Sunday, December 23, 2018

Back to the Future

Three days ago, I managed to overcome my usual resistance to getting out of bed at 4:00 and meditating for half an hour or more. It's always a little cold in the house this time of year, and it's tempting to think I can meditate lying down. It hasn't happened yet :-)

So I got up and meditated for about 40 minutes before going back to bed. Instead of leaving my body before going back to sleep, I fell asleep and became lucid a while later. I had three possible directions, and chose the one with the most light. I ran down a wooded path, and turned west, flying toward a meadow and a bright sky. Suddenly, a small being took my right arm and flew with me. It seemed to be covered with hair and feathers, and it was a male child. Then, above me his father joined us, looking down at me as we flew. He looked like a cross between a golden eagle and a human being. His gaze was regal and kind.

Later, I turned and flew upward toward the "portal" where I often enter into planetary domains, or parallel domains. In this case, I emerged into a enclosed environment where I met with five persons, two women and three men, who announced that they were from the earth, but far in the future. We spend a long time discussing climate changes that had occurred over millennia, and they laid out maps of the world and the continents, showing how the ice caps had advanced southward. I realized that the continents were so different that we had to be hundreds of thousands of years in the future. We visited for a long time--over an hour from what I could tell upon my return. When I left, I told them that I'd begun to be able to return to the places I'd visited before and that I wanted to find them again. I spent a while memorizing their names, and affirming that their "address" would be duly recorded in my psyche. As I began my return to my body, the memory of our time together began pouring out of my mind to the point where I could recall only a small part of what I'd experienced. I did recall the name of one of the persons--the woman who was the last one to tell me her name.

The hardest part of these rich, engaging experiences, is knowing that I may never see my new friends again, and that the memory of our fellowship is all but forgotten.

Dream groups break for holidays

I have been leading two online dream groups for the past three months, each of which meets bi-weekly on Zoom for two hours. Until recently, most of my application of the FiveStar Method was individually, in therapy sessions. When I started leading online dream groups, it was a bit of a struggle to translate the steps of the FSM, which I had totally internalized, into a set of working principles and rules that would govern the group process. I think we all know how dream sharing uniquely activates a desire to contribute feelings and insights into the dreamer's experience, and how that can become problematic. Indeed, the principal focus of several schools of dreamwork is to protect the dreamer from invasive projections. While I think that is very important, I think the FSM largely prevents the greater excesses of member-to-member projections by focusing on process over content.

My colleague Leslie Ellis with the Professional School of Psychology has delineated two different approaches to dream work in an upcoming book that she's writing. In it, she differentiates between dream-centric and self-centric approaches. The former focus on the dream process without trying to translate its meaning into something the dreamer can immediately understand, and it preserves the mystery of the dream by not trying to arrive at interpretive conclusions. Hillman was particularly aghast over the way that self-centric dream interpretation effectively "kills" the dream image, and renders it something easily understood rather than something that beckons the self beyond it current understanding. He once said, if you interpret a snake, you kill it. 

In contrast, the dream-centric approach explores the dream process, including feelings, themes, and relational dynamics. This is the province of co-creative dream work, because it is constantly examining "what's happening" rather than "what it means." This may seem to frustrate some people, who want to know what the dream "is saying," which leads us to arrive at "equivalency statements" that identify a dream image with a waking person or counterpart. This approach reduces the dimensionality of the dream image and equates it with something already know--one thing to which the dream is allegedly referring. 

I think you can see that a self-centric approach is only interested in getting something that the self already can understand, thereby stripping the dream's richness in order to get to a simplistic "therefore..."

Back to the dream groups...I feel that both groups have done remarkable work in appreciating the dream-centric flavor of the FSM.  As the dream group leader, I am always listening for the abrupt shift from dream-centric to self centric focus. Recently, for instance, a dream group leader said something like, "This is clearly a dream about death." Something within me reacted--it's my "reductionism alarm" that goes off when something makes a "nothing-but" comment, reducing the richness of the dream to something categorical.

