Why Imagination Matters

Allowing time each day for your awareness to drift into dreams and imagination is essential. Many of the realities we take for granted, like flying in airplanes, messaging friends on the internet, or talking on a cell phone all started in the realm of imagination and dreams. Yet in our busy lives we rarely allow the time and space to be informed by this inherent and mysterious aspect of our awareness. This resource within our brain is not only for artists and mystics, it can serve as a powerful, visionary, and therapeutic tool for each of us if we know how to work with it.

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One of my favorite books over the years is The Artists Way by Julia Cameron. It is more than a book, it is a way of life. The book contains exercises to open the creative mind that are proven to be successful for decades among artists of all types. A key component of the program is Morning Pages. It is an exercise in writing from a place of flow… no stopping to think, edit, or use correct grammar. Just tap into flow consciousness and see what emerges. I highly recommend the book to anyone wanting to learn this precious skill for opening the mind.

Another great article about opening up to the power inherent within dreams is by Anthony Colombo of Dreamspace called Why Sleep When You Can Dream Awake. Colombo introduces the powerful concept of incubation as a core component of dreamwork to inform and transform your life. He has also developed a powerful step-by-step process for incubating and recalling dreams while bringing conscious intention to personal dreamwork.

“Conscious incubation involves being mindful of what you tell yourself internally and what you expose yourself to in the world. These internally and externally generated experiences help shape or incubate the reality you will create during subsequent dreaming and waking states.”
– Anthony Colombo, Dreamspace

Opening up to the emergent is a process that is important for creative projects and collaboration. It means that you have to allow for the unknown, that you aren’t working from a set script, and are allowing yourself to be open to whatever emerges. For obvious reasons, this can be a tough skill to learn since we are used to setting up expectations and having some degree of control over outcomes. The creative process, dreams, and the realm of imagination often work in non-linear ways so be prepared for unexpected surprises!

Jason Silva has rocked the internet with his video rants that explode with inspiration like fireworks full of color. Jazz musicians do it when they improvise, free-style rappers do it with spoken word, visionary artists do it when they live-paint, there is a flowing river of creativity within our consciousness that all of us have access to… all we have to do is open up to it and let it come through. This takes a little practice but it may hold the keys to unlocking a better future for humanity!

“Creativity comes through you but not from you and though it is with you it belongs not to you.”
– Jason Silva


Imagination is key, our dreams hold much wisdom for us if we know how to listen. The ability to adapt, to tune in to the creative impulses, to invite conscious flow into our lives can have a profoundly transformative effect. Take a moment to step back from your schedule, from your expectations and watch the clouds slowly dance across the sky. Allow some space for the unexpected, the unscripted, and then watch the ways that you learn to flow and adapt with what arises.

It is clear that we face many issues as a species on planet earth, but throughout time we have always found a way to innovate and overcome the hurdles that we face. It may very well be that time again when we can no longer look to what has worked in the past but dream something new that will work for our future. Possibilities are endless!

Article originally appeared on UPLIFT

Integral Dreaming, Collective Awakening

A turtle born on the beach knows to walk to the sea, birds know their migration routes, and whales have new songs to sing each year. These and other phenomena point to the idea that there is an innate wisdom in nature. There is an emergent potential in creation that is often overlooked. How do things begin and what are the precursors to birthing something new? When we look to the source of human inventions, we see that visions and dreams are usually at the source of creating something new. Science-fiction and fantasy stories from 50 years ago are now everyday realities for us. The vast realm of our unconscious is latent with information that is yet to be manifested into this world. How do we access it? Dreaming and meditation seem to be two potent ways to access this information, while ceremony and art are the traditional ways that humans engage, to enact this innate wisdom.

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The overlapping space between the academic/scientific research and the artistic exploration of dreaming is one of endless curiosity and depth. I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon with two pioneers in the field, Anthony Colombo and Daniel Deslauriers, and our talks seeded what will become an ongoing discussion about the topic. I invite other bloggers, artists, academics, and dreamers of all sorts to join us in putting our heads, hearts, and stories together for this exciting journey of discovery.

