‘Consciousness and Shamanism (Scholarly Articles, Vol. 4)’ is the result of the author’s Ayahuasca voyage in 2004 to Ecuador, where he was drinking the sacred brew in the presence of an expe…Full description
‘Consciousness and Shamanism (Scholarly Articles, Vol. 4)’ is the result of the author’s Ayahuasca voyage in 2004 to Ecuador, where he was drinking the sacred brew in the presence of an experienced...Full description
‘Consciousness and Shamanism (Scholarly Articles, Vol. 4)’ is the result of the author’s Ayahuasca voyage in 2004 to Ecuador, where he was drinking the sacred brew in the presence of an experienced...
It describes everything that is related to consciousness.Full description
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The fourth volume of the famous Berkeley Physics Course.Full description
The fourth volume of the famous Berkeley Physics Course.Full description
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Update the ancient wisdom of the I-Ching, Book of Changes into the 21s century using the Laws of Quantum Physics.
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Consciousness, Quantum Physics, and Shamanic Healing By Rev. Ann Gelsheimer, M.A., M.Ed., D.T.S. …consciousness lies at the heart of all that we can experience, all that we can conceive, and all that we are. It also points toward the possibility that intentions create the reality that we experience. (Gary Zukov, 2001, p. xxviii) Although the majority of my professional training and practice continues to lie within the discipline of psychology, for years I have been fascinated by adventures in consciousness that generally lie outside what mainstream psychology is interested in or able to study. For example, I have spent 12 years studying with Tibetan meditation masters to learn practices that alter ordinary conscious experience in ways that promote healing and spiritual development and several years recently studying and training in shamanic healing. It has been exciting for me to discover there is an overlap between Eastern views of consciousness, research findings regarding the mind-body connection, energy healing practices, the practice of shamanism, and the findings of Western quantum physics. Because “consciousness” is a notoriously difficulty term to define, for the purposes of this article, I will work with a simple definition of consciousness as awareness, information processing and decision-making. The Relationship between Consciousness and Physical Reality There is a profound shift in worldview occurring as we collectively begin to digest the implications of research in the area of quantum physics. From the point of view of classical, Newtonian physics the world is material, stable, predictable and controllable, objective and unaffected by observation, machinelike in that the parts determine the whole, controlled locally, cause and effect can be clearly discerned, and dependent on external energy forces, without which things fall apart (Shelton, 1999). Consciousness is not considered to have any direct impact on physical reality, although we concede that through our ideas, planning, and eventual physical action, we can alter many aspects of reality much the way an architect designs and ultimately brings to fruition the creation of a new building. But within the field of quantum mechanics, research suggests that consciousness plays a more immediate role in determining reality as we shall see shortly. Quantum mechanics refers to the study of subatomic particles in motion. These particles are not actually solid material things but probability tendencies or “energy with potentiality”. These energy potentialities constantly change their state between particles (localized position in time and space) and waves (nonlocalized vibrational energy patterns), forming the atoms and molecules that make up every physical physical object in our physical world. Here is something to ponder: everything is made of energy. Some things appear to have
greater or lesser density, but fundamentally, nothing is made of anything other than these probability tendencies that move between waves and particles. But it gets even more interesting! At the quantum level of reality, a physicist’s expectation regarding how a photon or electron will act during an experiment actually determines what results he or she will obtain. The Newtonian objectivity is replaced by quantum subjectivity. “Subatomic interactions are not only unexplainable and unpredictable, they are in some mysterious way affected by the intentions of us their observers.” (Shelton, 1999, p.3) An example of the power of intention can be found in the conflicting discoveries of two ground-breaking physicists. In 1803, Thomas Young’s double slit experiment proved that light must be wave-like in composition because only waves could create the interference patterns that he obtained. But in 1921, Einstein won a Noble Prize for his theory of light as composed of tiny particles called photons and this theory was substantiated by several experiments. But a wave cannot be a particle and a particle cannot be a wave, so how could