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: Extraverted Meditation

Buddha sending out the right vibration…
– Photo by Chuck Ketchel

At first glance, the title, Extraverted Meditation, would appear to be a contradiction in terms. Typically, extraversion is understood as an individual’s dominant orientation to focus on the outside world, particularly as pertains to relationships and the opinions of others. In contrast, meditation is generally viewed as an introverted practice that deeply withdraws from the sensations and influences of the outer world.

In Jung’s time, when East truly began to meet West, particularly as regards spiritual practice, he warned that the extraverted orientation of the Western psyche was ill-suited for rapid wholesale adoption of Eastern meditation practices. Nonetheless, as he himself encountered the depths of the collective unconscious, in the visions and active imagination he documents in The Red Book, he practiced yogic asanas to ground his ego.

In fact, despite the almost total focus on the brain of modern Western psychological research, the bottomline focus and interventions prescribed by most Western therapists come straight out of Tibetan mindfulness and Yogic meditation practices.

These are the assignments given to ego to still the central nervous system into a state of calm. Nonetheless, the reigning mantra and New Year’s resolution from most people is, “I have to get back to my meditation.”

The power of outer world events, particularly in the time we are in, is impossible and perhaps inadvisable to fully screen from one’s attention. This, coupled with the dominant extraverted orientation of Western civilization, undermines the coveted but under-practiced aspiration to meditate. How can the Western psyche, perhaps even the world psyche, adapt the powerfully beneficial practice of meditation in the flux of such an unsettled outer world?

The key, as in all meditation, is to begin with focus on the body. If the goal of meditation is detachment from the ill effects of outer world sensory impressions upon the sanctity of the self, the body can be seen as the central registry of all sensory inputs.

All of our senses receive input through the physical body. Our thoughts, with their associated emotions, register in the body as well. Thus, active inner attention to the body in outer activity and interaction is a valid playing field for meditation.

Place the index finger of one hand upon the wrist of the other hand. Keep awareness upon the index finger experiencing the sensations within itself as it meets the solid boundary of the wrist. Notice the vibration of touch.

Shift awareness exclusively to the wrist. Notice its sensations of being touched. Feel the vibration of being touched. Alternate awareness slowly from toucher to touched. Now, allow these two distinct perspectives of touch to merge into a single vibratory union of touch, union of self.

Carry awareness of body into the world. Open to an image in the media. Notice its vibration; study its energy. Shift awareness to the body. Notice its impact upon the heart, upon the muscles, upon the breath. With awareness, restore the body’s organs to calm. Release all clenching; intend deep peace. Embrace the integrity of self in calm vibration.

Return gaze to the outer image, notice its vibration, its intent. Return awareness to the body. Notice any impact of image upon inner vibration. Restore the integrity of calm vibration. Repeat dual attention until outer image is completely neutralized, your inner vibration a steady flame.

Interact with the world. Notice the impact on the body in encounter with other. Use awareness to calm the heart, unclench the muscles, and silence the mind. The mind is silenced with awareness focused on body sensation, intended to calm.

Notice the words, the emotional intensity, the intent of the other. See the vibration of the other’s motive. Notice the inner impact of that vibration upon one’s body. Choose to maintain one’s inner vibration of calm. Use the breath to steady the body. Use intent to maintain inner calm, with attention given to where the body feels impacted. Dissolve into love of the oneness of everything.

These are some suggestions for extraverted meditation. Allow every moment, whether innerly or outerly focused, to become a meditative opportunity. Gradually expand the oneness of self with the oneness of everything. “Got to keep those vibrations, vibrations a happening to me…”

Good good good, good vibrations!

Chuck

Check out Brian Wilson’s live enhanced Good Vibrations from his album Smile. Notice the South African insert.

Chuck’s Place: No Worry

Stay focused on the truth of the light…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Worry issues from the mind, located in the astral body, in the form of a thought, wrapped in emotion, that is transmitted to the central nervous system of the physical body, which then activates a biological response for action. This often results in the sensorial experience of shallow breath and racing pulse, the very definition of anxiety.

The genesis of a thought that first attracts the attention of the mind, the mental component of the astral body, has multiple points of origin. Thoughts are independent energetic units that roam the universe in search of receptive minds willing to seed their potential. Human beings are natural storytellers, always in search of a fertile thought.

Thoughts can also be self generated by the mind itself, particularly in individuals who live mostly in their minds, largely dissociated from their physical bodies as they navigate life in abstract thought.

