In the newest developments of Process Oriented Psychology, Arnold Mindell shows how connections to the dreamtime concept of the Aborigines and the insights of quantum physics open up new ways with which to approach psychosomatics.
In the 1970’s Mindell discovered that the unconscious - as was already known at that time - is not only expressed primarily through night dreams, but rather also through changes in our physical perception.
Physically uncomfortable sensations or even more severe body symptoms shift us into an altered state of consciousness - in a way that is similar to threatening dreams. We feel that we have been disturbed, limited or even threatened in our habitual experience, and in our identity - emotional, mental and physical. Our usual and all too human reaction is to make every effort to be done with this 'disturbance' as quickly as possible.
In this sense healing is understood as the restoration of the familiar physical state. When medical or alternative naturopathic therapies fail to provide desired and lasting success on their own, it becomes clear that our body requires other approaches. Healing involves more than the restoration of a known and familiar psycho-physical experience.
As humans, we are embedded in a constantly developing stream of consciousness and - as one of our essential characteristics - we are also in the position to consciously perceive and reflect on this. Just as the pioneers of dream research already revealed in the last century, dreams can give us insights into our current state of consciousness, our limitations, and also emerging developments. Dreams behave complementarily to our current state of consciousness. They are of a personal nature, but to varying degrees always also of a familiar, collective and sometimes also of a transpersonal nature. It is often the case that they touch upon the past or reveal developments located in the future.
Similar to dreams, physical symptoms can also be a key to greater consciousness of ourselves. In much the same way as when working with a nightmare, from the perspective of consciousness we can view physical symptoms as a process of two or more energies standing in conflict with each other. It is not the disturbing process of the physical symptom, rather the opposing and marginalising, rigid, defensive and uninterested attitude of our ego that is the real problem.
When we are able to encounter the disturbing, sometimes painful or even life threatening process of the symptom with curiosity, so as to bring to light the potential and the message in the symptom, we can create a new relationship between both sides of the conflict. Instead of conducting an inner struggle against or being at war with our symptoms, we are opening our attitude to the 'other in us'. We develop more inner diversity, and possibly also another attitude and relationship to our symptoms, especially in those cases in which it is not just about physical healing, but rather is about healing in a deeper sense. Again and again we observe how such a processing of symptoms unburdens our bodies as carriers of information, and then a relief of symptoms, an increase in quality of life and authenticity, ensues.
Simply put: “In other words, if you are ill, you are ill only from the bio-medical perspective. From another, you are having big dreams in your body and (in a way) are lucky to receive dramatic messages from the force of silence"(Mindell, 2004).
From this it follows that our concept of medicine must be extended into a multidimensional approach. Therein, the different levels of consciousness and the respective experiences associated with them, should be taken into consideration. Both approaches should be implemented. This includes classical medicine, with all possible diagnostic, pharmaceutical and instrument-based treatments, as well as alternative medicine, constituting psychological and spiritual approaches which work with subjective experiences, dream processes and all levels of consciousness. The unity of both approaches is the idea of rainbow medicine or 'multicoloured medicine’.
This is to say that physical symptoms are not only a medical problem, but also always a process of consciousness. Processing your own symptoms is thereby always personal but also simultaneously works on relationships, family, and collective and global dynamics.
Further videos on working with the body:)
- Mindell, Arnold (2004). The Quantum Mind and Healing: how to listen and respond to your body's symptoms.Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads Publishing Company.