The foundations of this practice rest on an understanding, or a standpoint accepted or taken by the you as the dreamer. It is that you are an expression of Life. Let’s forget anything about dream theory, because the very first step is to form an attitude to you. In looking at you, you are a being, a little chunk of life, and at the core of this living being, this living process, is a process that has developed a sense of self, is the stuff of life. It is the stuff that makes heroes and saints, mothers, fathers, friends and foes. It is the essence from which arises the whole thrust of life. It is the living core of creative possibilities. If you look around you at what life does, you can see it can be a multitude of things. It can manifest as a lion or a flea, a giraffe or a tree. It is, at the same time, both a galaxy and an amoeba. And here it is in front of you as a living being.
At the core of you is that freedom to choose — that freedom that life expresses in its multiplicity of forms. Another word for that freedom is potential or creativity. So at the core of you is that potential, that creativity, that problem solving ability that life itself expresses. But perhaps with you, that freedom, that creative ability, that potential, has got lost, forgotten or buried in some way. So our work as the dream watcher, the dream yogi, is to help you remember, help you find your way, to rediscover or uncover your creativity and problem solving ability. That creativity and ability to solve problems is always there inside you. That wonderful ability belongs to you, otherwise your body would not have existed so long. So it is not for someone else to solve your problem or to find the way for you. It is for you to help uncover those possibilities within you.
Life has been and can be any shape and so can change, as it has over the ages. Behind life, at the very beginning is Consciousness. I know science doesn’t go along with that, but it is evident in all the forms. But it is only expressed as the complexity of form allows it to show. We think we are so highly evolved but our consciousness is only just emerging into any fullness. And we are on the verge of another step forward.
“Every night you create a new drama. You conjure out of your own being the people, the creatures, the surroundings of your dream. Then you give life to what you create not only life but purpose and drama. You are a supreme dramatist, playwright, actor and actress. You are the great Creator in your dreams. Considering this, have you ever wondered why that enormous creativity does not flow into your waking life? You can see that some people have that creativity and are enriched by it personally and financially. Why not you?”
So our work as the dream watcher, the dream yogi, is to help you remember, help you find your way, to rediscover or uncover your creativity and problem solving ability. That creativity and ability to solve problems is always there inside you. That wonderful ability belongs to you, otherwise your body would not have existed so long. So it is not for someone else to solve your problem or to find the way for you. It is for you to help uncover those possibilities within you. See - Techniques for Exploring your Dreams
Practice Dream Yoga
Perhaps you need to practice a little Dream Yoga to take the first steps in transforming your life. In dream yoga you cannot control everything, but you can realise there is no harm for you and others if you give the dream characters and animals freedom.
Remember that when you are asleep, there is nobody else there but you and your mind. Remember also that your brain is an enormous translator. Every impression, whether sight, sound, or touch, are only nervous impulses that the brain receives and then translates into what you see, smell or hear. Unfortunately most people feel that what they see is real, and not the magic work of their brain. So when you dream about someone you know, or a frightening monster, what you are experiencing are images the brain uses to convey something to you – like fear or wonder. They are all you – your fears, your inspirations, your sexual desires or hopes, your feelings and intuitions about the dead, God and Devils, even your predictions about the future, are all your own creations. Nobody is ‘out there’ to get you.
Nothing can hurt you in this yoga.
What often happens then is you discover that a snake, or an animal, and even other people are all a part of you, and they can add to your ability. So there is no need for you to get at odds with them, and they are not at odds with you.
You do not need to stand on your head for this yoga, but you do need to change your attitudes. Stop being frightened of your dream snakes, or whatever else you are running from. And if you can practice Dream Yoga you will find a better life and greater health, for fear is a great killer.
Example: I was getting ready to leave and this dark haired guy told me I couldn’t leave, I felt scared and was going to leave anyways, he pulled out a pistol and shot me in the stomach, I fell down, but there was no blood. The thoughts in my head was, “OH NO”.
Next thing I remember is that I was still on the floor in the same place and I got up and I remembered being shot but I didn’t seem to have any pain or blood and was moving normally etc. I started looking for a way to leave I was sneaking around trying not to get noticed so that I could get out of there without the shooter guy seeing me.
