Tag Archives: sweeping breath

Chuck’s Place: Assuming Full Ownership

Native American Soul symbol…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

To own is to take full possession of that which truly belongs to oneself. If a child dreams of her enraged father at her bedroom door with a club in his hand, this dream originates in her own psyche; she completely owns the dream, it is her dream and nobody else’s.

Regardless of the meaning and outer causes of the dream, the dream, with its inner impact upon her, is her personal experience, constructed and completed within the boundaries of the self. The child must assume full ownership of her dream. The experience of the dream may take her years to fully integrate, but the experience is forever a fact of her life, a part of herself which must be reckoned with and given its rightful place within the inner boundaries of herself.

If, in a waking state, that same child is confronted by her enraged father at her bedroom door in reality, her inner experience of this rattling intrusion is hers and hers alone too. The experience is fully recorded within herself and lives on within herself as a psychic content that beckons a legitimate place among the many other psychic contents of experiences that reside within her. Though in both cases a person beyond the boundaries of herself is implicated, that is her father, and indeed some outer actions and interactions may be necessary, her actual experience in both situations and how it is represented within herself is hers and hers alone. No one can tell another person what their inner experience is or should be; it is fully what it is within the person who is having or has actually had that unique inner experience.

Experience is. It happens. Like nature, experience takes us into the unknown, the unexpected, the dangerous, the terrifying and the spellbinding. Experience leads us into the unfathomable depths of our own nature, to places, emotions, sensations and thoughts we may have no preparation for.  In one instance we may experience bliss, in another serious loss. Experience itself is unconcerned with whether something is good or bad, right or wrong—it simply happens. We of course must apply a judgment dimension to our experiences in an attempt to make sense of them. Without sense we have no order, and without order there is no definite self, and without self there is chaos. Chaos within the psyche results from a logjam of undigested experiences.

We must decide if an experience is right or wrong, good or bad, appropriate or inappropriate, acceptable or unacceptable.  All these parameters help us to quantify and qualify an experience, to truly ‘know’ our experience. These are the operating tools of the rational mind, the foundation of our consciousness. Unfortunately, as helpful as these conscious tools are, helping to stabilize and navigate our consciousness, they can have the unfortunate side effect of distancing us from the fuller impact of the experience, which transcends the ordering function of the rational mind and continues to haunt the self in some form of psychic or physical symptom.

We must reckon with the full impact of an experience to be freed of such antagonistic symptoms as anxiety and fear, which may actually be placeholders of our disowned experiences, discontented prisoners within the self.

The psyche might also be riddled with obsessive anger and blame as it locates the responsibility for its experiences in the person of an outside perpetrator, or some permutation thereof. Of course responsibility must be assigned where it is due and appropriate action be taken to address or redress an act, but inner reconciliation with one’s experience requires full ownership of one’s experience as one’s own, regardless of the sources or players involved in setting the stage for one’s inner experience.

Shamanic recapitulation and EMDR are two practices that enable one to fully assimilate and own the deeper impact of an experience. Both techniques incorporate psyche and body to facilitate assimilation.

C. G. Jung observed that we internalize the soul of the land we inhabit. For America, that means that the American soul is Native American. Carlos Castaneda gifted us the practices of the shamans of the Americas, in particular the breathing practice of recapitulation. Francine Shapiro, founder of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing), discovered the bilateral movement of recapitulation, I imagine, through the Native American soul of America that projected itself onto her unique discovery process.

Reliving one’s life experiences while bilaterally breathing from side to side is the simplest gift from the native soul of America. With this simple breathing practice we consciously put our houses in order, fully own our experiences and, relieved of the tension of them, we are  prepared to fully engage in new life and new experiences, all energy on board for new adventures.

Assuming full responsibility for one’s own experiences provides a most powerful container of self, from which we are empowered to reconcile life lived and release the self to fully enter new life unburdened, with fluidity, totally freed and ready for new adventures!

Owning the experience,


A Day in a Life: Recapitulating All The Time

Breathe in the healing energy of the  first morning light... Photo by Jan Ketchel
Breathe in the healing energy of the first morning light… Photo by Jan Ketchel

In an intense moment, in an out-of-the-ordinary experience, when I was at the beginning of my recapitulation journey, Jeanne Ketchel told me that this—recapitulation—would be my work now. At the time I took it to mean that all of my time and energy would have to go into my process of reclaiming my energy from my abusive past, until I was done. Later I understood this missive on a deeper level. She was actually telling me that recapitulation would be my work, period, now and in the future. And so it has become. What started as a deeply personal search for truth has evolved into a life’s work—on many levels.

