This is an excerpt from DREAMHEALING: CHAOS & THE CREATIVE CONSCIOUSNESSPROCESS,
by Graywolf Fred Swinney and Iona Miller, c1992. Using his roots
as a Gestalt Therapist, Transactional Analysis teacher, and shaman/therapist
Graywolf developed Dreamhealing as an experiential therapy practice.
When Chaos Theory came on the scene, he noticed that the metaphors of this
new science of self-organization reflected his healing practices.
Developing these analogies, he came up with the Creative Consciousness
Process (CCP), based on a model of consciousness and the new paradigm.
As more research on complexity and chaos theory emerged, he and I revisioned
therapy as a process of liquification, and chaos consciousness as a healing
force. Long-time friend, noted dream researcher Stanley Krippner
mentored us through the process of writing the book, attended our conference
on Chaos and Consciousness, and provided an Introduction to Dreamhealing,
detailing Graywolf's calling to the shamanic path.
THE DREAM GUIDE:
STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS
by Graywolf Fred Swinney and Iona Miller, c1992
ABSTRACT: The dream guide is one who has navigated the
river of consciousness many times before. Aware of the nuances of
the territory (s)he can invite others into that deep world, providing a
sense of confidence and safety. Preparation for being a dream guide
includes experience on both sides of the process. It involves working
through one's own issues and letting go of personal agendas. Along
with the DREAM JOURNEY GUIDELINES here is the basic "how to" for intuition
to play with. These are not strict protocols, but guidelines or suggestions
for moving through the levels of the psyche as described in our ego model.
He will manage the cure best who has foreseen what
is to happen from the present state of the matter.
As a dream guide, it helps to empty yourself of knowing,
let the dreamer choose the image that opens the work and leads the way.
A good dream guide does not lead but rather follows the dreamer's process
to the dreamer's own definition of satisfaction.
--Ann Sayre Wiseman, DREAMS AS METAPHOR
ANATOMY OF A DREAM
A dream is a stream of chaos, a river of undifferentiated consciousness
and creativity, flowing through the self-scape of the psyche. It
is shaped by the frozen states of consciousness, the existential images,
that define and mold the self and the reality of our perceptions.
And, when it finally emerges into awareness, the images and plots that
are presented to our almost-waking self are reflections of these states.
They are another way of seeing the self and the reality we create, except
one less prejudiced by our ego.
When we are asleep the ego is asleep. The ego is turned off and free
consciousness has reign. Awake we order all we sense into the conformations
of our "pre-ceptions"; but asleep, chaos reigns, and the structure that
emerges as the dream is like a holographic image (in multi-dimensions)
of the deeper self.
A hologram is an image that is formed by reordering the reflections
of a laser beam from an object. As the light encounters the object,
like a pebble dropped into a pond sends ripples to the edge of the pond,
an interference pattern of the laser's wave form is created as the reflected
and source waves interact. If we could stop the action in the pond
and measure the ripples, we could reproduce their source. So too with the
patterns of waves caused by the laser's encounter with the object, we can
reproduce an image of the original object. This interference pattern
is what is recorded in the hologram's negative.
Interestingly, the entire image is in any part of the negative; if you
cut the negative inhalf, the whole image is recorded in each half, just
somewhat fuzzier. The whole image is in any part of the negative,
the universe in a grain of sand.
The dream is just like the hologram. The passage of the consciousness
stream through the psyche, and its encounter with the frozen consciousness
states, cause ripples and patterns. When they reach our awareness,
they create images of the deeper self that formed them. The whole
is in any part of the dream.
FLOWING WITH THE DREAMSTREAM
To the shaman/therapist, nature repeats at all levels and in all ways.
In chaos theory, this is expressed in the self-similarity of fractals.
Like the hologram, fractals repeat the basic conformation of their "parent"
pattern. They repeat that same basic form over-and-over on different
scales. The broad-strokes of nature appear as flow. The guiding
metaphor of dreamhealing is the concept that a river and the stream of
consciousness have much in common.
Guiding a dream journey is like guiding a white water river adventure.
Graywolf's River Teacher is also the river of inner consciousness (dreamstream)
that flows through the dream-scape and self-scape. Both are full
of rapids and turbulence, back eddies that trap one in circles going nowhere.
There are calm, deep, peaceful and serene stretches and unexpected twists
that open new vistas. Both the river and dreamstream inexorably flow to
the primal ocean, the sea from which all life has arisen, the ocean of
Like the River Teacher, the consciousness stream is full of boulders
and rocks that define the river and make the rapids and turbulence.
These boulders are the frozen images that define our dis-eases. The
dream guide, like the river guide, undertakes to bring his fellow adventurers
safely through the turbulence and beyond the rocks.
Water always seeks its own level through flow along the path of least
resistance. In the river there is a flow of water that is part of
a cycle. It is a process--and that is what the stream of consciousness
is--it is a flow. Within the river what makes the rapids is the rocks,
the obstructions. They are the hazards. They create turbulance around
them. The psychic equivalent are the frozen states of consciousness,
the frozen existential images, which obstruct the free flow of creative
consciousness. They are what creates the turbulence within our psyches.
Basically, that is what a rapids is--a turbulence, where the flowing
system is far-from-equilibrium. Of course, that is where all the
excitement is in a river trip, and also in the dream journey. You
have to get into the turbulence. Another interesting thing is that
in a real river there are eddies or backcurrents that are created around
If you get into these eddies you just spin in a circle and go around
and around in them until you can get back into the flow. In creative
consciousness work it is the same thing. You find these little fantasy
loops. They are always right in the middle of the crises, the rapids,
and always reflecting this rock or this frozen consciousness right in the
middle of the river.
This is where the idea of being imaginative as a guide comes in within
the dream journeys. Typically, people will come for dreamhealing
when they are in a crisis. In dreamhealing the eddies are the games
they play, the patterns they get into, their self-serving fantasies, their
wish fulfilling daydreams, or excursions in the "heavens" of their belief
When people speak of the outer river, they notice it is always the same,
yet totally different in every moment. It is constantly changing,
becoming different than it has has ever been or ever will be again.
It is so random that the same water you see at this instant will not be
the same as the next.
That complex, dynamic flow is also the description of the consciousness
flow--always changing, yet always constantly the same in essence.
And it is also the description of chaos--determinate indeterminacy or indeterminate
determinacy. Always the same, yet ever changing describes fractal
programs. They are self-similar, self-generating, and self-iterating.
The source of a river's water and its goal are the same--the ocean.
The source of the creative consciousness flow is the vast sea of consciousness,
that primal field of pure potential. We seek immersion in that creative
consciousness for renewal and healing.
The creative consciousness or dream guide and the river guide are much
the same. If you think about how they are trained you realize that no river
guide can learn this skill from a book. The training is as much visceral
as intellectual. The experience is best learned from those who are
experienced themselves. Guides learn from other guides whose voices
are rich with experience. They have to go down the river themselves,
hands on, by going through the rapids. They have a guide with them
the first few times to teach them the river fundamentals.
