Self-awareness poem from an upsetting dream

Part of last night’s dream had me talking with a bedridden old woman who had an upright bicycle parked at the foot of her bed. Suddenly she rolled toward me, forcefully trying to fall out of bed but I resisted.

This may have been a dream where my soul (the anima or female in a man’s dream) was declaring the need to get up and out of her psychic slumber and walk forward. The bike was both a symbol of a motivating force, an image of going forward, and a mandala for finding your bigger self-i.e., the wheels.

The following poem came to me as I reflected on the meanings of this dream.

Stuck in victim mode

I see only my lowest self

A loathsome self

Paralyzed and blame ridden

Lashing outside myself

Not knowing who to blame

Who to call for help

Putting others or the gods down for my 

Pain my loss my failure

Stuck as victim to myself

Where is it that I say enough

And roll out of my lethargic self-loathing slumber

And declare that I am ready to ride forward?

Emotional Vampires and Cannibals

We find the fact that there is cannibalism in the world ugly even though rare and recoil when ever it raises its ugly head. Cannibalism is the same species eating of the body for its own sustenance but what about the eating of the soul when we beat someone down, kick the dog, torture an animal, oppress a people, commit war upon them, or suck the energy from a room or a relationship is that not a form of cannibalism?

Some people thrive on the eating of another’s energy for they have little to none of their own having had it eaten earlier in life or the continuous presence of the loss of energy due to how they are treating themselves or are being treated by others.

Some people eat another’s energy such as what many politicians and their followers are currently doing to others. That same energy is also consumed through psychological or physical means and then this type of metaphorical vampire uses it to further its own goals.

How does one spot an energy vampire or cannibal? One way is to note who has just walked into the room when the energy level changes or decreases. In a discussion with someone do you feel lifted or deflated, valued, or devalued. Another way is to notice after someone has talked or made a speech how you are feeling e.g., inflated, empowered, encouraged, or deflated, disempowered, and discouraged. Energy cannibals bring hate, anger, and fear into a room. They thrive on the negativity because they’re trying to shed it from themselves by placing it on or sucking it from others. They are destroyers of cooperation and unity. They also will never take accountability for their actions either by placing it on others or by just lying about it, and will always one-up others who challenge or disagree with them. You can always tell what an emotional vampire is up to by what he or she accuses others of. They will also use your good nature against you and create all kinds of drama around themselves.

Some politicians thrive on sucking
on the energy of their challengers and creating havoc for their own aggrandizement.

Energy vampires/cannibals will always seek to place blame for their failures on something or someone else. After being around them do you feel better or worse about yourself, better or worse about life?

Watch your dreams are they depicting bleeding or vampires or dark figures menacing? If so, perhaps you are experiencing an emotional energy drainer in your life. But remember the quote from the comic character Pogo, “we have met the enemy and he is us” for we may be playing the role of our own vampire/cannibal by how we judge and treat ourselves or in how we are judging and treating others. Dreams of shooting or being shot, threatened, and chased might also be indicators of some kind of conflict both inner and outer in your life. Feelings of being trapped, restrained, or trying to escape in your dreams might also be indicators of a vampire/cannibal in your life.

Dealing with the Dark Night of the Soul

I did not grow up in the Christian church or any church for that
matter. The first time I ever heard of the Psalms was while attending
a field service in Vietnam for a friend who had died two days earlier.
He was a friend who had taken my place on the night crew, for I was going out on a mission the following day. If he hadn’t, things might
have been different in both our lives. I was feeling very
disconnected, confused, and holding a little guilt.

The Psalm read that day during the service was called the 23rd Psalm.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He maketh me to lie down
in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 3 He
restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his
name’s sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of
death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy
staff they comfort me.”



As I listened to the words, I found myself crying and Marines NEVER
cry. Suddenly I found myself lifted and all my fear, anger, and
sadness, the turbulent waters of my mind and heart “stilled.” For a
moment, I knew that as I walked through this “valley” with death all
around me, I was not alone. This gave me the strength to carry on.
 
It wasn’t until years later that I realized the grace given to me on
that day, even though I was experiencing the dark night of the soul
(aka depression) and felt I wasn’t worthy of anything good. That day
was the beginning of my journey toward spiritual maturity, and that
day was the day I awakened to something that I later called soul.
Spiritual awakenings can happen at any moment in life. They can be
spontaneous, triggered by major life changes, illnesses, tragedies,
and traumas such as life-threatening illnesses, accidents, divorces,
midlife crises, war, and so much more. They can happen during
meditation or while taking a walk around the neighborhood.

There are also those times when all seems hopeless and emotionally
overwhelming, what some call The Dark Night of the Soul. If you’re highly sensitive to the suffering of others and are a deep thinker by
nature, it is possible that you have gone through, or are currently
going through, this dark night.
 
