Darkness and Dreaming

There is an intimate connection between darkness and dreaming, and both of these essential elements and qualities of human life are woefully weak for many of us in modern-day life. In the hustle and bustle of doing and achieving; in the high techie-ness of our daily lives; in the many demands and expectations our society and we ourselves place upon the 24 hours of a day – many of us pack as much as we can into every moment. We do so at our own peril; at the risk of our own health and sanity.

Dreaming offer us the possibility to re-embrace our own nothingness and void, to allow ourselves to float effortlessly and without rational guidance for a while in that rich space of the dreamland – dark and ripe with soul promise.

As I wrote in my column last month, I have been taking an amazing dream course with one of the masters of dreaming – Robert Moss. As the once a week, on line course has developed, I am so grateful to the way this course has re-encouraged me to dwell a bit more in that dreaming place (both while asleep and while awake).

I will confess that at first I felt a bit guilty, like I wasn’t really doing what I should be doing in the mornings before I have to head off to work. You see, Robert has taught me that it is in that liminal realm right between sleeping and waking where some of our richest dreaming takes place. He has also reminded me that dreaming, like anything we humans do, takes discipline.

Lots of people tell me that they don’t recall their dreams. Some say they don’t dream (which is impossible, all humans dream according to dream researchers), others say they “don’t have time” to remember them because when they wake up, the dream images and impressions float away. Indeed, this often happens unless one cares about their dreams to spend a bit of time with the dream to anchor it in the realm of materiality. Writing a dream down is very helpful. Even if you don’t remember the entire dream – a fragment, a whiff, a single image, can contain so much. This simple practice, if done consistently and with intention over the course of several days and weeks, can help strengthen dream recall. It is also really fun and interesting to read back on your dreams later – it can be surprising how insightful they can be.

As interesting as actually remembering a dream is the feeling of that state of dreaminess. That space and place where we straddle being awake and asleep. I have been spending more time there. The last few weeks when I am barely awake, I have rested there, willing myself to relax into that state for a while. So instead of popping up fast, forcefully, and doing my morning meditations, I just stay in bed, but in a directed way.

This is a place of such creativity. In a way, it is another type of mindfulness meditation. As a writer, I long ago learned that whenever I was looking for inspiration and direction for my writing, the best strategy was to stop writing, stop thinking, and lie down in my bed in the darkness with an empty mind for a while. And the inspiration would always come to me like a flash of insight. As Robert Moss reminds us, we don’t just dream when we are asleep, we can actively dream while awake.

An unexpected outcome of my recent dreaming incubation has been that I notice improved physical health, including some chronic pains in my foot that have nearly disappeared. I have experienced other subtle and positive changes in my sense of well-being.

The other day I read an interesting article written by a psychiatrist from Australia that was part of a series about depression. This psychiatrist claimed that the chronic shortage so many of us are exhibiting in Vitamin D levels is not due to the lack of sunshine. In fact, he said that in Australia, with lots of sunshine, there is an epidemic of vitamin D shortage. He postulates that this is due to the lack of darkness in our lives. He points out that human beings until recently spent at least half their time (and sometimes more in the winter season) in near darkness. As a species, we are programmed to have that much time in darkness and our body needs it to regenerate itself and be healthy. The advent of electricity and, even more seriously, of LED screens is throwing our systems off, as people use these screens in the dark hours – sending strong light signals to our brains right at a time when we should be in darkness. This, he says, is causing our Vitamin D to get out of whack. It is also causing depression and other mental illness.

Linking dreams and darkness, perhaps spending a bit more time in the dream realm, in our own place of darkness and inspiration, may not only be interesting but also have some unexpected health benefits – even helping to stabilize our vitamin D and other vitamins in our bodies. It may also help to decrease depression.

Printed in the Monadnock Shopper – 2/10/2016

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Dreaming Dreams Awake

Dreaming Dreams AwakeDreamPublished in “Monadnock Shopper”

My father used to entertain me with his two favorite stories. The first was about a man who dreamed every night that he was a butterfly. The vision was so real that when he woke up, he was not sure if he was a man dreaming he was a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming he was a man.

The second was about an image that had fascinated him as a child. It was a Quaker oats box which had a drawing of a man holding a box of Quaker oats that, in turn, had the same drawing (but smaller) of a man holding a box of Quaker oats, etc. He would tell me that he would look at the image and wonder how far that image repeated. Where did it begin? Did it stop or go into infinity?

Our dreams are very much like these two favorite stories from my father. First of all, dreams are their own reality – while some may just be a rehash of events from our material, day to day life, others give us a flash of something more profound, more expansive, more intense than our so called “real life.”

Dreams encompass both infinity and zero, and all possibilities between. Some dream researchers contend that dreams are human’s last unexplored realm – we may have reached the moon and planets and the deep ocean depths, but we have yet to truly explore or understand our own dreams.

