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© Copyright 1994 By David Sunfellow
Published By NewHeavenNewEarth / firstname.lastname@example.org
Please feel free to pass "Dreams & VisionQuests" on to as many people as you like. If you do share "Dreams & VisionQuests" with others, we ask that you reproduce it in its entirety (including all credits, copyright notices and addresses), not alter its contents in any way, and pass it on to others free of charge.
The Pathwork Guide Lectures quoted in this Journal are quoted by permission of The Pathwork Foundation. © Copyright 1990 by The Pathwork Foundation.
Quotes from Jeremy Taylor's book, "Where People Fly and Water Runs Uphill," are reprinted by permission of Warner Books, New York. © Copyright 1989 by Jeremy Taylor.
Excerpts from the book, "Season of Changes, Ways of Response" are reprinted by permission. © Copyright 1974 by Associations of the Light Morning.
I would also like to acknowledge the psychic readings of Edgar Cayce and thank the Association for Research and Enlightenment for protecting and promoting Edgar Cayce's work. Although the Cayce readings are not quoted in this Journal, they changed my life by introducing me to the importance of prayer, meditation, and dreams.
"Crying for a vision, that's the beginning of all religion. The thirst for a dream from above, without this you are nothing... It is like the prophets in your Bible, like Jesus fasting in the desert, getting his visions. It's like our Sioux vision quest, the Hanblecheya. White men have forgotten this. God no longer speaks to them from a burning bush. If He did, they wouldn't believe it and call it science fiction. Your old prophets went into the desert crying for a dream and the desert gave it to them. But the white men of today have made a desert of their religion and a desert within themselves. The White Man's desert is a place without dreams or life. There nothing grows. But the spirit water is always way down there to make the desert green again."
--- Lame Deer
Most of us would love to be guided by God, Spirit, our Higher Self in some kind of direct fashion. We would love to be able to solve complicated problems, unravel painful personal and interpersonal dynamics, choose good marriage partners, decide which career or job to pursue, know where to live and when to move, separate real truths from clever deceptions... If only we had some way to speak directly to God and receive His help.
Surprisingly, all of us--every single human being on the planet--has the means to get this kind of direct guidance. How? One way is through learning how to use dreams and visionquests.
To be sure, dreams and visionquests are not an end in and of themselves, nor can they be effectively used without the help of our other God-given faculties. But when understood and used correctly, dreams and visionquests can be enormous reservoirs of help, guidance, healing, information, insight.
The material that appears in this e-book first appeared in a book I published called, "The Prayer, Meditation & Dream Journal: An Inspiring Companion & Practical Guide For Receiving, Pondering & Applying Guidance From On High." Along with providing a series of blank pages to write down and study dreams, meditations, and other inner experiences, the Journal also presented a series of informative and inspiring quotes about prayer, meditation, dreams, inner guidance, spiritual experiences, relationships and the spiritual path in general. The journaling and quotables segment of the book was followed by a step-by-step section that explained the basics of dreams and visionquests.
For the purposes of this Web-book, I have included ALL of the step-by-step overviews as well as few of the more powerful quotes that appeared in the original Journal.
The ideas, suggestions and techniques contained in this book dramatically changed my life. They have also changed the lives of many others. I hope they do the same for you.
"If you will take the Lord into your life and let Him lead you, through your meditations, He will speak. Through your prayers, there will come answers. Through your dreams, there will be guidance. Let your life be guided, then, by the Spirit and all those things which would be needed for the physical, mental, and spiritual safety of this individual shall be given thee, in one form or another."
--- From the book, "Season of Changes, Ways of Response," based on the A.L.M.Readings
"Do you not realize that you have within yourself all wisdom, all knowledge, all understanding? You do not have to seek it without, but you do have to take time to be still and to go deep within to find it. Many souls are too lazy or feel that there is so much to be done that they have no time to be still and go into the silence. They prefer to live on someone else's wisdom and knowledge instead of receiving it direct from the Source themselves."
--- Eileen Caddy's Still Small Voice, as recorded in "The Findhorn Garden Book."
"Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it."
--- Psalm 127
"The greatest book of study is that of your own, written by the soul upon time and space--that of your dreams!"
