Stan Grof's First Lecture- day one at WPF

By moda00 · Mar 26, 2008 ·
  1. moda00
    Oi, day one fucking stressful flight all night half asleep and delirious, passed out, woke up, passed out, jet lag, heavy bags, getting forward... then on to the fun :)

    I am going to have to spend hours typing this all up, but here is Stan Grof's first lecture:

    Consciousness Evolution and Human Survival: Psychospiritual Roots of the Current Global Crisis
    Stanislov Grof, Friday March 21st, Basel

    Starting Question:
    Have you experienced non-ordinary states of consciousness?? Examples: Shamanic rituals, psychedelics, spontaneous experiences, illness, near-death, psychotherapy, meditation, etc.
    -States that for more general audiences this is an important question- with specifics of conference said this is not as important to discuss for context, as we have context.

    "Altered" states as pejorative, implying distortion, delusion
    English language- "altered" for castration/neutering of pets
    "Non-ordinary"- reasonable way to contextualize these states, but as one native shaman said in response to him, "Why NON-ordinary?" Distinguishing between ordinary and not, a dichotomy, hides the reality of a multitude of possible experiences and "states" (more or less recognized depending on cultures) of constantly varying states and realities. Not in the sense that certain cultures/people are fukked up all the time, making such states less "rare," but in the sense that they acknowledge there is not just "sober vs. intoxicated," "normal versus abnormal" (list following starter question begins to give some idea of the depths of human states- I'm sure we could think of an infinite list- the above not even including things like the brain's spontaneous fluctuations, hormonal fluctuations, influences of our surroundings and peoples' "vibes" (moods, intents) etc. and the vivid spectrum of emotion and sensory experience available to us, things like the feeling of falling in love with someone, or orgasm, or despair.. how can we distinguish "ordinary" and not? Who is to judge? (This viewpoint depends on cultural context, but those with psychedelic experience and many without can likely find validity.)

    The difference is that the goal of consciousness research (versus say alcohol intoxication, or traumatic brain injury, or illness) is HEALING- ILLUMINATING- LEARNING- TRANSFORMING (ie. just because something changes one's reality, it is not "good" or "bad" but good to keep in mind and share certain goals)

    Current psychology/psychiatry does not have a name recognied as these states which are non-destructive, non-ordinary states with a positive overall effect.
    Grof proposed holotropic- "WHOLE" and "Moving in the direction of" -gives ex. of heliotropic plants- means moving in direction of sun
    (*Notice that this term is based on what the state achieves, the intent, rather than the origin or how it was brought about specifically- ie. avoids judgments or distinguishing between plant-induced states and other techniques)

    Emphasizes that we are not only a name and a form/body, but a divine core. This same energy as the creating force of the universe, uniting force, within us all but not separated by personal identity- beyond these usual boundaries?

    "Moving towards wholeness" (holotropic experience) also can be discussed as healing.

    Grof jokes that talking about holotropic states to those who have never experienced them is like trying to describe sexual peaks/orgasm to a child or an asexual person.
    Psychedelic substances vs. "HBW" Holotropic breath work, body work, etc. -"At least breathing is still legal" or something like that, lol..

    Grof gives some personal history:
    Initial interest in psych due to Freud (this is represented in some of his ideas and vocabulary, I thought, but he takes these concepts and expands on them, and creates some very new and distinct concepts, so I wouldn't say he is a Freudian, just that themes of childhood are focused on, but rather than childhood post-birth, his focus is on the perinatal experience and BIRTH itself- but more on that to come, I'm getting off track)

    Remembers getting a box of LSD-25 ampoules labeled with letter from Sandoz/Hofmann for research/experimental use, liked Hofmann's statement at one point that "LSD called me," not just random
    Grof as early volunteer, experiments had to do with "driving/training the brain waves" by shining a powerful light (stereoscopic?) for EEG at 3 hours/peak of LSD admin- profound experience

    Even after years and years of study psychiatry is not very breathtaking." Non-ordinary states inherently interesting to study, infinite possibilities, semed a natural choice for direction of research.

    Says that at Esalen they didn't have permission to use psychedelics like LSD so they developed holotropic breath work.
    Also began to work with people having "spiritual emergencies" (commented that if these are similar to the experiences induced by psychedelics or HBW, why must they be pathologized?? USE FOR THERAPEUTIC PURPOSES and learn something from it- seems the rational and health way to handle this phenomenon..)
    These "spiritual emergencies" as crisis in traditional sense and also "emerging," coming into a new state- believes they are the result of the body's spontaneous attempt to heal self.

    Talks a bit about work with dying patients. Holotropic states can be helpful in easing the pain (mental/phys. not reached by narcotics, also can redefine death experience and one's own issues and fears, therefore creating less of an inner struggle in the process. More accepted by society as they are dying.

    Spiritual experiences as "near-death," birth and death as spiritual.

    Holotropic states as the common denominator- realized that this could/would not be acknowledged by the psychiatric discipline (at least up to this point)- cartography of psyche is limited to post-natal. Nursing is considered an important experience, but pre-birth, and the birth experience itself, are disregarded. Since BIRTH is usually the most significant near death experience (without actually being death- not the opposite as could be perceived but part of the same process, also could be death as is very physically taxing, the biggest possible change one could undergo, emerging into the world, etc.)

    Four stages when people regress to the perinatal and birth experience:
    1 or First Matrix= Advanced pregnancy- fetus in womb
    Second= Uterus contracts, cuts off blood supply, stressful- but cerix has not opened to allow an escape/exit- claustrophobic
    Third= Laborious propulsion thru birth canal (sexual energy?)
    Fourth= Coming into the world
    *Cycle of ego deah and rebirth*

    Focus on the TRANSPERSONAL- experiencing oneness w/ a person, group, or the universe, experience another animal or person's reality, etc.
    Grof gave ex. of becoming a sequoia tree- experiences which cannot be had in "ordinary reality"
    (Personally swim related to a similar experience of becoming a flower- a purple one haha- on psilocybin)
    Grof also related being a venus fly trap, a carnivorous plant for which he would have no internal context or words aside from having experienced it in this way.

    So: He found that there is not just personal sub/unconscious but COLLECTIVE unconscious.
    Holotropic states connect to both "nature" and "nurture," both peri- and post-natal experiences and influences.

    Human history:
    Examples- humans have a long and detailed history of GREED and VIOLENCE
    gandhi- "enough to satisfy every need but never enough to satisfy every greed"
    Although has occurred thru history, threat is increasing because of environmental effects- damaging the planet- human survival more and more at risk- advanced technology, weapons, etc.

    General agreement that many of these things are symptoms of global crisis
    Common denominator again is consciousness- its evolution- to resolve. Example: With our technology it would not be difficult or impossible by any means to create a situation in which al were fed enough food, or in which certain diseases were cured. Why has it not happened? Because hearts/minds are in the wrong place! (or perhaps not "wrong," I dislike the word, but priorities are focused elsewhere) One week's war budget could set up infrastructure to provide food, health care, etc to millions. (I think we can see this as fact, not just rhetoric- actual figures and logistics here.. although he didn't start talking numbers)

    Military and economic strategies predominate to address problems- proven that this is NOT working. (but we keep doing it)

    What is needed??
    Inner transformation on a large scale.
    Focus on the transpersonal within this inner transformation.
    (Do we have enough time?)

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