|Videographer, James Cookman
As I mentioned earlier, I was confirmed this past weekend in my belief that dreams are fascinating and that many people find them so
I see dreams as the zip line of the soul, how we’re connected to where we came from and where we’ll go after we shuffle off the proverbial mortal coil. Our culture as a whole ignores dreams, unless it’s in therapy or analysis, where dreams are usually surrendered meekly to the “experts” for interpretation. Many people feel that dreams “mean” something psychological, many fear dreams in a vague way. Either through religious association or Hollywood distortion, lots of people shut the door on the dreaming experience.
Since both dreaming and sex are a totally natural and ubiquitously human experience, I’m amazed at the number of people who remain inexperienced on purpose, like celibate dream virgins. But all kidding aside, my fire pit waking dream of last weekend just confirmed for me that people love the possibility of connecting to their dreaming and I'm happy to offer that to them as a dream teacher, especially because AD is such a “juicy” avenue for dream exploration.
Active Dreaming (AD) developed by Robert Moss frees dreaming from the constraints of a purely psychoanalytic perspective. Reaching back into the ancient past, blending indigenous wisdom with Western cultural ideas and weaving it all with the best of modern dreamwork, AD is a practice, not a theory.
Robert teaches how the ancient Egyptians viewed a dream as a place the spirit body visits, how the Egyptian word for dream actually means to awaken; in AD, a dream can be a place and the dream a memory of an experience in that place, like a postcard. Dream Re-entry, one of the main practices of AD, teaches the dreamer that a dream can be expanded and explored in a wide awake relaxed conscious state. I often write my re-entry adventures along side the dream that inspired them in my journal, they’re that good.
So when my new young friend this weekend tells me that she often dreams about the same intriguing spot, sometimes it’s pleasant, sometimes not, I see this “place” in her dreams for myself as a launch pad for consciously re-entering the dreamworld in a state of relaxed attention and continuing whatever dream adventure I choose in my imagination.
William Buhlman is a contemporary leader in the field of “Out of Body” or OBE experience. Although he's a master of OBE experience, many others, myself included, have experienced a conscious OBE at least once. For many like me, it creates an absolute certainty of the capacity of our consciousness to survive physical death and of the diversity and complexity of experience on other planes of existence that are "non-physical."
For me the practice of AD spans the entire spectrum of dreaming: sleep dreams of ordinary life minutia that might prove helpful in managing routine waking events; unexpected numinous dreams heralding life changing events or shining a beacon through the turmoil; lucid dreaming where I'm aware of my dream self dreaming and my ability to shape dream realities and OBEs, where I experience my consciousness outside of my body either in sleep or meditation and consciously explore the multiverse that I know to be as solid a reality as any other I live. These experiences have taught me to be the authority of my own life, now and after death, to determine my priorities accordingly and to fear death way less, rather, to use it as my ally instead.
In AD, the only authority of a person's dreams is that person, not me, regardless of how much I know about and love dreaming. Being my own spiritual authority is incredibly freeing. Someone who is trying to interpret another’s dreams is just projecting their own understanding, which is fine, as long as they own that projection by saying “if it were my dream” in preface and only using the personal pronoun when discussing thoughts on that other person's dream. It seems a simple guideline but I’ve seen how very powerful it is in practice.
For instance, regarding the dream my new friend told me which I mention above, I’d say, "if this is my dream" I’d call on my imagination to take me there someday when I have the leisure to daydream or some night when I can't sleep. I’d pay close attention to what I see, just as if I were looking around in a waking world wooded area. But here’s an important difference, if I felt unsafe at any point, I’d call in one or more allies to have my back and fearlessly continue with my exploration. Dream practice has taught me to use my imagination for my own good, which believe it or not, is a rare thing in our contemporary culture.
The negative scenarios and narratives that we entertain regularly in our inner dialogue are less than healthy for us. I’ve adopted the habit of stopping myself and asking, “Really? Is this the story I want to tell myself? How does it serve me?” Thanks to the wonderful work of Eckhart Tolle, more people are aware of how the ego, the “I” we speak of and usually identify with, creates unnecessary drama, pain and stress for us. Dreaming connects us with who we are beyond the ego, what Jung called the Self. Dreaming is organic spirituality for that very reason, there’s much more to us than meets the “I”.
A dream practice can be whatever an individual wants it to be, though keeping a journal and recording your dreams, frequently or infrequently, is key, as dreams are ephemeral. Think how looking through a photo album recalls life experiences and people for us. It’s the same with your dream journals, only more important because we’re dealing with experiences in the Unconscious, as Jung puts it, or according to Robert Moss, in the Multiverse. Waking reality experienced in a “conscious” state gets forgotten; experiences in the “Unconscious” are harder to recall if we don’t record them asap.
So, I invite you to allow dreaming more space in your life and perhaps double your life experience. Open your awareness to who you are dreaming, to what you do and what you learn. Step into your dream world with curiosity, focus and not a little awe. Begin with whatever dream comes to mind, old or new, write it down; dreams are timeless because time is only relevant in the physical. Give the dream a title as if were a story. Notice your feelings and champion your own cause; you are the ultimate creator of this story, so take charge. Nothing can harm you in the dreamworlds unless you let it harm you, and even then, you’ll bounce back if you try.
I always add a note about PTSD dreams which often repeat psychic wounding from physical trauma. A person who suffers from PTSD nightmares may need a healer with dream skills to help them transform their negative dream experiences. Nightmares, which are common to human experience, can be a stepping stone to personal growth when approached through a practice like Active Dreaming and other wonderful experiential paths of dreaming.
As Robert likes to say: “We were born to fly, and in dreams we discover that the soul has wings.”