Two of the biggest stumbling blocks to intuitive learning are a reluctance to trust:
information coming from our own inner resources and
the process for acquiring that information.
There are many reasons for this which can range from our society’s distrust of information that cannot be quantified in a scientific manner to the prejudices of our education and upbringing which didn’t teach us to be intuitive or actually discouraged us from trying to be intuitive. For example, many of us were told to not take dreams seriously, or were told to ignore a gut feeling that was gnawing away at us. If we are uncertain or ignorant about our interior resources, we most certainly will be distrustful of processes that claim to nurture or access those resources.
It seems that people come to the awareness that they can trust their inner resources through some serendipitous event, a freely given grace in their lives. After such a significant event, people may begin to reflect upon the event because it has made such a significant impact in their lives. After a series of similar “inner knowings” coming at times when needed, people then begin to take their inner wisdom seriously. And only after all this, do they set about learning ways that can pro-actively access that inner wisdom. It is often a slow learning process.
I am reminded of a comment one of my friends said to me the other day. She had been nervous about getting a scan of her head, wondering what the outcome would be. Just before the procedure she had an unsolicited dream which told her things would be fine, no doubt giving her more confidence when she went for the test. That indeed turned out to be the case! She was excited and happy to tell me what happened. She said, “I remember you said something like this can happen. Now I know it can!” What was important to her was the discovery that her own inner wisdom could accurately tell her something she wanted to know. My telling her numerous times before did not make the initial difference. It was her own discovery that opened up new doors to personal awareness. What I told her was just another confirmation of the validity of her ability. This illustrates the importance of being open to challenging experiences, as she is, especially when it comes to developing a trust in our own inner wisdom. Now that she knew she had the inner resources, I reminded her she could access this information in a pro-active way (Dream Incubation) by requesting dreams that would answer specific questions to future concerns she might have. By the look on her face, I suspected she had some natural doubts about this happening but I have no doubt that eventually she will come to trust the process if she thinks to ask for a dream.
A very common dream theme, and one I get asked about the most, is dreaming of huge waves rolling in at a beach. Living in Hawaii makes this dream theme a common enough experience to have in waking life on a daily basis. The ocean is a part of all of our lives. However, people who live far from the ocean, or have never actually seen the ocean, often have this kind of dream.
The ocean is one of those powerful metaphors in nature that touch us at a deep level. For many people it represents the profound and often inscrutable inner recesses of our souls—full of mystery, strong currents, and wondrous and terrifying creatures. It is no wonder that so many people find it satisfying, relaxing and comforting to be at the beach, watching the waves roll in. It is a gentle way to attend to and hear the call of our deeper selves. Attending to our dreams of the ocean, its waves and its creatures is a similar way of observing the tides and manifestations of our souls.
Some Dreamwork Questions Related to the Ocean and Waves:
What do the ocean, the waves or the creatures in the water mean to me?
What does the ocean look like in my dream? Is it placid, or is it stormy and filled with gigantic waves?
What in my life reminds me of the feeling of the ocean in my dream?
Can I see creatures swimming in the ocean? Are they frightening, amazing or in great numbers?
What do the creatures remind me of in my life?
Where am I, the dreamer, in relationship to the ocean?
Am I on a distant hill, on the beach, on a boat, or bobbling in the midst of the waves?
What am I feeling about the ocean and any waves that are occurring?
If out of the water, are the waves rolling towards me or someone close to me?
If in the water, how am I handling it? Am I swimming well and managing the big waves passing over me? Am I drowning or reaching out for help?
What in my life reminds me of this situation? If in my dream I am feeling terrified swimming in the midst of huge waves, is there some situation in my waking life where I feel I am in the thick of an emotional struggle that might threaten to pull me under?
If I am on the shore, how in my waking life am I watching distant changes that could move in my direction?
What do I feel about that?
Observing and participating in ocean dreams by asking such questions can help us become practiced and seasoned swimmers in the vicissitudes of life. We will come to appreciate the beauties and wonders of the ocean of our souls as we develop skills to deal with the tides. As we say in Hawaii, a surfer is one who plays with the waves, but a waterman is one who knows all about the ocean. Which shall it be?
