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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Through Darkness to Your Soul's Sincere Desire

Last  year, I had to opportunity to travel to the Seychelles off the east coast of Africa to flyfish. While my group was sequestered on the main island of Mahi, we sat together on the evening before the final leg of our journey, sharing dreams, of all things. They had learned that I was a dream analyst, and so the conversation shifted to the "universal language" of dream sharing. As we talked, we discovered that all four of us had experienced the same nighttime phenomenon--awakening around 2-3 am in a state of intense worry. We were astounded that each of us, without exception, had frequently spent a good part of the time weathering the unique bleakness that seems to descend on the human psyche in the middle of the night. One of the men asked, "What is it about 2 am?" That question became a topic of conversation not only that evening, but at various times during our week together.

Oddly enough, when I was a young man, fresh with hope and visions of a glorious future, the same period of the night was a time of deep peace and spiritual centering. It was then that I began to follow the advice of the late, great psychic Edgar Caye when he urged people to meditate during of the middle of the night in order to discover "a peace you've never known." For almost 45 years, the middle of the night meditation has been a wellspring of inspiration and mystical experience. Indeed, it probably accounts for the lucid dreams that gave rise to my book, Lucid Dreaming: Dawning of the Clear Light, as well as my other four books, all of which are filled with experiences that came to me at that darkest hour of the night.

Despite the worry that sometimes afflicts me during that period of the night, the "peace you've never known" is still available if I'm willing to persist in my meditation, and get through the ordeal that often awaits me. Just this last night, in fact, I woke up at 3:30, and decided to meditate, even though I felt the weight of the world, and my own demons hammering at me. I sat up, and commenced praying and meditating for over half an hour before experiencing the relief that comes when my greater self asserts itself once again.

In contrast to the sheer darkness of mood that confronted me upon awakening, the dream that ensued upon my return to sleep was simply glorious. It was a lucid dream that lasted about an hour. During the experience, I found myself in a luminous realm, full of kind people and resplendent scenes. It is too much to recount here, but to give you and example of what transpired there, I encountered an artisan who had created a sculpture made from crystal and stone and precious gems that had the image of the Sphinx on one side of it. I picked it up and held it up to the light, and the colors were iridescent and lit from within. Everywhere around me I could see similar creations, fashioned by master artisans. So much more happened that I cannot adequately describe. But suffice to say that if you want to get through the darkness of your life, consider committing yourself to this kind of practice. I feel confident that if you persist, you will be amply rewarded by your "soul's sincere desire," whatever that may be.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

A Two-Hour Lucid Dream/Out of Body Experience

I awoke at 3:45 and instead of meditating as I often do. I took 8 mg. of galantamine, and went back to bed. I laid on my back and meditated for a while, and before falling asleep I felt the energy that comes just before separating from the body. It was mild at first, so I meditated on it, which is very pleasant, and felt it building. I sat up at one point, but felt my physical body still holding on, so I meditated a bit longer, and then rolled over and I was free. I stood at the foot of my bed in the darkness, at first, then turned and flew threw the wall toward the west.

It remained entirely dark, and I could see nothing of color, light, or form. So I meditated, knowing that my visual field would eventually "light up" and I'd find myself in a new place. After a while, I saw slivers of blue sky, then suddenly I was out of the darkness, flying above a wilderness area. It seemed I was over a river valley, heading south. I went down to the ground and walked along the edge a meadow. I heard crashing in the woods off to my left, so I stopped and waited. I wasn't sure if they were bears, or what. Then I saw two large dark shapes appear through the trees. I felt that they knew me from some earlier time--I wasn't afraid--so I approached. As I got closer, I could see that they weren't bears at all, but beings whom I recognized and knew from some past experience. They were avocado green, four-legged animals with a shiny, smooth, but tough and weathered skin. The closest one was a dear old friend, and I went up to him (I knew it be to a male) and greeted him like a long lost friend. I put my arms around his head and held him for a long time. We loved each other deeply. His wife and child came up, as well. The child, which was about the size of a large dog, did not know me, but was curious and playful. I reflected silently on how one would describe these beings.  I thought they were probably live-bearing mammals with no hair, which I knew to be a contradiction.

Either they morphed into humanoids, or there was a segment that I forgot. But the rest of the interpersonally rich and intimate experience took place in a village of humans, with whom I was similarly connected through some kind of past association. I was welcomed into one man's home, where I visited with him, his wife, and several other friends. We hiked onto a nearby mountain at one point, and walked along a high ridge, overlooking another valley. The scenery was exquisitely beautiful, and there did not seem to be much settlement in the area. As we walked along the high ridge, one of my companions cautioned me because were near a cliff. I laughed and told him I could fly. To show him, I sailed down a slope, barely above the ground, and then whirled and spun around just above the ground all around the group. They were delighted.

At one point, I was taking a nap (of all things), and a group of children came to visit. I was unclothed beneath the covers, so I asked for my clothes so I could get up with exposing myself. I dressed beneath the covers and joined the group.

The experience lasted so long that I was able to accompany the father on a hike to a place where an older man, who fixed boats, could assist him in repairing his motor. The man accompanied us back to the house, and there was a moment where I actually gave the old man a stick of gum I was carrying.

Although the experiences sound rather pedestrian, the experience was filled with interpersonal richness, and deep love between us. Toward the end, the father and a couple of younger men and I were walking to a lake where we intended to take two boats out fishing. But as we approached the water's edge, I worried that I'd been out of my body for so long that it was possible (but not likely) that Julie could be unable to revive me. I was also thinking that it could be late in the morning. So I told them it was time for me to leave. I hugged each of them, and telling them each that I loved them. They responded with such affection! They were sad to see me go. At that point, I just bowed my head and closed my eyes. It was hard at first to leave, but finally I could feel my body lying in the bed facing Julie. I was back, and 2 hours and 15 minutes had passes since I'd closed my eyes (and never gone unconscious).

