Sunday, November 22, 2009

Wielding Our Power Wisely

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While trying to puzzle out the next step in the Lucid Dream Conservation Project, I let go of lucid dreaming for several days in favor of deep, solid sleep. Last week, while walking through the forest with someone dear to me, I realized that we are dreaming the buffalo back to the plains (or not) with every action we take in waking life. I've been working on a painting that celebrates the bison's return to the ecosystem that can't exist without them. Pouring intent, prayers, music, and magic into the painting feels like another dimension of restoring bison to the plains that depend on them, one that works in tandem with the tribes and ranchers who have taken practical measures to ensure buffaloes' survival and reintroduction into their native habitats.

Anglo-American elder and Earth activist Joanna Macy would classify my contributions as the "shift in consciousness" dimension of rebalancing the world, or the movement away from reductionist and materialistic thinking to an understanding of the interconnectedness of all things. I would add to this description an awareness that all things are alive. (The other two dimensions Macy uses are "holding actions", which slow the rate of social and ecological damage--regulations, restrictions, blockades, and boycotts--and "structural changes", which include new economic and social formations--new ways of owning land, interacting with food and water, measuring prosperity, and the like.)

My point is this: We in this time and place still very much live within a Cartesian framework. We like to divide, separate, distinguish. This is a dream; this is a lucid dream; this is an out-of-body experience; this is a vision; this is a waking state. It is all life. It all matters. My reason for taking a particular interest in lucid dreaming is because we can see more immediately the way our emotions and intentions have a direct impact on reality. Therefore, I feel we can hasten the healing process within the dream. Not only that, but the immediate causality we perceive there reminds us that our thoughts and actions have real power, which we must wield with intention and care whether we are awake or asleep.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Blundering through the Dark

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This morning I awoke from dreaming of a great battle scene in the desert. Since morning is prime lucid dreaming time, I decided to take hold of the imagery already present, and slip into a lucid dream. (I've recently learned this is called a wake-initiated lucid dream (WILD), and occurs when the dreamer goes from a normal waking state directly into a dream state with no apparent lapse in consciousness.)

I took the hand of the figure in my dream, the Lord of Death, so-called for his leadership skill in battle, and led him through a small, cool room. He wore wrist cuffs and held a shield. I was just about to engage him in conversation when a waking life noise occurred that brought me back to my own bed. When I woke up this time, I knew there was no getting back into the dream. However, I lie in bed and thought of the best course of action I could have taken given this scenario, and what to remember when faced with other scenes that seemingly have little to do with lucid dream conservation.

When meeting with this great battle strategist, I could have presented my case as a "war on climate change" and asked for his advice on how to win the battle. In my very first restoration-focused lucid dream, when I saw a woman walking three polar bears, I could have asked for new solutions to help polar bears thrive. When no connections seem apparent, as in the dream Taking the Backseat, I could have simply asked the woman in my dream why I keep dreaming of subdivisions, and what they have to do with lucid dream conservation.

What I have come away with so far are the following suggestions. (My Western mind loves lists.):

  • Have a plan. (Mine is the Lucid Dream Conservation Project.)
  • Engage your lucid dream environment, rather than usurping it to suit your plan.
  • Be creative with how to make connections between the dreamscape presented to you and your plan.
  • Connect with nature in waking life to recalibrate the senses and remain grounded.
Please bear in mind that I am very ignorant on the subject of lucid dreaming; I realize that probably none of this is new. I revel in the discoveries I'm making for myself, and enjoy puzzling out solutions for a better Earth within the dreamscape. However, I've just ordered Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self by Robert Waggoner, Entering the Circle by Olga Kharitidi, and Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming by Stephen LaBerge so that I can study up, stand on the shoulders of the pioneers in this field, and quit blundering through the dark by myself.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Taking the Backseat

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I let the pendulum swing back in last night's lucid dreams. Rather than commandeering the dream scene, I engaged the landscape presented to me in a relatively passive manner. Here's what happened:

Again, I find myself in a subdivision, and I know I'm dreaming. I watch a woman and her husband enter their house and shut front door behind them. Since they're the only ones I've seen around, I knock on the door. The woman lets me in without even asking who I am or what I want; it's just natural that I am coming inside her home. I follow her into a room to the left where she is removing boxes full of stuff from a high shelf. I introduce myself to her. She tells me her name, and we shake hands. (This is the first time I've not told the person I'm talking to that I'm dreaming.) Her husband is now absorbed in tv or technology, as he usually is. He barely notices his wife, ever. She is a shorter Asian woman with sort of a frumpy figure and gray teeth. I find her to be a very warm and caring person. As part of a relationship-mending program, she dyes her hair blond and gets a makeover. Magically, her white husband, who has a mustache, notices her again. At the end of the dream, they are both laughing together at the woes of their past. They are a happy couple once more.

What does this have to do with anything? I'm not sure yet. I needed to see what happened when I let the lucid dream take the driver's seat. Next I'll investigate ways to synthesize overcontrol versus passivity to the point of forgetting the purpose of the Lucid Dream Conservation Project.