What seems to work to preserve the dream's sacredness is for us to reflect on the metaphors and relational dynamics that arise in dreams without drawing a direct parallel between them and the waking state. I often say, in respect for the Tibetan Buddhists who voiced this opinion a thousand years ago, the dream and the waking state are both "dreams" in which the same need for awareness and development exists. So I try to keep my dream group members from saying "x image means y waking person," and instead say, "x image and y waking person point to the same underlying qualities." This keeps the dream work from abruptly ending when the dreamer makes a bridge between the dream and the waking state. Instead of stopping and declaring victory, we pose this question, instead: Given the similarities, what do you want to do differently in relation to both? This keeps the focus on dreamer instead of a narrow agenda of acquiring something partial that one can erroneously declare as one's own.

As for practical measures, I have recently come up with some language that you can use to start each of the steps of the FSM. I have posted them on my website at http://dreamanalysistraining.com/page26/styled-39/page90.html, but here's the summary:

Sample Language for Using the FiveStar Method
The following statements and questions are designed to guide you through an effective application of the FSM when working with an individual. If you are working with a group, you would do well to give this handout to each of the members, along with the one-page summary (available on this website). That will prepare your group to use the FSM accurately and effectively

I’d like to explore a couple of dimensions of your dream before we discuss the meaning of the imagery or symbols, ok? (Get consent.)

Specifically, I want us to arrive at what’s called a process narrative, which is the story line from beginning to end of the dream without regard to any of the specific names, places, objects, etc. It’s a generic statement of what’s happening. Then I’d like for us to examine your responses over the course of the dream—where you felt, thought, chose, or reacted in some way to what was happening.
(If the dreamer is familiar with the process narrative, as him/her to formulate it. If not, you can formulate it, and then get the dreamer to ratify it, or suggest changes. If you’re working with a group, then ask someone to offer one, then get the group and dreamer to modify it until it feels accurate.)
So, what I see happening in this dream is that you (or someone) …Formulate process narrative with dreamer group and dreamer’s participation.
(example from “Julie’s dream”) You go on a journey with others, and your journey is interrupted against your will to which you assert yourself, and continue. Then it is threatened, but you are careful not to allow the threat to defeat you. Then you are temporarily delayed due to relationships with others. And finally, you reach a destination, where embark on a continuation of your journey with someone you care for, and under someone else’s direction.
Now, as for your responses in the dream, it occurs to me that when x happens, you feel/react/choose to(all responses summarized sequentially)
Let’s look at what was familiar or habitual about your responses and how they impacted the dream characters or situations… Go through them. Let’s look at what’s new or creative about your responses and how they impacted the dream characters or situations… Go through them. 
What would you like to have done differently in the dream, and what you like to do differently or continue to do in future dreams? 
Now, if necessary, conduct an analysis of the dream imagery, using dreamer-centered, non-invasive methods, such as amplification (What are your associations to…What do you like or dislike about him/her/it? What is he/she/it good for?, etc.), or Gestalt role-play. Ullman-Taylor “If this were my dream…” interactive process. Then shift back to a co-creative model by encouraging a process bridge, as opposed to a content bridge. A process bridge explores relationship parallels (e.g. The way I reacted to the black cat in my dream is similar to the way that I react to my husband), whereas imagery analysis encourages a content parallel (e.g. The black cat represents the qualities I see in my husband.)
Are you aware of any relationships or situations in your waking life exhibit similar relationship challenges? What new, creative, and appropriate responses do you want to commit to in order to apply the dream work in your waking life?


Tuesday, October 9, 2018

An Incubated OOBE with Black Light

I received a letter from a friend M. who asked me to incubate a dream about the nature of her lifelong sadness, and what to do about it. So, Julie and I did what we could. Here's what  wrote to our friend upon awakening the next morning:

Julie and I got up at 3:30 am, and meditated for about half an hour. We took galantamine before we meditated, and then I meditated further upon lying down. Julie could never get back to sleep, but she had a dream before we awoke about being in a house in India, serving pastries to the guests—which is so much like her!

The first part of my dream was not lucid, and seemed to address my own sadness. I was visiting the spiritual community with which I was associated in the 70s and 80s—the Edgar Cayce Foundation. Friends were playing and dancing, and I stopped and hugged two women I’ve known for many years. I felt reconnected with the group, and as I left, I had tears in my eyes, and thought about donating some money to the organization, and offering my services. The Board chair is an old friend, and I may contact her to ask her how I can get re-involved. I am speaking for the organization this fall, too, so there is some renewal afoot. Of course, the dream reminds me of the importance of the IASD community, as well. I often dream of being alone at a conference, feeling entirely bereft of relationships.

