When the Container Breaks

Recently I found this dream recorded April 13, 1997,in a letter I had written the day after the dream to my friend, F.  The letter that I do not recall writing lay in a file and it was quite by surprise I happened upon it last week.

 

Bound to a Red Destiny

 

Dream: I was in my workshop, my woodworking shop at the time in real life.  I had a can of acid or lacquer thinner in my hands. It broke in two and the acid spilled over my hands and down the front of me and onto my dog Jack who was with me onto his head and back.  I did not act quickly but sort of in a sleep walk state—I went to the sink and filled a bucket with water and soap.  It was the kind of automatic calm that can overtake you in an emergency.  There was a rag with a lot of soap powder on it.  I was holding Jack in a tight embrace, washing his head and back with the soapy rag. This part of the dream was so visual—there were already big scabs formed on his head and I remember thinking how I must have waited a long time to wash him and the acid must have really burned his head and back to already have formed scabs. It must have laid on him full strength a long time. The water bucket fell over a couple of times while I was washing him and I had to stop to right it. The water went everywhere and under things and I kept wondering if anything had gotten ruined from it, but I felt out of control to attend to everything and I felt myself unable to do anything about so many things, like the situation was bigger than me and the only tangible thing was this dog and myself. Perhaps I had been cleaning myself off during this time but I don’t remember. At this point in the dream my friend, F’s voice came in as an overlay like a radio broadcast.  She was telling me a story she had heard on NPR about a man who had been whipped by his commanding officer for some failure on his part, and then ordered to whip the men under his command. And that while the whipped officer was whipping his own men, as he perspired, the wounds from his own flogging stung and glistened with sweat and heat. I woke up with my arms tightly wound over my chest still holding Jack to soothe him.  Jack allowed this tight enclosure around himself so sweetly as if he had abandoned himself to me completely.

The soul is a strange doctor. It reads you your cure in reading you your turmoil and anguish.  It slows the meter down and drip-by-drip you see the eventuality of your spirit.  Your body and mind and feelings in a pile-up on the expressway, but the beauty of its telling is its fondness for you, the tightest embrace, utterly human in dimension.

It is nineteen years since the dream occurred. A big cycle of completion. And nineteen years later I see more clearly that Life is largely holding paradoxes in our hands.  Things break.  Containers of love break.  Love contains darkness and light. It contains pain and joy, despair and hope, it contains vulnerability, it contains sweetness and surrender. Love contains everything. And when its container breaks in our hands, for no apparent reason or perhaps we are holding it too tightly, perhaps we are not paying attention— who knows but it breaks, the paradoxes of love and life spill over us, we get burned AND we are held tightly in that wounding AND we heal.  In the dream I feel surprise that the burns Jack has experienced have already begun to scab over. Jack surrenders completely to being washed and held. He is my model and guide.  I feel overwhelmed and only able to attend to the burns and the washing.  I feel that no matter what else has happened this is my task.  The soap powder is mysteriously already on the rag.  The water spills over and over in the dream soaking everything running everywhere.  Life’s essence the souls essence is uncontainable; it is what cleans us washes us heals us.

The man who is whipped because of a personal failure is ordered to whip his own men and while he is carrying out his orders he feels his own wounds smarting, glistening in the heat and sweat. He does not protest, but he feels this pain in his own awareness and the pain has made him conscious; through his pain he is learning about his own humanity, his failings and his anguish. A thoroughly human being and a true warrior.

 

 

 

Crack the Code of Your Dreams

Crack the Code of Your Dreams – Taking Notes That Will Reveal the Heart of Your Dream“The basic function of dreams is to express the unconscious.”

—ROBERT A. JOHNSON

So you receive your dream, you have written it down as you experienced it without interpreting it. You have noted your feelings in your dream—

  • About the place you are in
  • Your feeling response to other dream characters,
  • To a situation,
  • To yourself.

