Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

A Six-Step Method for Working with Dreams September 28, 2010

Step 1: Prepare: Place a notebook and pen or pencil beside your bed where you can easily reach them. Before you go to sleep be very intentional. Ask the Dream Mother three times to bring you an important dream and help you remember it. Intentionality is probably the most important step. Don’t forget it.

Step 2: Describe: If you wake up with a dream in the middle of the night, jot down a few important images and actions that will trigger your memory in the morning. As soon as you can, flesh it out in your dream journal with a full and rich description. Give the dream a date, number and title. Write in the present tense to keep the dream more immediate: “I am at a party,” not “I was at a party.” Note as many details — colors, objects, actions, directions, etc. — as you can. Most important, record every emotion and where in the dream you felt it.

Step 3: Examine Symbols: Begin with the first symbol (activities as well as objects and their descriptors) and record your personal associations to it. Ask yourself: If I saw this symbol in a play, poem or film, what would I think it meant? Dream example: “I’m driving a big, old, outdated car down a dark and winding road. I’m going way too fast and feel out of control. I try to stop but can’t. Afraid I’m going to crash.” What would be the first symbol or activity you’d work with? Driving. What are your associations to driving? Then big, old, outdated car. Dark and winding road. Going too fast. Feeling out of control. Can’t stop. Afraid of crashing.

Step 4: Restate: After you’ve noted your associations to the symbols, briefly summarize the plot from beginning to end, substituting your associations for the symbols. You might summarize the above dream like this: My ego (the “I” in the dream) is in charge of my journey (driving a car down a road). The way I’m traveling (car) is outdated, mechanical (I’m in a car, not walking), unconscious (in the dark), too fast for comfort, and difficult. I feel out of control. I’m afraid I’m going to self-destruct but can’t seem to stop myself.

Step 5: Create an Emotional Bridge: Look for connections between your dream and your waking life. Dreams are pictures of emotions. List the emotions your dream ego felt in order of their appearance. Ask yourself: What is the most dominant or disturbing emotion in the dream? What triggered this emotion? When have I recently felt this way in waking life? What does my dream say about my emotional life right now?

Step 6: Reflect: Consider what actions or changes might be called for in light of the messages you received. Record your insights and intentions so you will remember them. If the dream feels especially important create a private ritual to honor it and the Dream Mother.

A final note: Keep at it, but give yourself some slack. You don’t need to work with every dream. Every few days, or as often as you can, pick out the most puzzling or compelling ones. Then congratulate yourself for the important work you’ve done and enjoy the wonderful new insights you’ve gained. I hope you’ll let me know if these suggestions help.

You can find Dream Theatres of the Soul at this Amazon link.

 

Healing Wounded Masculine and Feminine Energy: Part II September 25, 2010

Last time I described two steps toward healing the  masculine and feminine aspects of the soul.  In this post I’ll address two more that can transform your inner invalids into empowered Kings and Queens.

Step #3. Exercise. When exercising a horse you always train both sides of his body and brain. For example, after you walk, trot, and canter him clockwise around the pen you repeat the same actions for the same length of time in the opposite direction.  You do the same when you exercise your body. You wouldn’t lift weights with just the left arm and neglect the right.

So it is with your mind’s muscles. To get the most out of your brain power and boost your psyche’s immunity to toxic input you need to train both sides of the brain. Reading, writing, taking classes, and studying are all vitally important, but unfortunately they use mostly left-hemisphere skills and neglect the right hemisphere. What I’m suggesting is that you pay attention to the thinking processes you use most often and engage in new ones that will develop both sides of the brain and bring more balance between them.

Exercise your left brain by taking classes, jotting down notes, keeping a journal, noticing details, and making careful distinctions between things. Seek advice from your most logical friends.  Deliberately think choices through without automatically succumbing to habitual behaviors, strong emotions, or instinctual needs. Think before you speak. Practice expressing yourself more clearly and succinctly without rambling. Stick to the point. Use logic and reason. Back up your opinions with facts. Cultivate calmness and objectivity without getting overly emotional.

