[An ASKLEPIA FOUNDATION Book]
THE DREAM GUIDE:
NAVIGATING THE STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS
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 the ego model.
He will manage the cure best who has foreseen what is to happen from
the present state of matters.
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
As has been speculated about the brain and its functioning, a dream too
is very much like a hologram. A hologram is a three-dimensional image
that is created by bouncing a laser light off an object and recording on
a negative the interference wave pattern as the source light waves interact
with the ones reflected from the object. The image of the object
is reproduced by passing the original laser through the negative.
Unlike a regular photographic image, if you walk around the back of a hologram,
it is also reproduced. This is because it is the interference pattern
that is recorded, and it contains all the 3-D information needed to reproduce
a whole image of the subject.
If, for example, you were to drop a rock into a pond, the waves produced
would soon reach the shore and reflect back. As the source waves
and the reflected waves interact, they create an interference pattern.
This pattern contains all the information about the original event, from
the shape of the shore, to the the weight, shape and speed of the rock
as it entered the water.
So does the pattern recorded on a holgraphic negative. Interestingly,
the entire image is in any part of the negative. If you cut the negative
in half, 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
The dream is also 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 that when they reach our awareness,
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 principle 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 at all levels.
A 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,
except on 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 chaotic consciousness.
Water always seeks its own level through flow along the path of least resistance.
In the river the flow of water 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 rapids are the rocks, the obstructions. They are the
hazards. They create turbulance around them.
The psychic equivalent are frozen states of consciousness, the frozen existential
images, which obstruct the free flow of creative consciousness. They
are what create the turbulence within our psyches. Each dream journey is
like running one set of rapids, and each rapid is different from the last
or the next one.
Basically, a rapids is a turbulence, where the flowing system is far-from-equilibrium.
Of course, that is where all the excitement is on a river trip, and also
on the dream journey. You have to get into the turbulence to get
In a river, eddies or backcurrents are created around rocks. If you
get into these eddies you just spin in a circle, going around and around.
You remain trapped until you can get back into the flow. In creative
consciousness work it is the same. Rather than eddies, there are
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 help 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 system.
These basic "go in circle" patterns appear at all levels in the dream journey.
A river is always the same, yet totally different in every moment.
It is constantly changing, becoming different than it has ever been or
ever will be again. It is virtually random. The water you see moving
past in 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 in essence the same. And it is
also the description of chaos--determinate indeterminacy or indeterminate
determinacy. Always the same, yet ever-changing also describes fractal
programs which model natural processes. They are self-similar, self-generating,
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 also
much the same. No river guide can learn the skill from a book.
Training is as much visceral as intellectual, and best learned from those
who are experienced themselves. Guides learn from other guides whose
voices are rich with experience.
They go down the river themselves, hands on, running the rapids.
Again and again, they repeat the process until it becomes second nature
and a matter of intuition as much as intellect. They are themselves
guided by an experienced guide the first few times to teach them the river
fundamentals, but they constantly learn by doing.
That is also how the dream guide learns, by experiencing both sides of
the process, by experiencing first-hand the flow of the dreamstream.
Facing their own fear and pain means that any sense of anxiety is personally
transformed into a sense of excitement. The essence of the psychic
rapids becomes familiar, even in its 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 consciousness 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 the guide
does in the dream journeys.
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 miss the rocks,
and flow through most rapids. You've got to learn how to flow in
the current. There are some rules that river guides use, such as "follow
the bubbles." Bubbles usually indicate where the current flows.
This is also an essential aspect of being the dream guide, being in the
flow of consciousness, and staying in the current. Any good river
guide knows that how you "set up" determines how you go through a 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, based on the interview, and his/her knowledge
of the personality of the one being guided. Guiding includes preparing
the self and the client for the journey, listening to and healing the whole
dream, sensing/intuiting which symbol or event in the dream represents
the flow that leads to the dis-ease state, and providing a safe, relaxed
environment for the consciousness journey. The point where you enter
is important, and depends on your intuition, your imagination.
Once in a river's rapids you always keep your bow pointing toward the trouble.
You always face the danger. In river running you can power-pull away
from the rock and avoid a problem. In creative consciousness guiding
you always face the fearful things, the danger, the pain, the frozen consciousness
that appears in the journey as fearsome or uncomfortable images.
You always face the frightening moment, the dangers, as in the rule of
We wouldn't send anyone down the lower Rogue River without a guide.
They might get trapped in those back eddies, spinning in circles.
In the creative consciousness process 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 run.
That is like the intuition in dreamhealing, and not a bad way of describing
the sometimes effervescent feeling of intuition.
Reading the patterns and the hidden variables in the river becomes automatic
to a river guide. The dream guide reads the shapes of the frozen
images, of the feedback loops, and from that he senses the patterns of
the stream of consciousness, of the fluid psyche.
Yet, the rules are not set, for either a river guide or dream guide.
They use them, but let go of them in any particular situation. Each
journey is different, unique. That is what makes a guide, sensing
and instantly responding to 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 she
is telling you. The river always teaches about life and flowing,
dynamic process. The river provides apt metaphors of life, which
encapsulate life's patterns. The river teaches without doing or acting,
like the Tao. So too does the river of consciousness; just letting
go and flowing with it is a healing experience.
When Graywolf accompanies people down the lower Rogue, or some other river,
the experiences on the river teach, change, and heal as much as do the
nightly consciousness journeys around the fire. One such journey
was taken by a woman who was fearful, frightened of almost eveything in
She was trying desperately to maintain control of everything. Through
most of the journey she couldn't let go, and rode in the raft with him.
