09-08-17 Update

What I’m reading
I took a short break from Lucid Dreams: Gateway to the Inner Self and read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne. It was a nice change of pace and a pleasant diversion. I found the play script to be quite engaging yet, in some ways, a bit disappointing.

In many places I got the feeling that in some of the “alternate realities” some of the characters didn’t quite ring true. Being a play script, the back stories are left to the the reader, actor, and director to interpret and fill in whereas in a novel, the author, more often than not, fills in the details.

There also seemed to be “facts” that didn’t line up with the history from the books and movies. I realize that the films often deviated from the novels and I can’t always place in which medium the events took place. One instance is that Cursed Child has Bellatrix LeStrange in Azkaban but in The Deathly Hallows, (book and movie) Molly Weasley kills her in the Battle of Hogwarts. There is also the matter of the Polyjuice potion. In Chamber of Secrets, it takes Hermione at least a month the create the potion and it tastes incredibly foul while in Curse Child, it’s readily made and the taste, while unpleasant, is palatable. I’m not by any means a Potter-geek but even I noticed these aberrations.

Probably the one thing that stuck with me with this story was the dangers of using time travel to correct mistakes in the past. If we could change things in the past, we can’t know the ramifications that will result. In my reading, I saw a line about “infecting time” that I have not been able to locate again. That line, resonates well with my own thoughts about the potential consequences of traveling in time. I’m opposed to the idea. I think the past has played out just as it was supposed to but in the present moment we make choices that shape our future.

In Lucid Dreams: Gateway to the Inner Self I’m in the last chapter. I read the chapter on interacting with the deceased earlier in the week. I found that chapter quite intriguing and the possibility of making contact with long passed ancestors is exciting. The chapter talked about how religious beliefs or beliefs about an afterlife may be obstacles but I have had a few experiences in the years since my mother’s passing that have hopefully left me open to the possibilities.

Project I’ve been working on
I finally got around to making the step-stool that my wife had been asking me to build for months. I made it the correct height for her and now I just need to put a protective coating on it and finish it up. It’s no masterpiece but it does the job but she’s happy with it. If she’s happy, I”m happy.

Quote I’ve been pondering
“Your religious beliefs should never be imposed upon anyone, including yourself. ” ~ R.B. Romig

Weekend plans
Tonight I’m scheduled to work the concession stand that the high school football game with my son. He has two kids in the marching band this year and band parents are obligated to pitch in and I’m helping him out. With any luck I’ll be able to see them perform at half-time.

I’ll miss seeing them perform on Saturday at the 50th Anniversary Half-Time USA Marching Band Festival because I’ll be attending my niece’s wedding. I always try to attend the band festival. It’s a chance to see my grandchildren perform (and this year will be the only year they’re both in the band) and it’s a chance to see other high school marching bands strut their stuff. It’s not a competition but a showcase for the bands. It’s an enjoyable evening watching a lot of talented high school kids perform. Not everything has to be a competition.

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08-25-17 Update

Event attended
This past Saturday my 45th high school reunion. It was a small, low-key affair held at a local Italian bistro. I’d estimate that maybe 40 out of about 325 graduates (yearbook count). We had a larger turnout at the Class 60th birthday party three years ago (about 85). We’ve been having annual gatherings since then.

Until the 60th birthday bash, I hadn’t attended any reunions. I was overseas when they had the 10th and 20th reunions. I tried to make it to the 25th but something came up. I’m not sure there were plans for the 30th and 40th reunions.

Truth is, I lost track of my classmates almost immediately after graduation. Other than having gone to school with them for 6 to 12 years, I didn’t feel that I had that much in common with them. After 45 years, that really hasn’t changed much. I’m not particularly nostalgic and I view different periods of my life as chapters in my life story. Sometimes characters make cameo appearances in later chapters.

My life since high school hasn’t been anything I could have imagined while in high school. Nor can I imagine my life if I had not left my hometown. All I can be sure of is that it would have been quite different. I’m grateful for the life I’ve had and the blessings I now enjoy are a result of path I chose long ago. Would I have done some things differently or made different choices. In hindsight, maybe. But every choice I’ve made, good or bad, has led me to where I am now. Who can say how any deviation from that path might have altered my present? I really don’t see any purpose in pondering that. In some ways I’m much the same as I was then but in many other ways I’ve evolved and grown so the last 45 years haven’t been wasted.

