Top books 2015

Top books 2015
Strahov Monastery Library Prague
Image: Bestvalueschools.com

Since February this year, Mindfunda has been talking about dreams, mythology, spirituality and dreams. Looking back at the past months, this is the list of the best books I have reviewed. The Top books 2015 about dreaming, mythology and spirituality.

Top books 2015: Lucid dreaming, plain and simple

Lucid dreaming is a technique that became popular in the seventies because of Carlos Casteneda’s books. He described a technique that was easy: you look at your hands and you wonder if you are awake or asleep. Your hands are always with you. In his younger years Robert Waggoner trained himself to become a lucid dreamer.

top books 2015
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The book is filled  with tips and techniques that are clever and easily usable. Here you can read more about Lucid dreaming plain and simple and here you can see my interview with Robert Waggoner about it.

Top books 2015: Sidewalk Oracles

Robert Moss is an expert writer, a gifted story-teller, and his connection to the Goddess has made him one of my favorite authors when it comes to the subject of dreams and spirituality.

Top books 2015
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When people ask me if I know any good books about dreams I always say: “any book that is written by Robert Moss about the subject is excellent. Mind you, Robert used to be a writer and a journalist before concentrating on the subject of dreams. Sidewalk oracles is filled with ways of bringing magic back into your life. A fun encyclopedia to have around in times when feel the need to breaking the circle to get out of a rut.

Top books 2015: Dreaming

Jennifer Windt has been the one who completed a philosophical map of the field of dreaming. I must confess this is not an easy read, but it will give you so much more insight into the field of dreaming. Its history, its philosophy, its challenges, its limits. Just the book for the cold winter days. A book that will illuminate your mind and hopefully will give you some crazy bold ideas yourself.

 

Top books 2015
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Consciousness, what is it? Were in the brain can it be found? When you have a dreamless sleep, where are you? Professor Evan Thompson, who has written the next book on the list, says: “This book sets a new standard for the science and philosophy of dreaming in the twenty-first century.”

Top books 2015: Waking, Dreaming, Being

Using the oldest known map of consciousness, Evan Thompson, uses the newest neurological insights as a form of cartography. You can see Evan Thompson talking about Waking, Dreaming, Being in my Mindfunda interview with him.

Top books 2015
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Waking, Dreaming, Being touches the fundamental questions about consciousness, combining the newest scientific knowledge of the West with the ancient Wisdom of the East.

Top books 2015: Wake Up to Your Dreams

Justina Lasley created a method called DreamSynergy. An easy to use method that enables you to comprehend the message in a dream you remember. And to take action. Justina told me in a Mindfunda interview how her dreams turned her life around. She found the love of her life, and followed a new career path.

 

top books 2015
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Wake Up to Your Dreams is an easy to use book, with lots of examples and dreams. Justina says: “Because dreams can be complicated, I wanted to create an easy method in a book filled with exercises”.

Top books 2015: Romance of the Grail

Mythology and Mindfunda. Being as interested in dreams as I am, you can not avoid mythology. I have dreamed about Odin before I knew who he was.
And when you say mythology, you say Joseph Campbell.

 

Top books 2015
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The study of the Arthurian myth was a doorway for Joseph Campbell into comparative mythology. Using the mythological tales as symbols for spiritual development in the human psyche. In this book you can find Campbell’s dissertation: “The Dolorous Stroke”.

Top books 2015: The book of SHE

In November I started my first blog series. Throughout the month I publish 4 blogs around a central theme. This month the theme is the Descent. Going into the dark to find your inner light. In November the theme was the Goddess.
The book of SHE fitted right in. We know Joseph Campbell as the man who brought us the knowledge about the hero’s journey. Soon enough there was a lady called Maureen Murduck that acknowledged that women have got another journey.

Top books 2015
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Sara Avant Stover has taken this knowledge into the twenty-first century. Things start to change if you embrace your inner Goddess. The connection that Sara feels with Mary Magdalen is a heartfelt one. The heroine’s journey is a challenge all women must face. To have a guidebook is necessary.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Remember: Christmas is a very special time for dreaming, so join Mindfunda for the Holy Night Dream Incubations.

Mindfunda invites you for a Christmas celebration you will remember. For just 10 dollars you get exclusive access to a restricted private area on Mindfunda during the Holy Nights. Each night between December 24 and January 6 I will share a dream incubation. We will talk about and reflect on our dreams. Ancient belief says that during these nights the veil between the worlds is thin. Register now as Mindfunda More Member, to experience the depth of your dreams.

Evan Thompson: Waking, Dreaming, Being

Susanne van Doorn from Mindfunda interviewed philosopher Evan Thompson about his book ‘Waking, Dreaming, Being’. Evan Thompson builds a bridge between Western science: neurology and the oldest map of consciousness, Upanishad.

A big thanks to Christian Gerike for alerting me to this book, and to Christoph Grassmann, for sharing his presentation about the self in dreaming with me so I could prepare questions for this interview.

Evan Thompson talks to Mindfunda about:

  • How his father William Irwin Thompson founder of Lindisfarne Association, as well as his wife, neurologist Rebecca Todd, influenced the ideas he proposes in this book.
  • The waking state as a stream of consciousness with gaps in-between.
  • The dreaming state and especially lucid dreaming is a special kind of awareness.
  • Dreaming as more than random neurological chatter of the brain.
  • A state of pure awareness.
  • And finally Evan Thompson tells us why he picked up the pen to write Waking, Dreaming, Being.