But on the last day of the journey there were only a few Class II rapids
(rapids that are of little danger but with a few good waves) ahead.
Since it was nothing beyond her ability, at Graywolf's invitation she finally
decided to try it on her own in a tahiti (inflatable kayak). Graywolf
went ahead and she followed. Half way through one set of rapids she
lost her paddle. The tahiti began to toss and spin at the mercy of
the waves and current.
She was out of control and began to act terrified, although there was really
nothing to fear. Graywolf was waiting at the bottom of the rapids
to pull her into the raft in case she should capsize and have to float
through with her life vest. It was like the rest of life but here,
in the river, being frightened did no good.
There was nothing she could do and no where to run or hide. She prepared
to die, so she simply let go and floated through fine. In camp that
night, she accused Graywolf of making her let go. But Graywolf, in
his usual way declined any responsibility for her experience. It
was the river.
Following the river adventure the lessons continued. Her first night
home she felt like she was still in the river, and that it was also flowing
through her. She felt sensations of rocking and loosening and eventually,
through a chain of imagery, she saw herself as a fetus. As that,
she experienced being unattached and floating, watching, as the witness.
These experiences continued, and in her words, "It was a week before
I got back from the river."
Since then she has found a new courage and is less fearful and able to
let go and flow through situations which she would have previously avoided
or fled from. And still the lessons continue from that months later.
Her experience with the river changed her life in a profound way.
And yet neither Graywol nor the river did anything more than be there in
their being. It is the same with the journey on the inner river.
The guide does little more than invite and go through first. It is
the process that is the healing.
Another adventurer from Mexico, 'Fernando' was prone to getting "stuck"
in places in life. He would get trapped in situations and not give
up or let go. He'd been working on an anima issue, his feminine side.
They came up to Blossom Bar rapids; one guide went through one to show
the way. Even with instructions on how to get through on the current,
Fernando got trapped on "Picket Fence," with water pressure so strong the
tahiti was stuck. It wrapped around a big rock, and he could not
dislodge it no matter how hard he tried.
He climbed onto a 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 shot 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 into the raft.
He had to jump 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, too,
generalizing what he learned.
The role of the guide is the same in river guiding and dream guiding.
In either case they accompany the person through the rapids. They
instruct how to get through. They watch, prepared to help if their
charges get stuck on a rock or trapped in a back eddie. The river
guide provides safety. He doesn't take anyone places he is not prepared
to help them through. It is exactly the same for the dream guide.
The guides keep one away from those dangerous rocks that could flip one
over, or hurt one. The guide has been through many rapids before.
Perhaps they were not these particular rapids, but we know he survived
many others, and has developed skills. 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,
If someone is running some rapids and gets in trouble, it is the role of
the guide to intervene. The river guide is always prepared to leap
in if he or she has to. They have to be prepared to jump into whatever
river is there if necessary and deal with whatever comes up.
The river guide or dream guide will often go through 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."
There is a need for trust; if you're going to be a guide you've got to
be trustable. The guide can't say "I've been there," when
they haven't. They can say, "I've been through lots like it; let's
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 the journey itself, the river guide tells people what is coming
up. Before they even leave he will teach about safety. "If
you fall in the water float on your back and keep your feet pointing downstream;
trust your vest. If your feet are out you can fend off or push off
any rocks. Keep your feet pointed toward the danger."
In terms of preparation, for the dream journeys the dream guide might say
something like, "If you get in trouble, I'll remind you to breath,"
In preparing for a creative consciousness or dream journey, the guide lets
go of any ideas that they 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. One never goes through rapids just the same
way twice. They know that. It's always a new experience and
one lets go of what one knows to experience it anew. The chaotic
nature of a 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.
Its the same with the dream guide. They must let go of anything they
ever thought they knew. Each journey, no matter how many, is on a
new river. The unexpected is expected, and is what defines the imagination
This is where the dual-consciousness is important to a dream guide.
They are in the flow of consciousness but there is still a dual-awareness
of participating in this adventure, yet remaining outside it, too.
They don't take the trip for the client who experiences it for himself,
but facilitate or expedite the journey.
NAVIGATING THE RIVER OF CONSCIOUSNESS
What goes into preparing to guide people through their dreams and into
the river of consciousness? There are just a few basic directions,
but the finesse with which they are applied makes all the difference in
keeping the process moving.
When preparing for such an expedition the first step for the guide is to
talk to the dreamer in an exchange of information. This is in part
getting acquainted and a trust-building exercise, but the information exchanged
is also important. The guide here is getting information to help
in forming internal intellectual and sensory images of the nature of the
dis-ease or problem and the nature of the ego structure itself.
Using T.A. for example, or exploring a symptom, (s)he defines the disease
operationally as a system or pattern. The guide is getting an overview
of the shape of the frozen consciousness states or patterns that will be
encountered in various guises at the various levels of consciousness they
will pass through. This helps provide direction and identifies the
psychic rocks that form the disturbances and turbulence within the consciousness
Understanding the psychic terrain helps in identifying openings to the
next levels of consciousness, and also helps in identifying fantasy loops
that support the disease. Similarly the guide is becoming acquainted
with the dreamer's personality and sensory patterns. This information
may become useful in various ways later in the journey. This information
process is not limited to the preparations but continues throughout the
journey in one way or another.
To a first-time journeyer, the guide is also giving information that will
be useful in the journey itself -- preparing them for what might lie ahead.
