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.

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