Altered States -or- Confessions of an Opium Eater

Dream Yoga -or- Drug Related Deaths

As a University student, I had a running "in class debate" with another student about the use of "heavy" drugs. (I am not talking about "cannibis", better known as marijuana, something I have always believed needs to legalized, in the Western world.) My argument was that the body had naturally occurring "opioids" to induce altered states of consciousness and did not need other artificial forms of chemical drugs to induce such states. His argument was that it was difficult to train the mind and body to achieve such states. No one said that it would be easy. Are all those millions who work at practicing meditation every day wasting their time? Is "Dream Yoga" (read dream interpretation) as good, and much less expensive? 

From a literary perspective, "Confessions of an Opium Eater" provides some understanding of the pleasures and the pains of drug addiction. The pains included insomnia, nightmares and frightening visions. On the other side of this literary coin is Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "Kubla Khan" which is based on an opium induced dream. From a popular music perspective, while I can appreciate "psychedelic music" and its surreal dream like aspects, one needs to take pause to reflect, when reviewing the list of drug related deaths of musicians, writers, actors and everyday people (not mentioned).

Below is a dream from Jill, that reinforces the argument I had made as a student.

Jill, 36

Last night...I had a dream. Except it wasn't a "dream". I remember laying in my bed asleep, and feeling an intense calmness surge through my body with each breath I took. I felt "at peace", unbelievably at peace. I felt my lungs breath with great clarity, with not a sound, with a calmness. I remember thinking to myself while asleep that I must be dead.

After all, I had no "dream". I just had this "peace". I remember deciding to wake up. Once I did so, I realized that this "feeling" was still with me. I began to touch the furniture around me (smiling to myself at the absurdity of it all) and realized that I wasn't dead ( whew! But, I felt peace. That's the only way I can explain it. Almost as if my mind was filled with commotion, but my body was strangely calm with "peace". 

I decided to go back to sleep, not wanting to lose this "peace" and then that was it. I went to sleep without a dream or disturbance and woke this morning, cursing that I did not hold onto this peace. It was not an "out of body" experience thingamajig, as I did not leave my body. I was conscious of myself asleep and awake and either one I could feel myself being in my body, feeling each breath, each movement. But, it's odd. A very happy odd ;) I was told it was a lucid dream, however, as I read that definition, it just doesn't apply to what I felt. I can't explain the feeling very well except by trying with the word: peace. It was just a feeling. 

Mark's Reply: Mind, Body and Breathing -or- The Peace and Calm of Morpheus 

Your body entered a natural state of deep breathing, such breathing is prevalent in meditative practices that attempt to induce relaxation and so-called "altered states of consciousness". What you are feeling is what has been called the "endorphin rush". This inner "intense calmness surge" you feel, is a state of peaceful awareness and as you say, something worth holding onto. 

What I have always found "absurd", are the drug users and addicts who try to escape what you call; "mind...filled with commotion", they look for such physical "feelings" of tranquility, yet need the "quick fix", instead of using the mind and the body as naturally intended. The Beatles song "Day Tripper" (watch music video), is a song about drugs, as is Donovan's "Sunshine Superman"  (watch music video). The LSD trip fits the "escapist" quick fix of the drug addict's mentality. Peace of the mind can be achieved through hard psychological work, not via what Erich Fromm called the psychological "mechanisms of escape". Recently, we witnessed one more time the consequences of attempts to psychologically escape, in the tragedy of Whitney Houston. Drug induced attempts at escape lead almost invariably to the "Requiem for a Dream" (read dream interpretation).  


All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.