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Excerpts from "The Magical Path: Conscious Dreaming Exercises for Healing & Growth"

by Wendy S. Halley


Introduction

Welcome to The Magical Path!

As I write these words I’m filled with excitement for the journey you’re about to begin. You’ll soon discover that the possibilities onthis path are limitless. My dream in creating this workbook is to design a series of exercises that will rekindle an ancient part of you – a part of you that’s filled with wisdom, courage and passion… and longing to have a voice. My wish is to devise a simple and fun way to steer your focus inward so that you can begin to directly experience the totality of who you really are. The exercises in The Magical Path Workbook will not only give you access to your innate wisdom, but will also guide you gently through stages of self-discovery, exploration and healing.

This is truly a fascinating time in human history. Over the last several decades tens of thousands of people have shifted away from the dogmatic constraints of conventional religions in order to explore the vast, esoteric worlds of mysticism and earth-based spirituality. This movement is giving birth to a new kind of broad based spirituality – one that centers on personal freedom, empowerment and responsibility.

The foundation of this spirituality surfaced with the unearthing of ancient, pre-Christian beliefs and practices and continues to evolve as these old philosophies are restructured to fit our contemporary minds and lifestyles. Traditions that were once shrouded in mystery and available only to a fortunate few are now making their way into the mainstream.

The indigenous spiritual practice of the shaman is a perfect example of this phenomenon. Traditionally, a shaman is a gifted visionary who can expand his or her conscious awareness to access non-ordinary reality, also known as the spirit world and dreamtime, for the purpose of healing or divining information. While in this non-ordinary reality, the shaman connects with helping spirits who are willing to be of service to those in need.

Thanks to anthropologist Michael Harner, who successfully reintroduced core shamanic practices to the Western world, we are witnessing the development of a new kind of shamanism – one that can be incorporated into any spiritual tradition and lifestyle. Borrowing from ancient shamanic beliefs and the practice of conscious dreaming, this workbook will assist you in learning a safe and easy way to journey to the inner realms of the self to boost your personal power, gain awareness, heal emotional wounds and develop your connection to spirit. The process you’ll be learning is akin to daydreaming with intention.

I’ll also introduce you to the indigenous concept of the three souls: The Body Soul, the Mental Soul and the Spirit Soul. This idea provides a clear way to conceptualize the entirety of the self, making understanding yourself and the process of your personal evolution more tangible.

To me, wisdom and growth come not from gaining knowledge, but from experiencing life head on. After all, anyone can acquire knowledge from reading a book or attending a lecture, but true wisdom comes when you can speak from experience. The Magical Path is an invitation to experience yourself in a new way.

Have fun!

How To Use This Workbook

When using The Magical Path workbook for the first time, please follow the Dream Journey exercises in the order in which they are presented. The exercises are specifically designed to build on each other, gradually progressing in complexity. Each section’s title – Discover, Explore, and Heal – illustrates this progression.

Once you’ve completed the workbook, any or all of the exercises can be used repeatedly over time. The results will never be the same. You’ll find that these dream journey exercises are an endless source of guidance and healing.

Accompanying the workbook is an audio CD. This CD is a tool to help you enter a relaxed conscious dreaming state with ease. There are two tracks: The first one contains a traditional shamanic drumbeat and the second is the relaxing sound of rain embedded with a layer of binaural beats. This popular technology uses two different sound frequencies to create a desired mental state. For the purpose of these exercises, the binaural frequencies used will create a deeply relaxed, visionary state in the listener. This second track is especially helpful for people who have difficulty listening to the drumbeat. My suggestion is to experiment with both tracks to see which works better for you. A more thorough description of how the CD works will be included in a later chapter.

The Magical Path workbook will also serve as a journal during your journey.

There are blank pages after each assignment for you to record what you perceived during the exercise. It’s important to write this information down immediately after completing the exercise since, like a dream, the memory of your journey experience will quickly fade.

In the back of the workbook you’ll find an appendix titled, “Dreams and Synchronicities.” In this section I urge you to record any dreams you have while sleeping, or any of the synchronous events that may occur in your daily life while on The Magical Path. Recording dreams and synchronicities will add richness to your entire experience and will be a source of additional wisdom and validation while on this exciting adventure.