One of the more common themes we find in dreams is being led somewhere by a dream guide. It may be a person we know, a spiritual being, an old man or an old woman or perhaps it is an animal such as a dog or a dolphin. For the most part, I personally find these dreams rather comforting because they usually come at a time of transition or just prior to transition, when I am feeling rather lost. A key to working with this kind of dream is to ask what the person or animal doing the leading means to me. What do I associate with this person or animal? What are their qualities or attributes? Why would they be leading me somewhere? What in my waking life would have prompted this person or animal to lead you?
Being Led by Thomas Merton
Fairly recently, I had a dream of being led somewhere by Thomas Merton, a well-known Trappist monk who was an inspiration to many Catholics in my generation during the 60’s for his writings on spirituality, Buddhism and peace. He died an early death in 1968 while visiting in Thailand to dialogue with Buddhist monks. A great fan of his, I think I have read just about everything he ever wrote, and around 1980 even considered entering Trappist convent! Then, life took me in other directions and it was a long time before I even thought about Thomas Merton. So when I had this dream, it aroused my curiosity. However, even after some reflection, the dream didn’t seem to make much sense.
It was not until I planned to enter the priesthood training program sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of Hawaii that meanings to this dream began to surface. While reflecting on what I could bring to the Episcopal priesthood in terms of experience and interest, my strong background in Buddhist studies and my interest in cross-cultural communication and inspiration suddenly came to mind. This is exactly what Thomas Merton was trying to do: bring the wisdom of Asian to Christianity so that we might learn ways to more profoundly experience spiritual truths for ourselves. I began to see this as something I might be called to do—especially working with average people who are not in monasteries to explore their own deep inner resources such as through intuitive meditation techniques and dreamwork. That I felt called to priesthood was just another common ground I shared with Thomas Merton. Now, I would like to think he is smiling down on me and guiding me as I continue on this fascinating and challenging journey! He knew a lot about being lost on journeys.
So I would ask you to think about the people and animals that have led you in dreams. Where are they taking you?
There are all sorts of meditations out there that can be used for a variety of purposes. Each teacher of meditation seems to have one that he or she prefers, usually because that form of meditation has worked well for that person and a number or his or her students.
However, if you have tried to learn a form of meditation and have become frustrated because, after due practice, you feel it isn’t doing anything for you, don’t give up on meditation. Just try other forms of meditation!
Ask Yourself What You Want from Meditation
Are you looking to relax, lower blood pressure, or are you looking for insight or deeper spiritual experience? Some forms of meditation can do all of the above but usually each meditation is particularly good at bringing a specific outcome, especially if practiced with due diligence. Here are some meditations I use which work for me for the purposes indicated.
To relax and perhaps lower blood pressure and heart rate: On a quick deep inhalation from the solar plexus, count three and on the exhalation count seven, letting the breath out slowly. Or you may trying counting two on the inhalation and four on the exhalation—just make sure the exhalation is at least twice as long as the inhalation. This will quickly give you feeling of becoming more relaxed. After a minute of doing it, you may fall asleep! This is a good practice to do for about a minute before doing another form of mediation that is better suited for something else.
To gain intuitive insight: After doing a relaxing meditation such as the one above, tell yourself that you would like to receive insight about a specific and genuine concern you have , either for yourself or someone else. Follow an inspirational meditation such as the Inspired Heart™ Meditation developed by Henry Reed, Ph.D., which includes the following:
a. Initially just observing the breath, the inflows and the outflows.
b. Then give thanks on the inflow for the breath that is coming to you like a gift, an inspiration!
c. After a few moments, imagine letting go of any negative energy on the outflow.
d. For a few minutes sit observing the breath, saying thanks on the inhalation and letting go on the exhalation.
e. Then watch of any form of insight to come: images, thoughts, sounds, impressions, feelings, physical sensations. These will be pertinent and provide inspiration to helping with the concern brought to the meditation.
For a deeper experience of God: Try doing a form of centering meditation. Basically this involves sitting comfortably while meditating on a meaningful word such as Spirit or Jesus. One repeats the word when one finds one’s thoughts are wondering. What may result is something like this: you “see” your thoughts passing by like boats on a river. And below you sense something like an ocean of profound peace.