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Posts Tagged ‘Dreams’

Sleep

To die, to sleep—
To sleep—perchance to dream. Ay, there’s the rub!
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come – Hamlet

Sleep is a very important part of life.  It consumes roughly a third of it, and without adequate sleep, the rest of our life goes downhill rather quickly. A good night of sleep can change your whole disposition.  I must have slept well last night, for I walked through the snow this morning and thought what a beautiful day and a beautiful world this is.

There are many reasons why we sleep.  We sleep, in part, to rest and restore our body; the immune system gets a boost during sleep, and the hypothalamus releases human growth hormone in younger people.  We also sleep to rest our mind.  There are periods of deep sleep where there is almost no thought.  Similar, though not quite, like deep meditation.  I believe this period of deep sleep is essential for restoring your energy body as thought drains a lot of your energy away.  And then there are periods of dreaming.  Some dreams reflect business leftover from the course of the day.  Some dreams serve as fantasy, wish-fulfillment, a way to relieve the frustration we may feel in our waking life.  Some dreams are conscious, aware, but aware in a different dimension, an astral dimension.  Australian Aboriginals call this the Dreamtime, sort of an Outback telephone, a way they can astral travel thousands of miles at the speed of thought and communicate with their relatives.  Sleep is very important for a happy and healthy life.

And yet, for something that is so important to our lives, we look at sleep as something we have no control over.  It just happens… or doesn’t happen, or it is fitful or deep or short or too long.  In fact, we can influence our sleep to a great degree with our waking life.  We can do things to ensure the best sleep, and thereby gain its benefits.

Our sleep is affected by what we eat, and when.  Ever have one of those late night spicy pizza dreams?  Sleep is affected by alcohol, caffeine, nicotine or various other drugs.  Our sleep is affected by the amount and types of thoughts we think throughout the day.  If our mind is racing during the day, it will be racing while we dream too.  If we think fearful thoughts during the day, we’re likely to dream about fearful things at night.

So, a little common sense can help us ensure a good night’s sleep.  Don’t eat much late at night.  Moderate your drinking early in the evening.  Avoid caffeine or nicotine entirely, in the evening, if at all possible.  Get in bed before you find yourself nodding off in front of the TV (from one who knows).

Your position during sleep may have a profound effect on your sleep as well.  In the book Dream Yoga and the Practice of Natural Light they indicate that in order to enter into higher dimensional planes when sleeping, men should sleep on their right side, and women should sleep on their left.  This was interesting to me, as I almost always slept on my left side, and frequently had challenging dreams.  Now, due to the configuration of my bunk, it is nearly impossible to sleep on my left side, so I’ve been sleeping on my right, and my sleep has been much more restful.  Additionally, I now notice that when turning over to my left side, my whole digestive system seems to be in much greater stress, so I roll onto my back or right side instead.  I’m not sure of any physiological reason behind this, but it is very apparent to me.

One of the most effective things you can do to improve your sleep, is meditation (is there anything that meditation can’t improve?).  The practice of meditation helps you learn to reduce the number of thoughts you have throughout the day.  It also teaches you to focus on positive things, so when you dream, your dreams will generally be less frantic and more positive.  Meditation greatly increases the energy in your energy body, making sleep less necessary.  People who practice meditation on a regular basis may thrive on six hours of sleep or less per night.  Advanced practitioners may not sleep at all.  They sit absorbed in samadhi instead.  Rather than sleeping, you could say they are waking up!

Pleasant dreams!

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This is a topic that people either really love, or they have a really hard time with. There is a part of us that so thoroughly identifies with this meat body that we have, that it is obvious to us that when this body ceases to function, we’ll cease to function too, so, how can there be anything past death?

Furthermore, there have been studies of what the lack of oxygen does to the brain, and it matches very closely with what people who have had near-death experiences report of their experiences.  So, if we are to believe these studies, then WE are just some sort of electrical impulse bouncing around the synapses of our physical brain, and will perish when it does.

NOT!

I’ve had too many experiences in this life that have shown me that there is or are many things that are way beyond this little reality we call home.  I talked about this once in a post about a Dream House I once dreamed about.  Reincarnation is only a problem, logically, if we think about the physical aspect of it.  We experience reincarnation several times each night in our dreams.

If you practice meditation and self-discovery, over time, you will begin to be much more lucid in your dreams.  You will remember them in vivid detail, and perhaps even act consciously in those dreams.  In each dream, you will be a slightly different person.  In one dream, you might be a clown, in another a  police man, in another a backpacker walking through the woods.  But, in all of them, there is a sense of familiarity;  like seeing a familiar actor playing different roles.

When you wake up, or when you shift to another dream, that dream character vanishes, they cease to exist.  Because they never really existed in the first place… they were just a projection of your mind.

If you dreamed that you were a backpacker, and that you got chased through the woods by a large bear, that large bear is also a projection of your mind.  It doesn’t really exist outside of your own mind… but in the dream world, it really seems real, so, you’d better run!

So, what if THIS life were but a dream?  (the refrain of ‘row, row, row your boat gently down the stream’ playing in the background)  What if all the scary boogeymen of life, like the IRS, or Al Qaeda, or Cancer, or Very Large Bears are just projections from some very Large Mind out there… which is really our mind, but we’re not yet lucid enough to recognize it?  What if?

What if you could be chased by a bear in your dream, then realize that the bear was just a projection of your own mind, and that it didn’t really exist, and so you would stop, turn around, grin, and stop the bear dead in its tracks (perhaps even make it vanish, or at least kick it in the nads).  Then, you would have true power my friend. Over dreams, and over life, and even over death!

