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REEL #028 - JANE DREAM:
TELL ME THAT DREAM.
I was in Virginia and I'd just begun to do lucid dreaming and I was enamoured with the idea of being able to find God in a dream thinking of entry into another world and all this stuff. And so one night I went to bed and I was thinking about, okay I'm going to dream and when I go to dream, I'm going to know I'm sleeping, do all the pre-sleep suggestions and I'm going to find God. I'm going to find my God. And so I get into bed and I'm asleep and I start - I realize I'm dreaming and the first thing I do is start flying. I flew up into the clouds and then I remembered I'm supposed to find my God and so I said that, okay, I want to find my God. And then suddenly I found myself sitting in the clouds cross-legged, looking in a mirror (chuckles) at myself. I'd like, dah, you know. So I just woke up you know. It was just like, oh krike, you know. I got it right away.
The Liz Taylor dream, I was somewhere in the transition between, I think I was commuting to Iowa - it was a transition between lucid dreaming and native work basically. And I dreamt that Liz Taylor came up and I didn't know I was dreaming at this point. And she said, I know you, you're just like me. And I said, well I don't know and I'm not just like you. Oh yes you are. Oh no, I'm not. And I was thinking she's got all these boyfriends and my problems with fantasy lovers and that she's big and heavy and my problems with weight you know. And she kept insisting. I got to know I'm dreaming I guess in order to get out of this. And so I proceeded to know I was dreaming and I woke myself up, you know.
The turtle dream was a marker dream in terms of my commitment to natives and it was where I discovered my totem animal though I didn't realize that until some time later. I was outside and it was a kind of open festival, something that was outside that was going to happen. And these children were going to come for whom I was responsible. And I looked in and there was this opening to an underground cavern on the ground so it went straight down. And ah I looked down on a rock about a quarter of the way through the way down was a sabre, this beautiful golden sabre and then there was this huge, into the cavern. And at this point it was very dark and I thought, I better get that sabre. If the kids see that they're going to try to get down there, they're going to fall, blah blah. So I tried to get down but it's loose shale and I started falling. And I thought, you know, what am I going to do and I couldn't because it was loose shale but there was the sabre and the kids were coming. And then suddenly from the bottom the cavern lit up. It was like bright gold and not real bright but gold, and this huge turtle. And I knew it was a female turtle came in to the bottom of the cavern standing on two feet like the teenage mutant Ninja type but it wasn't teenage mutant, she was a she and she didn't have any paraphernalia. I said could you get the thing for me, the sabre. And so she did; she went up and got it and gave it to me. And that was - I was later told that's - she's helping me, the turtle. And so I left and I went over and there was this room where people were sitting in it and there was a fire inside but nobody was hurt and I later realized it was a sweat but at the time I thought, this is strange, nobody's hurt and there's this fire. There's all this smoke, you know. And all these people walked out and this one colleague was part of the people who walked out and I remember looking at him and thinking, I'll never be as close to him as I'd like to be because I really admire him. And I woke up. When I saw him, the next time I saw him at a conference, I told him the dream. And he told me, which I had no idea about that he was editing a book on dreams and social action and would I write a chapter on my work with natives. And so I did and it was one of the first things that I've written about that work that I feel that clarified it, pulled it together, that it's a statement about what I'm trying to do.
DO YOU HAVE ANY DREAMS THAT HAVE CHANGED YOUR LIFE, ALTERED YOUR LIFE?
MAYBE SHORT DREAMS?
I can tell that one dream but I won't say who. Is that okay?
I'M NOT SURE WHICH DREAM YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT.
The one I told you about that changed my life that I did that book.
OH YEAH. I'M NOT SURE THAT IT REALLY - IT'S LONG AND IT'S COMPLEX.
I can summarize it.
OKAY WELL SUMMARIZE IT WITHOUT MENTIONING THE NAME. LET'S SEE HOW IT GOES.
I had a dream where basically I had - I had left my husband for someone else and ah - ah and in that dream that I felt great rage from my family for having done that but great love from the person that I had left for. And that dream just utterly changed my life. I didn't leave my husband but it changed my - some choices that I made in my life profoundly and has continued to change it. When I woke up from the dream, I felt just awestruck like I had seen some great, great truth and I feel very - it's strange - I feel betrayed by my own awe because in hindsight, ah the dream was wrong, you know. And it wasn't. It made me do things I wouldn't have done and so in that sense it was adaptive. In a larger picture, I've made some contributions that certainly I'm glad about but there was quite a cost for those contributions, a personal cost and that's attention that has been a big one in my life.
