Dreams so real you swear you were there

 

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Strange creatures so real they seem to be there in the room with you.

Some have dreams of an invisible creature sitting upon their chest, strange creatures invading your space,a presence in the room, dark, foreboding, and cloaked in fear. Sometimes there’s a sound but almost always a vision, there can be a feeling of floating, shadowy outlines and sometimes-demonic characters. There are times in these dreams where one feels like they are falling and jerk awake. Very real and quite vivid these are the dreams of the Hypnogogic.

 

“Sometimes I am in that state as I just start to go to sleep when I begin to have very strange visions, sort of pre-dream dreams. Typically my dreams are of regular situations with regular people inhabiting them, though these “regular” dreams are a bit disjointed in that they often jump around. Sometimes I find that people or objects are doing things that they can’t do in the waking world, such as fly, or hover.

 But sometimes, in this pre-dream state, what dream scientists call the hypnogogic state, my mind seems to manufacture some of my strangest beings. People morph into odd-looking creatures—visions that I don’t ever recall having seen in the waking world. To top it all off while having these visions my body can feel paralyzed. On occasion I’ve recognized that the visions are about to turn nightmarish and I’ve forced myself to wake up only to find that for a few seconds I can’t move!”

RJ Cole –Hypnagogia and sleep transition states

 

As a boy I used to lie out on the grass in the evening and strange creatures and flying machines would swoop down from the sky. I would watch in fascination cartoon-like characters scroll across the stars. Sometimes in my darkened room I would watch small balls of light dance in the air and flit behind the dresser or in and out of the closet. I was never afraid of them for they seemed to be friendly and often kept a lonely boy company. They went away in my teens and I didn’t remember them again until I became interested in dreams in my late twenties and early thirties. I have only had one experience since then. This was a dream of the hypnogogic and it was one that led me to write the tale of The Archipelago of Dreams.

In this vision I left my body and traveled to a place where souls go to recuperate after a life of stress and suffering. There they become revitalized and move on to their next level of adventure or return to the land of being to live it all over again. It was there that I discovered my true being and its destiny– hallucination, lucid dream, parapsychological experience, or just a little crazy or perhaps all four?

An occasional hypnogogic hallucination is an interesting phenomenon and most of us have had them. Several dreamers who have shared their dreams with me have shared a novel hypnogogic-like experience. However, when these experiences start showing up on a regular basis they can fall into the category of sleep disorders.

If they are frequent enough that they routinely disturb your sleep there are a few things that you can do to lessen that frequency:

  1. Keep a regular sleep schedule and be careful to get enough sleep every night.
  2. Control your stress. Relaxation activities such as meditation, deep breathing, yoga and the like can be very helpful in controlling stress.
  3. Consult with your doctor as to whether your medications could be causing hallucinations.
  4. Consider consulting a sleep specialist and having a sleep study done.
  5. Understand that these hallucinations are common and not necessarily a sign of a more serious disorder.
  6. Keep a sleep journal and track your symptoms to look for patterns.

–Found on http://www.hypnagogichallucinations.com

 

 

The ancient wisdom of Dream Incubation and application to waking world events

 

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A 6th century BCE dream incubation clinic in Ancient Greece

I’ve often said that dreams can be useful in the waking life. Often patterns in a dream reflect the same patterns in our waking life e.g. behaviors, problems, and emotions that show up in dreams show up our waking lives as well. Pay particular attention to the emotions in a dream either those that are experienced by you or by some other character. Notice if there are some repeating patterns of feeling. For example, does anger keep showing up in the dream, or in other dreams? How about conflicts with characters, or between characters in the dream? Do these reflect internal conflicts that you’re having with yourself, or with people or events outside yourself?

Frequently a dream can lead to solving some vexing problem in the waking world. You can even program your dreams to deal with external issues without having to wait for them to show up in a dream. This is called Dream Incubation and to varying degrees has been used for thousands of years as a means of healing and problem solving.

Let’s focus on problem solving for a moment, after all we all have problems, right?

To get things started, here’s an incubation technique that many dream analysts and behaviorists use. Be sure to be as honest with yourself as possible–this is all private, no one’s looking.

Before beginning, OWN THE PROBLEM. Whose problem is it? If it’s not yours, then why are you fooling with it? This process is not about solving someone else’s problem. Once decided that it’s your problem you can then move on.

