Saturday, December 28, 2013

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

What Do Dreams Mean?

Last night, I was looking through past journals for dreams featuring a particular character, a dream practice I really enjoy.  To make this kind of search easier, I've created monthly title pages for the front of each month’s entries in any particular year.  I’ve posted before about how I like to use three ring notebooks with dividers sectioning each month to create my journals because it allows for additional material to go in at any time, making it easy for me to add to past entries. So in front of every month's entry is a page titled, for example, January 2012 and then a list of dream titles and dates, like: 1-21 "My Pet Gorilla." As I go through older journals, If I get to a title and don’t remember the dream, I turn to that page and scan the dream narrative for recognition. Sometimes, a dream I don't remember pops out with the force and energy of a present dream; it's just the dream I need at the moment.

So it was that last night, I read a dream I hadn't remembered dreaming. I read my notes on the dream and the synchronicities that surrounded it that I'd recorded and realized I've grown with the help of this dream; this dream opened a door to greater awareness for me.  I don’t feel that way anymore, those things don’t weigh me down any longer, and it’s because of playing with and honoring the dream that I arrived at this new juncture on the road to inner peace. 

A dream dialogue is a life long safety net; it’s access to my own higher consciousness, to my guides and friends in dream dimensions.

Granted there’s the occasional bogey-person in the wardrobe. I’ve had many dreams that, as I like to say, have scared the pajamas off me.  I recently came across an account of a dream re-entry I recorded about two dreams I apparently didn't write down because I didn't like them.  I titled the re-entry journey, "Two Really Bad Guys." Reading the entry, I recalled the way I’d honored and practiced with the dreams, but I very much regret that I didn’t write the dream narratives down.  I’ve seldom experienced a nightmare that didn’t open an important door to self-exploration and understanding, so here are two opportunities I chickened out of preserving.  

I make a major exception to how I'd approach nightmares when it comes to Post Traumatic Stress dreams that are, to me, the psyche screaming with the pain of images seared on its visual screen by waking world nightmare experiences.  I believe PTSD dreams can be faced and used for healing with the gentlest, wisest of help.  It's different, however, when I'm facing a non-post traumatic stress nightmare which challenges me to brave up, go back in with whatever allies I need and find out what it's about.  Two really bad guys can turn out to be important messengers, guides or even transform into guardian angels when confronted and understood.

A dreamers understanding of personal dreams increases as the relationship to dreams deepens. Meaning evolves out of familiarity and respect, as in any relationship. Journaling dreams helps you follow your own path to your own center.  It’s like being in love, once you discover that relationship to your dreaming self, it’s not a task to write down the messages and experiences of that dimension.

There are two things I hear a lot from people who find dreaming a puzzlement: "I had this weird dream." and "What does it mean?"  The first one’s not so bad; the second leaves me  looking like a deer in the headlights back at the person.

Weird when applied to dreams is a relative term.  Of course, it’s weird; all waking reality rules are suspended. You’re in a dimension where you can fly like a bird and keep yourself safe by using your imagination to help create a good outcome.  If you judge the dream world by waking world standards, then it all seems weird and nonsensical.  Learn the language and the culture of dream realities and you change your experience of dreaming; just as knowing about the people, the language and the culture of foreign countries improves your chances of having a great experience visiting there.

But, “What does it mean?” 

Only the dreamer knows the meaning of the dream; I’d like to hear that question changed to “If this was your dream, what thoughts and insights would come to your mind?”  Then I’d know that the dreamer realizes I have no “answers” for them, I’ve just been invited to participate in the magic of the dream as a fellow dreamer.

I know people don’t mean to abdicate their power when they ask the “what does it mean” question. I know that many people in our culture haven’t yet developed a relationship to their own inner experience through dreaming, so I do understand it’s a normal question, but I don’t usually understand my own dreams immediately.  Meaning is an evolution, it unfolds over time between the dreamer and the dream; it takes pondering.

Keeping dream journals helps me map my way in life. Often when I review my dreams, my conscious mind catches up with my unconscious, or my dumber self catches up with my smarter one. I ponder dreams and let their message emerge as I live my waking life with my dream in mind.  This was Carl Jung's approach to a dreaming practice; he believed that if you pondered a dream, lived with it for a while, almost always, something will come of it. 

When someone says, “I know what that dream is about”, I might suggest that dreams seldom just present what we already know.  There’s a wonderful element of irony, the trickster and the unexpected in dream messages, so even if I get an obvious message, I’m always open for the surprise message it might also convey, once I've reflected on it for a while.

Dreamplay is a doorway to the Self; ancient and modern indigenous cultures have always recognized this and created dreaming practices for making those nightly journeys.  It’s time we in the West reach the hundredth monkey stage with dreaming.  Claiming our individual human psychic independence through the practice of dreaming would create a sea change for collective humanity, one dreamer at a time. 

Robert Moss, author and creator of Active Dreaming, has proposed to the ever growing number of Active Dreamers he has trained around the world that we honor our work by celebrating The World Day of Active Dreaming on May 10th, 2014.  Each of us who practices Active Dreaming will organize some sharing event in our community to honor this day and the practice of dreaming.  

I'm in, so I'll be letting you know how this comes together when it does.  

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


We live in a wonderful age!  I know things seem to be going to hell in a hand -basket, but the amount of revolutionary thinking exploding onto the human screen is exhilarating.   Do we save the planet?  Do we destroy this incomparable biosphere?  I don’t know.  Oh, goddess, I hope not.  But all I can do is evolve.  