Some of the most important points the guide gives about the upcoming journey,
and again this may also be done at appropriate times during it, might include
some of the following:
* It is a journey of the imagination; don't discount that.
In the words of Albert Einstein, "Imagination is more important than
knowledge." It is the voice of creativity.
* Each aspect of the dream, symbol or action, is really a part of
the dreamer and shaped by deep as well as recent memory and experience.
It is these memories that also shape the dis-eases.
* The dreamer will be moving towards fear and discomfort, but with
reassurances that the guide will be right there and will not take the dreamer
where they haven't been themselves.
* Dreamers learn to trust themselves and the process. There
is nothing inside that will really hurt them.
* The guide speaks about not letting the intellectual process or
interpretation interfere with or take over in the journey. The dreamers
can communicate what is going on but don't need to worry if they can't
find words. They will probably be experiencing senses beyond the
ones normally encountered.
* Guides will understand from their own experiencing of these states
where they are. If the dreamer gets stuck, it is because they are
holding on. Letting go and trusting is the act of faith that will
carry them through the stuck place no matter how scary it is to let go,
or what the mind predicts may happen.
* The guide may ask permission to touch during the journey.
It is very important to get this permission and not assume it is OK even
if the permission has been given on previous journeys.
* Experience and intuition will teach the guide the kind of information
each journeyer needs and when to give it.
Each guide's personal preparation is just as crucial. This is a case
of centering and breathing fully. It includes emptying the mind of
any preconceived prejudices about the dreamer, the dream and its symbols,
or where the journey might lead. The guide doesn't want their own
personality to get in the way of the process. They create a neutrality
within themselves and paradoxically by not being there are more totally
Contemplation of blankness or chaos, deep breathing and meditation can
help shed any attachments to the meaning of the dreams or the outcomes
of the process. 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 or deciding where some particular journey may
lead is comparable to "mind rape." A dream guide lets the drama and
the journey have all the time it needs to unfold before venturing any amplifications
from their own stores of knowledge and wisdom.
Another important reason for emptying the mind and the self is that the
journey is a co-conscious one, that is one in which the guide enters and
shares the consciousness states of the journeyer. Dr. Laurence LeShan,
in his book, THE MEDIUM, THE MYSTIC, AND THE PHYSICIST, identifies that
it is becoming one with, sharing consciousness with the client that is
the key to healing phenomena.
Dr. Milton Erikson identified co-consciousness as the state in which his
most powerful work and the most significant leaps in his therapy occurred,
(see THE COLLECTED PAPERS OF MILTON H. ERICKSON, edited by Ernest L. Rossi,
1980). And the key to entering this co-consciousness state is: first
to empty one's own mind of the self, and then to fully attend to the client
using all the senses to do so.
This is the purpose, for example, of touching the client. It is not
to heal or manipulate energy, but to better sense the client. Scanning,
passing the hand several inches over the body of the client, can also help
with this. The palm of the hand may pick up pressure or temperature
sensations and changes as it passes over certain areas of the body.
This is not interpreted, but merely serves to help the guide enter more
into the oneness and co-consciousness state with his charge.
Sometimes matching breathing rates and depths, or eye blinking frequency,
can help the guide enter co-consciousness, although forcing this won't
really work. More often, an outside observer would be able to notice
that the guide and guided one were naturally breathing and blinking at
the same rate. This is natural rapport.
One trick that can be useful is the "putting myself into their place" game.
In this scenario, the guide imagines being the client by seeing and sensing
the scenes described by the client. If this is painted on the blank
mind of the guide, it leaves them open to an entrainment process in which
they begin to experience what the client is experiencing, perhaps in the
context of their own sensory system, but in all important ways, the same
state. Using techniques like this, Graywolf has noticed that sometimes
he senses what state lies ahead in the journey and later that they arrive
It is just as important for the guide to help the dreamer to empty his
or her mind of what their intellect and emotions want to make of the dream.
Relaxation and deep breathing techniques can help with this. "Breath
deeply and let the out-breath empty you," or "Notice the empty space
at the bottom of your breath, and let your mind empty into it each time
you pass through it," are examples of some of the ways the guide might
invite the dreamer to do this.
The environment in which the journey is to occur is also important.
The guide should provide a pleasant, quiet, and safe place in which they
will not be disturbed. The journeyer and guide should both have a
comfortable place to sit or lie. Graywolf often lies beside the journeyer
during the process as he finds it can help him enter the co-consciousness
state more easily. Our experience is that the journey is usually
facilitated by the prone position, but not in all cases.
Soft lighting is more conducive to the process than harsh or florescent
lights and candles may also help set a mood. Remember as a guide
one is dealing with soft night-time phenomena in which the emphasis is
on internal rather than external sensings. Absence of extraneous
cues from outside the therapeutic setting will help keep their attention
So time spent readying the abation (name of the cell in Aesculapian Dream
Healing where the supplicant slept to dream and heal) is well spent.
Demonstration journeys have often been led in sterile classroom workshop
environments with success, but these demonstrations are by intent superficial,
and deeper expeditions are enhanced by safer more pleasant environments.
In summary then, preparation is a time of trust building and information
sharing. But most important is the emptying of the mind of intellectual
and emotional interpretations and shadings for both the dreamer and the
guide. It is this preparation that sets the "tone" of the journey
and is as important as the journey itself.
Launching into the Consciousness Stream through the Dream:
Once both are relaxed and emptied, the guide invites the dreamer to recall
their dream. Borrowing from the Gestalt techniques, they are invited
to share it in the first-person present-tense as if they are "experiencing
the dream now." Often this will induce R.E.M. (rapid eye movement)
and this is an ideal condition although not necessary. If this occurs
the dreamer is in altered consciousness re-experiencing the dream but on
the waking side of that state.
