Tag Archives: altered states

… dreams …

Photos by Ashen

Photos by Ashen

I used to host regular dream groups. We did not so much set out to analyse our dreams, but we played with them by engaging with their images, characters and objects. Sometimes we enacted scenes to widen associations and deepen our insights. While there is some excellent literature on working with dreams, a lot of it is boring, misleading and superficial. For me, the main purpose of valuing dreams lies in befriending the unconscious and the bringing to light what is timely and meaningful.

When we have no obvious explanation for events, dreams may bring subtle messages, offering glimpses of dynamics usually hidden from our awareness. A staggering 90 percent of personal and collective psychic dynamics trigger and compel our actions in life, and for good reason. The self-regulating psyche protects us from too much awareness. When encouraged, respected, and left to do its work, much like the immune system, the psyche can encapsulate runaway viruses of the mind by blanking out anxieties and obsessive thoughts, unless a trauma results in an ongoing inner storm. The processing of traumatic experiences is vital for the health of the individual, the family, the tribe, and our collective psyche. Something equally important to consider is that as adults our natural childlike curiosity about life may have become flattened by engrained habits and obsessive needs for security and control, both diminishing the meaning of our lives.

Note: Each embedded link here will not lead you away from this post but bring up a fresh page.

In an earlier blog post Joe Linker’s comment led me to an article by Oliver Sacks on altered states in The New Yorker  where Sacks pointed out a long tradition of ceremonial drug-use to stimulate the brain. Drugs certainly relax jaded attitudes by activating the senses and bringing insights and fresh perception. Sacks, and many like him, were admiringly fearless and creative, before there was a clamp down on drugs and they became illegal.Dreamseries 2

In dreams as in trance, induced or not, the mind can kick up imaginal representations of feelings, and metaphors. We shift to another realm, escape the logical structure of time and also tap into the collective psyche. We may hit a T junction, one path leading to an illuminating visionary state and the other to a schizophrenic state of confusion, which is why science sticks with rationality and is generally not keen on the imagination. The question as to what pulls us towards Heaven or Hell has no easy answer, yet all inner state, when approached with respect, patience, and most of all, wisdom, can have a healing and effect on our personality, and, in instances, as we know, result in significant works of art.

Dreamseries 3

Freud’s iceberg metaphor illustrates that our individual psyche swims like a mountain of ice in a vast sea, only to reverse into its fluid state once its coherence dissolves back into the sea. As a simple and more intelligent map of various unconscious states I prefer the egg diagram by Alberto Assagioli, the founder of Psychosynthesis.

Active imagination is a gentle way to befriend the unconscious and build bridges towards consciousness and daily life, and a way to explore dreams without messing with the dreamer’s unique meaning. I share here some practical tips:

Remembering dreams:

You can ask for a dream, especially when you feel stuck and ponder a question. You might even write the question on a slip of paper and put it under your pillow.

Try not to move your head after noticing a dream. Place holds memory.

Have a notepad and a soft pencil next to your bed, maybe a microlight, so you can scribble down a memory facet before fully crossing the threshold into waking. Even a single image, phrase, number, colour or feeling can act as a key for recalling a dream later on.

To catch a dream – try disrupting your sleeping pattern with an early alarm clock setting.

Experiment with your head position while sleeping – north, east, south or west.

Towards understanding dreams:

The psyche does not care about logic. The meaning of a dream may however unfold like a seed when we attend to its poetry and rhythm.

Ask yourself … how do I relate to the characters or objects of a dream? What feelings and sensations are evoked? In what context did the dream arise? How does it relate to my present situation?

Write a story or make sketches of the images. Tiny fragments can offer connections via free associations.

Give a voice to the characters and objects appearing in the dream. What do they want? Allow them to express their thoughts and feelings. Such dialogues can reveal surprising insights.

Change the script, create a different outcome, face down a fear or a shadow and follow through to what wants to happen. This approach can move a dream to a different level of understanding.

Ask yourself: Where does the energy want to go? What is emerging?

