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Cupid at Bonaventure

Cupid at Bonaventure

In his book, Inner Work, Robert Johnson goes into much greater detail on the technique of Active Imagination, but I will give a quick introduction to the process here. Basically, Active Imagination is a meditative dialogue between the Ego and a personified aspect from the unconscious (dream character, dream object, personified emotion or mood, etc.). The dialogue is most helpful when the dreamer writes it down or speaks it to another person or into a tape recorder. Write quickly, without censoring, while in a deep state of meditation.

NOTE: It is best NOT to do meditative dialogue with a dream figure that is an actual person you know and interact with in your waking life as the danger for projection and introjection is too great. Instead, do basic symbol association work.

Step 1) Choose a figure from a dream or personify an emotion or a mood that carries compelling energy. With your journal and pen, get comfortable in a place where you will not be interrupted for at least half an hour.

Step 2) Close your eyes, breathe deeply, and focus on your breath. Using whatever mantra works for you (for example, you can inhale cleansing energy, exhale tension, fatigue, fear, or whatever you need to let go of or focus on a single word), and sink as deeply as you can into a relaxed and tension-free place in which you are balanced and focused, open and receptive. Once you’ve reached this state, you will be open to the source of the dream.

Step 3) Into this space, invite the figure with whom you want to dialogue. Try to encounter this figure with all your senses–seeing, hearing, feeling, even smelling and tasting, if that is possible. Allow the sensations to impact your body. Now, note the places in your body that are responding. What memories or emotions are stirring? Like a camera, zoom in and experience your companion in close proximity. Feel the energy. Feel your emotions. This symbol before you holds the wisdom to help you grow and heal. Now your companion wants to speak. As you open yourself to receive your companion’s wisdom, ask questions respectfully, listen intently and continue to stay deeply relaxed. Pick up your pen and record the dialogue (or turn on the tape recorder or let the person your sharing the process with record it for you).

Questions you might want to ask:

*What is your name? Who are you and what is your purpose?

*What do you like about who you are and what you do?

*What do you dislike about who you are and what you do?

*What do you hate or fear the most? What do you desire or want the most?

*Why are you hear? What do you want of me? What do you want to teach me?

*What gifts can we give to one another?

Step 4) Allow the dialogue to continue for as long as it seems fruitful. Close by expressing gratitude to your companion. Then quickly record the experience in your dream journal. Slowly return to ordinary consciousness. Later, you can reflect on the dialogue and continue to work with the experience.

Next Week: Forming a Dream Group