Dreaming in Recovery

While working as a trauma therapist at a non-profit agency for substance abuse recovery, I meet all kinds of women. The clientele are highly diverse, yet they come together in their recovery journey. Whether in an individual or a group therapy session, the topic of dreaming often emerges even though I do not advertise my experience as a dreamworker or dream researcher. Dreams in early and mid-stages of recovery surface and are shared. The question often asked is “why now?” and “what does this mean?”

“Dreams belong to the dreamer,” I state, “so you are the one to determine that.” My offer to share some prominent theories, in order to generate ideas, is met with approval. One perspective of dreaming is that dreams come in service of evolution. They act as a protective evolutionary factor. In this case, if a woman is striving to stay clean (and recover from long-term drug abuse), a drug-of-choice dream might remind her of her purpose and this most pressing issue.

In the dream, sometimes the dreamer simply looks at, or holds, a bag containing the drug-of-choice; other times she prepares to consume the illicit drug, but awakens before doing so. And even other times, dreamers use the drug while in the dream state .Perhaps these three examples represent levels or stages of recovery integration. Or, perhaps they exist simply to encourage the dreamer to progress in some way.

In the first example, some of these dreamers have spoken about a feeling of mastery or pride in that they could be so close to such a dangerously tempting substance, yet not act impulsively or have any desire to do so. In the second example, dreamers have reported feeling worried about their dream activities (e.g. chopping a line; preparing a syringe), only to become increasingly vigilant in their recovery work. The third and final example can leave the dreamer with much confusion and fear. One woman reported smoking crack cocaine in a dream, and while slowing waking up (aka hypnopompic state), she touched her face, perceiving it as thinner and sunken in. This perception led her heart to race and body to jolt out of bed in fear. The dream, she said, upon reflection, supported her recovery by scaring her out of thoughts of using. The cravings dissipated for some time and she made several statements about her commitment to her recovery.

Substance abuse is like a slow death. It is, essentially, self-harm and the illicit drug is the weapon. For those living with addiction, the drug-of-choice is extremely powerful – powerful enough to hijack, sabotage, and rob a person of their own life. If dreams do serve evolution, then a dream centered around the relationship and power dynamic between the drug and the dreamer, may support relapse prevention or prepare the dreamer for what could come.

Addiction is a chronic disease. It can cause disability and premature death, but it can be managed and people do recover. The resources listed below can offer help and provide information, however, they are just a starting place.

http://www.asam.org

http://www.na.org

http://www.smartrecovery.org

http://www.womenforsobriety.org/beta2/

dreaming at conception…and beyond

Dreams that indicate conception or fertility are more common than one might think. This informal category of dreams is shared among men and women across the globe. Some cultures expect such a dream before a child can be conceived or even born. For other groups, such dreams may come as a surprise. The following story was told to me recently and is filled with emotion for this dreamer.

Newly wed Amalia loves her job as a school teacher and adores children. She planned to start a family not long after the wedding because she is in her mid-30s and has been very excited, for quite some time, to have her first child. Amalia said that that year was filled with frustration because conceiving did not occur as easily or quickly as she expected. As time passed, however, Amalia experienced a striking dream in which an adult size baby boy knelt on the floor by her bedside. “He was leaning on my bed, watching my husband and I sleeping. When I got up to look at him, he calmly whispered, “I’m coming.” This freaked me out, because it was the first time a baby had ever appeared in my dreams,” she said.

Amalia wasn’t sure if the dream was supposed to reassure her, inspire hope, or encourage her to keep trying. She had many feelings, including anger and sadness. Amalia said, “I felt like that dream was a tease and maybe just a sign of my subconscious longing for a baby. To our surprise, I conceived the next month.”

“The entire thing sure has been a miracle,” she continued. At 10 weeks pregnant, Amalia openly spoke about how she hoped for a baby girl, even though her husband desired a boy. She said, “I had gone to the doctor for a check up and was a little upset that they didn’t do a sonogram – just a heartbeat check. I wanted to see the baby, as I was honestly still shocked that I was pregnant. I didn’t believe it. As if the 15 extra pounds, constant exhaustion, profound hunger, nausea, and stiffness wasn’t enough to convince me!” Upon returning home, after the check-up, Amalia rested, meditated, and thought about how much she wanted to see the baby growing inside her. That night she had another dream.