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Freeing the Mockingbird

I got up at 3 am last night, and went into the den with a cup of hot coffee and sat in the dark. No phone, not laptop, nothing but my own presence and my mug of steaming coffee. I planned to meditate and go back to sleep, hoping for a deep dream. But for a while, I just sat there, feeling the comforting darkness. I thought of how invisible I was to everyone, even to those who love me. They were asleep, unaware of my middle-of-the-night vigil. I thought of all of the people with whom I had some sort of relationship--old friends, students, counseling and flyfishing clients, and Facebook friends. And my thoughts settled on the people who had friended me on Facebook, most of whom I really do not know. I thought of how we share slivers of ourselves with virtual strangers, hoping to connect in some meaningful way, and I marveled at the energy behind this immense effort, which from one standpoint is a rather feeble and pointless effort at relating. What do we really know of each other, anyway? But then I reflected on the dreams that I'd shared recently, and how people came out of the silence to make comment on one or more of them. The dreams provoked a conversation that the mere posting of a quote or a photo had not done.

Mark Blagrove, one of the presenters at the upcoming first Online Dream Research Conference (www.iasdreamresearch.org) will be reporting on an empirical study that supports the idea that sharing dreams differs from ordinary sharing--that something is activated in dream sharing that produces an altogether different level of connection with oneself and others. Similarly, Montague Ullman used to say that he believed that dream sharing had evolved to forge interpersonal connections, to build community in a way that bypassed the barriers and pretense of ego-to-ego exchanges.

As I sat in the darkness, I realized that dream sharing is one road to our salvation; that is, a way to heal the deep divisions between us. I then meditated for half an hour, then went back to sleep and had two dreams, both of which provide additional perspective that dreams may save us from ourselves.

In one, I am with several members of the International Association for the Study of Dreams. We are at a conference, and it seems that we are all shedding our clothing in some kind of ritual. As we strip down to our nakedness, I feel exhilarated. I say, "Now I know what people become nudists!" It was as if we have reached a level of sharing heretofore unachieved. It was deeply fulfilling to be there at home and revealed to my friends. 

In another, I see a paper plane, with a rectangular fuselage. It has a mocking bird imprisoned within it. The plane can fly, but the bird within it has been imprisoned, and is near death. Its wings are pinned to its body. I begin to carefully dismantle the fuselage, removing a harness from the bird's head and beak, and then lifting its body from a pool of feces and water. I hold up a container of clear water for it to drink from, and it plunges its beak into the clear water and drinks deeply. I know that the bird will survive with some additional care.

Of course, these dreams are about me. But they also provide a metaphorical perspective on what we do to ourselves. We remain closed off, parcelling out slivers of ourselves to virtual strangers without taking the leap of sharing our souls. And we imprison our natural soulfulness inside artificial structures that are supposed to take its place. If we're going to connect deeply, we need a way to reveal natural selves. And if we are going to soar to our destined heights, we must release ourselves from the artificial prisons that have become substitutes for true flight.

But will we be safe in doing so? Certainly there are always risks in sharing who we really are. And who can define what that looks like? I suggest to you that our dreams can be our emissaries of truth, capable of bringing soulfulness into relationship without artifice and pretense. They are shrouded sufficiently in metaphorical language to protect our lives from direct exposure, but they are rooted in our depths sufficiently to circumvent the ego's constant cleverness and aim to impress.

So let's share dreams with strangers and with our friends alike. Doing so could save us from shallow conversations about our differences, and introduce a surprising sense of what unites us.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Confrontation with the Shadow

In an hour-long lucid dream after meditating at 4:30 am, I was exploring a beautiful realm and had met and said goodbye to some interesting people before flying to the next place. I then came upon a group of men who were doing something terrible. It was not clear to me exactly what, but they didn't like the fact that I knew they were up to no good, and so they got their weapons out to kill me. I wasn't afraid, of course, knowing I could return to my own world at will. As they circled me, I looked at one of them in the eye, and said "I know the one who rules this place. I know the one who has dominion here. And I can see the fear in your eyes." I turned to the next one, and said again, "I can see the fear in your eyes." One of them retorted, "What do you mean? What can you see?" Then I realized that the best thing I could do to "wake them up" would be for me to leave. So I forced myself out of the dream. It was hard, because I was in so deep. But finally I was back in bed. A few minutes, later, however, I returned to where I'd been, and I saw the men walking down the street as a group, sober, clean shaven, and making efforts to help others. I could see worry in their faces, as if they were intent on doing good now. Maybe they were just unruly parts of myself that I was waking up, which is a sobering reminder of the power of unconscious forces, if not also the divisions between us.

Flying with the Shadow



Like everyone I know, I am deeply concerned about what is happening in the world, in Nice, Orlando, Paris, and wherever there is violence. It is hard to know what one person can do about it, other than work on myself to understand my own shadow side, wherein lies my own capacity for destructiveness and anger over real or perceived wrongs. Sometimes I think my focus on dream work may seem a bit indulgent in such a world. But then again, I know how important it is for us to tame our own inner demons. Just yesterday morning, I was in a long lucid dream when a group of young men approached me and threatened me. I knew I could leave the dream, or defeat them, but instead I approached the nearest one, and asked him, "Would you like to go flying?" I took him by the arm, and began to lift him in the air. His buddies grabbed hold, one by one, until there was a line of guys rising into the sky. Their faces were rapt with surprise and delight lit up by the morning sun. I took them back to the ground, and our relationship was transformed. They laughed and ran to tell others. Were they actual people or parts of myself, or some combination thereof? Who can ever know? But it's something we can do and feel good about.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Sojourns Beyond the Body

I stopped writing about my lucid dreams/OOBE's last fall, mainly because real life became so demanding that my nighttime practice fell off somewhat. But recently, I have returned to a fairly regular practice of middle-of-the-night meditation as a supplement to my early morning meditation. As a part of this middle-of-the-night regimen, I usually take 8 mg. of galantamine (an over-the-counter supplement derived from various lilies, including the snow drop lily) immediately upon awakening so that by the time I return to sleep, it's doing its job of increasing the amount of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in my brain. I still marvel that a slight increase in a neurotransmitter involved in cognitive processing can have such dramatic effects on my dreams--as well as my performance at the bridge table! But then again, it rarely induces lucid dream without the meditation beforehand. Not for me, at least.