Dreamseries 4

 

Dreams express the voice of the soul; they are our contact with our deepest self, our inner substance. The mere act of recalling, experiencing and consciously honouring our dreams connects us with our real selves and awakens previously unavailable levels of creativity and vitality, even without interpretation.

Carl G Jung

A related post on altered states.

And if the subject of dreams interests you, here are some more links:

Edward C Whitmont was a Jungian psychoanalyst, who deepened my understanding of the psyche through his exceptionally clear writing. His books may be out of print, which would explain why they’re so expensive:  Dreams – a Portal to the Source and The Symbolic Quest

Other excellent authors to look out for, apart from Jung, are Anthony Stevens, Private Myths – Dreams and Dreaming, and Marie-Louise von Franz – The Interpretation of Fairy Tales.

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… the child in us …

Close your eyes and imagine standing on a beach … warm sand under your bare feet – a light sea breeze brushing your skin – gulls sailing above the sparkling crests of waves. Breathe a while, to the rhythm of the surf lapping at the shore – in – out – in – out – in – out – and let your eyes rest on the silver skyline.

There is nobody here but you – and a visitor – a child you invite to appear as it will.

At what distance does the little person appear?

Observe its posture, age, gender?

What do you sense about it?

Does it look at you, or not?

Is it curious, shy, withdrawn?

Notice your thoughts and feelings, don’t draw conclusions – do nothing.

Sense the realm of consciousness this little person lives in, and still your mind. If the child plays with shells do the same, remaining where you are. If the child skips along the surf, wait. If it takes one step towards you, wait. If it turns its back on you or walks away, sit down and wait. All the while communicate silently – I’m here as a friend.

Yeshen in Surf, colour - lowresHe or she may come close – or not – play with you – or not. Be patient. This little one represents your essence and must be free to approach the strange adult you’ve become as it chooses and when it’s ready. Maybe next time. Don’t over-act. Even if the child is friendly, keep in mind it may try to please your expectations. Remain calm, interested, approachable.

*    *    *

Visiting an imaginary coastline, metaphorically a boundary between the conscious and the less conscious psyche, brings insights even if no images emerge. Try and silence your usual thinking process. Enter the scene as in a daydream, or have a friend slowly read the text.

Insights change from day to day, according to mood. You could experience joy, get a glimpse of what’s important in your life, or be prompted to engage in frank reflections – a valuable process, helping us to develop empathy.

For example, if sadness or pain knock at the sight of this child, ask yourself … have guardians chided your curiosity and strong spirit, or humiliated your weakness and poor confidence? As a result your own adult may have unwittingly come to reject your child as unworthy, regarding it as ungrateful, stubborn, nagging, or awkward with the shame of buried secrets?  Consider – fear of abandonment, punishment or guilt about early fantasies may compel children to please grown ups in order to cope and emotionally survive. The legacy could be a distrust one’s own feelings. Signals received as pain, or love, might equally overwhelm.

Next time you hear a baby or toddler screams, let’s say, in a supermarket, observe what happens in your body, and watch other shoppers. It grates at our nerves at best, and can trigger physically embedded memories of helplessness, and sometimes more. Good to remember when we  judge people who shout and act irrationally. There are behavioural therapies to desensitize triggers that threaten to overwhelm people with rage. Then again, active imagination is more deeply transforming, and the symbolic expression of complex emotions (see later) frees energy and meaning, making a difference to our collective state of consciousness.

If some of these reflections ring true,  return to the imaginary shore as long as it takes to earn the trust of your child. Your adult’s task is simply to be present, reflect, and allow the younger being to initiate communication.

In daily life, begin to set aside pockets of time for that little person in you, encourage a symbolic process, without pressure, to write or draw about early joys, pains, hurts or dark thoughts, like having hated a parent, or once wished someone to drop dead. Children have such fleeting fantasies when they feel threatened and powerless. It’s normal. Holding on to self blame is the problem.

Suffering brought to consciousness lifts the spell of self blame. Despite appearances of confidence and adult bravado, the child in us is often anxious. Deep down may linger legitimate anger, and, deeper still, sadness and the longing for a precious moment of total acceptance. We call it love. It takes time to soften hearts.

