Masters of Nightmares

Here are examples of meeting what most people run from in fear- yet knowing that no harm can ever come to you.

Whenever we dream its images are not like real life, because a dream is nothing like outer life where things could hurt you, but is an image like on a cinema screen, so that even if a gun is pointed at you and fired it can do no damage – except if you run in fear; so, all the things that scare you are simply your own fears projected onto the screen of your sleeping mind. So why remain victims of you own fears? See Example 15 – Life Changes

How do they master their awful nightmares? In some way the dreamer has the courage to face what terrifies them, or they realise that dreams are just frightening images and so overcome their fear or fight fire with fire.

How do we face and over come fear? By saying no to the urges of fear that make us run like frightened mice and hide from our own magnificence. We say no to what destroys our own best human self and live like tiny scared children in our own world of adults. We say no to the many shortcuts we constantly try  to take in diving into holes to protect us from pains we have ourselves created by our avoidance’s to face what we need to grow. We are so scared of our own emotions we run and fall into the fire of the pain it causes. We say no to the urge to gorge ourselves with what our basic instincts and human weakness pushes is to do with our hunger, our sexual urge, our desire to push and tread others underfoot in order to satisfy our small selves. For each day of each minute is ours to choose the way of meeting ourselves.

This next example is from Oliver, a boy of six, illustrates how such fears can be met with a little courage. It is a dream which recurred several times, so his description is of a series of dreams.

Example: ‘I am in my bed in my own room and I hear what I know to be a wolf wearing the sort of clogs worn in Lancashire. When the wolf gets to a certain point, there is a bang, and I wake terrified. My Mother’s reassurances do not help. Each night he gets a bit nearer before my panicky awakening. The night came when I know he will reach me. Sure enough he arrives, and the bedroom door – in my dream – is flung wide open with a tremendous bang, I shouted out, “You are not real”. There was no one there. I never dreamt it again.’

A man meeting what for most would have been horrific

Example: I was walking up the several flights of stairs to get to the attic room. I was holding a small dog in my arms – one of those rather flat nosed toy dogs.

When I arrived at the attic I put the dog down. But now the attic was empty and dark. I could feel my hair stand on end and my skin ‘crawling’. Actually I feel it all again as I write this. The feeling arose because there was an unformed dark shape creeping around at the far end of the room. The dog was really afraid and came into my arms.

Then the dark creature leapt at me, transforming into a massive mouth with huge fangs like a sabre toothed tiger and with an awful demonic face. Immediately I leapt at it in the same way and smashed against its face with my own huge fangs. This utterly disarmed it because it had felt, in its primitive way, to terrify me. It surprised me too that I could so immediately transform into a monster when necessary. Later I realised that I had often become something of a monster in real life, and that was how I knew how to become a monster in order to deal with my own inner monster.

Realising why the nightmare was haunting him

Example: Had a very unusual dream last night. I was in an outdoor environment. It seemed a bit dark, or maybe morbid is the right word. I was with other people but none of them stood out to remain in memory. There was a definite awareness though of being near to a place that was haunted, and that a man was in trouble in the haunted place.

I decided to go and see if I could sort out the problem. I walked down a slope to where the centre of the haunting existed. It was an open space with an old double-decker bus in it. The only person on the bus was a middle-aged man who was sitting on the top deck leaning out of a window on the right hand side of the bus. I stood beneath him and looked up. He was staring in a glazed way and didn’t see me. I could see and feel that he was being hit by fantasies or hallucinations by whatever was the source of the haunting. This invasion of his mind was grabbing his attention so fully that he wasn’t aware of his surrounding or of me. I was sure that if he went any deeper into this mind stuff he wouldn’t be able to pull out. I waved my hand in his line of vision and banged my hand on the bus to make a noise and get his attention. At first it didn’t seem as if I would bring him out of it, but after a while he looked at me.

I shouted at him to pull out. I said that he had a wife and some more years of his life to live, so why lose himself into this entrancement. This didn’t seem to grab him so I shouted again and said that he would eventually slip into this empty mind world anyway – at death – so why not live with his wife the remaining years of his life. I was sure that if he lost awareness he would let himself starve.

I was aware that what he desired was to slip away into the Buddhist void, into the awareness of the one life in which he lost any awareness of self. But I banged and shouted and he became more ‘present’. I then felt I had to confront whatever was the source of the powerful ‘haunting’ that was pulling him into the inner mind. I turned away from the man and saw just to my right a short distance from the bus an animal that was the ‘haunter’. It was a mammal of no particular type – a bit like a mixture of dog, rat and guinea pig. It seemed very ordinary and tame, and stood looking at me. I walked toward it and stretched out my hand. It was a tan colour with short fur and gave a feeling of being okay to approach, so I touched it to stroke. This was okay and I was thinking there was no problem when the creature leapt at my throat in a flash of movement and ripped my throat out.

