Thursday, October 23, 2008
Science & New Age Guest Author Brings Oneness to Opposing Communities
Instead of being enemies with the "other" side of the issue, let's look toward healing our world by healing ourselves and our relationships with one another.
The guest author on our WITS blog today will give some insight about how two separate communities can come together to reach a place where communication and cooperation sparks collaboration rather than debate.
Today we welcome MaAnna (pronounced May-ANN-ah) Stephenson to our writing blog as part of her virtual blog tour with Nikki Leigh. MaAnna is discussing her book The Sage Age—Blending Science with Intuitive Wisdom. Since I edited this book, and know the author personally, I am going to ask specific questions to help our readers understand how valuable this work is to both the scientific and holistic communities.
MaAnna addresses some conflicting issues while bringing understanding to both the holistic (intuitive or faith-based) and scientific (must be proven with facts) communities. However, combining the knowledge of physics with intuitive practice is no small task because the two disciplines often use the same words to mean entirely different things.
Yvonne: Scientists reading your book and wanting to know why energy workers and intuitive practitioners inaccurately use terms such as light, vibration, and aura, will be surprised to learn that there is scientific support for what the intuitive tries to explain by using a spiritual language. It has also been confirmed by experiments that the subtle energies of the aura surrounding all living things hold the key to breakthrough understandings in biology and chemistry. Could an aura could be an electromagnetic field?
MaAnna: Intuitive practitioners are very often attempting to relate ineffable qualities in quantifiable terms. And they will confirm that much of it gets lost in translation. Theirs is an experiential knowing. So, it’s not that they are using the terms inaccurately in that context. The confusion that arises is due to the fact that those same terms are used very differently in the context of the rational sciences, specifically in physics. The collaborative studies of the subtle energies surrounding all living things and the investigation of the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum have tried to clarify these misunderstandings. Through technological advancements, measuring devices have become ultra-sensitive allowing physicists in various disciplines to measure very faint EM energies radiating from the hands of healers, Qigong masters, and even from plants. This is a step toward scientifically validating the claims of intuitives. However, what is not being measured is the transfer of information that may be carried on those frequencies of energy. To an intuitive, that is the most important part of the process. The entire model rests on the idea of radio waves as a carrier frequency of information. Perhaps a new model will lead to different questions, which will result in entirely different answers. That is the purpose of The Sage Age; to bring new models for new thought.
Another thing to keep in mind is that an extremely wide range of EM frequencies have been detected and measured by physicists. These include low energy rays longer than a football field all the way up to extremely high energy gamma rays, which are so tiny and so energetic they can break molecular bonds. For science, this constitutes the full EM, or light spectrum. Intuitives, however, claim that the light energies which carry the most meaningful types of information, such as thought, are at a higher frequency than can be measured. And that’s where the breakdown in the collaborative studies begins. Science requires a measurable entity to carry out an investigation. That is the limit of science, but not the limit of reality. From my research and my own experience, I am coming to the notion that the “light” of which intuitives speak does not even lie in the EM spectrum measured by physics. Measureable light, in the most basic sense, is a by-product of heat, like the light that comes from the sun or a light bulb. This is not the same light which penetrates all realms of existence or is the one source from which all else emanates, as intuitives claim.
Yvonne: You are a musician and sound engineer with a degree in electronics, yet you are able to reach into the subtle realms of the unseen as a shamanka. First of all, I think we are going to need you to tell us what a shamanka is and how this role gives you the authority to speak about intuition. Also, tell us what credentials you have to address the scientific side.
MaAnna: Shamanka is the feminine term of shaman. Most folks equate a shaman with a medicine person or one who works with Earth energies. But, at the core, a shaman is one who journeys to the other realms to bring information to this realm. Sometimes a shaman is also a medicine person who journeys to find the source of the illness as well as the remedy and also implements it. I seek a different sort of information and use a shaman’s discernment to help sort through the mountains of research papers necessary to produce a book like The Sage Age and to bring clarity and focus to the project.
I was born an intuitive and lived “in country” with that mindset for most of my younger life. All of the women in my family are also intuitives. My father had the mind of an engineer and the heart of an artist. This gave me a wholistic approach to life. As an adult, I lived “in country” with the rational sciences through my work in technology. That education and experience helped me understand the very technical language used in all the scientific research papers and helped me organize the information in a way that connected the dots between what seemed, on the surface, to be far-flung disciplines. I have lived immersed in blending and balancing scientific and intuitive ways and this has led me to value all ways of knowing and to harmonize them into a peaceful, wholistic way of thinking, perceiving, and experiencing.
Yvonne: The Sage Age took four years of research that launched from your own desire to understand some complex ideas. Tell us why you wrote The Sage Age.