This morning was pretty typical. I got up at 5:30, meditated for about half an hour til I got sleepy, and then laid back down. Within a few minutes, I was suddenly flying up through blackness. I meditated as I flew upward, and waited for imagery to appear. The last time I did this, a few days ago, the same thing happened, and I expected to see the earth below me at some point. But I suddenly found myself swimming in an expanse of luminous water before I emerged into a terrestrial setting.


This morning, however, I did not find myself in water, but rather in a beautiful woodland scene with people all around. I went from place to place--usually flying as I went--and speaking with people I encountered. One woman even prepared food for me even though she knew I was "from another place" and would soon be leaving and obviously could not eat with her. At another point, I took off and a little girl grabbed my foot; so I flew up in the air with her before taking her gently back to the ground. So much happened over the course of almost an hour (I intentionally brought myself back at about 7 am) that I don't have enough time to share all of it.


Throughout the experience, however, I would look for the Light in all of its various forms--bright light fixtures, the sun, the moon, and other sources of radiance. As I have found for the past 40 years, the Light tends to become dim, or retreat, once I gaze upon it. It's not always been true, but it's been a recurrent theme throughout countless lucid dreams--that when I stare at the Light, it will usually fade.


(Interestingly, the times when the Light has intensified and taken me into a state of ecstasy has been those occasions when the Light appeared and overwhelmed me before I could have any agenda--I was its object, not the other way around!)


In one frustrating dream 30 years ago, I was growing frustrated by the way that the light seemed to "collapse" into an object without any luster. A woman walked up and told me one of the most significant things that anyone has ever said to me: "You must first learn to love the form before you can see the Light within it." So, ever since then, I've been "coming down from the mountain," endeavoring to embrace a more embodied experience, and learning to value everyday life. But throughout, my mystical yearning has persisted alongside this commitment. And lately, the opportunities to gaze upon the Light has occurred with regularity in the often-hour-long lucid dreams that I've been experiencing almost every time I use the meditation/galantamine combination.


This morning, in fact, was something of a new phase. For the first several encounters with the Light, I noticed the dimming effect, and thus started to work with my subjective state as I gazed upon the radiance. Finally, in the last scene, a brilliant white sun appeared overhead, and I looked upon it. At first, it started to fade a bit, so I looked away and smiled inwardly, feeling gratitude to be in the presence of it. I looked back, and it became more intense again. I continued to contemplate with gratitude, rather than with desire, and it maintained its immense white corona.


The issue of yearning or desire is at the center of the spiritual life, especially in Buddhism where desire is at the root of all suffering. And in Christianity, it was Peter's material desire to capitalize on Jesus's transfiguration that made Jesus say, "Get thee behind me, Satan." However, desire is also what takes us beyond the status quo. While it can never grasp the object of its dreams, it can take us to the threshold of attainment where in the end we are called upon to surrender it. This thought came to me when thinking of the role of desire: Desire leads to practice, and practice leads to mastery, and mastery allows us to let go of desire. So to fault someone for desiring this or that may be to commit one of two errors: the error of someone who either has suppressed desire out of fear or judgment, or someone who has grown beyond it and forgotten the necessary and imperfect role that it once served. There is a saying in the East, "To the one who has arrived, the way is foreign." I think this addresses the problem of judging a lower stage of development from a higher perspective.


When I was four, my best friend and I nailed a piece of bamboo to the end of a 2x4 to make a propeller for an airplane. I said to him with absolute conviction that we would fly together on that plane. I was fortunate that no one was there to tell me that I was deluded, because I still desire impossible things.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Interview with Dr. Clare Johnson

Dr. Clare Johnson, who writes a column in DreamTime Magazine (published by IASD for its members), has recently interviewed me for an upcoming issue. It was an opportunity for me to share a dream was truly life changing, which inspired me to move back to Texas and to pursue a more natural lifestyle. Here's the dream, which appears in my book, Healing the Fisher King: A Flyfisher's Grail Quest. I will save the comments for the interview, so look for it if you're an IASD member. Or consider joining by going to www.iasdreams.org for information about the benefits of membership. 


I become aware that a group of hunters, of which my stepfather and father are members, have come upon a Native American man in the woods. Thinking of him as no more than an animal, they have killed him and beheaded him, keeping his head as a trophy. I am horrified and convinced that the crime has to be reported. While most of the hunters express no remorse whatsoever, my father wears a pained, confused look about what they have done. As I talk to him about our need to take action, it is as if he slowly awakens from a deep sleep and finally acknowledges the truth. Then I call the authorities and tell them what has happened. 
As I hang up, I become aware that a cougar is making its way into deep South Texas — passing through the King Ranch, skirting the U.S. Border Patrol check point at the little town of Sarita, and moving into the area near the Mexican border where I grew up. I am hopeful that it will thrive there.
Then, I look up to see a red plane doing aerobatics. I know that the young pilot is saluting me for my courage. His aerial display is so prodigious that I find the display physically impossible. Suddenly, I am aware that I am dreaming. I walk south through a meadow and look up to see a beautiful, dew-covered red hibiscus hanging over my head. I take a few more steps and affirm that when I look up the next time, I will see the Holy Light. I lift my eyes and behold a huge orb of white light surrounded by a delicate, lattice-like corona that takes up the entire southern sky. I know that it is the Light of Christ. 
Then an elderly woman approaches from behind me. Her eyes tell me that she loves me. I reach out, put my arm around her, and kiss her forehead, knowing that she is Mary, the mother of Jesus. We turn back toward the Light and see that a second light had appeared to the left, slightly below the white orb. The new light is bluish-violet and—with delicate, hairlike filaments of light—resembling the blossom of a passionflower vine. I turn to Mary and ask, “Is that your light?” She nods.
I turn back and look again, only to see that a third light has joined the other two. It appears to the right, slightly below the white orb. It shines from the window of a tower whose base now stands only a few feet away from us. 
“Whose light is that?” I ask.
Mary replies, “It is Mary Magdalene’s light.”
Then I ask, “Do you want to go there?” Again she nods, so we walk forward together and begin to climb the tower’s circular stairs.

