Healing the DreamBody

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“Healing the DreamBody” Asia Dorsey


I’m writing from The Cheyenne, Ute and Araphoe territories named Colorado or Colored Red by Conquistadors [a]. In a series of synchronicities, corroborating the teaching of my mentor Sergio Magaùa with my dream and waking realtites the dreamways of the Ancient Mexicas, the Toltec Dreamways have become central to my practice. This wisdom is also central to how we theorize the dreambody, its relationship to the waking body and healing the both of both, simultaneously. My body is the primary instrument through which I can know the world. In fact, the world only is because of my body. My body shapes the world around itself as it is shaped by the world. It is a dialectical. An ontological miracle. A bible from my ancestors to my children with letters shaped like patterns. Patterns shaped like the curvature of my spine and lips; edgways that meander like flagella. Ecotones of bloodlines bending and breaking into each other. My body is an ecology. An ecosystem that begs differentiation. Exploration. And refuge. I heed the call. Self love is the gap between the wound and the salve. The gap between the call and the response is an opportunity and a


measure of value. Who am I to myself that I won’t answer a call from myself? In a paradigme of dynamic equilibrium, self love is not balance or perfection, self love is the impulse to shorten the gap between the call and the response more and more each time. Tending the gap is precious work. It is in the gap that we are able to be with the wholeness of where we are in our journey. It is a time that we can weave the dreambody which is oftentimes an aspect of our shadow into our lovemaking project. I am here for wrapping the psyche in all its tattered wounding. In all of its forget-me-nots. In all of its mystery and elusiveness in loving embrace. Hugging my dream body is hugging my real body. This wrapping of the dreambody is an action that enfuses the ethics that we deserve wonder, attention, study, protection and reverence into waking reality. Dreamworkers are wrappers. We explore new terrains, gather and bring back information, speak with ancestors and recover Soul. We have the privilege and responsibility to tend to ourselves as we do the work of re-membering.


Dreams create our reality. Toltec philosophy locates the origins of present reality in the dreamworld, contrary to western perspectives that understand dreams as random firing neurons attempting to consolidate the happenings of the waking world. Toltec dreamwork is a practice of shaping the outcome of dreams events in order to shape waking outcomes or outcomes in the Tonal. The Nahual, dream realm, is four times more powerful than the Tonal, the waking realm, thus the actions performed there have quadruple the impact. Tibetian Sleep Yogis report that the impact of practicing meditation in the dreamworld has a tenfold impact on the waking mind[b]. Learning that I was “seeding� my waking reality with my dream activity, I poured over years of dream journal content to understand what skills I was practicing and what ways of being I was cultivating. In my early stages of this process, I moved with judgement and detachment. I created Dream Asia as a problem. Painting Dream Asia as emotional and unevolved. I then blamed, shamed and tried to tame her with vigorous lucid practice. I noticed that my approach to Dream Asia was the same approach I used with myself. I opened my heart to all of these selves.


As I matured and began to approach healing this relationship from a Jungian1 perspective. My internal dialogues began shifting and making space for new ways of being with all the parts of myself. I became worthy of healing. I found that everything I touched, I healed. So I touched every part. I moved my whole being in the direction of my heart. As I healed disembodiment by cultivating a loving relationship with my body through unprejudiced touch, I began to observe, study and regard my body with respect and curiosity. This respect and curiosity extended to Dream Asia, and her environmental and psychological conditions. Kanye West, one of my favorite rappers made bold assertions about his godliness in the enchanting composition “Ultralight Beam.� He had me asking cosmological questions about the nature of God Dreams. If I was the god of my dreams, what kind of god would I be? Judgemental? Unforgiving? Would I be the god of suffering or the god of redemption? Who am I to myself. For myself. How am I in confrontation with my shadow?

1 Specifically Jung as articulated by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes the author of Women Who Run With the Wolves and Seeing in the Dark: Myths and Stories to Reclaim the Buried, Knowing Woman.


