The New Wave of Therapy
Miles Matise and April Young
Consciousness types, crystallised water reactions, prayer and quantum energy – nonverbal attentions and intentions explored.
“Is it possible that we’re so conditioned to how we create our daily lives, that we buy the idea that we have no control at all? We’ve been conditioned to believe that the external world is more real than our internal world. What’s happening within us will create what’s happening outside of us.” Fred Alan Wolf
Chaos theory emerged as a new paradigm in the physical sciences, shifting our understanding of how order evolved and how change was driven, providing a new worldview to view human beings and nature (Gleick, 1987; Goerner, 1994). In therapy, chaos theory has been used in terms of its contribution to the client change process (Hager, 1992), counselor education (Brack, Brack, & Zucker, 1995), family therapy (Chamberlain, 1995) and group therapy (Burlingame, Furhriman & Barnum, 1995).
The convergence of chaos theory and classical psychology suggests that the energy from one system – feelings, thoughts and emotions – influences and changes other systems, causing either internal chaos or a positive ordering effect on those systems (Wolinsky, 1994). From this perspective each individual is connected to another, and only appears to be separate. The observer and the observed appear to have their own separate realities and energy patterns which are self-organizing: “This explains why, when a client (an energy system) meets with a therapist (another energy system), his or her system may reorder itself as the two energy systems intermingle and create an organizing pattern of rapport and alliance” (Wolinsky, 1994:30). In quantum psychology, therapists help the client become aware of how they are attracted to certain energy patterns and by challenging the client, to change the meaning (beliefs) of problematic energy patterns for more effective ones. In other words, the therapist assists the client in reordering the chaos that he or she is experiencing by adding the therapist’s organizing energy to the client’s chaos, thereby initiating a shift and ordering of their energy.
In classical physics, consciousness is not needed, but in quantum psychology consciousness and its possibilities manifest throughout (Goswami, 2000). The psychology of consciousness can be traced to the writings of William James (1904) who saw consciousness as a tool that enabled individuals to select their own course of action. He defined consciousness as the function of knowing our private mental occurrences and the processing of that information at various levels of awareness. William James stated that our normal waking consciousness is but one special type of consciousness, while there also lie potential forms of consciousness which are entirely different – as if our everyday awareness were but a small island, surrounded by an ocean of uncharted consciousness, whose waves beat continuously upon the reefs of our normal awareness, until they break through, flooding our island of awareness with a vast domain of new and expanded consciousness (Wilber, 1979:2). This expansion potentially transforms the narrow confines of who we think we are in our normal waking consciousness.
In an elucidating study on how water reflects consciousness, Emoto (2005) discovered that our thoughts affect everything in and around us, and that human vibrational energy – thoughts, words, attention and intention – affect the molecular structure of water. To measure this, he used water because it was a malleable substance, which adapted to its environment. What he discovered was that the vibrations of the energy from the environment changed the molecular shape of water.
In one study, Emoto measured the effects music had on the structuring of water. After placing distilled water between two speakers for several hours, he photographed the crystals that formed after the water was frozen. He discovered that hard rock music created a distorted crystallizing of the water compared to softer melodious music. After measuring how water reflected its different environmental conditions, he attempted to explore how thoughts and words affected the formation of water crystals. To do so, he typed words on paper and taped the paper to a glass bottle containing water and then left it overnight to measure the effect the words had on the water. The water was then frozen, crystallized, and photographed. The results were fascinating. The photographs of the crystallized water demonstrated how the water was affected by the energy of the words. The water reacted in response to the energy of its environment, demonstrating that a system takes on the vibrations and energy of its environment. Emoto stated: “We have come to the conclusion that the water is reacting to the actual words.” When asked if distance mattered, he replied that distance did not seem to matter, the intentions of the object still influenced the water. In another experiment, Emoto placed water on a table and 17 participants stood in a circle around the table holding hands and speaking beautiful words to the water, like unity, love, and friendship. When taking ‘before’ and ‘after’ photographs, he was able to observe beautiful crystalline structures in the water.
