the ritual complex of lucid dreaming

For December, we have another guest writer. I hope you enjoy this piece by Ryan Hurd.

You can reach him at https://dreamstudies.com/

Despite the snake oil pitch that lucid dreaming is all about “controlling your dreams,” the real value of lucid dreaming is to interact with the deep mind. Otherwise, we would just close our eyes and have a fantasy daydream. Done! But that’s not what we really want.

Lucid dreaming at its best invites something dynamic, unknown, or potentially ecstatic. With greater consciousness, the dreamer can dance with the dream, gaze into the bright eyes of mystery, and move with new power in a mythic world.

So let’s agree to use a simple definition for lucid dreaming: a dream in which the dreamer knows this is a dream. I do not talk a lot about “dream control” as it is not a big part of my dream life. I’m more interested in choice and meeting the dream where it stands.

Controlled aspects of lucid dreaming do come in handy, though, don’t get me wrong. Especially when calling the dream forth, when setting the stage.

Indeed, when viewed from a practical perspective, lucid dreaming induction can be seen as a controlled ritual used in order to stir up the unconscious mind and its visionary effects. By ritual, I mean an act or series of acts regularly repeated in a set or precise manner according to a social custom (1). Reframing lucid dreaming as a ritual complex is the hidden structure behind our forgotten lore, and the key to getting the most out of the Lucid Talisman.

Induction = Incubation

The ritual aspects of lucid dreaming can be seen every step of the process, and I would argue they are inseparable from the culture of lucid dreaming.

To begin with, the daily practices that bring on lucid dreams—also known as lucid dreaming induction—are a modern take on the ancient skill of dream incubation. The term comes from the Latin incubare, which means to lie down upon, or as we say today: just sleep on it. Dream incubation is about calling dreams, asking for guidance or clarity.

Anthropologist Charles Laughlin has noted that, while dream incubation is largely a lost art, many people have participated in dream rituals without knowing it when attempting to have a lucid dream (2). In fact, lucid dreaming can be thought of a specific form of dream incubation in which we are not looking for a dream message, but a specific form of dream thinking: being aware of being aware.

Ritual Drivers for Lucidity

In its weakest form, dream incubation can be represented by a wish for a certain kind of dream while lying down before sleep. This is the idea behind autosuggestion, one of the first lucid dreaming techniques popularized in the 1970s by lucid pioneer Patricia Garfield (3). 

In stronger variations, common ritual drivers can include affirmations said throughout the day, meditation, prayer, fasting, seclusion, drumming, and the ingestion of a tonic, pill or smoked herbs. Sound familiar to the “new tactics” posted on lucid dreaming forums? All of these techniques have been used for millennia across the world and in many cultures to ignite altered states of consciousness.

Neurologically, lucid dreaming is associated with increased activation of the frontal and parietal lobes (bringing waking-like awareness) during dreaming, a state of consciousness that comes with intense emotionality, vivid imagery and deep access to long-term memory (4). In this way, lucid dreaming is a bridge between the imagination of the dream state and the focused and intentional thinking that comes with being awake. However, the emphasis on waking-like consciousness in sleep (applying reason, testing memory skills, signaling to scientists in a lab) is a modern preoccupation.

In contrast, Anthropologist Michael Winkelman has called lucid dreaming a shamanic state of consciousness, because it “integrates the potentials of dreaming and waking consciousness.” This integrative mode of consciousness invites the classical markers of visionary awareness seen in other altered states, including abstract geometric imagery, encounters with animal-human hybrids, emotional catharsis and ecstasy, and finally, experiences of white light and nonduality (5).

That doesn’t make every lucid dreamer a shaman—heck no—but it sets up lucid dreaming as a vital bridge into the visionary worlds that have long been explored for the aims of shamanism around the world (healing, uncanny information, and personal insight).

The bridge, this transfer of knowledge, can go both ways: it is not just about bringing waking life-levels of self-awareness into the dream, but also bringing the imaginal realm back into the waking world.

This is the true potential of lucid dreaming: not the ability to change the dream, but our allowance to be changed… perhaps transformed.

This article is adapted from Ryan’s new book Lucid talisman: Forgotten lore, a book about using amulets and other liminal objects to empower your life with more lucidity.

Notes

1 Hayden, Brian (2003). Shamans, sorcerers and saints: A prehistory of religion. Washington: Smithsonian Books, p. 359.

2 Laughlin, Charles (2011).  Communing with the Gods. Brisbane: Daily Grail Press, p. 140

3 Garfield, Patricia (1974). Creative Dreaming. New York: Simon and Schuster.

4 Dresler, M., Wehrle, R., Spoormaker, V., Koch, K., Holsboer, F., Steiger, A., Obrig, H., Sämann, P., and Czisch, M. (2012). “Neural Correlates of Dream Lucidity Obtained from Contrasting Lucid versus Non-Lucid REM Sleep: A Combined EEG/fMRI Case Study.” Sleep. 35(07), 1017-1020.

5 Winkelman, Michael (2010). Shamanism: A biopsychosocial paradigm of consciousness and healing, 2nd edition. Santa Barbara: Praeger, p. 141.

THANK YOU, RYAN, FOR YOUR CONTRIBUTION to Conscious Chimera!

About the Author

Ryan Dungan Hurd (he/him) is an educator, author and dream researcher. He is interested in consciousness studies at the intersections of ecology, spirituality and material culture. Ryan has been featured on NPR, CNN, Coast to Coast, Psychology Today, and many more. With a background in both archaeology and dream research, Ryan currently teaches graduate level courses at University for Peace in Costa Rica and National University in California. Ryan is a member of the International Association for the Study of Dreams and abides by their ethical guidelines. His website DreamStudies.org has been going strong since 2007. He currently lives in Philadelphia, PA.

lucid dreaming as a portal to afterlife communication

Lucid Dreaming as a Portal to Afterlife Communication by Janet Piedilato, PhD (https://www.janetpiedilato.net/)

“The dream is a little hidden door in the innermost and most secret recesses of the soul.”  C G Jung (Collected Works, 10, p 304)

