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Spirit in Health: Spiritual roots in modern healing, or Social and medical sciences enlist ancient mind-body healing techniques Paperback – May 27, 2009
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Spirit in Health - A must for all healers!! Jan. 8 2010
Review by Marleen Marshall - Published on Amazon.com
Fripp shows his readers how many ancient techniques are being rediscovered to be powerful healing modalities: visualization, the placebo effect, a little sleight of hand or a trickster, and endorphins (pain killers) when manufactured in the body by rhythmic sensory stimulation. His book, Spirit in Health, definitely shows how, from prehistoric times until the present, the spirit and the mind are very powerful healers.
In this book, the author also explains the important and powerful role of the feminine in healing throughout the ages. He points out why at times females healing nature were suborned to sexual roles and how societies when stressed, replaced nurturing feminine values with aggression. He expresses clearly the reasoning why and how in the 21st century the healing energy must be feminine.
This author indicates how quantum physics shares much in common with advanced shamanic thought. Everything is considered energy by both. Fripp feels that the two soon may meet,"with the spiritual vision quest of shamans converging in intellectual spaced with the computer-generated cyberspace visions of data-driven scientists and engineers". A phenomenal understanding of the two approaches.
In the last part of his book, the author includes the research and perspective of numerous renown modern scientists, universities and healers, including ecologist, Black Elk, philosophers, physicist, etc. How do we enter wholeness in this divided world? There is agreement among the experts regarding the importance of again turning to nature (animist) and the healing of "mother earth". In this transformation, astronomer, William Stoeger, points out how humans are woven into the skein of the cosmic network, and how the health of the human "mirrors" the health of the planet.
This is an amazing useful book for all in the healing professions, as well as anyone interested in healing the planet. Although demanding, it is well worth the effort of the journey through it.
Marleen Marshall, RN, Eugene, Oregon
Encyclopedic July 26 2009
By Marvin Ross - Published on Amazon.com
'Spirit in Health' by Robert Fripp involved a prodigious amount of research on the part of the author. It is a must read for anyone interested in the relationship between the mind and body and in the role of the mind in healing.
Fripp suggests that the story of Cain and Able can be read as a metaphor for the reasons that animism died out, but I leave that for the reader to enjoy without my attempting to summarize it. In the modern world, Fripp shows, anthropologists began to make sense of shamanism in the 1920s, when the new science of quantum mechanics proposed that an observer changes the properties of a small object simply by observing it.
The book surveys spiritual traditions and practices around the globe and deals with spiritual techniques as they may be applied to mental and physical health. An interesting example is the work of Montreal psychiatrist, Raymond Prince, who convened a conference in 1982 called Shamans and Endorphins.
Endorphins are morphine-like substances produced by the brain. Prince felt that much of the healer's therapeutic power resulted from the ability to convince the patient's body to generate their own morphine- and valium-like substances. In fact, researchers had discovered that rhythmic sensory stimulation -- drumming -- does prevent pain signals from reaching many areas of the brain. Body is linked to mind.
The mind and spirit can be powerful healers.
Author, 'Schizophrenia: Medicine's Mystery - Society's Shame'
How shamanism can help heal our world Nov. 3 2012
By Hrvoje Butkovic - Published on Amazon.com
5.0 out of 5 stars
Robert Fripp's narrative thrusts the reader into a world before civilisation, a world of life-long striving, hardship and suffering. It speaks of exotic dances set to ancient chants and haunting beating of ancestral drums. It speaks of journeys to faraway places, be it in human or animal form, of placating friendly spirits and banishing harmful ones, and of ensuring the health and vitality of each member of the village or tribe. In a word, it speaks of shamanism.
Shamans were expected to heal a phenomenal range of ailments. These extended far beyond the removal of physical symptoms of illness that modern medicine concerns itself with. Shamans were also expected to uncover and remove underlying causes of those symptoms. As mediators with the world of spirits, it was shamans' responsibility to ensure that those spirits were kept content with gifts or proper conduct of the community, or banished if their intentions were malevolent.
In its global perspective Fripp's book really shines and has perhaps the most relevance to our times. The question of health is not limited to biological organisms like humans and animals, nor even to their communities, but can be meaningfully applied to Earth as a whole. It encompasses not only the physical domain, but also emotions, beliefs, values and even mythology. The author does a great job of interpreting ancient myths in their historical context to reveal uneasy tension between the old mystical world of shamanism and the new rational world. It is ironic that, in the age of globalisation, we have to relearn a holistic way of thinking from our tribal ancestors.
Hrvoje Butkovic, Johannesburg, S. A.