both theories be true? According to Gary Zukov, the waveparticle duality marked the end of the either/or way of looking at the world. Physicists began to realize that light could be either wave or particle depending on how the scientist looked at it . The implication of this is that what we are experiencing is not external reality but rather an interaction with the physical world that we are co-creating. Physicists are now asking such questions as, “Did any particles exist at all before we thought about them and measured them?” Along the same theme, Werner Heisenberg discovered that at the subatomic level it is not possible to observe something without changing it. Objectivity does not apply at the subatomic level. In his efforts to observe the momentum of an electron, he actually changed the course and speed of the electron. He found that he was unable to measure both the position and the momentum of the electron. This became the basis of his famous “uncertainty principle”. Given the lack of information on subatomic particles, we are unable to apply Newton’s laws of motion or to predict the course of a single electron. For this reason, according to Niels Bohr, quantum physics must “renounce causality” as the basis of reality (Zukov, 2001, p. 127-126). Probability, Possibility, and Actuality To begin to explain what might be happening on a subatomic level, the new quantum theory proposed the idea of “probability waves”, which according to Heisenberg, were something between possibility and reality (Zukov, 2001, p.73). Probability waves exist as tendencies for certain events to happen whether or not those tendencies actually become events. As we will see in this next section, consciousness intervenes to have an immediate impact in actualizing one possibility or tendency within the probability wave. The impact of consciousness on reality is known as the “observer effect”. “ Schrodinger’s Cat” has been a famous dilemma pondered by quantum physicists interested in the effect of consciousness on probability, possibility and actuality. In very brief terms, a theoretical cat is placed inside a box in which a device may or may not release poisonous gas. Only by looking into the box can
the fate of the cat be determined. The box is sealed and the gas device is randomly triggered or not. The question is what has happened to the cat? The Newtonian physicist would say, “Open the box and find out”, but according to quantum physics, the cat is in a kind of limbo of possibilities expressed by a wave function that includes survival and death. One possibility might be more probable than the other if the odds of the device firing were not 50/50, but from the perspective of quantum physics, nothing has actually happened until someone actually looks into the box! At that moment in time, the wave function of probability collapses and only one of the possibilities is actualized. According to the Copenhagen Interpretation, which one of the possibilities is realized depends upon which interpretation we choose to follow. According to the Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics , all possibilities are immediately realized in different worlds or realities in which we also exist, but the person we know as “you” or “I” currently only experiences one of the realities. Which one of those realities that you or I will experience is impossible to predict. Consciousness and the Observer Effect You have to love science fiction to have patience with some of these theories, but what has been established repeatedly is the reality of the “observer effect”. Neils Bohr and other scientists in the 1920s were convinced, based on observations of their data and mathematics that our reality is dependent on an "observer effect”, which is defined as the interplay between how our reality manifests and how we observe it. In no less than 7 scientific experiments in various countries since 1972, the reality of the “observer effect” has been tested and confirmed (Lyon, W., “Shamanic Healing: Why It Works”, 2003). It now appears that consciousness is also more pervasive than we may ever have imagined. According to Zukov, physicists found themselves dealing with energy that apparently somehow processed information, which made it “organic” in their opinion. In one of the experiments, photons were fired at a board with two slits. In the design of the experiments, sometimes only one slit was open and sometimes both slits were open. The photons (fired as particles) dispersed differently across the two conditions, moving to specific areas of the wall in dependence on whether the second slit was open. The question raised by the experimenters was how did the photons know that the second slit was open or not? How was the information passed so quickly? Zukov quotes E.H. Walker’s speculation (1970) that photons may be conscious, Consciousness may be associated with all quantum mechanical processes…since everything that occurs is ultimately the result of one or more quantum mechanical events, the universe is “inhabited” by an almost unlimited number of rather discrete conscious, usually non-thinking entities that are responsible for the detailed working of the universe. (2001, p. 69) According to Zukov’s research, the evidence indicates that subatomic particles constantly appear to be making decisions, and these decisions are made on decisions made elsewhere. Subatomic particles seem to have instantaneous knowledge of decisions made by other particles, even those in
