meeting divinity

As the last Dream Salon (a monthly group I lead) was wrapping up for the evening, it was suggested that we discuss dreams with deities at an upcoming meeting. That suggestion led to what you are reading here. When initially gathering information, two books immediately came to mind: Conscious Dreaming (1996) by Robert Moss and Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Lucid Dreaming (2017) by Clare R. Johnson. Both Moss and Johnson are experienced lucid dreamers and their works include reports of deities appearing in the dreams of people from various walks of life.

Might we consider dreams as reflections of ourselves? Dreams are our personal mirrors, revealing everything about us, suggests Johnson (2017). One dreamer described “a field of Buddhas” (Johnson, 2017, p. 357) in her lucid dream. Dozens of huge red- robed Buddhas meditating in lotus position were initially thought to be stone until the dreamer noticed that they were breathing. Then, one turned toward her with open, light-filled eyes. Scared at first, the dreamer sensed they were a mystical, protective presence (Johnson, 2017). Awakening to inner power, connecting with the divine, or contemplating the divine within can be the result of such extraordinary dreams.

Moss (1996) notes that whether in a dream or vision, we see what we are schooled to see. Anthropologists call this “culture-pattern dreams,” he says (Moss, 1996, p. 246). A Christian might see angels or Jesus Christ, whereas a Buddhist might see a monk, and for a Muslim, prophet Muhammad.

Yet, sometimes, the opposite occurs. Moss provides an example – a Methodist woman who dreamt of the Hindu Shakti. Shakti’s appearance was surprising because it does not fit within Methodist confines. Whether culturally congruent or not, the energetic essence behind the ‘mask’ is real and can have a profound impact on the seer. Deity dreams might call the dreamer to a new path or they might remind the dreamer of the path they have fallen from. Sometimes, those that recognize many pantheons dream of a wide range of gods and goddesses, even ones in which no previous relationship exists.

At times an experience of the divine is without an identity, such as seeing a bright light or sensing a spiritual force in the dream. Such an encounter can be equally powerful. When we are lucid and consciously dreaming, we have the opportunity to question the divine source. Questions about the nature of reality, what happens when we die, or what our true purpose is in this lifetime, can be asked to a deity, a spiritual force, or the light itself. For deeper inquiry, I recommend reading Chapter 23 in Johnson’s latest book, Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Lucid Dreaming.

Whether dreaming lucidly or not, an experience of the divine may be incubated or arise spontaneously. However they manifest, such dreams are considered a true gift. If you would like to share your experience in an upcoming article, here, with Conscious Chimera, please contact me.

Happy new year,

Kim

today’s meditation

Last month (Nov. 2017), I concluded the Conscious Chimera article by revealing my openness for dreaming with a deceased loved one that night. I awoke the next morning, November 1st, surprised, yet appreciative, for during an early morning dream I answered a phone call from my deceased paternal grandmother. Wow – I dream with her so rarely! In the dream, we spoke briefly, similar to our phone calls when she was living. She told me she was fine and asked how the family was doing. After our check-in, and knowing that everyone was doing well in general, we ended the conversation. Then, I woke up. This dream was not nearly as profound as the dream I had immediately prior to her death, but I am always grateful for whatever way the grandmother-granddaughter relationship can continue. For this month, I decided to write about an important practice: mediation. A meditation routine supports dreamwork as well as good health. So, that is what I present here, today.

As I sat this morning, on my turquoise cushion, tracking my breathing – each inhale and each exhale – I realized I had not written on this aspect on conscious experience since conscious chimera began. “Not now,” said an inner voice, silently disciplining the mind. As any experienced meditator knows, another distracting thought is just around the corner. Anything to take us away from the task of following the breath, or staying with img_2452present awareness. New associations, distant memories, dinner planning – it doesn’t matter, we know distractions arise. While simple, disciplining the mind is no easy task. We learn to gently become the boss of our conscious attention. The mind can argue with us about this. “You can do this meditation thing later, the kitchen needs cleaning… weren’t you supposed to call your mother!” Staying with the practice is an important aspect of the practice itself. Additionally, as we increase awareness in the waking state, we may discover increased awareness in the dream state.

Over the past decade or so, I’ve been fortunate enough to have been taught meditation, as a sitting practice, by contemporary mindfulness practitioners as well as by those immersed in Buddhist-centered traditions (Tibetan Shambhala is one example). But that is not how I began. At 19, my introduction to meditation began with primarily movement-based practices. My Tai Chi and Qi Gong instructors were exactly what I needed in my early years. Back then, it was difficult for me to sit still and nearly impossible to jump right in to tracking thoughts and disengaging mental chatter. Those early experiences served me well and built the foundation for what was to come. Later, in the mid-2000s, I was introduced to a focusing type of meditation, which involved vocalizing vowels (e.g. “Aaaaaaaaahh”). This proved effective in many ways. The practice was active, but in a new way, and the shift in the mediation space was palpable, thus reinforcing. Dedication to those exercises, as a result, took dreamtime to a new level, giving rise to desired lucid experiences.

