Visions, daydreams, and sleeping dreams

 

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During an interview with Valder Beebe on her talk show early last week I was asked about the difference between daydreams, visions and sleeping dreams. My answer was rather limited by time in that I revealed only a small part of the relationship between these three forms of “seeing”.

Firstly all three come from the same place, our unconscious mind. However, some may see all three as being spiritual in nature maybe even spiritually generated or induced.

Visions can be said to come to us in a trance, a meditation or in a dream though visions tend to be clearer and more vibrant than dreams. Prophecy and the supernatural are often associated with visions whether they show up in a trance, dream or just walking down the street. Frequently they seem to be numinous in nature and have a mystical quality to them. Often one feels connected to all things, feel a sense of the timeless and experience the sacred. They frequently come to us when there is an unfilled and unfillable void or deep and unresolved questioning in our lives and when they arrive cannot be understood through our rational selves. However, the message of the vision experience is often quite clear and is something that most sleeping dreams do not give us given their chaotic nature.

Often these otherworldly vision experiences come with clear messages written or heard and are frequently the point of the vision. Dreams rarely come with a clear message or point and though we may see words or hear them in a sleeping dream they almost always make no sense. This is probably due to the fact that the part of the brain that processes written or spoken language* is shut down or suppressed during sleep whereas in many vision states the language part of the brain continues to function almost normally.

Visions no matter how experienced usually come with four states to that experience e.g., they are ineffable (they defy expression), noetic in that there is a “knowing” that cannot be plumbed through the regular intellect and beyond what was known before, transient in that they don’t last for long, and lastly passive in that they are almost always unbidden though they can be encouraged by focusing ones attention.

For many a vision feels as though they have been taken over by some greater power. This must have been the experience retold in the biblical story of a Pharisee named Saul a Christian hunter and persecutor who experienced being overwhelmed by Jesus in a vision on his way to Damascus and being shown the error of his ways and ultimately converted to another way of being and seeing and becoming the über Christian and Jesus interpreter Paul in the process.

Saul with his split allegiances to the Jewish diaspora and the Roman empire and suffering from a deep hatred of the Christian sect (a hatred that creates or is born from inner conflict itself) was probably dealing with any number of psychic conflicts but also searching for meaning and/or absolution from denied inner guilt. Under conditions of such inner conflict and the fatigue that he probably experienced throughout his travels his psyche was opened to such a vision experience. For most of us who have had this kind of world shattering vision experience these are often the conditions through which we become open to our deeper Self and that Self’s connection to a greater being.

We often call this kind of insightful vision an epiphany or an aha moment. But new clarity can come from dreams whether during sleep or during a day reverie of a lazy moment though they may be harder to read. The deeper self is always trying to make itself heard but often finds itself suppressed or shouted down by the continuous chatter of the mind full of all its worries, anxieties, activities and agendas. It’s only when we give this ego-self a rest that the inner self can come out to play. And play it will through our music, dance, poetry, writing, socializing, meditations, dreams, all kinds of art, and even on the road to the grocery market.

Lastly daydreams can be another way of tapping into the inner self and are seen as a detachment from one’s immediate surroundings where their connection with reality becomes blurred and a sort of visionary fantasy takes place. It’s sort of a mild dissociation and happens to many folks throughout their lifetime. Often these reveries can be disruptive to the tasks at hand (especially when those tasks are boring, in which case daydreaming can serve as an adaptive function) but they can also provide information related to future-thinking and increased creativity.

I envisioned the story of The Archipelago of Dreams: The Island of the Dream Healer** during a daydream one summer day at a lake in northern Wisconsin. Though fully formed during that summer’s reverie it took me another twenty some-odd years to put the story into print. That fantasy journey through time and space stayed with me for all those years and even informed much of my subsequent interest with psyche, soul, and dream-work.

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*These areas of the brain associated with language are known as Broca’s area (for production of language) and Wernicke’s area (comprehension of spoken and written language).

**Also sold at Amazon

Healing the psyche: Art in all its forms as a way of expressing the soul.

 

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The health of the psyche and soul can often be found in children’s art. Found on Henrysworld

 

The following dream and comments were sent a while ago from a frequent dream-sender. I present it here in its entirety along with my edited and amended comments in hopes that it will aid you the reader in interpreting your own dreams and to illustrate the power of your dreams to inform your waking world experience.

