14 August 2017

Leaving the city; calming the waters of the mind

Probing the dark recesses of your personal netherworld might seem like an odd way to spend your summer vacation, but that’s my jam.

Though it isn’t quite the way it sounds. I mean: on the surface it looks like just about anyone’s vacation. But vacation, and especially certain kinds of vacation, are a golden opportunity for the dreamworker. Doubly so if you live most of your life in a dense, hectic urban environment, like the life of Yours Truly in the inner circles of Budapest.

I’ve written elsewhere about the many hindrances to reaching deep dream states and to clearly remembering dreams, so I won’t go into great detail about that in this essay. But suffice it to say: dense cities – with their noise and light pollution, with their powerful electromagnetic fields of varying frequencies, with their frenzied auras of freaked out pressurized populations, and with their frenetic lifestyles – are a serious challenge to maintaining consciousness of your dream life. I know that some of the several-week-long gaps in my dreams journals can be directly attributed to the stress and “noise” of living in the city and holding down a corporate job.

And decades of experience have shown me that vacation consistently gives rise to an upward spike in dream activity. I record as much in my journal in one week as I had in the previous two months. For instance: I have slept in our vacation house for two nights now. In that time I have recorded nine hand-written pages of dreams, consisting of five distinct dreams. The preceding nine pages in the journal took three months to fill. See what I mean?

And it certainly is not just a matter of quantity. One dream I recorded this morning astonished me with the depth to which it penetrated. Appropriately (apros depths), the dream takes place in rooms and passageways within the Budapest Metro that are restricted to the public (places I’ve never been in waking life). Secret underworld passages. Secret things that are buried deep.

And there was a sublime pun. In one dream there is a book that has witnessed everything that’s ever happened, and it is accompanied by a portable arc lamp. It’s "the arc-lamp of the covenant." Funny and heavy at the same time.

When you’re on vacation you usually sleep a little longer than usual. I sure do. I’m lucky if I get more than six and a half hours of sleep a night most of the time. On vacation, I try to get eight. On vacation, I also love to go to places where it’s perfectly quiet and dark at night. Without the competing “signals” from the other senses, it’s easier to hear the voice of your dreams. And that goes for electromagnetic noise as well.

And the stress. Being preoccupied all the time and going to bed with a head full of mental chatter is a sure-fire formula for having low-level “psychological” dreams that express your neuroses and are cluttered with “day residue”.

So we have come to Western Hungary (a literal stone’s throw from the Austrian border) to visit the family of my eldest son’s girlfriend. It’s a very large family that can boast up to 18 people at the table at every meal (counting guests, but still!). They live on several acres of forested land in the Alpine foothills that abuts a large stream. There are animals and organic gardens, and children of all ages. My daughter and I spent three hours yesterday paring about fifteen kilos of wind-fall apples (literally: they’d been knocked of the tree by a thunderstorm the night before) that got made into several gallons of fresh cider and two huge apple cakes.

My mind is so distant from the concerns of corporate management I may as well be on another planet.

We are being put up at a house the family owns several kilometres away, situated in several acres of hilly garden with an abundance of fruit trees. It’s about 100 years old and has stone and plaster outer walls about half a meter thick. When you close the wooden shutters of the windows, it is as dark and silent as a tomb.

To quote Joni Mitchell: “… Dreamland comin’ on


Oliver Huffman said...

I am glad that you are getting some well-deserved rest, and not thinking about work.
I wonder how these activites effect your dreams. Have you noticed anything re-appearing in your dreams?

zak the yak said...

Hi I am curious about the limits and constraints of time as relating to work versus vacation. Sometimes we refer to vacation as 'vacation time' when we are planning. I believe my weekend is truly a mini vacation and do whatever whenever but not always as a 'tourist'. sometimes I just hang out at home- my space-. I am close to retiring so am in practice for day dreaming and doing what my heart pleases.
Anyway I have been in s sort of similar frame of mind as what you reported in your blog and have delved into my inner being and actually written down some thoughts in my journal.
thanks for your ideas