This sounds disturbing but I simply observed this and thought to myself that stroking and trying to be friendly was no way of dealing with this thing. It was as if I was in command of the imagery in that I simply formed another body. But then it dived into me to devour me from within. The only way that felt as if I might deal with the creature was to have the meditative state of holding on to the nothingness that was my centre, and not feeling panic at it’s attacks. In fact apart from the gory imagery, there was nothing to be frightened of, as the creature was only attacking my dream image of myself. As I wasn’t identified with this, it couldn’t hurt me. That was the end of the dream.

But later I explored the dream and it aroused a great anger and hatred for what my mother did did to me, which led to this wild devouring anger inside me. It took a while to release it using what Tony describes as Lifestream, but when it was finished I felt I understood why she did what she did and I felt forgiveness.

A Terror of Tunnels

Dreamt that at the same time I was myself, and had spent a long time following clues in my research into the unconscious. One particular line of clues had led me to go through a door in the house in which I lived. This house has no clear connection with any house I know, although it reminds me vaguely of G. L’s house. The door led to an area somewhat like a cellar or basement. It was certainly down some steps, but I felt more as if it were an almost secret place within the house rather than underneath it. It was dark, with no windows though, and was similar to being down deep.

I was like a detective following clues. To follow the clues I tried an experiment. I sat in this interior place facing a tunnel. It was maybe about five or six feet high. Where I sat was dimly lit, but the tunnel led into complete blackness and the unknown. I believe I repeated some keywords and looked into the tunnel.

I had neither warning nor expectation for what happened. I was overwhelmed by terror, as if the very darkness of the tunnel was a living force of fear that entered me and consumed me. I screamed and screamed uncontrollably in reaction.

Nevertheless, a part of me was observing what had happened, and was amazed and realised I had found something of great importance. Somehow I managed to turn my screaming self away from the tunnel. But on my right – it had appeared to be behind me – was another tunnel that brought about the same terror.

I managed to get to the door, open it and get back into the everyday part of the house. I remember feeling, as I did so, that I hoped no one would observe me coming out, as in some ways it was illegal to go into or be in such a place. I also feel as if I have had many, many dreams involved in the house, that I have never brought to consciousness before.

In meeting the terror of the tunnels I first felt two string connections; firstly I felt that society puts an authoritative stamp on the unconscious by considering that only psychiatrists, doctors, priests, or professors have anything useful to say about it. This leads to my sense of secrecy or illegality shown in the dream.

The second association was with feelings that I had a life long habit of retreat form adult functioning, this showed itself in a spontaneous movement of me burying my head trying not to be involved or to see.

But it worked out as my struggle to avoid the rectal anaesthesia as a child during a medical operation I experiences as a nine year old. I wasn’t experiencing the emotions of that, only the movements and intuitions about its connection with the dream. That is, I kept saying, “I didn’t hurt anybody. I didn’t.” This was expressive of a sense that the pain inflicted to me during the operation, must be because I had done something wrong. I could see that I associated inflicted pain with the punishment a parent gave because of some “bad” action. So, I could not understand why the pain had been inflicted on me.

Because the operation was on my nose I couldn’t be given anesthetic via the nose, instead the nurse tried to stick a pipe up my behind. She gave me no explanation about why or what she was doing, so I fought like mad and kicked the bottle of anesthetic out of her hands. But again without explanation she brought several other nurses who held me down as they applied the anesthetic. The effect of this made me feel I was being blown up and I felt I was dying, so was fighting for my life against what felt like women attacking me.

I screamed, struggle to and shouted, expressive of fighting with nurses. What I screamed was pleas to be left alone. What had I done to deserve such an attack? I screamed to my “attackers” to stop.

What arose from all this was the distinct reaction that people could not be trusted. For no good reason, and despite physical struggle and screamed pleas for them to stop, they yet persisted and caused me pain. So, I saw that out of my experience of people in those situations arose a powerful suspicion and mistrust of people. Also I developed a belief that people are purposely deceitful. This was because my mother, and nurses, doctors, say such things as, “This won’t hurt. Everything is going to be okay. You’ll go in, they will put you to sleep, and you won’t feel a thing.” There was no mention that nurses might attack me and subject me against my will to what felt like death.

