Shadow work: Taking responsibility for the Waking Dream

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I’ve been rereading Diane Kennedy Pike’s book “Life as a waking dream” (Riverhead Books, 1997) and thought I’d tackle the concept in a little different way. I decided to look at critical events in my life lately and treat them as dream material and using the dream interpreting book “Morpheus Speaks” (iUniverse, 2019) as a guide to their possible meanings.

Incompetence: I tend to become really upset with what I perceive to be incompetence in anything such as with a person or government or the law, teaching or in the building of something, etc. This probably reflects some of my own worries about my own competence and lack of forgiveness toward myself whenever I deem I’ve been less than competent in some action. Why? Because I hate to be wrong! I mean, being wrong is wrong! I see it as a failing, a less than ideal quality and something broken and God forbid, unfixable. So, I deny the experience, demean it, reject it, and put it down (for purposes of word economics use this last sentence in all the rest of my symbolic meanings).

Injustice: This is another upsetting experience within my everyday waking dream symbols. It is probably connected to incompetence because at one level to be incompetent is unjust or just wrong (are we seeing a theme yet?).

Accused, attacked (especially wrongly): When I or someone I identify with is being wrongfully accused I get upset. Sometimes this may be reflecting my own guilt about something or my doubts about myself. To cover up a wrongdoing e.g., such as a doubt about what you are doing and acting as though you know what you are doing is wrong. Recently I’ve had some doubts about my competence in some action and some project that I’ve taken on and acted as though I knew what I was doing when I wasn’t sure that I did and then the waking world presented me with an unrelated and false accusation that I had to deal with. It was only when I didn’t make it personal such as taking it as a personal wrongdoing that I was able to overcome and solve the issue to everyone’s satisfaction.

Fakery: Pretending to be something you’re not. I do this sometimes to make myself seem better than I am. Of course, I only do this when I feel as though I am not very good. I see this a lot in politics and politicians these days.

Lying: I lie to hide my actions and I do this to not look bad or to look good or to look better than I am. I don’t like the fact that I on occasion do this and find that I rail at those who do it publicly and rail in proportion to my rejection of my own lies.

Well, that’s enough for now. The theme seems pretty obvious to me right now in that all of these fall within my biggest bogeyman that of being “WRONG” or “Less than” which shows up as incompetence, injustice, fakery, or lying. Needless to say, that these days I’m spending a lot of time railing at virtually everything that I see on TV or read in the newspaper or the newsfeeds I get on-line.

Ultimately what I’m seeing and railing against are my own shadows i.e., what I deem the darker parts of myself. 

The outside world is but a mirror to my own inner self. Calling these reflections out for what they are and who is responsible for them and for who needs to deal with them is probably the next step in this process of working with the waking dream. I cannot change the outside world but when I take responsibility for the inside world change can happen.

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves”.

–C.G. Jung

The shadows that bring light

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Below is an excerpt from a story about a young man whose life was opened up to him in a very mysterious way. This part of the story speaks of an aspect of all of us that seems very dark but can have the most enlightening affect if one knows how to work with it.

 

“There is an ancient invocation that goes ‘As it is above, so it is below, as within, so without’” he said as he once again patted the green book next to him. “This is more a reminder than an invocation really because it tells us that we can find out what is inside by looking closely at the outside. This is because we are always projecting ourselves onto the outside world. For example, if we want to see our shadow, look to see what or whom disturbs us, or what we reject. This is easier to do if you can place yourself somewhere between the two worlds of the conscious and unconscious that are both reflections of the one world.

 It is like a tree that has its roots in the underworld and its branches in the heavens. To do this you must accept that you do not know what you do not know. You do this by not letting what you think you know get in the way of what there is to know. This will place you between the known and unknown, the conscious and unconscious and allow you to be open to discovery.

 Shadows can be your fears, disgust, rejections, feelings of abandonment, prejudices, judgments, repressions of memories, biases, negative thoughts and all your personal madness that can then be projected onto others that you meet or onto objects and events. You can see yourself, see your shadows, madness, and level of enlightenment through what you see in others. Even the goodness in others can point to that unconscious aspect in yourself. What is inside is inextricably connected to what is outside in a very profound way. When not separated from the rest of reality you become all of it, what is labeled good and what is labeled bad. The turbulent winds out there in the world that buffet you are the winds generated from within you.”

Every person and every event in the world speaks to us if we have the ears to listen. Everything is a guide into our deeper and most essential self if we are willing to take the journey.

 

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A broken hallelujah

This poem came to me out of a nightmare that I had a couple of nights ago.

 

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No one behind the mask

Open him up and there’s no one there.

No one to love

No one to care.

 

Something is missing

No one to come home to when alone

Where did he go?

When did he leave?