The woman in the dream, despite actually experiencing that being shot in the stomach during a dream did no damage to her, her habits of fear still made her sneak around.
Having realised that nothing can actually hurt you, you can learn to react to your dreams differently. Dream Yoga is a way of transforming your life. But you can see how deeply we are brain washed by the dream above.
The first steps of it are:
1 – Every image and person in your dreams is an expression of your own life process. As such it is alive and intelligent and is something sent to help you. A dream is like a projection from a movie projector, except that you are the projector.
Everything you see as outside you in your dream is coming from you, your emotions, your fears, your beliefs, your joys and explorations are all you, clothed in the dream images and drama. So when you dream of someone you should not feel you are dreaming about that actual person. As with most dreams, the person in the dream is not the person themselves, but is a collection of associations and feeling about him or her.
In the world of dreams our most intimate fears and longings are given an exterior life of their own in the form of the people, objects and places of our dream. Therefore our sexual drive may be shown as a person and how we relate to them; or given shape and colour as an object; or given mood as a scene, something that haunts our memory shown as a ghost or demon. Our feeling of ambition might thus be portrayed as a business person in our dream – our changing emotions as the sea or a river; while the present relationship we have with our ambition or emotions is expressed in the events or plot of the dream. Even dreams of God or angels are in a sense a meeting with your highest.
A dream portrays each part of us, such as our ambition, as being exterior to us, because a thought or an emotion is something we experience, not something we are. By showing our urges or fears as people or places exterior to us, our dreams are able to portray the strange fact that while, for instance, the love we have for another person is intimately our own, we may find such a feeling difficult to bear, as when one is married and falls in love with someone else. While we dream, the subtleties of such dilemmas are given dramatic form. To observe our dilemma as if we were watching it as a play, has very real advantages. The different factors of our situation, such as our feelings for our marriage partner, our love of the new person, and social pressures such as our family’s reactions, might all be shown as different people in the dream. See Masters of Nightmares
2 – There is nothing in any dream that can hurt you, unless you run away from something. Running away is leaving yourself open to being a victim of whatever frightens you. So always confront and conquer the danger in your dreams. If a bear is attacking you in the woods, go toward the bear rather than running from it. If a person strikes you in the dream, fight back. In other words, combat and conquer your monsters rather than fleeing from them.
And do not think, “That monster is bigger and stronger than I am, and it is frightening!!” It is our thoughts and fears that create the monsters inside us. So of course you are stronger unless you cower in fear.
In the ancient view of dreams recorded in the yoga teachings of the Atharva Veda, being active or even actively aggressive in one’s dreams, was seen as a positive sign, even if one was injured or mutilated as a result of one’s active stance; whereas if the dreamer passively accepted injury in a dream this was seen as a negative implication. This was because it was felt that the active or passive stance within the dreams indicated a similar disposition during waking life. As the active person is generally more successful, the dream sign of an active disposition was seen as fortunate.
Remember that you in a dream is simply an image, and it doesn’t matter that ‘you’ in the dream is blown to pieces or torn limb form limb because you create the image of yourself and so create another one endlessly.
Actively fight or get past anything that threatens you.
3 – Realising this you can use it to enhance your abilities. For instance, if I dream of a yogi as is the following dream, I could use him to keep calm and find healing:
Example: To my left in a room that was out of sight I knew that an Indian Yogi sat constantly in meditation. I also knew that his form of meditation was the repetition of a mantra or holy names.
So any new skill or insight can be called upon, whether it is creativity; loving attitude, intuition, strength, call on it.
4 – Instead of running or avoiding things, take them into yourself. This is like eating; you take something in and it becomes you. This is because we project all things outside of us in dreams, and to some extent we lose the energy they would otherwise give us. So accept that every part of your dreams is an expression of some part of you. So taking it into you makes you stronger and more capable. In fighting the tiger you are fighting or running away from yourself. Taking it in means you have its strength.
