Our local Jung Society was privileged to host Dr. Stephen Aizenstat recently for a two-day event. Dr. Aizenstat is Chancellor and Founding President of Pacifica Graduate Institute in Carpenteria, California, where I studied and received my PhD. He gave a lecture on Dream Tending, a method he has developed over the past 30 or so years, and a workshop the following day where he explained the technique further and demonstratied how it works. Amazing.
Pacifica Graduate Institute is a wonderful place, and my time there was transformative. The first day of classes, I found myself immersed in a community of people who, by and large, viewed the world in the same “weird” way that I do. Pacifica gave me a framework for understanding my experiences—visions, “knowings,” dreams—that had always felt absolutely real but were unintelligible or even false when viewed through the lens of everyday culture. At Pacifica, I felt quite normal!
This morning I listened to an interview with Steve that the Society did while he was here, and understood, suddenly, a big part of why I’ve been so miserable lately.
Earlier this year, the pain in my tongue and jaw (which had been largely absent during the time that I couldn’t drive before my cataract surgery) returned with a vengeance. It’s never quite clear to me why it happens when it does—but this time, I suspect, it had to do with returning to my “old ways” of feeling responsible for taking care of everything, whether it “belongs” to me or not. I even gave myself hell when I wasn’t feeling positive, cheerful, and upbeat. It seems that I’m able to take the idea that “Life’s purpose is to feel joy!” as a command, with dire consequences if I “fail” to carry it out. Sheesh. Such talent.
Steve’s interview re-inspired me. I remembered the one class—just half a day, the last day of classes at Pacifica—that I had with him, and how clear his demonstration of Dream Tending was. Nearly a decade later, I remember that class vividly.
I suspect that Steve’s worldview and mine are pretty similar, and dreams, for him, are living entities, just as they are for me. Listening to him talk reminded me of how close my conscious relationship to the living world, to the Imaginal, and to dreams has been at times—and how it is NOT close at this moment. During to the 15 or so minutes that I listened to Steve talk, I noticed that I felt no pain—I checked to be sure. No pain at all. Hmmm….
Well then. It seems that part of what pains me is that I’m NOT living my life as I want to. That statement has nothing to do with money, time, aging body, aging pets, or anything else in my physical surroundings and my daily life. It’s about not being in touch with the Imaginal, with the dream world, with my non-physical friends and guides. It’s that aspect that is so limiting.
Steve’s words reminded me of being at Pacifica, in that place where I had a community of like-minded souls. He also reminded me that I actually do have control over how I interact with the world, and which reality I choose to experience. Interesting.
I have control, all right, but it’s not easy. In fact, it’s damn difficult. There’s so little support for living that way in the waking world, in the culture that surrounds me and informs almost everything I do and think. It’s a vicious circle: not being in touch brings about pain, and the pain weakens my resolve to stay in touch, so I get more out of touch…. And around and around we go.
But there are resources and community here in town, and I’m becoming more involved. Together, we can be a support system for each other.
Well, it’s the Full Moon in Libra this morning—time for renewing that close connection with the Imaginal and renewing my commitment to being aware of the Imaginal in each moment. I won’t manage that perfectly, but I commit to coming as close as I can.