November/December 2001 Featured Stories
Healing through Consciousness Restructuring:
Placebos, Dreams, New Science and A New Healing Paradigm
by Graywolf Fred Swinney
Almost twenty years ago in my dream-therapy group, a very remarkable
event occurred. I watched a woman heal in body and mind before my
eyes. It had the characteristics of the placebo effect. I contributed
very little, and what little I had done was to accompany her on
an imaginative inner journey.
She had adopted a very hard and cold personality as a means of
coping with a long childhood experience of repeated sexual abuse
by her four older brothers and father. She was driving everyone
away from her, most particularly her husband. Her body symptoms
were of rigidity and hardness, and reflected her mental condition.
This body configuration would soon lead to fibromyalgia, rheumatism,
arthritis or some other similar somatic condition.
One morning a dream had awakened her in terror. In the dream she
was tied onto a cart on a track and being pulled into a spinning
hub covered with razor sharp knives. She felt trapped helpless and
doomed in the dream, just as she had in her childhood. She brought
this dream to the group and on hearing it, I invited her to re-experience
the dream, which is usual in the Gestalt practice of dream therapy.
What came next was unusual in this context but consistent with my
shamanic bent, and in truth response to a deep intuitive urge.
"Instead of waking up, imagine letting yourself be drawn
into the knives.
She reported being slashed with flesh and blood spattering all
over, but what she noticed most was the razor-sharpness, and a deep,
penetrating, black cold sensation as the blades cut into her. Giving
in to this pain-cold, she next became a thick layer of black ice
covering a lake, very cold, very hard and very frozen. I was fascinated
because she had precisely described the personality characteristics
that she wanted to change.
Go deeper into this coldness and blackness, become it.
She entered a black void of absolute zero, so cold that nothing,
not even molecules moved. Some time passed and her body began to
relax. Muscles that had been tense since I first met her two years
previously began to soften and flex. Asked about her experience,
she answered that as she let go deeper into the void and cold, somehow
her sense of self had shifted; she experienced becoming the water
beneath the ice. Her deep felt sense of self was now warmer, more
fluid, and boundaryless. I invited her to stay in that consciousness;
to explore and own it. When she finally opened her eyes after about
ten minutes, there was a profound change in her personality and
We were both inspired by this event, which subsequently proved
to be a permanent change in her and an ongoing influence in shaping
her body and mind. This was the kind of healing work I aspired to,
but seldom realized. The tools of psychotherapy and even the guided
imagery processes that I used were frankly too shallow, unreliable,
and often manipulative.
Something remarkable had happened, but how? I knew that I must
find out. I continued exploring this deep process with other clients,
retreat guests, and in dream workshops. We consistently got similarly
remarkable results with both physical and mental diseases. At the
time, however, I was struck by the realization that I was not the
healer, but as with a placebo, it came from deep inside. It involved
a profound shift in self-perception and was a restructuring of consciousness.
The same was true in subsequent explorations; it was their own imagination
and dreams that carried the clients into healing dynamics, not my
intervention as a therapist who was in awe of the process. The healings
proved to be both profound and permanent, and involved both somatic
and mental diseases. Thus was conceived, gestated and born the Consciousness
Restructuring Process, (CRP). In my attempts to understand it I
have arrived at the following notions.
The CRP represents a basic paradigm shift for the healing
arts. It requires the new sciences of relativity, quantum,
chaos and holographic theories to understand and define how CRP
restructures consciousness dynamics to bring such changes in body
and mind. It also describes the mechanism by which placebos perform
their mysterious healing. This fundamental shift in existential
perspective puts into question the fundamental models by which we
understand how reality and healing work.
Culturally and socially, we are in a major crisis-evolution and
science plays a significant role in this. For 300 years, Newtonian
(classical) Science and Cartesian philosophy have ruled and shaped
our civilization and culture. This classic science depicts a mechanistic
clockwork universe in which we stand outside of nature and objectively
manipulate it through our thinking and intellect. It gave us technology
to momentarily elevate and free us from the dictates of nature and
provides the illusion of control, but its technology now threatens
our existence. It is a model of separation and inevitable predictability;
very little is more alien to healthy human process. We are very
complex and evolving organisms, deeply interconnected with our environment.
The principles that create the whole universe are within each of
us, within each cell and atom of our body.
Einstein attacked two tenets: objectivity and absoluteness. Relativity
theory demonstrated that everything is relative. There is no absolute
frame of measurement anywhere in the universe. Our perceptions depend
on our frame of reference.
Quantum Physics implies the universe is an interconnected web
of relationships and within the harmony of this interconnection;
each observer affects its constant unfolding and creates unique
reality for himself. It gives us quanta, which is somehow both and
yet not committed to being matter or energy. It is the essence of
our mindbody level of consciousness.
David Bohms Holographic theory adds the notion that all reality
is nothing more than shifting complex interference patterns (holographic
negatives) created from waves emerging into space-time from implicate
order. Pribram demonstrated that the brains perception of
reality is a hologram based on chemo-electric currents reaching
the end of a synapse, and emitting waves to interact and create
holographic negatives (interference patterns) in the brain.
