Music and Trance
Visualization and Feeling Tone
©2012 by John Beaulieu N.D., Ph.D.
Transformation begins with a vision. The word transformation means to give up our current life and create a new life. Having visions is a natural process of living. A vision gives us new life. There are many traditions that have created rituals, called vision quests, to enhance the visionary process. A vision quest may involve long walks in isolation, fasting, sleep deprivation, and facing pain. Jesus fasted for forty days and nights in the desert.
To heal and enhance wellness health we visualize ourselves strong, vital, and free of disease. Visualization is regularly used to increase immunity and assist in cancer treatments. Athletes utilize visualization to improve their performance. Professional golfers always visualize a good shot as part of their pre-shot routine. If there is something important we naturally visualize obtaining it. Anyone who plays the lottery visualizes himself as a winner.
When we visualize something we simultaneously manifest its tone. The tone of a vision resonates through our body as a feeling tone. We experience a visualization feeling tone in different ways. Black Elk, the spiritual leader of the Oglala Lakota Sioux, describes his vision related to the feeling tone in his body as a glow.
Also, as I lay there thinking of my vision, I could see it all again and feel the meaning with a part of me like a strange power glowing in my body; but when the part of me that talks would try to make words for the meaning, it would be like fog and get away from me.
Black Elk can see everything, however his focus is on the strange power glowing in his body. He is one with the tone. He cannot talk because he focused on tone. It is like listening to a beautiful piece of music and trying to describe it. You know the experience, but words are never adequate. Black Elk uses the term “strange power” to describe the glowing in his body. In systems science a ”strange attractor” is required for a system to move into a higher state of functioning. The glowing power Black Elk experienced is, from a systems science perspective, is a strange attractor pulling him and his whole tribe towards a higher level of functioning.
Black Elk experienced a powerful vision, which he become aware of through special preparation that involved a conscious ritual focused on a vision with a heart. Don Juan, the shaman teacher of Carlos Castaneda said,
All paths are the same: they lead nowhere. However, a path without a heart is never enjoyable. On the other hand a path with a heart is easy—it does not make a warrior work at liking it; it makes for a joyful journey; as long as a man follows it, he is one with it. Look at every path closely and deliberately, then ask ourselves this crucial question: Does this path have a heart? If it does, then the path is good. If it doesn’t, it is of no use.
Ideally a vision quest is discovering a new feeling tone that is in alignment with our values, and expands our life horizons. The more we understand the dynamics of vision, the better we will be able to integrate the new vision feeling tone into our life. The alignment of vision, values, and feeling tone is a formula for health, well-being, and success. Although the form of the vision may change its essence will always reveal itself through a congruency of values and feeling tone. Values are what we hold most precious in our lives. Values set our standards and guide our actions.
Without feeling tone and values we have no way of evaluating our life in relationship to our visions. Playing the lottery is a great example of a vision without values. The lottery ticket purchaser knows that winning will allow them to buy anything they want and all their problems will be solved. The reality is that 70 percent of all lottery winners will squander away their winnings in a few years as they watch family and friendships destroyed. There are many reasons given as to why this happens ranging from poor financial advice to social isolation leading to emotional upheavals. They all have validity. A deeper reason, perhaps the source of the problem, is an over identification with buying things and a lack of understanding of the importance of value. If one focuses on the things one gets when winning it is like a drug. Your chances of winning big are minimal, and you are a loser until you buy another lottery ticket to get another visualization high.
In the case of lottery winners they thought that winning the lottery would be an effortless life shift enabled by money. In reality the disruption created by winning the lottery is demanding. The lottery winner is not prepared for what is to come. Today, in many states, large sum lottery winners are required to receive counseling to prepare them for the shift in their lives. A fundamental part of this counseling is to create and reaffirm values to guide the use of their new financial resources. In order to really win they have to learn to align their financial resources with their values as an expression of their vision. If they were practicing this all along than it will be easy. The money they won would empower the expression of the their vision feeling tone and values in a new way. In other words before they were expressing their vision in a small room, and now they can afford a whole building.
I was conducting a reality orientation therapy session in a nursing home. I asked my patients to visualize what they wanted most and to talk about it. A man in his late 80’s said that he wanted to be a full back for the New York Giants. I asked the man what it would be like if he were a fullback for the New York Giants. He said he would be excited and run full speed ahead and everyone would cheer. His eyes literally lit up when he shared. At this point the nurse got upset with me and said that he could become depressed because it was impossible for him to be a fullback for the New York Giants.