I got aware of ‘Dreaming, Waking, Being’ because of a quote colleague Christian Gerike put on Facebook. It was this quote:

The first quarter is the waking state. Here consciousness turns outward and experiences the physical body as the self. Waking consciousness takes enjoyment in the ‘gross’ objects of sense perception, yet no object holds its interest for long, because attention, motivated by desire, constantly flits from one thing to another. Consciousness in the waking state is restless, dissatisfied, and constantly on the move.

~ Evan Thompson. ‘Waking, Dreaming, Being: Self and consciousness in neuroscience, meditation, and philosophy.’ 2015, p. 9. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

Evan Thompson
Waking, Dreaming, Being
Evan Thompson

Needless to say I was fascinated. I got myself a copy of the book and enjoyed the book very much. Being diabetic, and having experienced a coma when I was a young child I always have had a fascination about consciousness. What had happened to “me” in that coma? I was not there but I still had flashes of memory.
I considered the voice in my head as my I, my concept of self. That little voice that whispers to me when my blood sugar is low: “Susanne you are not seeing well, it is time to measure your blood sugar level”.

Reading ‘Waking, Sleeping, Being’ and talking to Evan Thompson gave me a new framework for my concept of self. Evan suggests that there are four states of awareness: the waking state, the dreaming state, dreamless sleep and a state of pure awareness.

Waking State

William James was one of the first psychologists and he coined the term “stream of consciousness”. The latest neurological research indicates that this stream is not continuous. it is filled with gaps. Evan talks about what could happen during such a gap and why understanding this is an important step towards understanding consciousness.

The waking state is a creator of the concept of self. Phenomenologists call them the “self-as-object”: a third person perspective, and the “self-as-subject”: me being aware of myself.  This I and Me perspective carry over to dreaming.

Dreaming state

Christoph Grassmann wrote a very interesting presentation about this for one of the psiberconferences organized by the IASD. Christoph was so kind to give me his presentation to prepare for this interview and that is why I asked Evan Thompson the question how his own sense of self had evolved during the process of writing the book. Evan told me that he had become more experienced in lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming had made him able to change his perspective on his sense of self because he was able to change processes and experiment in lucid dreams. In fact, a lucid dream inspired him to dive into the poems of the Upanishad and compare them with the latest scientific research about consciousness. He had that dream in Dharmsala, where he was invited to speak for a Mind and Life Institute conference with the Dalai Lama and Western neuroscientists on how experience can change the brain.

“I’ve always wanted, since I was a kid, to catch the exact moment when sleep arrives and notice when I begin to dream. With the rising and falling of my breath, colored shapes start to float on the inside of my eyelids. They hover just beyond my gaze, turning into cows and shacks and mules, like the ones I saw this morning on the bus ride up the mountain. As I watch these images, trying not to tamper with them so they don’t fall apart, I find myself thinking of how Jean Paul Sartre explains pre sleep in his book The Imaginary, which we read in my philosophy class a week before I left for India. When we are conscious of drifting of to sleep, Sartre says, we delay the process and create a peculiar state of consciousness, and from them we fashion images -but these shift with each eye movement and refuse to settle into dreams.
The next thing I know, I’m flying over a large, tree-filled valley. I must be dreaming, I tell myself. From the memory of trying to watch myself fall asleep –  still fresh in the dream- and the lack of memory for what came after, I realize I must have lost awareness during my drowsy reverie and reawakened in the dream. I’m having a lucid dream -the kind of dream where you know that you are dreaming. Indian and Tibetan traditions say that meditating in the lucid dream state can make it easier to see the consciousness beneath waking and dreaming, so I try to sit cross-legged and meditate. But my intention to sit this way won’t translate into action and I wind up kneeling instead. Then I lose the intention entirely and I am flying again, still aware that I am dreaming…”

Evan Thompson – ‘Waking Dreaming Being’  p 108

DReaming as more than neurological chatter

After all his research Evan Thompson is convinced that dreaming is more than random neurological firing from the brain. ‘Waking, Dreaming, Being’ gives us a framework to sharpen our mind. The framework that is handed to you as reader provokes your mind to think and rethink about your concept of self, your dreaming self and your memories. Any book that can do that is worth reading.
The science combined with the magic we all crave, magic that seems to be lost in our rational worlds is just what the doctor ordered.

 

watch the interview with Evan Thompson
Watch the interview with Evan Thompson (YouTube – 30min)

Watch the interview (30 min)

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Please sign up for my YouTube channel to enjoy all the beautiful Mindfunda interviews with inspiring people. People like Jean Benedict Raffa, Anne Baring, Connie Kaplan, Ralph Metzner, Stanley Krippner and P.M.H. Atwater, Catherine Wikholm about her book the Buddha Pill and Justina Lasley about her book Wake Up to Your Dreams: Transform Your Relationships, Career, and Health While You Sleep! Evan Thompson about his book Waking Sleeping Being.

Soon I will be interviewing Kate Adams and Bart Koet about their book Dreams and Spirituality.

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