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In the late 1970s, Arny discovered the “Dreambody”, the mirror connection between our night-time dreams and our body experiences. Every dream refers to, or “mirrors”, a particular body experience. And every body experience can be visualized and usually appears in dreams. So, to work on the body, you can work on dreams. And to work on dreams, you can follow body experiences.
On this page, you can:
- Read about the Dreambody and Rainbow Medicine
Find out more about Extreme States - Arny's term for experiences often given psychiatric diagnoses
See Arny and Amy's images of Dreambody Movement Work
THE DREAMBODY VIDEO: WORKING WITH A BODY SYMPTOM
Here is a video that Amy made explaining the Dreambody concept. You will see a brief, beginning example of working on a body symptom and the connection between the body symptom and a dream.
To go further ...
The Quantum Mind and Healing: dreambody history, theory and practice
By Arny Mindell
For most of us, and for many therapists, the body appears as a central topic only when there are severe symptoms. It is still a relatively surprising to discover that symptoms can be enlightening.
After completing my Jungian studies and becoming a training analyst in the 1970’s, I realized that if dreams were meaningful, the same must be true for all personal, physical and dreamlike experiences. I began studying how the dreaming mind appears not only in our night-time dreams, but also in every little thing we notice all day long.
I was amazed to discover the dreaming process in our everyday minds and in all our body experiences- including symptoms. Whatever we experience is recognizable in our dreams. Based upon these and other observations, together with many friends in Zurich Switzerland, I began developing what is called today, “process oriented psychology”, a non-pathological approach to everything we experience from body symptoms and dance processes, to relationship issues and large group situations.
The central theme of all my ideas is about process, as understood in Taoism and physics. Process allowed me to use my background in applied physics, Jungian psychology and the “Tao that can not be said.” I found new approaches to altered states of consciousness including psychotic and comatose states. Spiritual experiences appeared in an entirely new light for me.
1983 REVIEW OF 'DREAMBODY: THE BODY’S ROLE IN REVEALING THE SELF'
Review of Dreambody: The Body’s Role in Revealing the Self, by Alice Johnston, C.G. Jung Society of Montreal Newsletter Vol. VIII, No. 8, March 1983.
Jungian analyst Edward F. Edinger reflects on the farsightedness of Jung’s views. So far was he ahead of his time (five or six hundred years in Edinger’s estimation) that even Jungians are not aware of some of the implications of his writings—the product of his psychological experience. Edinger feels that he has a glimmering of what Jung was saying, and finds comfort and hope in “the power, the potency and the versatile adaptability of the dynamic of life—biological life.” Perhaps the man who has worked most consistently in this psychoid hinterland of Jungian research and therapy is Arnold Mindell, an American based in Zurich.
Over the years a number of Mindell’s articles on synchronicity and transference phenomena have appeared in Quadrant, the journal of the C. G. Jung Foundation in New York. There were references to his interest in Carlos Castaneda’s shaman hero, don Juan, in Donald Lee Williams’ excellent study, Border Crossings (Inner City Books, 1982). Dreambody, however, represents the first opportunity for readers to appreciate the full significance and scope of Mindell’s orientation—what Edinger would consider “a new world view.”
The rainbow medicine picture briefly summarizes some of the many Processwork approaches to body experience. Rainbow medicine, introduced in Arny’s 2004 book, “Quantum Mind and Healing”, encompasses allopathic and alternative medical treatments, as well as work with the deepest parts of ourselves, the new work we are calling the “processmind”. The Processmind experience helps to bridge the gap between the symptom and the everyday mind.
Body symptoms and world theatre
Ouch! Pain! Is there a pill? What’s nature telling you? Are you aging, dying, or just dreaming? What do symptoms say about world tasks, or your opinion of your looks? These questions arise with fears about aging and symptoms. It seems that nature uses symptoms to bring out often marginalized experiences and states of consciousness, for us as individuals, for our communities and world.
In what manner are our symptoms non-local?? Symptoms seem to be relieved by bringing out and expressing marginalized experiences; it often appears as if this new consciousness is connected to relationship and group processes at a distance. More research is needed here.
Dreambody and Allostasis
We are thankful to Dr. Pierre Morin of Portland, Oregon, for alerting us to the concept of allostasis.
Homoeostasis is the tendency of psychological or biological systems to reach equilibrium. Allostasis includes maintaining stability by employing variability.
It seems to us that homeostasis is usually understood as a system’s ability to adjust to near equilibrium deviations, whereas allostasis is our innate ability to achieve stability and homeostasis even under extreme situations driving us far from equilibrium.
In process oriented thinking, allostasis includes the use of innerwork, sensing the dreaming body, outer social awareness, worldwork, etc.
According to Wikipedia: allostasis is the process of achieving stability, or homeostasis, through physiological or behavioral change. This can be carried out by means of alteration in HPA axis hormones, the autonomic nervous system, cytokines, or a number of other systems, and is generally adaptive in the short term. (see “The concept of allostasis in biology and biomedicine”. Horm Behav. 2003 Jan;43(1):2-15. McEwen BS, Wingfield JC. (Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology, The Rockefeller University).
