Thursday, January 2, 2020

Want to get good at dreaming? Practice, practice, practice

All of us have access to dreams, if we are willing to make space for them in our lives, and the gifts that come from dreaming can be immense. They range from course correction to wild entertainment, from contact with a Higher Self or departed loved ones, from time travel to access to a secret laboratory where we find creative solutions that escape the routine everyday mind.
   When we hear others share dreams, maybe starting just with the title or an opening line, we usually recognize something of ourselves. Yet as the details emerge, we also realize that each dream is distinct and must not be tossed into a suitcase of categorization. This is part of the beauty of dreaming. As we listen to each other's dreams, we recognize universal themes, something of our common humanity and our access to the limitless repository of shared knowledge and experience that Jung once called the collective unconscious and later, the objective psyche. At the same time, when we attend to details and feelings and context around them, we find that individual dreams are exquisitely tailored to the character and circumstances of the dreamer.
    Of course we dream in different ways and on different levels, even in a single night in the mind of a single person. And there are many levels of dream practice. When you begin to understand all that dreaming can be, you come to know that it is a discipline, a fun one, with friendlier hours than most jobs of work -since you can do so much of it during sleep. However, as with any other discipline, from piano to particle physics, you get really good through practice, practice, practice.
    As a teacher of Active Dreaming, my original synthesis of dreamwork, shamanism and creative imagination, you could say I am a full-time dreamer. As personal practice, however, I like to keep things simple and fun. My daily engagement with my night dreams is sometimes no more than this easy one-two:

1. Whatever time I surface from sleep, I check whether I have any dream recall. If I think I don't, I hit any inner pause button and wait for something to come back. At the very least I am likely to receive a stream of hypnopompic images, which may be returning dreams or new material. When I have something,I pick up my phone and I record one or more entries. I used to pick up a bedside pad but con no longer read my handwriting. Using the phone causes minimal disturbance in the bedroom and gives me a text I can transfer to my digital database later on. I may repeat this through two or three cycles of sleep-wake on any given night.

2. When I get up, before coffee and while my little dog (who has excellent manners) waits patiently for me to shower and dress and take him out for his first walk, I open a sketchbook and draw an image from my dreams. I start in pencil. I give the drawing a title, of course. I often feel wonderfully satisfied and charged with creative energy when I complete this little task, and the boy artist inside me claps his hands.

The dream may require further action. This may range from shamanic shopping to researching a curious word or phrase, to going back inside the dream (in a wide-awake exercise in shamanic lucid dreaming) to clarify information or continue the story. My action might be to turn a glimpse of the possible future into a travel advisory or to road-test a new exercise that I dreamed with a workshop group.
    Any day of the week, however, the two simple steps of recording in bed when things are fresh and then turning a dream into a quick sketch are basic and sufficient practice. If you want to get really good at dreaming, I recommend them.

1 comment:

RealDream said...

I just want to leave a short testimony here: reading your books made me come back to dream recording each night, the same way you do, phone recording without even putting the light on at night. I ceased to chase being lucid at any cost. Just recording my dreams and later in the day putting them on a digital support is now enough for me and I discovered a lot of things, like being able to identify and communicate - even if not lucid - with my power animals. It has become an important part of my day. Now I will try to do a quick sketch of dream image also, that is an excellent addition.