That is how the dream guide trains, by experiencing both sides of the
process, experiencing first-hand the flow of the dreamstream. Facing
the fear and pain means that any sense of anxiety is transformed into a
sense of excitement. These regions become familiar, even in their
ever-changing appearance. The training needs to be a total experiential
training--not a rule-book training. Yet there are some guidelines
(guide's lines) for river running which parallel the creative consciousness
or dreamhealing process.
Good guides are intuitive. They intuit their way through rapids
sometimes, reading the river and responding instantaneously with the right
moves, easily and automatically. That is what you must do in the
dream journeys. There are some rules that river guides use, such
as "follow the bubbles."
The whole idea of going down the river, if you are a river-runner, is
to "stay in the current." It is when you get out of the current that
you get into trouble. If you are in the current you are going to
miss the rocks, you are going to flow through most rapids. So, you've
got to learn how to flow in the current.
This is an essential aspect of being the dream guide, learning how to
be in that flow of consciousness, and stay in the current. Any good
river guide knows that how you "set up" determines how you are going to
go through that set of rapids. Setting up is the key to a successful
run. You've got to set up where the flow is the greatest, where the most
water goes. That is the best place most of the time. It is
exactly the same with the dream guide, who also has foreknowledge of some
possible obstructions. The point you go through is important, and
depends on your intuition, your imagination.
Once you're in the flow you always keep your bow pointing toward the
trouble. You always face the trouble. In river running you
can power-pull away from the rock and avoid a problem. One of the
essences of the deam guide is that you always face the fearful things,
the danger, the pains, the frozen consciousness that appears in the dreams
as images. You always face the frightening moment, the dangers, as
in the rule of river-running.
We wouldn't send anyone down the river without a guide. For one
thing they would get trapped in those circles, those back eddies, spinning.
They might get caught in a fantasy loop instead of the consciousness flow,
because they don't know how to set up. Guides look at where the bubbles
are to set up for the flow. That is like the intuition in dreamhealing.
That is not a bad way of describing the feeling of intuition sometimes.
Reading the patterns in the river and the hidden variables becomes automatic.
The dream guide watches the shapes of the frozen images, of the feedback
loops, and from that he feels the patterns of the stream of consciousness,
of the psyche. That is exactly what the river guide is doing.
Yet, the rules are not set, either for a river guide or dream guide.
The guide uses them, but lets go of them in many situations. Each
journey is different, unique. You don't always follow the rules.
That is what makes a guide, sensing and instantly responding to the changing
conditions. In a sense you can't have a textbook for either profession.
You just have to listen to the river, the River Teacher, and see what is
is telling you. The river always teaches about life and it is always
teaching you about that flowing, dynamic process. The river provides
apt metaphors of life, which can encapsulate an individual's life patterns.
Graywolf had a woman client who was very fearful, frightened of eveything.
She tried desperately to maintain control of everything. Through
most of the journey she couldn't let go, and rode in the raft with him.
Toward the last day of the journey, she finally decided to try it on her
own in a tahiti (inflatable kayak). Graywolf went ahead and she followed.
Half way through she lost her paddle, the tahiti turned around, and she
simply decided to let go and floated through fine. In camp that night,
she accused Graywolf of making her let go. But, no, it was the river!
Another adventurer from Mexico was prone to getting "stuck" in places.
He'd been working on an anima issue, his feminine side. He would
get trapped in situations and not give up. They came up to Blossom
Bar rapids; one guide went through to show the way. Even with instructions
on how to get through on the current, he got trapped on "Picket Fence,"
with water pressure so strong the tahiti was stuck there to stay.
It wrapped around a big rock, and he could not dislodge it no matter how
hard he tried.
He climbed onto the rock, clinging for dear life. Graywolf waited
for the other guide, while the client continued his efforts to free the
boat until he was exhausted. The guides finally got through "the
chute", pulled hard and got into the back eddie closest to where he was
stranded. They could only get part way there--enough to throw him
a line so they could pull him around to climb right into the raft.
He had to jump right into a raging torrent of water. It took a
great deal of faith to trust the guides, himself, and the equipment.
But he did. It really took "letting go." When they got back,
he began examining his self-defeating "fatal attractions" to certain kinds
of women whom he knows are bad for him. He decided to let go of that,
The role of the guide is the same in river guiding and dream guiding.
In either case you accompany the person through the rapids. You direct
them how to get through the rapids. You watch, and go through them
afterwords if they get stuck or go into a back eddie. The river guide
provides safety. He doesn't take you places it is not safe.
It is exactly the same for the dream guide.
The guides keep you away from those dangerous things that could flip
you over, or hurt you. The guide has been through many rapids before.
Perhaps they were not these particular rapids, but we know he survived
others, and has developed some skill. (S)He's been through enough
of them to read the currents, back eddies, and rocks. The dream guide
is there to provide that security and that sense of safety in the process.
The guide carries the person through their fears.
Another obvious link is that river running is done for recreation. You
run a river of consciousness with a dream guide for re-creation.
Dreamhealing is for re-creation, and the difference is only a hyphen.
Re-creation is deep play in the most profound sense, and it is healing.
By re-creating, re-forming ourselves we access new potentials, new possibilities,
The river guide is always prepared to leap in if he or she has to.
If someone is running some rapids and gets in trouble, it is the role of
the guide to intervene. They have to be prepared to jump into whatever
river is there. We deal with whatever comes up. When you head
down a river for days, you commit to taking these people into your hands.
There is the same commitment with the dream guide. It is a shared
The river guide or dream guide will often go down first to show how
it is done. The guides never push, rather they invite or beckon others
through. "Come on, let's go; I've been here; it's O.K." So
there is a need for trust. If you're going to be a guide you've got
to be trustable. You can't say "I've been there," when you haven't.
You can say, "I've been through lots like it; let's go."
In terms of the journey itself, the river guide will tell people what
is coming up. Maybe before they leave he will teach about safety.
If you fall in the water keep your feet pointing downstream and trust your
vest. If your feet are out you can fend off or push off any rocks.
Keep your feet pointed toward the danger.
The guide lets you know when there is danger, and admits that it is
scary, yet OK. The guide always has that sense of scared excitement
in the most challenging runs, but still gets through. Both the river
guide and dream guide prepare the client with this awareness.
In terms of physical preparation, in the dream journeys it is important
to speak of relaxation. The dream guide might say things like, "If
you get in trouble, I'll remind you to breath," or "Use your out-breath."
In preparing for a creative consciousness or dream journey, you let
go of any ideas that you have about what this particular journey is going
to be like. Its the same with the river guide--they know that river
is always different. You never go through those rapids just the same
way. They know that. It's always a new experience and you let
go of what you know to experience it anew. Just the chaotic nature
of the river itself assures that.
The good river guide doesn't go into the rapids with a preconception
at all--"Well, I came through here last time like this." Instead,
they still keep their bow pointed to the danger, they still have to pull
off from rocks, they still have to stay with the current. It's the
same with the dream guide--let go of anything you ever thought you knew
about dreams. Each journey, no matter how many, is a new river.