For so very long my favorite word has been paradigm.  I heard on some intellectual circuits that paradigm is dead and we should use meme instead.  Sorry, I like paradigm.  The word evokes an image of the boundaries I’ve drawn around my reality.  I believe this and this must not be challenged.  Good luck with that.  Paradigms are meant to be re-drawn ; that’s evolution.

Listening to some of our great contemporary spiritual  teachers , I have to count myself lucky.   We are exhorted daily by the media to worry about the economy and about our survival, but these teachers are reminding us that there is much more to our experience on this planet, or in this dimension of reality, than how much money we can make.  What can you take with you, especially if you know for sure that this “life” experience is but a chapter in our book?

What I can take with me is the evolution of my consciousness.  What does it mean to be conscious?  If you haven’t read Eckhart Tolle’s “The Power of Now” and “A New Earth”,  I very highly recommend these as a solid answer to this question.   But just about every mystical or martial teaching around the world is based on this principle; honing awareness on the present moment, something that is aided by focus on the breath, is crucial.  The mind, the drunken monkey as the Buddhists call it, is a detriment to our well-being, our sense of balance.   The Ego, says Tolle, is insane, driven insane by the constant messaging of negative, anxious or fearful thoughts  in the mind.  Being  is more important than Ego, as I like to put it, there’s more to me than meets the I. 

Jung, that wonderful old witch doctor, as he called himself, developed a powerful, if a bit esoteric, paradigm for the psyche of a person.  Central to his thinking is that each person must develop an open dialogue between the Ego, the center of consciousness, and the Self, the center of the unconscious.   He held a firm conviction that  our psychic affairs are far more important than our wordly ones, in fact, that when we remain unaware of the transpersonal nature of the unconscious, and so ignore it, we project all our blind beliefs into the world and create the mess we find ourselves in.  So, as he put it, “The world hangs by a thread, and that thread is the psyche of man.” (If he were writing today, I'm sure he'd use more inclusive language.)

What  excites me so very much is that by connecting us with the multi-dimensional experiences of the unconscious, dreaming teaches us to be more conscious  in our waking life.  A dream practice is a very royal road to expanded consciousness.

Projection is an unconscious need we fulfill.  I feel unlovely or, a man might feel unmanly, so I fall in “love” with someone other than my husband/wife,  (without deep love and respect, familiarity often breeds contempt)  and have a torrid affair.  Long story short, it all blows up into a frightful relational mess, until I examine my own story, my waking life, and ask, “What part of fulfilling this story did I play?” If we pay attention, our dreams will tell us in no uncertain terms, but in a way that inspires us to move forward, not wallow in shame or guilt.  Collective projections are probably the scariest: mobs, fans, religious fanaticisms of all sorts.  These lead to blood shed that leaves us reeling, but as that old joke says, “In an avalanche, no one snowflake feels responsible.”

Withdrawing projection, individual and collective,  is a huge psychological accomplishment. Taking responsibility for my own life story, how it plays out and accepting its outcome as A-okay, that’s the summit of individuation.  It’s enlightenment.   It’s a step-by-step, day-by-day process; there’s no arriving at enlightenment, there’s only the immediate living of it.  Being, not Ego. must drive the bus.  Or, since the Ego, to feel strong must feel in control, I entertain the metaphor that the Ego is the chauffer of my limo, but the Self, sipping champagne in the back seat, is the one who says where we’re going.

Withdrawing projections isn’t all that complicated.  I like to remind myself of Gandalf’s final words to Bilbo in “The Hobbit”, when puffed up with the success of his adventures, Bilbo gives his opinions on the prophecies.  Gandalf says to him:
“Surely you don't disbelieve the prophecies, because you had a hand in bringing them about yourself? You don't really suppose, do you, that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck, just for your sole benefit? You are a very fine person, Mr. Baggins, and I am very fond of you, but you are only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all.”

To me this means, I’m part of this human story, but I’m not the whole story.  You who are other than me, have your own part to play in this story.  If our paths cross and we partner for our mutual good, let it always be in mutual respect and affection. If we don't see "I to I", then let us give each other the space to evolve as our personal timing dictates.

When people get very angry at each other, especially people who’ve previously “loved” one another, maybe married, they project like gangbusters all their hurt and disappointment on to each other. ET (Eckhart Tolle) explains this as each person projecting their own pain body on to another or others, because this also happens on a collective level in mob insanity, violence and war.  Tolle believes that we are at a watershed moment; however, that humanity is taking great leaps in the expansion of consciousness, self-awareness and withdrawal of projection.  He believes it’s happening because, as Jung predicted, if we don’t evolve into a non-egoic paradigm, we’ll bring the whole house of cards of material form down with us.  So, owning one’s own shadow is a major accomplishment on the road to individuation, and withdrawing the negative projections we have is one task in integrating the shadow and creating a better world. 

To echo ET again, some things are very hard to grasp in words and with our left brains, but we project on to others because it fulfills an unconscious need, one we have never acknowledged to ourselves.  The only way we can catch projection is when we shine the light of consciousness, the Observer, not the Ego, on to our behaviors and life situations. Of course, dreams open the doors to the rooms we must air; they present us with the images and clues we need to trace our way home.

I find this topic fascinating and tracing my own shadow through my thoughts, words, deeds and dreams extremely rewarding.  It’s not “patrolling” for negative behavior.  The shadow is not necessarily bad or dark, certainly not evil.  It’s the repressed, rejected or too painful to deal with bits of our personal history along with all our karmic stuff. Befriending a shadow aspect can bring great rewards.