REEL #029 - JANE GACHENBACH, PT. 1:
TELL ME ABOUT THE DREAM AGAIN.
Okay just the end of the dream was I was in a - it skipped years forward after the separation and there were all these children and family members who were very, very angry with me, especially my teenage daughter. But I got a letter from this person and it was just filled with love.
So it flipped forward from the separation to years later, family members were all angry with me, my daughter especially. Go a letter filled with love that this was the right thing to do and woke up feeling really a lot of love. And that motivated me to continue in some work that I think made a contribution and I'm certainly pleased that I made the contribution but I think it was at great personal sacrifice. I'm not going to blame it on the dream. I was obviously susceptible to the dream. But when I moved to Canada it was time to back off of number crunching essentially and look at other ways of evaluating experience, mostly my own.
HOW DID IT HAPPEN THAT YOU GOT INVOLVED WITH NATIVE PEOPLE?
When I came up here, I was on sabbatical and then my ex got a job, blah-blah-blah so I got offered a job to teach at ... Tribal Council and I grabbed it. Mostly because I had heard - I didn't know anything about natives, no background, no interest frankly. But I heard that they were interested in dreams and I thought, well that will be fun. And that was five years ago. And since then I've continued to teach at Yellowhead and at Blue Quills native college. I teach at several commuities around Slave Lake and northern Alberta and there's large native poplations there. And then in around the city as well. And so that teaching has become my primary way in which I have contact with natives. And in all the classes I teach, also in non-native settings, I talk about dreams. I mean it can be in social psychology in attraction in dreaming about an old boyfriend, does that mean that you still love him and you should leave your husband or not. It can be in ah cognitive developmental psychology and development of cognition very much paralleled in dreams, childrne's nightmares, things along those lines. Some subjects there's whole sections that I'll do on it. But I take it seriously and it's part of the way in which I think about the world. And so no matter what subject I'm talking about, inevitably something about dreams will come up.
WHAT FASCINATES YOU ABOUT DREAMS?
They're the only place in my life at least where there's mystery, you know. I mean ...............my whole life ...... (chuckle) but that mystery of my whole life is just like oh God, my kids think, oh God, you know. Whereas in my dreams, there's a real magical, you know, and in some sense I can interpret them. And certainly the older I get as well as ah hopefully in some sense more mature, they become more and more transparent. But they're still, they're still magic. They're still, I'll wake up and go, like the other night I told you I dreamt about an elephant. And I'll wake up and go, a baby elephant, you know. I was telling my students that because I said ever since I've been around natives, I dream about animals more than I ever ever did in my life. And I said, except I dreamed the elephant the other day. You guys don't do elephants do you? They all laughed. They thought that was - no, we don't do elephants, you know. So like that's there and that's ah - that - I need that. I need to have a place of wonder and of magic. And that's a portal for me into my own personal mythology or the mythology of the culture, whatever.
OKAY. NEAT. HOW DID YOU GET INTO LUCID DREAMS.
I was in graduate school in the mid-70s and ah had done my thesis on feminism, was an ardent feminist, decided the heck with it and shaved my legs. And I mean it was, like okay you guys, that's it, you know. And ah I ah was looking for something for a dissertation topic that ah was not feminist. I needed to get away from it. I had spent the '60s in New Mexico and done all the prerequisite whatever. And so started having dreams of lucid dash out of body kind of a quality. Was reading Bob Monroe's first book, Peggy Garfield's Creative Dreaming and a member of my husband's family, ex-husband's family was dying. And ah that was when Moody's book came out, Life After Life and she was having classic near death stuff. And I was having dreams of her, know I was dreaming and know she was dying. It's sort of neat because it echoes what's happening now in so much of my work with this book I'm working on The Death Of A Cree Woman. Yeah it's like it's come full cycle. Yeah, yeah. But it was very compelling. It's the first time I've ever been that close to someone's death. And these dreams that were coming to me were so strong.
BUT WHAT GOT YOU INTO - I DON'T THINK -
They were lucid.
YEAH BUT DID THEY JUST BECOME LUCID?
