Friday, August 22, 2008
What Is Channeling?
One of the important theses in this book is that the common idea of channeling, as an experience in which one completely loses oneself to a separate entity being channeled (aka "trance channeling"), is not the only, nor even the ideal, form of channeling. Trance channeling bypasses the individual, thus limiting the individual's opportunity to learn and grow through the experience. Cayce often emphasized the importance of attuning to the higher self, while remaining conscious.
In this way, any person can channel the higher self, and, at the same time, access your own individual creativity, and heightened experience of connection with the universe, while remaining an individual. In its broadest sense, channeling includes any act of transmission, whether of love (as in giving someone a hug); an idea (as in sharing it with someone); creative effort; and many other forms.
Listen To Your Intuition: The Channel of Your Guardian Angel
When we have an intuitive hunch regarding something we should or shouldn't do, this is a form of channeled guidance. There are countless anecdotes concerning intuitive guidance, as well as scientific evidence for the efficacy of following such guidance.
Cayce’s idealism is comparable to the Zen archer in the book Zen in the Art of Archery, by Eugen Herrigel. This Zen archer could hit the bull's-eye of a target from sixty feet in total darkness by “becoming one with the target.” Both the archer and Cayce looked within themselves to find knowledge. But, ultimately, the importance of intuition is not protective guidance or "trick-shooting;" it is that intuition leads us to awareness of "our true nature, One with God."
Cayce’s view of the mind, which is congruent with the way modern science is coming to see the mind, is that there is only one mind. Individual consciousness is like a tiny point coming out of the infinite One, which connects all superconscious and subconscious awareness. This concept shows why it is that any individual can access information from any location or source in the universe, including living or dead people, as well as sources of consciousness that have never been embodied. (Cayce taught, however, that it is not necessary to prove or focus on where the information comes from; but to compare information from different sources, and use experience and judgment to determine the usefulness of channeled information for you.) Here are some basic principles to remember in developing intuition:
1) Intuition exists through our essential oneness with creation. As you become consciously one with life, you become more consciously intuitive.
2) Intuition arises from our sympathetic attunement with the object of our intuition. Empathy is a form of attunement. Love is the highest form of attunement.
3) A need to know something, usually for protection or guidance, stimulates intuition.
4) Intuitive knowledge comes from within. Look within for intuition.
5) Intuition requires an acceptance of what spontaneously comes from within. It's usually our very first thought, feeling, or image.
6) Genuine intuitions are consistent with our highest values or ideals.
7) The best way to honor our intuitions is to act on them.
Sometimes people experience intuition as one or more voices that they hear. But Cayce warned that, when we open ourselves to channeling, it's possible to receive from the subconscious voices that are neither helpful nor benevolent. The solution to this problem is "to anchor our channeling in ideals and purposes." Via ideals and purposes, we are able to attune to the superconscious/higher self, to receive the best guidance.
Here's a practical application for intuition, which is helpful with a difficult decision. Think over all the alternatives, as well as your values and purposes. Choose what seems to be the best choice, and decide tentatively to go through with it. Then, quiet yourself and meditate on your values and ideals, focusing on the emotions that are associated with them. From this point within, ask if the decision is the best one, and listen for a yes or no. Whether as a voice, a feeling, or a thought, this is what Cayce called the "still, small voice" within. It is a voice that we should listen to. Note that the above exercise requires a decision prior to asking the question. According to Henry, the intention is necessary to engage the intuition. It's much more effective to ask if a decision is good than to ask what choice you should make.
