Brain scans – Scientists have unpicked the regions of the brain involved in dreaming, in a study with significant implications for our understanding of the purpose of dreams and of consciousness itself. What’s more, changes in brain activity have been found to offer clues as to what the dream is about.
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Maisel turns his psychologist/writer skills to the study of our unconscious and when it is doing it’s freest work, while we are sleeping. Among its many duties and capabilities is to do what Maisel calls, sleep thinking.
We are already familiar with sleep thinking. “Give me some time to sleep on it,” is a common approach to decision making. We know that some how, during our sleeping, a part of our brain will work away and make our options clearer by morning.
This behind the scenes work is different than studying our dreams. Sleep thinking is more to the point and sticks with what we are most concerned about. It isn’t overly poetic in what it shows us and sleep thinking results are more practical.
Eric Maisel is a precise man. His book is not filled fluff. He jumps in provides the step-by-step approach to sleep thinking and then offers specific directions for common areas of interest such as building creativity, removing inner obstacles, and finding solutions to large challenges.
The only special note I have about this book is this suggestion: start off easy and simple. Read the first chapters and then get down to work. Ask for insight or answers to something important to you and work that for a few days/a week. Repeat for another week or so. Don’t get bogged down when starting a sleep thinking practice by taking on too much. Get the principal down and do some preliminary work. Then, if called, jump back into Maisel’s detailed work program.
This book is out-of-print but is still available ($1.00 to $4.00) so get it while you can. Here is the Amazon link.
The Kindle edition of this book is: The Power of Sleep Thinking – Link
I went into the group thinking it was going to be very analytical, if I could just remember everything Jung said, I would be o.k. That didn’t work very well because what I had in my Jungian toolbox (faulty memory) wasn’t that helpful. Plus, although they never complained, I got the impression that people in the group didn’t want me mouthing Jung. Jung quietly took a back seat in a corner of the room.
A few months into the dream group I discovered that my ability to listen to people’s dreams as they retold them, rose sharply. I could sit quietly, lean forward both literally and with my attention and—tune in. In this process my awareness of other things decreased and my own self checking (i.e. focus on myself; concern about how things were going; concern about what people thought of me), fell away. Simple concentration on the dream story being told, took hold.
With that much concentration, other people’s dreams came alive in my head. Alive in the dream group session, the next day, even months later when I was thinking about something similar to someone’s dream story. To a large extent, their night dreams became my waking dreams. I worked hard to stay with them every step of the way as they entered houses, jumped over brick walls, discovered hidden books/rooms/people/rings/passages, talked with old friends/new lovers/the deceased, and wondered about why they were back in their childhood homes and schools.
Slowly, very, very slowly, as I traveled within their dream stories, I started feeling for the subtext. What was the feeling within a particular dream room, or what was the feeling aura around a dreamed object, character, place, or event? What could my waking world heart and guts tell me about this dream? Was a faint emotional message mingled in the dream story the real intent of this inner drama? Did my intestines know something that I could share with the dreamer that my mind could have never seen?
Obviously, even with careful, open listening, something of my own was being added to the dreamer’s dream. Each time I visualized their dream story, I constructed the dream using the materials already found in my imagination. Perhaps it was extremely accurate account, their black cat lined up with my knowledge of black cats, but maybe not. Many a time I assumed I knew what they were describing to find out their idea of what an object was was way different from my own. Being a dream group, numerous members would jump in and give their observations created in their own heads and we would quickly have this swirling flood of imagination on top of imagination on top of imagination. But no one got hurt. Everyone loved it. All of us were swimming in the river of imagination.
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Within a few months of bi-weekly meetings, in my simple living room, with a quickly assembled collection of friends and strangers, I got enlarged. My ears grew huge in terms of my ability to listen to dreams and thereby, story, myth, and poetry. The connective wires from my heart and guts to my head were broadened and strengthened. My daily, struggling self, grew in ability to stand out of the way when the time is right to let imagination come washing forward.
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How to Join a Dream Group – Put out the word that you are looking. Check Meetup.com, check local Jung groups, bookstores, coffee shops, and Craig’s List. If you don’t find one, see above – How to Start a Dream Group.