Tag Archives: recapitulation breath

Chuck’s Place: Reconciliation Of Retrograde

Trickster energy… - Photo by Chuck Ketchel
Trickster energy…
– Photo by Chuck Ketchel

It’s 6:21 AM. I’m driving slowly along the windy hilly roads to work. My mind is preoccupied with the experience Jan and I had last Friday at the VA Hospital in Albany. We’d been invited to present on PTSD. We decided to give an experiential presentation for which I’d brought my EMDR light bar. There was a delay getting into the conference room, as a prior meeting was spilling over into our time. Our presentation time was compromised, as another presenter was to follow immediately after us.

Once we finally entered the room, I quickly attempted to set up the equipment. Suddenly we entered a cartoon-like dream. Everything we touched, although meticulously packed, fell apart. The tripod literally fell into pieces, impossible to reassemble.

“Okay,” I resolve, “I’ll hold the light bar without the stand.” As I go to clip the control switch into the bar I discover that the clip is broken. There is no salvaging the equipment now! That’s it, I decide, the trickster shaman’s world trumps. The Magical Breathing Pass of Recapitulation will have to be the main experiential feature. And so, about 25 people learned and experienced this ancient Magical Pass and it’s application to PTSD.

As I continue to drive to work, I recall that the time crunch of the presentation also precluded a brief group hypnosis that Jan was to give at the close of the talk. Suddenly, my awareness is abruptly drawn back to the present moment: a young deer is staring at me, frozen in the road. I slam on the brakes—a near miss!

The symbol for Mercury...
The symbol for Mercury…

What does it all mean? For the past several days, I’ve been experiencing and observing opposition and retrograde. We exist and are composed of fields of competing energies. Mercury, the trickster energy, is indeed in retrograde. At the VA we experienced the ancient shamanic energy opposing and trumping the modern mechanical/technological world. At the moment I recalled the opposition of time and trance—no time for a group hypnosis—I was awoken from my own highway hypnosis to not kill a deer. Here was the opposition of time and timelessness: being present in this moment to not kill a deer vs being lost in the timeless world of the mind’s meanderings.

We all struggle with oppositions within the self. Carlos Castaneda relates in Magical Passes how don Juan Matus explained this in a metaphorical sense: “…that we are composed of a number of single nations: the nation of the lungs, the nation of the heart, the nation of the kidneys, and so on. Each of these nations sometimes works independently of the others, but at the moment of death, all of them are unified into one single entity.” (pp. 103-4)

Our challenge in this life is to reconcile those oppositions within us, the trickster included, into an integrated whole, in a process that Jung termed individuation.

Sometimes the nation of the stomach craves that which the other nations of the body reject. Sometimes the neocortex—our rational brain—rejects the impulses and needs of our limbic system—our animal brain.

When my neocortex confronted the frozen limbic response of the deer in my headlights, it managed to direct my body to hit the brakes. My own limbic system worked in concert with my neocortex to supply the rapid response to react physically to the crises at hand. This is an optimal response—nations of the self unified, acting in concert.

In times of retrograde, Mercury, the trickster, can confound all attempts at collaboration. Mercury laughed as I fumbled with the equipment at the VA. Rather than fight, I read the signs and immediately shifted. Acquiescing, I flowed with the energy of the moment and instead taught deep bodily knowledge.

Opposition is within us all...
Opposition is within us all…

When I asked the I Ching for guidance regarding this period of retrograde, it once again, not surprisingly, produced the hexagram of Opposition, #38. The moving lines—in the third and fourth places—depicted a wagon with oxen being dragged backwards. Now there’s a retrograde image! The guidance reads: though humiliation might occur, sit tight, wait, align with a likeminded person who can be trusted. In the case of the faulty light bar, I turned to my neocortex, which acted in concert with spirit: Go with the flow, trust the Magical Pass.

In shaman’s terms, the guidance is to suspend judgment, to look beyond the impasse. Reconciliation lies in the deeper meaning of the trickster’s intent—to reveal a deeper truth: The ancient Magical Pass of Recapitulation is all you need to be freed of PTSD.

