One reader wondered if it was a right for a religion to judge others who were not of that religion.
Judgment isn’t really a right, but people judge, that’s what we are…we’re judgment machines. It’s the way our brains are hardwired. We just have to remember that our judgments may have nothing to do with reality because we project our own biases, prejudices, beliefs, and feelings onto everything. There’s an old saying, “Don’t believe everything you think”. The ego part of us always wants to keep us separated usually with us being the best (or better than) and the other guy not being the best or less than.
We then ‘project’ this bias onto our religion and use our religion to prove we are right. This is circular reasoning, a logic fallacy, but the ego-centered person isn’t concerned with logic or facts, they’re just concerned with being right in their own mind or in their own culture or subculture/tribe.
This doesn’t mean that “judgment” is always wrong because if the practice of a religion that is created out of love (and all religions are created out of love) shows only hate, then the practice of that religion is wrong…it’s not the religion that is wrong, it is the practice of it that’s wrong. This is where judgments are needed. For example, does some religious practice further the cause of love or hate? If it’s hate then it’s being practiced in the wrong way.
So, again, it’s not the religion that is judging, it’s the human beings who practice that religion and if it is being used by them to exclude, demean and make others less than, then it’s being done wrongly.
In each of us exists a spiritual self that comes from a wholeness that includes everything and everyone. But in order to interact on this plane of existence a temporary illusion of separateness needs to be maintained. This is the job of the ego part of the self, that part of us that we created with the help of our parents, family, society, and culture. Even when we stand before one another and see a separate individual, at our core we are one. There is little problem with this unless the ego has convinced the self that the separation is real this is when we don’t recognize the divine being in the person standing before us.
When we think we are vulnerable to the illusion of a separate being we become frightened and want to protect the self, though it doesn’t need protecting. Look around, is this not so? We then create illusions to safety and institutions to reinforce the illusion. But are we any safer? As long as we are stuck in our own egos we will never feel safe, you can never feel safe when you think that what you are is this small, trembling being that is threatened by all other small, trembling beings. And no matter how many small, trembling beings band together there’s no bigness in that, only a whole lot of small and trembling.
I’ve read that those who try to rule by fear don’t know who they really are. The more fear and control they spread the smaller they become. Those who sustain their egos through force have only physical power and that always comes to an end usually a whimpering end. Those who sustain through love last forever.
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.
*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).
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, _____________”
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.
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.
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.
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.
*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.
Recently I was working with a shaman who occasionally shares his dreams with me. He shared a dream that included a snake, a very popular image in dreams (along with spiders, but that’s a topic for another day).
Though a snake or multiple snakes in a dream can represent positive transformational, healing (especially if the snake bites and causes an elimination of bodily toxins), perceptivity, patience, wisdom, or rebirth energy, I thought that I would spend a moment looking at the negative energy associated with the snake image in dreams.
Snakes in dreams can suggest deceit especially of someone in your immediate environment, though it could also suggest your own deceit especially if the snake is biting someone or devouring them. There can be fearful or chaotic people in your life that are affecting you negatively. This may be even truer if a Medusa image shows up and you experience feeling trapped or imprisoned. This can represent someone who is highly critical of you or of others, or someone who just has negative thoughts about you and directs them your way passive aggressively, someone who literally steals your energy when around them.
In general snakes suggest that you may be experiencing some negativity that needs to be dealt with and cleared. Also snakes in dreams can represent unresolved issues that you have with others or people you’ve managed to annoy somehow. Consider also that they may be warning you of something you aren’t paying enough attention to. This symbolism can also be heightened if the snake is red in in color.
To deal with these negative energies you either need to confront them by standing up for yourself (this probably shouldn’t include any attacking strategy) if they are presenting as bullies or avoid being around them completely. You might also consider removing any other negative influences like negative movies or negative video games, or loud, gossipy people– basically anything and/or anyone that doesn’t serve you spiritually.
Shaman sometimes see snakes in their dreams when they are encountering or about to encounter some really negative energy. Interestingly seeing live snakes in your waking life can sometimes be symbolic of the same negative energy. This can be especially true if live snakes in your environment aren’t a common experience.