Pere LaChaise lies east of central Paris, gathering place of such notables as Chopin, Champollion, Balzac, Oscar Wilde, Gertrude Stein, American’s Jim Morrison and over one million others.  It is a place of life, not death.  One emerges from the Metro at the stop which bears its famous name, Pere LaChaise, Father LaChaise, the eminent confessor to King Louis XIV,   Pere LaChaise, communicator between the voice of the sun king and the eternal divinity.  And so the journey begins, entering and coming down a long pathway ending with a monument, Aux Morts by Albert Bartolome.  It is an imposing monument, a mastaba, a funerary monument prevalent in Ancient Egypt.  It is how the Step Pyramid began its life, step by step added during the long years of birth, until it became the first pyramid.  Yet the mastaba remains as foundation.  And Aux Morts begins the journey for along its outer walls are the waking humans lamenting the passing of their loved ones as they await their entry through the False Portal that leads to no ordinary reality landscape but to the Everlasting, the Mansion of Millions of Years.  Here begins our journey to communicate with those passed over, we walking upon the earth, lamenting the departure before us of our loved ones, yet coming to the doorway to commune with them…..How?   With intention and with our ability to commune through the waking lucid dream, that is how.

For many a lucid dream is one where we are aware that we are dreaming, understanding during the dream that we are experiencing something beyond our waking reality environment.  I expand the experience of the lucid dreaming to beyond the sleeping state proposing that we can be awake while fully attending internal imagery.  Altering our focus away from the tangible proximal environment to the mental dreamscape allows us to experience a lucid waking dream while our critical observer is aware that we are physically situated in a particular location as our mind moves on the dreamscape.  While only a few may be able to experience a lucid dream while sleeping, many can experience a lucid waking dream. With this widened perspective we will be able to view shamanic journeying, trance meditation, and invited waking dreams as lucid experiences where we expand consciousness in service of increased understanding of life and afterlife.  We literally become walkers between the worlds, that of the physical tangible and that beyond waking limitations.  We will come to see how the waking lucid dream acts as a doorway, a portal to an empowering inner experience opening to afterlife communion and a greater understanding of our true nature beyond the physical. 

Introduction

“Tomorrow, at dawn, as the countryside whitens,

I shall leave. You’re waiting for me; I know.

I shall walk with my eyes closed in on my thoughts,

Seeing nothing beyond, hearing no sound,

Alone …

When I arrive, I shall place on your tomb

A posy of green holly and of heather in flower.”

Victor Hugo, Tomorrow at Dawn.

Victor Hugo said it well.  Tomorrow at Dawn speaks of his journey to the tomb of his young daughter Leopoldine.  He speaks of seeing nothing beyond his inner vision, hearing no sound from around him in waking as he focuses upon his meeting with her.  The true portal thus recognized as inside oneself.  The image of the Egyptian false door on tombs and temples that dot the landscape along the Nile reflect what is this deeply meaningful inner experience.  The portal on Aux Morts likewise reflects the meeting place between the here and the hereafter.  It is an experience open to each of us. And at this time when the veils are thin from Toussaints, All Saints, All Hallows, All Souls Day,  to the flowing end of the year is the perfect time to make the intention and seek our communication.

Trance, meditation, and shamanic journeying have been with humanity beyond measured time and each practices the opening of inner communion. They are examples like lucid dreaming where individuals are awake, focusing inwardly upon mental imagery while remaining aware of the waking physical environment.  A critical observer is thus in control of the experience, grounded in the physical proximal environment while we focus upon the dreamscape, gift of our imagination, the faculty by which we form mental images.  We literally become walkers between both worlds, external and internal.

Communication with those in the beyond can begin simply in an ordinary sleep time dream or in waking we can call upon them, stand before the portal between waking and dream consciousness to call them forward.  Sometimes the experience can be spontaneous as I relate the following unexpected experience.

I present a personal example of a meditation I encountered decades ago. Unexpectantly it took me to a deep afterlife communication.  It began with a simple rosary.  Kneeling on the floor with my rosary early one morning at 4 AM I had one of the big lucid dream moments.  My rosary practice then and now consists of repeating a simple prayer, the Hail Mary, over and again as my fingers touch my beads.  It was thus that one morning deep in the rosary praying that I suddenly found myself peering down from the ceiling of my room looking at my physical body kneeling on the floor below.   A voice communicated with me from the Afterlife, one I recognized.  I knew I was outside of time and space in that eternal space and I knew far more, understood more about my life than at any other moment.  I understood that whatever challenge or sorrow befell me it would all always be all right, the message of this communication so strong it came upon me as something I already knew yet had somehow forgotten.  It is difficult to articulate even now decades later the effect this had on me.   The communion was real, undeniable. The message unquestionably genuine.    It was unexpected and spontaneously generated.  I was able to reach that communion again and I began to share my experience and the manner in which I reached it with others.   Dawn, the liminal space between night and morning, the perfect time to rise and take the beads in hand to seek the lucid waking dream and communion with the Afterlife.  The simple repetition of a prayer while the fingers engage with beads helps us to open the portal taking us beyond the boundaries of the physical. The waking lucid dream in that experience happened while I was completely awake attending to my rosary.  While many might see my experience as an “out of body” experience I prefer to call it an “experience of expanded consciousness.”  Looking upon this experience we can embrace the idea of walking between the worlds, lucid, aware while sleeping or fully awake.

More recently a series of lucid sleep dreams brought me what many might call remote viewing or out of body experiences  (I call this expanded consciousness where my consciousness is still connected to my physical body while expanded far beyond its limitations. When my body dies then I can experience out of body, at least in my thinking) In any case I found myself in Pere LaChaise Cemetery in Paris.  I had no prior waking knowledge of this place yet in the dream I was certain of my location.  A communication came and I knew its sender who directed me to find that poem, At Dawn, something I likewise had no prior knowledge.  I listened well. There was another prominent voice that rose to communicate with me, a composer, his music filling me.  So strong were these communications that I booked my flight and followed the directive of the dreams.  I was not disappointed.