Feelings like agitation, pride, peace, annoyance, anger, judgmentalism, hesitation, surprise, distrust, delight, innocence, court room mentality, wrong/right thinking, blame, sadness, grief, humility, despair, Love, righteousness, worthlessness, calm, controlling, humorous, playful, confused, trusting, arrogance…As much as possible be able to say exactly what you felt as you go along.

Part of us lives in our conscious mind, and our complementary quality lives hidden in the unconscious…They may appear to be enemies– yet they are in reality in the process of making a synthesis." —ROBERT A. JOHNSON

things of value
things of value

The dream is made up of male characters and female characters and some characters that seem to go back and forth in their sex.

If you look at your dream characters as each being an aspect of yourself, you will see these relative characteristics playing out in the shadows or openly, in your life.

We all carry these characteristics. It is important to mention here that shadow does not mean anything negative. A shadow character is simply a part of us that has been pushed underground and in doing so can make mischief in our everyday life, not because it is bad but because it is not acknowledged. Most of these shadow lives contain a huge amount of potential that our lives need to fully manifest their purpose. It is often wounds or childhood circumstances that drive aspects of ourselves underground. An early misconception formed that we have taken on.

Our dreams are comprised of many aspects:

  • Males tend to portray the thinking analytical rational deciding mind
  • Females tend to portray emotions and understanding, a feeling logic, a sensing of the whole.
  • There are often certain figures in our dreams who stand out and feel very whole and full of guidance-these are our soul guides coming forward to offer guidance and counsel. Jung referred to these as the anima and
  • Symbols will appear like a circle or a mandala or a square, an animal
  • Numbers will appear in dreams and these also have significance. As well as the ages or the number of years ago you were in the place in the dream. These are the clues left in the landscape to uncover that will begin to put together the picture of the dream.

ASSOCIATIONS provide the foundation for understanding a dream. Associations spring out of our unconscious in response to dream images.

Take each scene and notice the place they have occurred and any associations you might have with that place. For example: a town you grew up in, an old house, something from the past, or a new place, someplace you have never been before. If it is in an old house that you formerly occupied the dream maybe coming for you to recover something or show you something that is still operating from that time or a new appreciation for something difficult from the past. Writing down your associations with the houses and cities you are in can further embellish your knowledge of your feeling state and let you see what you might be still carrying from the past. Perhaps it is a mythical kind of place or barely descriptive at all. But you still will have feelings about where you are and these will fill out your associations. Take nothing for granted.

Archetypal dreams often take you to ancient or extraordinary places—bigger or smaller than life…talking animals, royalty, heroic figures…You can research the source of these figures and symbols that come—the Internet is a great research tool for this, rather than a dream dictionary that will give you one set meaning.

In the same way notice the people, are they familiar to you, are they couples, what are they like? Do not censor how you feel about them, write down what their characters evoke. EVEN IF IT IS EMBARRASSING.

Don’t daisy chain your associations by turning your associations into a story and don’t allow your associations to take you away from the dream itself because not all associations will be true in their importance to the dream. Keep them as distinct entities in themselves. Just write them down in a list. You are looking for one that comes that will ‘click’ the dream more into place. One that carries energy in it.

Allow the images that may have presented themselves in the dream to fully drop in. Is it an animal or a symbol? What does it bring up in you, is it a part of your waking life in any way or have you seen it before, do you have any history with the image… Begin to make associative meanings to the images. Again the Internet can be a great resource for this. For example you could receive the image of a circle or a rock or a bee or a shape.

I once had a dream image that came that was simply a large boulder that was sitting on the trunk of my car. When I looked at it what came immediately to me was that I was carrying something large and heavy from the past that I couldn’t see directly in front of me. This dream image led to a big revelation in my life.

In this way write down any associations you might have to the image, or anything it reminds you of and again how it makes you feel. Do not go to the dream dictionary that says that such and such means this or that. This will dilute the power of the image that often carries much of the meaning of the dream like an acorn carrying the totality of the tree within it.

