On January 22nd, I streamed Dreams, Visions & Realities when it premiered on Global Spirit on LinkTV. By following the link, you can now watch this great program at your own convenience. Host Phil Cousineau discusses the dream realm from different perspectives with Bill Harney and Pacifica‘s own Stephen Aizenstat. The night the program debuted was an opportune time to watch it because the premiere was followed by a live web-chat with Stephen Aizenstat. I just wanted to introduce you to these great ideas, talk a little about the program, and share some of the ideas from the web-chat.
To begin with, my only “complaint” about the program was that it was often difficult for me to understand Bill Harney. As an aboriginal, he had a unique perspective I have not been exposed to before. Unfortunately, I missed so much of what he was saying that I’m not sure how well I grasped his ideas. Every once in a while, subtitles were added to his dialogue, and had that been the case throughout, I’d have more to say about Harney. Since I don’t though, I’ll focus on Aizenstat. If you’re also from Pacifica or the depth-community, you will recognize the name of Pacifica’s founding-president. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you may remember when I had the opportunity to tend a dream with Dr. Aizenstat. He is really an incredible, intelligent, and gentle human being.
In Dreams, Visions & Realities, Aizenstat focuses on one of his key ideas about dreams: “It’s not ego centered. It’s soul-centered.” To work with our dreams, he instructs we have to develop relationships with the images that come to us. The more difficult they are, the more original they are. And when we get to know these images, their intelligence is revealed to us. It’s our American way to tend to ask what the dream means, but Aizenstat says we’re getting the order wrong when approaching our dreams. He emphasizes, “It’s not a think-about. It’s a walk-about. It is important to understand dreams, but they need depth first.” We must work with those images, listen to their archetypes, and allow the images to name themselves before we even start to ask what they mean.
In the post-premiere web-chat, Aizenstat answered as many questions as he could from viewers in the 45 minutes he was with us. An important question he addressed, one that he said he is always asked, is how do I remember my dreams? Aizenstat identified the key to remembering dreams is to be “curious” about them. Think about remembering your dreams before you go to sleep, and when you wake allow yourself to stay in that liminal space before forcing the day. Then, write down your dreams. Really, the more curious you are, the more you’ll remember. In this discussion, Aizenstat poetically stated that, “In each image is a medicinal quality.” I really believe we should all dedicate time each day into tapping into that.
Aizenstat briefly mentioned the great film Inception. He said it brings up great questions we often find ourselves wrestling with: “Who’s dreaming the dream? Is there a separation between dream time and this reality?” Aizenstat emphasized that in our culture we differentiate between the conscious and the unconscious; this is not true in the aboriginal culture. They differentiate between different levels of awareness.
Aizenstat also emphasized that, more than anything, dreams offer “support.” There is a voice, teachings, direction, all available in the dream language if we listen. He also said that “dreams are informed as much by the future as they are by the present and past” : “The dream is a seed … the future pulls on it, allows it to grow forward. It’s a sketch of what’s coming next.” This idea really fascinates me. I know that our concept of time as linear is based greatly on our perception. How time really moves is something that I think is beyond the capacity for our brains to really comprehend or identify. The thought that we can access time differently in dreams is greatly intriguing!
Aizenstat emphasizes that the world is dreaming. We are dreaming. Animals are dreaming. We all exist in this dream scape. And we shouldn’t ask why we see certain images, but who we see – again, what is the archetype here? The dream is partly ours and partly the collective. “As dreams comes forward, they have particular value, connected to the universal story. Put all the threads together on a planetary level.”
As you can see, I was really intrigued by the program and Aizenstat’s chat. Any time I get the opportunity to interact with him, virtually or in-person, I take advantage of it. I have more of his thoughts from the web-chat that I would like to share. Since I really don’t have the time this morning to weave these into a more developed form, I’m just going to go ahead and share some of the notes I took. What you will find below is pretty much word for word from what Aizenstat said in the web chat. It’s all self-explanatory, so I don’t really think it even needs my words included for any clarification. Enjoy! And sweet dreams!
meditation/trance work: there is a quality that bumps into the experience of meditation. it’s how we work with dreams that makes all the diff. if we bring our rational mind and try to interpret to quickly, we lose that quality. if we come to dream, allow it to present itself first in this walk about imagery, witnessing the colors, textures, images in their activity without so quickly making sense of it, we become part of the living enactment in the dream. an extraordinary way of experiencing dream. when dreams come in that way, they’re in immediacy of the present. when we share a dream with another person, they’re happening now.
when we experience dreams in the present moment, we are in a type of meditation. the images themselves are so incredibly present, so immediate. by developing relationship with them, they bring us into their presence. that’s the meditation. rediscover being anchored deeply in personal belonging and the immediacy of the now
whenever an animal comes into a dream, it gets my attention…. von franz: universally true: when an animal presented in a dream, the thing to do is follow the animal, will take you into places you wouldn’t otherwise discover. animals animate. images are like animals, embodied entities…. there’s that white rabbit that always takes us into another dimension
structures (building, house)… we have to appreciate cityscape as well. most of civilization lives in city. you can just as easily take a walk-about in a city. experience the buildings. how the buildings have a voice. that whole idea of “if walls can talk.” maybe walls do talk, and they have stories to tell. sci-fi, active imagination. what diff does it make? live in the world as if it’s alive, enchanted. … brings us in relationship with creatures, buildings, structures. Not as easy then to go in and demolish a neighborhood… not as easy to pollute the streams, contaminate the ocean, if you have an emotional relationship to these things, to the landscapes, to the structures. Experience the world as alive, treat differently.
dreams of animals: additional states of consciousness. the creatures of the world are always dreaming… we may not hear their voice in relation to having a conversation, yet in the dream world we are able to hear their experience and pick up their dreams. what are they saying about their species? instinctually about planet? about what’s going on in home? when the dog appears, the dog we know, and it appears in dream: listen. instinctual intelligence alive in creatures. how is it responding to you, other creatures in dream? pick up a sense of its advocacy? animals are dreaming… rocks are dreaming. rocks have a lot to say about the nature of how it is to be a rock. may not be dreaming the way we do, but we can hear it as it presents in imagery of dream.
befriend the dream. pay attention. host the images. bring yourself to them as you would with any friend. as you care about them they will care about you and the guidance they offer you will be available.