The Ego projects. The Self observes, recognizes and balances the Ego.  The Ego needs a story, the drama, and often feels life-threatened.  The Self knows its own divinity, its own immortality, something the Ego must fathom in order to be strong. Dreams give us the resources, the counsel and guidance we need to achieve this breakthrough; and once enough of us do, we can dream a new dream collectively with the power to save our planet for future generations of divine little fellows, like each of us is.

If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself.
If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world,
then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself.
Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of
                         your own self-transformation."    ~ Lao Tzu

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Leave Mama a Note

Leave Mama a Note is the title of my dream; in it, me and three companions have been bunking out at a house I lived in from time to time with my parents, during my college years. To avoid my mother, we’re up and ready to leave before dawn with our backpacks and provisions. I'm not comfortable with that; I feel I owe her communication and I should leave a note.

A small dream, perhaps, but it wouldn’t let go of my imagination; it kept popping up in consciousness, and each time, I felt the certainty that I should leave Mama a note.  My dream wasn't finished.

In my dream, when we left pre-dawn in a rush because we heard her footsteps padding upstairs, we turned left and headed up the street.  In waking life, I never went up that way, since in the suburban no- sidewalk neighborhood I lived in, friends, work and stores all involved turning right. In my dream, we headed up the hill that was our street to the left and found that it ended in a wooded dead end.

I recently had the great pleasure of spending time with my dear brother and sister-in-law in those youthful parts of the country; each traveling to get there there for a family reunion picnic.  My bro and I were driving around town doing errands to help out, so I asked him  to drive to the street we lived on when we had that house.  After we checked out the house, I asked him to go up the hill.  I felt a little disappointed as the street ends in a T with houses facing the street, but as he approached the road ahead, I saw it on the right, my dream locale, a wooded dead end.

Active Dreaming teaches that dreams require action; "What are you going to do to honor this dream?” is how Robert Moss has phrased it.

The first step, after writing it down, was the opportunity to visit my dream locale. It's synchronistic that  I was able to do so soon after the dream, since it's a distance away.  Another wonderful dream synchronicity is finding the wooded area I never knew was there.  Far seeing or clairvoyance is common in dreams, though things often have some distortion; like in my dream, the dead end is front and center, not to the right, which may well bear some pondering.  What is it my dream wants me to see that's right in front of me?  I think I'll go back in a dream re-entry to this locale and take a look in the woods.

There was one more thing I knew I had to do to honor this dream; write Mama that note.  Of course, I wrote in Spanish as that’s the language we always spoke before she crossed over. 

The trick to imaginal work is to do it fast, without letting your left brain get a hold of it.  I wrote rapidly, without pre-thought.  When I finished, I felt the words as a balm for my soul and a deeper connection with my Mom.  What I said really needed saying, to her, to me; I feel very grateful for the gift this dream gave me. I'll keep the note with the dream in my journal for when I need to read it again.

Following the thread of a dream through waking life is one of the great entertainments of a dream practice.  Re-entering dreams, dialoguing with dream characters, playing synchronicity games with the universe, there are so many ways of imagining what more a dream can offer me. It's even a great practice for those moments I find myself inadvertently waiting; I can turn waiting into daydreaming. 

Probably the #1 question I get from beginners, after they tell me a dream, is “What does it mean?”  Only the dreamer can answer that; the deeper you go in your dreaming, the easier that becomes.   

Sunday, September 8, 2013

When the Dead Come Visit

My husband’s younger brother died unexpectedly last week; while Jim was down south taking care of the funeral arrangements with his sisters, standing outside the hotel he saw a luna moth on the tree.  Luna moths are pretty rare sightings, as far as I can tell.  They are the most lovely creatures of the night I know. 

Yesterday, during a dream workshop I was leading, one of the participants told me a story of how her grandmother always said she wanted to transform to a butterfly when she died.  This makes good sense as butterfly is a classic symbol of the transformation of the soul in death because of the catepillar, chrysalis, butterfly existence they have.  The Greek word we chose as the name of our video production company, Psyche, means soul and butterfly.  Well, at her grandmother’s funeral, at the gravesite, her sister nudged her and pointed out a beautiful butterfly flying near the grave and said, "Here’s Gram."

Yesterday evening my husband called me and told me about the luna moth and sent me the picture he took of it.  We talked about how maybe it was Charlie visiting.

Today walking on the beach, trying to be present and open to the beauty around me and not stuck in the jabberwocky of thoughts in my head, (Thanks ET for all your excellent teaching.) I caught snatches of a conversation between a couple headed the other way.  I caught the words “funeral” and “ladybug” spoken by the woman as they approached me, then I caught more of her words as we intersected, “How does a lady bug show up in the car when we’re driving down 95?”  He says “Do you think it’s symbolic...?” the last words I hear as they move out of earshot.

I felt that thrill of recognition, three’s a charm.  Three times in a row, someone is comforted by the appearance of a beautiful butterfly or insect at the very moment when it counts, experiencing the loss of a dear loved one.  Maybe because insects have such short little life spans, the departed get to speak their comfort through them and then move on, leaving that beautiful image for their loved ones to share forevermore.

I pay my respects to Charlie in this post. Your brother loves you; thanks for comforting him just when he needs it the most.  May you travel to your desired home and may Love and Light guide you.

