8. Extending Our Awareness
We have talked about tuning in and extending our awareness with particular reference to analysing problems and helping people. The premise that we can do this opens up a much wider field of human potential. It is a field that is bedevilled by different terminologies and concepts as it embraces numerous approaches to man, his make-up and his relationship with the world in which he lives. Psychology, parapsychology, so called ESP, various religions and some schools of philosophy all attempt to explore and make sense of the demonstrable fact that man can and does have faculties which manifest themselves from time to time, but which we do not fully understand.
You may ask what place such topics have in a book about healing. I would answer that they are pertinent to man’s realisation of his full potential. As such, they come within my broader concept of healing as the process of becoming more whole and of sharing that increased well-being and understanding with others, including animals, plant life and the earth. Einstein put it extremely well when he said
A human being is part of the whole, called by us ‘Universe’, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is, in itself, a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.
The Unsolicited Gift
Such a statement takes the pragmatic approach that the extension of our awareness through relaxation, meditation or a multitude of other techniques is essentially useful and leaves aside any consideration of ethical evaluation or of a spiritual aim. Mind, which interprets what we perceive with our senses, is obviously involved in any such processes and mind is married to the activities of the brain. I like Arthur Koestler’s story  to illustrate what he calls ‘the unsolicited gift’.
There was once an illiterate shopkeeper in an Arab bazaar, called Ali who, not being very good at doing sums, was always cheated by his customers instead of cheating them, as it should be, so he prayed every night to Allah for the present of an abacus that venerable contraption for adding and subtracting by pushing beads along wires. But some malicious djinn forwarded his prayers to the wrong branch of the heavenly Mail Order Department, and so one morning, arriving at the bazaar, Ali found his stall transformed into a multi-storey, steel-framed building, having the latest IBM computer with instrument panels covering all the walls, with thousands of fluorescent oscillators, dials, magic eyes, etc; and an instruction book of several hundred pages which, being illiterate, he could not read. However, after days of useless fiddling with this or that dial, he flew into a rage and started kicking a shiny delicate panel. The shocks disturbed one of the machine’s millions of electronic circuits, and after a while Ali discovered to his delight that if he kicked the panel, say three times and afterwards five times, one of the dials showed the figure eight! He thanked Allah for having sent him such a pretty abacus, and continued to use the machine to add up to two and three happily unaware that it was capable of deriving Einstein’s equations in a jiffy, or predicting the orbits of planets and stars thousands of years ahead.
Ali’s children, then his grandchildren inherited the machine and the secret of kicking that same panel; but it took hundreds of generations until they learned to use it even for the purpose of simple multiplication. We ourselves are Ali’s descendants though we have discovered many other ways of putting the machine to work, we have still only learned to utilise a very small fraction of the potentials of its estimated hundred thousand million circuits. For the unsolicited gift is of course the human brain. As for the instruction book, it is lost if it ever existed. Plato maintains that it did once but that is hearsay.
The potential of the computer is enormous and is not of itself good or bad. The use to which it is put, however, is open to moral scrutiny. In other words, the extension of our awareness and any abilities that may follow in the wake of such an extension are neither good nor bad, but like any human faculty, the way in which they are used can be evaluated. The fact that any such extension tends to lead towards a realisation of some higher spiritual order, to religious experience, to a sense of unity with an Absolute, or from the subconscious to some ‘supraconscious’ world I shall leave for another chapter having, I hope, indicated in this one sentence some of the difficulties of terminology.
Extended Sensory Perception and Parapsychology
If we extend our awareness, consciously or unconsciously, we are also extending that which we perceive with our senses. I would suggest that healing and dowsing are only two aspects of man’s natural ability to use his senses at a different level. For me, green-fingered gardeners, healers, dowsers, clairvoyants and exponents of every other form of special attunement are all using some aspect of the same ability, according to their own natural bent. They have not, in my view, got access to anything ‘extra’ which is why I use the phase ‘extended sensory perception’ in preference to the more common phrase ‘extra sensory perception’.
Some aspects of what I would consider extended perception are taken for granted in our society and would not normally be considered as part of ESP. Green fingers are a case in point. I would include many artists and musicians who seem to perceive things in greater depth than the rest of us. They have, if you like, a more open path to the source of their inspiration; or, to put it another way, by using their senses at a different level they increase their creativity. Most other aspects of so-called ESP are often regarded variously with suspicion or derision. I suspect that behind this reaction frequently lurks a fear of phenomena that do not fit into our conditioned Western world picture. This fear can be seen even in relation to psychology which threatens to disinter disagreeable irrational depths and aspects of personality which the individual would rather not know about, and would certainly prefer not to share with others.