Thoughts can also issue from the largely subconscious section of the mind in the regions beneath consciousness. These include the rejected parts of self, what Jung called the shadow, as well as the preprogrammed archetypes that run the programs of the physical body.

The subconscious also houses the history of all human experience, what is esoterically called the Akashic library, what Jung called the shared collective unconscious of humankind. Psychics, like Edgar Cayce, tap this source of knowledge in trance in search of healing prescriptions for the afflicted.

At the superconscious level, thoughts issue from the transcendental realm of the high SOUL, wisdom and guidance offered, generated through the solicitation of consciousness seeking truth.

When a thought is presented to, or generated by, the mind, a decision is made whether to focus continued attention upon the thought or to dismiss it from further consideration. Generally, the thought arrives with enough of an energetic charge to attract attention. That charge is a feeling; the thought might be pleasing or potentially frightening.

If consciousness chooses to attach its continued concentration upon the thought, it gains in emotional momentum, as a potential drama begins to formulate in the mind. This abstract astral body play attracts a physical audience, as emotions activate chemical processes in the body that take on physical form. These can include tightening of muscles, racing heartbeat, shortness of breath, headache, etc.

Subjectively, these sensations are experienced as a myriad of feelings and emotions that gain in intensity as the mind continues to allow the drama to deepen its plot. The worry of many a sleepless night is a function of this runaway train of thought and emotion, as it writes its story on the astral plane and engages the body as its captive audience.

The crux of worry is attachment. The core goal of all meditation is non-attachment to thought, a formidable goal given the attractive power of  thoughts, incessantly seeking a home through grabbing the mind’s attention.

The time we live in is rampant with thoughts of all persuasions, crudely pressing to infiltrate our minds. How challenging to avoid these thoughts that so quickly activate intense emotions. Emotions are the energizers of action. Calls to action abound, constantly bombarding the mind’s autonomy.

The most rudimentary action one can take to free oneself from such influence is to limit exposure to the marketplace of thoughts that seek every avenue to attach to one’s mind. For instance, limiting one’s exposure to news and social media.

Of course, to be oblivious to the events of the world is not recommended, however, regulating exposure time can stop the development of unnecessary pictures that merely drain vital energy. Furthermore, through saving one’s attentive energy from outer influence, one is available to guidance that is always synchronistically available but rarely received, as all energy is monopolized by abstract possibilities.

Synchronicity is guidance from the superconscious, the fourth dimension of the high SOUL. Reading this energy from infinity, in all of nature, often presents a perspective of such depth that the mind and emotion of the astral body sends deeply calming impulses to the physical body. The nightmare of thought is branded illusion, as one is enveloped by love and awe.

Trust deepens in the guidance of the light of the high SOUL, as synchronicity is recognized as the true harbinger of the truth. Even without any knowledge of outside events, synchronicity will safely and appropriately guide action.

If thoughts, like weeds, manage to find their way into the mind’s garden, weeding involves refusal to nourish the unwanted intruder. This calls upon the discipline of shifting one’s attention away from the developing plot. Thoughts require the active participation of the mind’s attention to continue to write their lines. Unattended thoughts either wither and die or leave, seeking new takers to feed their hunger for life.

One shift could be to focus one’s astral attention on the physical body, with the intent of deep relaxation and calming suggestions. The body is largely governed by its astral body partner’s suggestions. Positive affirmations result in physical calm.

Another practical shift is to walk in a different direction, literally changing one’s physical posture and direction. The mental focus accompanying the shift is the repeated mantra, NO WORRY.

Take command of the mind’s capacity for attention. Consider orienting that attention to the communications of the high SOUL, passing on its directives to the physical body. And, if you happen to get caught in a worry, no worry. Shift, find the light, and follow it.

No worry,

Chuck

Chuck’s Place: A World in Alzheimer’s

A golden compass

Elmer Green’s greatest gift to humankind was the guidebook he left behind, The Ozawkie Book of the Dead, the ultimate navigational tool for now. Elmer and his wife Alyce took a very successful journey through the fog of Alzheimer’s disease, as Alyce ultimately merged with her high SOUL, while still present in human form.

Simply understood, one’s high SOUL is a center of being that is pure truth, wisdom and love, whose action is only right action, action based on those principles. The center of the little soul is narcissistically limited by its ego’s narrow concern for its own self, as it lacks the broadest view of the high SOUL. Spiritual maturity is arriving at one’s high SOUL, a feat generally attained after death.