other galaxies. This phenomenon, referred to as "nonlocality", suggests that all particles are related in a dynamic and intimate way that meets the definition of “organic”. Zukov suggests that the philosophical implication of quantum mechanics is that we are actually all part of one all-encompassing organic pattern and that no part is ever really separate from another. For this reason, the distinction between “in here” (consciousness or internal reality) and “out there” (external reality) does not appear to actually exist! The Universe As Hologram And Undivided Wholeness Physicist, David Bohm, and neurophysiologist, Karl Pribram, attempted to resolve various questions in physics and neurophysiology by viewing the entire universe as a giant holograph containing both matter and consciousness, in which all information was available to anyone if one knew how to access it. In his theory of "wholeness and the implicate order", Bohm saw an undivided wholeness enfolded into an infinite background source, which unfolds into the visible, material, and temporal world of our everyday lives. Within this layered view of reality, any element contains enfolded within itself the totality of its universe. To explain the phenomenon of "nonlocality" (presented above), Bohm suggested there is no message being sent between particles but rather their apparent separateness is an illusion. On a deeper level of reality, these same particles are connected within something more fundamental and only exist in our physical reality as extensions of this more fundamental reality. Also, at this deeper level reality is a sort of superhologram in which the past, present, and future all exist simultaneously. If this is accurate, then with the proper methods it is conceivable that one could reach into the superholographic level of reality and pluck out scenes from the long-forgotten past or possibilities yet to occur in the future. This view of the physical universe as interconnected and holographic, arising from levels of reality that are superholographic in terms of all time & events helps to explain many unusual experiences in consciousness such as telepathy, precognition, out-of-body experiences, near death experiences, and ecstatic states and miraculous healings. If all elements of the universe are truly networked into one functioning, conscious whole as quantum physicists have suggested again and again, and new information can be realized instantaneously in more than one location irregardless of distance and its correlate time, then what we have is a view of reality that is consistent with the perspective of mystics from all the spiritual traditions. According to Lawrence LeShan in his book, The Medium, the Mystic, and the Physicist, it is now a difficult task to discern whether a given anonymous description of how-the-world-works was provided by a physicist or a mystic because their worldviews are very similar. Consciousness, Quantum Physics, and Shamanic Healing Sandra Ingerman, a western teacher of shamanism, explains that shamanism is the earliest spiritual practice known to humanity, dating back tens of thousands of years. The word “Shaman” means "one who sees in the dark",
perhaps referring to the practice of wearing a blindfold or eye-mask while altering his or her state of consciousness for the purpose of contacting helping, compassionate spirits to aid in divination, healing, and gaining insight into individual and communal problems. According to anthropologist, Dr. Hank Wesselman, the Shaman is a mystic. He explains, Long before the rise of our state level societies, our indigenous ancestors discovered powerful methods for mastering the capabilities of the human body-mind-spirit complex. Today, there is a resurgence of interest in the ancient, time-tested ways of the shaman for entering mystical states of consciousness for healing and problem solving. Shamanism has emerged as a major thrust of the modern mystical movement. As LeShan observed between physicists and mystics generally, the view emerging from the field of quantum physics of the universe as an interconnected, conscious, energetic whole is consistent with the worldview as well as reported healing practices of the traditional Shaman from many different cultures. For the medicine person or Shaman, all aspects of the natural and spiritual worlds are interconnected. The implication of this is that it is to our peril that we harm or disrespect any aspect of this network of life with which we are so intimately connected. Wellness for the individual and for the larger community requires living in balance and harmony with all other parts of creation. Illness and other problems often result from a state of disharmony or lack of balance between the spirit and