ph.d.

Book Review – Mindful Dreaming: Harness the Power of Lucid Dreaming for Happiness, Health, and Positive Change by Clare R. Johnson, Ph. D.

March, 2019

Book Review
Mindful Dreaming
Harness the Power of Lucid Dreaming for Happiness, Health, and Positive Change
by Clare R. Johnson, Ph. D.

I love dreaming! It is one of my favorite things to do! I have been tracking and working with my dreams for years. But sadly, I have not had much luck with lucid dreaming, even though I’ve read many books on the topic and practiced lots of different techniques.

Author Dr. Clare Johnson is the first person to write a doctoral thesis on the topic of lucid dreaming as a creative tool. She’s been a lucid dreamer since the age of 3 and is currently the president of the International Association for the Study of Dreams. So, she brings a real gravitas to the topic of working with your dreams. Her book offers a different take on the practice of lucid dreaming in Mindful Dreaming. She approaches “wakefulness” from the vantage point of “mindfulness,” bringing your attention to what is happening in the present moment. We bring our attention to the present moment, not only while awake, but during the one-third of our lives that we spend dreaming. The goal of mindful dreaming, as she explains, is to become awake to our unconscious patterns, modify them and heal our lives. “When we learn to be more present in our waking life, we are more likely to discover how our thoughts can shape our reality,” says Dr. Johnson. All this from dreaming, and not years of therapy?? Yes.

The key? Working with your dreams while you’re awake! For a lucid-dreamer wannabe like me, to know that I can go beyond recording my dreams and actually work with them and “change the movie” is exciting. Dreams are not just random firing of brain synapses. Rather, they are the doorway into our vast personal and collective unconscious. Learning to understand their dense symbolic language and decode their metaphors helps us to release powerful emotions, fears and memories stored at the cellular level. When we unravel unexpected associations that dreams make, we enhance our creativity. If we pay attention to their messages, we are shown where illness might develop. And we experience life-changing contact with the numinous when we become aware of our “soul dreams.”

Dr. Johnson takes us through the basics of working with our dreams: sleep hygiene, dream incubation, dream recollection and journaling. These are the first few of 50 dream practices and Lucid Dreamplay suggestions present in each chapter. The beauty of the Lucid Dreamplay practices is that many of them are done while you are awake! You can change your “inner movie,” write, sketch or dialogue your way into an understanding of a key dream image and tell a dream to a friend in order to excavate its many layers. The unconscious mind begins to build a blueprint for the possibility of change in waking life and the direction that change can take. Your unconscious will also begin to build new blueprints when you consciously make changes in your dreams. The book contains many examples of how these practices work for different dreams and dreamers. The techniques are valuable because working with dreams while awake can mirror the experience of lucid dreaming and have the same powerful results, as Dr. Johnson points out. She also outlines a nine step program for becoming lucid in dreams.

In addition to the useful and well-described techniques, Dr. Johnson devotes individual chapters to understanding and working with different types of dreams including nightmares; dreams of grief, loss and death; sexual dreams; dreams of illness and pain; and soul dreams or what I call “Big Dreams.” The book concludes with a chapter on creating your own best life by working mindfully with dreams while awake and asleep: “Dreamwork is a little like magic because it allows us to dissolve the veil the covers our own hidden, unconscious world. Once the veil is gone, we can clearly see the state of our life; what it lacks and what it needs to be healthier and happier.” Working with the Dreamplay practices will take you deep and keep you busy, but just in case you want to go beyond Mindful Dreaming, there is a Resource section. I am going to continue to use this book to get to dream lucidity!

Mindful Dreaming: Harness the Power of Lucid Dreaming for Happiness, Health, and Positive Change on Amazon

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About the Author:

Susan Rossi is a Practitioner and Teacher of Shamanism. She is a long-time explorer of The Mysteries – the connections between mind, body, spirit and how to live in right relationship to all of the energies streaming through the cosmos. She works with clients as an astrologer, coach, ceremonialist and guide to the wisdom that each of us has the capacity to access. Her focus is on guiding clients to unblock and rediscover their inner wisdom. , exploration of the birth chart, ceremony, legacy writing, hypnotherapy, energetic healing practice and creation of sacred tools are integral pieces of her practice.

Susan trained in Soul Level Astrology with master astrologer Mark Borax. She delights in exploring with individuals the planetary pattern under which their soul choose to incarnate.

Flying to the Heart www.flyingtotheheart.com

Open Channel Astrology: openchannelastrology.com

Book Review: Trance Journeys of the Hunter-Gatherers Ecstatic Practices to Reconnect with the Great Mother and Heal the Earth by Nicholas Brink

January, 2018

This author works with a technique called sacred (or ecstatic) trance postures. He draws on the work of Felicitas Goodman, Thomas Berry, Ervin Laszlo and others. The idea is that one uses specific meditation postures to access information from the resulting altered state of consciousness. Many of his postures are taken from resources all over the world such as statues, rock art etc.

I reviewed another book by him in this same magazine a few months ago: Baldr’s Magic, The Power of Norse Shamanism and Ecstatic Trance. From my point of view that book had a number of serious (structural) flaws and I sincerely hoped to write a more positive review for this one (because no one enjoys writing very critical reviews but writing reviews is a pointless process if you are not going to honest).

The good news is that this book makes many valid points, for readers who relatively new to shamanic work. He invites people to derive inspiration from old earth-based religions. He does not attempt to fill in the blanks in the Poetic Edda or another sacred text – that is a relief. Neither does he overdose on lengthy descriptions of his own personal trance experience – which is a blessing and makes the book a far more engaging and interesting read than Baldr’s Magic.

On the less impressive side there is a lot of general information on repeat (including the pictures of various trance postures which appear all over again – that is a quick way of filling a book! And in all fairness I can see why the author would do that, for reasons of producing a complete text. Then again, perhaps he could have left that segment out and simply referred readers to his other publications (or a webpage perhaps) allowing space for more fresh material, making the book a more rewarding purchase for people who follow his work?

This is a basic book for beginners. Just as many teachers of shamanism write a basic book inviting people to use shamanic journeys to connect with Earth and land spirits, the animals and winds etc., this book offers the same material through the lens of trance postures.

If trance posture work speaks to you and you are new to shamanism, you may get good results from working through this book!

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Imelda Almqvist, 25 November 2017, London UK

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About the author:

Imelda Almqvist is an international teacher of shamanism and sacred art. Her book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon in 2016.  She is a presenter on the Shamanism Global Summit  2017 as well as on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True. She divides her time between the UK, Sweden and the US. She is currently working on her second book Sacred .

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www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk  (website)

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/  (blog)

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=imelda+almqvist  (Youtube channel: interviews, presentations and art videos)