By dialoguing with the dream image — and with others about our dreams — we cultivate the skill to take on multiple perspectives — that of self and of the culture for example- and we gain a greater awareness of the roles we enact culturally. — Fariba Bogzaran and Daniel Deslauriers in Integral Dreaming, a Holistic Approach to Dreams

Anthony Colombo is founder of Dreamspace which guides groups through an immersive experience where participants engage the brilliance of their dreams and imagination to co-create the lives they truly want. Anthony has produced award-winning cultural and environmental multimedia and taught interactive multimedia design, production and ethics as a university professor. He has also worked closely with indigenous elders in Arizona and Hawaii.

Dreaming comes to life when we collectively use our inner creative brilliance to co-create the vibrant planet we all want. The greatest resource we have lives in the infinite potential of the human spirit, imagination and dreams. — Anthony Colombo

Daniel Deslauriers is professor of Transformative Studies at CIIS (California Institute of Integral Studies)in San Francisco and former chair of the East-West Psychology Program. He teaches courses on consciousness studies (especially dreams), arts-based research, and multiple ways of knowing. He is also the co-author of Integral Dreaming, a Holistic Approach to Dreams with Fariba Bogzaran, Ph.D.

Exploration of this collective level may bring into awareness our past (the ancestral history we share with others), our present (our current cultural and ecological embeddedness), and our future (as the result of our present actions aggregating at a collective level). — Fariba Bogzaran and Daniel Deslauriers in Integral Dreaming, a Holistic Approach to Dreams

As you can imagine, our conversations covered a whole lot of ground. One common thread is the notion that somewhere in our past lies keys to understanding our present and co-creating our future. Sense of self, and sense of place within the larger community is central to tuning into the impulses that emanate from our core. The boundaries of the self can expand well beyond our bodies to include the realm of dreams, or even an understanding that we are an integral part of our environment both influencing and being influenced by it. Yet the center of our being remains the same and any expansion of this sense of self must be in proportion to our rootedness at the core within.

Karen Jaenke explains in her study, “Personal Dreamscape as Ancestral Landscape,” that dreams have the power to reveal forgotten memory. She notes that a relationship to ancestors “forms a central anchor for personal identity” allowing this sense of self to extend” into a generational awareness of connections, patterns, and stories woven into the relationship with land and cosmos.” We are part of a greater web, all of life is emergent within this matrix.

People in contemporary Western societies often suffer from a form of fragmentation due to a lack of contact with their own ancestry. Because most of our ancestors had a strong connection with place, connecting with one’s ancestry often sensitizes one to a sense of place. –Fariba Bogzaran and Daniel Deslauriers in Integral Dreaming, a Holistic Approach to Dreams


Memories Can Be Passed Down Through DNA video from DNews

I recently read a great article that talks about how scientists have found that memories may be passed down through generations in our DNA. As a fan of Bruce Liptonand the study of epigenetics we know that belief and experience plays a major role in changing our genes. Some would argue that genetically passing on “memories” is a misleading statement, but perhaps our understanding of “memory” could  be expanded… Is the shape left in the canyon long after the river that carved it has dried up potentially a memory left in the land? I explore this idea in World Water Day, a Reflection.

With the recent globally synchronized meditation movement sparked by Unify and supported through media by UPLIFT, as well as the many examples of crowd-sourcing that the internet has facilitated, we are seeing the emergence of a global consciousness. Perhaps a collaboration is in order… A dream this big can not be carried by one person, it’ll take an international, cross-cultural community to piece it together. That’s where you come in! If integral dreaming is the key to global transformation, then what is your part in this story? Perhaps you’ll need to consult your dreams…

** article originally appeared at UPLIFT**

How a Hopi Elder Changed My Life

Secluded in the Painted Desert of the Southwest the Hopi are a private but open-hearted, indigenous Nation that have preserved one of the most ancient cultures in North America.