Amalia reported, “In my dream, I was laying in my bed right next to my husband. Then my husband put his hand on my belly and his hand turned into a sonogram. Immediately, my husband and I both went into my body and into my uterus. It was so intense and real looking. When we were in there, we saw the baby hooked to the umbilical cord and everything. I saw the face and all of its body. I then looked down between the legs and saw a little pee pee.”

She continued, “Right then, my husband was just crawling into the bed for real [in the physical waking state]. He comes home from work after midnight. I suddenly woke up and with eyes still closed, I casually muttered to him, “Papi, I just met the baby, it’s a boy.” He chuckled a little bit and held me to fall back asleep. When we woke up, he said I was talking in my sleep, and I told him, “No, I really did meet the baby” and shared what I remembered. I explained that it seemed so real and that I even remember his face. He thinks I’m crazy. I was hoping that I was losing it too and that the dream was nothing.”

Three weeks later, the genetics test came back to show that Amalia was carrying a male fetus. This affirmed what was ‘seen’ in the first and second dream. Amalia told me that her and her husband cannot agree on a name and that they have only come up with a handful of possibilities. Amalia hopes that the baby boy will return to her in another dream and share his name, or possibly, a name he would like.

Dreams around the time of conception can mean so many things. For Amalia, uncertainty, a range of strong emotions, hope and inspiration were intermingled. In addition, what might such occurrences imply about the baby him/herself? This all depends on culture, of course, and whether one integrates dreaming into larger life concepts of meaning, purpose, and existence.

 

Here’s to dreaming,

Kim

dream flying

When flying in a dream, we might move from one place to another very quickly. This is, of course, possible during a lucid dream, since the dreamer can speed up or slow down at will. In several dreams, I have decided to ‘fly’ to a particular place almost immediately after becoming lucid. Usually, the destination is quite far, so I fly across states or nations. During this type of flight, I can see the land or clouds below, even stars sometimes. Flying through space is an unforgettable experience.

img_2314Of course, we are not limited by this planet alone. We can fly into deep space or to other planets. Many years ago, a woman told me that she flew to the planet Venus in her lucid dream and was certain that some kind of life form existed there. I became quite curious, but to this day, I have never made it there.

We can even announce to the dream, “Take me where I need to be.” Then, we may be transported to another location to investigate or to learn something. There really is no limit. With such a question, posed to the dream itself, we might travel instantaneously and have little awareness of flying or any other form of transportation. You never know. What is certain, is that you are safe and free from any physical harm during such adventures.

For those new to lucid dream flying, I suggest testing this out in smaller ways – easy does it. For example, instead of flying to the moon, try flying to a rooftop near by and hover img_2405above it. Look around and see what you notice. If instead, you find yourself lucid in a more natural landscape, fly to the top of a tree or mountain. Notice what can be observed from this new vantage point. No matter what happens, you can wake up (returning to the physical waking state) simply by saying, “I want to wake up now.” That’s what I said during my first recognizable lucid dream and I immediately found my awareness there in my bed. My eyes opened and the episode was over.

Happy dreaming,

Kim

dreaming in arizona

With the increase in reported violence and harassment surrounding this election season, many sense a growing tension in the air. For some, it is a time of great fear and uncertainty. It is no surprise that memorable, impactful, and significant dreams are recalled during these turbulent months of 2016. One woman sent in the following for publication, here, via Conscious Chimera.

Arizona resident “G” wrote, “On June 16, 2016, Donald Trump announced he was running for President of the United States. My immediate reaction was, this was of course a joke. Some sick farce Trump had concocted for higher ratings to some new ridiculous reality show coming up in the near future. A few weeks after his announcement, I had one of the worst nightmares I ever had and prayed to God it was not some horrific prediction of days to come.”