From my own history of meditation, I have come to view the mind as sort of an entity, with its own agenda. It doesn’t want to sit still. It doesn’t want to go quiet. For me, it seems to enjoy planning for the future and fantasizing about adventure. Fortunately, with practice, there is noticed improvement. Not only can our health and general functioning improve, but we come to see that we do not have to react to the junk life throws our way. There is no need to respond to that mental ‘director’ that does not 12079055_842446395876012_8916130318488297582_nalways know what is best for us. After all, it is not our true essence. The irony is that through sustained, ongoing meditation practice, we come to experience truth, connection to the all and everything…our true essence, our very nature. And sometimes, our practice can lead to a creative project, like a written piece for a blog, such as this one.

If you have never meditated before, but want to start, commit to 10 minutes a day to start. Literally, schedule it – put it on your calendar. Then, at the appropriate time, silence the phone, TV, radio, etc., find a comfortable place to sit, set a timer for 10 minutes, and simply focus on your breath. Mentally track each inhale and exhale. When you catch the mind wandering, come back to the breath. It’s not a contest – if the mind wants to judge or ridicule, fine, but the task for the 10 minute period is to focus on the breath, so just come back that rhythmic cycle again and again, as often as needed. After a solid week (or month) increase the sitting time by 5 minutes. See what you discover from the simple daily 10 minute routine. You might discover something new, when in dreaming or waking.

Questions? Comments? Contact me! I’d love to hear how your meditation practice has enhanced your lived experience, whether asleep or awake.

~Kim

reflections on working with the living & the dead

The year has flown by and here we are, again, at that time when so many of the world’s people turn their attention to the dead. Samhain, Dia de los Muertos, All Soul’s Day, All Saint’s Day, Festival of Hungry Ghosts (recently passed) – each one is different, but they each share some similar elements, and sometimes similar activities, such an making offerings or prayer.

Connecting with a deceased loved one is possible, no matter whether you engage in hypnosis, dreaming, deep prayer, imaginal journeying, altar-making, or use a black mirror, the fire place, quartz crystals, or what-have-you. Regardless of the object used or state induced, even a brief connection can hold tremendous meaning for those grieving or for those simply wanting to remember. My most preferred methods are dreaming and hypnosis, as both have offered positive experiences along with profound and memorable results. Any method, tool, or nonordinary conscious state can be accessed individually, but group work also holds promise, especially with an experienced therapist, medicine person, or guide.Il tavolo

One potent ritual involves constructing an altar. While I currently offer altar-making in individual psychotherapy sessions, many years ago, I co-led an altar-making and process group with another therapist. The attendees comprised of teenagers and pre-adolescents with unresolved grief/loss issues from loosing a parent or family member to ‘the life’ – a term referring to street life, addiction, overdose. Even though some of the participant’s parents died during the participant’s early childhood years, there was no shortage of memorabilia, stories, or recollections. The act of constructing the altar itself elicited spontaneous memories of shared experiences that were previously believed to be forgotten. By this, I mean that when asked directly to share a story from long ago, many children could not produce one, however, that all changed when they entered this collective ‘sacred’ container, or space, where the memory of the deceased was very much alive. Near the end of the weeks-long process, the attendees reported that the experience left them feeling closer to the deceased loved one, and this turned tears into smiles. Gratitude and peace were married in this new way of remembering.

Large-scale community altar-making has also left an impression. I participated in these activities in Arizona. I discovered that community bonds strengthen in meaningful ways when people join together to make offerings, blessings, or witness one another in prayer to deceased loved ones. These sizable collective altars were modifiable and continued to expand for days. They were multi-cultural in the truest sense. While I am no longer an Arizona resident, I still know the ritual continues, and I sit here in California today, Nonnityping this, shifting through recollections.

At this time, as I turn my attention to the dead, seven female elders immediately come to mind: Mary, Anne, Eva, Florinda, ‘Nonni’/Netta, Maria, and Censina. I feel so fortunate to hold a clear memory of each one, even though most of them (and their spouses) transitioned when I was still a child. Also at this time, I add extra flowers, fresh water, and dust off the prayer cards on the family altar that stands year-round in my home. If I am extra lucky, I will get a visit…who knows, maybe even in tonight’s dream.

 

May the veil be thin,

Kim

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