Read an Excerpt
CROSSING THE HEALING ZONE
From Illness to Wellness
By Ashok Bedi
NICOLAS-HAYS, INC.Copyright © 2013 Ashok Bedi, M.D.
All rights reserved.
The Mystery and Science of the Healing Zone
Our minds and bodies are always in flux. Stress poses a constant threat by triggering a negative flow, while our systems continuously attempt to create a positive flow to enhance health and well-being. In recent years, stress has been identified as a significant health problem. A healthy response to stress leads to vitality, joy, and peace. An unhealthy response results in disease, dysfunction, and a diminished participation in love, work, play, creativity, and spirituality.
There are fundamental differences between East and West in dealing with stress. While the West has made significant strides in material progress and mastery of the immediate environment, the East offers much wisdom for achieving health, happiness, and wholeness, including the skillful management of stress. When East and West collaborate, all of humanity will benefit from an integrated approach to healing illness and enjoying the gifts of a soulful life. This book offers a path toward that integration, with the objective of helping you heal the suffering of your mind, your body, your soul, and your relationships. Eastern spiritual wisdom and the Western intellectual tradition are the yin and the yang of your consciousness. When they do their dance together, they create the Healing Zone.
The Fourth Dimension of Consciousness
The Indian healing system recognizes four states of experience—wakefulness, dreaming, dreamless deep sleep, and a transitional state that connects the others. The first three are distinct, as evidenced by brain recordings during these states. More advanced brain-imaging techniques have confirmed what rishis and wise men and women in the East have known for thousands of years—that there is a fourth state connecting the other three. The process of transition between these states has always intrigued Easterners. What happens to our minds, brains, bodies, and souls when we are in transit?
The transitional space in which this occurs is the fourth dimension of our existence, where we are neither awake or asleep or dreaming, but suspended in the void, the realm of the goddess Aditi, whom we will discuss later (see figure 1). When we engage this void, we can create new consciousness with the help of the healing wisdom of the universe. The meditative and contemplative practices of all the great traditions—including Buddhist mindfulness, transcendental meditation, Christian contemplative practices, and yoga—help us engage this void and its healing potential. When suspended in this void, we are in direct communion with the healing energy of Spirit and the wisdom of the universe.
However, most of these practices are one-way streets—methods in which we passively receive healing wisdom. The great psychoanalyst Carl Jung made a giant leap forward in dealing with the fourth dimension of consciousness when he invented a method for engaging this void actively. He coined the term "active imagination" to describe this method.
According to the Hindu scriptures, when a young soul becomes an old soul worthy of merging with Spirit (the collective consciousness), it is in a state called moksha. Moksha means freedom from the cycles of life and death, liberation from reincarnation, and transcendence of the opposite tendencies in our nature, personalities, and psyches. In moksha, the Atman (the individual soul) merges with the Brahmana (the collective consciousness or Spirit) much as a drop of water merges with the ocean. However, when we consciously connect with the healing energy and wisdom of the universe in the Healing Zone, the ocean is absorbed into the drop. This is the experience of ananda, bliss, samadhi, and other manifestations of the fourth state of consciousness.
Psychotherapy becomes another example of crossing the Healing Zone when a therapist raises an aspect of the unconscious into consciousness and maintains this juxtaposition long enough for the experience to be assimilated into consciousness. The insight arrived at during psychotherapy can light the way to a new consciousness and a fundamental transformation of our bodies, minds, psyches, and souls, and the spiritual purpose of our lives. Research by Nobel laureate Eric Kandel (Kandel, 2009) has determined that new learning can change the synapses in a creature as small as a snail.
When we are in the fourth state of consciousness, we are in a quantum state where mind and body, matter and energy, are readily interchangeable in a fluid continuum. Tremendous transformation is possible in this state of possibility and danger. Here, thoughts, feelings, intuitions, mental images, or memories can be transformed into physical symptoms. Moreover, for therapeutic and healing purposes, the process can be reversed. Psychosomatic symptoms or illnesses can be traced to their primal thoughts, ideas, feelings, or intuitions and made accessible to consciousness. With that insight begins a transformation that results in changes in attitude, feeling, thought, and behavior that eliminate the symptom or illness. This opens the way to a union between ego and soul, and a joining of soul with Spirit.
During the 20th century, Western science dropped many of its objections to ancient Indian beliefs in the nature of consciousness. It dispelled the false notions it had entertained about the nature of matter, which it had defined as that which has mass, weight, and inertia. Science in the age of Einstein and Heisenberg has conceded that the elements of matter are in a state of spontaneous and perpetual motion. In fact, we now know that the most general phenomenon of the universe is vibration, to which the human body and everything else is subject. Various vibrations affect each organ of sensation. Vibrations of a certain quality and number denote to the skin the degree of external temperature; others incite the eye to see different colors; yet others enable the ear to hear defined sounds. These vibrations can be transmitted by our nervous system with the help of chemical messengers called neurotransmitters.
