By Nancy Ivey

With the promise of long winter nights ahead, I have been considering fun activities we can do after dark. Taking an online class in lucid dreaming is teaching me to wake up in my dreams and drive the direction things are going.

Since I don’t remember my dreams the class is a challenge. Our teacher uses drumming to help us “journey” into a similar dream state while we are awake. Through this type of experience we learn lucid dreaming.

Visualization is the vehicle allowing us to dream up experiences while we are awake. After settling into a comfortable position we hear our teachers’ instructions for navigating the “imaginal realm.” Following that, he begins drumming a monotonous beat over the next several minutes.

Brainwaves reflect our different mind states. Normal consciousness is characterized by “beta” wave activity which is a fast brainwave. Once we close our eyes the brainwaves slow down to “alpha.”

If we stay calm and relaxed our consciousness settles into “theta” wave dominance which is where the movies come on, meaning thoughts subside and images arise. From here we usually fall asleep and our brainwaves drop to “delta.”

Our teacher calls the stage of theta dominance the “solution state,” meaning it is when people have glimpses of sublime insight into their conundrums.

My motivation for this training is to effect a “soul retrieval.” This is a shamanic notion that someone suffering physically or mentally may have lost a piece of their soul during some traumatic event over their lifetime. Presently things are falling apart for them to such a degree that their lives are in danger.

Shamans use drumming to enter the liminal state of theta-wave consciousness and journey in the imaginal realm to search for the lost soul. Intention is the beacon guiding our search to the right spot. Enlightened by a book on soul retrieval and fortified by my dream training, I embarked on a journey.

After meeting fearful moments successfully, I flew to the stars and embraced the white light of the soul into my heart and started the return trip home. Returning to earth, a raging torrent blocked my passage with my precious cargo. No worries, it’s my dream. Invoking a stout kayak, I began expertly ferrying across the river.

Aware this powerful current at the top of the world would overtake my boat, I returned to safety at the river’s edge and attempted to paddle downstream on the shallower side until this river turned into an endless waterfall to infinity. Cowed by this immense challenge, I happily realized my zip line stretched endlessly to terra firma, and down we rode, mission accomplished.

Maybe my soul retrieval didn’t work. But the realizations I had after meeting these elemental challenges in a lucid dream is a great epiphany. Life is either a failure of our imagination or its exaltation. During winter’s quiescence, may we invoke the dream of the earth.

Nancy Ivey teaches yoga at CSUB and locally. Email