In the Australian Aborigine “Snake Dreaming” a snake is the protector of the land, the source of all life but also a destructive force if not treated respectfully.
I mentioned earlier that snakes can represent transformation, or change, this can be positive of course but change can also be negatively charged and regardless of what the snakes are doing in the dream you might want to compare their behaviors with your own waking world behavior or those behaviors of others e.g. are they just lying around, being sluggish, stealthily slithering, biting– snapping at you or others, poisoning the water with their presence, filling a pond or lake making it too scary to climb in, or crushing and trapping in their suffocating grip?
Note that snakes in dreams also present the dreamer with interesting dualities such as healing/poison, death/rebirth, charm/deceit, and life/death so that when they visit a dream they can represent both blessing and curse and therefor suggest that the dreamer apply both to their waking life.
In general animals in our dreams represent our instinctual feelings or behaviors. Some dream therapists think that animals come to us in our dreams almost as spirit guides, each bringing their own voice, symbolic energies, and usefulness to the dreamer.
Light comes in many forms within a dream. Sometimes it comes from whence it is born i.e. the darkness. It can be the dawning of some new awareness, a new beginning as with a rising sun or with the setting sun and clearing the stage for a brand new day.
It can be the symbol for transformation or a means for shedding some light on something unattended.
It can be a metaphor for God, the Spirit, the Tao, or for great wisdom. It can indicate the divine within.
In the beginning was the One. It lay at the bottom of the sea
in the darkness of the unconscious mind. The highest goal being
to bring it to consciousness and reunite what was separated once again.
Frequently light is paired with the image of a mandala where the light of creation resides at the center. When I dreamed the mandala above I experienced it rising from a ‘formless and empty’ black sea suggesting my unconscious mind, bringing with it a new awareness leading me to spiritual growth. At the time the mandala also suggested that I needed to look deeper into the darkness of that unknown part of me for it was in that blackness that a much needed awareness lay.
It can refer to the need for clarity, understanding, and insight. It can be about truth or if cloudy and shadowy it can suggest parts of the unconscious self that have yet to have been brought to full consciousness. If it’s particularly bright you may need to move toward a higher level of awareness.
Those who have been near death often speak of a bright light beckoning in the distance.
In the form of a light bulb it may suggest that you are ready to face some reality, or idea, perhaps even some new spiritual consciousness. A burned out bulb could refer to a loss of effectiveness or negative self-image.
Lighthouses can refer to the need for guidance. In the form of lightning it can suggest sudden awareness or spiritual revelation or even a shocking turn of events that is beyond ones control. To be struck by it might mean a permanent transformation or change taking or having taken place. All “lights can speak to the qualities of intellect, leadership knowledge, and transformation”.*
Light is often a symbol for the creative point in ones awareness, of bringing new light to consciousness. It can also be symbolic of beacons to follow and is also found within the third eye chakra, that is the “light between the eyes”. This light may be speaking to the primary force of life and creation.
Many if not most “light” dreams are part of the psyche’s way of reuniting what was separated at birth, i.e. wholeness and what the psychiatrist Carl Jung might have said was part of the process of individuation of becoming fully human.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.”
A couple of years ago I wrote two posts* that posed the
question, “Who are you?” I’m still pondering that question and thought I’d
share what I’ve come up with since then.
Self-discovery, true self-discovery where the soul
illuminates the ego rather than the ego darkening the expression of soul or
adding false light upon itself can be a tricky process. You know when you’re on
the right track when your discovery brings awe, beauty, and happiness. This
seems pretty simple, so why is it so hard?
I think part of the reason rests in from what part of ones
self one is asking the questions. Asking questions and pondering answers
generated from the ego-self almost always complicates the process and limits
Sometimes even asking a question at all can distort reality.
Sometimes in order to “hear” one needs to shut-up.
Sometimes just observing, watching, looking, minding (as in
being mindful), hearing, seeing, feeling, or sensing is all one needs to open
the door to enlightenment. Note that I don’t say anything about “doing”
anything with any of that incoming awareness data? That’s because “doing”
usually shuts the process down whereas the act of “being” keeps the process relevant
Try the following:
Step outside, go on… what do you hear? What do you smell? What do you feel? What do you see? You named it all didn’t you e.g. a “dog” “barking”; new-mowed grass; it’s hot out, must be 90 degrees for god’s sake!; there’s the neighbor playing with their one year old–cute little guy.