The patient was sharing his vision in two parts. The first part was the picture of being a full back for the New York Giants. I agreed with the nurse that this was not possible. The second part was his feeling tone, which can be summarized by the word “excitement”. Tuning into his expression of excitement I felt a strong beat and medium high pitch though out my whole body. I understood this to be the feeling tone of his vision. I choose to focus on the feeling tone of his vision. The nurse chooses to focus on his visual content of his vision.
The process of focusing on vision feeling tone begins by looking inward. If you have a vision of writing a book, you begin with seeing yourself celebrating the completion of your book. Next notice your emotions during the celebration. The word emotion means energy (e) in motion; e-motion. Next tune into your body and notice on how it is vibrating. Sense the vibration as a beat. Notice if the beat is fast or slow and where it centers in your body. Feel the beat, then open your ears and listen to the feeling tone. Let go of the image of completing a book, and become the feeling tone until there is only the feeling tone.
Once a feeling tone is perceived it can be translated into an element or combination of elements. I translated my patients feeling tone into the Fire Element. The feeling tone of the Fire Element has a strong staccato beat with a medium to high pitch. Musically it is like a pushing rock and roll beat. The Fire Element is exciting and it lights us up. When one is “on fire” the eyes light up and get brighter. When fire is low the eyes are dull. Fire is also has to do with drama and being acknowledged in a dramatic way, i.e., the cheers of the crowd as a full back breaks through the opposing line.
For this patient, based on my analysis of his vision feeling tone, I created a Fire Element event. I got a set of plastic bowling pens. On each side of the bowling lane I put the other patients in his reality orientation group plus some staff and visitors. I gave my patient a plastic bowling ball and asked him to knock over the pens. However, before he could bowl his ball he should make eye contact with the group. When he did this I had the group whoop it up and cheer. My patient loved it. He looked at the bowling pins and let the ball go. To everyone’s surprise he knocked over every pin with his first roll. The whole group went crazy and patient was cheering and dancing around. We talked about it for weeks in our reality orientation group.
Feeling tone is creative and will pull together and organize a vision without having to consciously manipulate or will a specific form. We have to be willing to give up the initial form of a vision in order to achieve the vision. This is not to say that achieving the initial vision form is not a possibility. However, I believe this is rare and even if it appears the same there are still going to be subtle differences. Plus the process of achieving the form will be feeling tone guided vs. visually guided.
In the case of the nursing home patient I consciously set up an experience that was congruent with the feeling tone of his vision. Once we are aware of feeling tone then the tone is like a sonar guidance system that will seek out congruent forms. There are many love stories built around this theme. The man or woman has a specific vision of the person they want to fall in love with and marry. They find the person that looks like their vision however the relationship does not work. Next they meet someone, usually by chance that seems totally different than their vision of an ideal mate. Overtime and through a set of encounters they both come to realize that they are meant for each other. To put it another way, their feeling tones match and in order to achieve their true vision they have to let go of the form of their initial vision.
In summary, the form of an initial vision is like a catalyst that sparks a process only to disappear. Within the spark of the initial vision, which is like a flash of light, there is always an enduring feeling tone that transcends form. The feeling tone of the vision resonates with the new vibration we are seeking in our lives. The feeling tone pulls together all the elements of our life to manifest the vision. We do not know what the vision is going to look like, however we do know that it has to be resonate with the feeling tone. In the case of the nursing home patient I allowed myself to merge through sympathetic resonance with my patients feeling tone. I created an experience that looked different than playing for the New York Giants, however it was resonant with the feeling tone.
When we become conscious of vision feeling tone then we can use it to guide our quest. When a form matches vision feeling tone, even if that form is not what we initially visualized, we should act. The opposite is when the form is visually what we wanted; however the feeling tone is not congruent. This is what Don Juan would call a vision without a heart. It is the basis of many love stories where the man or woman through great effort finds the picture perfect person only to find out there is no heart in the relationship. When they learn to trust their vision feeling tone through value testing they discover the perfect person that does not look anything like they imagined. And that perfect person is usually someone nearby that they did not notice because the light of their initial vision blinded them.