Category Archives: Chuck’s Blog

Welcome to Chuck’s Place! This is where Chuck Ketchel, LCSW-R, expresses his thoughts, insights, and experiences! Currently, Chuck posts an essay once a week, currently on Tuesdays, along the lines of inner work, psychotherapy, Jungian thought and analysis, shamanism, alchemy, politics, or any theme that makes itself known to him as the most important topic of the week. Many of the shamanic and psychological terms used in Chuck’s essays are defined in Tools & Definitions on our Psychotherapy page.

Chuck’s Place: Belly Breath Beta Blocker

There’s nothing like a calm belly breath…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Beta brainwaves are active when we think, hence, they are the dominant brainwave of waking life. Typically, our consciousness is preoccupied  with an internal dialogue that operates semi-consciously, as it judges, categorizes, projects possibilities, and relives lived experiences.

The subconscious mind treats the mental scenarios generated by the internal dialogue as actual facts and prepares the body to cope with their impact. Hence, the mere anticipation of an upcoming performance might generate a fear, which triggers the release of adrenalin to gear up for the challenge, as if it were happening now.

The resulting constriction in the body is accompanied by shallow breath. In fact, if one observes one’s breath when engaged with the internal dialogue, one is likely to notice both shallow upper-chest breathing and modestly long periods of holding of the breath.

These breathing patterns reinforce to the subconscious mind the presence of a danger that requires a sustained state of anxiety. The subconscious does not think rationally, it acts, based upon the body sensations and mental imaginings it is presented with.

Cognitive behavioral therapy capitalizes on this dynamic of thought-generating feeling and behavior by encouraging one to consciously control one’s thoughts. Mainstream medicine may prescribe beta blockers, a class of drugs that control the impact of adrenaline on the body, particularly the heart.

Abdominal breathing shuts down the internal dialogue, as it introduces alpha brainwaves to the body. Alpha is a restful, calm, relaxed brainwave. When in meditation, alpha is experienced as a mindful state of presence that does not attach to sensations, feelings, or mental meanderings. In alpha, one consciously removes attention from the internal dialogue.

To consciously introduce alpha brainwaves via the breath, focus on the belly for the entire breath. Allow the chest and upper chest to remain completely dormant. Imagine the belly to be a balloon that you slowly fill up to capacity, hold, and then release. Abdominal breathing is also called diaphragmatic breathing, as the diaphragm pushes downward as the balloon fills up.

Specifically, count to the count of 8 during the inhalation, hold for the count of 8, then exhale fully to the count of 8. When you complete the exhalation hold the breath for a count of 4, then repeat the pattern, beginning with an inhalation to the count of 8.

This pattern of 8-8-8-4 can be repeated for as long as one feels comfortable. Notice the resulting shift in mental, emotional, and physical states. Of course, feel free to modify the count as needed to fit your comfortability.

In fact, just practice taking a deep abdominal breath or two at any time, and notice how it breaks one’s fixation upon an anxiety-generating thought, feeling, and mental state. Achieving this calm with the introduction of alpha waves can allow for a more useful contemplation than the unnerving mental activity of the internal dialogue.

8-8-8-4,

Chuck

Chuck’s Place: The Technology of Love

The refinement of love…
Artwork © 2022 Jan Ketchel

During his journeys in infinity, Bob Monroe came to understand that we, in our world, are charged with refining the heavy, raw materials of love, which we are all endowed with, into a very high-frequency, subtle energy that can traverse the highest levels of subtle being.

If we consider that life is a progression—from living in a densely packed energy container, known as a physical body, to a more subtle high-frequency energy state known as the soul body, as we transform from physical to pure spiritual existence when we die—then it is self-evident that the love we experience in physical form must be refined to a much higher subtle vibration to continue to accompany us in our evolutionary journey beyond physical life.

We are all programmed at birth to seek attention. Receiving “good enough” attention initiates the journey of refining our love potential. If we survived childhood, the most basic need of feeling loved, regardless of how compromised, was satisfied enough to allow life to progress.

Love in these primal stages of life is highly dependent upon the provisions of sustaining material resources and consistent, connected caretaking. The lower chakras of the human energy system are the centers connected to love in this dense physical form at this stage of life. Thus, the safety of a secure home, together with the nurturance of caretakers, is the focus of love.

Childhood is a stage of normal narcissism, as the dominance of one’s dependency requires one to see others as need-fulfilling objects. The existence of other as a separate being, with their own needs, requires a physical and emotional maturity unencumbered by the dominance of outer dependency.

The bridge between the lower and upper chakras is the heart. The heart is the major transformer of love, from dense material dependence to the lightness of connection beyond narcissistic need. Just compare the heaviness of sadness and anger at unmet needs to the joy and exuberance of sharing with a resonant being. 

How does the heart perform such a transformation of love energy? First and foremost, it is necessary to allow oneself to feel one’s feelings within the containment of the heart. Typically, the intense emotions of need, wanting, and disappointment burst out from the solar plexus, bypassing the heart, landing at the throat chakra, seeking verbal expression.

