by Diane Linsley
As a life coach, I encourage people to practice dreamwork as a way
to access the wisdom of the unconscious mind.
"Each of us faces an important choice. We can remain complacent,
hoping and praying that our beliefs are accurate, or we can make a
decision to explore and discover for ourselves.... Your decision to
explore will mold your future, your evolution, and your life beyond
all expectations. All of us possess the God-given ability to explore
and discover the answers for ourselves. The answers are never
hidden, but are patiently awaiting our recognition and discovery."
Dreamwork as a Spiritual Practice
William Buhlman is referring to OBE's (out-of-body experiences).
These are a type of lucid dream that is common among people
practice lucid dreaming for spiritual development. But a dream doesn't have to be lucid in order to be profoundly meaningful. Here are two examples of normal dreams that were significant for me.
A few years ago, I dreamed that I was back in the apartment where my ex-husband and I lived when we first got married. I had just finished stocking the pantry with 100 cans of Campbell's soup, which had been given to me at my wedding shower. I was looking at the neat rows of red-and-white labels, and I felt so nostalgic that I started crying. Then I thought, "Wait a minute. Canned food isn't good for me. I didn't know this back then, but I know it now." Then I woke up.
As I meditated on this dream, the phrase "canned beliefs" came into my mind. I realized that the beliefs I had when I was younger were canned beliefs. They were given to me by other people. They weren't fresh beliefs, homemade beliefs, or beliefs earned through personal experience. In contrast, the beliefs that I have now are fresh, living and growing - just like the fresh, organic food that I eat. This dream came at a time when I was trying to let go of many old beliefs that no longer served me.
A Precognitive Dream
A few weeks later, I had another intriguing dream. I dreamed that I was a photographer at a wedding where I was taking pictures of a 5-year-old girl. She was standing next to the wedding cake. I set up the scene in the way I wanted. But just as I raised the camera, the girl pulled a ridiculous face. I stopped and said, "No, that's not the right way. Let's try again." I straightened her out, and I raised the camera again. But before I could push the button, she changed her pose and started performing silly antics.
Over and over, I tried to make her pose correctly. Over and over, she kept surprising me with crazy stunts. At one point, she was wearing a hoodie. As she pulled the hood over her head, she said, "I am the Jedi!" I noticed that the girl was missing two front teeth, which made her look even sillier.
I must have tried a dozen times to make her pose, but she simply wouldn't cooperate. I was very patient, but there were 100 people in line at the wedding, and they were all watching me. What a lousy photographer I was! I couldn't even take pictures of a little girl. I woke up, twitching with frustration.
Whenever I awaken from a dream that has an emotional charge, I take a moment to identify the feeling and do a quick Voice Dialogue session. Voice Dialogue can be used to speak to emotions, characters or objects in the dream. This time, I asked to speak to the voice of Frustration.
The interpretation I came up with was that I had been trying to make the greater Reality fit into my own limited map of reality, and that's why I was frustrated.
Why do we get frustrated when we have new and unexpected experiences? We should be jumping up and down for joy! Why do we resist new ideas and new perspectives? We should be delighted at the prospect of broadening our maps of reality!
This sounds like a nice, spiritual interpretation, right? It wasn't until later that I really understoood the dream. Several weeks after I had the dream, my Inner Child emerged after many years of repression. Then I realized that the dream was precognitive.
In The Wisdom of Your Dreams, Jeremy Taylor says, "Our dreams appear 'confused' and 'pointless', in part at least, because they address possibilities of evolutionary growth and development that we are not yet sufficiently conscious of and sophisticated enough to recognize and appreciate.... We recognize in retrospect that our dreams were speaking about developments in our personal lives that we were not yet consciously aware of at the time." Through dreamwork, I have learned to trust my unconscious mind, even if I don't always get the message right the first time around. The unconscious mind is an infinite source of creativity and inspiration. As Bill Harris says, "If you can't trust your own unconscious mind, whose can you trust?"
