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Integral Dreaming: A Holistic Approach to Dreams

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A holistic approach to the fascinating, multifaceted world of dreams.

346 pages, Hardcover

First published June 1, 2012

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Fariba Bogzaran

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Profile Image for D.
495 reviews2 followers
July 28, 2016
A handy compilation of research on lucid dreaming from a holistic point of view.

Dedicated ~

To the memory of our mothers
for their support of our creative endeavors
and of the pursuit of our dreams.

Merci infiniment!

Dreaming is the art of the mind. Every dream is intrinsically a creative experience. As the artists of the night, we are co-participants in weaving new creations from the complexity of our entire being. Dreaming forms an integral part of who we are. Becoming familiar with our dreaming life becomes increasingly important to a life of self-inquiry and self-understanding. Not only do dreams spur insight and person growth, they also help us understand the creative nature of the mind.

Integralism originated in the philosophy of 'purna' (full, complete, integral) yoga (meaning to united or bind), translated as "integral yoga," a practice that points toward an integration among the material, psychological, and spiritual spheres of knowledge and being. "For integral yoga, the ultimate goal of life is complete self-integration." (Chaudhuri, 1965:77)

Experience unfolds in the physical or somatic space enfolded within our body. Human experience contains an emotional aspect that gives it its color and texture, from the passion of excitement to the blandness of boredom. Our experience also has a cognitive aspect. All experience is held within the support of an ecosystem and can be colored by our sociocultural framework. With insight, experience eventually can be perceived in continuity with a putative core essence common to all that is. Habits of the body, however, for instance, emotional and mental tendencies, and even spiritual habits, often have us consciously or unconsciously identifying and relating to some facets of our being at the expense of others.

Dreams are often a way of reminding us to acknowledge the wider spectrum of our being. In this perspective, self-actualization could be understood as the integration of the multiplicity of being. Question the relationship of self-actualization v self-realization. Self-actualization may be the process of living an authentic life that draws upon our unique and signature strengths, where the different facets of self find coherent expression. Self-realization, in contrast, is often used within a spiritual context to point out a gradual or sudden letting go of personal representations, beliefs, and self-centeredness in order to be fully present to a larger view (Welwood, 2000).

It may be hard to override the habit of seeing ourselves as stable and unchanging. When we wake up, we seem to spontaneously reenter a fairly stable pattern of being that we recognize as ourselves. If we take a closer look, however, what we see is a constant process of change that includes processes of growth, regeneration, and alas, eventual decay.

We share with Aurobindo the life-affirming insight that spirituality needs to inform and infuse material processes, and that the principal evolutionary role of humanity is to act as a catalyst for this process.

Aurobindo's concept of the Integral Yoga system is described in his books, The Synthesis of Yoga and The Life Divine. [51] The Life Divine is a compilation of essays published serially in Arya.

[Sri Aurobindo argues that divine Brahman manifests as empirical reality through līlā, or divine play. Instead of positing that the world we experience is an illusion (māyā), Aurobindo argues that life itself is Divine. He argues that nature (which he interpreted as divine) has evolved life out of matter and then mind out of life. All of existence, he argues, is attempting to manifest to the level of the supermind - that evolution had a purpose. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sri_Aur...]

The ancient interlocking image of the Flower of Life is the closest image to the concept of Integral Dreaming. The center, the self, is expressed and nourished by different aspects. By becoming aware of its different sides and facets through dreams, the self expands to its fullest potential, which is itself contained within a larger reality.

[The "Flower of Life" can be found in all major religions of the world. It contains the patterns of creation as they emerged from the "Great Void". Everything is made from the Creator's thought. http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/geo...]

[The Flower of Life has been found all over the world in many different religions. It is one of the oldest sacred symbols known to man. It is a geometrical shape that is made up of multiple overlapping circles of the same size.]