I also want to re-emphasize how natural it is for spirit to speak in symbol and dreams.  Just because someone tells you it’s all bullshit, don’t let that stop you from paying attention and seeing for yourself if this is true.  I ask myself if the person who is dissuading me with intellectual arguments has any dreaming experience; also, if this is a happy person?  If they have neither of these qualities, I tend to find their claims dubious.

I have a collection of visitation dreams told to me by men, women and children.  It’s probably the most frequently remembered dream by those who don't keep journals; usually remembered in vivid detail years later.  Wish fulfillment?  Do you really like Freud?  Ask yourself, what would Carl Jung say?  Most renoun dream teachers today, (Robert Moss, William Buhlman, Patricia Garfield) devote a great deal of attention to dreaming as an art of mid-wifing the transition of each person from the physical to the energy or spirit dimensions.  Listening to these stories is among the most beautiful experiences I have teaching Active Dreaming.  Dreaming is an amazing bridge between life and death, if only we hadn’t been made into scaredy kitties, (my apologies to my cats) by our religions, our out of control left brained, scientific paradigm or Hollywood.  Dreams have been tagged “of the devil”, just biological, mechanical, necessary but irrelavent and then we’ve got freddy krueger, ugh!

Yes, you’ve got to have some gumption to develop a dream practice, but as soon as you start, you get hooked.  Why?  Because it works.  Dreaming is a bridge, a lifeline for the soul.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Dreaming Key to Self-Reliance

 When people know how much I love dreaming, they tend to share dreams with me.  Then they look at me and ask; what does it mean?  

And there in lies the rub; the truth is, only the dreamer knows what it means.  Fortunately,  Robert Moss’s "Lightning Dreamwork" framework is a fast and easy way to turn the dream back over to the dreamer with a new perspective on their own question. The LD process is an excellent anytime mini-lesson in the power of dreams.

In this dreamplay process, the dreamer  is her or his own authority on the meaning of his or her  own dream. Credit for this understanding goes to Carl Jung and a wonderful modern dreamwork pioneer, Montague Ulman; thanks to them, this approach is honored by many modern dream work models, especially Active Dreaming.    Yet, probably the most frequently asked question about dreams is what does it mean?  It's at least right up there with "Isn't that weird?"

I’ve loved this OT saying from the Wisdom Book of Ecclessiastes  since I read it when I was a teenager; “Naked came I into this world and naked I shall return.”  It’s always meant to me that when I cross over, I will be doing it alone.   That thought never scared me; it’s just a fact of “life.”  What it has always conveyed to me is that I am responsible for that part of me that will exit, my soul.  As I've matured, it's also come to mean that there are certain gains I can make in this life that I can take with me, not the tangible trappings of the physical but the intangible gains of the soul:  How much I love. How much I learn and how much I care.   It also means that the work that I love doing here will be magnified somehow; I’ll have plenty of opportunities to grow my path once I’m dead.  Death isn’t the end so don’t fuss overmuch about getting older.  Just do what you can and stay curious.

Another thing I definitely know now is that in death I won’t be at the mercy of some Nobodaddy (W’m Blake’s brilliant term for the vengeful patriarchal Father God).  I’ll shape my own path in the subtler dimensions, just as I've shaped it here, hopefully with even more will and awareness. As long as I vibrate with the energy of Love, I’ll find each new adventure rewarding.  In other words, everything is up to me and that’s okay.  As it was in the beginning, is Now and forever shall be, right?

One of the best ways to experience what's available in other dimensions is to pay attention to nightly dreams, record them and ponder them.  This is valuable because the self-reliance a dreaming practice teaches spills over into a dreamer’s waking life. Spiritual lessons learned tilting with the windmills of the mind apply to waking windmills, as well.   Every time  I befriend the scary lion in my dreams, (and not necessarily by making it a cute, cuddly pet, either) I find new courage in some aspect of my waking life.  It also helps to see myself connected to a great Spiritual Resource that is extremely personalized to  my experience; I get the images I need, the messages I need, the support I need, freeing me to need less from others.  My connection to those I love improves when I don’t make burdening demands because my needs for security and self-esteem are met.

That doesn’t mean that human love, bonding and community isn’t a beautiful, natural, spiritual reality;  dreaming just helps us bear in mind that ultimately, it’s the soul’s journey that matters and I need to walk it by my Self.  Dreaming makes it so it’s never lonesome, though.  Not only is there help and love from the spirit side, other dreamers, other souls on their own journeys can help us on ours.  Not by telling us what to do, but by lovingly supporting our efforts as we lovingly support theirs.

So, when I say that only the dreamer can answer the question, 'what does it mean?', I’m not saying dreams shouldn’t be shared with others.  On the contrary, dream treasures are constantly unearthed in shared dream work, as long as one person isn’t telling another what to think or do about their dream.  “If it were my dream, I might think this or do that…” is perfectly acceptable because it respects the dreamer while it allows another person to play in the magic of a dream without the ego inflation of playing psychic guru or the unconscious  projection of misplaced good intentions.  

