Dear Conscious Chimera Readers,
I’d like to announce the publication of my first book: Extraordinary Dreams!
It can be ordered directly through McFarland at the web address below:
I hope you enjoy the book and I am grateful for your support.
Dear Conscious Chimera Readers,
I’d like to announce the publication of my first book: Extraordinary Dreams!
It can be ordered directly through McFarland at the web address below:
I hope you enjoy the book and I am grateful for your support.
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 present 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 always 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.
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.
Parents, grandparents and other family members report dreams about children-to-be. Most often it is women who experience such dreams, typically occurring around the time of conception or during pregnancy. These episodes have been referred to as conceptions dreams, fertility dreams, and even announcing dreams. I consider announcing dreams to not only feature the child-to-be metaphorically (a small furry animal or a seed are examples), but to also serve as a communication between the baby and dreamer.
Taemong, or Korean birth dreams, first came to my attention from the 1989 book Oriental Birth Dreams by Fred Jeremy Seligson. Later, Associate professor, Loren Goodman, PhD, of Yonsei University expanded my view significantly. Taemong are part of a long oral history within Korean culture. They typically do not feature the child-to-be as a human baby, but instead as an animal or jewel for example. As the saying goes, “One cannot come into this world without first having been dreamt.” We can show the dreamer a lot about who we are and who we will become from such powerful dreams.
Not so long ago, Koreans, and others interested in taemong, have begun to collect and transcribe these stories. Dr. Goodman told me that taemong are not usually written down, but instead, passed on orally. He is one among many who recognize the importance of recording this extensive tradition so it does not become lost. Without doing so, it may very well likely die out as we become an evermore globalized society, abandoning traditional practices and culturally-specific ways of knowing.
Dr. Goodman expanded my view and understanding of this rich cultural tradition. He told me that many narrative elements emerge from taemong. Some of the elements stood out to me because I noticed that these elements also emerged from the announcing dream reports I have been collecting for the past decade. These ‘shared’ narrative elements are suddenness, brightness, brilliance or illumination, enormity (size) or miraculous proportions, vividness or a quality of being unforgettable, and reciprocal gaze. Consider the following dream (the full version was posted in June 2017). The dreamer saw an adult size baby boy kneeling on the floor by her bedside. The dreamer stated,
“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…”
This dreamer told me that the dream-baby appeared suddenly, out of nowhere, and was huge – nothing like the size of a typical baby. She said that the dream was vivid and truly unforgettable. The elements of suddenness, enormity, and quality of being unforgettable/vividness all exist here – these are common among taemong. Here, though, the baby-to-be speaks to the dreaming mother.
The following taemong was provided by Yoon Ha Park, a student of Dr. Goodman:
As I am walking alongside a lake, I see the clear sky suddenly change dark. I try to get a better look at what is happening above. From high above the sky, I spot an enormous dragon gracefully, yet powerfully, make its way towards the lake in front of me. It sinks in the lake and pulls out its head and looks at me directly in the eyes. Strangely, despite its vast size and figure, I don’t feel afraid.
The narrative elements here are suddenness, enormity, and reciprocal gaze.
The two dreams shared here (the first an announcing dream, and the second a taemong) share similar elements. This appears to be the case for many dreams that are recalled around the time of pregnancy, whether they are categorized as conception dreams, fertility dreams, announcing dreams, or Korean birth dreams. A thorough analysis to encompass all of these categories could provide an expanded understanding and further clarity. Until that happens, it is clear that these types of episodes are common and meaningful for so many families.
I wish to thank Fred Jeremy Seligson, Loren Goodman, Yoon Ha Park and the anonymous dreamer for their assistance, guidance and for sharing with me their experiences.
In the Spirit of Peace,
Beyond individual, personal gains, society, as a whole, has benefited from those who dream. Libraries are filled with publications highlighting inventions, discoveries, works of art, and more, which were influenced by dreams and visions. For example, German composer and theorist Richard Wagner (1813-1883) felt that his inspirations and music came from his dreams and intuition. Did you know that some major scientific and technical discoveries were the result of dreams? Here is a short list:
*Descartes’ philosophical and mathematical formulations
*Howe’s invention of the sewing machine
*Mazur’s mathematical proof of the Schoenflies Theorem
*Mendeleev’s contribution of the Periodic Table of Elements
*Huang’s computer using optical circuits
*Ramanujan’s mathematical discoveries that still influence polymer chemistry and computer science
*Profet’s evolutionary theory of menstruation
*Agassiz’s classification of a particular fossilized fish
A dream helped composer, violinist, and theorist, Giuseppe Tartini (1692-1770), come out of a creative block. His best-known piece of work (a sonata) came out of a dream. In addition, the works of fantasy and horror fiction writer Clive Barker have been influenced by his dreams. From dreaming, Barker discovers images, which develop into scenes, thus they become starting places for his stories. Stephen King credits his dreams for several of his creative works. King uses his dreams in many ways – whether to advance a story he’s working on, bring to life an odd dream situation, or disguise things symbolically – he understands that weaving together writing and dreaming can lead to success. Writer Amy Tan also knows the power of dreams. Her first novel, The Joy Luck Club, was a best-seller, and some portions of it were inspired through dreams. When Tan becomes lost as to a story’s potential conclusion, she’ll take the story to bed with her to see if guidance surfaces while dreaming. Tan claims to easily recall her dreams and has experienced lucid dreaming. She understands that her dream-life supports her work as a novelist and that any time she needs material to work with, a dream will be there for her. For more stories about writers and their dreams, read Naomi Epel’s 1993 book titled Writer’s Dreaming.
As you can see, dreams may have effects on people, leading them to reconsider important decisions and even change the course of their lives, and ultimately the world. With this in mind, dreaming may be considered a gift to communities and nations alike. The same can be said for creative dreams that inspire art and propel other aspirations, such as athletics. For example, among professionals, dreams have been credited not only for completing key scenes in novels, entire musical pieces, and even athletic improvements among athletes. For more information about such nocturnal productivity, I suggest reading Deidre Barrett’s 2001 book titled The committee of sleep: How artists, scientists, and athletes use dreams for creative problem-solving. I never get tired of this exciting book!
Conscious Chimera’s August 2016 article discussed Announcing Dreams, as you may recall. Some announcing dreams have been credited for decision-making in the medical realm, from family planning decisions to prenatal genetic testing. Some pregnant women will tell you about how a powerful dream was the major factor leading to a decision about their fetus. No matter which time of transition or stage of life we find ourselves in, dreams can be a potent ally.
Unfortunately, such impactful dreams, once revealed, can lead to accusations of dishonesty or outright dismissal. One’s culture influences the origin of dreams and what one considers to be valid, or real. For those who actively engage dreams, the nightly assistance sometimes just keeps on coming, and can be a source of ongoing guidance. While the dreams of those listed in this article offered assistance and inspiration for good, next months Conscious Chimera article will address dreams that have been linked with destructive forces.
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.
Of 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 above 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.
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,…”