We are complex organisms and Chaos theory best describes this.
In the new paradigm, our structure of self emerges from chaos in
an environment of complex interacting systems, responsive to and
shaped by that environment. What else is the moment of our conception?
Eventually, the structure grows brittle, doesnt respond to
the ever evolving and changing environment and disintegrates back
into chaos from which emerges new structure. At the personal level
we experience this process as a life crisis or a disease, particularly
if we fight the change. It is this dance of evolution that is reality
and healthy, not the temporary forms and structures that we fix
on, nor the chaos that we avoid. They exist only in passing. Our
true health is in being, becoming, and accepting this ever evolving
Suddenly, the whole framework of reality is like jelly and there
is nothing firm left to stand on. We find ourselves as part of a
shifting, complex and self-creating reality; influencing it and
being influenced by it at subtle levels, where structure is only
a passing creation of continuing evolution. Transformation is the
essence of reality; and reality is created from infinite potential.
How does this relate to spinning hubs of knives and healing transformations?
Nowhere are these ideas more important than in the healing arts
and sciences. Natural self-healing or self-correcting process is
something medical science does not understand and so hides behind
the labels "placebo effect," and "spontaneous remission,"
but is something that new sciences permit and Consciousness Restructuring
Process describes and accomplishes. This level of reality is also
from whence come our dreams and is the home turf of the CRP.
Medical science offers no satisfactory operational mechanism for
how spontaneous remission or the placebo effect work. Until recently,
it has done little more than grudgingly admit to their existence.
However, when I began the dream journey and consciousness restructuring
work, I suspected that I was on the trail of understanding these
phenomena. CRP seemed to work with the same inner process; restructuring
the consciousness that defines self, our illness or health, our
existential holographic perceptions of reality.
Healing, as are dreams, is a sensory not an intellectual process.
Senses inform us when we are sick or well. Our dreams also reveal
disease often before symptoms appear. Mind and intellect only deal
with symbols of reality. We move beyond, "I think, therefore,
I am" into a reality of becomingness. "I am and I know
this through my senses."
In this journey process one experiences a level and sense-image
of the diseased self, for example being very black, hard, rigid
and cold. Openings, doorways in this sensory image invite even deeper
imaginative delving into the conscious dynamics that feed and maintain
the illness. This deep illness image, when experienced, spontaneously
self-destructs into chaotic or unbound consciousness. Since an image,
thought or vision represents a specific neural firing sequence,
chaos would be subjectively experienced as a nothingness, for example,
a deep black coldness where nothing moves The new sensory self-image
that emerges from or is found in this chaotic consciousness, is
a new easeful structure that replaces the disease, for example a
deep felt sense of warmth, flow and boundarylessness.
Fundamental to CRP is that it works in REM with sensory elements
of our dreams. Dreams alone are healing. Deprive people of REM -
let them sleep, but prevent dreaming - and after a week, hallucinations
and other mental/emotional problems appear. Within a couple of weeks,
the immune system weakens and somatic illness follows.
REM is fundamental to all known life forms and is now known to
be the best state for forming new neural pathways. It also produces
the most chaotic brain wave dynamics yet measured. The CRP consciousness
shift is experienced in REM and we create new neural pathways through
the experience of a shifting sense of self. In this way our perceptions
and experience of personal reality or the fundamental existential
self-hologram changes. This changed perception reflects changes
in the brains synaptic firing structure that also change our
body and brain chemistries through the pituitary and pineal glands
to ultimately affect how our cells and mind operate. Placebos create
the same type of perceptual and neuro-chemical changes, and I believe
utilize sleep time REM to do so.
Shamans are masters of consciousness dynamics and altering consciousness.
CRP blends shamanic technique and Gestalt dream work using imagination
to reach these healing consciousness dynamics. This shaman/therapist
approach bridges both world-views, and is the essence of, and even
more than both. The premise that science and spirituality/mysticism
are separate is faulty. The CRP brings them together in an elegant
The CRP teaches a new way of flowing through life. It provides
the experience of doing so in a virtual reality experience of wakeful
REM, and directly alters reality perception and empowers the client.
Those who practice this technique are referred to as mentors rather
than therapists, because the essence of their role is more like
a placebo, helping the mentored bring out their own best potential.
This work is being offered through Asklepia Foundation and the
Institute for Applied Consciousness Science, a tax-exempt and non-profit
corporation. It trains and certifies mentors in the CRP and consciousness
engineering, and offers healing opportunity at Asklepia Retreat
in Southern Oregon. Further information is available at: http://www.asklepia.org or Phone: 541-476-0492.
Graywolf is a chemical engineer, a psychotherapist and is recognized
internationally by aboriginal tribes and fellow scientists as a
practicing shaman. He is a founding member of the Association for
Chaos Theory in Psychology and Social Sciences, founded Asklepia
Retreat, Asklepia Foundation and the Institute for Applied Consciousness
Science. He has contributed chapters to several books and journals
and has written two of his own, Dream Healing with Iona Miller
and just recently finished Holographic Healing which is now
available through the foundation.