Sheldrake (2003) stated that our minds (thoughts and intentions) are not confined to the insides of our heads, but stretch out beyond them. Through attention and intention our minds stretch out into the world beyond our bodies, forming networks of interconnections with other minds, linking one person to another. For instance, there is a growing body of evidence for the beneficial effects of prayer by focusing positive intentions and clear attention on control groups of patients (Dossey, 1993; 2001). Through our attention, we create fields of perception that stretch out around us, connecting us to what we are observing. According to this notion, the observer and the observed are interconnected: “If our minds reach out beyond our brains, just as they seem to, and connect with other minds, just as they seem to, then phenomena like telepathy seem normal.” (Sheldrake, 2003:10) This idea is fundamental in expanding the notion that therapists influence their clients without saying a word, merely by their attention and intentions and forming emotional bonds.
From Classical Physics to Quantum Physics
Bohm (1980) asserted that the Newtonian form of insight worked well until around 1900. It is not that it was true or false, but that it was clear in certain domains and unclear beyond those domains. Instead of stating that some theories are false and some true, our insight is continually developing into new territory or realms of consciousness. Bohm pointed out that theories are ways of looking at the world as a whole (worldviews) rather than an absolute truth to guide our perceptions. He refers to this as the ‘fragmentation versus wholeness dichotomy’ and states that science has been built on the fragmentary approach to reality. He described this new form of insight as a stream of consciousness with ripples and waves which make up this flowing stream. Classical psychology asserted that each individual is fragmented into separate compartments, according to his or her desires, ambitions, priorities and goals. When these compartments become conflicted, it is commonly assumed that the individual has some kind of neurosis. When this occurs, the person loses a certain awareness of themselves. It is interesting to note that the Anglo-Saxon definition of the word ‘health’ means to be whole.
Up to this point in history, physics had been deterministic, claiming that consequences followed causes without room for uncertainty. Einstein believed that a human being was part of the whole, or universe (Dossey, 1989). We experience our thoughts and feelings as something separate from others – a kind of optical illusion of consciousness. The illusion is a kind of prison, restricting us to our personal decisions and our affections for a few people closest to us. Our task is to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle to embrace everything in its whole (Dossey, 1989). The birth of psychotherapy by Sigmund Freud utilized this view of the world based on classical Newtonian physics. This was a mechanistic view of the world based on cause and effect as a way to impose order on chaos through explanations and intellectualization: “The future became a consequence of the past.” The mentality this created for centuries was that nothing was left to chance and everything was pre-determined by the machine that was set in motion years past (Wolf, 1981). With the advent of epigenetic theory it is becoming clear that our genes are not exclusively our destiny. Lipton asked: “Are you ready to consider an alternate reality to that provided by the medical model of the human body as a biochemical machine and use your conscious mind to create a life overflowing with health, happiness, and love?” (Lipton, 2008:xxvii) It is a matter of suspending the archaic beliefs we have acquired from the scientific establishment and supplementing this worldview offered by leading-edge science rather than supplanting it.
The Quantum Leap
According to Wolf (1986) the action of observing something alters the thing observed. This conscious awareness alters the energy that we are made up of. Quantum physics suggests that by redirecting our attention and intention, we bring a new course of events into focus (Braden, 2000). This opens up the possibility for each of us to rewrite our future with different possibilities. These possibilities are organizing energy fields within the organism called morphogenetic fields (Thom, 1983) and serve as invisible plans or blueprints. The morphogenetic field of consciousness allows the mind of the organism to extend energetically and reach out to the surrounding environment through attention and intention to alter its blueprint for living. Because the morphogenetic field of consciousness is rooted in the activity of the brain, Sheldrake offered an analogy of when people fall in love. Often a person describes the experience of falling in love as making them feel lighter, more energetic, as if they were floating. The morphogenetic field of what is called ‘love’ increases the vibrational frequency of the body, even altering chemical components in the brain and organism for a feeling of lightness and well being. The energy produced from a higher vibrational frequency extends out beyond the person’s physical body, like waves of possibility, influencing their circumstances around them. The influence of higher vibrational frequencies from one person to another can impose a certain kind of order on the lower vibrational frequency of the other organism, such as in a therapist-client relationship.