If you have a big dream, consider sharing it here. If you have trouble posting it as a comment, please send it to me at gscotspar@gmail.com, and I will post it with any comments you might want to add.

Galantamine Study to be Launched Soon

Good news! I have been given the green light from the UTRGV Institutional Review Board to conduct a study that will test the impact of galantamine paired with meditation and dream reliving on dreaming. Ryan Hurd, with Dreamstudies.org and Dr. Ralph Carlson with UTRGV will join forces to conduct this first-of-its kind study. Our plan is to work with "normal" participants in the first phase in order to ascertain if the combination of treatments creates a more effective intervention than any of the components alone. And then, if so, we hope to apply the treatment protocol in a clinical setting with patients who suffer from PTSD, with the assistance of Dr. Fructuoso Irigoyen, a psychiatrist whom I work with in my private practice.

We will be posting the formal announcement soon on this site, Ryan's dreamstudies.org site, and the IASD Facebook pages. The announcement will include a link to a preliminary questionnaire and consent form, and then we will be providing instructions along with galantamine and placebo capsules.

I am also working on a paper that, I believe, provide the best explanation to date of why the dreaming process uses metaphorical imagery, in particular. It's a heavy lift, and I have been struggling with it for several months. But it will be done soon, and I will be posting the preliminary draft here in hopes that it will stimulate your own thinking about the construction and purpose of dreaming.


Friday, February 19, 2016

Recent Presentation

Last week, I spoke to 200 counselors at the Rio Grande Valley Counseling Association's annual Counselors Institute on Padre Island, titled "Using Dreamwork to Accelerate Healing and Support Emerging Competencies in Your Counseling Practice."   The audio can be listened to here. Please forgive the repetition of my favorite joke that illustrates the problem of our preconceived views about dreams.



Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Importance of Situated Awareness

I had a non-lucid dream last week, sandwiched between two nights of lucid dreaming, which impacted me more deeply that any other dream in the past few months.

In the dream, it was raining and the streets were flooded. A line of cars were parked ahead of me, and people were outside in the rain, praying the Hail Mary. I walked up and joined them in prayer. Turning around, I looked up toward the south, and saw hundreds of tiny clouds creating the shape of a man with his arms outstretched. I was awed and puzzled, not sure if it was natural or supernatural. Then, to the west, a disc the size of several suns appeared and began to spin slowly, drawing into itself the cloud shape that was moving toward it. The disc became more visually sharp, and looked more spherical than flat. Suddenly, the disc broke open like an egg, and a bright white flower emerged and descended slowly toward the world.

I love this dream. And the fact that I wasn't lucid was actually a blessing. Why? Because there was no thought that this "wasn't real." In other words, it had maximum emotional impact precisely because I believed it was real.

I have spoken on the importance of situated vs. non-situated awareness. I argue in a presentation that I gave not long ago that true integration of "the other" within us requires an encounter between autonomous entities, of which we (the dream ego) is one. If we do not believe that an encounter is real or actual, then how can we experience the encounter as a relationship? Tarnas says in The Passion of the Western Mind that a true relationship depends on for an autonomous, reciprocal exchange between freely responding persons. And how is that possible if we experience the "other" in the dream as illusory or self-created. 

I have posted that presentation audio somewhere on my server, and I will link it here shortly, in case this topic interests you.

I'm Back

I think they must call it "blog guilt"--when you haven't written an entry for so long that you wonder if people think you're dead.  Ken Wilber invented a related term,  which he termed "neogenic guilt," or New Age guilt--which is the not-so-exquisite experience of believing that you create your own reality, and thus must assume the blame for whenever you get sick, or run into s--- happening.

I started a new online training/personal dream group last night with five dreamers spread across the US.  I've been using Zoom videoconferencing for all kinds of meetings, and it's just perfect for online group dream work. The purpose of the 10-week group is to learn co-creative dream analysis, and to practice with each other's dreams. 


I just received the cover image for a new book that will be published this spring, for which I wrote a chapter. Edited by my colleagues and friends Stan Krippner and Jacquie Lewis (both of Saybrook Institute), I am honored to be the fine company of 13 other chapter authors, who present a particular traditional or contemporary approach to dream theory/practice.  The title of my chapter is, "The FiveStar Method: Using Co-creative Dream Analysis in Psychotherapy."








Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Co-creative Dreamwork Group Starting in September

Hi friends, I will be starting a bi-weekly online dream group using Zoom videoconferencing. I am tentatively planning to start the group on Thursday, September 10, at 8 pm CST. The group will be comprised of 5-8 adults, and meet for 90 minutes each time. The cost will be $30 per session. If you, or anyone you know is interested, please email me at gscotspar@gmail.com so we can set up a phone call or a Skype visit.

