Fewer dreams after inquiry

 

Since my teens, I have worked with dreams using mainly Jungian approaches such as active imagination. It’s been an important part of my process, and I used to remember dreams quite regularly. Since I started with the Living Inquiries a couple of years back, I have remembered far fewer dreams.

I wonder if it is because dreams convey information from what’s going on outside of conscious awareness to my conscious awareness, and especially if I remember them and work on them. Using the Living Inquiries, I am accessing that or similar information anyway, so there may be less need to remember dreams. An even simpler explanation is that my conscious attention is more on inquiry than dreams right now, and my mind responds by reducing the number of remembered dreams. One or both of those seem to be the most likely reason and they also make most intuitive sense.

Knots and reimagination

 

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There are many ways to work with knots.

I can allow the experience that comes up, as is, with kindness. I can inquire into stories around it and find what is more honest for me. I can act with more integrity in the world.

And if the knot is particularly sore, I can also reimagine my response in situations that triggered the knot. I can imagine myself in the situation, now acting from more clarity, wisdom and kindness.  (This is similar to revisiting a dream through active imagination). When I do that, I notice a further shift into a sense of clarity, honesty, relief, and alignment with what is more true for me.

What is a knot?

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Guidance from any dream

 

Some differentiate dreams into mundane and spiritual, and it may be helpful in some situations.

But why not use any dream as a guide?

For instance, I can go back into any dream using active imagination, interacting with the dream elements in a different way to see what happens. I may get new insights into the dynamics among these dream elements, and also how to  facilitate among them differently – including in daily life. (It all happens within my own world of images, whether I call it a dream, imagination or daily life.)

And I can notice beliefs and investigate them, both the ones I acted on in the dream and the ones came up about the dream after I woke up. I can find what is more true for me than the initial beliefs.

Using these types of approaches, any dream offer valuable and practical guidance. There is no need to wait for the “big dreams”. I may even see that the guidance in the Big Dreams were there all along, in the smaller and more mundane dreams.

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Active imagination & daily life

 

In a recent dream, I visited my parents. New neighbors had moved in and they were looking for trouble, especially in their relationship to my parents. After I woke up, I went back into the dream – using active imagination – and replayed it. This time, I took the role of the mediator and there was a sense of warmth, simplicity and playfulness in how I related to the characters in the dream – since I knew it was just a dream.

So I thought, why not bring this into daily life? Why not relate to daily life as if it was active imagination, or a lucid dream?

When I look, I find that my experience of all of those – daily life, active imagination and dreams – is the same. It is all happening within and as awakeness. All living its own life, on its own schedule.

For me right now, it is especially interesting to notice the felt-sense of all as awakeness and imagination in active imagination, and then notice the same felt-sense in daily life, the felt-sense of all as God.

There is one possible difference, though. Sometimes, early on when I explored active imagination, I would do things I wouldn’t do in daily life just to see what would happen. (Not much interest in that now.) And in daily life, I aim at acting with as much integrity – as much kindness and insight – that is available to me.

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Childhood dream

 

Most have one or more recurrent childhood dreams. I had the typical one of flying, and a nightmarish one as well.

I climb up the pull-down ladder to the attic. As my upper body enters the attic, I fall. The ladder and floor disappear, and I fall through darkness. Suddenly, below me I see a large cauldron stirred by a witch. She looks up and grins at me.

The pull-down ladder to the attic was in the house I grew up in, and it was always exiting – and a little scary – to climb up it and into the attic. I would wake up before falling into the cauldron, with the image of the witch grinning up at me etched in my mind.

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Spirit animal

 

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When I was a child, I had a Big Dream about a black panther, and I realize later that it was very similar to shamanic experiences and connections with a spirit animal. In the dream, there was a connection with the panther as long lost friend, and someone who had immense wisdom, insight and ability to guide me.

The world is a mirror of what is inside of ourselves, and animals can be especially helpful in mirroring and evoking certain qualities in us.

When we journey – whether in dreams, shamanic rituals, active imagination, through using the whole of us as in process work, or even through voice dialog – we are often guided to exactly those qualities that wants to come into our lives more fully. Those that may have been disowned, or just temporarily forgotten. There is an infinity of sources for reminders, including animals.

What comes up is what is needed here and now, so will change over time. But some may have to do with longer term processes, unfolding over decades, and the black panther for me seems to be one of these.

