Heart Knowing Somatic Dreaming
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Prof. Daniel Deslauriers of Transformative Inquiry Explores Personal Narrative

A new essay, Heart-Knowing, Somatic Dreaming, and Trans-subjectivity: A Scholarly Personal Narrative, written by Daniel Deslauriers, Ph.D., explores the power of somatic dreams. 

March 19, 2024

Editor’s Note: The following article explores a new essay written by Dr. Daniel Deslauriers, Professor in the Transformative Studies Doctorate at CIIS and former chair of East-West Psychology program, for ReVision: A Journal of Consciousness and Transformation.

A new essay, Heart-Knowing, Somatic Dreaming, and Trans-subjectivity: A Scholarly Personal Narrative, written by Daniel Deslauriers, Ph.D., for ReVision: A Journal of Consciousness and Transformation earlier this year, explores the power of somatic dreams and is a continuation of his philosophical research on dreams and intersubjectivity. As he explains, he was “ceaselessly curious” at the multiple ways that ‘others’ show up in our dreams and in dreamwork.

“A very somatic dream came knocking on my door, calling to be explored deeply. So began a process of discovery, structured as a Scholarly Personal Narrative (SPN). While the dream itself was quite simple, its ramifications about the nature of knowledge, especially knowing with another, were profound. In particular, it became clear that the dream was preparing me to act in a caring role with my aging father.”

Dr. Deslauriers explained the dream helped him to ground the experience of being with his father during a time when his father’s growing dementia was completely altering the nature of their relationship.

“Namely, the dream was calling me to act from the heart. From a philosophical standpoint, I was trying to figure out what does it mean to act from that place. Is it something that I willfully manifest, or is it something that is already “there”, an incipient field that already exist yet that I need to open myself to?”.

Our dreams, Dr. Deslauriers, noted, can help us to discern critical questions we face in life in a way that can bring meaning and insight.

“I believe that when we dwell deeply on our dreams, we often stumble upon deep philosophical questions. One of the functions of dreaming is to transform experiences into meaning by making stories. In our book Integral Dreaming (State University of New York Press, 2013), we call this process ‘narrativization,’ Dr. Deslauriers explained. “Dreams give of an experience of “what it is like to… (fill the blank).” It became clear that the dream was teaching me, in a deeply somatic and embodied way, about “Heart Knowing”. The gift of this special dream was to put me in touch with “what it is like” to know from the heart.”

In writing the essay, Dr. Deslauriers hopes readers fully understand and embrace the importance of dreams – how we become part of our dreams and how they become part of us. And he teaches us that simple dreams can contain so much for us.

“Dreams are a special case of reciprocal embeddedness, as dreaming consciousness acts as a matrix of experience. We can also see relationships as matrices. Therefore, reciprocal embeddedness reveals that I am part of the dream, as the dream is part of me.”

Dr. Deslauriers said this notion is now taking center-stage in his work and in the work of his students in the Transformative Studies Program.

“As a result, a number of students are doing their doctoral research on aspects of reciprocal embeddedness,” he explained.

“I think it is a special notion that is linked to concepts such that of Interbeing found in Buddhism as expounded by Thich Nat Han, or Ubuntu in African philosophy. My work with traditional knowledge has also shown me that it is core to Indigenous ways of being and knowing. And yet, Western phenomenology seems bereft of an equivalent deep and relational process word that expresses the reality of co-emergence. I intuit that reciprocal embeddedness has a lot to offer as it speaks to the deepest existential essence of our being. One that is buried under, or veiled by, our cherished individuality. A simple dream can contain so much!”

Read the full essay here and learn more about the Doctor of Philosophy in Transformative Studies program at CIIS.

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