I’ll be selling discounted copies of my book, Extraordinary Dreams, and showing some of my Dream art! Come on by!
May 4, 2018
Osborn Woods gallery in Nevada City, CA.
If you would like a copy, but can’t be in Nevada City next week, order here:
The science of sleep has continued to gain attention and over the past couple of decades the field of sleep medicine has experienced a boom. According to American Sleep Association, there are two forms of sleep related hallucinations: hypnogogic and hypnopompic. Some researchers, however, note that the term hallucination is unfitting because hallucinations only occur in the full waking state. Firstly, hypnogogia, is the term used to describe the state one experiences just before sleep. In this state, one may experience hallucinations and sleep paralysis. Secondly, hypnopompia, is the term used to describe the state one experiences upon waking. Sleep paralysis is common during this period, along with perceived complex visual imagery, and increased dream recall.
These sleep-related states can serve creative types well. My own experiences have resulted in decision making, speech writing, and artistic creativity. Others have discovered solutions to complex problems and have even composed musical pieces. When we pay attention and attend to the lived experience of these states, possibilities become endless.
Allow me to share a recent hypnopompic episode. As I was awakening one morning, I saw a strong and fairly clear image that puzzled me. There was a simple wooden wall or plank, with a bright red heart (like a paper valentine’s day-like cut-out heart) floating near the top-left side. To the right was a vertical column of silvery milagros or ex-voto. Unfortunately, I could not hold on to the exact ones, but I’m certain that they were all body parts. There were at least four, but likely many more. I brought the image to my dream group and processed its many possible meanings. Still, the image stuck with me and I began to draw it, then paint it (I now have plans to construct it in the near future). Through the artistic process my relationship to the meaning behind the raw imagery developed. This style of dreamwork can evolve over a long period of time leading to greater insight and awareness of one’s soul journey. So much of this space remains private, but I am beginning to reveal more and more in time. This image, in its many forms will be on public display in two art exhibitions this spring and summer. I’m excited to share more of my inner work with others and discuss how sleep related states have created meaning in the lives of my community.
Shamans and practitioners of traditional ways do not necessarily label or compartmentalize the human experience the way the West does. No matter which labels (hallucinations, etc.) Western science applies, sleep related states have a long history of supporting spiritual growth and development in many areas (business, career, marriage, creativity). With a pen and paper by the bedside, and a set intention, so much can be unleashed.
While I’m no longer a student or faculty, taking a break as the spring season approaches is just what I needed. So that means no blogging (no articles written at all) for the month of March. Instead, I am surfing, almost daily, in Costa Rica this month, as well as relaxing, rejuvenating & reconnecting with myself. Just what a trauma therapist needs! Oh! And I still haven’t had any surfing or ocean dreams on this trip yet…maybe tonight.
Greetings! It’s the two-year anniversary of Conscious Chimera! To mark the occasion, I decided to write about a topic that I have yet to include here – the near death experience. An author once told me that she considers the near-death experience to be “the book end” to the pre-birth experience. Her idea peaked my interest considering my research on announcing dreams and other communications parents report involving those yet-to-be born. While pre-birth experiences encompass a variety of phenomena associated with events prior to being born (reported visions, or spontaneous prenatal or pre-conception memories, for example), the near-death experience shines light on what may exist after death. Pre-birth experiences not only offer insight into fetal consciousness, but, also quite possibly reincarnation. A near death experience, on the other hand, can offer a post-death roadmap, shift one’s paradigm, and even diminish the fear of death altogether.
To truly understand a near death experience (NDE), consider the following perceptions: movement through space, light and darkness, intense emotion, sensing a presence, a strong conviction of having a new understanding of the nature of the universe. These are broad characteristics, or common features, found among NDE reports according to the International Association for Near Death Studies (IANDS). The IANDS website states,
“An NDE typically includes a sense of moving, often at great speed and usually through a dark space, into a fantastic landscape and encountering beings that may be perceived as sacred figures, deceased family members or friends, or unknown entities. A pinpoint of indescribable light may grow to surround the person in brilliant but not painful radiance; unlike physical light, it is not merely visual but is sensed as being an all-loving presence that many people define as the Supreme Being of their religious faith.”
Such profound psychological events contradict Western assumptions about the nature of reality, therefore we don’t often hear about things like this in daily conversation. When I am open and curious about near death and/or pre-birth experiences, I have found that people talk – sometimes even complete strangers have shared a profound experience with me. About three months ago, I was riding in a taxi making small talk with the driver. When he asked about my work and I told him of my background in psychology, he asked questions surrounding the mind-brain problem, also known as the hard problem of consciousness. Our lively dialogue continued and we seemed to build rapport quickly. After some minutes past, he spoke about two NDEs he had within the same week, both took place in a hospital bed. Both times, he floated above his body, saw his physical body below him (an out-of-body state which can be a precursor to an NDE) and heard the conversations in the surrounding areas. He told me that he had never, up until that time, experienced such a profound sense of peace. During the experience, he recognized that he did not want to return to his physical body, despite the medical staff’s efforts. When he finally did return to his body, he continued to experience that sense of great peace, and no longer had a fear of death. Since NDEs often have life-altering effects, I asked him about any noticeable changes in attitude or other aftereffects. I learned that he considered the top-ranking effects to be his ability to now live life with much less resistance or attachment to outcome, and that when his time to die approached, he would not fear it, but instead, embrace it because he knew he would be going somewhere serene and peaceful.
While NDEs appear to share many commonalities, they are never exactly the same. On rare occasions, some NDEs have been described as disturbing. From 1% to 15% of NDE reports may be considered distressing: a relatively small percentage. For more on this topic contact the International Association for Near Death Studies at iands.org. Their website contains a page specifically dedicated to distressing NDEs if you would like to understand more. In addition, the IANDS website contains dozens of NDE accounts from individuals so one can take in this truly diversified experience that has changed the lives of so many. Through those courageous enough to describe their experience and share it with the world, we all have the opportunity to learn about what may be waiting for us on the other side, through the veil.
Happy February – Happy Valentine’s Day,
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,