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Why Dreams & Altered States Of Consciousness Are Good For Us

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An underlined assumption in our society is that everyday waking consciousness is the truest expression of how things are in “objective” reality. We assume it to be more valid than say dream states or other forms of Altered States of Consciousness (ASC) such as visions, trance, hypnosis, meditative states or hallucinations brought on by substances such as ayahuasca.

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But what if this assumption is wrong? What if the realms we visit in an ASC such as dreams, are in fact just as valid, real and important (or perhaps more so) than  everyday waking consciousness?

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Evidence from perception science as well as quantum physics suggest this may in fact be the case. Furthermore, a deeper look into the ASC phenomenon itself reveals that it may be more valuable than many of us appreciate today with dramatic implications for humanity on an individual and collective level.

The Science Behind Our Experience

The brain does a lot of work behind the scenes to create a coherent, stable and predictable experience.  The following are two examples from perception that demonstrate this: Colour vision and the blind spot test.

Colour is Created by the Brain

As Sir Isaac Newton famously said:

“… the rays to speak properly are not coloured. In them there is nothing else than a certain power and disposition to stir up a sensation of this or that colour” -Sir Isaac Newton (1730).

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vision1Colour perception happens through a reaction between light of varying wavelengths that enter the eye and photoreceptor cells in the eye known as cones. Information about the wavelength of light is then sent via an electrical signal to the brain, which is perceived as colour. This process reveals a remarkable fact about our perception of reality:  There is nothing inherently “red” about an apple, apples appear red to us because of the nature of our visual system.

Another visual system could very well tell us different things about the objective world around us. In fact, the visual spectrum of light only describes the light visible to humans, the honeybee for example can perceive ultra violet light.

Filling in What Should be There

Another perception myth is that information out there comes in and is interpreted in a clean unbiased fashion. There are many examples of how this is not the case, but the blind spot experiment is a quick way to access how the brain fills in gaps continually without you even knowing it.

There is a blind spot in the middle of the eye in the center of your field of vision. This is because there is a total lack of photoreceptor cells where the optic nerve connects to the retina. How do we never notice this? Try the following demonstration:

Close your left eye and look at the square with your right eye.   Move closer to your computer. As you do so there should be a point where the red circle disappears and is replaced by a blue one.  Keep looking at the red square with your right eye, if you look at the blue square the red circle with reappear. 

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You can see here that your brain cleverly accounts for the blind spot not by merely extending the immediate surrounding (i.e. you don’t just see a white spot for instance), but actually accounts for the whole picture and interprets what is most likely missing.  This is one example of what is known in psychology as top down processing.

What I hope these examples illustrate is that although we assume our waking experience reflects the world out there, the line is less clear-cut.

Now take a look around you, the coherent integrated and seamless view before you is actually a product of your brain, which took a rough sketch of sensory input and built this scene for you.  This begs the question, could it be that the seemingly stable and predictable experience of everyday waking consciousness has merely fooled us into believing this is how things truly are?

The Nature of Everyday Waking Consciousness

The tricks our brain plays during a waking conscious state lead us to make conclusions about the nature of reality that are erroneous, such as how “solid” a solid object is. We now know that everything is made up of tiny vibrating particles that are mostly empty space. But this is not what we see when we look at solid objects, why would this be? Possibly because it is not generally useful for survival purposes.

Waking consciousness is good for getting around, like crossing the street. In fact, it evolved for this purpose. This does not necessarily imply it is the truest reflection of how things are.

Quantum Physics and the ASC Phenomenon

There is a great deal of similarity between the nature of reality at the quantum level and the reality one encounters in an ASC.  For instance, the world at the quantum level is made up of potential. Take the famous double slit experiment:

Here we can see at a fundamental level, matter behaves in a less defined fashion until met with something that aims to define it, in this case the measuring apparatus. This leads to one of the hardest implications to grasp about the potential nature of reality: That it may be more a sea of potential waiting to be interpreted then a stable and predictable mass and structure.

Interestingly, the ASC phenomenon exhibits many similarities to an interaction with a sea of potential. Consider dreams:

In order to create a dream, the mind accomplishes a powerful feat. It scans an individual’s past experiences, incorporates potential experiences (such as fears or hopes) and even integrates fantastical and imaginary ones as well (such as flying), tying these all into a narrative we recall as a dream.Dreams_of_flying

In a sense the mind uses potential to create the dream experience, much like the act of perception may be interacting with quantum potential to create the experience of matter, as shown in the experiment when “watching” the electron revealed it to behaved as a particle.

