Sunday, October 12, 2008

History of Dragon Dreaming - the Beginnings

The History of Dragon Dreaming

The Beginnings

When did Dragon Dreaming Begin? As a form of training it has its origins in the Gaia Foundation of Australia's work over the last 21 years, but it is clear that the process of Dragon Dreaming is much older than that.

In fact when giving workshops in Dragon Dreaming people who have in the past conducted successful projects reconise the four quadrants and the twelve steps in what they have done. So when did the process of Dragon Dreaming begin?

I suspect that Dragon Dreaming is as old as humankind if not older. The four steps are reflected in the deep architecture of the human brain
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For example the human brain is divided into two hemispheres, the left and the right, with the right hand brain controlling the left side of the body and the left brain controlling the right side. The central connection between the two hemispheres is the corpus callosum, buried deep in the brain that allows the right and left parts of the body to generally work in a coordinated fashion.

These two parts of the brain, however, also have additional functions that are very different. The right hand brain is responsible for non-sequential gestalt or pattern recognition tasks. In the language of Dragon Dreaming the right brain is responsible for Dreaming and Celebrating. It is where we find the activity of day-dreaming, of ideas, creativity and innovation. It is also linked to the emotions and thus is strongly linked with both motivation and celebration. Our longest memories seem to be most resident in our right hemisphere.

The left hemisphere by comparison, is the centre of our short term memory, and is the place in which most sequential tasks are organised. By comparison to the right hemisphere the left is the site of analytical thinking, of logic and language. It is the site of reading, writing and listening, the arts of communication with others. It is also the centre for calculation, and in Dragon Dreaming terms seems most associated with the Planning and Doing functions of the process.

The connections between the left and right hemispheres enable us to function as a balanced personality, able to be creative and recognise patterns at the same time to work logically. But humankind seems to have an inbuilt balance to favour sequential tasks over the other, as 85% of the population is right-handed, indicating a dominance of the left side of the brain. This dominance is not problematic so long as the connection of the corpus callosum is strong, and the connection between the two sides of the brain allow easy communication.

But our culture has not been balanced since the rise of Patriarchal cultures in the Middle East, some 7-8 thousand years ago. The split occurred first with the ruling class. Here, with the establishment of priest kings, the masculine ego came to be associated with the short term planning and doing tasks, dominating the feminine concerns for multi-tasking, pattern recognition and the emotions. The tasks of the building of the pyramids and great temples of the ancient world were synonymous with this emergence of left dominant thinking, and the dominance of hierarchical male elites over the rest of society.

By the end of the Late Bronze Age, the shift in childrearing practices, and the increased authoritarian structures of childrearing, found in China, India, the Middle East, Israel and Greece, saw a restriction in permissive parenting and an increased importance on "disciplining" the child. Children in such cultures more often felt unsafe, isolated and alone, and this created a more fearful less trusting individual, and led to a restriction in the neural connections, particularly the emotional life, connecting left and right hemispheres. This led to the dominance of the left brain extending downwards throughout society, no longer being confined to the dominant ruling family or artistocratic upper class. Planning and doing achieved a dominance over dreaming and celebrating, a dominance which in the so called "civilised world" it maintains to the present day.

The brain archictecture also supports the second dividion within Dragon Dreaming, that between Theory and Practice.

Using Brodmann's functional areas of the human brain we can see that the brain is divided gorizontally as well as vertically, though with much less clarity, by the primary motor area, responsible for organising most of our voluntary movements. Immediately behind this motor area is a sesory area, where most of our sensory input from our bodies, and from the external world is organised. The close connection between the sensory and the motor functions is necessary as immediate feedback is required between our senses and our muscles in order to make sure that the motor functions achieve the tasks we wish for them. Primary sensory functioning for hearing is found in areas 41, where hearing takes place, and where the processing of sound to give meaning in area 4, interior to our ears. Paradoxically the processing of sight does not take place behind the eyes, but occurs right at the back of our brain, with visual processing occurring near area 18 and visual association and memory being found near earea 7. It is our senses, hearing and sight in particular, that connect us as individuals to the practical world.

By comparison, the theory part of the brain is associated in the forebrain, areas 6, 8, 9 and 10 with extensions to Brocas "speach" area, near 44. It is here that the processing of information occurs, and those atributes specifically human, the thinking functions of foresight and hindsight, are located. Area 6 is an interesting one because it seems to link the "thinking" parts of the brain to the motor activites. It is in area 6 that most of the planning of our activities seems to be located. By contrast, the "evatuation" of "monitoring our progress" seems most located in area 5 of the brain, just behind the sensory cortex where our sensory information is processed.

This patterning of the human brain closely follows the pattern of the four quadrants of Dreaming, Planning, Doing and Celebrating, found in Dragon Dreaming. With so close a connection to the organisation of our brains it is hardly surprising that we find the four steps occurred long before their recognition in the Western Australian Gaia Foundation, from the late 1980s onwards.

In fact, when we examine hunter gatherer lifestyles, that have existed at least for the last 180,000 years with Early Modern Humans, if not since the discovery and use of fire, half a million years ago, we can clearly recognise the existence of the "hearth circles" around which people gathered at night. The pattern of Dreaming occurs mostly in the period of shallow sleeping, just before waking. Planning occurs generally in the early morning, and as hunter gatherers, it was then that the collective decisions for the day's activities, hunting and gathering, would have occurred. This would be followed by the "doing", generally in which men set off to hunt whilst the women and children stay closer to the base camp, gathering fruits and other foodstuffs. In the evening when if successful, the men have returned bringing back what has been caught, then this is generally cooked in the hearth fire and then shared, with the early evening being taken up with story telling, evaluation of the hunt and Celebration, before sleeping once again. It is hardly surprising when we find that this same pattern underlies the human capacity for story telling.

All stories ever told begin with an introduction, in which we are introduced to the characters and their world. Eventually a protagonist emerges, who is seen as having a special role to play. As Joseph Campbell has shown in "Hero of a Thousand Faces", early signs of this character's special role may be given that are at first not recognised by others. The story then moves towards the climax, where the help given to the hero protagonist prepare him (or less frequently "her", remember in patriarchy it is generally the men who told the stories), and after some kind of "quest", the story results in a struggle in which, after considerable sacrifice, the hero returns to heal the wounds caused by the earlier loss of grace, and in the anteclimax of the resolution, the community comes together in a new way not available before.

Campbell showed that such a pattern is not just found in tales like those of King Arthur, but even in the stories of great religious teachers like Muhammed or Jesus Christ. That such a pattern is so widespread suggests that it is a universal way in which we human beings organise "meaning" in our lives, and would be expected from the pattern of brain architecture discussed above.

Thus we find the pattern of Dragon Dreaming, "Dream", "Plan", "Do" and "Celebrate" not only underlies every successful project. It is found in all human cultures, at all periods and is refected in the way in which the human brain itself is organised. Perhaps, since this pattern of brain organisation is also found in mammals such as chimpanzees, dolphins and elephants, we could conclude that this pattern is part of the evolution of complex life on the planet, and is part of the way in which, for millions of years, life has been engaged in the process of achieving ever greater degrees of self awareness and self control. If this is true, then the pattern may lie at the heart of life itself.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi I am realy interessted, what exactly is the new thing about dragon dreaming, because, this sounds like neuro linguistik programming (NLP) to me. Is it just a new name?

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