I spent two days visiting in flesh what I first saw in lucid dream. It was surreal to be physically in Pere LaChaise, an experience which defied words.  I yearn for more, something I hope to accomplish on future journeys..  And I rushed to two other places directed by the lucid dreams. One led me to Le Pantheon where upon the wall I found a memorial to one of my lifetime favorite authors, Antoine de Saint Exupery.  And thus his words come forth

“That which is essential is invisible to the eyes”

Antoine de Saint Exupery.  Le Petit Prince.

“Oh sleep that dreams and dream that never tires, Press from the petals of the lotus-flower something of this to keep, the essence of an hour!”~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

The other place I needed to visit was L’Eglise de Madeline.  An exquisite church, it was the location of the funeral mass for Chopin, one who connected with me during the dreamings.  I wished to sit in the Madeline and bring to mind Mozart’s Requiem which was played for his funeral.  Before I left I purchased concert tickets which featured Chopin, hoping in this way to honor him.  Yet upon arriving at the Madeline I found a poster announcing the memorial concert of Mozart’s Requiem in honor of Chopin’s funeral anniversary: October 30 1849- October 30 2022!  I had no idea that my journey landed me at this important time.  Immediately I purchased these new tickets and through an amazing turning ended up seated in the empty church, my two companions and myself, listening to over an hour of the orchestral rehearsal prior to listening to the entire memorial concert.  All due to the lucid dreaming which led me across the waters to follow them, and to affirm my lifetime commitment to memory, to the state of our dismemberment, and our journey toward rememberment, joining waking and dream consciousness to be healed, made whole, gently freed of the overwhelming ignorance of our true nature. Communion with those passed over was so powerful, so meaningful in both the lucid dreaming and the synchronicities manifesting in waking.  At Pere LaChaise we have the presence of the False door, the place of communion on the mastaba, like the many false doors in ancient Egypt, each pointing to the one inside ourselves.  

The Egyptian False Door: Knocking on Heaven’s Gate

“Arise, O great reed float, like Wepwawet (Opener of the Ways), filled with your spiritual power (Aka) come forth from the Akhet (Afterlife).”  The Pyramid Texts.  Alexander Piankoff.

While we have no written information on our prehistoric human rituals of communicating with the Afterlife, we are blessed with the abundance of a strong Afterlife belief system in the Ancient Egyptian culture.  The image above gives a view of one of the seven vaulted chapels in the Great Temple of Seti I in Abydos, Upper Egypt.  Center on its west wall  is the False Door. This is a door that does not open to a waking reality room but is intended to serve as a portal between the world of the living and that of the Afterlife. It was here at Abydos that priests would bring offerings and commune with the deities.  It was here that the communication would flow between one living and one passed over.  The living would remain aware of the physical chapel while focused upon the Afterlife communication,  the waking lucid dream.  Offerings were presented, physical or imaginal.  The Ancient believed in the power of the word and thus they created what is called a Voice Offering.  I present my abridged version here

An offering to Osiris, Lord of Djedu, great God, Lord of Abydos,

Of bread, beer, ox, fowl, alabaster, linen,

Everything good and pure on which a god lives

For the Ka of the revered one ( here the name of the deceased. ) ….

The False Door of Abydos is one of the many in the mortuary temple of Seti I, a pharaoh.  Yet there are many False Doors in the mortuary chapels of nobles.  A lovely example may be found in the False Door of the Mastaba of Perneb which can be visited in the Egyptian Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.  Likewise there is a vast collection of False Doors on display in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo with others in museums all over the world.  They are simply a common feature pointing to the deep conviction of the ancient Egyptian people: The ability to communicate with those passed to the Afterlife.

 I frequently visit Egypt as well as visiting the Mastaba Tomb which graces the Metropolitan Museum nearby.  I often find myself standing before the ancient False Door reading the hieroglyphs above it.  A scribe, now passed thousands of years ago addresses me in the script he left for my reading:

Oh ye who talk upon the earth, please stop and speak a voice offering in honor of Perneb…..

Composed and chiseled into the wall by a scribe over four thousand years ago I find myself responding, bridging the centuries as I speak the voice offering articulating the ancient prayer presenting the incorruptible, of all things good and pure for Perneb…… And I continue, seeing the False Door, as a place of communion, not only with the deceased for whom it was created, but as a portal of communion with my beloved passed away before me.  The Door is behind glass presenting a division between where I stand and the opening to the Afterlife.  It is a narrow room and few tourists spend more than a few moments inside.  Alone, I shift my consciousness allowing the portal to open, allowing the images to rise on my mental landscape, allowing the communication to flow.  The Ancient Egyptian False door is so symbolic of the portal beyond waking perception, a doorway to Communication with the Afterlife, all accessed via the lucid waking dream.

Awake and yet no longer solely attentive to physical environment each of us is capable of becoming walkers between the worlds, communicating with what is physically absent, eternally present in the Afterlife.

Nobles and workers who had the opportunity and the funds and time, created mortuary chapels and put aside additional funds for priests to conduct offering prayers for them at the False Doors within their chapels.  The mortuary chapels and temples were seen as a place where the living continued to interact with the deceased. The prayers and offerings were presented to the Great Lord, the deity, in the name of the deceased as the living continued to commune with them. The False Door was not the sole place of Afterlife communication as it is suggested that in some households there were areas, rooms set aside as chapels in which mortuary stelae or ancestral busts of dead family or ancestors were kept as a place for convenient communication.

In summation:

The shift in consciousness, the altering of the focus from the sensory generated view of the external world to the imaginally generated dream reality ushers in the lucid waking dream state which offers one the opportunity to commune beyond the limitations of the physical world.  The False door of Aux Morts at Pere LaChaise like the  Ancient Egyptian False Door brings to mind the place of communion where one upon the earth can make offerings leading to a communication with the Afterlife. It is a powerful reminder of the empowering nature of our dreaming mind.  We can expand our understanding of the False Door as a place, a portal within ourselves, where our conscious focus turns from the physical to view the imaginal world as we enter into the experience of Afterlife communication via a lucid waking dream.  With one foot in each world we step beyond and open the possibility of Afterlife Communication.

Our beloved awaits our arrival… Meeting through our lucid dreaming….

I’d like to thank Dr. Janet Piedilato for contributing to the Conscious Chimera blog!