Dreams: The Nightly Channel of the Higher Self
Dreams can be a channel of psychic experience. Sometimes a dream warns the dreamer of danger; sometimes a dream brings healing, or guidance for how the dreamer can heal him/herself. Dreams are also a vehicle for psychic inspiration. Admittedly, some dreams are simply caused by physical or subconscious factors, but, according to Cayce, we are given dreams from the superconscious every night. Sometimes the higher self actually appears in dreams, perhaps as a doctor, teacher, spiritual leader, a close friend, or even a symbol such as a cross. During sleep, the intuition expands, while the individual consciousness recedes. "There is simply being-deep, silent sleep, pure intuition, pure psychic oneness." At the same time, the superconscious/higher self acts as a guardian angel, protecting us in this hyper-receptive state. The soul evaluates the life experiences, and this is what we experience as dreaming. Living our soul purposes, by aligning ourselves with ideals, brings increasingly clear dreams. (Compare this to A Course in Miracles, which states that troubled dreams are a sign of holding the insane illusion of separation from God. As this error is replaced with the correct belief that we are one with God, dreams become peaceful and joyful.) Furthermore, Cayce encouraged people to actively seek dreams for guidance; to learn soul purposes; and even to safely experience or learn to understand anything we wish.
Some societies have traditional rituals in which people seek dream guidance. Henry found that these rituals had in common two factors: sacred space, and a spiritual benefactor. Henry designed a dream incubation ritual incorporating these elements. After spending a day isolated in a special dream tent, the seeker would role-play him/herself asking the benefactor for guidance. The individual would play both him/herself as well as the benefactor, using a self-made mask. The following period of sleep would often bring profoundly meaningful dreams.
A simpler way of asking for dream guidance is to write a letter to yourself, asking for advice. Write what you know about the problem, and what you intend to do. Ask your dreams to show if there is a better solution, and imagine yourself taking the intended action as you go to sleep, with the letter under your pillow. The dreams that follow can be surprisingly helpful.
If you have difficulty remembering dreams, a good technique is to take time every morning to write your feelings as soon as you wake up, before getting out of bed. If you don't remember any dreams, just write whatever comes to mind, for a full page. Dreams will likely come within a week. Daily meditation is also a proven method for improving dream recall. Most importantly, take action in waking life that reflects or responds to an element in a dream, even in little ways. Bring the dream into the world of your conscious mind.
The Creative Channel of the Mind: What We Think, We Become
As Cayce is often quoted, "Spirit is the Life, Mind is the Builder, and the Physical is the Result." Furthermore, ideas do not originate in the individual mind, but exist independently, in another dimension. We only choose which ideas to hold in our minds. An ideal is a precursor of an idea. The ideals we choose to live by are manifested in our worldly reality. One ideal is that of Christ Consciousness, of transcending the ego to identify with the universal superconscious. If you attune to an ideal, then set the ego aside to make room for spontaneity, you become a channel of the ideal. Other aspects of life in which we channel energy are sex, conceiving children (actually channeling new life!), and creating a home. In each example, what is important is that ideals are central to the activity. Finally, love is a very important energy that we can channel. "With every heartbeat, we channel love. And what our heart dwells upon, what our minds think about, we become or experience in our lives. We continually channel energy, our love, our ideas, our ideals, our actions into creating life as we would have it. It's the most everyday, both ordinary and miraculous, channeling we do."
Meditation: Channel of the Spirit
Here are some practical exercises. The first is based in breath awareness. The intention is to observe the breath without making any conscious effort to influence it. A helpful thought to hold is, "It breathes me." "To get out of your own way, to step aside and watch your breathing go by is to become a channel of inspiration."
The next exercise is to pick a word or simple image and concentrate upon it to the exclusion of everything else. As other thoughts inevitably occur, direct your focus back to the chosen word. Eventually, you can become aware that there is a part of the mind that is always impassively watching-the internal witness. Shifting our consciousness from the thinking "I" to the internal witness is a step toward channeling. It's also useful in meditation to focus the attention on the concept of raising the consciousness-not out of the body, but finding a place that feels "higher within."
Keeping the above approaches in mind, you can move on to meditating on an ideal. Choose your ideal carefully, because, through meditation, patterns are created, not only in the thinking, but also in the shape of your life; and even in every cell of the body.