This is similar to but not exactly what has been described as lucid dreaming,
the difference being that the dream experience has been brought into waking
awareness rather than the ego entering into dream awareness. This
is a subtle but important distinction. It is more important to bring
the dream's healing energy into waking reality for it to manifest than
it is to enter the dream space with the ego.
The absence of rapid eye movement does not necessarily mean that the dreamer
is not in altered consciousness. The very recall of a dream with
eyes closed in a state of deep relaxation is a non-ordinary state.
It is both the guide and dreamer working in this altered consciousness
that makes this work different from other psychotherapeutic work.
Here, the guide is totally attending to the recounting of the dreamer's
experience of the dream. They are listening with dual consciousness,
that is, part of their awareness is entering a co-consciousness state and
sharing the dreamer's experiences and sensations, while a part of their
awareness is also observing the dreamer and themselves.
The client is usually in this dual consciousness too, with part of them
being in the dream while part stands outside of it and describes the experience.
Here, or later in the journey, the journeyer might become confused by this
duality of awareness and interrupt their journey as they try to reconcile
If this happens, a few words from the guide can help, such as "You may
find that this is like watching a movie; part of you is actually experiencing
it and fighting as the hero(ine), but another part of you is sitting in
the audience and capable of commenting on or describing what is happening.
We'll communicate verbally as the audience but don't let that remove you
from the movie's action."
A symbol may appear in this initial description which the guide thinks
is "fraught with meaning," maybe a personally charged images comes up such
as the guide himself or the guide's totem animal, if they have one.
As tempting as this image can be, it may or may not be the best doorway
for the dreamer to enter.
When opening to what they are drawn to in the dream, guides keep their
personal likes or expectations out of the process. They remember
that the dreamer is doing this work for their own benefit. This is
a danger area for the guide, and simply put is a case of separating one's
intuition from one's personal issues. A digression and discussion
of this topic is appropriate here.
THE DREAM GUIDE'S PERSONAL ISSUES -- THE WOUNDED HEALER
As has been observed and noted by Dr. Stanley Krippner and many others
who have studied shamans, initiation into being a shaman is often through
the healing of their own affliction. It is also a well known phenomena
that many psychotherapists enter the profession because of their own disturbances
and as an attempt to better understand and deal with them.
In the field of addiction work, many, if not most counsellors come from
the ranks of those who have had to deal with their own addictions.
The individual who has worked out all their own issues is indeed a rare
phenomena and may be a mythical creature, particularly in the healing profession.
We all have our personal wounds. Inside of us all 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. When your "stuff" is up you are drawn
to it in another person.
The same mechanism operates in romantic relationships where people with
the same or complimentary issues, even though deeply hidden in the subconscious,
couple up. Different than "true love," this forms the basis of co-dependence
or symbiotic relationship which exerts a strong draw on both.
In the important work of consciousness guiding, one does not want such
co-dependence or symbiosis to develop. Therefore, the issue of making
a clear distinction between the draw of intuition and the draw of one's
unresolved "stuff" is crucial. It reflects in therapy at each choice
or decision-making point. After all, intuition is very important
in this work and is in fact "the guide's guide." A knack for this
discrimination can be developed.
The issue of whether or not the consciousness guide has worked out all
of their issues is not the point. The point is that the guide has
developed means of doing so and is aware of personal unresolved issues.
It is a therapeutic or counseling axiom that therapy will get stuck when
the client gets to the therapist's issues.
By one of the corollaries of Murphy's Law, this will happen with about
the same frequency as "if anything can go wrong, it will."
As with the client, the guide's dis-ease is hidden behind fear and pain,
and if the guide has not been through that or faced it in themselves, they
will not likely be able to guide the client through.
An example from one of Graywolf's training sessions illustrates the point:
In this instance a student was leading a dream journey and kept avoiding
the client's dark place, a shadowy place of deep blackness that seemed
ominous and full of hidden dangers. Very quickly each time this image
came up in the journey, she guided the client into some other aspect of
the sensory experience that eventually led to very beautiful fantasy images
of flying, lightness and freedom. It was a very pleasant experience
for both, but no real transformation happened because the ominous shadow
was still lurking, once again ignored and relegated to the obscurity of
the dungeons of the subconscious.
The student's life experiences had exposed her to abuse by addicted co-dependent
parents and mate. She had come to a "Pollyanna" way of dealing with
this using affirmations and other superficial thought and emotional techniques
as ways to create a safe and comfortable fantasy for herself. But positive
thinking is not necessarily healthy thinking. She had not dealt with
the pain and darkness at her deeper levels of memory and consciousness
states such as those typically reached in creative consciousness process
The client was facing similar issues and so in this case what the guide
felt was her intuition was in reality her own avoidance mechanisms for
escaping, or perhaps one might say "flighting" into lightness and the illusions
of freedom. But the darkness was still there, untouched and unresolved
for both. And this is the danger: unresolved personal issues appearing
disguised as intuitive feelings, hunches or attractions that fool the guide
and lead only to fantasy loops or mutual self deception. The guide
does little more here than teach the client a new fantasy for avoiding
This illustration emphasizes the necessity for guides to have, themselves,
been guided by one more experienced who has taken them into their own "forbidden
territory." With this experience, novice guides develop attitudes
of courage so that when other unknown and frightening territories are encountered
in a journey with a client, they will enter the scary places with faith
in themselves and the process knowing that they can win through, rather
than avoiding and digressing from them.