We can reconcile with all our retrograde energies if we accept their opposition with patience and perseverance, not falling for the trap of self-blame. The deeper meaning of Mercury’s retrograde lies in the wings of Mercury—our freedom to fly—achievable if we don’t get caught in the heaviness of opposition.

Flowing on the wings of Mercury,

Chuck’s Place: It’s All In Body

We must go down into the murky depths of our own reservoir if we are to experience wholeness... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
We must go down into the murky depths of our own reservoir if we are to experience wholeness…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The clinical wisdom of our time highlights the role of the body in psychological healing. To resolve our deepest issues, we must go down into the depths of the body to discover our hidden truths and restore a fluid connection to the wellsprings of our life energy.

For many years, I have spoken about out-of-body experiences and energetic life beyond the physical. Soul retrieval journeys, such as the kind taken in recapitulation, are in fact intimately connected to our in-body reservoir.

When we reenter the scene of an earlier experience in life, we utilize the sensations in our bodies to lead us to the actual event. The body stores all experiences and once we arrive at their gate, in recapitulation for example, we are thrust full-body into what happened to us in the prior experience. In traumatic recapitulation, we may have a full in-body sensation and complete reliving of a long-forgotten experience.

Many visits to hospital emergency rooms actually result from unknown, unsupported, tripping into stored bodily memories of trauma, inadvertently triggered by some associatively related current life experience. Often, after exhaustive testing, physicians are clueless in diagnosing the disturbance, often assuming panic attack. For the patient, the physical experience has been so real and in-body that this explanation seems highly dubious. Nonetheless, what ensues is perhaps a trail of treatments to control panic, which misses the true nature of the symptom: the triggering of a dissociated life experience stored in the body seeking re-association through reliving and resolving the turbulence it holds.

Modern clinical wisdom and ancient shamanic wisdom point the way to the innate, archetypal bridge of bilateral body movement to enable the grounding needed to experience and integrate dissociated parts of the soul that lie in wait in the body reservoir.

In dreaming, we naturally experience bilateral rapid eye movement, commonly called REM, that clears and processes the remnants of the day just lived. In nightmares, we experience failed attempts to naturally resolve traumatic moments. When no resolution occurs, these traumas end up stored in energetically volatile and incomplete states in the body—often a cause of physically distressing symptoms. Chronic pain and debilitating symptoms, even anger and fear of intimacy or conflict, may in fact be trauma related.

Francine Shapiro advanced the instinctive bilateral physical movement that we all use when we dream, incorporating it as a direct method to facilitate the integration of traumatic experience, in a waking state, through the protocol of EMDR. The Shamans of Ancient Mexico discovered the bilateral recapitulation breathing Magical Pass millennia ago, as a means to enable reintegration of lost parts of the self. These inherent and consciously facilitated practices provide the bridge to safely encountering and putting to rest the stored energies of unresolved traumas.

The body stores that which is incomplete, awaiting resolution when the time is right. The body equally holds the key to safely resolving that which it holds, through bilateral movement, whether exercised consciously with recapitulation or in EMDR, or unconsciously in dreaming. Only through fully accessing and resolving all that the body holds will we acquire the energetic wholeness to launch, with completion, out-of-body when it’s time to pass on into new life.

In body,

A Day in a Life: Seeds Scattered Upon the Earth

I sit on my meditation pillow and do the sweeping breath; exhaling, emptying of breath while turning my head to the right, breathing in while moving my head to the left, and then holding my breath while I sweep my head back to the right again. I do this over and over again, sweeping back and forth in an effort to recapture the dream I had last night. I have most of it, but there are a few details that I want clarified. The shamanic sweeping breath, the recapitulation breath, works like EMDR to capture experiences, dream and otherwise.

In my dream I am planting a garden. Chuck is with me. We have prepared everything according to what we feel is good for the earth, for the soil, imbuing everything with our intent to do it right so that everything we plant will feel welcomed and loved and provide us with sustenance and nurturance in return. Now it is time to put the seeds into the ground. I am standing with my cupped hands full of seeds. I am looking at them intently, knowing that I have done everything to prepare for this moment, but still I am aware that something is missing.