We will focus on co-creative dream work, which I have developed over the past 40 years. We will also practice ways to become more conscious and responsive in our dreams.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

From Lightning to Liquid Gold

I will be giving three presentations at the annual conference of the International Association for the Study of Dreams in Virginia Beach next month. One of them will on "Life Changing Dreams," and I will be presenting alongside Robert Waggoner and Rober Hoss.

My own dream was what I've called my "coming to age dream," which I have recounted in several places, most notably in my book, Healing the Fisher King: A Flyfisher's Grail Quest. In fact, it's the central dream around which the whole story revolves. It is:

 I dream I am in my childhood home in Texas with my parents. It is just before dawn, and I invite them to follow me outside onto the driveway so I can reveal to them my life purpose. I lift my arms in the air, and begin to chant a single note. As I do, powerful energy erupts in my body, and at the same time, I see lightning arcing across the sky. Finally, I lower my arms, and the lightning strikes only a short distance away. I repeat this process, all the while standing outside of myself puzzled by this demonstration, and not knowing what it means. Suddenly, I become aware that my parents, in their fear, have hurled a lance into my back. I fall to the ground, knowing that I am dying. I am not afraid, but I'm disappointed that they didn't understand and accept me. They come up and stand over me, looking frightened and worried. I say, "I was really your son. But I am the son of the unborn son, who is still to come." I know that they must eventually deal with him, even though I am dying.


As one might imagine, this dream played out over the course of many years, in which I struggled in my own zeal to bring spirit into this world, but sometimes in a way that was premature and insensitive to the forces in myself and in my relationships that were disinclined to support such efforts. To put it mildly! Overcoming one's own resistance to higher power, and becoming more humble in one's methods, has been a lifelong quest. (I can still be quite pushy.) I have compared my own journey to that of Parcifal, who, in his unconsciousness brutishness, initially failed in his quest to find the Grail, and then returned later in life as a mature and chastened man and fulfilled the requirements of the quest.


The lucid dream below (in the posting "Who is she, anyway?") intimates the solution that Parcifal finally discovered; that is, coming into right relationship with the feminine spirit, who then offers to "accompany" the self into world, thus fulfilling the incarnation of the whole person. Parsifal committed all sorts of offenses against the feminine and, as a consequence, did not have what it took when he faced the Grail in all of its splensor; that is, he didn't have the presence of heart to offer himself in service to "one it served" -- metaphorically, the Fisher King, or the son of the unborn son. Giving way to the companion in the soul, who is willing to serve rather than to dominate, is a man's ultimate attainment, in my opinion. And it does not come easy. It requires a long struggle, and necessary failures, before the opening of the warrior soul gives way to the attendant feminine companion who finally consents to accompany him in his incarnational quest. 


That is what the dream posted below intimates: that the presence of the feminine spirit transforms the male incarnational thrust from a raw, overwhelming and unsustainable effort (lightning) into a glorious manifestation of refined consciousness that renders everything golden that it touches. While the process is perhaps never complete, consummatory experiences such as the one below at least provide glimpses of what Paul Harvey once referred to as, "the other half of the story," and offer encouragement that the long journey toward meaning will finally bear its golden fruit.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Who is she, anyway?

In my peregrinations through lucid and out-of-body realms, I usually meet people who seem quite autonomous and self-possessed, as if they are "real" persons. The question of the lucid dream character's nature is one that intrigues me considerably. Indeed, it is at the forefront of my thinking about lucid dreaming, as exemplified by the chapter I wrote last year for the new lucid dream anthology, published by Praeger and edited by my colleagues Ryan Hurd and Kelley Bulkeley.

Because this question is always on my mind, I often ask dream characters who they are, or engage them in very personal exchanges in order to understand their purpose in the dream.


Last week, I had the following lucid dream, in which I encountered two unknown women, whose responses to my statements about returning to my own world prompted surprising replies. Here is the dream:



This lucid dream occurred after I had awakened around 4 AM and had taken galantamine before meditating. I meditated for about half an hour, and then returned to bed. I didn't immediately go into lucid dream without a break in consciousness, but became lucid shortly after returning to sleep... I decide to fly up into the air and seek a more refined level of consciousness. I fly up into a dark sky, praying as I go, and feeling very positive about what I will encounter. Finally, I emerge out of the top of the dark field and I see a brightly lit area nearby, as if it is an island floating above the darkness. I fly over to it and climb up the edge of the island and approach a woman who is seated on a ledge or slope, and sit down beside her. Our connection is immediately felt by me and by her, it seems, as our eyes meet. I speak to her awhile, and then aske her her name. She says her name twice without me hearing it. As has been the case before during these experiences, when a person speaks to me, it’s as if the sound is being blown away by a wind. After asking her twice to repeat her name, I finally hear her say, “Amit,” or something like that. Finally I say to her, “We will probably never meet again.” She replies, “If you do not come back here, I will come to your world.” We part at that point and I move into another level of the dream, in which I again encounter people on a hillside and a lighted area which was very beautiful. Again, I encounter a woman with whom I feel an immediate deep knowing and rapport. We talk with several other people, the details of which I have since forgotten. Soon, however, I say to her, “I must go back to my world.” I am surprised that she stands up and says, “I will go with you.” We walk to what appears to be an elevator of sorts, and begin to descend toward my own world. 

