Last week in Kingman Arizona I met Dr. Steve Waller. This was one of those encounters that only happen when you travel. We met at the hotel lobby and a short random conversation quickly made us realize that we share a common interest. A biochemist turned archeologist, Steve discovered years ago that wall art in ancient caves is often located at places where echoes are the loudest. This initially may sound esoteric but it has substantial implications about the way ancient people perceived the spirits, or God. It turns out that in Native American tribes, as well as tribes in Africa and Australia, echoes were thought to be the voice of the spirits speaking from within the rock. Sometimes they were echoes of thunderstorms or winds, but often times they were echoes of the people themselves. What they thought to be the voice of the divine was actually their own voice speaking echoing back at them after being reflected from the surface of the rock.

YosemiteIt is always entertaining to look back at ancient, extinct, cultures and find comfort in how primitive and naive it all used to be. It is much harder to take that perspective on one’s own contemporary culture from the future view of years to come. For me, Steve’s research work lit a spark of thought about the metaphor it may represent – that what we perceive to be extraordinary, unexplained, and miraculous, is actually the echo of our own voice. In my conversation with Dr. Jame Pennebaker a similar notion came up several times. In his studies he has found that people have the ability to expedite the healing of physical wounds, and to improve their health significantly – by writing about the feelings and emotions they experience. The mere exercise of putting feelings into the structure of language unlocks the power within to heal. Dr. Barbara Fredrickson also touched on this topic in our conversation, and so did coach Caroline Miller: the word “coach” suggests in itself a role of guidance-only, helping an individual unlock the power within. The coach is “on the bench” the individual is “the player”. It all seems to highlight the importance of taking action as a means of unlocking one’s inner power as opposed to looking for external solutions.

I look forward to discussing this further with the scientists and authors I continue to meet, and with you. What are your thoughts?

Some more about Steve’s interesting work:

Steven J. Waller, Ph.D:

Echolocation of Rock Art: Using Sound to Search for Sacred Sites, Stephen Allan and Steven J. Waller

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