Thursday, January 31, 2013

Interview With Travis Wernet

Every so often The Daily Dreamer interviews a dream worker with the hope that readers will get a sense of the many different ways that people can learn about themselves from their dreams.  Today's interviewee, Travis Wernet,  specializes in sound healing. Starting in February he will be leading a tele-conference dream group.

DD: You have said that music is medicine. Did a particular event in your life inspire you to look at the connection between sound and healing?
TW: I can actually think of many instances of inspiration, but I'd have to say that one which stands out relates to my first trip to Egypt in 2010. I was invited to join a group of travelers from diverse backgrounds and to play Didjeridu in a ritual-ceremony for 24 folks in the Kings Chamber in the Great Pyramids at Giza. We gathered quietly in the space and each individual was supported to lie down in the sarcophagus as I played over their bodies and created sound in the room. The energy of that and the experiences people shared following this experience, as well as my own feeling afterwards, deepened my interest and commitment to finding more ways to knit the experience of listening to certain kinds of sounds together with the intention for finding and receiving healing.

DD: Have you ever tried sound healing with someone who was not particularly musical? Did it affect her response to the technique?
TW: Most definitely. I have found that folks who are less exposed to or involved in music of any sort have quite strong responses and feel very affected by the music and tones. It's almost as if these folks easily enter into what the Buddhists call 'Beginners Mind' and are usually deeply and wonderfully impacted by the musical element of the work. The beauty of sound healing is that the actual tones and vibrations of the instrument have a foundational effect, so it's like taking vitamin C, in a sense, in that the sound will always create an outcome that is related to the properties of the resonance and the frequencies of the tones. It's possible to build on this foundation with further intention and surrender or release into the experience.

DD: When we work with dreams it's often a highly verbal process: in other words, we talk or write about our dreams and try to untangle, and perhaps rationalize, their symbolic messages. Does  your non-verbal, musical process supplement this verbal one? How do the two techniques work together in your dream groups?
TW: This is a great question and describes the crux of the approaches I take to doing both forms of work. I find that the verbal and non-verbal elements gracefully support one another. We do engage in quite a bit of discussion in the groups I lead. I consider this a sort of contemporary oral tradition. The music and sound enter in as tools for sinking into the feeling-scapes and images of the dreams, and provide a lovely counter-balance to the verbal experience. We also do incubatory practices to support the recall and invitation of our sleeping and waking dreams. So, I tend to seek to create a balance of sound and discussion in the groups, often by starting out with some chanting of Sanskrit seed syllables (like 'Aum', but there's more than this one sound - in fact there are chants for each chakra center in the physical-spiritual body) or I will play the Didjeridu, Native American Flute or Tibetan/Toning Bowls. After we've worked a dream, we'll also often take some time at the end to bring some pure sound to the work upon closing that piece by also playing and listening to the above instruments. We also close the meetings with grounding tones and I always make the effort to create some space where the talking can branch out into a less mental or thought-oriented domain and this is where we can enter the universality of sound and feeling as a punctuation or new opening to further felt layers of the work. Dreamers have reported that this often has the effect of inspiring further dreams and recall as well as varying non-spoken levels of insight.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Guest Dreamer: A Walk on the Wild Side

Today's guest dreamer's emotions evolve as she processes her life experiences.Thanks, Firequeen, for this very rich dream.

The Dream: I dreamed I was walking in the woods in weather like today, cold, snow on the ground, bare branches. I was walking my dog, but not the dog I have now, nor was it Benji, my last dog. A largish dog. At the same time as I was dreaming the dream, I was also watching from the other side of the canal, and narrating what was going on. The dog kept disappearing for long periods of time, as Lola does when she goes off hunting, but now I had another explanation of where the dog was. He was walking with another person, but this was not someone living on the earth today, she was from the other side. Although she looked exactly as she would in life, I knew she was not living now. I saw her at a great distance, in the other part of the wood, but she was able to communicate her thoughts to me. She said that she returned here to walk with this dog, which had been her dog in another life. She came to these woods because it was a place that made her feel happy, and it did not mean that she was returning to where she walked her dog in life, she chose this place because it was special, and that other people came here to do the same. Sometimes I saw that she brought another dog with her, which had also been her dog, and she walked the two of them together. I seemed to wake two or three times during the dream, then continue dreaming it, but I think this was also part of the dream. Telling it, there does not seem much to it, but waking with the full memory of it, I felt very happy. It had such a happy atmosphere. Perhaps it is the feeling of life continuing, with dogs (!) that is so nice!

