Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
DEFT is the technology of access to subtle energy fields in inter-subjective spaces using intention, attention and congruent emotion, using insights from attachment research, complexity theory, neurobiology, humanistic psychology and wisdom traditions, thereby enabling higher development in psychotherapeutic contexts. To that extent, this paper makes a contribution in the important area of relational dynamics of resonance (LL) and energy (LR) of states and structures in the developmental movement of individuals in collective spaces.
The central premise of the paper appears to be the present, congruent and marked characteristics of the 'parent(s)' (in the TA sense) and the role of intersubjective and intrasubjective adjustments by the parent(s) in the known, accepted and protected attunement support systems of the ‘child’, the gaps in or shortfalls of which could ultimately manifest in line (dis)orders and defensive routines as a result of suppression/repression processes.
The art and science of attunement, and consequent entrainment seem to be the biggest takeaways of effective inter-personal effectiveness. The other significant takeaway for me is the inadequacy of pre-operational and concrete operational cognition in optimal self-regulation of shame emotions, which, as social psychologists like James Gilligan and Gabor Mate contend, is the biggest trigger of violent dispositions and behavior.
Given the length of article I felt that expectations could be better managed by a shorter and focused list of claims made in pages 3 and 4 of the article. The access to subtle states in a social field is another matter that perhaps needed greater explication, especially on ways that the field's (referred to as 'biofield' and 'bioenergy' in the paper) strength and effectiveness can be inferred and measured.
The use of a case study approach to bring alive the theoretical input is a nice idea.
Fascinating and important topic. I agree with you Neelesh about managing expectations. I am especially interested in discussion of fields, biofields, and subtle energy, and wish there was more development of these themes regarding how these mechanisms work. What are the external correlates of subtle energy? Or does subtle energy actually belong in the UR quadrant rather than the UL? Most discussions I've read make vague references to quantum mechanics or string theory and leave it at that. There is an interesting quote from Wilber on page 4 that seems to indicate he distinguishes physical energy from etheric (subtle) energy. I tend to think all energy is physical, but that there are many gradations of quantity and quality (and not denying interior correlates). And I suspect that morphogenetic fields might be a form of emergy (carriers of energy memory - discussed in Winton's paper).
This is the 2nd paper so far that references Dan Siegel. Not too surprising, I guess - when I read Siegel's "Mindsight," I was struck by how congruent it seemed to be with Integral Theory. And I kept this note, which is relevant to the theme of this paper:
Wow, I am glad to have my attention drawn to this paper. I see interest in these "fields" of subtle-energy/consciousness popping up all over, and I am widely and strongly involved in promoting that!! (See my two articles on collective emergent consciousness at http://exploringsecondandthirdtier.blogspot.com.) This is another angle on it, the angle that such a field can promote individual psychological healing, I gather that is the point made. My response is: "Duh."
David, as I see it, subtle energy IS in the UR, but the more subtle, the more the quadrant model breaks down, because subtle energies are "of consciousness" as much as "of matter." As many of us see it anyway, and yes, as far as I know, Ken Wilber definitely regards subtle energies are different from physical energies. As I understand it, his whole (original) "Psychic" State/Stage had to do with perception and use of "subtle energies."
Thanks for the intro to the paper, Neelesh! Will check it out later.
Actually this is a better way to say what I mean about the subtle energies and consciousness and quadrants:
To me, matter, energy, and consciousness are simply three labels or angles of view for the same whatever; to me, that is what "co-arising" means, or "mutual enactment" or whatever.
Nothing is truly "in" one quadrant or another; the quadrants are merely convenient baskets if one wishes to sort the vegetables for differing purposes...
The energy measurement and balancing space seems is acquiring a lot of precision and scientific sophistication, though still in the fringes of mainstream awareness, let alone adoption.
I think along with mindfulness , energy work would be a good complement to holistic health. Even for people who haven't been spiritually inspired.
Integral Life Practice, or even ITP Katas of Micheal Murphy and co, covered the energy space rather lightly. There is now scope for a far more scientific approach I think.