I'm sure I must have had them before then but I was not into dreams particularly before then although I was into trans-personal phenomenon but not particularly dreams. I don't remember any particular lucid dreams. I remember one nightmare when I was a little kid and that's it. And then at this period in the mid-70s, these dreams started happening. Part of my reading, part of the life experience, part of my satiation with feminism, needing to go back to more spiritual things which have always been a central theme for me. And you know, it's just a bunch of things that came together and it was the right time. And then ever since, my dreams have become increasingly important to me and that's been 20 years. (laughter)
GET OUT OF THERE.
This is very comfortable.
YOU CAN'T BE IN THERE. GET OUT OF THERE. THANK YOU.
.... UNDERSTAND LUCID DREAMS. WHAT MAKES A LUCID DREAM DIFFERENT THAN AN ORDINARY DREAM?
Well the main thing, I've done all kinds of analysis looking at just that question and the main thing is that you know you're dreaming while you're dreaming. Now there's varying degrees of volition that are intent that are available at that point. For instance, you may know you're dreaming but you don't know that you're in bed, all right? You may know you're dreaming but you don't remember your name. Usually you remember your name but you know, maybe not, you know. And so that when you bring that to it in terms of other kinds of analysis, the major finding is that lucid dreams don't differ a whole lot from non-lucid dreams and that's important. There are few notable differences that are meaningful and that is for instance just fewer people in lucid - there's not a lot of people in dreams in general. Crowds are scored as one person, okay so in that one. But we don't have a lot of characters. The average is I think two or three characters per dream and lucid dream is just like between one and two. So you think of characters as being in some sense fragments of the personality well then one could argue that well then lucid dreams are somehow more integrated or more egocentric depending on how you look at it. I can make an argument either way. The other is the auditory and spatial sort of - which I think comes down to the vestibular system, your sense of balance. By balance, I don't mean standing on a board on a ball although actually I've done that test. I mean I think in a phenomenological as well as a literally biological way -
WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT?
I've done research with the vestibular system in lucid dreaming and basically in order to be a frequent lucid dreamer or those who are frequent lucid dreamers also have a much more intact vestibular system. This is like their sense of body balance and this is by clinical tests, okay, not self-report stuff. And this is when you weed out people who have any dizziness problems, within normals okay. And that sits very much if you look at some of the ways in which I think about lucid dreaming in terms of the development of consciousness with the research on meditators and the development of meditators because one of the things - a very robust finding is what's called the field independence where meditators become more and more field independent and it's not supposed to happen in adulthood. It's supposed to have levelled off.
WHAT'S FIELD INDEPENDENT?
Oh okay, it's like people can find their ways out of the woods because they refer to body cues. They know a sense of direction based on their body cues rather than where the moss is growing on the trees or the sun or the stars, okay. They orient themselves in space based on internal cues. Well you orient yourself in dream space. You bring these internal cues with you. So you get that in lucid dreamers, you get that in long term meditators, much much more in long term meditators. The idea being that you in some way become in a very measurable way detached from the demands of the external environment, be they waking or dream and so that you can then manoeuvre in the dream environment with a body referent.
I SEE. JUST IN TERMS OF THE SUBJECTIVE EXPERIENCE, WHAT MAKES A LUCID DREAM DIFFERENT THAN -
Okay well you get, the stuff I was just telling you about was content analysis and as I say for the most part there's no difference but that's based on judges' evaluations. If you ask the dreamer and they say - they evaluate their own dreams, then it's a whole different ball of wax, at least for people who haven't had them a lot. I would say the entry stages. It's just whoa, you know, it's so hyper-real and it's so fun and it's, you know, and it is a hoot. I mean I've flown all over the place, spent years. Me and Jonathan Livingstone Seagull. ..... you know, the whole thing. But ah as you get - and you do it more and more and more it becomes very, hm, you know, okay. And it's not boring, I mean it's nice, but it's not like, whoa!, you know that it is originally. I mean everything habituates and you become less attached to it. Now some people in development of their consciousness in sleep like they let go of it, some it just naturally emerges into what I would call higher, and I know there's problems with higher but what I would call more developed consciousness as evidenced in their sleep and that is that they're not as attached to the dream in the same way when they're awake. They don't get so caught up in, oh my kid just got hit by the kid next door, I'm going to go and smash him, you know. In a dream we get caught up too. Lucidity is the first little .... the first movement away. But it's just a few scratching the surface.
WHAT ABOUT CONTROL?