Now, try stepping out and observe without doing anything
with what you notice. Much quieter, huh? Sometimes when I do this, not only
does a sense of peace well up, but tears of happiness, feelings of belonging
,and sometimes a sense of being big enough to include it all–of being bigger
than I was before stepping out the door pervades my consciousness. But as soon
as I start labeling the experience…poof! It all goes away.
When I “decide” what it is that I’m experiencing I immediately kill all the alternatives, I objectify a subjective experience, I limit the experience. To add “cide” to almost any word means to kill the alternative or object.
Now, it’s not that the process of deciphering and deciding
has no usefulness, because on the contrary it’s an evolutionary security
process and the faster you can accurately do it, the greater the chance of your
personal survival. So I wouldn’t ignore this skill when walking down a dark
alley, but one does not have to treat their whole life in survival mode.
When the stresses generated by my mind’s reaction to reality
begin to weigh heavily on me sometimes just quieting it by stepping outside and
letting the reality wash over me without trying to corral it i.e. define it or
add meaning to it will center me and bring me peace.
What does this have to do with the original question, “who are you?” It’s about telling the truth about an observation, whether that observation comes from outside you or from within. It’s about opening to the unvarnished, unmediated experience of reality.
Some have dreams of an invisible creature sitting upon their chest, strange creatures invading your space,a presence in the room, dark, foreboding, and cloaked in fear. Sometimes there’s a sound but almost always a vision, there can be a feeling of floating, shadowy outlines and sometimes-demonic characters. There are times in these dreams where one feels like they are falling and jerk awake. Very real and quite vivid these are the dreams of the Hypnogogic.
“Sometimes I am in that state as I just start to go to sleep when I begin to have very strange visions, sort of pre-dream dreams. Typically my dreams are of regular situations with regular people inhabiting them, though these “regular” dreams are a bit disjointed in that they often jump around. Sometimes I find that people or objects are doing things that they can’t do in the waking world, such as fly, or hover.
But sometimes, in this pre-dream state, what dream scientists call the hypnogogic state, my mind seems to manufacture some of my strangest beings. People morph into odd-looking creatures—visions that I don’t ever recall having seen in the waking world. To top it all off while having these visions my body can feel paralyzed. On occasion I’ve recognized that the visions are about to turn nightmarish and I’ve forced myself to wake up only to find that for a few seconds I can’t move!”
RJ Cole –Hypnagogia and sleep transition states
As a boy I used to lie out on the grass in the evening and strange creatures and flying machines would swoop down from the sky. I would watch in fascination cartoon-like characters scroll across the stars. Sometimes in my darkened room I would watch small balls of light dance in the air and flit behind the dresser or in and out of the closet. I was never afraid of them for they seemed to be friendly and often kept a lonely boy company. They went away in my teens and I didn’t remember them again until I became interested in dreams in my late twenties and early thirties. I have only had one experience since then. This was a dream of the hypnogogic and it was one that led me to write the tale of The Archipelago of Dreams.
In this vision I left my body and traveled to a place where souls go to recuperate after a life of stress and suffering. There they become revitalized and move on to their next level of adventure or return to the land of being to live it all over again. It was there that I discovered my true being and its destiny– hallucination, lucid dream, parapsychological experience, or just a little crazy or perhaps all four?
An occasional hypnogogic hallucination is an interesting phenomenon and most of us have had them. Several dreamers who have shared their dreams with me have shared a novel hypnogogic-like experience. However, when these experiences start showing up on a regular basis they can fall into the category of sleep disorders.
If they are frequent enough that they routinely disturb your sleep there are a few things that you can do to lessen that frequency:
Keep a regular sleep schedule and be careful to get enough sleep every night.
Control your stress. Relaxation activities such as meditation, deep breathing, yoga and the like can be very helpful in controlling stress.
Consult with your doctor as to whether your medications could be causing hallucinations.