Author, 'Living Deliberately' and 'A Glimpse of Another World'
From the Author
AS A PUBLIC AFFAIRS TELEVISION PRODUCER I spent time describing human failings. Visits to native communities in North America during those years dealt with social problems. On a positive note, those visits made me aware that native peoples are fighting significant odds to re-assert the worth and vitality of their spirituality and rebuild their cultures. It came as a shock to recognise that the worldview of aboriginal peoples is not only different in degree from 'majority cultures'. The worldview of aboriginal peoples is conceptually different.
LEAVING TELEVISION, I started a magazine for an information technology company. It explained high performance computing in scientific research and engineering. Redemption for the human condition may not lie with information technology but, remarkably, solving a problem in advanced scientific research may demand computer-generated visualizations conceptually resembling the visions sought by shamans. Approaches to scientific revelation seem to be converging with Animists' vision quests and their shamans' pursuit of visions.
STRANDS ABOUT ANIMIST SPIRITUALITY began coming together. My wife, Carol Burtin Fripp, produced a live-to-air television discussion series, Speaking Out, on TVOntario from 1977 to 1991. Carol addressed many 'new' approaches to healing, i.e. the 'placebo effect', and tumour visualization by cancer patients in order to destroy them. (Dr Carl Simonton spoke to this). Other guests included Dr E. Fuller Torrey, author of Witchdoctors and Psychiatrists, James Lovelock of Gaia, and Linus Pauling, who discussed quantum chemistry, biochemistry and Vitamin C. These Speaking Out programs revealed that much that seems new is in fact very old.
'SPIRIT IN HEALTH' explores traditional spiritual approaches to healing, first looking at healers' roles in the pre-historic Animist world and the reasons for their downfall. Following chapters describe traditions and practices by region, (Siberia and Inuit, North America, Europe, Australia, etc.). We explore spiritual techniques that may be applied to mental and physical health in modern medicine. Chapter 11 describes the fall of women from the dominant spiritual roles they held through much of pre-history. Interviews with female shamans tell us that feminine spiritual power is rising again. The conclusion links Animism, modern science and the quest for environmental health.
'SPIRIT IN HEALTH' shows parallels between shamanic thinking and modern approaches to problem solving. For example, the Australian Aboriginal concept that translates poorly as 'Dreamtime' finds unexpected expression in work by the European Community's Forward Studies Unit. Spirit in Health brings the nature of Animist beliefs to life for a Western audience. Many indigenous peoples never lost their ancestors' values; rediscovering them has come as release and a joy. Now, Westerners are exploring the ancient shamanic methods of catharsis and healing.
WHAT WERE THOSE METHODS? What was shamanism? It was neither a religion nor a belief system. It was, and is, a method by which shamans in pre-religious Animist communities invoked spiritual force: they asked spirits for aid in the hunt, for wisdom, healing and knowledge of plant and animal powers. Lore preceded law. Shamans used spirit-powers to heal physical and mental complaints in pre-technological times.
'SPIRIT IN HEALTH' reveals the mind of the healer from origins in the ancient hunter's world to modern medical therapy. Although modern health professionals employ shamanic techniques, the word 'shaman' has been scrupulously banished from the healing arts vocabulary.
A THIRD THEME explains not what we have, but what we lack. The juggernaut called Progress sucks a spiritual vacuum behind it, creating a sense of loss that is hard to express. For many, the rapid advance of progress results in a quest for lasting values. The Sixties' counterculture was an obvious manifestation of this spiritual backlash, when youth found value in Earth, flowers, music, dancing and song. Searching for role models, the counterculture discovered indigenous peoples just when those peoples were struggling to avoid cultural annihilation. Many subsequently succeeded in rebuilding their damaged cultures and their pride. One consequence has been a sustained and growing interest in the ancient healing methods and spiritual values of shamanism. I hope Spirit in Health may help.
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Fripp looks at animistic healers and shamans in pre-historic times and the reasons for their demise. Animism is defined as the belief that all objects, things and natural events like lightning possess vital energies. Shamanism is a worldwide spiritual discipline in which shamans learn from spiritual contacts, bring back power animals for clients and search out and retrieve their clients' missing spirits and souls.
Modern quantum mechanics, Fripp argues, first began to make sense of shamanism when it proposed that when an observer looks at something, the observer changed it. Fripp suggests that the story of Cain and Able is actually a metaphor for the reasons that animism died out but I will leave that for the reader to enjoy without my attempting to summarize it.