Totally agreed. In fact I would argue there are many health issues, of every kind, which cannot fully be dealt with unless their subtle-energy aspects are addressed directly. But then as an energy "healer" I am biased by seeing the successes I and others have, haha. But it just seems self-evident that health is a whole-person matter....
More science would help some people be more willing to get involved, but IMO just more public knowledge of the RESULTS would I think make more of a willingness in more people.
This paper makes an important gesture towards the inclusion of subtle energy fields in the conceptualization and practice of integrative psychotherapy. I particularly appreciated Witt's deft (pun intended!) articulation and modeling of a mature, attuned, congruent, growth-oriented therapeutic orientation in his case study at the end of the paper.
I say "gesture towards," however, rather than something stronger and more definite, because overall I felt his discussion of subtle energy fields remained strongly speculative and, it seemed to me, under-theorized throughout the paper. In other words, I believe a stronger case could have been made for *why* Witt feels the inclusion of a model of subtle energy fields is relevant. Throughout his discussion of the case study, for instance, the most striking, effective, and relevant-seeming strategies and conceptualizations seemed, to me, to be relatively easily handled by existing models of intersubjectivity, attachment theory, developmental theory, cognitive neuroscience, and so on. The clinical relevance of a subtle energy field model was not clearly demonstrated, other than as a possible way of metaphorically languaging these other biopsychosocial processes.
One thing that I have in mind here is discussion of the cultivation of a capacity for energetic sensing, such as you find in the work of Judith Blackstone or Anne C. Klein. For example, in Klein's "Psychology, The Sacred, and Energetic Sensing," she draws on Tibetan tantric and Dzogchen teachings, as well as Almaas' Diamond Approach, to make a case for energy awareness as a link between psychotherapy and contemplative practice. Because all perceptions, and all mental, emotional, and cognitive functions, are accompanied by the movement of energy, she argues that learning to direct attention to, and to work imaginally and feelingly (non-verbally) with, subtle energy (as you do in yogic and tantric practices) can facilitate psychological healing as readily as it can effect physical healing or spiritual growth. Using a case from Almaas' work -- in which a woman who has been repeatedly verbally wounded by her mother, contacts and works with this wounding (and subsequent "hole" in her heart region) to feel into and then release and transform the energy locked in this wound --, Klein argues that cultivation of a capacity for such subtle energetic awareness can facilitate shifts for clients more profoundly and suddenly than talking "about" an issue -- and that, because of the subtle nature of energy, attunenement with its movement can simultaneously help clients, not only to resolve psychological issues, but to open to the phenomenal fields and qualities commonly associated with spiritual dimensions of being in contemplative traditions.
Something like this might have helped better connect his speculations about energy fields at the beginning of the paper with the therapeutic work he so beautifully describes at the conclusion.
Other than this: Like you, Neelesh, I also appreciated Witt's discussion of the role that formal operational cognition plays in adequate shame regulation. A nice takeaway.
Your second paragraph, Bruce, languages my feeling of 'unquenched thirst' after reading the paper and getting all excited by the first 4 pages!
And the point of energetic sensing being more effective than 'talking about an issue' appears to be a matter of monumental significance to me - something which applies to any inter-subjective space, really, included discussion threads on online forums? In an increasingly networked world (both physically and virtually), cultivation of this capacity seems vital to maintaining the healthy vibration of a shared space, something I see often violated and damaged even in circles of postconventional people.
Anne Klein's work gets added to my list of things to read (or sense into). Thanks.
Yes, agreed, Neelesh.
Given my own recent inquiries, I got excited, also, by his mention of the role of language in ontological development in his bullet points at the beginning of the essay; I wish he had developed that more. Perhaps he has other works where he has done so...?
Regarding the essay by Klein I mentioned, it is found in Mark Unno's Buddhism and Psychotherapy across Cultures.
There ARE people who are sensitive enough to subtle energies to detect what is going on in the people involved, even from squiggles on a computer screen, because such energies are outside of space-time; I am sure this sensitivity can be cultivated, though I think it's preferable that such sensitivity emerge as a natural consequence of spiritual development...
I too think it would be waycool and wonderful, to have online intersubjective spaces populated by people whose ability to consciously interact with others was not limited to screen squiggles....
