Saturday, December 28, 2013

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

What Do Dreams Mean?

Last night, I was looking through past journals for dreams featuring a particular character, a dream practice I really enjoy.  To make this kind of search easier, I've created monthly title pages for the front of each month’s entries in any particular year.  I’ve posted before about how I like to use three ring notebooks with dividers sectioning each month to create my journals because it allows for additional material to go in at any time, making it easy for me to add to past entries. So in front of every month's entry is a page titled, for example, January 2012 and then a list of dream titles and dates, like: 1-21 "My Pet Gorilla." As I go through older journals, If I get to a title and don’t remember the dream, I turn to that page and scan the dream narrative for recognition. Sometimes, a dream I don't remember pops out with the force and energy of a present dream; it's just the dream I need at the moment.

So it was that last night, I read a dream I hadn't remembered dreaming. I read my notes on the dream and the synchronicities that surrounded it that I'd recorded and realized I've grown with the help of this dream; this dream opened a door to greater awareness for me.  I don’t feel that way anymore, those things don’t weigh me down any longer, and it’s because of playing with and honoring the dream that I arrived at this new juncture on the road to inner peace. 

A dream dialogue is a life long safety net; it’s access to my own higher consciousness, to my guides and friends in dream dimensions.

Granted there’s the occasional bogey-person in the wardrobe. I’ve had many dreams that, as I like to say, have scared the pajamas off me.  I recently came across an account of a dream re-entry I recorded about two dreams I apparently didn't write down because I didn't like them.  I titled the re-entry journey, "Two Really Bad Guys." Reading the entry, I recalled the way I’d honored and practiced with the dreams, but I very much regret that I didn’t write the dream narratives down.  I’ve seldom experienced a nightmare that didn’t open an important door to self-exploration and understanding, so here are two opportunities I chickened out of preserving.  

I make a major exception to how I'd approach nightmares when it comes to Post Traumatic Stress dreams that are, to me, the psyche screaming with the pain of images seared on its visual screen by waking world nightmare experiences.  I believe PTSD dreams can be faced and used for healing with the gentlest, wisest of help.  It's different, however, when I'm facing a non-post traumatic stress nightmare which challenges me to brave up, go back in with whatever allies I need and find out what it's about.  Two really bad guys can turn out to be important messengers, guides or even transform into guardian angels when confronted and understood.

A dreamers understanding of personal dreams increases as the relationship to dreams deepens. Meaning evolves out of familiarity and respect, as in any relationship. Journaling dreams helps you follow your own path to your own center.  It’s like being in love, once you discover that relationship to your dreaming self, it’s not a task to write down the messages and experiences of that dimension.

There are two things I hear a lot from people who find dreaming a puzzlement: "I had this weird dream." and "What does it mean?"  The first one’s not so bad; the second leaves me  looking like a deer in the headlights back at the person.

Weird when applied to dreams is a relative term.  Of course, it’s weird; all waking reality rules are suspended. You’re in a dimension where you can fly like a bird and keep yourself safe by using your imagination to help create a good outcome.  If you judge the dream world by waking world standards, then it all seems weird and nonsensical.  Learn the language and the culture of dream realities and you change your experience of dreaming; just as knowing about the people, the language and the culture of foreign countries improves your chances of having a great experience visiting there.

But, “What does it mean?” 

Only the dreamer knows the meaning of the dream; I’d like to hear that question changed to “If this was your dream, what thoughts and insights would come to your mind?”  Then I’d know that the dreamer realizes I have no “answers” for them, I’ve just been invited to participate in the magic of the dream as a fellow dreamer.

I know people don’t mean to abdicate their power when they ask the “what does it mean” question. I know that many people in our culture haven’t yet developed a relationship to their own inner experience through dreaming, so I do understand it’s a normal question, but I don’t usually understand my own dreams immediately.  Meaning is an evolution, it unfolds over time between the dreamer and the dream; it takes pondering.

Keeping dream journals helps me map my way in life. Often when I review my dreams, my conscious mind catches up with my unconscious, or my dumber self catches up with my smarter one. I ponder dreams and let their message emerge as I live my waking life with my dream in mind.  This was Carl Jung's approach to a dreaming practice; he believed that if you pondered a dream, lived with it for a while, almost always, something will come of it. 

When someone says, “I know what that dream is about”, I might suggest that dreams seldom just present what we already know.  There’s a wonderful element of irony, the trickster and the unexpected in dream messages, so even if I get an obvious message, I’m always open for the surprise message it might also convey, once I've reflected on it for a while.

Dreamplay is a doorway to the Self; ancient and modern indigenous cultures have always recognized this and created dreaming practices for making those nightly journeys.  It’s time we in the West reach the hundredth monkey stage with dreaming.  Claiming our individual human psychic independence through the practice of dreaming would create a sea change for collective humanity, one dreamer at a time. 

Robert Moss, author and creator of Active Dreaming, has proposed to the ever growing number of Active Dreamers he has trained around the world that we honor our work by celebrating The World Day of Active Dreaming on May 10th, 2014.  Each of us who practices Active Dreaming will organize some sharing event in our community to honor this day and the practice of dreaming.  

I'm in, so I'll be letting you know how this comes together when it does.