Example:I dreamt I was outdoors walking through open ground, maybe at times gardens. I was with others – not sure who, and we frequently came across large snakes which we reacted to as if they were venomous. Then I came across a lot of them and they swarmed onto me. I froze, terrified that if I made a move I would be fatally bitten. But they just swarmed over my body and got under my clothes without harming me. Gradually I relaxed and slowly began to move about with the snakes still on me. They started to feel like a built in defence system which would attack anyone who was aggressive to me. At one point several large and aggressive dogs walked past me. They turned as if thinking about attacking, then appeared to sense the snakes and ran off cowed. As time passed the snakes felt like part of my body. At the end of the dream I was walking to a house – something like a posh embassy. I was dressed rather like a backwoodsman, with a stubble of beard. I didn’t feel like a drop out, but as if I had been living in the woods, in nature, for some time.
5 – Always move toward pleasurable experiences in your dreams. If you find yourself flying in a dream, relax and let yourself float on the wind. If you are attracted sexually to an individual in a dream who in the waking life would be a taboo for you (your wife’s mother, etc.) let yourself enjoy the experience rather than dwelling on the negative aspects of the situation.
6 – If you can, always move your dream to a satisfying ending, even by visualising it when you are awake. Seek something creative in your dreams too. Seek the poem, painting, song, or other material that can be extracted creatively from the dream. Look for the gift within the imagery. See Secrets of Power Dreaming
7 – Integrate everything to be a part of you. That is, every creature, every scene.
I repeat this over and over because it is so important – the creatures in our dreams are totally different to creatures outside us. They are all parts of you, your body, your brain and emotions. But they are put into the form of living creatures because they are part of you – a living being.
I know, you might say that a snake can never be a part of ME. But take a look at the bigger picture of YOU. You started your present life as a single celled creature. And you were destined to meet that wonderful other cell, the egg and you fertilised it. Then it was as if you were a vegetable type, just building cells. Slowly you became a creature with gills, and passed through that toward having a human type body – still under water. Then at birth you came out, but without language and without any definite personality. This came gradually, until now you are like a conscious rider of an ancient beast, your body. And this body still carries within it all its ancient history. There in your brain is the reptile, the snake, called the reptile brain; and then it became like an ape – the mammalian brain – and then the neo-human brain. See Reptilian Brain; Programmed
So YOU depend and need all the levels of you to function as you do. Unfortunately, the YOU that has come about is very vulnerable – look around you at all the people on drugs to keep them sane, free of depression and criminal tendencies - and to protect this vulnerable you it forgets or blocks out knowledge of who and what you are.
As I said to someone else recently while talking about a dream: When I was in the room with the chimpanzees I was feeling that I was dealing with a part of me that was not as integrated with the modern world as ‘I’ am. So the chimpanzees/snakes/creatures are powers or abilities I have, but they are not yet integrated fully into my everyday life. I mean by this that although people call themselves human, we are really only half formed. We have not yet integrated these older parts of ourselves and so are rather disintegrated and liable to breakdown.
So the snakes, crocodiles, lion, horse or other creatures are a part of you that if you took the time to really feel the feelings they provoke, and get past the blockages we have as protection, then you become more whole, more sane, and with more powers.
You have to realise that there is nothing outside of you while you dream. So it is all taking place within your community of yourself. Therefore it doesn’t matter whether it is a dragon or a parent, it is still you paralysed by you. So instead of pitting yourself against yourself, it is wise to integrate any figure and have their/its power.
So claim the strength instead of using it to paralyse yourself.
To integrate another part of you open your heart and your body to feel the creature. Open by accepting it as a part of yourself – just as the blood and guts and faeces are a part of you. Allow yourself to grow emotionally and become strong. See Life’s Little Secrets
8 – Also, many people have amazing dreams but apparently learn nothing from them. If you come away from a dream empty handed then you have received a wonderful communication and ignored its message. OK, it may be difficult to understand. So what, things are not handed to us served up with gravy. Struggle with it, pray for help with it, live with it, for this is message that is vital to you.
And yes, I mean vital. Without understanding your dreams you are like a ship in a storm without a rudder or even an engine. See Techniques for Exploring your Dreams
9 – Never be satisfied with an insight that is still in symbols. Such symbolic living, like dreams whose meaning we allow to remain hidden within their imagery, never confront us with the birth trauma, with childhood hurts and sexual abuse. They never really transform the base of our being where such real emotional and even physical pain exists buried and avoided. In fact symbolic living is a way of maintaining the avoidance. An example is given below of someone only remaining with symbols in their understanding.
