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  • Ute

Non ordinary states of consciousness

What about different states of consciousness, some call them “psychedelic states”, “non-ordinary states”, “holotropic states”,…

I’m not an expert in the theoretical field of consciousness research, but I’m very interested in personally exploring consciousness as this exploration is essentially what entheogenic and other transformational experiences are based upon.

For around 8 years I worked in the field of education with children, teenagers and young adults who were diagnosed with different types of mental and/or emotional psychiatric illnesses.

Many of them were diagnosed because they experienced life differently, had different perceptions, and couldn´t handle life in its structured forms.

In many cases these people would be prescribed strong psychotropic drugs such as antidepressants, and often at a very young age. This sometimes frustrated me as it did not seem that these drugs were leading to healing or empowering these people improve their own lives. I´m not saying psychotropic drugs are never helpful, there are cases it makes totally sense, at least for a short period of time.

I think in many cases it can be very essential on our healing and learning path to involve methods which explore what shows up for us in other states of consciousness. Entering non-ordinary states gives us the chance to increase our awareness of life in general. The so called non-ordinary states (holotropic states, dream states, psychedelic states, meditation states, shamanic trance states,….etc.) can bring important things to the surface, so that we can see them, acknowledge them, work with them, and transform them.

I believe working within certain non-ordinary states of consciousness can be a powerful and effective way to understand more and connect more with self and life. It gives us the chance to liberate, remove and transform specific issues that we are dealing with. There are experts who say that through mystical experiences we can create new neuronal pathways/networks.

This is very interesting for healing trauma, for example.

Through mystical experience, which is usually connected to non-ordinary states of consciousness, many people are able to experience love & compassion on a very deep level. Through this they are able to forgive. We need love & compassion to forgive and release trauma. This is just one example.

There are many therapists, scientists and doctors in the western/modern world who say we are right now in a paradigm shift with regard to our western science-minded ideas about psychology and psychotherapy. The ways we interpret the human psyche and how we explain the reasons for illnesses are gradually being expanded. Since at least the 60’s, more and more doctors, therapists etc. from the western world have done their work on the subject of non-ordinary states. Many people interpret the situation as a kind of “renaissance” in the use of psychedelic substances.

The word “psyche” actually means “soul”. Therefore, the words psychiatrist and psychologist come from the word for “soul”.

In my view spirituality is an essential attribute of the human psyche and human existence in general.

In the last five decades, various avenues of consciousness research have led to the discovery of a rich range of "abnormal phenomena”. These include experiences and observations that undermine many of the generally accepted assumptions of modern psychiatry, psychology and psychotherapy.

I absolutely resonate with the idea that consciousness is a cosmic phenomenon and an integral part of existence. I believe the idea, the brain conveys consciousness, but does not produce it.

The experience of non-ordinary states of consciousness is a natural part of the experience of being human. Through these experiences of consciousness in it’s varied aspects, we can develop a deeper understanding of the true nature of our psyche, and its place within the order of the universe.

I see it as important to recognize the spirituality as an essential component of every living being / creature on the plant (in the universe).

In certain non-ordinary state of consciousness, the boundaries of the body and the ego fall away and one’s “inner view” transcends linear time and three-dimensional space.

By using these states in a proper way I see much potential for healing and revolutionary discoveries. I also see the potential for these states to help us find our true identity and our cosmic status. Sometimes this happens in small steps, other times through big breakthroughs.

I like to see it also in the way, that humans consist of different kinds of bodies. These bodies exist on different energetic planes which are influencing each other. If there is an imbalance or disharmony on one of these planes, it can become expressed in illnesses and can manifest in the physical body, which is visible for us.

There are many ways that the physical plane of existence is influenced by the non-visible planes.

I encourage you to build up your own point of view about this topic. How we perceive this connection between the visible and nonvisible world, and how we deal with it, is something very individual and personal.

Many therapists who are open to the practice of including non-ordinary states are confirming the healing power.

Transpersonal Psychology, Thanatologie, Parapsychology, Experiential Psychotherapy, Field Anthropology and many more fields of study are including in their research the study of non-ordinary states of consciousness.

”I have argued that every human being is born with an innate drive to experience altered states of consciousness periodically – in particular to learn how to get away from ordinary ego-centered consciousness. I have also explained my intuition that this drive is a most important factor in our evolution, both as individuals and as a species. Non-ordinary experiences are vital to us because they are expressions of our unconscious minds, and the integration of conscious and unconscious experience is the key to life, health, and spiritual development, and fullest use of our nervous systems. By instilling fear and guilt about altered states of consciousness into our children, we force this drive underground, guaranteeing that it will be expressed in antisocial ways.” (Andrew Weil)

I believe and hope that slowly but surely, a new understanding is evolving within mainstream academic fields regarding the architecture of emotional, mental and psychosomatic disorders.

There are many different practices and methods for entering these other states of consciousness, old and traditional ones as well newly developed ones. Some examples include special uses of breath, sounds, music, movements, specific energy work, pain, fasting, meditation, dance or psychedelic substances.

I think there is so much to explore about the self-healing intelligence of the psyche. I also think the role of spirituality in the human psyche and in the cosmos is an important field that should be involved in our understanding of healing and learning. So I’m very interested in the ways we can gain insight into our own selves and better understanding of our lives through the prism of shamanism and mysticism.

The use of non-ordinary states for healing and learning is definitely not in conflict with western medicine or psychology, nor is it something new. It has existed from the beginning of the human story, it only was excluded and demonized within our western society (church etc.). For me this work is a beautiful doorway and option to expand our limited consciousness.

We are living now in a time where we are able to combine old wisdom and methods with new scientific methods. The beauty is, it is all weaving together and it all belongs together. The one who understands can see the connection in it.

It is of such importance to see life and humans in a context of reciprocity. This and many more things I hope we all will remember and learn again to integrate into our actions.

“We are not human beings who have spiritual experiences, we are spiritual beings who have human experiences” » (TEILHARD DE CHARDIN 1975).

“We are not skin-encapsulated egos” (Allan Watts)


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