When Fear Rules the Day—and How Dreams of Animals Can Help

Look for your dream animals.

Animals in dreams are a source of insight.

One of the classic signs of fear showing up in our lives is the overriding attempt control it.  Our lives can literally get bent out of shape by fear as the flight or fight response kicks in—flight in our trying to run away from what we fear, fight in our desperate attempt to alleviate it, suppress it or shut it down completely.   The flight/fight response was a coping method that worked well for our ancestors in the jungle for whom the main objects of fear were usually readily identifiable animals larger or more deadly than themselves.

Nowadays, few of us have to contend with actual alligators and lions just to get food on the table—but that is not to say we don’t have things to fear.  The things we fear are now less tangible and as a result, often beyond our understanding and grasp, and therefore less easier to deal with, like a racial prejudice, unjust laws, people and cultures we are not familiar with, fake news that is difficult to verify, etc.  This makes it harder to determine if what we fear is really worth fearing!  The fear often cannot be tested immediately by just taking a quick look at the “beast” from a safe distance.

As a result, there are many fears that just hang in there or get bigger and more believable, and eventually rule our lives.  When others fear the same things, a community of fear builds up which reinforces one’s own fears and often it happens that the one who challenges those fears is victimized and shut up.  In this scenario, the individual and the community may never know they are dealing with fears based on an illusion, misinformation, etc.  What is worse, because very few people are willing to challenge their own fears or even address the need to have those fears, fear becomes a solid foundation for their lives, informing all of their decisions.

One of the benefits of dreamwork is that it shows you when fear has some validity and must be taken seriously, and when fears are nothing but a colony of ants—a huge nuisance that can be easily managed.  The way to tell is to look at the animals that appear in your dreams during a time of fear.  The bigger or more deadly the animal, the more genuinely threatening the fear.  And vice versa, the smaller, the less threatening.  It seems our dreams remember when animals provoked fear and use those symbols to instruct us today.

I am thinking of a recent dream I had at a time when I felt overwhelmed by a variety of fears.   It would have been really easy to fall into a desperate state of mind.  In the dream I walked into my closet and found many ants scurrying out of a drawer.  On waking, I reflected on what the ants meant and and how they reminded me of the many little fears I was experiencing, brought on by scam phone calls, a billing mistake by a company, hassles of straightening out paper work, etc., came to mind.  As soon as I saw the connection, I felt relief and knew my dreams were telling me to put my fears in perspective.  These fears were based on petty things and I should not take them so seriously.  I could handle them.

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Emotional Care and Healing in Dreams

Dreams are very much about healing at all levels, spiritual, emotional and even physical, if we would only be aware of them and attend to their efforts.  If you are going through a rough transition that is taking a toll emotionally, dreams may come to let you know you are cared for and to let you know you are not yourself.  Here is an example:

Dream:  I am in a clinic and see my usual buoyant, optimistic, smiling self in a mirror.  Then I let myself feel my real feelings.  I am feeling unusually grim and pessimistic.A doctor comes up to me and uses a stethoscope to examine my heart.  I ask why he’s doing this.  He tells me I am not in my usual emotional state and he just wants to check me out.  I know he is right and intuitively feel in the dream he is mainly concerned about my emotional heart, not necessarily the physical one.  Then another doctor does the same, focusing more on the left side.

When I woke up I was touched that some dream physicians were taking care of me and my emotional situation.  It made me focus more on what I was feeling at the moment and not on the breezy, upbeat persona I was reflecting to the world.  I needed to look at the left side (the intuitive side) of my emotional heart.

Since I just finished teaching a class this past semester, I have time to rest and spend a little more time with myself and getting in touch with those feelings that are dragging me down. Maybe the dream doctors were tell me I needed to manifest their thoughtfulness and concern for myself.

Praying from the Point of Pain

Learn to pray from the depths of yourself.

Praying from a place of genuine need draws a response from God.

