dreams, dissatisfaction, and addiction

I’ve done a few more journeys since my first experiment, and it’s hard to say whether they have been as effective as the first one seemed to be, because that first one was characterised by such obvious physiological reactions, which I suspect were caused by the more-active breathing I practised.

In the subsequent journeys I have allowed the breath to be more natural, and I think the effects have been more subtle, in the form of dreams. It’s hard to say though, because I dream fairly frequently anyway, and the occurrence of these dreams has coincided with a renewal of a more-active dreaming practice that was independent of these experiments with journeying.

It’s hard to know which factors contribute to which effects, and it’s hard to know what’s what at these early stages of such a practice, because what I am essentially trying to do is find where the veil exists between the waking world and the dream world, between the physical/physiological/neurochemical world and the non-physical/psychological world, between the spirit world and the world of consensus reality. I’m trying to commune with Spirit, and it’s hard to know the difference between when I’m doing that and when I’m communing with the physical realm of brain functions.

It’s confusing territory because I suspect that everything is Spirit, so trying to discern between Spirit and everything else is kinda like trying to discern between two shades of blue: all of our experiences are just different shades of Spirit.

The most appropriate terminology for making this distinction seems to be ‘conscious’ and ‘unconscious’: I suspect that we are mostly conscious of physical/material reality, and Spirit resides mostly (or speaks more loudly) in the unconscious, in the realm of symbols and abstraction.

It also hasn’t helped my confusion that I’ve been experimenting with these journeys immediately before sleep. I’ve done as many journeys in the mornings as I’ve done before sleep, and this morning’s journey helped to relieve some anxiety caused by general non-deliberate sleep deprivation, but the juiciest effects have come in the form of last night’s dreams, which I report below.

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3:14am4.01.18

I am awake prematurely again, and I was pretty grumpy about it, but I seem to have perked up, and I don’t think it’s because of the coffee ~ it helped that when I came down the stairs (after rolling around in bed, debating whether to get up or not), it was exactly 3:00 [my numerological life-path number is 30/3], and as I came off the bottom stair, the clock flicked over to 3:01. I also feel a kind of acceptance, because maybe this is the cosmos moving through me, because maybe I had this dream because I did the shamanic journey before I went to sleep ~

I mean, I often dream anyway, and yes I’m giving more attention to my dreams (by wanting them and by being prepared to interpret them), but there seems to be something significant about how I wake up so fully after some of these dreams … it seems to suggest that their meaning is significant and the Awoken app is chirping away now because I’ve set it to chirp more frequently during these hours to help trigger lucidity in dreams, but also it reminds me that … yes, it just chirped again … yes, the dreams are significant. So, the dreams:

In the first dream (from which I did not fully awake), I was with a lover and another guy in bed, and they had sex but my lover and I didn’t. I was miffed. My lover and I had an interaction afterward, but I don’t remember any of the details except that there was no love between us and she left.

I guess this dream relates to what happened with AJ and Nuff, but the next dream (from which I did fully awake) adds more information:

I was on some low-ish rooftop with a character who seemed to be Pablo from high school. He said that he was going to change jobs.

I said, “But you like your job.”

There was some element of Mum in him, because I immediately thought of her similar pattern, and I started to address him thus, in the same way I would address Mum in the same situation.

Pablo Mum started to make some justification for why he would change jobs, but I interjected to say, “No, I think you’re addicted to something”, perhaps because I had been reading what Russell Brand has written about why we get addicted … perhaps because I was intuiting something from my unconscious (or the spirit world) about why we get addicted, because he made some other attempt at justification but I kept pushing it.

“No, there’s something you get from changing jobs that is more enjoyable than staying in the job you’ve got.” I’m elaborating the dialogue here ~ I don’t think there was this much detail, but this is the gist of what I was thinking in the dream. [3:39]

I was thinking, The process of changing jobs (of going to something new, of running away from the old or from whatever element of the job was not satisfying instead of trying to resolve that dissatisfaction in the job) must release some kind of chemical in the brain that we get addicted to. It’s a kind of workaholism, but may be more appropriately described as jobaholism or job addiction ~ addiction to the ability to go and get a new job.

It gives us great satisfaction to go and get a new job. And then when we’re in the new job, the satisfaction wears off because actually they’re all as mundane as each other. Anyway,

Pablo Mum made some snide comment like, “What, like a job is an EB?”

