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b daalder
Los Angeles, US
Immortal since Apr 10, 2007
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“It is said that we connect with the psyche through dreams and events in our lives, and that this process begins by longing” (C.G. Jung)
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    Dreams, Embodied Imagination & More

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    I’ve always experienced dreams as a direct reflection of my inner world, each dream a snapshot of the psyche at that particular moment in time. The marvel and attraction of dreams for me is first and foremost that they present a parallel reality that is hard to falsify. Reflecting on a recent, fresh dream, the landscape is still very real, a three-dimensional tactile world from which we I have just woken up; sometimes still scared, crying, laughing, nonplussed, or entirely mystified. Sometimes it is immediately clear the dream carries a message from the unconscious that is pertinent to daily waking life, sometimes it lingers as a surreal and mysterious story that seems to make no sense. I draw and paint my dreams, write them down, work with them - always trying to figure out what their message could be from many different angles - and love helping others do the same. Now years ago, it was through paying close attention to my dreams that I realized I was starting to think in English instead of my native Dutch, and I was able to follow how English gradually took over in real time, as more and more dream images started to talk speak in that language. Dreams have also influenced important choices I’ve made in life by stopping me short and forcing me to take a longer look at issues, or nudging me to try approach them from a different angle.

    Dreams keep luring me in and my curiosity about them has not abated, on the contrary. Still studying the classic works on dreams by Jung, Freud, Von Franz, and others, I’m also working with people who have given dreamwork their own imprimatur. One of those is Robert Bosnak, who has developed his own unique approach to dreams, which he calls “Embodied Imagination”.

    EI can be defined as follows, quote: “Embodied Imagination is a therapeutic and creative form of working with dreams and memories pioneered by Bosnak and is based on principles first developed by Carl Gustav Jung, especially in his work on alchemy, and on the work of James Hillman, who focused on soul as a simultaneous multiplicity of autonomous states …

    … The technique of EI takes dreaming as the paradigm for all work with images. From the point of view of the dreaming state of mind, dreams are real events in real environments. From the dreaming perspective, an image is an environment in which we find ourselves. Based on this notion, one can “re-enter” the landscape of a dream and flashback to the images, whether it is a memory from waking life or from dreaming. One enters a hypnagogic state—a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping, and then, through the process of questioning, images are explored. One can explore these from a variety of perspectives through feelings and sensations manifested in the body, enabling new awareness to develop. The body becomes a theater for a vivid complexity of states, which leads along ‘alchemical’ lines to profound transformation …

    … Embodied Imagination, in the work with dreams and waking memories, is practiced individually and in groups in psychotherapy, medicine, theater, art and creative research. It’s simple rules and group emphasis also lend itself to the Web, where this technique is practiced in private voice-over-IP (VOIP) chat groups. The technique has been used as a rehearsal method by the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon and the Bell Shakespeare Company in Sydney” (

    An important characteristic of EI is the work of becoming so aware of one or more images populating a particular dream or memory that we are able to give up part of our ego position, and start getting inklings of the physical reality of that image; may it be a person, animal, or even an inanimate object. When I saw the video above, “Parallel Universes meet at Infinity” by Manual Saiz, I was struck by how it, apart from being a unique, stunning expression in it’s own right, is also a great illustration of the EI technique of moving into a being that is “other” to us and our waking ego. If you try to follow and imitate the movements the owl makes with its head, like the woman on the left does, you suddenly have a new, alternative physical experience of an entirely different body, a neck that has uniquely different functions from our human neck. This moment of inhabiting the owl is startling and adds an experience that would have been difficult to create in any other way but through mimesis.

    There is often a moment of reluctance, a fear of entering this experience of the “other” through dreams and memories. For me that was especially the case working with Robbie on a childhood memory. I was beset by fear, finding myself in a long remembered situation, experiencing my body as simultaneously being in the here and now, ánd as a 4-year-old overcome by the fear of being discovered in my hiding place under the table. It took some very skillful guidance to have me open up to anything “other” than the overwhelmingly present physical memory that kept me imprisoned in my body. This early memory changed irrevocably after working with the Embodied Imagination technique, and the feeling of being “locked” in gave way to the possibility of a shifting perspective that rippled out into the, by now, well entrenched stories about my childhood.

    An encounter with something or someone “other” than ourselves is possible in our nightly dreams, whether we remember a lot of them or only the occasional snippet, or in images and memories that fascinate us, if only we would entertain the possibility of their importance.

    Find out more about Embodied Imagination, Robert Bosnak and co-founder Jill Fisher at:

    Thu, Jun 25, 2009  Permanent link

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