The unexpected is expected, and this is what defines imagination.
This is where the dual-consciousness is important to a dream guide.
You are in that flow of consciousness but there is still a kind of dual-awareness
of participating in this adventure, yet remaining the guide. You
don't take the trip for the client, he experiences for himself, though
the guide facilitates or expedites the practical aspects of the journey.
IN THE SLIPSTREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS
What goes into preparing for guiding people into their dreams?
There are just a few basic directions, but the finesse with which they
are applied makes all the difference in keeping the process moving.
Some of the most important points to remember include the following:
let the imagination flow; lead or invite the dreamer toward the fear and
pain with reassurance; lead them away from ego gratifying fantasy by deepening
past their personal belief system; enliven their experience by repeating
key elements they have previously mentioned; use the basic "confusion techniques"
to override or short-circuit the rational mind; and switch the focus of
their awareness from one sensory system to another, for example, from visual
to auditory, or olfactory, or feeling.
Just as crucial is your preparation of yourself. Begin by centering,
breathing deeply, and emptying your mind of any preconceived notions about
the dreamer and the dream symbols, or where the journey might lead.
You don't want your personality to get in the way of the process.
You may create a neutrality within yourself, and paradoxically, by not
being there you are more totally there.
Contemplation or meditation can help you shed any attachments to the
meaning of the dreams or the outcomes. For example, at Asklepian
dreamhealing ceremonies the guides may dress up as priests or priestesses,
yet they are not claiming to represent God. The healing notion here
is that god is within us all. Perhaps you have to "borrow" me to
see that about you, but the priest is only a mirror. As long as we
are all aware of that, its OK. Mirrors don't take themselves very
deeply or seriously. They just reflect back what is.
When, as guide, you listen to someone first describe and then re-enter
their dream, pay attention to what you are naturally drawn to in the dream.
It may be certain symbols within the dream, or it may be an aspect of the
ground of the dream, its background. Once again, you must approach
the person's dream with an open heart and shed your own issues or keep
them in abeyance.
To arbitrarily assign a particular meaning to a dream before the dream
journey, and before hearing all of the dreamer's personal associations
to the imagery is comparable to "mind rape." Let their drama have
all the time it needs to unfold before venturing any amplifications from
your own store of knowledge and wisdom.
A symbol may appear in the initial description which you think is "fraught
with meaning," or maybe one of your personal favorite images comes up such
as your totem animal. However, this may not be the best doorway for
the dreamer to enter. When opening to what you are drawn to in the
dream, try to keep your personal likes and expectations out of the process.
Remember, the dreamer is doing this work for him or herself, not for you.
Just go back to the basics, like encouraging movement toward the frightening
prospect. Invite them into the fear and pain with reassurances.
After a while of practice your intuition becomes quite trustworthy.
Then, after the session, you might even venture to amplify certain symbols
adding a mythic dimension to their presence in dreamlife. Some of
the basic Jungian archetypes which might come up include figures representing
the shadow, or anima and animus (the inner mate). Others such as
the elements, Earth, Air, Fire, and Water are also significant.
Once again, when listening to the dream, clear your mind and open to
intuition. Notice what stands out for you. Take a moment to
reflect on why you are drawn to it. Does it seem intrinsically important
in that dream context, or the context of their life situation, or is it
merely fascinating to you personally? As they recount their dream,
watch their body language, inflection, and words they misspeak or stumble
These signals can provide clues for an entry point or inner doorway
that shows fear or conflict within the client. Remember to generally
move the person toward the uncomfortable parts of the dream, giving permission
and providing some sense of safety for the unpleasant event to manifest,
rather than avoiding it. Remind the client you will be there along
with them to guide and comfort and see them through to the conclusion of
There are three processes going on inside you as dream guide.
It is important to know which one you are tuning in to when you are going
to work on a dream, particularly someone else's dream. Of course,
one of them is the intellectual process, which is your mental information
about what symbols mean.
You can draw on your whole background experience intellectually
making relationships between what you know about the person and what their
dream symbols are saying. That is an interesting process, and at
some levels it is a useful process because dreams can be revealing at that
level. The therapist can derive useful clues on where to take the
therapy in other modalities besides dreamhealing from these symbols.
ISSUES: THE WOUNDED-HEALER
Another level comes from the subconscious and involves that which touches
on your own "stuff," your own issues. We all have our personal wounds.
Inside all of us are unresolved issues based on our life experiences which
we have not quite worked out yet. Most therapists know when they
are touching their own stuff because they are drawn to it. The remedy
is to make sure you have a place and time for your own process work.
When your stuff is "up," you are attracted to it in another person.
This same mechanism operates in romantic relationships where people with
the same issues, even though they may be hidden, couple up. The unresolved
issues, such as co-dependence can be a very strong draw which is very different
from the draw of true love.
A lot of therapists wind up getting people to the point of their own
issues and can't take them further. Because they are drawn to their
own issues, they subconsciously or inadvertently direct their own clients
to studying the therapist's issues in themselves.
The third level of internal processing comes from genuine intuition,
or intuitiveness. It is easy to tell the intellectual process from
the other two. But it is not easy to tell the difference between
your intuition and your unresolved stuff. So take a close look at
what you are attracted to in others' dreams, being with that reflective
awareness very personally. There is no objective answer to this question.
Much of the dreamhealing process involves making subjective choices and
distinctions and acting upon them with faith and courage, and trust in
Look for the emotional, intellectual, or intuitive quality of the draw.
But realize that even true intuition can come as a mental or an intellectual
thought. But it seems to come from "out of the blue" rather than
building as a string of rational thoughts. There may be almost a
perceptual "purity" to it, instead of it carrying an emotional charge.
On the other hand, it can present with a lot of affect, but the strength
of that charge does not come from your personal involvement with the issue,
symbol, or image.
Sometimes people come who have issues that mirror your issues, and you
are together in order that those things become resolved for both of you.
So you do not have to pretend that you don't have issues. This is
more likely to come up if you find yourself working with friends and acquaintances,
rather than as a professional. It comes up in the personal arena.
In the dreamhealing session you do not lay your stuff or your interpretation
of their behavior on them, but your similar issues may illumine things
for you more objectively. WHILE YOU ARE THE GUIDE, THE FOCUS REMAINS
ON THE CLIENT'S NEEDS.
However, the question is not so much if it is valid to deal with someone
who has your issues. Rather, it is a question of how you know inside
of yourself whether the issue is your, theirs, or both. If you know
it is one of your issues, then you know you are on dangerous ground, and
probably have some attachments to outcome and control. You stand
a good chance of getting stuck on some detour to nowhere in the dream journey.
You can't lead them past the point you are stuck yourself. So watch
out for this. Remember to ask yourself if they are doing this work
now for you, or for themselves.
In this kind of dreamwork it is very important for you to keep your
issues out of it, and not to lead nor be attached to a specific outcome.
