Tag Archives: central nervous system

Chuck’s Place: The Miracle Drug Of Air

Just Breathe…
-Illustration © 2022 Jan Ketchel

Even somewhat polluted air is free, and it is Spirit. As Stan Grof, whose contributions I am currently immersed in, points out: in ancient Greek the word pneuma means both spirit and air. In Latin, spiritus means both breath and spirit. In Hebrew, ruach means both breath and creative spirit.

When we breathe we join our material, physical, animal body with our ephemeral spirit. Air is our ultimate soulmate. The simple act of breathing brings us communion with spirit.

The Christian Eucharist transfigures the materials of bread and wine into vehicles to merge with Spirit. It could certainly be argued that the effect of drinking wine and eating bread relaxes the tightened muscles in the body, allowing for an expansive breath and melding of social boundaries into greater oneness.

Wilhelm Reich’s greatest contribution to psychoanalysis was his concept of body armor, the tightened muscles of the body that house our traumas and vastly constrict the breath. In order to experience the fullness of release and spiritual wholeness of orgasm, one must discover what he called the orgasm reflex, which requires total freedom of breath and deep breathing to be activated.

Neuroscientists Daniel Siegel and Andrew Huberman stress the role of the breath for mental and physical health. Air reduces anxiety by simply binding with adrenalin and removing its effect upon the central nervous system. Mindful breathing calms an overly active spirited mind.

The shamans of ancient Mexico discovered the recapitulation breath, a bilateral movement of the head as one inhales to one side and exhales to the other. The benefits of bilateral movement to calm the amygdala and allow processing of traumatic experience was discovered in modern psychotherapy in the therapy of EMDR. In combination with the shamanic recapitulation breath, bilateral movement greatly enhances access to the innate holotropic healing potential activated at the subtle dimensions of our spirit being.

A seasoned practitioner of the recapitulation breath, used to activate a clinical soul retrieval, is my wife, Jan, whose journey is chronicled in her five-volume series The Recapitulation Diaries. I asked her to describe the details of her use of the breath for her dramatic holotropic healing.

Here’s what she said:

“I found the most benefit came when I did the recapitulation breath for an extended period of time. Often I would sit and breathe for over an hour, gently sweeping my head back and forth while sitting in a relaxed and supported pose, usually on my bed, with plenty of cushions to support my back. I found it suited me to have my eyes open, though many people keep their eyes closed. As I swept my head from side to side, breathing in and out, I kept my open eyes stationary in my head so that they too swept from side to side along with the movements of the head. This allowed for a softened gaze in which images appeared, memories that I could dive into and relive, seeing them as if they were movies playing before me, allowing me to process them and release them in whatever way I was ready for at the moment. I kept a journal beside me and was able to immediately jot down my experiences upon finishing the breathing pass. I suppose a phone, on ‘Record’, could also be used for this purpose, both during and after the experience, though I did not have that technology available to me at the time. My final breath was always a quick clearing breath, a swift sweeping of the head from side to side while holding my breath before releasing with a final, long exhale at the end of the session.”

Jack Schwarz introduced breathing patterns that give access to brainwave states associated with transpersonal dimensions of the psyche and promote the activation of holotropic healing. He emphasized allowing for deeper breathing through relaxing of the abdominal area, allowing for more air to enter the lungs.

Alpha brainwaves are reached by breathing in to a count of 8, holding for 8, and breathing out to a count of 8, followed by a holding of the breath for a count of 4 and then beginning again: 8-8-8-4. Theta brainwaves correspond to a 4-8-16-4 pattern. Delta corresponds to a 4-8-32-4 rhythm.

One should slowly work up to the longer held breath patterns and never push beyond what is comfortable. Simply breathing in and out with no holding restores the beta brainwave state of ordinary waking reality.

Accessing physical union with the spirit through the use of the breath is the essence of yoga with its pranayama breathing.

Air is indeed the ultimate miracle drug to promote the deepest healing and union of body and spirit. Most significantly, the fullness of breath opens us to the fullness of the physical life we are in, our deepest reason for being here, in this form, in this time.

Gently bring attention and intention to its healing balm. Become one with your airy soulmate.

In fellowship with all fellow breathers,

Chuck’s Place: Tell Your Body What To Do

Image by Jan Ketchel

I would like to say that, yes, it is that simple. By telling your heart to beat slower, it will beat slower. By telling your blood pressure to flow more calmly, it will flow more calmly. By telling your breathing to calm down, it will calm down. By telling your body to relax, it will relax.

And though I know from personal experience that these things are true, I  also know that our internal programming, largely molded by our social conditioning and education, tells us that such things are not possible.

The rational mind either rejects such a simplistic possibility and refuses to do it or makes half-hearted attempts a couple of times and proves its absurdity.

If we allow our accepted beliefs to control our actions without honestly testing out possibilities beyond those beliefs, we will be slow to evolve. Evolution requires that we allow life to progress through its changes. If we grasp too tightly to old beliefs without testing new possibilities we create roadblocks to our own growth and evolution.

The true scientist is not offended when the outcome of an experiment disproves the stated hypothesis. To the contrary, there is the thrill of the discovery of a new truth. Science, at its purest, is a lover of truth. Beliefs that refuse to yield to an unprejudiced experiment are no lovers of true science.

It is true that many of our cognitive, emotional and behavioral actions happen outside the control of consciousness. Our subconscious minds are the home of the programs that automatically operate our physical and mental systems.

We should be quite thankful that the subconscious automatically shoulders the directing of these systems. Imagine if we had to tell ourselves to breathe every breath we inhale throughout the day! We’d have little energy and focus to do any other activity. Yet, it is a fact that at times, when we do assume conscious control of our breathing, it can have a deeply calming effect upon our body and state of mind.