I decided to be the God of Beauty and love my shadow as I had learned to love the parts of my body that lacked attention. I decided to ally instead of condemn or conform. To stand by my girl no matter what and to help her as best I could. “When they come for you, I will shield your name I will field their questions, I will feel your pain No one can judge. They don’t, they don’t know They don’t know.”- Chance The Rapper, Ultralight Beam


Dreamtime and The Body 1.Our dreams live inside of our body. 2.What is happening to our body impacts our dreams. 3. What happens in our dreams impacts our waking life. 4. Change can occur from the inside out as well as from the outside in. Our dreams don’t happen “out there” somewhere in space. They are embodied experiences, not separate. Not other. We are an integrated whole. Our body responds to dream content and waking content in the same way. People experiencing nightmares show bodily symptoms of panic, including higher perspiration, changes in breathing patterns, and a racing heart2. A study published in Psychophysiology in 2019 revealed that the activity in dreamers autonomic nervous system, our fight and flight response, was far higher in people having nightmares than it was in harmless dreams[d].The body reacts to the threat in the dreamworld as it would in waking life.

2 https://stanfordhealthcare.org/medical-conditions/sleep/nighttime-sleep-behaviors/nightmares.html


Dream threats harm the physical body. A 2010 article in Scientific America titled “More than Just a Bad Dream,” confirmed that nightmares fuel anxiety in waking life[e]. A 2014 study showed that people with generalized anxiety disorder were more likely to have anxious nightmares and that those nightmares were more likely to lead to anxious behavior upon waking[f]. Persistent activation of the sympathetic nervous system,our stress-based survival response can have lasting negative impact on our health3. Reliving Dream Asia of these experiences was an actual matter of life and death. Reliving the dream body is ancestral work. Sergio Magaña in his book Toltec Secrets remind us that “...When you’re able to transform your dreams […] your body receives the information that this dream has to be created. At this level of blossom dreaming, you can change your whole life in a single night, and of course your body receives the order to regenerate, too[a].”

While most practitioners use conscious dreaming to plant the seeds for the realities they wish to create, I decided to alter my physical body in order to cause change in my dreaming. Lemon balm was my great ally in this work.

3 Persistent activation of the ANS response to stress impacts our digestive system, glucose metabolism, cardiovascular system, our immunity, mental health and more. In what ways does racism literally make us sick to death?


Healing the Dreambody with Lemon Balm Fifteenth century alchemist Nicholas Culpepper quotes Serapio on Lemon Balm (Melissa Offcianlis): “It causeth the Mind and Heart to become merry, and reviveth the Heart fainting to foundlings, especially of such who are overtaken in their sleep, and driveth away all troublesome cares and thoughts…[c]”. Lemon Balm’s bright lemony scent has the ability to uplift spirits befallen with terror. Many mint (lamiaceae) family plants like Lemon Balm, Lavender (Lavendula) and Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus) have strong scents which convey a beneficial effect on the nervous system. I showed up as the God of Beauty for Dream Asia with Lemon Balm, my loyal ally, teacher, and embodiment of my light. Kelly Price’s lyricism too is a balm. I on every level of my being can empathise when she sings, “So why send oppression not blessings? Why, oh, why’d You do me wrong? You persecute the weak Because it makes You feel so strong Don’t have much strength to fight So I look to the light To make these wrongs turn right


Head up high, I look to the light Hey, ‘cause I know that You’ll make everything alright And I know that You’ll take good care of Your child Oh, no longer am afraid of the night ‘Cause I, I look to the light.” -Kelly Price, “Ultralight Beam” In response to a series of nightmares, I gave myself permission to actively terraform new realities for my Child to live into. I did it as a process of call and response centering my skills as a bioregional herbalist. I worked the alchemy and began crafting herbs in a way that would impact the dreambody directly. When Dream Asia cried for help, I answered. In the morning after an exhausting dream experience, I would take note of Dream Asia’s specific mental afflictions. That evening, I would send her the corresponding plant ally by consuming the herb before bed. If she spent time in the dream world ruminating I sent her Earth medicine. These are herbs like Dandelion that impact the spleen/stomach organ systems or the Earth Element in Traditional Chinese Medicine. If Dream Asia was experiencing fear of the future, a constant theme in my nightmares, I sent her “presence” medicine, my favorite of which is Lemon Balm.