In a series of readings, Cayce spoke of the Book of Revelation. (See J. Everett Iron, Interpreting the Revelation With Edgar Cayce.) He correlated each of the seven churches with a chakra and an endocrine gland of the human body. The book tells of the experience of meditation on the ideal of Christ Consciousness and its effects on the endocrine system. Similarly, the Lord's Prayer acts to attune the endocrine glands in a particular pattern, by directing the attention through each chakra.
There’s an important distinction between automatic writing and inspirational writing. In automatic writing, the person goes unconscious in order to get the ego out of the way (trick shooting!); but inspirational writing begins with attunement of the ego to an ideal, and the writing that follows is an expression of that experience. Inspirational writing, unlike the automatic kind, goes hand-in-hand with spiritual development. Also, automatic writing can sometimes channel the subconscious, while inspirational writing, when the writer begins with an ideal, channels the higher self.
A good way to start, after some meditation, is to write out your ideal, as a word or phrase. You may write it over and over for a while, and when anything comes to mind, write. It's very important to let go of self-consciousness and judgment-just write. A playful attitude can be helpful. Focus your attention more on staying in the spirit of your ideal, as a feeling, and less on what you are writing. Henry describes a way of finding guidance using inspirational writing. Start by imagining a personification of an ideal for you-a spiritual figure, a person from a dream, a real person you admire, etc. Imagine what it feels like to be this person, attuning to your ideal. Then, write the feelings. As above, all you need to pay attention to is staying with the feeling; write what comes naturally. Pose your question, and then role-play the ideal person, answering the question, writing as you are inspired. You can dialog with your ideal, too, if you like.
Artistic Channels of Creativity
We are always channeling creativity, in the sense that we use creative energy to form our physical existence according to our ideals. Cayce taught, however, that it is beneficial to everyone to consciously channel creative energy through art, music, or dance. Don’t get inhibited by comparing your art to that of others, or by focusing on the end result at the expense of being in the moment.
Cayce also spoke of a Temple Beautiful in ancient Egypt. It was a place for healing through music, aromatic baths, dance, etc. Inspired music was improvised for each person who came there for healing, and the purpose was to bring people to re-experience their essential oneness with the universe. This is the power that the arts can have for us.
In channeling creative energy, as always, it is important for the sake of safety to remain connected with ideals. For example, changes that occur in the body when the adrenals are stimulated by fear and anger can be hazardous to physical and mental health. Henry recommends designing and making a "life seal" using depictions and symbols of your experiences and ideals. This can serve as a visual reminder of what ideals you have chosen for yourself.
The Visionary Channel of the Imagination
Imagination is far more important than most people realize. Imagination shares an inherent connection with the "invisible forces of creation.” Just as we are created in the imagination of God, imagination is our channel for creating in the world. Through imaginative visualization, we pattern the physical reality around us. We take in neutral sensory information; it is the imagination that imposes patterns on the information, turning it into an understanding of how things are. Perception is a creative act. Imagination can also be a channel. For example, sometimes a person thinks he/she is simply daydreaming, but the daydream later turns out to be true.
If you have difficulty using your imagination, try simply pretending. It may feel silly, but through pretending, it's possible to become immersed to the point that the imagination takes over. Try to enjoy the process, and not focus on the end result. How do we know we are using this imaginative power to good ends? IDEALS! Good ideals use imagination in service to truth, rather than personal desire. Visualization, as in daydreaming, is also a method of seeking answers from your higher self. This is similar to the earlier exercise with inspired writing. Imagine meeting your ideal in a special place. Feel the attendant energy and emotions. Express yourself fully to the higher self, and listen to the advice you are given.