When I learn to travel my own dream worlds confidently and independently, it rubs off on my waking life.  I live my day to day dramas with much more awareness and self-reliance.  I love how Louise Hay constantly tells herself “I’m safe.”  I’m safe because there’s more to me than meets the I (ego), because I am forever; even if I have to suffer something painful or unpleasant, in the end, I’m safe.  My body is like a piece of clothing that I will shed one day in order to go naked into that good night, (and to continue to put a new spin on Dylan Thomas) dance, dance into the Light!  Does that make Now irrelevant and my physical body of no consequence?  Quite the opposite.  It makes Now a treasure and my body my best friend, because I came into the physical to do something, and I appreciate all the time and resources I’ve been given to do it. I especially appreciate all the many doors dreams have opened for me; living both awake and dreaming as fully as possible fairly doubles your existence.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Power of Your Dreaming Mind

Being a full time dream explorer means straddling two worlds.  Not in a split personality way that threatens to dissolve a healthy ego, but as a practice of balancing two realities.   We live in a multi-dimensional universe; physics and modern spiritual teachings agree.  This is most obvious when you follow a regular dream practice, remembering and journaling dreams frequently.  After countless dream experiences have provided significant help and teaching; a person realizes that waking reality is only one side of the existence coin. What we're learning as dreamers is that there is a way to balance these multi-realities so that the most feared hazard, loss of sanity, is not an issue.  As Jesus said, "render unto Caesar what belongs to Caeser." Pay attention to the waking world; take it seriously and do what you can.  But we are visitors here; each of our individual lives is much, much broader in experience and potential if we can accept who we are. We are spiritual beings having a physical experience, and not for the first time.  Every physical experience is rooted in the primal source of physical being, spiritual being.

The option a dream practice offers for living in this reality is to do it with respect, but without seeing it as the ultimate reality.  It isn't.  The ultimate reality is that we are forever and we are evolving.  Towards what; each of us decides.  My vote?  Towards beings who know that Love is the Answer.

I may be wrong.  If I am; I'll find out when I die.  If I'm not, then the best is yet to come!  And although I've reached this conclusion based on my own dreaming experience, countless respected modern scholars teach the same thing.  This is only one aspect of my journey, so I don't need to lose myself in it.  The perspective dreaming gives me is a life line in the fluid ocean of occurence that is physical existence and that life line is knowing that this is temporary - temporal.

The power of your dreaming mind is that it allows you to live life truly large, on many levels at once.  What happens during the waking day is no more or less important than what happens in my dreams.  Through my dream practice I can bi-locate, I can enjoy my waking adventures and I can live wonderful adventures in dreaming realities simultaneously, on a regular basis.  How much would you pay for that technology if Apple came up with it?

We are born with a powerful dreaming mind.  Humanity has always payed attention to dreaming, as depicted in dramatic cave paintings found in the south of France from some 40,000 years ago.  Humanity's dreaming can be traced back through every known ancient civilization; the Egyptians and the Greeks dedicated temples to healing through dreams.  Humanity's connection to dreaming was thrwarted for about the last 2,000 years, for reasons I've discussed before and no doubt will again.  Still, we haven't strayed far.  The gates of dreaming were held open by visionaries like Carl Jung.  Dreaming always brings us home again, and even during the most ignorant of those dreamless years, dreaming offered a portal to sanity to anyone who payed attention.

The power of the dreaming mind is that it requires little to tap into it; it's organic.  Each of us is born with the connection, each of us lives with that connection.  Some have been conditioned to view dreams as delusional and to be ignored, others believe they don't have time in their busy lives to pay attention to dreams, but everyone I've seen open to dreaming, changes that opinion quickly.  All it takes to realize the power of your dreaming is to pay attention to it. When we're acclimated to the "waking treadmill" of work, struggle, stress and entertainment, we can miss the option we have of altering that unilateral existence, if we want to.  Dreaming shines a light on the unconscious forces that drive us, sometimes controlling our egos; it helps us stay connected to our spiritual core, what Jung called the Self or some call the Higher Self.

Dreaming can take us into realms of magic and wonder.  If your dreams disturb you and educating yourself through good reading doesn't dispel that, then seek good professional help.  You'll know it's good help if it connects you to your dreams directly and doesn't tell you what your dream or your life mean.  The best teachers make you curiouser and curiouser; they don't give you answers.

As we experimentally open the doors to a dreaming awareness, we find that there's more to us than meets the I (the ego); we open ourselves to exploring the exhilirating reality of living on more than one dimension at once. Mono-dimensional thinking leads to limitation and depression; multi-dimensional thinking leads to engagement, adventure and hope.

I propose that the power of the dreaming mind is to liberate each of us from slavish thinking and negative projections; what you can dream, can exist in waking reality.  According to John Perkins, one valuable lesson he learned from the South American shamans who taught him is that "the world is as you dream it." The world, Perkins says, is as it is because someone dreamt it this way and others continue to consent in allowing that dream reality.  It just takes someone, or many, to dream it differently and transform what once was to what I want it to be.  That's the challenge of the dreaming mind.  Once we learn to use it; it's no longer confined to dreaming dimensions; it helps us create in waking reality, as well.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Family Dreaming/Spiritual Parenting

"River of Dreams" Elizabeth Westaway, 1962
In my dream practice training group, we dedicate one session to dreaming as a family activity.   This is an important part of Active Dreaming, sharing dreams with those we love and using dreams as family entertainment.   

How were dreams approached in your family? What did you learn from others about dreaming growing up?  What dreams do you remember from your childhood?  What help did you receive figuring dreams out?

For many, the answer to any of these questions is, not much.  It complicates things that the most memorable dreams are often experienced as nightmares.  Unless we’re working with PTSD playback dreams, nightmares are usually dream gauntlets thrown down by our dream guides because they think we’re ready to face what we’re running from in waking life.  As you know from many of my previous posts, I believe a nightmare is my best friend.  Working and playing with nightmares  is a practice that has always payed off for me and for dreamers in my groups who’ve bravely ventured where before they feared to tread.  There is an old saying: “Where there’s fear, there’s power” that is especially true in dreaming dimensions.