Consider consulting a sleep specialist and having a sleep study done.
Understand that these hallucinations are common and not necessarily a sign of a more serious disorder.
Keep a sleep journal and track your symptoms to look for patterns.
I’ve often said that dreams can be useful in the waking life. Often patterns in a dream reflect the same patterns in our waking life e.g. behaviors, problems, and emotions that show up in dreams show up our waking lives as well. Pay particular attention to the emotions in a dream either those that are experienced by you or by some other character. Notice if there are some repeating patterns of feeling. For example, does anger keep showing up in the dream, or in other dreams? How about conflicts with characters, or between characters in the dream? Do these reflect internal conflicts that you’re having with yourself, or with people or events outside yourself?
Frequently a dream can lead to solving some vexing problem in the waking world. You can even program your dreams to deal with external issues without having to wait for them to show up in a dream. This is called Dream Incubation and to varying degrees has been used for thousands of years as a means of healing and problem solving.
Let’s focus on problem solving for a moment, after all we all have problems, right?
To get things started, here’s an incubation technique that many dream analysts and behaviorists use. Be sure to be as honest with yourself as possible–this is all private, no one’s looking.
Before beginning, OWN THE PROBLEM. Whose problem is it? If it’s not yours, then why are you fooling with it? This process is not about solving someone else’s problem. Once decided that it’s your problem you can then move on.
Define the problem
What are you thinking may be the cause?
Have you thought of any solutions and have you tried them? Why won’t they work?
While writing these down, what feelings are coming up for you?
Can you imagine what benefits you might be getting from letting this problem continue as is e.g. is it easier, or safer to leave it be than to try to resolve it i.e. would you lose anything by solving it? Often at an unconscious level we are the reason that a problem perpetuates itself.
How committed are you to finding a solution? If not, why?
Sometimes just the process of taking time to work with a problem can reveal a solution, but you can also move on to the next step:
Request an answer from your dream self. For example, don’t use any “yes” or “no” questions and be precise: “ Show me why I am having problems with______________.”
Place a notebook and pen next to your bed to record your dreams.
In ancient Greece* in such dream incubation and healing centers (Asclepia) such as the one at Delphi, people would travel to the centers and follow certain rituals designed to get the dreamer ready for a healing dream. Candles often set the mood along with a ritual bathing with the intent of cleansing both the body and the soul. Abstinence of all drugs (except those prescribed by a physician), and alcohol and sometimes fasting were required of all seekers. I suggest that you do the same. A time for prayer so as to thank in advance a healing dream from the gods or some special deity was always invoked. You can do this by thanking God, or the spirit, your own soul, or the universe for the insights to be received.
Sometimes the dreamer would meditate, or relax to the sounds of naturally flowing water, or music, or rhythmic drumming as they lay down to sleep, keeping in mind the chosen Question from the Dream e.g. “Show me why I am having problems with______________.”
As soon as you awaken from your dream, record whatever you recall. Note, that it may take more than one night to incubate such a dream. This is not unusual, oft times an ancient seeker would take a week or more. The answer will come, try not to be discouraged.
As with anything worth doing, practice makes perfect and as with most human endeavors your commitment and ‘Will’ may be tested. In the beginning the wisdom of your inner psyche may not give up its secrets easily. If the problem were easy to solve you would have by now…solved it. The ancients as well as moderns go to the Greater Wisdoms than that of their ego-selves when problems (such as health, emotional, behavioral, or social) seem to be resistant to solution through personal manipulation e.g. when you can’t figure it out and no matter what you do the problem stays stuck.
In addition to the above rituals and techniques, you might share your dreams with a trusted friend, often the other person can see things in your dream that you cannot. The ancient Greek seeker would share their dreams with a priest, the oracle or others to aid in its interpretation. Group work with other seekers can be helpful as well as can working with a trained counselor.
* Though I’ve used the Greeks as an example here, the Egyptians, Assyrians, Turks, in the Upanishads from India, the Chinese, and many African tribes, as well as many Christian saints and mystics sought guidance through this kind of dream incubation method. See http://thedreamingwizard.com/history-of-dreams_290.html for more on ancient healing and dream incubation centers.