The Dark Night of the Soul is a period in life when you feel
completely cut off from the Divine. The more _aware_ you become of
your disconnection from the Divine, the more chances you have of
experiencing a Dark Night of the Soul.
 
In my experience, going through this encounter with the dark night is
profoundly entwined with the process of spiritual awakening, i.e.,
before spiritually awakening, we often “walk through the valley of the
shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4); that prepares our minds and hearts for
it.

From the perspective of an Alchemist and Jungian analyst the Dark Night could represent the nigredo which means ‘blackness’ or putrefaction or decomposition. Many alchemists believed the nigredo was a first step in the pathway to the philosopher’s stone or wholeness.

Nightmares as answers to what’s troubling you

Being attacked by self, events, and/or others can leave us feeling helpless, angry or depressed.

A sea urchin with no spines is attacked by an ugly toad intent on the urchin’s destruction. But the seemingly defenseless urchin sends out tentacles from beneath and wraps them around the toad’s neck. I am appalled and grossed out as I watch this aggressive dream.

“What is going on?” I wonder as I awake from this nightmarish scene.

As I review this dream trying to gain some insight to its meaning aggression and conflict seem to be the main theme. I am both the urchin and toad, the attacker and the attacked, the aggressor and the victim. The usual suspect comes to the fore i.e., my penchant for self-punishment. But it’s more than this same old, same old story. 

As I watch helplessly the political realities of certain egos plotting to dominate the government with little or no regard for people’s lives, countries making invasion plans for no other reason than to dominate and make themselves important, random mass shootings for the same reason, and in my own tiny corner of the world a violent incident that has pitted well-meaning people against each other I am feeling overwhelmed with things that I can do nothing about but watch.

Add to all that my own self-criticism for not living up to my own standard for being and I create the inner turmoil that this dream represents. The dream brings to the fore what I try to ignore, the feeling of helplessness and depression that keeps me angry at the world and at myself.

For some reason facing this anger helps me to settle, for the truth is I have a right to be fearful and angry but need and want to also face the fact that am not totally helpless in that I can change what I do with that fear and anger. I can resist the tendency for my emotions to take me over and still do what is right to do with what is in front of me. In short, I need to be gentle with myself in all things and not give evil for evil.

As I finish up this blog, I am reminded of the poem by Max Ehrmann, the Desiderata.

Desiderata

GO PLACIDLY amid the noise and the haste and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

By Max Ehrmann © 1927
Original text

I hope that you can keep peace in your soul,

Bob

A week of dark night dreams

•Racing around town on a self-propelled scooter at breakneck speed and weaving and dodging.

•Men jumping without looking into deep holes, crevasses into the underground.

•I’m walking into a room. It’s greyish and dark, dank, cold, and empty. It feels lonely and abandoned. I see no windows with the room feeling small but unending.

•Someone is attempting to stab me in the stomach and then shoots me with a rifle.

Lots of internal conflict and warnings about being too reckless. An overall malaise seems to have enveloped both my waking and sleeping dreams. A sense of being attacked by others and by myself permeates these dreams.

I have not spent enough time exploring what’s going on with me, so my dreams take over to focus my attention. I’ve been too harsh on myself lately as well. This has created an unsafe place and empty void within me. I need to let up on the self-attack and focus on what I’m doing.


“Being kind to yourself is one of the greatest kindnesses”.

–Charlie Mackesy, The Boy, the mole,

the fox and the Horse

Insight from a disturbing dream

A scene from the movie, Matrix, we are all a digitally coded reality.

The night before’s dream centered around a vision of a “heart,” more an experience than a physical image. It is a life-altering experience that appears to have a physical form but is not material in essence. The heart experience seems real, but it is not; it appears present, but it is not. I can get it for someone but can’t guarantee that it will work for them. There’s a sense that it brings profound connection and dispels the feeling of separation. I reach into the ether to pull one into existence.

My interpretation of this dream appears to be as cryptic as the dream but reflects something I’ve been psycho-emotionally wrestling with for quite some time. As time has moved on, I’ve developed more and more clarity regarding the thoughts and feelings that have plagued me.

Are we but avatars of One being? Not actual, not separate, with the experience of separateness being illusory born of a system designed to create the illusion built over time.

I wonder if stories of Jesus being sent to earth so that God can experience the human condition are but a human projection or metaphor that reveals a much deeper reality of life?

The creation stories of many cultures also seem to suggest that the “we” we see ourselves as is, but an illusion created by the One.

The reality of death may be part of that illusion because if we are only avatars or expressions, then we were never really born. We are not separate because we were never apart. We are only the illusion of individual beings. As avatars, we may be “experiencers,” aka the “heart of God” or the One. We are both black and white, illumined and dark, gold and lead, wise and foolish, believers or non-believers, loving and hateful, holograms of the One’s expression into the world.

