ISSUE #009 - Dec 04, 2018
Light and Sound
The Medicines of the Spirit
Energy medicine is in some ways very basic to all experience and yet it is something that is quite difficult to speak about. One of the reasons it’s difficult to talk about energy medicine is because it refers to phenomena that are usually beyond the purview or perception of our everyday waking consciousness.
As children we do have a wider perception of the subtle experience that underlies our thoughts words and actions. We may ask questions about these perceptions and we may be met with unhelpful responses or inadequate answers to our questions. This is because the adults around us have lost contact with what we are perceiving. Part of ‘growing up’ involves learning how to focus on perceiving things primarily with our conscious mind’s value system. Our conscious mind values organization, goal setting, and fitting into conscious reality in a way that does not stray too far from the socially accepted norms we all learn to live by as we are growing up.
Our education system focuses on developing this problem-solving, awake, vigilant state of being that is designed to block out anything that might be disorganizing or disorienting. Seeing lights in the corner of the room or perceiving an energy wave coming off of a person who is expressing a strong emotion are the kinds of phenomena that get filtered out by the conscious mind’s priorities of organizing and categorizing our experience.
But if we allow ourselves to return to this wider perception that we were born with and which we do in fact engage the world with through our dreaming experience every night, we have much to learn about the subtle energies that surround us and inform us even when we do not realize it. This is not just New Age mumbo-jumbo. Quantum physics talks about the different layers of subtle light and sound waves that interact with each other on a regular basis.
The dictionary definition of physics is “the study of matter, energy, and the interaction between them.” This is exactly what energy medicine processes focus on. But rather than use measuring devices and machines to chart the movement of sound and light, practitioners of energy medicine rely on deeper perceptual capacities that allow them to reach beyond the limitations of the conscious mind.
You may have noticed as you’re falling asleep or as you’re waking up in the morning that you have ideas or thoughts that come to you “out of the blue.” This is because the grip of the conscious mind is looser as we are falling asleep or as we are waking up. Because of this, information that is part of our experience but generally blocked out by the conscious mind is more available to us at that time. This is even more true of the dream state, but most of us don’t have good dream recall.
For those of us who do have good dream recall, the information that we receive in dreams can be quite valuable in enhancing our everyday experience. Many famous artists including John Lennon and Edgar Allan Poe have drawn inspiration from dreams. And scientists, including Francis Crick and James Watson who discovered the structure of DNA, have received information in dreams that has provided vitality and purpose to their work.
We all have the capacity to expand our awareness and return it to the ways of seeing and knowing that we were more familiar with when we were young and which we experience in a dream state. One way of developing this broader perception in a more focused and targeted way is by developing a meditation practice. There are many forms of meditation but the one most likely to help us develop and expand our perceptual capacity is samatha meditation. This is a process of focusing on a single point or object. The traditional place of focus is the breath.
By focusing only on the breath and breaking our habit of allowing ourselves to follow every thought that comes to us or every idea that presents itself, we can develop the capacity to listen, with all our senses, to the subtle level of experience. This level of experience is usually blocked out because of all of the “noise” that is a function of all the thoughts and ideas that are coming and going all the time in the conscious mind. In some ways you could say that meditation is a way of getting the conscious mind to rest. When it rests, broader perception of information that lies beyond the reach of the conscious mind is possible.
As we focus on the breath and as the noise of our thoughts subsides there is a subtle quiet that arises. Within the stillness there is a silence and spaciousness where previously unnoticed experience can be perceived. It is at this level that we begin to perceive subtle expressions of light and sound that are the essence of energy medicine. Light and sound can simply arise and fade in the meditative state. However, if we understand that light and sound are actually medicines that can heal the body, mind and spirit, we can learn to work with them by directing them into places that are out of balance. This is energy medicine.
One of the most commonly known forms of energy medicine today is a practice called Reiki. This is a system of transmitting energy through particular symbols from one person to another or from one person to a general situation. A Japanese physician named Dr. Mikao Usui developed this form of energy medicine in the late 1800s. He created a system of transmission that is continued until the present day.
In this system of transmission people are exposed to a particular symbol that represents a field of beneficial and healing energy. The fields of energy that are represented by the Reiki symbols are often perceived as light or sound by practitioners and recipients. Here is a report by a woman in her 40s who came for a Reiki healing session after a car accident left her with headaches that could not be explained on a physical level.
