a letter to my audience

Dear friends and lovers,

I’m in a writing mood. Hallelujah!

This is where I play when I’m feeling that way: https://entheotropia.net/

Entheotropia is a personal blog and website about the experience of adventuring toward the divine within for the purpose of restructuring our psychology and evolving consciousness.

It’s also a place where I brain-dump dream journals and other vaguely relevant writing.

I like this place. Two … no three! … people have expressly told me they also like it. Three’s a crowd, four’s a fanbase, five’s and audience and my destiny number according to Pythagorean numerology. Take a geezer and help get me to 5 readers.

I’ve got three new posts lined up: one is a bit of draft material for a memoir I chip away at now and then (currently titled “Becoming 42: Don’t Panic!”); another is about the sociological causes and potential benefits of bipolar (a so-called disorder I may or may not have); the other is a dream-journal about a “psychoses dream” I had last night, which reminded me of a key insight from my recent psychotic episode, which is that I may or may not have an oedipal complex.

I sure as shit know I have an inferiority complex, despite repeated evidence I’m actually quite good at this writing thing, so do us a favour and check out the blog, tell me what you think, leave comments … join the conversation. Sweet action.

Big Love,
your local meandering metaphysical mendicant,
Swami Bodhi Abhijan 心 Schier-Paine 
the writer formerly known as Ryan

mentorship + conversation

As part of my journey into integrative psychotherapy (the entheotropic or holosophic adventure), I contacted a man called David, a friend of a friend I met through Buddhism. I asked him to be my mentor (because I thought he was a practising therapist), and we have started a conversation that has already gone, for me at least, next-level, transcendental.

(In our first conversation we talked about how he’s not a practising therapist, which launched us into the question of whether it is even actually beneficial to work with clients as therapists, especially if there is a power-dynamic established by one being paid by the other ~ we talked about narcissistic wounding and transference.)

We are going to explore our conversation publically, here at Entheotropia.

This question about the efficacy of therapists ~ it’s a fascinating one, and very good ground for a mentor–protege relationship such as this, because it’s important that I think about why I’m doing the Bachelor and what I hope to emerge as once I’m finished.

I’m really not sure whether I want to emerge as a therapist. I’m doing this first and foremost to learn about and integrate my own experience with mental ‘illness’ and spiritual emergency. It’s far too early for me to say with any conviction that I do or don’t want to emerge as a therapist.

The other day when I was invited to a Chakradance class by Giselle, I was just about to lay down for a pranayama session and the whole session was riddled with thoughts about something I later wrote down as Prana+Pulse … people laying in a room, blindfolded, specific-frequency music, and a series of guided pranayama exercises to balance the life essence … or to engage/disengage the parasympathetic/sympathetic nervous system, whichever might be required … that’s the kind of thing I imagine doing, along with writing about the whole thing and sharing the knowledge.

I’m interested in sitting down one-on-one with clients (I play that role frequently in my relationships already), but I’m not sure it’s the most efficient or even the most effective way of helping people ~ I imagine referring clients to such things as Chakradance or Prana+Pulse, or helping them to access the community services (such as housing support) they need to establish the baseline of Maslow’s hierarchy, but I certainly don’t imagine solving anyone’s problems directly.

Okay, sometimes I do ~ but I hope that will begin to fall away as I continue working on myself over the next three years while I pursue this bachelor. (My messiah complex was hopefully parsed and transcended in Jan 2017.)

Anyway ^ tangent! ^

To say I’m excited about this relationship with David would be a gross understatement. In just two conversations we have covered a lot of ground already, and David has introduced me to ideas that I have been yearning to encounter for a very long time. Things like:

  • narcissistic wounding
    ~ what is it?
    ~ how to defend oneself against it?
    ~ is it related to transference?
  • transference
    ~ what is it?
    ~ how to defend oneself against it?
  • consciousness
    ~ is it the primary substance of the universe?
    ~ or is it an illusion?
    ~ evolution of consciousness
  • my goals
    ~ what they are?
    ~ can you support them?
    ~ will supporting those goals beneft your own goals?

I will break these down into individual posts ~ in the spirit of wabi sabi, this post and those posts will be eternally half-finished, as are all good conversations.

integrative psychotherapy + Vedic destiny

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but what we make?