The point is to create a flexibility for times when you are conflicted
and can't be neutral. In chaos theory, as applied to biological evolution,
flexibility means adapting "rapidly and successfully by accumulation
of useful variations," (Kauffman, 1991).
As dream guide, it means you develop a repertoire of alternate suggestions
to move your client and yourself out of the "stuck" place. One of
the easiest is to focus them in on another sensory system, for example
switching their focus from visual to auditory, or visceral. Another
is to go deeper by giving suggestions which confuse their rational mind,
which opens them to a more receptive state.
THE CRUX OF THE PROCESS COMES DURING ENTRY INTO CHAOTIC CONSCIOUSNESS.
AT THIS POINT THINGS USUALLY GET WORSE BEFORE THEY GET BETTER. Here
you can give suggestions to intensify emotions, and to reassure the client
you are there to provide some sense of safety. Let them know they
won't drown, even though awash in the intense imagery.
After all, this becomes a well-known experience for you, and you learn
to trust the healing nature of the state. Just let go and "float"
down to the next calm spot. It is OK to let go. Create your
own particular way of letting the client know that they can accept and
surrender to that state. Help them amplify awareness of that state
by evoking more detail from them.
While you are guiding, just let go when you begin to enter those states
of chaotic consciousness, and stop guiding. Just see what emerges
out of that chaos -- perhaps a new image, a new structure, a new existential
state of being.
THE NEW STATE ALWAYS SEEMS TO BE A REMARKABLE IMPROVEMENT, A VERY HEALED
IMAGE. At first, we could not understand why. We were speculating
that it was part of the natural evolutionary process. Or perhaps
it comes from the safety of the therapeutic setting. Chaos theory
shows that "certain complex systems tend toward self organization and
are marked by the capacity to evolve," (Kauffman, 1991). So that
may be part of the answer.
The nature of strange attractors can be viewed in the metaphorical as
well as mathematical sense. They are almost like nuclei around which
the chaotic image reforms, creating a new structure. One of the ideas
expressed at the 1991 inaugural meeting of the Society for Chaos Theory
in Psychology, which took place at Saybrook Institute, was the concept
that the therapist him or herself might BE THAT STRANGE ATTRACTOR.
The personality of the practitioner is always a variable in any psychological
experiment. We had speculated that the safe environment might be
the strange attractor, but did not take it that one step further to "psychotherapist
as strange attractor." But that makes sense in light of the charisma
The deduction is that whoever creates that safe environment is a "therapist."
Both clinicians and theorists at the conference were supportive of this
idea of therapist acting as strange attractor, even though there is as
yet no scientific proof of that.
If, as a dream guide, you are indeed the strange attractor around which
that co-creative process of re-organization of a person's internal imagery
revolves, it demonstrates how important it is that you have your own issues
resolved. You will probably never solve all of your problems, but
you can do your "original pain" work, and provide yourself with a time
and place for honoring your own process.
As dream guide if you are a flawed attractor, that flaw is going to
be built in and perhaps even magnified. We have known in psychology
for a very long time, that the client frequently takes on the neurosis
or the problems of the therapist, but in their own way, of course.
The client inevitably begins taking on a lot of the therapist's characteristics
or personality traits.
The unconscious absorption of the therapist's traits happens automatically
to a greater or lesser extent as both the self image and worldview of the
client is changed, broadened, and enlarged. In the process of therapy,
the client is clearing emotional blocks, reclaiming frozen feelings, and
lost or abandoned parts of the self. This process is experienced
largely through images and sensate experience which fuses mind, imagination,
and feelings into a gestalt.
The training process of the therapist grants access to a deeper experience
of the self which appears to be contagious. The therapeutic personality
has the emergent capacity for curing dis-ease because the mere presence
of a healthy personality acts as a tonic or general medicine for those
who contact it. In other words, if you are truly individuated, you
can trigger off the same process in other people.
To be individuated means you express your unique essence most fully,
rather than learning and practicing by rote. It means you have explored
the heights and depths of your own inner world, integrated that into the
context of ordinary life, and freed up your creativity. This process
is contagious because when a person meets someone whose worldview is more
expansive, their limitations automatically begin to dissolve. Through
contact with a whole person's worldview, new possibilities become obvious.
It is a truism that few know their own capacity.
THE SHAMAN IS THE ARCHETYPE OF THE WOUNDED-HEALER AND IS PERCEIVED AS
HAVING MANA OR PERSONAL POWER FOR HEALING AND VISION. In today's
society the shaman-therapist functions in much the same way. It is
not possible to practice therapy without first having worked through your
issues and your wounds. Doing therapy on someone else will bring
up your core issues if they are unresolved.
The idea of wholeness equating with healing is inherent in the ancient
alchemical notion of the PHILOSOPHER'S STONE. One who has been able
to make the incorruptible stone within himself has united the opposites
within, including masculine and feminine, and the depths and heights of
the personal and transpersonal realms.
Unreconciled opposites manifest as conflict, yet carried together, distinct
but conjoined, they manifest wholeness and increased psychological health.
Once you synthesize a new viewpoint on reality, you discover a new sense
of well-being and contentment. This is actually more of an on-going
process, not a final goal. It is a process/goal. You can expect many
rounds of this same process in life's perpetually changing circumstances.
As you let go of an old worldview, you go through the birth canal and regenerate
in a new dimension of awareness. You have a new self image and many
new potentials in life. Each time you go through the cycle you gain
awareness and maturity.
Much of this process goes on automatically in your dreams. Your
personal growth is tangibly affected when your old self interacts with
new states of being that arise spontaneously in dreams and dream journeys.
Your new identity comes both from your conscious and subconscious experience,
and the shift is from emotions to imagery to awareness. Your expanding
awareness is in part autonomous, with a high degree of independence and
If you come upon negative images in your dreams, be assured that successfully
confronting these, facing your fear and going through it, initiates an
expansion of awareness and changes your self image. Positive figures
in your dreams may be used as a resource, integrating their characteristics
into your actual behavior and identity.
True knowledge of yourself is the knowledge of the objective psyche
as it manifests in dreams and other subconscious imagery. To meditate
on this is an effort toward self-knowledge. This is not necessarily
in the interest of the ego, but lends some objectivity in answering the
question, "Who am I?"
There is a tendency in the helping professions for people to consider
themselves "healers." This is an especially popular term among alternative
health practitioners whose practices range from body work, to crystal healing,
to channeling, breathwork, naturopathic medicine, rebirthing, ghostbusting,
to transpersonal psychology, and more.
Each "healer" speaks of myth, magic, and mystery and offers up their
special wisdom as a healing balm. Thus they are likely to capture
and contain the projections of others. Their unique personalities
act as a "hook" for archetypal projection of the client's inherent healing
resources. The projection mobilizes them. There is a great
responsibility which comes with declaring oneself a self-styled healer.
For the dependent, it is their task to carry that projection for a while,
until the client can re-own it and develop a relationship to the inner
It is, in fact, this inner healer which truly does all the regenerative
work in therapy. The therapist simply helps the client access it.
