Amtrak Station Albany to Ahimsa Sanctuary Philomath, 27 miles


Lots of time to think on a 19 hour train ride.  A dreamy state, wondering what to do next, how to understand what I’ve been through, recently and over the long haul.

Back to reality.  At least the common interpretation of reality.  Was the Holotropic Breathwork a more “real” experience?  Or merely different, “non-ordinary” – certainly not a state to be entered lightly or carelessly.  So much of my life has been unconsciously driven, out of habit, or fear, or confusion, or – you name the emotion, I’ve had it!  These unconscious states, so much like trance states – maybe these are “non-ordinary” too. 

Take depression, for instance.  I’ve long thought that depression is actually a very active state, where enormous emotional energy is being contained and compressed, so much so that all that remains is a flat, zero affect persona.  Compare depression to the process of grieving, where numerous emotions are experienced and released, whether sadness, anger, fear, loneliness.  Depression is characterized more by the lack of expression than by any one particular emotional state. Why am I writing now about depression? In part to stave off the question I know is coming – Ocean, with all this crying your are doing, don’t you think you should take something for that? No!

Stanislav Grof described certain non-ordinary states he called “spiritual emergencies” which overwhelm a person’s coping mechanisms, where suddenly there appear challenges to the psyche which throw a person into the other realm of transpersonal or spiritual transformation.  Grof said the common interpretation for such states is to pathologize them, diagnose and then treat chemically through pharmecology.  Depression, schizophrenia, mania, delusion.   He developed the breathwork to provide an alternative to pathologizing and medication, to enable us to use the spiritual emergency as an opportunity for healing and change.

How about the trance-states we are trained into through our schooling, to be good pawns for the industry?  Drones, endlessly working at meaningless jobs, accepting the bones tossed to us by the corporate heads or their politician puppets – salary, vacation, benefits, status.  Yet the cost: a profound loss of creativity, loss of the authentic, loss of personality.  In this case – is the “normal” really the “abnormal”.  Aren’t the good worker bees participating in a sort of mass delusion?

What is normal?  How does the unaltered human psyche see the world, interpret crises, play as an actor on the grand scheme?  My belief is that it is closer to the baby mind I felt after my breathwork session – everything was new, all things possible, everyone beautiful, potential friends and playmates. How can I be in this place more often than the other, the frozen, repressed state? Through my commitment to be real, to be truthful, honest, transparent. To honor all my emotions, even those painful to express or experience. To be open and support the healing of all people, the community and the planet.

The ride home today was hard, busy highway for the first half, last half in the dark of night.  My fingers and toes were chomped by the biting cold.  Hard to think freely when under such physical conditions, but great for riding hard, climbing our road in the dark, avoiding potholes, rolling into the familiar homestead on Homestead Road.  Ahimsa we call it.  Place of peace.  I think I’m readier now than ever to make this a reality.

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