Using Posture Sequences to Heal Dis-ease
Self-actualization takes us beyond the self-imposed barriers and limiting (usually unconscious) beliefs that prevent us from attaining our ultimate potential of living life authentically, creatively, and joyfully. Using a sequence of postures can guide us toward self-actualization by addressing challenges step by step.
In the following series of ecstatic experiences, Jen is able to first find increased ego strength to overcome a current concern before taking her next steps toward self-actualization--facing the source of her feelings of inadequacy and beginning her journey of letting go of these inhibiting feelings. In her first ecstatic experience Jen uses the Olmec Prince posture (described in chapter 8).
12/2/09: I had a sense of groundedness--eventually a physical twitching in my cheeks that invited my lips to lift. Then I began to feel like my teeth were growing and my cheeks wanted to smile or snarl. Then I had a strong awareness and the twitching turned to tingling in my navel center, which became a vision of my umbilical cord. After the rattling ended* I felt I could not move from the posture perhaps because my energy and attention were so grounded. I did not want to be removed from the experience. Now I feel kind of shaky from the inside out.
*A rattle shakes or drum beats at about 210 beats per minute to stimulate the nervous system and bring the individual into a state of ecstatic trance.
Jen initially did not understand this experience, but with the help of her posture work over the next few weeks, she found that her snarling and growing teeth represented her strength and determination to overcome limiting feelings about herself.
In Jen’s next experience a week later, we’re introduced to the Mayan Oracle posture. When questions and concerns are taken to the Mayan Oracle her answers are simple and practical yet, given in a supportive way, she teaches us to let go and stop trying so hard.
Jen took a question about the nature of what was limiting or inhibiting her life to the Mayan Oracle.
12/9/10: The drumming surrounded and tunneled around me as though the vibrations encompassed me. I asked the question: How can I help my yoga business grow to pay my rent? I had no visuals or physical experiences other than the vibration in and around me.
Several days later I e-mailed Jen: “If this were my experience I would examine how the surrounding and tunneling vibrations around me felt. For example it could have been a comforting blanket, providing me with a sense of security, suggesting that I can trust the future, or maybe something I could provide my clients for them to feel warm and secure. On the other hand, the vibrations could possibly be bad vibrations that have been limiting me.”
Two weeks later Jen used the Feathered Serpent death-rebirth posture (described in chapter 7) in which she journeyed through a body of water with a tunnel-like pull. She then realized she was a tree rooted in the swampy floor of the body of water. Her roots remained grounded while her body swayed providing a feeling of both stability and fluidity. She ended her experience feeling stuck but open to possibilities, commenting: “If I could uplift my roots I could remove myself from the mucky swamp and spiral into a higher consciousness without losing the groundedness of my roots. Maybe I need to uproot?”
Several days later I offered Jen the following thoughts: “The Feathered Serpent takes us through the cycle of death and rebirth. Your experience matches well the intent of the posture. You are somewhat stuck there, but the energy is pulling up on you for rebirth or new life. It does seem to describe your struggle well.”
In Jen’s next session she used the Priestess of Malta posture (described in chapter 8), a spirit journey posture through the middle world. She again experienced circular swaying grounded in the navel and heart centers. The number six, hearts, and leaves were flowing from her heart center. During that session Jen mentioned she had gained several new students the past week and felt more confident about the sustainability of her yoga teaching practice. She suggested that this experience seemed right, this flow of hearts and leaves from her heart represented some resolution of the issue with which she was struggling--the sustainability of her yoga teaching practice. In my e-mail I expressed curiosity, asking if she had done something different: “Last week you were stuck in the swamp and wanted to lift your roots to free yourself. Did you do something different to free yourself?”
Jen answered that she had “let go of numbers,” of worrying about the number of people and money coming in. That freed her to focus more supportively on her students. She felt that this change in attitude had made the difference. These early experiences point to a resolution of Jen’s fear concerning the sustainability of her yoga practice, but they also gave her new strength to face a deeper problem, the source of her fear.
Revue de presse
“Nick Brink, Ph.D., has done a marvelous job translating and updating the work of Felicitas Goodman into our current times. In doing so, he makes indigenous wisdom more available to us all. How fascinating that the mind-body-spirit connection should work in all directions--that body postures can produce emotional and spiritual states of being! In explaining this, Nick Brink returns spirituality to the body--where it began.” (Lewis Mehl-Madrona, M.D., Ph.D., certified in family practice, geriatrics, and psychiatry and author)
“Nicholas Brink’s book takes a big step forward for publications in the field of ecstatic trance postures. The heart of his book revolves around stories of healing produced by the unconscious while in posture. This book is accessible and informative to the public and a must for professionals in the mental health field, people engaged in alternative health practices, and students of shamanism.” (Lisa N. Woodside, Ph.D., professor of humanities emerita, Holy Family University, and certified teac)
“A few decades ago the topic of consciousness had all but disappeared from mainstream literature in psychology and psychiatry. Now there is a plethora of books on the topic, but The Power of Ecstatic Trance is the most unique. Nicholas Brink, Ph.D., takes his readers on a ride from the rituals of indigenous people to the laboratories of neuroscience researchers. Case studies and anthropological research add authority to Brink’s prescriptions, while the illustrations and the detailed directions make these esoteric rituals reader friendly.” (Stanley Krippner, Ph.D., coauthor of Demystifying Shamans and Their World)
“This is the best summary of trance work now being published. I am often looking for resources to suggest to my own colleagues and students, those of us studying and using ecstatic trance states. Nick’s book will be among the handful I will immediately recommend to any interested in the personal and communal power of the human capacity to heal and to shift the direction of our life paths.” (Rev. James Lawer, certified instructor at the Cuyamungue Institute)
“In our overly rational world, body, imagination, and spirit are too often treated as if they are separate. In this fascinating and practical exploration of meditation with intentional body postures, Nick Brink opens a way for us to discover the particular and deeper experiences of healing and wisdom.” (Tom Lane, founder of Journey Conferences)
“We live in times that call for, no, demand that we become our own shamans and look for answers from within like our ancestors did. This is also a great book for experienced shamans; it brings a lot of new information to the subject of shamanism.” (Rahasya Poe, Lotus Guide Magazine, April 2013)
“The book is accessible and easy to read for novices and pros alike. Brink introduces and explains 20 different shamanic journeying postures, separated into sections by their intention. Brink writes in a style that is very open and welcoming to beginners. Through his words, the reader can feel that he wants you to understand each pose. He is very passionate about sharing knowledge on the subject.” (Allison Robertson, Voices of Central Pennsylvania, May 2013)
“Nick Brink is a brave guide into the alternate reality of ecstatic trance. From his vantage point as a longtime therapist and teacher, he brings both wisdom and a sense of adventure to the journey to the Spirits. I’ve so enjoyed learning from his deep insight and open heart.” (Ileen Root, Ph.D., depth psychologist and creativity, career, and life-transitions counselor)
“As a psychologist, Nick Brink shows how this work with trance states lends itself so readily, gently, and yet powerfully to self-understanding and actualization.” (Laura Lee, director of the Visioneering Project of Cuyamungue, the Felicitas D. Goodman Institute)
“A must read for contemporary students of consciousness!” (Stephen Larsen, Ph.D., LMHC, BCIA-EEG, professor emeritus of psychology at SUNY Ulster and author of)