Society for Psychological Anthropology
Anthropology of Consciousness
Cosponsored - Oral Presentation Session
If dreaming is highly variable cross-culturally, so too is the significance of dream interpretation and refinement of the dream experience itself. In Western cultures, our propensity to take dreams seriously has declined significantly, especially in contrast to cultures with “oracular” emphasis such as Homeric Greece, pre-Communist Tibet, and large parts of the pre-Columbian Western hemisphere. In Tibetan highest yoga tantra, adepts can be conscious of their dreams and shape them while still dreaming. The capacity for so-called lucid dreaming was documented by Dr. Stephen LaBerge under laboratory conditions. This renders problematic the assumed mutual exclusivity of waking states from dreaming and other states of projective consciousness. Though the creativity of dream associations is often noted, modern sleep deprivation generally reinforces the general sense that dream content is usually not that influential or important. This contrasts with other cultures, including highly developed elaboration of lucid dreaming and dream channeling among yogic adepts of Tibetan Buddhism. This paper will explore how dream recall and the management of creative ambiguity in dreams – per the work of Jeanette Mageo -- may be refined and made lucid in ways that increase self-perceived well-being. Given that mindfulness is an important growing frontier of research exploration and Western interest, dreaming, including in relation to guided mentation, may have potentials that will become increasingly acknowledged, developed, and important in years and decades ahead.