But it is the responsibility of the therapist not to kill the projection
prematurely, for that is murderous to the soul. In time, the client
truly begins to experience that all the healing resources are within.
The therapist as a strange attractor functions as the nucleus of an
unpredictable yet deterministic process of growth and healing within the
personality of the client. The therapist functions as the attractor
for a client who is far-from-equilibrium.
THERAPIST AS STRANGE
Scientists are using chaos theory in psychology to uncover the fallacy
behind the old notions of observation leading to predictability in behavior.
We need new nonlinear ways to think about personality. The old linear
models rarely could predict the specific behavior of an individual.
Yet, people tend to behave in characteristic ways over time and in different
situations, within their own unique limits. Still, sometimes individuals
are inconsistent within themselves, due to internal conflict or new input.
Chaos theory might disclose the hidden order in these variable patterns.
Some personality theories are based on traits and others on the changing
dynamics of states of consciousness. But whether you consider traits
or states as the stable base of personality is arbitrary. "The
effect upon observed behavior is the same; that is, stable internal factors
generate behavioral continuity," (Middleton, Fireman, DiBello, 1991).
A personality model can be totally deterministic, and yet not predict
specific behavior. Yet ordered chaos can predict trends. The
strange attractor can be viewed as fostering trends or events in a certain
area of influence, but you can't predict exactly what at any given time
or place. This may provide some evidence that the therapist functions
as a strange attractor in the psycho-social field because of unique personality
Within the therapist's own personality (and any other individual for
that matter), there is evidence to show that chaos provides an opportunity
for behavioral change, adaptation, and self-organization. A personality
trait, such as compassion or connectivity, may function as a strange attractor
of associated behavior. One again, this means that one becomes therapeutic
by expressing one's unique wholeness along with skills, rather than learning
therapy techniques by rote.
In the complex dynamic system that is the therapist-client relationship,
the idea is that the therapist has a certain magnetic quality that sort
of pulls the being or the mind into a region of peace, stillness, gentleness,
or safety, togetherness, and integratedness. So when the client goes
into the state of chaos there is a magnetic pulling, and a feeling of "it's
OK to be here." It is experienced as a settling into a region of
chaos that does not result in returning more dissociated and disturbed,
but enhanced, more integrated.
Not every therapist has this sense of integration within, which can
be perceived by others as a heart-felt experience. One indicator
seems to be the therapist's need to maintain "control" of the situation.
Based on this, the need to address any issues of co-dependence becomes
obvious, since extreme need for control and boundary issues play a large
role in this syndrome. They undermine the necessary flexibility.
Therapy is like any intimate friendship, with one crucial difference --
the whole interaction revolves exclusively around the emotional needs of
the client, not the therapist.
The dream guide must unite the opposites of gentle-yet-selfless guidance
with letting go and trusting the process. The magnetic quality of
the therapist may lead to instinctual choice of one practitioner over another
when a client is "shopping" for a therapist. It might be viewed as
a "prepared heart," which may not be perfect but resonates with the client.
A DIFFERENT REALITY
Our perceptual systems, our sensory systems have as a prime function
the task of creating some kind of order out of an otherwise totally random,
confusing morass of information that is available at any moment of time.
We actually have trillions of bits of information bombarding us at a given
Our senses and perceptual patterns create some type of reality structure
out of that. In this sense you can consider our perceptions and our
senses, our genetic makeup, how our senses operate, as a strange attractor.
Because this is essentially what creates some kind of order out of totally
IN OTHER WORDS, WE LIVE IN A TWILIGHT ZONE, IN ESSENCE, BETWEEN ORDER
AND DISORDER. What creates order is our presence, our being, our
perceptual patterns, our own sensory systems. As we share common
genetic backgrounds, we tend to have senses which are very similar.
Maybe we taste things a little differently than someone else, but basically,
unless medically impaired, we taste vinegar about the same. We taste
sugar about the same. And so we create similar realities.
We come to a consensus about reality. Yet our common agreements
about reality are conditioned by our shared cultural trance (Tart, 1992).
They may be based on that essence of strange attractor. Deep down
inside what holds our view of the world together; what makes it consistent?
How we store that information then becomes important--and more fundamentally
how it forms. The reality we form basically emerges from how we are
How do we get that view of reality? When we begin to form we don't
have any consistent prepared pattern. Yet almost everyone has seen
that babies have distinct personalities even as newborns. Formative
experience begins in the womb.
We've got all our perceptual mechanisms, we've got the senses, but we
form our existential position, or view of reality, our beliefs about self
and world, essentially from our experiences. They are based on how
we perceive, and how our senses react to those experiences. That
stores inside of us. Especially in the preverbal stage, it is stored
as images. The nucleus of that memory, that position, that consciousness,
is a multi-sensual imagery which describes the nature of the self and the
If the world is a really threatening place, and Mom and Dad are terrible,
and they beat me a lot, I grow up with the existential belief that the
world is a dangerous place, and is going to hurt me all the time.
I'm somehow deficient or unlovable. It's more than words. It
is an image, and not the normal image you might think of.
It might just be colors, it might be a swamp! Who knows what that
image is like in the dream? When you get down to it, it may surprise
you first how complete it is, and how utterly alien it is to any thing
you think of as an image of the world. And that essentially is the
order that has been created out of chaos at a very formative stage, a young
The strange attractor has been essentially a combination of a person's
sensory patterns, perceptual patterns, and the environment and what is
happening to them. It forms the basis of an individual's personal
mythology, which forms the basis of the belief system, which forms the
basis of how we think and feel about things. This in turn determines
how we behave, which then feeds back in a circular way from our belief
system to our behavior. The circular pattern makes sure everything,
positive or negative, gets confirmed.
So, if you go deep beneath that belief system, down to the deepest existential
image, then you are at a place where you can really do some changing.
We noticed in dream journeys and other consciousness journeys, that WHEN
YOU GET DOWN TO THAT EXISTENTIAL IMAGE--THE VERY BASIS OF THE IMAGE OF
SELF--IT IS SURROUNDED BY FEAR AND PAIN, BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT USUALLY FREEZES
STUFF IN PLACE. When you get deep down to that image, there is always
a doorway to another deeper level.
Since that is the primal image that formed out of the original chaos,
the blueprint for personality, the doorway inevitably leads into the chaotic
state. When a person is able to let go of the old image, and truly
take their awareness into that chaotic state, it begins to reform.
Chaos theory states that there is always a structure in the chaos.
Always a new structure, a new form emerges out of that chaoticness.
The Buddhists speak of the death-rebirth experience: in order to be reborn
you have to die. You have to enter into the chaos in order to be
reborn. This is referred to as dissolution. It is the fundamental
level of restructuring which happens in this work.
In developing the dreamhealing process, the question has always been,
"What determines the new image that emerges in physiological, emotional,
and behavioral change?" Chaos theory provides the clue that there
is this concept called a strange attractor -- an energy field, or something
that somehow provides the nucleus around which the new order forms, that
determines the shape of the new order.