“As I lay down on the table I felt the practitioner’s hands above me. I felt very relaxed as her hands moved from my head down to my feet. It felt like there were little pinpricks of light as her hands moved over different parts of my body, but she wasn’t touching me. I had told her that I had been having a lot of headaches, so she rested her hands just above my head. I felt a warm sense of relaxation flowing from her hands and penetrating into my sinuses and into my eyes – it was almost like a humming. The pinpricks and the warmth suffused throughout my head and I felt even more relaxed. As she continued, I felt the pain that had been moving from the front of my head to the back of my head since the accident beginning to calm down a bit. After the treatment I felt very relaxed.”
When people are working with the energy that is in light or sound to help heal and bring balance, they often speak about becoming a channel for that sound or light to come through them. They describe the energy as arising outside of them and flowing through them, like water through a straw. In shamanic practice this is called ‘becoming a hollow bone.’ As with all shamanic practices, the shaman understands that he or she is a conduit for this universal light or sound.
In many shamanic traditions there is the practice of listening for healing songs that are designed to help correct the imbalance that is particular to the person who comes for help. The sound arises from the deep silence of inner focus.
In the shamanic practices found in cultures in the Amazon of South America, these songs are called “icaros.” Wherever this type of healing with sound is practiced, it is understood that the sounds of the song hold the energy of healing that the person needs in order to get better. The use of light and sound to create change on the most subtle levels of experience is at the heart of all shamanic practice.
Interestingly, it is also at the heart of Vajrayana Buddhist practice as well. In the practice of tantra, which is part of the tradition, there are many esoteric principles related to energy medicine. These practices focus on the movement and direction of the subtle energy flows found in sound and light.
One area of study revolves around understanding the qualities of phenomena called “the five pure lights.” These rays of light relate to the elements of fire, water, air, earth and space and are understood to be the more subtle expressions of these elements. In tantric healing, practitioners work to focus these rays into physical imbalance to create change on the elemental level.
There are other schools of energy medicine that work with rays of light as well. One of the best known is Vedic science out of which yoga arises. Many people in the west have studied yoga now and they have been exposed to the study of the subtle bodies that underlie and infuse the physical body that is fundamental to Vedic science and Aryuvedic medicine.
These subtle bodies are composed of energetic phenomena called chakras and channels. There is an exchange of energy between the subtle bodies and the physical body that is a focus of study in Aryuvedic medicine.
The health of these subtle bodies affects the health of the physical body. And the health of the physical body affects the health of the subtle bodies. These energetic structures correspond to different parts of the physical body. For instance, the chakras are located near and infuse the different endocrine glands and a structure called the central channel lies along the spine.
When Vedic practitioners focus light or sound into the body, they focus them into these energetic structures. These structures can be perceived as the conscious mind relaxes and allows this subtle experience to make itself known through the practice of yoga or meditation.
In Depth Hypnosis, the spiritual counseling model I have been developing over the last 20 years, energy medicine contributes many important elements to the process of healing. At the heart of Depth Hypnosis is the understanding that all imbalance is a function of some kind of disruption in the person’s relationship to their core self.
This core self is conceived of as Buddha Nature in Buddhist practice or the Higher Self in shamanic and other forms of healing. Buddha Nature or the Higher Self is expressed in various ways, but all of them involve a recognition of a subtle, gentle, often light-filled penetrating energy that infuses the person’s experience on an energetic level. The energy system of the physical body is the place where this experience is most commonly registered, but it affects all levels of a person’s experience on a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual level. This part of the self is considered to be wise, compassionate, non-judgmental and, importantly, connected to the most subtle expression of light and sound that is referred to as ground luminosity in Buddhist practice.
The experience of ground luminosity is attained through deep meditative states but exists even when people are not aware of it. There are schools of meditative practice, most notably, Dzogchen in Tibetan Buddhism, where the cultivation of the perception of ground luminosity is the primary practice. One focus of study is in accessing awareness of ground luminosity at the heart of all physical expressions while being fully engaged in the material world. The channeling of light and sound on an energetic level as medicine to help affect problems on other levels creates a direct path between ground luminosity and the grosser levels of material experience.
Light and sound, when focused and directed with this understanding has a profound healing effect. This is especially true when combined with other types of interventions that are part of Depth Hypnosis. For instance, in Depth Hypnosis, we often begin by helping people gain a conceptual understanding of their dilemmas.
As we are speaking to them, however, we can work to direct different forms of energy, light for instance, into the areas of their bodies or minds that are affected by the imbalance. This enhances their ability to access information on the conceptual level and it helps them process their experience on an emotional level as the work of Depth Hypnosis expands into the altered state of hypnosis.