Then I seem to be "back," at least partly, witnessing and participating in the process of my return. Julie has a key that I know is essential to making the return possible. I took the key from her, and put the key into a socket. When I inserted it, I felt a subtle vibration and then saw a mist begin to develop around the socket. In the middle of the mist, I saw what appeared to be in embryonic white form, which was not fully developed. It was floating in the middle of the air. Then I looked away and saw gifts began to appear all around me all wrapped in colorful paper. A woman who is standing nearby eagerly took one and was going to open it when I said to her, "Please don't do that, yet; let's wait until the process is complete." She agrees to wait, and I look back to the area where the mist had been forming, and now instead of some protoplasmic form, I see a small gazebo that was colored white and red about 2 feet in diameter which had a spire that reached seven or 8 feet above my head. The spire is open at the top, as if the ribs of the spire are supporting the tip, allowing me to see the 1st foot or two of the space at the end of the spire before it became fully enclosed again until it opens at the base. In the space between the very tip and where it became enclosed, I see that there is a golden liquid flowing from the tip toward the base, which appears to be liquid gold. The source of it, however, is puzzling, because neither does there seem to be gold flowing from the sky into the tip, but there doesn't seem to be any way for the liquid to get there from the bottom part of the gazebo, either. I am fascinated by this riveting image, and want to touch the golden liquid. So as it emerges from the base into a pool right in front of me, I reach out and put my hands into the flow of the liquid. I then withdraw my hands and look at the back my hands, only to see that they were covered with gold liquid which has the consistency of water, not metal. I am immensely delighted, and then find myself back in bed.

I think it's interesting that the dream culminates in such glorious fashion after having the two female dream characters promise to reach out to me, or to accompany me in my world. It's as if their willingness is expressed by the bounty of the golden fluid that flows from their world into mine. There's a lot here, but regardless of what it all means, this dream is another chapter in my ongoing quest to understand the identity of lucid dream figures (or persons!).

Friday, January 9, 2015

Meeting the Master in a Lucid Dream

Many people have commented that lucidity doesn't necessarily confer right intention or lead to right action. Edgar Cayce, in commenting on the afterlife once said, "A dead Presbyterian is a dead Presbyterian," or something like that. He wasn't denigrating Presbyterians, only saying that death doesn't necessarily result in an enlightened perspective. Similarly, lucid dreamers will often exhibit the same habits and predilections that they exhibit in the waking state. So, without clarifying one's intentions, lucidity can result in a mere replication of conscious bias. Lately, I've been affirming that I will seek divine presence, and be open to the present of the Master, in whatever form that consciousness will take.  Three nights ago, I had the following experience, which shows how holding to one's intentions in the lucid dream can lead to very memorable and deep encounters.


 I meditated and was awake for about an hour. During meditation, I affirmed that once becoming lucid, I would seek the presence of the divine, and an encounter with the master. After dozing off, I found myself moving slowly away from my body into the darkness, praying as I flew for the presence of the divine. I felt very much at peace and expectant. Then a glowing area in the darkness appeared to my left and above me so I turned to that and headed that way. I continued to fly up into space thinking that I would get above the darkness, and sure enough the darkness began to recede. Then I noticed that I was with someone else who is flying beside me, apparently man whom I do not know. Finally I went back down to the ground where I began to search for someone that I could talk to. I walked along a path, looking into the faces of the people who passed me trying to catch their eyes. I was hoping that someone would look at me and feel familiar or meaningfully connected. Finally after a long period of time in which I meandered about through crowds of people, I decided to ask somebody where the master was.  I stopped by a young man and ask him, "Where is the master?" He pointed behind me to the northwest, so I thanked him and turned around and walked in that direction.  As I walked down the path, I see a young boy who seems to be dressed in a Cub Scout uniform and he passed me by. I continued walking and then looked to my left and saw a man sitting off to the left by himself. I approach him, and ask him, "Are you the master? He nodded. He took me by the shoulders and looked deeply into my eyes and called me by name. I knew that he knew me completely He then seemed to going to a swoon or a trance. His eyes shut halfway and he got very close to me and began talking about my life, my past and my future. It was all very nebulous and abstract, but I sensed that he knew me deeply. Finally, I felt the sheets move on the bed as Julie turned over, and I lost the hold on the experience, so I moved back to my body and woke up.

This dream brings to mind a lucid dream I had 30 years ago, in which I was lucid and looking for Jesus. I went up to several people, looked at them, and then turned away thinking, "That's not Jesus." Finally, I see an old man sitting by the side of the road. I ask him where Jesus is. He looks at me quizzically, and says, "You know, Jesus doesn't talk to just anyone." I was shocked by his words, and realized upon awakening that my own assumptions about the people around me had limited my ability to encounter the master. That is, by assuming that Jesus did not reside in the people I encountered, I was effectively setting myself up to be "excluded" from his presence. So it's always tricky to look for the divine outside of one's own immediate experience, isn't it? I mean, any search implies that it's not already at hand, and any search depreciates one's immediate experience. 

Going back to my recent dream, I could have seen "the master" in the first young man, or in the little boy, couldn't I? If the highest Spirit resides in the lowest forms, then if we can't see the divine in the person who stands before us, then essentially, we can't see it anywhere. So one might ask, why did I succeed in encountering "the master" after not seeing him/her in the people I'd already encountered? Perhaps it's because my tendency to isolate spirit from my everyday experience has all but given way to seeing God in everyone. Still, I long for that singular encounter with the one who knows me like no other. I suppose I will never quite exhaust the desire to be known and loved completely by one who stands above us all.





Sunday, October 12, 2014

Galantamine Offers Neuroprotection

I have written about the benefits of galantamine on dream recall and lucid dream frequency. But a more important facet of the supplement has to do with what's call "neuroprotection." It protects the brain from the effects of oxygen and glucose deprivation, and stroke. Check out this Spanish study:

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Blue Ornament Finally Available

Hi Friends, If you’re looking for a Christmas gift for someone that you love, consider giving a copy of The Blue Ornament, a story that I received in meditation, and which is based on dreams and visions. It costs $16.95 in a hardbound edition, but you can get a free digital version at www.theblueornament.com.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Explorations of Extended Reality: Conscious Encounters with the Anima

I have had three extremely vivid and dramatic lucid dream/out-of-body experiences in the past two weeks, each of them following the ingestion of the memory-enhancing supplement, galantamine, and meditating for 30-60 minutes in the middle of the night. I should note that neither meditation nor galantamine precipitates lucidity with any regularity, but the combination is dramatic.

