Letter from Mike in Australia
I recently received this letter from Mike in Australia who is new to the practice, and doing this on his own; he has read Dr. Goodman’s book, but not had a chance to attend a workshop. He had several excellent questions and I felt the answers may help others. He kindly permits us to share his letter, and I include my response, below:
I have several book by Felicitas Goodman..pure gold! I purchased the drum/rattle etc sounds from your organisation awhile ago..do the sounds always have to be played through a speaker or can I use headphones? Only been really practising properly for the last few days even though I have had the books for years.
I follow the steps – I do the sage blessing/offerings /50 breaths with concentration on the chest..assume the postures with the beats playing…15 minute “sessions”.. I have felt odd tingling/energy moving in the pelvic region..short of periods of “bliss” but after that..nothing else happens my mind starts to wander…I then find it hard to concentrate..because nothing much is happening.. I will keep persisting..
I read the profound accounts of peoples experiences in “Where the Spirits Ride the Wind” and “Ecstatic Trance” and these accounts are not some minor visions but full blown. Makes me sad and frustrated but I assume it might take months for anything truly profound to happen?
Thanks for sharing your experiences. We have found over the history of this method that while the examples sighted in the books and publications are to give an idea of what can happen, experiences are unique to the individual. Some people by nature are very visual, some are more affected on the level of feeling and others may be more auditory. Based on what you shared, you are doing it correctly and I would recommend to release any expectation and judgment – some people at first may just feel heat or they may just see a blank screen of color, we just go with the experience. I also would recommend to journal each time at the end. We have found that taking time to journal as part of the practice seems to help crystalize and clarify experience.
You also mentioned “the mind wanders and it is hard to concentrate”. You bring up a very important question: What is the role of our thoughts during the practice? This method is different from techniques such as meditation, where one is trying to clear the mind. In the Cuyamungue Method, the mind is active and we do not resist thoughts. In fact, the process of stepping into an “alternate reality” requires no resistance and no direction. An active mind can be the gateway to an Ecstatic state. Of course, every day thoughts such as your shopping list for the grocery store are a distraction from your experience and when we become aware, we just release them and allow our mind to return to a neutral state.
This is also a timelessness quality to this method, two people doing the same posture at the same time can have totally opposite experiences of time. This happened several times at the most recent workshop I facilitated, one participant reporting that it felt like only a few minutes — “no way could it be 15 minutes!” — and the participant next to him feeling like the rattling went on forever. There is no “correct” experience; both are equally valid.
As for your question about headphones: headphones are fine. Be sure to set your volume levels first before you begin your session, that way you are ready to go once you finish the breathing. The level of volume is up to the individual, generally we are trying to find a safe balance of sound that surrounds us and it is not necessary to be over powered by sound.
Finally, you asked “does it take months for anything truly profound to happen.?” and I would say that there is no timeline. But first, again, don’t judge your experience so harshly. Your experience included ”felt odd tingling/energy moving and periods of bliss” and which is common depending on the posture you selected. Many say they have profound experiences from the first sitting and others feels it builds over time. There is no standard timeline. Most important is don’t give up, journal each time, and continue. I look forward to hearing more about your progress and experiences with the Cuyamungue Method. Blessings, Paul
We are grateful Mike asked such important questions and I think it helps us all to review the some of the subtleties of the practice. If you have any questions and comments about the Institute or the Cuyamungue Method, please feel free to contact us. We welcome all correspondence. Email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org .