In the end when you read your list of associations you will find the one that brings a little surge of energy with it-that is often the one that ‘clicks’. When I am working with people they often say, I don’t know why I am thinking of this now, but I remember such and such event…”

After you have looked at the initial scenes and their locations, you are ready to look at the DYNAMICS.

In working with the dynamics of a dream you make a connection between what is happening inside of you in real time– your inner dynamics – with what is happening and playing out in the dream story. Ask yourself the question—if I translated the actions of the dream into my inner world, does any aspect of this feel familiar? For example – if two people in your dream are having an argument, is there an argument going on inside of you, by way of a conflict you have within your self, something you have not been able to resolve? These are examples of the inner workings or process of becoming a whole person. The dreams present the stages along the way, adventures or obstacles, beliefs, surprises, key people or qualities that you value or dislike. Dreams describe our inner world, which internally deliver our outer experiences, via relationships, jobs, careers, etc.

And it is on the inner level that you can change things. Often the most life- altering thing that can happen in your life is for you to recognize and name a dynamic you have been living. This naming is the turn-around event.

Robert Johnson writes that the single most important thing to realize is that all of our dream characters represent an aspect or something going on within us. And that dreams about ‘others’ are not excuses for blaming other persons or making proof as a case against them.

In noting the dynamics of your dream, ask yourself the question what you have in common with the other dream characters or how you are different. Ask your self what the dream characters have in common with one another that are unlike you. Try to use neutral language in describing these characteristics. Even if you have to initially pretend, find the virtues these folks employ. For example, if the character in your dream seems very boastful to you, find a positive value in him—for instance that that he is not afraid of saying who he is or what he is good at. In this way you can begin to see what may be underground in your own life. We often make people into the bad guy because they are bringing out a way we feel secretly ashamed of in ourselves. So we develop a little moral arrogance to hide it and create distance from it.

When there are exaggerated positions or arguments in the dreams look at the beliefs and attitudes and values you hold that are being contradicted or threatened in the dream.

When a surprise shows up in a dream it is usually an indication of a limited belief we are holding. For example one of the most common surprises is when someone shows generosity or love in a dream situation that our own character might not expect – the whole matrix of always expecting the worst… that is a world many people live in to shield themselves from disappointment that they have experienced somewhere along the way that was crushing.

In some of our dreams we are simply a witnessing presence watching the dream play out in front of us like watching a drama. In these dreams you will see all sides of your character and how it is alive in your life.

In some of our dreams we discover things that disturb us down to our core. For this reason I think it is valuable to be able to work with someone whom you trust to explore these kinds of dreams. Often dreams bring up subjects that we cannot easily share with our family and friends. It is for these dreams I strongly recommend working with someone skilled in this arena. Not because they are dangerous but because they can uncover strong emotions or things we did not know, or things we may not be able to find a perspective on that will be healing That is when the steadying light and presence of someone devoted to your healing will make the difference. And healing is the point of our dreams.

INTERPRETATION

At this point we are looking for the central most important message of the dream—why it came to you.

  • What is the dream advising you to do or to embody?
  • How would my life change if I embraced it?
  • Write it down.
  • Feel the energy of it.

Evaluate your interpretations by:

  • Choosing the dream that shows you something you did not know
  • Avoid the interpretations that inflate your ego or are self-congratulatory
  • Avoid interpretations that shift responsibility away from you
  • Learn to live with your dreams—over a long time—let them evolve with you—you can only know what you know right now. But along the road you may find things about your dream you were unable to know when you had it, thus they evolve with you.

RITUALS OR HOMEWORK

For most people it is important to physically take an action that will anchor the message of the dream into everyday waking life by creating an act to consciously honor their dream.

This is an arena that indigenous cultures have employed carefully and consistently and we of the super-mind culture have often pooh-poohed as unnecessary. But it is done because it works. It acknowledges the message you have received with a sense of reverence. It says by your action that you have received the guidance and wish to act on it. In some primitive cultures they will take the message or medicine of the dream with the help of their shaman and they will ‘drive’ it into a rock or a physical object from nature. Then this object will become a piece on their altar or a place in the garden where they can look upon it, and remember it. An object becomes a thing of power by the energy we empower it with to help us make the change we wish to bring into being.