I would like to offer you my experience of subtle energies within a Depth Hypnosis session as a practitioner. I am reporting my perceptions on a kinesthetic level, which is the way in which I perceive subtle experience. Kinesthetic ways of knowing often register in the body rather than in the mind.
People often say, “I just knew that was going to happen,” or, “I just had a gut feeling about that guy” when they are perceiving things on a kinesthetic level. Although we are perceiving things on this level all the time, we often discount this information or overlook it. This is because, among other reasons, the conscious mind does not have a way of organizing or incorporating this information with the other five senses.
In this session, an older man came in for help in trying to adapt to hearing loss and a long-standing sense of disconnection he was feeling. He had been very depressed and said he had lost his way in life as a result of losing his hearing. He was a well-known, successful musician. But his loss of hearing was keeping him from being able to perform. His identity was focused on his capacities as a musician. This identity helped him deal with the sense of disconnection he felt in relation to others when he was not playing music.
As he sat down across from me, I perceived that his upper chakras in the upper part of his body were all very open and filled with light – and sound. I could almost hear the music moving through his energy system. His heart chakra was very open, surprisingly, given that he had said he felt disconnected from his heart’s desire – to be a musician. This opening had to have been due to the music flowing through his energy system. The music had been running through his subtle bodies even if he was losing his capacity to hear it.
However, his lower two chakras were darker and closed. As I asked him about his history, I started sending rays of light into the lower chakras. When you are working with energy medicine, there are different ways you can channel light or sound to affect and change configurations that exist on the subtle level. I teach these methods in the classes I teach in energy medicine, and they are difficult to explain without the required transmission on a subtle level.
In any case, when I perceived that darkness, I began channeling a pink light into his first and second chakras. This light arose from the level of ground luminosity as I was internally inquiring as to what kind of light might be most helpful to this situation. I had already asked him about his experiences with relationships as he was growing up and about the nature of his connections. We were beginning to explore the problem of disconnection on a conceptual level.
At first, he disregarded my questions about his intimate relationships. However, as I started bringing that light in, he circled back around and revealed he had had a very traumatic first sexual encounter and had actually been passed out when it happened. Therefore, he had mostly forgotten about it on a conceptual or conscious mind level. However, the experience registered in his energy system. As he was speaking, he paused and marveled that he had never actually said anything about this experience in any other therapy he had participated in.
He said this traumatic encounter had not ever really meant much to him, and he was not aware of it having affected his sexual expression later. In fact, it had totally affected the way he connected with people on an energetic level because it polluted his lower chakras. Each of the chakras mediates a different type of experience. The experience mediated by these chakras has everything to do with connection and relationship.
The blockage on the energetic level was the basis of his loneliness and disconnection with others on an emotional and physical level – even before the hearing loss set in. The engagement with music – the medicine of sound – had been medicating this disconnection. But when he lost the ability to connect to this medicine, the disconnection reasserted itself for a more thorough and more deeply acting healing.
When he started talking about the event, there was a kind of swirl where the blockages in the lower chakras were and he became a little agitated. I stopped focusing the light as he was not quite ready to look at the way in which this encounter was affecting his larger experience. There was a bit more work we had to do before he could unlock this particular pattern in his lower chakras on an energetic level. But now he was able to understand the impact of the encounter better on a conceptual level. He could now begin to understand his sense of disconnection over the course of his life that had been aggravated by his hearing loss at a deeper level.
There are other ways that energy medicine functions in Depth Hypnosis sessions as well. Practitioners are trained to establish strong connections with their own and their client’s Higher Self or Buddha Nature during the session. Much of the training in Depth Hypnosis revolves around the establishment of stronger connections with the experience of ground luminosity which practitioners bring into the session. All of this work is invisible to the client, except that they are aware that the therapeutic process moves quickly and that they feel supported in a new way. This is because the work of energy medicine, the use of sound and light, is supporting the therapeutic process in subtle, yet profound ways.
IN THIS ISSUE
- 1Light and Sound
- 2Lakṣmī, Light and Dark
- 3‘Ram or crackers had no place in my Diwali’
- 4The Motif of Light in Jewish Tradition
- 5Silent Illumination
- 6The Light of Consciousness: The Core of Tantrik Spiritual Philosophy
- 7Luminosity and Yoga
- 8Beacons of Dharma
- 9Mutually Illuminating: The Spiritual Richness of ‘Doing’ Ignatian Yoga
- 10The Light of Hellenism