Each one lasted from 45 minutes to an hour and a half, which I have found to be common. I think these experiences contribute to a growing body of knowledge, in which I have encountered and interacted directly with a "person" whom Jung might identify (in a non-lucid dream, at least) as the anima. Jeremy Taylor, for his part, has argued that the term anima lacks something, and I agree, especially as it pertains to lucid dreams and out-of-body experiences. He suggests using the term "consort," but I think that conveys sexual overtones, which are rarely present in my encounters. I would prefer "companion." I have found over the last several years that she presents herself not as a "symbol" or "just" the other half of oneself, but someone who is deeply personal, autonomous, and mysterious. Jung might smile and nod as this description, but I would not call her "my" anything, but rather a person whose identity cannot be reduced to labels or "parts" of oneself.

In the first experience, I become lucid, apparently only moments after dozing off. I see a woman in an indoor setting to whom I announce that I am dreaming. Though I don't know her, I sense that she is my guide in the dream. We hold hands and fly out of the window of the building. We are immediately immersed in darkness. So I/we (she doesn't seem involved in this decision) decide to fly lower in an attempt to emerge from the darkness. We then realize that the best thing to do is to go up instead, so we fly up into the sky hoping to emerge from the darkness. Then, suddenly, we are in a very brilliantly lit, beautiful place. Apparently, we are in another world--another planet in another star system. The world is similar to Earth, but there are some exceptions. For instance, the vegetation looks slightly different and I even see some cactus-like plants along the walkway floating above the ground. I walk with my companion who tells me about world we are in. (Although later, I conclude that I spent over an hour in the experience, I do not remember much of what we talked about.) We come upon some male youth who are outside in a park-like setting beneath beautiful deciduous trees that glow golden in the light. 

They realize that I am from another system and tell me more about their home planet. I notice that they are wearing some form of headgear, much like a headband, which I am told is an extension of their cognitive capacities (such as Ray Kurtzwell has predicted is in store for us in a few years). I know that each headband is fitted to the individual, and cannot be used by anyone else, so I am unable to simply borrow one to see how it works. We continue to talk and visit about a numerous subjects. I know that I cannot stay there, but I want to learn everything I can about the planet on which they live. The woman is very beautiful, and looks androgynous, without discernible breasts. I am not even sure it's a woman. Regardless, the person is especially warm and caring as if he/she knows me on a deep soulful level.

The problem with these experiences, if it can be called a problem at all, is that as soon as I awaken from the experience, it is as though they are draining from my memory. I don't get a sense that I'm supposed to forget them, only that they are state-specific forms of knowing, the fulness of which is hard to translate into words and consolidate into memory. I mean, dreams are hard enough to retain, but these experiences--however more vivid and detailed--are just as hard to retain.

A second experience occurred about for five days later. Again I had meditated for about 30 minutes. When I went back to sleep almost immediately I found myself flying through darkness and hearing the winds and hissing sounds of the out-of-body experience. I was not afraid at all but I reached out in the darkness expecting to feel someone take my hands, which is usual during these experiences. But instead, I feel hands on my lower back pushing me forward, so I reach around with my left hand and take the hand of the person, and turn around to face him or her. Suddenly the darkness recedes, and I am face-to-face with an unknown woman. She is someone I have never met, but I immediately sense that she possesses with a deep knowledge of who I am. We continue to hold hands and to fly into the sky and explore the domain I am in. Instead of being on another planet and a different star system, I seem to have entered an alternative domain with its own people, and stable world. Although I spend what seems to be over an hour exploring many places, as soon as I awaken, I feel the memory draining from my mind. One of the last things I said was to ask if I should I spend more time there. She said no it wasn't a good idea for me to spend too much time there, because I had to attend to two events that were going to be happening in my world near the city of San Antonio. this immediately seemed seemed odd (perhaps symbolic?) because it did not make any sense, at least not yet.

The most recent experience was last night, and it was without doubt the most vivid, beautiful, and thoroughly uplifting lucid dream/out-of-body experience that I've had in many years, if not ever. While there was no ecstasy or religious component common to my early lucid dreams, it was as fulfilling as any experience--interpersonally and emotionally--I have ever had. 

It started as usual with me flying into darkness and praying for divine presence. I call upon Jesus to be present and I reach out in the darkness expecting some presence that would correspond with with the spirit of my prayers. Soon, the darkness recedes, and I find myself in a fully lit beautiful setting in the presence of two dignified looking Indian men who have set a table for me. The most exquisite presentation of Indian food is before me and they invite me to partake of it. I feel a little klutzy at first because I start eating standing up rather than seating myself properly at the table. However, I became self-conscious and realize that I need to seat myself. I then proceed to taste the delectable array of food that they had prepared for me. The tastes are exquisite! Some of it is pastry, some cheese-based, and another dish seems to be steamed vegetables, but everything is flavored with a master chef’s touch. I seemed to recognize one of the men from some previous time or place, but he does confirm that we've known each other. Both men look upon with obvious pleasure as I eat the food. Suddenly, the door opens and several people come into the the rather intimate setting. The men seemed to be a bit disappointed that our quiet exchange had been interrupted by the encroachment of a crowd, but the group was pleasant and festive. After a while I looked up from my delectable feast, and the men seemed to have disappeared. I get up to look for them and I can not find them at the various tables in the small restaurant-like setting. In the absence of the men, I look around and see a woman at the adjoining table, who is very friendly. She begins to talk with a American accent, describing an Indian prince and his family and showing me some photos of the children that are related to the wedding party, which has just entered the setting. I mention to her that she sounds like an American (she has a New York accent) and she's laughs and said, “I am!” Then she says that she is marrying the prince! So I know that she was a well-respected and high-up individual in this society, even though she is American by birth.