“Help me” I beg the serpent. He rears back, giving me a steely look with his mysterious sky-blue eyes. Then, he swiftly strikes my crippled foot and bites it with his powerful jaws. I nearly faint at the pain of it, and both my feet and legs turn black and rotten. I look at the serpent in astonishment.
One half of me glows with light, the other half is putrid and black with rot. Then in a flash, my legs and feet turn to diamond and light up my forehead.
This is typical of the way many people arrive at some form of symbolism about their inner life and seem satisfied to leave it in that form — symbolic. What, in terms of the dreamers everyday life, are diamond legs? What is the serpent she meets if it is personal human experience?
The real heroine or hero of the inward journey does not remain in this symbolised version of themselves. They do not accept the Devil as an exterior agent, or Christ as an outer and perhaps historical character. They do not accept their dreams at face value, but are ready to face themselves with the courage necessary. For it is an uncomfortable journey to actually see oneself. It is a demanding climb to have one’s awareness stretched and widened beyond one’s personal limitations in order to include a vaster experience of oneself. Therefore there are inbuilt or personal resistances to actually having direct insight. It is easier to remain at a symbolic level rather than discover the wonderful or uncomfortable truths about oneself. That is true Dream Yoga. (For a detailed description of someone breaking through symbols to direct experience see Active Imagination)
It helps to be clear about this point of allowing fantasy if one understands the way completely unconscious inner events gradually emerge into consciousness. W.V. Caldwell, writing about the way Van Rhijn has defined the levels of consciousness says there are four stages:-
a] The deeply unconscious physiological process, such as cell generation and digestion. Problems which cannot move more fully into consciousness and so are held at this level, become psychosomatic pains or illness. This becomes clearer if we consider human life in relationship with other life forms. A plant for instance might have some sort of bacterial illness, but would not be able to bring that to awareness. In a sense many things which occur to us, although they are very real and definite, never become a part of our conscious life, but always remain in the ‘plant’ level. If they are to move from ‘deeply unconscious physiological process’ to becoming known consciously, there are stages such events go through.
b] As the physiological or psychobiological process moves nearer consciousness, its next level of expression is postural or gestural. Thus we may express our deepest hidden feelings in an unconscious body posture or movement. Not only our feelings express in this way, but also our physical tone or health shows in our gestures and movements. Even the plant droops if it needs water.
c] Next, when something moves from the gestural to the next stage of expression it becomes a dream or a symbol, which although it may not be understood, is now entering the arena of awareness. It is still one a part of the move toward consciousness. This is sometimes called the mythic level, and is something we see working in producing religious thinking or myth creation. It still remains at the symbolic level.
d] At this stage, what had been deeply unconscious, then symbolised, now rises into consciousness and is capable of being verbalised or thought about and analysed. If one had attempted to verbalise something in level two it would have been so far outside of consciousness as to defy description. Also, when looking at these levels or stages, they suggest that the dream process is a means by which deeper stages can be portrayed to awareness in order to make them known. Therefore, by working with the dream process we can tap deeper levels of awareness and make them known. It is not by thinking about a dream that makes it known but by working with the process that has taken it from the psychosomatic, through the postural upwards to the dream level.
When this level is reach you can describe a dream in a way anyone can understand.
10 – Death is a fact that we all face, and it is no good running away from it in our dreams. That only makes it more scary. Because you CANNOT run away from death you should meet it face to face. If you do that it will transform into the beautiful part of life it is, instead of the horror we have been taught to see it as.
What I find again and again that people are often so shocked by the death of someone, as though it were a surprise. We all know we are going to die, and honestly we haven’t a clue when. So it is wise to realise that someone we care about will die, and even we will face our own demise. It is therefore worth not walking about with blinkers on trying to avoid the fact. It is worth thinking about what you want to do with them now, and what you would like to say to them now. Do not run around in a daze when they die.
11 – Falling and the big black hole are things we avoid in waking life, but should not be avoided in dream life. Here is a dream of a dream yogi.