On the other hand, a novice guide may again be attracted to the client's
darkness, one that is like the unresolved darkness in themselves.
In good faith, in spite of their fear, they may even guide themselves and
the client into that place. But since it is "in spite of," rather
than a full embracing of the fear, they may panic and bolt.
Because they have not yet "funded" themselves with the experience, courage
and visceral trust in the process, they seek escape and pull the dreamer
with them. Again we emphasize the importance of the guide having
personally experienced their own deep journeys to develop trust in the
process. You only learn about going down a river by going down the
We are not implying that the guides need to be perfect and have worked
out all their own issues. Yet they must know themselves well enough and
have enough personal experience with the process that they are prepared
to resolve whatever of their own dark places, fears and pains might be
induced by the client's experiences. The guide must willingly enter
this unknown common territory, embracing the fears with their fund of courage
and experience if the client is willing to do so under those terms.
Beyond this unresolved stuff however, lies the most profound level of internal
processing for the guide which comes from genuine intuition or intuitiveness.
The question is how does one identify it. It is relatively easy to
discriminate intellectual process from it, but it is not easy to tell the
difference between intuition and personal unresolved stuff. Both
have an essence of attraction and seem to come from deep within.
There are some important distinctions, however. The difference is
a qualitative one and not easily quantified.
Being in the co-consciousness state is more likely to invoke intuitive
process since it is based in an internal letting go of the self.
Like imagination, intuition is often very surprising, for the guide perhaps
a new experience or perception not previously encountered. But personal
"stuff" takes place within a context, it is quasi-logical, and develops
in a cause-effect based way. Yet we cannot always use this touchstone
since the mind can often take intuitive insight and place it in a context
of cause and effect.
The surprising, acausal, or "does not follow" nature of the insight is
the most reliable clue. There is really no objective "every time
is true" answer to the question, but if the guide knows him or her self
well enough, that and experience will help them develop a sense of the
qualitative difference between genuine intuition and their own "stuff."
Much of the dreamhealing process involves making such subjective choices
and distinctions and acting on them with faith, courage, and trust.
Back to the Stream and the Dream:
Where we left off before our digression, the guide had invited the dreamer
to share their dream. After attending this and looking at the attractions
in the dream on the first time through, the guide then invites the dreamer
to recall or share the dream a second time. The guide may at this
time want to help deepen the dreamer's relaxation even further, or may
just proceed with the second telling. This time, however, the guide
is prepared to open a doorway into the deeper consciousness stream.
How does the guide pick the doorway to the next level? Following
are some general guide's lines. Keep in mind, however, that there
are no "cookbook" instructions. The dreamer and the guide are in
a process of mutual co-creation and this process is best characterized
by its lack of rules or consistency. Like running rapids, the route
is as much determined by seemingly random variations in the currents of
the consciousness flow, and they are usually subjective and intuitive calls
as to riding these currents.
In retelling the dream, the guide may notice that the dreamer has left
out or added some symbol or component of the dream from the first telling.
The omission or addition is usually important and may be the way the dreamer's
deeper self has of alerting the guide to the best doorway. A color,
sound or some other sensory component of the dream may "leap out" at the
guide and be the doorway they are seeking.
During the retelling, the guide is sensitive to nuances in the body language,
tone of voice, or other artifacts such as a "Freudian slip" which may also
provide arrows for entries. Sometimes entry is through one of the
dream's actions, or perhaps the intense emotion that it or some symbol
evokes, it is not always necessarily through a symbol.
Sometimes Graywolf uses what he calls "the drone technique." In this
technique the guide uses "soft ears," which is the equivalent of "soft
eyes" or looking at something without a focus. The sound of the dreamer's
words becomes in essence a drone, but out of this background of white noise
certain words, symbols, feelings or some other aspect of the dream will
emerge. Standing out in their clarity, perhaps emphasized by a tone
or body language, they are again a message from the dreamer's wiser self
to the guide indicating a possible entry into the dream's deeper levels.
Often, as with Gestalt dreamwork, inanimate objects or symbols in the dream
are good launching ramps. The more inanimate the symbol, the more
the dreamer has disassociated from this aspect of consciousness, and so
the more likely it is to be out of awareness, control, and ease.
Discomfort and fear mark dis-eased states, and the dreamer will often experience
these feelings more intensely as they get closer to it. So symbols
or images in the dream and later in the journey that cause discomfort or
fear are like arrows pointing the way to the dis-eased consciousness pattern.
Sometimes fear and discomfort are so intense that no matter how reassuring
or supportive the guide is, the client will not venture into this area.
So while providing direction, they may or may not be the doorway actually
taken to the next level. In this case other doorways may be used
and the nature of the fear or discomfort noted.
It is perhaps useful here to state what may by now be an obvious fact.
THE GUIDE IS IN REALITY BEING GUIDED BY THE CLIENT, BY THE DEEPER SELF
OF THE CLINET FROM A COMMON CONSCIOUSNESS AND CO-CREATIVE RELATIONSHIP
THEY SHARE DURING THE JOURNEY. The messages and clues are often very
subtle or obscure. What goes on at the verbal and ego levels is often
of minor importance.
The guide realizes that a very wise and powerful part of the client --
the healer, soul, or whatever name is given this reality -- is directing
the work and journey. It is the part that wrought the dream and brought
it to awareness. It does not speak with words, nor necessarily openly.