Experiments with Oniergens4 It seemed to work well enough so I designed broader experiments to see how each plant shaped and altered the dream world experience. I will report here on my work with Lemon Balm. In the first week, I recorded my dreams as usual. In the second week I took two dropperfuls of lemon balm tincture (made from the fresh plant material in 100 proof vodka) every evening and recorded my dreams in the morning. In the third week, I removed the tincture and in the fourth round I added it back in. I took the month of data and analyzed trends. Compared the weeks with Lemon Balm to the weeks without it. I also made correspondences in my waking reality. I observed that the state of my mind impacts the speed of my dreams. Baseline Dream Asia moves at breakneck speed. There is always a mission to complete or a world to save. She never has time to stop. The presence of Lemon Balm had the impact of creating moments of non-motion. Lemon Balm created space to sit and be still. To mend and tend the gaps. The dreams with Lemon Balm had more dialogue and less activity. There was a decreased sense of urgency and a greater awareness of people and plants. I was present.

4 Oneironaut (plural oneironauts) A person who explores dream worlds. Onerigens are substances used to aid in that exploration.


The corresponding slower Dream Asia impacted the speed of waking Asia. I became more efficient, more focused and practical as a result of this dreamwork. There was an inverse relationship. The overactivity of Dream Asia created a sluggishness in waking Asia as a compensatory pattern. When I calmed and grounded my dream mind, I was able to calm and ground my waking mind towards rightful action. I’m reminded of Uncle Malcom when he tells us, in his 1963 “ Letter to the Grassroots. “Don’t lay down your life all by itself. No, preserve your life. It’s the best thing you got. And if you got to give it up, let it be even-steven.” I destroy the tradition of sacrificing the Black body to barking dogs and billy clubs5. I shape my own reality, all of them. I protect my precious Black body in all of its forms and manifestations. Filled to the brim with my belovedness. I know that I am the byproduct of blood sacrifice. That, I am the coagulation of prayers. Somebody’s dream come true. I came into this reality to fulfil on the edicts of my ancestors.

5 Explore Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me for more on this topic.


“ Don’t pray for us, play for us,” they said to me on a dark night. “Don’t cry for us, fly for us. Don’t grieve for us, breathe for us. Don’t mourn for us, adorn for us. We’ve already done the suffering. Now, suffering is optional.” I live into this dream on a daily basis with my dream play and my plants. It is through my body that I am woven in spacetime like kente cloth, like kunta and cotton into presence with the past, present and future. I invite you to decipher your own dialecticals. Reprogram your patterns. I implore you to make your body worth attention. Tend to it and see how it grows you.


Sources [a] Magaña, S. (2014). The Toltec Secret: Dreaming Practices of the Ancient Mexicans. Hay House, Inc.

[b]Rinpoche, T. W. (2004). The Tibetan yogas of dream and sleep. Motilal Banarsidass Publ.

[c] Culpeper, N. (1847). The Complete Herbal.Thomas Kelly.

[d]Serena Scarpelli, Chiara Bartolacci, Aurora D’Atri, Maurizio Gorgoni, Luigi De Gennaro, Mental Sleep Activity and Disturbing Dreams in the Lifespan, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 10.3390/ijerph16193658, 16, 19, (3658), (2019).

[e]Joelving, F. (2010, January 01). More Than Just a Bad Dream--A Nightmare’s Impact on the Waking Brain. Retrieved July 01, 2020, from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/more-than-just-a-bad-dream/

[f] Nadorff, M. R., Porter, B., Rhoades, H. M., Greisinger, A. J.,


Kunik, M. E., & Stanley, M. A. (2014). Bad dream frequency in older adults with generalized anxiety disorder: prevalence, correlates, and effect of cognitive behavioral treatment for anxiety. Behavioral sleep medicine, 12(1), 28–40. https://doi.or g/10.1080/15402002.2012.755125


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