Science now admits that its previous concept of matter is insufficient to explain many phenomena—for instance, light. Many scientists now believe that there is a substance called ether—a medium that fills the universe and transports, by its vibrations, the radiations of light, heat, electricity, and perhaps action from a distance. The attraction exercised between heavenly bodies may be an example of this.
On further review of the fourth dimension, more details emerge. An individual who is in the Healing Zone and holds two or more levels of consciousness for long enough becomes an alchemical vessel that alters the content of these different modes of consciousness. The emerging mental state may be experienced as an image, an intuition, an insight, or a creative product that has a transformative impact on the individual. This transformation may be positive or negative, numinous or demonic, depending on the integrity and intent of the seeker, his or her level of psychological preparedness, and the skill, perseverance, and guidance available to the aspirant seeking the treasures of the psyche. When divers delve into the ocean depths, they may harvest hidden treasures, or they may be engulfed by the creatures of the deep.
The longer we hold more than two dimensions of consciousness in this alchemic vessel, the more the Healing Zone is activated. The resulting energy matrix leads to a greater quantum soup of mind, matter, energy, soul, Spirit, and cosmic energy. Exponential healing and transformation become possible. In mindfulness, we zoom in on a small object or corner of reality while blocking other aspects of consciousness or reality. In yoga postures, we focus on the body and its connection with the soul and Sprit and exclude all distractions. Pranayama, the yoga of breath regulation, involves concentrating on breathing to limit distractions from other aspects of consciousness. In meditation, we focus on a single thought or object to limit conscious or unconscious distraction. Symptoms and problems are dissolved to their origins in the Healing Zone and changed from problems to potential, guiding individuals with a spiritual purposefulness and moving them from ego servitude to the soul path.
In my clinical experience, I have used various methods to make the Healing Zone more accessible. One approach I use is to tune into the consciousness of patients during a session, focusing on their breathing rhythms and synchronizing my own breath with theirs. By doing this, I can influence their physical pain and help them move from pain to bliss or joy. By tuning into a patient's breathing irregularities caused by stress, I can experience both the breathing disturbance and the stress that caused it. Then, by steadying my own breath, my regulated and relaxed breath pattern can be transmitted to the patient, who then experiences more relaxed breathing, which relieves the stress. This is called the pranic healing method.
There are other ways to activate the Healing Zone as well—for instance, by tuning into someone's emotional state or physical symptoms. This may be the mechanism for empathy, which has a considerable healing effect. Since the dawn of time, mothers have used this method to tune into their children's mental and physical states. Shamans use similar methods and modern-day psychotherapy intuitively uses this approach without realizing it.
The Psychoid Space
Jung was fascinated by the properties of the Healing Zone, which he called the "pyschoid space" (Jung, 1960). This concept was a precursor of the triune model of the brain discussed later in this book. Jung explained the psychoid space as the gap or flow between our brains and our spiritual dimension (see figure 2). As humans, we are suspended in this gap—the transitional dimension of consciousness between body and Spirit. Our bodies provide us with our instincts, while Spirit provides the purpose for our enterprises. For example, nature gives a woman beautiful breasts; Spirit guides her to engage her breasts in erotic life and maternal nurturance, under the guidance of the archetypes Eros and Magna Mater, the Great Mother. Jung describes this duality in consciousness as the red zone and the blue zone. The red zone encompasses the reptilian, instinctual, embodied aspects of our inner lives; the blue zone embraces the spiritual purpose of the psyche. The red zone is the boiler room of the psyche, generating energy; the blue zone is the navigation system that guides the psyche to its eventual purpose. Under the influence of the red zone, the breasts engage the lover and a woman's symbolic union with her inner masculine dimension, while the blue zone guides this union to create a divine child—a new emergence of an inner potential that must now be nurtured by the maternal aspects of the psyche.
The Buddhist Third Way
The Buddhists describe the Healing Zone as the Third Way. When you reach a river, the safest place is on either side, but staying put gets you nowhere. The most turbulent place is the flowing current in the middle of the river. When you risk this third possibility, you may be swept away, but you are also more likely to reach your destination—the ocean, the spiritual source and destination of all existence. Jung's work and clinical methods provide a guide for engaging this flow and finding your own center of value and purpose in this life. Specifically, he evolved the clinical method of active imagination to engage this flow—the middle way between the ego and the soul. In your daily life, you must always struggle to stay in your body with your instincts. At the same time, you must remain reflective, with the guidance of your soul to help you navigate the middle way. Christ did not just have lofty spiritual ideas; he actually put his life on the line and sacrificed his body on the cross to fulfill his spiritual destiny as Savior. The Holy Spirit guided his values. In the end, he chose spiritual purpose over the survival instinct.
