This article is the result of a meeting that took place between three healers and a freelance writer at a delightfully rustic cafe in the outer realms of Park City, Utah. They had just come back from a late night fire ceremony that was held high up on the mountain side near this little town, and began comparing energy medicine with Western medicine and NLP. The following is based on a two hour conversation with Alberto Villoldo, a cultural anthropologist/psychologist and shaman; Tim Hallbom, an NLP trainer, author and therapist who has spent many years researching healing practices; and Glen Johnson, a psychiatrist who has been studying shamanism and NLP for over 20 years.
In energy medicine, shamans consider the human being to be composed of body, mind, soul and spirit. In Shamanism, you can engage the world from anyone of these four perspectives because they become different levels of reality or dimensions of engagement in the world. There is an understanding in energy medicine that we have a luminous light body surrounding our physical body. It can tell us how we live, how we age, how we heal and how we might die.
Before disease and illness show up at the physical and emotional level, these conditions manifest themselves at the energetic level or the luminous body level. When sickness occurs, you have to do much more healing work that goes far beyond the traditional medical models for treating the physical and emotional aspects of the client's condition. You also have to clear the blueprint that is informing the body on how to organize the illness at the energetic level. If you don't do that, the condition will reappear in one form or another, according to Alberto Villoldo.
For example, you can not remove cancer from the physical body without removing the blueprint that created it, and that blueprint resides in the luminous body. If you choose to treat the cancer through chemotherapy, surgery or drugs, you may recover from the cancer in the short term interim. However, it may reappear in one way or another if it is not energetically cleared from your luminous body. This is why many people are able to heal themselves of a serious physical condition, only to have it reappear years later down the road, said Villoldo.
At the level of the luminous body, there is no such thing as time. Past, present and future are all the same. The future resides in both your past and present.So even though you might heal yourself physically in the past or present, if that blueprint for disease or tragedy is still in your luminous body, then it will somehow re-manifest itself in the future.
Energy medicine addresses these underlying levels or blueprints that organize the mind, emotions, and physical body in a way that creates long lasting health in your physical and luminous body. In the same way that you can create psychosomatic disease, you can also create "Psychosomatic Health" through energy medicine.
Villoldo likes to use a metaphor that has to do with "working way up stream" --not at the level of what has already manifested, but at the level of what "hasn't" manifested. When working with a client, he looks for the organizing forces behind the appearance of the illness and its physical form, as well as the organizing forces within the body; and the psycho-dynamics of it all from an energetic perspective.
Energy medicine maintains that within the core of human beings exists a spiritual being. It is essential to our healing and our growth to acknowledging our spiritual nature and the spiritual quest that we're on, as well as the fact that we're on a great journey of Spirit intermingled with self discovery . We're not only interested in healing, but we're also interested in the growth of human beings as spiritual beings, says Villoldo.
"In the work of Alberto and the kind of shamanic processes that he does, he is beginning to identify the organizing principals of the spiritual," said Tim Hallbom.
"This relates to NLP in some important ways because NLP is about detecting the patterns and structure of subjective experience, which includes exploring the essence of our spiritual nature," he added.
"For example, I think God has a structure. Even Albert Einstein said that the most important question in his life was 'I want to know God's thoughts', So when we begin to explore the spiritual, we need to look at what is the structure of the organizing principals that revolve around the essence of our Spiritual Beingness in this world. God didn't just do this randomly, there has to be some kind of deeper structure behind this human experience and energy medicine may be a gateway for discovering more about the that deeper structure," said Hallbom.
"I think another aspect of energy medicine that is useful, is the whole notion of 'intent'. In energy medicine, you often get things started with your intent and the rest of the process begins to unfold as the practitioner holds an intent that focuses solely on helping the client to release whatever limiting energy needs to be released. When someone holds the idea of intent it makes working with health issues much more effective," said Hallbom.
According to Villoldo there is a lot of commonality between NLP and shamanism, especially in the area of maps and creating metaphors as maps, as well as creating maps that offer pathways to resolution and healing that ordinarily would not be available to the individual. Hence, maps that not only provide healing, but embody a sense of journey and a trajectory that addresses the spiritual, intellectual, emotional desires and needs of the human being.
Everyone on this planet has their own personal filters of reality and thus, their own map of reality. The filters that we wear through life influence our personal and spiritual maps of reality. Everyday we trek through similar territories, but because we wear different filters and use different maps, those territories appear different.