Who's there? Identifying the Spirit Who Speaks
Since the beginning of channeling with Spiritualism in the1850s, lots of scientific study and numerous channeled sources have all agreed that it is more than impossible to conclusively prove the source of channeled information. It is more useful to ask what quality of consciousness is being channeled. Is it from the higher self? Or is it residue of thought patterns of a deceased person, still in the universal subconscious? It is possible to pick up such residue. It is also possible for a person to become "possessed" by a "spirit of evil." In both cases, though, the unwanted energy can't enter unless the channeler has some affinity with it. Cayce equated the spirit of evil with choosing self-indulgence over affirming oneness with the whole. These factors, combined with unprotected openings in the energy field of the body, create vulnerability to possession. Causes of lapse in protection include: improper meditation, illness, accident, extreme emotional states, and chemical intoxication.
Evaluating Channeled Guidance
Cayce said, "Pray hard, as if everything depended on God, but work hard, as if everything depended on you!" In other words, it is most important to test the guidance you receive by putting it into action; then you will receive more guidance.
Sometimes evaluation is limited because the question is not well thought out. Start by identifying your question, as specifically as you can. Trying to answer the question yourself can help you to define it. You can also use the methods above (e.g., inspirational writing, etc.). Keep in mind your purposes and ideals. If you are unclear about your purpose in asking the question, your ideals can help to clarify it.
There can be great benefit in taking guidance from varying sources. One reason for this is that, even through a competent psychic, for example, the ultimate source can range from desires and expectations, to the subconscious (whose primary intention is to express itself, not to serve the greater good), to the intended universal awareness or superconsciousness. Comparing the differences from one source to another can reveal which information comes from the superconscious. You can also find patterns in a variety of sources, which may be helpful in itself.
It's best to raise your own consciousness as much as possible before seeking advice. For example, if you are visiting a psychic, meditate on your ideal before the visit. This heightens your ability to listen and understand the advice you receive.
Don't overlook the step of evaluating guidance from a practical perspective: is it constructive? Workable? Relevant? And most importantly, is it consistent with your ideal? If not, either disregard it, or do more soul searching to ensure that you have chosen the right ideal for you.
Always remember, you must be willing to act on the guidance you receive. That is the primary way of learning in life. Henry paraphrases Cayce, "Don't ask the question if you're not ready to take responsibility for the answer. Knowledge not applied [is] much more costly than the bliss of ignorance.”
Using Hypnosis to Become a Trance Channel
While the conscious mind is judgmental, the subconscious is much more open to suggestion. Therefore, hypnosis is a useful tool in diverting the conscious mind, in order to work directly with the subconscious. Here's a simple technique for self-hypnosis. Begin in a comfortable position. Focus your attention on your right arm, noticing any sensation, and say to yourself, "My arm is heavy." Repeat that a few times, feeling the heaviness, and noticing that it relaxes and becomes heavier as you continue. Then repeat this process for the left arm, then both arms. Take your time, and when you feel the heaviness in both arms, move on to the legs. When you have this down, move on to the breath awareness exercise. After a while your mind may begin to wander, and you may feel sleepy. This is the subconscious mode. Because there is only one universal subconscious, when we are in contact with our subconscious, we have access to a great amount of knowledge. The existence of ESP while in a state of hypnosis is well documented.
One way of accessing this knowledge for learning about your health is to visualize yourself on top of a high mountain, gradually making your way down. At the bottom, you encounter a door that leads into the mountain. You go down a long hall into the heart of the mountain. At the end you see a door, with the words "The One Who Knows Health." Inside, there is a person who embodies your higher self. Sometimes this person is seen as a wise old man. He will answer your questions. Another image is of going to the Hall of Akashic Records. It may appear to you as a library, with one or many books that hold all knowledge. Sometimes people use their own imagery, as suggested by their guidance. Henry uses for himself an image of rising up on a blue flame.