It is the guide's job to look beyond the obvious and the superficial, which
are often ego constructs and self-serving to the client's and guide's ego
and fantasy structures, to the deeper and wiser Self of the client who
knows exactly where to go and what to do. The guide is a mirror,
reflecting back and translating this part of the journeyer to themselves.
Once the guide selects the launching ramp, they invite the dreamer to enter
into the consciousness and experience it directly. They
may invite the dreamer to "Become that symbol, and re-experience the
dream as it," or to "Imagine what it would be like, how you would
experience yourself as the ..."
They invite the dreamer to fully explore that part of the dream as the
self, and as before the guide listens, intuits and observes both the client's
and their own co-consciousness experiencing of this state to find the next
clue, the next doorway into even deeper levels. Thus, step-by-step,
from consciousness state to consciousness state, from level to level until
it eventually becomes a flow, the dreamer is led deeper and deeper into
their imagination to confront their dis-eased primal consciousness self
As was noted in an earlier chapter, the deeper one gets, the less definable
the imagery becomes and the more multi-sensory its nature. Visual
stimulation and auditory stimulation are among the last to develop discrimination.
Pure color or sound indicate deeper and earlier experience and memory.
tuck places in the journey, like on a river, indicate to the guide they
are hung up on a rock of frozen consciousness. Changing the sensory
experience from say emotion to color, or visual to tactile, will often
help the guide take the journeyer past stuck places and on to deeper levels.
(S)he may remind them that they, the guide, are there with them, know this
place, and will accompany the journeyer into it.
They might provide reassurance by reminding them that there is nothing
that will hurt them and that the fear is illusion. They might suggest
flowing into the place of fear with the outbreath, or to imagine breathing
in the color and filling the insides with it as they immerse themselves
in it on the outside. Changing the focus from a visual image to sound
or taste is another possibility. The guide naturally develops a repertoire
of tactics over time to help the journeyer beyond the stuckness.
Fantasy loops is another form of stuckness that may sidetrack a journey.
Like back eddies in a river's flow, psychic fantasy loops are caused by
the solid rocks of frozen consciousness. The current is disturbed
by the blockage, and flows back on itself, moving upriver against the flow
and back again in circles. They represent the game, racket, and script
patterns that we get caught in within our lives.
In essence, the loop is an ego phenomena, a means by which it sustains
itself and its identity in the familiarity of its known experiences.
In these loops the imagery leads in a circle, in fact, often this is the
first awareness the guide has. They find themselves back at the same
essential imagery they noticed earlier. They will notice that the
loop's patterns of imagery, although more primal, mirror the behavioral,
thought, and emotional patterns noticed in the earlier information-gathering
part of the preparations.
Getting out of a loop is often quite tricky. They can be tenacious
and hold the travelers trapped and going around and around but nowhere
in particular, just like back eddies do in rivers. Often the hardest
rowing a river guide has, is pulling out of a back eddy, and the same is
true for the consciousness guide. Several doorways will be noticed
and tried, but each leads back to the loop. It is here that both
the patience and ingenuity of the guide are most exercised. And there
are no rules other than persistence.
On occasion Graywolf has guided people back into more surface aspects of
the dream journey and opened other doorways. Sometimes the loop itself
becomes the lesson of this particular journey and provides fuel for future
dreams and journeys. But usually the guide can find a new aspect
or essence in the imagery experiences reported by the journeyer, or may
intuitively pick up on some aspect the journeyer has neglected to mention.
The guidelines for getting out of any stuck place apply in general to breaking
out of a fantasy loop.
As indicated earlier in this chapter, the stuck place may also indicate
the guide's own unresolved "stuff." We come back to this point because
it is very important to realize it is the most likely reason for a consciousness
journey to be limited or ineffective. The guide must remain unattached
to the outcome of the journey.
Experienced guides avoid controlling the process, flowing instead with
the dreamer's imagination and imagery. Above all they must be prepared
to venture with the dreamer into the very jaws of dismemberment, dissolution,
or death. It is only the guide's unresolved issues and fears that
will interfere with this, and this is a necessary step that leads into
the healing and creative consciousness.
RUNNING THE PSYCHE'S RAPIDS
The crux of creative consciousness process is reaching this creative state
of undifferentiated or chaotic consciousness. It is in this state
that the old primal self images dissolve, and it is the consciousness from
which the new ones form. Yielding to a process of ego death leads
to this consciousness.
It is a death because at the deepest levels we define ourselves by this
image and what it has created and frozen into our lives. We are it
and it is our death when it dissolves into the infinite possibilities of
chaotic consciousness. We suggest as a useful motto for the dream
guide, "Know thyself well, and be prepared to enter into the jaws of
death with deep-funded faith in the creative process."
This unformed consciousness is the essence of our vitality and life force.
It is really a consciousness field from which we create and recreate our
reality every instant of time. It is a complexity of infinite consciousness
possibilities and forms and is the essence of our ability to adapt, change,
transform, and evolve. It exists deep within us, hidden behind the
opacity of what we know, and what we cling to. It reaches into our
awareness through dreams, and in the flow of our imaginations. This
is the essence of our being; it is the essence of all being.
To become aware of it, to get there, we must navigate through the psychic
rapids caused by the rocks of our dis-eased states and our knowings.
It is on these rocks of frozen ego that we get stuck. No matter how
scary the imagery, the guide realizes that this is the true nature of the
journey. It is in her faith and nature, in faith in nature.
She knows the flow is found in her imagination and intuition.
She invites the dreamer into this river. They will float it together.