What I’m reading
Still working my way through Lucid Dreams: Gateway to the Inner Self. I think I’m at the beginning of chapter 16. I still haven’t experienced a lucid dream but I’ve had some unusual dreams in the last couple of weeks. I’ve read that taking 100mg of vitamin B6 before bed can lead to more vivid colorful dreams. I had a vivid experience the first night I tried it but haven’t noted any effects since then. I’m not even sure that one experience was a dream as I seemed to be aware that I was awake with my eyes closed. I’ve also begun to transform my sporadic meditation practice into a part of my daily routine.

Quote I’m pondering
“Sometimes what you’re most afraid of doing is the very thing that will set you free.” ~ Unknown

Most people like the idea of freedom but, in reality, freedom scares the shit out of them and they resent or even hate those who choose to be free. When you are free you have to think critically, think for yourself, and take responsibility for your actions. Most are not ready or willing to do those things. Far too many people are content with others granting or withdrawing their freedom as if it was some kind of privilege. Freedom is not a privilege; it is your birthright! You were born to be free.

Weird Images

This occurred early this morning.

I don’t think this was a dream but it was dreamlike. Before bed I took 100mg B6. A short while later I went bed and listened to a 61 points of light relaxation exercise then a 30-minute binaural audio track. While listening the binaural track, I repeated my intentions to remember my dream, to know in a dream that I was dreaming, and to see me hands and become lucid.

I must have drifted off to sleep. Around 1:30 AM I became aware that I was no longer asleep. My eyes were closed, I was aware that I felt warm and was lying atop the bedsheets. I could also hear the air conditioner when it kicked on. I don’t recall waking from a dream though that’s possible and I didn’t remember the dream.

Random images began to appear in my mind. They were mostly swirls of dark colors – red, green, brown, black – and they seemed to be kind of hallucinogenic or psychedelic, like how you see an acid trip portrayed on TV. Occasionally, there would be more cohesive images which seemed to be centered around the New York Central railroad trestle in my hometown.

I suspected that these images might be hypnagogic or hypnopomic and I might be on the verge of falling back asleep so I tried to repeat my intentions but the words would be replaced by these images. When I would repeat the intention to see my hands when I was in a dream, sometimes I’d see my hands though not clearly and they seemed to be detached from my body (almost like a ghost image). The image of my hands would attempt the fingers through the palm reality check but the fingers wouldn’t pass through.

I finally decided that I wasn’t going to fall asleep so I wrote it down in my dream journal notebook. My handwritten account is a bit out of order so I put it in a more chronological organization as I transcribed it into my digital dream journal.

The railroad trestle has some significance in that in April 1973 some friends and I walked across the trestle after my friend’s car broke down and we parked it at an abandoned gas station near the railroad tracks. We followed the tracks and walked across the trestle to get to the house of my friend’s brother.

This was the first time I’d tried taking B6 before bed. I’ve read the B6 can be helpful for more vivid lucid dreams. Probably less significant is that in the last couple of days, I’ve been having more WTF moments in waking reality than I usually do.

08-11-17 Update

What I’m reading
I’m still reading Lucid Dreams: Gateway to the Inner Self. I’m a little halfway through the book, having just finished Chapter 13: Healing Yourself and Others. Once I get the hang of lucid dreaming, this is something I eventually want to investigate.

I’ve also been browsing back issues of the Lucid Dreaming Experience and listening to YouTube videos. I’m absorbing a lot of information and I hope I’m not getting overloaded.

I used to only remember a dream once every month or so and now I remember at least one dream almost every night so that’s progress. The habit of reality checks hasn’t become ingrained yet but I’m working on that. I’ve had a couple of dreams lately that contained dream signs that should have alerted me that I was dreaming. Before going to sleep I’m trying to set an intent to have a lucid dream but nothing yet.

