Dreamwork & Meditation: Experiential Practices to Access the True Self

Recording dreams regularly will provide many insights not otherwise available to the waking mind.

Recording Dreams: A Form of Dreamwork

In a Spiritual Book Club I am facilitating, the members selected a very profound and experienced-based book by John Welwood called Toward a Psychology of Awakening.  At the start, Welwood makes the point that his Christian upbringing (and it is my personal opinion, many of our Christian upbringings) did not provide experiential practice for realizing our true natures even though there was wonderful ritual and music.  As a result, Welwood, like me and many in my generation, turned to Asian religions and other sources for insight.  Even today, I personally believe this is the primary reason why serious seekers are not attracted to the mainline Christian religions: there is often too much emphasis on the organization, joining it, being a member, and contributing to it—when what people really want is an experience of the divine!

In studying Buddhism at the graduate level, I was fortunate to have mentors who were well versed not only in meditation but also in working with dreams.  For me, it was primarily through dreamwork that I first developed a spiritual methodology that gave me a deeply meaningful experiential access to the spiritual life and its healing.  Later, through meditation, I experienced the power of intuition and other states of consciousness that inform one of the wide and awesome nature of our true being.  With such experience, the scriptures, rituals and music had all the more meaning!  I could personally relate to the stories of salvation and God’s presence in our lives.  These no longer seemed like myths and fairy tales.  Religion was no longer about following the rules or joining a group but about living a rich experience-based life with fellow seekers.

I think that if Christianity is to thrive, it will have to incorporate experiential practices such as dreamwork and meditation into regular activities such as bible class and Sunday school.

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Meditation Classes: Heart Centering, Relaxation and Visualization for Health

Spiritual Life Program at St. Mary's, Honolulu

Grow Spiritual Seeds

Starting Classes on Meditation!

Many thanks to your generosity, we are starting our first class on Thursday, Aug. 31, 6:30 pm at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 2062 S. King St., Honolulu, HI  96826. Topic: Heart Centering & Relaxation Meditations. The second will be the following Thursday, same time and place. Topic: Visualization Meditations for Better Health. BOTH CLASSES ARE FREE! So please come and tell others.

If you want to support more classes like these to grow spiritual seeds please visit https://www.gofundme.com/StMary-SpiritualLife or make a check to St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, send to same at 2062 S. King St., Honolulu, HI 96826 and put “Spiritual Life Program/Ministries” on the memo line. A BIG MAHALO!

Help Me Grow A Spiritual Life Program at St. Mary of Mo’ili’ili

Spiritual Life Program at St. Mary's, Honolulu

Grow Spiritual Seeds

If you like the blogs I have posted giving concrete and practical information on how dreams and intuition can be used to improve health and grow spiritually, please help me grow a Spiritual Life Program at St. Mary of Mo’ili’ili in Honolulu, Hawaii.  We are just now launching a fundraising campaign to support classes on spirituality, dreamwork, meditation and mindful exercise as well as to offer a guest speaker program and other activities-all of which serve to honor the body, mind and spirit, holistically.  Under the supervision of St. Mary’s rector, the Rev. Greg Johnson, I will manage the program and teach many of the classes as money becomes available. Perhaps there will be something of interest to you. Certainly your financial help will help us grow seeds planted by the late Rev. Nancy Conley at St. Mary’s.

To go to our GoFundMe page and find out more, please click on the link below:

https://www.gofundme.com/StMary-SpiritualLife

You may also fund the conventional way by making out a check to St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, for Spiritual Life Program/Ministries on the memo line.  Checks can be mailed to St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 2062 South King St., Honolulu, HI  96826.

Can We Make the Term Priestess Respectable?

A prietess is a woman who helps others connect to the divine.

Image via Pinterest.

While surfing on Pinterest I saw a definition of priestess and realized that I am truly one, along with some amazing ladies I know.  It is what I have been attempting to do ever since I began teaching dreamwork and meditation years ago.  Here is the definition:

A priestess is a woman who helps others connect to the divine so that they can heal and/or actualize their soul’s path.

I have found it interesting that women priests in the Episcopal Church are called priests and not priestess.  Perhaps the term resonates with witchcraft, and the wild things beyond the control of civilized constructs such as organized religion.  For sure, the term is connected to what the Hawaiians would call mana, or power.  Such power, no matter if it is a force of nature, or a force of our own souls or the force of a divine power, is indeed outside the control of humans.  Yet, this energy is what drives real spiritual enlightenment, healing, growth and conversion.  It is what religion is truly all about.   In resurrecting the term priestess, we can perhaps also bring back, or let back in again, the sacred life-giving energy that is needed to rejuvenate a person or a congregation.