Our lives are a constant dance between instinct and Spirit, pulling us in opposite directions in a struggle between the animal nature of our reptilian brains and the rationality enthroned in our neocortical brains (Rosen, 2003). When this struggle pulls us in contrary directions, the limbic brain and its archetypes offer an image or symbol to unite these opposites—the Uroboros, or tail-eating serpent. The Uroboros is a connecting symbol for the triune brain and a manifestation of wholeness. The center of this serpent is the soul, which creates the Healing Zone to organize your instincts and spiritual purpose into a meaningful circle (mandala) that activates healing. The Uroboros symbolizes the idea that your life should not meander like a snake on the prowl for a victim, but should become one with its instinctual tail to gain a spiritual, reflective trajectory.
The Uroboros embodies the gap, the flow, between instinct and Spirit—between the body and the soul, between matter and the psyche. What connects these dots is the fourth dimension of consciousness—Jung's psychoid space and Buddha's Third Way. This dimension is invisible, but remains accessible to consciousness through archetypes, which we will discuss in the next chapter.
In Jungian analytical psychology, we see further evidence of this unity in the phenomena of synchronicity and transcendent function. When struggling with real-life dilemmas, your psyche offers you transcendent functions—dreams, symbols, symptoms, and images—to guide you to your soul's prescription for your maladies. In medical school, I found myself uncertain about my future with the woman I was dating because of the sharp edge to her personality, so I decided to call off the relationship. However, the night before my planned last dinner with her, I dreamed she gave me a pretty red rose with a small thorn on its stem. The dream image guided me out of my ambivalence. I decided to propose to her and am writing this paragraph on the thirty-sixth anniversary of our wedding!
Synchronicity is another way your psyche guides you toward unity. Perhaps you are involved in an internal debate over whether to call a long-lost friend or allow the relationship to lapse. The universe may decide for you with a synchronistic event—the friend you are thinking of calls after twenty years of silence.
The Healing Zone puts you in an elastic transitional state where matter and psyche, past and present, present and future, cause and effect, distance and proximity, temporality and timelessness, instinct and Spirit exist in a seamless, interchangeable continuum. As human observers, we create concepts like time and space, past and future, to help us comprehend the material universe around us. When you use these constructs of the psyche to observe and comprehend the universe, you are essentially observing your own psyche. This positions you to transcend yourself in the fourth transitional state of consciousness and reconnect with the universe as it is. This "universe as it is" is what Jung calls the collective or objective consciousness and what the Hindus call the Primal Spirit or Brahmana—the unrepresentable archetypal psyche identical in all individuals and cultures. You recognize these archetypes in your life because they activate a strong feeling around a certain event or person. For example, when a man views a beautiful woman who is a nurse or physician, the affect depends on the archetype mediating his perception of her. If he is seriously ill, she is perceived through the archetype of Savior or Healer as kind and maternal. In this context, the archetype of the Great Mother mediates the perception. If a man meets that same woman in a social context, he may see her as an object of Eros, with the archetype of the Lover mediating the perception. There is no absolute reality, only subjective reality. We see what we seek unconsciously.
Jung summarizes his wisdom on the Healing Zone in his unfinished masterwork, Mysterium Coniunctionis (1970). Jung was trying to establish the interconnection between different manifestations of the mind in our nature, our emotions, our cognition, our spirituality, our bodies, and the world (see figure 3). His formulation has significant clinical and practical implications for understanding and healing human suffering. If an unresolved relationship issue is not resolved, the resulting stress may cause heart problems. Similarly, an unmodulated sexual drive may lead to prostate cancer.
The gold of this hypothesis lies in its treatment implications. If a problem in one realm can be traced to its origins, the mind can be reset from illness to wellness. Quantum physics is extremely applicable here. By activating the Healing Zone, we enter a transcendent realm where emotions, thoughts, and physical and mental symptoms can be reset from disease to health. Unless healers are looking for these connections and trust that they can enter this Healing Zone, the way will not become apparent either to them or to their patients. This is the path of alchemy.
Excerpted from CROSSING THE HEALING ZONE by Ashok Bedi. Copyright © 2013 Ashok Bedi, M.D.. Excerpted by permission of NICOLAS-HAYS, INC..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.