the physical aspects of life. The holographic character of reality suggested by Bohm and others implies that the whole of reality can be found within any part. From this perspective, it is interesting to observe the shamanic practice of requesting information and assistance from the spirit of any aspect of the natural or spiritual world in order to learn how to restore balance to the whole and bring about healing. Such information is accessed by altering one's state of consciousness through the practice of the Shamanic journey and involves travel outside of time or back in time to find the origins of a disturbance. According to Dr. Alberto Villoldo, a psychologist and medical anthropologist with more than 25 years of training and experience in shamanic healing practices from the Andes and Amazon, it is also possible to travel forward in time to find our future potential for wholeness or other creations and accomplishments in order to bring these back to the present. This practice of time-travel in realms outside of ordinary physical reality is reminiscent of accessing the "superhologram" or deeper level of reality that includes all time, past, present, and future, as described in Bohm's theory. Not only could we access possible futures through tapping into the superhologram level of reality, but physicist, Dr. Fred Alan Wolf notes that the latest ideas in quantum physics suggest things from the future are currently influencing things of the present (The Soul and Quantum Physics, p. 19). Experiments in quantum physics have shown that the researcher tends to find what he is looking for. For example, Dr. Michio Kaku, a physicist and writer, has commented on the vast variety of sub-quantum particles that are continually being discovered as validation for the latest theories of researchers. In the online
video, "Beyond a Type 1 Universe", he joked that a Nobel Prize should go to the physicist who does not discover a new particle. But perhaps this tendency of reality to respond to the intention of the researcher actually serves the healing intention of the Shaman and patient. Fred Alan Wolf explains that the quantum field of possibility from which all physical events arise is both, imaginal and it has physical ramifications. But it’s neither physical nor purely imaginary. It seems to be both out in space and in our brains at the same time. When the field changes material objects themselves change. How do they change? They change because what this field represents is the field of possibility for all things to happen…The force we’re talking about is not the force of a physical object upon a physical object. It’s a change of mind. It’s no more energetic or forceful than a change of thought or a whim or a fancy of one’s mind, but yet it seems to have effects. Today, we know that is true. (pp. 14-15) The Shaman uses a change in mind to affect a healing outcome. In preparation for the Shamanic journey, the Shaman develops strong compassion for the one who is in distress and a clear intention to journey into non-ordinary reality or a mystical state to find the path back to wholeness for that person. The patient also must have faith that a healing is possible and a strong intention to recover his or health or well-being. From the perspective of quantum physics, this alliance of concern and healing intension are co-creating the path back to health by influencing the quantum field of possibility. A traditional shamanic healing ceremony often involves long, repetitive rituals, and these very rituals may be the way that Shamans affect the probability waves that bring reality into time and space according to William S. Lyon in his article, “Shamanic Healing: Why It Works”. He states, Once you understand these new findings of physics, what shamans do in ceremony appears rational. This means that healing ceremonies are basically wish-fulfillment exercises, whereby the "wish" is expressed as prayer. A prayer constitutes an intensely focused, strong human will. It is the observer effect of quantum mechanics at its best. In a trance state, the Shaman can effect change in the local reality with the help of spirit helpers working at the quantum level. “This is achieved through their ritual action, in which the shaman's consciousness, in an altered state of being, is intently focused on a singular objective. For example, "Take this cancer out of this sick person." The healing intension is expressed as a prayer that guides the ritual and all the participants. The Shaman often invites friends and family of the patient to attend the healing ceremony, increasing the number of observers that may affect the outcome, and asks those without faith to leave, which helps to ensure that everyone present is looking for the same result. The cure may be accomplished through a ritual such as “sucking” the disease from the patient, but the technique is less important than the observation that the disease is gone. That new observation on the part of all present brings about the needed change in reality that causes the quantum-level probability wave to collapse in an outcome favoring the patient.