Some dreams can be great healers, provide guidance, help us create something new, answer questions. Many of the important discoveries and creations were birthed from dream visions. While you may be thinking primarily of the arts (where dreams often provide great inspiration), did you know that the sewing machine, the structure of the benzene molecule, the concept of nerves transmitting signals chemically, and the theory of relativity were all developed based upon information culled from dreams?

Indeed, many treasures and pearls of wisdom can be found encoded in our dreams. We humans have known this from our very beginnings. For all humans until the very recent onset of modernity, dreams were avidly shared with family, groups and communities. Around the breakfast table, under the stars, sitting by the fire, trying to decide actions – dreams were discussed and their messages explored since great wisdom was known to reside in the dream realm – portal to the sacred and the deep mystery.

In many indigenous cultures, the word used for their healer, their shapeshifter, their diviner means literally “one who dreams.” They recognize that learning how to work with dreams takes much learning, practice and skill and gives one great power.

A decade ago, I began to study dreams, prompted by the suggestion of a well-known Brazilian oral historian – Jose Carlos – who told me of his research on dreams of Brazilian migrants in the United States. When I asked him what he could learn from this dream research, he told me that you can learn so much. And he shared a story of how he had found out from a woman’s dream about a son she had had to disown because he was gay and had AIDS. “In dreams,” Jose Carlos told me, “you cannot hide anything.”

The more I have read and learned about dreams, including my own, the more it seems to me that some of the much needed healing for our culture and communities may lie in our dreams – in acknowledging our dreams, in sharing our dreams, in cherishing our dreams.

So many people I speak to about dreams say that they don’t remember their dreams, they rarely recall them, they never dream. This paucity of dream recall that reigns in so many of us is a sad part of our culture and lifestyle, and it has been called a “dream drought” by some dream researchers. This lack of attention and importance given to our dreams may even be a contributing factor to mental distress and even, perhaps, the near epidemic use of chemical substances to create altered states of mind.

In my next two columns, I will continue to share more about dreaming and its role in health and well-being. I am currently enrolled in a course by Robert Moss, one of the great dream facilitators and scholars. Let me finish this article with a few short quotes of his:

Dreaming is not fundamentally about what happens during sleep. It is about waking up.

Dreaming is the most common alternative state of consciousness among humans, and it does not require drugs or equipment. To get really good at it, however, requires practice, practice, practice.

Dreams are not on our case, they are on our side.

We need to take dreams more literally and waking life more symbolically.
Skye Stephenson, PhD, enjoys writing and sharing knowledge about the spiritual and

\]sacred uses of stones and crystals. She offers individual sessions and group workshops on crystal healing; she also has been involved in crystal layouts and sacred ceremonies for places in locations locally and globally. She is the author of several books as well as a crystal card set. Contact at: crystalhealing.lecora@gmail.com

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Message from Salmon-Sacred Beauty

Salmon Message – Sacred Beauty

Salmon reminds us of the importance of sacred beauty

Salmon reminds us of the importance of sacred beauty

Sacred beauty comes
From the heart of you
When in judgement true
Given from the heart of you
You love all god’s creations –
The big and the small,
The infirm and the tall,
With openhearted acceptance of them
Just as they are.

As you flow in your own life
Without troubles and strife
Loving with full plenitude
And drawing from the reservoir
Of joy and happiness
That extends through all life.

Sadness opens no gates to heaven
Resignation and depression opens no
Gold mines in your next lives,
All that counts is the spirit that you bring
To each and every little thing
You do in your own little life.

So it doesn’t have to be big,
It doesn’t have to shake the worlds.
All you must do
Is offer from the heart of you
Your own kindness and joy
To those who are flagging behind.

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Salmon Spirit Message #1

Salmon Spirit Message #1Salmon defending its nest and eggs

My name is Salmon
of the vibrant tribe –
I ask you what it is that makes you happy,
What it is that makes you feel alive?

I don’t soar in the sky
Like eagle feather – my friend spouse –
And I don’t forage through the bushes and tress
Like cougar and bear – spirits that
Accompany you too.

Rather I go deep into the river’s flow
Gathering sources unseen to many
Who walk the surface and fly the skies,
As I hone my special wisdom of
Salmon spirit wise.

Ask me what you want,
Ask me what you will,
‘Cause I can tell you
How to follow the flows of your life
To have an existence of wisdom wise.

So ask where is your source,
So ask where is the spring that nourishes you so deep
And when you find this in your heart of hearts
Set your compass to follow it
Wherever it may lead.

And it may take you far away
To distant places, distant stars,
Or it may take you close and deep
Nestled within your sinews when you eat and when you sleep.

Now salmon is asking you to choose right now
The river and course you will flow along
To guide you as you create your spirit song.

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The Cave and the Candle

https://i0.wp.com/s.hswstatic.com/gif/bear-pictures-11.jpg

It feels good to be writing a healing column again for the Shopper after a four month hiatus at my request. Something in me urged me to “take some time off” from writing this column and I am very grateful that the wonderful folks at the Shopper allowed me a few months break to recharge. My plan was to focus on a proposal for a new book idea I wanted to write, and maybe event to begin to write it.

