Shamanism

Season Awareness Day - Winter Solstice

Season Awareness Day - Winter Solstice

Winter

This is the season when water is the dominant element. It is the time of feelings, a deep Yin time. Winter is the time to replenish yourself and bring all the constitutions into balance. Read what you can do to balance yourself.

Body Symptoms and Dreaming by Don Ollsin

Body Symptoms & Dreaming by Don Ollsin

First, satisfy nutrition, reduce inflammation, improve circulation and enhance detoxification. As these concerns of your body are satisfied you can turn to deeper concerns like your dreaming body. As long as our body cells are in a state of distress we are usually not as interested in dreaming.  

Now to the dreaming process:

At the end of this exercise I will ask you to reflect on your experience and record it with words, sound or pictures. The intention to bring it forth into this world often deepens the experience.
 
“According to old assumptions, the body is merely a machine. Currently there is a great deal of concern with the body, but most people have not yet discovered that special kind of “bodily sense” that is the “sense of a situation”.

Why does focusing work? How does "the process" come to be so wise? It is the body that is so "wise," but of course it is not the body reduced to physiology, not the body-as-machine, but rather the body “from out of which you are living”. This body is not one thing while you are another, a second thing. Your body enacts your situations and constitutes them largely before you can think how. When your attention joins this living, you can pursue many more possibilities and choices than when you merely drive the body as if it were a machine like a car. The body lives inherently with others. The body is born into interaction and physically implies moving toward and with people. When the body first arrives, it implies nursing and being held, and after the body absorbs all the complex human circumstances, it can suggest an intricate new move in an unheard-of predicament if we allow it.

The international nature of the “body-in-situations” is contrary to most theories. But even if we reject the theories, the old assumptions remain; they are built into common words and phrases. In my philosophy I find a way to devise phrases and sentences in which words come to be used in new ways, so that we can go on from here, to think further. I have built a theory with concepts of a new kind that have both logical and experiential connections. With those concepts I am able to build a new understanding of the physical body as continuous with and capable of, animal behavior, then of language, and at last of focusing.”  Focusing – E. Gendlin

This exercise is something that can be done in almost any circumstance or situation.  For the purpose of training I will recommend an ideal setup.  Set aside a period of sufficient time, say 10 to 15 minutes.  Make yourself comfortable but not so comfortable that you will fall asleep.  Turn your attention to the inside.  

Ask “what wants my attention today?” For the purpose of this exercise choose a body symptom.  We can apply this process to strong emotions, moods, sensations and situations.  

The first skill that we need to develop is one of a warm welcoming attitude.  We do this by saying “hello” to what ever we encounter.  We welcome it.  We talk to it in a warm and friendly manner.  We ask it if it's OK to hang out with it today.  Once we have established contact and we feel that we are in a healthy relationship with our body dreaming we can go on.  

I find it helpful in this work to have a map of the three levels of awareness that we are going to explore.

To start with, we will be working in consensual reality and dreamland.  Later on we'll explore dreamtime and the sentient level.  So we all generally agree that a body symptom is a disturbance in our body that is usually aggravating and probably interfering with our over all sensation of well-being.  Generally, we consider body symptoms as undesirable.  In this paradigm shift, we are going to consider body symptoms as body dreams and see if they're dreaming has a message or purpose for our over all wellness.  To access the dreaming we are going to establish a relationship with our body dreaming.  We consider the body symptom as a doorway to dreaming. 

Now, we are going to enter in to dreamland via the body symptom.  Below I have mapped out a number of different pathways in dreamland.

Some of the simple ways that we can work with the symptom is to explore it in different pathways.  After establishing contact with the symptom as outlined in the beginning you can now ask your symptom:

1.     What kind of sound it would make.  Allow your symptom to express itself through you as a sound. 

2.    Ask your symptom, what it looks like and allow it to express itself through you as a drawing.  Color allows greater expression; so you may want to have crayons, pencil crayons, pastels, paints or markers available.  Modeling clay can also be an excellent medium for the dreaming to express itself. 

3.    Ask your symptom if it has a movement and allow it to move your body.  Start with small movements and if it feels right, slowly expand them.  You may or may not want to stand and allow your whole body to move.

4.    Does your body symptom have a smell associated with it? These pathways relate directly to our self.  Some of them will be more familiar and easier to access. 

The other pathways are more related to the world.  You can ask yourself the following questions and explore the answers.

  1. How does this body symptom relate to my relationships?  Who is wrong with me? 

  2. What do this body symptom and my work have to do with each other? 

  3. If the body symptom were a part of my community what would it say about my community? 

  4. How does my body symptom relate to the environment that I live in? 

These questions may or may not reveal information that is important to you at this time.  The last pathway that we will explore is the spirit pathway.  This is the dreamtime or sentient level of awareness.  What was the symptom before it was a symptom?  The simplest method of exploring this pathway is to ask “what the symptom was before it was a symptom” (Zen koan) and see if you can access the state that preceded the symptom.  This is a lucid foggy nonverbal (preverbal) state without duality.  This is the quantum level without form, the formless.  Vagueness and fogginess are important tools to access this level. 