Quantum (Energy) Psychology
Grudermeyer suggested that: “energy psychology is the generic name for an emerging family of experimental rapid-effectiveness tools that utilize the body’s energy pathways (acupoints), energy centers (chakras), and biofield (aura) to assist in addressing psychological, spiritual, mind-body goals” (Grudermeyer 2000:vi). Energy psychology is based on an energy system that communicates energetic information throughout the human body (Gallo & Vincenzi, 2000). One of the earliest experiments supporting the belief that an energy field surrounds each person was by Burr (1972), who measured the electromagnetic fields of animals and humans. He suggested that the body grows into an already existent energy field that serves as a blueprint of its physical form. Gerber (1988) suggested that physical disease begins at the energy level and manifests at the physical level. Traditional psychotherapy has utilized the power of speech to transform emotions by talking about one’s feelings, experiences and challenges, through which a person is able to come to a better understanding of his or her situation, open to differing perspectives, and can begin to consider new alternatives. However, talking alone does not significantly change one’s inner world of thought, feeling and intentions. At the energetic level, emotional blockage can affect emotional patterns. Energy systems can influence other energy systems by correcting a disruption and reordering the energy system of the other organism. From a quantum physics perspective, psychological problems are a function of energy fields in which disturbances manifest behaviorally, cognitively and neurologically, so that positive effects on one’s behavior are a matter of altering one’s energy field (Gallo, 1999).
The terms ‘distant healing’ or ‘distant mental influence on living systems’ are attempts to describe objectively the outcome of what is known as psychic healing (Astin, Harkness, & Ernst, 2000). Belief in the occurrence of healing at a distance as a result of deeply held inner intentions and attention, images and wishes are inherent in the practice of prayer, psychic healing and many forms of energy healing. The primary ingredients of distant healing, where the thoughts and intentions of one person affect the health of another, include developing a relationship. In a double-blind study by Sicher, Targ, Moore, and Smith (1998) in a population with advanced AIDS, distant healing was defined as a compassionate mental act intended to improve the health and well being of another person at a distance.
The prestigious journal Annals of Internal Medicine published a review of what its authors considered to be 23 well-controlled randomized clinical trials of prayer or distant healing (Astin et al., 2000). Fifty-seven percent showed statistically significant positive effects of distant healing on the health of participants. A study by Sicher et al. (1998) found significantly improved medical conditions and psychological outcomes following distant healing on participants, in both a pilot and a replication study, under double-blind conditions. Sicher et al. noted that the usual explanation for medical improvements was that the patients’ hopes or expectations in the context of the treatment were what lead to benefits. However, in the study mentioned above, the effect of hope or expectation was eliminated because the patients and physicians were blinded. In other words, neither group of patients knew whether or not they were receiving the treatment. This made the effects of the patient’s hope, expectations and imagery independent of the attention and intention of the supportive healers.
The New Wave
Quantum physics tells us that the belief system of a person can change the fundamental properties of subatomic elements and thereby a person’s intentions and thoughts (beliefs) can create his or her world around them circumstantially (Trevithick, 2003). As quantum physics applies to psychology, our minds interact with sub-nuclear particles and cause them to change their properties to mirror our beliefs: “The entire universe is fundamentally just one large sea of energy, made of quantum energy waves. These waves of energy gently flow through every aspect of the universe. In essence, there is nothing solid about the universe. What appears solid is only made up of energy that is collected together and appears as solid matter.” (Trevithick, 2003:27) These quantum energy waves move back and forth between the present, the past and the future. The only time they stay in the present and become matter is when our minds focus our attention and intention towards these waves of possibility and form them into existence with our thoughts. As Wolf (1991) stated: matter could not exist without some consciousness to perceive it. We create our worlds out of consciousness, and our beliefs (attention and intention) bring them into existence. Quantum energy waves exist only as possibilities, until we think them into existence.
The future has not yet been written and lies before us as possibilities as yet untapped. Sheldrake (2003) asked the question, “Could our minds be connected to themselves in the future?” We know that our minds are connected to themselves in the past, through memory. Our minds project forward into the future through our attention and intentions and our future is viewed as waves of possibilities, waiting for each of us to create our reality. We all play a part in contributing to the possibilities of what will happen in our future by what we create for ourselves in the present. Our consciousness affects those around us as our minds reach out into the environment to connect with these others around us.
Acknowledgments: We would like to thank Dr. Tracy Senstock for her support and valuable input.
Miles Matise, PhD is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Addiction Specialist, and Counselor Educator in Florida. Besides teaching and counseling his research interests include, spiritual development, how spirtual crisis differs from pathology, attachment theory, and spiritual intelligence. Correspondence can be sent to [email protected]
April Young, PhD is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Counselor Educator in Colorado.
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Image: Blue Waves by Texas Tongs