“I can remember being dressed as an heroic warrior running through crowds of people or soldiers who were trying to stop me. I pushed or knocked them aside and ran toward what was a huge caldera – the mouth of a volcano. It was hugely deep, and in its depths was a massive glow from volcanic lava. But I knew that this was the core of oneself, so I ran and leapt into the void falling into what I knew or felt sure was the light at the core of my being.”
The hole is an important part of you and should not be ignored. If you can enter it you realise that it is the way to your own center and power. It is the hole described in Alice in the Wonderland.
But the hole and facing death are really gateways to discover who, or what, you are. Most people say, “I don’t believe in God. There is no evidence for His existence.” Some people say, “I believe in God with all my heart.” But both people are locked into only knowing a tiny part of them based on our conscious self, emotions, words and thoughts. They are so sure of themselves based on an almost infinitesimal small part of them. And the silly thing is that they are so sure of themselves from this small understanding.
Behind that conscious self, so new, so fragile, is the darkness of unconsciousness. And there in the darkness is the Hugeness that lies behind our small self. So ask your self, “Who am I? What am I?” And do not be fooled by repeating your name, what you have achieved, and all the ready made word descriptions. Keep asking. As a man who did this and kept on asking those questions says:
“I was sitting opposite someone during a meditation. We had been posing the question for days – ‘Who are you?’ Suddenly I realised that it was a silly question, because I was the answer. All thought stopped and I existed as the answer. My being had always been this. In this state there was an awareness of being connected with everything around me, in the beginning of creation. This was the first day. Also I was aware of what I felt was a monkey running to keep up with what was me. It was what I had always thought of as the real me, and it was nothing but a monkey that wanted to be the real thing but couldn’t. The old me was a photocopy of everything we believe, not the reality. Our conscious mind is a photocopier and yet we are so sure we know reality.’
12 – Remember that dreams are just like computer games in which you get very involved and face monsters and kill or be killed and nothing has actually happened – you are still alive and unhurt. But in this wonderfully alive virtual reality of our dreams we are all playing the game of life – the game we play in which we face or run away from the things than scare us; in which we explore the depths of our existence or learn how to love – or simply meet a reflection of our own weakness and terror. For that is all it is – a magic mirror in which we see ourselves naked of pretense.
So treat your dreams like the game you can play and learn from.
13 – A way of dealing with anger and great emotions is to be the person who is angry, or being yourself being angry is one of the safest ways of allowing and healing the causes of anger. Anger is a natural feeling, and when we repress it, as we are usually taught to do in our society, it becomes pressurised and sick or dangerous.
You can release it safely by standing in the role of the angry or emotional person, and sometimes it can help to act out anger by hitting cushions or an armchair with a rolled up newspaper. Acting it out can often lead to a real release and then you can see where it all started. You may need to do it without feelings and automatically at first, but if you keep on it will slowly become real. You will probably need to do this a number of times over a period of time to feel the results.
It is important to let any feelings be expresses and not to feel guilty about any negative feelings to people. In releasing them in this way you are not hurting anyone, but you are clearing out your unexpressed darkness.
14 – As you learn to enter more fully into your dreams you will gradually realise that your real self isn’t the body with a gender of male or female, but a shape shifter. You also will have learned how to dive under the surface of your conscious personality and realise that there is a huge and wonderful world often called the unconscious. It is actually awarenes of Life, and in it you can become a bodiless consciousness, or be an animal, or know the wonder of animal consciousness. As this becomes real to you an amazing transformation takes place in your understanding. Realising that you are or can be many things it begins to emerge that whatever you believe fully can become real within you, and even in the material world. That might seem like a simple thing but is immense. It means that within a world of constant change you can create a reality of your own. It is a gift from God to be so creative. But it is a gift that most people find an awful and terrible thing, because most people create a world of fear, horror, superstition, and feel, therefore believe, they are victims of fate or God. So they live in a dark world which is their own creation. See – Avoid Being Victims
Because I believe
The universe has good will,
Out of the very force of my life,
And from the stuff of mind,
I create a rock
In the midst of a shoreless sea.
In an ocean of change and uncertainty
I form an island of charm.
Because I believe.