With that, “G” reported the following dream:

In my dream, Trump was president. His nauseatingly racist, xenophobic regime was firmly established and in my nightmare, he was interning all of the Asian Americans in Arizona. Of course, I was in a state of shock and disbelief, but there I was, thinking how could this happen as Asians Americans all of the state were being corralled into buses headed toward internment camps. We were only allowed 1-2 grocery bags full of personal items. For some reason, I was dressed in a traditional red and white flowered Pilipino housedress belonging to my mother. Instead of being allowed the 2 bags of items, I was only allowed one pathetic grocery bag, which only carried a pair of underwear, toothbrush and undershirt. As I was about to embark on the bus, I turned to my house and hoped it would be okay. I was anticipating the Trump regime to confiscate the belongings as well as the house itself, just as it was during the Japanese internment in World War 2. I had a small glimmer of hope that perhaps my parents or brother could take possession of my home as my closest immediate relatives. I wondered if I could allow myself some optimism that they could salvage the equity of the home for the sake of our family’s decades of hard work. I was curious to know if or when they may be interned as Asian Americans in California. In this sickening dream, it was just Arizona that was interning Asians in the U.S. so far.

After exiting the bus, I came upon the interment camp. It was vast wasteland and I was to be interned in a grave. In the grave was a workstation and the walls of the grave where dirt was to surround my body, instead housed shelving filled with items I was to be working on for the workstation. The workstation was a table set up, factory worker style and this was where I was to work all day. I was to eat, sleep and defecate beside the worktable until the day I died. 

As I stood there feeling dejected, I crawled out of the grave and stood up on literal equal footing as the White soldiers around me and decided I was not going to allow this to be my reality and I would move to Canada.

Somewhat hopeful of my decision, I then woke up.”

She continues, “Upon waking, I was disoriented and disturbed. After gaining some composure on what I had just experienced, I decided moving to Canada was not the actual course of action I would take if this repulsive reality would ever take place, I would revolt instead. I would stand my ground on this land and fight as others did before me.

Since that terrible nightmare, Trump did become the President elect. On November 17, 2016, Trump supporter, former Navy Seal, Carl Higbie had a blatantly racist discussion on air, stating the Japanese interment was precedent set for the possibility of interning Muslims in the U.S.

Just as Hitler’s Regime did to those of Jewish descent, Trump’s factions wish to start a registry of Muslims in the U.S.

Peaceful Native Americans are being beaten, gassed and hosed with freezing water in Standing Rock, North Dakota just as peaceful African Americans were at Birmingham in the 60s.

As when I woke up from the nightmare, and the wake of the electoral college selecting Trump as President, I pray this dream was not precognitive. I believe it is an important warning and a call to action.

What happened to the Japanese American in World War 2 can not be repeated and we have a nation of people of color and supporters that will fight for equal rights.”

After reading this dream report (along with the author’s introduction and concluding statements), a wide range of thoughts and feelings arose. How many others may be dreaming like this at this time? What does it say about the future? A dream like this leaves me with more questions than answers.

I considered Carl Jung’s complementary theory and thought ‘how might this dream restore equilibrium or re-establish balance for this dreamer?’ I also wondered if a dream is regarded as a “truth-telling oracle,” as has been in the past, then what can be understood from this experience? Another approach considers the conscious and unconscious to operate as a whole, instead of existing in opposition. Could this frightening dream be a reflection of the dreamers life? Could it serve her by acting as a ‘road sign’ for what she should consider attending to today?

Montague Ullman considered dreams to be a spontaneous expression of one’s life situation. Of course, the dreamer herself would be the one to connect the dots and make the most appropriate interpretations – after all, it is her life, in which she is the expert.

…And your dreams? Does the dream reported here mirror any dream of your own lately? Whether or not that’s the case, we can learn from the dreams of others. We can see a glimpse of our own inner world reflected back. And so, as the Ullman Method of Dream Appreciation begins, “If this were my dream,…”

Happy Holidays,

Kim

visitation dreams

This article was written with Samhain, Day of the Dead, and All Soul’s Day in mind. It is truly a special time of year for many of the world’s cultures. Dreams labeled as “visitations” (aka “visitation dreams”) may often include a variety of possible “visitors,” yet I usually think of the deceased when I hear this term. This month’s article will focus on that slice of the visitation dream spectrum. Some dream reports simply include the appearance of a deceased friend or family member (like a snapshot), while other times there is a brief interaction or verbal exchange, sometimes meant to provide information. Some claim that the deceased take the dreamer to another realm in order to show them around the place, or for another reason. Either way, upon awakening, the impact appears to hold great meaning in that the dreamer feels comforted, relieved, reassured, or even propelled toward making a life change. Sometimes, although it’s much more rare, the dreamer feels disturbed, annoyed or bothered. Just like premonition dreams (see September 2016 article), the meaning of a visitation dream may be understood immediately or it may be vague – a second or third dream might be needed for clarity.

