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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Help Me Grow A Spiritual Life Program at St. Mary of Mo’ili’ili

Spiritual Life Program at St. Mary's, Honolulu

Grow Spiritual Seeds

If you like the blogs I have posted giving concrete and practical information on how dreams and intuition can be used to improve health and grow spiritually, please help me grow a Spiritual Life Program at St. Mary of Mo’ili’ili in Honolulu, Hawaii.  We are just now launching a fundraising campaign to support classes on spirituality, dreamwork, meditation and mindful exercise as well as to offer a guest speaker program and other activities-all of which serve to honor the body, mind and spirit, holistically.  Under the supervision of St. Mary’s rector, the Rev. Greg Johnson, I will manage the program and teach many of the classes as money becomes available. Perhaps there will be something of interest to you. Certainly your financial help will help us grow seeds planted by the late Rev. Nancy Conley at St. Mary’s.

To go to our GoFundMe page and find out more, please click on the link below:

https://www.gofundme.com/StMary-SpiritualLife

You may also fund the conventional way by making out a check to St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, for Spiritual Life Program/Ministries on the memo line.  Checks can be mailed to St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 2062 South King St., Honolulu, HI  96826.

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.

Image via Pinterest.

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.

Where Do Dreams Come From?

 Through dreams, the body is a conduit of energy from many sources..

Dreams Come From Many Sources

Dreams can be so flighty and ephemeral and yet so profound and weighty.   It makes one wonder where they come from in the first place.  The answer is that they come from many places inside and outside the body.  According to the quote to the right, Edgar Cayce says they can come from the body, mind and the soul.  This is so because of the amazing nature of the body itself.  The body is a conduit of energy and intelligent information at three levels: physical body, mind and soul.  It can not only send messages about itself to us, such as when we feel pain in an arm, it can also send messages from what is happening in our environment such as when we read information on a billboard.  But more than this, the body can be a receptor and sender of information purely on the energy or spiritual plane—as in cases of intuitive understanding such as mental telepathy and remote viewing.  This is so because the body is connected to the wider energy field in which it lives and can pick up messages if the person’s intuitive receptors are open to this form of communication.

While sleeping, the ego’s strong filtering system of weeding out strange and frightening information is also dormant with its guard down, making the dreamer much more open to receive messages from body, mind and spirit.  For example, the soul can send its messages of value and purpose to the dreamer much more easily than when ego is saying, “I’m afraid to do that!”  The body, itself can send messages to the dreamer if it feels like it’s usual messages of pain are being ignored as when a warning dream of needing to see a doctor presents itself.   Or the mind may send messages of a solution to a problem that the dreamer’s waking mind just can’t grasp.  This is why dreamwork is so effective for keeping in tune with the needs of the body, mind and soul.

Projecting feelings on to others

Working with Dream Figures: Taking Back Our Projections on Other People

Projecting feelings on to others

Quote by Carl Jung. Image via Pinterest.

It is very common to dream about friends, family members and any other type of person we come into contact in the waking world.  Sometimes, these people can greatly affect us either in negative or positive ways such as generating within us feelings of extreme loathing, fear, passionate longing or intense admiration.

It is important to know that how these people affect us in waking life and what they mean to us are often projections of what those people mean to us in dream time—often an phenomenon that may or may not be true, and may not all reflect who those people really are.

Dreamwork Can Make Us Aware of Projections

One of the great advantages of working with dreams is to help make us conscious of the projections we place on other people.  If we are aware that what we think or how we view a person may be a projection that should be investigated, we are removing one more blind spot in our field of awareness and allowing another person’s true self to speak to us.

A Useful Dreamwork Method:  Viewing Everything in the Dream as Part of Myself

The dreamwork method of first viewing everything in the dream as part of me allows to me reflect on what each person in the dream means to me.  Seeing each person as representing a type of energy within myself allows me to ask questions why this person generates strong negative and positive feelings, especially when I see how this dream person interacts with other parts of myself in the dream.  I can begin to see a very lively drama that may have very little to do with what is going on outside and has a lot to say what is happening within me.  I then may be able to view the person outside in a different light, and with more objectivity.

Unfortunately, for those who do not do dreamwork or even remember their dreams, they can be subject to being driven by unrecognized energies operating in dream time.  In other words, it is like they are being programmed and don’t even know it.

Dreams of Spiritual Transformation

Symptoms of Spiritual Awakening

Image via Pinterest.

Big changes in life are usually easy to detect.  We all recognize when there is a need to change a job, or a desire to get married.  There are external and internal catalysts that tell us it’s time to make a change.   We no longer feel the job is right for us or we meet a special person who awakens new and wondrous feelings.  We go ahead and make the decisions that set in place the change, and change happens.   We get a new job or we get married.   Our lives are transformed.   We judge the success of the change by the outcome of the new job or marriage.

Monitoring Spiritual Transformation is Often Not So Simple

On the spiritual level, the need to make a change, as well as the ability to monitor the success and degree of change is often a lot more subtle, and may take years to notice if we lead a busy, work-filled lifestyle.  The catalysts for spiritual change, especially the profound and life altering changes at the soul level, such as the need to live for a deeper reason, or a loss of feeling comfortable with the way things are can bring on rich, insightful, and even guiding dreams that help one through the often difficult challenges and obstacles that happen later in the process of spiritual transformation.  Dreams help us get prepared for the shift at the soul level.

Dreamwork Helps Monitor Spiritual Change

Doing dreamwork over a long period of time has many advantages, and one of them is the ability to see one’s own spiritual transformation take place before one’s eyes, over a period of time, presently or imminently—before it actually manifests in waking life.  This can be especially helpful if one is going through a long, dark period when no glimmer of hope for change seems so on the horizon.