Imagination serves multiple roles. It can draw us into habitual loops of negativity and self harm, or stimulate insights and enhance creativity. Artists know this. Imagination can also heal psychic wounds frequently handed down through generations. The healing aspect is especially powerful when employed consciously. Jung called it ‘Active Imagination.’

In this way, every imaginary journeys can be followed up by freeing condensed energy and meaning – symbolically – through drawing, painting, writing, movement, music or play, allowing what wants to emerge, be it forgotten wonders, or burdens, like unacknowledged anger a child had no means to express in early life.

And most significantly, nurturing a trusting relationship and rapport with our younger being invites the Beloved – our essence – and with it the light of intuition and inner guidance.

‘Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.’  ― Rumi –

Perhaps all the dragons of our lives
are princesses who are only waiting to
see us once, beautiful and brave.
Perhaps everything terrible is in
Its deepest being something
that needs our love.               
— Rainer Maria Rilke –

 

The imagery above is in continuation of my last post ‘journey into mystery.’

https://courseofmirrors.wordpress.com/2014/02/06/journey-into-mystery/

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… journey into mystery …

Close your eyes … switch on a light in the area around your heart and see the image of a rose bud emerge … at first a luminous tip of colour … the bud stirs … the sepals gradually turn outwards. See the petals unfold in a slow and fluid movement … until the rose has opened and exudes its delicate fragrance.

Imagine the rose expanding in size … to a palatial sphere that invites into its passages. Overcome the weight of your thoughts and wander barefoot with feather-light steps towards the luminous centre. Rest here for a while … absorb the tenderness of the realm’s ambience and the exquisite fragrance of rose into every cell of your body.

Rose, autum 4 low crop 2

Become the rose …

Move your consciousness upwards … lift on spirit wings and witness the rose palace merge with the landscape below. Soar higher and look down on clusters of houses, roads, cities, fields, hills, rivers, woods … see the shape of countries, continents, coastlines and oceans spread and curve the horizon. Move higher still, until the whole earth floats in deep space like a marble.

Feeling light and trusting, imagine you are level with the moon and look back at the shining marble turning in space … ribbons of white cloud, blue oceans, pale sands, green forests, red rock and snow-topped mountains – your home – vast in your memory but also small enough to be held in your palm.

Think of the people who have been and are close to you … in love … or alienated by hurt and dispute … people you shelter in your heart or have expelled from it. Sense the mysterious weaving of souls in the tapestry of the universe … your separate thread belonging and active in the creation of earth, the home of your human family.

Know that every sincere thought travels … know the creative potential alive within you is reflected in all life forms throughout the universe …

We are the mirror as well as the face in it.
We are tasting the taste this minute                                                                                                                                                                 of eternity. We are pain                                                                                                                                                                                        and what cures pain. We are                                                                                                                                                                                  the sweet, cold water and the jar that pours. – Rumi

 

Slowly descend – return to earth – into the rose palace.

Step away from the luminous sphere … let it ebb back into the small flower, petals folding … see the bud float into you open hand … sense how its power wishes to stay alive in you … for its beauty to unfold whenever you need loving. Here is how – place the rose and the whole experience of rose-becoming into your heart.

*    *    *

Over the years I composed many similar imageries with archetypal themes. They are tools of reflection I use with clients and in workshops. When I guide, the process becomes subtly interactive and explorative. Some journeys are safe to walk alone, like the one above, and they are as powerful as your imagination allows.

Should I share more such imageries? Let me know.

Here a more elaborate space visit … http://aeon.co/film/overview/

The poem from ‘Open Secret’ – Rumi transl. by John Moyne and Coleman Barks.

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… accessing altered states …

After last week’s dark matter, I welcomed a beam of light, provided by a friend who engaged a small group into exploring how to access altered states, states of consciousness outside the ‘normal’ Beta brainwave frequency (between 13 and 30 Hz cycles per second) defined as awake and alert state.

