Self-Portrait

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Dana Lynne Andersen

Nevada City, California

Awakening Arts

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What is an underlying question that gives form to your work or interest in this field?

“How can we liberate the innate creativity of individuals and collectives, unleashing the passion, synergy, and ‘super-conscious’ solutions that flow so abundantly when we tap into uplifted, expanded states of consciousness?"

What is your personal experience of collective wisdom in groups?

Consciousness is a tangible force, thoughts and emotions are ‘energies’ as real as matter. We can open or close doors to alternative realities through the power of our attention and intention. We create the ‘strange attractors’ of our future through what we think, imagine and experience in our emotional bodies as real.

I studied, and eventually taught, a method called ‘Dream Theater’ (working with Jessica Allen who worked with Jeremy Taylor and Fariba Bogzaran). In this method we would use theatrical improvisation to enact our night dreams. Dreams which might have been well interpreted through mental analysis, took on extraordinary levels of depth in meaning and transformative power as we met them at the level from which they ensued--- in other words dreams come from the body psyche and operate in the pre/post rational language of symbol and image. Through the collective holding the space for the individual remarkable healings occurred. But even more extraordinary was how, as we worked together over time and became attuned to the dreamworld, we began to experience COLLECTIVE states of altered consciousness with profound results. Our dream lives began to interpenetrate. We began to have common lucid dreams. But even more astounding - we so strengthened the field of opening to the territory beyond the conscious mind we began to experience immediate effects in the physical world which were ‘magical’, tangible and miraculous.

Here’s a for instance; one night we worked on a dream in which a primary symbol was the Ostrich. After a powerful session with commonly experienced shamanic energies, we opened the door of my downtown Denver studio and found on the threshold a flurry of white Ostrich feathers. Ostriches are nowhere to be found in Downtown Denver I can assure you. This kind of materialization began to be increasingly common. We hear of this phenomenon occuring in aboriginal societies with shamanic practices, but from our experience I extrapolate that ‘the portal’ can be opened by any group capable of collective attunement with each other and with the intelligent energies of nature that are simultaneously within and without. When a group can strengthen the field via sustained intention/attention, an opening emerges to ‘altered’ (higher/deeper) states of awareness AND realms of reality.

The paradigm that Jung began to articulate which is relevant to this phenomenon and so critical to our times is that of synchronistic causation. Linear causation, like linear rationality, expresses the ‘particle’ perspective; revealing the truth that material reality occurs in ‘discreet packages’ of information. In linear rationality, the information is derived from the sequence; a causes b, the order of the words in language, etc. Synchronistic causation expresses the ‘wave’ perspective; revealing the truth that material reality occurs in fluid pulses. In the ‘right brain’ synchronistic way of perceiving, information is co-present in time and thus it is not sequence that determines meaning, it is the ‘constellation’ of simultaneous elements. In my experience, the synchronistic aspect of reality is accessed through the part of our intelligence that experiences the intelligence of images (pictures are constellations of information). In other words, we experience the ‘wave’ when we enter into the mythic, creative, symbolic and imaginative side of ourselves.

What is it about the work in this field that excites you and connects you to your own deepest self?

My JOY: It is my experience that consciousness is a living reality. What some have called God- that permeating intelligence “whose center is everywhere, circumference nowhere” is vibrating at the inmost core of every creature, even to the heart of the atom. It is thrilling to directly experience that one permeating reality when the veneer of the persona becomes transparent. When individuals within a group surrender to a higher ground- a center, a place ‘in the middle’; not in an unconscious relinquishment, but in a lifting up of conscious intention, we can pierce the veil, so to speak, and the revelations of ‘heaven’* pour forth in astonishing abundance. The solution to every pressing problem of our times is vibrating in a permeating field of scintillating intelligence- and we can rise to become the conduit- individually and collectively.

*(not a place above the earth, but the space of awareness disclosed by physiological/psychic/kundalini energies rising upward in the spine)

A CHALLENGE: I feel determined to understand how we can evolve from the ‘primordial’ (unconscious and subconscious) towards the ‘celestial’ (super-conscious) without choking the vitality of the instinctive. How can move from the pull of the ‘collective unconscious’ (as the repository of the archaic, the cauldron of the primordial, instinctual and elemental) toward the ‘strange attractor’ of the collective ‘super-conscious’ (as the higher capacities of reason, symbolic intelligence and intuitive perception)- in ways that sustain the élan vital –the juice and joy and affirmation of life. How do we integrate the urgent need for ‘wholeness’ with the critical urge for ‘transcendence’? Gilgamesh had to kill the monster Tiamet in order for the fragile emerging ego to sever from the Mater (material/mother) Matrix. In our times, it is the extremity of the severance that threatens our survival!