As we have seen, quantum theory provides a framework to help us understand why shamanism works as it does, but scientific research into factors related to effective energy healing also reveal the soundness of many aspects of shamanic healing. In her book, The Intention Experiment , Lynne McTaggart listed an number of key factors in effective energy healing as identified by controlled research experiments that also apply to shamanic practice including: Focus or peak attention in the healer Attitude of healer (feeling connected to person or having “primed” the energetic pump) Healer’s own well-being (healers’ own health has effect on whether healing will help or harm) Belief that one received healing and that it would be helpful (In double blind studies of cardiac patients, the best outcome was when the person received healing, had a sense that he or she received it, and believed it would be helpful. Those who wrongly believed they received the healing did not do as well, which means the results are not due merely to the placebo effect. The worst outcome was for those who did not receive the healing and did not believe they received the healing.) Constructive, positively expressed intention (prayers for “no complications” after surgery were not effective) Patient feels an emotional bond or empathic connection with healer Negative thoughts, belief systems, or relationships may slow down healing (experiment compared the impact of a conflict free constructive discussion between marital couples versus discussion of a contentious issue on the rate of wound healing; a small wound took one day longer to heal under hostile condition) Prayer or healing for the healer (healers functioned best when others were praying for them) A "healed" healer may be the most effective of all. McTaggart comments that healing and positive intention are simply an aspect of the constant two-way flow of communication between living things, and the orderly energy of the healer communicated to the receiver helps the energy of the receiver return to a more orderly pattern of health. Fred Alan Wolf seems to agree, suggesting that the Shaman accomplishes healing through communicating a frequency of health from his or her own body to the patient. He explains, The shaman knows from his/her own training what the healing vibration is in their own body. So shamans try to get the person to release some aspect of themselves (the frequency of illness) that will allow them to resonate with the shaman. The shaman doesn’t try to vibrate at the vibrational pattern or frequency of the person he’s healing but will attempt to teach that person to vibrate at the level of the shaman. If two things have different frequencies, then they can’t be in harmony. It’s only when they come to the same frequency that harmony occurs and a transfer can take place. (p. 18). From Wolf’s explanation, we can see why health in the Shaman or healer • •
is so important before attempting to facilitate healing in someone else and why it is an essential practice for the Shaman to fill up with power from spiritual allies before attempting a healing. Wolf says this also explains why a Shaman may sometimes be vulnerable to attack. By attuning to the Shaman, a person becomes of one frequency with the Shaman; a bad vibe sent to the Shaman will then affect his or her energy unless the Shaman knows how to deal with this kind of energetic attack. A Few Implications from This Study of Consciousness, Quantum Physics and Shamanic Healing From our brief consideration of a few key ideas within quantum physics, it appears that not only do we influence our physical reality, but to some extent, we actually create it on a subatomic level with our consciousness or intentions. It is not hard to see that our worldview and theoretical orientations would also guide our expectations in terms of what we would be expecting to perceive and thus what we might create. This would have implications in all areas of life including healing from illness, finding new and creative solutions to old problems, and how we might address global problems. Our potential capacity as humans to influence the creation of physical matter may also account for spontaneous healings, remissions, placebo effects, the surprising results associated with clinical hypnosis, as well as any other form of healing. Dr. Lewis Mehl-Madrona, an MD, psychologist, and native healer, comments, “The true healer recognizes that every action produces a result, and a patient’s own intentions, conscious or not, can determine the direction of the result” ( Coyote Medicine, 1997, p.29). You may be wondering why Newtonian physics appear to work just fine most of the time in your everyday experience. Apples fall downwards from trees, moving trucks keep rolling unless brakes or other opposing forces are applied, and if you stick a fork in a live electrical socket, you usually get zapped no matter what your conscious “intentions” may be. One possible answer is offered by the Principle of Correspondence: the larger