It seems that is what the therapist provides, partly through the environment,
but partly through the idea or experience of co-consciousness. An
important part of this work is the co-consciousness, the fact that as the
dream guide or the consciousness guide, you are actually going along with
So, in essence, as the dream guide, you really go into the chaotic consciousness
with the person you are guiding. You are taking a structure in there
with you, but no specific agenda. At the same time you are letting
go and entering that chaotic consciousness, as the therapist you are still
maintaining a degree of integrity and order within yourself. As you
take the person in, it seems that becomes sort of the strange attractor
which allows the client to begin to reform their basic existential image
To some extent, it is going to look like the therapist's existential
image of who you are. It includes a higher degree of unconditional
positive regard for yourself, which the therapist has modelled. To
some extent, the client's response is going to effect the therapist's existential
image of the world through feedback. The psychosocial process is
dynamic and interactive, and both parties are changed to some extent.
When two people are in proximity, they literally exchange atoms, such as
gases, with one another.
This is why it is so important, that as a therapist you are solid.
You provide a strong view that the world is OK. "I can deal with
it; it is safe; even if it is not safe, I can still deal with it inside.
I can center; I am balanced and peaceful." And if you can provide
that, it form the nucleus for the new existential image for the person
you are working with.
You have provided this stable core as the therapist in many ways.
You provide it by modeling stable behavior that is still flexible, creative,
and spontaneous. You do it by the way you set up your office, what
pictures you put on the wall, what music you play, how you touch them,
how you greet them.
But you provide it on a deeper, more profound level, not just the surface
level. Consciousness is transpersonal and has much deeper connections
with people. The therapist as nucleus or magnet is very reflective
of who you are, especially during the co-consciousness excursions.
There seem to be two kinds of chaotic imagery. When
we take people on journeys, when we go into chaotic consciousness there
are two types of imagery that demonstrate the state. One of the ways
of knowing you are in chaotic consciousness is when you are faced with
a blackness or void, or a gray or monochromatic color. They enter
into that, or maybe a sense of emptiness. By giving over to that
emptiness, or grayness, or that blackness, all structure dissolves and
it is like a nothingness. This is a form of chaos which tends toward
absolute emptiness or ZERO.
The other form of chaos appears when the journey leads
into a spiral. That is one of the most common forms of entry into
this chaotic consciousness. People spot a spiral, they enter into
that spiral, they start spinning, they get totally disoriented, and become
almost overwhelmed. They may become very dizzy or even ill.
That form of consciousness is an overwhelmingness, or infinity. Out
of either one of those we seem to create the essence of the new structure,
the essence of the new reality.
We are not really sure they are different, rather they are probably
just different sides of the same circle, seen from different perspectives.
On one side it tends to zero, and on the other infinity. This is
not unlike the Gnostic concept of the plenum and the void, being one paradoxical
union of opposites.
A plenum is the opposite of a vacuum, being fully occupied in this case
by imagery swirling in a chaotic way so it is not differentiated.
So much information is there, it looks chaotic, overwhelming. It
is a fullness rather than emptiness. In terms of physiology the plenum
represents hyperarousal while the void is hypoarousal.
A variation of the spiral, the whirlpool, vortex, or tornado, tends
to become overwhelming, while a solid color tends toward the emptiness.
But it can be both. Sometimes the emptiness leads into the whirlpool,
and vice versa. When you have been there before repeatedly, you come
to trust these states implicitely.
The client does not usually know that s/he will be OK, and that is what
takes courage on their part. You can help bolster that courage and
confidence with your demeanor and suggestions. It may be more empowering
to view the therapist-as-strange-attractor as catalyzing or triggering
the same process in the person undertaking the journey, but that is a more
old fashioned perspective.
The therapist may perceive herself as the reforming agent of the process.
However, it is truly mutual, and co-creative in the deepest, most critical
sense. The guide always maintains respect for the voyagers' innate
capacity to heal themselves.
As the therapist, you must be careful not to get stuck in either your
own or the client's belief system, or at other various levels. One
of the best ways of initiating a journey is to totally empty your mind,
and become that completely neutral force, and that is not a contradiction
in terms. It just sounds that way because "neutral force" is only
paradoxical when you try to put it into words.
Take yourself beyond any belief systems, beyond any expectations of
what you are going to see on the journey, where you are going to go, and
how the person is going to come out of it. In other words, totally
divorce yourself from attachment to direction and outcome.
WE TWO ARE ONE
The co-consciousness and co-creative process is a neutral creation.
The therapist can provide that neutrality by coming along without an agenda,
or preconceived notion, orbelief system. There is no attachment in
that state to anything except being on that journey. You must be
willing to go down into that chaos with the other person, while at the
same time you are maintaining an integrity within yourself. That
neutrality allows freedom.
At the same time as you are influencing the new existential position,
i.e. "the world is an OK place, and I'm OK," you are not influencing
any specifics. You are not saying, "this is what you should do
and be, or where you should go." You are not operating at that
belief system level. You are operating at a more fundamental level.
You just provide them with the basic sense that
you are peaceful and serene: "The world is an OK place, and no
matter what is happening you are going to be able to flow through it."
And this is really the nucleus or the core, and it is a neutral one, though
it is charged with a guidance that is empowering for the client.
If you look at Taoism, one the very fundamental aspects is that out
of the chaos came the yin and the yang. Applying that to this process,
except in reverse, the client and guide come down until there is just this
paradoxical yin-yangness of the co-creative process, and then that dissolves
into the chaos. It then comes back out.
It is sort of like a dip into chaotic consciousness, and then out--a
baptism. As contributor at that last possible instant before you
cross over into that chaotic state with the person you are guiding, you
are laying the foundation as the strange attractor for what comes out.
Using this model, we are only trying to provide a consciousness map, so
we don't get stuck during the process work.
In the dream journeys we may momentarily leave the co-consciousness,
pop up into the rational mind and check where we are against the ego model,
especially if we are stuck somewhere. The journey is intuitive, but
it requires some structure for the process to maintain its form.
The maps are not the journey, but they are useful. Reassurance for
the client can provide "drops of oil" for the process, so that what was
stuck can simply "slide past."
There is, as in Buddhist meditation, a point where you drop all concepts
and conceptualizations. Yet you find in Buddhist literature voluminous
reports of the different states encountered on the inner journey.
All really good therapists have models of how they work, and many write
books about them. But frequently under observation they do not seem
to be "following" their own models.
After a certain point, the assimilation is so complete that the intuition
can come in with a lot of latitude for dealing with unique situations that
may come up. There is little need to follow even your own policy
here, but rather simply do what you already know at the heart-felt level.
This "knowing" is actually a combination of your essence, training, and
intellect. This may feel riskier than "canned" therapy processes,
and you may make some mistakes, perhaps needing to backtrack. But
ultimately spontaneous guidance needs to be included.
It is much like learning an art-form. You learn the basics and
the techniques, and then just let it flow. Do what you know from
the gut-level. There is no need to be a slave to the intellectual
process. It is much like when you climb Mt. Everest, you need a base
camp, then you go beyond the safety and structure of the base camp.