As guide she will navigate them past the rocks, helping the dreamer to
find the flow to carry him through. She will help him to dissolve
into his imagination, knowing it is the flow.
She knows this last dissolving is a death but that it also opens into a
field of unformed consciousness with infinite recreative possibilities.
She has learned to let go and trust the healing nature of this state.
She knows that from it will emerge an evolved new state of being and that
this is the process of healing. It is in her own experience to trust
GUIDES AND STRANGE ATTRACTORS: "MAGNETIC PERSONALITY"
An important question in learning to trust creative consciousness process
is how do we know new images and consciousness structures emerging from
the chaotic consciousness are always improvements over old; that indeed
they do lead to healing. It is, in fact, the crux of this process.
In all our work the new primal state indeed represents a remarkable improvement
over the old dis-eased state that it replaces, and continues to break things
loose and manifest changes in the journeyer far into the future.
In this sense the creative consciousness journey ends more in the opening
of a process rather than the attainment of a state. It is not unusual
for us to hear from people six months or a year after a journey reporting
that whatever they did in their journey has changed their old patterns
completely for the better in a seemingly permanent way and is still somehow
working on them and changing them in yet more profound ways.
Here chaos theory provides food for thought both metaphorically and mathematically.
Although answers as to how new consciousness structure emerges from the
chaotic consciousness field are speculative, chaos theory offers some ideas.
For example, it is known that "certain complex systems tend toward self
organization and are marked by the capacity to evolve," (Kauffman, 1991).
Indeed the process of evolution is a statement of the healing process we
are outlining. An organism or species faced with a threat to its
survival, goes into crisis. Out of the chaos, this disruption, new
forms emerge which have better survival potential. A system must
go through a period of chaos or loss of structure in order to change, even
a psychic system or consciousness system.
Chaos theory goes on to describe a force, an energy, or perhaps a principal,
known as the Strange Attractor. These attractors operate on chaotic
systems and influence the shape of the pattern that emerges. In a
sense they are magnets drawing structure from chaos. We can speculate
about the consciousness journey and the nature of the strange attractor
that draws the new primal images from chaotic consciousness.
At the inaugural 1991 meeting of the Association for Chaos Theory in Psychology,
the idea of a therapist being such an attractor was discussed. Based
on observation, this is true, and indeed is an accurate description of
the role of the guide in a consciousness journey.
The shape or nature of the new image emerging from the nothingness of chaotic
consciousness is influenced by its environment. In this sense the
environment is the strange attractor. The environment a person was
conceived in, born into, and developed in provides the strange attractor
that shapes the ego or personality.
Experiences of pain and fear, experiences of dis-ease, in this environment
shape free consciousness energy into its form. There are of course other
factors that influence how the environment was sensed, for example genetic
factors. Still the organism's experiences and the nature of the environment
act on the emerging consciousness structure much as the strange attractor
acts on a chaotic system.
In the consciousness or dream journey the guide influences the environment
and the experience by which these old images are brought into awareness
and dissolved into chaos. Except in the journey the environment is
one of ease and flow. Fear and pain are transformed by courage and
imagination into a flow of creativity. The guide's image of the client
is as a powerful being with all the resources needed for healing.
The therapist in a state of co-consciousness is sharing this image as well
as the experience of the journey and will very much influence the new consciousness
process that emerges. It will be more creative and courageous and
flowing if that has been the experience of the journey itself, and it is
the example (s)he sets and the image (s)he holds.
There are also other influential factors; it is not all the guide as the
attractor. There may, for example, be other consciousness structures
in the client's ego that may exert magnetic influence on the emerging consciousness.
These may be other unresolved issues, images, or other dis-eased consciousness
structures. They may also be healthy flowing states that are not
affected by the disease.
We are all a mixture and provide our own strengths and creativity to influence
our evolution. But, in so far as the dis-eased states, we emphasize
the benefit of deeper journeys, since the more primal the imagery, the
more symptoms of dis-ease it is responsible for. The corollary to
this, however, is that the deeper the journey, the more influential the
guide is as a strange attractor.
This is a very considerable responsibility, one the guide does well to
consider carefully. It brings us back to earlier discussions of the
importance of the guide's preparation and state of mind. It is crucial
to have worked out, or have a means of working out, their own issues.
The guide's attitudes and process will be as important in the shaping of
the new being, not through any manipulation or intent on their part, but
by the very essence of their being.
The unconscious absorption of the guide's traits happens automatically
to a greater or lesser extent as both the self image and the 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 is experienced
in creative consciousness process largely through images and sensate experience
which fuse mind, imagination, and feelings into a gestalt.
The training process of the guide grants access to a deeper experience
of the self which is 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 as a therapist or guide means you express your unique
essence most fully, rather than learning and practicing by rote.
It means you have and still are exploring the heights and depths of your
own inner world, integrating that into the context of your life, and freeing
up your creativity. The process is contagions because when a person
meets someone whose worldview is more expansive, their limitations begin
to dissolve too, provided they don't get threatened and run. It is
the guide's obligation to conduct themselves and the journey in a non-threatening
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, rebirthing, naturopathic medicine, and ghostbusting,
to transpersonal psychology, and more.
Each "healer" or system speaks of the myth, magic, and mystery that characterize
their model, and offer this up as their 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. This projection mobilizes healing.
There is great responsibility which comes with declaring oneself a healer.