Sometimes under some circumstances. It depends on who you are and where you're at in your own development or it depends on the situation. Like if you're a teenager whose parents were getting divorced and there's lots of chaos going on, lots of pain and she's having nightmares, and there's nothing she can do about the divorce. I like recommend, particularly if she's a real high recaller, to go ahead and in the dream make it safe by controlling, taking hold of her demons. IT would give her a sense of empowerment. But if you've got somebody who is a reall good sense of self, they know where they are, who they're about and wanting to discover themselves, then maybe they need to let some of these demons emerge and not be manipulative in their control but rather responsive. So what is it that you need from me and allow that process in the dream to have an emergent quality.
DO YOU WANT TO TALK WHERE YOU DIFFER FROM STEVEN?
Steven and I essentially do not differ in terms of how we understand lucid dreaming, in terms of how we understand dreams. Where we differ is I would place much more emphasis on the stuff around lucid dreaming than I perceive him doing and that could be -
WHAT DO YOU MEAN THE STUFF AROUND HIM?
I would place more emphasis on are you in therapy, are you in a dream group, what about your non-lucid dreams, are you in a meditative practice, how do you get along with your husband, you know, do your kids get, you know. I would - how about the rest of your life? Are you eating good? Have you got - you know. I understand that given the demands of his life that that's not necessarily possible. I wouldn't want to be where he's at. And I'm not. I'm where I'm at, you know.
OKAY. ANYTHING YOU THINK WE SHOULD TOUCH ON WITH LUCID DREAMING?
IS LUCID DREAMING AN IMPORTANT DEVELOPMENT IN OUR UNDERSTANDING OF PSYCHOLOGY.
Oh yes in our understanding of psychology it's incredibly important, oh yes. That's a different question from is it important in the emergence of an individual, okay, because then I would say something very very different. But understanding psychology, it's been unbelievable because basically what it's done is it's challenged the idea of the separation of conscious and unconscious. There are other things it has as well but this is done in a very profound way. That you can be conscious, have with intent and have behaviour consequences of that intention while presumably you're totally zonked out.
WHAT'S IT GOING TO MEAN IN TERMS OF PSYCHOLOGY?
Well the whole notion of consciousness is re-emerging in psychology. There's a ... consciousness and cognition that has just ah burst in the last few years that is again taking away what William James did originally, take consciousness very seriously. And so this speaks to that concern and that development quite directly.
CONSCIOUSNESS IS REALLY NOT PART OF CONTEMPORARY BEHAVIOURAL SCIENCES AT ALL.
No, it's happening, it's happening, oh yeah. But it's very leading edge.
YOU THINK LUCID DREAMING IS THE PRINCIPAL REASON THAT IS?
It's important to it. It's part of a whole emergence. It's not the principal reason, not at all.
LET'S MOVE ON. ..... NATIVE STUDIES. PERSONALLY WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO IT?
Again a confluence of events in my own personal life and my professional life. I mean I was no longer a tendured -
NO I'M NOT TALKING ABOUT THE CAUSES. I'M TALKING ABOUT PERSONALLY WHAT WAS YOUR ATTRACTION TO IT.
To working with natives?
Several things. The first time I walked into a room - I went to an indoctrination of ...... I'm going to teach. There was a - it's like a bubble of consciousness you walk into. It's the way I verbalize it. I could feel and it was - like I always experience it in my body. It's ooh-whoo, I'm in something different in much the way I do if I'm around a lot of meditators or if I'm around a very extraordinary person. I'm just like, whoa, and then some people stronger than others. And that's always my experience. The minute I walk into any native setting, if it can be a native convention at a hotel or a school or whatever, varying degrees, but that there's this whoo shift. It's a body sort of shift that I interpret as shift in consciousness. And from that the things that then I found very very compelling was at the same time that something's happening with their consciousness and it's really profound vis a vis their experience with their dreams, the kinds of spiritual experiences that are very common in a statistical sense, there was also this pain. And with my students, ah with the people, the friends I've made, my lover, ah and it served as a mirror bounce back to my own pain. Things that I thought I had worked through hadn't or needed more time with. And there was a connection there. And just, God they hurt. And no one should hurt like that. And then they're funny. You know, in the middle of - days before Milly, this friend of mine died she's cracking jokes and you know, (chuckles) .... dying. And you'll be talking about ..... husband beat me up, blah-blah-blah and then someone will crack a joke in the middle. And so it's like, oh, that really spoke to the pain and the laughter and yet this transcendent quality. And so I got very involved with who natives are, not who they were. I know very little about who they were, you know, but I have experienced who they are at this point on lots of levels, some very, very close levels.