It seems the dance of our era is to embody the Tree of Life from deepest roots to highest blossoms- the full spectrum of consciousness. In the past we conceived of matter as an obstacle to spirit and built our transcending towers of Babylon in denial of death and gravity. Now we are called to find the radiant presence within each heart, each particle- inside the darkness, within the chaos- and in the grandeur and glory of the vast evolutionary pageant.

In the past four decades we have done much to reclaim the instinctive, embrace the shadow, and discover the profound intelligence of chaos (I love chaos theory!). I feel our collective edge is now to re-integrate the light- the heroic aspiration, the spiritual quest and higher ideals that were rejected in the postmodern critique of western culture. It is time to attend to the vertical dimension so flattened, denied and denigrated in the post-modern era. (yes, I have read most all of Wilber’s work with great appreciation)

I think we have to get beyond ‘anything goes’ and take seriously the power of our perspectives, paradigms, thoughts & images.

What we imagine and the images we contemplate have enormous power to create the reality we experience. It is urgent, in my view, to THINK SOLUTIONS, to IMAGINE POSITIVE POSSIBILITIES and to infuse our minds with compelling, awakening, inspiring pictures. It is very easy to underestimate the power of inspiration.

Please provide a brief storyline or snapshot of what brought you to this work.

As I contemplate this question I am struck that from earliest childhood I have had a profound interest in the collective evolution of humanity. When I was child I played in the forest alone for hours. I built a teepee and in my imagination I created my own future tribe and made up the rules and rituals of our society. Later, in 6th grade, I became obsessed with the question of whether the evolution of life & consciousness would go on forever or reach a final culmination and come to an end. I have always been drawn to the whole, epic story and the vast perspective of infinity and eternity. To the consternation of my high school teachers, I wrote very long essays because in every topic I felt compelled to begin- as one teacher remonstrated, “from when we oozed from the mud!”. My grandparents were involved in metaphysical movements, and so I grew up with “The life and teachings of the Masters of the Far East”, and the writings of Kahlil Gibran, Ernest Holmes, Edgar Casey, etc.

I was determined to know the meaning of purpose of life in its whole grand pageantry through the eons. This led me to study philosophy, write my undergraduate thesis on “Nietzsche and the Death of God”, and proceed, on a hairpin turn, onward to a Masters degree in Consciousness Studies from JFKU. Upon graduation I collaborated with a group of students who had graduated from JFKU in Arts & Consciousness to open a “Transformative Arts Studio” in Berkeley. Here we experimented with the ways in which the arts could be used to shift awareness, open the heart and alchemically transform the energies of the psyche. Later I opened a ‘Transformative Arts’ Studio in Denver, and now I have a wonderful studio at Ananda Village (an intentional community based on the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda), near Nevada City, California.

Through these studios, and at various art & civic centers, schools & colleges, I have taught courses on ‘The Evolution of Consciousness’, ‘Women’s Spiritual Traditions’, ‘Sanatam Dharma’, and various courses on using the modalities of art, imagination and creativity to access expanded states of consciousness.

So many great thinkers have influenced my thought!

Integral Theory; Sri Aurobindo and the mother, Ken Wilber (especially Up from Eden, Atman Project and Sex, Ecology and Spirit)

Evolutionary; Tielhard de Chardin, Thomas Berry, Brian Swimme, Erich Nuemann (Origin & History of Consciousness), Michael Dowd

Other Consciousness Studies; Richard Tarnas, Robert Mc Dermott, American Transcendentalists, the Perennial Philosophy

Psychological; Carl Jung, Roberto Assagioli, Edward Eddington, Erich Nuemann

Women’s studies; Starhawk, Mary Daley, Charlene Spretnik

Spiritual; the teachings of the Saints, Sages and Avatars in all traditions - Christ, Christian Mystics, Ramakrishna, Ananda Moya Ma, Amichi, Ramana Maharshi, Black Elk, and many more. And then there are the universal teachings that have become my path of discipleship and daily practice – Paramahansa Yogananda.

How would you like to be available to others in this field?

• I welcome conversations, visits to my studio, and artists in residence.

• I would love to bring to the various gatherings, salons, forums, conferences, etc., the actual artwork of my own and other ‘awakening artists’ (there is an international network of artists who are doing this kind of work and it needs to be seen)

• I would like to offer to our gatherings an experiential dimension of ‘super-conscious’ intuition- accessing the imaginative realms through deliberate hands on engagement with the modalities of creativity and imagination- using any & all modalities including collage, painting, embodiment, sound & movement, improvisation, dreamwork, theater, guided imagery, etc.


• I would like to put out the idea of calling salons @ positive visions for the future – and including a call to artists for an accompanying exhibition. What is the most positive vision that we can make probable?

Links to this site or others:

Awakening Arts

Zeitgeist, Visionary Art Exhibition October 27, 2006

Interview with Dana Andersen at AmateurIllustrator.com

Dana's art on this site


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