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

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

the fall lineup: dr. kim’s top 10

Can you believe it? Fall is just around the corner! I have to be honest with you, I  worry that a Fall AND Winter season during this pandemic (with the accompanying power outages and California wildfires) will just be too much. How are you preparing? Are you even preparing?

One way I am preparing to shelter in place in the rain, snow and freezing cold (possibly without electricity) is by spending the month of September to order the books I want to read during those days and nights in isolation. Of course, I’ll be sure to have other necessities (extra candles, warm blankets, dozens of batteries for my battery operated lamps, and bottles of water). Let’s get back to what is important for a full inner life  – that is, BOOKS. Wonderful, amazing books! Yes, I am a reader and a true lover of books – not ebooks, but REAL BOOKS – The kind you need paper clips, highlighters, and handmade book markers for. So here, in this article, I want to share with you my top 10 nonfiction recommendations. You’ll find the list below, in no particular order, as they are all equally important to me:

1) Morning Altars: A 7-Step Practice to Nourish Your Spirit through Nature, Art, and Ritual by Day Schildkret

  • For those days when the sky is clear and you feel drawn to go outside, consider creating a natural, earthy altar. By doing so, you practice the art of nonattachment, of letting go. This is important during these unprecedented times when we cannot make our usual predictions about tomorrow. Will a wildfire erupt in our neighborhood? Will a family member contract the coronavirus? Will power outages last several days? In this book, Schildkret walks us through the steps toward creating a beautiful natural piece of art. No glue needed! We use what we find in nature and when the creative process is complete, we give it back to the earth, allowing the winds and rain to take care of it. This is a lovely practice for all ages as well as for the entire family. If you find that constructing these kinds of altars are helpful in your life, for cultivating peace, beauty and nonattachment, why not make them a regular practice?

2) Yoga Nidra: The Art of Transformational Sleep by Kamini Desai, PhD

  • This books covers all you need to know for the deeply relaxing, transformative sleep-based meditation known as yoga nidra. This form of guided meditation is a foundational part of my life. Dr. Desai even has a yoga nidra app which includes 4 recorded meditations for a great price. I have it on my smartphone and use it weekly – once a week at the bare minimum. I have found this practice to be very nurturing and an anxiety reducer.

3) Conscious Dreaming: A Spiritual Path for Everyday Life by Robert Moss

  • While this book was released many years ago, it is still and always will be one of my favorites. Moss has written a dozen books on dreaming, but this is the best in my opinion. He covers just about everything related to dreaming with awareness, including working with your dream guides. This is an inspiring book and one I recommend on very bookshelf. I have a lot more to say about this wonderful book, so click on this link – it brings you to my YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43JtsnOeO50

4) Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Lucid Dreaming: A Comprehensive Guide to Promote Creativity, Overcome Sleep Disturbances & Enhance Health and Wellness by Clare R. Johnson, PhD

  • Lucid dreaming is a hot topic these days and there are several solid publications on the subject. Dr. Johnson’s book is the most comprehensive I have ever come across. As a psychologist with expertise in dreaming, I can say with certainty that this amazing guide will take beginning lucid dreamers to advanced lucid dreamers on a fun and intriguing adventure! Daylight hours are shortening with the approaching Fall season and these unprecedented times have allowed many people to sleep (and dream) more that before. I claim that this is the right time to train yourself to lucid dream, and this is the book to show you how. You won’t be disappointed!

5) Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening by Joseph Goldstein

  • The world is shifting all around us on so many levels. It’s time to wake up. We can no longer sleepwalk – it’s hurting the planet and hurting the children. While stuck indoors this fall and winter due to rain, snow, and the pandemic, why not dedicate 10-30 minutes a day learning to meditate? This can be done with a spouse, friend, or your bored teenagers. While there are much simpler books that teach mindfulness, this book is a classic. It is detailed and rooted in Buddhist teachings so that the reader comes away with an education in the history and philosophy of the origins.