As I left the area, I went to look for my car, which I could not find. Then I realized I was dreaming, and thought of your question. 

I rose up into the air, and began flying north toward the headquarters building of the EC foundation. Hands supported me in my flight through the dark sky.

I came down into a building, and decided to meditate. I sat on the floor and closed my eyes. A black velveteen darkness, full of flashing light filled my vision until a scene opened. A spinning yantra lay on the floor where I sat crosslegged, and a beautiful woman in black stood before me. The yantra moved on the floor, and I seemed to move with it.

Then I was with several women in another room. I told them about your question concerning your sadness, and one of them, who was an artist/creator told me that you needed to work with “shapes of red.” She referred to some hoops that lay on the table—like dream catchers--upon which luminous red cloth was stretched across. It looked like silk, and was very bright red with irridescent features. As I looked at it, and then looked away, it would change but retained the stretched red cloth in different shapes. She said, “This will help her connect with people, and with own energy.” I was grateful, and reached out to thank her by touching her hand, but she pulled away as if to assert a more formal relationship.


Then I left the room and went looking for more guidance. At the end of the experience, I met two or three women in a kitchen and asked them for help with your question. One of them told me that you should focus on/embrace “the cuts” which were puncture wounds in your chest. She was starting to talk about how to address this issue when I felt drawn back to my body.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Meeting the master

I had meditated at 4:30 am, and left my body after lying back down around 5:15. After being out for 30 minutes or so, and encountering numerous beings, ostensibly from another star system (a regular experience), I left them, and walked along alone. I looked up at the sky and prayed that I might receive some help in my writing and be guided or taken someplace where I would receive that help. Suddenly the clouds parted and a huge mandala began to form in the sky. It was beautiful and very ornate. Perhaps it was an ancient Indian mandala or yantra, because there did not seem to be any Buddhas in the mandala.  I was drawn up into it and as I got closer to it, I could see that it was textured rather than two-dimensional, kind of like a quilt. 

Some of the panels was actually mirror-like or metallic and others were more like silk or lustrous material, but it was exquisitely beautiful. Then it seemed that the mandala was draped over a large table or platform and I knew that it had been created by a woman. I was on the platform, on the mandala and then lowered myself onto the floor around this platform. I found myself in what appeared to be on ashram store or a place where spiritual items were sold that were associated with some spiritual tradition. There were vendors all around the periphery of a square room and I walked around greeting each of them and seeing what they had to offer. Each of the vendors was a woman, and they seemed to be overjoyed to see me. They greeted me with great compassion and joy, and it just made me feel happy, on the edge of ecstasy myself. Then someone mentioned that the Guru was coming and I turned, and he came. He stood beaming only a couple of feet away.  He was fairly young and radiant and happy and clearly pleased to see me as if I was a long lost friend or someone he expected.  He had black hair, with white hair or light on the edges of his hair. He then embraced me. 

Then he had his followers bring me an abundance of gifts of various types and they inundated me with bags and boxes full of things. He was so happy, and he would lean over to tend to the gifts. At one moment, he said, "this is for your bath," and he took something out of one of the containers and brought it to my attention and smiled and as if he was taking great care and making sure that I understood how all of the gifts could be used. Finally I asked him, “Who are you?" And he said that his name was like two names starting with s and he used the acronym s a m as if somehow Sam was a short name that described his longer names. But as usual, it’s hard to hear words distinctly in the OOBE.

Then it seemed I was coming out of that particular episode and looking around for him and didn't see him anymore and I asked somebody if a man that I was standing next to was the Guru and the man I asked said, "no, no, he's down the hallway sitting in his chair." So I walked down the hallway and there was a woman kneeling in front of him with her head bowed to the floor. Meanwhile, he sat in the chair and in a very stately, meditative pose. The woman got up and then I took my position in front of him and he said something like, “Do whatever feels comfortable for you," as if to say "you don't have to go by our traditions." Nonetheless, I bowed down and put my head to the floor and it felt very right to do that. When I stood up, I aked him, “How can I find you? Can I visit with you again?" He said, "certainly you are always welcome." And then he said, “ Come to Montreal." And then I began to come back to my body.