Recapitulation is both what I spend my working life on and also what I spend my personal life on. My view of the world and life in general have been so greatly changed by my deep inner work, especially this process of recapitulation. I am not in the shaman’s world, but I found my way to a practice, a way of doing life that is deeply resonant. The Shamans of Carlos Castaneda’s line released tensegrity into the world, including the recapitulation, with the intent that it find its way to those who are energetically ready for it, ready for a way to change and evolve. It has helped me greatly to broaden my understanding of the world and my life in particular, and so I accept it into my life. In my own way I practice it daily.

When I met Chuck he had already understood that the world of the Shamans of Ancient Mexico offered certain techniques that could be utilized within a therapeutic setting. He saw how the recapitulation breath, the sweeping breath, mimicked the bilateral process of EMDR. He understood the value of recapitulation, not only as a deepening tool, but also as an agent of real change in a deeply transformative process. For the real process of recapitulation asks us to change ourselves so deeply that we shed all self-importance, so that we are more readily available to navigate life without fear, without feeling offended, without feeling special. If we are to experience all that life has to offer, Chuck discovered, we must do more than just manage our traumas and stresses, we must totally heal from them so that we may become receptive, constantly evolving beings.

As I work now to finish my second book in The Recapitulation Diaries series, I encounter my recapitulating self over and over again. I reencounter all I sorted through, all that held me captive, all that I struggled to shed. Insights blossomed the deeper I went into my inner world. As I took on the questions of my own ego or lack there of, I encountered and systematically dissected just what it was that held me captive and defended. The answer more often than not revolved around self-importance: that I was scared, that I was worthless, that I was afraid of everything, that I could not speak and break the pact of silence I’d upheld for almost fifty years. All of these things might not sound self-important, but they were. I discovered that any attachment to self had to be revealed for what it truly was and meant. And then even that had to be discarded. In regaining my energy from my abusive past, by taking it back from my abuser, I freed myself. I healed. That was the beginning.

Buddha sweeping away the veils of illusion, breathing in new energy... Photo by Jan Ketchel
Buddha sweeping away the veils of illusion, breathing in new energy… Photo by Jan Ketchel

The Shamans of Ancient Mexico suggest the process of recapitulation for everyone, as a path to freedom. They do not relegate it to healing from trauma, but as a means of healing ourselves of the world we have been raised in, taught to adhere to and trust. They suggest that only in facing the beings we became—through a systematic process of socialization that began the moment we are born—can we dismantle that old world and gain enough energy and perception to live differently in this world, while simultaneously learning what it means to be sober enough to enter other worlds with impeccability.

In order to begin taking this path to freedom, they suggest making a list of all the people we have ever encountered and then doing a new kind of systematic process, a process of recapitulation that involves investigating ourselves in every situation we’ve ever been in, within every relationship. In questioning why, how, and for what reason we got into certain situations—whether by choice or by force—we offer ourselves the opportunity to change. As we do deep inner work we begin to see our lives from a greater perspective. For even as we go deeply into minute details of who we are and why we are the way we are, we begin to gain a far wider view of life in general and ourselves as beings on an evolutionary path. Eventually, we ask ourselves: If I am here in this life facing this situation, what does it mean in the context of my soul’s journey? What am I supposed to learn so that I can evolve? In gaining a bigger perspective we gain meaning for our lives, our eternal life included.

The Shamans of Ancient Mexico suggest doing a recapitulation of our lists and then going back and doing it again and again. Each time we go back we discover more about ourselves and we also shed more of our self-importance. We gain a greater respect for the journey we’ve taken while we also totally let it go.

Once our past has been recapitulated, we also discover that who we have become since then must be recapitulated too. Who was I yesterday? What can I change in my life each day? What can I shed today that will help me to change and grow? Life requires this of us, as each day new memories come asking us to pay attention to the messages they carry to us. In the midst of my second year of recapitulation—even though I often hated doing the recapitulation process as I was constantly being dragged back into horrific memories—I understood that it was, as the Shamans of Ancient Mexico discovered, really a lifelong process. Once begun I knew I would be doing it my whole life, gladly. How could I not when I saw the value of it? I saw myself changing, felt my physical body changing, felt my very cells and my brain changing on a daily basis.