The concept of Allostasis was proposed by Sterling and Eyer in 1988 to describe an additional process of reestablishing homeostasis, but one that responds to a challenge instead of to subtle ebb and flow. This theory suggests that both homeostasis and allostasis are endogenous systems responsible for maintaining the internal stability of an organism. Homeostasis, from the Greek homeo, means “same” while stasis means “stable;” thus, remaining stable by staying the same. Allostasis was coined similarly, from the Greek allo, which means “variable;” thus,”remaining stable by being variable”.
– Sterling, P. and Eyer, J., 1988, Allostasis: A new paradigm to explain arousal pathology. In: S. Fisher and J. Reason (Eds.), Handbook of Life Stress, Cognition and Health. John Wiley & Sons, New York.
– Robyn Klein Phylogenetic and phytochemical characteristics of plant species with adaptogenic properties MS Thesis, 2004, Montana State University Ch. 3.
PROCESSWORK, THE DREAMBODY AND TRANSPERSONAL PSYCHOLOGY
by Dr. Ingrid Rose
As you may know transpersonal psychology is a school of psychology that studies the transcendent or spiritual dimensions of psychology and humanity. It is concerned with the study of humanity’s highest potential and with the recognition of spiritual and transcendent states of consciousness. It emphasizes the “transegoic” elements of human existence such as altered states of consciousness, trance, and spirituality from an academic perspective, striving to combine modern psychology with the world’s contemplative traditions, both East and West.
Transpersonal Psychology serves as an umbrella for many psychological approaches which embody its ideas and perspectives, such as Jungian psychology, Archetypal psychology, Sardello’s spiritual psychology, psychosynthesis, and the work of many others such as Maslow, Grof, Wilber and Tart. Processwork would fall under this umbrella as well as it embodies many of the same principles of spirituality, and emphasis on deep states of consciousness and expanded awareness. Transpersonal psychology is a philosophically based approach incorporating many paradigms which offer varying techniques for working with individuals and groups.
However, Processwork offers many tools and techniques for expanding awareness in a very practical way. Its methods are applied in many fields such as extreme states of consciousness; coma, death and dying; movement; dreams and inner work; relationship issues; group work and conflict facilitation; body symptoms and illness. It explores disturbance as a gateway to enhanced understanding of little known parts of oneself, cultivating deeper insight into individual process and global and universal tendencies. Below is an extract from my own writing which may define further the work and how it is applied.
“The dreambody begins with a subtle feeling or sentient experience, which manifests in the body in terms of symptoms and uncontrolled movements, in dreams, in synchronicities, and the like” (Mindell, 2000, p. 509). The dreambody communicates through body symptoms and experiences, dreams, relationship issues and world events. Mindell gives an example of an individual who had a dream about a hammer, and while telling the dream taps his foot on the floor. In following the tapping of the foot, one follows the dreaming process, just as one might follow an aspect of the night-time dream. In allowing the movement of the foot to guide one, one enters through a “dreamdoor” into another reality or altered experience, in which the meaning of the tapping foot is accessed for the individual through a process of amplification and unfolding of the initial signal. In entering the dreaming field, one drops one’s usual viewpoint in order to get the meaning brought by the dreambody. In integrating this message into everyday consensus reality, one can begin to change one’s relationship to oneself, to others, and to the world, enlivening an awareness process that enriches life.
The dreambody is your personal, individual experience of the Tao that cannot be said in consensual terms, while dreams and body experiences are like the Tao that can be said. The dreambody is analogous to the quantum wave function in physics. Just as the quantum wave function cannot be seen in consensus reality but can be understood as a tendency for things to happen, the dreambody is a non-consensus reality, sentient, pre-signal experience manifesting in terms of symptoms and unpredictable motions. (p. 510).
Process-oriented dreambody work provides a methodology by which identified aspects of individuals, relationships, groups and systems can be unraveled in order to gain insight into the deeper meaning of what is calling to be discovered, enhancing awareness of these usually unknown or unfamiliar aspects of existence. In order to embark on this journey, modalities such as vision, audition, proprioception (inner body feeling), and movement are used to enter behind the “dreamdoors”; to travel toward deep sentient experiences to re-emerge with new knowledge and awareness.
“Extreme States” as defined in Arny’s 1988 book, City Shadows, refer to unusual or rare states of consciousness that are statistically less common than the so called “normal states of consciousness” characteristic of a given area, culture, and times. Extreme states are frequently pathologized and called, “mental illness” and “psychoses”. While Processwork includes diagnostic viewpoints, Processwork emphasizes also the potential meaning and creativity of a situation.
Click here for a 1994 interview with Arny on extreme states in the Journal of Process Oriented Psychology.
Physics, Dreaming and Extreme States … Alternative Views on psychosis
In this 2011 interview, Will Hall of Madness Radio (www.madnessradio.net ) asks Arny about his long experience in working with extreme (that is statistically unusual) states of consciousness. Processwork prefers the term “extreme” to “psychosis”, because extreme stresses the unusual (in contrast to the pathologically “sick”) nature of what we all experience, to a lesser or greater extent. Click here to hear the interview of about 55 minutes
Process oriented movement work is the art and science of noticing and appreciating our intentional movements while also exploring unintentional and spontaneous movements as the seeds of our on-going dreaming process. When we explore these movements with awareness we can enrich our experience of everyday life and discover ourselves as unending creativity.
To read more about movement work, click on Amy’s article: Movement Work in Process Oriented Psychology