Recently, author and blogger, Robert Waggoner, invited me to join him and other authors in a blog tour that highlights authors who write about intuitive understanding.
When I first met Robert years ago at an International Association for the Study of Dreams conference, he shared a dream with me of strange Japanese ritual. I immediately recognized it as a kind of shamanic practice that I had heard about in the mountains of Japan. Our shared connection with Japan became the basis of a lovely friendship that I continue to treasure today. So when Robert asks me to do something, like joining a blog tour for authors, I can hardly refuse, even though I have yet to publish a book of my own!
Robert is the author of the acclaimed book, Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self. He also co-edits the magazine, Lucid Dreaming Experience, and speaks at workshops, university campuses and conferences worldwide on this exciting topic. Robert served as a past president of the International Association for the Study of Dreams. A lucid dreamer since 1975, he has logged more than one thousand lucid dreams.
For this blog tour I was asked to answer four questions about intuitive understanding and writing. Check out the questions and my responses below:
1. What am I working on?
I am currently thinking about writing my first book for publication – something I have always dreamed of doing, literally, but have yet to accomplish. Now that my grand-baby and his parents have moved out of our basement and our younger son with autism has become more independent, I finally have a window of opportunity in which to focus on moving this book from the world of dreams into waking life. The focus of my book will be on integrative health through the arts and dreaming.
Although I regularly make and exhibit unique, handmade books, as a book artist, as well as write articles, I have found the task of writing a book for publication daunting. I imagine that I am not alone in this! Yet my students, clients and friends continue to ask me to take what I teach and put it into book form for them. Most recently, even my integrative physician Dr. Greg Plotnikoff, suggested that I should write a book as a way of improving my health and chronic joint pain!
To be honest, while living between the English and Japanese languages has deeply enriched my life, at the same time, it has made it difficult for me to write with any ease. I am far more fluent in the spoken word and visual arts, than I am in writing. However, I have always kept journals for myself, as a way of deepening my understanding of the world around me.
The day after Robert asked me to be the next “author” in the blog tour, Dr. Greg also suggested that I meet with a writing coach, to make the process of writing a book more enjoyable. So I met with Steve LeBeau, a “book doc”. What a fascinating experience that was! With a background in philosophy, journalism and cross-cultural studies, as well as his own personal ties to Japan, Steve immediately put me at ease and got me excited about the possibility of collaborating with someone who is able to guide people through process of writing. By the end of our conversation, I was very excited about the possibility of actually birthing this book sometime in the near future!
Before committing to this project, however, I need to ask the dreams for guidance, and support, as I always do before taking on new work. This well allow my intuitive self a chance to speak in it’s own way, confirming whether or not it is willing to support this project. If these two aspects of self, conscious and intuitive, are not in agreement, then it could be a complete waste of time and energy. So for ten days, I will put pressure on the dreaming through a process called dream incubation. Each night, I will seek guidance and support from my dreams by reciting the phrase “show me my book” as I fall asleep. I am eager to see how the dreams will respond.
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Everything I do is informed by dreaming. If I had to pick a genre for my writing it would be art, Integrative health or dreaming. What sets me apart from other authors in these fields is that I have lived between the cultures of America and Japan for more than 3 decades, so I innately write from a cross-cultural perspective. For example, long before anyone in the West was using terms like Ki or Chi, to describe the vital life force that flows through all of creation, I was working with a Zen calligraphy master in Japan, learning experientially how to move Ki through the brush onto the page. Everything I write today about dreams, healing and creativity has its roots in my early experiences an exchange student in Japan in 1979.
My areas of interest and expertise are broad and cover many disciplines, including the arts, bookbinding, creativity, cross-cultural communication & psychology, spirituality, holistic health, education, dreaming and the Japanese language, culture and aesthetic traditions. My strength is in bridging different areas of specialization and finding the common threads between them, which connect in surprising and beautiful ways. I also love teaching and facilitation, so whatever I write also has an educational component to it. My audience is primarily people who are interested in the arts and dreaming, people facing health challenges, or people living between cultures, such as ex-patriots on a foreign posting, third culture kids and biculturals like myself.
3. How does my writing process work?
All of my work comes directly from dreaming. In practice, this means that dream incubation is an essential part of my creative process. Dream incubation is an ancient practice in which one works very hard on something in waking life, gets stuck and then turns to dreaming for support and guidance. Ever since I was a child, I have done this quite naturally. I would work hard on something during the day, hit a wall and then sleep on it. The next day I would wake knowing what the next step is. It could be something as simple as trying to figure out how to make a secret fort in the backyard when I was a child, to writing my master’s degree thesis, as an adult. Each night, I would go to sleep with a request for guidance on a particular issue. Then I would sleep with the promise of acting on whatever wisdom the dreams might share with me.
It’s important to note that I rarely, if ever, take dreams literally. Rather, I take the energy of a dream into my body as I wake in a process I now know as “embodied imagination work”. This is a way of working with dreams, which was pioneered by Robert Bosnak and Jill Fischer. However, long before I completed my certification in embodied imagination coaching, I understood intuitively that it was possible to take the energy of a dream into my body and then work with the memory and energy of that dream within the body, as it guides me through the next step in my creative work. This is the way I write, the way I paint and the way I teach. I work hard during the day, run into an obstacle, dream, invite the dreaming into my body upon waking, express gratitude and then move into the day with fresh dreams stirring within me as I work. I never know where they will lead, but I have come to trust the dreaming to lead me towards greater health and wholeness.
4. Why do I write what I do?
Frankly, I do all of my creative work, including writing, so I can sleep. When there is an image that is seeking form in the waking world through me, I find that if I do not honor it or give it expression through writing, art or dance, then I am plagued with nightmares. However, when I welcome the creative spirit of the dreams into my waking life and creative work, I not only sleep better, but my health improves and daily life is so much more fun and interesting! It also gives me a chance to meet wonderful people like Clare Johnson, who I would like to introduce as the next writer in this blog tour.
Clare Johnson is a friend and also a member of the International Association for the Study of Dreams. She is also known by her pen name Clare Jay. Clare is a joyful, creative woman who regularly leads “Dreamwriting” workshops at international conference and retreats, as well as Creativity Weekends and short story courses. Be sure to check out her dream based novels Breathing in Colour and Dreamrunner. I especially find her writer’s trance process useful. Drawing on her own experiences as a lucid dreamer, Clare has come up with some very fun and insightful ways of writing that draw deeply upon the experience of dreaming. I hope you will check out her blog next week.