Discover

Chapter One:

Inviting Magic Back Into Your Life

Life is bursting with magic when we’re young and open to possibilities. We spend our days creating enthralling worlds filled with promise and enchantment. When I was little I had two playmates named Natasha and Friend who were my constant companions. They were invisible to everyone but me. We played in the dirt and talked to ants. We explored the world of lightning bugs and fairies. We had tea parties on rainy days.

And then I turned 6. With the advent of elementary school, my attention shifted to learning the skills that we’re told we need to know to survive in the external world. I learned how to read, write, add and subtract. Pretty soon Natasha and Friend stopped coming around. So did Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. Instead my rational mind began to swell with information – with the exception of algebra – and I gave birth to my logical self, while my magical self withered away.

The Western world doesn’t take magic seriously since magic is not logical or based in fact. The conventional view holds that belief in magic is the product of an uneducated mind, or could even be evidence of mental instability. Thus, in our society we’re groomed to be skeptics – to doubt anything not backed by empirical evidence or the endorsement of ‘experts.’ Now, I’m not suggesting that we slip into a drooling state of naiveté. But I do I believe our skepticism might be better served by being open to all possibilities – even ones that defy logic. To be a close-minded cynic paralyzes the spirit over time. Plus, believing in a world without magic is simply no fun.

It’s my belief that magic is the very medicine that we large-brained Westerners need. Approximately 18 million Americans are taking antidepressant medication, with 2 out of 10 Americans reporting significant symptoms of depression and anxiety. What’s missing in our lives? What’s at the core of the emptiness that plagues so many people? As a psychotherapist, I’ve met with hundreds of people over the years and listened to thousands of painful stories filled with anguish and fear. Over the last several years I’ve started asking these folks, “What would make your life magical?” I watch their eyes light up as they begin to talk about possibilities and dreams.

It wasn’t until I started asking myself this very question that my life took some interesting turns. Not long after I turned 22, my mom was diagnosed with cancer. At the time I was a devout atheist having rejected Catholicism when I was 12. When I found out that my young mother wouldn’t survive, I found myself filled with dread at the thought that she would cease to exist after she died.

It was at this point that my spiritual journey began. My strong resistance to organized religion led me to explore my Native American ancestry. I discovered that not only do Native people believe that everything is alive and imbued with spirit, but that it's possible to communicate with the spirit of everything. This is magic! It wasn’t logical, but it felt right.

The more I explored indigenous beliefs and practices, the more I realized how much I longed to be on a magical path. I craved miracles, happy coincidences, and a sense of connection and purpose. I began to study the healing practices and philosophies of the shaman. I learned how to dream consciously so that I could access the spirit world and communicate with the helping spirits who reside there. I met my own team of spirit helpers and happily discovered that my childhood companion Natasha was my spirit teacher, and that Friend was a powerful ancestral spirit. They explained that they had been with me all along and that I was the one who lost my connection to them. This reunion had a profound effect on me and inspired me to write the children’s story, Inside Out.

My life began to feel right and I began to grow. It was through my connections to the spirit world and my helpers that I found the courage to heal my emotional wounds and the insight to discover my life’s purpose.

One of the truly wonderful benefits of doing this work has been my ability to reconnect with my mother in the spirit world. Connecting to my mom in this way has brought tremendous healing for me. I now know that all I have to do is call for her and she’ll be there for me.

The Magical Path is available to anyone who desires it. The exercises in this workbook will help you connect with your own team of spirit helpers. You don’t need to become a shaman to learn and benefit from these practices. All that’s required is a desire to invite magic back into your life . . .


Chapter Two:

The Three Souls

Imagine spending an afternoon with a demanding, moody adolescent and a bossy parent who believes she knows everything and never shuts up. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? This challenging scenario sums up what I believe is happening within most of us all the time.

The ancient Hawaiians believed that humans possess three souls. Authors Hank Wesselman and Jill Kuykendall refer to these souls in their book Spirit Medicine (2004, Hay House) as the Mental Soul, the Body Soul and the Spirit Soul.