HOW DO THEY DIFFER IN THEIR ATTITUDE TOWARDS DREAMING THAN WE DO?
I've done research as well as phenomenological personal stuff. Basically (cough) what ah it seems is happening is that overall they take them more seriously, okay. So for instance, the statistical evidence, they have higher dream recall which can be in part in terms of the social acceptance within their community. When I go in and I talk to natives versus non-natives, they're always interested in dreams but there's a self-conscious giggling that's much more dominant in non-native populations and there will be occasionally native populations but mostly it's like this. They zero in and I have this intense listening that goes on in terms of a group of people - group after group after group. At this point I've probably given 50 different lectures to native groups on dreams, science of dreams. It's unreal what I grab there. And in terms of our research, we found that there's a very different cultural - nice cultural knacks. That basically when a non-native does take them seriously which social .... don't do that. But when they do, it's in the context of the psychoanalytic inner psychic. These are my issues, my problems, neo-Freudian okay. And I've got to work them through so the dream is all my stuff. Okay now a non- and if I try to introduce a precognitive transpersonal, well yeah that's kind of interesting but, you know, uncomfortable, not the first reference point.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY PRECOGNITIVE AND TRANSPERSONAL.
Dreams of the future, that this tells me something is going to happen in the future or this is a connection with a spirit or with a divine. Those sorts of things. Yes, it niggles at them but they distance themselves from it quickly. All right, natives it's the reverse which is just unbelievable. Automatically the dream is telling me something that's going to happen, almost all dreams. And it's a teaching. Now these teachings are very personal. Should I get back with my husband, should I go back to this party, okay? But it's external in origin. It is a teaching about their life and it's going to happen in some form or other. If I say maybe it's your take on inner psychic stuff or somehow filtered through, I get the same barriers that - now not in all. In the natives, in Sylivia for instance, not at all. She's fully integrated. And I think that each tradition has something to teach the other. And as I understand it, I'm no expert, but as I understand it, the traditional dream reading techniques were questions, much in the same way that contemporary dream work is done. Okay but a lot of that has been lost, with some exceptions.
REEL #030 - JANE GACHENBACH, PT. 2:
JUST IN TERMS OF SPECIFICS, GIVE ME EXAMPLES OF HOW A NATIVE DREAMER WILL DIFFER FROM A WHITE PERSON DREAMING.
Okay. There was a student of mine - it was a course where we had a lot of material on dreams and she had a dream about her teenage son she was worried about. And she was real concerned about it so we did a dream working technique where they could go home and they did certain things to help solve a problem and her concern was about this son because she had just had a baby and there was 16 years difference between her first and her second and basically the first born was jealous. But the dreams were that he's in trouble and there's problems and she felt that they were coming from the grandfathers. Now she did this technique and in the technique one of the things she discovered was that this is around feeling jealous and threatened. And that was okay, so she knew it on a psychological, solve the problem herself. But it wasn't adequate until she dreamed that the grandfathers told her - this was not the dream to help solve the problem, this was a later dream that the grandfathers told her that he's okay now. It had to come from that source and had to come in that medium. In all the waking understanding which she full had, didn't cut it. I mean it was okay because she's enough westernized but it wasn't enough. Because the grandfathers were telling her that he was in trouble. So the grandfathers had to assure her.
WHEN JANET TOLD US HER DREAM YESTERDAY THERE WAS THIS RECOGNITION ON MY PART THAT SHE HAD BEEN TOLD THAT SHE HAD CANCER NOT BY HER WESTERN DOCTOR BUT BY HER NATIVE HEALERS. AND FOR HER THE SAME THING. I MEAN ONE TELLS ME IT HAS EQUAL WEIGHT TO THE OTHER YET SO - THAT'S LIKE, IT'S A CULTURAL DIFFERENCE THAT WOULDN'T EXIST IN WESTERN PEOPLE.
I'm not following you. I'm not saying one has equal weight. I'm saying one has more weight. The grandfathers has more weight. That although she had what we would consider as psychologists in the West an understanding of the nature of the problem, that wasn't enough. It was of some help but it had to be the grandfathers. And so as a psychologist, I can say, oh well, obviously she reconstructed the dream, blah-blah-blah but I won't be that trite with it. I think that minimizes the experience to do that.
