Arnold Mindell is a Jungian analyst who developed Process Oriented Psychology in the 1970s, synthesizing work with unusual states of consciousness and working with the energetic body, which he called the Dreambody. Process Oriented Psychology has roots in shamanic traditions and involves entering into alternative states of consciousness to help the patient and the community.
Mindell describes the dreambody as a common experience in dreams, meditation and drug use, where we experience the dreambody as an energetic field. The dreambody is released in many deep experiences in which the boundaries of time and space lose their permanence. According to Process Oriented Psychology it is possible to work with symptoms, pain and diseases just as one works with dreams: through inner attention one can extract their meaning and release their hold on us. In this sense, the working principles are reminiscent of Gestalt therapy. (Rolef Ben-Shahar, 2013)
Mindell explains that after reading Reich and discovering the Gestalt approach, he noticed that these methods include an attempt to change, manipulate and program the body. That therapists guide their patients about how their bodies should be. Mindell, on the other hand, wanted to hear what the body had to say. What the disease, symptom or pain let us know about the patients. He began to observe spontaneous physical reactions such as itching eczema until it bleeds, touching a painful spot or bending the back in a direction that emphasizes the painful area. Mindell asked how it is possible that in many cases a person’s unconscious physical reaction increases the pain and makes the situation worse. He examined what happens when the symptoms increased and found that this is a critical process for understanding the source of the disease.
Mindell discovered the dreambody which he defined as an entity that is both a dream and a body at the same time. According to the dreambody theory, dreams reflect physical experiences and vice versa. On this level, in one way or another, all dreams deal with the state of the body. All bodily gestures such as tone of voice, rate of speech, facial expressions and hand and shoulder movement while speaking, are reflected in dreams. Mindell claims that there is no process of a physical symptom that is not expressed in some way in a dream. The dreambody is an entity that sends information on a multi-channel level and directs you to receive messages through physical symptoms, through dreams or any other channel. Working with the dreambody does not require concepts but work with processes as they appear. The therapists’ only tool is their ability to discover these processes. Mindell goes on to explain that he observes what is happening in the patient and what is happening with him during the patient’s reactions. He lets the dreambody processes uncover what wants to occur in the moment and what to do; he does not pressure the patient to do anything. In this sense, discovering the process and increasing it through these channels and symptoms can become a cure (Mindell, 1985).
In his book Dreaming While Awake Mindell describes the world of dreams according to Australian aboriginal thinking. According to this approach, we dream all the time and dreaming takes place throughout the day in subtle experiences that cannot be formulated and are almost imperceptible and non-rational. Dreaming occurs all the time in the time intervals between thoughts and between actions and even in the inclinations or the potential for their occurrence before they are realized. As a result of this definition, Mindell refers directly to the phenomenon of lucid dreaming and redefines it as follows: being awake while dreaming not only at night but also during the day, because we dream all the time. (Mindell A., 2000) This definition and approach reveal additional possibilities for working with lucid dreams in a therapeutic setting.