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.
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?