MaAnna: Breakthroughs in quantum physics and frontier science led the way for more collaborative studies with intuitives. This spawned another branch of books in the New Thought genre which attempted to translate the advancements and philosophical implications of these matters. In turn, these ideas began springing up all over pop-literature and culture. What I found, though, were many misunderstandings and a lot of confusion caused by the common terminology used by both the rational sciences and the esoteric sciences, or intuitive practices. Some folks were drawing parallels where none actually existed or implying “scientific evidence” of intuitive claims. I began to educate myself in both schools of thought to bring myself a clarity of understanding of the terminology in proper context and to better understand the actual experiments. I suddenly found that one question of inquiry led to ten more. Before I knew it, I was knee-deep, literally, in books and research papers. The information began to center on certain themes and I followed them until I had a full understanding. By the third year I had enough information to begin to connect the dots between different disciplines. It was like getting my hair blown back every day. That’s when I realized how helpful this information would be to others and I began formatting the information into a publishable form. The book is a condensed version of the research. It is a four-year education boiled down to a one-inch thick book. Writing it completely changed the way I think and helped me see the connections in everything.
Yvonne: Your book is filled with history. Why?
MaAnna: History is as much about our future as it is our past. This point cannot be overstated. During the second year of the research, I realized that the breakthroughs of today were simply the fruit of very ancient questions. We did not come to these modern conclusions from a vacuum. The questions we now ask and the perceptions of our answers are squarely rooted in ancient thought. Through the research, I was able to witness the evolution of human thought, which was an incredible gift to myself. I also realized that every age has patted itself on the back for its own ingenuity and cleverness. We are doing much the same now. Without historical perspective, we cannot see our path in context.
For all of our modern breakthroughs, in the West, we are still very much on the path laid out by Pythagoras. Even though we incorporate pieces of other cultures, such as acupuncture, or feng shui, it comes without contextual understanding. In the West, we have yet to attain a true paradigm shift of thought. Certainly we have expanded to incorporate ideas from other cultures, but we have not gone so far as to truly accommodate another belief system. Everything we see, we still see through the filter of ancient Western thought.
To get a wholistic understanding, it was necessary for me to delve back into the culture of ancient Mesopotamia, before the split into Eastern and Western thought patterns and then to bring that wholistic view forward into the cultures as they appear today. The old adage of not knowing where you’re going until you know where you’ve come from holds true.
It’s also worth noting that the Arabic nations held both ways of perception (East and West) in harmony for centuries. In fact, at one time they were the most technologically advanced societies on the planet. And, the reason we have copies of many ancient Western texts is because they were safely kept in Arabic libraries. If you can pull back enough to see the full arch of the pendulum’s swing, you might be able to perceive the current conflicts in this area of the world and the rise of China in a different way. In many ways it is a process of rebalancing. The Western ways are not the only valid ways of knowing and being. Much of the ancient knowledge held by other cultures is beginning to resurface. Understanding something like that is one reason why history is so important to our future.
Yvonne: What are some of the main themes in the book?
MaAnna: One of the main reasons I began my research was a curiosity about the shape of things. What I found was that the body, from the bones to the cells, was a multi-faceted antenna system. A great deal of research is being conducted on the conformational shape changes which occur at a cellular level. This leads to a new understanding of disease and the effective delivery of nutrients and pharmaceuticals. Believe it or not, our sense of smell is based on the shapes of molecules. Ritual forms of body movement, such as those found in yoga or Tai Chi position the physical body, which is a crystalline structure, into different antenna shapes. It’s like moving the rabbit ears on an analog TV for better reception of certain frequencies. Also, the subtle energy bodies, which surround the physical body, receive certain frequencies of informed energies. So, the first four chapters of the book are devoted to those subjects and how thoughts affect those processes. As noted earlier, historical perspective is key and a chapter is devoted to the roots of both the rational and esoteric sciences. Later chapters cover the basics of physics including quantum physics and cosmology. These are written in layman’s terms with plenty of analogies and illustrations.
Yvonne: There’s been some hype in the media about the Large Hadron Collider. Some fear that we are about to re-create the Big Bang and blow our planet into oblivion. Is this possible?
MaAnna: Particle colliders or particle smashers, as they are more commonly called, are nothing new. The first one was developed in the 1930s and there are currently 75 of them on six continents. The purpose of them all is to ramp up two particles to near lightspeed and collide them, which releases their innards, or more particles. Due to the nature of E=mc2, it takes a lot of energy to accelerate a piece of matter, regardless of size, toward the speed of light. Every new collider incorporates more energy. With a bigger collision, more internal particles are released for study. The purpose of the Large Hadron Collider is to cause such an energetic collision that hadrons are released. These are particles which are theorized to have existed only at the very first instant of the Big Bang and are thought to be the reason why matter has mass. So, to study them, the collider must recreate the first instant of the Big Bang over and over again in a controlled way. What has some folks nervous is the control-ability of such an occurrence and that the collider might also have the capacity of producing a black hole big enough to swallow not only the Earth, but all the space surrounding it. Those scenarios are so highly unlikely as to be marginal, but the media can’t resist sensationalizing the ideas.