Ethereal Light

Chuck is standing next to me, also looking at the seeds in my hands, both of us trying to figure out what it is we have forgotten. Suddenly there is a loud crack and the pile of seeds is emblazoned with energy. They glow with a vibrant ethereal light and then I know that this is what is missing, the energy of Mother Nature beyond what we personally could intend. At the same time I am startled awake, because the loud crack was, in reality, a powerful jolt of lightning and thunder that rumbles on and on, Mother Nature, the earth reminding us of her power.

“It sounds like an earthquake shaking the earth apart,” Chuck said, as we lay awake listening to its insistent rumblings, the significance of this statement highlighting the truth of what has been happening lately in Japan and other parts of the world. As we fell back to sleep I thought about writing the dream down so I didn’t lose it, but I chose instead to replay it over and over again in my mind so I could more readily remember it in the morning. Alas there was something missing when I woke up too, just as I knew there was something missing as I stared at the seeds in my hands during the dream experience itself.

Doing the sweeping breath helps clarify the intent of the dream, which I am aware, is teaching me something important. What I remember now is that at the moment of the crack of thunder I was aware that I was as the tiny seeds in my hands, that no matter what I personally did it was the energy of Mother Nature, in all of us, that would determine the outcome of my garden. It is important to prepare for life, for planting, making preparations according to what is in alignment with what is right, but it is hubris on our part to think that we can control anything. It is important to be an active participant in life, but the truth is that the energy of life, of nature, is unstoppable.

This is what I also understood as I lay in the dark listening to the thunder rolling and cracking open the silence of the night. In all that I have been writing about lately—pointing out the decisions that we have all taken and that we are all responsible for, whether we agree with them or not—in the end, the one who will determine our fate will be the Earth itself. Mother Nature holds the real power.

We are but seeds scattered upon the soil, we fall were we fall. We must each one of us find our way with where we have landed in this life. Some of us live in the richest country in the world, in a material sense. Some live in a country with a belief in the richness of Mother Nature, Pachamama, as I mentioned in a note yesterday regarding Brazil’s law of equality, granting nature and all living things equal status with humanity. How is it possible that such diverse and drastically different attitudes exist? On the one hand our own country of America continues making decisions to ravage and destroy the earth in an effort to uphold our standard of living, while another country seeks to return to ancient alignment with the earth. The truth is that Brazil too has ravaged the earth, but now seeks to return to ancient alignment and identity with nature. Something powerful is being expressed in turning to this other truth that lies at the heart of our human presence upon this earth.

As in my dream, something is asking us to pause now and question what we have done. We are at a crucial moment in our time, but synchronistically in the time of all living things. We must all ask what is missing. What is it that we have not done to prepare, what is not right here? What have we forgotten?

Mother Nature has the answers. As we see happening in Japan, in Arizona where fracking for natural gas has unleashed earthquakes deep inside the earth, in the tragic truths of gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, mother nature is responding, even as she did in the night as I dreamed. I take the synchronicity of that loud crack of thunder at the moment I was dreaming very seriously. I also see its synchronicity in all that I have been reading and writing about recently, in the wake of national and international events and discussions regarding how we all treat the earth.

Even as I was wondering in my dream what was missing from my own little effort to do something earth-sustaining, taking personal responsibility for growing some of my own food, nature herself spoke loudly and clearly, reminding me of her powerful presence in my life and in all life as well. She is life and she has something to say. We all need to listen.

I don’t mean to be preachy nor do I wish to impose my personal beliefs. I think we must all come to what feels right for us personally, but at the same time I do strongly feel that it would be amiss to not point out the synchronicities all around us. I truly believe that Pachamama must be treated with respect and awe—not simply granted equality with humankind, though this is a good start—because she is far more powerful than we are. This is the truth I learned in my dream.

I am just one little seed, sending you all love and good wishes.