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They are essentially an oral tradition people which means that they have other ways of keeping their history than written words that includes dances, songs, and storytelling. They even have a word, ‘Navoti’, which refers to the information that can only be exchanged through the spoken word, it has to do with the silent space between words, the feelings and gestures that can not be transmitted in the written form. This why I am usually hesitant to write about my experiences with the Hopi (along with a history of cultural appropriation and misunderstanding from anthropologists and spiritual seekers from the ‘New-Age’). So rather than attempt to write about the Hopi culture, which I am not qualified to do, I am compelled to share a story from my 20 years of experience and friendships on the Hopi Mesas.

“Hope” is a video representation of Hopi Prophecy Rock
Tribal culture is often more focused on the community than individuals, and any wisdom that individuals posses is generally considered the collective wisdom of the tribe. This can be a sensitive issue when elders speak out beyond the village, or draw attention to themselves, but there are times when it is necessary. Famed Hopi artist, mythical archaeologist, and poet, Michael Kaboti once explained to me, “Sometimes, in order to keep a tradition alive, you have to break the tradition. For that reason we have clowns as the accepted tradition-breakers.”

Nature, the First People and the spirit of our ancestors are giving you loud warnings. Today, December 10, 1992, you see increasing floods, more damaging hurricanes, hail storms, climate changes and earthquakes as our prophecies said would come. Even animals and birds are warning us with strange changes in their behavior such as the beaching of whales. Why do animals act like they know about the earth’s problems and most humans act like they know nothing? If we humans do not wake up to the warnings, the Great Purification will come to destroy this world just as the previous worlds were destroyed.
Grandfather Thomas Banyacya, speaking before the United Nations in 1992

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Above: Grandfather Martin Gashweseoma wearing “Pahana Chief” vest
The elder who changed my life is not a clown, but he has always been a trickster in my life. With the exception of Thomas Banyacya, who was the first elder to share Hopi Prophecies with the world, he may be the most well-known Hopi elder to outsiders. His name is Martin Gashweseoma (left), and he is known as the Keeper of the Sacred Fire Clan Tablets. I first met him at an international gathering of indigenous elders called Belonging to Mother Earth in the late 90’s.

Martin

Many of the attendees had really hoped that Martin would come to the gathering but he had declined. On the second morning of the week-long event there was a sunrise pipe-ceremony held on the beach. During the ceremony, we were visited by dolphins who swam in a circle just a few feet from the shore during the whole ceremony. I instantly felt they were visiting us and aware of what we were doing though logic would say that it was a coincidence. Still there were no dolphins anywhere else along the beach but right in front of us.

Later that evening we received word at the gathering that Martin had called in and had changed his mind and decided to come after all. His reason? He said that dolphins had visited him in his dream and told him he needed to go to the gathering… Arrangements were made and he arrived the next evening.

I was at the gathering hosting youth activities and workshops all week with my company, Living Folklore. We had been invited because of our history working at schools and reservations using art, circus performers, stilt walkers, and clowns. Every tribe around the world has some sort of clown character, so mimicry, puppets, and playful games are a great way to entertain audiences from different cultural backgrounds that don’t all speak the same language. On the evening of Martins arrival, one of our performers was invited to a birthday celebration that a bunch of elders would be attending. Martin stole the show when he asked her, Giggly Sprout the Clown, to marry him. It was beautiful to see the power of laughter as a universal form of relating between all of these elders, many of whom spoke different languages.

During the next day Martin and his translator, Emory, shared many stories and prophecies to a small gathering of people. It was a profound experience and a great responsibility to hear this wisdom, but it was many months after the gathering that Martin began to work his magic on me. I had a recurring dream for weeks and in it was Martin laughing at me. Sometimes I could hear him laughing but I couldn’t see his face, other times he was looking directly into my eyes and laughing. At first I assumed it was just a strange dream and then I began to wonder what it might symbolize.