Something else worthy of exploration is the recurring theme of the tract home subdivision. Never do such places appear in my "regular" dreams, yet they've shown up in three lucid dreams this month alone. Perhaps environs like these describe a counterpoint to the primeval wilderness this effort hopes to restore.

Tell me what you think. What are your ideas and experiences? This isn't a job for one person alone. I'm very curious about what comes next.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Stumbling Blocks

It never occurred to me I might be dreaming as I took the dragon flight to Venus. No, it wasn't until I was on an ordinary elevator that I realized, "Hey! I'm dreaming!"

The elevator doors closed behind me; I'd just been separated from the people I was walking with. I pressed the button for floor 20, hoping I'd catch up with them. Then, somehow, I woke up to my own dreamscape and the dilemma ceased to matter. I closed my eyes and said, "Florida," remembering my desire to preserve the woods I romped in as a kid. I was hoping the terrain would shift, and I'd find myself in familiar Florida turf. But I was too excited, and ended up back in my own bed.

I'm sharing my stumbling blocks to lucid dream conservation because this dream told me to. The obstacles are not just what I encounter in the dreamworld, but the way I choose to conduct myself under the conditions presented to me. I feel I've been going about it wrongly. First, I've been nearly ignoring my dream environs and attempting to co-opt the whole scene to suit how I picture I can most effectively create change. Instead, I should approach the situations I encounter with curiosity, even if I find myself in an elevator. After all, dream logic and waking logic differ pretty significantly. Maybe I don't always have to literally clean up trash in the dream world to clean up the Earth. I'm not blind to more oblique or magical means--I have just been doing what occurs to me in the dream, which sometimes, honestly, isn't very much.

And here is a second scenario from last night. I find myself in the living room of my parents' house. My dad is speaking with a famous woman elder and Earth activist. Now, you'd think I would have listened to the words of this wise woman, or thought to ask her advice. Instead, I interrupt their conversation. I say, "Excuse me, I'm sorry to interrupt, but this is a dream! [Duh. I think I can stop pointing this out to folks every time I realize it.] Do you mind if we hold a prayer circle?" So, we take hands and pray. Here the dream ends.

Twice I thwarted the potential for healing by getting in my own way. Note to self: Show a little humility. Be curious and respectful! Have patience.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Little Islands

Last night I was reading John G. Neihardt's Black Elk Speaks, and came to a paragraph that made me very sad. Black Elk explains:

Once we were happy in our own country and we were seldom hungry, for then the two-leggeds and the four-leggeds lived together like relatives, and there was plenty for them and for us. But the Wasichus [white people] came, and they have made little islands for the four-leggeds, and always these islands are becoming smaller, for around them surges the gnawing flood of the Wasichu.
- p. 9

I began thinking of Middleburg, FL, where I grew up, and where I witness the "islands becoming smaller" every time I go back. It breaks my heart so much that I cannot live there again unless I become much stronger of heart, or well-versed enough in policy to help restore the land and wildlife.

So, I decided that my next lucid dream action would be to help preserve the dwindling forests in the place I grew up. Because environmental lucid dreaming is so new to me, I don't have a cohesive plan for the project, nor has the project made a long-term vision clear to me. Therefore, my lucid dreaming goals are all over the board right now as the project and I get to know one another.

One scenario I have seen (and which makes my heart sing) is a group of people working and dreaming together to restore the native habitats of their particular bioregion. I am very fortunate to live in an area where this is a feasible trajectory. Until this time, I will focus my efforts on Middleburg, where lucid dream restoration remains, for now, a bit more of a stretch.

Below is the road to my childhood home. All the trees on the right are slated to be razed for the development of new strip malls.

And here are some more hopeful pictures of the beautiful native landscape at Gold Head State Park in Clay County, Florida.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Lucid Links

Here are some great links with all kinds of lucid dreaming information:

Robert Waggoner and Lucy Gillis's Lucid Dream Exchange
Ryan Hurd's Dream Studies Portal
And here are the articles Ryan has compiled (and in many cases written) on lucid dreaming specifically.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Doing It for the Tule Elk and Buffalo

Last night I had several lucid dreams, even early in the night, which is rare for me. I'll focus just on the parts where environmental restoration is key. This dream is called "Doing It for the Tule Elk and Buffalo." And given what happens in the dream, I think the title's pretty funny:

I am talking about Brian MacGregor, a visual artist who paints brilliantly from his dreams, to a group of people. I say his paintings are wonderful, and his logic is not very sound. Then I am
lucid. I take a cute, random dream person by the hand and go to another room to sleep with him. (The sexual impulse is pretty common in lucid dreams, so I am not super shy about sharing it.) Then I remember that I am supposed to be working on habitat restoration. I say we can continue lovemaking, but we've got to direct it at bringing back the buffalo and tule elk. I take him to where the hills meet the beach. There are grassy spots where I picture the elk grazing. Sea oats sway in the breeze. It is good here. I repeat that we are doing this for the elk and the buffalo to come back.

Later (still within the dream), I am talking about my lucid dream in front of another group of people. I explain about the sexual part of my dream, and how it helped to have a plan in place so that I could redirect the focus back toward conservation. One of my friends says that it's good if I talk about the stumbling blocks I encounter in lucid dreaming because it will help people.