I woke again from dreaming. The familiar blend of bodily discomfort, emotional heaviness, and mental ennui was there to greet me. It was a feeling of being caught between a world of dreams, still calling to me but mostly out of reach—floating fragments barely coherent as thoughts or images—and the wake-world, all-too-familiar, but considerably less alluring.
That particular morning—Monday May 11th—the dream fragments included a glimpse of, or partial visit to, Hell (some quite specific structure); a giant marauding reptile breaking up from underneath a city, destroying social reality; and discussing with Robert Downey Jr. how best to auction off clothing from some of his movies, including baggy shorts he wore in Weird Science. There were also some flying dreams, maybe lucid. A garbled mess, of no use to me, or anyone else.
Instead of trying to access more dream fragments, I placed my attention on the sensations in my body. The residual memories of dreams seemed to be related to the sensations, discomfort verging on pain, weariness in the joints, muscles, and fascia, all bleeding into thoughts and emotions that were also sensations, coagulating into another currency.
A familiar enough scenario: waking up in physical exhaustion and mild pain, with the feeling of having lost access to a wealth of fascinating experiences in other worlds, of another life. Together these feelings combined into a strong incentive not to become fully conscious or enter “the day.” So I just lay there.
Though the experience was common enough (especially in my past, not so much lately), the context was subtly altered due to points raised by Dave Oshana on the online event of the day before, “Real-Life Inception: Waking Up in the Barely Perceived World of Unending Dreaming.” A few of those points are distributed through the remainder of this piece, in italics.
When we dream, different characters, essences, spirits, come out.
We take our consciousness into the body to find what’s there. Once our consciousness has gone into all the neighborhoods in the body, there’s nowhere left for anything to hide.
Just because you don’t remember things doesn’t mean the memories aren’t there. The body is like a juke box: there may be only one song playing, but there are many others that can be pulled up with the right code.
There are sequences of sensations distributed through the body that can be accessed by various means. Once we die, there’s no way to get these memories back.
I did not take many notes on this event. Nor did I much enjoy it, compared to other recent events, perhaps because there were some new people and Dave was more in teacher-mode than usual, and less entertaining. Add to that the fact that the teaching in question was less mentally stimulating than usual (hence the lack of notes), being largely focused, not on dreams as announced in the event description, but on the interconnectivity of the parts of the body and of existence, and the many subtle communications that make up these systems we are embedded within.
But there was more to my lack of interest. A heavy mood was still hanging over me from the day before, when I had attended an impromptu affinity group hosted by Dave, with a focus on “ancestral goop.” Since then, old patterns of despondence had been imposing themselves onto my awareness and bleeding through into my behavior.
Any kind of bad sensations or feelings we experience as a result of absorbing the energy of others can be transmuted into something good. When energy that is absorbed by us during the day remains unprocessed, it stays in different parts of the body.
During sleep, when our consciousness encounters unprocessed experiences from the day, it gets stopped, as by a troll that prevents passage in a video game, challenging us with a riddle to solve. People who use psychedelics are desperate to solve the riddle of their dreamtime.
The night before the Saturday event, I had a dream in which I was discussing with my sister the condition of our ancestors in the afterlife. I felt, and to some degree experienced, how, now they did not have physical bodies to contain and process their life experiences, their awareness was a kind of jangly mass of inchoate sensory experience, a terrifyingly overwhelming perceptual chaos of unprocessed and undifferentiated feelings, images, sounds and sensations. It seemed like our job, as the surviving descendants, was to process and organize that chaos, in order not to wind up in that same state of perpetual perceptual confusion and meaninglessness when we died.
When we sleep, we get to find out what’s behind our conscious mind. These are things that only return to our awareness when we are sufficiently quieted. When we sleep, our daily awareness drops into consciousness (which we remember as being unconscious). If our sleep isn’t deep enough, we don’t get to “reset.” The aim is to drop deep into the cells, organs, and bones, all the way through, and pop out into a non-material place.
During the Sunday event, something sparked a sudden realization in me: the experience I had of being a separate person, the luxury of distance between myself and others that allowed me to have my own “private life,” it would all soon be over, and probably forever. Whether it was through “enlightenment” (according to Dave, the end of the illusion of being separate from existence) or death, the loss of the body that contains my awareness and keeps it “discreet” from everything else around it, either way, I would soon no longer be able to continue this blissfully isolate existence, as a man who dreamed he was an island.