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A Day in a Life: Unblocking Energy

Back when I was doing my recapitulation Jeanne told me that if I did not find a way to speak about what had happened to me during childhood the long hidden secrets would putrefy inside me. I’d already had proof of this with intermittent pains and illnesses with no medical explanation, skin problems, and cancer. Don Juan explained to Carlos that the purpose of recapitulation consisted of:

“…a systematic scrutiny of one’s life, segment by segment, an examination made not in the light of criticism or finding flaw, but in the light of an effort to understand one’s life, and to change its course. Don Juan’s claim was that once any practitioner has viewed his life in the detached manner that the recapitulation requires, there’s no way to go back to the same life.” —from The Wheel of Time, page 4.

The process of recapitulation consists in learning how to release blocked energy to achieve the detachment that allows us to fully accept and experience new life. Once again, near the end of my recapitulation, Jeanne reminded me of the need to continually release all energy blockages. As I began to take on the job of becoming her channel she warned that if I did not find a way to speak about her, and what I was learning from her, that everything would begin to pile up inside me again, creating new blockages, and eventually I would die.

At that point, I had a dream in which I was feeling the fullness of being Jeanne’s channel and I wanted to make sure that everyone knew that my intent was pure, that I had pureness of heart. In this dream I was confronted with a stadium filled with hecklers who, no matter what I said, would not listen to me as I tried to explain that I was a good person and I was only doing this because it was the right thing to do. Jeanne told me that I had to let my feelings go, that in feeling that I was not being appreciated for my simplicity, my goodness, that I was not listened to and ended up feeling ignored and insignificant, that I was in fact expressing self-importance. She said that no matter how justified and right I felt it did not matter. The only thing that mattered was taking the journey. She was challenging me to take the journey with her more fully. Was I ready to do it, to leave everything behind and go with her into a new world?

In taking the journey, by accepting every challenge as a challenge to let go of my ego, I discovered that most of my blockages were bundled up in self-importance. In order to truly release blocked energy and access my own vital stores of energy I had to get to a place where nothing mattered because nothing had any significance. I had to totally detach from everything that my ego previously felt was important, even the importance of being good, right, or pure of heart. As don Juan taught, in learning detachment—non-attachment to the structures of this world, including feelings of self-importance—we gain the means of shifting our perceptions and evolving.

I finally understood what Jeanne had been telling me all along: if I allowed blockages to remain inside me they would continue to eat up my energy and I would eventually rot away, just an empty carcass. I also knew that either way I was facing death. It is a known fact that we are all going to die, but now I was being asked to make a decision in how I wanted to face my death. Did I want to stay attached to the old self, so known and full of pain, or would I choose to let her go and open up to something totally fresh and new? I was headed the same place no matter what I decided. “Are you taking this journey with me, Jan?” she asked. “Or are you going to stay attached to self-importance?”

I finally understood that in giving up the ego I could become free. “I get it,” I said, “when you can accept death you are free.” How simple that statement sounds! We already possess the knowledge that death is inevitable, but we can change our perception of death by constantly finding new energy: by doing recapitulation, by breathing out old stuff, by releasing energy blockages. We can choose to give ourselves new energy and in so doing free ourselves from the fear of death, removing its dark shadow from our lives. When we allow ourselves to let the true journey begin, death no longer matters either, just as ego no longer matters.

Once I sat and did the recapitulation breath during a thunderstorm, aware that the energy of it was powerful and that if I could tap into it I might be able to create a shift. I sat for a long time and did the sweeping breath, moving my head to the right and then the left, breathing in and out slowly and methodically as I swept my head back and forth, simultaneously going deeper and deeper into myself. I breathed out the energy of my abuser, even the smell and taste of tobacco smoke that appeared, cleaning my nose and lungs of the memory of him, unblocking my body of everything else that arose to get in my way as the storm raged outside the windows, as the lightning flashed and the thunder shook. I went further and further back into the past and beyond, until I became an old Indian woman sitting under a thick and roughly woven blanket on a precipice of a high mesa overlooking a desert landscape as a thunderstorm raged and cracked all around me. As I did the breathing I was letting go of all the dark secrets, breathing out the energy of my abuser, sending him away and replacing his energy with my own, going deeper and deeper as I cleared a path to my truth, into what I had stored inside me, until I was able to leave this world and enter another.