I wasn’t sure what an EB was, but I realised it was some kind of chocolate bar, and said as much. “Like a chocolate bar?”

He said yes, and I was going to start saying something about how, yes, It’s not the chocolate bar you’re addicted to, it’s the chemicals it turns into or the chemicals it releases in the brain that you’re addicted to, but he then started swinging me around on the office chair I was now sitting in. I told him this was scaring me, and then he threw me off the roof. The chair sailed away somewhere and I landed on my feet on the concrete below. This is when I woke up.

I feel like this dream was a message about addiction … der … but I mean, I feel like it was significantly a message ~ like I went into the dream realm / spirit realm to retrieve this information, which I was already half aware of, perhaps unconsciously aware of.

I think it’s an important insight about addiction. It confirms for me that yes, part of my role … a major part of my role, at least … is helping people to understand the nature of addiction so we can start looking at where in our lives the dissatisfaction is coming from and start to treat the dissatisfaction naturally and healthily rather than disguising it by doing things that release drugs that give us a false sense of satisfaction.

Before I can do this, of course, I need to understand and treat my own dissatisfaction, which I think is why these two dreams came together this night: I am dissatisfied with (among other things) the way romantic and/or sexual relationships have gone in my life, so I have resorted to drugs and other behaviours that give the false sense of satisfaction, which stops me from feeling the need to resolve the original source of dissatisfaction.

[3:54 ~ feeling like there’s not much more to add to this.]

[4:01am4.01.08 ~ looking at a picture of Fred Alan Wolf in shamanic dress and thinking about stopping faffing and getting some work done on Entheotropia]

fred_alan_wolf_RGB

the brutality of insomnia

You wouldn’t think so, but insomnia is fucked, absolutely brutal.

As a kid I vaguely envied Stephen King when I learned he was an insomniac ~ I thought cool, just stay up writing all night. By my early twenties I discovered Peter Carey, who said something like, “All good writers are necessarily mentally unwell, so be careful what you wish for.”

Insomnia is a mental illness. My mind feels like a V8 engine with only one spark plug and a leadfoot at the wheel ~ it would be revving its tits off if it wasn’t spluttering, farting and stalling with every attempt at cognition. I turn back to the fridge with a bottle of milk in hand and think, Shit, what was I doing?

This is profoundly painful for me, who so heavily identifies with having a powerful intellect at his disposal most of the time. When my mind begins to fail me like this, I get scared, knowing that belief in your correct perception of reality can fall away in an instant, given sufficient stressors, plunging you into the Chasm of Chaos … but,

I’m getting ahead of myself ~ it’s not that bad yet, at night four, but by night seven when it starts to feel like my body is falling apart, shit could get real. At night six during one bout, I told my friend I was scared, and she said (ever the ironically jovial supporter), “You know that by night eleven you will go insane and die?” I believed her then, and I believe her now.

Sleep is precious like water, my dear loved ones ~ don’t mess with it. Don’t ever take it for granted. I used to say, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” Real clever, Gung-ho Gonzo. If you’re reading this and the birds are chirping, go to bed, have a wank, and do some sleeping for me, okay? Do it for the children!

learning to love, by being loved

We may not be geographically proximate, but I am extra-ordinarily fortunate to have been blessed in this life with a diverse network of friends and like-minded soul warriors who love and care for me. I frequently feel deeply grateful for the presence of each and every one of you in my life. It may be so that I equally frequently drop off the face of the earth for months at a time, either into the bush on my bike or into the dark recesses of a mind with somewhat-depressive tendencies, but when I inevitably come back into the world you are all still there, waiting for me, understanding, being all like, “Oh yeah, Bodhi / Abhi / Painey / Uhn / Ryan / Knob / Grammaticus has been off on some random-arse journey,” and instead of berating me for being a frequently absent and difficult-to-understand friend, you embrace me and say, “Tell me what you learned!” I might have dived head first off this fecking metaphysical roller-coaser a long time ago if I hadn’t known that I am loved by friends as compassionate and real-hearted as you. So yeah, thank you. The way you love me helps me learn how to love myself and others.

tingles ~ an experiment with shamanic journeying

I just finished experimenting with my first shamanic journey, and [at 9:39am] I feel very relaxed and at peace, which is a distinct difference from the depression and anxiety I’ve been feeling for the last however long it’s been since I felt normal. I feel like doing yoga again, for the first time in ages. I don’t feel like reading or otherwise using the mind to distract myself from the painful reality that consensus reality is painful sometimes. I feel like blogging though ~ I feel like expressing myself. The instructions I read for the journey include finding some way of expressing the experience. So here goes.