This energetic rush often causes the throat to lock, like a tripped electric circuit overwhelmed by the intensity of energy presented to it. Unrefined emotions are either trapped in the throat or result in powerfully expressed verbal demands upon others.

Emotion felt in the caldron of the heart can be transmuted through heart centered breathing. Breathing into and out of the heart performs a netting effect that Jan was taught during a meditation, where a net runs through the heavy clumps of emotion, promoting a lightness and free-flow of energy.

With the heaviness of emotional energy somewhat lightened, one is freed to recapitulate the experience that generated the intense emotion. Generally, one discovers that the root of the issue is a perceived slight to one’s value and self-importance by the actions of another. This is a stirring of the lower chakras, still attached to needs requiring material response or attention from the other person.

With refined heart-centered awareness, one’s adult self can extend loving compassion toward one’s younger self and engage in a process of helping it achieve full acceptance and understanding of the truth of its life lived. Releasing all energy of being offended, in the cauldron of the heart, as well as attending to one’s own primal needs, raises the vibration of love energy, allowing it to smoothly rise to the throat chakra and beyond.

This purified love can be expressed to another person without need for reciprocation, as the state of loving compassion radiates in one’s energetic field. This is the love that rises higher and higher in loving compassion for all beings. This pure radiance is sure to attract similar energy in resonant traveling companions.

This refined love grasps the interdependent oneness of everything and is capable of extending itself to caring for the needs of the planet, and all beings, regardless of their shortsightedness or dominant narcissism. This is the love that can help inorganic beings to release their attachment to the physical world and continue their journey forward in their energy body.

This is the love that has no need to reincarnate, as it is fully available to continue to refine as it navigates toward ultimate wholeness in infinity.

The heart is the most important technology center in which to produce this high-frequency love vibration—truly the ultimate key to the kingdom.

In loving compassion,

Chuck 

Chuck’s Place: Within and Without

We are the drop and the whole ocean too…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

If we contemplate the oft-cited metaphor of an individual human life being but a drop of water in an ocean of its greater wholeness, we might come to another apt metaphor: Is the glass half empty or half full? Being half empty is the deflated perspective that a mere drop of water is so minuscule as to be essentially insignificant.

From this perspective it’s hard to imagine that anything we might do could possibly positively impact the greater world, especially in this time of such obvious great upheaval. A mere droplet of water could hardly reverse the tidal wave of energy impacting Earth’s many shores.

From the more optimistic glass half full perspective, we might appreciate the holographic perception of that drop of water as a fragment that in fact mirrors and contains the entire ocean. Transformations within that single droplet inevitably impact the entire world.

The challenge is to claim ownership for the entire world within the province of the self. Nothing that exists without does not exist within. On some level, in some form, we are, each of us, as individuals, also the world.

Outwardly, societies have struggled to create civilization—a humane interconnectedness that eliminates the extreme cruelty and brutality of barbarism. Regardless of a given civilization’s progress in actualizing its civilized intent, greed and self-interest remain part of the self and part of the world.

Wars, at their root, result from the breakthrough of these shadow energies, previously held in check by a civilized container. The explosive release of these powerful energies leads to great destruction of the Earth and human life. Postwar optimism and renewal of life become possible once the deployed energies of destruction are on the wane, and as good once again begins to assert itself.

The inefficiency of this war and peace cycle is obvious, particularly at a time when modern weaponry can destroy the Earth. Quite simply, humanity must develop a new technology to harmonize the bipolar energies within itself. Rather than simply repress and imprison its unwanted self, humanity must own and integrate all parts of itself.

This brings us back to that droplet of self we know ourselves to be in this life. Within that droplet is every person, every act we see perpetrated in the world. Firstly, can we own that behavior out there that we so disdain? We can believe that we would never do some of the things we see happening in the world, but can we own the fascination, rage, joy, contempt, or hatred we might be inwardly experiencing that vicariously activates and releases like energies in ourselves?

Own your shadow. Jung believed this to be the greatest challenge and necessary next step in human evolution. Carlos Castaneda left us the technology of suspending  judgment of others to own our own shadow. When we judge, we put ourself above the person we are judging. This separation of self from other is actually a disowning of the part of ourself activated by the other’s behavior. When we suspend judgment, we are freed to face honestly all we discover in ourselves, good and bad.

The Buddhists highlight the technology of compassion to reconcile with the unwanted within the self. Every time we find ourselves triggered and enraged by the behavior of another, feel loving compassion for that human being in deep struggle with the forces within themselves. Use such moments as teaching moments, asking the self, “What am I supposed to learn from this experience?” In this manner, everything becomes personally meaningful and part of our own journey to reconciliation and wholeness.

This in no way means to deny the rage and hatred experienced at the barbarism on display, but to reach a feeling of deep compassion is to absorb and transmute those warring energies, creating deep acceptance of self and other. True love requires that we love all.