The sense of death equated with pain and people hurting one. At the time of the anesthetic my conscious identity had been plunged still with some awareness deep into the unconscious. The loss of shape or senses was felt to be death. So, a conditioned reflex had been set in me lasting many years until I recovered the memory of it and so transformed the terror into understanding. The conditioned reflex was or is that when I get to the point of consciously entering the unconscious, my frantic screaming and struggling for life was triggered. It was the way I mastered the nightmare using such things as Dreams – Practical Techniques to explore them and Opening to Life

Meeting a Ghost

I was in an ancient room. It had the feeling of it being an old church. Then my wife and I were in bed in the room. A middle aged woman was in the room. She appeared to be a ghost. I felt afraid of her, but to confront the fear I reached out my hand to her. I was crying out in my sleep from fear. As she took my hand I was amazed and shocked to feel it as physically real. I cried out ‘I can feel you – I can feel you!’ She was also surprised. I had the impression this level or dimension was recognised by ‘them’. She said to companions I do not see how, ‘He is from the fourth level.’ I then said I wanted to understand. A.T.

Being Shot

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 w/o the shooter guy seeing me.

The interesting thing in the example is that even though she could see no hurt came from being shot, yet she was still scared of the guy with the shooter. And it is overcoming such fears that can release you from terror and hurts that haunt us.

Meeting demons

Example: As I walked toward a house a number of demons or devils came at me menacingly, trying to stop me getting near the house. Although they made all the ghostly noises I wasn’t at all afraid of them. I felt they were a damned nuisance, and to show them I meant business I grabbed one and with my right hand I gripped its flesh and squeezed. It started to squeak in pain and I squeezed harder. The squeaking came from my wife. I had grabbed the flesh of her abdomen and was squeezing it. It woke me.

Facing a Killer

Example: Facing my adversary and becoming lucid in the dream, I allowed the adversary to kill me with a sword, knowing all the while that absolutely no harm could come from this experience. Fully lucid and looking at my dream attacker I said: “You can plunge the sword through me if you wish,” whereupon my adversary did just that. Then I drew the sword out of my dream body and very lovingly and wisely gave it back to the adversary and said: “Thank you.”

Fear of Snakes

Last night 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 – which of course they are, for we have a reptilian brain. See Levels of Awareness in Dreams

Becoming the tiger that attacked him

Example: I was in a hallway behind a door, pulling it against me to shield myself against a tiger. The tiger was large with bloodstained paws. Some people stopped outside the door to look at the tiger. I told them to move along, as it had a very uncertain temper, and it could easily attack. In fact it began to grow restless and growl. They went. I saw the deep colours of the tiger, and the blood. I was terrified that at any moment it would pull the door away from me. I then stepped out from behind the door and the  tiger attacked me. It then swallowed me. Now instead of feeling separate I was the tiger, and delighted in his movements and anger.

I had thus became the tiger. Then I, as the tiger I felt enormous temper – anger – hate I leapt up as the tiger to claw and devour. I really felt strong temper. It kept really appearing to get smaller and smaller. Eventually I saw it as just a toy cuddly tiger. Then its head came off as a pantomime horse does, and I was amazed to see that it was my cousin Sidney inside it, who I felt had teased me as a child. He was several years older than me, and used to delight in holding me off with his long arms so I couldn’t hit him. Being the tiger had released the anger I had not been able to express for years.


I was in a large motor vehicle with perhaps three or four other men. The vehicle was like a very large lorry or removals van. We were driving along an unpaved road in slightly mountainous or rugged countryside. As we were driving along we became aware of a huge vehicle trying to overtake us. This had caterpillar tracks on each side of it like some tanks. It was immensely wide and going very fast. We pulled over as far to one side – the left – of the road as we could to allow it to pass. But as we did so we got too near the edge of the road and went over a precipitous drop.

Quite a long period of the dream was taken up with the experience of falling. We seemed almost to go into free-fall, a weightless state, because the fall was so long that we floated in the space. It was long enough for me to think many thoughts about death, whether death would be instantaneous. I was not aware of any sense of fear or terror, simply an awareness of falling and what it might mean. Then we had crashed and I was still alive. I then had a memory of standing at the bottom of the huge drop waiting for someone.

As can be seen, when there is no fear there is no hurt or terror. Also even when there is terror in the dream there is no hurt. Like the computer game, you can get up again and continue the game – of life – until you learn to overcome your fears and go up to the next level of the game.

Meeting nightmare images

So, as I look at this nightmare scenario – these nightmare images – I recognise them for what they are and pass through them, seeing, as it were, the projectors that produce the images.  I can see that the images project from some of one’s most profound childhood terrors.  They can erupt all those old feelings about such things as their, torture, abandonment, sex.  And I look into these images to see what lies behind the outer form.

