Questions + Answers
Lyn May is a writer, and interviewer who runs Wise Women Now, and who graciously conducted this question and answer session. I’m grateful for her mentorship and professional aplomb.
How did you know you could do this work?
Many people ask if I always knew I could do this work, and I didn’t. I wasn’t doing the work until I was, starting about 6 years ago (2011), formally. So, even though, I had cinematic dreams and insights and a kind of attuned intuition from when I was young, I didn’t apply it to my consulting work or by business work until recently. It required me to experiment with it for a bit before I knew I could do it. What gave you the courage to formalize the process and just do it as your work? Well, I questioned it quite a bit and kept it almost under wraps long enough to gather empirical evidence that it was actually working. That led to a level of confidence that the work works.
What are the most common questions people ask you to dream about?
I think when someone asks me that question, they are really asking what they are allowed to ask. So, let’s start with anything goes! There is a very wide range of questions, as many as there are people. What my clients have in common is each one recognizes a desire to be more confident in their decision-making and get to a point where their discernment process is at a high level.
EDIT: I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit since the interview, and I’ll add that most Woke Up Knowing requests have to do with bridging the gap between who we think we are and who we think we should, can or want to be. This identity development work is a very common theme.
Is any part of this asking your client to trust his or her intuition? I would reframe that into I ask my clients if they are ready to educate their intuition (EDIT: or employ it powerfully and effectively). The intuition is a natural, renewable resource that all of us have. But the process and practice of accessing it and hearing the difference between the intuition and our spinning, judgy, socially hazed brains, is the work at hand.
How do you distinguish between the question the client comes to you with and the ultimate question that frames the work?
There is a difference between the presenting question and the one we end up working on or getting clarity around. I think about it in terms of three types of questions. The Wrong question is the one that you beat yourself up with or the question that society judges you with or that you have grown up feeling the pressure to answer. The wrong questions make you feel worse about yourself. The second type is the “right” questions. Those are the socially acceptable questions that everyone will think you’re a better person if you are asking that type of question. It’s usually a question that doesn’t have a clean or sustainable answer, like “How do I make more money?” What I’m interested in is a third category of questions I call the Real questions. To me, the real question underlies how you are in the world and drives you to bridge the gap between who you think you are and who you think you want to be. An example of a real question is how can I be more trustworthy? How can I be a better friend? How can I resist oppression and make change? Those deeper existential questions help you answer other questions in your life. Those real questions are the ones I’m really interested in.
Do clients ever resist getting through that first layer of what seem to be more superficial questions to the essence of the important question? Never. I’ll tell you why. Once they have heard themselves paraphrased or mental interpretive dance. When someone is giving me language, I’m giving it back to them—the very same message—but in a more straight up manner. They are so surprised to hear themselves so clearly that they can then easily determine whether they are asking a Wrong, Right or Real question. The resonance and the energy is clear and I have never had a client resist a Real question.
One of the things I think has to be challenging for you is separating your ability to dream into other people’s questions from your own dreams.
Yes, this is something that is an essential question for me as well. It’s my social, spiritual and professional responsibility to be very clear on what’s mine and what is someone else’s. To that end, I went to get a masters degree in clinical psychology to practice separating what is my own stuff from my clients’ stuff. I call this service To Me From Me For US. So, they are my dreams, for myself. It is my subconscious working. I have no pretense about dreaming by proxy or having my dreams be someone else’s thoughts. I have no psychic ambitions in that way. However, I do think that in the process of the last years, my ability to tell the difference between dreams that are just for me, and for a client has become much more clear and I’ve tested it over and over again. I’m very confident now about the process of deciding if something is meant for me, or for art, or for a specific client.
How effective are you at dreaming for yourself? Well, I’m very effective at dreaming for myself, and I do it daily. I remember my dreams almost daily, and some of them get published for art and some of them are my subconscious working through things—well all of them are, but some don't get published or shared.
We’ve talked a lot about sleeping and dreams. Do you ever advise people without going to sleep to dream?
Absolutely, I do not have to sleep and dream to be of service. I work both in awake mode and astral plane mode. I do that in either very short sessions (24 minutes or 24 hours), the dip of a toe or an immersive Woke Up Knowing Experience.
Tell me about the Astral Plane; What do you mean when you say that? I think of the astral plane as a plane of consciousness we can access while sleeping or in an altered state. I know people use other methods, but I access it while sleeping. I think we have a different waking/social editors than we do when we are sleeping. We are trying to imagine to what boundary we can push information. I am listening to multiple tracks of what someone is saying. So, you may be asking me something very pragmatic and direct, and I’m hearing between the lines of it and curious on a deeper level that the words you’re saying. When we are talking about dreams or the astral plane, we have more permission to be less edited. I’m bringing symbols into the conversation that are sometimes wacky, or don't seem like they connect to the person. But, because I’ve received this direct transmission, I’m just reporting what happened. I’m not trying to edit it or socially judge it.
Do you believe we all have this capacity, and yours is just more highly developed? I absolutely believe we all have the capacity to pay attention to other tracks of information or data or observational tracks. We have the cellular capacity, but we don’t have a lot of training or even conversations about people who have training in it. It’s not in our current, socially acceptable, canon of what someone can do as a profession or even can do in casual relationships. That is changing rapidly. I just don't think we have vocabulary for it, yet. I trust it will become more commonplace.
Why do you offer clients 24 minutes and/or 24 hours?
