Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Seven Minutes at Midnight

Event: Midnight 23 May 2011; Updated: 7 June 2011

Crossroads Street Light at Midnight

Cell Phone Time just past Midnight

On May 23 [20 Jumada al-thani in Muslim reckoning] I stood for seven minutes at midnight under a solitary street light at a crossroads not far from my home at the request of a Muslim mother in Tehran. The night was dark and a gentle breeze was blowing. I was there half expecting to meet a brother coming from the opposite direction at an equal distance from my home to the lamp post and hoped he might greet me in friendship. This was a meeting suggested by our our mutual friend and Muslim mother, who knew we lived only two blocks from each other. So, as a strategy for exemplifying the reality of "unconditional love", she asked that we meet at midnight on Iranian Mother's Day, which honors the birth date of Fatima, the oldest daughter of Muhammad (the "Mother Mary" of Islam) and that she would accept our meeting as a gift to her in her custom for that day.

The brother did not show, but in some mysterious way that remarkable moment became sacred to me and I was filled with a new confidence that the discourse between us in Los Alamos and her and her friends in Tehran had fundamentally changed.

On June 7 this anonymous Muslim mother responded:
Waking at midnight means one step closer to listening to the cosmic music...and Standing for an "unconditional love" hug means standing at the position of a real human being. We need this kind of deep democracy today to bypass our world nightmares..to reach an accepted level of acceptance and tolerance.
Thanks Eugene for applying my comment from Tehran
Your Iranian friend

Saturday, May 14, 2011

UCLA dream workshop

Event: 8 May 2011; Updated: 26 June 2011

Setup in UCLA chapel
It was my pleasure to present a mini dream workshop on Mothers Day Sunday, May 8, at the Unitarian Church at Los Alamos (UCLA) during the regular 45-minute forum period between the 9:00 and 11:00 sermons. I had been greatly heartened beforehand in reading the Church's newly crafted mission statement, which ended with the words "a beacon of hope." That hope was reinforced by the minister's the 9:00 sermon, which I attended.

In his sermon Minister John Cullinan spoke about: "The Answers Our Children Want (Even Though We're Afraid of the Questions)" His advice was three-fold:
1. Know what you believe.
2. Tell them clearly and concretely what you believe.
3. Show them what you believe.
This lead beautifully into the dream workshop, especially because the dream I had brought to the workshop was titled "Elementary School Yard". Workshop participants had been asked to come with a dream in mind plus a one or two word title for it. Here is the announcement that appeared in the Church newsletter:

Forum today, May 8th: "Dream Workshop" by Eugene Kovalenko A 45-minute interactive, objective community—building dream work presentation for all participants. Come with dream in mind and a one or two word title. Dreams may be old or new. Repeating themes and nightmares especially welcome. We will "process" all dreams WITHOUT disclosing their contents, while demonstrating how to do personal inner work and community building simultaneously.

Ironically, my interest in teaching dreamwork began 35 years ago when I was invited to present an experimental dream workshop class at another UCLA (in Westwood, a suburb of Los Angeles) for its Center for Religious Experience, East and West. That long-ago class was called "Creative Dreaming and Spiritual Awakening".

(click on images to enlarge)
LA Times News Release

Response  Letter by UCLA Extension Director
While the two-quarter experimental 1976 UCLA class was moderately successful, it was too academic to appeal to a general audience. It wasn't until ten years later that, in my role as engineering manager for an aerospace company, I discovered a technique that was simpler and more generally applicable. That's when the CREEI Process was born and I got a chance to experiment further and develop it to apply in the most hostile environment I could imagine, which was an engineering and manufacturing company. At the time I was promoted to engineering manager, the company was suffering from a severe morale problem and company employees hated to come to work. The company was facing a significant financial loss that year. It was only then that I got a chance to apply the CREEI process to the engineering department, which soon had high morale and became the only department that kept its commitments. Seeing these results the general manager invited me to present the process to the company in general. Within six weeks company morale turned around, the company again became profitable and the general manager wrote a testimonial. I felt at last I'd found a valuable tool!

(click on images to enlarge)
GM Testimonial

Twelve participants attended the current UCLA regular forum on Mothers Day between the 9:00 and 11:00 sermons.

Below is the CREEI chart that developed. We did not have time, of course, to deal with the content of the dreams presented, but the process of asking the Twelve CREEI questions nevertheless allowed participants to be alert to their own inner responses and at the same time become aware of how fellow church members responded.

If there is enough follow-on interest to lead to a  several weeks seminar, it would allow participants to share the content of their dreams. This seminar format, which allows inner work and reflective time between sessions, is the most effective means for bringing groups into true community and solving practical personal and group problems.

On the following Wednesday (May 11), I spoke to one of the participants in the forum who is the mother of three young children, one of whom I pick up each morning in my retirement job as school bus driver. She told me that her oldest child told her a dream, which clearly scored "traumatic". I suggested that this may be a good opportunity to get to know her child's inner world and to teach her how to manage whatever traumatic images were troubling her. We agreed to work together to learn to navigate this territory. If we manage this successfully, it could be an opportunity to gather a group of dreaming parents of dreaming children to reach true community, transformation, intra-personal and interpersonal balance together.

(click on image to enlarge)
CREEI chart showing patterns
In asking the Twelve Questions, which can be answered "Yes" (+), "No" (-) or "Uncertain" (?), note that there are four general patterns of dreams:
1. Transformative (or comforting, confirming) (all questions answer "yes")
2. Motivational (one or two questions answer "no" and/or "uncertain")
3. Anticipatory (three or more questions of the first six answer "no" and/or "uncertain")
4. Traumatic (three or more questions of the last six answer "no" and/or "uncertain")

28 May 2011:  
A week or so later, the young mother (mentioned above) sent me the CREEI score of her daughter's reoccurring traumatic dream plus a note with the dream's contents. In the dream the child is chased by a "monster" and finds safety in reaching her mother who protects her. I suggested to the mother that she take her daughter by the hand (since the child now feels safe with her mother present) and return to the dream to ask the monster what it wants. The child accepted the suggestion and was told by the monster to have her father stop playing horror movies, which upset her and her younger siblings. The monster's counsel was first met with suspicion and defensiveness by the father when the mother disclosed it to him, but after a few days reflection, he was willing to reconsider how his obsession with horror movies was affecting his children.

1 June 2011
I don't yet know how this negotiation between father and child has fully played out, but it seems optimistic. By the way, the child's monster answers to the name "Booger"!

26 June 2011
On Saturday, June 25, group of young parents and their children got together at one of their homes, which was inspired and spearheaded by the young mother above. We began by scoring all the dreams that everyone was willing to discuss, including those of the children. It was fascinating to watch and see how young the youngest child could be, to be engaged. A four year old was meaningfully engaged, but her younger sister, age two, was not. Interesting! The parents were key in re-framing the questions of the CREEI Process in terms the little ones could understand. We will develop a separate blog for this on-going "dreaming parents of dreaming children" process and see where it goes.