Acupuncture school was a turning point for me, up until that time in 1996 life lacked something. I had sports and friends, which were enjoyable, but life still lacked a deeper level. Sport could occasionally elicit a "peak experience". A moment in time when one's sense of awareness is expanded and time seems altered, slower. Friends certainly provided peak experiences too, usually drug induced, but these experiences were fleeting and artificial. What I was seeking, although I didn't know it at the time, was a reproducible method for experiencing a state of bliss.
Emperor's College of Traditional Oriental Medicine (ECTOM) was a very unique growth process. Sure college can introduce students to different races, religions and politics, but ECTOM was much more liberating. I was introduced to subtle energy as something that is real. This "Qi" as we called it, could be felt through Tai Chi, manipulated through acupuncture and even programmed through quantum physics. Not only was I experiencing first hand an energy which our science is still struggling to measure and identify, I was also introduced to consciousness - with a capitol C.
Chinese Medicine makes sense of our world by dividing it up into the Five Elements; Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood. Each of these elements has a unique type of consciousness. The Shen is our normal awareness, the Po is the soul of our body which returns to the Earth, and the Hun is our eternal Soul, or Spirit, which lives on after physical death. During this inspiring time in my life it was very thought provoking to have these aspects of Being addressed.
Yet no amount of talk, philosophizing or proselytizing can compare to the pure experience of expanded consciousness. Up until this time I had experienced wonderful meditative states of deep relaxation. I had also experienced non-voluntary body movements through meditation, kirtan (call and response chanting) and Wu or Empty-style Qi Gong. This sensation of "being moved" certainly allowed me to feel greater connection with the Universal Life Force. However, this was still only a step toward expanded consciousness.
One day while I was observing in the clinic at ECTOM (we had to observe patient care before we interned and actually treated patients) one of the interns, Randy, didn't have a patient for that hour. So, I became the patient. Acupuncture is very relaxing, in Chinese medical theory it "benefits the flow of Qi and Blood". When we relax, blood vessels dilate causing blood and nutrients to better distribute throughout the body.
I have since learned through experience that acupuncture can be like spiritual WD-40 for the energy body and facilitate an expanded state of consciousness. In this state, one's awareness can become less tethered to the body, leading to out-of-body experiences, astral travel, and the experience of Oneness.
Randy, had been studying Cranio-Sacral therapy and Shamanism in addition to Chinese medicine. During my treatment I felt the odd experience of my body rotating like a large record. It rotated about three-quarters of the way around counter-clockwise before I snapped out of it like a dream. This was the first time I had the unquestionable experience of an altered state of consciousness.
Since that treatment with Randy I have had other non-ordinary experiences. Once during an exceptional body-work session (for those who don't know the term body-work is used to denote massage which is done at a high level or fused with other modalities of healing) I experienced that I was viewing the room quite clearly from the opposite position in which I was lying - and my eyes were closed! This time I did not snap out of it, rather I had the opportunity to calmly observe what was going on. I realized that my consciousness had moved to my feet and I was seeing from that vantage point without the use of my physical eyes. This is not an unfamiliar concept to many spiritual traditions, represented by pictures of an eye on the hand, foot or forehead.
My most profound experience occurred with the help of Intense Breathing, also known as Rebirthing. This is a fairly low tech process of increasing one's breath rate and depth to facilitate unique experiences. The way I see it, through the intensive breathing, my body became saturated with energy and the result was that I simply didn't have to breathe; I had an out-of-body experience for a solid five minutes. During this time I experienced Bliss. I was moving in space, which was bright, and there were other beings around me. It was a Divine experience and I didn't want to return to my body right away. When I did re-enter, or rebirth, into my body there was an incredibly intense sensation of All That I Am, all of my energetic self, enlivening by body. It was a little like that sensation when your foot has fallen asleep and now it is coming back to life - only it was my entire body and it was amazing.
I have put my toe in the water, so to speak, with many spiritual and healing techniques and most have been too subtle to consistently grasp my attention. I understand that spiritual pursuits should take some time and dedication, but c'mon, I have to make a living in the mean time. The most consistent "practice" I have used and find myself most attracted to is Qi Gong. A workshop I attended with Supreme Science Qigong Center included the teaching of Tumo breathing. Tumo is like Rebirthing with an intensity dial. With Tumo, periods of intensive breathing alternate with very relaxed abdominal breathing. Through this technique I finally have a reliable method for applying WD-40 to my consciousness.
As a practitioner, I have found massage, acupuncture and Tumo-energized hands-on-healing can be combined for healing sessions that induce a profound level of healing for my patients - even shifts in consciousness. That is what all our religions are for, right? To provide a pathway to the experience of direct connection with the Divine. Unfortunately, most people just talk, or argue, about religion. All the while missing the experience of Divine Connection. The result is, we find ourselves at the comical end of a millennium long game of telephone. The original message has become VERY garbled, and it really isn't that funny.
The truth is out there - as Fox Mulder would say on X-Files. I say - the experience of Divine Unity is not "out there" - it is achieved by going within.