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/

meditate while you ZZZ

How many people would say meditation and sleep make strange bedfellows? A lot, I’d gather. Allow me to convince you that those people would be wrong!

Sleeping and meditating have the potential to blend together easily in the right conditions. With practice, it is very possible to be aware in a lovely meditative conscious space while the brain is in deep sleep. Enter the fascinating realm of Yoga Nidra, a centuries old practice, brought to us by people of India.

So what exactly is Yoga Nidra, you may be wondering?

Yoga Nidra is a sleep-based meditation designed to remove mental and emotional disturbance and rejuvenate the body. Yoga Nidra is composed of a structured series of breath, body and awareness techniques which progressively drop you into deeper brainwaves where your thoughts effortlessly move further away from you. It is in this gap between the thoughts that you can effortlessly experience restful meditation.  The body can deeply heal and rejuvenate, excess mental stimulation ceases and you awaken energized and focused. The more we rest as the silence behind the mind, the less we are disturbed by its unhelpful chatter—even while awake. Like meditation, Yoga Nidra can be used for medical, restorative and spiritual benefits alike to support one’s own goals and intentions.

What makes Yoga Nidra unique?

Most styles of meditation simply involve observing and allowing thoughts from a place of silent stillness. However, Yoga Nidra effects shifts from the state of meditation with the use of intention. In Yoga Nidra you are free from identification with deep-seated thought patterns that are constantly shaping and creating your mind, emotions, and even your body. With the use of intention you can consciously plant a seed to shape and create the state of your mind, emotions and body from the subtlest states of being very quickly and easily. This style of Yoga Nidra I was taught by Kamini Desai, PhD, and John Vosler is called the Integrative Amrit Method (IAM). They say it is like making changes to water versus ice.

The big difference with this particular method is that the focus is on energy as the point of entry into meditation. This released energy in the body increases the healing potential available during an I AM Yoga Nidra™ and typically takes most practitioners into deeper states of meditation more quickly. That is why this style is often known as “the deep one”.

You can learn more about this method here: https://amrityoga.org/yoga-nidra/

Let’s look into the process of Yoga Nidra.

Yoga Nidra is practiced in a comfortable lying down position. Typically, one lies on a yoga mat on the floor with just a little padding under the head so that the spine stays in alignment. Something under the knees allows for extra comfort as well – some use a pillow or bolster for this. For those that cannot lie comfortably on the floor, a bed, couch or reclining chair are preferred. During yoga nidra body temperature may drop, so having a blanket next to you in case you need it is a good idea. Some people also like to use an eye pillow for extra darkness – I love eye pillows!. As the yoga nidra experience begins, you will be guided through a series of breathing exercises and simple instructions. Some of these include visual imagery or a scan of the body, which occupies the mind and prevents it from becoming involved in the usual mind-chatter that absorbs our ordinary consciousness. Within a short time, you become submerged in the alpha state…then go even deeper.

Ah…it’s sooo relaxing.

Now if you’ve read this far, let me tell you why I’m blogging on this topic today. Firstly, it is my three-year anniversary of earning my Yoga Nidra Certification. When I entered this whole yoga nidra thing seriously, it was early 2019, and honestly, I wasn’t sure why I was propelled to do it. But before the year came to an end, I understood. This brings me to the second reason. The following month, after earning my certification in September 2019, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. As you can imagine, I had some big decisions to make and, naturally, anxious energy flowed through me night and day. So guess what? I used Yoga Nidra (sometimes twice a day) to calm my nerves and instill a state of calm. I had the direct and long-term experience to discover how effective it is. Through Yoga Nidra, I was able to relax and focus much more so than I was at that time able to with other forms of meditation I knew so well. To this day, I offer free Yoga Nidra every Wednesday to a growing online community. You’re invited! Just reach out.

Lastly, I want to extend my deepest gratitude to my teachers at the Amrit Yoga Institute. Check them out here: https://amrityoga.org/

Jai Bhagwan,

Dr. Kim

got insomnia? turn down mind-body-spirit noise!

Is insomnia in your self-descriptive vocabulary? I hear this regularly among patients in my clinical practice. Maybe you experience insomnia or sleep next to someone who does. Sleep is natural, but why do so many people struggle with it? Insomnia seems to have become the new normal. Would you agree?

No one is alone here. Sleep disorders are a major concern for millions of people, including young children. Loss of restorative delta sleep (~ 0.1 – 4 hertz)  – that’s the deepest level of sleep –  and loss of REM sleep are both related to a slew health issues, both physical and mental. In Dr. Matthew Walker’s (2017) Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of  Sleep and Dreams, he writes, “No facet of the human body is spared the crippling, noxious harm of sleep loss” (p. 133). Sleep loss negatively affects all major systems of the body, including the immune and sympathetic nervous system. Research also shows how cancers are linked with getting 6 hours or less of sleep each night and over-exposure to light at night. There is good reason for making some changes!

