Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Reality, What a Concept.


Once you get into playing with your dreams, in my experience and that of many others who count on dreams for awareness, the concept of "real" vs. "just dreaming" tends to blur. Popular usage sees reality as conscious experience and dreaming as little better than fantasy; nothing a rational individual need attend to.

Of course, bread on the table and a roof over your head is a bottom line necessity; the material world does exact it's energy and attention. Care of body is a waking task to achieve; care of soul is also a life task, running parallel, perhaps manifesting most clearly in sleep states.

Different realities form our whole reality; waking reality and sleeping or dream reality. Another way of saying we are physical and we are spiritual. I'm an advocate for paying attention to both.

People say of death, "Well, you can't take it with you." They're talking about all one can achieve materially on this waking plane we typically call "reality." So, from birth to finish, you can do and achieve, etc, etc, etc, but what can you take with you?

I think the one thing you can take with you is the sum of what your soul has become because of what you've chosen to do. Simply put, for me, if I learn to love, if what I take away from these years on this material plane is transferable to a non-embodied state, because it's not material, so much the better.

Winter proves one thing; die we must. There is a natural cycle of birth, life and maturing until you fall off the tree and rot back to the earth. What's left?

If winter and death are the grim realities of waking life; what are the parallel dream realities?

These holidays are about hope. Whether you're pagan, Christian, or Jew; hope and deliverance prevail. What is the hope?

If that is something we must each answer, my hope is in my dream source and in my dream reality. I've received the comfort of knowing that I'm not alone and that this isn't all there is through dreams. I hope my holiday post, previous to this, says this much more eloquently and speaks for me.

May you never feel alone. Every blessing for the new year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday Greetings Dear Readers

video

Music:
"I Can Hear the Angels"
Shapeshifter
Podsafe Audio

The Shadow Knows

In Carl Jung's paradigm on dreams, facing the shadow is the first significant bit of dream work a body can do on the road to individuation. Individuation is his term for enlightenment, self-awareness and union with the Self, or so I believe. Saying hello to your shadow is I imagine what Jesus meant when he said to take the beam out of your own eye before you endeavor to remove the mote from your neighbor's.

You meet your shadow when you catch yourself criticizing someone's faults and honestly ask yourself, do I do that, as well? Am I that way, too, sometimes?

If you haven't arrived at that much self-awareness, your dreams might prod you on this road.

One of my favorite shadow dreams is from over 20 years ago - I'm in a coffee shop with a friend, sitting at a booth. She's much more attractive than I am and the handsome Greek man behind the counter of pastries is flirting with her.

I often do dream drawings because they are such delightful surprises. This one is extraordinary in that I never intended to draw myself as a cat. I practice a technique in which I work very fast, broad strokes, no forethought; I lay my materials out and go to work spontaneously.

I had to laugh when I saw it for the pun it is; catty. I'm able to picture this image any time I feel jealousy. This helped me understand that jealousy is really a feeling of boredom, lack of engagement and isolation that can easily be remedied by taking positive action to entertain oneself, something that cats also do well.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Surprised by Joy


Another wonderful reason to follow dreams is that they can open the door to our truest spiritual metaphors, the most direct roads to the Center, the God/Goddess we may each yearn for.

"Surprised by Joy" is actually a title by the renowned Christian writer, C.S.Lewis. To me, it describes the spiritual moments in my life and ("gracias a la vida") they have been many. Among my most powerful spiritual experiences are some big dreams that have sustained me for decades.

One such dream was "Howling Mary". I'll share the whole dream with you sometime, but the image that I take from it is of Mother Mary coming to life, howling with pain and rage. I was 21, about to graduate from university. I was in pre-feminist consciousness then; but that dream was the door to so much that followed; it's still one of the most holy dream gifts I've received.

Another was a very Zen dream series at the beginning of this decade that, in my mind, was like an instant course in enlightenment and nirvana. I came back from one dream with the questions; "Can the Ego be dissolved? What is the role of the Observer?" I had a follow-up dream of such blissful experience of Oneness that I came back saying to myself - I am I, but not I, and I'll never be able to explain this, not even to myself."

As you can imagine, that's given me a lot to think about.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Starting Over


One of my favorite dream play rituals is bringing my new journal into being. Around this time, I start looking for the actual three ring binder that I like to use. It gives me a flexibility that bound journals deny; I can add all sorts of extras to the dream records, from drawings I've done on different paper to pictures I've found or created that capture my dream images more tangibly. I do own a 3 hole punch which facilitates my additions.