I think all great priests, men or women, truly act out their calling when they serve this sacred function of connecting people to the divine, especially in a highly personal way such as attending to the needs of a dying person, doing spiritual direction, or healing a community conflict in such a way that it brings out the best in everyone.   However, nowadays,  sadly, emphasis is usually put elsewhere so that people are first more readily to identify priests as the performers of rituals and homilies that may or may not inspire and functionaries of religious organizations, not much different from a corporate CEO.   No wonder people, so many people, have a hard time finding life in a church!

All people hunger for an experience of the sacred.  Perhaps it will take priestesses to do the job, if the priests (male and female) don’t measure up to the job.  If this is the case, organized religion perhaps can expect to see a decline in attendance.

Class on Edgar Cayce Filled! Contact me for one-on-one classes.

Know all healing forces are witihn, not without.Recently on this blogroll I advertized a class I will be teaching this summer at the University of Hawaii Osher Lifelong Learning Center on Working with Dreams and Intuition in the Tradition of Edgar Cayce.  Edgar Cayce is considered by many to be the father of holistic medicine. This course will explore how Edgar Cayce intuitively diagnosed and healed, viewed dreams and intuition and show how his tradition continues today in the methods developed by the Edgar Cayce Institute for Intuitive Studies.  In this workshop, students will explore how Cayce intuitively diagnosed and healed, and learn how his approaches are used today.  Participants should be willing to do suggested dreamwork methods and intuitive methods.

This popular class quickly filled up and is now closed.  However, if you would like to have a one-on-one class of two 50 minute phone or Skype™ meetings to cover this material, please contact me (Fran Kramer) at info@healingdreamgarden.net.  Fee is $60.00 and can be paid by credit card at my website at http://www.healingdreamgarden.net. Handouts will be emailed to enrolled students before the first class session.

With aloha,

Fran Kramer, Intuitive Heart trainer certified by the Edgar Cayce Institute for Intuitive Studies

Working With Dream Themes: Being Led Somewhere

Prayer for Guidance

Image via Pinterest

One of the more common themes we find in dreams is being led somewhere by a dream guide. It may be a person we know, a spiritual being, an old man or an old woman or perhaps it is an animal such as a dog or a dolphin. For the most part, I personally find these dreams rather comforting because they usually come at a time of transition or just prior to transition, when I am feeling rather lost. A key to working with this kind of dream is to ask what the person or animal doing the leading means to me. What do I associate with this person or animal? What are their qualities or attributes? Why would they be leading me somewhere? What in my waking life would have prompted this person or animal to lead you?

Being Led by Thomas Merton

Fairly recently, I had a dream of being led somewhere by Thomas Merton, a well-known Trappist monk who was an inspiration to many Catholics in my generation during the 60’s for his writings on spirituality, Buddhism and peace. He died an early death in 1968 while visiting in Thailand to dialogue with Buddhist monks. A great fan of his, I think I have read just about everything he ever wrote, and around 1980 even considered entering Trappist convent! Then, life took me in other directions and it was a long time before I even thought about Thomas Merton. So when I had this dream, it aroused my curiosity. However, even after some reflection, the dream didn’t seem to make much sense.

It was not until I planned to enter the priesthood training program sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of Hawaii that meanings to this dream began to surface. While reflecting on what I could bring to the Episcopal priesthood in terms of experience and interest, my strong background in Buddhist studies and my interest in cross-cultural communication and inspiration suddenly came to mind. This is exactly what Thomas Merton was trying to do: bring the wisdom of Asian to Christianity so that we might learn ways to more profoundly experience spiritual truths for ourselves. I began to see this as something I might be called to do—especially working with average people who are not in monasteries to explore their own deep inner resources such as through intuitive meditation techniques and dreamwork. That I felt called to priesthood was just another common ground I shared with Thomas Merton. Now, I would like to think he is smiling down on me and guiding me as I continue on this fascinating and challenging journey!  He knew a lot about being lost on journeys.

So I would ask you to think about the people and animals that have led you in dreams. Where are they taking you?

To learn more about dreams, visit my website: http://www.healingdreamgarden.com.

Is Your Meditation Working for You?

There are all sorts of meditations out there that can be used for a variety of purposes. Each teacher of meditation seems to have one that he or she prefers, usually because that form of meditation has worked well for that person and a number or his or her students.