 

  • Define the problem
  • What are you thinking may be the cause?
  • Have you thought of any solutions and have you tried them? Why won’t they work?
  • While writing these down, what feelings are coming up for you?
  • Can you imagine what benefits you might be getting from letting this problem continue as is e.g. is it easier, or safer to leave it be than to try to resolve it i.e. would you lose anything by solving it? Often at an unconscious level we are the reason that a problem perpetuates itself.
  • How committed are you to finding a solution? If not, why?

 

Sometimes just the process of taking time to work with a problem can reveal a solution, but you can also move on to the next step:

  •   Request an answer from your dream self. For example, don’t use any “yes” or “no”   questions and be precise: “ Show me why I am having problems with______________.”
  •   Place a notebook and pen next to your bed to record your dreams.

In ancient Greece* in such dream incubation and healing centers (Asclepia) such as the one at Delphi, people would travel to the centers and follow certain rituals designed to get the dreamer ready for a healing dream. Candles often set the mood along with a ritual bathing with the intent of cleansing both the body and the soul. Abstinence of all drugs (except those prescribed by a physician), and alcohol and sometimes fasting were required of all seekers. I suggest that you do the same. A time for prayer so as to thank in advance a healing dream from the gods or some special deity was always invoked. You can do this by thanking God, or the spirit, your own soul, or the universe for the insights to be received.

Sometimes the dreamer would meditate, or relax to the sounds of naturally flowing water, or music, or rhythmic drumming as they lay down to sleep, keeping in mind the chosen Question from the Dream e.g. “Show me why I am having problems with______________.”

As soon as you awaken from your dream, record whatever you recall. Note, that it may take more than one night to incubate such a dream. This is not unusual, oft times an ancient seeker would take a week or more. The answer will come, try not to be discouraged.

As with anything worth doing, practice makes perfect and as with most human endeavors your commitment and ‘Will’ may be tested. In the beginning the wisdom of your inner psyche may not give up its secrets easily. If the problem were easy to solve you would have by now…solved it. The ancients as well as moderns go to the Greater Wisdoms than that of their ego-selves when problems (such as health, emotional, behavioral, or social) seem to be resistant to solution through personal manipulation e.g. when you can’t figure it out and no matter what you do the problem stays stuck.

In addition to the above rituals and techniques, you might share your dreams with a trusted friend, often the other person can see things in your dream that you cannot. The ancient Greek seeker would share their dreams with a priest, the oracle or others to aid in its interpretation. Group work with other seekers can be helpful as well as can working with a trained counselor.

Good luck!

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* Though I’ve used the Greeks as an example here, the Egyptians, Assyrians, Turks, in the Upanishads from India, the Chinese, and many African tribes, as well as many Christian saints and mystics sought guidance through this kind of dream incubation method. See http://thedreamingwizard.com/history-of-dreams_290.html for more on ancient healing and dream incubation centers.

The Inner/outer worlds of the Everywhere and Everywhen of Experience

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The fractal universe

 

At a men’s group one morning we were discussing the topic of reconciliation and someone brought up how feeling of reconciliation never seemed permanent in that when they achieved it personally, the experience of being reconciled went away over a short time.

I think we all have had experiences, feelings, or ah ha’s where we experience joy, or satisfaction only to have it disappear over time. I’ve often heard about people who have experienced a transformational moment that seems to have changed their lives only to have it slip from their grasp in almost no time at all. Why is this? Why can’t we hold on to these moments? Is it because they’re not real?

I think it’s because the mind always objectifies things e.g. all input, so that it can be dealt with, and worked with. An “experience” is a subjective, non-concrete, almost ethereal “feeling.” The experience transcends the time and space in which it occurs. To objectify it, that is, to think about it is to lock it in time and place i.e., to try and hold onto it and then it loses its “experiential” quality.

This reminds me of the theory in quantum physics that suggests that every thing exists in superpositionality (everywhere and everywhen at the same time) until the field of superpositionality is collapsed into one place, one time. This, I think is a metaphor for what we do when we objectify an experience, we take it out of the realm of the ineffable, the everywhere/everywhen and fix it into one place and time. In the Australian Aborigine culture all time is the everywhen, for all time is the present, no past, no future, only now. And this idea is not limited to the native Australians for some physicists time is believed to be an abstraction, it’s not real. All that’s real is in the now (shades of Ram Dass’ “Be Here Now”).