Exercising the right brain means taking your inner life and relationships seriously. Connect with your inner Beloved as much as the outer. Listen more than you talk. Receive as much as you give. Notice your needs and feelings and use your imagination to find respectful ways of expressing them. If you love to write, don’t just record factual, linear events. Make up stories, analyze the reasons for your feelings, come up with original metaphors, create sensory images. Art, music, and body work also engage the right brain. Draw, paint, sculpt, take photographs. Make up personal rituals, dances or songs. You won’t have to look far for inspiration. It’s there in every waking life situation and every nightly dream.

Step #4. Diet. Medicine and exercise can strengthen and heal your body, but you won’t stay healthy without a regular regimen of nourishing food to maintain and re-energize it. Similarly, a spiritual practice like meditation, yoga, prayer, or dreamwork quiets the mind and redirects attention to the inner life, re-vitalizing the soul on a regular basis with an increase of personal meaning, compassion and consciousness.

You already know my pet practice.  Through the years my nightly dramas have depicted the wounds of my inner opposites in loving detail; watching and learning from them is the manna that sustains my soul.  In fact, my personal mini-myths have been so crucial to empowering my King and Queen that I wrote the book, Dream Theatres of the Soul, to show others how to work with their dreams. As my final response to your question, Annette, I’ll outline my method in my next post. I wish you and all my readers the very best with your own healing.

Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at this Amazon.com link and Larson Publications, Inc.

 

Healing Wounded Masculine and Feminine Energy: Part I September 21, 2010

In response to my post, “Breaking Through to the One Thing,” Annette asked how to heal the masculine energy in women and feminine energy in men. This is a great question and a very welcome one. I’ve been wanting to deal with the “How-To’s” for a while now. So in this and the next post I’ll be presenting my “prescription” for healing and empowering the soul.

The short answer is inner work. Don’t let the word “work” put you off. Healing the psyche is not mindless hard labor that saps your energy for a meager payoff, but a work of love that gets progressively easier and more rewarding. Why? Because it fills us with well-being to transcend our ignorance and grow in consciousness. This is our job, the hero’s journey, our magnum opus.

The process is essentially the same for both genders and applies to all aspects of the psyche. This is because every psyche is fueled by two streams of energy.  We think of one as masculine and the other as feminine. Every psychological quality, action, or way of perceiving of which we are capable belongs to one or the other of these categories. (Remember, this is not about gender stereotypes, roles, or sexuality, but psycho-spiritual functioning.) When both streams are allowed to flow freely and spontaneously, unimpeded by mental or physical blockages, our bodies and minds function at optimum levels.

The long answer is that there are four steps to inner work. While I could write a book about each step, I’m sure you wouldn’t want to read it here. So I’ll keep it short and simple.

Step #1: Set Your Intention. Healing begins when you make a conscious choice to take your inner discomfort seriously and take action to overcome your resistance, laziness, apathy, and inertia. The greatest obstacle is fear. Most of us are very intimidated by the idea of discovering something disagreeable about ourselves and it takes an unusually strong and healthy ego to delve deeply into the unconscious. But if you remember that giving in to your fear will only perpetuate your suffering and keep you from bringing out your best, you can acquire the courage and self-discipline to stand up, step out, and show up with a warrior’s “Just do it” determination.

But what action will you be taking? What will you be showing up for? Essentially the same things you would do to heal a physical dis-ease: Take your medicine, exercise, and diet.

Step #2. Take Your Medicine. The medicine that heals souls is self-knowledge. To acquire it you need to seek help and do your homework. People who have been on the path for many years know what you’re going through. They can help you pinpoint problems and suggest treatments. Don’t overlook this step. Surrender is part of the solution. If studying with a mentor, enrolling in classes, attending workshops, or getting counseling is out of the question because of time or money restraints, then find a study partner or start a study group and read. Read. Read!