With this view that everything, including what we call “we,” are but God expressions, I seem to have moved from a monotheistic view of God to a pantheistic one. In this view, God, whatever it is, acts as a prism diffracting itself into a myriad of colors (The “we” I’m referring to) but, in essence, is only the One all-encompassing color. The “heart” of my dream is the One we call God.

Shades of the movie Matrix!

Once seen, it changes my relationship with everything I’ve been calling and believing to be “other.”

The strange thing for me is that if this were a true reflection of reality, what would I do with it? In other words, so what? I don’t have an answer for that, yet I somehow feel more at ease with these thoughts than with the belief in separateness. Separateness brings with it fear, helplessness, and vulnerability.

This point of view also seems to answer in part my age-old question of what is my purpose? My purpose in this scenario is just to be, do what I do, experience what I experience, strive for what I strive, feel what I feel, change when I think I need to, and think what I think whenever I think it. That may seem too easy to some, but for me, it’s always been a struggle and probably, to some extent, will remain the same. So, to my list, I’ll add “struggle” with what I struggle with.

A nightmare dream mirroring my fears and despair

A dream was given to me after reading about how the military chiefs of the US planned to stop a coup planned by our ex-president. A dream that grew out of the black muck of a new Nazi party that had taken hold of half the nation, half its senators, and most of its governors and legislators. It is a Reichstag moment where anti-democracy forces burned the seat of the German government and took over the country. I used to believe that it couldn’t happen here, and yet here we are.

I want to believe that every dream comes to us in the service of our health and well-being. Still, this one seems to be both a clarion call to fight the evil growing in the heartland, to fix that which is broken but also as a harbinger of death to a nation and a way of life, a pandemic of false fears promulgated by the righteous right hand as it deals a death blow to the left leaving the country handicapped and less than the whole.

The dream visited as I chewed on this most disturbing news.

The dream:

“I’m in a pool, and the tiles on the bottom are all broken up and scattered. The very foundation of the pool has been destroyed.” This is a dream of shadow and soul work as is I believe the waking world projection in the political world.

Our world, our country, our democratic principles, and a great experiment in democracy are stressed and in some places breaking up, and its foundational tiles of the free press, separation of powers, freedom of speech, and right to vote are all being shattered and cast aside. Soon the great pool of wonder that is, or was, the United States that was once as Abraham Lincoln once said, the world’s “last best hope” will begin to leak and will soon be empty of the waters of hope, the waters of life, the baptismal font of freedom, and that symbol which represents the Holy Spirit to Christians everywhere will be no more. 

We are doing this to ourselves out of fear, lies, political greed, and our self-righteous need to kill figuratively and practically what we see as different from ourselves, a caveman skill that we have yet to grow out of.

I’m not sure we can stop it, and like environmental warming, the degradation may be too vast and all-encompassing that there’s no turning it back at least not in the short term. However, we must put up the good fight for our self-respect, but I’m no longer sure we can win. Different from the last great war for freedom, there will be no United States to come to our rescue, for as Pogo once said, “we have met the enemy, and he is us.” All we have is ourselves, those of compassion, love, truth, goodwill, and reason regardless of political or religious point of view to call upon to save us. Let us hope and pray that it’s enough.

The attack of a nightmare often leads to awareness and an opportunity for healing

I had a nightmare earlier this month. Over the years, I’ve learned to embrace these high anxiety dreams as they often reflect that all is not well with me emotionally and that I’ve been suppressing harmful materials that I need to address for too long. All nightmares I’ve found demand attention in that they speak to circumstances both within and around us that require us to provide further awareness.

This dream suggested that I’ve been dealing with certain emotional situations in a too logical and rational way that never really deals with them. I can’t rationalize a feeling in that they aren’t usually rational. But when the feeling is too painful, I tend to bury it or make excuses for it or make up a story that puts it in a better light, which doesn’t hurt the eyes, the heart, or the soul. It’s a temporary fix at best but only serves to prolong the pain and never leads to resolution.

But some hurts never go away entirely and hide at the edges of everyday living, affecting the world we see and creating a hidden longing for resolution, for it is often only found in the healing of an emotional disconnect, separation, or a loss of love. When these disconnects happen, the soul that ever strives for wholeness urges us to step back and evaluate our actions and open ourselves to possibilities, even those that don’t seem possible.

Nightmares are not always something to be feared, avoided or suppressed, sometimes they are there for your health and well-being.

Your death in dreams: Premonition?