Quote I’m pondering
“Both dreams and myths are important communications from ourselves to ourselves. If we do not understand the language in which they are written, we miss a great deal of what we know and tell ourselves in those hours when we are not busy manipulating the outside world.” ~ Erich Fromm

After-Mom

I’ve recently taken an interest in lucid dreaming, especially its potential as a tool in exploring consciousness, investigating the psyche, and gaining psychological insights. In beginning this practice it’s useful to know the landscape of one’s dreams so I’ve begun keeping a dream journal to record my dreams. Additionally, I’ve been going through my personal journal in which I’ve recorded remembered dreams over the years and transcribed them in dream journals. In the process I came across a dream about my mother I had a couple of years ago and it brought to mind a couple of other experiences I’ve had since her passing.

Since she left her body on 21 May 2008, I’ve had several moments when she has touched me in in a significant way. These moments don’t confirm any particular belief in life after death, an afterlife, rebirth or reincarnation, but they touched me deeply, nonetheless. I don’t subscribe to any religious persuasion nor do I consider myself particularly spiritual. However, I am open to such possibilities and I strongly suspect that there is something that lies beyond our range of perception and our concepts of conventional waking reality.

The first two events are extracted from my Padawan Yogi blog (no longer online) and the third is from a dream I had and is extracted with notes from my dream journal.

Chants for Ma Kirtan
Sun, 08 May 2011

Michael and Melissa led a wonderful Chants for Ma Mothers’ Day Kirtan this morning. I’ve enjoyed the energy of the kirtans I’ve attended but this simple kirtan really moved me in a profound way. The first chant, Jai Ma, opened something inside me and a lot of feelings and emotions came to the surface. I had tears on my cheeks and my voice was breaking. It’s hard to describe but it was powerful and intense. At the time I wasn’t able to identify the feelings, it was just raw emotion. Looking back I can only guess the predominant feelings were love and loss. Even several hours after the kirtan, the intensity had ebbed but the feelings still weighed heavily on my heart.

My mother passed on three years ago this month and on Mothers’ Day she was going through the process of dying so I guess I’m always going to have that association with the day. The kirtan obviously triggered something inside me and brought it to the surface. Maybe I’d been holding them in for the past three years and they needed to come out.

03-17-2013 Meditation & Yoga
Sun, 17 Mar 2013

My practice since injuring my shoulder in October has been sporadic and it shows. My pranayama, asana and meditation practices have all shown obvious signs of neglect. Now with spring coming and my shoulder almost fully recovered , along with a couple of good sessions, I’m feeling motivated to get my sadhana back on track. My good friend and teacher, Melissa, will be leading a week-long spring detox next month and the more I think about it, the more convinced I become that I should do it. Hopefully, I’ll have more success than I had with the fall detox. If I can at least become semi-competent at making kitcheri, I should do alright.

I had a good home practice yesterday. Parts of it were challenging but I worked my edge and it felt good. For the first time in nearly five months, I was able to do Savasana in relative comfort without placing a blanket or something under my head. It seems strange that a pose like Savasana would give me such difficulty. I’m happy that my shoulder is finally almost healed. It’s not 100 percent yet but it’s getting close.

This morning I made the effort to make it to Melissa’s guided meditation class and her hatha yoga class at Day Yoga Studio. They were my first Sunday classes with her since she stopped holding them at S.W.O.R.D. back in September. I found that, while I enjoy classes by other teachers, I really missed Melissa’s classes. Her Sunday mediation and yoga classes will be a priority.

This morning’s meditation was a heart meditation using visualization, drawing in what you wanted to bring into your life and releasing that which you wanted to let go of. I have a little trouble imagining the process she describes but often, into the meditation, a vision will form. I saw white, fluffy clouds and in one cloud there was a hole through which I could see bright blue sky. Occasionally, I could see a refracted ray of sunshine on the edge of the hole. I don’t know if this has any significance or how it relates to the meditation, but that’s what appeared to me.

In the time between the meditation and the asana class, I rested in Supta Baddha Konasana, resting my shoulder blades and the back of my head on blocks. I find it quite relaxing along with being a nice hip opener, back bend, and heart opener. It turned out that she would have us start the class reclined either on a bolster or on blocks.

The class itself was challenging, keeping me at my edge. No particular pose or sequence stands out; it was all good. Again, Savasana was quite comfortable and without props.