 

“Comments: Hi, Coming across your website is such a beautiful event in my life. i have been going thru a crisis and have been asking “why my son? why did this happen to me? etc kind of questions… I meditate regularly but I guess had a breakthrough last night. I had the following dream which I request you to interpret hoping that your wisdom would give me the guidance that the dream intended to give. This is how it goes: I write three “my life” questions on an A4 size paper with the intention of them getting answered (I guess i am sitting there waiting for an old lady to read the questions and give me the answers) . But after writing 3 questions, i start sketching/painting beautiful designs on the paper with red color so much that i lose sight of the questions and I have forgotten the questions. I unable to see the ques.. Some time later, same night, I have another dream that I have written the same ques.. but I made a boat and I have left the paper sailing on water – the water drains the ink and I again lose the ques.. I realize that i have forgotten the ques.. and then another dream same night, I write the ques. but i again lose the paper. At the end , I try to rmmbr but i am not able to recollect what was i asking… I know this dream holds a profound message to me. Can you please let me know as to what it could be? Thank you for giving your time and wisdom… Regards, _____________”

The interpretation:

I wish that I had come to this dream a little quicker if only to help relieve a little stress.

The questions may be symbolic of your own self-doubts, or reflect your quest for a spiritual answer to what’s going on in your life right now. Each time you are distracted before you can get the answer and I wonder if this is because 1) you are easily distracted through worry about the answer, or 2) your not asking the right questions.

The asking of questions also reflects the idea of answers and perhaps they have come to you and you may not have heard them? If you are looking for answers re: why me? then you might also be restricting the answer (or solution) because you’re looking for something specifically to solve your dilemma. You might want to ask your questions more open-ended.

A suggestion: You might try a meditation where you ask the universe, “What do I need to know?” and/or “How can I respond to what’s happening?” You might also bring the “old woman” into your meditation and ask her “Why have you visited me?”

Painting and drawing can have numerous meanings (painting can even be a metaphor for covering something up), but often they represent expressions of the soul. If your questions come only from the head, you may need to look deeper and ask from the soul. Red is almost always a passion color and a danger color, it is also the color of blood–that which gives life and energy and enlivens one. I also wonder if the “beautiful designs” aspect of the first dream may also suggest that all is going as designed and though you try to control the outcome, you do not and cannot.

Both dreams may have a “let-go” aspect to them.

The water in the dream may represent your emotional state while the paper boat may say something about how well you are navigating your emotions–in this case it is sinking and being overwhelmed and the boat itself (representative of how you’re doing) is pretty fragile.

Because the “ink” is draining away I’m reminded that ink can represent creativity–perhaps you need to adopt a more creative approach to what’s going on before you lose it?

The old lady in the dream is no doubt an inner wisdom symbol.

In a later communication that also included a dream I added the following to the flow of dreams that this person was sharing.

I recall when a good friend, who is an accomplished artist, went through a period of soul searching that often left her feeling disconnected and sad, and began to draw and paint her sadness onto canvas. I recall how many of these drawings drew you the observer into her melancholy and how over time and healing the paintings became brighter in feel. For her it was the only way she could express what was going on for her–a way of bringing her shadows into the light so that they could be dealt with.

A suggestion: Try painting (or whatever your medium is) your feelings, don’t resist them, but express them. They are part of your soul as well and will often point you to what is wanted and needed in terms of nourishing your life right now.

I too suspect your “Questions” are really judgments i.e. rhetorical in nature that you may not even want an answer (that’s part of the spiral in depression). They can also be distractions that are keeping you from what’s really important to you i.e. what we call “red herrings”. Does all that make some sense? Note also that the ego likes to maintain control and there’s no better way than to keep you depressed because it robs you of your energy and shifts away your focus on what is really needed, thus making you dependent on the ego-self instead of your bigger self.

A suggestion: Along with your healing routines this may be a good time to express what’s going on within you in as many ways as possible e.g. through song (make it up and sing it to whatever tune moves you), poetry (the soul loves poetry and doesn’t care if you follow the rules or even rhyme), art, dance (a silly shake-off-the-spiders dance can be helpful here), and journaling (not as a chore but as a joy–don’t do it if it’s a chore, to hell with chores!).

I suspect that often depression results when one is unable or perhaps even unwilling in some cases to express their soul freely, when they are limited or restrained by past experiences, thoughts, beliefs, or by circumstances surrounding their lives. Because the dream is where the soul can express itself without editing, dreams such as the above can come to us in the service of our renewed health and well-being. Sometimes our inner wisdom can be a good physician and healer.

 My prescription?

  • Express yourself in as many ways as possible, be playful
  • Be as much in the world as you can possibly be, don’t hide
  • Give of yourself to something you know to be worthwhile
  • Work on sharing what is behind the mask that you wear not only with the world but with your self as well. Try for consistency between the two worlds of your inner and outer self.

What is wholeness?

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From Gaia Orion

I’ve often used the word “wholeness” in many of my posts as a word for an aspiration or a core being. So what does “wholeness” look like? Simple answer, I don’t know.

I am a container of many aspects, some in conflict and opposition and some in various stages of cooperation. But are they unified? No, it’s all a turbulent jumble barely contained and both creating and destroying. It’s the universe within me doing the same thing as the universe without– a panoply of things creating one another through their existence but is it unified? Perhaps all together in their continuous interaction they are the whole.