Now that these binders come in all sorts of colors, I like to change that up, too. In the last decade or so, I've taken to printing the year on a tab I insert in the spine, making it oh so easy to find later. I also like to use tab dividers to separate the book into the twelve months; I choose interesting paper for my pages.

I reflect on the image I want for the front cover. This new year it will be a black wolf guardian which has visited me in several dreams throughout 2009. I have a wonderful picture that I'll insert in the front panel; it'll serve as a constant reminder of the powerful dream gifts I've received over the past year. I'll also make copies of the dreams in which an aspect of black wolf visited me and keep those at the front of my new journal.

Eventually, I'll find another charged image to use for the back panel. This is a work in progress for the month of December.

Creating my dream journal is a ritual of starting over that I really enjoy. My old dream books become valuable reference sources while my new one looks ahead to what dreams may come.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Safe Sex



One of my favorite selling points for dream exploration is what a fertile opportunity dream play provides for a truly "safe sex" experience.

Have you ever had an "erotic" dream? I'm talking a truly enjoyable erotic dream, even if it may have flaunted some personal taboos.

This is such a wonderfully rich and complex topic that I'm only introducing it in this post. My premise is that dreams are an incredible playground and a safe Temenos in which to experience sexuality at it's most healing and sublime.

I was flipping through a journal from twenty years ago and found not one, but three very intriguing leading men in a series of consecutive dreams. It was like hitting the cheesecake lottery to find them after all these years. They are resources for my imagination, truly personal and fulfilling.

I suggest the same could be true for you.

I'm only breaking the ice on this topic. More to come:-)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Meaning of Dreams

There are two questions that people often ask me, lots of times, back to back. Knowing my penchant for dream conversation they'll tell me about a dream they had. If they didn't already preface their account with, "I had the weirdest dream..." then it's likely they'll finish their report with, "Isn't that weird?" followed closely by "What does it mean?"

This phenomenon always makes me smile to myself. Here's how I usually respond:

When you learn to understand the language of image and the imaginal logic of the dreaming mind, then it doesn't seem weird in the same sense. It's like visiting a culture/country very different from your own where language you consider very difficult to learn is spoken. At first it's alien and weird; a few years there and it's normal. Same thing in dreamland; spend enough conscious time there and you catch on.

What does it mean? This one really cracks me up. It's like what does love mean? What's beauty? There are so many levels, so many possibilities, so much to play with in each dream. I find I live my way into understanding the dream. Sometimes I intuit some meaning right away; even before I record it, but I know that's not necessarily all the dream has to offer me. It either comes back into my mind at some revelatory moment or I go digging years later and it reveals another layer. Dreams are treasure maps; the treasure is your own whole, healed, joyous Self.

Add to that what Jung and most teacher's I've worked with emphasize, the dreamer is the only authority on the meaning of the dream, and you might see why I find the question amusing.

I can be of help to a person who is trying to understand a dream; dream teacher is a calling I love to practice. It's like giving someone a fish to eat or a fishing pole and teaching them how to fish. I do consider myself a decent dream guide, but with the ultimate respect I've learned for the relationship of each dreamer to their dreams, the only simple answer to the question is "I don't know; you do."

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Nightmares Can Be Great Gifts


The other topic (besides dream recall) that always comes up early on in a dream group is "nightmares." I put icky dreams in the nightmares category in my last post as a way to identify them with unpleasant dreams, but I agree with Robert Moss's view that nightmares are frightening dreams that are so scary to us we wake ourselves up rather than go on with them. In my experience, nightmares are the great wake up calls of the psyche.

I want to distinguish what I'm addressing here from dreams that are born of severe trauma to the human psyche; what is called the post-traumatic-stress dream. These are typical of psychic wounds of war survivors or to those who survive personal attack, accidents or natural catastrophes. I think the psyche is so severely impacted by these experiences that it takes loving therapeutic assistance to cross the bridge PTS dreams might offer to healing. It's not your everyday dream work or play, in my estimation.

I also see nightmares in childhood a little differently in that they may be a reflection of the child's standing, much smaller, vis-a-vis the world around, in addition to the control issues that come from being a dependent being. It's a normal experience that creates scariness forgotten by adults, perhaps; so, children's dreams may produce more monsters, etc. Helping a child in waking to confront monsters and create protective allies that make them feel safer in the dream world can carry into waking benefits for kids.

But your average nightmares are uniquely interesting roads to personal psychic healing. They are like red flags for us to pay attention. Even people who typically ignore their dreams take note of a nightmare.

I've found that when I've re-entered nightmares and addressed the dream threat in my journey, it's led to personal transformation and immense growth.

