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Dreams – The Way to Their Heart

Dreams are more than surface deep. Research has shown dreaming began in creatures 20 million years ago or more. This suggests dreams emerge from some of the deepest levels of our being. You don’t need a self-aware personality, a thinking mind, rational reasoning, or any of the other sophisticated mental and emotional equipment we consider to be human to be able to dream. Even babies in the womb are known to dream. As yet we do not know what they dream, but the process of dreaming is part and parcel of the baby’s survival and growth. They are also part and parcel of our own adult survival and growth, at all levels of our being.

Those things are said because mostly we hear about analysing dreams, as if they are something we could penetrate by thinking about, or being analytical about. In writing about this elsewhere I have said this is rather like thinking that you understand what the experience of swimming is like simply by thinking about it, but never having been in the water. Being in the water is a very powerful physical sensation, it is an emotional experience and it requires the learning of a skill to move around in that element and survive. Dreams are very much like that. If you enter the emotional and sensory aspects of dreams rather than simply think about them, it is often a very deeply felt experience. There are certain skills you need to learn to be able to do that, to move around in dreams, and learn from them.

Elsewhere, in writing about what I call Life Stream, I have said that each of us grew from a tiny fertilised seed in our mother’s womb. Wisdom innate in that tiny cell, in your mother’s body and in how the universe works, enabled and directed the amazing journey of growth. That journey is perhaps the most incredible of any life form on our planet. From a very fundamental level of life your being moved from a single cell to a bundle of cells. Then, in starting to form an organised body and nervous system it developed from being an aquatic creature toward forming a body capable of living in and breathing air. At birth you transformed from being fully immersed in water to breathing air and beginning independent life.

If, as we see with some plant growth, these changes were filmed and speeded up, you would witness an extraordinary process of growth and energy flow. In fact energy streams through your forming body, directed by innate wisdom. That wisdom, that innate process that was behind your growth and is now behind your continued existence, is the source of dreams. It is the life process in you that produces your dreams. It does it in animals, it does it in unborn babies, it does it in you. As such it involves every aspect of who and what you are; everything from your body, your organ processes, the fundamental levels of your awareness and sensory connection with the world and others, as well as the emergence and development of your self awareness. You are all those things and more, and your dreams arise out of your wholeness, and if you are not experienced in, or not ready to experience the depths of who you are, then you will not really know what your dreams are.

So, how do we enter into and move around in the great waters of our dreams?

The first steps are in learning how to allow things to happen spontaneously. The dream itself occurs because you have surrendered control as you slipped into sleep. The dream is a spontaneous expression of something other than your conscious will or thoughts. To enter the world of the dream you need to learn how to do that consciously. Learning how to let go of your goals, your conscious thoughts and desires, your will, is the first skill needed. See The Life Will

If you consider what happens when you go to sleep, you completely let go of the world, your activities, your thoughts and feelings. Then your thoughts and feelings start to flow in their own way, being moved from a deeper level than your conscious decisions. It is worth examining your experience of this and trying to reproduce it while you are alert and awake. Dreams do not communicate with words or intellectual discussion, and if you cannot allow the spontaneous your dreams will not be able to communicate with you.

I tend to call this the keyboard condition and have described it elsewhere in various ways. The first steps in learning the keyboard condition are to hold your body, your emotions, your sexuality, your mind, memories and imagination as if they were keys upon which the inner dream maker can play. As you fall asleep you let go of your control over what you think, what you do with your body, and what you fantasy. Your I, your decision making self has relaxed and left the stage free for the dream maker to create its dramas. So, in beginning to access the deeper possibilities of your dreams you need to take on a similar relaxed state without actually losing awareness. In this way you are holding your body free to move spontaneously; you are letting go of any control or resistances you might have in connection with your emotions; you are relinquishing your thoughts and goals, and you are leaving the stage free for your imagination all to be able to respond to something other than your conscious will and ready to be moved spontaneously.

Remember that when you dream you often experience very powerful emotions, you move, you run, you make love, and more than anything else you experience an enormous variety of situations or environments. To enter into these, to gather what they depict about yourself and your deeply unconscious life processes and mind, you cannot simply analyse or think about them. You need to experience them.

Learning to be capable of being moved like that for most people takes practice. Two simple techniques enable you to do this. The first I call ‘self watching’ and the second one is ‘carving in space’.

Self Watching

This is one of the most important skills we can learn, not only in regard to entering into our dreams; it is also a doorway into many other possibilities in your life.

It is most helpful if you can practice this skill with a partner who will listen without comment. Their quietness is important. It is so easy to simply sit and have a conversation or for the listening person simply to tell you what they think about what you are saying, and that is not the aim of this exercise. Having a partner who will listen without comment focuses your attention. It is an enormous aid, and you can take it in turns to be the person using the process.

You need to sit somewhere you can be reasonably relaxed and undisturbed for at least fifteen minutes. Then, as far as you are able take on the keyboard condition. In other words agree with yourself that you are not unconsciously telling your body it must be still. You are leaving your body open to move, to stretch, or do whatever comes to you spontaneously. It means being ready to experience your emotions, memories or imagination in any way they arrive spontaneously.