Some of my own deceased relatives have appeared in my dreams over the years. This never disturbed or surprised me. I awoke feeling good about it. When a recently deceased neighbor engaged me in a dream, I was a little surprised, yet grateful upon awakening because we had become friends just a few years before his death. He was a friendly and spiritual man, who had basically died of old age. The dream took place during the time I lived in Arizona. In this vivid, colorful dream, I’m in my bedroom looking out the window into the grassy courtyard on a bright and sunny day when he (the recently deceased neighbor) approaches me on foot. I see him walking toward me and notice that he appears younger and easily walks without his cane, practically floating. We make eye contact during our greeting and there is a brief telepathic engagement. I’m happy to see him. He seems full-of-life. When I woke up that morning, my heart was warm and I felt very grateful for this experience, albeit a brief one. Deep in my being, there was a sense of great peace. I knew that he was just fine, and that he was not completely ‘gone’ forever.

Whether it was a ‘visiting’ friend or relative, maybe you have experienced a similar dream. How were you impacted? Did you share the dream with anyone? While I’m almost always fueled by such dreams personally, I’ve rarely shared them outside of close friends and family. In fact, it has really only been a matter of months since I have made my dreams (and other experiences with nonordinary states of consciousness) public. Even as a dream researcher, I felt I could be judged negatively and be labeled as this or that. Moving away from that limitation has been quite the process. One of the reasons I began Conscious Chimera was to allow meaningful, subjective and soulful experiences to be seen and heard. I’d like to hear about your dream! Feel welcome to post your visitation dream here (or on the Conscious Chimera FB page), if you are open to sharing.

By reading about the visitation dream accounts of others, and asking for a visitation to come to us through dream, we are more likely to have such an experience. In addition, creating an altar to the deceased loved ones that come through in dreams, can be a beautiful way to continue the relationship. My largest altar holds photographs and small personal possessions once belonging to deceased members of my family that have visited me in dreams. The altar acts as a sacred space to pray, to speak, and to remember these relatives as they once were (embodied) and as they currently are (as spirit). The alter space is a place that can be approached to ask for their guidance…guidance that can come through in dreamtime.

For more information: The authors named in the last months article (September 2016) have included visitations in dreams in their publications as well, and are wonderful resources. Additional information can also be found in the publications of Kelly Bulkeley, Robert Moss, and many other scholars that research dreams.

 

Blessing to you this Fall Season,

Kim

enhancing dreamtime

As the warmer months are wrapping up, and the cold weather approaches, we find ourselves spending more and more time indoors. During the fall and winter seasons, we may spend much of our leisure time reading by a cozy fire, or listening to music under a warm blanket. In such a comfortable environment, it’s easy to drift off to sleep, even if only for a few minutes. In this polyphasic space, dreams are sprinkled over the course of the day or evening. For many people, all it takes is one extraordinary dream to spark a life-long interest in dreaming. Whether that first extraordinary dream is a lucid one, a highly memorable, vivid dream, or one with lasting impact, there is a desire to understand and experience more. For a few, vivid dreams and even lucid dreams are the norm, although, this is not the case for the majority of the population who typically recall mundane, fragmented dreams. On average, I experience one or two extraordinary dreams a month since I had a disciplined practice in the past. Some dreamers, however, report an extraordinary dream each week, while others report only a few each year. No matter one’s experience, dreamtime can be enhanced in several ways. For this month (October), Conscious Chimera is dedicated to offering tips for enhancing dreamtime. For questions or comments regarding the list below, please post a comment here or send me an email. I hope to hear from you soon!

*Aroma

-Mugwart: According to Victoria H. Edwards, author of The Aromatherapy Companion, “smelling mugwart before retiring” may assist with dream recall. Edwards even suggests hanging some to dry near your bed.

-Lavendar: Well-known for its calming effect, smelling lavender essential oil right before naptime or bedtime can help us relax. A relaxed state is ideal because an anxious or racing mind can affect dreams.

-Neroli & Sandalwood: Using these essential oils in combination is said to stimulate extraordinary dreams. Rub a few drops on the forehead, or add the oils to a spray bottle with distilled water to use as a pillow mist.