In our darkest dreams we encounter tunnels to transformation, fall down holes into an inner world of the unconscious mind, step into a bright light, walk through open doors, observe a sunset, or a skeleton, or a gravestone, or cemetery and all are pathways to the hidden self. Most of these inner adventures when brought into the light can lead to changes in the way one perceives and lives their life. But deep down in the darkened cellars and caves of our soulful existence there are buried daemons of the rejected upper world–dragons, monsters, devils, and the Grim Reaper itself. 

They who venture into this world must be ready, not to do battle, for these creatures cannot be slain or conquered, but to learn their ways so as to harness their power.

For change to happen in one’s life they need to let go of that which needs change; one cannot hold onto the past while reaching for their future.

This is when death shows up in your dreams for it is the harbinger of change, that which heralds the end to one way of being to make room for something new.  And sometimes death in a dream is an invitation to go deeper into ones self to find the energy and power to go after a waking world dream, goal, or achievement. Sometimes, in order to engage life one must let go of it.

One can resist the need for change, but be warned that if you do, the images of death can become increasingly fearsome. Death makes itself known when there is an urgent psychological matter or problem that needs to be attended to.

In nearly every philosophy, or religion, some sort of resurrection follows death. Life, whether animal or plant appears to be in continuous birth, death, and renewal. All cultures have various rituals to acknowledge and celebrate the connection between life and death and all self-development programs require the letting go of one way of being in order to manifest another.

The dead in dreams not only refer to something having died in us, in our lives, or represent the need to let go of something, but also help us through times of transition. Sometimes something in our life is threatening our emotional survival and dreams of our death will come to shock us into awareness.

Aspects of the dead reflect aspects of ourselves that we need to pay some attention to or to let go of. Our own deaths in a dream can speak to transitional phases of our lives such as from adolescence to adulthood, singleness to marriage, or parenthood, or youth to old age. Worries about impending transitions such as from being in school to graduating, or moving from job to job can often conjure images of death, or threats to ones life.

In short, though it may seem contrary, death in dreams may actually be about healing; embracing the death can lead to this healing.

“Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome.”

–Isaac Asimov (S.F. writer)

So much into my head

 

3336650116a4470024486b678380162l.jpgWhile walking along a river in the North Country I came upon a frail looking old man with long white beard and flowing grey robe leaning on a staff and gazing at the water rushing by. “Good morning” I said.

He smiled and asked, “How long you been on the trail?”

“Oh about an hour I guess.”

“Is that all? Are you sure?” He added.

“Well, how long have you?” I asked challengingly.

“All my life” he grinned.

Great, I thought, some kind of guru! I was not really in the mood to go deep this morning. I was much more interested in chewing on my private thoughts and worrying all the worries I’d collected over the week.

“You seem to be somewhere other than on a walk,” he added.

“Well I was just taking a walk to ease my mind. Then you showed up.” I said with just a little petulance.

“I haven’t really showed up yet.”

“Uh, what?” I blurted. Is this guy crazy? I wondered.

“You’re so much into your head that I’m not really here for you yet.”

“Explain,” I said becoming a little interested where he was coming from.

“You’re so much in your mind right now that you’re not meeting me, you’re meeting only your mind.”

“Ahh mindfulness, I know about that!”

“Then why aren’t you there?”

“I was trying to until I ran into you.”

“No you weren’t. You were busy listening to your own mind!”

“I was being with my thoughts, being mindful of them.” I said in defense.

“You believe that don’t you?”

“Yes!”

“Don’t believe everything you think. You know, mindfulness isn’t about making up what you want to be mindful to. It’s being with whatever is there. You were caught up in and believing what your mind was telling you. You know all that stuff in your head is bullshit don’t you?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“The events in your life aren’t causing you pain it’s your mind chatter that is causing you to suffer. Your beliefs about the way things should be rather than being mindful of the way they are is causing you pain that you then devaluate and that takes you even further out of the moment.”

“I know this!” I interrupted angrily.

“No you don’t! Knowing is paying attention and you are not paying attention! You can’t see the world that’s in front of you because you aren’t looking at it you’re looking at what’s inside your head. You reject what is and because of this you find yourself not at peace. To be at peace you need to cooperate with how things are, then you can see how things need to be.”

“How do you know this?” I asked growing more interested.

“Simply by paying attention.”

“But what about my problems?”

“Most of your problems are but a side effect of not having a clear relationship with reality.”

“But I need to figure out how to make something happen. I need to solve these problems I’m thinking about.” I pleaded.

“You’ve allowed yourself to be conned into thinking that you have control of anything. Stop that. Don’t make things happen, let them happen, you can’t force life into submission. Give yourself permission to be where you’re at.”

“Somehow that feels right.” I said and he smiled and then vanished. I could hear the water washing over the rocks, the wind singing through the trees , the rustle of leaves, and birds calling to one another. It was so peaceful.

Peace be with you.