Perhaps it is as aspect of our selves we would like to let go of. We can use an object we find to hold that aspect and then cast it into the sea where we ask nature to take it where it needs to go. This can be a very powerful experience. Because it empowers us to change and not feel like we are permanent victims of life experiences. And because it takes us out of our heads where we mostly live in our modern culture and where we have become so unfortunately lost.

I heard of a man who worked with his dream by writing a letter to a part of him that was revealed in a dream. He posted it and mailed it and upon receiving it was able to take full responsibility for a part in his life and an issue that his dream had unfolded.

It can be as simple as a very intention-filled walk in nature, a phone call you have been meaning to make, a connection you have been putting off.

As with all things use your common sense. Let it be a creative act and allow yourself to be available to what will come as a result of it.

Stay tuned...more on dreams is coming!

Dream inquiry: Developing Your Dream Question

I have heard it said that more important than knowing what the answer is to an issue is knowing what the question is.This is the place from which to begin any dream inquiry.

Dreams can be engaged in and played with to invite an on-going dialogue with the inner self to address significant themes in your life and come to a deeper understanding of specific issues.

There are 3 pieces to formulating a good dream inquiry question:

  • Develop a question that will shine a light on what your issue is.
  • And in the same request ask what is the medicine for resolving this obstacle in your life?
  • Be resolute in wanting to know the answer.

For example you could ask,  "What is the primary stumbling block to establishing financial flow in my life AND what is the medicine to resolving that issue?” (Without asking for the medicine you might dream all night of the ways in which you are stumbling but without any resolution offered!)

Or by way of another example

“What core belief or beliefs do I hold that keep me from experiencing joy in my life and what is the medicine for releasing them?”

Now it is not always necessary to know all the things we need to ask. I know someone who simply says each night to her higher self, “You know what I need to know, so please send it”.

i stood to face her

i stood to face her

But sometimes there are specific questions regarding life events. In all situations it is best to stay away from how questions. Our highest self does not like to tell us what to do.

However we can ask something like-

“What do I need to know about such and such issue…?”

Or, “What am I blind to in this situation and what is the medicine for seeing it clearly? “

In this way we can receive all the nuances of information we might need to come to an understanding of its turn-around. We can ask for resolution to the same issue over the course of a week or a month or a year.

If, for example you are trying to find healing for an illness to complement the guidance you are receiving from your doctor, you will need to adopt an unwavering and diligent approach— do not give up if your inquiry takes you longer than you would like. Keep at it.

Or perhaps you are applying for a new job and you are unsure if this is a good fit for you. Or perhaps you are going into a new situation- a public talk or a new city and you want to know if there is anything you need to be aware of before you go.

A few years ago I was asked to come to Minneapolis by a client to give a public talk on the nature of healing, where afterwards I would be doing hands-on healing work with folks. This was my first public talk in a brand new city with folks I did not know. So I asked in a dream question, to show me anything that I was blind to in this situation and the medicine to navigate through it. I received a dreams, it came a few weeks before the trip.

In the dream I am meeting a group of people on a bridge. I was coming from one direction and they were coming from another. I was riding a very big bike, bigger than what I was used to. It was difficult to pedal because the bridge curved upward in the center. When I got to the crest of the hill of the bridge and I met the people I turned around and they followed me down in the direction they were heading. As soon as I turned, the pedaling eased and the ride smoothed out. I noticed leaving the bridge there were folks in boats in the water underneath the bridge following the current of the river. They were laughing and really enjoying themselves. Because they were in the flow of the river current they were not having to effort at all so they could relax and enjoy the ride, directing the boat in a luxurious fashion. End of dream.