 

Born a hallelujah

But the mask lost him early on

Early on, early on the mask he did don

And he disappeared.

 

He cannot help you

Because he can’t even help himself

Do not go looking for he isn’t there

He isn’t there, he just isn’t there.

 

No one to laugh, no one to cry

But with every word you can hear him scream

Hear his pain

Hear him lie about what he could have been.

 

But he is asleep to this world

And asleep to himself.

He doesn’t even see us, you and I

For the eyes of his mask are empty.

 

Empty because there’s no one behind

No one behind

Behind the mask he wears

But just another broken hallelujah.

 

Lost at sea

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A sad and very dark dream filled my sleeping space not too many nights ago. When I awoke I jotted down the essence of its feeling, the images having become but wisps in the light of day.

Water, symbolic of my emotional state. When I just stuff my unhappiness under the rug or down deep into my hidden psyche because I feel helpless to it the unconscious will only let me get away with it for just so long then it bursts forth in an unsettling dream, demanding to be heard.

 

The dream (often my dreams read like a poem):

 

There’s a Sadness like dead matter floating down through the water deep

I’m enveloped by panic and struggling to regain the surface

Thrashing about but only treading

Until the weight of it all drags me under

 

 I can only distract for acceptance is not yet here

When will I know? Will happiness ever return or

Is all I’m doing is just giving in? Trying to let go brings depression

Is letting go just giving up?

 

 I wonder if there’s a bottom?

Maybe it’s like a black hole, never ending

Until you’re crushed beyond recognition.

Or will I just sit at the bottom and be eaten up by the darkness?

 

 How did I fall off the boat?

Was I pushed, did I jump?

Was I careless or too awkward?

When did I realize that I was never going to get home?

 

Home, I don’t know what it looks like anymore.

It’s been so long I don’t really remember it.

Was it peaceful? Was it happy?

Did I love? Was I loved? Did it matter?

 

I really want to go home!

Maybe if I just stopped struggling

and let it

sink…

 

 

 

 

Another Pandemic Dream

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In a recent post I talked about the vivid dreams people seem to be having during the Coronavirus lockdown. Several people have shared their dreams and experiences during the lock down and I thought I’d share an example of what many people are experiencing along with my response to them.

The dream:

 Hi , thank you for reading this! Last night I had 2 very distinct dreams: 1st dream: I watched 3 tornados form in my back field (NE), and a bolt of lightening nearly struck my 7 year old, standing on the back porch. I was able to get my son and 2 dogs into our safe spot. We were fine. 2nd dream : Real life -I have 5 cats (we live on 10 acres). My cats are inside/outside . I fear that I will loose them but I also know they are willing to take the risk and are very happy. Dream: I watched 3 large coyotes move in and surround The house/the back porch once again; where the cats love to hang out. I made eye contact with the largest coyote and held its gaze, walk past all of the coyotes and was able to have all the kitties come into the garage and lock it down. No harm came to anyone. I know there was a 3rd and I can’t recall it. I know it’s there though. Honestly it was odd feeling when I woke up, curious and not fearful or worried. In an odd way it was very reassuring that I will be able to keep my loved ones safe. I do believe there will be 3 waves of the virus. Recently I have been connecting on a spiritual side with Gaia and embracing those beliefs. We have started celebrating pagan holidays as well. Thoughts?

Interpretation: I use the image suggestions from the book Morpheus Speaks to assist in the interpretation.

These all seem to be anxiety type dreams and probably reflect the inner emotional turmoil that you are experiencing right now. Bad weather dreams often reflect the state of ones emotions. Children often reflect the ambitions or future aspirations of the mother and in the dream this has been attacked (by the lightning). Note also that lightning can symbolize an inspiration or insight as well. The “safe spot’ could be your subconscious dealing with the ‘troubled waters’/situation/circumstances you see yourself in at the moment and your need to stay safe in order to protect your family.

The kittens can be about vulnerability, yours and your sons, to the wildness of the circumstances you are having to face down (the coyotes). Overall the dream is suggesting that you can face up to the threats you are encountering. The coyotes could also reflect your animal nature, your instinctual feelings. They can also come to us in our dreams as spirit guides and speak to our inner power and their symbolic energies (which yours does). You have it within you to face down whatever threatens you at this time.

Note also that in Native American lore the coyote is a trickster come to stir things up in one’s life and to test one’s mettle and to challenge one’s traditional way of looking at things (this is why some theologians think of Jesus as a trickster symbol). Consider also that the coyote may reflect an aspect of your own personality such as being clever and resourceful (the raven is also one of these animals).

Dreamer’s response (partially edited for privacy):

I felt it was a message that we would be safe, to trust myself and my instincts. I am capable of navigating and caring for my family during these times.  My son’s health is compromised and life for all of us in a bit challenging right now.