The Mental Soul is your conscious soul, your ego. It is the “thinking” part of you responsible for goal setting and decision-making. Your Mental Soul is the source of your imagination. It is who you think you are.

The Body Soul is your subconscious soul. This is your emotional self and the aspect of you that operates and regulates your physical body, learns, holds memories, develops habits and addictions, and sends and receives psychic information. Motivated by pleasure and the avoidance of pain, the Body Soul does not distinguish between reality and illusion. It does what the Mental Soul tells it to do.

The Spirit Soul is your superconscious soul. This aspect is also referred to as the Higher Self or Oversoul. It is the part of you that is immortal and a source of great wisdom. Your Spirit Soul creates your experience and will never tell you what to do. This is who you really are.Managing undisciplined Body and Mental Souls takes an incredible amount of energy. Throughout your life these two aspects of self are doing the best that they can to survive each day. Chaos becomes the norm when the habits, addictions and fears of the Body Soul and the incessant chatter and imaginings of the Mental Soul are given free reign over your existence. The internal noise this creates makes accessing the gentle wisdom of the higher self or Spirit Soul a tremendous challenge. It also creates symptoms and disease.

To lead a contented, healthy life means developing a harmonious relationship between all three aspects of self. To do this you have to find ways to quiet the internal rumblings so that you can tune into the refined frequency of your higher self and in turn, re-discover who you really are. The exercises in this workbook will   help you jumpstart this process.


Chapter Three:

…But I’ve Always Been A Worry Wart

The world is what you think it is.

This statement is one of the core beliefs of Hawaiian mysticism. It’s a powerful statement because, in essence, it suggests that our thoughts create our reality. In other words, perception is everything. As children we develop intricate belief systems about ourselves, the world, and how we fit in the world based on the information we receive and the experiences we have. This is how our ego, or Mental Soul, develops.

Let’s say, for example, that while growing up you received the message from your parents or caretakers that you weren’t good enough. The message could have been direct (i.e., you were blatantly told you weren’t good enough or that you were a failure) or subtle (i.e., your parents rolled their eyes or sighed when you failed at a task). Your Body Soul, with all its perceptive and sensory abilities, took in this feedback while your Mental Soul analyzed it and created a thoughtform in response. This mental interpretation of your experience is the birth of belief.

Since, as a child, you have very little life experience, it’s normal to assume that your parents’ opinion of you is the truth. If the negative message is repeated by the people who love you your Mental Soul will create the belief system, “I am a failure.” This message becomes the foundation of who you think you are. The seed of low self-esteem has been planted. Your perception of yourself will create your experience. Every time you try something new, you might find yourself plagued by self-doubt, which in turn, will create a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you believe you’re a failure, you become one – even in the face of success.

In response to these beliefs and the feelings they evoke, we create coping mechanisms to help us survive this challenging existence. On some level we believe the coping mechanisms, which are typically unhealthy, help us get by. Although these survival methods can have similar themes, the specific way they’re carried out varies from person to person. Examples of coping mechanisms include addiction, obsessive thinking, ritualistic behaviors, negative thinking and anticipatory worry.

Continuing with our example, to cope with the belief that you’re a failure, you might find that you never finish what you started. The coping mechanism of “not following through” protects you from experiencing the humiliation and disappointment of failure.

When I was about 7 years old, I created an interesting coping mechanism. I thought that if I worried enough, I would actually prevent bad things from happening. Pretty silly, I know. But as a child, this immature logic gave me the illusion of control. So I took this illusion and ran with it. I worried about everything under the sun – failing in school, not getting the teacher’s approval, no one liking me, disappointing my parents, the house burning down, my parents getting killed in a car accident. If it was within the realm of possibility for an imaginative 7-year-old, I worried about it.

The need to worry was born out of the belief that I was not safe. Beliefs like this are typically created in response to a traumatic event. In my case, my mom became very ill and was hospitalized for a month. In those days, kids weren’t allowed to make hospital visits and I wasn’t given much information about my mom’s condition or prognosis so my imagination filled in the blanks.

It was at that time that I understood that bad things could happen at any time.