In a twist of what Vedic philosophy might describe as destiny (involving a Kafka-esque turnaround in the Australian welfare system), I find myself now pursuing a Bachelor of Integrative Psychotherapy at IKON Institute, a dinky-di and very cute, progressive and holistic private university near the Valley in Brisvedas. (I was told by one person at Centrelink that the Bachelor was not supported by Austudy, and then, when I called again, I was told that it was.)

Integrative psychotherapy “is the process of making whole”, and the Canadian Institute for Integrative Psychotherapy describes it further:

Integrative Psychotherapy embraces an attitude towards the practice of psychotherapy that affirms the inherent value of each individual. It is a unifying psychotherapy that responds appropriately and effectively to the person at the affective, behavioral, cognitive, and physiological levels of functioning, and addresses as well the spiritual dimension of life.

The term “integrative” of Integrative Psychotherapy has a number of meanings. It refers to the process of integrating the personality: taking disowned, unaware, or unresolved aspects of the self and making them part of a cohesive personality, reducing the use of defense mechanisms that inhibit spontaneity and limit flexibility in problem solving, health maintenance, and relating to people, and re-engaging the world with full contact. It is the process of making whole. Through integration, it becomes possible for people to face each moment openly and freshly without the protection of a pre-formed opinion, position, attitude, or expectation.

This bachelor is the perfect coalescence of all that I’ve been wondering about for a very long time, and I feel extra-ordinarly fortunate and grateful that I have this opportunity to pursue my own wholeness so that I might be able to help others do the same.

Integrative psychotherapy is basically the entheotropic process, or the holosophic process ~ the process of realising wholeness through experiential wisdom of our being a part of the whole, as a water droplet is an integral part of the ocean.

In the Bhagavad-gita it is said that each living entity is qualitatively the same as Krsna (the Supreme Personality of the Godhead), and the only difference between the living entity and Krsna is a quantitative distinction, as the water droplet is qualitatively, but not quantitatively, the ocean.

What Osho described as oceanic consciousness may be the same as fully realised Krsna conscious … but I’m not sure. I’m not sure how I feel about the Gita just now, except that I enjoy how it’s giving me a broader context in which to place Buddhism, which was my go-to source of spiritual succour for nearly a decade. In this sense, Vedic philosophy is a container that is even more broad and encompassing than Buddhism or Christianity or Islam or Judaism or any of the other religions that might have grown from Vedic philosophy.

I have to stop here now, lest I enter a rabbit hole I cannot escape from. The only other thing I would add is I am excited to be learning that maybe Gautama was an avatar of Krsna, and that there is almost certainly a cultural link between the likes of Gautama and Jesus.

I know that’s a can of worms … but I’m a boy!, so I love eating worms 😀

 

a brave and inspiring account of Bipolar II

My friend Cristina shared this post on Facebook recently (and I share it here with her permission). Her post inspired a discussion of how these experiences may be humans developing superpowers ~ the idea of pathology being a healing mechanism advancing us toward a new kind of humanity is one that fascinates me. 

Brown eyed Hypomanic curling into the deepest void ~~

* trigger warnings *
Living with Bipolar II has been a challenge and a half; and like with all in depth processes there are a lot of contributing factors as to why that is… I have chosen to share a week in my inner world displayed with careful but dramatic articulation through words appearing on your screen at present.

Bipolar III’ve had control problems since I was a young child; so being diagnosed with this ‘dis – ease’ of the mind was a greater shock to my ego than I would’ve liked it to be because ultimately – bipolar prevents me from having control over my mind. *cue screaming * the movements of inconsistency that swirl through me are truly suffocating, limiting and extremely embarrassing. At some point last week I started waking up at 5am every day.. requiring little sleep… and by 8am in those days I was very aware of the fact that I was entering a hypermanic cycle. I had been running around non stop, didn’t stop talking, felt like I was running a marathon that I didn’t exactly choose to orchestrate, I was very observant of the fact that I was laughing about 50% of the day, I didn’t feel the need to eat because I was riding a high that tasted sweeter than heaven on a plate.. and that delights my eating disorder! How wonderful! ultimate bliss…. I felt like an empress… a glowing light beaming brighter and brighter by the minute, my self confidence was elevated, my thoughts didn’t disturb me… it’s sort of like feeling high – but once you realise you’re high ~ you can make yourself feel higher and higher at your own accord. Your senses heighten, you can feel people’s energy different – things look brighter, you feel alive … you have no problem going for a run at 5am and then another run at 6pm and still have energy pumping through your body all through the night.