Martin Explains the First and Second Prophecy Rock

I went through a lengthy series of initiations that involved clowns and masked characters on various Hopi villages before I was told where Martin lived.  After a while I visited him and was greeted at the door of his home with the same laugh that I had heard in my dreams. I asked him if he remembered me and he said that he always remembers his dreams… From this moment I actually began to believe that it might be possible for people to travel in their dreams and visit others. I have continued to study and work with dreams ever since.

Once, while showing me the Second Prophecy Rock, Martin spoke of the “technology that came from our DNA”. At the time I was not a fan of technology, I saw it as the source of so much destruction on our planet. I asked him, “You mean that computers, cell-phones, and internet can help humanity heal the planet?” He responded, “If only those with bad hearts use this technology, we will have big problems. We need people with good hearts to use this technology to benefit Mother Earth.” It is true that the technology we have came from our imaginations, our dreams, our DNA. Computers are nothing more than circuit boards made from crushed rocks and plastic from decaying fossils. Tools aren’t inherently good or bad, it is the intention with which they are used.

On a subsequent visit with Martin he told me that he had just returned from Japan. I teased him saying, “That isn’t very traditional for a Hopi elder to fly on an airplane.” He responded that indeed it was his tradition because they asked him to share the prophecies and that is his job. So I asked him what he told people in Japan and he responded, “I told them to leave before the tsunami comes.” This was over a year before the tsunami that crippled Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant happened.

On the evening before the tsunami in Japan I saw Martin in my dream again. He kept appearing in different dreams saying the same thing. This time he wasn’t laughing. He said again and again, “It is time for these things that we have spoken of, it is time to wake up.” The following day Japan was hit with a devastating tsunami. Many will call this coincidence, or claim that it is a made up story. I do not believe that I have any special powers, I believe we all have the power to pay attention to our dreams. I believe we have much to learn if we do so. I believe that the earth wants us to wake up, I believe traditional elders have much wisdom for us should we choose to open our minds, our hearts, and listen. What do you believe?

We Dream The Future

It all starts with a dream. Speaking your dreams out loud and having someone listen and be interested is one of the most empowering things you can do for yourself and those around you. Have You ever heard an older person dis (bad talk) on younger people or say things like, “Kids these days are lost, they have nothing better to do than talk on their cell-phones, text and play video game”? Everyone has, and this disconnect across generations hurts all of us. I believe that much of this is the result of how quickly the technology has evolved.

Youth of today are the most media-empowered generation in the history of the planet. They have grown up bombarded with medias, with more information at their finger-tips than all the previous generations combined. It is all so overwhelming, and the temptation to slip away into a mindless video game  to avoid it all is so easy. Yet, like every other generation, young people dream about the future and about what is possible. It is their world and their future that is at stake when politicians and big business prioritizes profits over people and planet. It can be downright depressing to know so much about the problems of the world, that’s why it is more important now than ever to dream.

Do You dream of a better world? Would you like to let the world know that you have a dream and that you intend to make it happen? Are you open to hearing what the youth of today have to say about how adults are running the world? Can we have that dialogue across generations? I think so, and that is why we, at Culture Collective, have launched www.wedreamthefuture.com

The project was originally sponsored by Flip Cameras, and we were so excited for a big launch, but then Cisco was bought by Dell and The Flip line of video cameras discontinued. But now, most people have video cameras right on their phones, and the ability to shoot a video and upload it is easier than ever. Visit the website, learn about the project, and then add your voice!

Here’s how it works, just make a short video of yourself, or your friends, answering two very simple questions. First question is, “What is your dream for the future?”, second question is, “What are you going to do to make that dream happen?” You can change your mind a million times between now and the future, but this is about voicing your dreams and having them be heard by your piers and those that are older than you. The site is filled with links and inspirational videos too. So what are you waiting for? The world wants to hear your dream!

Interested in this project? Get involved!

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