Alyce’s little soul was able to advance and merge with her high SOUL while still occupying her physical body in full blown Alzheimer’s disease. The journey of little soul, once identified with its physical body, to high SOUL, is the journey of all souls who leave this world upon physical death.

Elmer defined the human personality as a unit, which included the physical body and the little soul. The little soul has many dimensions. At the level of the personality, it is the mental and emotional components that innervate life in the human body. This soul, also called the astral body, essentially runs the human body, in everyday life, through the energy channels of the chakras.

Thus, for instance, the brain is the physical hard drive of the mind, which is actually the mental component of the soul, an entity completely separate from the brain and the physical body. In Alzheimer’s, as the brain deteriorates, the mind must wake up to itself without its usual identification with, and mooring in, the physical body.

Deprived of its physical connection to the body, the mind in Alzheimer’s begins to shift its focus to the astral plane, the plane it has always visited nightly in dreaming, as the body sleeps. Anyone who has any memory of their nightly dreams has some level of familiarity with life beyond the physical body, on the astral plane.

The challenge on the astral plane is to maintain a sober and coherent sense of self, as one encounters entities and partakes in roles and dream-life scenarios with completely unfamiliar characters. And yet, nothing seems unusual about one’s presence or identity to the characters in the dream.

As well, the continuity of dreamscapes can rapidly shift into whole new environments with new characters, seamlessly flowing into new vignettes, equally unfamiliar yet naturally flowing, as if one completely belonged. One’s identity,  once rooted in physical life in the everyday waking world, is challenged by the roles one finds oneself in while dreaming, as suddenly one may find oneself in intimate relationships with unknown people, behaving in ways that violate one’s waking sensibilities.

With growing consciousness in dreaming, one may be startled with contradictions that defy one’s waking identity. In Alzheimer’s, the option to wake up to the familiar physical body becomes increasingly remote. The challenge is to stabilize in the soul’s identity, as an ethereal energy body, living on the astral plane. Memory of life in the physical body may be accessible, but returning to it is no longer the priority. What is a priority, is to learn to navigate this astral plane of dreams with intent and, ultimately, to find one’s way beyond it to the light of the high SOUL.

This astral region of dreaming is the home of what the Buddhist’s call bardos, personalized dreamscapes where souls carry on their spiritual journeys after death. Bardos are life dreams constructed to help souls work through their karma and, ultimately, advance to merge with the light of their high SOUL.

Karma is simply the state of one’s knowledge and awareness upon dying, the state of consciousness one has to work with. If one is captivated by illusions and delusions, one’s astral residence in the bardos will enable one to eventually wake up from one’s limited dreams into a higher level of knowing, whereby shedding one’s prior karma.

The world we are currently in has launched us on a similar journey into the bardos: having lost our familiar groundedness, in a world we can no longer make sense of, we must find our way to high SOUL. We must elevate ourselves, and our world, to a new spiritual level, while still tied to this world in a physical life.

The parallel of now with Alzheimer’s is that our grounded hold on our everyday physical world of reason has been shattered. If we observe carefully, we find ourselves in a world of mushrooming irrational dreams lacking any rational compass. Our world has now completely entered the astral plane, where many karmic bardos are being acted out, clashing with each other at lightning speed.

Our world’s brain, if you will, is completely deteriorating, and our minds must wake up to the world-beyond-reason we now find ourselves in. Without the familiar mooring of reason, we must navigate this astral plane of wild dreams, in search of a new world order that works for the planet and its inhabitants. For this, our little souls must journey to the light of our high SOULS, where deeper truth becomes accessible.

The high SOUL exists in a plane beyond the desire body of the astral plane. This is the plane that radiates with truth, wisdom, and love. This is the plane that holds the guidance that can raise the Earth plane from its current playing field of astral fog.

The immediate challenge is, how to navigate this astral plane we are currently in. Buddhist guidance for those traversing through the bardos after death is to not get hooked by the bardos that seek to attract their attention, and cause them to lose focus on moving toward the light.

The application of this wisdom, to now, is to not get hooked by the conspiracy theories or outrageous behaviors that vie for one’s attention and vital energy. As well, to realize that the reasonable world that one once took for granted is gone, but that one can still steady oneself, and restore one’s internal rational compass.