My favorite early author/mentors were Jungians Robert A. Johnson (Inner Work, He, She, and We),   John Sanford (The Invisible Partners and The Kingdom Within), and Marion Woodman (The Ravaged Bridegroom, The Pregnant Virgin, Addiction to Perfection). I highly recommend these brilliant writers whose healing wisdom comes from years of personal experience. Their works contain extraordinary gems of wisdom and I encourage anyone who’s interested to check them out. Meanwhile, stay tuned for steps #3 and #4.

Healing the Sacred Divide can be found here at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.

 

The Greatest Reward September 18, 2010

I’ve conducted dreamwork with some exceptional people and am honored by their trust in me. Recently a woman long committed to Jungian dreamwork (I’ll call her Maia) shared a special dream. As the owner of her own business, she was encountering some  worriesome issues. Then one day she realized the problem did not lie with her clients or employees but with herself. She had believed her motivation was to serve their needs, but in truth, she had an unconscious need to impress them with her authority, creativity, and leadership skills. That very day she instigated some important new policies that placed the company’s mission above her personal needs.

That night she dreamed that a lovely woman she’s known for years, (I’ll call her Nan) married her own (Nan’s) husband!  Maia’s dream ego had no memory of attending the ceremony, but found herself with the new bride immediately afterwards. Nan was resting peacefully in the modest room of a country inn, still wearing her simple white gown. Maia had a sudden inspiration. Might Nan want to celebrate with champagne? Nan liked the idea and asked for cheese and crackers too. So with the help of her own husband and some obliging women who worked there, Maia arranged for food and champagne to be brought to Nan’s room. The dream ended as Maia was returning to Nan feeling grateful for the help she had received and pleased to have thought of a way to make this occasion more special for her friend.

I think this is a very significant dream. Can you see its connection to Maia’s waking life? As we talked it became clear the dream is about her insight from the previous day and her choice to honor a priority greater than glorifying her ego. Maia is not the bride in this dream. If she were, the dream would be saying her ego still sees itself as the star of her own show. But Maia’s dream ego is not being served. She is serving a bride with sincere enthusiasm because she is more interested in honoring an important relationship than being the center of attention.

What do the bride and groom symbolize? Maia told me she had often dreamed of this couple. She sees them as attractive, balanced, responsible, and successful. They each have work they love, they’ve raised well-adjusted children, made many contributions to their community, and enjoy loving relationships with their family and friends. In short, of all the people Maia knows, this pair most closely fits her image of the ideal couple. Maia and I think that for her they represent the Self, with Nan being the Self’s feminine half, and her husband the masculine. This dream is about the union of Maia’s inner opposites, the internal alchemy of the Sacred Marriage.

Other details corroborate this. For example, the two couples suggest the number four, which Jung associated with wholeness and the Self. Likewise, the bride is not interested in spending a lot of money (energy) on a fancy reception to impress her acquaintances, return favors, or receive expensive gifts. This dream is not about Maia’s social or material aspirations, but about her ego dying to the opinions of the world and acquiring the proper relationship to the Self.  It is a commentary on her growth in self-knowledge and consciousness.

Maia will never gain public acclaim for her progress with her magnum opus because it’s strictly a private affair. But her dream celebrates her growth, and this validation from her Sacred Center is the greatest reward she could ever want.

You can find Healing the Sacred Divide at this Amazon site and at Larson Publications, Inc.

 

Breaking Through to the One Thing September 14, 2010

“What is the [survival] value of the feminine within men? The masculine within women?” asked author and Spirit Warrior  William Horden after reading  a recent post.  Here’s my best answer for now.

Consider these examples from Nature:  single-celled organisms and many plants and fungi reproduce all by themselves. Even some invertebrates and less advanced vertebrates such as amphibians and reptiles do not need a male parent. In the absence of males female turkeys can produce fertile eggs, and there are two known cases in which female sharks, raised in captivity without males, produced offspring genetically identical to their mothers.