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Shamans

I was watching Twilight Zone on hulu tonight, and caught an episode called A Hundred Yards Over the Rim, starring Cliff Robertson as the leader of a wagon train in 1847, traveling between Ohio and California, but stranded in New Mexico.  They are out of water, food, and Christian’s (Cliff’s) son is dying of pneumonia.  When the rest are about to give up, Christian asks them to wait while he walks a hundred yards over the rim of a nearby sand dune… perhaps he’ll see something from there.  When he crests the rim, he finds himself in 1961, walks to a nearby diner, marvels at all the ‘new’ stuff.  He talks to the locals for a while, says his family has been searching for water.  They tell him that there is a natural spring just to the West of town, with plenty of game (noticing his antique rifle).

The people that he meets there think he’s crazy, but he finds an encyclopedia and reads an entry in it about his own son, who, it says, made it out to Santa Barbara California, and became a successful doctor, an immunologist in fact.  So, he grabs a vial of penicillin tablets from the first aid kit and takes off back to that ‘rim’.  As the authorities are chasing him, he crests the rim, and he’s back in 1847.  He gives the tablets to his wife to treat his child, and he leads the wagon train on to the west, to the natural spring he now knows exists.

This is the role that shamans have played in virtually every society throughout recorded time.  Tasked with the welfare of their tribe, they step through other dimensions to learn the ‘truth’ through direct means, then they bring that knowledge back to the tribe, so they may survive.  The information they bring back varies with the times… perhaps they know where the elk will be in one week’s time or perhaps they know that a natural phenomena is approaching and they must seek shelter.

My friend Pam reminds me that there are 4 stages to becoming a shaman. The first stage is to be aware of normal human consciousness.  The second stage is understanding that we are all connected.  The third stage is learning that we can manipulate reality, that we can move through and even change the ‘dream’ reality we are living in.  And, the fourth state is realizing that we ARE everything; that there is no duality.

This sounds an awful lot like the practices of The Natural Light in Dream Yoga, as well as the Tibetan Rebirth Process as outlined in the Tibetan Book of the dead.  Too much alike to be coincidence!

In any event, I look around and ask myself ‘who are our shamans?’  Who will step up and lead our tribe in the right direction?  And, what I see is a mirror.  No, the answer isn’t me… it’s us.  We all need to step up now, achieve this level of awareness, help all of humanity proceed in the right direction.  Behold the age of the shamans!

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Dream House

I once had a curious dream.  I was standing around talking with a group of guys that I worked with, when one suddenly stated that he had just realized that he was home sleeping and that he was dreaming all of this.  We all thought for a moment, and realized that the same was true for us all; we were all home asleep, and lucid dreaming together!  With that realization, another, more knowledgeable part of me woke up.  It was as if I had a split personality; on the one hand, was my normal day-to-day self that was not very aware, and on the other hand, there was a very old soul with lots of knowledge and skills.

The knowledgeable me told the guys that this was a very rare and exciting event. We had the ability to travel to any place we could imagine, or meet with any person, living or dead, real or imaginary, we just had to wish it.  So, I asked them what they wanted to do.  And, I got blank stares all around.  The opportunity of a lifetime, and they couldn’t come up with anything.  So, not wanting the opportunity to pass without at least some fun, I asked them if they would like to visit my favorite place in the Universe.  They quickly agreed, and immediately, we were transported to another world.

towers1

It looked very much like this world, only unpolluted and clean.  We were standing in the midst of rolling green hills, that gently sloped down to a city on the bay.  The city was not industrial at all, but rather made of sculptural glass buildings, tall towers, reminiscent of the Seattle Space Needle.  Nearby, at the top of a hill, the only building around was a little yellow house, my house!  We walked up to it, and I looked in the windows at my library, the shelves were crammed full and stacks of books littered the floor.  There was a lot of dust on everything… apparently, I hadn’t been there for some time.

green_hills_3

Rather than take them inside, I showed them around the back to where my greenhouse was.  I knew we didn’t have much time, so, I set about fixing the drip water system, poured out copious bird seed and opened a window so the bird I had there could fly out if necessary.  Lastly, I took my little turtle down to a corner of the property where a small pond sat, and I set him free.

greenhouse2

The guy who was the first to recognize that we were dreaming stated abruptly that he was about to wake up.  And, in an instant he had disappeared with a pop, as the air rushed in to fill the void that he left behind.  One by one, the others soon followed.  I knew I didn’t have much time left, but the ordinary me wanted to have a little chat with the knowledgeable me to figure out what was going on here.  This world felt every bit as real as my normal everyday world, in fact, while awake in this world, my normal life seemed like a dream.  ‘Which is real and which is the dream,’ I asked myself.  My knowledgeable self replied that both worlds were as real (or as illusory) as the other, and that there were countless other worlds too, and that beyond all of these worlds, there was something else, something worth looking for, and that alone was the true reality.

‘If both worlds are pretty much equal, then I should be able to stay here right?’ I asked hopefully.  It was a lot nicer there, and, I did have a cute little house.  The knowledgeable me smiled, and I caught the passing thought that, actually, it was possible to stay, but he said ‘no, you have a lot to do back in that other world, much to learn. But, you will come back here one day, but not for long while.’  For some reason, I got the feeling that ‘long’ meant a really really long while, but I left it at that.  There were still so many more things I wanted to ask.  Why wasn’t I normally aware of all this extra knowledge?  When did I live in this house?  What other lives am I leading?

Suddenly, I heard the pop, and I was back in my bed, in my normal life, wide awake.

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