Embodied Imagination Dreamwork
by Robert Bosnak
It is very hard to prove to yourself that you’re truly awake as you’re reading this. In dreaming too you’re convinced you are awake. The experiential definition of dreaming that holds true the world over is: “I’m somewhere where something happens and then I wake up.” Dreaming is a place. Embodied imagination (EI) is a method that gives us access to that place by means of artificial flashbacks into dreaming. Once back in dreaming, while awake, we are in a fully imagined environment. The one I call ‘I’ is being dreamed just as much as anything or anyone else in this realm. It is an ecosystem of multiple embodiments that exist simultaneously. EI as a method allows us to shift away from the embodiment with which we are usually identified, ‘I’, towards the subjectivity of other embodied states. As we shift away from our habitual consciousness we gain access to fresh and hitherto unexplored embodied intelligence. It can change our lives.
Embodied Imagination employs the ancient method of dream incubation to allow dreaming to respond directly to issues we need to explore. Besides in psychotherapy it has been proven medically effective in the healing sanctuaries we have developed in Santa Barbara and Malinalco in Mexico. It has been used in theater, writing and in several other fields — such as high tech, scientific research and business — where innovation and thinking out of the box of habit, matters.
The following is an excerpt from Robert Bosnak’s book, Tracks in the Wilderness of Dreaming:
“Most perspectives we have used since we began contemporary Western dreamwork in 1900, with Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams, have been external points of view. Even C.G. Jung, who saw dreams as real, as a reality of the soul, expounds on dreaming from the point of view of waking consciousness. Whether we look at dreams as wish-fulfillments, representations of archetypes or subpersonalities, metaphors, symbols, or the meaningless gibberish of a randomly downloading computer, we judge the dream from the point of view we have after waking up….
Whereas external perspectives are relevant, they differ from our actual experience while dreaming. While dreaming, knowing I am fully awake, I hear the banging on my door and the voice’s insistent request to be let in; I do not experience it as an unknown part of self wanting to enter consciousness, or some such notion. I know someone wants to enter. An actual person with a loud masculine voice. I know I am scared. I can sense the pounding of my heart deep down in my stomach. I experience heartburn. I know that I am breathing fast. I feel that there might be danger. I am concerned that others might wake up. I don’t know what will happen if I actually open the door….
Since the totality of a dreaming event consists of several simultaneously existing points of view, it is important to explore the potential of experiencing the memory of the dream not only from the point of view of the somebody referred to as “I,” but also, if possible, from the perspective of other “somebodies” as well. If I can experience the dream from the standpoint of the one banging on my door, I obtain a much wider experience of the entire dreaming event then when I observe only “my own” feelings….
The experience of many different — often conflicting — dream emotions puts the dreamer’s feeling world under pressure, which creates in the dreamer an acute visceral response. This sharp physical awareness may become a catalyst, accelerating the psychological transformation processes that are permanently active in the depths of the human soul.”
Tracks in the Wilderness of Dreaming, pp. 28-30
Robert Bosnak, has authored several books. They are: A Little Course in Dreams, Christopher’s Dream, Tracks in the Wilderness of Dreaming and Embodiment: Creative Imagination in Medicine, Art and Travel. Robert is an instructor of Embodied Imagination® worldwide, and was co-founder of the International Society for Embodied Imagination, the National Nightmare Hotline (866-DRMS911), and since 1997, www.cyberdreamwork.com, the premier voice program on the Internet for interactive work on dreams and imagery. He is past president of the International Association for the Study of Dreams, and was visiting Professor of Clinical Psychology at Kyoto University in Japan. In addition to his clinical expertise, Robert’s interest in Alchemy has been channeled into the first in a series of novels entitled Red Sulphur: The Greatest Mystery in Alchemy. Books 1 and 2. 2015.
After having been in private practice in Cambridge, Massachusetts for 26 years, he moved his work to Sydney, Australia, and is now based in Santa Barbara, California where he is the Executive Director of the Santa Barbara and Malinalco Healing Sanctuary. He is in private practice in Los Angeles.
Robert is the presenter for the Fall Visiting Lecturer Series, Sept 16 – 18, 2016. For more information see our Visiting Lecturer Page.