“In Dreaming While Awake, Arnold Mindell defines lucidity as awareness of sentient experience, which precedes everything you think, see, hear and do.  When you are lucid, you sense tendencies as well as actualities.  Lucidity is a detached, diffuse state of mind that is essential for working with sentience.  It is adept at catching the slightest suggestions of experience.  Consciousness involves writing or knowing the notes of a song, while lucidity is awareness of the feeling background that gave rise to the song. Mindell also refers to lucidity as "cloudedness" to emphasize its loose, relaxed, not knowing quality.  Like peripheral vision, is not focused on any one object or point of reference.  It does not involve working or searching for meaning: nor does it try to achieve, understand or clarify.” Julie Diamond 1

Shamans call it “stopping your story.”  What is this energy without any story attached to it? 

Another way to explore the spirit pathway is through movement.  It is a little trickier but often rewarding.  You need to imagine something or someone creating the symptom.  We call this the symptom-maker.  Once you have discovered the symptom-maker, you need to embody it (shapeshifting).  Once you have embodied the symptom-maker you allow your body to move as the symptom maker.  Once your awareness is well anchored in the movement, you begin to slow the movement down.  Using your awareness, notice what most fascinates you in this movement.  Find the impulse (the kiss before the kiss) to make that movement.  Right at that pre-movement, notice what flirts with you.  It could be anything.  Again, vagueness and fogginess are important to the process.  We are like Alice in Wonderland.  This is the rabbit hole.  This is the unknown.  It may be weird or wonderful.  Part of the process is to suspend the rational part of our mind.  Healing often happens in this pure state of awareness prior to the existence of the symptom.  In this unformed state, form (the body symptom) can change.  We are dipping into the world of spirit. This is the last pathway called the spirit pathway.

After getting in contact with this energy it is valuable to reflect on your experience and record it with words, sound or pictures.

  1. A Path Made by Walking - Julie Diamond and Lee Spark Jones

  2. Pathways to Healing, a Guide to Herbs, Ayurveda, Dreambody and Shamanism by Don Ollsin

To learn more about Focusing and other emotional healing techniques Click Here Now!

Anami - the nameless one

kirpal-child.jpg

When I was in India as a young man I had this wonderful experience around words. I woke up one morning in the ashram pondering the thought "how does a preverbal child spell the word love?" The longer I pondered it, the more intoxicated I became. As I was musing on this I wandered over to my teachers residence. It has a beautiful courtyard surrounding the house and a gate keeper to let people in. As I was standing outside the gate in the early morning sun, a small child toddled by toward the gate. The gate keeper seeing the child, opened the gate and the toddler toddled in. The gatekeeper looked at me and beckoned me to follow, so I did. The child walked through the entrance, salon and into the bedroom where my teacher was sitting on the bed doing correspondence. I had followed and was standing in the back of the room. Kirpal lifted his head from his correspondence and smiled at the child, who smiled back in return. I had my answer.

Plants Communicate Using An Internet Of Fungus

 

Hidden beneath the surface and entangled in the roots of Earth’s astonishing and diverse plant life, there exists a biological superhighway linking together the members of the plant kingdom in what researchers call the “wood wide web”. This organic network operates much like our internet, allowing plants to communicate, bestow nutrition, or even harm one another.

The network is comprised of thin threads of fungus known as mycelium that grow outwards underground up to a few meters from its partnering plant, meaning that all of the plant life within a region is likely tapped into the network and connected to one another. The partnership of the roots of plants and the fungi is known as mycorrhiza and is beneficial for both parties involved; plants provide carbohydrates to the fungi and in exchange, the fungi aids in gathering water and providing nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen to its partnering plant.

This fungal network has been found to allow plants to aid one another in growth and flourishing. University of British Columbia graduate Suzanne Simard was the first to show that trees such as the Douglas fir and Paper birch were capable of transferring carbon to smaller trees that may not be receiving enough sunlight, allowing seedlings to grow in the shade of other trees. Simard believes that many of the world’s seedlings would not be able to survive if it weren’t for the lifeline this network provides.

A study conducted by Ren Sen Zeng of the South China Agricultural University found that this interconnectivity also allows for plants to warn one another of potential harm. In the study, the team grew potted pairs of tomato plants where some of the pairs were allowed to form mycorrhizae. When the fungal networks had formed, one plant of each pair was sprayed with Alternaria solani, a fungus that causes early blight disease in plant life. Air-tight plastic bags were used to assure there was no above ground interaction. After 65 hours, the team tried to infect the second plant of each pair and found that those with mycelia bonds were far less likely to contract the blight and had much lower levels of damage if they did contract it than those with no mycelia.