Psychology has, however, led the way in breaking down the old ideas of what maketh man. ESP, or parapsychology as it is now fashionable to name it, still has a long way to go, particularly in Britain, though there are signs that we are coming out of the ‘ostrich phase’. The establishment in both the U.S.A. and U.S.S.R. have recognised that this area is worthy of attention, even if sometimes only for thoroughly materialistic reasons. Chairs of parapsychology have been set up in various universities, and finance has been made available to serious scientific researchers. This is unfortunately not yet the case in Britain where virtually all the work and research is still in the hands of enthusiastic individuals and a few independent societies.
The Filter System
A number of the experiments into the phenomena of ESP have illustrated very nicely the fact that everyone has the ability to sense things at a different level, but that their conscious mind refuses to accept what the subconscious perceives. I will only quote one such experiment because it is one that could easily be repeated by anyone wishing to verify the results. All that is required is to hire a few encephalographs.
In this experiment, a number of people were wired up to encephalographs, all of which had a time-recording device so that it was possible to know at what time any particular pattern was demonstrated. The subjects were put in different sound-proofed rooms and told to try and pick up a telepathic message sent out by an individual, himself kept under identical carefully controlled conditions. Only a very small percentage recorded the message correctly. The rest claimed that they could sense nothing. Every single encephalograph, however, registered a change in individual pattern at the time the ‘message’ was sent out and for the duration of it. This suggests that every subconscious registered the message, but that very few people could get the message past the filter and bring the material to the attention of the conscious mind.
As usual, I am not by any means the first person to think that our conscious brain ‘filters’ the input from the world around us. Aldous Huxley  quotes Bagson’s theory that the function of the brain, nervous system and sense organs is in the main eliminative and not productive. Bagson apparently claimed that each individual is capable of remembering all that has ever happened to him and of perceiving everything that is happening everywhere in the universe. The brain’s job is to protect us from being overwhelmed by this mass of knowledge, leaving only that tiny selection which is practically useful in so far that, as animals, our business is at all costs to survive. Huxley points out that, according to such a theory, each one of us is potentially Mind at Large, but to make biological survival possible, Mind at Large has to be filtered or, as he puts it, funnelled through the reducing valve of the brain and the nervous system. What comes out the other end, he says, is a measly trickle of the kind of consciousness which will help us to stay alive on the surface of this particular planet.
As Huxley also points out, the filter or reducing valve is reinforced by our gift (or is it a curse?) of speech. To formulate and express the contents of this ‘measly trickle’ of consciousness, man has invented and endlessly elaborated those symbol-systems and implicit philosophies which we call languages. Every individual is at once the beneficiary and the victim of the linguistic tradition into which he or she has been born the beneficiary in as much as language gives access to the accumulated records of other people’s experience, the victim in so far as it confirms him in the belief that reduced awareness is the only awareness and as it bedevils his sense of reality, so that he is only too apt to take his concepts for data, his words for actual things… Most people most of the time know only what comes through the reducing valve and is consecrated as genuinely real by the local language.
Small wonder that we have difficulties in extending our awareness past the double barricade of filter or reducing valve and terminology! The physicists have long recognised the latter and expressed themselves in mathematical formulae.
Unblocking the Filter
We are potentially able to surmount these barricades as the filter can be bypassed or unblocked by accident or design. The former was very frequent in wartime as shock and fear are powerful ‘blockbusters’. I suspect it was the trauma of seeing men appallingly wounded which opened a gateway for me and made me put my hands on them. Fear and danger can frequently call forth capabilities for clairvoyance and intuitive knowledge. On one occasion while manoeuvring at night in part of northern France which I had never previously visited, we came to a large house requisitioned for our use. It was far too close to the enemy to allow us to use any light. Standing in the hall, I found that I knew the layout of all the rooms in the house, their size, how many each would accommodate and where they were connected to each other. I gave precise orders accordingly. When the NCO returned having carried out my orders, he found it impossible to believe that I had no previous knowledge of the house as my description had been completely accurate.
I found myself aware of imminent danger in the nick of time on a number of occasions. In this I was not by any means alone and probably most people have heard of similar experiences in wartime on both sides, of course, as God is not necessarily an Englishman!