One of the perks of being a dream teacher is you witness magic and healing in every encounter involving someone’s dream.  Sometimes people tell me they used to have vivid, magical, wonderful dreams as a child, then “something” happened and their dream portals dried up and their dreams are full of the worries of waking existence, when they’re remembered at all.

I’ve had the great honor of seeing that turn around in my students.  Just recently someone who said that very thing to me when we first met at a workshop, at the end of the group course she took with me said of a dream she'd just had:

“Last night it hit me like a ton of bricks!  I guess I couldn't see the forest for the trees but this was the first time in decades that I was flying again in my dreams.  For me this is HUGE as I loved my childhood flying adventures and finally I was, AM, airborne again!!!!”  Yay, hurray, yippee…that’s all I have to say.”

Again and again, I see the joy people take in their own dreams once they reconnect with their dreaming self.  Wouldn’t it be better if we nurtured the dream life we all came here with in our children, instead of letting it be shut down due to ignorance or censorship?

It’s only a dream?  Really?  If we learn to follow and trust our dreaming intelligence we can pass that wisdom on to our children and they can pass the magic of that world from their vantage point back to us. Parents who know how to work and play with their own dreams are at a tremendous advantage, as are their children.

For one, dreaming is an organic path to consciousness and spirituality. We have natural access to the many dimension of reality we left behind to incarnate into this physical body, in this physical world, through our dreaming, lifelong. 

This can come in handy when addressing the quintessential questions about God, death and the meaning of life that often get asked of parents by their children.   When a parent has nurtured a dream dialogue with their child, and encouraged a dream practice in their child, it’s more than likely that child, having grown up with strong dream guidance and experience, will come up with some answers on her/his own.  If not, the parent has the entire cornucopia of dream images they've heard from their child to build an explanation to which the child can thoroughly relate.

For example, this might be a scenario of a parent listening to a child’s dream of a beloved grandma, who died; the child dreamed of her last night: “You saw grandma last night in your dream?  Yes, grandma died last week. The dream didn’t scare you?  You felt happy to see her?  She wanted to visit you and tell you she’s okay and how much she still loves you?”  Then a parent might say;  “Shall we draw a picture of your dream?  We can give it to grandpa, if you want.” 

A parent with a dreaming practice has access to a unique resource for nurturing a spiritual core in their children  that goes far beyond what Western culture has offered in centuries.   Today’s parents can learn how to develop a family dream practice that will serve their children throughout  their lives.

I hear so many friends say when their children reach that questioning age that they are going to take their child to church, regardless of the fact that they, on their own, wouldn’t go, but they say, they want to give them a spiritual base.  Later they say, their child can choose what religion or not they will follow. 

As a former psychotherapist, I say this is the stuff the profession counts on for their bread and butter, that and childhood family entanglements.    Not to worry, I would love to say to them, connect to your own dreams, teach your children to connect to theirs, and not only will you feel confident that you’ve given your child a spiritual terra firma, you’ll also have a lot of fun in the process and develop out of the ordinary communication with them, as well. 

As in any other practice, yoga, tai chi chuan, dance, playing an instrument, etc, you can't teach what you haven’t experienced yourself.  It’s a great idea for parents to learn how to have an ongoing relationship with their own dreams.   I highly recommend the innovative and practical approach Robert Moss presents in his books and DVD series on Active Dreaming; it's the modern shamanic approach to a dream practice.  His book,  “The Three Only Things” is a great introduction to Active Dreaming, as is, quite humbly, the DVD series Jim and I produced with him, The Way of the Dreamer.   With a little guidance from veteran dream explorers to get you started, nothing beats your own dream journal for the best tutorial on dreaming. I encourage parents to develop a dream practice so they can pass this great gift on as soon as possible to their children.

Dreaming protects and sparks imagination, something we desperately need in these creativity- numbing times of electronic entertainment.    Do you think, when you’re dead, you’ll still elect to spend hours of each day in front of a babbling box of ever cascading images of the same thing?  Or will you be out there doing the impossible, dancing and singing your joy?   Flying? 

We are not finite human beings; we are infinite spiritual beings.  Nothing ends; it’s never over.  It changes, that’s all.  The good news of this brave new world we are now living in is that consciousness studies and dream pioneering has brought us to this new age of discovery, not an exploration of outer space, but one of inner space.  The 100th monkey has got the picture; it’s time.  Dream time is as important as waking time.  Help, as Robert likes to say, is always available to those who ask, especially if they listen to the answers offered in dreams.

May your best dreams come true.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Angel Wings: Dreams & Grief

In the early 90s, I met a very dear friend of mine, the artist who taught me how to make jewelry.  We found, from the beginning, we had a lot in common; we could talk for hours.  I would often go to her house because she was a mother of three young children when I met her.  Her oldest child, a beautiful girl, was in a wheel chair and dependent on someone to do everything for her; she couldn’t communicate with words.  When she was born, the doctors said she wouldn’t survive.  Her mother felt very differently. 

When I met my friend, her daughter was seven.  The first time I met her, I took in the wheelchair to which she was confined and realized, my friend needs to be on 24 hour call, every day to care for her child.  Then I saw the way my friend related to her daughter; the love emanating between them was palpable. The patience and consideration and unquestioning love my friend showed her daughter left no doubt that this was not a burden, or a misfortune to be borne sadly.  ‘This is my daughter; this is what she’s like as a person, I love her completely,’ is what I read immediately in my friend’s words and actions.