Reason is an essential traveling companion for the journey of the little soul through the challenges of the astral plane. Though the astral plane is replete with worlds beyond reason, reason is crucial to its safe and successful navigation.

Thus, as one confronts the multiple bardos that appear on the world stage daily, guidance emphasizes non-attachment. In practical terms, this means not spending one’s emotional energy on tantrum reactions or heated arguments. Reason can aid in deciphering one’s best options, as navigational decisions are critical in this Scylla and Charybdis of the daily waking life of now.

This forging of little soul into an energy miser, seeking only its advance to the light of its high SOUL, can find expression in a loving equanimity for all one encounters, while maintaining safe distance from other little souls covetous of its energy. Without judgment simply move on.

The mission of now is an unfettered journey of heart, to the love, wisdom, and truth of the high SOUL.

Completion of this mission will safely land the world in its new rotation, with the fog of  Alzheimer’s lifted in the light of a new day. With the radiance of the high SOUL guiding human behavior, the Earth will find itself in the right hands!

Time to dream awake, really awake…

With affection,

Chuck

Chuck’s Place: The Desire Body

Is your spirit hiding from life?
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

As the world is roused from its global pandemic pause, it must confront the intensity of demand it receives from its very pregnant desire body. The restraint imposed upon that desire body has, for some, resulted in a refinement of spirit, as sacrifice has opened the door to calm and connection at an ethereal level.

For others, the hunger for life in the dense physical plane has thrown caution to the wind, as they reengage the Earth, and enjoy the fullness of her physical bounty.

Both attitudes reflect the journey of spirit. The big bang of the esoteric world begins with the One, that is, the wholeness of everything, deciding to manifest, fragmenting into the many in this world of time and space. The One chooses this diaspora to get to know itself in a finite drama.

All humans are parts of the One, launched to Earth to have a lifetime of experience and to offer the results of that life experience in the form of a life review or completed recapitulation at the conclusion of life in human form. This contributes to the One growing in knowledge of itself.

Thus the journey of spirit initiates from the One, as the many travel through increasingly dense dimensions of expression until they reach the shores of physical manifestation, at birth. The subtle dimension, just prior to the physical, is called the astral plane, the home of the desire body.

The function of the desire body is to attract the incoming spirit to involvement with the physical body through primal animal drives, emotions, and sensations. The desire body engages the physical world in life. Life in time and space ends, however. Thus, the journey of spirit, that once leaped into involvement in physical life, must ultimately reverse course, as it resumes its spirit journey back to its source, the One.

To achieve the necessary lightness of spirit for the journey back to source, spirit must become quite subtle, shedding all of its denser attachments. We can call this a Buddhic maturity that no longer bites at the showcase of desire, as presented by Maya, the weaver of projected illusion on the astral plane. Disciplined spiritual traditions capitalize on sacrificial practices to dispel these attachments in order to reach the higher spiritual planes.

However, if one has not fully seeded one’s spirit in the fertile soil of this Earth, one may be checkmating one’s spiritual evolution. To refuse desire before one has allowed for the actual experience of desire, is to hold back life.  This would be a life in-body where spirit remains, at least in part, out-of-body. The challenge at this stage is to let go and fully enter life in the body, with all its vicissitudes.

For others, life becomes frozen in a round of repetitive habits where the desire body continues to rule the personality at the densest level. Here the challenge is to repeat every day the same regretted habits until one is satiated to completion, or finally ready to let go to sacrifice.

What is sacrificed is attachment to the lower instincts for the benefit of the higher. The higher is the subtle spirit, reached through the shedding of physical attachments. This is energy redeployed to the benefit of the energy body’s evolution in its journey of spirit.

Sacrifice is critical to obtain the energy for this journey. But sacrifice can only be initiated by the will. To obtain true transmutation of energy, one needs the support of one’s highest self, who sees through the veils of illusion and can provide direction on one’s path of heart.

Finally, there are spirits who both see the necessity of, and are ready to evolve their desire body while in dense physical form. Those are the leaders who will square with and spiritually raise humankind’s current relationship with the  Earth.

Thus, the many—all who inhabit the Earth at this time—find themselves at different stages of their spirit journeys. With equanimity, we must grant all their place in the Oneness of this current drama. This is acceptance, not resignation.

