The Quantum Mind and Healing: How to Listen and Respond to Your Body's Symptoms: An acclaimed therapist's breakthrough redefines the mechanics of health
Arnold Mindell, Ph.D.
The Force of Silence
"If we don't dare to dream, we won't find anything...
Dreams are how the most exciting science happens." -Dan Goldin, chief of the U.S. National Aeronautics Space Agency
Body symptoms are fierce battlegrounds full of intensity and trouble. If you deny your symptoms, you repress the battle and the symptoms spook you all night. On the other hand, if you focus only on their reality, you get depressed and fearful, especially if they are not immediately healed. The Quantum Mind and Healing presents principles which explain how and why working with your dreams and body sensations in a real and dreamlike manner changes your body experience.
Dear reader, my commitment to you is to make these principles feel as plausible as possible to both your body and mind. My basic point is that your awareness interacts with the subatomic realm of your body. As an individual seeking resolutions to inner problems at the beginning of the third millennium, you must accomplish what our sciences have not yet accomplished. You must seek help not only from the growing domain of biomedicine, but also by exploring the deepest dreaming and quantum levels of your body. At these levels, you will meet what I call the force of silence, your body's intelligence and link to the universe.
To facilitate this exploration, I suggest various steps throughout the book to help you experience and understand your body and mind at this subtlest of all levels. Beyond supporting your personal journey, I also offer the suggestions of medical professionals and therapists, physicists and biologists, allopaths and alternative medical practitioners about how to unify existing paradigms. My direction is to integrate the ingenuity of today's sciences with yesterday's wisdom traditions. We shall be wandering through shamanism as well as quantum phenomena, psychology, and biochemistry, to outline new methods for understanding and working with symptoms.
Past and Present Work
In earlier books--The Dreambody and Working with the Dreaming Body--I demonstrated that dreams are mirrored in all kinds of body symptoms. In Dreaming While Awake, I suggested a shamanistic lifestyle based on lucid awareness 24 hours a day. In my recent The Dreammaker's Apprentice, I used Aboriginal Australian Dreamtime ideas and quantum theory to update what we therapists since Freud and Jung call "dreamwork."
Now, in The Quantum Mind and Healing, I unfold lessons of physics and psychology by reconsidering:
- Dreaming and the quantum dimension of symptoms,
- The origins of life and how awareness is an anti-aging factor,
- How quantum theory can be music therapy for symptoms,
- Why communities affect the body, and
- New, nontoxic lifestyles which promote wellness.
My ideas are the product of two factors: 40 years of experience working with people in all states of consciousness and with every conceivable body problem, and physics. For me, physics is a theory, a practical fact, and also a metaphor for our psychology. Math and physics are symbolic formulas describing deep altered states of consciousness as well as physical processes. New ideas arise in physics not only because of experimentation and theory, but because our consciousness is ready to discover new aspects of the universe within ourselves. In my earlier book, Quantum Mind, I have shown how everyone can experience physics. The math of physics is like the dream behind reality. Thus everyone can experience the immeasurable quantum wave fields in physics, because these virtual fields are maps of subtle body tendencies (as I will demonstrate below), as well as events in the real world.
While mainstream science focuses on measuring the effects of zero-point energy in the universe and debates whether or not subtle energy fluctuations gave rise to the origins of the universe, I will suggest a meditation on how the smallest inklings of awareness create our lives in terms of what I call the force of silence. In Quantum Mind, I discussed how these inklings are "tendencies" seen in quantum physics, psychology, and meditation. Self-reflecting patterns found in the math of physics--the basis of quantum theory--can be seen as metaphors for how the force of silence creates consciousness, reality, and all life's joys, problems, and symptoms.
In this present book I show that these subtle, universal, and immeasurable tendencies create what we can sense in our bodies as the force of silence. Further, these tendencies are linked to the universe's self-reflecting ability as well as to our own. A conclusion about medicine follows from these insights: Training awareness, not curing illness, is the most basic task of medical practitioners. Body symptoms are not only problems to be solved. Chronic symptoms are koans--apparently unanswerable questions meant to increase our consciousness. Many such symptoms require dropping our everyday thinking and using awareness to perceive the force of silence in our bodies.
