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Archive for March, 2009

Robert Waggoner

Robert Waggoner

This weekend, author Robert Waggoner will come to Monkey Bridge Arts for a Dream Salon and a half day Workshop on lucid dreaming.  Robert is an excellent presenter and recognized internationally for his work with lucid dreams.

April Dream SalonFlowing with Creativity: Surrendering to the Lucid Dream
When: Friday April 3, 2009 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Where: Monkey Bridge Arts, St. Louis Park, MN
Cost: Free, donations accepted
Registration & information: sheilaasato@comcast.net or 952-412-4786

Description: Consciously aware in the dream state, we stand in the center of a beautiful intersection. On the one hand, we can consciously appreciate the beauty and wonder of the ever-flowing creativity around us. While on the other, we can direct our mental energies to shaping and creating the dream’s flow.

In this month’s dream salon, Robert Waggoner, will talk about a third option — surrendering to the lucid dream and allowing your awareness to flow with the creativity.

misc-images-005Lucid Dream Workshop Aware in the Light: The Five Stages of Lucid Dreaming
Date: Saturday April 4, 2009
Where: Monkey Bridge Arts, St. Louis Park, MN
Time: 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Cost: $40
Registration: SheilaAsato@comcast.net or telephone 952-412-4786

Description: Lucid dreaming can be fun, exciting, magical, even sensual.  But it can also be a path to spiritual liberation, according to Naropa.  Author and presenter, Robert Waggoner, will help you recognize the path beyond fear and desire and the allure of limiting assumptions, to where lucid dreaming opens awareness and sets you free.

Biography

Robert Waggoner is the President-elect of the International Association for the Study of Dreams. He co-edits The Lucid Dream Exchange, a quarterly publication devoted to becoming consciously aware
in the dream state.

As a lucid dreamer for 30 years with more than a thousand lucid dreams, he has used his awareness within the dream state to consciously explore and experiment along the “royal road to the Unconscious.”   A presenter at numerous conferences and colleges, he has published articles in DreamTime, the Dream Network Journal, Electric Dreams and the Lucid Dream Exchange.  Robert currently serves as a Board Member and Treasurer for IASD. He is the author of Lucid Dreaming – Gateway to the Inner Self.

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dscn6458The other day I went with one of my students for a walk around Lake Calhoun.  After such a long cold winter, it was a delightful way to spend the afternoon.

Having just returned from Japan, with all of the lovely plum and cherry blossoms still on my mind, I got to thinking about how to describe spring in Minnesota to my friends overseas.

To tell you the truth, when I was growing up in Minnesota, I never could understand why poets would go on about the delicate blossoms and fragrances of spring.  To me it seemed that everything just bloomed all at once and was then followed by the hot summer.  As far as I knew, there never was enough time to savor the beauty of spring blossoms, let alone write poetry, before the mosquitoes and thunder storms came.

Blossoms in Sakura City

Blossoms in Sakura City

However, when I lived in Boston, London and then Japan, I was astonished to discover that there are places in the world where spring does come in beautiful little increments, spread out over several weeks.  I even got an urge to start writing poetry.

When I moved back to Minnesota 9 years ago, I realized that although we don’t have the same gradual unfolding of pretty blossoms, we do have a beautiful transition of winter into spring that is marked more by the arrival of sound and movement, than by the coming of flowers.  To me, blossoms are now the end of a long process of melting and softening that comes with the transformation of ice and snow into the waters of spring.  Had I not lived away from here for so long, I don’t know if I would have appreciated how incredibly beautiful and hopeful that movement of ice into water can be.

Ice Melting on Lake Calhoun

Ice Melting on Lake Calhoun

This gradual transition of the frozen landscape of winter into the warm, soft world of mud and flowing water is what now marks the true beginning of spring for me.

Once the weather begins to warm up the first thing I notice every year is the return of the birdsong to the silent landscape.  Rather than looking forward to a new blossom each week, I find myself eagerly anticipating the sweet melody of each bird as they return north, pausing for a moment to sing in my backyard.

I also find myself looking forward to the sound of melting ice and trickling water which marks the begining of the transformation of the hard dry landscape of winter into a mydrid of puddles, rushing streams and cracking ice pushing up against the shores of the lakes nearby.

Frozen Waves Along the Shore of Lake Calhoun

Frozen Waves Along the Shore of Lake Calhoun

As I look over my dream diaries in preparation for a panel discussion I will take part in this summer at the IASD conference in Chicago, I am struck by the number of dreams that also focus on this process of thawing out, melting, becoming fluid and finally moving with ease.  There are dreams of frozen dogs coming back to life,  women trapped under a layers of ice and cars that have had restorative body work driving through the mud, among others.  In both the inner and outer worlds, this process of moving from a state of frozen lifelessness to a warmer, softer way of being in which the seeds that have been planted can now grow marks the coming of spring for me.  It’s time for me to get outside and see what has softened up and is ready to blossom soon.