As I took that recapitulation journey that day the energy was very much like the energy of this day, the energy of the storm that now rages outside my windows much the same as that thunderstorm, the wind offering a similar power. With awareness of energy, of our personal energy and why and where it is blocked inside us, in learning how to release ourselves from the past, we become available for experiences of energy as it flows in the universe, as I was that day when I did succeed in shifting my world.

With the intent already set to change, we just have to accept the mission set before us. We have to face death, but in so doing we also have to face life. Are you ready to take the journey? Today, with the power inherent in the southerly wind, it may be your moment. Good Luck!

If you wish, feel free to share or comment in the Post Comment section below.

Sending you all love and good wishes,

#699 Chuck’s Place: In-Body Experience

All the faculties, possibilities, and accomplishments of shamanism, from the simplest to the most astounding, are in the human body itself.”
-Carlos Castaneda, The Wheel of Time (p. 199)

Today, I explore the value of achieving the full energetic potential of the human body by learning to breathe. As Castaneda suggests in the above quote, the gateway to the energy body is the physical body. In Hatha Yoga, and all yogas, the breath is the most important factor. In fact, yoga is all about breathing. In the asana called Savasana the body is calmed to its energetic vibratory state. This is the result of deep relaxation and full breathing, no obstructions. Full breathing entails breathing deeply into the abdominal cavity and filling the lower, middle, and upper parts of the lungs; it is also commonly called the three-part breath. Typically, most people limit their breathing to shallow breathing that only fills the upper lungs, leaving the abdominal area, in particular, unfilled and dormant.

The tensions of modern day life and the inner instincts are borne in the rigidity of the body, in what Wilhelm Reich, a psychoanalyst from Freud’s inner circle, called character armour. Reich, whose main area of focus was on the body, theorized that most of what the human race accepts as climax or orgasm is incomplete, as the natural involuntary movements of coitus are generally restricted by the ego’s inability to let go to full body release. His most famous student, Alexander Lowen, founded the Bioenergetic School of Psychotherapy to address the rigidities in the body that inhibit the full realization of physical pleasure in modern day men and women.

Fear, whether it be generated by the ego’s discomfort with the instinctual animal self or by trauma, or simply by the conjuring mind itself, often registers in the body as a constriction in the throat, resulting in shallow respiration. Deep instinctual impulses or psychic complexes may also be held back or stored in the stomach and abdomen, as well as in other parts of the body. Shallow breathing results in a numbness, or lifelessness, a virtual disconnect from the body below the head. Cultural norms that insist upon flat stomachs further rigidify the midsection of the body, forcing it to be held in. As a consequence of these types of bodily restrictions, middle and lower lung breathing is rarely accomplished in daily life, creating an in-body state of dissociation.

In-body association is critical to both wholeness and furthering our evolutionary potential in the energy body state. Many people who have had out-of-body experiences (OBEs) as a result of trauma must first re-associate their physical body to further their OBE exploration. This requires opening up the connection between the head and the rest of the body, which includes full breathing without obstruction. In fact, shamanic recapitulation, which is the practice of re-associating all of life’s experiences on an energetic level, includes a deep breathing magical pass.

I suggest, in addition to other practices involving healing and wholeness, that a focus be placed on learning how to naturally breathe into the abdominal area. Bringing awareness to the abdominal area, relaxing it, allowing it to begin filling with air while breathing in through the nose, and contracting the abdomen while exhaling through the nose, is a good first step in learning to connect with and discover the full energetic benefits of deep breathing. This can be practiced regardless of constriction that might be felt in the throat. Consistent practice may allow the rest of the lungs to fill, flowing from the abdominal area in full three-part breathing, eventually allowing the head to release its fear and constriction to this deeper connection.

Breathing is our most natural bodily instinct and our greatest bodily need. Our first and most important act is to take the breath of life. So, breathe fully! Breathe with awareness, allowing for deep in-body experience, the gateway to everything!

If you wish to correspond, please feel free to post a comment below.

Until we meet again,

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