Today's mainstream biomedical viewpoint about the body reminds me of a city map. For example, on that map you will find a point representing your address, the location of your body. Most of us think of ourselves as located at some point on some map. The truth of this space and time viewpoint is obvious. However, this is not the whole truth.
In dreams, as in quantum theory, immeasurable yet experiential parts of you are not located only on a street corner, in a city, in a country on some continent or island on the planet Earth. Neither are you located only in this solar system or even in the Milky Way. Rather, you are located in consensus reality on that point of the map, and simultaneously in dreamland you are spread throughout the universe. For you to believe that your body is located solely at a particular spot on the planet may disturb your personal relationships and create symptoms as well.
The new medicine needs to discover and remember that whatever happens in this universe (or these parallel universes) influences our bodies, just as what we feel and think--how we experience things--touches the whole universe. We live in the universe, which is made up of real and virtual realities. Therefore the new medicine must be "local" and deal with the body in time and space, and "nonlocal" to deal with the way the world around us affects our bodies.
At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the everyday mind must object, telling us that quantum realities and subjective experiences are figments of our imagination and are not to be trusted. First, I want to relax this everyday mind by assuring it first that the present theory does include and affirm all that is known in present-day medicine and Newtonian physics and chemistry. I even suggest that the present work affirms quantum theory in a psychological way. Second, I suggest that ignoring subtle experiences symbolized in dreams and quantum theory may contribute to bodily dis-ease. In other words, you need experimentally verifiable medicine and physics as well as subjective experiences.
Exercise: Imaginary Time Experiment
How does knowing about the real and virtual quantum realities of the universe help my body problems in the here and now in a "down-to-Earth" fashion? The Quantum Mind and Healing answers this question with a theory and suggestions for ways to personally experience the theory.
Let's turn to experience first. The body experiment we are about to do encourages you to sense how the force of silence moves your body. After that, we discuss a theory about how this force was present at the origins of the universe in the realm of imaginary time.
Let me first add that since the force of silence, like all quantum-realm concepts in physics, is not directly measurable (only the effects can be tested in reality), you must use and depend on your own subjective experience and ability to sense things that are not consented upon by others. In what happens next, you may discover tendencies to think, imagine, and move in a specific direction, before you actually move in that direction.
Let's begin with your body awareness. To begin with, sit, stand, or lie in a position giving your body some freedom to move. If you are sitting, sit on the edge of your chair. If you are lying down, sit up a bit.
Now relax for a moment in your position. Take a couple of breaths. Don't rush. When you feel more at ease and a bit quieter, you are ready to go on.
While breathing freely and naturally, hold your body relatively still. Use your awareness to notice the kind of motion and direction your body might tend to move in if it were allowed. Don't move in that direction quite yet, just explore the tendency to move in a given way or direction. Give yourself time. The tendency will eventually show itself. Now, notice that tendency and its direction, even if this tendency seems unusual to you.
Once you notice it, allow that tendency to move your body slowly in that direction. Please take note of images which may arise. Take your time. What fantasies and images arise as you move?
Still moving slowly, follow your imagination about that movement until your inner images give you a sense of the movement's meaning. What could your tendencies, fantasies, and movements possibly mean for you? What meaning do they seem to have for you? Trust your intuition about the meaning. Focus your awareness on that possible meaning and make a note of it.
Finally, after noting this meaning, go back to the movement you were just making, and ask your body what body experiences, symptoms, or fears of symptoms it might produce to make you more aware of this tendency? What kind of symptom or fears of symptoms might express that tendency more dramatically so that you would have to look at it? Do you already have the beginnings of such symptoms, or are you afraid of such body states?
