I don't mean to diss science and research; for those who wish to take that left brain path, fine. It's always fascinating to keep up with theories and studies and scientific findings. But when it comes to falling and being in love, I'll take the experience over the explanation. The same is true for dreams and dreaming; nothing you can know about dreaming beats what you can do through dreaming portals. Dreaming is a part of our existence. If each of us is individual consciousness in a physical body, my guess is that dreaming is meant to be our bridge, our life-line, our connection to Home. Through dreaming we remember important aspects of who we are that help us live our waking life well.
I'd like to share a wonderful NPR podcast relating to dreaming, a segment produced by Abby Wendel. A young woman, Tanya Marquadt, shares her dream encounters with a little girl she knows to be herself, but full of joy and free of the pain of so much childhood trauma. They consulted Dr. Deirdre Barrett, a dream researcher at Harvard Medical School who suggests using dream incubation to invite a re-union with Tanya's little dream girl she calls X. As Robert Moss often says, help is always available (in dreams) if we ask. We only need to focus on what we want to know, on what we feel we need, then articulate our dream request simply. Tanya decided on "I'm ready for your message." and repeated it over to herself as she drifted to sleep.
She dreamed a wonderful encounter with X that went further in connecting her to this bright shadow dream character. I loved hearing her story and how her dreaming is helping her heal in her waking life. Still, I was wishing I could share Active Dreaming's dream re-entry practice with Tanya. Abby commented on how quickly the feeling of being unconditionally loved that had been part of the dream experience, faded for Tanya in the waking.
An Active Dreaming practice is to consider the dream narrative as if it were my own, without projecting any of my thoughts as interpretations for the dreamer. So, in my dream of Tanya's dream experience, I would know that this is an important dream that has much to teach me. To re-enter the dream, I can lay back anytime I wish and, while wide awake, allow my imagination to explore any part in the dream I choose to enter again. Do I want to continue dancing? Shall I go back to that beautiful lake and sit with X some more? Shall I put on the shoes and jacket and open the door to adventures, perhaps X comes, too? Shall I go to the place where I felt that powerful love and let it wash over me again? My dream is a portal to a location I can envision and to which I can return. And this is a journey I can repeat, again and again, exploring further, understanding more to help my waking self.
Is this self delusional? When what we call "waking reality" in our contemporary world seems so deluded, perhaps there's something to be had from understanding our individual and collective humanity a little better, using a different approach. If I am a spiritual being, a spiritual approach matters.
Lately I've been listening to several podcasts on dreams and dreaming that propose to answer scientifically what dreams mean, what purpose they have in the survival of our illustrious human race. This theory, that theory, all fascinating, but how do I use it? I don't want to know about love in my head, I want it in my heart. I don't care what the latest science-babble is on dreaming; I want to just do it, learning all about it from my very own source.
Active Dreaming isn't a theory; it's a set of practices.You can believe anything you want about dreams, even that they're meaningless, and still use the tools of AD to your own benefit, perhaps even to the benefit of those around you.
The NPR podcast reported on one or two dreaming theories; one, whose source isn't named, posits that dreams replay trauma and the brain desensitizes the dreamer so it hurts less in waking. Dreams are certainly powerful engines of healing, but I'm not sure this is what is happening in recurring PTDS dreams. I don't see the need to have a "theory of everything." I see this as left-brain thinking that's been elevated in patriarchal cultures to the status of "rational" and "right". Reducing the machine to its parts might be fine for motorcycles, but human beings have shown themselves to be more than brains and bits of organs.
A popular dream question is "What does it mean?" That might be the wrong question to ask. I prefer; Where was I? What was I doing? Who was I with? Dreaming is a natural resource; Active Dreaming is a dream practice that helps anyone willing to use a more Right brain approach to satisfy their curiosity about dreams. I've played AD games with kindergarten, primary and high school students, with adults of all ages; this approach never fails to produce results, so many aha moments connecting people to their own dream source. Learning to dream strong is a path in the spiritual revolution happening today.
Dreams help us keep, literally, an open mind. We can be as rational as we want in waking life, dreaming existence isn't like that. The rabbit (w)hole of the dream worlds is safe to explore when we take stock of both sides of our conscious existence, in the physical and in the spiritual. Through dreaming, we have access to a spiritual lifeline, but we have to adjust our mental paradigms and relate to the language and culture of the dream world before we can truly benefit from observing our dreams. Just like there's no theoretical way to know love, dreaming can only be known by dreaming.
What we experience in the dream worlds can be every bit as beneficial to our existence on this physical plane as what we experience in the waking life. I love Active Dreaming because it focuses on direct experience of the dream world. It honors the dreamer as the ultimate authority on her or his dream and it offers ancient practices mixed up respectfully with modern techniques to provide a toy chest of tools for dream exploration. It's more like being in love with dreaming than studying it.