Sunday, June 3, 2018

More on emotion in dreaming and out of body experience

Again, thinking about Lakoff and Johnson's (Metaphors We Live By) contention that consciousness is metaphor based, and metaphors are always grounded in embodied experience--Well, obviously, people who have out of body experiences report emotions, so Lakoff might argue that consciousness is tethered to the body during the OOBE state, and once the body dies, then consciousness must subside, since there is no grounding or emotional anchor for metaphor construction. It could be, however, that whereas all feeling may have to be experienced within a state of division or tension, it doesn’t have to be a division between self and body or self and other. The division can be constructed within the self rather than between the self and the body.  If emotion is based on metaphor, which provides a phenomenal interface constructed in a state of duality, then metaphors could constructed out of a convenient division within the soul/monad itself, not between self and the physical body. The experience that renders the abstract as specific and knowable doesn’t have to be physical as much form-based. Form is the currency of the mind as much as the body: the mind doesn't need the body for that. Perhaps it is more accurate to say that there is no consciousness without division, and that division can be erected by the mind itself. We all know that, don't we?

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Emotion in Dreaming

 The question came up in my online dream group concerning emotion from the standpoint of co-creative dream theory. I think of emotion as the degree of dissonance between the dream ego/staus quo, and the emergent dream content that may consist of unresolved past memory, current new issues, or future-oriented aspects of our calling. When the dissonance is resolved, then the dream imagery dissolves into light, and the remaining feeling is ineffable, in that it does not derive from dissonance, but from the experience of union. Lakoff and Anderson make the case that dream metaphors always have an embodied component which grounds the abstract dimension. They also conclude, erronenously I believe, that there can be no consciousness truly beyond a body, since all consciousness is metaphor based, and needs an embodied experience to make it conscious. I believe that the feeling that is left once the dissonance is resolved is the nature of the type of feeling beyond the body, and once experienced, it becomes obvious that the emotion that we experience when embodied, based on dissonance, is fundamentally distinct from the feeling that we have once the dissonance is resolved. One can argue that this feeling is still based on what Wilber refers to as “subtle oneness,” which retains a subtle division between self and wholeness. But I think that anyone who has experienced light and ecstasy can say with conviction that the feeling that coiners with the experience of radiance is not related to any previous embodied experience, and is an elixir that is wholly distinct.

Monday, May 7, 2018

More Adventures Beyond the Body

A couple of recent middle-of-the-night post meditation experiences. Please contact me if you want me to mentor you in your own middle-of-the-night meditational/lucid dream practice.

I got up at 2:30 after 5 hours of sleep, and meditated and prayed. By the time I laid back down, I felt at peace, and expectant.

I wasn’t very sleepy, so used the countdown from 100, hoping I’d drift off before reaching “0”. But before I became very drowsy, the gift waves/energy activated. I was fully conscious, and was so awake I knew I could simply open my eyes, and the energy would cease. But I meditated on it, and it grew stronger and flattened out. At that point, I rolled to my left out of my body, and was free. I flew eastward threw walls, and into the sky. Then I turned upward and toward the “portal,” dropped my arms and began to accelerate into the darkness. I flew for some time, feeling especially positive and expectant. I felt that instead of passing through transitional domains, I would arrive in a planetary domain associated with some distant star system. As I flew, I felt someone’s hands supporting me from behind, grasping my legs above the knees. So I reached down, took the hands into my own, and spun around in the darkness to face the guide. Suddenly, things began to appear, and I found myself with a younger man, holding my hands, spinning around in space. Two other men were nearby, flying alongside us.

We came down into a world where there were many other people. The domain had not consolidated fully, so I looked at my hands to fixate on the image of them, and as I did, the world began to light up and become fully physicalized. I found myself with several men, who greeted me, and seemed to know that I was from another world. I told them I was from Earth, but they did not seem to recognize the name. I asked them where we were, and they said their star was 6720, but that it had other sub-specifications for the purposes of interstellar navigation. One man added that the system had an extinguished star, so I gathered that it had once been a binary star system.

I observed the men closely, noticing that they all wore similar clothing—a kilt-like garment with a light plaid or Madras-like pastel print. The waistline was far above their waist. For a shirt, they wore a tunic with a short standup collar that was open in the front.

They offered me a beverage in a bottle similar to a long-neck beer bottle with a white and golden label or covering. I wasn’t sure I could "drink" it in the out-of-body state, since I haven't been able to eat or drink anything in previous experiences (probably a mental block of sorts), but I took it and found it quite cold to the touch. I was surprised that I could presume to drink it. I spent quite a bit of time with them, and eventually finished the beverage. 