It is said that the universe bends to where a genuine need exists and where a heartfelt request is made. I certainly do believe that prayer coming from real need is heard, and when prayers are not answered, one reason could be that God or the universe (whatever makes you feel more comfortable) just doesn’t perceive it as a real need, only an ego need on the part of the person praying.

What is Genuine Need?

The question arises then as to what constitutes genuine need, and how is it different from needing something just to soothe a bruised ego? It seems to me that genuine need arises out of significant suffering, the kind of suffering many people tend to actually deny, endure or cover up for a variety of reasons. This could be something horrendous like suffering sexual abuse or it could be something relatively less horrific like putting up with a chronic health condition.

Dreams and Pain

Dreams are very good at indicating where the genuine points of pain are located at the deep psychic level.

How Points of Pain are Symbolized in Dreams

These points of pain may be symbolized in the form of injured animals, a sick, dying or dead person, or some jarring situation such as a car accident. When these uncomfortable scenes are seen in dreams we tend to think of them as representing something outside of ourselves. In some cases, that may be true. However, usually, they represent an aspect of ourselves that is wounded, sick, dying, dead or being put in jeopardy.

When I have dreams like these, I immediately make it a point to pray for this aspect of myself that is suffering in such a way—even though I may not recognize it immediately since it may stand for something I may not yet be cognizant of in my waking life. I feel this is praying from the deepest and most genuine part of myself, surely opening a pathway to God and the universe for healing.

Common Symbols for Kundalini in Dreams: Fire and Flame

Fire: A Symbol of Light and Purification

 In a series of blogs on kundalini energy as it appears in dreams, Kundalini can be symbolized by fire in dreams.I have written about snakes and volcanoes as being important symbols.  Fire and flames are also dramatic and powerful symbols for kundalini energy, and when they occur in dreams, it is hard to forget.   The dream is very wise to choose this symbol to convey the workings of kundalini energy because fire is similar to kundalini in that it burns away all that is harmful or not necessary and brings light to guide those touched by its energy.

Working with a Fire Dream

Dreams about things burning can have many meanings on the physical and spiritual level, but first and foremost one should look for a spiritual meaning because all dreams have a spiritual message at some level, and fire dreams are particularly connected to the work of the spirit.  The imagery of something burning calls to mind the biblical story of Moses and the Burning Bush (Exodus 3:1-17).  A burning object always attracts our attention and focuses our mind on a dramatic transformation that is taking place before us:  the transmutation of something physical into something else such as gas and ash, or in the case of the Burning Bush, the presence of a divine being because the expected transmutation wasn’t taking place.  Spirituality is about transformation and being in the presence of the divine.

As in dreams about snakes and volcanoes, one has to ask what is going one in one’s life so that fire and flame appear.  A fire dream may be merely an expression of one’s fears about a house catching fire because of fire hazards in the house.  However, if one is experiencing strong kundalini energy in one’s body, it may be giving the dreamer a chance to observe what this energy is doing and how it can be managed.

Dream: My Car is on Fire

I am with a friend and some other people. They have just come out of a store.  I invite them into my car since I can seat 6 people.  When I start the car, a little alert icon on the dashboard goes on and I yell for everyone to get out.  The car is on fire!  Everyone jumps out and is OK.  I want to use my cellphone to call 911 but my friend says not to.

This dream came about a year and a half before I experienced the onset of kundalini energy in my body.  A car can be a symbol for the body or for how we get around in life.  In any case, it was alerting me to the possibility that my life would be affected by a strong energy like fire.  It would cause me fear and concern but the dream is also telling me that I (and the many parts of myself represented by the others) would be OK.  My friend (who is a wise and knowledgeable person in waking life) tells me it is not important to call 911.  This is odd so it makes me think this dream is not predicting something physical but maybe a spiritual process that is meant to happen.  The burning car is a symbol of a transformative process that is OK.

 

The Challenge of Seeing the Many Aspects of Me

Look at each piece of the dream and see what it says about you. Fit it all together.

The Dream: All About You!