If you’d like to contact Dr. Piedilato, join her courses, purchase her dream tarot deck and book, or simply read her bio, you may do so here: https://www.janetpiedilato.net/

another dream conference begins…

Due to orchestrating a major relocation, I took about six weeks off from writing. The break was helpful. For a short while I forgot that I blog. Sometimes that happens in life – we turn our attention to pressing matters and lose touch with our routine. 

Now that things are starting to settle, I can give my full attention to what’s occurring at the moment. That is, the 39th annual conference of the International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD). This year, it’s being held in Tucson, Arizona, at a beautiful resort, and Day 1 of 5 begins tomorrow evening. Join us for a day or even the full conference if you are nearby! 

What’s especially enticing is the keynote presenter line-up. I’m really excited to get to see Dr. Stephen LaBerge for the first time. He is one of the few researchers responsible for putting lucid dreaming on the map of western science. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, lucid dreaming is when a person is dreaming while knowing they are dreaming. Prior to LaBerge’s work at Stanford University’s Sleep Laboratory and the work of a handful of other dedicated scientists, the ability to dream fully conscious, that is lucidly, was highly doubted. Even with countless credible anecdotal reports of the phenomenon, those in academia and the sleep research field thought the notion of lucid dreaming was ridiculous. Today, lucid dreaming has been demonstrated in hundreds of sleep studies and has become a hot topic – you can find dozens of symposia on lucid dreaming at IASD conferences.

If you are not a natural lucid dreamer, not to worry. Lucid dreaming is a skill that can be taught. With practice, one can enhance that skill and, well…the amazing adventures await you. Sure, dreaming with awareness can make for great fun, yet it can also offer a space (a dream space, of course) to practice and develop talents and abilities such as improving your golf swing, developing a poem or new musical piece, exploring far away places, and solving challenging math problems. There’s much more one can do while lucid in a dream, but hopefully those examples were enough to whet your appetite.

During a spontaneous lucid dream not terribly long ago, I used my dream awareness to see if I could get some answers to health-related questions of great concern. My dream began as one typically does, then suddenly, something in the dream prompted lucidity and with that spark of awareness, I recalled the health challenge I was facing. I realized this was a precious opportunity, so I called out to the dream space: “Dreaming mind, how do I heal this condition?” and (after a response was given),  “Dreaming mind, what is the root cause of this condition?” The responses I received offered guidance, information, (and some surprises) so that I could consider how to proceed in my healing journey (If you plan to attend this year’s IASD conference, consider sitting in on Tuesday’s Health and Healing Dreams panel, where you’ll find me, along with two colleagues, sharing our research and personal experiences on this topic). 

So why wait until a diagnosis is given? Why not use lucid dreaming as a tool now, at this time in life, in order to inquire into what the physical body may need? There is so much to be explored and discovered through experiencing this phenomenon directly, personally. This is gnosis – knowing through direct experience – rather than through theory or someone else’s descriptions. Direct revelation is powerful, and very personal.

If you are interested in lucid dreaming and want to learn more, including the eastern perspectives and spiritual aspects of this practice (known as dream yoga), check out my book, Dream Medicine: The Intersection Between Wellness and Consciousness (2021). There, you will find multiple perspectives and see what the dozen plus professionals I interviewed have to say about dreaming. Dream Medicine also includes tips, techniques and strategies to get you lucid asap. 

May you know good health. May your dreams be your medicine!

~ Dr. Kim

Dream-based Wellness

Attention to wellness and health have really rose to the surface of human awareness these past two years. Blame it in COVID-19 or perhaps a long awaited shift in consciousness (that piece is of less importance). The value of this attentional shift is that more and more people appear to be taking their heath matters into their own hands. Health practices are vast, spreading across multiple levels, from physiological to spiritual. Recently, I wrote an article for Ryan’s Dream Studies Portal (see https://dreamstudies.org/ if you are unfamiliar with this website). The article I wrote is titled Cultivating your Dream-based Wellness Practice. There, I consider some of the various ways we can participate in our own wellness maintenance and healing, no matter our background or belief system.

Here is a short excerpt from that article: “For anyone’s dream-based wellness practice to bloom healthily, there are things we can do to move it along. I’d like to share some tips for supporting any sort of practice whether it be liminal dream experiences or lucid dreaming. A sleep hygiene routine is the foundation, so I have found. Below are some concrete things you can begin today to encourage the best of outcomes.”

The entire article can be found here: https://dreamstudies.org/dreammedicine/ . Now even if dreams or dreaming are not of high interest at the moment, what you’ll find there are ideas for maintaining wellness through the cold, dark, and sometimes stressful, weeks ahead. As you read over the 10 tips I listed, consider which of them are priority for you this season. Maybe you do many of these already! Or perhaps, these tips will inspire a reorganization of your evenings. It’s a great time to reassess as we enter this new, quickly approaching phase of the year…returning of the light.

Happy Solstice everyone! May your inner light shine bright!

~Dr. Kim

season of dreams

Well, my Northern Hemisphere readers, we’ve just passed the autumnal equinox entering the season of Fall officially as a powerful full moon was overhead. This time each year is always a turning point for me as reflected in mother nature. I live in a forested area of Northern California so each day I notice trees – lots of them – browning, drying up, losing leaves along their branches that seem to be sagging oh so subtly. Nature is reminding me that soon, it will be time to sleep, hibernate, slow down and stay indoors. I’m been more accepting of what this turning point means. My preference is, and has always been, the creative burst of springtime and the sun’s invitation to play outdoors under its rays. Still, I accept that all things are in perpetual change as the cycles of nature continually turn. So that I do not slip into gloom I have learned to prepare for the colder, darker months. It’s around this time that I stock up on candles, baking supplies, art supplies, fine yarns and embroidery floss, purchase a half-dozen good books, a few blank journals, and bookmark recipes that require a hot oven. I also mentally recommit to scheduling in self-care and personal development practices, such as meditation, so that my week is truly work-life balanced. Last, but not least, I consider online workshops and conferences I want to attend so I can stretch my mind. Consider me a life-long leaner!

