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.

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The Call to Change As Seen in Dreams

Dreams call us to change.

Don’t sleep through your dreams!

Recently, American public life has shown how accepting so many people have become to the low moral standards both in themselves and in the public figures they elect.  One wonders how far it will go before there is a momentous push in the other direction, when a huge number of people finally say “Enough is enough” and wake up and take a stand.  Seeing the need for change in oneself and in society signifies growth in awareness.  Where does this perception first come from?

Dreams Call Us to Change

One of the primary functions of dreams is to call us to our truest and best self—and this is often at odds with what the ego wants.  Our conscience often speaks most clearly in dreams, unfettered by the ego’s desires.  One could say that our guardian angel appears in dreams in various disguises to help us on our way.  When we are going down a path not meant for us, a dream will let us know—assuming we are paying attention.  If we don’t make an effort to remember our dreams or take them seriously, we could miss this message all together.  Sometimes I think so many people ignore or don’t want to remember their dreams because they inherently know that their dreams might be calling them to take a road they are not taking in waking life, such as standing up for what is right.

Examples of Dreams Calling for Change

Many years ago I began a relationship with a man whom I enjoyed being with for his charm, intelligent conversation and good looks.  I knew I was probably getting more involved with him than I should because I really wasn’t in love with him and had no plans for a serious, long-term relationship.  One night I had a dream of Big Bird, the TV character, standing in front of me wagging his finger in disapproval.   While this was in no way threatening, but actually a little comical, it sent me a strong message to change and get out of this relationship.   A bird is often a dream symbol for the soul so to have a big bird, my higher self, communicate something like this to me was a real “wake up call.”

Another similar dream occurred when I was extremely angry at the breakup of another relationship, almost to the point that I didn’t recognize my feelings but were engulfed in them like a fish is in sea, taking it all for granted.  During this time I had a dream of a funny little man dressed in black who spoke to me in a stern and commanding voice, saying “Don’t be so angry!  You nearly missed coming down with a serious disease!”  That dream really jolted me awake, and made me also realize there must be a relationship between negative emotions and illnesses.  I vowed to let go of my anger, realizing my health was more important than indulging in negative emotions, with the result that my life has continued for many years with great health.

How are your dreams calling you to change?

Are You Pissing? Anger as Seen in Dreams

Dreams help us repond rather than react.

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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.

Spicing Up the Chakras in Dreams

Spicing Up the Chakras in Dreams

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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!

Meeting Your Kundalini Guides in Dreams

Dreams can help one meet kundalini energy guides.

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A kundalini awakening is a major existential event meant to bring profound change of body, mind and spirit.  One thing is for sure: very little of a person’s “being” will remain the same as the kundalini energy works its way through the body and into one’s life.  Most likely, there will be significant upheavals felt in all areas of life, particularly in one’s career life if one is not already working in a compassionate, service-oriented, creative field.

If ever there was a “This isn’t Kansas anymore” event, the kundalini awakening is it.  It is no wonder that in India kundalini devotees sought out gurus or guides to help them manage the strong energy animating and energizing their being, and make appropriate decisions for living and working with this energy.

For persons living outside of India who experience a kundalini breakthrough, getting a reliable guru can be problematic.  Many people in the Western medical and helping professions like physicians and psychologists haven’t even heard of kundalini, and the chances of being diagnosed with and erroneously treated for some other condition are highly probable.

Dreams Can Introduce You to Your Guides

Because the kundalini experience is so basic and true to the nature of the person, such an event would be long predicted at the dream level for the purpose of preparing the dreamer for this new spiritual development.  Dreams of snakes coming to the dreamer, atomic explosions, lightning rods, and volcanic eruptions may herald the onset of a kundalini awakening.  Along with or after these kinds of dreams, guides will appear who seem to have a connection to the onset of kundalini energy.

Examples: I dreamed of two male guides who wore light blue, close-fitting suits like in the Star Trek TV series.  On their sleeves they wore patches decorated with a lightning rod that gave me a clue they were related to kundalini.  They were guiding me to work situations where my kundalini experience would be of value.  This was a tremendous need at the time because I had been working in a high-stress corporate environment which is nearly impossible to do while experiencing kundalini.  I needed a new career.  A number of years later, I dreamed of these same two guides leading me to another work situation where the kundalini experience would be very valuable in helping people.

Look for Your Guides in Dreams & Request to Meet Them in Dreams

So if you are experiencing kundalini energy, be on the outlook for guides in your dreams that can help you in ways you need helping.  You might even ask to meet such a guide by making such a request before you do to bed at night.

Dreams Help Us See the Bigger Picture

While reading the biblical story of Joseph welcoming his brothers into Egypt years after they had sold him into slavery (Genesis 45:1-15), and noticing his forgiving and gracious reception of those who did him in, it was clear to see that Joseph understood the bigger picture of God’s plan in the awful treatment his brothers gave him.  Joseph held no grudges or desire for revenge.  Instead, he welcomed his brothers, saying “God sent me here to preserve life.”  He was able to offer his brothers refuge in Egypt from the famine that was rampant.