As in the examples quoted, the spontaneous opening of the filter or reducing valve can obviously be extremely useful for the survival of the individual or of others. We can open the filter spontaneously and having discovered the possibilities we can then set about opening it at will. Healing as one of the manifestations of the widened filter can therefore start spontaneously but be consciously developed thereafter. The danger of opening up to the mass of available sensation and knowledge is that we may be overwhelmed if we cannot ‘close down’ again afterwards. Dowsing is one of the safest ways of penetrating the filter but other methods can accomplish similar results.
Relaxation exercises, meditation, hypnosis and a multitude of techniques developed by the various cultures and religions, using everything from drugs to dancing, all attempt to change our level of awareness. Some have a particular spiritual level in view, others are merely interested in extending their understanding with a view to helping ourselves and others. The positive benefits can be enormous.
Relaxation Techniques and Applied Meditation
I could not describe with authority all the various routes to the different levels of extended awareness, even if space permitted. Many of them can be deeply disturbing if carried out without knowledgeable instruction and help. The recent books by Carlos Castaneda  relating his experiences under the tuition of the Mexican Indian, Don Juan, for example, make this all too clear. Some people find they have to go into a trance state before the filter will relax its grip. Others can extend their awareness while retaining consciousness and control and it is this latter approach which we teach in our various courses.
Physical relaxation techniques of various sorts are easy to learn and can take you as far as you wish to go. Few of us really relax properly in our daily lives, as putting your feet up and watching the TV, reading a book or listening to a favourite record still leave numerous muscles taut. Contrary to general belief, we are rarely fully relaxed even in sleep. Effective relaxation involves gaining more awareness and then control of our bodies with the paradoxical intent of ‘letting go’ of them. As we consciously instruct every little muscle to relax, we can then ‘listen’ to what the various parts of our body can tell us through the subconscious, and we can become aware of tension or discomfort and slowly work on this in various ways. Our minds and our bodies can, in fact, learn to listen to each other and work in harmony, though it may take a great deal of practice to do this properly.
Some of the biofeedback instruments demonstrate the extent of the control that can be gained. For instance, someone working with thermocouples (instruments measuring body temperature) can learn to raise and lower their temperature at will, or even to lower the temperature of one hand and simultaneously raise the temperature of the other hand and to alternate the temperature of the hands on demand. Imagine the benefit of this sort of control for those with high blood pressure, for example. Very valuable work is in fact already being carried out in this field, both privately and under medical supervision in hospital. Numerous patients with high blood pressure and various heart complaints have been taught how to control their own problem without drugs. This has the obvious advantages of preventing both drug dependence and any adverse side-effects which so often can complicate medical treatment.
Admiral Shattock realised the power of the mind over the body and used it with very exciting but sometimes devastating results. Finding himself with serious medical problems which nearly always require major surgery, he discovered from the doctors everything he could about his illness. He then proceeded to issue some detailed instructions to his body on how to deal with the situation. The body obeyed him implicitly. Unfortunately, he left out a vital order, with the result that he very nearly died. His book,  Mind Your Body, tells the story of his determined and ultimately successful efforts to restore his own health by what he calls ‘contacting his autonomic mind’ and it gives very practical instructions to those who would like to follow a similar Course.
In short, complete control can be established and the intellect can override the subconscious for better or worse. Long experience, however, has persuaded me that very few people can achieve such a degree of discipline as Admiral Shattock. It is safer and simpler for most people to draw the attention of the subconscious to a problem and invite it to undertake the task of putting it right. This still calls for discipline, effort and persistence but the rewards can be dramatic and far-reaching. The Kahunas  taught this particular approach to problems and many of those in the West who recognise the interplay between physical tension, emotional stress and disease are now teaching various methods of affecting one’s own health through the subconscious or ‘autonomic mind’.
Creative Imagination and Symbols
Having established a working relationship with the body, or perhaps more properly with that part of the subconscious mind which controls the body, we can then introduce ourselves to other aspects and levels of the subconscious. I use the term subconscious very loosely to mean not only those levels of our own selves which are the study of psychologists, but also the unconscious factor unaffected by the rational filter which relates to the rest of existence. Those talking in terms of the individual subconscious talk about ‘deeper’ levels of consciousness. Those interested in ultimate reality (whatever that may be), rather than the everyday human concepts of reality, often talk in terms of ‘higher states’ of consciousness. Koestler  remarks that we may not be able to say what consciousness is but we can say whether there is more or less of it and also whether it is coarse or refined in texture.