Now -- what did I make of Witt's paper? Well, here's what came up in my meditation of this essay and this current forum thread. Three topics stood out for me:
1. Boundless terminology
2. Naive positivity
3. Rules for Attunement
1. BOUNDLESS TERMINOLOGY. We are, I think, a little gullible at the limits of our mind. Or perhaps a bit lazy. When an effect permeates our entire cognitive field we hastily (and happily) reach for extraordinary words like "infinite". Yet, in truth, we may be contemplating something that is merely as big or bigger than ourselves. We do not worry about this when we write poetry... but the progress of material science has been one long effort to replace boundless terms with specific quantities. And this is just as important when we are dealing with subtle material science.
Very hopeful cosmic exaggerations, repeated in every well-meaning book on all great topics, are present (like racism) in the subconscious of even very reasonable folks. We tend to say "beyond Time & Space" when that is not even technically thinkable -- so what are we referring to?! Such remarks are slightly disingenuous if not somewhat nihilistic.
At the very least, these apophatic terms should be reserved for Causal Realm phenomena and not conflated with High Subtle Energies. As soon as we dive toward notions of ONE UNIFIED FIELD we become meditators... not commentators.
To go beyond this is to enter a nondual comprehension in which "divided reality" is itself the very form of "undivided reality". So ultimately we never escape or find significant utility for infinite and unitary phraseology. It has only a colloquial, poetic and personal use.
2. NAIVE POSITIVITY. Subtle energy is very promising and seductive. So is "attunement". We must therefore be cautious about assuming its therapeutic benevolence. Getting more in touch with a toxic entity may have a certain Tantric value but also comes with very real risks. More energy is not necessarily a qualitative improvement. Witt is not suggesting that it is... but we would be wise to keep ourselves very sensitive to this possibility.
The phrase "biofields" has some of the same problems. It narrows our gaze and tends to exaggerate the biological usefulness of all subtle energies. Wilhelm Reich, and later the Aetherometry Institute, have plausibly demonstrated that a part of the massless electricity spectrum is specifically destructive to organisms. Anti-bio-fields & a-bio-fields must be remembered... even as we try to be fearless and flowing in our use of those subtle energies which depend upon trust.
3. ATTUNEMENT RULES. This is where Witt's paper shines for me. He basically suggests a parallel between the manner in which information is exchanged between (UR) bodies & the way information is exchanged between (UR) subtle fields. These rules or principles-of-operations are themselves LR elements. They appear to include: congruence, presence & markedness. A man gets into a teamwork groove with a tree ONLY IF the trees "is" near him, if it is relatively reliable/coherent and if it displays changes which accord roughly with some of his own acts. This may be enough to establish a minimal stimulation of an additional UR object -- a shared higher-order field. The new field is not present as an additional body but rather appears as a correlated pattern of distortions in multiple bodies and an apparent reduction of 'randomness' which acts as momentum or stabilizing-attractor for future patterns.
It should be pondered, I think, that attunement between sub-fields of a single entity may generate an intensified functional coherence that allows individuated action at higher levels of subtle energy. "Growing a soul".
We should also observe that minimal attunement is... minimal. Socially and therapeutically adequate forms of resonance are often unsatisfying in the long run. Or at least they vary considerably. Co-participants may stabilize while remaining more isolated and abnormal-feeling then even they might consciously realize. Wherever therapy can redress this situation we should be alert for generic mechanisms that might be applied more broadly. A sense of pleasantly deepening and profoundly creative surplus-normalcy (associated with the production of intersubjective and intrasubjective "fabric") is a kind of abundance which permits further unfolding. It is produced more or less intensely depending, it seems, on whether we gravitate to more or less idiosyncratic and "on the spot" qualitative elements. Different aspects of ourselves in exchange produce different qualities of attunement within the same relations. Therefore we may wish to extrapolate this factor into the UR. That would mean that, as Witt suggests, social interaction protocols which tend to engender stabilizing forms of intersubjective feeling may also tend to invent, enliven or invoke UR subtle energy fields which interact with multiple bodies.
Or maybe not.
But we should investigate...