Monday, May 9, 2011

Attack Cat: A Nightmare Dreamgate

Rocking my 60's has been off to a slow start because I've had to deal with unaccustomed bouts of blues. Having grown up with a mom, goddess bless her in every way, who was subject to these late life blues, it's "My Mother/Myself" all over again. Remember Nancy Friday's brilliant book by that title published in 1977?

I've been listening to Pema Chodron's talk, "True Happiness", which does help; she's a wonderful Buddhist teacher. I'm not a Buddhist, though; I'm a dreamer. Sure enough, last night my dreams gave me the key I needed to unlock my missing inner resources. I'm so grateful for the beauty and the wisdom in my dreams. Here's how it happened.

Last night I had a nightmare. I went to bed early, tired out from weekend responsibilities and so happy to snuggle into bed. I woke up around 1:30AM from a dream I titled, ATTACKED.

I’m not ready to share it in its entirety, just that it involved an axe murderer and an attack cat. If you find this funny, so did my husband this morning when I shared the dream, and so do I now. But it wasn’t funny at 1:30AM.

If there’s one thing I've learned over the years, it's that your garden variety (non-PTS) nightmare is your best friend. My first rule is to write down the dream before I start searching around for it’s meaning. I padded off to the bathroom, because, of course, at this time of night I also had to pee. Taking my journal and pen with me, I put on the light and sat down, opened my journal to May and entered the dream with today's date. Doing this was important because, until I began to write the dream as a detailed report of my experience this night, I had forgotten a significant part. I remembered the attack cat, but had forgotten about the axe murderer.

Although in my dream I’d escaped the one and bagged the other one with the help of my entire neighborhood, when I woke up as we were about to drown the cat, I felt unnerved and dismayed. With my beloved cat sleeping next to me, it felt awful that a cat would actually attack me or that I would have to kill one in a dream.

The feeling you wake with is very important. From this two part dream drama, I woke with the icky feelings I mentioned heightened by a slightly agitated state closer to the terror and alarm a Big Nightmare can give you. Remembering the first part of the dream as I wrote it down certainly explained my feelings.

I knew there was only one thing to do. Brave up, as Robert Moss puts it, and face the terror, with an ally, if I need one. Dream Re-entry is one of the brilliant tools of Active Dreaming. Based on shamanic journeying practices from many indigenous and ancient cultures, it’s a practice of going back into the dreamscape of a dream and dreaming it forward.

Returning to bed, even though I knew this was what I had to do, I wasn’t enthused about doing it because it felt like something I didn’t want to know, an illness maybe? But I trust my dreams to give it to me straight, but with hope, so I did brave up and I did go in. Keeping my neighbors with me, I confronted the cat with the classic Senoi dream practice questions: “Who are you?” and “What do you want?”

It never fails to amaze me how my dream re-entries can completely surprise me. When the cat answered I called on more protection; from what the cat said, I knew it wasn’t earthbound protectors I needed. Again, I was amazed at who showed up; their presence helped me feel completely safe. I finished my conversation with the cat, who was the axe murderer, and realized this dream holds the key to my personal puzzle about my blues. Hallelujah!

I've found that the best time to re-enter a dream is right away, with the energy of it still pulsing in my heart and head, (although, I can and do re-enter old dreams regularly with great results). I don’t go back to sleep to do this; I’m wide awake, but relaxed and ready to launch back into the dream scene with the props or protectors I need to feel safe. All it takes is a willing suspension of disbelief, same as when watching a movie. Jump in and daydream it forward, the less you let your judgmental mind interfere, the greater the rewards when you finish. I then record my dream journey on the following page of my journal, indicating it's a re-entry, the sequel, to my dream.

I’m writing this post to honor the power of my dreams and the value of their spiritual, emotional, and physical gifts to me. I'm forever indebted to my friends, guides, teachers and experiences in the dream time because now I know what I have to do to be wholly myself, and also my mother’s daughter.

What I want to share with you most is the certainty that your own dream path has the same healing, helping potential for you that mine has for me. Dreaming is as ancient and universal as we are; it's an intricate part of our existence that we’ve shared from the beginning of time and beyond, as we dream our future, personally and as a world community.

I’m also grateful to Robert Moss for developing and teaching this simple, powerful approach to playing with our dreams.

I photographed to share with you an old leather banner that now hangs, out of sight, in my shed, but many years ago, hung near our back door. I was relieved it wasn’t my cat that attacked me in my dream, but a big scruffy tabby. While telling Jim my dream, I realized the "Attack Cat" looks a lot like our old “Protector Cat." I love the humor and irony of dreams.

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