The German psychiatrist Fritz Perls is credited with developing the dreamwork practice of considering that everything in the dream is a part of oneself.  To be more specific, I tend to think every symbol, process and event in the dream is indicative of energies within the person and what is transpiring with those energies.  Either way, using this method to work with dreams can be challenging in that it asks the dreamer to “own” certain symbols, processes or events he or she would, in many cases, rather deny.

For example, if I dream I am in a room where an angry man is beating a weaker man, I may not want to admit that a part of me is capable of beating up another person, especially if I am a person who is uncomfortable showing any kind of anger.  Yet, this is what this dream method is asking us to do.  It can be heady stuff but the method will allow the dreamer to discover hidden aspects of him or herself and bring that to light, and perhaps even heal.  Using this method I may discover that I am capable of being angry enough to beat another person or I may find that a part of me is beating up on me!  This humbling realization is often what spiritual growth is all about.   We find that we are not perfect, and in that discovery develop compassion for not only other beings but ourselves also.  It’s as if each piece is part of whole and our job is too see how each piece fits into the whole, like doing a puzzle.

Next time you have a dream, write it down and consider that each symbol, process and event is part of you.  What energies are evoked?  What makes you feel uncomfortable?  What is the “saving grace” or helpful element in the dream?  The darkness and light within you will be there to discover, and the intelligent interacting of the two will be there for you to appreciate and give you wisdom.  It is a challenge that is well worth taking up in dreamwork as you take up the pieces and fit them together.

Dreamwork: Good for Self-Integration & Self-Transcendence

Dreams are today's answers to tomorrow's dreams.

Go Within for Answers

John Welwood in his well-informed book Toward a Psychology of Awakening, notes that full human potential is realized when there is a combination of self-integration and self-transcendence.  Psychology has concerned itself with the former and spirituality with the latter. They are considered to be two entirely different areas of growth that are traditionally developed with different practice approaches.  For example, exposure therapy may be used in psychology to overcome fear and meditation is used in spiritual practice to move beyond the limitations of the waking mind.

On reading Welwood’s book, I am thinking that dreamwork may be a methodology which can be applied to both the integration of the self and the transcendence of self, even though these are two different areas for growth.  Dreamwork can be used to deal with psychological issues as well as spiritual ones, making it a particularly potent practice.  It’s not for nothing that Freud called dreams the Royal Road to the Unconscious.  Dreams can also access different energies and levels of consciousness both within each of us and also in the wider energy matrix that interconnects us all.

Dreamwork as a Methodology for Self-Integration

Dreamwork is well known for acquainting the dreamer with various hidden aspects of him or herself.  Just the mere dreamwork practice of considering all things in the dream to be representative of one’s own various energies allows the dreamer to notice and acknowledge things and behaviors previously unaware to the dreamer.  These newly discovered energies, once acknowledged, can be harnessed for a deeper understanding of life’s problems and offer more tools for living life.

Dreamwork as a Methodology for Self-Transcendence

A dream may be given or requested which can provide guidance or a solution, or offer a far greater vision that allows one to rise above the limitations of a binding mindset or a complicated situation.  The power of the dream provides new insights and even healing that change the game entirely.  A combination of both insight and healing totally changes one’s understanding of the body, psyche and spirit.   Also in dreamtime, one may encounter spiritual guides which lead a person on a journey of spiritual growth and deeper awareness.    One may actually develop a “working relationship” with these guides that can later reoccur during meditation or dreamtime.

The power of dreams is truly amazing but dreamwork is work requiring courage and consistency.  It is a practice that if done faithfully and diligently can help one to both self-integrate and self-transcend. Dreams can indeed answer many kinds of questions, spiritually and psychologically, to grow more fully human.

Dreamwork & Meditation: Experiential Practices to Access the True Self

Recording dreams regularly will provide many insights not otherwise available to the waking mind.