We don’t know how this drama will unfold. Perhaps there is a preponderance of desire body energy waiting to ravage the Earth. We don’t know the karma of that action; we simply observe that it appears unstoppable and must be played out. As a conglomerate, we may not yet be ready for the global sacrifice needed to sustain the Earth.

Perhaps the pause has already manifested a different karma. Perhaps the transmuted energies of a significant many will no longer fund attachment to desire in an old way. Perhaps that intent has been deeply seeded with this pause. We must wait to see how it unfolds.

Avoid judgment. We are all in this together, the many of the One. Where we take this drama is our offering to the One getting to know itself in a particular constellation.

We can’t go wrong as we complete this finite chapter of infinite knowing. Whether coming in or moving up, be sure to follow the bliss of your own spirit!

Sending love and support,

Chuck

Chuck’s place: Twice Born

“Girl in a Large Hat” c. 1645 – c. 1650
by Cesar Boetius van Everdingen
– Rijks Museum

To be born means to be born physically, from mother. This event triggers the activation of archetypes that guide parents in their childrearing practices. Archetypes are latent inborn schemas, which, when activated, direct human behavior.

The powerful parent/child archetypes interact to provide a foundation for the developing personality. For instance, to be held when crying helps a child feel secure that the world will respond to its emotional needs.

Archetypes define needs and expectations in relationships. The archetypes of mother and young child cover a period of need and dependency in childhood, with the entitled expectation that the  basic needs of hunger and safety be met.

The archetypes that dominate family life are so powerful that very often they dominate all of one’s life on earth. Mother’s Day was celebrated but a couple of days ago. The mother archetype is indeed the most powerful archetype. Mother is the source, period, of all human life. Echoes of one’s relationship with mother fundamentally permeate all of one’s relationships in life.

Most mothers are, as Winnicott coined the expression, “good enough.” This means that the basic imperatives of the archetypes are met, helping a child achieve rudimentary adulthood. But archetypes are unyielding in their insistence upon perfection. Thus, many mothers are forever laden with guilt for not having done enough for their children.

But is mother ever allowed to retire from mothering? Must she nurture and be defined only as mother, for her entire life? Must she deny her full personhood, in lieu of her motherly duties, once her children are reared? At what point do adult children and parents become peers, equal as traveling companions in this great mystery of life, death, and beyond?

On the flip side are children, well along in chronological years, who feel terribly shortchanged and resentful that their basic needs in childhood were not met. The power of this sense of inadequacy and emotional need keeps one attached and dependent, sometimes for a lifetime. The archetype can be unrelenting in its entitled demand for its full due.

Adult children and their parents may remain embroiled in interactive patterns that were appropriate for the developmental period of young childhood, as they attempt to fulfill unmet needs. Unfortunately, once the critical period of childhood is over, these archetypal patterns cease to deliver the desired effect. In fact, they tend to intensify both dependency and despondency.

All adults must assume full responsibility for their journeys, regardless of the archetypal misfirings of their childhood. This is not a judgment; it’s a developmental fact. Psychological development in adulthood rests in the hands of the individual, not in the family that reared them.

The real challenge for adulthood, for all parties, is to obtain release from the anachronistic archetypes that bind them. This actually is the function of the initiation rites of both ancient and modern religions; to provide release from archetypes that interfere with transition into new roles in the life cycle.

Recapitulation allows one the soul retrieval journey to square with the archetypes that bind old hurts, needs, resentments, and blame. With recapitulation, one takes full ownership of every event of one’s life, as one reclaims all of one’s energy stuck in those old dramas.

This practice frees one of the archetypal bindings, opening the door to being born again, or twice born. To be twice born is to achieve psychological and emotional maturity and independence.

To be twice born is a spiritual birth, which happens beyond childhood where the primary archetypes that ruled family life are released, as one takes on full responsibility for one’s life as an independent physical and energetic being. To be twice born is to awaken and mature into the spiritual dimension of life in human form.

This is the journey of spirit, for which we prepare in our second birth. In our time, that journey has opened through the widespread experience of the energy body, both in our dreams and in our waking experiences out-of-body. To open to this journey we must transmute our archetypal relationships.

With detachment from archetypal binding, gained through recapitulation, we fully embody, within ourselves, the mother and father we need to be, for ourselves, to navigate our soul’s adventure in infinity. In our time, the door has opened to explore this realm while still alive in a physical body.

For the twice born, this is the deepest intent, while fully loving all, as they undertake their own journeys of discovery. Sending love to all.

One in Spirit,

Chuck