However, if you have tried to learn a form of meditation and have become frustrated because, after due practice, you feel it isn’t doing anything for you, don’t give up on meditation. Just try other forms of meditation!

Ask Yourself What You Want from Meditation

Are you looking to relax, lower blood pressure, or are you looking for insight or deeper spiritual experience? Some forms of meditation can do all of the above but usually each meditation is particularly good at bringing a specific outcome, especially if practiced with due diligence. Here are some meditations I use which work for me for the purposes indicated.

  1. To relax and perhaps lower blood pressure and heart rate: On a quick deep inhalation from the solar plexus, count three and on the exhalation count seven, letting the breath out slowly. Or you may trying counting two on the inhalation and four on the exhalation—just make sure the exhalation is at least twice as long as the inhalation. This will quickly give you feeling of becoming more relaxed. After a minute of doing it, you may fall asleep! This is a good practice to do for about a minute before doing another form of mediation that is better suited for something else.
  2. To gain intuitive insight: After doing a relaxing meditation such as the one above, tell yourself that you would like to receive insight about a specific and genuine concern you have , either for yourself or someone else. Follow an inspirational meditation such as the Inspired Heart™ Meditation developed by Henry Reed, Ph.D., which includes the following:
    a. Initially just observing the breath, the inflows and the outflows.
    b. Then give thanks on the inflow for the breath that is coming to you like a gift, an inspiration!
    c. After a few moments, imagine letting go of any negative energy on the outflow.
    d. For a few minutes sit observing the breath, saying thanks on the inhalation and letting go on the exhalation.
    e. Then watch of any form of insight to come: images, thoughts, sounds, impressions, feelings, physical sensations. These will be pertinent and provide inspiration to helping with the concern brought to the meditation.
  3. For a deeper experience of God: Try doing a form of centering meditation. Basically this involves sitting comfortably while meditating on a meaningful word such as Spirit or Jesus. One repeats the word when one finds one’s thoughts are wondering. What may result is something like this: you “see” your thoughts passing by like boats on a river. And below you sense something like an ocean of profound peace.

Opening a Path to the Personal Experience of God in Christianity

Image via Amy Alexander

Traditionally, and very generally speaking, one of the major differences between Asian and Western religions is that Asian religions emphasized inner development as the way to spiritual growth and the Western religions emphasized the need for social action such as giving to and standing on the side of the poor. That is not to say the opposite wasn’t true; but in the West you usually would have to go to a monastery or nunnery to get real guidance on the interior path and in the East there were socially minded activists but they tended to be revolutionaries rather than religious leaders.

The lack of an interior path to spirituality that was readily available to the average person and didn’t include going into a highly structured monastic environment, was one reason why many Westerners stopped going to church and were drawn to the New Age Movement which is open to a variety of spiritual paths emphasizing personal inner development through the Asian methods of meditation, yoga and healthy eating practices. It is ironic that one of the persons who helped sparked the New Age Movement was Edgar Cayce who emphasized that each person had to find his own way. A devout Christian himself, he said that Christ was the model for all human kind and that each soul in its own way was seeking this ideal. But he also said that all religions would lead people to this end and that certain practices would greatly facilitate the process. Among these practices he advocated were the importance of:

  1. Being in a small spiritual reflection group where all were equals and that each person could support each other in an environment of respect. In such a group people could help each other to find their own unique paths. A religious leader would not be there to impose a doctrine or a set way, as is usually the case in Bible classes. Individuals would arrive at their own conclusions from materials read and discussed.
  2. Consistent and on-going dreamwork and intuitive meditation to understand the nature of one’s soul and its expression.
  3. Exercise and healthy food in the right combinations and portions as the best medicine.

I personally think that mainline Christian religions would be wise to incorporate these practices into their religious education classes, appropriately modified for the age group of the persons involved. What is sorely needed is an approach that entails the development of an interior spiritual life that anybody can do. These methods work; and they bring a personal experience of God at the profoundest levels. Unfortunately, and as a result of how religious instruction is done emphasizing textual knowledge and an intellectual understanding of the bible, many Christians have to face a personal crisis that knocks them off their horse before they have this kind of personal experience of the divine.