Recording Dreams: A Form of Dreamwork

In a Spiritual Book Club I am facilitating, the members selected a very profound and experienced-based book by John Welwood called Toward a Psychology of Awakening.  At the start, Welwood makes the point that his Christian upbringing (and it is my personal opinion, many of our Christian upbringings) did not provide experiential practice for realizing our true natures even though there was wonderful ritual and music.  As a result, Welwood, like me and many in my generation, turned to Asian religions and other sources for insight.  Even today, I personally believe this is the primary reason why serious seekers are not attracted to the mainline Christian religions: there is often too much emphasis on the organization, joining it, being a member, and contributing to it—when what people really want is an experience of the divine!

In studying Buddhism at the graduate level, I was fortunate to have mentors who were well versed not only in meditation but also in working with dreams.  For me, it was primarily through dreamwork that I first developed a spiritual methodology that gave me a deeply meaningful experiential access to the spiritual life and its healing.  Later, through meditation, I experienced the power of intuition and other states of consciousness that inform one of the wide and awesome nature of our true being.  With such experience, the scriptures, rituals and music had all the more meaning!  I could personally relate to the stories of salvation and God’s presence in our lives.  These no longer seemed like myths and fairy tales.  Religion was no longer about following the rules or joining a group but about living a rich experience-based life with fellow seekers.

I think that if Christianity is to thrive, it will have to incorporate experiential practices such as dreamwork and meditation into regular activities such as bible class and Sunday school.

Are You Pissing? Anger as Seen in Dreams

Dreams help us repond rather than react.

Image via Pinterest

Anger is often a feeling that is suppressed, especially by women, because it may not be considered socially acceptable for woman to display, express or channel anger in ways that men can.  This is often true in Asian cultures.  The need for such courses like Anger Management testifies to the difficulty of recognizing and controlling anger in a healthy manner.  Uncontrolled, reactive outbursts of rage and anger from a seemingly calm and collected person suggest anger has always been there but it has been denied, hidden or used in a passive manner that is not so obvious.  This lack of expression of anger can lead to serious consequences, especially if the pent-up rage explodes in a violent or abusive manner.

Dreams are A Good Way to Spot Hidden Anger

Dreams can alert a person to hidden or denied anger, so that the aware dreamer may be less susceptible to being victim on his or her sudden, uncontrolled outbursts.   If the dreamer actually dreams of acting in a violent or angry way in a dream, this is a sure indication of anger growing in waking life.  These are obvious signs that the dreamer needs to get in touch with his or her feelings before this behavior manifests in waking life.  When the dreamer is aware of his or her dream content, the dreamer has a better chance of expressing his or her anger in a creative, constructive way rather than a violent or abuse way by reflecting on the causes of the anger and doing dreamwork such as talking about the anger to supportive persons.  A creative response to an anger-filled situation can bring healing both to the dreamer and to others involved.

Other Signs of Anger in Dreams

Dreams of going to the bathroom, or needing to go, indicate there are negative energies that need to be released.  Dreams often use puns to get their message across.  Dreams of peeing or “pissing” use a common pun to suggest the dreamer is “pissed off.”  If you dream of pissing, ask yourself what you are pissed off about in your waking like.  You might also check the predominant color in a pissing dream.   If you are in a particularly bright red bathroom, your anger may be related to first chakra issues like survival because red is the color most often associated with the first chakra.  Are you angry about not getting a good job—or losing a good job?  If the urine in your dream is bright yellow, it might mean it is related to the third or power chakra which is associated with the color yellow.  Could you be angry about feeling helpless in a frustrating situation?  Peeing a bright yellow stream might also mean that like in waking life, you are not getting enough fluids or nutrition (support) to clear out your negative waste—in other words you may feel you are not getting enough support on issues connected to your anger.

Watch your dreams.  They can be your best friend for helping you keep your head–and help you respond in a healthy way.  They tell you much about your emotional state and leave you much better prepared to deal with difficult situations in constructive and creative ways.

Treating the Symptoms of Kundalini Clearing Energy

Essential oils and herbs can help with kundalini clearing symptoms.

Image via Pinterest.

Many people are fascinated by kundalini for its many health and spiritual benefits.  It is known that the energy improves health, promotes longevity and gives paranormal gifts like ESP, the ability to see auras and angels, etc.