 The dream showed that I was in a new role – riding a bigger bike than I was used to and I was preparing myself by working hard on the talk and getting hung up in the details of making the talk happen in my head ahead of time – the uphill pedaling experience. But when I got to the middle of the bridge and met the people where they were coming from,  and I turned my bike around on the crest of the hill – the place of the most efforting – they followed me and it was downhill from there. Seeing the people under the bridge in the water was a reminder that being in one's essence and delight would provide the momentum for movement and everything could flow from that. When we are in alignment with our higher self, life is easier and more relaxing. Then steering happens out of the relaxed state instead of the tight controlled state.

In fact the public talk went like that. The night before I gave the talk I woke up in the middle of the night laughing. I was laughing because there was some epiphany forming in my heart and I saw that everything in life was about healing…there was virtually nothing that was not designed from the beginning to bring you into wholeness. And that it was from that point of view I could inspire folks to relate. The next evening at the talk this epiphany and its laughter was still bubbling. Once I met the people where they were, I put my notes aside and the talk flowed out from the ethers. There was a lot of joy in the room, folks felt comfortable and when it was over I had prepared the week for the work I would do, by weaving into it the freedom of this innocence.

I have found that the most effective way to enhance the effectiveness of our dream inquiry is by the sincere resolve to work with the dream material that comes to us. And if what comes is not clear to give thanks and ask for clarification.

There are other reasons to engage in dream inquiry or make a request to the dream realm—

fire rock_
fire rock_

Sometimes we are stuck. Stuck in a dark place, or stuck in feeling badly about ourselves or stuck in our habits that keep us cycling through the same material over and over so we begin to feel as if our inner work is not progressing and our lives are standing still. We are looking for the light of day and our own minds are too bogged down to allow it to come through. Basically we need to bring about a change of heart, be lifted into a higher vibration, feel again a sense of promise and joy. I have always found the dream realm’s response to this state is profound and beyond any expectation, when we ask, because too often it is then we are in a real state of humility. In response sometimes you receive a dream that is pure medicine that contradicts every possible harshness you might experience in your life.

Here is one dream that came in response to such a time in my own life:

I dream I am standing outside of my window on the ground in my nightclothes watching a group of Beings coming toward me on horseback. As they get closer I see that they are Angels, royal in their bearing and they are full of light. They are dressed in the finest raiment of pure gold, sitting very tall on their horses, carrying banners. And there are clusters of stars hovering above them as they ride. I know they have come for me and I am ecstatic. Every worry or small way I have ever seen my life goes completely out the window. I am in the trance of anticipation of their company, and what they are bringing. When I wake up I am in wonder and complete awe.

Awe is a very transformative state to live in. Its very vibration makes everything ordinary in life shine with a different light. Just being in the experience of awe has a completely healing effect on the system. This dream had an archetypal quality to it because it brought beings of another realm, a celestial realm to visit me. When I woke the feeling from what I had witnessed and been visited by had changed me.

(I included the experience of this transformation in a poem I wrote later called: I Was a Soldier. It is recorded on my website in the Poetry section.)

Another dream came when I felt inundated by my own conditioned responses to everything, and weary.

In the dream I was a witness, not a participant in the dream, to groups of people interacting. Everyone in the dream was acting from their own truth and creativity as a human being. No one was acting out of guilt or pretense or image making or obligation. There were feelings and emotions in the dream but no discordant drama. In effect it was watching people live their lives in a state of freedom and true kindness toward one another and the harmony that would grow out of that amazing possibility.

The dream needed no interpretation – I received the understanding of what I was working towards and that all of my effort, no matter how long it took, was worth it.

Coming next will be a section on How to take notes from a dream, the key questions to ask yourself in working with the dream material and ways to anchor the message in your life.

Please feel free during this series on dreams to write in with your questions and send in a dream if you are struggling with something and if you think a dream you have had is pointing to something you can’t get a handle on. If the dream is  resonant with what is being offered I am happy to anonymously work with it in this series.