Then, with eyes closed, turn your attention onto yourself. Perhaps imagine that your body is like a television screen and you are simply watching what images and drama appear on it. So start by being aware of what sensations, feelings, tensions, or discomforts are apparent throughout your body. Describe them to your partner or to yourself if you have no partner. I mean by this actually speak aloud what you feel and observe, even if you are alone. This focuses your attention enormously. You are not aiming to reach any goal, so simply observe and gradually observe what is flitting through your thoughts, what feeling state you are in and watch the changes that occur as you continue your observation. As any shift occurs describe it.

Remember that you are not attempting to reach any particular goal of feelings or attitude. You are simply observing and describing what you can see. Here is an example of somebody using this technique. As you can see they move gradually from general observations of what they are experiencing to a particular theme, that of relationship. This is often what happens. Certain directions are taken spontaneously and feelings or memories arise that take you in a particular direction.

As I turn my attention to the screen of my body the first thing I notice is that my mouth is quite tense. I am almost biting my lip, so I relax that tension. And then I notice that the rest of my body has tensions that are unnecessary and I relax them. Now a feeling is occurring in the upper part of my body, almost as if a heavy cloud were shifting from my head and there is a sense of opening, or perhaps something like walking out of a small room into the open air and experiencing the bigness of the sky. It is a nice feeling. Now I get the urge to move my head by turning it side to side, almost as if I am exercising my neck. My whole body gets involved in this now and I shift my position for one that feels more open and comfortable. Now it seems as if I am simply listening. I am feeling as if I’m going to open. I am opening. These words come to me spontaneously and I speak them. But I don’t know what they mean yet. Now I yawn. I am looking at something that isn’t very clear and it is about the way I relate to women. That’s how it seems. I am feeling as if I’m trying to open. I’m not sure why. It’s all to do with being independent. I don’t want to get involved in somebody else’s needs and desires. I can see I feel that a close relationship means becoming beholden to someone. It’s nothing that I can’t deal with.

One of the important points of this technique is to help you develop awareness of the subtle feelings, shift of feelings, physical sensations, and urges that arise when you give yourself that sort of attention. If this is difficult for you at first it is helpful to think of someone you love or something that is beautiful. It can be a pet, an object, a person or a place. As you hold this in mind notice what change of feelings occur. Notice how your body feels as you hold in mind what you have chosen that is beautiful.

When you have observed this, change what you are thinking about to something else, something that is ugly or that you don’t like. Again notice the difference in what you are feeling and the sensations in your body, and even what memories or images arise.

What you can learn from this is that every thought you hold, everything you see in the external world, produces a corresponding shift within yourself and the way your body feels. This awareness can then be applied to exploring a dream and entering into its drama. Once you have learned to give yourself that awareness and notice what is going on within you, you can then hold in mind the drama or imagery of the dream and observe how your being responds, what it is telling you spontaneously about the dream. Ask the question, “What is my dream depicting to me?” Or take a particular character or part of your dream and ask what aspect of your life or insight it depicts.

Carving in Space

The second exercise is a wonderful way of extending this ability. It brings the body more fully into play, and begins the process of allowing a full keyboard condition to be used. It enables you to watch what can arise spontaneously, and how creative you are if you simply let go and allow things to happen.

For this exercise you need sufficient floor space to move easily, or even lie full length if necessary. It also helps to have loose clothing. Then you stand in the middle of your floor space giving yourself time to explore what you feel and experience.

Start by slowly circling your arms. Take the arms above the head, down the sides of the body with the arms fully extended. Then take your arms upward crossing the front of the trunk. In the full movement the hands are then forming wide circles that cross the front of your body.

Now, as you are circling your arms with eyes closed, bring your awareness to the shape your hands are making in space. As you become aware of the shapes the handsor finger tips are carving in space, watch what feelings you have as to how your hands and arms would like to move. Give yourself permission to doodle, to make any sort of shapes your feelings or body incline you to. Allow any sort of posture or movement, as active or quiet as you like. Allow sounds to accompany the movements if there is an urge to, and allow whatever feelings accompany them.

 

Hold the attitude that what you are doing doesn’t have to make sense. Nor does it have to comply with what other people might expect of you. Realise that you are allowing another part of yourself, perhaps a non verbal part, or a facet unknown to the rational mind, to express. With a non critical watching attitude, relax and let your body and feeling sense direct what happens. There is no need to fiercely concentrate in order to wipe the mind clear of other influences. But you may need to relax the part of the mind that always needs to know beforehand what you are going to do.

This is not like creative dance in which you might feel you must produce something pleasing for others to watch. With this exercise you need an open area in which your inner being can express in its own way. Movements and feelings have a chance to unfold outside of rational criticism and the demands of everyday life.

Give yourself at least twenty minutes in which to explore what spontaneous movements and feelings emerge. Below is a summary of what may happen in this practice.

