Mon | Jul 16, 2018

Religion & Culture | Exploring the power of energy healing Pt. 1

Published:Sunday | July 1, 2018 | 12:00 AMGlenville Ashby
Maureen Lyons: Religion is the most suffocating institution, it forms a gaol around the human spirit.

Maureen Lyons of the International Society of Applied Psychoanalysis shares her thoughts on the power of energy healing.

Could you give us a brief outline of your life path?

I was born in Trinidad and moved to the United States three decades ago. Trinidad was foundational to my religio-spiritual and philosophical leaning.

The passing of my mother, when I was only 16 years old, spurred me towards a lifelong search to discover the mysteries of life. Why are we here? Why do we suffer? What happens when we die? Can we consciously breach the barriers that separate us from the realm of spirit?

I was attracted to Carl Jung's Philemon experience if only because it unabashedly delved into regions of self that fascinated me.

Eventually, I did more than reading and researching. In my late teens and early 20s, I spent my weekends at a Hindu Temple, became an initiate of the Yoruba traditions, studied raja yoga and also became deeply involved in Western mysticism, all this while I was dedicated to my teaching profession.

In an interview, you once said that the ultimate expression of humankind is towards individuation. Do you feel that cultural/family heritage can affect one's ability to individuate?

Absolutely! More so than ever, I believe that institutions, be they religious, spiritual, political, communal, cultural, or familial, restrict our full expression of self. I think religion is the most suffocating. It forms a gaol around the human spirit.

Over time, we lose our ability to reason and think as individuals. It is so easy to exist within a zone that brings comfort, reassurance and validation. We could think of institutional mores and customs as constraints against our creative power.

We are caught in the middle, walking ever so delicately on a tightrope so as not to upset the cart. Our growth is stunted by strictures foisted on us. That's our never-ending struggle, an inner conflict that pits the superego against the natural, creative and individualistic thrusts of the id. Institutions don't allow us to properly manage the id or our natural creativity.

We well know the far-reaching tentacles of repression. Psychoanalysis and Qigong give us the tools to unconsciously use our innate energy in constructive ways. In Fear of Freedom, Eric Fromm argues that the individual self becomes an automaton, identical with millions of other automatons around him, that it need not feel alone and anxious anymore. But the price is high: it's the loss of the self.

Such is the peril of 'groupthink'. For example, society is inundated with religious philosophies but very little of the philosophy of religion.

What is the meaning of inviduation? It has diverse meanings. For me, it is an experience of oneness with the Source. It is a really ineffable. Taoists call it Wu Wei or non-action (non-doing). It is being in rhythm with the cosmic dance or an experiential connection to everything. This is true freedom.

Yogis speak of nirvana. The best way to describe it is 'the depersonalising of self,' if that makes sense. The personality, as we know it, is subsumed by a greater reality. I guess, we can use the analogy of a drop of water merging with the sea. This blissful experience is, of course, ephemeral. Does this happen when we die? That is another question.

What inspired you to begin psychoanalytical studies?

I have always been fascinated with the dynamics of the mind and consciousness studies. I was big into transpersonal psychology, still am, but thought I needed to revisit Freud to get another perspective on this fascinating subject.

I studied Sigmund Freud as part of my undergraduate studies, but only remembered his key concepts. Looking back, I must say that most of us have been short-changed. I feel that Freud has been misunderstood, misrepresented and deemed irrelevant by individuals who only have a pedestrian understanding of his work.

How much we have erred! For some reason, we are stuck on the sexual overtones of Freud's Oedipus complex. Freud is a huge deal. His work is revolutionary. As I took another look at basic psychoanalysis I was already deep into qigong and exploring the Dantian - the seat of Qi or energy - in the human body, and it flashed before me that this energy is one and the same with the Freud's libido.

While Freud did not give a location of this energy in the human body, qigong teaches that it is stored in the lower belly at least an inch under the navel. Yes, it called the sex drive, but it is so much more than that. It is the creative energy called Shakti by Hindus.

It sustains the universe. If we are but reflections of the universe, it is essential that we understand the dynamics of this energy. And yes, qi and the meridians through which it passes exist. A lot is being done by researchers to further authenticate this phenomenon.

My own research on human energy led me to ISAP (International Society of Applied Psychoanalysis).

Would you make a link between Qigong energy (Chi), psychic energy (libido) and psychodynamic theory?

Definitely. Qigong, (meaning cultivation of emery) is one of the five pillars of Traditional Chinese medicine (acupuncture, Tu Nui, moxibustion, and herbolgy are the rest).

It is based on the teachings that good health - and by that I mean physical, physiological, emotional and mental - is based on the movement of energy through the meridians in the human body.

Now, when this energy is stagnated or unable to flow freely through these channels all kinds of problems surface. In similar vein, Freud speaks of fixation at the psychosexual stages of development and the psychological and somatic problems that arise.

How well we navigate and move through these stages will determine how well adjusted we are later in life. Qigong speaks of stagnation, or abnormal qi movement, as the cause of difficulties. Such difficulties can be treated by a seasoned qigong teacher and, of course, a trained psychoanalyst.

Next week, I will explore energy healing as a complementary modality in cancer treatment. I will also discuss emotional and psychological problems, the therapeutic role of dance, and much more.

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