I didn’t pick up on my internal struggle until this weekend.  I see it clearly now, in the dreams about the tornados and in my most recent.   I have been on the fence about some very personal beliefs and how to accept the changes that I have undergone and the impact they may have on my relationships.  Yet I saw this weekend that I will become stagnant and unhealthy if I do not move forward. Plus, to trust my instinct regardless of how they materialize within the world at large.

Comments:

This dream is full of very vivid images that mostly relate to the dreamer’s emotional state and they reflect what is going on with them during their day. Note also that with most dreams there is new material or insights that one may not have focused on during the waking hours. The unconscious mind from whence dreams come picks up on what’s happening while the conscious mind is busy trying to survive and during the download process of dreaming can provide a wealth of information that the waking mind may not have noticed. This dream had the potential to create powerful change through new insight. Most dreams if not all come in the service of our health and well-being.

There were also archetypal symbols such as the coyote/trickster in this dream that have somewhat universal meanings beyond the unique meaning that the dreamer brings into the dream.

 

We are each other. What does that really mean?

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One of my dreams of this new year ended with these words, “We are each other”. This seemed profound of course, but then I have a tendency to make everything significant.

Okay, it’s a nice sentiment but physical and observational evidence suggests that I’m me and you’re you, I’m over here and you’re over there. We have individual bodies and personalities and I identify with mine and you identify with yours. When I refer to “me”, “mine” and “Bob” I’m pretty sure whom I’m referencing this body as I’m sure you are with regard to your self. Each of us holds the self as separate from other selves i.e. our reference point is located within ourselves.

And I will defend that reference point, its ideas, beliefs, points-of-view and the body that contains it all from anything and everything that is another reference point. In short, I will do whatever is needed to maintain the integrity of the separation between us.

This defense, both conscious and unconscious, uses up a lot of psychic and even physical energy. I spend a lot of time and energy trying to control the image that I have of myself and my world. There’s also the need for approval and maintaining a sense of importance. Most of the time I’m using up so much of what I call my ‘attentional energy’ on my own illusory grandeur that I have little awareness of the grandeur that resides in others or the rest of the universe that’s ‘not Bob”.

What keeps this in place are my judgments i.e. I either look at people in terms of how they are better or how they are worse than me. I also judge all events, situations and circumstances as either being “good” or “bad”. Instead of just accepting people and circumstances for what they are, for what they are being, I judge them and thus maintain the separation between us or I miss the value of the diversity by projecting my beliefs upon them.

Most of the time I do not see that people and moments are exactly as they should be and then I fret and worry and try to change them into my own vision. In short, I am always struggling against the moment. Actually I’m struggling against all existence i.e. the whole universe.

When I react to my feelings about who you are, I separate myself from you. In order to reconnect I need to take responsibility for the feelings that I project upon you.

When I let go of the projection as though it were reality and just let you be I get a glimpse of who you really are. When I also do that with myself, I get a glimpse of who I am as well and at that moment I get to see that at the level beyond our egos and beyond our bodies, we are each other.

Is reality just a soap opera we’ve made up?

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What we see of reality is often just a conditioned response and not reality.

 

Today I posted an article on the Book of Dreams Blog on Becoming Real and wanted to expand on that idea. The thought then struck me that in the Dark Knight blog I often speak to the hidden parts of ourselves and the how and why that material gets hidden in the first place. This blog posting is then an answer to those thoughts.

Most of my writings have been about reality and my relationship to it. When younger I thought that reality was pretty much created by something outside my self and that I was pretty much at the effect of it versus being at cause with it and God forbid I should be responsible for any of it.

The truth was my reality was conditioned by those around me i.e. I pretty much went for acknowledgment of any kind, negative or positive. Why? Because in a state of being separate from others, an individual entity, my only chance of feeling connected i.e. related was to seek and get acknowledgment, or approval. I would therefor do those things that achieved the goal. What I learned to do was to behave in those ways that insured approval i.e. I became something other than myself. This is called behavioral conditioning.

This is where we all begin to develop a mask because often being who we are beneath the mask is often not enough to secure the needed approval. So we fashion a mask that seems to be what people want us to be in order to give us the acknowledgment that we so crave. Note that the people we are seeking acknowledgment from are doing the same thing. So neither of us is being real, we’re all being what we think the other mask wants us to be with each desperately wanting to feel connected. But connection can only happen between real people, not their masks, so there’s no real satisfaction in the relationship.

The problem with this kind of relationship is that we never really get the approval we seek because what we get is for the fake us, not the real us. Most of us then decide that there must be something wrong with us because being ourselves isn’t enough. And the bottom line to this farce is that one cannot truly experience a joyful, happy relationship with anything or anyone because even if we’re loved it is only the mask, the “not me” that is loved. And out of that reality is created, the threat of being found out.