Our holographic droplet of water self that achieves both a suspension of judgment and compassion for the other is in such a state of advance that its greater wholeness, the ocean and humanity at large, can’t help but be changed by it, within and without. Do not doubt; this is the power of the humbly small.

Half full with compassion,

Chuck

Chuck’s Place: 50% (+) & 50% (-) = Harmony

In perfect harmony…

If the equation that is the title of this blog is accurate, then the world, as it is currently energetically distributed, would seem to be on a grand trajectory of achieving harmony. In need of immediate clarification however, is the understanding of (+) and (-).

(+) and (-) are not to be confused with good and bad, as commonly assigned. (+) and (-) are instead the primal energies that make up everything. Thus, for example, the primary building blocks for all the hexagrams in the I Ching are Yang and Yin, the masculine creative (+) and the feminine receptive energies (-).

Yang as spirit and Yin as matter are the primary equal sources of all that is. Thus, man and woman are composed equally of Yang and Yin, spirit and matter. However, when focusing only on outer appearances, the sexes have been innacurately pigeonholed into polarized opposites. The current questioning of gender categories reflects an effort to break the blinding power of these stereotypes when applied to people.

To be in a state of total polarization is the precursor to union. When the positive and negative poles of magnets face each other, a powerful attractive force draws them to unite. When a negatively charged electron meets with a positively charged proton, they are, once again, powerfully attracted to unite. This is the essence and energy of electricity.

The social polarization that currently dominates our world reflects a repulsive vs. attractive force. This occurs in nature when two like poles face each other. If the like poles of a magnet are brought in close proximity they exert a powerfully repulsive energy that absolutely refuses union.

This energetic likeness, in opposition, suggests that what actually underlies the apparent polarization of now, is actually the animus of like energies vying for supremacy and separateness. Thus, the very active energies of Yang are battling for supremacy. The receptive energies of Yin, that would lead toward union, are in very short supply.

Nonetheless, repulsive power is an energetic fact of nature. It serves the function of energetically maintaining distance from another. Within the tension it generates, consciousness has the opportunity to examine rejected and underdeveloped potentials within the self.

This would be what Jung identified as shadow work. This is where ego encounters unknown and unowned parts of the self in a state of opposition. Though repulsed by each other they are nonetheless bonafide parts of the self. These are the male figures that men struggle with in dreams and the female figures that women struggle with as well.

To achieve inner harmony, Yin must be introduced into shadow work. Though the repulsive force of Yang upon Yang energies is powerful, it is also unstable. Again, just try holding the same poles of opposite magnets steady; it’s nearly impossible. The instability of this potent opposition will require the introduction of Yin to achieve the stability and necessary attraction for the harmony of greater unity to occur.

Yin, as the receptive, receives all things. The energy that is capable of complete receptivity is none other than love. Love is the ultimate energy that receives and rejects nothing. Thus, shadow work ultimately requires fully loving all parts of one’s repulsed shadow self. Loving one’s shadow neighbor neutralizes repulsive energy, as the shadow consolidates in wholeness with ego. This sets the stage for the greater union of Yang and Yin, the true equation of harmony.

In recapitulation, one actively engages Yang and Yin energies to arrive at a state of inner harmony. In trauma, the energy of Yin protectively freezes all the aspects of the traumatic experience into a consolidated mass that is then generally stored somewhere in the physical body. This chrysalis of separated energetic experience awaits the action of Yang to free its energy and to ultimately be transformed and integrated into one’s living wholeness.

The ego, the conscious active Yang force, must embark upon the hero’s journey to find and free its imprisoned Yin. Thus, with intention, the ego scans the body in search of its lost Yin. Yin sends out sensations of appreciation and often pain, signaling the greater experience frozen inside it. As well, feelings of fear and anger might emerge to defensively keep one at bay.

Here, Yang might employ the recapitulation breath to bring the Yang and Yin forces into active engagement. As the head moves from side to side, or pole to pole, the breath accompanies it, actively mixing and releasing these opposite energies of matter and spirit. The full experience of frozen Yin is experienced by its partner Yang, as they, as a couple, dissolve the frozen energy in the chrysalis, which re-forms into the butterfly of liberated energy within the self.

Subjectively, one applies loving acceptance toward every aspect of the experience once lost to one’s greater wholeness. Everything and everyone is completely emotionally neutralized by this all-accepting power of love. Nothing remains that has the power to trigger. The full truth is known, fully appreciated, accepted, integrated and transformed into wisdom.

Recapitulation advances harmony through intentionally bringing (+) and (-) energies into active engagement and passive receptivity. As holograms of the whole, every time we recapitulate we advance the cause of outer harmony. May these efforts accrue to lead the world back into harmony.

Begin the reconciliation process within to further the intent for harmony without. To come home for the holidays is to find this harmony at home, within the self.

As within, so without,

Chuck

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