Electric Dreams

Integrating Lucid Dream Characters

David L. Kahn

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Kahn, David L. (2007 May). Integrating Lucid Dream Characters.
(An Excerpt From The Lucid Dream Exchange, Lucy Gillis, Editor.) Electric Dreams 14(5).

The Lucid Dream Exchange is pleased to present a new quarterly column by David L. Kahn. His first article for LDE, "Integrating Lucid Dream Characters" appeared in LDE 42.

Integrating Lucid Dream Characters
(c) David L. Kahn 2007

The word Integrity conjures up images of a person in power, such as a business or political leader who demonstrates high moral values. On a personal level, to live with integrity is something we associate as being honest to one's self and acting in a way that we believe is in the best interest of others. Our dreaming mind firmly but caringly shows us that which we deny, and in so doing guides us towards a life of integrity - if we choose to listen. This connection between dreams and integrity can be looked at as 1) your dreaming mind never suggests that you act in a way that is knowingly harmful to others, 2) dreams are there to repair, never to impair, and 3) integration of neglected or separated aspects of your personality is an essential part of achieving your highest potential. Can lucid dreaming be used as a means of integrating our lost or forgotten personality traits?

The self-integration view of the word Integrity is defined by The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy as "A matter of persons integrating various parts of their personality into a harmonious, intact whole." This type of integration (integrity) within a lucid dream may present itself literally as the person merging with another person, animal or object as seen in the following example by Ralf Penderak of Badendorf, Germany.

I'm in the fields on the back of my house. I'm jumping backwards, and the jumps are getting longer and longer. How is that? I must be dreaming! Everything fades to grey, like so often in the moment that I become lucid. This time I won't give in to physical awaking so easily, but I start singing and dancing, with slowly rotating turns around my axis. After a few seconds I see my son and my dog (a Dalmatian) standing by a small tree. At first I don't want to go there, but then I realize that this is a good chance for interaction. I remember that mostly everybody just disappears from dream scene once I become lucid. So, I go there and start playing with my dog, at first orbiting each other slowly, then faster and faster, until we are one whirl with no more borders between us. We melt into each other in ecstasy. When we calm down, I see my skin is now white fur with black dots. I awake physically. Ecstasy lingers and makes my day.

Dream characters that represent aspects of your personality are an interesting bunch. There are some that seem to prefer their privacy, but if called upon they'll show up to perform some function. Others are ready to be reintegrated into the "you" of the dream, no longer choosing to remain as a separate character. After integrating an athlete you may find yourself ready to get back into shape, or perhaps the integration of an artist sparks an old interest in painting.

Robert Waggoner recently provided us with the following example of an integration that occurred within his dream...

...Behind me, I see a tall slender black woman, who seems to be with us. It seems the farm wife doesn't care to mix their food with our food. We wait. As I sit there, I look at my brother and then at the black woman; it suddenly occurs to me, "This is a dream." I stand up and want to know what this means. I pick up the black woman and ask, "Who are you? Who are you?"

She looks at me, and surprises me with her response. "I am a discarded aspect of your self." Immediately, I sense the truth of her statement and feel the need to reintegrate her into my being. She then energetically evaporates into me, once I accept the truth of her statement.

Lucid dreams provide us with a unique opportunity to heal by rejoining our fragmented personality traits with the whole. Asking your dream characters who they are or what they want should provide you with some interesting, and perhaps unexpected, responses.

An interesting lucid dream experiment would be to see if you can integrate a previously non-existent personality trait within the conscious "you." For example, perhaps you have been shy for as long as you can remember and you would like more courage. If you found a courageous dream character and asked them to join you, what response might you get? Or, maybe you would like to play classic rock guitar. If you invited Jimi Hendrix to become a part of you, would your ability to understand the music improve? Of course it may be best to simply see who shows up, trusting that they are there for reasons that are important to the greater "you."

German gestalt psychologist and lucid dreamer Paul Tholey used his Conciliatory Method to make peace with dream characters. He found that by using this approach, dream characters would often transform from "lower order to higher order creatures," thereby helping the meaning of the dream make more sense. For example, a beast might transform into a human, and from there the human might integrate with you as seen in Tholey's own example...

I became lucid, while being chased by a tiger, and wanted to flee. I then pulled myself back together, stood my ground, and asked, "Who are you?" The tiger was taken aback but transformed into my father and answered, "I am your father and will now tell you what you are to do!" In contrast to my earlier dreams, I did not attempt to beat him but tried to get involved in a dialogue with him. I told him that he could not order me around. I rejected his threats and insults. On the other hand, I had to admit that some of my father's criticism was justified, and I decided to change my behavior accordingly. At that moment my father became friendly, and we shook hands. I asked him if he could help me, and he encouraged me to go my own way alone. My father then seemed to slip into my own body, and I remained alone in the dream.

The opposite of integration, of course, is disintegration - which is a word that we tend to associate negatively. The Cambridge Dictionary of American English defines disintegrate as "to become weaker or be destroyed by breaking into smaller pieces." Would you ever want to disintegrate any aspect of your personality? Consider this; cancer cells are part of the physical whole of a person. In this case, the attempt to regain health is done by disintegrating - destroying - those cells. A negative personality trait can cause damage to the entire person, even to the detriment of that part of the person - much like how the cancer cells inevitably destroy themselves. The "cancerous" personality trait may even be a physical aspect of you, such as the smoker or couch potato. These personality traits often make their entry into your psyche at a point in your life in which some form of defense is created to counter a real or imagined stress or danger. In some cases they serve dutifully, but it is time they retire.

For example, guilt can be a good way to prevent further bad life choices that are harmful to yourself or others, but when you carry guilt with you years after the event, who does it really serve? Just as there are personality traits that are best suited to be reintegrated into the group, others should be voted off the island.

The trick with disintegrating personality traits is to not eliminate one negative trait by using another. In other words, if Judgment and Anger vote Guilt off the island, you are still only left with Judgment and Anger.

Compassion and Understanding, on the other hand, may help find Guilt an appropriate place to take residence. The following is an example that I used in my book, A Dream Come True, and shows the results of a fear being disintegrated.

I am in the living room of one of my childhood homes. I hear my father yelling very loudly. He sounds very angry and I am afraid. I try to find him, but I don't know where he is. Now I see him. He is coming down the hallway into the living room. He looks to be about eight feet tall. He looks angry. I realize that this is a dream and I remember that I should try to show him love, rather than run away or fight. I walk up to him and hug him. He turns into my childhood dog, who I loved very much.

The disintegration appears in the dream as the scary personality trait shrinking and reducing itself down into something small, harmless, and loving. The result of this disintegration is transformation, and ultimately that is the intention behind the dream.

With all of this adding and removing of personality traits, should you be worried about the mind conducting experiments like a mad scientist mixing ingredients with potentially disastrous results? I think not. Our dreaming minds have earned our trust. This inner self wants only what is best for you, in a way that is also best for others. That is what integrity is all about.

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