Carla, just remembered that the ghost woman in the dream also told me that other souls also returned to walk their dogs in this place.

Interpretation: The first image I'm going to look at is that of the woods. In my version of Firequeen's dream it evokes a magical place, something like the enchanted forest of legend and fairy tale. This is a place where we expect to see a transformation.  In the beginning of the dream the spot I'm in is cold and barren; this tells me I'm feeling alienated. The large dog I am walking represents my feelings. The dog disappears: this is the central problem I'm facing in this dream—my disconnect from my emotions. In order to look at them, I split into a narrator, the one who watches, and another person, my shadow, who acts. The canal is the watery divide between what I'm conscious of and the unconscious. Being man made, it is an artificial divide; this tells me I'm capable of changing it. As I watch, in the guise of the narrator, I learn: the canal symbolically changes from a dividing line into a conduit that flows toward healing and integration.

Who is the person I observe? As someone no longer living I could call her a ghost. In dreams ghosts sometimes represent things that haunt us—for example, things from the past that have left residues of guilt or regret. Another word for a ghost is a shadow, and, in my dream, she is the shadow of the self I used to be. This earlier self was in touch with her instincts and feelings (the dog, her inner animal). She was happy in the woods, a place of nature. As I visit this earlier version of myself I also visit the people she interacted with, people who are no longer with me (the other souls who come here). They can return to this place in my heart where we can be together. Communing with those I've lost--and, more important, with parts of myself I feared were lost-- in this place of magic and enchantment nourishes my soul. My unhappy feelings are transformed into feelings of the continuity of life. The forest that had seemed barren and desolate, I now realize, was only waiting for the right moment to spring to life. As it does I, too, am renewed. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Layered Look

The Dream: I have gone to a store with a male friend. I am wearing a shirt and underpants. I start to feel self-conscious, and I realize this is the second time I've done this recently. I turn to my companion saying, “You could have said something!”

The store is dimly lit; I'm hoping no one will notice, or that I can pull down my shirt to the point it will cover the undies. I become aware that I'm wearing two pairs. The longer pair, boxer shorts, is silky and patterned: dark blue, black and white. The second pair, worn over the boxers, is flesh colored with a typical women's panty cut.

What do these underwear represent? The boxers, with their bold masculine pattern, are closest to my body. Over these, but not completely covering them up, is a skin-colored layer of femininity.

The dream leads me to ask: what is my essence? Is femininity an overlaid cultural construct, obscuring what actually lies closer to my skin—or even under it? A discussion the evening before led me to think of the “masculine” as representing the vital life force that pushes outward: an energy field we all must have. Women might use theirs in a “feminine” way—to protect their young—or we might use it to write, to lead, to do scientific research. Whatever we do with energy and commitment and passion—whatever we're willing to “fight” for, might be attributed to our animus, the masculine force. Our more inward, reflective, spiritual, soulful, intuitive side belongs to our anima, the feminine force. When we passionately follow a spiritual or artistic path, both are engaged.

How is this playing out in my life, and what is my dream telling me about it? I feel remarkably strong, especially intellectually. (My animus boxers are close to me.) I'm afraid of offending when I let this out (when I'm exposed!) publicly. So I cover over my strength with an outward layer of femininity (the anima panties). By doing this I give short shrift to both sides, and, no surprise, I feel inappropriate and uncomfortable. But perhaps the dream, and my illustration, have helped to resolve the issue. When I look at the drawing I think, “Those two undies worn together look kind of attractive—and there's something about it that's fun!”

Sunday, January 20, 2013

I Don't Get It; Or Do I?

The Dream: I'm in my studio. A woman, a teacher, comes in. She is youngish, about 35 to 40, slim, blonde, curly hair. She is an attractive woman but seems middle-of-the-road, not too interesting. Yet she gets to make decisions about whose art is seen.