Toward the end of Savasana, thoughts about death popped up. They were mostly about deaths in my family, particularly my mother and my paternal grandmother. One thought that came up was that my mother’s atman had either been reborn or was about to be and the body she occupied was (or would be) nearby. There was another recent death that appeared in my thoughts. It wasn’t anyone I knew personally but her unfortunate and random death in Afghanistan had touched my heart. I acknowledged the thoughts and let them go.

It was nice to talk to Melissa for a few moments after each class about my shoulder injury and my practice. She has always been one of my favorite teachers and I’ve learned so much from her.

30 June 2015 Dream
I see my mother and give her a hug. While hugging her I feel a sensation of unconditional love, untainted by any feelings of sadness, grief, or loss. I felt that I had transcended to a higher level of consciousness.

Notes: The dream resonated with me for several days afterward. I found it interesting that in the dream and when reflecting upon it later I felt no sadness or grief. If anything, I felt a sense of relief and it may have signaled an official end to my grieving.

See also: Ninth year remembrance

08-04-17 Update

What I’m reading
I’m still reading Lucid Dreams: Gateway to the Inner Self by Robert Waggoner. I’m finding that many of the things he’s talking about regarding the unconscious and the awareness behind the awareness are very similar to ideas I’ve been pondering. He came to them through lucid dreaming while I was thinking about them more in terms of yoga (the Vedas) and imagining what may lie beyond quantum physics.

What I’ve been working on
In addition to reading books by Robert Waggoner and Charlie Morley, I’ve been listening to YouTube videos on lucid dreaming and I’m working on having lucid dreams myself. I’ve been concentrating on recalling my dreams and I’m making progress there. I don’t remember dreams every night but I do most nights now. Last week I remembered dreams 5 days in a row. I’m writing them down to try to get familiar with my dream environment but so far I’m not seeing many common threads or themes in them.

I’ve gone through my personal journals and extracted dreams I’ve recorded over the past couple of years and noticed a few recurring themes in them. I’d had several dreams with military themes in which people I worked with in the service were dream characters. There were also several dreams that took place in classrooms or other academic settings. I’ve also had dreams in which I’d be navigating maze-like corridors and tunnels. Other dreams were set in places like Germany though I could never recall specific locations. In the past I have had dreams featuring deceased relatives as characters, specifically my paternal grandmother, a favorite aunt, and my mother.

I’ve noticed that it takes me a long time to fall asleep, often an hour or more. In a YouTube video, I heard Charline Morley describe insomnia as “the process of trying to fall asleep.” He also described falling asleep as a process of progressive relaxation. I feel pretty relaxed when I go to bed but maybe there’s some tension or stress or issues I’m unaware of.

Quote I’ve been pondering
“The mind can proceed only so far upon what it knows and can prove. There comes a point where the mind takes a leap—call it intuition or what you will— and comes out upon a higher plane of knowledge, but can never prove how it got there. All great discoveries have involved such a leap.” ~ Albert Einstein

07-28-17 Update

What I’m reading
I read How to Master Lucid Dreaming: Your Practical Guide to Unleashing the Power of Lucid Dreaming by Sean Kelly. (It was only 99 cents on Amazon.) I got got some insight and a few tips from it like setting some simple goals and writing down some motivations for wanting to do lucid dreaming. He also some advice for developing prospective memory and using that in conjunction with practicing reality checks. Another idea that I found interesting was doing a short “day cleanse” ritual before going to bed to let go of the day’s stress and tensions. I was disappointed that while he mentioned several techniques for lucid dreaming, he only provided instructions for one, the MILD technique, because he felt it was the easiest for most people.

I’m now reading Lucid Dreams: Gateway to the Inner Self by Robert Waggoner which immediately grabbed my interest with the first paragraph. I’m feeling a bit more positive and confident about lucid dreaming now.

I also have Charlie Morley’s first book, Dreams of Awakening: Lucid Dreaming and Mindfulness of Dream and Sleep on my Kindle. I liked his Lucid Dreaming: A Beginner’s Guide to Becoming Conscious in your Dreams. (See 07-21-17 Update )

Quote I’m pondering
“Procrastination is fine but if you take it too far, it turns into extravagant self destruction.” ~ Unknown