Cade has taken this one step further as he claims to have established the existence of a measurable hierarchy of states of consciousness, each one a stage in a progressively more integrated pattern of electrical activity in the brain. It is a very difficult area to chart.
Once again, I come back to the practical point: exploring our consciousness helps us to identify and clear subconscious blocks and find and enhance our own creative talents. These may be in any field from mathematics to sculpture. They may be in the form of clairvoyance or healing or appear as the extension of any faculty; these talents may be less easily identified and show themselves as an ability to understand people and the world about us better. Maslow  distinguishes between two types of creativity in just this way. He noted that some people showed ‘special talent’ creativeness and that others showed what he called ‘self-actualizing’ creativeness. Such a capacity, says Maslow, is normal to most children but frequently lost in adulthood and shows itself as a tendency to do everything creatively, with a special kind of insight that has nothing to do with productivity or training.
‘Creative imagination’ can be a useful tool to explore the realms of what we loosely call the subconscious. By deliberately encouraging our capacity for fantasy, we allow a creative faculty to come out of hiding. What it produces may sometimes be illusion, but as we liberate and develop it we can ‘tune in’ through it to other knowledge known in the subconscious or the collective unconscious; we can thereby learn to discriminate the creative elements from the merely illusory.
At this point I should warn the reader that the potential for illusion will always be with us however experienced we may become, and the need for continuous monitoring by the intellect remains with us. No matter how wise we think we have become, we can always be tripped up! This highlights the value of comparing notes with a teacher or a group as the harmony between intellect and subconscious is difficult to achieve and maintain and we are not always our own best assessors.
Subconscious faculties do not necessarily express themselves in words. Once we start paying attention to them, we can begin to understand that some of the supposedly fanciful images produced are in fact useful signs and symbols that can impart information to us. We are already used to living with symbols in everyday existence. We need no words to tell us that the road ahead is twisting when we see a Z bend sign. We now have to learn about the symbols used by the subconscious. Volumes  have been written on the subject, but suffice it to say here that while there are undoubtedly some universal symbols, many of them are highly individual and it is potentially misleading to accept anyone else’s interpretation of your symbols unless it ‘feels’ right to you.
Meeting People in Extended Consciousness
When deeply relaxed and in tune with another level of awareness, it is fairly common to see and talk to ‘imaginary’ people. They can appear very real and can, on occasions, be extremely helpful. ‘They’ could be a number of things apart from straight illusion. Some may be merely externalisations of aspects of oneself. Even so, discussion can be very useful. I find that on some occasions I see ‘in my mind’s eye’ people whom I do not know. I feel as if they are physically present and I can describe them in great detail down to a mole on the cheek or a crooked thumb. Frequently I find that I have described a real person, very often someone who has asked for ‘absent’ healing.
Inner or Spirit Guides
Many people recognise that very personal helpers turn up to talk to them, assist with problems and generally guide them. You can, if you like, consider these ‘guides’ to be in reality a personalised form of one aspect of the subconscious. For personal reasons, I am sure that real ‘people’ who have every human attribute except a physical body are also around and prepared to help us.
1. Koestler, Arthur. The Ghost in the Machine. Hutchinson, 1976.
2. Huxley, Aldous. The Doors of Perception. Panther, 1977.
3. Casteneda, Carlos. The Teachings of Don Juan. Penguin, 1970.
4. Shattock, E. H. Mind Your Body. Turnstone Press, 1979.
5. Long, Max Freedom. The Secret Science at Work. De Vorss, California, 1953.
Also see, amongst many others:
Assagioli, Roberto. The Act of Will. Wildwood House, 1974.
Simonton, O. Carl, Matthews-Simonton, Stephanie and Creighton, James L. Getting Well Again. Bantam Books, 1980.
6. Maslow, A. H. ‘The Creative Attitude’ in Explorations in Creativity edited by Mooney, R. L. and Razik, T. A. Harper and Row, U.S.A., 1967.
7. Jung, Carl Gustav. Man and His Symbols. Pan Books, 1978.
A straightforward look into
all aspects of the healing phenomenon
© Bruce MacManaway, 1983. This book may be quoted from and printed out in single copies only for personal use and study, without permission.
For publication on websites or for printing in larger quantities or for commercial gain please e-mail Patrick MacManaway for permission.