MOST DEFINITELY. WHAT ABOUT IN JANET'S CASE?
Meaning in terms of the diagnostics? For her there was no difference what the doctor - something was wrong with her. I don't think there's any doubt about that. And it was labelled as cancer. As far as she's concerned, it is. You know whether or not a westerner didn't say it or did say it is irrelevant from her perspective and what makes me sad about myself is it's not irrelevant from my perspective. And I struggle with that because I am rooted in my own world. And I don't know, maybe just accept it but that is who I am and that will always be a limit in terms of my interaction with native peoples.
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR LEARNING PROCESS WITH NATIVE PEOPLES?
It's been precious. I was always a number cruncher. For years I was really good in math, majored in math. My books .... at one point a colleague sat me down at a conference just after I'd moved up here. And he said, Jane, you've got all these numbers, blah-blah-blah, and he said, what do you think? I looked at him and I thought, oh heck if I know, you know. (chuckles) And it was like yeah I could but I realized that I really hadn't thought about and I don't just mean intellectually think about, but that that goes very much with the feeling process. And so when Ken Keltzer's book came out on Sun and the Shadow, and talked about the feeling level and lucid dreaming and how you have to get in touch with your demons and that sort of - it just was like a huge bell went off. And I was in Canada then. And when I got involved then with natives, I saw they were very much in the feeling level. It was all about feelings. That was dominant and that thinking came hard. My dialogues with Sylvia, with various friends I've made, with my lover, it works on feelings. And so they made me you know, be with feelings in ways that was never, at least as directly demanded of me. And it's been very painful and very rewarding, you know. It's been both. And it's addressed my work I think in a very rich way because I am my work, my work is me and those things are very very interchangeable.
IN WHICH WAY? .....
The chapter I wrote, I told you about the dream earlier and I wrote a chapter summarizing my work with dreams and natives and how I see it as a way of the cultures connecting and teaching. I wrote it and there's certain information but I didn't analyze data to make an argument. I wrote it based on what I perceived, what I felt, okay. And for a scientist that's way out on a limb. But it felt really - it felt really good. I do it in my teaching all the time. I tell personal stories and I goof around but at a scientific conference if you want to tell a personal story and goof around I get this, you know, (chuckles) it's just like ..... you know. And it's like those two sort of identities are coming together. I'm less intimidated by my own thinking, my own evalutation of the process and less intimidated by the science. And I can pull them together more. And that's been a lot because of my exposure to work with native people. That's the place you've got to be.
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH SYLVIA.
I just adore her. I just adore her. She was a student. I met her in my first class. I didn't remember. I guess it was the first class I taught at YTC. Found out I was interested in dreams and we started to chat you know and now the relationship has gone way beyond that. And ah we learned from each other. I mean she taught me about what her grandfather had taught her and what she's learned in her own 50 some years of dream work. And I taught her and exposed her through conferences and various readings and talking to her, concepts from my culture in dreams. And it's been very rich. She brings me down. I feel ah it's like in the shadow of her consciousness. I just feel very calm and much more peaceful and I can't be too hyper .... I mean I'm always hyper sometimes but you know. And I make her - I give her information and it's like when we struggled for lucidity and trying to get her - trying to see if she did it. It took the longest time before she understood what I was talking about. We tried it this way and this way and this way. And finally, oh yeah, you know. OF course she had that experience, not necessarily all the time and it wasn't anything particularly remarkable which is a common among people who first hear about it. It's like she thinks there's - she talks about it is that she thinks visually and that she's always having to translate to words, either the Cree word or English. And the Cree words are simpler. And so that I taught her and I've learned from her. She's taught me as she's learned from me and we seem to strike a balance. She's a very important person in my life.
IN WHICH WAY?
She's my teacher, she's my friend. She's my dream buddy. If I have a dream that I'm really concerned about, I'll call her. She's been an entry to a family system. It's one thing to talk to natives and be with natives. There's levels of entry. I started as a teacher so they were all out there as my students. Then I began to make friends and those friends opened me to a family system. Well family systems, that's a little deeper. Then I became particularly attached to one child in that family system due to the death of his grandmother. And then I fell in love with a Cree man and that's the deepest level that I have. Ah each - you get a level of understanding that becomes more - the boundaries between me and them become less and less. They're always going to be there because like the story with Janet. I get stuck at that point. But there's more of an appreciation, more of a sensitivity. I've got a lot to learn, a whole lot to learn. But I'm just - their way of being in the world is so unbelievably different. It does not - I mean yeah there's the non-verbal messages are different, the valuing of relationship is different. There's more humour. And I can do all those things. But ah there's something more. I wouldn't be surprised if it's genetic.