*Meditation & Breathwork

-Track the breath, every inhalation and exhalation. To bring about a sense of peace and calm, follow each in-breath and out-breath with focused attention. After a few minutes of ding so, say out loud, “It’s easy to remember my dreams.” Setting an intention with mindful breathing works wonders.

*Deep relaxation/Hypnosis

-A way to relax the body entirely to prepare for dreamtime is to apply ‘progressive relaxation.’ This technique involves relaxing each muscle group, one by one. Move from the head down to the feet, or from the feet up to the head – either direction works just fine. Once the process is complete say out loud, “I recall my dreams with ease, and I notice how vivid they are,” or a similar statement five or more times. The idea here, is to move into a very relaxed, suggestive state so that you can ‘program’ your mind to recall dreams as you drift off.

*Crystals/Gems

-Amethyst: Tonight I’ll be sleeping with a quality piece of amethyst! Why? It’s known to support dream recall.

-Clear Quartz: Amplify dream imagery by keeping a clear quartz crystal under your pillow. Sometimes, I like to carry mine with me all day as well.

Last but not least, leave a pen and notepad nearby so every dream, regardless of length, can be recorded as soon as you awaken. It is important to log all details without judgment. This practice along can help with dream recall, and having a record of your dreams is also necessary for tracking precognitive elements (aka premonitions).

 

Wishing you a pleasant fall season,

Kim

premonition dreams

Beyond the mundane fragments sometimes recalled from a previous night’s dream, are unusual experiences that take place more often than one might expect. Extraordinary dreams are fairly common and reported by people everywhere, of every age group and in just about any place in the world. One of my favorite dream books is Extraordinary Dreams and How to Work With Them by Stanley Krippner, Fariba Bogzaran, and Andre Percia de Carvalho. They discuss specific categories of dreams (that overlap at times) such as creative dreams, lucid dreams, pregnancy dreams, healing dreams, telepathic dreams, clairvoyant dreams, precognitive dreams, and more. Among these categories are dreams that serve as premonitions, which are often referred to as precognitive dreams. Jeanne Van Bronkhorst’s first book titled Premonitions in Daily Life contains a section on dream premonitions as well. She normalizes this common human experience that frequently gets lumped into the magical or mysterious.

Precognitive, or premonition, dreams have been reported since antiquity. In fact, several examples can be found in the Bible. Some of these types of dreams predict national disasters or important world events, but most often, precognitive dreams reveal average, everyday, or oth11222183_845240965596555_714619458751132206_nerwise insignificant future events to the dreamer. For example, a dream may show an old childhood friend calling, and that evening you are left a voicemail from that person. Or you may dream of visiting a new, unidentifiable place with unique details, then find yourself there the following weekend. Sometimes, though, precognitive dreams may serve to warn. One dreamer reported dreaming of being threatened in a bank during a hold up, and then lived through that frightening experience the next day while conducting business in a bank! Precognitive dreams can be metaphorical, not just literal, so, all dream material can hold value. In addition, future events can be amenable to change – Nothing is set in stone.

Can a dream actually be a forecast? Should such dreams be trusted? Are they delusions or a coincidence, or just a normal, natural part of the human experience? Ancient dreamworkers, as well as contemporary psychologists, have been concerned with these matters. To learn whether our premonitory dreams hold predictive value, we can track them. By writing down the dreams we recall each morning, we are more likely to remember them, especially if they seem insignificant. Once your daily log exists, you can reference the dreams later. I keep a notebook on the nightstand with a couple pens. Upon awaking, I write down all I recall without judgment. Then I put the date at the top and, finally, read what I’ve written to reflect on content, and identify themes, as well as attitudes and feelings. This practice can assist us in connecting dream events with waking life ones. The more this is practiced consistently, the easier it becomes, and eventually it may even be possible to sense a connection between waking and dreaming experiences. Because memory can easily become distorted, including memory for time sequencing, it’s wise to have a healthy sense of skepticism. However, a daily practice of noting all dream details immediately upon awakening, as mentioned above, can show that the dream took place before the waking life event. With time, this helps us trust our precognitive experiences and encourages continuation of the practice.

 

Wishing you memorable dreams,

Kim