For me, the black panther evokes a beautiful combination of polarities, maybe especially a natural confidence and relaxation, and alertness and explosive activity, depending on what the situation calls for. It is firm and gentle, cute and vicious, and follows its path with receptivity yet in a non-nonsense way and undistractedly. Its velvety blackness reminds of the fertile blackness and awakening of the belly center, which nurtures each of the qualities listed above.

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Shamanism is probably the earliest form for psychology, and from the little I know about it, it can be every bit as sophisticated as any contemporary western psychology. Judging from the earliest examples of rock art, it is a form of psychology that has been with us since before the dawn of civilization, which is humbling and also gives a sense of connection across time and universality.

I have worked with the black panther more lately, bringing its qualities into my daily life, and have found it a great support.I may find the black panther qualities in myself through images and movements, or just ask myself what would the black panther do?

Alchemy: the metals of the world in the process of becoming gold

 

In an alchemical text (don’t remember which one), it apparently says that all metals in the world are in the process of becoming gold. Translated, it means that everything in us is already in a process of awakening, although it is a very slow process which can be speeded up by various alchemical processes – mainly by bringing the prima materia, the stuff of our lives, into awareness, and then explore, differentiate, and bring it into a more conscious wholeness.

The big picture: awakening to who and what we are

This journey which each part goes through is an aspect of the overall process from unconscious and undifferentiated wholeness, through a split and partial consciousness, through active work and exploration of each aspect and their relationships, to a conscious and differentiated whole.

There is always and already the whole of what we are, and this is eventually noticed in awakening to ourselves as Big Mind. And then there is a conscious and differentiated whole of who we are, as individual human beings and soul, which only comes about through active exploration, by digging into it, living it, working through it, engaging actively in it – gradually healing, developing and maturing as individuals.

Awakening as what we are can happen at any point, and is independent of content, including of how or who we are. But awakening as who we are is a long, gradual process.

At our human level, it is one of individualization, of differentiating and exploring each pole in each polarity, and then the polarity as a whole, of developing and maturing as a human being. At our soul level, it is a process of becoming familiar with ourselves as soul, as alive presence, in all its many facets, and how this influences and transforms who we are as human beings.

Impulses for awakening to who and what we are

It seems that for those who actively explore this process, there is an experience – or realization? – of everything inside and outside of us being an invitation, or an impulse, to awaken more to who and what we are.

Some simple examples of this is active imagination, where any dream or fantasy is a path to bringing aspects of us into awareness, and becoming more familiar with and embracing a polarity in ourselves and our life and not only its separate poles. The same is the case with Process Work, although in a more comprehensive and extended way, where we find that anything in our life, no matter how apparently insignificant, is an impulse towards awakening more to who and what we are. And the same is the case with The Work, where any stress in our life is an invitation to awaken to who (whole process) and what (question #4) we are.

I also notice this when I am just curious about what arises in me, and explore it – allowing it to unfold a little bit.

Example: impulse to death and rebirth

For instance, if this personality has a great deal of resistance to being with a particular experience, I notice an impulse towards death (sounds more dramatic than it necessarily is.) And this impulse can of course be interpreted in different ways by the personality, for instance of wanting the situation (the trigger) to change or go away, or of me to change or go away, or of how I relate to it to change or go away. I want to remove the trigger (by doing something in the world), myself (for instance by distracting myself or going unconscious), or how I relate to it (through working on myself.)

The basic impulse is an impulse towards death, and it can be interpreted in all of these forms, some of which works better than other, and some effects which are more superficial and temporary than others. In this context of anything being an invitation to awakening more to who and what we are, the essence of the impulse is an invitation to allow our limited, and limiting, beliefs and identifications to die.

The stress comes from a discrepancy between our stories of what is and how it should be (all coming from beliefs and identities), so the stress is an invitation to notice this, actively explore our beliefs and identities – through the many ways available – until they soften or fall away on their own.

Of course, this impulse can equally well be seen as an impulse towards life. Any fixed belief and identity limits a sense of aliveness, and when it falls away, there is a sense of liberation and more life.

For me, if there is a great deal of resistance and I get caught up in it, it seems – initially, before working on it, as an impulse to death. And as there is more space and clarity around it, or if there is this space and clarity around it from the beginning, it seems more an impulse to life. They are two aspects of the same process of death (of beliefs and identities) and rebirth (more free from these beliefs and identities.)