Photo by Acharaporn Kamornboonyarush on Pexels.com

But what is sleep? Sleep is holistic, intimately tied to many areas of life. This includes our relationship with the deepest part of our-self, our inner world.

The underlying organizational and foundational structure of sleep is natural  cycles or rhythms (think circadian, ultradian, etc.), body temperature, and a sense of inner peace, according to sleep specialist and clinical assistant professor, Dr. Rubin Naiman of University of Arizona.

Challenges to getting good sleep are much, much more than a biophysical issue. Most people these days are aware of the psychological consequences of sleep loss, such as increased thought distortions, and mood disturbances, as well as loss of attention, concentration, and memory. In children, sleep deprivation leads to what adults describe as ‘behavioral problems.’ It’s really the same with adults. But beyond this, how many are aware of the social and instinctual aspects of sleep?

For those with insomnia, we might consider what we have imposed upon ourselves. One question to ask ourself is “What do I consume?” Beyond consuming food (with lower nutritional value today than decades ago), we also (over)consume various forms of stimulation such as light (electricity, screen time), information (24 hour news), fluids, and energy (aka heat/arousal). Then there’s additional stressors – the good old fashioned kind – such as the quality of our relationships. Chronic inflammation, which underlies all major diseases, and hyperarousal (do you run hot?), which is behind insomnia, are associated with consuming excessive energy/stimulation (aka noise).

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

The good news is that we can reset ourselves, just like a pendulum clock. Exposure to nature light early in the morning is the best way, according to some sleep specialists. Greet the sun each morning  – use the moment to connect with Source through meditation or prayer.

Last year I wrote an article which included 10 sleep hygiene tips – Find it here: https://dreamstudies.org/dreammedicine/

And here are a few additional suggestions. In the PM hours, get into a solid ‘sleep hygiene’ routine. Furthermore, use substitutions, such as swapping out coffee (or alcohol) for teas, elixirs, or mocktails. We can also add a 30 minute yoga nidra session into our day or evening. Yoga nidra is a guided sleep-based meditation that “helps restore autonomic nervous system balance,” according to yoga expert, Dr. Kamani Desai. Yoga nidra turns down the heat. This is one antidote for sleep loss (and the tension that builds with ongoing insomnia) since it is designed to gently guide practitioners into deep sleep. It’s so relaxing! If you’d like to join me for yoga nidra, email me. For almost three years now, I have facilitated free yoga nidra sessions. At this time, I invite you to my free, virtual yoga nidra offerings on Wednesdays (6pm Pacific Time) – since it’s online, you can enjoy the relaxation from the comfort of your home. If you prefer pre-recorded sessions, two links to audio recordings can be found near the middle of this page: https://consciouschimera.com/professionalservices/

Since insomnia is much more than a biomedical condition, if you’ve made positive bio-psycho-social-enviromental changes (you’ve turned down the noise) yet still struggle to sleep, you may consider melatonin therapy or pharmaceutical medication. If so, consult with a functional medicine doctor (FMD) or naturopathic doctor (ND) for proper melatonin usage (especially to learn about its anticancer properties) or with a psychiatrist for pharmaceuticals. Like physicians, psychiatrists have earned a M.D., however the vast majority of primary care physicians do not have the training in sleep and psychopharmacology. So, a psychiatrist is recommended. NDs and FMDs are extremely helpful as well. Remember that integrative care is highly supportive, so if you choose to use medication for sleep, you might want to continue with a sleep hygiene routine, and know you are always welcome to join my free online yoga nidra group. If you want to use psychotherapy to treat insomnia, there is also CBT-I, that is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia – the gold standard, with no side effects. I use CBT in my private practice when appropriate as do most therapists. Feel welcome to contact me for support here, especially if nightmares are involved – just click on the Therapy tab on my website, ConsciousChimera.com

Wishing you deep rest,

Dr. Kim

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

developing your intuition

The term intuition is arising in many discussions lately regardless of how misunderstood it is. These brewing discussions conceptualizing intuition can sometimes seem messy, complex, intricate. One question I hear often revolves around how one can distinguish a reliable ‘intuitive hit’ from anxiety-provoked perception, sensation and chatter. This is important to consider given that so many people make big decisions based off of intuition By understanding what intuition is and how it works, we can come to rely on it. Here, in this article, I’ll share some definitions, science, and my thoughts on this hot topic.