One favorite is My Huge Bear Nightmare of Memorial Day, 1984. Working with this dream, one of those real heart pounding, pinch yourself when you wake up nightmare experiences, was incredibly fruitful. This wonderful healing totem led me to address sore issues in my heart that needed to be aired and mended. In my dream re-entry, I cried my heart out. It was one of those amazing experiences when crying washes you clean. Breathing and meditating after this emotional experience, a beautiful chant came to me, a song. I've used it frequently ever since to capture the same divine cleansing of emotional tension.

Nightmares can be great gifts.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Icky Dreams


In the category of that I resist recording falls the icky dream. The, "Oh yuck, you've got to be kidding me dream." Images that make me squirm or that just plain piss me off, or feelings that are unpleasant or complex. Who needs dreams like that?

I retaliate sometimes by not writing the dream down. Or, I just tell myself I'll write it later, no time now, fully knowing I won't. Well, it's human. DeNial is not just a river in Egypt.

When in my brighter moments, I've seen myself clear to just writing the dream down - no judgments, no analysis, no recoiling from the journalistic perspective of recording the events the way I saw, felt and heard them, I'm always grateful for the lesson I eventually get. Often I'll just write it down, date it, give it a title and shut the journal. Now I don't have to think about it until I'm ready. What gifts these dreams can turn out to be in time.

One favorite example I have is a dream where a large boxer type dog standing on it's hind legs sticks it's tongue in my ear; ugh. I write the dream down and as I do, I write god instead of dog. So God Dog became the title of my dream.

To get over the ickiness factors the dream included, I decided to draw god dog. Here he is, so funny and lovely now to me. I have done great work with the dream and this image represents to me the transformation of feeling for the dream once understanding dawned.

There Are Places I Remember


That is such a beautiful Beatles song. It's a nice way to look at dream locales;

All these places have their moments
Of lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I loved them all.

I visit some dream locations over and over, don't you? I like to go back through my journals and see which dreams take place in the supermarket, for instance. I have several, including one very intriguing one I just found from June of 1985 that promises great fun and great connections these many years later.

Another example is when I visit a
childhood home. It's wonderful to follow the thread of these shared locations in dreams past, re-read them and note the details; how they're similar and how they differ.

It's also wonderful to travel into dream spaces on a dream re-entry journey. It's much easier to journey into a
dream location you can see in your mind's eye; you know where you're going. It's a scene you can slip into in a waking trance to continue your dream

So now I'm busy playing with old dream books; a good end of the year thing to do. Locations I recognize from other dreams; people or people types that recur and noting how I (my dream self) seems to be faring and feeling in these dreams are all questions I entertain in this dream game.




Friday, December 4, 2009

The Thing About Keeping a Journal


Sometimes I just curl up on the bed, surrounded by an assortment of dream journals and go on a quest. A question I'm pondering leads me to remember various dreams. I remember approximately when I had them and, because my journals are dated and pretty organized, I usually find what I'm looking for.

Then I cozy up with my book and read. So often I can't believe what I'm reading; it's a revelation I would have missed had I not written the dream down.

Another joy my journals afford me is a gallery of drawings and pictures I've made or collected that represent my dream images.

A favorite example is also a wonderful synchronicity.

I dream that I'm floating down a river, in lush tropical surroundings with vines and trees dripping into the surface of the water. As my little boat floats gently by the banks, under a lovely tree, I look up and see the most beautiful, sweet little monkey hugging the branch and looking at me. I outstretch my arms to the little creature and it melts into them and we embrace in loving bliss.

A bit later I'm visiting my wonderfully talented artist friend, Mally DeSomma, and see a pastel painting of my little monkey hanging in her studio. I'm stunned by the exactness of the likeness, especially the attitude that shines from it. I tell her my dream and, to my pure and utter delight, she gives me the original. It's in a place of honor in my home. I am forever grateful to my dreams and to Mally.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Exiles


My dear friend and I, the one from the train in my first post, are having an ongoing conversation about Life and Death and Healing in both realms. I'm sure I'll share more of what surfaces, but here's what I'm hot on the trail of now.

There are experiences in life that can send bits of our Soul or Psyche or Self - however you conceive of your Being, into hiding, into exile. There is a cornucopia of literature on soul recovery and/or healing psychotherapy, as I'm sure you know.

In dreams, the stories of these exiled selves pops up from time to time. Because I keep a journal, I can trace these appearances and ponder them. Tracing a character or character type through past dreams is particularly revelatory when we're ready to see and to listen, sometimes even years after the dream; (Did I mention what a good idea I think it is to keep a journal?)

