Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Soft Attention

"Soft attention" is the approach I take to remembering my dreams. When I cross back from sleeping to waking, I try to linger in dreaming consciousness as long as possible and replay the dream in my mind as I'm waking. Whether I get an image, a person, an action or a complete dream story, I write it in my journal.

It helps not to be startled awake by an alarm, etc. Soft attention is easiest to practice on those mornings when you don't have to set the alarm and can claim some personal time.

Soft attention is right brained, image oriented. Instead of asking myself the left brain, analytical question, "What did I dream?" I ask myself, "Where was I? Who was I with? What was I doing?" - questions that recapture dream experiences in images with feelings attached.

My advice on dream recall is stay as long as you can in that "in-between" state, between sleeping and waking. Open yourself to the adventures you've just had and write their story in your journal, honestly, unselfconsciously, just for yourself, the dream as you experienced it.

Here's a beautiful love poem I found in my favorite calendar, "We'Moon 2011", (a women produced calendar/journal filled with beautiful art, poetry and prose, all by contemporary women artists); it evokes for me soft attention on waking in an intimate, shared way.

"Forgotten Seeds"

the dark shape of your body in this bed
adds substance to the fast approaching dawn.
while planets tread their courses overhead,
my hands make out the landscape of your form.

there's something pure about this time of day.
dreamspoken, truths pass lips and settle deep.
molded tight, our bodies bend and sway,
following the orbit of our sleep.

fresh from your underwater wanderings,
you wake at once both sleepy and surprised,
and slowly slipping, disentangling
you turn to kiss the valleys of my eyes.

the night uncloaks a pure thing in the mind
dark curtains of forget that have been parted,
and close to morning, in the dark I find
you've been revealed to me as dolphin-hearted.

as long as we can lie here the whole unniverse is ours.
I'm unfolding all my secrets, once encoded in the stars.
it's too early for pretending that there's nothing that we need,
your dreams and mine are mending all of my forgotten seeds.

by Danielle Rainville, quoted here with her permission.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Dream Warnings

Yesterday, while leading a dream workshop for a group, a young woman spoke of how she had dreamed about a tsunami devastation just before Japan was brutalized by one this week. She cried telling it.

It's such a weight on one's shoulders to prevision a great disaster, but we do dream outside of our own concerns and personal psyche. Maybe we all are one soul after all, maybe that's what the collective unconscious is.

Robert Moss writes and teaches that we dream the future all the time; I recommend his book, "Dreaming True", as well as his DVD series, "The Way of the Dreamer". I've posted the youtube clip from the program "Dreaming the Future" before; you can find it on youtube.

I know I dream the future all the time and hundreds of people have shared their dreams of the future with me. What does it mean to dream something that later manifests in waking? That my dreaming soul took a peek up the road and thought I might be interested in what soul saw? Why? A head's up? Just a report about it?

My experience is that dreams of the future run a huge gamut. I dream of having a ring and see it the next day in waking life and buy it. I dream of a person I later meet or I dream of a disaster that befalls many, many people and breaks my heart to see it happen in waking. The gamut of what to do about it is just as vast. It depends on the dreamer and the dream.

My husband woke up one morning and told me this dream: (I have his permission to use it.) Here's my journal account of it:

When I asked Jim if he remembered a dream this am, he hesitated and said – yeah, but I didn’t like it.

I’m up in a NYC bldg. 89th floor. I get in the elevator, like a freight elevator, (someone’s with me, not you) and there’s a woman elevator operator. The gates close and she presses the button and we begin to drop at an unnerving speed. I tell her to stop the elevator, I want to get off. She pushes buttons, but nothing happens. I tell myself, I don’t want to be here for this, and wake up.

Then Jim goes for the morning paper and brings back the Sunday NY Post with the front page head lines: “DROP DEAD, Elevators on killing spree” The story is about the violations in the city’s elevator inspections and the number of fatal and serious incidents of elevator malfunctions.

There are some things we dream that are peeks at waking life ahead; yet, it has nothing to do with us. This is not news. Governments like ours and Russia's have experimented with this talent in people for many years; they call it Remote Viewing. They've tested people to find those who are good at it so they can be trained to spy, etc. A very hysterical example is the movie; "Men Who Stare at Goats."

But, to dream of pending disaster is tough and many people dream such dreams, all the time. I've mentioned in another post Jung's dream or vision presaging the war in Europe. Dreaming of mass disaster can feel overwhelming and confusing; it can make you feel guilty that this is happening and you did nothing or there was nothing you could do. Dreaming life is like waking life in this way; there are tough moments. In the realm of dreaming seeing ahead occurs regularly; sometimes it's not something we want to see.

So what can we do when we experience such a tough dream? Be gentle with yourself; you can share it with a trusted friend or not, you can write it in your journal or you can just hold it in your heart and offer your prayers. I'm not responsible for mass tragedy, but how can I not ache about it? Aching is part of life. I can help in some way. Donate to the rescue missions; hold the Japanese in my heart and pray daily for relief for them. Many people will do different things to help; I'm not responsible, but I can be responsive.

Here's a prayer posted on her facebook page by the wonderful Dr. Pinkola Estes, author of "Women Who Run With the Wolves." I don't think she'd mind me sharing it with dreamers who have witnessed this event in the dreaming and the waking.