I think of intuition as an evolutionary, life-promoting sixth sense also referred to, by some, as “a gut feeling.” This kind of insightful perception is immediate – it does not involve reasoning, critical thinking, or reflection. But how is intuition experienced? Intuition can arrive as a felt sense, an inner voice, or even as visual imagery. Furthermore, intuitive knowledge arises in a nonverbal flash without having links to a memory or emotional pattern.

The foundation of intuition is in the body. The body and intuition are very much connected. Neural correlates, particularly the tenth cranial nerve (aka vagus nerve), are involved. This extra special nerve travels far, running from the brain downward to organs and the gut. So, it is our organs, nerves, and brain that form a multi-way communication system. Remember, the brain is not the only one sending out messages. Knowing this, we can work with other locations in the body to further develop our intuition. 

Key to truly understanding the complexities of intuitive process includes familiarity with the nervous system, therefore, I will include a little about it here. The autonomic nervous system (ANS) has three parts—the enteric, the sympathetic and the para-sympathetic. The enteric, sometimes called the intrinsic nervous system, is a complex system of 100 million nerves that regulate digestive activity. The enteric system transmits and processes messages in addition to other functions. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for action, such as defending ourselves or running away from danger, so blood pressure increases, digestion slows down, and the heart beats faster, while the parasympathetic is like put- ting on the brakes—resting and digesting, for instance. Here, pulse rate decreases, blood pressure slows, and food can be digested. The ANS is always working so that our body’s internal functions behave normally. 

Here is where our behavior and lifestyle come in to play. Many of us have lost our relationship to ourselves, especially our own bodies. Knowing that the parasympathetic nervous system and the vagus nerve are not isolated, overly busy lifestyles (always being on the go) lead to a nervous system that is activated (Over-activation of the sympathetic is tied to health problems, but that is for another article). From that activated place, it is impossible to remain fully embodied and tune in to our deeper ways of knowing. Thoughts are much faster than the rhythm of the body! One way to counteract this and regulate ourselves is through conscious breathing which slows the heart rate. Nature can help too! Pair that with exercises for grounding, which are done by attending to sensation. Through these processes we can think more clearly and increase embodiment, thus giving ourselves the opportunity to further develop our intuitive ability, because they slow us down. It’s just what we need to develop intuition that is clean and clear.

Side note: if the idea of embodiment is new for you, read this – Embodiment is both a state and a process. It is inhabiting the body and locating ourselves. At this very moment, notice what your body is experiencing—that’s embodiment.

Always remember, intuition is connected to the body. Do not confuse intuitive hits with information emerging from states of anxiety or old schemas and perceptions. With continued practice, we come into deeper relationship with the body, attuning to our inner awareness more and more. When we do the work, we can come to trust our intuition, I believe, given the right circumstances. 

I’ll close with the words of friend and colleague, New York based Somatic Psychologist, Dr. Jennifer Frank Tantia: Considering the body as “a gateway between consciousness and unconsciousness, and when those two parts from our thoughts to our emotions to our embodied experience can speak to each other, we can start to find a more holistic way of living in ourselves.”

May 2022 bring fulfillment and growth,

Dr. Kim

PS. Two things: In my new book, Dream Medicine, you’ll find an entire chapter on intuitive development. So, if this topic is important to you and you can carve out some reading time this season – a luxury these days – order the book here: https://mcfarlandbooks.com/product/dream-medicine/

I teach skills for developing intuition in my California private practice. If you are a CA resident and would like to work with me one-on-one, just click on that tab found within this website. 

#intuition

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

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

got divine femininity?

We are living in a world lacking balance. This is especially true in modern Western society where patriarchy has imposed definitions of what it means to be feminine. I write from the United States, so my views are birthed from a lifetime of living in this nation. While living in this nation during this era affords so much, it lacks something img_5622deeper, something critical for long-term survival and prosperity. This lack is rooted in the spiritual (not to be confused with religious dogma). We have collectively lost our divine feminine soul.

When we talk about the divine feminine or feminine energy, we are not talking about gender. We are also not talking about modern depictions of women in media who often come across as insecure, jealous, sarcastic, competitive, bitter, resentful or catty – anything but harmonious or spiritually developed. What we are talking about are concepts beyond that, such as creativity, flexibility, wisdom, intuition, community relations, compassion, empathy, sensuality (senses not thought), cooperation and img_5620collaboration. Those qualities enliven feminine energy and when they are lived through the body and move the spirit, we touch the divine feminine.

When it comes to the feminine, it’s easy to lose touch with this part of ourselves. Masculine energies are highly rewarded in this society and have been for a couple thousand years now. Nothing is wrong with these energies when they are in balance with the feminine. As the first sentence highlighted, we are out of balance. Not all is lost though, as we have an opportunity each passing moment to reestablish equilibrium. 