The consciousness maps just provide a way we can communicate and teach
on the intellectual level.
We don't need to hold the intellect in disdain as do many new age types
and other practitioners. Sure its good to get in touch with the body,
feelings, and open the heart center. But they are not mutually exclusive
with exercising your mind. That is just another emotional reactionary
state based on a belief system. It is a reaction to our culture's
overemphasis on the rational mind for 200 years. There is no need
to be at war with it.
Intellect and intuition are actually part of a common field. It
is a valuable part of our psychic balance in life, and it is important
to integrate it, not reject it. It does not have to dominate. It
is an integral part of our being, and a powerful tool. Keep it as
an integral part of the process. It can give you a structure beyond
which you can journey. It provides a vehicle. It lets you know,
for example, when you are stuck in your own issues, so you can back off.
One of the ways we can realize that we are stuck during the process
is by becoming aware of a frustration within. Graywolf has noticed
that as soon as he gets into that frustration, he knows he is not really
frustrated with their "stuff," but himself, because he is stuck there too.
When it comes time to check back with the map, very often that is the opportunity
to drop that attitude and back up into your neutral space again.
THE DREAM GUIDE
AND CHAOS THEORY
There are some sessions that in spite of time, space, and years remain
memorable sessions. Graywolf's first spontaneous experience of leading
someone into the swamp--into the chaos--in the co-consciousness state was
such a session. It changed his perspective and philosophy.
The amazing thing at that time was that the client went through remarkable
changes and only needed to come back a couple of times. Prior, it
had looked like long-term therapy, not brief therapy. Providing some
structure for the process allows you to go even deeper, allowing for restructuring
of the primal self image. The model is still evolving.
THERE IS A SENSE IN THESE SESSIONS OF SOMETHING BEYOND, BEYOND CHAOS
OR WITHIN IT, WHICH RESHAPES THE BIRTH OF REALITY AND THE UNIVERSE ITSELF.
We don't know what it is, but we know it is there. Someday we will
have a model for that, and proceed from there. Hopefully, it will
give us permission to go to an even deeper level.
These models or consciousness maps are not "sacred truth." But
if you want to become a musician, you have to first learn how to hold a
guitar, or blow the flute, etc. Once you learn the basics you can
be creative, but there are basics you need. It may not be important
for you to learn how to read music. What is important is that you
know how to hold the guitar and play some chords. Then we can create
music together. And this is what these models attempt to convey.
The concept of the guide or therapist hopefully serves to clarify some
aspects of the process. When we first started trying to describe
this process, all I knew was that we went somewhere, and people experienced
something there. They came out of it changed, emotionally and even
sometimes physically. In order to teach, we needed a model that provided
a language that people could understand relative to the process.
Right now not many people understand the scientific notion of chaos
or the language of chaos theory. But the importance of chaos is that
relatively soon it may be understood by most people. It is a major
revelation and revolution in science about the basis of reality, much like
relativity in the early 1900's. Ultimately it means we, as psychologists
or people helpers, can stop studying human behavior only from the linear
perspective or analytical mode, and explore nonlinear dynamics which are
relevant tothe whole person.
Humanistic psychology posits that life is lived subjectively, and chaos
theory seems to validate this notion helping describe and understand behavior,
experience, and intentionality in nonlinear terms. In the creative
process, humans attempt to bring values into existence, whether those values
are artistic, social, technological, or spiritual. And this process
of human creativity may have an underlying chaotic process which selectively
amplifies small fluctuations and molds them into coherent mental states
experienced as thought.
Chaos theory is ultimately a language which can be used with mathematicians,
biologists, engineers, physicists, chemists, and anybody who has experienced
subjective chaos in their lives. People are tuning in to this new
theory to help explain things to themselves, personally.
That is why we choose to use the language of chaos theory, like strange
attractors. It just seems to fit. Now, one of the questions
that confused us was "why when we lead someone into the state of chaos,
don't they come out worse?" You are letting go of all structure,
so why isn't it worse, instead of inevitably better, a better self image?
The use of the word 'strange attractor' is just because there is a parallel
in chaos theory, not because this process was derived from chaos theory.
It was not based on it, and didn't evolve from it. It is based on
empirical observation. They are analogous. This is how things
structure out of chaos through self-similarity. It produces self-generated
The innate OKness of the chaotic state is uncolored by personal experience.
The guide serves as the "silver cord" for going deep into that process,
yet being able to always find a way out. As the guide you are the
anchor or contact back with ordinary reality.
It is OK to stay there in the chaos during the session, and then move
on when it becomes appropriate. What emerges from that forms a new
beginning. Furthermore, what happens at the client-therapist level
is reflected in the larger setting at the group, social, and international
We live in very complex, dynamic situations, which are subject to the
effects of small fluctuations in initial conditions. Big changes
can result from small fluctuations in individuals. Even our whole
species is coming into a new relationship with the planet. We don't
know what the new strange attractor will be, but we seem to be going into
the chaos now, politically, socially, and economically.
The more a system tends toward one polarity, the more the internal energy
of that system tends to want to take it in the opposite direction.
In other words, the more rigid someone is becoming, the more susceptible
they are to the total lack of rigidity, or collapse. The more structure,
the more order, the more likely they are to go over into the chaos.
We live in a twilight between structure or order and chaos.
Being stuck in either order or chaos is no good. So we shouldn't
think chaos is the greatest thing. Jung also observed this tendency
in individuals toward 180 degree shifts. He termed it ENANTIODROMIA.
path through, or the Way, lies between the opposites. Life is lived
in a maze of opposites. Swinging recklessly back and forth leads
to inner turmoil and conflict. This is a continual reactionary, rather
than creative state. Or we get stuck, or go into denial.
Genuine transformation comes through the new image or transforming symbol,
which harmonizes the opposites, and creates completely new possibilities.
We are constantly creating, and once a structure gets created we need to
allow the dance of Shiva, from structure to nonstructure--the dissolving.
It is the flow that is important. Destruction, recreation, destruction,
recreation. In the dream journey, fighting the process of letting
go can result in physical manifestations like jerking, or the ego defense
of fantasy cycles.
ENTERING THE FLOW
When Graywolf takes people on the river for whitewater rafting and dreamhealing,
he has the help of the river in demonstrating what flow means. A
person can paddle and fight the river all the way, or find that flowing
rhythm. The river includes both rapids and still places. It
wouldn't be any fun at all if it were all rapids or all still water.
If it is all rapids, it is tiring; and if it is all calm water it is still
tiring because you must paddle all the time. The flow is the issue,
not being here or there.
As the dream guide you are not helping people to establish a permanent
structure. There is no point to that. There is no end point
to this work of dreamhealing--no conquering hero ("strong ego").
The goal is not even to feel better, or any particular goal. The
structure you are developing now may reveal flaws in itself, then you let
that go back into the chaos and dissolve. It is OK to reform a better
structure for yourself. It is not so scary when you realize the chaos
is not a permanent state.