A similar study was done by University of Aberdeen graduate David Johnson and a team of colleagues that showed Broad Beans also utilized the fungal network to eavesdrop on one another for impending danger. As hungry aphids fed on the leaves of one of the Broad Bean plants, the plants connect via mycelia began to excrete their anti-aphid chemical defenses, while those that were not connected had no reaction.

"Some form of signalling was going on between these plants about herbivory by aphids, and those signals were being transported through mycorrhizal mycelial networks."
-David Johnson

Like our internet, this fungal connectivity is also susceptible cyber crime, terrorism, and even warfare. Some plants, such as the Phantom Orchid, do not have the chlorophyll necessary for photosynthesis and must leech the necessary nutrients for survival from surrounding plants. Other plants, such as Golden Marigolds and American Black Walnut Trees have been found to release toxins into the network to hinder the growth of surrounding plants in the fight for water and light.

Some research suggests that animals such as insects and worms may be able to detect subtle exchanges of nutrients through the network, allowing them to more easily find savory roots to feed on; however, this has never been conclusively demonstrated in experimentation.

"These fungal networks make communication between plants, including those of different species, faster, and more effective. We don't think about it because we can usually only see what is above ground. But most of the plants you can see are connected below ground, not directly through their roots but via their mycelial connections."
-Kathryn Morris

The more we learn about this phenomenon, the more our understanding of the plant life of our planet will continue to change. Perhaps one day, we may be able to peacefully map out these complex fungal networks to appreciate them in their entirety.

Sources
Fleming, Nic. "Plants Talk to Each Other Using an Internet of Fungus." BBC Earth. N.p., 11 Nov. 2014. Web. 19 Mar. 2015.

Harley, J. L., and J. S. Waid. "A Method of Studying Active Mycelia on Living Roots and Other Surfaces in the Soil." Sciencedirect. Department of Botany, University of Oxford, England, n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2015.

Photo Sources
http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20141111-plants-have-a-hidden-internet

http://timewheel.net/Tome-Plants-Communicate-Using-An-Internet-Of-Fungus

Fantastic Fungi: The Spirit of Good

The fungal-fantastical. Emerging from their axial homes, fungi are beginning to be understood as nutrients to the human consciousness and ecological sustainability. Paul explores mycology and compels support for your own good nature and our fungal allies. This is the first in a collaboration of Louie Schwartzberg of Blacklight films (Movingart.tv) and Paul Stamets of Fungi Perfecti (fungi.com).

Doubting Shamanic Abilities

“I have seen in my practice how many shamanic abilities appear when you stop doubting the reality of the spirit. In this moment, something in you transforms, and you develop a deep attention, a steady focus on irrational events. This basic shamanic tool is attention to the dreaming process. When your inner life calls and you stop doubting, a personal transformation begins.”
                                        Arnold Mindell The Shaman's Body

Shamanism - Plant Attunement by Don Ollsin

    Shamanism fascinates me.  It is a path that embodies many skills.  I was born with an ability to enter the dreamtime.  I learned out of necessity to be pragmatic.  Shamanism brings these two qualities together, the practical dream walker.  I want to introduce you to the art of aware dreaming.  The first dream world we will explore is the plant domain.  The practice of attuning is vital to the art of dreaming.  It is a simple craft that you can learn easily.  Start with a tree as they are the elders of the plant kingdom and usually very co-operative.  The only ability we need for this exercise is active imagination.  Your imagination may be rusty or undisciplined and that is fine.  With a little patience and practice it awakens and can be directed.  I prefer to do this exercise in the tree's presence.  We can also do it from anywhere.  Choose a tree that you are familiar with.  I encourage you to spend time with the herb or herbs that you are using (if using Hawthorn then commune with a Hawthorn tree).  Once you choose your tree I want you to experience or envision it as clearly as you can.  Involve as many senses as possible.  Experience or imagine how it smells, feels, looks and tastes ?  When learning herbs engage all of your senses.  As you examine your tree move in closer and immerse yourself in it's energy.  Go slowly and gently allowing your energies to blend.  Introduce yourself to the tree.  If you have any problems (emotional, mental or physical), present them clearly to the tree's spirit and request  assistance.   A response may be communicated in any channel.  It might come as a thought, a sound, a picture, a feeling or even a movement.  Your task is to fill in the spaces.  If it is a thought then possibly develop it into a story.  Exploring a sound can turn into a song.  A vision can be encouraged into a short movie.  A feeling may carry you into deep unexplored places inside yourself.  By slowly expanding on a movement it can turn into a dance.  I am very shy and I usually have my best experiences alone or with someone I am comfortable with.  By sharing your experience with a companion it helps to enliven it.  Choose a conducive and supportive partner.  You only need to do this exercise for a few minutes to get benefit.  You can also do it for as long as you want.  Once you have completed the exercise, thank the tree. 

I record my shamanic experiences in a book.  It helps me to integrate them.