She lets me know that my art has been under consideration for some time. “On the one hand, you get it,” she says. “On the other, you don't.” I try to figure out what she means by this enigmatic statement. She lets me know that the judges were somewhat encouraged when I did a piece that seemed to support the police. Unlike, she said, most of my work. I am confused. I have nothing against the police. She lets me know that they consider my skill level impressive but don't care for my subject matter. In a way I'm encouraged by this: she and the “panel” seem so much a part of the mediocre herd that I think it's probably a good sign if they don't care for what I do. I think the day will come when my work will be appreciated. In a way I'm relieved that it is unusual enough to cause these “judges” difficulty.

Was this dream the result of going to a quilt show and perhaps feeling at an unconscious level that the work was beautifully executed but lacking in a higher purpose? Is this what I think, or fear, about my own work? There is certainly a parallel between quilting and my egg tempera painting—both require meticulous attention to craft. The police metaphor refers to the self discipline that this sort of work requires, and it seems the dream underlines some not too surprising ambivalence toward it. In the end I accept, even welcome, the place where I am.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Interview with Jean Campbell

A new feature on The Daily Dreamer debuts today: periodically we'll interview a dream worker. Our maiden voyage begins with Jean Campbell, CEO and Director of The iMage Project, who has developed a method that uses dreams to facilitate healing. Click here to learn more about Jean and her work.

DD: What got you interested in using dreams as a vehicle for healing?

JC: I developed DreamWork/BodyWork after years of work with dreams and eight years of training and certification in Bioenergetic psychotherapy modalities. Along the way I saw innumerable examples of dreams providing the information necessary to healing. Dreams are one way our so-called "unconscious" provides information to us about our physical and emotional health.

DD: Can you briefly explain how dreams can help with physical issues, and what sorts of issues are best addressed this way?

JC: If we take a DreamWork/BodyWork perspective toward dreams, the connection between dreams and health is easily demonstrated by this exercise, which anyone can do: Stand the way you usually stand. Feel how you exist in the space of your body. Are there areas of your body that feel stressed or uncomfortable? Note these.

Now, pick a character from your dreams. The character can be you, another person, a totem animal. Your choice. Then stand and move the way that character stands and moves in the dream. How do you feel in your dream body? What are the differences from your stance in waking life? We under-stand, in our deepest hearts, what we need and want for health.

DD: Can you give an example of how this process affected someone's health (or life)?

: When we change the way we move in the world, we are changing at all levels of reality. It is essential to be aware of the body--which carries a language of its own. Once, working with the dream of a woman who had been brutally wounded and raped, I listened to her dream of fighting off her attacker. The woman was lying down as she told the dream. I noticed the movement of her legs. Bent at the knee, her legs slid her stockinged feet along the mat at a regular rhythm. "What are your legs doing?" I asked, interrupting her dream story. All movement stopped.

"I want to run away," she whispered, "I want to run away." She sobbed in shame. She knew she needed to fight off the effects of this trauma, felt she should be able to do that if she were strong. All true. But until we can integrate all of our feelings, accept even our deepest shame, healing is not possible. Health is ease with oneself, as compared with dis-ease.

DD: Thank you, Jean, for telling us about this interesting aspect of dream work. This kind of work demonstrates that the tendency to think that the mind and the body are somehow separate just isn't so.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Boiling Over and Leaking Out

The Dream: I'm in a rectangular studio apartment with two girls. One is my daughter; the other, an odd girl with short dark hair, is her roommate. This girl has an off-putting face and expression; something about her “doesn't get it.” She puts my glass electric kettle onto a gas burner and turns on the flame. Clark notices and rescues the pot before it's ruined. We look again and see that she's done it again. Again Clark rescues it; this time we manage to get through to her, and she finds a traditional kettle.

A ceiling leak has created a puddle on the floor. The odd girl says, “We've told Uncle Nick, but he hasn’t done a thing about it.”

I'm annoyed at her over the kettle, and this idiotic remark ratchets up my ire. I am particularly annoyed at this odd girl's assuming the level of familiarity implied by her calling my brother “uncle.” “Why would you expect Uncle Nick to do anything about it? He lives 3,000 miles away. Have you told Clark?” Then I wonder why he should fix it. “Or the landlord?” Now I feel I have the right answer, so I say it again. “Have you told the landlord?” I feel sure he wouldn't want his building ruined by a leak. The girls assure me that they have informed the landlord.