CAN YOU PUT YOUR FINGER ON .....
That consciousness stuff, that for them the dream is a portal to a spirit world. The grandfathers are external. And that is - what do you mean you can't see the bear? Sylvia was saying, you can't see the bear next to the bed. Her husband who's white can't. Well it's quite clear, there he is. I can't see him either. But I've begun to realize that my interpretation isn't necessarily right and in fact my interpretation might interfere with and harm. And so when I work with dreams and I talk to them about dreams, I never say this is the native way. What I try to do is talk about the science of dreams, the science of consciousness. And then I'll get a little old Cree woman in the back of the room will raise her hand and go, that sounds like what my old Cree grandmother used to tell me. Yeah. And I let them discover that what Western science is doing is what they always did. And in that way say, it's okay. And I very much am about validating the development of their consciousness because it's there. I don't think they've lost it but they're afraid to go back and embrace it when in fact that's what it's all about.
OKAY. ANYTHING ELSE WE NEED TO COVER?
We should say more about dreams.
In natives. Specifically and seriously okay. I function ah - like because natives know I'm interested in dreams and they're important, they come to me, either in written form or personally. Occasionally in a public forum but more often than not .... And I'll offer them a take but it's always very respectful of whatever their elders have said, very respectful of this is a message from, you need to do. That's like my number one kind of keep that in mind and be real gentle around anything that might be more quote, unquote, psychodynamic. I don't ever get into a death(?) work with them. I'm not a clinician and that is not my forte. It is Syvlia's. But my experience is taht when they come with the dreams, oh man, they are always, always this is going to happen. I almost maybe once out of a thousand - at this point I've dealt with, read in one form or another, easily a thousand native dreams. And you just have to stay with that and not dishonour that. There's any number of examples that they give me where it does in fact come true, you know, and that's very very useful. I don't know if I should go into like some specific examples or -
NO. WHAT'S IMPORTANT FOR US TO LEARN FROM THE WAY NATIVES DREAM?
I think and this is putting myself out on a limb but I'm at a point in my life where I can't lose tenure. It's like nothing you know. (laughter) So what? I think they're right and I think we're right. And so I think what we need to learn from them is that it is a place where we touch the transpersonal, the things that are more than just our stuff but filtered through the glasses of Janie, okay? I can never see the future, see a friend without my filters. But to deny that this dream is a gift, that it's a teaching is doing an injustice, you know. I think that our people have done that and we are, we're spiritually sterile. Recognize that and need that but we look for it in gross ways. Just like particularly I'm from America, oh God, U.S. And it's just like, okay you know ah sell me; make it big, make it loud. And it's not, it's soft and it's gentle and you miss it. You know, it's real easy to miss it. And so you don't go and have a wowie-zowie experience in the sweat. Just hang out with them. Just you know chat about cooking, you know, and the dreams will come up. I mean it's as common in the course of a conversation where you're talking about my boyfriend talking about cooking something, talking about raising the kids, that a dream is just - and you go out of a dream and into a dream. And it's just part of day to day chatting. And then you begin to get it. Then you just begin to get it, you know.
I WAS GOING TO ASK YOU WHY ARE DREAMS IMPORTANT.
They don't have to be. I'm not -
WHEN THEY ARE IMPORTANT, WHY?
Okay. Because they give us the cutting edge, leading edge, whatever, in every way, shape and form, a statement of I am. This point in my karm, this point in my life, this point in my relationship, okay, that morning's dream. That's as far as you've gotten. It's there, you know. Sometimes it's very depressing. (laughter) That's as far as you've gotten, you know. Sometimes it's very elevating. And to ignore that because it's so dense, the language. The language can be dense. It gets clearer. It's too bad. This isn't just, I mean it's very much a native perspective but it's becoming I think an increasingly scientific perspective and one can make a substantive argument to that effect.