The every when and where can be likened to a fractal image where every portion of the image reflects the total ad infinitem. Everything is in the one image–nothing of the whole is outside the parts, e.g. everything is recursive in that it repeats itself indefinitely, kind of like a recurring dream.

For those who have meditated and entered that state where all thoughts have ceased, time seems to stand still and space becomes infinite. It is only when we try to think about the experience do we collapse the super-positional everywhere/everywhen quality of it into an object locked in time and space.

We can have a memory of an experience, but it’s nearly impossible to live in the experience without putting a box around it e.g. by trying to understand it and categorize it. But even the memory of the experience is further polluted every time we bring the memory down from the bookshelf of our library of experiences and open its pages for review. For every time we look at a memory, who we are at that moment changes the memory. Because we grow, because we change the filters through which we observe our memories this also changes and effects not only the quality, but the substance of the memory. This change in ourselves is then projected onto whatever we observe and alters our experience of the reality.

Reconciliation, for some the process of becoming whole, of including differences and accepting diversity, is on-going and never remaining still, always a moving target. But every experience changes us, noticed or not. We are never the same person from moment to moment. What we are changed into then affects how we experience our past and our present. That is another reason the experience cannot be held on to because that which is holding on is not the same as when the experience was, well…experienced.

The whole idea of superpositionality, time and experience is dealt with in the book The Dragon’s Treasure: A Dreamer’s Guide to Inner Discovery .

Who is dreaming?

 

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Wise men and women have for millennia wondered if what we have assumed was objective reality was only a dream.

Edgar Allen Poe who once queried, “Is life but a dream within a dream?” What a curious question! Is he questioning whether we can distinguish between what is fantasy or reality? Isn’t this inability to distinguish fantasy from reality part of the very definition of what is considered magical thinking and a component of an obsessive-compulsive thinking disorder?

As I looked into this question I found that the Australian Aborigine thinks that we are continuously within a dream that creates what we call reality.

“I do not believe that I am now dreaming, but I cannot prove that I am not.” Exclaimed the 20th century philosopher Bertrand Russell.

The Toltecs believed that we are the dream of God. They suggested that God is dreaming the world into existence. This seems very much like the Australian Aboriginal world-view and not too different in essence to the book of Genesis.

But what happens when God awakens from the dream?

A Taoist philosopher, Chuang Tzu, Relates that he had a dream of being a butterfly and when he awoke he asks whether he was Chuang Tzu dreaming he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he was Chuang Tzu?

He went on to say,

“Someday comes the great awakening when we realize that this life is no more than a dream. Yet the foolish go on thinking they are awake: Surveying the panorama of life with such clarity, they call this one a prince and that one a peasant—What delusion! The great Confucius and you are both a dream. And I, who say all this is a dream, I, too, am a dream.”

 So which is the illusion, the sleeping dream or my waking life? And where does truth lie, in the every day or in the fantasies of my dreams?

The psychotherapist Carl Jung posited the idea of complexes i.e., a core pattern of emotions, images and ideas that influence everything we see or think or feel. Along with these mostly unrecognized complexes there are also ancient archetypes we all share and that are mostly unseen factors that determine our vision of reality as well as our responses to it. These psychic features of human beings show up in both our sleeping dreams and the waking dream we call life.

Many scientists, philosophers, and cosmologists wonder if what we see around us may not actually exist. What we are seeing may only be projections from our psyches. That’s not to say that there is not an object out there to be perceived, but that our relationship to and understanding of it is subjective. The philosopher Schopenhauer stated that there could be “No object without subject.”

 

“There is no one who hears, there is just hearing. There is no one who sees, there is just seeing.”

–C. Beck, Everyday Zen (1989)

 

If I were to carry the idea in the above quote further I might add, that there may be no “I” who is dreaming, there is just dreaming.

When I am dreaming, who is creating the dream and who is observing it? When I talk to myself who is listening? And what about the dreams where I am dreaming that I dream of seeing myself? Is there more than one “I” in there? How many?

Are our dreams like a book that our soul is writing about us? Am I really awake when I climb out of bed and into the waiting day? Is it as Jung once quipped, “Who looks outside dreams. Who looks inside awakens.”

 

“The awakening of consciousness is the next step for mankind.”

–Eckhart Tolle