It feels superhuman really, almost like some alien being woke me up in the middle of the night, passed me an energetic bubble of abilities and then flew away back into the cosmos with a cocky smile and a familiar glint in its eye. It feels like getting a beautifully wrapped present – one that I rip open as quick as possible because my heart and mind knows what’s inside. The gift of hypomania feels like electricity fluttering through me, like an endless tickle with a feather just below the surface of my skin. I’m jovial and invincible, I feel the need to comment (or interrupt everything) I’m productive as a person can be, I start new projects…feel inspired. I feel helpful and giddish….

One of the most prominent symptoms of my hypomania is this incredible urge to create something and follow it through to completion to the exclusion of anything else…. this could be anything! For me – it’s often romantic relationships, but it can also sometimes turn into something that would be classified as a ‘psychotic breakdown’ (yes, I’ve tried to ‘break’ reality multiple times) and as you can imagine … going through that path is quite literally other worldly – it feels like you are on mushrooms 24/7…. best part is – I’m overly optimistic about everything! My energy is infectious.

Many of my romantic connections or profound friendships start when I’m in these states – and I can see why people are drawn to me during that time…

Sounds phenomenal, doesn’t it?

Well… well well….
The greatest part that hypomania brings is the dread of its inevitable end. (Please note my cynical humour) We know it won’t last forever, but we want it to. We want to feel that electric energy and invincibility just one day more… and sometimes we are willing to risk just about anything to keep that hypomanic euphoria, even if our symptoms lead us to do dangerous or careless things like drug use (stimulants) or promiscuity, or over working yourself. We crave that sense of elation so much we are willing to risk it. Nothing bad will happen to us, right? We are invincible!

But eventually…. we know the gift of hypomania must be put back into the box and returned and our days must go back to the looping darkness that is depression. We’ll wait patiently for the next gift from the glowing … but cheeky alien passing us the wrapped package of hypomania. The depression swoops up out of nowhere and it passes you a red hot ball of humiliation as well… one of the other downsides of mania is the fact that because we roll through it like an actual cyclone of energy ~ we can often destroy things without realising.

I’ve destroyed relationships, close friendships, job prospects, my body, other people’s feelings… without even being aware of it… one of the reasons for this is because at the back of our minds we still know that at some point or another we will come crashing down; hardcore so we can overdo the mania in hopes to cling to the sense of freedom before the cycle turns again.

I feel almost unconscious when I’m manic, so falling back down to depression (saturns void I call it) is so humiliating because I don’t recognise anything I’ve done or what I’ve done. I’ve often developed Romantic connections in mania and then as I come back down from the high I don’t remeber how it happened, or what we connected on – and I push the person away out of fear of them seeing me in my hole. I do this to my friends too – when I’m about to go down I unconsciously destroy my connections so that I’m alone when I go down. I can get aggressive emotionally and intimidating – and I can watch myself morphing into a strange person but cannot do anything about it.

Earlier in the week I went to my friends house for dinner and I couldn’t stop moving, cleaning things compulsively, jumping up and down at 8pm after a full day of intensive excerise… and work and uni …. she looked at me and told me I was manic and I joked – but my mind was angry because I cannot stand admitting it. I’ve fallen back into a depression now… they usually start with me feeling overcome by vulnerability, fear, paranoia…. feeling isolated and alienated or having a dissociative panic attack (one where I get so out of my body that I cannot recognise where I am location wise) and then …. I become the spiral. I can’t move out of bed, my muscles ache and my whole body feels like I’ve been bashed and left on the side of a road, my eyes get covered by the heaviest fog and I can’t see hear smell properly, I either eat a lot of food, or eat nothing at all (both ruining my self esteem) simple tasks like getting up and changing clothes become an effort, I can’t look in the mirror, I sometimes can’t even talk, tears flow out of my eyes endlessly.