If at a fundamental level reality is potential, the notion that ASC are more “real” than everyday waking consciousness may in fact be closer to the truth.  In fact, perhaps ASC experiences allow us to perceive and interact with this potential more than ordinary consciousness permits.

The Importance of ASC

The ability to experience an ASC is absolutely universal to all of us since  our species appeared on this planet.  Interested individuals can read more about this in Graham Hancock’s Supernatural.

Many who research this phenomenon find that there is an undeniable element of self reflection with the purpose of eliciting learning, or the realization of something, whether it be about the self, society, the purpose of life, etc.

As dream researcher and advocate Montague Ullman stated:

“There is a magical mirror in this place we find ourselves while dreaming. It is a mirror capable of reflecting a profoundly honest picture of who we are rather than who we would like to think we are or who we would like others to think we are…. The view reflected back … is a view without pretense. It is the truth, as close as we can get to whatever we mean by subjective truth. In a sense it is a privileged portrait of intrinsic value to a dreamer in search of a more honest self-concept.” -Montague Ullman (1993)

Perhaps there is an optional upgrade to our consciousness available through ASC. Although we can get by with the regular model (our everyday consciousness), for those of us who seek something deeper, something richer out of life, there is the ASC.  Here we are able to access a higher level of awareness, beyond surviving to thriving.

Implications of ASC Individually and Collectively

The unpredictable nature of the ASC experience coupled with our poor understanding of its function has lead to its fundamental devaluing in our society. This is contrasted in more so-called “primitive” cultures where a great deal of importance and significance is often placed on these states.

It may be time to ask ourselves, have we lost something important?

Perhaps ASC, including dreams, meditative states, etc. are the lesson, the classroom so to speak, and waking reality is the exam.  By missing the message and denying our self the chance to encounter them, we may be showing up to the exam unprepared.

Sources

Blind Spot Test: http://www.hometrainingtools.com/a/blind-spot-science-project

“Dreams as Exceptional Human Experiences” based on a lecture presented by Montague Ullman, M.D., at the “Exceptional Human Experiences” conference held in New York City, June 13, 1993.

Supernatrual: Meeting with the Ancient Teachers of Mankind by Graham Hancock (2007)

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Consciousness

Are You Sure You Want To Cancel 2020?

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Many people have been wanting to cancel 2020 given all of the challenges that have arisen this year, but are these challenges not what we need to wake up?

  • Reflect On:

    Is humanity living in a way we are truly capable of? Are we really going to change and create a world where we can thrive if we all remain in 'normal' with our heads down just getting by? Perhaps we need a shake up!

A massive evolution in the way we think and live is long overdue, and now the environment is perfectly set for it to happen. Many call this process ‘raising collective consciousness.’ It’s no secret, 2020 has been a intense year, and you may have noticed that many are creating memes calling for the cancellation of 2020. This comes from the idea of ‘cancel culture’ which is an ideology whereby anything we don’t like, even if it’s only some of us, has to be shamed into cancellation as opposed to dealing with what it truly says about us and why we’re triggered by it. But more on this in a moment.

Deep down I imagine you feel it. What we are doing on a day-to-day basis in our lives feels limiting and it feels like we are capable of much more. This feeling comes from an innate desire within the deepest aspect of who we are, our soul, to continually evolve and expand as a being. It’s almost as if we begin to feel uncomfortable when we become stagnant and stop evolving or growing.

Right now, our current way of living societally and our current mass unconsciousness is causing us to push away that deep desire. We do this because we have become so identified with thought, that if a desire to shift or change comes up, and we cannot rationalize nor see how we can change, and in turn, we push that desire away to hold onto what we have grown comfortable with.

Thus, intensity and chaos have ensued in our world in an attempt to wake us up. Perhaps it’s time to embrace this desire for change. Do we really want our world to simply go back to normal? Was normal truly allowing us to thrive?

Ridding 2020?

