Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Kelsey interview

I get a lot of requests for interviews, especially when I am in the thick of a book tour like the one that is just beginning for my new book The Secret History of Dreaming. A recent interview I especially enjoyed was with a 14-year-old student called Kelsey, whose teacher suggested she should ask me to respond to her questions for a school project on dreams after she told him she had read Conscious Dreaming and had started keeping a journal. Here's part of the Kelsey interview:

What was your childhood like and how did it influence you as a person?
I pretty sick as a boy, and that meant I spent a lot of time by myself, in the realm of dreams and imagination, making up stories and talking to invisible companions. I survived crises of illness that would now be called near-death experiences. They taught me that there are real worlds beyond the physical plane. An Aboriginal boy I met in Queensland when I was quite young was the first person to confirm and validate my experiences. I was an “Army brat” – my father was a career Army officer, and I went to eight different schools – and the steady center of my life through all these changes was the Dreaming.

How many different jobs have you had and what were some of them?
My work has always centered on writing and telling stories, and teaching other people how to do that. I started writing for newspapers when I was an undergraduate. My first full-time job was as Lecturer in Ancient History at the Australian National University. I became a full-time journalist after that and traveled to many countries as a foreign correspondent. After the success of my first fiction in 1980, I was able to live as a full-time writer. I have been self-employed ever since and have had the luxury of immersing myself in whatever I am called to study as an independent scholar. Since the early 1990s, I have been a dream teacher, a role for which there is no “career track” in our culture – though I hope my work will help to change that!

How many total books have you ever written and how many of them are based on dreams that you’ve had in the past or have factual information about dreams in them?
I have published 19 books under my own name (and several under other names). Nine of them are novels (including my "New York trilogy", Fire Along the Sky, The Firekeeper and The Interpreter). Seven, including Conscious Dreaming and the new one, The Secret History of Dreaming are devoted to dreams and imagination, which is also the theme of my audio series Dream Gates and my DVD series The Way of the Dreamer. ALL of my books have been guided by my own dreams, and the play of coincidence has influenced when and how some of them have been published.

What got you most interested in the study of dreams?
My own experience as a dreamer! I’ve been keeping a dream journal, off and on since I was a teen, and with passionate dedication for the past 20 years. Dreaming is not a spectator sport, and the only real “experts” on dreams are people who do a lot of dreaming!

Why do you think that dreams are so significant?
(1) We solve problems in our sleep
(2) Dreams coach us for future challenges and opportunities
(3) Dreams show us what the body needs to stay well – and get well
(4) Dreams hold up a “magic mirror” to our current actions and attitudes, helping us to take an objective look at ourselves and make wiser choices
(5) Dreams are a creative studio where we develop new ideas – as inventors, scientists, writers and world-changers have always done.

What would you say is most significant about dreams?

Dreams put us in touch with our bigger story and our larger purpose.

What have dreams done for you in the past and how have they influenced your life?

Early warning dreams have saved me from death in road accidents at least three times. When I was a kid, I used to dream exam questions before I took the exams – which really helped me prep! On a more fundamental level, dreams have guided every major transition in my life. My dreams of my father, after his death in 1987, deepened my understanding of what really matters in life, as did my dreams of an ancient Iroquois medicine woman. Dreams have been a major source of creative inspiration for me, again and again.

What exactly is conscious dreaming and how is it different from normal every night dreaming?
Conscious dreaming involves (1) learning to enter the dream state consciously and retaining consciousness within it; (2) learning to go back inside the dreamspace – through the practice I call dream reentry – to seek resolution or healing, or more information of fun; and (3) becoming more conscious of the many gifts of dreaming and the many ways we can share them.

What is a shaman and how are they connected to you personally?
In the Mohawk language (which I was inspired to study because of my dreams) the word for shaman is atetshnets (“ah-dzed-zots”) which means “one who dreams”. The word also means “doctor” or “healer.” For me, the true shaman is a very powerful and prolific dreamer – one who is able to make conscious dream journeys to heal, to guide souls into the afterlife, and to bring back information about the possible future to help his or her community.

What should we never say about dreams and why?
We should never say, “I don’t dream”. All that means is, “I don’t remember”. And we should be very careful about saying “It’s only a dream” – since a dream can be a fabulous source of guidance, energy and healing.

Who were your biggest role models/inspirations on your way to becoming a conscious dreamer as a child and an adult?

My most important guides appeared to me in my dreams and visions. They included well-known figures such as the poet William Butler Yeats and the analytical psychologist C.G.Jung who were both world-class dreamers; I devoured their books when I was still in school. As mentioned, when I was a very young boy, an Aboriginal friend was one of the first persons to confirm to me that it isn't "weird" to dream the future, or to talk to "dead" people in your dreams, or to go to a special place in the dreamworld where you can receive healing.

How did you learn the dreaming techniques that you describe in your books?
Practice, practice, practice! I have not only been journaling my dreams for many years; I have been sharing dreams and embarking on shared dream adventures with friends and students.

Do you personally practice any of the techniques described in your books?
I practice ALL the techniques described in my books! These are original techniques that have grown from my personal practice and teaching. The Lightning Dreamwork technique – described in my book The Three “Only” Things – is especially important because it gives us a fun way to share a dream, receive helpful feedback and be guided to take creative ACTION that we can do in just five minutes a day. In the process of doing this, we claim our power – and help others claim their power – as storytellers and communicators.

Are you in the process of writing a new book?
I have several books in the works, fiction as well as nonfiction. The protagonist of one of the novels is a boy who goes to a dream school in nonordinary reality. Unlike Harry Potter, he is able to use what he learns to change the world of the “Muggles” for the better….

Is there anything else that you would like to say?
May your best dreams come true – and may you remember them!


Nancy said...

This is a great summary of your work & contributions: out of the mouths of babes! The one thing I'd add that has been a crux of your teaching for me that we should never say about dreams: "Your dream means so & so". The dreamer is always the final expert on the meaning of the dream. Having spent most of my life with experts who tried to take my power away & impose their worldview on me, this theme of your work of empowering the dreamer drew me to you like nothing else. Thank you.

Robert Moss said...

Nancy: You are absolutely right! We have both experienced how liberating it is for people of any age to be handed their power when, instead of telling them what something means, we say "If it were my dream" or "If it were my life..."