It’s petrifying… I could be laughing one day and the next I’m isolating myself from my family and friends – spitting poison darts at them to stay away because my head replays vile thoughts (you’re worthless, you should be ashamed, stay away from people) I become easily irritable … have panic attacks at the smallest things (the other day I broke a vase on purpose and sobbed in the broken glass for an hour because I couldn’t find my keys) Like with my mania – I can see the impacts that my moods and changes have on people but I can’t do anything about it…. last month I hit a very bad low and ended up on my best friends balcony sobbing for the whole day because my mind was SCREAMING at me to end my life – when I say screaming I really mean it … it feels like your brain is failing you and gets hijacked (by that cheeky little aliens present haha)

I shape shift into a fucking petrifying demon looking thing on the hunt for my own misery. The process is tasteless – and it feels like eternity when I’m in it. It scares my friends away sometimes – which feeds the depression demon more … the depression feels like broken glass is moving through my blood stream … my heart reaches with fear but I’m somehow numb at the same time. I acknowledge silently that there are very few people who know how to help me. Not many willingly plunge themselves into a storm. Those who do, have their battles of their own too.

Understand this this expose of my inner world is not a call for sympathy. I’ve found some solidity and acceptance in the chaotic ebb and flow that is my own – I have chosen to share this as a way to shed light on a ‘dis – ease’ of the mind that is often heavily misunderstood… with a hope to potentially assisting in educating some people who might have bipolar friends / family in their lives… and to share with my friends … so they can ease some of their own confusion ❤

I want to mention also, if you experience any mental disorder – know deep and true in your heart that itdoes not define you. If you managed to read all of this – thanks! I appreciate you. — feeling exhausted.

a statement of Mission

after Snowden

I was watching a documentary about Snowden recently, and I was inspired again to start educating myself about a basic truth that our culture hides in plain sight: our government is not serving our best interests.

Maybe I can’t stop/change this entirely or totally, but I can inform myself enough that my complicity is minimised, and perhaps I can be involved in some community project that undermines the elite’s power over us, the ~pawns~, like maybe a community bank or helping to organise and distribute organic food from independent growers ~ Monsanto would hate that, right? Even publishing this website and blog is an act of dissidence, a way of challenging the fear-mongering of mainstream media, which the doco refers to as ‘the corporate media’.

I shared a video on Facebook recently, by a guy called Rob Dial, who explains that any piece of information we absorb is ~brainwashing~ us, which means that we can choose to watch the nightly news and scare the crap out of ourselves, engendering distrust of our fellows, or we can choose to watch … well, videos like this one, which explains that, contrary to what we are told by the corporate media, the world is actually a profoundly safer place today than it ever has been in history:

As a somewhat-serious student of psychology and as a human being who desires understanding of and a modicum of control over his own mind, I am fascinated by the very concept of brainwashing. I’m somewhat reluctant to indulge the subject because it sounds so conspiracy-theory-ey, but the reality is that brainwashing is happening to us at all times, whether it be through advertising, news media, unscrupulous religious leaders, or even just the things we unconsciously choose to give more of our attention to, whereby we brainwash ourselves. So it’s definitely somethig I’m trying to keep my eye on.

It’s a curious thing though, that making ourselves aware of these unfortunate realities can sometimes have an adverse effect before they have a positive one ~ a scene from the Snowden doco that I could especially relate to, is where he says that the more he learned, the more the anxiety mounted up.

This is a normal and healthy response to the dawning awareness that our so-called leaders, who we hoped and believed were serving our interests, are actually serving theirs. It’s not fair that we are treated like pawns in the elites’ game of chess. And something I find especially distressing about the whole situation is I know they are seeking refuge in the wrong object.

Seeking refuge is an idea in Buddhism that can be understood as ‘seeking happiness’ ~ we seek refuge, from suffering, in all sorts of things we believe will give us lasting pleasure or contentment. Some people seek refuge in power, control and unnecessary wealth, by brainwashing and exploiting the weak or disadvantaged ~ such ‘leaders’ are causing (or contributing to) the suffering of others, and ultimately they are doing this to perpetuate their own suffering by pursuing happiness/refuge where it doesn’t exist. As well as people, this kind of misguided behaviour exploits the planet, our habitat.

Distressing, no?

When we begin to understand this, anxiety is a natural response because anxiety is a natural response to threat, to the perceived danger of, say, immanent ecological collapse ~ called ecoanxiety. In Snowden’s case, it seemed the anxiety came from becoming aware that our own governments are spying on us, and not for the sake of our safety, as they would have us believe.

Whatever the case may be, I’m interested in understanding how to raise awareness of these realities without catalysing massive panic attacks or debilitating depression ~ much of my own experience of depression has come from feeling disempowered in wanting to make positive change in the world. So I’m interested in how to minimise the psychological damage of becoming increasingly aware that our greatest threat may come from within our own culture.

