Planting the Seeds of Dreaming

"Explanations always call for deep thought. But when you actually dream, be as light as a feather. Dreaming has to be performed with integrity and seriousness, but in the midst of laughter and with the confidence of someone who doesn’t have a worry in the world. Only under these conditions can our dreams actually be turned in to dreaming."

Don Juan in Carlos Castaneda’s The Art of Dreaming

When we meditate, we seek to release the mind from the churning of mundane thought. We let go of thoughts of what we have done, what we must do, or what has been done to us. We seek to settle into a state of peaceful awareness unencumbered by intellectual thought. Thoughts rise and fall, but we don’t follow them or strive to connect them. The mind becomes still and calm, like the smooth surface of a lake, undisturbed by desires and aversions. The meditative mind is better able to see things as they are.

Dreaming too, is a mental state where we experience life at a level closer to our psychic core. Dreams unfold in a world set off from the busy actions of our daily routine. We may dream about our schedules and commitments, but these things exist outside the world of dreams. In the dream land there is no need to accomplish a particular goal. We have no schedule to do this or that in dreaming. Time and schedules are, like the rest of the dreamscape, illusion.

Dreaming places us in a world without the limits of time and space. Without these limits our mind is free to play with the structures of reality and create new thought forms, to bring solutions to problems, to heal emotional wounds. Our dreaming mind wants to be helpful to us. It can help us gain greater understanding of our lives. It can be the source of creative ideas. It can be a channel toward deeper spiritual understanding. Yet most of us ignore our dream life or observe it with mild amusement. We are like the ancients who amused themselves with the wheel as a toy, but failed to imagine its potential as a tool.

The field of our dreams need not lie fallow. Through awareness and intention we can plant the seeds of dreaming. We can cultivate our dream life to gain insight and guidance.

Some suggestions for enhancing your dream value:

Meditate before going to bed. Prepare your mind for peaceful sleep by consciously releasing the cares of the day.

Keep a notepad by your bed. When you awaken from a dream, write it down before going back to sleep. Review the dream in the morning. Look for the meaning of the events and symbols. Relive the dream as if it were happening again now. For instance, say to yourself, "I am standing on a busy street wearing lederhosen. I am carrying a tuba . . ." What could this mean? What are your associations with German leather pants, large wind instruments, being exposed, being embarrassed? Where is the street? Is it some place you know? Does it have some association with your life? Write down your impressions and come back to them later. Be patient with yourself. Have fun with the process.

To become more aware of your dreams, state your intention for that to occur. Before you sleep, tell yourself that you will dream, and that you will remember the dreams. If you want to have a particular kind of dream, tell yourself that. You might say, "Tonight I will have a very restful sleep. I will dream and I will remember the dream. This dream will help me to understand what I should do about my job." Select whatever issue or problem concerns you. Try to be specific about the issue.

When you review a dream, be cautious in your interpretation. If the dream is that you have quit your job, don’t just quit your job that day. Be open to the idea that dreams are symbolic and open to various interpretations. Notice your feelings -- your gut response to the dream symbols and activities. Also, engage your logical thinking powers to evaluate any actions you might take based on the dream. The goal is not to exclude logical thought from your life, but to add breadth to your mental processes.

If you have disturbing dreams, remind yourself that the dream is only mental imagery. The demon in your dream is only a projection of your mind. Soothe yourself by breathing deep calming breaths. Rally yourself with the thought that you are a powerful person with a strong spiritual core. When you feel ready, perhaps the next day, ask the disturbing dream symbol what it wants to tell you. If you can understand the symbol -- integrate its meaning -- it will be less likely to disturb you in the future.

Even though you create an intention to experience your dreams and to have certain results from your dreaming, be patient. Don’t be disappointed if you don’t get what you expect. The dream world will share its gifts in its own time and in its own fashion. You can be open to the gift, but you can’t demand the gift. Take what you get in gratitude. Use it to increase your wisdom.

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© 1998-2002 Tom Barrett