How does one transform self and consciousness? What are the ingredients needed for personal transformation? Is transformation different or deeper than “change"? As a psychotherapist, I have worked with many people over the past two decades. During this period of time, clients, and my own personal experiences, have taught me the differences and similarities between the two.
People initiate therapy for all sorts of reasons: changing their partner, their circumstances, and their own behaviors. Often, these individuals are seeking to fix their perceived problem — "fixing" translates to getting rid of it. The solution is viewed from a pragmatic (i.e. literal and linear) perspective of what is possible regarding “change". Many approaches to counseling and psychotherapy are able to assist people on this level of change. For instance, cognitive restructuring can help to lessen depression and anxiety. We know that changing how we talk to ourselves can positively impact behavior and mood.
However, “transformation” occurs at a deeper level of consciousness. Films like The Secret and What The Bleep explore different levels at which change is possible.This type of change can involve more profound physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects.It is not necessary to understand this type of change for it to occur.What is necessary and essential to transformation is openness, willingness, curiosity, and suspension of judgment.Within our western culture and mindset, it can be challenging for people to accept or leap into the unknown dimensions of transformation.The “fix” approach cannot sustain us here, and we are urged and compelled to alter our consciousness.This can be a scary process for many people.Words like “surrender” and “giving up control” can cause people to resist the very change they seek.As a psychotherapist, this ironic dilemma between seeking change, and resisting it, has always fascinated me.
This leads me to think about what lies in the space between control and surrender: the gray area and our gray matter.How do we get there?What awaits us?Will we be able to return?Will we go crazy?The fears of the rational mind are plentiful within the zone of realities we cannot yet comprehend.I cannot emphasize how many clients have sat across from me over the years and expressed fear of losing their minds if they allow themselves to let go in a good cry.Adding other dimensions to status-quo reality is even more frightening for these people.
Recently, a long-time friend invited me to attend a Matrix Energetics weekend workshop in San Francisco.I enjoy new and challenging experiences, so I said yes.It was indeed a transforming weekend, yet words limit my expression of what actually occurred.
Matrix Energetics, the brainchild of Richard Bartlett, DC, ND, is an approach to transformative change. If you choose to read his books or attend his workshops, be prepared to be stretched intellectually, physically, emotionally and spiritually.You will encounter a dialogue with your critical mind that will need to be over-ridden in order to enter the Matrix.As Deepak Chopra once said, “Relinquish attachment to the known.Step into the unknown, and you will step into the field of all possibilities.”This is where we must begin to allow for transformative energies to teach us about differing realities and dimensions.It sounds so “new agey,” doesn’t it?Before you discard these ideas, realize that “new agey” is just a mental construct you’ve created in your current reality — which is just fine because it is your own mental construct and choice.But, are you limiting yourself and any possibilities for greater knowledge and growth within this construct?Do your views of what is possible imprison you, or set you free?Only you can decide — or maybe not?How much of our reality is choice and how much is unrecognizable guidance?
Back to Dr. Bartlett.I was intrigued by this man: his ideas, and his willingness to risk sharing unconventional beliefs in unconventional ways.The first evening, he arrived on stage fully outfitted in a convincing Batman costume. I’m not sure if this is how he begins all of his workshops; it was Halloween weekend, after all. He then danced to loud rock and roll music.The audience joined in.There was a hypnotic quality that set the stage.Dr. Bartlett continued to draw in the audience with his clear knowledge of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP).He was part genius, part healer, and part playful child, alternating qualities of self-deprecation and narcissism.He was a living, breathing oxymoron, and I liked him.His presentation of his beliefs, ideas, knowledge, and experience was fun.He engaged the audience with instructive stories that challenged our pre-conceived notions of what is possible and interjected healthy doses of humor along the way.Though his presentational style set the stage for accidental awareness, he was fully informed regarding his lesson.He tempted the audience to experience other realities.People stepped on stage and he demonstrated his “two-point process,” simultaneously educating the audience on “time travel, parallel universes, distance healing, quantum consciousness, morphic fields,” and miracles.Many people collapsed when Dr. Bartlett engaged with them, allowing them to experience altered states.They remained lying down for whatever period of time was right for them.The seminar proceeded and, in small groups throughout the weekend,
the audience participated and practiced.
My friend and I discussed our experiences over lunch and dinner.We were not quite sure what was happening but we both felt physical and emotional shifts.We were affected enough that we decided to stay for day two.I’m not going to tell you about day two; it is open for you to explore further if you choose.However, I will leave you with a quote from Dr. Bartlett: “The altered state is the state of miracles.”Would you like to go there?
I had a second experience concerning transformation.It involved flying, as in flying on a trapeze, for the first time in my life.My exposure to the possibility of flying came through another friend — I’m so fortunate to have such good friends — who had attended a group class on trapeze flying.After returning from the Matrix weekend, I decided to take the flying class the next Saturday.Taking risks seems to be getting easier each day!Soon, I’ll be flying with Cirque du Solei!Alright, so I exaggerate a little…
I’ll recount my experience.It’s a perfectly beautiful fall day in the hills of Sonoma.I’m driving to a place I’ve never been, literally and figuratively.As I pull onto the ranch property and park the car, I see the path I am to take to the trapeze area, situated beneath a grove of trees.I cross over a small stream and enter “the field of all possibilities.”There is a jungle-like ambiance and the huge net hanging beneath the trapeze platform swings in the breeze.I think I hear monkeys in the distance!My instructor will be Marek, who started this business of teaching professionals, and lay people alike, over a decade ago.This class is actively experiential from the beginning.No studying of moves or techniques, we literally jump off to an immediate start!As I climbed up the 24-foot ladder and then stood on the small platform, I was charged with adrenaline, a sense of freedom and a little fear.The waist belt I was given was hooked into two extending ropes and there was that huge net below as well.So, I grabbed onto that bar and swung through the forest air like the monkey I am! I went five more times and the last flight culminated with me swinging by arms, legs, and then trusting enough to let go (while upside down in the air) and let my instructor catch me mid-air.I screamed with delight, the group applauded, and I took my bow.It was a certain flight into the unknown and I loved it.
Though you should be prepared to have some achy muscles for a few days afterward — I suggest epsom salt baths — it was an unforgettable experience and I will do it again someday.However, for now, I’ve decided not to join the circus.
So, there you have it; life offers opportunities for each of us to face our fears, experience risks, covet our freedoms, stretch our bodies, minds and souls and learn, learn, learn what is possible within and outside of our current reality.We each have the option to choose the paths that are right for us.Namaste and wishing you well on your journey of choices.
Amy Sheaffer, MA, LMFT
1310 W. Hays Street
Boise, ID. 83702