One of my clients who had been suffering from fears of death did this experiment at home by himself. He told me that his awareness made him realize that his body was "tending to relax, and his jaw wanted to drop." Then, after letting his jaw hang down, he had a sudden fantasy. His head fell off his body, leaving an image of his body breathing freely and totally open to the wind which could easily enter. He said: "The meaning was obvious: Drop my head, my inner programs, and open up." He reported that, to his surprise, his fears of death were resolved when he realized that his "head," or his rational mind, was trying to die!
This experiment may also have given you a sense of the kind of body tendencies that are present before movement occurs. Your sense of these tendencies is what I am calling the force of silence--a subtle force moving your body. Usually this subtle force makes itself known to you only when it appears in exaggerated forms such as fearful fantasies or body sensations.
The force of silence is both a subtle body sensation and the driving force behind your dreams, subtly trying to move you along a given path, giving life specific meanings. These meanings become clear only after looking back over your life or by getting in touch with that force in a given moment.
At the very least, not following the force of silence makes you uncomfortable, "dis-easy." Your body feels more at ease if you move with it, in the direction of its subtle force of silence.
Aspects of the Force of Silence
In the following chapters I show how this force appears not only in your body's subtle movement tendencies, but also within:
- Your chronic symptoms,
- Your long-term behavioral patterns, problems, and gifts,
- The moods and people that trouble you most, and
- Your relationship troubles or community problems.
The force of silence manifesting in tendencies is a kind of pull or push, coinciding in our awareness with the sensation of a kind of atmosphere, a mood, or field in which we are living. I call this atmosphere and its tendencies an "intentional field," though we are usually not aware of any intent behind the atmosphere or its subtle and easily ignored force of silence.
I will show how focusing on such subtle experiences is a kind of nonlocal medicine, since these subtle tendencies may be connected not only to ourselves but to the whole world, indeed the whole universe.
Physics, Zen, and the Force of Silence
Let me begin to suggest a theory about how these experiences might connect within our universe. For the moment, let's begin with the assumption from physics that the basic pattern found in the subatomic realm for all matter?the quantum wave function--is one of the most basic patterns of our entire universe.
When Erwin Schrdinger, one of the grandparents of quantum theory, first discovered this wave pattern in the 1920s, he was certain it was "material." He called the mathematical waves of this pattern "matter waves." Today we know these waves are not material in the sense of measurable water waves. However, they are more fundamental than the apparent materiality of large-scale objects and bodies. This basic pattern is mathematically exact and predicts the probability that events will occur in everyday reality.
This wave function is typical of many quantum physics ideas that are very different from the Newtonian physics of events in everyday life. (See the sidebar below for more information about the wave function.)
Quantum theory is like the vision or dream an artist has before painting a picture. The artist may have a perfect image of the picture-to-be in a vision, but in the moment of painting the picture on canvas, unpredictable events occur. The final painting is unpredictable. Likewise, the quantum theory is a kind of vision of how the universe works. It gives general outlines, but not all the final details. In this book, I show how quantum theory is a vision not only of physical events but of psychological experience as well.
In thinking about the origins of the universe, cosmologist Stephen Hawking uses quantum wave patterns to understand the moment of creation. He suggests that at the beginning of time--when time was zero--"imaginary time" existed. Hawking uses this "dream" or vision because physics without quantum theory works well only back to the first 10-43 second after the universe began. Before that, non-quantum physics does not work. Hawking uses quantum waves as the "vision" or theory about the very first moment.
What happened at the beginning of the universe? Hawking suggests that an immeasurable "imaginary time" ruled the beginning of our universe, before there was "real" space, time, or matter. His idea may not be so far out as it may seem. After all, you just experienced how subtle tendencies and patterns exist in your imagination and are present just before they produce real and measurable movements. At the beginnings of the universe, before there was physical reality as we know it, there may have been subtle, tiny, dreamlike experiences or tendencies in a kind of dreamlike or imaginary time.
As I have already suggested, it seems to me that quantum physics describes not only the material universe but the psychological as well. After working with thousands of people, I have found that all body movements and symptoms can be traced back to these tiniest, most subtle, "imaginary" experiences that precede their "real" everyday appearances. In a way, symptoms (and everything else in life) begin in imaginary time, which can be felt as a subtle body signal--i.e., the force of silence.