Yvonne: What do you hope readers will gain from your book?
MaAnna: In one word, I hope they gain clarity. I hope the book gives them the resources to be able to connect the dots for themselves. The book doesn’t tell you what to think. It gives you the information to be able to draw your own conclusions based on what is most meaningful to you. In other words, The Sage Age gives you 2 + 2 = ? Ultimately, you have to put forth the effort to educate yourself and dig a little deeper to determine what “?” really means to you.
Yvonne: How did you publish your book? Tell me about your publishing experience and what you learned from it.
MaAnna: I was fortunate to be picked up by a publisher, which is Nightengale Press, just days after handing the book over for editing. The publishing business is in a radical state of flux right now because of all the various ways there are to publish. I went with Nightengale because they are a hybrid between a traditional publisher and a vanity publisher. I retained my copyright, but got the full support of a legitimate publishing house, which resulted in the book being displayed at expos that required a membership and ultimately, being featured in Publishers Weekly, which is a magazine written by and for industry insiders. Those are some of the things you simply cannot get if you self-publish or go with a vanity publisher.
Several months prior to the book’s completion, I had taken a teleseminar course on the business of writing. After the book got picked up, I began a crash course on marketing with a focus toward online marketing. The Sage Age is a niche book that crosses genres. So, it takes a creative approach to market it properly and the internet offered more possibilities to make the necessary connections. No matter how the book is published, the bulk of the marketing falls to the author. So, going with a traditional publisher doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have any advantage in that area.
Yvonne: As far as marketing, tell me some ways you have promoted your book. Give examples and links to any sites you feel might help other authors.
MaAnna: When I first decided to publish the book, I absolutely dreaded the idea of marketing it. But, what I realized is that marketing is simply sharing your passion and talking to others about it. I built a Web site and got a blog immediately. What I have really found most enjoyable, though, is social networking through groups, such as those found on Ning, and quick exchanges through sites like Twitter. Internet radio interviews have been a key component, as well as a virtual blog tour. These marketing devices help me plug into the established networks of others and market the book across multiple mediums. I am also a member of the Institute of Noetic Sciences and have a blog on their Shift in Action Web site.
Articles containing book excerpts or which focus on book topics is a great way to market your book and your message. Write as many as you can and post them to as many article directories as possible. I also placed my name and the book’s title on a Google Alert. I’ve really enjoyed being notified when the articles get picked up by other sites through syndication.
My best advice to other authors is to find folks who are already well connected and plug into their resources and networks. I was very fortunate to find you (Yvonne Perry) locally as both my editor and mentor in the business of writing. The offerings on the WITS site are extensive, and the podcast is literally a gold mine of information. So, first, I would send folks to www.WritersInTheSky.com as a starting point. Through my association with WITS over the past year, I’ve been able to get the information contained in Book marketing in the Digital Age: Online Promotion Made Easy in piecemeal fashion. By all means, get this book. I also found the information in these two books helpful: From Book to Bestseller and Red Hot Internet Publicity: An Insider's Guide to Promoting Your Book on the Internet! both by Penny Sansevieri; Talk Radio for Authors by Fran Silverman; and The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't by Carolyn Howard-Johnson.
Create an author profile on Amazon and update that blog often. Request reviews of your book to be posted on Amazon as well. Another way to get noticed is to write reviews for other books and post them on Amazon. Your list and links to your Amazon page get spread far and wide for free. You can also post reviews on specific book review sites.
For the virtual blog tour, contact Nikki Leigh and get her book Promo 101: Virtual Blog Tours. She is incredibly well connected and is a walking, talking encyclopedia of promotional and marketing information.
Yvonne: You have a Web site and blog for The Sage Age where the book may be purchased, but what else might a reader find there?
MaAnna: The Web site is www.SageAge.net where folks will find the full interview and tour schedule as well as several audio interview clips. All of the articles taken from book excerpts are on the site and there is a link for an eBook titled How Thoughts Become Reality, which was written exclusively for newsletter subscribers. It contains many excerpts from chapter four.
Yvonne: Any other comments you would like to share?
MaAnna: My entire experience with this book has been a little different than most. I didn’t follow the suggestions to start my marketing campaign well in advance of authoring the book, nor did I have to endure months of query letters to find a publisher. But, the one rule I did follow was to retain a professional editor. A quality product simply cannot be produced without one. This is especially important for a first-time author. I would also like to offer that you be willing to learn the business of marketing and be flexible with the presentation of your book. The cover design, title, layout, and initial marketing may require that you put sentimental favoritism aside and see the book as others will see it. What is most meaningful to you about it may not be the thing that readers will find attractive. And last, enjoy sharing your passion. Connecting with others is what it’s all about.
Yvonne: I agree. Networking and sharing online is the best way to promote a book. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to get to know you and learn about your book. I wish you well in your journey as a successfully published author.