This transformation can be seen in dreams by symbols and stories of change.  A symbols doesn’t have to be obviously spiritual or religious, but the dreamer will make the association if it is.   An important symbol in the dream may actually morph and change shape, showing the type of transformation that will take place.  A process taking place in the dream may symbolize what the dreamer will go through.  Voices may actually tell the dreamer that change has taken place, or will take place.

I am reminded of a recent dream I had where I parked my car and walked off, only to return to find that my old car had morphed into an amazing new car that had a special feel to it.  Someone in the dream scene told me that I had parked my car in a “zone of transformation” so that caused the car to be transformed!  Previously in the past couple of years, I had dreams of my old car having brake and tire problems—even being blown up, all of which seem to reflect the many spiritual challenges I faced at this time that related to making my way through life.  This transformational dream related to my car certainly lets me know that all those challenges are leading to change!

Dreamwork Is Essential for Spiritual Growth

The dream is a door in the soul to the cosmos..

Image via Pinterest

While it has been said that neurosis is a cry of the soul wanting to be heard, there are various positive ways that our souls speak to us, if we take the time and the effort to pay attention.   One way is intuitive insight.  Perhaps another is reverie when we are relaxed and allow our minds to meander without control, being fed by stirrings deep within us.   Another very important way is dreams.  Freud called dreams the “royal road to the Unconscious” for a reason.  These night time scenarios are the most direct and readily available means of receiving undiluted messages from the soul.

It stands to reason then that anyone who is seriously interested in spirituality and the care of the soul would take dreams seriously, but sadly this is often not the case.  There are plenty of people who try to follow a spiritual path and ignore their dreams altogether!  Even many psychologists who are in the field of “the study of the soul” don’t take their own dreams seriously or use dreams as a therapeutic method.  The most common reasons given are that dreams are hard to remember, or are weird and hard to figure out.  An often not-stated reason is that dreams can be frightening and disturbing.  Also, some religious people of certain persuasions feel dreams may be the work of the devil despite the fact that the Bible recounts numerous stories where people used dreams to listen to God.

There is in Western society and in Christianity in particular, an abiding distrust of the Unconscious that has not encouraged us to explore our dreams—something not shared by our ancient ancestors and indigenous peoples who all took dreams seriously.  We need to reclaim this respect if we are going to mature spiritually in a truly holistic fashion of mind, body, and spirit.

Get to Know Your Dreams

If dreams are strange and so frightening, it is perhaps like anything else we fear: it is a fear of the unknown that can be remedied by getting to know what we fear.  One gets to know one’s dreams by making the following intentions and following through with them:

  • Take dreams seriously.
  • Tell yourself you will remember your dreams.
  • Write or record them in a dream journal. Review them on occasion.
  • Reflect on them for several levels of meaning rather than seek a quick and superficial answer.
  • Consider that every dream has a spiritual meaning.
  • Consider everything in the dream as representing an energy within yourself.
  • Make associations between things and people in the dream with those in your waking life at the moment.

Doing these simple tasks of dreamwork on a regular basis will provide a profound portal to the soul, teaching much about the soul and what it has to say. You will come across an amazing, undiscovered country and you will have practiced a very effective spiritual method!

Dreamwork: A Path to Explore Outside the Box

Dreamwork: Pathway Out of the Box

What’s the Box to You? Image via Pinterest

One of the best ways to get outside the box to discover new approaches and receive profound insights is to do dreamwork. There comes a time in our life when it becomes necessary to step beyond safe or confining boundaries because our world can no longer gives us the nurturing support we have come to expect. Sometimes our world, our box, often a fabrication of our making, can no longer give us the answers we need.

We grow up in a world that is our own box, at first sustained by family, friends and community, and then later by ourselves. We learn how to navigate through this world and work with its rules. As we become citizens of this box, and even experts and using it to our advantage, we strive to enjoy and run things in this world of our box, taking pride in what we can accomplish. But at some point, the box either gets too confining or we are kicked out by others who control the box, illness, old age or fate itself.  We no longer belong in the box.  This is when dreamwork can be very helpful because dreams can pierce the limitations of the box and birth us into a much larger reality. Usually this birthing is difficult at best. Dreams can help us by:

  • Providing visions of what life outside the box will look like.
  • Showing us the way to get out of the box if we are ready to leave it.
  • Showing us what our role and contributions can be to those still in the box, and those ready to leave the box.

I have often thought that this is one reason why dreams can be so bizarre. They provide symbols that want to pull us away from the usual ways we perceive things so that we can look at something from a different and fresh viewpoint. I think they want to us to see beyond the box.  For example, if I dream of a red eagle talking to me, I may try to imagine what the eagle is telling me beyond its words. How would the eagle perceive me? What is the eagle trying to tell me? Why is it red, and not the usual brown with a white head? Asking and learning from the eagle will provide a new perspective that is entirely out of the box of my conventional, waking mind. Heaven only knows what message will be given.

Do Dreams Deal with the Past, Present and Future?

From many years of working with dreams, I find that most of them deal with current issues, a few deal with past issues and some deal with issues of the distant future. For other people it may be different, but this is the conclusion I get when I experience them, write them down and reflect on them. Perhaps it is just me in that I feel I have few issues from the past that need resolving. I certainly have some in the future that I prepare for, or are trying to work out with resolution now. However, as with a lot of people, my so-called “burning issues” are the ones that I am dealing with today and the day after.

Usually, I have found, a dream is about either the past, present or future, but not all three at once–unless it is a dream that is covering a great deal of one’s life and is highlighting a major theme in one’s life. These are often the Great Dreams which give insight on one’s life purpose in light of the greater picture.