It's helpful to make a recording of your own voice, narrating the steps you go through, so that, as you are practicing your self-hypnosis, you don't have to do anything during the process. Henry says of his own experience with channeling,
“My tendency to become fascinated with the phenomenon of trance channeling got in the way of my being a graceful channel. It became clear that it was important to integrate what I experienced in trance into my daily life. If I approached trance channeling as a way to overcome my sense of inadequacy as a person, it was easy to become attached or addicted to the apparent power of the trance state. On the other hand, as I incorporate the trance insights, including the experience of feeling confident in approaching life in a spontaneous manner, the trance state itself becomes less a compelling need. Instead, trance channeling feels more like simply taking time out, as in meditation, to honor and focus exclusively upon a state of awareness that's always there.”
The Channel of Cooperation in a Group
The story of Conjuring up Phillip gives us an important lesson about the power of cooperation. It is a story about an "artificial ghost" created by the Toronto Society for Psychical Research. These people made up a history of a ghost, and gathered regularly to meditate and attempt to call the ghost into their presence. Eventually "he" came. The people began to hear rapping on the table, and the table would move. They hired a sound specialist to analyze the rapping sounds and he found the sounds to be different from any the people could make by rapping their hands on the table, etc. At one point, they trained another group of people to create another "ghost," with similar results. The people involved never thought they had created an actual ghost; they thought of their creation as a thought form that was able to manifest in the physical world. This story is an example of how group consciousness can be a powerful channel.
Henry gives some of the exercises he has developed for working with groups to develop intuition. First is the Dream Helper Ceremony. The people gather together and dedicate their dreams for the night to one person who has requested help. They do not know anything about the problem the person has. In the morning, they relate their dreams, censoring nothing. They discuss the patterns in the dreams and their personal interpretations. Henry found that the patterns identified the person’s problem and the personal interpretations gave the most helpful insights about resolving the problem to the person who was in need.
Another exercise is called "Getting to Know You." The participants gather in a circle, and introduce themselves. With each introduction, the person provides a sample of the sound of their voice while visualizing a scene that he or she feels positively about. The people in the group use the sound of the voice to stimulate a daydream. There is a minute for contemplation, and then the other people in the circle relate whatever images, emotions, etc., came to their minds. Once again, the group can channel insights about the person whose voice they listened to.
Being a Channel of Healing Forces
To develop awareness of the unseen forces in nature, Henry shares this exercise. Choose a plant (Henry chose a rosebush) and greet it respectfully, acknowledging it to be a living being. Look at the plant and imagine what it feels like to be the plant. Use your body to express the shape of the plant, growing, blooming, losing leaves, etc. Feel the energy of the earth rising up through your feet. Make sound to express the experience of being one with the plant. When you've fully expressed the energy and vitality you observe in the plant, you can sit quietly and just be with it. At this time you may begin to see or sense the elemental spirit of the plant.
Approaching energy from a scientific perspective, there have been a number of studies finding that laying on hands can produce real, measurable effects in bacteria and water molecules. Another famous study found that when sick people were prayed for, they recuperated faster and better.
Furthermore, sharing happiness is good for the person who shares it. This is because giving energetically closes a circuit of energy. When we share with others, it makes more room for energy to come to us. Cayce emphasized that the "little things" are important. While we may be able to help people by channeling, we can also do much good in everyday life, just by listening, lending a hand, and having a positive attitude.
Being Yourself: The Ultimate Form of Channeling
Because trance channeling bypasses the ego, it's possible to use it as a substitute for being yourself. This is a mistake. Channeling the higher self, by contrast, can be a way of developing self-esteem, because it requires spontaneity, trust, and the absence of censorship. And, as we incorporate service to others into our lives, we are inspired to fully utilize our individual talents and abilities. Thus, we receive what we give. For this reason, expressing ourselves through service is our ultimate purpose. To channel the Higher Self involves, ultimately, as the distance between our potential and our actuality grows smaller and our self-acceptance grows with our self-esteem, simply being ourselves.
Edgar Cayce On Channeling your higher self
by Henry Reed,
Summary by Rachel Creager
Rachel Creager is a massage therapist and writer in Chicago. You can see more of her writing at her website, http://www.richella.com