In this blog, I will tell you about one I plan to attend and another one where I will be presenting. I was excited to learn that next month a day-long psychotherapy workshop will take place which is focused on gender-sensitive treatment. Since my clinical focus is on women’s issues and women’s unique responses to trauma and other conditions, these gender-specific workshops are most welcome. Thank you PESI.com.

My own presentation will be included in an online conference that also begins next month, and it’s quite different from what I introduced above, although what the two do have is common is WELLNESS. October 30th begins the Many Worlds of Lucid Dreaming multi-day event featuring 15 diverse presenters. See: https://www.glidewing.com/iasd/lucid_dreaming_conference.html

During this event I will present a paper titled Dreams as medicine: How conscious dreaming can support one’s journey toward wellness. Whether you or someone you love has been impacted by disease or illness, this presentation will show how dreams can alert, warn, and even guide one toward improving health. Other presenters will also focus on wellness, such as reducing stress and relieving pain with the support of dreams. I hope you consider attending!

Autumn and Winter are great times to dive into dream-based practices such as improving sleep hygiene, utilizing dream incubation techniques, or committing to keeping a dream journal. After all, there is naturally more darkness, the nights are longer. Less daylight suggests going inward. Dreamwork pairs perfectly with this period of the year. So to my fellow summer-lovers, I remind you, not all is lost!

Dream big,

Dr. Kim

dreaming healing

I’m really looking forward to Tuesday, December 15th  – that evening, three women authors and dreamworkers will be all together, sharing, chatting and laughing away, on the show Dreaming Healing. Kathleen O’Keefe Kanavos, aka Kat, is the creator and host of Dreaming Healing. Her live show introduces her viewers to all sorts of fascinating topics. On December 15th, Linda Yael Schiller and I, along with Kat, will be sharing the impact of some of our most profound dreams, and how we work with those dreams. We will share with you our process and our inspirations! Dreams that have diagnosed a chronic illness, dreams that have delivered prescriptive healing instruction, and even dreams with deceased loved ones that have brought peace and left us with deep gratitude will be shared. Have you had dreams like these? If so, then you know the power they hold and the gifts they provide. Linda, Kat and I all believe that dreams come in service, leading us toward health, healing and wholeness. Yes, even nightmares!

Let me tell you a little about us:

Kat is a three-time breast cancer survivor. She openly shares her experience in her books and anytime one asks her about it. Her dreams foretold breast cancer diagnoses – even the exact location, when physicians were dismissing her.

My own breast cancer related dreams seemed vague to me at first, even though they were recalled for almost a year prior to my diagnosis. Admittedly, I did not take them too seriously. After the diagnosis, I recalled instructive dreams that told me what to eat and what to avoid, as well as revealing deeper, underlying concerns. Today, dreams and shamanic journeys continue to guide me and provide soulful wisdom.

Linda brings a Kabbalistic lens to the table when it comes to dreams and wellness. She can share with us first-hand how visitations dreams can offer healing and transformation.

Each of us women has been trained in a variety of approaches to dreamwork, and each of us work with dreams in both similar and dissimilar ways. Kat’s show, Dreaming Healing, answers your questions and shares your comments live, so please pop in! We are available to help you dive into your dreams, no matter if you are just beginning a practice or are an experienced dreamer.

We welcome you and would love for you to reach out – we are here to answer you dream-inspired questions.

Linda can be reached at LindaYaelSchiller.com

Find Kat at KathleenOkeefeKanavos.com

And I am at ConsciousChimera.com – you are here now 😉

Love and laughter,

Dr. Kim

journeys into the imaginal

Do you ever think about how different our lives would be if we were born several hundred years ago? That’s a lot to think about, I know. How about specifically with regard to health and healing? What did people do before modern medicine, psychiatry, and wellness coaching? Who or what did they seek out in order to get well? Historically, healers across the globe have gone by many names. In this short article, I will focus on a particular type of healer, a practitioner of traditional ways, sometimes referred to as ‘shaman.’ For shamans, healing is equivalent to transformation, not simply focusing on curing an ailment (Kalweit, 1992).

Shamanism has an extensive history (evidence suggests going back tens of thousands of years) on every continent of the world. The word ‘shaman’ comes from the language of the Tungus people of Siberia (Harner, 1980, 1990), although, the word ‘shaman’ however is not typically used by shaman’s themselves (it can be considered bad luck) and traditionally, it is not a role one volunteers for (Ingerman, 2004, 2008). Basically, one does not chose shamanism, it chooses you. Shaman’s, appointed by their communities, act in service of those communities on many levels. Shaman’s are also skilled dreamers. Restoring balance (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually) is among the many duties performed. Duties can take place in dream consciousness or others states of consciousness, such as a shamanic state of consciousness.

Whether we call them shamanic journeys, imaginal journeys, ecstatic journeys, or something else, humans across time and place have known how to travel to, entering and exiting, otherworldly realms, or unseen worlds. This is done in order to gain access to a wide variety of information, ask for spiritual help and support, and heal themselves, their families and communities. These unseen realms have been referred to by different names across the globe, such as “Other World” in Celtic Shamanism and the “Dreamtime” in Australian Aboriginal tradition (Ingerman, 2004, 2008). These ‘other’ locales can be divided into three major territories: Lower, Middle, and Upper Worlds. Each ‘world’ has something different to reveal to us or teach us. The ‘laws’ we have come to know and expect, do not apply any longer. The community-appointed shaman is considered an expert in navigating these realms. Diverse communities across the world have used various means to assist the shaman in altering consciousness in order to begin the journey. Most commonly repetitious, monotonous sounds, such as those created by a rattle or drum, or chanting, are used.

One can experience a shamanic journey without being appointed shaman, and many do, myself included. As one who uses hypnosis and various types of meditation and breathwork for my own benefit (and offers these services to my clients), it is clear that there are similarities and differences among these trance-like ‘altered states.’ An ability to concentrate is key! Learning the skills to enter a shamanic state of consciousness with intent and purpose, and return to the ordinary state of consciousness can be taught by experienced practitioners and skills can be honed by dedicated students. After all, these are natural conditions. That being said, the worlds entered through a shamanic state of consciousness are not playgrounds and there is a lot to learn before jumping onboard.