Joseph was a famous dreamer of dreams.  He had vivid prophetic dreams which told him early on he would have power over his older siblings.  This, of course, is what added fuel to the flames of sibling rivalry, resulting in his being sold into slavery.  Later, Joseph’s dreams and ability to interpret dreams won him Pharaoh’s favor in Egypt.  In other words, Joseph knew all along his troubles would lead him to greatness, even though he probably suffered greatly when his dreams seemed far from having anything to do with reality.  However, he kept the faith and believed in his dreams.

Being in touch with one’s dreams over a long period of time gives one clues to the major themes, meanings, challenges, loves and tragedies of one’s life.  Much of this drama is played out ahead of time in dreamtime if one is only “awake” enough to witness it, record it and remember it.  As they say, the story is not nearly so scary when there is an inkling of the ending, and the drama doesn’t dominate one so much.  An aware dreamer like Joseph is able to act with kindness because he or she understands the deeper meanings already suggested in dreamtime.

Joseph’s ability to see the big picture of his life surely made him understand that resentments, grudges and revenge had no place in the greater drama of God’s plan as shown to him in dreams.  It lifted him above the level of cruelty and pettiness of his siblings to a higher consciousness where God gave him the grace to act well on a grand stage.  If we are in touch with our dreams, they will guide us through the story of our lives, helping us to act with dignity and graciousness even in the worst of times.

Accessing the Inner Healer Through Dreams

Dreams of doctors can be referring to the Inner Healer.

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A good argument can be made that there is a healer within each one of us.  The evidence lies in the fact that for most of our lives we are healed of many colds, sores, wounds and other conditions without the help of any specific medication which actually cures the ailment.  Our bodies have an interior intelligence that knows how to heal and works wonderfully well when we cooperate by providing enough rest, a nutritious diet and exercise.

Where does this power to heal come from?  What activates it?  Can we work with it other than getting rest, good food and exercise?  The answer is yes!  Dreams let us work with this healing energy in very creative and effective ways because they present us with the images, sounds and processes we can use to interact with and engage the energy used in healing process.  Dreams offer us symbols of the various kinds of energy that animate us at the present moment.   We only need to 1) look for symbols, sounds and processes related to health to literally see how our healing energy is working within us now and to 2) engage those symbols so that they give us specific insights.

Symbols of Healing in Dreams

The obvious symbols are physicians, nurses, aid workers, first responders, clergy, nuns, psychologists and social workers.  Whenever these figures appear in a dream, you can be fairly sure the issue of the dream is health related, either of the body, mind or spirit. Other symbols might be spirit guides that are related to health such as St. Michael or St. Blaise, the patron saint of throat conditions.  Still others might be bandages, ambulances, sirens, healing ointments and even snakes, which were associated with Aesclepius, the Greek god of healing.

Sounds of Healing in Dreams

The dreamer may hear a voice which says “You have skin cancer on your back,” or “We will heal the pain in your stomach.”  These voices often speak with a tone of authority and knowledge, and I have found them to be very reliable and accurate over the years.  They offer specific diagnoses, advice or deeper explanations for a condition that the dreamer may or may not know about.   They should be taken seriously, and a waking-life physician should hear about them if the condition is serious.

Healing Processes in Dreams

A dream may indicate a series of events that will show the way to treatment and recovery.  An outcome may be presented.  If the dream is nightmarish, as dreams often are prior to surgery, hopeful symbols or events may be presented among the scary ones which encourage the dreamer to go through the healing process, even though going may be rough.

When a healing symbol, sound, or process is presented in a dream, it is important to write it down, reflect about it in the context of the whole dream and other dreams that occur in the general time frame.

Actively Accessing and Engaging with the Dream

One accesses information from a dream by not only reflecting on the dream but also asking for a dream that will give specific answers about a previous dream.  The dreamer may choose to ask for a dream that will allow him or her to learn from a symbol, sound or process that has appeared in a dream.  For example, the dreamer may ask for a dream that will let him or her talk to the doctor who previously appeared in a dream, and perhaps find out why the doctor appeared or what additional information the doctor wants to give the dreamer.  If the dreamer had a dream about a having a certain disease, the dreamer may ask for a dream that will give a treatment.  The key is to ask specific questions relating directly to the dream in question.  Try it yourself, and you will find yourself interacting with your Inner Healer!  While this approach is not a substitute for seeing your doctor, it can greatly help your doctor find out what’s wrong, and may save you money.