And so now, as I finish my second book, I am once again recapitulating. I breathe the sweeping breath over my old traumas, releasing them again. They no longer bother me as they once did, but still I breathe them out and breathe in new energy. As I breathe out the old self, even the new recapitulated self, I am aware that even that deeply changed self must not be attached to. I must breathe her out and turn toward new life and a new self yet again.

Breathing in all that is yet to come,

Chuck’s Place: 2πr & πr²

We were watching a movie. It was descending into utter futility, a decision to suicide. It wasn’t anxious feelings that made me walk away; it was the character’s decision to surrender to that state of possession. I left the room not to return to the movie, but it was too late, I was already overtaken by a dark paralyzing mood.

Boundaries of Self

That night I slept fitfully and was awoken at 2:30 a.m. with the image of a dark circle surrounded by a bright rim of light and two formulas: 2πr and πr². “This is a first,” I thought, “my unconscious instructing me to perform geometric operations.” 2πr is the formula for the circumference of a circle: multiply the radius by π then double it. My unconscious was telling me, in no uncertain terms, to clearly define the boundary of myself, the outer rim of the circle.

Additionally, πr² is the area of a circle, that which is inside the circle, the True Contents of the Self.

I had been infected by an energy outside the circle of myself that had generated a mood with negative thoughts. Those thoughts had sprung fears and worries and my body tightly clenched in response. My unconscious was instructing me to define what really was inside the circle of Me and to clearly define a boundary that differentiated I from Not I.

I performed these boundary-setting operations in practical terms, first via Tonglen breathing, breathing in the Not I with all its angst and tumult, and breathing out compassion and calm, as I released the energy of Not I.

I also engaged in the Recapitulation Sweeping Breath, breathing in the energy of I, breathing out and away from me the energy of Not I that had inadvertently found its way in and attached itself like a virus within the circle of Self.

Finally, I did the Life Saving Pass, a Magical Pass defining an energetic boundary around the Self. With arms at the sides and slightly away from the body, hands open and palms facing in, with legs firmly planted, I swung my upright torso from left then right as my hands traced a circle around me: 2πr.

I mindfully refused the machinations of the mind to attach to its wares of worries in the world beyond the boundaries of Self. Within a day, these practices restored the calm balance that I am generally able to summon and maintain as I navigate life.

I am reminded of an experience of many years ago. I was at a lecture about then-segregated South Africa, and had the opportunity to privately ask Laurens van der Post, Jung’s dear friend and biographer, about Jung’s strong conviction that a successful inner journey by one individual synchronistically changes the world. Van der Post emphatically confirmed Jung’s conviction, even after having just delivered a lecture about his concerns for his own disintegrating homeland, caught in the web of Apartheid. Perhaps it ultimately was the inner process of Nelson Mandela that really changed that world.

Infinite Self

When I reflect on the formulas I was given in the night, both insisted on the use of π. π is an infinite number that we paradoxically use to define a definite space: a complete and contained circle. A circle, like the self, can be firmly encased and rigidly defined, yet only by a number that goes on into infinity—a number that therefore incorporates everything.

My efforts to restore and rebalance the boundaries of my “self” ultimately incorporated the interconnectedness of everything. We are finite and infinite beings, separate and interconnected.

We need never doubt the value of taking up the challenge of our inner process. Our own resolution resonates throughout the hologram of our world, throughout infinity.

My mathematical messenger provided me the vehicles to shift the energy within the self, the Self, the Selves. We are energetic beings with awareness, uniquely different and yet the same.

Change the self, change the world—try it!

From the land of Pythagoras,


A Day in a Life: The Sweeping Breath

In my upcoming book, The Recapitulation Diaries, Year One: The Man in the Woods, I describe learning the sweeping recapitulation breath, a Magical Pass. As frightening memories began making themselves known I used it often to clarify those memories as they emerged from the foggy past, as well as to calm the central nervous system. In both instances it was very effective.