So here we are trying to avoid the pain of being separated by creating an avatar of ourselves so as to feel connected but by definition this isn’t the real us so we still aren’t in relationship, we still don’t feel connected and still don’t feel acknowledged. Can you see how this can become neurotic? We cannot win in this state, nor can anyone else. The masks we wear actually sustain the disconnect we’re hoping to overcome.

But what would happen if we were to support each other in being ourselves, with all the blemishes, habits, doubts and fears that make up a human being? What would happen if we could be like our much younger selves before we learned how not to be ourselves?

What would happen if we stopped enabling each other’s masks? What if we stopped using each other to support our soap operas?

Youtube: Morpheus Speaks

 

This book opens the reader to the world of the unconscious, the deeper psyche with both its lighter and darker aspects. With sections on universal dream symbols, fantasy creatures, shadow aspects, and nightmares this book provides insights to ones dreams beyond the everyday. It is an encyclopedia of over 5000 dream symbols collected from over 3500 dreamers across 140+ countries and cultures. Though it cannot cover all possible meanings it can direct both the beginner and journeyman dream interpreter to a broader insight into their unconscious mind and then lead them through the process of applying this information to their everyday life.

A Dream of Shadows

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I stepped into the night–a lonely, frigid blackness with glowing lanterns here and there. I sighed and my breath rose into the sky and a part of me became one with the stars.

Animals came out of the inky dark to greet me–raccoon, rat, and owl.

They whispered some ancient wisdom, sharing from a place that only they could bear, dancing to a rhythm that only they could hear.

I pulled the night around my shoulders like a robe to comfort me against its emptiness.

Owl, rat, raccoon, and I walking through the night, walking toward the light of home.

Down The Rabbit Hole

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Alice In Wonderland – Down The Rabbit Hole is a painting by Christopher Clark

Last May (5-7-19) I wrote about the rabbit hole as a metaphor for falling emotionally into an abyss i.e., a feeling of “emotional overwhelm, loss of control, and alienation” and thought I would look at some of the symbols that often appear in dreams that speak to this emotional theme.

Transition symbols in dreams such as a cave, hole, tunnel, or a hallway can lead one into the unconscious and a transformed state. When Alice fell down the rabbit hole she entered a period of confusion and chaos, a place of change and transformation.

“The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down a very deep well. 

Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her and to wonder what was going to happen next.”

­–Lewis Carroll

The word “suddenly” is often a clue to a nightmarish quality of impending doom and a feeling of having been caught off guard and made vulnerable. Falling itself has a meaning that speaks to failure, the failure to be cautious. As she fell down the hole she said to herself,

After such a fall as this, I shall think nothing of tumbling down stairs! How brave they’ll all think me at home! Why, I wouldn’t say anything about it, even if I fell off the top of the house.”

The “Rabbit Hole” is an allusion to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. To go “down the rabbit hole” is to enter a period of chaos or confusion but also it’s a metaphor for both jumping into something new and stressful and a recreation of ones life from one way of being to another without any knowledge of how it will turn out. It can also have darker meanings that speak to deepening depression and sense of loss.

Let’s look at a few dream symbols frequently associated with this type of dream:

 A hole can represent the start of a change—a transformation. Where does it lead?

The cave in a dream often represents inner or hidden issues. It is a part of the underworld, your underworld—the unconscious. What do you find in your cave? What are you keeping hidden? Where does it lead?

A tunnel in a dream speaks to a pathway you may have created into your unconscious, an opening to your innermost feelings and memories. It can also be the way to a birth of something (a rebirth or resurrection of something) as in the birth canal. Where does it lead?

A hallway can reveal how various parts (aspects) of you (your house) connect. A hallway can represent a means for the outside world to enter your intimate life. Where does it lead?

The rabbit hole one enters may also represent regression—a turning inward, sometimes to escape from problems. Wasn’t this what Alice was doing?

All presuppose an entrance which is often seen as a symbol for new experiences, or the passing between of one state of being or feeling into another leading to a new realization. Where does it lead?

They also suggest transit—a symbol for change. Where, or what are you transiting toward?

The rabbit hole as an abyss can be a “symbol of great depth often signaling the profound and infinite.” (Morpheus Speaks, page 6, 2019) It can be about the fear of a loss of control or identity and it’s often a symbol for depression. Where does it lead?

Notice how all the above form their own coherence—the internal logic of your dreams also provides information. Dreams are not just meaningless chaos, unless of course you have one that is just meaningless chaos, and that too means something!

Note also the repeated question, “Where does it lead?” This is the mystery inherent in most dreams (and in life as well?) and in much of the material hidden in one’s unconscious mind that has come to the surface in a dream. What I call Rabbit Hole Dreams can reveal some of the most exciting aspects of the human condition, the human psyche, and the spirit within.