A lot of people have been sharing the idea that we want to get rid of or cancel 2020 because it has been such a ‘bad year.’ I understand what train of thought can lead here, and I understand what way of being can lead here, but regardless, I feel it’s an important time to embrace what’s going on and ask big questions about what we’re doing as a collective – living life so disconnected from anything that deeply resonates with us. What we call ‘chaos’ has always been a potent tool for evolution, only, we often get in the way of that evolution by remaining asleep to what’s really going on around us, and continually pushing away that knowing that we can create meaningful change.

Most of what is rising to the surface right now, in terms of truths regarding current events, are all realities that people have been telling others about for years – and yet most of us just went on our merry way, heads down, living life as if none of it was happening. For example, elite child sex trafficking is one collective trauma being faced right now by many, and every day I hear of more and more people facing this reality, unsure of what to do about it as they feel despair. I cannot blame anyone for wanting to hide from this information. Life can be tough and very demanding simply to get by, so questioning our reality and why it is the way it is may not be at the top of our priority list. It may feel easier to just go on with our lives as if it’s not real, continually voting, putting these ‘corrupt’ individuals in power and accepting life as it is.

But if life is providing experiences that give us a chance to evolve beyond this old paradigm, is it perhaps time we listen? Can we truly just keep our heads down as we watch our collective uncomfort rise and mental health decline as our world no longer resonates with our being?

Just because the truth makes us uncomfortable, doesn’t mean we don’t need to address it, it just means we are avoiding it, and if we continue to choose not to look, it will ‘blow up in our face’ – just as it is right now.

May years ago people would ask me ‘Joe, do you think people will one day know about all that is going on behind the scenes?’ I said yes, there are collective truths and traumas people will HAVE to face, there is no avoiding it. This is why so many people are doing their inner work and becoming helpful members of the global community who will be able to help others through their emotional upheavals when more of this truth continues to come out, just like it is right now.

The human race has been oppressed for centuries. At the core, is the suppression of human consciousness. The less we know who we truly are and what we are truly capable of, the more we can be coddled and controlled into living lives that serve a few. The reality of this is coming to the surface.

So should we cancel 2020? Or embrace what it’s trying to bring up on a deeper level, and choose to focus on inner work, personal transformation ad collective transformation? This, as opposed to mentally and emotionally running around trying to say why everything is wrong and bad, will this truly bring about meaningful change?

We’re All Playing Roles

With that said, instead of looking at who the good guys are and who the bad guys are, I challenge others to think of it in terms of roles. What role are people playing for one another that allows us to question what’s going on, learn a lesson, and change? Do you want the world as it is today to continue in this manner? Do you feel we are capable of harmony and thrivability? What do you want the world to look like?

Viewing it in this manner will bring us to solutions as opposed to arguing about what the problems are from our political point of view. Staying within the paradigm of our current world, where we create sides, argue, and remain in a political landscape, will always create more separation and will limit our potential, won’t it? It’s time for a new perspective, a new way of looking at things, and in order for that to happen we must come to terms with what not paying attention has created in our reality.

When we live in this manner, are we living life fully? Or are we just getting by? Are we caught up in the future or the past, trying to live in those states? Or are we fully living now? Are we ready to move from a state of being where we are identified with our thoughts and ego constantly, and move to a state where we are truly who we are, our awareness, living fully?

This is what this transition is about. This is what 2020 is helping to bring forth: the necessary events and revelations that push us deeply to question our lives and society. Start dreaming again, start thinking outside the box. Whatever world you choose to plug into is the one we will actively create. If you feel humanity is capable of something different, or better, beyond just the changing of a president, then now is the time to truly put your intention and action into that.

It’s a potent time for change. Perhaps we don’t want to wish normal back into existence?

Explore this process more deeply here.

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Consciousness

Full Moon In Aquarius: Erratic Progression

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We are having a Full Moon in Aquarius on August 3rd/4th, it will appear the fullest on night of the 2nd in Western North America. This is the peak of the Lunar cycle that began with a New Moon in Cancer on July 20th/21st, as some of the themes mentioned in that article are still in effect.

The energies of a Full Moon are strongest in the days surrounding it yet its astrological configurations also play a part over the following two weeks. You may start to see its effects slowly build up after the New Moon prior to it.

Full Moons are a period in which we feel a push-pull between two opposing signs, in this case being the Moon in Aquarius and the Sun in Leo. It can play out as either a conflict, an integration, or some sort of dynamic playing out between the energies of both signs. The Moon reflects the expression of feeling and emotion while the Sun reflects the expression of ego and conscious self.