Meanwhile, there was a multi-tiered platform that I was standing on at one point. Each level —separated by a foot or so—was covered with iridescent sand, or microscopic jewels. It was a beautiful sight, but I realized that I was standing on it, and needed to get off of it, because a woman was trying to toss an object onto the levels, as if it was a game of sorts. She politely asked me to move so she could toss the object, which I did. I understood that the apparatus had been constructed by the brother of my principal guide.

As I walked around, I came upon three women who were seated, eating. I looked into the eyes of one of them, and she seemed to recognized me on a deep level. I asked her, “Are you the reason I’ve come here?” She nodded. Then she stood up and embraced me for a long time. She thrust her pelvis into me, and I could tell she was aroused. She seemed to grow taller at first, then shorter until we disengaged. She was smiling.


Finally I decided to leave the domain and, instead of simply willing myself back to my body, I flew westward into the darkness, emerging again in a landscape that appeared to be earth or earth-like. After exploring that for a while, I found it rather mundane, so I forced myself back to my sleeping body.

On another recent night, I meditated as usual around 5 AM, Julie was out of town, so I expected to be able to conduct my out of body exploration without any movement around me, unless the cats interrupted me. In my initial passage out of my body I moved around a lot to consolidate my stable identity in the other body state. And I moved into the darkness where I traveled for while meditating. I could see my hands in front of me even though there was some distortion over their size and distance from my present body. That’s been common. I thought to myself that it’s been a while. Since someone had taken my hands or feet as they used to do more often. Suddenly, I saw below me the passage of a landscape or a texture that was mostly blue. I reached down, and found that it was only a couple of feet from me seeming to be the bottom of the pool that I was passing through underwater. I looked Ahead of me and realize that I was just below the surface of about a 3 foot deep pool of clear water, and I was passing quickly through the water or above it. Suddenly I felt someone take my hand and I looked to the side and saw a woman with green hair smiling at me. I seem to recognize her from the past, and I asked her name. She told me, but I have since forgotten the name she spoke. She escorted me into a domain where there were people around and left me there for a while. I have forgotten the details of what happened there, but I do know that I moved on into the darkness again affirming that I would pass to another domain that was more meaningful and deep. After a long while of traveling in the darkness I wanted again if someone was going to guide me to the next locale. Suddenly I felt hands beneath my feet lifting me and pushing me onward. The person appears next to me as a man, and as soon as I saw his face the darkness dissipated, and I found myself in an extraordinarily beautiful, bright scene characterized by terraced gardens and people milling about happily. I was on a hillside and below me I could see white aircraft of a highly advanced technology passing quietly below me and above a valley, which was green and punctuated with buildings. The whole place, Which I believe to be a planet in another star system,was like a paradise of sorts. I spent a considerable time visiting with people, and sharing deeply. There was even one moment where I was sharing with a group of women about one of the ladies’ mothers, who had not been very nurturing to her. I spoke about my work with women who have distant or abusive mothers, and told them that the work of recovery is a very meaningful process for me, and a necessary one for them. At some point someone announced that there was an event occurring eminently, s very special auspicious event that took place in the sky, and seem to happen as a result of some higher consciousness breaking through into this world. We are still looking east, and one man advises me not to get too close as if the event could be harmful if one were to close to it. Suddenly there was a loud roar, and the shape of lightning jaggedly crossed the eastern sky, and opened a window into another world of sorts. The people around me look into it, finding layers of beauty and gifts from whomever was behind this rupture are renting of the veil between the world I was in and some other world. At some point, ask one of my posts what’s the name of this place was. She said, the Garden.

For some reason, I decided to move on, so I said goodbye to the people who embraced me lovingly with the feeling. I headed east and upward into darkness again, until I found myself escorted by another male figure. I came out into a less bright and harmonious place, where the people seemed strange the ominous. They took me aside and they prepared to give me something that look like wine into which a vial of elixir had been poured. Apparently, The liquid would permit me or require me to stay there much longer. I was a bit alarmed, but not really afraid, because I didn’t understand whether this was a good thing or not. So I decided to return my body, and I told him that I wasn’t from there and I would be able to return my own world at will. So I stretch my arms and made a strenuous effort to reconnect with my body. It was difficult at first, as it has been in other deep out of body explorations. But I was able to return to my body within a few seconds after trying.


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