As human beings, we can never know reality because we have to experience realty through our five senses, and our senses are limited. Therefore, we don't tend to respond to reality itself, but rather to our own maps of reality. We all have our own world view and that view is based upon the sort of mental and spiritual maps that we have formed.
It is these maps that we carry inside of is that will determine how we interpret and how we react to the world around us and give meaning to our behaviors and our experiences, more so than reality itself. Thus, it's generally not external reality that limits us or constrains us or empowers us, but it's rather our personal maps of that reality.
Shamanic techniques are based on engaging perceptual shifts in how you perceive reality, as well as the how you interact with those perceptions. These perceptual techniques have added a dimension that was missing in organized psychology because they emphasize the existence of extra psychic processes.
Many of these perceptual techniques have to do with having an active dialogue with nature. The shamans believe that we are in communion with active forces in nature all the time, and that our disconnection with those forces are responsible for a lot of mental illness, emotional issues, psychological disturbances and health issues, according to Villoldo.
"In the field of NLP, we are getting really clear that disease comes from being disconnected internally by being dissociated from yourself or because you're in an internal conflict. You can also trigger sickness by feeling disconnected from other people in terms of communication and connection, or by feeling like you're not part of the bigger system such as the planet. So a lot of the NLP processes and techniques we teach have to do with getting people reconnected as well," added Hallbom.
"I echo these statements about being disconnected," said Glen Johnson.
From a psychiatric perspective, energy medicine gives meaning to the healing process and power in metaphorical ways that aren't available to our current medical model. It can help with trauma and fear in ways that traditional psychiatry can't, said Johnson.
"I work a lot with elements of traumatic stress in my psychiatry practice. These are issues in which people are overwhelmed with incredible life experiences and fear that they can't cope with. They hold much of these traumatic experiences inside . It's as if they are trapped in their fear, and it's too painful for them to talk about because it is unspeakable terror. Energy medicine can help in many ways by getting the client to release their fear without destroying them in the process, because they don't have to say anything about the nature of their trauma," he added.
Not only is energy medicine effective in dealing with fear and trauma, it is also effective in dealing with imprints. An imprint is basically a memory that is formed at an early age, and can serve as a root for both the limiting and empowering beliefs that we may form as children. Some of the limiting beliefs that we may develop at these early ages are not always healthy, and are created as a result of a traumatic or confusing experience that we forgot. How we unconsciously and consciously view the world in terms of health and our personal spirituality is generally based on those beliefs and imprints.
From the perspective of energy medicine, we bring imprints with us that come from very early life, as well as the time in between our life times and former lives. These imprints are frequently dormant and may be triggered by events in our life. These imprints become active in the same way that a cancer gene can be triggered, thus manifesting itself in a person. Villoldo refers to this type of manifestation as an archetypical engagement.
Archetypes lie dormant in the collective unconscious as if they were the negative of a photograph waiting to be developed through life's experience into a full color picture. We are able to draw archetypes out of the collective unconscious through our daily thoughts and actions. An archetype functions as a magnet and attracts relevant experiences to it. The archetypes represent a very pure experience of our own nature as a human being and of nature in general. When we distort our perceptual experience or we're out of alignment with our own nature, we become "unwell" and disease begins to manifest itself. Thus the blueprint for disease and illness that resides within the luminous body is triggered.
For example, if you get bitten by a snake, in the West you would get it treated at the emergency room at the local hospital. In energy medicine, you would first want to go to the emergency room to get it treated because western medicine is extraordinary for treating trauma, but afterwards you would want to go to your energy medicine practitioner and find out why that snake bit you in the first place. The practitioner would ask you, "Why were you so out of alignment that you had to engage with this particular kind of encounter in life?"
So the focus in energy medicine is not only healing what has gone wrong, but making your client available to new possibilities as humans who are able to live out their happiest dreams. Therefore, healing is not enough. Getting rid of what has gone wrong is not enough. With energy medicine, you have to take very active steps to make yourself available to a destiny of your greatest possibilities, and this is the other side of healing that is not addressed.
Energy Medicine is not based on pathology, it is based on the following questions:
What is your mission in life?
What were you born into this body and this life for?
What are your dreams and how can you actualize them?
Energy medicine is about creating what you want, creating possibilities and creating a wonderfully positive future!
Kris Hallbom is the co-director of the NLP Institute of California. She is also a professional writer and a long time student of NLP, shamanism and systems theory.