We may feel this opposition happening individually within us and/or we can also experience it play out around us with some people (or circumstances) expressing the Aquarius side and others expressing the Leo side. In some cases, Full Moons can also reflect/trigger some sort of change or release.

Full Moon In Aquarius Opposite Sun In Leo

We have been in Leo season since July 22nd and will continue until August 22nd/23rd. This is the sign of self-expression, creativity, love, affection, children, courage, vitality, passion, leadership, generosity, and playfulness. Ruled by the Sun, it is also about shining in our power and being in alignment with what really lights us up and gets us excited.

The negative expressions of Leo can be egotistical, self-absorbed, authoritarian, dramatic, stubborn, jealous, and hot-tempered.  As it is associated with seeking praise and attention, it can be demanding of respect and be boisterous without considering or caring about how others respond to that.

The Full Moon highlights and brings the energies of the opposing sign of Aquarius into this Leo backdrop. This is the sign of friends, networks, social dynamics, the group, the team, humanity, and being in the best interest of the collective. Associated with Uranus, it can be unconventional, idealistic, innovative, progressive, original, inventive, technological, reforming, and even revolutionary.

Negatively, Aquarius can be overly detached, aloof, unemotional, and very invested in the mind at the expense of the heart. Traditionally ruled by Saturn, it can also be unyielding when it comes to the ideas and perspectives that it has already decided on.

Both Leo and Aquarius have some similarities. They are ‘Fixed’ signs and therefore can both be determined yet stubborn. They are also both associated with originality and authenticity. In Aquarius, this comes from its unconventional and innovative Uranian attributes while in Leo it comes from being inspired by its Solar heart centred self-expression.

Full Moon Square Uranus, Sextile Chiron

The Sun and Moon are in a T-square aspect with Uranus bringing its energy strongly into the equation. This planet is associated with Aquarius and viewed as a modern ruler of this sign, therefore it emphasizes some of the Aquarian themes mentioned above.

This can also reflect an energy that is disruptive, unpredictable, erratic, nonconforming, and rebellious. It can be hard to focus and more prone to sudden changes, accidents, loss, or separations. However, it can also reflect liberation, breakthroughs, excitement, and is a good time to shake things up and try new approaches to things.

This Full Moon is in a supportive sextile with Chiron which shares unorthodox and innovative qualities with Uranus. Chiron is also about bringing healing and wholeness to a situation and is associated with personal growth. It brings a potential for integration, learning, problem solving, finding solutions, purpose, and the elevation of consciousness.

Full Moon Sextile Mars, Squaring Jupiter & Pluto During Pre-Retrograde Shadow

The Sun-Moon opposition is in a harmonious aspect with Mars which can bring an active, asserting, energetic, sexual, or even a competitive or fighting energy. Mars is also in its own sign of Aries as it slows down to go retrograde on September 9th/10th. We will be experiencing a period of adjustments over the coming months in how we apply Mars in certain areas of our lives depending on our personal birth charts. Some of the things that are happening this month, leading up to it, will contribute to that process.

At the time of this Full Moon, Mars is also in a tight square with Jupiter which has been building up in the days prior. It also moves towards a square with Pluto over the following two weeks. We may overextend ourselves during this time or do things in an excessive, overconfident, compulsive or obsessive way.

Conflicts around beliefs, perspectives, hidden matters, or abuse can also arise. As we get closer to mid-August the energy becomes more intense with an increased potential of power struggles. This aspect can trigger passion and is good for strategic actions. All of these factors mentioned in this section are cranking up Mars energy overall. I will be writing a separate article on the upcoming retrograde as we get closer to it, join my mailing list here to ensure that you receive it.

Mercury & Venus In Hard Aspects With Saturn, Venus Conjunct North Node

Mercury is in a tight opposition with Saturn. This can reflect thoughts or conversations that are cautious, hesitant, pessimistic, or limiting. We may experience delays or obstacles around commuting or communications with others.  The need to be realistic around certain issues may also come up.

Like Mercury, Venus has social qualities and is also in a hard aspect with Saturn, this one being a frustrating quincunx. It can be hard to integrate or juggle Saturnian areas of responsibilities, commitments, boundaries, discipline, and structures with Venus areas of friendships, love, pleasures, sensuality, values, money, attraction, or other things that are aesthetic related. We may need to be extra adaptable or make adjustments.