The science behind the efficacy of conscious self-regulation can be traced to the pioneering research of German psychiatrist Johannes Heinrich Schultz in what he called autogenic training. The marvels of hypnosis were in deep display in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. No one could deny that the subconscious mind could be influenced to vastly change the condition of the body.

What Schultz advanced was the possibility of a direct relationship between the conscious mind and the state of the body. Rather than put the conscious mind to sleep in a state of trance and then have the subconscious controlled by the suggestions of the hypnotist, in autogenic training the conscious mind is fully awake, talking with conviction to the body and the underlying subconscious, consciously directing physical changes.

The mind, at the level of the ego, the chief navigator of daily life, can decide at any time to direct thinking and behavior. This means volitionally, with conscious intent, interrupting and overriding the currently active program operating from the center of the subconscious mind.

With calm, unbiased perseverance, one can discover, for themselves, the power they have to directly influence the state of their central nervous system. Of course there are many other ways to influence this relationship, such as through the use of medications, whose chemicals exert direct influence over the automatic programs running the body.

Energy therapies such as acupuncture also directly impact the energy channels in the body, by overriding subconscious programs causing energy blockages. Massage therapy deals with the relaxing and redistributing of energy at the level of the densest concentrations of energy, the physical body.

All these methods have their benefits and may be helpful to creating harmony within the CNS. Statements made directly to the body empower an individual to directly impact their state of being. Of course, one should always investigate the reason behind an uncomfortable body condition, as there may be a message behind it to the psyche from the body, asking it to change a dysfunctional behavior or to investigate some deeper issue.

Nonetheless, even that kind of investigation requires a calm state of being to allow for clear mental processing. For this, the simple directive from the conscious mind, telling the heart to beat slower, may prove extremely useful.

Try it. See what happens. Be a true scientist.

My heart beats slower,


Chuck’s Place: The Heart Beats to the Intensity of Activation

Heart centeredness…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

 We live in a time that many have identified as one of quickening. The impact of such fevered evolutionary activity on the central nervous system (CNS) is quite palpable in the form of heightened anxiety and quickened escalation to panic. The heart beats to this intensity of activation. 

Underneath the energetic impact of our times is our innate temperament. The genetics which inform the inborn settings of our CNS greatly impact our innate resilience to stress. Thus, an inheritance of ancestral trauma can program our CNS to approach life with constant   vigilance. The heart beats to this intensity of activation.

In addition to inheritance is the impact of many experiences post-conception that are regulated by the subconscious mind. To assure survival and balance the subconscious might split off and store these unprocessed experiences in the body and shadow regions of the psyche. These splintered complexes form autonomous mini-psyches that occasionally are triggered and disrupt ego functioning. The heart beats to the intensity of  their activation.

Whether the source of activation be engrained habit or triggered complex is immaterial, the result manifests physically in the tempo of the beating heart. The challenge is to reset the CNS in order to find calm.

Psychopharmocology approaches this task with chemicals that both enhance or block the influence of hormones and neurotransmitters, whereby exerting regulation upon the CNS and the beating of the heart. This might be viewed as a material intervention to influence the physical body and, secondarily, the mind or spirit, which finds peace in a calmed body.

Heart centered breathing brings consciousness directly to the heart and can reset its rhythm to homogenize with the pace of the breath. Focus upon the breath also screens out activating thoughts through mindful presence with the heart center. Yogic pranayama breathing, as a regular practice, develops greater conscious control over the CNS. 

When we breathe with awareness the mind shuts off thinking. Conscious breathing is the mind exerting direct influence over the CNS. Psychotherapy offers another integrated mind body approach to CNS regulation through the processing of complexes and strengthening of control of the mind over itself.

Meditation and neurofeedback address CNS regulation at the most subtle dimension. In the stillness of inner focus one encounters the impact of complexes and habits, each vying for attention with stories and feelings, and notices their impact upon the heart. Release of attachment to these stories and feelings, while traveling deeper into the quiet dimensions of the soul, brings the CNS to utter calm. Sustained practice affords everyday life a modicum of detachment from the storm and stress of life in human form.

Finally, repetitive mantra, prayer or intention directly instructs the subconscious, the mind body center that automatically controls the CNS.

With sustained practice these programs can be altered through conscious effort. Of course, deep resetting of the CNS will take time and may require a combination of the practices outlined above.

And though the heart will always beat to the intensity of its activation, activation can be greatly transformed through mental practice. And mind you, all mental practice issues from the province of the soul. 




Soulbyte for Friday August 27, 2021

Let not the trials of life overwhelm you but instead find your calmness by breathing into your heart center, opening the door and letting the calmness that resides there permeate your being. This calmness is naturally present and it sits in wait, yearning for the day that it may be of service, for it knows no other desire except to find its place within you. Once this calmness is discovered let it be activated daily and you will find your life not only bearable but joyous, for your heart center is not only a place of calmness but of love as well, and this too you will experience once you open the door.

Sending you love,
The Soul Sisters, Jan & Jeanne

Soulbyte for Monday August 2, 2021

Let yourself be guided by nature to find your way to stillness, calmness, and a heart centered path where not only you flourish but all others do as well. It’s not that hard to get calm and remain calm. Practice how nature gets calm; the winds die down, the storms cease, the waters lie still, the critters sing their natural songs of life. Let all within you do the same so that nature becomes you and you become it. In this manner let yourself be guided to remain calm as much as possible. It will do you good.

Sending you love,
The Soul Sisters, Jan & Jeanne