Interpretation: This odd girl is my shadow. Her closeness to me is clear: she is the roommate of my inner child (my daughter) and feels a connection—as much as I want to deny it--to my brother. While she represents a part of myself that I thoroughly dislike--the oblivious part that wants to do what she wants to do, ignoring the consequences—getting to know her through this dream is helpful. Her insistence on boiling some water tells me I need to find a safe way to let off some steam. While I don't like the demands she makes on others to fix her problems, in the dream I catch myself doing the same when I expect Clark to fix the ceiling leak.

These girls are immature parts of me. The boiling water and leaking roof refer to emotions. After a number of false starts it seems I've finally found the appropriate place to express them. It takes a while to find the right vessel for the water, the place where it can safely boil, but the odd girl ultimately uses the right kettle. The ceiling leak is more problematical. It is not fixed during the course of the dream but, on the bright side, the landlord (consciousness) has been given the heads up.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Butterfly and the Spider

Dream image: A beautiful butterfly, wings folded close in and almost wrapped around it like a cocoon, is caught in a spider's web. I am upset and scream for Clark.

Interpretation: Clark spoke to his mother's doctor, who said she is near death. I think of my mother (now deceased) and my mother-in-law (near death) as the beautiful young women they once were and am forced to see the results of Chronos (Time) eating his children. It's hard to accept the selfishness of the Life Force and the ultimate tragedy of we who are enlisted to serve it. It's something like a beautiful butterfly caught in a spider's web.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Guest Dreamer: Flushing the Blues

Today's guest dreamer is getting rid of the blues.
The Dream: I shove my blue jeans into a toilet--pressing them under the water. That's all there was to it! Nothing before and nothing afterward. I did feel shocked that this is what I was doing with my blue jeans.

Interpretation: If it were my dream: the toilet is a place of elimination. I am flushing (getting rid of) the blues (sadness). This sadness has been an integral part of me--it's in my genes (jeans). I have shoved this depressed part into a place in the unconscious (underwater) where it can be dealt with and eliminated. I'm surprised I could do this.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Guest Dreamer: Some Ups and Downs

Tyler has contributed today's dream that ends with a common fear: a crashing elevator.
The Dream: I remember being in a tall building, like a skyscraper. I don't know where we were though. There were a few people in the room I was in, and I remember having the feeling of being trapped there in that room or being held against my will or something like that. I remember I had an opportunity to leave and I took it, running out of the room towards the elevator. I made it to the elevator and hit L for lobby and was pounding on the Close Doors button and just as they were about to close someone stopped the elevator and came in. It was someone who I had recently met and hung out with a few times in a group and he wanted to go up some floors and he hit the button for a floor a few floors up. The doors closed and the elevator started going up a little, then all the lights turned off and the elevator plummeted towards earth. Usually, I'd wake up during something like this, but this time I didn't and the elevator smashed to the floor with both of us in it. I then remember almost instantly as the elevator smashed, that I was in another room looking at the smashed elevator on what seemed like a TV for security cameras and I may have been in a room with a few more people also watching these security camera feeds and then I woke up. It's been bothering me for a few days now because I thought you weren't supposed to die in your dreams.

Carla's thoughts: The dreamer will have to look at what's going on in his life that might have triggered this dramatic dream, but—to get him started thinking about some possibilities, I'll react to Tyler's dream as if it were my own:

I'm in the process of creating (building) something that I hope will enable me to reach great heights. (The building I'm in is a skyscraper.) I need to try to remember who is in the room with me, because there's something about our relationship that restricts me. I need to figure out what these people represent so I will be able to see what's holding me back. To escape this limiting influence I make a dash for the elevator. An elevator, being something that goes up and down, stands for my moods. At times I feel on an upswing, and at other times I go down into a slump. I was planning to escape by going down, but someone I recently met intervenes and sends me in the opposite direction. What qualities does this person have? Whatever they are, they don't seem to be working for me in this dream. My situation seems to improve a little (we go up) but after a slow start, I'm in the dark and out of control altogether. (We smash to the ground.)

Death in a dream often refers to the end of a stage of life—in other words, it is as much about a new beginning as it is about the end of something. In this dream, as soon as I die I'm in another place and I see things from a different perspective. Taking a hint from my dream, I'm guessing that my new point of view is safer than the one it replaced; after all, I'm seeing things on a “security” camera.