I learned so much from the two of them.  It amazed me how much my friend was always herself, as well as a full-time mother.  She laughs and makes me laugh all the time; she’s a talented and tremendously motivated artist.  She loves everyone and treats everyone with kindness.  Her daughter was always her angel, her old soul; as she is now that she’s crossed over.

My friend’s beloved daughter died last week, peacefully in her sleep, at the age of 25, just before Mother's Day and her 26th birthday.  Although I hadn’t spoken to my friend for a few months, I called her immediately when I heard; my heart could imagine how torn hers must be at this moment.  I know she is happy for her daughter’s freedom, because she wrote the following poem, but I also know her mother’s heart is aching.  Here's her poem:

Angel Wings

I know it now that you are free.
For 25 years you were my 'little Lauren Lee"
So go...soar high and spread your angel wings.
Go now to do those thousand things.
For you are free now
To walk, dance, talk and sing.
It is beyond any words how much peace that brings.

My friend is a strong dreamer with a deeply felt spirituality; she already knows what solace listening to dreams can bring.  I’m so glad that dreaming is an open channel to her because communicating with our beloved departed in dreams is common place; dreaming bridges the divide between life in the body and life beyond it.

I write this as a tribute to my friend’s beautiful daughter who can at last use her voice to talk and laugh and sing and her legs to walk, run and dance.  I write it to vision her in her new freedom and to wish her well.  I write this to let her know that she is remembered, loved and respected.  I look forward to hearing all the wonderful stories my friend will tell me of her dreams, visions and communication with her daughter.  It’s how she says: “beyond any words how much peace that brings.”

It’s one thing to say "I believe in an afterlife”; it’s another to visit and explore that reality personally.  It’s easily done, but rarely sought.  Dreaming is, to say the least, undervalued, if not feared, in much of our Western culture, though, that’s changing.  Anyone who pays the slightest bit of attention to their dreams and who is willing to learn something about the worlds of dreaming from other dream explorers, can experience the certainty of soul survival after physical death for themselves.  Dreams of the departed are a pretty universal human experiences; why anyone would ignore this treasure is beyond me

We live in a time of countless reported Near Death Experiences (NDEs)  and spontaneous or intentional Out of Body journeys (OBEs); we’re familiar with shamanic journeying and meditation. Modern theoretical physicists suggest we inhabit a multi-dimensional universe of many parallel realities. Dream explorers will tell you that we have access to this multi-dimensional existence through our dreaming.  It’s organic; we were born with this access.  All we have to do is pay attention.

We come with a built in spiritual portal that enables us to look within.  For many though, their cultural norms and myths steer them away from direct spiritual experience towards religions that dictate what to believe and don't teach what can be experienced.

Once you experience the organic spirituality of your dreams, you don’t need anyone to tell you what you have to believe.  As Carl Jung himself put it at the end of his years when asked if he still believed in God; “Believe?  I don’t believe; I Know.”  The look on the great doctor’s face said it all; he beamed from within, his soul shining through his eyes, part wise man, part trickster. (bit I'm referring to starts at about 4:57)

Wouldn’t it be nice to know, once and for all, that there is Divine Love available to anyone who listens within?  Isn’t that just what Jesus said; the Kingdom of God is within?  I think he meant that literally.  If that’s the case; isn’t it just possible that although our conscious, ego driven minds rule when we wake, our unconscious connection to All That Is expands, and if we seek, we shall find when we sleep?

It will take time for my beloved friend to grieve her physical loss and all of us who love her deeply will be by her side to make sure she has whatever support she wants.  I know I’ll be privileged to hear many of her wonderful dreams, too.

And, in a beautiful synchronicity; here’s a message written to my friend’s daughter by a cousin when she signed the on-line guest book:

Dear sweet Lauren, 
Memories of your beautiful, smiling face and peaceful vibes will forever be in my heart. I dreamt of you last night. I played my violin for you while you were smiling and clapping. Thank you for visiting me in my dreams. You are and forever will be a pure, peaceful soul. We will all miss you dearly, but can be at peace knowing you are in a blissful world now. 
With all my love, 

This beautiful spirit portrait of Lauren is by artist Lorette Gaboury-Massa, Lauren's mother and my dear friend.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Freudian/Jungian Shadow Slip

I don’t have much use for Sigmund Freud and, yes, I’m a big Carl Jung fan, but I do credit Freud for noticing my favorite word synchronicity, the Freudian Slip. That’s when your ego says what your id was thinking instead of what your  super-ego told it to say.  This is usually very embarrassing for the ego.

Here’s one of my favorite FS moments from way back: 

I’m a young coed at a college mixer; there are grad students prowling around, looking for undergrads, I assume.  I meet this guy, good looking and pleasant who tells me he’s studying microbiology.   In true coed light-hearted banter I say, “Oh, you mean you study little orgasms…I mean organisms…” and then I burst out laughing.  There was just nowhere to hide.  I didn’t end up dating that guy, though we had a great conversation.

In my experience, Freudian slips are waking dreams in which the Trickster/ Shadow archetype is messing with me, and since the archetype concept belongs to Jung, I’ve renamed the phenomenon, the Freudian/Jungian Shadow Slip (FJSS) to credit him, as well. 

A waking dream in Active Dreaming is when you look at an event in waking life as if it were a dream and apply the same pondering observation to a waking reality that you would to a night dream.  So, having frequently recognized my Shadow archetype in dreams; I should know Her in waking.

