Monday, June 18, 2012

Guest Blogger: SC Skillman

Today I welcome SC Skillman, author, to the blog. She is writing about her latest book, Mystical Circles, and how 'Dream Yoga' plays a role in the story and the story's creation.


A New Vision of the World, Silver Cords and Dream Yoga

Novelists are often advised to "write about what you know". In my case the events of my mystery romance novel "Mystical Circles" largely arose from my own personal experience over many years - and my research was done unconsciously. In this post I'd like to expand a little upon "dream yoga" and its role in my novel.

"Mystical Circles" tells of Juliet, who, concerned that her younger sister Zoe has fallen for the charismatic Craig, leader of the esoteric Wheel of Love, sets off for the Cotswolds to investigate.

Juliet finds many things during the course of her search at the community in Craig's idyllic farmhouse.  Intrigues, liaisons and relationships flare and flourish or fizzle out quickly within this close circle and, despite her reservations, Juliet is drawn into the Wheel of Love… with completely unforeseen consequences.

But among the intrigues and liaisons she discovers the practices Craig teaches - group therapy, dynamic meditation and dream yoga.  How seriously do we take dreams? Do we remember them? And if we do, are any meaningful to us? Many books have been published on the subject. Sometimes we may have a major archetypal dream with such powerful symbols that we remember the dream for years.

And in the Bible of course, dreams play a significant part. There are the dreams of Joseph in the Old Testament; and the dreams of Joseph husband of Mary in the New Testament. He not only came to accept that the baby Mary bore was indeed the Son of God; but he received a warning to escape to Egypt, and his decision to act on that dream saved their lives. So the Bible tells us dreams can predict the future; warn us; and reveal the truth to us.

In many cultures and spiritual traditions dreams are highly valued. The practice of dream yoga originated in Tibet, and is an ancient Buddhist teaching. Through it one aims to achieve self-knowledge by mastering the art of 'lucid dreaming'. There is a scene in "Mystical Circles" where Craig leads his pupils along a woodland track - walking backwards, not forwards. This has arisen from my own past experience, although I expanded and fictionalised it in my novel.

After about ten minutes of walking backwards, Craig tells his pupils to stop, and then asks them a number of questions. Who found it difficult to trust the leader? Who struggled with an urge to look behind, to check they weren't going to crash into anything? And who thought it extremely silly? This, Craig assures his followers, is the best reaction of all, as they are here to unlearn everything they've been taught to believe about the world and how to behave in it, from the moment they were born.

Then he asks his pupils to look at a distant tree, and focus on the very topmost branch. Concentrating on those leaves, they are to imagine a spot in the centre of their foreheads, and to visualise a silver cord extending, reaching out, further and further, and finally connecting them to the leaves at the top of the tree. Then they are to walk very slowly towards it, never letting their eyes drop.

And so, although Craig is a fictional creation - a composite of a number of "gurus" I have met in my own life - I draw upon my personal experience.

The value of it - as it seemed to me when I took part - lay in being asked to step outside our habitual way of doing things.

The exercise I’ve described above is in itself a western reshaping of an eastern spiritual tradition. And the way it is practised in Tibet may well be different. It is valuable sometimes to experience the world backwards – or 'upside down and inside out' - to see things differently, to gain new ways of approaching people and life. Who knows what this may open the door to?


You can find her writing on Amazon and in bookstores.


DRC said...

This sounds like a really interesting book. Thank you for sharing. I also like dreams - however, trying to decipher the one I had last night may take some

Martin Willoughby said...

DRC: Was hubby awake just in case?

defcon said...

Funny, I was discussing dreams over on AW, concerning Freudian interpretation. I'm in the camp that doesn't see any significance in dreams since all it is, is random neurons firing off during REM sleep--I know, it's terribly cold view, but makes sense when you think about it. When we enter REM, our bodies go into paralysis, specifically because of all this activity in our brain. We'd probably be spazzing out in our sleep, otherwise.

And why all these neurons are going off is because our brain is organizing information. Studies have shown that, after a day of learning, those who have a full night's rest performed better on the test than those who had their REM sleep interrupted.

Of course, everyone is free to believe in what they want.

Martin Willoughby said...

Defcon: There are times during when your brain is organising things that you get answers to things you don't know how to ask from your subconscious. it's probably why you get a sudden 'Eureka' moment for a problem after a good night's sleep.

Cindy Keen Reynders said...

Sounds like a good book! I'm fascinated by dreams too.

Martin Willoughby said...

Cindy: The trouble is I can't remember most of them.

Mark Koopmans said...


Perfect tie-in to my latest post...I'm dreaming of Ireland *not* losing in the Euro Cup :)

Cheers, Martin, and good luck to EngUland :)

Martin Willoughby said...

Mark: We all need dreams.