and object is, the less overtly susceptible it is to quantum uncertainty (Shelton, 1999, p.3). But even this point of view is being questioned. For example, an alternate possibility is that Newtonian physics is the current paradigm or expectation that we share in our collective consciousness, and this, in turn, is having an impact on what we create on a subatomic level and then experience on a physical level. One interesting shift in perspective required by our study is to depart from dividing our experience into what is “real”, that is all things perceivable through our physical senses, and what is imagination or “unreal”. From the perspective of both quantum physics and shamanism, there are levels of reality and consciousness influences the making of what will be our physical experience in the future. The quantum field of possibility out of which all our experience arise is imaginal with physical ramifications. Also, since all parts of reality appear to exist in an undivided wholeness, this interconnection or interrelatedness means that we must consider the welfare of the whole as part of our own well-being. For psychologists and medical practitioners who are trained to offer assessments and interventions based on research, the findings in quantum
physics challenge the assumed objectivity of our research and diagnostic procedures. We may need to reassess what it means to seek out a diagnosis of pathology in light of the power of the “observer effect” in creating reality. We also may need to rethink our immediate assumptions when someone reports experiences in consciousness that we have not had. While some experiences of alternative realities may actually be helpful, an uncontrolled tour of non-ordinary reality is usually an unsettling and dysfunctional experience. A useful criterion for assessing the presence of pathology when considering unusual experiences that might sound like hallucinations is how functional the person is in the rest of his or her life. Finally, an interesting application of the findings from quantum physics would be to re-consider the process of research as an exercise in what we can co-create for the benefit of the people we seek to assist. For those of us who consider ourselves healers and ministers, this study requires us to assume more responsibility for potentially, if unwittingly, participating in the creation of pathology and other forms of distress as well as for facilitating healing in the people we seek to assist. I think this is a sobering but tremendously important point to consider, that our expectations and view of human nature, healing, and spiritual development may serve to co-create the experiences of the people we serve for better or worse. Also, given the way energy, intention, and healing or harm are commonly communicated between living beings, it seems critical that we attempt to keep ourselves in the best of health in body, mind, and spirit. It is an act of ministry and a healing intervention to attend to our own personal healing, taking responsibility for the quality or state of our own consciousness with the awareness that we are influencing others and also creating or at least co-creating the reality that we and others will experience. Ann Gelsheimer has graduate degrees in counselling and clinical psychology, a graduate diploma in theology, and is currently a doctoral student in clinical psychology. She is a licensed Interfaith Minister with over 20 years of counselling and teaching experience and has completed training at the Mind-Body Medical Institute at Harvard, advanced shamanic healing training with the Foundation for Shamanic Studies, and Reiki Master training along with several other energy modalities. She serves as a counsellor, professor, and program coordinator at Seneca College in Toronto and teaches relaxation and healing visualization for people with cancer, their friends and families at Wellspring/Sunnybrook Hospital.
References Ingerman, S. (2004). Shamanic Journeying: A Beginner’s Guide . Boulder, CO; Sounds True, Inc. Kaku, M. online video "Beyond a Type 1 Universe"; http://www.consciousmedianetwork.com/members/mkaku.htm LeShan, L. (2003). The Medium, the Mystic, and the Physicist. New York, NY; Helios Press Lyons, W. (2003). “Shamanic Healing: Why It Works”, adapted from Integrative
Healing , Fall 2003, http://www.beliefnet.com/story/136/story_13663.html McTaggart, L. (2007). The Intention Experiment . New York, NY; Free Press. Mehl-Madrona, L. (1997). Coyote Medicine. New York, NY: Fireside. Shelton, C. (1999). Quantum Leaps 7 Skills for Workplace Recreation. Woburn, MA: Butterworth-Heinemann. Talbot, M. (1992). The Holographic Universe. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publisher. Wesselman, H. Website: http://www.sharedwisdom.com/workshop_descriptions.htm Wolf, F.A. “The Soul and Quantum Physics” from http://pw1.netcom.com/~wolfpapers/myarticles/Q&A%20for%20Deepak.pdf Zukav, G. (2001). The Dancing Wu Li Masters. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publisher.