I'M JUST THINKING IF THERE'S ANYTHING WE NEED. GET ANOTHER TAKE ON. THE CUTTING EDGE OF THAT MOMENT ABOUT WHO WE ARE. WHAT ABOUT PEOPLE WHO - THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO DON'T THINK DREAMS ARE IMPORTANT AT ALL. WHAT IS THEIR SCIENTIFIC POSITION AND WHAT'S THE ARGUMENT AGAINST IT.
As I understand it, it's that the - it's random phenomenon.
WHAT IS, I'M SORRY.
Oh okay the symbols, the experience of the dream.
INCORPORATE MY QUESTION INTO YOUR ANSWER...
The ah - there's a range of perspectives in the scientific community in terms of the meaning of dreams. There are those that it's extremely meaningful and those that see garbage. So at the most extreme garbage end is not only is it garbage, junk. The brain is throwing off superfluous stuff but that if you remember them, you're paying attention to garbage and duh, you know, you don't have to do that, okay. And at the other end which I think is just as extreme, by the way, all dreams are sacred and you should pay attention to all of them. I know people who spend four hours a day working on a dream diary. Hey, you've got to get the gardening done, okay. I think both are extreme positions. On the down - on the negative end, as I understand the literature, I think there's reasonable scientific rebuttal for that it's all garbage, it's all random it's just a dumpt procedure and particularly the stuff of memory consolidation. This is where we -
YOU'RE GETTING TOO TECHNICAL FOR US.
This is the idea that how we remember stuff that where that happens, where it gets stuck into our memory, what happened today gets stuck into our - everything that's happened in our life, that very likely happens during dreaming or at least during a significant part of dreaming. And there's good solid data for that. That's not a random dumping process without getting into the science behind it, the learning, that you can't learn without dreaming. Dreaming, rapid eye movement dreaming, okay, a particular kind, you know, and on and on. That this is meaningful stuff from a sheer scientific perspective. And I think that as I understand the field, the majority of the field fall somewhere between it's sacred, spend half your day on it and it's total garbage. Most people at this point will acknowledge, yes it's meaningful. How meaningful, what do you do with it, how much, then you get into different dialogues.
REEL #031 - JANE GACHENBACH, PT. 3:
SO WHERE IS A WISE POSITION?
Okay, where is a wise position. A wise position depends very much on the individual. Most people I deal with myself are householders. You know, I've got a house, I've got kids, I've got to take out the garbage, you know, and I've got a life. And so that in that sort of context, I think a wise position is that you attend to your dreams ah as seems appropriate. You know, it can become a practice, a meditative practice. But basically if you really need to attend to a dream ... makes itself known. Now if you've never recalled your dreams, you can't say, well therefore I don't need to attend to any of my dreams. You develop your recall and then you'll see big variations, all right. And you go through periods where you're wanting to, becuse there's a message. There is a message either internally and-or externally, however that is there for you. And advice for the future. But also dreams have poor volume control. So that a real typical one, I'll often have women will ask me, I dreamt about an old boyfriend. Does that mean I want to leave my husband, you know. Probably there's something that you need to attend to vis a vis your relationship with your husband. I mean, I don't know, maybe you are still in love with your old boyfriend. But I kind of doubt it. I think more than likely there's something that there's some distress and you need to attend to that. So yeah you attend to it but you don't go, okay that's it, I'm leaving my husband, given that there was no other antecedants to that. Place it into the context and realize that okay, I need to pay attention to this but I've also got to feed the kids today. You know, that kind of a thing.
TELL ME, WHEN PEOPLE DON'T REMEMBER THEIR DREAMS, PERIOD, WHY IS THAT HAPPENING?
There's various hypotheses of which there's some data but the major reason that we can figure out is it's basically cognitive interference. If you list a whole bunch of - if I list a whole bunch of words for you and you try to memorize them, you're going to forget those in the middle. You'll tend to remember those in the beginning and the end, okay, that's one sort of example. In dreams when you begin to wake up, I mean the first thing you do is you open your eyes and you go, okay now, today I've got to do da-da, da-da, da-da. Well right away you've got all this interference, all right? But if you lie there very quietly, on a morning where you don't have to do all this stuff, you don't open your eyes, okay, and you just rehearse whatever it is you remember, even if it's just a mood. Go over it and over it, all right, you can bring your recall up and then it becomes like bicycle riding, a very well learned thing. And you have no problems with it. And then it will sort of come and go depending again on what is it you're needing to hear but you've got to get it up to snuff first before you can play. It's like getting your violin practice up to a certain level before you can really be creative with it. It's the same thing with a dream.