It was Werner Heisenberg, another parent of quantum theory, who first said that the quantum wave function behind physical reality represents an imaginary or immeasurable "tendency" towards reality. In other words, according to quantum theory and the views of some cosmologists, real events are described by, and arise from, immeasurable tendencies. A less complicated way of saying this is to speak as an Aboriginal person, saying that the world began in "Dreamtime." I call palpable effects of Dreamtime "the force of silence."
Dreamtime's force of silence is behind everything; it is one of the keys to understanding this world. The force of silence is an idea and an experience of the earliest source of events. To use this force--to learn to move with it and work with symptoms--you need only to learn to focus your awareness during stillness. Awareness is a core element in the sense of body wellness. Awareness may be the key to finding answers to many questions.
Zen and Dreaming
Awareness in reduced states of consciousness reminds me of how a friend of mine answered a most difficult question in life. This friend, Keido Fukushima, who lives in Kyoto, told me one of the stories behind his becoming a Zen master (and the head of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism). While studying Zen, he was given a koan to answer by his teacher. When Keido heard the koan, at first he went deeply into himself. Following the unknown, his body began to dance in response to the koan!
His teacher was delighted with this "answer" and asked where the dance came from. While waiting for the answer, the teacher told my friend to leave the city they were in and live with the aboriginal group in Japan who danced in that manner. After years of living with that group, he became a Zen master. When his teacher died, Keido told me he did that dance for his teacher on his grave.
In a similar way, life is asking you many unanswerable questions. Your body is also trying to dance the answers. By learning to focus your awareness, you can use the unpredictable movements within you to resolve many seeming mysteries, including your body symptoms.
In a way, symptoms are koans asking you to let your body "dance," to use awareness and re-experience the deepest aspects of yourself. If your quantum wave is connected to the universe, your body's subtle movements are dancing in the rhythm of the universe as well.
About This Book
To explain these ideas more completely and give further suggestions for innerwork experiments, I have divided this book into parts focusing on work with individual symptoms and their connection to relationships, aging, and freedom in lifestyles.
In part 1, The Force of Silence in Symptoms, I show that medicine's central job is supporting awareness of the subtle forces of life. After studying quantum physics and psychology, as well as medical and spiritual approaches to the body, I talk about "Rainbow Medicine," which is a mixture of biomedicine, alternative traditions, and physics. Rainbow Medicine comes about through experiencing how life spontaneously arises, giving us the sense of wellness. Rainbow Medicine has many "colors." Many allopathic and alternative medicines are more monochromatic, that is, they have fewer levels and are more one color than a rainbow. "One-color" medicines include aspirin and vitamins, relaxation techniques and therapeutically derived resolutions to personal problems. "One-color medicine" is a crucial part of the greater picture which also includes dreaming.
Part 2, Nonlocal Medicine: The World in Symptoms, uses quantum physics and innerwork exercises to demonstrate just how your body is nonlocal--that is, everywhere you or someone else thinks you might be. Symptoms cannot always be healed by local medications directed to specific parts of your body, because the body problems you suffer from are, in a way, not solely your own--they also are found in relationships and community problems, in the past and even in the future.
Part 3, Aging: Chemistry, Buddhism, and Entropy, shows how the force of silence leads to new approaches toward aging, genetics, and ancestral bonds. I talk about how near-death or feared-death experiences can bring creativity to life. New views of life and death as simultaneous states appear now in psychology as well as physics.
Part 4, Quantum Demon Lifestyles: The Body Free of Time, introduces new methods of working with symptoms that involve multiple roles in relationship and shamanistic attitudes. The book concludes by reconsidering nonlocality and suggesting nontoxic lifestyles that integrate various levels of awareness. Here you find ideas summarizing The Quantum Mind and Healing.
In the appendices, which are geared for the scientifically interested reader, I tie together elementary concepts about waves, quantum physics, parallel worlds, and the quantum mind.
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