Most great thinkers are also great dreamers. Albert Einsten and Thomas Edison shared their methods for gathering information from the unconscious mind. They developed techniques for getting into the state of "body asleep, mind awake." In the lucid dreaming state, you can ask questions of the unconscious mind and get answers. Sometimes, the answers come as words or symbols. But more often they come as the complex, lifelike metaphors that we call dreams.
A picture is worth a thousand words. A single dream can contain enough meaning to make it a source of lifelong inspiration. I've had several such "big dreams" that literally changed the course of my life.
Einstein said, "I want to know the mind of God; everything else is just details." He also said, "Imagination is more important than knowledge," and "What makes the true worth of a human being is his capacity to have freed himself from his little sense of ego."
Dreams take us beyond the limited, waking ego. That's why dreamwork is such a valuable tool for developing consciousness. The main problem, of course, is remembering dreams - especially dreams that the ego doesn't want to accept.
One thing I've learned from my OBE adventures is how hard it is to download non-physical memories into the physical brain. You can have a really amazing OBE, but as soon as you return to your body, 90% of the details are lost in the downloading process. Coming back into the body is like going through a thick wall of mud. Some people call it "the veil". It essentially wipes out most of your memories. All that's left are a few images and words. If you don't write them down immediately upon awakening, even these small bits of information are lost.
That's why it is important to write down dreams when you first wake up, even if they seem trivial or obscure. Keep a notebook next to your bed, and write down anything you remember in the morning. This will give your unconscious mind the message that you are open to receiving whatever it has to offer. Do this, and watch your dream life take off!
Any dream that has an emotional component, such as a nightmare, is important. The emotion is there to shock you into remembering. The brain uses emotions as tags for memories. The more emotion there is, the more memorable the experience will be. That's why the unconscious mind attaches emotion to significant dreams. Over time, as you practice recalling dreams, you may stop having nightmares because you don't need strong emotional tags to remember your dreams.
Overcoming Blocks in Dreamwork
The ego and its limiting beliefs can interfere with dream recall and interpretation. This is why meditation and other ego-loosening practices lead to a richer dream life.
In a memorable OBE, I was trying to fly to another dimension, and I heard a voice in my head say, "You have to drop your baggage." I looked down and saw that I was holding a large carpet bag. It was full of limiting beliefs that were holding me back and creating fear. I wasn't ready to let go of the beliefs at that time, so I wasn't able to reach my destination. I sank back to earth, where a bunch of creepy zombies were waiting for me. They leered at me and grabbed my ankles, pulling me down.
Realizing that I had failed the test, and not wanting to be attacked by the zombies, I said, "Take me back to my body!" This is a good trick for beginning OBE-ers. Lucid dreaming is challenging because it brings up a lot of shadow material as you face the stuff in your unconscious mind with awareness. After several months of OBE practice, I stopped using this phrase because I developed the ability to stay with the OBE until it naturally ended - no matter what happened.
After this experience, I worked on overcoming my limiting beliefs by reciting postive affirmations every night as I was going to sleep. I read some good books about lucid dreaming and OBE-ing. And I made a commitment to trust my unconscious mind and open myself to new possibilities.
One of my favorite practices is asking my unconscious mind a question before I go to sleep. I trust that it will speak to me in my dreams, and there will be an answer waiting for me when I awaken. Edgar Cayce said, "All dreams are given for the benefit of the individual, would he but interpret them correctly."
Don't limit yourself to canned beliefs. You have the right to have your own experiences because this is your personal journey. Trust in the goodness of God, the Universe, or whatever you want to call it. All experiences are given for our growth and development - for the evolution of consciousness - both on the personal and collective levels.
One of my favorite teachers who uses dreamwork as a spiritual practice is Hal Stone. Here's an article describing some of Hal's dreams and his interpretation of them. Meditating before going to sleep has been shown to increase the chances of having a lucid dream. Here's a guided mindfulness meditation.
Lucid Dream and OBE Resources
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