As the event proceeded, I relaxed more and let go of my critical thoughts and emotional resistance. I was in the hammock throughout (as was, coincidentally, someone else on the event, who happens to share a first name with my dead brother); so the option of simply enjoying my physical conditions was always available.
During the second half of the event, Dave suggested we place our attention on the feeling of our heartbeat pulsing beneath our fingernails. I found the suggestion inviting and easy to follow. Within moments of placing my attention, I began to drift into a sleep-like state. Each time I did, a dream image appeared in my awareness and I became more fully awake again. It was a very pleasant experience of moving back and forth over the threshold of sleep and waking, between physical sensation and dreaming. During one such crossing, I saw an image of a dog, and a moment later I woke to the sound of the dog next door, barking in the yard. The image had preceded the sound.
Like bunnies tapping in a forest to communicate with one another, all our organs are signaling back and forth, all of the time. This is how we know things that we are not conscious of, through changes in our bodies.
If everything should stay the same, something inside us will wonder if we are dead.
Viscerally, I know what Dave is referring to when he says that dreams are sensations. I have spent decades trying to decode the sensations of my body, not in an attempt to become enlightened but because the Grinch of my chronic fatigue syndrome meant that, for many years, my body was a seething mass of symptoms that were both hideously painful and weirdly ephemeral. Not-quite physical, they were like intimations of another dimension, a dimension where my soul was entangled in a putrid, poison-oozing web that was slowly squeezing the life out of it.
When I first met my wife online in 2008, I told her about my body pains, and she suggested I try and draw my symptoms each morning, creating a daily map of my somatic misery. Her idea was that, by turning sensations into images, I might decode the bodily signals, or unpack them, and so gain some relief.
This was the period just after I turned forty, which according to Carl Jung is when our attention needs to shift from the outer world to the inner world. (This was also the year I met Dave.) During this period, I had started to observe a correlation between my body symptoms and my dream life. This was at the tail end of my “psychonaut,” years, from early twenties to late-thirties, when I underwent many visions through the use of salvia and DMT and other things, which turbo-boosted my dream life.
By the time I turned forty I knew that I had surpassed my body’s—and my psyche’s—natural capacity to process such “out of this world” experiences. I had begun the slow, painful, and humbling process of paying back-taxes for all my illegitimately gained insights. And as I became more sensitized to the condition my condition was in, I noticed that, the more cosmic and visionary my dreams, the further out I went at night, the harder it was to come back into my body, and the worse I felt physically.
Returning from these epic dreams was less like coming back into my body than having to reassemble it. On particularly bad mornings, I felt in danger of dying. It was as if my consciousness had been spread out across the universe, spread so thin that the molecules might never again reassemble into my physical body. During agonizing periods of trying to gather enough strength and vitality to get out of bed (which often took over an hour), my body felt like a gaseous cloud of particles. It was the very opposite of a blissful experience, however. It was as if the spaces between the electrons of my consciousness were filled with some toxic substance.
At some point, my wife suggested that, instead of flying off into cosmic visions when I was asleep and dreaming, I might reverse my attention and try to travel inwards, to the interior of my body. I followed her advice. After a while, instead of flying off in search of visions the moment I became lucid, I sat down in the dreamtime, and placed my attention on my body.
If we put our attention on our insides, we may notice connections between the various organs. If we tune into our livers, we may notice a taste in our mouths. Our conscious mind doesn’t register these body communications during the day, and so the sensations get translated into characters and scenarios in dreamtime.
There is no way around our interconnectivity; the only thing is to become conscious of it, and to cease fighting to tune it out.
Our organs dream constantly. What would happen to the conscious mind identity if those organs should wake?
Next online Oshana event, “Driving Deeper: Lifting the Corners of Unreality.”
There is a free online “affinity group” meeting for Auticultured Oshana participants (must have attended at least one online Daevent), every Wednesday, at 9 am Pacific time, noon Eastern, and 5 pm UK time, on Zoom. Email me if interested.