Or “wholeness” is not something that my separated and individual self can comprehend because I as an individual’s ground of being is rooted in separation. I cannot see it, understand it, comprehend it, or imagine it because I am using a tool not designed for it. In short, I’m using a “thing” to comprehend a “non thing”. I cannot imagine it from this perspective, from the perspective of the intellect, from the individual ego-self.

It may require a “meta-intellect” a non-objectified or subjective experience, something beyond the physical that’s without description, without words, and without a language. It may reside somewhere within the realm of metaphor and symbol, in images, or in color or sound. It may exist in the silent areas between my thoughts. I may be expressing the ‘whole’ all the time without being aware of it because I am only gifted in seeing its separated parts.

Carl Jung thought of wholeness as something one strived for psychically, a place in the very center of our being. He often likened it to a circular mandala of layered or spiraling aspects toward something called the ‘Self’ as differentiated from the ego i.e., the made up personal persona. He called these circular drawings a God image. But that still doesn’t satisfy my thirst.

Sometimes when a Great Understanding, one without words or images, bursts forth from some unknown place seeming to simultaneously be coming from within and without, I get it, but then I try to run it through the machinery of my mind in order to understand and it melts away. I think that’s because the “wholeness” is not of the mind but of the “something else”– the God that may live within.

I’ve had an interesting week of synchronicity where a meditation prayer for guidance seemed to be answered by an unsolicited email from a stranger from a far off land, a dream, an unsolicited and shared vision and a sermon on spiritual breakthrough. All seemingly lead me toward a new experience of an old awareness, one that I’ve believed to be true for a long time but until now had never actually experienced as being true.

For me “belief” is an imagining that is not necessarily grounded in fact but in faith, something that has never been very easy to accept or hold on to and as such not very satisfying and easily lost or strained. An experience, however, is grounded in the reality of the moment as witnessed by the observer– more fact than faith, more real and for me, more satisfying, sort of a ledge to stand on while looking out across the abyss.

Can one experience the ineffable? I would say yes. Can I tell you about it in such a way that you can experience it too? I would say no. Because it’s so subjective I’m not even sure that I can tell you how to get to your own experience of the ineffable.

What I can say about it is that it comes when it does and when it wants to. You can’t force it or engineer it. But you can learn to get out of the way that is, to get your ego-self out of the way so that you’ll be open to it when and if it arrives. And that was the point of the Dark knight of the Soul posting of December 2017 entitled “Real Magic” and the story of the Magician beginning on Jan 11, 2017.

The discontinuity and otherworldliness of a dream

 

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I’ve noticed that in my dreams events seem to occur chaotically as though pieces of images were scattered randomly across a table and picked up in no particular order, much as I’d do if I were filling in the center of a jigsaw puzzle. For example, in the dream I would find myself in front of a wall, in a hall behind it, momentarily at one end, the other end, facing it as though I had never moved, then without warning I’d be outside. These snippets would often repeat but not in any particular order.

When I awoke and began to describe the dream in my journal I would create a somewhat linear narrative e.g. I might say “there I stood before a wall looking from one end to the other. As I peeked behind the wall I suddenly* found myself outside.

In order to bring the experience of the dream images into consciousness I would have to run the discontinuous images through a more rational filter i.e. the linear world of the conscious mind, the ego-mind as it were. This is because the dream comes to us in images and emotions and not in words that require some sort of linear pattern to make any sense.

The “experience” of the dream is almost always different than its description. This is due to the fact that the unconscious mind produces dreams in a non-linear manner. In our waking lives we also may not experience events in a continuous way but due to the way our consciousness is wired we will force the narrative into some linear form that makes sense to us. In short, there are experiences and there are descriptions of these experiences– often two different realities.

Inherently dreams are discontinuous in nature as though they take place outside of time and even outside of space certainly outside the time and space that we are used to in a three dimensional world.

Certain waking visions seem to follow this outside-of-time pattern as well when one may feel as though all of space and time is falling inside one tiny area or moment. It’s a feeling where time stops, but incorporates all the past, present and future simultaneously. These usually unbidden visions can leave us breathless and with an expanded experience of reality that never completely goes away.

It’s like walking through a dream and suddenly becoming aware that you are walking through a dream– a moment of lucidity within the dream of our lives and a chance given by the fates to explore the images of the dream carefully, and in broadened detail, so as to see where they are taking us.** Using these times of lucidity whether in the sleeping or waking dream provides us an opportunity to go deeper into their meaning and enrich our reality.

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*In Fred Alan Wolf’s book “The Dreaming Universe” the physicist suggests that words such as “suddenly” used in an experiential description are often seen in the narratives of those who have experienced Near Death Experiences (NDEs) as well as alien abduction stories. In other words, in those who have experienced otherworldly realities.

** One can also explore the images of a dream by re-embodying the dream through a meditative imagination technique known as Active Imagining.