I feel a strong duty to inform myself and to help others free themselves from a system that does not have their best interests at heart ~ well, rather than free ourselves from “the system”, it’s about healing ourselves so that we, as aspects of that system, can begin to improve the system from within. It’s not enough (in fact it’s not healthy) to blame “the system” for all of our suffering ~ to do so is an abnegation of individual responsibility, and an expression of Ignorance.

What we need to do is liberate ourselves from psychological enslavement to the systems of power that control us, which is an entirely internal process ~ we don’t need to change the system externally, but change ourselves so the control mechanisms of culture no longer have any power over us.

So I’ve come here to declare the nature of my Mission, which I choose to accept in pursuit of a Vision:

I imagine a world characterised by harmony and diversity in unity, a world where each and every individual has realised the true nature of reality and therefore is happy to serve the collective interests over their own ~ imagine a world where everyone was watching out for everyone else … we wouldn’t need to worry about anything, there would be no cause for regret and we would all be free to enjoy the present again.

It’s been bouncing around in mind lately that my mission is to

help people heal so that our world doesn’t continue down a path where it’s okay for governments to spy on their citizens people and for businesses to plumb the earth to line their rubber wallets. Entheogens are being used to evolve consciousness and of course modern-day shamanism and other ancient soul-healing methods exist (they have survived the onslaught of scientific materialism), and I yearn fiercely to be involved with such transcendental forms of transpersonal psychology so I can 1) heal myself and, in doing so, learn how to 2) help others to heal the will to power.

If we can help each other to experience the divine connectedness that is at the heart of these ancient traditions of psychotherapy, we can begin to eradicate ruthlessness from the world. Call me an idealist, but I believe we create our own reality and we define our own meaning ~ if we can imagine utopia, then utopia will cease to mean ‘no place’ and instead come to mean ‘our place’.

If we can help each other to experience the profound empathy and compassion that is our nature, the world will begin to transform, which is already happening ~ we are very fortunate to be alive and working at this time, cresting a wave in the evolution of human consciousness and the planetary consciousness supporting such diverse forms of life.

I declare that I accept the mission to ride this wave along with the other awakening individuals I am beginning to encounter in the community. I declare that I will honour the powerful potential I need to fulfill by helping to create a world characterised by harmony and diversity in unity, a world where each and every individual has realised the true nature of reality and therefore is happy to serve the collective interests over their own.

In my burgeoning role as a transpersonal psychotherapist / shaman I imagine treating individuals who are operating at three levels:

  • the ~underdog~ who feels disempowered, so they might come into their own and realise their potential to contribute improvements as grassroots leaders within their communities
  • the ~average~ who is coping, surviving, but beginning to look for ways to pursue thrival instead of just survival
  • the ~leader~ who already has power, so they might wield it more compassionately and for the genuine benefit of all

I feel I am making the journey through these levels, having started out life as an underdog, raised myself to an average level of success and wellbeing, and begun to aspire to being a true leader in my community ~ when I say ‘leader’ above, I do mean ‘politicians, businesspeople, teachers and other heads of institutions’, but what I envisage is that in this millenium we will see a shift away from leaders and those who are lead, from elites and pawns, to a far-more-decentralised way of living and governing ourselves.

I am also interested in what I learned were the original aims of psychology ~ I don’t have the source with me here, but I recall from a textbook of positive psychology that the original aims of psychology were:

  1. the treatment of pathology
  2. the maintenance of wellness
  3. the nurturing and harbouring of talent and genius

Oh, I found the textbook!

In Positive Psychology: The Scientific and Practical Explorations of Human Strengths by Charles Richard Snyder and‎ Shane J Lopez, there is a quote from Martin Seligman saying the above three missions were the original aims of psychology, so, yay, I remembered!

What I definitely remembered (because I was especially impacted by it) is the idea, as described in the same quote (a breakout quote from the main text), that the second two were neglected throughout the twentieth century for reasons I don’t need to go into here, because the point is that I want to get behind the move in positive psychology to start focusing again on the other two objectives of psychology.

More than that, I would add that the fourth objective of psychology (or what I am starting to call ‘holosophy’ and what others might call ‘entheology’) is:

4. facilitate conscious evolution (the evolution of consciousness)

BAM! Homo evolutis.