Restoring wholeness, coming into balance and harmony with the universe, as well as our full creative potential can be supported through shamanic journeying, as the practice supports us moving forward in our own soul’s journey (Ingerman, 1991).

If this topic interests you, and you would like to learn more, I recommend reading the books written by Michael Harner, Holger Kalweit, Sandra Ingerman, and Robert Moss, for starters. If you want additional references and resources, contact me.

As we approach Samhain, Dia de Los Muertos, All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day, I wish peace and harmony to you and to all of your family members and ancestors, whether embodied or otherwise.

~Dr. Kim

join me for some dreamwork

I’m excited to be blogging about an upcoming free event (October 13-16, 2020) that I am privileged to host! When The Shift Network contacted me to ask that I host this year’s Dreamwork Summit, I was thrilled. This article delivers what you’ll want to know about this most amazing event, straight from the producers themselves:

Beholding our world in a state of upheaval, it may seem like we’re descending into a collective nightmare.  

With worsening environmental disasters, continued health and economic uncertainty rippling across the globe… and mounting social unrest and political turmoil… many are disoriented and mourning the loss of normalcy.

In the realm of dreamwork, nightmares serve as important messengers, prompting the sleeper to awaken — not only from the dream, but spiritually and personally as well. Learning to unlock the deeper meaning of your dreams, especially the frightening ones, can illuminate a pathway through the confusion into clarity, peace, and renewed vision.

As a collective, we can choose to view these challenging times as an invitation to dive deep… to uncover and work with our shadow side and the things we need to wake up from. Exploring your dreams can help you unveil inner wisdom that’s been clouded by the stressors of your waking life. And it can help you access your intuition — a source of clarity, guidance, transformation, and the key to manifesting what you need to navigate these difficult times.

Dreamwork can help you imagine and live a new story for your life. It can help you transmute fear into self-compassion, courage, and better understanding of yourself and others.

The Dreamwork Summit is here to help you develop a healing relationship with your dreams. When you befriend your subconscious mind, it can provide you with clues for your next steps… and unique insight into the state of our world.

You’ll discover ways to hone your discernment — while sifting through excess “psychic noise” — and sharpen your intuition.

During this 4-day free online event, you’ll discover a variety of dreamwork methods that can help you reframe and work through painful experiences, ease stress, and provide new perspectives on your challenges — and even break through lifelong blocks to start living the life your soul intended for you.

Click on the link below to register for this Free Online Event

https://shiftnetwork.infusionsoft.com/go/dws20a22143/a22143

P.S. I’m honored to be among more than 20 of today’s leading master dream teachers, psychology professionals, and celebrated authors — including Sandra Ingerman, Robert Moss, Jean Shinoda Bolen, Paul Levy, Clare Johnson, Andrew Holecek, Adriana Ayales, Sharon Blackie, and Sergio Magaña…

… each of whom will be offering effective practices, tools, and techniques for tapping into the soul-guided wisdom, healing power, and creative inspiration within your nighttime dreams. 

Here’s some of what our brilliant speakers will be sharing with you…

  • With Sandra Ingerman, you’ll learn to decode prophetic dreams and understand how you can ask for guidance in a dream by working in “The Land of Dreams.”
  • Learn the 9 keys to understanding your dreams, taking action to apply their guidance and embody their healing creative energy, with Robert Moss.
  • Sharpen your ability to discern true vision from false messages with Kahontakwas Diane Longboat, who’ll share ways to live your dream messages and fulfill the visions you receive.
  • Sharon Blackie will introduce the practice of “dream-weaving,” her unique active imagination process — and the ways it can help you connectwith the spirit of a specific place.
  • With rainforest herbalist Adriana Ayales, you’ll experience a deep immersion into the powers of the pineal gland… and discover which teas, elixirs, and smudging plants to use before sleep.
  • Dr. Enjolie Lafaurie & Cihuapactli Collective will discuss dreams from a Latinx and Indigenous perspective, focusing on the cultural interpretations and implications of visitation dreams.
  • Andrew Holecek will offer wisdom about liminal dreaming, lucid dreaming, dream yoga, sleep yoga, and bardo yoga… which together create a unique form of “night school” — offering huge transformative potential.
  • Join world-renowned healer Sergio Magaña as he describes the transition to a new time according to Toltec and Aztec wisdom, and explains why this is THE time to learn to create your life through dreams.

RSVP here for The Dreamwork Summit — at no charge: https://shiftnetwork.infusionsoft.com/go/dws20a22143/a22143

I hope you have a blast at this awesome event,

Dr. Kim

To work with me, contact me through my Services page or click here: https://consciouschimera.com/professionalservices/

boosting your dreams

Sometimes we dreamers need a little extra support. Maybe it’s constant morning noise from outside, or the ongoing use of alarms, that has lead to poor dream recall. No matter the reason or situation, nature’s helpers do exist. With that said, I must remind you that this article is not meant nor is it intended to persuade or provide medical information. I make no claims regarding the effectiveness of anything listed in the article – for all I know, results could be a result of placebo effects. Always consult a physician or medical professional for advice regarding supplements or consumables. Now on with the blogging!

When I need a dream boost, I either place my amethyst or high-charged quartz crystal, img_3694also known as a Herkimer Diamond, under the covers with me. Both stones are credited for enhancing dream recall as well as vivid qualities of the dream itself. I have found that to be the case in my experience when working with these stones. Those are my top two go-to stones. Others swear by any kind of quartz crystal. Part of creating a space for conscious dreaming is the preparation ritual. It’s easy to bypass this part, yet intention is a key element behind any and all rituals. For example, I sometimes burn a mugwort leaf in my bedroom – it’s a highly regarded ancient incense, you know! I’ve also used locally-crafted tinctures as well as essential oil based body oils infused with mugwort. No matter what I use, it is necessary to set the intention for the goal to manifest.

img_3695See it already happening!

Write it down.

Proclaim it: “I recall my dreams.”

Our beliefs and intention make a world of difference.

Intention + Practice + Plant helpers = Success.