The remainder of the book surveys spiritual traditions and practices throughout the world and then ends with spiritual techniques as they may be applied to mental and physical health. One interesting example that is mentioned is the work of Montreal psychiatrist, Raymond Prince, who convened a conference in 1982 on Shamans and Endorphins.
Endorphins are morphine like substances produced by the brain. Prince felt that much of the healer's therapeutic power resulted from the ability to convince the patient's body to generate their own morphine and valium like substances. In fact, researchers had discovered that rhythmic sensory stimulation - drumming - does prevent pain signals from reaching many areas of the brain. Body is linked to mind.
Fripp states that "the mind is capable of anything, including healing". My only problem with this book is that statement. I don't disagree that the mind is very powerful and can accomplish a great deal, but I am uncomfortable with absolutes. The problem with what I perceive is an overemphasis on the power of the mind was poingnantly explained to me by a group of women with terminal breast cancer that I was interviewing for a newspaper article a number of years ago.
They were all part of a study to determine if supportive group therapy would extend their lives and improve quality of life. They all disliked and disagreed with the works of people like Herbert Benson and Bernie Siegel who talk about healing cancer and other serious illnesses through techniques like visualization. These women all said that these strategies, while potentially beneficial, imply that if you do not get well when you use them it is your fault. They all said that they did not want to die but it was not their fault that they were going to die from their cancer.
The mind and spirit can be powerful healers, as Robert Fripp points out, but we must also recognize that there are other factors at play.
Author of Schizophrenia: Medicine's Mystery - Society's Shame
The author traces the history of shamanic practices through each continent. Rooted in the world's oldest belief system - animism - they exhibit some remarkable similarities between regions as geographically isolated as Siberia, Australia and South Africa. While some of their practices differ, they work along similar principles, guided as they are by a shared set of beliefs of how the world works and the human place in it.
The range of ailments that shamans were expected to heal was phenomenal. They extended far beyond the removal of physical symptoms of illness that modern medicine concerns itself with. They were also expected to uncover and remove the underlying causes of those symptoms. As mediators with the world of spirits, it was their responsibility to ensure that those spirits were kept content with gifts or proper conduct of the community, or banished if their intentions were malevolent. In times of hardship - an occurrence not at all uncommon in inhospitable regions like the Arctic - it was the shaman's task to undertake the perilous journey to the most remote of spirit abodes, meet beings whose power greatly eclipsed that of ordinary spirits, and forge a working relationship with them so that the people may survive and even prosper.
The ability to do all this didn't come easily. Some shamans appeared born to the role, whereas others were drawn to it by life-changing events during their childhood or adolescence. Whatever the circumstances, they typically only claimed it after years of arduous training. That training was not primarily about acquiring knowledge - as is the case with its modern medical counterpart - but about seeking inner transformation so that one may serve as an effective conduit for the spirits whose power they channelled. Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, the most common sign of a shaman apprentice's coming of age was a vision of personal dismemberment.
The training, and especially the settings in which it took place, were as disturbing as they were effective. Just reading about the 20th Century Europeans' rediscovery of the shaman's cave at Trois Frères was unnerving, leading to moments of near-panic at the thought of creeping through a 37-metre-long tunnel the width and height of one's body. It was easy to appreciate how anyone committed enough to make this a part of their training couldn't help but be transformed by it.
After being acquainted with the trials and tribulations of shamanism, it is sobering to be reminded that it has failed at its primary task. The nature-based people who practiced it were decimated by a whole host of diseases carried by European explorers and settlers. This makes it all too easy to dismiss it as an antiquated mode of healing based on archaic beliefs. Doing so would be a mistake. Shamanism has a wealth of knowledge and especially wisdom to offer to the modern medical community and society at large, much of which has been forgotten and is only now being rediscovered. This makes the book a worthwhile companion to Robbie Davis-Floyd & Gloria St. John's book From Doctor to Healer. The latter examines recent developments in the field of modern medical practice to uncover a growing shift towards holistic healing modalities, spurred in part by the increasing toxicity of the modern lifestyle. Fripp's book provides the necessary background to where those alternatives come from, and the contexts in which they are the most effective.
It is in this global perspective that Fripp's book really shines and has perhaps the most relevance to our times. The question of health is not limited to biological organisms like humans and animals, nor even to their communities, but can be meaningfully applied to Earth as a whole. It encompasses not only the physical domain, but also emotions, beliefs, values and even mythology. The author does a great job of interpreting ancient myths in their historical context to reveal uneasy tension between the old mystical world of shamanism and the new rational world of civilisation. It is ironic that, in the age of globalisation, we have to relearn a holistic way of thinking from our tribal ancestors.