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

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

welcoming deceased loved ones in hypnosis

Earlier, I wrote about significant images, whether animal or human (or beyond), that may appear in dream or hypnosis. While separated by time, chimera was a significant image that appeared to me in both states. However, chimera was far from the only one.

While deceased loved ones may appear to us in dreams or visions, they may also appear when in hypnosis. Around the time I became certified in hypnotherapy in 2005, I had a beautiful experience. Another student of hypnosis was working with me that day and after the brief induction, I felt relaxed and comfortable. I hadn’t dropped deeply, but I definitely felt the enjoyable effects of the hypnotic state.

For this experience, I chose to make contact with a heaviness I had been carrying in my heart region for some time. I wanted to understand it and transform it into something positive and light. After exploring it in a light hypnotic state, the hypnotherapist asked my deep inner mind to reveal an image, sensation, or message that could assist me and my heart. To my surprise, my dear Uncle Joe appeared, along with his boat – I was so happy to see him! In my core, I knew everything would be okay and relaxed into the experience. Carefully and gently, the heaviness was removed from my heart center and placed in his boat before he drove it out into the middle of the lake where it was released.

IMG_1873This memory has stayed with me for over 10 years now. But it didn’t end there. Before being guided back to my ordinary state of consciousness, I thanked my uncle for his help and then attended to the empty space that was left after the removal. In hypnosis, I imagined soft golden and white light filling the space and unifying my center. With gratitude, I opened my eyes and thanked the hypnotherapist as well.

While one can ask for assistance from a particular person, spirit, power object, or animal, it is also possible that one just appears. This was the case for me that day. Sometimes we can be surprised! We can trust that whatever appears to us, in whatever way, is just right…just what we need at that moment.

In loving memory,

Kim