Dreamwork Helps Build Authenticity

These days, there is much said about lying, fake news and hypocrisy both at the personal level and in organizations such as the media, government and churches.  It seems almost as if there is a national dialogue going on to determine who or what is true.  I hope this debate not only causes people to reflect on what constitutes the basis of truth, but also encourages them to look beneath the glitzy surface to the hard reality that forms the substance of truth.

Dreamwork:  Getting to Know One’s Own Driving Forces

One of the many benefits of dreamwork is that it gets us acquainted with the driving forces of our own behavior—forces which remain largely hidden, and thus unknown, to people who have done little self-reflection concerning what goes on beneath the surface of their daily thinking.  Dreamwork thus helps us know who we really are, with the amazing combinations of light and shadow that make up our individual souls.  When applied with a loving, open heart, it helps us own all these energies by recognizing, accepting and integrating what we thought was lost or what we thought was unlovable.  This coming together results in a brilliant transformation that speaks truth out of its own experience.   This kind of depth awareness becomes the basis of knowing and judging what is true and not true.

Self-Ignorance Leads to Fake Behavior

For people who have not undergone this transformation, truth is only true because somebody else said it was true or because society or the church says it is true.  As a result, many people constantly look to others to define the truth.  Peer pressure is an example.  Teens and others who often have little reflected life experience of their own to draw personal conclusions about what is true are subject to the power of others’ opinions and behaviors.  As a result, phony behavior flourishes, people ape their peers, lie to hide their shallowness or to please others, or blindly give lip service to the dictates of a church while compulsively acting out destructive actions.  In government, people with no spiritual depth or inner compass easily succumb to the compelling charms of dictators.  Given the current state of affairs, one has to imagine that this is what happened, big-time.

In our national and personal quest for truth, let us hope it brings us to a deeper part of ourselves, collectively and individually.  Dreamwork can help for those with the courage and imagination to go within.

Dreamwork: An Art of Interacting with and Learning from Inner Wisdom

The soul can be a guide if we let it.

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Dreamwork is the practice of working with dreams to learn from and interact with them.  This can include keeping a dream journal of important dreams, reflections on the content and feeling of dreams, use of various methods to better understand them, and applying the information obtained from them to enrich our lives.  When done over a period of time, the practice can be life changing and transformative as one comes to see before one’s very eyes the insights and eventual healing taking place within the dreamer.

For a person new to dreamwork, some claims made by dream experts can seem unreal, such as asking for a dream that will help with a specific issue.  Most people don’t know that you can ask for a dream and expect to get a response which can be creative, insightful and healing.  For most people, inspiring dreams, like intuitive insights, are seen as flashes in the pan—a great fortune when you get them but not the type of thing you could ask for or intend.

One of the things that gives me great satisfaction as a dream minister and mentor is to have a person I am working with report that they asked for a dream and actually got an answer!  Usually they tell me this with awe, wonder and the joy of discovery in their voice.  It is so empowering to the dreamer, and that person can readily see the long-range value in a practice that could help them for a lifetime.

Is it a Run of Bad Luck or Is It a Test? The Dreams Will Tell.

Tests of faith produce perseverance.

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When a string of bad things happen to us that we did not bring on ourselves, we might attribute it to bad luck or bad timing. Have you ever thought that it could be a spiritual test which might be like an initiation bringing you to a higher level of spiritual consciousness?

If we are to grow significantly in any endeavor, no matter if it is in a sport or an academic area of expertise, we need to constantly be tested. The same is true in the spiritual life. All the great saints and Jesus himself (Luke 4:1-12) were put to the test at some point in their lives. These tests often marked the reaching of a state of maturity that enabled them to witness to or practice their particular calling.

If you were put to a spiritual test, how would you know it?

Sometimes a random string of negative events is just that. How we react to it can exasperate or strengthen us—a lot depends on our response. Even random events can serve the effort of spiritual growth. However, sometimes we are faced with challenges that are truly meant to define us and bring us to the next spiritual level. In this case, how do we know that it is a real spiritual test and not just a random string of bad luck?

Dreams can literally tell us when we are being tested or when we will undergo a challenging set of events that will serve as a training camp of sorts. I am reminded of a dream I had a couple of years ago where I dreamed that I was summoned to a table of people with a certain calling. However, before I could join this table and be given the “goods” to work at this calling, I would be put to a test. The ensuring couple of years proved to be profoundly challenging with work endeavors that represented my work passion all shutting down. If I did not have this dream that set these very disappointing episodes in the context of a greater scheme, I would have despaired all together and perhaps have given up on work that expressed my passion. In another dream about twenty years ago, I dreamed that I would be put in a training program that would bring me to an “Olympic level” of ability. The subsequent years of learning from my dreams and events in my life that went along with the dream learning certainly had that effect whereby I significantly developed my abilities to work with dreams.

Getting insights into where we are on our spiritual journeys is just another way dreams can be of great help, making on-going dreamwork an important tool for those serious about spiritual growth.