Being part of the world’s largest professional dream organization, the International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD), I can attest to the dozens of products that are on the market claiming to bring on dream recall and increased lucidity. Having never tried anything beyond what I mentioned above, I became curious and changed my tune this year. One company I recently encountered is dreamleaf (see luciddreamleaf.com). img_3696-1Their mission is directed toward human consciousness – specifically increasing it through the method of dreaming. The founder and co-founder have experienced lucid dreams and understand the great potential that accessing conscious dream states have for humanity. Since I couldn’t agree more, I turned to them when I found myself in a slump, with significantly reduced dream recall and a low level of awareness in my dreams (What I mean by that, is that when a dream scene turned so bizarre where I would normally question whether I was dreaming, I did not. That meant no lucid dream for me!). But, also, as I said, I was just deeply curious, having never tried a dietary supplement created solely for lucid dreaming. It sounded exciting. Some authors who write about dreaming have expressed the benefits dreamleaf’s featured red pill/blue pill product called dreamleaf. I decided to purchase it. So far, I have not experienced the results I was hoping for, yet I have only used each supplement about a half-dozen times. I’m sure I’ll give it another shot soon.

What I have found to be very effective for enhancing dream lucidity, outside of the world of plants and supplements, is maintaining a consistent meditation practice. And I don’t just mean a disciplined sitting practice, although those are excellent, but committing to daily mindfulness-based exercises. I was taught several variations during my training by teachers coming out of the Buddhist, Yogic, and Gnostic traditions. The variety helps alleviate boredom to some extent, however the key is discipline.

I can’t help but notice how quickly people will flock to anything that delivers a quick and easy solution/resolution, or brings on an altered state of consciousness. I’m sure you have too…ah, the human condition. Like so many, I have lived on both sides of the fence. The long, long road of disciplined training and sitting practices versus the popping of a img_3698pill (the dreamleaf dietary supplement in my case). Call me old-fashioned, haha, but I must admit that I feel best when I know that I have worked for the results. At the same time, sometimes I just want a break from it all without losing the benefits. This year, I’ll settle on experiencing both. But I won’t lie – truth is, I have found the most impactful, memorable lessons of human consciousness capability by going the long route. Through harnessing the skills, extraordinary experiences are also replicable, and can be done at will by more advanced practitioners. Waking up is a process. By just relying on external consumables, when the pills run out, what then? The conflict is real – LOL. When I give myself a hard time, I remind myself that nature is here for us. We are nature. Medicinal plants have helped people in numerous ways for millennia. When coupled with intention – the power of the mind – there is no stopping us from expanding consciousness.

There hasn’t been a dream enhancement article at conscious chimera since October 2016, so I thought it was time. If you have an opinion or comment, please post it here – I love hearing from my readers!

~Kim

To order my book, Extraordinary Dreams, CLICK HERE.

Dr. Dillard’s IDL

In February 2019, I was fortunate enough to have a lengthy discussion with Dr. Joseph Dillard on lucid dreaming, dream yoga, yoga nidra, and his approach called Integral Deep Listening (IDL). Here, for Conscious Chimera’s March 2019 article, I share with you the highlights. If you haven’t yet, please take a look at last month’s article, as February reflects part one of this two-part report. In addition, it might be helpful to take a look at Dillard’s work, particularly these two web pages:

www.integraldeelplistening.com/dr-joseph-dillard and www.integraldeeplistening.com/three-transformative-world-views.

Dillard believes dreaming to be “our most misunderstood and underutilized, innate capability.” He begins by summarizing some core points. In the Buddhist and Hindu traditions, life is seen as a dream. Yoga, as a psychospiritual discipline, can wake us up out of an existence of perpetual sleepwalking. The Buddhist and Hindu worldviews are derived from Shamanism, which assumes a fundamental cosmological dualism – that is, an underworld of demons and devils, and an overworld of angels and deities. Trance and dreaming allow shamans to access communication with these worlds. Shamanistic approaches to dream yoga are concrete and literal; what you experience in a dream is a reality in another dimension. Most traditional approaches, whether they are Amer-Indian shamanistic, Siberian or whether Hindu, Buddhist, or Tibetan Buddhist approaches, will focus on the objective concreteness of experiences and further divide dreaming into either spiritual or mundane categories. You’ll find that again and again wherever you look at them.

This traditional approach to dreamwork and dream yoga is in opposition to the Western psychological approach, which sees everything in a dream or interior, psychological experience, as a self-aspect, sub-personality, or “shadow.” Dillard adds that these two approaches generate a fundamental division in approaches to dreamwork, with the first tending to view dreams as either sacred, spiritual, and highly meaningful, or secular, profane, and meaningless, while the second emphasizing ownership and the self-created nature of experience in order to foster responsibility and personal empowerment.

According to Dillard, Tibetan Dream Yoga is divided into two different categories – one is the category associated the great Tibetan yogi Milarepa, which emphasizes gaining power to awaken out of samsara, or the clinging to the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, by waking up in your dreams. In this way, lucid dreaming becomes a tool for waking up. He states that, “The idea is to wake up in your waking life. You can rehearse this and learn how to do it by waking up in a dream, to realize that you are dreaming, and have various experiences which will teach you that you have control.” “Consequently, you’ll start to wake up in your waking life and to differentiate the dream-nature, the illusory-nature of waking life from dream life.” The “Milarepa” approach focuses on the steps or injunctions of the yoga of waking up while you are dreaming.

Now, Dillard gives attention to the second Tibetan dream yoga category known as Tibetan Deity Yoga. In short, with this approach one meditates on a bodhisattva or the Buddha, internalizes a mandala, in addition to many other details, recalling colors, shapes, figures, etc., in order to embody and become the deity. One tries to fuse with, or become the consciousness of the deity, Dillard explains. In Tibetan Deity Yoga this work uses sacred elements from within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. The distinction between sacred and secular (whether in dream or waking or meditative states) is apparent, as it is in the shamanic traditions. (For a more in-depth discussion of these two types of Tibetan dream yoga, see http://www.integraldeeplistening.com/tibetan-dream-yoga/)

IDL does not make this distinction. Through the use of its interviewing protocols, we learn to listen to the perspective of an element first, before judging it to be sacred or not. Without deep listening, we may just be projecting our biases onto the element or experience. IDL is a nonjudgmental approach to dreamwork. It attempts to be objective by not assuming that dream elements are good or evil, or that they are aspects of ourselves.