I set up in bed with a headband for an eye mask and some lavender oil for the relaxation feels. I started by trying to think of an ‘anchor place’ and eventually settled on a campsite I found at the beginning of my Canberra–Brisbane cycle tour last year, a truly idyllic place that could as easily have been a setting in The Lord of the Rings as it was an old creek bed somewhere between Canberra and Yass on a dirt track called Horseshoe Road. With my phone on airplane mode I used the Prana Breath app to do the “Box Breath” recommended in the same instructions (a 4:4:4:4 inhale:retain:exhale:sustain ratio).

(This is what I talk about when I talk about “technoshamanism” … for me it has nothing to do with raves and smacky ‘ecstasy’ pills.)

After seven minutes of this I was ready to slow my breathing pace down a bit when I pressed play on the drumming track I had downloaded. I cruised along with the simple beat, feeling my body as it moved with a naturally rising and falling breath, but before long I felt like keeping pace with the drum beats and I was breathing fast again, remembering the rapid-breathing used in holotropic (and other types of) breathwork sessions, and I started to feel tingling sensations throughout my body, stronger than the tingling I am familiar with from breathwork.

Intrigued, I slowed my breath down and the tingling went away. The pace of the beat could not have been faster than the pranayama ratio of the Box Breath, yet I was experiencing what I suppose are symptoms of hyperventilation these tingles and an increased body temperature only minutes into the drumming track, so I’m guessing the drums combined with the breathing had a distinct physiological effect.

I don’t mean to over-analyse it too much, but that’s what I was doing during the journey anyway, so reporting on that is valid here too: I have an over-analytic mind as it is, and I haven’t been doing any mindfulness practice at all for months, so it’s not surprising that my mind would be racing to keep up with these new experiences, skeptically writing them off as merely symptoms of hyperventilation.

I suppose that when I become more accustomed to journeying and if I combine the practice with a regular mindfulness meditation, I will be able to let go of my conscious reasoning more and enter deeper into the unconscious.

Another interesting element of the experience is that the lavender oil on my skin smelled remarkable reminiscent of three olfactory hallucinations I have experienced during breathwork and love-making, which I have generally referred to as experiencing the ‘scent of the buddha’, a phrase/concept borrowed from the teachings of Osho …

… I can’t go into the details of those hallucinations right now, and it is enough to say that

I am only now beginning to learn that we can hallucinate with our noses as well as with our eyes and other sense organs. I mean, I have had the above experience of these, but I am just now beginning to learn that these are verified elements of hallucination. I’m wary of the term ‘hallucination’, and it would perhaps be better to say that I ‘imagined’ the scent of the buddha during my earlier experiences,

but anyway, the scent of the lavender oil on my skin today was the same as those imaginary smells of my three earlier experiences.

Those three times I was almost certain there were no essential oils involved (the first two times were with therapists who might have been using oils ~ the third time was with a lover who definitely wasn’t, and neither was I), so I had pencilled them up as hallucinatory or mystical or divine or something.

Now that I’ve experienced the exact same smell when I know for sure that I was using lavender oil, I feel uncertain about my former conviction that oils were not used in the first two instances.

Basically, this olfactory element amounts to another experience that challenges the reliability of the senses, which was a major theme of the insights I had during my spiritual emergency in January 2017.

Ultimately though, the most resounding element of the experiment was how it changed my state of mind from being anxious and tired to being relaxed and energised ~ it was like a super-charged meditation! Actually it was more akin to being yoga drunk ~ I don’t think I’ve ever emerged from a seated meditation session feeling as profoundly transformed out of stress into relaxation. Maybe the purpose of shamanic journeying is not to relax, but surely relaxation is a fundamental pre-requisite of successful shamanic journeying, the same as it is for good meditation and yoga.

So there you have it ~ my first brain dump about my first experiment with shamanic journeying.