The more advanced, multicellular and sentient forms of life, however, require two parents. Biologists think sexual reproduction may create more genetic diversity which helps organisms adapt to changing environments. Thus, life on Earth evolves from simple to complex, vulnerability to strength, self-preservation to species-preservation, and, most relevant to our question, unconscious to conscious. And the single most important factor influencing this direction is mutual cooperation between complementary pairs.

There is an inherent connection between the evolution of Nature and the evolution of Mind, or Spirit.  An ancient mystical saying says it this way, “As above, so below.” The original text reads, “That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above, and that which is Above corresponds to that which is Below, to accomplish the miracle of the One Thing.”  This means there is some unifying Plan, Intention, Mind, Source, Force, Ground of Being or One Thing whose laws govern both the metaphysical and physical universes. It also means the One thing needs both halves to accomplish its miracle. And what is the miracle?  Creating new, ever more complex and conscious life.

The Above half, Spirit (mind and consciousness), usually has been equated with “masculine” and the Below half, Matter (the body and the unconscious) with “feminine” which has led to damaging stereotypes. But these terms are not about gender roles or sexuality. They refer to the two modes of energy the creative drive takes everywhere, whether Above or Below. The ultimate reality is that if life is to continue to evolve in accordance with the Plan, or One Thing, there must be cooperation between masculinity and femininity at all levels: Above and Below, without and within, consciously and unconsciously, spiritually and psychologically.

Psychologically, we associate each half of the creative drive with specific qualities and locate them all in the Self.  As long as our egos are unaware or unaccepting of large portions of either half, we cannot fulfill our basic purpose or experience our greatest joy: to create.  But when we recognize that every quality we associate with masculinity and femininity indwells us, we break through the shell of dualistic thinking. The scales drop from our eyes, our creative potential is released, and we experience a blissful sense of oneness with the ultimate creative force: the One Thing. In alchemy, this enlightened state was known as the hieros gamos or Sacred Marriage.  (Next time I’ll share a dream about it.)

William concluded that, “… [the] sole purpose [of men having a feminine side and women having a masculine side] is individual well-being. It fulfills us to be able to incorporate our own opposite-complement.” Yes it does.  Why? Because this is how we unite the Above and Below and claim our divine inheritance.  Thanks for the inspiration for this post, William.  Thanks also to RamOsinghal for his reminders that all is divine.

You can find Healing the Sacred Divide here at Amazon.com and at Larson Publications, Inc.

 

Cooking Lessons September 11, 2010

Today marks my sixth month of blogging. What an extraordinary experience it has been.  Like a chef concocting a new recipe, I thought it would be a fun way to express my passions and connect with a few people as fascinated with the internal stew of the psyche as I am. But I was totally unprepared for the nourishment I’d receive in return. To celebrate today’s milestone, I’d like to share some lessons I’ve learned.

(1)  Blogging is not a piece of cake. It’s thinking and reading and creating a recipe and gathering ingredients and measuring and stirring and preheating the oven and watching the clock and stopping the baking process before the layers are overdone and cooling and handling them with care so they don’t fall apart and making the icing and decorating with delectable images, then washing and putting everything away so you can get on with your life — all the stuff that goes into creating what you hope will be a delicious treat for an unknown clientele and then discovering that some people like the way it tastes and some don’t and learning to be okay with that!

(2)  Blogging is not for wimps. If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen. A blog is like a restaurant anyone can patronize. And I mean that literally! People have different tastes and opinions and there are a few who see other peoples’ blogs as open invitations to push their own agendas or flaunt their self-importance. I’ve had to get tough and uninvite one or two.

(3)  Bloggers do not dine alone. Until six months ago writing isolated me from my friends more than it connected me to them. I saw them rarely and between visits they knew virtually nothing about my work. With this blog I have renewed some treasured old friendships and formed several new ones, and all of you know exactly what I’m cooking because you’re digesting it! This is a particularly lovely and completely unexpected benefit of blogging.