Eventually, I get up and leave the area and decide to fly through the window and up into the sky. As I pass through the window, I find myself to be very buoyant and able to fly quickly straight up into the sky. As I pass the people in the courtyard below, some of them look up and waive, and there are beautiful trees with golden flowers below me. I go up into the sky and then find myself suddenly in a new setting which is, if it is possible, even richer and more beautiful. We seem to be in a private home that is of such beauty and quality that it appears to be a museum. People are all around, and I find myself primarily with a woman who again seems to know me with depth and intensity. I spend time with her and relish every moment of our conversation. I realize that in one sense she is my anima, and so I refer to her that way. She does not dispute this assessment, but goes on to say that she wants more from me and for me. She says that I've never done two things, one of which is to bake a cake, of all things! I've since forgotten the other thing was but I gather it was something that I need to do to expand my actualization/fulfillment in life. We spend quite a bit time together and finally I say to her, “I'll probably never see you in this form again.” There was a wistful, existential feeling about this, as if I was saying, nothing is constant. She does not dispute that assessment either, but neither does she seem concerned by that fact. Instead, she conveys the idea that we will be together throughout all time. 

At some point we go into a room where music is playing. It appeared to be Faure’s Requiem, specifically the final movement called Sanctus. She is so moved by it that she bends over and becomes entranced by the music. Her lips move to the music, and I try to catch your eye, but she is too entranced by the music to notice anything else. Suddenly, the music changes from the Requiem mass to a more spirited modern rendition. I am pleased by the novelty of the piece, and I’m moved by it (even though I love Faure’s Requiem). Then, I go into the adjoining room and begin to dance, thinking that she would be pleased that I am breaking out of my usual shell. In the room, there are many sculptures of glass arranged on individual pedestals. Realizing that I am surrounded by delicate sculptures, I think better of dancing so I stop just as a young man walks into the room. He can see that I have been moved by the music, and he says that he, too, loves music by the composer who is a woman by the last name of Roan or Roehn. At that point I take leave of him and I walk through the incredibly rich and beautiful setting into an area where they are apparently serving food. I've been chewing gum (as usual) and decide to dispose the gum by throwing it into the trash  basket in the food serving area, but it misses the trash and lands on the floor. I feel sheepish that I've been so clumsy, but a woman picks the gum up and smiles at me and comments that the gum smells good. I then smile back and take leave of her and decide to leave the area again. I fly out the door up into the sky, finding that it is effortless to fly fast. I am so enthralled by the experience and so impressed by its brilliance and vividness that I wonder if, by chance, I have died. I am not afraid, but I want to know if death has made this experience so extraordinary. So I try to tune into my body and force my eyes open. After a great deal of effort, I finally succeed in seeing that my body is indeed in bed. Just at that moment, Julie moves, thus further extracting me from the experience. 

I was disappointed in myself for having experimented to find out if I was dreaming, because the experience was so stable that it would have continued much longer even even in the context of Julie moving the bed. All in all, this was a most extraordinary and memorable experience. I should note that I drank very little coffee the previous day (because the coffee maker broke at the trailer on the Arroyo where I was guiding flyfishers this past weekend). So I had very little caffeine in my system. In addition, I didn't drink alcohol yesterday evening, which then resulted in being completely free of mind-altering substances by the time that I meditated at 5:30 in the morning, except for the galantamine, which is hardly mind altering.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Meditating on the Symptom

One of the most powerful concepts in psychotherapy is as ancient as humanity itself, but it's something that we quickly forget--that when we resist something, it usually gets stronger. Jesus said, "Resist not evil," which isn't exactly a winning position in politics, or in war for that matter. But in the realm of intrapersonal dynamics––that is, our relationship with ourselves––healing usually commences only once "lay it down," to use the words of Waylon Jennings. In Ericksonian hypnotherapy (i.e. the work of Milton Erickson), this profound truth is represented by the "principle of utilization," in which the hypnotherapist essentially tells the client to "hang onto to that symptom," or even to "make it bigger." Of course, it's counterintuitive that one must first yield to a symptom in order to defeat it, but it works so very well that most master psychotherapists are firmly established in this practice, and will rarely be caught fighting symptoms, or telling a person to change directly--unless it's a matter of life and death. Indeed, they are much more inclined to lean forward and listen when a person is battling something, looking for ways to positively reframe the symptom, and encourage positive engagement with it, so that the relationship with the symptom will become useful, and the battle will subside.

This stance requires a radically inclusive spirit, in which most of what we consider "bad" is explored for its value. There are practical, ethical, and moral limits to considering everything useful, but most of us stop far short of that limit, and end up doing battle with a lot of would-be allies.

One of the most direct and fruitful ways to explore the power of embracing the symptom, is to meditate on a negative feeling. Sometimes I feel anxious or afraid, or depressed, and the typical reflexive thing for me to do is to struggle against the feeling, and to try to make it go away. I'm not even aware that I'm fighting the feeling until I "go into" it, and discover that the level of distress is largely a function of the tension between my reaction and the feeling; and that when I move toward the feeling, the battle subsides, and the feeling transforms into something totally different. 

So try this. The next time you feel a significant negative emotion, for whatever reason, close your eyes and go into whatever form or meditation or prayer that feels comfortable to you, and then enter more fully into the feeling itself. Allow it a place, and welcome it. See if you can put the thoughts that provoke the feeling aside, and simply attend to the feeling itself. You may find, as I have, that the intensity of the negative emotion subsides, and the feeling begins to reveal unacknowledged layers of subtlety that were hidden by the struggle. You may find that you can completely let go of the struggle and enter more deeply into communion with your deeper self.