonin hallucinogens impacted by variations in the earth’s magnetic fields could be conducive to the occurrence of psychic states of consciousness. The implications of this research are far-reaching and suggest the pineal gland functions as a neuromechanism by which psychic ability may interrelate with geomagnetic fluctuation. (See publication by Psi Research Centre, ‘Speculations On The Effect of Geomagnetism On The Pineal Gland’ here.)

Trance States

A discourse on physic ability or clairvoyance, even in the context of quantum physics theory, inevitably invokes images of fraudulent practitioners presenting themselves as psychic mediums. Thus, a certain degree of skepticism is warranted. An analysis of the considerable research conducted on the practice of shamanism, however, demonstrates that trance states have a functional relationship with healing procedures, divination, extrasensory perception and psychokinesis.

By virtue of its ancient roots in cultures across the globe, shamanism is distinguished from other magico-religious practices such as mediumship, spiritual healing, or prophesying. It derives from hunting and gathering societies and incorporates biologically based altered states of consciousness, including interacting with the spirit realm and channeling those energies into this world. Shamanism appears to predate all organized religions and has attracted the interest of anthropologists, archaeologists, historians, religious scholars and psychologists, who have produced and published books, academic papers and peer-reviewed journals devoted to its study and interpretation.

Trance States

The relationship of trance states to divination and healing ability has been demonstrated in a large body of research on shamanism published by the American Anthropological Association

A wide range of experimental laboratory research on shamanistic practices suggests an operative connection between trance states and healing and divination abilities. These trance states are dominated by slow wave patterns of discharge from parts of the brain including the limbic system, frontal cortex, and hippocampal area, which are optimal for energy, orienting, learning, memory, and attention. A review of eighty-seven parapsychological laboratory studies indicates that trance states such as meditation and hypnosis induced relaxation, and sensory deprivation significantly improved extrasensory perception and psychokinetic performance.

The use of trance states functionally circumvents normal cognitive processes to access subconscious information, which may be revealed in dreams, visions, or other intuitive or instinctive manifestations of cognition. Even if extrasensory perception is not involved, trance states may still facilitate divination by providing access to subconscious insight. These studies also demonstrate that humans have the ability to affect and heal a variety of biological systems through psychokinesis.

It has been demonstrated that a common physiology underlies altered states of consciousness induced by a variety of different procedures. Meditation disciplines value trance states as providing the basis for a more objective perception of reality. Yoga traditions indicate that siddhis (paranormal powers) including healing and other psychic abilities, are a by-product of spiritual development which involve direct and profound alterations of consciousness. A large body of research exists suggesting that trance state healing and well-being practices are psychobiologically based. The empirical evidence includes the universal nature of such practices, the psychobiological characteristics of trance states, and the functional relationships and association of trance with the abilities of healing and divination. (See ‘Shamans and Other Magico-Religious Healers: A Cross-Cultural Study of Their Origins,’ published on behalf of the American Anthropological Association [PDF], here).

Conclusion

Unity Consciousness

The Universe Is Alive, Aware & Interconnected

The cosmos itself is a conscious entity populated with other conscious entities, each of which is a quantum hologram, an enigmatic representation of the whole. Consciousness flows naturally from all living beings and shapes the electromagnetic field of light and vibratory energy that connects every organism in the universe. Our ability to ‘channel’ and direct this conscious energy stream is determined by our individual congruency of mind, body and spirit. Many variables effect this equation, including some that elude our comprehension; yet ultimately, everyone shares in an ethereal matrix of awareness which can manifest in transcendent forms such as intuition, instinct, extrasensory perception, and empathic or psychic ability. In ways as unique as the fractal geometry of a snowflake, each of us channels the infinitely mysterious sanctity of creation, this shared life force known as consciousness, in vast and varied ways that defy absolute definition and understanding.

We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.

~T.S. Elliot

Shawn picture-52

Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht.

Note: This exploration of psychic ability and unity consciousness is by no means comprehensive and is intended only as an introduction to the power of human potential. Ours is not a world of absolutes and the science of cognition, in particular, is still more about what is being discovered than what is actually known. Developing the ability to recognize and fully trust our powers of perception, to realize deeper wisdom and enlightenment, to experience profound insight and fulfill our journey of purpose, are ultimately endeavors of spiritual self-discovery. Unity consciousness involves opening up to the sacred bond of creation and inviting divinity in its many forms—these are functions of inclusion rather than exclusion, of being liberated from constrained convictions, of embracing infinite possibility rather than limited proof—and of connecting instead of dividing, both within ourselves and to the living universe.

©2015 Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht. and Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery

 

 

Managing Stress & Body Weight

Managing Stress

Manage Stress & Body Weight By Regulating Your Blood Sugar 

The Simple Truths Of Blood Sugar

How does the body react to stress? What are the impacts of diet and exercise on this process? Stress is a fact of everyday life for most people, so it is important to know how to take care of ourselves physically and emotionally in responding to stressful situations.

When it comes to weight, the crucial element is understanding how stress impacts blood sugar. Our natural stress response involves the release of hormones that elevate blood sugar (glucose), which is needed by our brain to respond to challenges. But when blood sugar levels rise too high, the body begins converting the excess glucose to fat. Refined sugars and simple carbohydrates also elevate blood sugar, compounding this process. Therefore, it is imperative that we be mindful of our sugar intake during times of stress.

“Whole, unprocessed, single item foods that don’t require labeling of ingredients are the healthiest choices.”

During stressful situations we commonly feel hungry, so make sure nutritious choices are available. Include foods rich in protein such as lean meats, nuts, and legumes, and those high in soluble fiber such as fruits and vegetables; limit sweets and processed foods containing simple carbohydrates and sugars. The American Heart Association recommends restricting refined sugars added to our diets to no more than half of our daily calorie allowance. For American women, this averages about 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day, and for men, about 9 teaspoons per day (See American Heart Association article ‘Sugar 101’ here).

Exercise & Mindfulness Meditation

Exercise regulates blood sugar by burning calories and providing a physical release for the stress hormones in the body. Even in small doses throughout the day, physical activity counteracts the effects of elevated glucose levels and stimulates our brain chemistry to make us feel better. So remember to move around; avoid sitting for more than two hours at a time. And along with incorporating a regular exercise regimen to help achieve a healthy weight, invite activities into each day such as standing to perform certain tasks, walking whenever possible, and using the stairs instead of the elevator.

Mindfulness MeditationFinally, keep in mind that caffeine also elevates blood sugar and excess amounts actually make us feel more stressed. Mindfulness meditation is an excellent alternative as it boosts our energy in the best ways possible—calming anxious reactions that raise glucose levels, sharpening focus and concentration, and improving our mental and emotional outlook—giving us a positive and powerful coping tool for managing stress and maintaining a healthy body weight.

These links will help you learn more about stress management, healthy diet and body image,and wellness.

©2014 by Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht. & Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery