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/

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

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