Venus is also moving towards a conjunction with the Lunar North Node in Gemini in the days following this Full Moon. New relations, or developments around past relations, could have a fated quality that can bring growth and help us to move forward in a better or constructive way.  Our perception or approach to Venus ruled areas (mentioned in above paragraph) may evolve in a helpful manner.

Things To Consider

In what areas of your life should you try new approaches? What can you do to shake things up? What are some potential solutions for issues you are facing? How can you use your creativity in an innovative way? What are your relations with others pushing you towards? How can you be more of a team player? How can you better balance needs of self with the needs of the group?   What parts of your life are calling for originality and authenticity?

These are just some examples of themes that could come up during this period; however, there may be other variations of this energy playing out as well.  If you wish to do any sort of intentional release connected to what has come up at this Full Moon, it is best to do so anytime over the two weeks following when it is waning. The exact moment of this Full Moon is on August 3rd at 3:59pm Universal Time. You can click here to see what that is in your time zone.

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Consciousness

The Benefits of Keeping A Dream Journal

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Recently, scientists from Caltech university proved that an ancient species of jellyfish has a sleep cycle. All known mammals, birds, reptiles, and fish on planet earth sleep, but this finding means sleep does not require a brain, and is one of the most ancient evolutionary traits around. So, a very important one.

If sleep is so important, could dreams be too? Dreams aren’t given much importance in modern society. In fact, dream sharing is considered oversharing around most office water coolers. But there are big benefits to taking your dreams seriously, and to keeping a dream journal. Even the Ancient Egyptians were known to keep “dream books.”

Faster Problem Solving

Many studies show that a well-rested mind is a smarter one. Students preparing for a test, for example, scored better when they dreamed about the test beforehand. Every night when you dream, your brain processes and categorizes all the day’s events. Your brain needs to dream to make sense of your waking life. But sleeping is not all you can do. By taking the extra step to remember and interpret your dreams upon waking, you are telling your brain that dreams are important to you. As a result, your dreams will take on a much more educational and beneficial role in your life.

Overcoming Anxiety

Nightmares are no fun, but they serve a purpose. Even rats have nightmares! A bad dream can help reveal your innermost fears, and give you a way to cope with them safely. If you’re like most people, you forget your dreams whenever you wake up. A dream journal will help you develop dream recall, causing you to notice different dream patterns, including reoccurring nightmares. This will give you valuable insight into all the anxieties that are holding you back in life, and give you a head start on addressing them. If you are having a reoccurring nightmare about being fired from your job, for example, you should practice positive thinking at work and confront any workplace challenges you have sooner than later.

Opportunity to Lucid Dream

Lucid dreaming, or becoming aware during a dream, can be induced by dream journaling. Lucid dreaming is a relatively fun and healthy hobby that has its own set of powerful mental health benefits. Many lucid dreamers regularly converse with “spirit guides” that give them advice and predictions to be used in the real world.

Better Spiritual Awareness

Ancient Egyptians believed that dreams contained messages from the gods, and so kept a careful record of them. The Egyptians weren’t the first to come up with this concept, and certainly weren’t the last. Every culture, it seems, from the Greeks to the Native Americans, have had similar beliefs about dreams.

Modern day mystics, including the late psychic Edgar Cayce, often focus on dreams as a way to remember past lives. Unbelievably, scientists have proven that memories and dreams can be inherited, passed on from generation to generation just like eye colour.

Whatever your belief system, keeping a dream journal forces you into a daily habit of thoughtful reflection, making you more aware of your deeper, wiser self over time.

Deciding to keep a dream journal could be one of the easiest, yet more life-changing decisions you’ve ever made! Luckily, there are many resources online to help get you started with a dream diary. Here are some beginner’s tips for keeping a dream journal:
•    Write in your dream journal every morning after you wake up
•    Don’t worry about stylist things like grammar, punctuation, or spelling
•    Keep your dream journal next to your bedside
•    Focus on dreams that are reoccurring
•    Remember to bring your dream journal with you when you travel

Before radio, television, and the Internet, people relied heavily on the dream world for entertainment and guidance, and this may have helped them to be more in touch with their inner self and spiritual side. By keeping a dream journal, you too can learn to tune out the outside world and tune up our own inner, conscious self.

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