The Human Body: An Energy Field Connected to Other Energy Fields

Body as transmitter of information and energy

A Connection of Energy Fields

From Asian cultures we learn that the body is essentially an energy field connected directly or indirectly to all other energy fields in the universe. Because all fields are interconnected, they are capable of transferring information and energy. That means we have access to an infinite amount of information. We are all aware of how we receive and send information through the five senses of taste, touch, smell, sight and hearing.  But what about the so-called sixth sense?

Receiving and Sending Intuitive Information and Energy

Many of us are not so aware how we can send and receive information and energy through intuition in the form meditation and dreams. The intuitive images, sounds, feelings, and sensations that we pick up spontaneously or receive in dreams and meditation are identifying symbols for unique, relevant information and energy within and without us that can be used to help ourselves and others. Any of the senses can be a vehicle for an intuitive message because our bodies are wonderfully designed to transmit information through the five senses as well as the sixth sense of intuition. Just as we pick up data through touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste coming from outside us, we can register intuitive data coming from within us through those same senses.

Sending intuitive information and loving energy is very much like using our senses to send and receive information about what we see or hear except we do it in an intuitive, altered state of awareness such as meditation, deep prayer or dreams. In these states we intend to receive or to transmit information or energy, and it happens! We can intend to have dreams that will help someone else by giving deeper understanding, clues to resolution or a diagnosis of the issue. While in meditation or prayer, we can send healing energy and even information to someone through the imagination and intention.

When you think of the body as a bundle of energy in addition to it’s amazing physical capabilities, it is truly amazing.

To learn more about dreams, visit my website: http://www.healingdreamgarden.com.

4 Suggestions to Be More Intuitive

Reflection Opens Us to Intutiion

Reflection Helps Open the Depths of Intuition
Image by Svornik

I need to recognize that with my waking mind alone I do not see, and will never see, the complete picture.  There will never be enough facts.  Life is entirely too complex to fully understand a person, an issue or an event.  That is why the Buddha said we are each like blind men touching one small part of the elephant.  What part of the elephant I feel is what gives me the definition of an elephant.  Maybe the guy touching the elephant’s side gets an idea of the huge size of the creature, but he has no clue to the column-like legs while the guy holding the tiny tail thinks the elephant is like a tiny snake. I need to ask if I am seeing the bigger picture.

    • I need to recognize when my waking mind is on overload, hopelessly yet valiantly trying to figure it all out.  A good indicator of an overworked mind is the constant replay of scenarios or endless chatter going on in the head which can totally absorb and suck me in. It’s time to bail out, and give the brain a rest!
    • I need to step back.  When I feeling I am getting sucked into this internal whirlpool I need to step back and try something else.  Taking a walk, just walking away from the problem or listening to music can really help give the mind a rest.  Ironically, effective and problem-solving intuitive insights often just “come” after I let the problem go and take a breather.
    • I can explore methods that work safely and quickly for me to not only get me beyond the pull of the internal mental whirlpool but also can provide desired insights that address the need of the moment.  I can act proactively to get the results I want and not just wait for them to come.  Asian religions and the Judeo-Christian mystical traditions have long explored ways to do this.  Nowadays, non-sectarian methods have been developed based on the findings of these religious traditions. Basically these methods involve:
    • Stating or write down the situation or concern needing a resolution.
    • Invoking higher or inner wisdom to provide an answer to the situation or concern at hand. This can be done either in prayer form to a deity or inner guide, or can be done with intention to learn from higher wisdom.
    • Stilling the mind by focusing on the breath or a still point.  There are many techniques out there to do this.  Try several and use the one that works for you.  A simple and very effective method was developed by Dr. Henry Reed, Ph.D., Director of the Edgar Cayce Institute of Intuitive Studies.  It is called The Inspired Heart Meditation and can be downloaded at: http://edgarcayce-intuitionschool.org/intuitiveheart/world/Inspired Heart Meditation.pdf.
  1. Relaxing the body.
  2. Allowing any sensations such as images, feelings, sounds, impressions, etc. to well up.  Look for the particularly subtle impressions.
  3. Observing these sensations.  No matter how bizarre or irrelevant they seem, there most likely is a connection to the problem at hand.
  4. Asking what these sensations have to do with the problem posed
  5. Observing the responses that come to mind.
  6. Reflecting on the associations that come to mind.
  7. Forming a conclusion.
  8. Lastly, but most importantly, acting on the new information received and the conclusion arrived at!

It is important to understand that this exercise is like any other; the more often it is done, the faster you can do it; and the easier and more effective it becomes.  Like riding a bike, in the beginning it may feel a bit awkward but eventually the person gets the “hang” of it.