6) Dreams That Can Save Your Life: Early Warning Signs of Cancer and Other Diseases by Larry Burk, MD, CEHP and Kathleen O’Keefe Kanavos

  • Here, a three time breast cancer survivor and a radiologist team up to deliver a book like never before. Since people are reporting higher dream recall this year, it is wise to track our dreams in search of what they may be telling us. Our bodies know things before our conscious, intellectual mind does – these messages can come through in the dream. Read this book and you’ll see for yourself. My video comments on this book can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXETJELQUgw&t=82s

7) Dream Yoga: Illuminating Your Life through Lucid Dreaming and the Tibetan Yogas of Sleep by Andrew Holecek

  • I can’t say enough about this amazing book. While Holecek teaches us that lucid dreaming can promote self-improvement, he takes a deep dive into how waking up in our dreams can lead to self-transcendence – a spiritual dream practice known as dream yoga. Eastern and Western lucid dream induction techniques are covered here so the reader walks away with plenty of opportunities to immediately delve into this life-changing art journey. This book is a gem, requiring a highlighter in my opinion – That speaks to the level of profound insights captured within these pages. Here’s where I say a little more about Holececk’s work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jW9ymibgmUo

8) Dreams of Light: The Profound Daytime Practice of Lucid Dreaming by Andrew Holecek

  • A few years after Dream Yoga was released, Holecek delivers Dreams of Light: a perfect pairing for those on a conscious path to awakening to the true nature of reality. This book, like Holocek’s Dream Yoga, is also rooted in the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism. A main difference is that this book focuses on the daytime practices more so than the nocturnal practices. Dream Yoga and Dreams of Light marry well together. By absorbing the information contained within these pages and actually doing the practices in a serious way, life as we know it changes in ways beyond what we imagine.

9) Radical Hope: 10 Healing Factors from Exceptional Survivors of Cancer and Other Diseases by Kelly A. Turner, PhD with Tracy White.

  • Dr. Turner’s previous book, Radical Remission, was fabulous and this new book on healing is just as wonderful. As the subtitle reflects, there are 10 things we can do to support our health and healing. This is one of those books that you gift to family members – it’s that necessary. I’d like to tell you about a favorite chapter, but truth is, I found all 10 chapters to be equally valuable. This books flows beautifully and I’d bet that you could read it cover to cover in under two weeks. Find my earlier blog on miraculous remissions here: https://consciouschimera.com/2020/06/15/in-remission-radical-style/

10) Italian Folk Magic by Mary-Grace Fahrun

  • You don’t have to have Italian ancestry to enjoy this book. The beauty of this book is that it serves as a reminder to all people and all groups that there are stories, rituals and beliefs that are carried deep within us to connect us to our past. Now if you have ‘lost’ Italian roots, allow this fun read to reacquaint you with your history. After reading Italian Folk Magic, I was inspired to continue asking questions about my family history and request the retelling of old stories. I gather that this book truly comes from the heart.

So that’s my top 10 – obviously, I recommend them all. Clearly my prized book collection features many publications on ‘the inner work.’ That’s what I love and that’s what Conscious Chimera is all about. What would you add to this list of Fall/Winter nonfiction recommendations for 2020? Let me know. I’m always looking for a good read!

Cheers to all my booklovers,

Kim

Here’s the link to get my book, Extraordinary Dreams: https://mcfarlandbooks.com/product/extraordinary-dreams/

dreamy greek delights

After the annual international dream conference of the IASD, held in the Netherlands this year, I visited Greece. Greece has been on my bucket list for over a decade. Finally, I made it! With only five days to spare, I stuck to the North East area of the country, exploring the city of Thessaloniki and Halkidiki peninsula. Time in the sea was, of course, a must. I also  wanted to see with my own eyes evidence of a long lost dream culture.