15 – An important part of dream yoga – in fact of all approaches to yoga – is that it is a discipline leading to Union/Enlightenment. The path of dreams if practiced fully will lead to the union of your conscious little self, with your Core Self. In a real sense this is union with Life, the mystery that is ever with us but is little acknowledged. It is one of the most direct routes I know – having used so many. It has the advantage of keeping you whole, and actually confronting you with your fears, traumas – karma – instead of trying to get to the good place without the work of self transcendence. See Life’s Little Secrets
Dreamer you me
What we are doing in our dreams is an expression of how we see ourselves at the time of the dream, our stance or attitude to life, or what could be generalised as our self image. It typifies what aspects of our character we identify with most strongly. To define what self image is portrayed in your dreams, consider just what situation you have created for yourself in the dream, and what environment and people you are with.
Example: ‘My husband and I are at some sort of social club. The people there are ex-workmates of mine and I am having a wonderful time and am very popular. My husband is enjoying my enjoyment.’ Quoted from article by the author in She magazine.
The dreamer in the above example describes herself as ‘a mature 41-year old.’ The dream, and her description of it, sum up her image of herself in just a few words. She sees herself as attractive, sociable, liked, happily married. She is probably good looking and healthy. But the dream carries on. She and her husband ‘are travelling down a country lane in an open horse drawn carriage. It is very dark and is in the area we used to live. We come to a hump -backed bridge, and as we arrive at the brow of the bridge a voice says, ‘Fair lady, come to me.’ My body is suddenly lying flat and starts to rise. I float and everything is black, warm and peaceful. Then great fear comes over me and I cry out my husband’s name over and over. I get colder and slip in and out of the blackness. I wake. Even with the light on I feel the presence of great evil.’
From a very positive sense of self, she has moved to a feeling which horrifies her. How can such a confident, socially capable woman, one who has succeeded professionally as well as in her marriage, meet such feelings? The answer probably lies in the statement of her age. At 41 she is facing the menopause and great physical change. The image of herself she has lived with depended, or developed out of, having a firm sexually attractive body, and being capable of having children. Losing whatever it is that makes one sexually desirable must change the image others have of one, and that one has of oneself. The hump of the bridge represent this peak of her life, from whence she will start to go downhill towards death – certainly toward retirement. So she is facing a mid life crisis in which a new image of herself will need to be forged.
Example: ‘I am a shy 16 year old and am worried about my dream. In it I am walking along the school’s main corridor. I try to cover myself with my hands as a few people go by, not noticing me. Then a group of boys pass, pointing and laughing at me – one boy I used to fancy. A teacher then gives me clothes. They are too big but I wear them because I have nothing else.’ H. M.
Adolescence is a time of great change anyway, when a lot is developing as far as self image is concerned. Her nakedness shows how vulnerable she feels, and how she has a fear that other people must be able to see her developing sexuality and womanhood. It is new to her and still embarrassing, particularly with boys she feels something for. She tries to cover up her feelings, and uses attitudes she has learned from parents and teachers – but these are not suitable. So we might summarise by saying that the situation she places herself in within the dream shows her present uncertainty and sense of needing clothes – attitudes or confidence – of her own.
Our current ‘self image’ is displayed by what we do in our dreams. If we are the active and central character in our dreams, then we have a positive, confident image of ourselves. The role we place ourselves in is also the one we feel at home with, or one which is habitual to us. If we are constantly a victim in our dreams, we need to consider whether we are living such a role in everyday life. Dreams may help us look at our self image from a more detached viewpoint. We can look back on what we do in a dream more easily than we can on our everyday waking behaviour. This helps us understand our attitudes or stance, a very growth promoting experience. It is important to understand the viewpoint of the other dream characters also. Although they depict views not habitual to us, they enlarge us through acquaintance.
But our self image at some time has to be lost because it is all based on false assumptions, and so it leads to great pain in relationships, to mistakes about decisions we make, and generally about our understanding of life. Most of us feel that the person we are we were born with and developed from. And here is just one huge false assumption we have and need to dismiss. We are in fact programmed by the language we learnt from our parents and others, our cultural viewpoints and our experiences. See: Programmed – Meeting yourself