And then I had a dream of a bear that knocked me for a loop. This bear seemed angry, or at least needed some attention from me. Now bear is an animal that sometimes comes to me when I meditate; a friend in the non-material realm. I think we all have those kind of friends, whether they be in the form of spirit guides or music notes or loved ones moved on to other realms or things you sense but just can’t explain. But I had never before dreamed of a bear, let alone an angry bear.

Shortly afterwards, on a New Hampshire sojourn looking for a moose (which I have yet to see), bear showed up twice nearby – once rummaging in garbage a stone’s throw from our camping spot. This was a physical bear, of course!

What was bear trying to tell me, I wondered? More importantly, I asked myself, what was I really feeling like doing? I realized I just wanted to go into my cave, or maybe my bear den, and retreat from the world.
I think we all have our own caves that we create or make or discover within and beyond ourselves. Those dark and withdrawn possibilities where we just rest in effortless emptiness. In the business of our everyday life and modern society with its offerings of endless stimulation and excitement, we sometimes lose track of our cave, our retreat, our quiet spot, our silence. Periodically retreating to this space can be an important part of our mental and physical health and well-being.

I was reminded of this poignantly the other day at work. Due to my office being remodeled, I was spending lots of time in the campus library, working from a desk on the second floor. I came back from a fast coffee one mid-afternoon to find on my work desk a photocopied article that someone had written comments on in blue pen. Intrigued, I picked it up and read the handwritten comment first. This is what it said:

“I am not sure who left this article here but thank you very much. It reminded me of something very important I have been losing in my life lately; something we do not have much of these days and we all need. “
I then looked at the article itself – the title was “The Importance of Silence.”

In our own dens, in our own caves, we can access that silence of the soul. In that quiet and dark space oftentimes we find light and the answers we were looking for, just as we finally give up looking for them.

That is what happened to me this time. As my hiatus from writing this article came to a close, I realized how much I was looking forward to writing this article and I also felt a bit disappointed that my ambitious plans for writing did not come to pass. Or so I thought. Until just two days before I needed to write my article for the Shopper. And all of the sudden, in a two hour period, I was able to conceive and write down clearly what my next writing project will be, and it turns out to be something quite different than I thought I would be. Isn’t that how life often goes.

We are all entering the dark period of the year, when in our part of the globe we have to confront the darkness outside and – sometimes – within. It is a time that calls upon our interior light and strength to get us through, and not fall into despair or depression. Yet it also holds such wonderful potential to surprise us with gifts of candle light and illumination.

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Half past three of my life

fireflies

Crystal Lake girl
Sunshine boy
Unruly child
Hair in my eyes

I try
To get by
In an upside world
Where too much order reigns riot and out of sorts.

Crystal Lake girl
Sunshine boy
That’s what I once was
Before too many crimes I didn’t commit

Passed before my eyes
In ecstasies of feathered serpents
And the claw.

Why is it so hard
To just be a child
And enjoy my life
Simple + sweet?

A bite to eat
Sunshine + the dew;
The fireflies come out at noon
To alight my world anew –

I collect in a bell jar
With holes punched at the top
So they won’t die….
They need air to breath
And so do I.

Crystal Lake girl
And moonbeam guys
They flowed over my body
With word so wise

Simple + sweet
Sung to the tune of their heartbeat/
Love + dreams
Happiness wrapped in a leaf

Belief in the new
Belief in our song
That can never go wrong.

I let the fireflies out
Before I go home to eat –
It is half past three
Of my life
And I am coming home to thee.

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The Circle of Peace

converted PNM file

The Circle of Peace
extends in infinite directions,
wherever you look,
whenever you sleep.

It resides in your baby’s cry
and in your lover’s sigh;
It is infinitely wide
and just as high-

Especially when you don’t go looking for it
but rather embrace it
just where you are/
just as you are –

A shining star
of potential peace
about to bloom
and share your infinite fragrance
with the sacred world
of now.

Beam it high,
Beam it low,
Beam it on the breast of winged doves
yet to be born

who still hear your gentle intrusion
upon a messy slope –

Bringing hope
in ways simple and strong
and helping others
move their lives along.

So take a step,
take a gentle and kind step,
to nowhere at all.

Just bend down and
tend to your own
little stars

Beaming bright
in the everyday light
of just as it is
here and now –

Welcome Heaven on Earth
as Earth is in Heaven –
Where stars bloom bright
then cycle away and die;
Where angels sing their silent songs
that no one can hear
but the crazy fools
who hear beyond the walls of the empires,
of cultures narrow and too defined.

Call upon the nothing,
which is just what you are,
and embrace your perennial peace
with a smile on your
ravaged and pockmarked face.

O child
of infinite place
and race.

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