It’s not as easy as it sounds because: a) the ego hates looking stupid, so it usually does a lot of damage control and/or rationalization to avoid looking at any undesired truth; and b) they don’t call it the UNconscious for nothing; what’s in the dark, stays in the dark, unless you shine a light on it. 

But, like night dreams, FJSS moments are opportunities to learn about myself.

As I understand Jung, an Archetype is the energy mold from which certain universal psychic realities flow into particular mythic or symbolic patterns. Cultures project consensus archetypes into myth and religion; we often project our individual archetypes into others. Dreams reveal what archetypes are ready to be integrated in the psyche, sometimes by mirroring some troubled aspect of our lives. As Joseph Campbell famously put it, “Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths”.

For Jung, the first step on the path to Individuation, is that a person must face the Shadow. I think this is what Pogo meant when he said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” (Individuation: that’s when your analyst gives you an A, kidding; it’s when a person has integrated all the cast off soul energies, restoring wholeness to the person and peace of mind.  I’d say it’s very like the Eastern concept of Enlightenment).

The Shadow has many manifestations; perhaps the most extreme is the archetype of evil, the devil. The Shadow represents what we reject about ourselves as unacceptable, and since it’s unacceptable to the egoic persona, we tend to unconsciously project our shadows on to others.  The devil, the enemy, the blasphemer, the person I just can’t stand, whose faults just drive me crazy, the person who is different, race, gender, nationality, the list is fairly long.

The main element of the Shadow is that it’s hidden, the ego hasn’t got a clue that it’s there; but, says Jung, in order to grow up and take responsibility for our own actions, it’s the first threshold we need to cross. We meet our Shadow in dreams, as same-sex-as-the-dreamer characters doing stuff the dreamer would consciously never do.  The otherness of the Shadow is the first clue this archetypal energy is at work.  The challenge is to see our Shadow and incorporate it’s existence into our conscious, waking life.  Since we are by definition, unconscious of the Shadow, the only way to understand those aspects of ourselves we need to face and integrate positively, is by paying attentions to dreams, and in my opinion, to FJSS.

In FJSS, the Trickster archetype is also at play alongside the Shadow. The Trickster archetype comes by its name honestly. It’s the energy in life that seems to trip you up or put you off your intended course. Trickster energy in many cultures is closely aligned with the Shadow; it’s manifestations are usually ironically funny.  Examples are the Norse God Loki, wonderfully featured in the movie, "Mask", in which Jim Carrey portrays a human who encounters the Trickster God when he finds a mask of Loki.  In other traditions, like the Afro-Cuban Lucumi, the Trickster god is Eleggua, who is also the gatekeeper and guardian of the crossroads and of all beginnings, so he is propitiated before commencing any human undertaking. 

For Jung, the Shadow is the gatekeeper of the Psyche, which is Consciousness in each of us. With the Trickster, how you respond makes the difference between learning the wisdom offered you by the unconscious or losing the gift in ego fueled befuddlement. 

So in my coed FJSS, what’s behind this slip is a towering Feminine Shadow Archetype; the Prostitute, the “easy woman.”  Interestingly, I just met a new embodiment of her for the first time, Pompa Gyra, the Lady in Red; a Brazilian friend introduced her to me. Recognizing this archetype’s pent up energy and giving her some elbowroom in my personality can help me avoid a lot of silliness and personal repression. In patriarchal cultures, the Feminine Sexual Archetype, personified throughout millennia in many mythic goddess forms, is driven underground.  Woman is split into Virgin/Whore and to various degrees, in various cultures, controlled by that myth.  But the energy of an archetype only doubles when it’s repressed; it needs it’s proper place in the psyche, culturally or personally.

Lucky for me, I live in a country and at a time when that wounded Feminine Archetype is less hidden and beginning to heal. There’s still a lot of cultural skewing of the Feminine, but personally, more women are looking within for who and how they want to be.  I have a wonderful Pompa Gira Shadow from my dream adventures that I’ve written about earlier; her name is Jeze-bella. 

As I make friends with the Jeze-bella in me, I learn to be more critical of the social mores and standards I allow to be knee-jerk truths for how I live my life. With Jeze-bella’s help, I sift through the good girl/bad girl indoctrination and come up with ideas that fit and attitudes that feel right.

So, let’s hear it for the Shadow, the dark side of our personality moon.  Let’s find a way to befriend our own darkness so we transcend the pettiness of projection.  The Shadow is a formidable Archetype until it is integrated; then it is the wisest of teachers.  My dreams have taught me that there is so much to learn that can’t come from books and universities, scholars or authorities.  Many spiritual teachers will tell you that you are born knowing all that you need to know; however, the process of remembering what you need to know after family and culture gets through with you can be a huge challenge. 

Every time you put your ear to the pillow, listen.  If what you hear constantly scares you, get help; otherwise, listen, record, and come to know your dreaming experience and the dream self that lives it every night.  We are on the cusp of a major paradigm shift; the next generations will value their dreaming, both in sleep and waking. Each of us who takes to this path today adds weight to this tipping point we’re living.  

From Robert Moss's wonderful new collection of poetry: "Here, Everything is Dreaming."

Go out in the garden any night,
step one inch outside the tame land
and you are near what you seek.
Open the window of your soul
any night and your guide may come in.
The issue is whether you'll run away
when you see what it is.  To make sure 
you succeed, tether yourself like a goat
at the edge of the tiger wood that breathes
right beside your bed.  He'll come.

 Hunting Power, August 16, 2009