Deep listening is a dream yoga that embodies or identifies with the perspective of the elements in a dream, or mystical or near-death experience (NDE), or even a waking life issue. We can interview these elements/perspectives in an integral, deep way. By “integral,” Dillard is referring to Ken Wilber’s work surrounding lines of development, stages of development, and the 4 quadrants (internal-collective, internal-individual, external-collective, external-individual).

IDL involves interviewing protocols for one or multiple dream or life issue elements. The first variety, single element interviewing, is derived from the second, multiple element interviewing, which is called “Dream Sociometry.” It was created in 1980 and is based on J.L. Moreno’s sociometric methodology. The relationships among dream elements or those constituting some personal or collective issue, such as 9/11, can be depicted in a diagram called a Dream Sociogram. For further details, see Dream Sociometry and Understanding the Dream Sociogram (Routledge, 2018), or visit Dillard’s website: www.integraldeeplistening.com for examples of both types of protocols as well as computer assisted formats for doing both sorts of interviews yourself.

Character interviewing can also be done while one is lucid in a dream. When lucid, we merge with the element so that we suspend our own perception of our experience and view it from the world view of other embedded, relevant perspectives. The results can be stunning. Lifelong nightmares can go away for good with just one interview. Agoraphobia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and toxic life scripts can be reframed in ways that open up healing, balance, and transformation.

The two approaches of Tibetan Buddhism to dream yoga largely fall within the shamanic tradition that we are having illusory experiences regarding objectively real states. There really are gods and demons and they really do appear in our dreams. But these in turn are aspects of a cosmic dream of maya. The other broad approach to lucid dreaming and dream yoga in general is the Western psychological approach, which is the opposite, which says that you are dealing with self-aspects. Dillard’s approach, Integral Deep Listening (IDL), holds a third perspective and that is that what we experience in a dream is “ontologically indeterminate” – that is, “we can treat dream elements like self-aspects, yet to a certain extent they are, at the same time, more than self-aspects, in that the perspective, or world view, of different elements within the dream, disclosed when we become and interview them, includes our own perspective, but transcends it, in that every interviewed perspective adds its own world view to our own.” Simply put, we do not know the dream element’s nature of being. Is it “real” or a self creation, both, or neither? Therefore, to immediately reduce it to a self-aspect is reductionistic, while assuming that some dream about our deceased aunt Mildred, really was her communicating from the other side, is also reductionistic. Mildred could be real or a self-creation, both, or neither; we don’t know. However, if we become and interview aunt Mildred, we will at least have the benefit of a perspective more in a position to know than we are.

Dillard’s approach is phenomenalistic, meaning that we recognize and suspend our assumptions about why we dream and what a dream means. For instance, we do not begin by assuming dreams are symbolic or that aunt Mildred is a symbol. We attempt to withdraw our projections and get out of our own way so that we can practice listening to different dream, mystical, and waking perspectives in a way that is deep and integral. Such a phenomenological approach is based on respect, which is in turn based on the principle of reciprocity: treating others, including dream elements, with the same degree of respect that we would hope others would treat us.

Dillard believes that IDL has the potential to move us away from a psychologically geocentric perspective, or pre-Copernican worldview, toward a psychologically heliocentric, Copernican worldview (which is much less egocentric, but still Self-centered), and even beyond this toward a multi-perspectival, holonic, approach by which every point in the universe is the center of the universe. The purpose is to decentralize the self, expanding, freeing, and opening our worldview significantly. This is why IDL is multi-perspectival in its orientation, as well as phenomenological.

At this point, I inserted my thoughts about yoga nidra (sleep yoga) into the discussion. Yoga nidra allows one to experience a formless self (See the February article for a brief introduction to yoga nidra). While the value of what yoga nidra can teach us is apparent, Dillard does not believe that yoga nidra shifts worldviews in such drastic ways. He asks, “What’s the change agent?” Even when aware in deep sleep, a long-time yoga nidra practitioner still experiences the phenomenon out of his/her cultural and social framework and life assumptions. Dillard adds, “What do you do about the perceptual framework of the self you’re stuck in, regardless of your state of consciousness?” IDL supports the stepping out of the waking, acculturated self, so that we don’t act out of its interpretations of our experience. When we disidentify and suspend the assumptions of the culturally, socially scripted self, more creative options can come up in our choice frameworks. Dillard states, “It is as if our everyday mind moves into the clear and spontaneous space musicians and athletes experience when they are in a state of flow, or that nidra yoga cultivates as a formless ground of all possibilities. This is an extraordinarily fecund and creative space, in which we no longer block access to perspectives that are not stuck in ways that we are stuck.” Dillard designed IDL to support people in waking up in the here and now so we can become more fully alive. It’s all about “healing, balancing, and transformation,” highlights Dillard. He considers everything to be sacred, but not from a place of polarizing the spiritual from the profane. “Vomit and spit can be sacred, in that they can teach us something, if we get out of the way and listen.” “Everything we experience in any state can be approached as a vehicle to help us to wake us up.” Through IDL we use the self as a tool to thin the self by laying it aside and becoming, or identifying with, different perspectives, whether they arise from dream or waking experience, over and over again! This is the opposite of grasping or maintaining control. Because most of our childhood was about learning to be in control, and because society places high value on having control and fears states of loss of control, learning a practice that surrenders both the self and hands control to completely foreign perspectives can scare people away.

Near the end of our conversation, we touch on NDEs, mystical experiences, and OBEs, in addition to how IDL can help those with depression, or anxiety. No matter how we label an experience, why not view our body as a vehicle for growth? Dillard sums it up by claiming, “All experiences are emerging potentials. All are my teachers.”

 

I want to thank Dr. Joseph Dillard for his time and for such stimulating discussion. By Dillard sharing his extensive experience and through his lively input, Conscious Chimera’s 3rd anniversary article (especially part two) has turned out to be quite special and memorable.

 

In Gratitude,

Kim