The seven years I spent doing doctoral work alone left me deeply rooted in the head, even though the program was somewhat balanced in that my clinical psychology concentration was somatic psychology – a highly intuitive embodied practice. That said, my personal journey to further restore a masculine-feminine energetic balance has led img_5610me in a few directions. I had found myself drawn to meditate on the Goddess: Gaia, Brigid, Diana/Artemis, among others – this surfaced years ago. This year, I have returned to bring home an aspect of my Roman Catholic roots. That is turning my attention back to the Blessed Mother, Mother Mary, the Madonna. In addition to meditation and contemplation, I have opened myself to a kind of creativity that blends these ingredients by crafting small shrines in Her honor. As a longtime artist and craftsperson, I see how my consciousness shifts when I get into ‘the art zone.’ Time freezes, senses come alive, thoughts cease, and something bigger opens. This is just my current way of doing things and experiencing the mysteries of the process. I am no expert when it comes to the Divine Feminine. Like everyone else, I search for meaning.

While my story and my journey are incomplete (is anything ever complete?), I hope it, along with the photos of my work, inspire you to reconnect to the feminine energy within, in your own unique way. We can revive, reunite, restore and rebuild at any age, at any time. It’s not gone, although sometimes it gets lost. I want to proclaim that we, as humans, have created a balanced world, but I cannot — At least not yet. What are you doing today to bring more balance to your one-of-a-kind life and to this beautiful world?

 

Compassionately yours,

Dr. Kim

For a free 12 minute guided meditation, CLICK HERE.

To see my shrines for sale, CLICK HERE.

To get my book, Extraordinary Dreams, CLICK HERE.

breathing for health

No one needs to convince us why we need to breathe. Sometimes, however, we need convincing as to why we should do it consciously, with awareness. Study after study shows us that intentional, abdominal breathing has direct affects on the body – this is good news. After all, it is free and can be done anywhere, at any time. Stress doesn’t have to get the best of us! By just a few minutes spent each day on the practices I’ll be describing below, one can invoke healing in the immune and nervous systems. This stuff calms the mind as well. Don’t we all need that, especially during this time?

When I demonstrate these techniques to my patients, I first begin by putting one hand on my chest and the other hand on my abdomen. This sort of check-in tells me whether I’mPhoto on 7-27-20 at 7.34 PM #2 breathing into my chest (shallow breathing) or whether I am taking a fuller breath in so that my belly expands (this is what we want). If my breathing is in my chest, I can consciously imagine my next inhalation moving deeper down into my body. I do this – as many breaths as it takes – until abdominal breathing is comfortable. Try it for yourself now. See what I mean?

From there, I love to move on to the 4:8 breathing technique. This is done by inhaling for 4 seconds, pausing for a second, then exhaling for 8 seconds. Simple, right? I like to do this for about 5 rounds or so. At that point I am really starting to notice the effects. The 4:8 breathing technique is so wonderfully calming.

Another way to encourage this kind of slow, rhythmic breathing is to use visualization. This was taught to me by one of my best yoga nidra teachers, Kamini Desai, PhD. With each exhalation, image that you are blowing the air out through a straw. So that’s inhaling through the nose, pausing for a second, then exhaling with softly pursed lips as if blowing through a straw. Really see that breath being pushed out through a skinny tube to slow everything down.

Another technique that involves counting, but in a much different way, is to count each inhalation and exhalation. Work downward, from 10 down to one. Some people recommend counting only the inhalations or the exhalations, while others recommend counting both. So, it would look like mentally/silently saying to yourself ‘10 I am inhaling…10 I am exhaling…9 I am inhaling…9 I am exhaling…8 I am inhaling,…’ and so on. When I was training in hypnotherapy, I was reminded that counting down (not up) was important to encourage greater levels of relaxation.

We all know that stress equals disease onset. In our overly-stressed society, conscious breathing has become a necessity. Not only do our bodies benefit, so do our minds. After all, the mind and body are linked – they make up a whole. You could even say that they are ONE. While these techniques are for anytime and anywhere, I find that they are perfect upon waking up each morning as well as at bedtime. That’s because an AM breathing practice sets the tone for the day, while the PM practice supports the melting away of stress and the day’s residue. It even adds to a solid sleep hygiene routine. With consistent practice, I expect that you will see a difference. I know I did.

If you’d like one-on-one coaching for stress management or support with your health goals, contact me. I can assist you in breathwork and in building a mediation practice. I offer guided imagery, hypnotherapy, and yoga nidra (a sleep-based meditation), in addition to counseling services.

 

Here’s to your health,

Kim

To order my book, Extraordinary Dreams, click here.