And in response I felt completely powerless.

As a kid, worrying seemed like a viable way to manage the new-found realization that “bad things can happen at any moment.” Needless to say, I was a pretty anxious kid. Saving the world from disaster took a great deal of time. I became an insomniac by age 9 and developed an ulcer by the time I was 11. And here’s the kicker – I believed that worrying worked. I got passing grades in school, the teachers and students seemed to like me, our house was still standing, and my parents were still alive. My “worry wart” coping mechanism, which was based on the belief that I was not safe, was reinforced. In response, my Mental Soul created a new belief: Worrying prevents bad things from happening. Therefore, in my reality, it did.

As you likely know, the more you repeat a behavior, the more habitual it becomes. When a behavior becomes a habit, you’re no longer aware of it. So, as adults we end up engaging in old habits of reacting and behaving without even knowing we’re doing it. We might even believe that these habits define who we really are. To understand how powerful habits can be, think about the first time you were behind the wheel of an automobile. How aware were you of driving a car? I’m guessing you were probably hyper-aware - paying close attention to every gauge, mirror, how much pressure you needed to put on the accelerator and the brake. This awareness is an important part of learning.

Now think about how aware you are while driving at this point in your life. Not very, right? That’s because your Body Soul is in the habit of driving. It wasn’t until I was in graduate school in my late 20s that I realized I wasn’t laughing nearly as much as I should be. In fact, I “discovered” that I worried A LOT. By then my need to worry was on autopilot (… a handy tool that afforded me the freedom from worrying about worrying!) It was an epiphany when I recognized that worry was not adding to my life in any beneficial way – that it was not even necessary.

To me, habits like these present the biggest challenge to growth because of their unconscious nature. Before I was exposed to shamanism I went about trying to change my habit of worrying using only my “conscious” Mental Soul – a very Western approach. I made the decision to become aware of the times I was worrying by paying attention to my symptoms (e.g., muscle tension, obsessive thoughts, stomach ache, etc). Once I was aware that I was worrying I tried to talk myself out of it. This was a painfully slow process since my “unconscious” Body Soul would have nothing of it. The bottom line was that, although the thought of not worrying anymore sounded really inviting, I had no reason to believe that the world was any safer than it was when I was 7. To put it simply, I had no trust in the world. Being that the world is what you think it is, what this really meant was that I didn’t trust myself. I still felt powerless.

My story is just one example of how fear and disharmony can lead to feeling powerless. Each one of us has our own self-defeating belief systems and coping mechanisms that contribute to feeling defenseless. When you feel powerless, whether you’re conscious of it or not, you’re vulnerable. When you realize that neither your brain nor the brain of a trained expert can really help you, you can end up feeling hopeless and alone.

Magic is the perfect medicine. It invites possibilities since your reality is defined only by the boundaries that you set. If you believe that dreams have meaning then you can look to your dreams for assistance. If you believe that things happen for a reason, then coincidences become miracles. If you believe that, like the shaman, you can journey to the spirit world and communicate with helping spirits, you now have access to guidance whenever you wish. For me, developing relationships with my spirit helpers and Spirit Soul and experiencing the benefits of these magical relationships gave birth to self trust, which in turn, released me from the need to worry.

The exercises in this book will help you expand your sense of reality giving you the opportunity to redefine who you are. Once you connect with your personal helping spirits and realize that these relationships are real, you’ll never feel alone again. And once you develop a relationship with your higher self, or Spirit Soul, you will learn to trust. This is power.

Put your seatbelt on . . . your world is about to get much bigger.

© 2010 Wendy Stofan Halley

All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without permission by the author.

Wendy S. Halley is a psychotherapist, teacher and practitioner of indigenous healing methods. Driven by a desire to explore healing possibilities beyond the scope of contemporary practices, Wendy became involved in the study and practice of Shamanic Healing with an emphasis in Hawaiian mysticism and healing methods. Wendy is also the author of Slaying the Mouse: A true story of healing in the spiritual realms and the children's book Inside Out.

ISBN: 978-0-615-34957-2

Price: $19.95

For more information: Please visit www.lucidpath.com


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