In her book The Sorcerers’ Crossing Taisha Abelar writes about learning this recapitulation magical pass as well, first from her mentor Clara and then later from a man she immediately recognized as the master sorcerer. This master sorcerer gave her some valuable advice. When he found her talking to herself while doing the breathing pass, he suggested that she wasn’t breathing properly. She describes this meeting and the suggestion that she breathe like this:

Set an intent and breathe in the morning light

“He inhaled deeply as he gently turned his head to the left. Then he exhaled thoroughly as he smoothly turned his head to the right. Finally, he moved his head from his right shoulder to the left and back to the right again without breathing, then back to the center.”

The master sorcerer also told Taisha: “When exhaling, throw out all the thoughts and feelings you are reviewing. And don’t just turn your head with your neck muscles. Guide it with the invisible energy lines from your midsection. Enticing those lines to come out is one of the accomplishments of recapitulation.”

He went on to explain that “… just below the navel was a key center of power, and that all body movements, including one’s breathing, had to engage this point of energy. He suggested I synchronize the rhythm of my breathing with the turning of my head, so that together they would entice the invisible energy lines from my abdomen to extend outward into infinity.”

Find the key of power

Doing the sweeping recapitulation breath is not all that difficult. In every instance of reading about it I found variations, so it was often confusing, but I stuck with what Chuck had originally taught me, taking the liberty to change the way I did it to suit the intent I set with each sitting. Often I sat for only a few minutes, but I was just as likely to sit and do the sweeping breath for as long as an hour or more at a time.

Once one gets the hang of it and lets the thinking mind go, without getting caught in wondering if one is doing it right, it automatically begins doing its magic. Chuck always told me I couldn’t do it wrong, and indeed in reading and hearing all the many ways in which it was and is taught, it seems to me that just setting the intent and actually doing it is enough. As Chuck says, it’s the intent that matters.

Breathe out the past

So today I leave you with this sweeping breath. Set an intent. Find that key center of power and begin breathing from there. And then see what happens. I found it to be a most magical practice indeed!

Setting intent, finding breath, and sweeping away, I offer you all love and good wishes on your journeys, as I return to the last few days of editing my book.

The Sorcerers’ Crossing is available for purchase through our STORE. Excerpts used in this blog are found on page 132.

Chuck’s Place: Just Passing Through—With Awareness

“Do the sweeping breath Jan,” I suggested as we stared out at the ocean. “This is the last time we will ever be here. Take it in and release it.”

There is so much to this world, more than we can possibly experience in a lifetime. Better to be fully present, soaking it in and releasing it as we move along.

Only the energetic flow remains.

When we first arrived at the beach, we went to Edgar Cayce’s Atlantic University. We walked through the meditation gardens brimming with energy. We slowly walked the labyrinth in the heat of the noonday sun. Finally we sat in the coolness of the meditation room overlooking the sea, immediately drawn into the vortex of energy present in that room from all the beings who had preceded us.

Sometimes we are so moved by the beauty around us, drawn to the energy, that we immediately want to bottle it, to hold onto it. Before we left the beach I felt drawn to return to that meditation room, but it was time to leave, never to return.

We moved on to our cabin on the mountain. The moment we arrived we wanted another night, another attempt to bottle life. I called Chuck, the proprietor.

“Sorry Chuck,” he replied warmly, “I’d love to accommodate you, but it was just booked this morning.”

I knew, in that moment, that we were being reminded that we are beings who are going to die. Our stay here is but a limited engagement, no bargaining for more time. The message: Be fully present, fill your cup of experience to the brim, but don’t try to bottle life.

As I write these words, the sound of infinity—a thousand cicadas—wakes up. They announce: “Wake up! Take the journey NOW. Infinity is NOW!”

Before we arrived on the mountain we spent a night at a hot spring only to find a beautiful dead moth lying by the hot spring of life. When we came to our lovely cabin here on the mountain another beautiful moth lay dead on the floor by the jacuzzi. When we set out to hike the mountain we were greeted by the fallen wings of two luna moths resting on the trail, an energetic stream of movement. Signs of infinity: moths in repose and the energetic springs of life side by side. These are reminders to stay alert, remain aware, take nothing for granted, soak it in, release it and accept that we are just passing through.

With deep affection, I hold you in my awareness as I move along through infinite moments of awareness.