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.

  I've just launched a new podcast, titled DreamStar Institute Presents "Dreamwork with Dr. Scott Sparrow." My first episode i...