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First cherry blossoms at Narita Temple

First cherry blossoms at Narita Temple

Today, as I write, I am sitting beside a warm fireplace at one of my favorite haunts in St. Louis Park, Panera Bread.  The light is brilliant ouside, but it is absolutely freezing.  It has finally gotten up to zero (-18c), which really makes me wonder why I came back from Japan just when the cherries where starting to bloom!  What a contrast.  When we arrived back in Minnesota the windchill was -25 f (-32c)!  How living here makes me appreciate the beauty and warmth of spring!

As I reflect back on my trip, I am struck by one phrase in particular that stood out for me as I traveled with a group of completely raw foreign women – “nama gaijin”.  Seeing things through their eyes, taking in their questions, and trying my best to translate from one way of being into another really made certain things stand out that I had never thought about before.  The phrase that stays with me is  “楽しんでください” or “please have fun”.

Have fun with your food!

Have fun with your food!

I never realized how much these words are used in Japanese until I had to continually translate them into English.  I suppose we would say “Enjoy”, as in “Please enjoy your food” or “Enjoy your bath”.  But the more we traveled together, the more I came to realize that a literal translation was actually better.   “Please have fun with your food” or better yet “Please play with your food” seemed to more accurately reflect the experiences they were having with Japanese cuisine.  So much of Japanese food really is fun – cooking at the table, opening pretty little dishes with nice lids, slurping hot noodles, grinding up sesame seeds and tasting beautiful dried flowers to mark a passing season.  Being with a group of women who were unfamiliar with much of Japanese cuisine reminded of how fun food can be.  Not only are the colors, textures and shapes wonderful to take in with all the senses but the ways of preparing food in Japan are really interactive and delightful.

kappabashiThis really hit home for me as we explored Kappabashi Dori – or Kitchen Ware Street – in Tokyo.  The incredible range of pots and cooking implements that were totally new to them made me realize how much I take for granted about Japanese food.  So much things were fascinating, especially all the ways of cooking at the table and the different kinds of pots and dishes used for specific meals.  Something as simple as having fire at the table, other than for candles, proved to be very novel indeed.

Pots along Kappabashi Dori

Pots along Kappabashi Dori

Irori - Japanese hearth with tea

Irori - Japanese hearth with tea

I realized that when someone tells me to “enjoy” a Western meal, it really is a more passive experience.  By contrast, when when I am served a meal in Japan and then left to prepare it by myself at the table, I really do have fun mixing, pouring, cooking and grinding up the ingredients.  Taking part in the creation of the meal really brings it alive and adds a new dimension to a meal.

So as I sit here next to the fireplace at Panera, I wonder if it would be too much to ask for my chicken on a stick so that I could grill it myself before eating it?  It would be so lovely if I could.  I guess I’ll just have to wait until my next trip back to Japan to cook at the table again.

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I had an interesting experience a few days ago that has stayed with me.   I was taking my students on a day trip out of Tokyo to a lovely old town called Kamakura.  A young man, about 22 years old, got on the train.  He stood by the door, fidgeting, swaying back and forth talking to himself.  Every now and again, he would utter a gasp of delight when he saw something intriguing.  Since we were in the first car of the train, he was able to go back and forth from the door to the window at the front to look out over the conductor’s shoulder to the tracks ahead.   The joy on his face as he watched the conductor reminded me of my sons when they were little.

After a while he began start reciting stories to himself.  The other people on the train politely ignored him.  I noticed that while no one actually moved away from him, neither did they move any closer to him.   Everyone seemd to silently agree that is was best to give him his own little bubble of space, an unusual luxury on crowded Japanese trains.

Several times, as he looked over in my direction to the trains traveling alongside of ours, I caught a glimpse of his face.  I immediately recognized the look of pure innocence which is so familiar to me.  It is a look that I know from years of experience being with people with autism and related developmental disabilities.  Seeing this young man out in public on his own, riding the trains safely filled my heart with such happiness and hope for the future for my own son.

Before the arrival of my youngest son, I might have felt anxious having a stranger near me talking to himself and moving back and forth on the train. Today, however, because of all of the years of experience I have loving and caring for my son, I felt such a warm kind of kinship with this young man.  His presence on the train made my day.  I was so grateful to see him out in public, doing something very ordinary by himself, like taking a train.

In all the years I lived in Japan, I have rarely seen a person with congnitive or physical impairments out in public with a caregiver in Japan, let alone by themselves.   Until very recently, handicapped people of all types were rarely seen in public.  Slowly Japan is changing it’s attitudes and I am so happy to have been able to experience this for myself on this trip.  Just sitting near this young man on the train helped take the edge off of a lot of complicated feelings that I have been carrying around for years after all of my own struggles in Japan trying to get help for my son when he was young.

Yesterday I had lunch at a fancy hotel restaurant with my teacher Kiyomi Saotome and our waiter was the son of a friend of mine from France and her Japanese husband.  Her son has also struggled with his own developmental issues, similar to my son’s.  I was so happy to see him in his splendid uniform and working in the restaurant.  It was so encouraging to see him taking such pride in his work and making a life for himself.

I wonder what the future will bring for my son?  If he will find employment which will give him joy and a sense of satisfaction when he gets older?  The world is changing, in this case for the better and I couldn’t be happier.  Who knows?  Maybe he would even want to spend some time in Japan again someday?

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