Shamanism and the Continuum of Life

Ancient spiritual traditions and quantum physics both inform us that consciousness coexists with form, that Spirit interpenetrates matter. Spiritual Shamanism explores this Mystery that underlies all things, as we traverse this evolutionary earth path of spiritual beings in physical form, as we allow the unfolding of what already Is within.

In Shamanism, we realize our interconnectedness with all life forms in Nature, as well as our union with all beings through Great Spirit, the Spirit indwelling all things. Over the past few years, I have been turning to the movement practice of Continuum, an effective way of bringing us into a full direct sensory experience of this interrelatedness and Oneness, through going deeply within the body. To actually experience Spirit, it is necessary to move out of the cognitive and rational functions of the brain and into intuition, and even more tangibly, into the sensory awareness present throughout the entire body.

Continuum is a practice using breath and sounds, as well as subtle micromovements and wave motions, to enter into the fluid system of the body. As we dissolve rigid structures in form, we are also addressing consciousness factors. We create the sensory opportunity to surrender what is held in the body as emotional trauma or limiting belief systems. The Continuum "dive" becomes a streaming shamanic soul retrieval as cells, muscles, and connective tissue release their held-to sufferings, contractions, and imprisonments, and we regain a lost part of ourselves, restoring the natural flow and Wholeness of the fluid system.

We use sound to penetrate the density within our structures and movement to unwind locked compressions, allowing the body to become one cohesive body, to become a consciously fluid body of coherent Wholeness. In effect, we are surrendering into a bio-energetic intelligence of the body that allows us to decompress and self-heal, restoring a birthright of expansiveness and wellbeing. We enter an oceanic consciousness that resonates with our environment multi-dimensionally. We access not only our primordial ancestry, deeply embedded in our cells and DNA, but also a vast network of energy that is available to us through a resonance with the Cosmos.

Continuum was developed in 1967 by the somatic pioneer Emilie Conrad. Emilie had intuited all of her life that existence was imbued with a unifying Spirit that could be directly experienced within the body. She brought through a system of breath, sound, and movement to deliver us into this revelation of Spirit. Continuum has it roots in the ancient Mystery Schools, one of the earliest forms of Shamanism in our Western culture.

The serpent is the symbol of watery life moving on land and figures very prominently in both Continuum and the Mystery Schools of Greece and Egypt. The serpentine movements found in Continuum are reminiscent of the serpent healing of the Mysteries. Here, the energy of serpent was invoked to bring forth healing at a primal level, an instinctual healing through the "wisdom of the serpent". The sound and presence of the serpent preceded not only the initiate's healing but also heralded the taking-off point into Stillness, first building serpentine potency and electrical charge, then lifting off into the infinite space, into formlessness. Breath, sounds, and movement were used to break the hold of the senses and create an awareness beyond time and space, but not separate from time and space. An indivisible Oneness was experienced, a Wholeness. And it was this Wholeness that informed, that healed.

The purpose in the practice of Continuum is to become a variated human being, not bound in time nor confined in compression, rather sensitive and responsive to subtle energies and open to the unseen dimensions within life. We work underneath the surface of physical manifestation, literally tuning into a molecular movement and an expanded awareness that perceives even the subatomic particles that make up the quantum sea of our underlying existence.

We dive into the well of our biological origins, we trace the roots of our embryonic coil, and in so doing we access an ancient biological wisdom, the very sourcing of our DNA. As we sink into a very present embryonic consciousness, we realize that we are still part of that continuum of life that has not stopped living, growing, evolving since our inception. And so we remember and re-experience our pre-formal existence as primordial aware substance. And in this deep ocean of living consciousness, we are connected to Source and to all living beings who spring from this same Source. Merged with the spiral of the embryo, we become harmonically resonant with the spiral of the nebula of our galaxy. In Continuum, we find ourselves held between the embryonic origin of the primordial anatomy and the galactic origin of the cosmic anatomy, the embryo rooting us in fluid ancestry, the nebula drawing us out into our interrelatedness with the galactic field.

Many scholars of the art of Alchemy have said the essence of the opus can be summarized in the phrase, solutio et coagulatio. Dissolve and coagulate. In Continuum we are reenacting this alchemical process within the body. Our cells are liquid and crystalline, the crystalline to hold the template, the liquid to nourish, adapt, respond. The cell in its growth and maintenance transforms between a gel-like substance and a fluid. It dissolves and then re-coagulates, only to dissolve again. It is a model for how our physical system works, dissolving in order to renew itself and maintain health. We are allowing this dissolution to become our practice, through vibrations that penetrate our tissues and movement that releases constraints, surrenders, and restores fluidity. As we move back into form, our individuation is nourished and informed by primal substance, refined by Spirit, evolved.

The body is not a solid entity. The body is movement. And so we let ourselves move slowly to enter portals of possibility that are not bound by the pressure and patterns of speed and stress. We let ourselves move in spherical undulations and waves to break down the linear patterns of habit and the forward thrust of mechanized thought. As we dissolve the rigidity and compression, we are freed into a Continuum of movement that is the truth of our tissues, our cells, our molecules, our subatomic particles.

As we drop into an oceanic realm, we become resonant with the energy field around us, the energy of the earth, of plants, animals and other human beings. The sound vibrations dissolve separation in our inner spaces, and our cells move into empathetic harmony. The slowing down of movement bridges the flow of time with timelessness. We thus overcome the excessive localization of time-space, transmuting space into spaciousness and time into eternity. And so we enter an alternate reality, accessing the shamanic realms of the inner worlds - through sound and movement. We are brought into an experiential state of Oneness.

What excites me about Continuum is that it exists as a central spherical pillar that unites and harmonizes so many rich paths, and also gives a direct experience of these paths: the non-dual Oneness of Tibetan Dzogchen and Advaita Vedanta; the observation of body sensations in Vipassana meditation; the slow meditative movement of Tai Chi and Kum Nye; the deep transformation of Alchemy; the all-embracing acceptance and eros of Tantra; the basics of Quantum Physics; the shamanic entrance into alternate realities; the union with all life that is the core of Shamanism; and Movement . . .ecstatic Movement, which is not something we do, but something we are. Taking this practice into our lives, we become fluid with form and attentive to the formless, living an embodied spirituality.

Copyright ©2009 by Malcolm Groome
Written for publication in German periodicals prior to teaching tour in summer of 2009

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