I use dream characters, themes, scenarios and images as maps to life's deeper meanings. By observing the drama presented in dreams each time a particular image appears, I learn the story of this exile. In that character, I also have a dream gate I can enter to renew my relationship with the part of me I'm calling back.

These encounters and relationships are serendipitous and genuine; I can't predict how the adventure is going to go. It's a process that's full of surprises. It's a two-way street; just as challenging as any waking relationship and just as worth it.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Love LeGuin

Here's another LeGuin nugget from "The Language of the Night":
"The great fantasies , myths and tales are indeed like dreams: they speak from the unconscious to the unconscious, in the language of the unconscious--symbol and archetype. Though they use words, they work the way music does; they short-circuit verbal reasoning, and go straight to the thoughts that lie too deep to utter. They cannot be translated fully into the language of reason, but only a Logical Positivist, who also finds Beethoven's Ninth Symphony meaningless, would claim that they are therefore meaningless. They are profoundly meaningful and usable--practical--in terms of ethics; of insight; of growth."

That's fantasies, myths, tales and dreams she's talking about. Well put, eh?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

One Comment to Share


Here's what a friend emailed me right after I made my first post, "Dreams Pave the Way for Life"; she gave me permission to post it.

Dear Adelita,
I took these photos the night my Mom passed and sent them to my sister, so we could share in the vigil. It was the full moon, "Mourning Moon", November 2nd (All Souls Day). I remember how bright it was...and I had the sense that my Mom was on her journey that night. So much so, that I created a ritual for her to help her find her way. I set out her photo on the table, as well as the photos of her Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, Great Grandma and Grandpa and Great Aunts and deceased friends, whose photos I could find, who were waiting for her to arrive. I thought it would help her feel welcome and safe. I lit some candles and then had a sudden urge to call her room. The hospice nurse answered and said she would call me with an update shortly. It was 8PM. Fifteen minutes later, my sister called with the news that she had passed at the exact time I had called. My brother was there with her, playing her favorite music.

The dream you wrote about in your blog was so much like what transpired that night. I really feel as though the moon was her guide that night.

When Animals Speak

I was reading an essay by Ursula Le Guin in her collection; "The Language of the Night," this morning. Le Guin is a brilliant science fiction author who dabbles heavily in Jung. She's talking about fantasy and the knee jerk reaction she's encountered with people disaproving of fantasy stories. I just started to read it, so I'm sure I'll find more gems, but this caught my attention. She quotes Von Franz's article, "The Problem of Evil in Fairytales":

"In this labyrinth where it seems one must trust to blind instinct, there is...one, only one, consistent rule or 'ethic': Anyone who earns the gratitude of animals, or whom they help for any reason, invariably wins out. This is the only unfailing rule that I have been able to find."

That's pretty much how I feel about dream animals. I always feel blessed when a dream animal shows up, and if they talk to me, even better. Sometimes they really scare me to the core; sometimes I am totally awed by them and sometimes they awaken deep confidence and the feeling of being unconditionally loved. Often, it's all these things at once. How about for you?

I have the great honor of meeting from time to time with a group of curious dream explorers. Last meeting, we journeyed into a big dream starring one of our dreamers and a sizeable black panther who spoke to him. It was wonderful; this animal fired each of our imaginations and I think gave the dreamer something to "chew" on for a while. How's that for a dream image?

In my night dreams all this year, I've had the great honor to encounter a black German Shepherd/wolf/man guide. I'll probably come back to this sometime. I just want to share with you that I do think animal dreams are great gifts. These are among the dreams I try to preserve in my journals and ponder in my imagination for a good long time. Robert Moss says some wonderful things in our DVD series and in his books about animals in dreams.

Since my cats often speak to me in dreams, here's Sunny looking like he has something to say.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Dreaming

I'm contemplating going to bed now; it's late, say almost midnight.
Entering another world, another dimension; bringing back a memory. How is that less than the waking existence we deem so inherently valid? It's not either/or. As in tai chi, both opposites balance to make the whole.
Awesome!

FYI

If you tried to leave a comment only to find that you need to register for a google account, off-putting to say the least, my IT department (my husband, Jim) fixed that. You can post a comment without any registration, even anonymously if you so choose. Looking forward to hearing from y'all.

When There Is No Dream


For many reasons, there are times I don't remember my dreams. Sometimes it happens in short stretches, a few days, others longer. Because I pay attention, I usually don't go a month without recording a night dream.

In every group I lead in dream play, there are some who say they don't remember their dreams, or "I don't dream;" so I find the issue of increasing dream recall important to address early on.