For those who depend on them, 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 healer. All too often this is not done. If the
ego of the "healer" needs reinforcement of its grandiose self image, the
illusion of being "healer" needs to be seen through for what it is -- an
In fact, it is really the inner healer which truly does all regenerative
work in therapy. The therapist simply helps the client access it,
provides the environment, as it were, for the client to evolve. 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 guide does this without doing it.
GETTING INTO AND OUT OF CHAOS
As stated earlier, the crux of the creative consciousness journey is to
enter into chaotic consciousness with the old existential primal self images
so that they might be transformed. The closer one is to the chaos
consciousness field, the more undifferentiated the imagery is.
At these levels of consciousness, there seem to be two kinds of chaotic
imagery. Here we are in a very cloudy area, so the question of whether
one really experiences chaotic consciousness or merely the archetypal states
defining its borders, has no clear answer. In the descriptions we
get and our own experiences, one could argue either way.
However, there seem to be two types of imagery that we can associate with
entering into chaotic consciousness. One is total blankness or lack
of any form, the other is an overwhelmingness of sensation.
The first type is characterized, for example, by black space. Sometimes
there is a black hole within the blackness. This is a black blacker
than the blackest black imaginable. Sometimes it is a grayness or
a gray cloud. There are usually sensations of falling or falling-floating
experienced within this emptiness out of which eventually the new images
The other type is characterized by, for example, a spiral or a vortex.
It exerts a magnetic draw and the journeyers are drawn into it. Sensations
of spinning and being drawn deeper often cause the journeyer to report
intense dizziness and disorientation. Often there are feelings of
flying apart, limbs and eventually all parts of the self flying off in
the centrifugal forces experienced in the vortex.
This dissolution sometimes leads into the first type of imagery.
Sometimes other solid colors, laser-like in their purity might be presented.
For example, a deep red might lead into a magma-like flowing sensation
in which intense heat melts or dissolves the journeyer.
We are not really sure they are different. Rather they are probably
just different sides of the same circle seen from different perspectives.
On the one side it tends to zero, and on the other, infinity. It
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 the imagery swirling in a chaotic way so it is not differentiated.
So much information is there, it is chaotic and overwhelms the senses.
It is a fullness rather than emptiness. It is also like the Yin (feminine
principle of yielding and emptiness) Yang (masculine principle of seeking
and filling) creating the complete circle. Yet within each is the
seed of the other.
Indeed, in journeys the dismemberment in the spiral often leads to a sense
of being "no thing," while the empty blackness is often found to be full
of swirling colors. The imagery is far broader in scope than the
examples given, but the guide learns to identify this step by its essence.
There are feelings of transformative forces at work, and a feeling of almost
palpable relief at this final stage.
The guide encourages the journeyer to enter these patterns and to yield
to them. "Let go and let this vortex suck you in...What are you
experiencing?" Or, "Go ahead, fall into this black hole, even
if you're afraid. I'm with you and I've been here many times before.
Come with me!"
The healthier new states and primal images that emerge from the chaotic
consciousness tend to share some common characteristics. The new
images are much more flexible, free and flowing. It naturally becomes
easier to let go and face things with more courage even if afraid.
There is an essence of deep peace and ease.
Indeed this sense of peacefulness and security is the essence of the journey
itself and what the guide brings to it. Many other aspects of this
"right brain" state have been described such as feelings of dimensionlessness,
timelessness, and boundarylessness. Many senses are involved such
as the experience of bubbles or effervescence and tingling sensations in
the body, often at the site of a symptom.
We usually let people know that "this is a healing state; stay in it
and let it work on you now," we invite. "Stay in it
as long as necessary...when it is time to come back, you'll notice that
your eyes are opening. Just let that happen and you'll be back."
If the guide has any insights that might help the client find order or
connections in the work, this is the time for those to be shared.
For example, "I noticed that the red color you saw was throbbing and
pulsing. That sounds almost like how a fetus experiences being in
the womb. And the throbbing led to that queasy sensation in your
abdomen. That might tie in with what you told me about your mother's
heavy drinking and smoking while she was pregnant."
The journeyer may be assured here that what they experienced were in reality
memories, but sensory, cellular, or genetic memories of how they experienced
their forming. Much information can be exchanged at this phase while
the client is still relaxed and close to the journey. But again we
advocate caution about rampant interpretation or analysis. This may
impose too much structure and direction on an emerging free consciousness
pattern and define its limits too soon. In general the guide is content
to allow this unfolding to freely develop as he did the rest of the journey.
Sharings at this time are as likely to be counterproductive as helpful.
The guide operates from the principle that the guided one is really the
healer and has the intelligence and deep wisdom to become aware of what
they need to be aware of. It is a delicate balance. The guide
does not want to control the emerging new structure, yet sometimes a piece
of information or a connection may be a useful piece to which the guide
can steer the journeyer. Once again these are subjective calls and
as much, if not more intuitive than rational.
A DIFFERENT REALITY: ITS ALL IN THE PERCEPTION
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 becomesimportant -- 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 world.
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 is a
multi-sensual image and is stored as a sensory memory rather than an intellectual
or thought memory.
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. This circle is a reflection
of the deeper dis-eased image.
If you go deep beneath that belief system, down to the deepest existential
image, then you are at a place where very profound change can happen.
We've 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 USUALLY 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.
At the level where the existential image is formed, at the boundary where
order and disorder dance the dance of creation, profound changes can occur.
At that level the existential images that we use to order our reality can
change through the dance. We can change our most fundamental perceptions
of reality and in this new reality we can be at ease rather than diseased.
It's really all in how we perceive it.
File Created: 6/19/00 Last Updated: 7/24/00