For those who actually experience a kundalini awakening, they often do receive these benefits ; however, what they are most often faced with is the profound clearing of negative energy that can take place over a long period of time—energy that often is released with uncomfortable physical accompaniments of “clearing” through bodily processes such as loose bowel movements, nose and chest congestion, headaches, and a host of other discomforts that may last a brief or a significantly long amount of time.

While you are undergoing such a clearing, you may think you have come down with the flu or have caught a cold.  One way to tell this isn’t so is that you actually don’t look sick!  Quite the contrary, you may have a glowing look of health as the body actually rids itself of the negative energy that has been held in memory in the body’s cells.  While you feel off, a good thing is actually happening in your body.

In my experience, at times like this, one should not take the usual stomach, cold or flu medications for these events—this will only add to the substances the body will need to discharge.  It is important to drink plenty of healthy fluids such as water to help with the clearing and try to take it easy by not adding any unnecessary physical activities.  I have found that essential oils and herbs may help ease the symptoms a bit.

What are some other ways to know you are experiencing a clearing and not a cold?

Because so few people in the medical profession understand kundalini, most people with kundalini clearing symptoms will be diagnosed with a cold or the flu, and the usual medications will be prescribed.  Here, the person with the symptoms has to make the final call as to what is actually happening to him or her and decide how to use the medication and if it really helps.  Sometimes, I have found that the medication doesn’t actually work because a cold isn’t what is causing the problem.  While not wanting to challenge the authority of the medical profession, fortunately, there are other ways to get accurate information on a phenomenon not usually recognized by the health professions.  Dreams and insights obtained from intuitive meditation can give you the correct diagnosis, especially if you have learned to trust these avenues of information.  For example, if you have dreams of needing to use the restroom, this is a clear sign you have negative energy that needs to be released.  Also, asking for a dream to give a specific diagnosis to your ailment is possible.  Just make the prayer or intention to have such a dream before you go to bed.  Or before you enter meditation, ask for inspiration that will provide the answers you need.  You may be surprised how helpful your dreams and insights can be!

Dead Men Do Tell Tales: An intuitive teen dream detective mystery novel using dreamwork methods to solve a case. See http://tinyurl.com/MyBook4U

The Traveling Sketchbook: An American Kid Discovers Japan, a coming of age story set in Japan.  See http://tinyurl.com/readJapan

Spicing Up the Chakras in Dreams

Spicing Up the Chakras in Dreams

Image via Pinterest.

In Healing the Chakras in Dreams, I stated that the condition and work of the main seven chakras can be reflected in dreams.  For example, if one dreams of urinating in a bright red bathroom; it could indicate that one is clearing anger about survival issues, or “pissing” in the realm of the first chakra which often manifests itself through the color red, especially when survival issues are at stake.  Through dreams, we can become more aware of the state of our chakras and do something about healing them.  The color in dreams give clues to the chakras because each chakra has is its own color.  Note the color and you can recognize the chakra and issues of that chakras.  (See Healing the Chakras in Dreams for the color correlations.)

One of the ways we can heal chakras is to feed and spice (energize) them, and this can also be done in dreams. The reason is that dreams essentially convey healing energy from centers of energies beyond our own energy field such as divine energy and the energy of loving people.

One way to tell if your chakras are being fed is to dream of eating.  If you dream of eating really delicious-looking, healthy food such as bright colored veggies, it could be a sign that your chakra energy fields are being fed.  For example, last night I had a dream I was digging into a big dish of some beautiful red and green peppers.  In fact, I did eat some red and green peppers the other day and found them to be delicious.  No doubt that inspired the dream.  What the dream was trying to tell me was exactly that:  the activities of my life (and perhaps choosing to eat healthy food was part of it) were feeding the energy of the first chakra (which is red) and the heart chakra (which is green.)  I do know these are two energy centers seemed depleted recently due to challenges and setbacks, so I certainly could use a boost in these areas to keep me confident and courageously open-hearted in my day-to-day endeavors!