(4)  The best dishes have the fewest ingredients. My writing has always been a bit wordy. I say “a bit,” but in one of the earliest articles I submitted to a professional journal the editor crossed out about one in every six words! While this was a definite wake-up call, it did not reduce my verbal flow with anywhere near the efficiency of blogging. Writing two 500- to 600-word posts a week for six months is correcting the sloppy writing habits of 50 years!

(5)  The best recipes are creative and challenging without being too difficult. Technical writing and left-brained theorizing are appropriate for gourmet chefs, but the average cook? Not so much. Few of us have the interest or luxury to spend all day in the kitchen. Blogging is expanding my awareness of my audience and helping me practice what I preach. I’m ready to stir things up more in the cauldron of my right brain. Now where’s my ladle?

(6)  Cooking improves with feedback. Your comments have exposed me to ideas I’ve never considered and questions I’ve never asked; and you’ve inspired me to try out new recipes I never would have attempted without you.

(7)  There are some really fascinating, wise, generous-spirited and infinitely lovable people out there, and I’m very grateful so many of them dine at Jeanie’s Restaurant.  Thank you, everyone.

 

Relaxing at the Beach on Labor Day Weekend September 7, 2010

I’m on a lounge chair watching rain clouds obliterate the usually relentless Florida sun. Today the clouds may win. They gather together, hanging over the horizon like a dark army on the eastern front waiting for the signal to press the pale afternoon light into the ocean. Princess palm fronds jitter in the mounting breeze. Above, a row of gulls races west. Are there six? No, seven. Do they think they’ll escape the coming storm? Not my problem. Just breathe.

Across the pool my twin grandsons excitedly toss ice cubes into the water. Fifty one. Fifty two. Fifty three. Fifty four! Skipping to their father at the umbrella-covered table they chorus, “What’s the next mission?” I smile at the innocence of their pleasure. A scruffy-looking man in a baggy bathing suit and flip flops glances through the protective fence as he walks past. Images of predators stir my imagination. I mentally chase them away. Just breathe.

Mellow music slows my thoughts; a stem of crisp Pinot Grigio waits at my right hand. A bird with a raspy cry flaps past. I’m surprised to see it’s a mourning dove. This is not the plaintive call I associate with these gentle creatures. The music stops. A shift in key and rhythm. The new song is even mellower than the last. My son and I have the same taste in music. Reflective. Melancholy with a hint of blues. Music Noir. Music with room for thinking. Music to go deep by. My daughter-in-law loves this one too. She tells me the name of the artist, a woman from Australia, I think? I want this CD. Will I remember her name? Missy something. It’s okay. Just breathe.

The breeze picks up. A giant orange, green and blue plastic shark chases an aqua float across the pool and corners it at the far end, pointed nose and sharp white teeth pressed against a raised headrest. The bully and the victim; always with us. Never mind. Just breathe.

I smell someone frying steak. And maybe onions? Subtle sensations from my mid-section trip tiny triggers in my brain. Is that hunger? I should start dinner soon. I head inside for snacks. Returning across the moisture-mottled deck with bowls of chips and salsa I wonder if it will storm or if this is a passing sprinkle. Should I bring the cushions in? They’re covered in Sunbrella but nothing lasts forever. Wait and see. Just breathe.

A distant rumble of thunder. A rising wind. A heavy drop splatters on my arch and rolls down my ankle. Suddenly we’re up and scrambling. Everything not waterproof goes inside. Just breathe.

I’m writing this at the table when my son comes in and announces that the baby — actually almost three now, but the youngest of our brood — just went poo poo in the potty for the second day in a row! The baby looks around expectantly. We all cheer and congratulate him. He shifts his weight, looks down and grins. He has reservations. He’s not quite sure yet about this potty thing. But he’s enjoying the attention. Maybe it’s okay… He’s looking forward to walking to the Surf Shop with Daddy to find a special toy to celebrate the occasion. 

A flash of warmth radiates through my chest. How good it is just to breathe.

(Scott, this one’s for you.)

 

 
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