Dreamhealing is similar to LSD therapy in that it helps the client experience
the opening to self which lies beyond ego death. There is recent
increase in LSD research again. When it was banned in the early 1960s,
it was being hailed as the treatment of choice for those who didn't respond
to other other psychotherapy techniques. Now it is being used abroad
for treating anorexia, obsessive-compulsive disorders, depression, and
The lower doses used enhance the therapeutic process by making memories
and represeed feeling more available. But as in dreamhealing, the
presence of the guiding therapist is crucial. In OMNI, Oct. 1992,
Peter Baumann, M.D. states, "If a patient feels fear during the
trip, they might do anything to distract themselves or run from that fear.
The therapist urges the patient to a certain degree to stay with it, to
examine the problems, understand where they are coming from, and see them
through." They report a virtually universal increase in self
esteem among their patients.
DREAMHEALING ACCESSES THE SAME STATES AS LSD THERAPY WITHOUT DRUGS.
Feedback tells us that many clients have immediate results where other
method have failed completely. This has even been physiologically
documented. Using biofeedback monitoring Graywolf has guided people
into deeper theta states than they achieved with their own therapists.
Now we are investigating the practice of dreamhealing in float tanks.
One group has developed a very thin membrane which allows for the
sensory deprivation experience without undressing or getting wet.
The nature of reality is an endless flow between the opposites.
The subjective comfort of any state is determined by where you have been
stuck--if you are stuck on the non-order side, flowing to the order side
will feel good. If you are stuck on the order side, flowing into
the chaos is liberating, for a minute or for a while anyway. Then
flowing to the other side is even better.
But you can't go into the dream journey with any pre-set notion.
You have to be with each individual and their unique experience of the
process, whether it is comfort or bliss, or terror. That is the neutrality,
and the co-creative process. It can be different for each individual
each time. Each dream journey is uniquely different.
In Buddhism, as you get more and more focused in meditation, you begin
to see how things come into existence, and how they fade away. The
mind gets so sharp you can see the way reality comes into existence.
It comes into sharper focus. Everything slows down so you can see
The images get created for a period of time, and then they dissolve.
At that point, the mind usually gets attached to the process and is really
curious about it providing there is not a lot of emotional content to it.
Even if fear comes up, you just be with the fear and learn to see that
emotions are just creations which also arise and ebb away. Emotions
come into existence and fade away.
Once you understand that you can begin exploring other places, without
so much emotional content. For example, as the mind gets into a pain
in the leg, the mind begins to focus on all the destruction in the universe.
Moving from the specific to the general, there can be imagery of destruction
and holocaust. But due to the poise developed in training, you just
stay with that terror and watch it come and eventually go. Gradually
you get led into this nothingness, which many people actually enjoy.
One of the reasons people don't want to hang out there is because they
are afraid they will never make it back. There is something they
are hanging onto, an attachment. This is the same attachment Krishna
spoke about in the Mahabarata.
The unique aspect of dreamhealing over Buddhist meditation is that you
can actually have someone there with you, in co-consciousness, when you
are going through these things. Its sort of a guided tour of the
bardo states. It takes the interactive verbal process, and even a
degree of psychism, to keep pace with one another.
During a long retreat, people begin to discover the creation side of
internal imagery. Reflecting into the outer world, one can then see
the coming-into-existence within something as apparently mundane as a green
leaf. It can become the most marvelous experience, containing the
whole of creation within itself. Dissolution and regeneration leads
to an experience of ultimate potential.
You can move between the states, which is what makes up life.
It may feel safer to explore with a neutral, empowering guide. During
a dream journey, be sure to give the client plenty of time to respond in
freedom by waiting patiently. Patience comes from trusting the process,
and trusting the person you are working with--not to be safe for you, but
to find their internal healing resource. If you are there totally,
you simply do not feel irritation in that state.
To some extent you are actually, as guide, in a trance state or altered
state yourself. Stay alert enough to watch for someone entering into
a fantasy loop, for then you have got to do something. If it becomes
a dynamic system that is doubling back on itself, and it is feeding ego
gratification fantasies, it requires intervention or guiding. It
is much easier to avoid these pitfalls in the first place, than to backtrack
the client back out of them.
We have a philosophy about procrastination, and it really applies to
being a guide. We don't see procrastination as all wrong. About
a third of the time if you procrastinate things will really screw up, so
you've got to do something. Another third of the time, if you procrastinate
nothing much will happen, either positive or negative. Another third
of the time, if you procrastinate that is exactly what you have to do in
order to free the system and make it better.
The secret is knowing when to procrastinate, and when not to procrastinate.
That again is probably the essence of being a guide. Most of the
time it is appropriate to hang in there with the client, but there are
times when it is really best to say "break it here," or "go here," instead
of going around and around. It is knowing WHEN to do that.
You can give them the sense that they don't have to be stuck there, that
it is OK to do something else.
Another aspect involved is the essence of the co-creative process.
It is different with each individual you work with. One might be
an experienced meditator with years of inner work, while another might
have just had a nightmare the night before and come in off the street.
Each brings something unique to the process of co-creation, and you do
something qualitatively different with them. The words might be similar
and a lot of what you do may be also, but the essence of the co-creative
process is different.
A client "prepared" by other inner experience does not necessarily have
any advantage over someone who has been previously non-reflective or outer-oriented.
Either of them can enter the journey naturally and deeply if that is where
they need to go in their journey. The inexperienced may even have
less preconceived notions, or personal interpretations of the experience,
and allow themselves to experience it viscerally.
Dreams are a particularly good way of initiating children into the therapeutic
process. Frequently you may be the first one who has shown a serious
interest in their inner drama. They feel much more free to talk about
their imagination, and may feel much less self-conscious than when discussing
their personal lives. For example, a child comes with a nightmare
of werewolves wanting to tear him apart in bed. All you have to ask
him to do is let that happen, and he's into it, without years of meditation
or other visualization training.
Parents won't even think to instruct children in therapy NOT to talk
about their dreams, as they might so-called "family secrets," ["no talk
rule"]. So often the children feel totally safe to talk about dreams
when they are subject to verbal, physical, or sexual abuse at home.
It is a co-creative process which involves every aspect of the client's
life and experience. Expressive imagery comes up spontaneously in
dreams which reflects all aspects of life. You can trust that everything
the client has to bring to you is just exactly what they had to experience
to get there, ready to do the inner work.
Dreamhealing is not a method, but a creative process you involve yourself
in. If we try to put too much method and structure on it, we destroy
that. When you "become" another, you can empathize with them to such
a level that you become that really active listener. You become one
with the person and out of that rapport and bonding you create the journey.
Graywolf at Aesculapia Wilderness Retreat for individual therapy, retreats,
river trips, conferences and workshops at 541-476-0492. P.O. Box
301, Wilderville, OR 97543.
DREAM NETWORK JOURNAL: P.O. Box 1026, Moab, UT; 801-259-5936 for
subscription information and workshops.
Created 8/30/99 Last Updated 3/5/00