e0329c47-1757-43f0-a42a-cf5d6894bf48I spent time speaking with young Greeks, and even a few older ones. As I walked through downtown Thessaloniki, not for from Aristotle Square by the sea, I walk past 4th century monuments and wait…what?… yes, vendors selling Native American dreamcatchers. What a surprise! Young, contemporary Greeks call these oneiropagida yet they do not have a similar object from their own, forgotten, ancient dream-focused culture. Evidence for this lost culture is mostly found in museums nowadays, especially within the boundaries of my recent trip. One man, who is in his 20s, shared two opposing views of today’s Greek people. Dreams either mean little-to-nothing, he told me, or dreams must be interpreted, as they hold significance for some. For the latter group, oneirokritis or dream dictionaries, however, are popular. He considered those who use dream interpretation to be “superstitious,” yet as we spoke further, I understood that this term was not necessarily negative. The 21 year-old woman who was selling dreamcatchers, among other objects and souveniers, told me that for her and her friends, dreams were not meaningful. She said that her mother, however, carries a belief that night dreams are worth paying attention to and may lead to an action if they seemed meaningful. This isn’t a daily practice though, as some dreams hold more weight than other dreams.

A middle-aged cab driver from a small mountain town told me that contemporary Greeks today look at the old God/Goddess culture as “fairytales.” That old mythology is not a part of our contemporary belief system whatsoever, he conveyed. With regard to dreams, he said that this is also mostly ignored, yet for some Greeks, “powerful dreams” are given more attention. Those vivid, or easily recalled, types of dreams may need interpretation. The dream may be placed in one of two categories: good or bad. Dreams are judged, polarized, it seems. An example of a good dream may involve flying, he said, while a dream of a snake may be viewed as bad. I commented on how serpents were held in high regard, in the past, for their healing and transformative qualities. He agreed, but said “times have changed.” He attributed this shift in perspective to religious changes, particularly the rise of Christianity.

Thessaloniki’s archeological museum staff provided stimulating discussion regarding the Greek history of dreaming. Two women working in the museum shop shared some img_4201information about the healing nature of snakes as we looked at a marble relief being sold there, which features Asclepius. A fourth century BCE relief depicts three stages of healing of a patient by the god Asclepius with two apotropaic eyes above. The healing ritual shown here appears to depict Asclepius giving injections and using snake venom as a healing substance. Some believe that Asclepius could transform into a healing serpent himself. The original can be found in the sanctuary of Amphiaraos at Oropos (Attica). Apotropaic magic refers to the power to avert evil or harmful influences, bad luck, misfortune, or the evil eye. Its popularity is evident, even today, by the vast number of apotropaic amulets sold worldwide. Other copies of votive offerings to Asclepius also feature the serpent. Snakes can be found in numerous pieces img_4203of jewelry (bracelets and earrings in particular) worn by the ancient Greek/Macedonian peoples. We discussed how the serpent, or snake, was considered a strong healing, transformative force historically, yet with the arrival of Christianity, this all changed. From then on, snakes were primarily associated with women and evil, or the devil, thus connecting the two. This myth continues to hold strong today. Then, she asked for me to help her understand a puzzling dream of her own. I say that I’m honored to listen, but cannot interpret another’s dream, as I am not the author of it. She agrees that dreams belong to the dreamer, and continues. We play the game, “If it were my dream,” and have an enlightening discussion. She smiles as her eyes widen, img_4202expressing thanks for my view on this dream, as if it were my own, revealing a positive resolution in the end. Dreams belong to the dreamer, yes, and isn’t it wonderful to have those that will listen and take them seriously. For these exchanges offer fresh insights and perspectives. I was delighted over my time spent in the museum and with it’s employees – they had much to say about Asclepius and healing, while the others I spoke with knew little, or nothing at all of that part of local ancient history.

My time in Greece will continue…hopefully within a year or two. Athens and the oracles and sanctuaries of the area are at the top of my list. Have you traveled to the ancient Greek regions where healing and dreaming were once so common? If so, tell us about it. Comments and discussion here are always welcome.