Falcon -lower res

Imagine everyone was normal, or, by definition, alert, outward orientated and falcon-eyed. Present governments and corporations would be challenged. So it seems a paradox that our culture puts pathological labels on altered states of consciousness, which are as common as day and night, and as changeable as the seasons. Artists, athletes, train spotters, kids on play consoles, football fans, shoppers wandering dazed through supermarkets … are all under the spell of certain wavelengths. Depending as to where our energy is drawn to or focussed at, we may be carried by any collective mood, be it of disenchantment or Joie de Vivre. Whatever wave we surf on or drown in, when we resonate with a like-minded tribe, we feel less alone. There is no such thing as a ‘normal’ state.

The frequency of our brainwaves shifts in two ways: changes in mood alter our physiology – changes in physiology alter our mood.

Re: changing our physiology – our friend brought along a few technical gadgets and apps we played with. Listening to the pulse of higher Beta frequencies, for example, tricks the body into stimulating synapses and can activate higher energy centres (chakras.) See, for example the link to mind-machines at the end of this post. There are apps offering similar devices that can be downloaded from the internet.

 One exercise we did without gadgets lightened my heart, which had been battered last week. We formed groups of three’s and had one person facing two others who stood close together and slowly moved their outer arms, independently. The person observing moved their left and right arms in accord with the arms of the two people they were facing, trying to match the disparate movements. This involved right and left brain attention. After about 10 minutes the rapport achieved was beyond words – peace and spaciousness and a deep appreciation of where the other was innermost, like being taken into a sacred circle. This blissful sense of connectedness works best among people who have trust and sympathy for each other.

A traveller puts his head under the edge of the firmament - original (1888) printing of the Flammarion engraving.

A traveller puts his head under the edge of the firmament – original (1888) printing of the Flammarion engraving.

I use methods of mirroring, matching and mismatching sparingly in my work with clients. And if appropriate, I offer guided imagery, which induces a light trance state that facilitates fluid awareness, images, and striking insight.

As children we may have been mirrored in ways that affirmed, ignored or rejected our sense of reality. Affirmation happens through rapport, a sense of being accepted and recognised. Lack of rapport and interference can send us on less-walked, though potentially creative journeys. With the advent of virtual global networks the chances of finding rapport have widened. Then again, given the internet is also a mirror to our collective unconscious, we may occasionally drift rudderless in the hive mind, which is also a kind of trance, feeding us stuff.

Trance states draw us into collective wave-signals. We need rapture to remind us of a greater unity, like when millions of us look up to the full moon at the same time, or watch global events on our screens. We need those reminders of belonging like the air we breathe. Innumerable focussed activities produce altered states: art, games, sport, dance, voice, music, spiritual practices, rituals and mind altering drugs, dreaming, writing, reading, guided imagery, meditation, sound frequencies, light pulses … the sun 🙂 and so on.

Altered states of consciousness fluctuate. I’m not alone in having had lucid dreams and out-of-body experiences, sensations of oneness and peace, as well as being subjected to global traumas and the occasional attack of negativity. Means that improve our rapport with ourselves, others, nature, and the cosmos – means that regulate and tune our psychic energy and gain us a wider perspective on our existence, seem more wholesome than antidepressants. Though it’s useful to keep in mind that subliminal sound/light pulses can be applied to manipulate the public.

No doubt biofeedback devices have a future. Hopefully technological advances will lead to the realisationand evidence that humans are part of one intelligent, pulsating organism – the cosmos – expanding and contracting – yet in a continuous process of becoming conscious of itself and connecting to deeper and further dimensions.

Sites that may interest:                                                                                                               http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_machine                                                      http://synthesislearning.com/article/brwav.htm                                                              http://www.brainwavecollege.com/what-are-brainwaves.htm    http://www.nlpu.com/NewDesign/NLPU_WhatIsNLP.html

A Ted talk on advanced applications of brainwave readings                     http://www.ted.com/talks/tan_le_a_headset_that_reads_your_brainwaves.html

There are many related blog posts on this sit, here the most relevant:                                                                                               http ://courseofmirrors.wordpress.com/2014/01/11/thoughts-on-dark-matter/                                                                    https://courseofmirrors.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/the-mystery-of-thoughts/                                                                     https://courseofmirrors.wordpress.com/2011/05/14/thoughts-on-awareness/

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