  1. Although the movements may at first appear haphazard and irrational, if you allow them to continue without criticism, they usually express – perhaps only over a period of several sessions – a particular theme or point.
  2. Like a dream, the theme or drama often symbolises your life situation, or something within you, such as the remaining emotions or attitudes from past experience, or a creative realisation. Or the movements may be expressive of your body’s own need to release energy or mobilise itself and its urges.
  3. There are obvious stages or depths to the experience. Movement is often the first. Feelings and fantasy then often combine with the movement in expressing as a mime of some sort. Only with a few people do they occur without each other. If met in the right way the movements, fantasy and sounds can lead, through the mime, to insight into what is being expressed. In other words the symbolic movements, if that is what they are, can give way to rational understanding. This is not because one has thought out a plausible explanation for what happens. It is because your critical, conscious mind has watched the spontaneous working of what usually only occurs in sleep and unconsciousness. This gives automatic feedback to the unconscious mind and it can speed up its processing and problem solving. A communication thus takes place between the unconscious and conscious mind.
  4. When you reach a stage that you can easily allow spontaneous movement, along with sound and perhaps feelings, you can dispense with the arm circling to start you off. You will find that if you simply stand in the keyboard condition ready to let your body express what is within you it will begin.

The exercise is a way of entering into the usually unconscious processes of your being and working with them. Usually the only way we let go so fully and allow the spontaneous action of our inner nature is when we sleep and dream. But in this way you can open to your core while awake.

The Power Search

What was said above about the symbolic movements or mime giving way to rational understanding is incredibly important. Understanding it gives the key to real dream penetration. The idea also holds within it the kernel of what happens when we successfully enter into a dream. The symbols unfold their meaning enabling us to arrive at an understanding that we can verbalise. This becomes understandable in what follows.

First though, the above techniques need to be practised until you feel easy with them and can experience real spontaneous emergence of your own inner life, and have learned to accept and allow it easily. Once this has happened you can move on to the real business of entering a dream.

The exercises have started the process during which a flow of communication occurs between your unconscious and your observing conscious mind. At first you are simply observing, and maybe what occurs is highly symbolic. For instance the images that occur while you are in the process of self observation, any movements that you make or feelings that arise might not be understandable. The same is true of what happens in the arm circling exercise. Spontaneous movements, sounds or themes might emerge. They certainly will if you are successfully using the technique. But that is a halfway position. Your unconscious expresses itself in mime, imagery, symbolic drama, irrational sounds, and in any other way in which it can begin the process of bringing to consciousness things that have in themselves never been verbalised, and have never been consciously experienced before. The first stage for this is perhaps in spontaneous movements or irrational sounds. The next stage is that a theme, mime, or symbolic drama is expressed. This needs to be worked with. It needs to be recognised for what it is — symbolic. The communication now needs to be in two directions.

At the heart of the process is the way the memory functions. Every day we use the process of memory countless times. We might seek a telephone number, an address, a word to use in conversation, and the very act of seeking it brings it into awareness from dark unconsciousness. When the piece of information we seek comes into mind we usually have a very strong feeling of recognition. In fact if you are observing the process carefully you will see that a scanning goes on that sorts through many bits of information until it arrives at the right piece. Once you understand that clearly then you can use the process in a slightly different way.

So, the techniques that I have outlined above and suggested you to practice are leading up to this — you start with a fairly clear dream. To begin with it is best to use a dream in which the imagery is impressive and clear. You then take one of the images and explore it by asking what the meaning of it is, and opening as in the keyboard condition, allowing whatever spontaneous feelings, memories or body movements arise. At times very strong feelings will come in this way also.

If you have not practised the self observation and the carving in space, you may feel that this is a pointless exercise as nothing will arise. It is only through practice that you can stand on the edge of your unconscious, so to speak, drop in the question and be aware of the response from within.

The response is very similar to what happens when you seek parts of your memory in everyday life, except that the pathways to normal everyday memory have already been formed. What you are seeking in the dream has never been made conscious before and so you have to approach patiently. Maybe you will not even arrive at any clear insights the first time. But with persistence gradually more and more understanding will arise. When it does, it does not come from an intellectual analysis or thinking about the dream. It comes because something emerges that you can actually witnessed and see, like a mist clearing while you’re standing on a hill so that you can clearly see the landscape below. You don’t need to think about that you can directly observe to experience it.

When something arises that you do not understand you communicate with your unconscious by saying, “I don’t understand this. What does it mean? Please clarify this.”

This two-way communication gradually develops as you practice so that you learn to penetrate beyond the symbols of your dreams, or the spontaneous mimes, sounds or images that arise as you spontaneously open to your dream imagery.

Do not be satisfied with explanations that you give to the imagery by consciously analysing the dream or jumping to conclusions about what a mime or fantasy means. When insight arrives it will clearly explain and link with your everyday life, your history and how it connects with the imagery of the dream. You will discover something new about yourself that you didn’t understand before, something that you can explain to somebody else and they can also see it clearly.

That is the way to the heart of a dream.

See: Techniques for Exploring your Dreams - 


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