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The Hypnotic Use of Waking Dreams:
Exploring Near-Death Experiences Without the Flatlines


Since Raymond Moody published Life after Life in 1975, the popular press has responded to the publicís fascination with near-death experiences (NDEs) with a variety of books. For the interested reader, please refer to the bibliography for some suggested reading. As one author noted, "NDEs are probably the most direct kind of experiential knowledge about the after death state we can have: they are certainly the most emotionally and intellectually powerful kinds of knowledge that, in some form, we survive death, for those who experience them."1 But as another author reminds us, "Reading or hearing about [an NDE] is very different from having one, simply because they are indescribable even in metaphor, the language of Spirit."2 The logical extension of this is easy to describe:

. . . it would be quite helpful if we each personally had an NDE, but after an extensive study of NDE[s], I donít recommend that. The near part of an NDE is too tricky! Most people who come that near to death do not give us an interesting report of what happened afterwards; they get buried!3

In this book I will share with you some of the profound experiences and insights my clients have reported while using hypnosis to dream during therapy. Therapists have made use of clientsí dreams since the days of Freud, but we usually rely on the fragments of the dream that the person can remember days later during the therapy session. By having my clients dream during the therapy session in what I call a waking dream, they and I are able to work with the content and emotion of the dream in real time. These dreams differ from ordinary dreams in that clients always experience themselves as someone else in a waking dream. Throughout the book, I will refer to this someone else as the "dream character."

The setting for the dream inevitably involves a different place and time, and often a change in gender. Unlike nighttime dreams, however, the final stage of a waking dream typically includes the death of the dream character. This is why it is critical that clients are never themselves in these dreams. I will not risk the emotional impact of intentionally taking someone through his or her own death in a dream! What happens after the death experience of the dream character is a major focus of this book.

Chapter One introduces you to the concept of waking dreams and describes seven ways they can be used to help people resolve a variety of personal problems, enhance their intuitive abilities, and enrich the spiritual aspect of their lives.

Chapter Two begins with a review of what has been reported in the literature for more than thirty years on the phenomenon of near-death experiences. These phenomena are then discussed in the context of what occurs in the final stage of a waking dream.

Chapter Three describes the prototype of a waking dream. Just as many NDEs do not include all of the core components of a prototypical NDE, few waking dreams completely match the prototype. However, because they occur by choice, it is helpful to have a good understanding of the many forms waking dreams can take. This enhances the opportunities for using them both with more confidence and greater effectiveness.

Chapters Four through Seven present a variety of actual waking dreams with detailed case transcripts. These serve to demonstrate some of the many ways that waking dreams can be used to facilitate personal, even transpersonal, change.

Chapters Eight and Nine explore the parallels between waking dreams and past-life therapy. In many parts of the world, people believe that the soul experiences hundreds of lifetimes, each of which affords opportunities for learning. Past-life therapy extends the notion that current problems sometimes have their origins in past events by looking to other lifetimes when the events of the current lifetime are insufficient to account for the current problem. For example, there is considerable anecdotal research that many phobias resolve quickly with past-life therapy.

Chapters Ten and Eleven use additional transcripts from waking dreams to probe some of the spiritual implications this work can have for each of us.

In the final chapter I summarize and synthesize the other chapters with a discussion of some of the spiritual, soul-level implications that have emerged for both my clients and me from this work.

Paul W. Schenk, Psy.D.



Updated: 06/23/2007

Paul W. Schenk, Psy.D.
3589 Habersham at Northlake, Bldg O, Tucker, GA 30084-4001
Phone: 770-939-4473
Office Fax: 770-939-0033