Now I think I switch channels and have a sense of myself from which I say, “I am much older than my years”, for I have drawn upon the wisdom of my ancestors and their experience.  And I have not seen their wisdom as if these were laws and taboos to be laid in place for ever.  I see them as things to be understood and venerated as great wisdom relating to their time and their circumstances.  I see their wisdom as something to be taken and re-evaluated in terms of what is needful in today’s world.  In this way I sit amongst you as an elder who is older than my years.
I have knelt at the altar of my ancestors and learned their wisdom.  But I have also knelt at the altar of the ancestors of other tribes and peoples and learned of their wisdom too.  In this way I have been enlarged.

Nightmare of war Bombing

I am in a very dark, bleak house, with a young boy. It is night outside and the house is isolated. A dark, shadowy, Thing, is trying to get into the house. I am terrified of it, and I am holding the young boy behind me protectively while I try to keep the door closed with my foot, as the Thing batters at it. – James H.

James explored his dream by imagining opening the door and meeting the Thing. When he did this, feelings from childhood arose – the young boy. He felt the fear of the German bombs he had experienced in his youth. He realised that this hidden – shadowy – fear had kept him from taking risks in life. In meeting the Thing he was now free of that fear. Most of the shadowy creatures of our dreams are expressions of similar fears or hurts, and if me, can be just as transformative.

Here is one I myself faced before I started exploring dreams.

A friend had recently visited my wife and I and had asked if the house was haunted. A couple of nights later I dreamt that my wife was asleep beside me and I was sitting up in bed with my friend’s words in mind. So I challenged any such ghost to show themselves, feeling I could handle them. Nothing happened so I lay down thinking I had solved the problem – there were no ghosts.

Quite soon afterwards, still dreaming, the sound of a door creaking open made me sit up. Then from behind me two black men who looked as if they had risen out of a grave with flesh peeling off them approached me. I quickly made the sign of the cross and said some sort of holy words and the figures disappeared. I lay back again thinking it was a good thing I knew how to get rid of them. But as soon as I settled to sleep again the door creaked open and the two figures appeared once more. This time all my hand waving and words had no effect on their advance, and their hands closed around my throat and I woke screaming in terror. My wife, feeling my fear, got up and we switched on all the lights.

Of course it took time and learning to use the techniques I now write about, but I found out that because I had totally repressed my sexual expression for 8 years, that part of me had been buried and was rotten in the earth. Working on and facing the dream content completely transformed the situation.

The Great Fear of Death

I was alone in a house and asleep in bed. Something materialised or landed on the foot of the bed. It woke me a little and I felt afraid. I had the feeling it was some sort of entity materialising and coming for me in some way. It moved up the bed a little. I felt paralysed, partly by fear but also as if the ‘thing’ was influencing me. This made me more afraid of it. Then it moved up higher, not on my body but on the bed. I was very afraid and struggling against the paralysing influence. I managed to shout at it – “I will destroy you. I will destroy you”. As I shouted I pushed at it with my hand. This felt to me as if I were going to will its destruction and use my hand to smash it. I still felt a little uncertain of the outcome but I was very determined to fight it. At this point I woke up or was awakened by my wife. She asked me what I had been dreaming. Apparently I had been pushing her and shouting that I would destroy her. David P.

I started by considering the recent nightmare of the ‘thing’ at the foot of my bed. Gradually I began to feel tense throughout my body, with difficulty in breathing.

The feeling was that death was claiming me. So I wanted to face the truth about death, whatever it was. I wanted to walk right up to it and look it in the face and know whether death meant a final end. If it did I would rather know. As I approached death like this by imaging walking toward the THING, my feelings went through an amazing transformation. All the tension left me. I felt good, positive, easy to breathe and with a sense of hope about life and death. This was so surprising and sudden I wondered what had produced it. I needed to be aware of how this change had occurred. So I retraced my steps to look at death and try to understand why it had lost its power of fear.

At first I saw that my tension and sense of death being or giving a disease was due to a view I had of it. When we look at the world only through our senses, death is obviously a terminal sickness that claims everyone. Someone said on TV the other day – Life is a sexually transmitted disease that produces a 100% mortality. Seen in this way death is the rotting corpse, the skeleton. The path to it is disease or breakdown. But in looking it in the face I saw another view of it. I saw the dead body, the corpse, the skeleton, as a form left behind by the process of life. When I looked at myself to see what ‘David’ is – I cannot separate myself from the process of life. That process leaves behind shells, bodies, tree trunks, but it goes on creating other forms. I am Life.


-Etta Brown 2017-03-28 8:03:33

The isolation, rejection, criticism from professional peers experienced in my dreams is a reflection of what I have experience in my waking life in the family (I was the only one of five children that was not bi-polar). I was treated as an unwelcome alien. The problem is that in my dreams I fight back physically, and awake lying injured on the floor near the bed from contact with a piece of furniture. In the dream I struggled to get away from these rejecting individuals) and in trying to escape I get tangled in the bed covers and fall. How do I deal with the dreams?

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