I decided to do 24 and 24 because I have been refining my work over years in many contexts. Sometimes, I’m working with clients in their homes, sometimes I’m working internationally with a group. Sometimes I’m working with an individual person on the phone from my own bed here in Santa Monica. In gathering all of this data and consciously experimenting with the process, I have found two modes of effectiveness. One is a short direct to the heart quick phone conversation. It’s not a soft, warm, fuzzy, conversation. It’s right to the heart of the matter, and clients get a lot of satisfaction from them. The deep dive is a different situation. It requires a different level of preparation, different level of recovery, and we are working in a space, you have to remember, I’m waking people up in the middle of the night. Generally, people are not waking up unless they have children or a job where they are on call. I’m accessing a very supple, receptive kind of brain wave activity, that I’ve found has extremely successful results. So, therefore the difference in timeframe.
Is your hope or expectation that the client who does 24 mins will want to do the 24 hours. No, in fact, it is might be the opposite. So I work with people in short forms because I can get to the heart of the matter quickly. I have had a lot of practice. Picking up and working in a quick way is very satisfying to the client and to me. We get something done. But it is a different matter in the longer work. I’m serving different kinds of questions and clients in a long session. Someone who does a 24 hour Woke Up Knowing is way more likely to then have a follow up short session than a person who tends to seek out a shorter, less labor intensive action to go into a deeper experience.
This is a very complex process. It requires a lot of you and the client. Does it always work?
You’re right about that, it does require a lot. It is a deep process for all involved, so everyone has to be at the top of their readiness, including me and the client. We are not always synchronized, and it doesn’t always work. I would give it a high A, in terms of the level of success and effectiveness. Where we know we are not ready, is you start to see a pattern in whether we are prepared. One example is conscious, for example a client asking if they can change the logistics of the process. Something like, “wellll, I know you do it overnight, but could you just tell me in the morning what happened in the night?” No, that’s not a good match. The subconscious things I have seen that let me know someone isn't ready are different. For example, a client running errands or going to an event in the middle of their Woke Up Knowing, where they said they’d be available and they are out at a party when I call. I believe that was subconscious—I don’t think they were aware of derailing the process. That was just a clear sign they weren’t ready. I have had two interrupted WUKEs as of the time of this interview out of many. It’a rare occurrence, but it does happen.
What have you learned over the years that helps you successfully manage this process?
I think it’s important to start with the fact that I’m not working all the time, so my practice is actually a conscious activation of work. So, I’m not walking around like a raw nerve receiving all these channels of information constantly. Actually, I believe I was like that as a younger person, and it was very difficult. but, I also had the immortal energy of a teenager or a child when that was happening. Now, I have tools in place that inform the practice, and help me not be working all the time, not be a continuous receiver. The other piece that I think i important to say, is that I don’t do this work without permission. It is an intersubjective process. I agree to begin work, and my client agrees to be available to do the work. There are rare times, I can count the numbers of times this has happened, where I was supposed to ask a stranger, for example, a question, or invite someone spontaneously to do the work. It happens rarely, but it does happen, but I always ask permission then begin the work. That matters and has helped me sustain the work and not burn out.
I believe you have an extraordinary ability, and for many of us it’s hard to understand what this must feel like. Can you tell me about “knowing” throughout your life?
I have always had vivid, cinematic dreams. Much to my mothers chagrin, she used to ask me at the breakfast table and I’d begin telling the dream and it would go all the way through breakfast, dressing and out to the school bus. There were characters, and mom would tell you I would do accents of the characters in the dreams. So, there is an aspect that is the dreams themselves, but there is also an empathetic legacy in my family. I believe my grandmother, she may or may not have been conscious of this, but she often would ask me after a family gathering or after church, what did I notice. What did I notice about the people, what was my favorite part, in the gathering situation. That led me to be more conscious of my observations. I also over my lifetime have had unusual connection to people. So, extraordinary ways of knowing about where people were and how they were. I have had some sympathetic ailments that were other people’s ailments, such as the insomnia of my father; we synchronized at some point. At the moment I found out it was his insomnia, mine went away. I had a very deep connection to my maternal grandmother, and I would know when she wasn’t well—and usually what was bothering her. So, again, these are some examples of milestones or markers that have informed this moment in time of catalyzing these interior skills and using them for other people’s uses.
Does it ever feel like too much to bear to be able to sense what someone else is feeling? Does it ever feel it increases your sensitivity so that it’s a burden? That particular insomnia experience was devastating physically, really rough and went on for several weeks. It gives a good example of something that happens in this process. There are times when I have a dream or a message that comes through and doesn’t have an identifiable recipient. Those are the only times when this ability or this practice can become slightly overwhelming. I must find a recipient for some of these messages. Sometimes it takes two or three days. So far, I’ve always found the person, and the moment the person is found and the message delivered, I’m released of that tension. Those are really the only times when it feels overwhelming. There are other times when I need logistical support, for instance, to do a five-day Oracle in Residence at a retreat or gathering. I need someone to bring me food or help me with things that may seem minor, but when I’m working over a span of days, I need more help with logistical things like arranging for some transport, or making sure I have my bags, which helps me sustain the work over a period of time.
For all the process of getting to where you are now with this gift, and the formalization of it in your work. Are you feeling established and set in the place you are with this entire process? I feel so strong, and so confident. I really have never felt this level of aplomb, or prowess, in other parts of my life. I think part of the sensation of feeling confident and ready to offer it widely and publicly, is because I’ve gone through the process of really figuring out if it works, doesn’t work, if I can be consistent, if people are telling me the work helps them over a long period of time and not just solving a discrete, momentary, issue. I have clients who tell me years later that the impact of one Woke Up Knowing Experience has changed the path of their work or their relationship. That’s incredibly nutritious to me and I feel a sense of obligation to deliver the work.