Dear Brave Souls: Prayericito for Sudden Upheaval
by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes on Friday, March 11, 2011 at 6:50am

May all pathways to safety be opened,

seen, and safely taken.

May all who are lost be found

and lifted to safe ground.

May all without shelter be given refuge

May all who are naked and cold

be covered with warmth

May all who are frightened be calmed

by Mind greater

May all who are injured, receive timely aid

May all who are trapped, hold on,

sensing strength of the ancestors near.

May all who are alone and frightened

be comforted by invisible Hands

This we ask, in the name of all that is Holy,

each in her own way, each in his own way...

that all imperiled and saddened be

sealed into vitality with the light of the angels and the saints;

sealed into animating spark with the light of the Bodhisatvas;

sealed into holy and fullest life by the sound of the breath'

sealed into repair by the sound of the stars overhead chanting




and Aymen

and Aymen

and Aymen


so be it,

so be it,

so be it.

and with love.

From us all:

Tribe of the Sacred Heart, many of us, Scar Clan...

from us all.

and with love too, from dr.e

Monday, March 7, 2011

Erotic Dreams

Once, in a dreaming workshop I presented at a Unitarian Church, an older, very attractive woman, widowed for awhile, came up to me after my talk. She spoke about her loneliness and then about occasional wonderful erotic dreams she has. I shared with her how much I value those wonderful erotic gifts from the dreaming and suggested that since dreaming is another existence to be experienced, we have free rein to do as we will and enjoy. Waking life's physical constraints and moral sanctions don't apply in erotic dreams anymore than they do in any dreams.

I love Dorothy Sayer's quote: "The only sin that passion can commit is to be joyless."

Our dreams befriend us sexually just as they do in every other aspect of our life. They give us an outlet that we can use regardless of whether our dance card is full or whether we are in a committed relationship.

When dream lovers show up, especially strangers with no waking life strings attached, it can make for some fun fantasizing in days and months ahead - IF you write the dream down, that is.

Here's an example from my dream collection that might illustrate several good things to know about erotic dreams:

June 25, 2010
Panties on a Platter

I’m in a place, bigger than an average room, where women, all very attractive in a typical model way, in various stages of undress, all wearing attractive bikini panties, are sitting around a counter, like at a diner.

I place a lovely pair of pink bikini panties on a plate and serve it to a guy sitting at the counter, as well. I’m very flirtatious and confident about my overture.

He’s 40’s, white, plain shirt and trousers. Not really sexy – but I’m attracted to him.

I wake up

When I first wrote this dream down it had a slightly icky energy; probably the panties. What I love is that in a random search through my dream journals for the best of my dream erotica (a practice I recommend to anyone), I find this dream from a year ago and recognize it's erotic potential in a way that had escaped me before.

I decide to reenter the dream and dream it forward:

Panties on a Platter Re-entry 3-6-11

In our conversation, I learn my dream lover's name and what he likes to be called. He's very responsive to anything I say or do; we're very turned on by each other. We have fun... Some dreams make for great erotica.

Personal dream erotica is accessible for personal sexual fantasies to anyone who dreams and records dreams. The brainless, emotionally bloodless garbage that passes for erotica in waking culture can't hold a candle to the customized work of your dream cupid.

Many times culture has tried to convince us that sex is the forbidden fruit; bite in before God gives the okay and you're in for a world of pain, no more Eden for you.

But, among the many things we experience at night in our sleep, we experience opportunities for sexual healing that come in the form of dreams that turn us on and perhaps even give us sexual release. Talk about safe sex!

Hello, dream lover.

Thanks to my dear friend, fine artist, Mally DeSomma, for letting me use one of her spectacular nude paintings for this post. Here's a link to her website:

Friday, March 4, 2011

Simple Synchronicity

Once again, my dear friend Antoinette Martignoni, posted in her email newsletter, as she did on Christmas eve, a post that drew my dream content to the fore. (

You'll remember she loves poetry and many of her daily contemplations are poems she shares along with some of her own reflections. Here's the poem that was part of the email she sent today:


Salt shining behind its glass cylinder.

Milk in a blue bowl. The yellow linoleum.

The cat stretching her black body from the pillow.

The way she makes her curvaceous response to the small,
kind gesture.

Then laps the bowl clean.

Then wants to go out into the world

where she leaps lightly and for no apparent reason
across the lawn,

then sits, perfectly still, in the grass.

I watch her a little while, thinking:

what more could I do with wild words?

I stand in the cold kitchen, bowing down to her.

I stand in the cold kitchen, everything wonderful around me.

..........................MARY OLIVER, 1991-1992

Here's the dream I recorded when I woke up today:

I have company, a dear woman friend, so I place a plate of chicken and other goodies on the glass table in front of the couch. Sunny, (my cat) comes up to me while I'm upstairs, away from the guests and the hors d'oeuvres that I've served, and says while stretching his front legs up on my shoulders; "You know that plate of chicken?" I say; "Yes, did you eat it?" He says; "Yes, dammed straight." I love him dearly and think it's very funny. Wake up delighted.

What struck me in the synchronicity of her poem and my dream was the "wild words" Oliver refers to as the cat's (or perhaps poetry's or dream's) language. In my dream, my beloved Sunny spoke to me in a very curious cat/human dialect that I could understand. I've heard my cats speak to me before in dreams, but this was a wild and wonderful way he spoke; half cat/half human.

Wild words indeed.