The first reason many don't recall is lack of attention. If we're use to popping out of bed, or even slithering out, to the jar of an alarm, then immediately focusing on the day and waking life events, it's no surprise we don't remember anything from the night's dreams. We're simply not paying attention. To remedy that is easy, right? Pay attention. Soft alarms are best if one must be used; jarring yourself out of sleep tends to work against dream recall, but even this can matter less if our attention is focused on remembering.

I find it's important to use a different type of remembering; ask myself questions that have to do more with recalling an experience than remembering content. Not what did I dream, but where was I? Who was there? What happened? Then I scan my inner screen for images that linger. Sometimes it's all very vivid and I begin writing immediately. This seldom feels like a duty; more like really wanting to keep this record of events to play with later.

But, if any dream recall is slipping away, I relax my attention more and see what might float back to me. I give it time and just call it back to me by wanting to see, hear and feel that dream again.

The analytical mind is a wonderful thing, but it's only half of the brain functions we have. The right brain uses different processes, a different knowing. It's intuitive and built in, just not highly valued above the age of 6. No wonder Jesus loves the little children; spiritual thinking is also, in my eyes, not analytical.

If I don't recall a dream at all, not even the feeling of one, I've got about a zillion recorded that can be my sandbox that day. I just pick one at random and ponder or play. This is the payoff for writing them down; you've got them to play with for a long time, as long as you don't lose your journal. The random choice invites synchronicity; returning to a dream often sparks just as much for me as a fresh dream does.  Dreams are truly timeless and synchronicity is a very juicy thing to invite into the dream game.

I'll return to this topic, there's more. Would love to hear from anyone; thanks for your attention.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Language of Dreams



One thing I think I've learned about understanding dreams is that they speak a different language than any of us do in conscious/waking experience. It's often referred to as the language of symbol, but I prefer to think of it as the language of image. The reason is that when I ponder a dream, I really see the images, feel the images, relate intuitively, creatively, spontaneously and observantly to these visuals and energies. The language of dreams is not a left brain language, at any rate.

I don't like the word symbol because I think it's too easy to conceive of it intellectually; it's easier for most of us in this culture to use that rational part of our brains.

Image can't be contained within the narrow left brain paradigm because the word itself evokes something more experiential like seeing and something more primal like pictures. I'm sure those cave paintings were used to communicate. Images were our ancestors' first alphabet, perhaps.

Besides, I know that the beauty and juice of dreams are usually in the images, though I have been pretty impressed by stuff I've heard in dreams, too. Perhaps you have these same experiences with dreams?

Anyway, I do invite you to ponder those images, let them hang out or brave up to them a bit more, as Robert is fond of saying.

Thanks for listening; sweet dreams.

Friday, November 20, 2009

"Dreams Pave the Way for Life"


Just back from a wonderful trip to the Rubin Museum of Art in NYC. W. 17h St. I went with a dear friend to see the Red Book of the great dream guru, C.G. Jung. I went thinking there wouldn't be much else but a glimpse of two pages under glass, but it's a beautiful museum and the exhibit, though small, was magical and amazing. Go!

We took the train down and got in a great conversation about our ideas about death and beyond. In the conversation, my friend recounted her experience at the death bed of her sister-in-law who died recently of cancer. She had a dream a night or so before her s-i-l died. In her dream, she's sitting beneath the full moon outside the house, under the bedroom window where her sister-in-law lay in labor with death. She sees the essence of her sister-in-law flowing out the window and floating to the moon. It happens fast and she knows her sister-in-law has just died and her essence has gone to the moon, she has a beautiful image of her floating freely up. A morning or so later, she finds herself alone of all the family in her sister-in-law's room with her. Holding her hand she tells her dream. Her sister-in-law rouses and looks at her and says "yes", which my friend repeats lovingly to her over and over. Moments later, surrounded by her family, my friend's dear sister-in-law dies.

I'm stunned by the beauty of this story and about the incredible gifts of dreaming. "Dreams pave the way for life" is a quote from Jung's Red Book, and I can add this footnote; "Dreams pave the way for death, as well."

The collective unconscious, (Jung would be loving this), is at play in this story, too. Robert Moss loves to take dreamers on journeys to Luna. I participated in one journey where he invited all of us in the group to journey to Luna, either at the place for souls leaving and entering life or where they return, after death. It seems the moon is an ancient mythic way station for these two great transitions. My friend was delighted that she didn't know this consciously; yet, this was what she saw in her dream.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Under construction

Please bear with me as I get this exciting new blog built!
Adelita