Sleep and dreaming are not only a result of brain activity; they are also major determinants of brain function. We spend nearly 1/3 of our life in these states of consciousness and they are essential to our quality of life. Productivity, health, and effective learning all depend on the brain conditions that are associated with good sleep and regular dreaming. (Dement & Vaughan, 1999)

The Four Phases of Sleep
1. Sleep onset or the hypnagogic phase when we fall asleep
2. Regenerative sleep, during the first 1/2 of sleep. Slow-wave brain activation patterns dominate. Also called restorative sleep. (Staner, 2002)
3. Integrative sleep, during second 1/2 of sleep. Dominated by REM and stage 2 sleep. Most likely when we'll experience dreaming. Psychological regulation occurs during this stage of sleep involving affect, memories and the schemas associated with self-experience
4. Hypnopompic phase. Sleep comes to an end. Short-sleep offset period when we gradually or abruptly emerge from sleep and reenter waking consciousness.

Dreams as social events
Do dreams help prepare us for social encounters in our waking life?

Volition in dreams
In waking life, as self-conscious individuals, freedom and creativity is available to us to a relative degree. Depending on circumstances, this freedom translates into choosing how to act (behavioral choice in the landscape of action) or how to feel or think about something (existential choice in the landscape of consciousness). How much personal choice is available to us in dreams, however, is a matter of debate. Just as in waking life, choice is exercised in dreams along a wide spectrum.

Dream incubation
Ancient rituals involved sleeping in a particular setting, such as in or around a temple or natural setting (Meier, 1989; Van de Castle, 1994; Moss, 2009) situated close to where the land was known to bestow healing. Thus, a potentiating connection was made not only with unseen spiritual agency, but also by communing with the forces known to dwell within a particular place.

Patterns in sleep
In contemporary Western society, sleep is usually in one's personal space. It is expected that the sleeper will retreat to a special room where one sleeps either alone or with a mate (or sometimes a pet). The surroundings are well controlled in terms of noise, lighting, and temperature. Sleep is in a physically secure environment with little social or physical contact. All this gives rise to a stable physical environment - a mild form of sensory deprivation. Sleep laboratories and modern hotels try to replicate those conditions.

In many non-Western societies, sleep is often a more communal affair. Living quarters can be noise and open space. In rural or pastoral areas, one often sleeps with the presence of animals. Often there is a need for open fire for warmth and comfort. The necessity of tending the fire then leads to more fluid boundaries between sleep and waking. Sleep is thus less uniform in social or physical terms, and in how it unfolds in time. If one's security is not tied to an enclosed and secure room, it tends to be more dependent on the close proximity of others for mutual protection. For these reason, the sleep patterns tend to be more sensorially dynamic and social.

Self-reflection and cognizance (lucidity)) can happen spontaneously or be cultivated through practice. Dreaming changes from an unreflective experience to potentially becoming an event for self-reflection, even changing one's self-perception.

< I shared a dream in the hope that it would help us open collectively to the implicit tension inside the group. >

Hunt's methodology of locating dream types drawn partly from anthropologists Dentan (1987) and Tedlock (1987):

1. Personal dreams based on remembering or things you think about during the day, or wishes of the soul
2. Medical-somatic dreams relevant to shamanistic diagnosis of physical illness and/or what is referred to as spiritual loss or soul loss
3. Prophetic dreams that present omens or premonitions that may come true. Telling the dream to one's immediate group can negate dream omens; keeping silent preserves the omen's effectiveness
4. Archetypical-spiritual dreams, vivid and subjectively powerful big dreams based on visitations by spirits, encounters with one's guardian spirit, or travel of the soul to the supernatural underworld or heavens.

Phenomenological Creativity
Rather than assuming that waking consciousness is most qualified to ponder the dream experience, we propose that the dreaming mind is creation itself. Dream experiences are a spontaneous creation of deep inner structures, both representational (narrative) and nonrepresentational. The waking consciousness - what Hillman calls 'day world style of thinking' - is often linear and literal and may limit meaning, leaving aside the much larger sphere of the multidimensional world of dreaming.

Integral Dream Practice encourages the dreamer to enter the imaginal realm, express the psychic automatism, and articulate the process by way of reflection. Emphasis is on the creative process in dream awareness, allowing for a natural arising of insights and for possible meaning to be integrated as part of evolving consciousness. If we perceive dreams as a complete creation of our mind, then engaging with dreams means to become in-touch-with and experience our creative self.
Profile Image for Margit.
Author 3 books10 followers
March 3, 2014
A very academic text, I found it to be informative about different analysis and interpretation methods for dreams, both Western and Eastern. I thought the examples given were really interesting.
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