Happy Summer,

Kim

To order my book, CLICK HERE.

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.

immersed in yoga nidra

Having recently completed a five-day immersion workshop in Yoga Nidra (sleep yoga), I am feeling inspired to share my experience. First, let me tell you how it all began, months prior to the workshop. Dr. Kamini Desai of the Amrit Yoga Institute is author of Yoga Nidra: The Art of Transformational Sleep (Lotus Press, 2017) – what some have called ‘The Bible of Yoga Nidra.” Many months ago I purchased this book to learn more about the topic and to prepare for an article I was writing. The deeper my investigation into the thousands-of-years-old practice of yoga nidra, the more I wanted to dive in. Shortly after purchasing the book, I saw that Dr. Desai would soon be leading a Yoga Nidra immersion with John Vosler at Esalen Institute. Wanting an in-depth experience for myself, I enrolled immediately!

I arrived at Esalen on a Sunday, in the late afternoon, but early enough to settle in before the workshop officially kicked off. I say kicked off, but really it was a lovely slow-paced unfolding. If you have never been to Esalen, image the Garden of Eden, cliffside, and you’ll get the idea. Soon enough, the attendees (myself included) were all on our backs, comfortably secure on our yoga mats with blankets or eye pillows. As the first taste of yoga nidra for the week is delivered, I rest deeply, allowing my thoughts to dissolve. A rumifloaty sensation accompanying peaceful stillness, along with the sense of spaciousness, is deeply relaxing. This is a space I have become familiar with from years of meditation, hypnosis, and conscious sleep-based practices I’ve been taught by Gnostic mystics, Taoists and Buddhists. Some of the particular breathing techniques, mantras, and visualizations were new and aroused my curiosity. I thought, well Kim, welcome to the meditation limb of yoga. An important reminder was that no matter which spiritual lineage or framework the ancients originated from, the end result is that of knowing great peace and making contact with soul, regardless of the particular strategy applied. All used toning, visualizations, and the breath in some fashion or another and while the precise technique differs from place to place across time, the end result is similar if not exactly the same. For me, this realization brings a sense of wholeness, humility and a profound tranquility. Over the next five days, attendees are taught core principles of a deep form of meditation, known as yoga nidra, and concepts concerning health and spirituality, including the subtle bodies, karma, and much more. We also learn how regenerative states and healing of the body are supported by yoga nidra, as practitioner’s brain waves slow down significantly, some even down into delta brain wave states during a yoga nidra practice. This is important because when we sleep each night, we only get about 20 minutes of delta – the most restorative brain wave state. By inducing yoga nidra for a short period during the day, we can add several additional minutes of the beneficial delta state, as the body sleeps while the mind remains conscious. This space is where healing suggestions can be incorporated – here the mind-body complex responds without having to do anything. What a delight this immersive workshop was, especially due to the class receiving two yoga nidras each day – one in the AM and another in the PM. All stressors seemed to melt away as each day passed. After a yoga nidra session, which are typically 30-45 minutes in length, I feel so comfortably relaxed, focused and recharged. I walk away with the firm knowing that my body has been given the gift of additional support and good care.

In this fast-paced world with its many demands and easy access to a slew of mind-numbing distractions, I believe we are in desperate need of quality restoration and time/space to ground, breath, and connect to ourselves and those around us. What better way to prioritize our health than with yoga nidra? To encourage my personal commitment to this practice for my wellbeing and to offer yoga nidra to others, I am currently working toward certification via the Integrative Amrit Method. If you have wanted to try yoga nidra, let me know. From now until September, I am offering one free online session (up to 45 minutes) to those that follow Conscious Chimera. Message me if you are interested. As I type this month’s blog, I’m reminded of Ram Dass, who says, “We’re all just walking each other home.” So, no need to feel shy – reach out – I’m happy to be of support!

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers worldwide,

Kim