"(Dreams), if paid attention to, brought back in the memory, written and kept and studied, interpreted as actual experiences which are symbolic and yet real in their nature, become guidelines to such an extent that one should be able to understand and rectify all those things in the life which are of an imperfect nature."
--- From the book, "Season of Changes, Ways of Response," based on the A.L.M. Readings
"Sandor Ferenczi suggests that the human species may have evolved into the condition we recognize as human today because our prehuman, hominid ancestors dreamed about articulate speech, making the first neurological/synaptic connections and first laying down the neural pathways necessary for speech in the dream state."
"New forms of individual and collective life may emerge first as images and experiences in dreams."
--- Jeremy Taylor, from the book, "Where People Fly and Water Runs Uphill"
"If you take the idea of evolution of the species at all seriously--if you think there is anything at all to the idea that species alter both behavior and physical structure to enhance their ability to survive in particular ecological/environmental circumstances--then there must also be something about dreaming itself that is of primary and fundamental importance from a collective evolutionary survival point of view, because in spite of the multiple, serious, and dangerous drawbacks associated with dreaming, there is not a single relatively evolved species that has found it of increased survival value to abandon this seemingly... dangerous behavior."
--- Jeremy Taylor, from the book, "Where People Fly and Water Runs Uphill"
"The responses of the brain to the illusory experience of the dream are the same as the responses of the brain to waking events. In other words, if you are dreaming you are running in the Boston Marathon, not only is your whole metabolism stimulated, (but) your brain is urgently pumping out exactly the same instructions to your major muscles to run as it would if you were actually running in the race. The only thing that prevents the dreamer... from jumping out of bed and hitting the floor to run is the presence of neural inhibitors in the bloodstream during REM periods."
--- Jeremy Taylor, from the book, "Where People Fly and Water Runs Uphill"
"(Dreamwork) cannot be a purpose total within itself. There must be the meditations. There must be the prayers. For if there is not that sincerity, that devotion, that desire within to become attuned so with the Creative Forces, then there will not come the understanding, even with the dreams collected, that might be to thy greatest advantage in the times to come."
--- From the book, "Season of Changes, Ways of Response," based on the A.L.M. Readings
"Answers may come in various ways: Through inspiration, sudden new ideas (usually when you least expect it), new realizations of feelings, through a word someone else says or that you read somewhere. As you go on, you will recognize that these answers are the manifestation of a live process that is so profoundly meaningful and organic that nothing the intellect can think up can ever match it. You will recognize that such answers and the enlightenment that comes are pieces in a jigsaw puzzle, forming little by little a comprehensive picture. Eventually you will rely on this process as on nothing else. It is more real than anything can be in the material world. It is your own path that unfolds, and it eventually reveals the reason for your being here on this earth now, the meaning of your present incarnation."
--- From Pathwork Guide Lecture 194, "Meditation: Its Laws and Various Approaches," by Eva Pierrakos
"We have no concern about sensations that you receive within the head, within the spine, within the glands, or about visions and words and pretty things which you see within. We, from within you, would seek to draw you only to The Supreme Goal of life....We are not concerned if you see a vision of one that you believe to be Jesus or of any other so-called 'Master.' These are the projections of your own unconscious and are petty symbols and tinsel that you will take and shortchange yourself, instead of going beyond these unconscious projections to an awareness of pure spirit, of the light and love, the ringing radiance of God."
--- From a reading by Ray Stanford entitled, "A Search For God."
"The highest perception is to feel God as Bliss welling up from within your Infinite depths. Don't yearn for visions, spiritual phenomena, or thrilling experiences. The path to the Divine is not a circus."
"If it doesn't grow corn, I don't want to hear about it."
--- Sun Bear
"Keeping the main road is easy, but people love to be side-tracked."
--- Lao Tse
"Meditate longer, with greater intensity, otherwise the mind only nibbles and no realization comes."
"Q. Are there miraculous manifestations, such as stigmata, emanation of white light from the body, emanation of heavenly odors, or the ability to live without food, which can be looked upon as prima facie evidence of high spiritual consciousness?
"A. None of those named should be looked upon absolutely as such. Each can occur in circumstances other than the most high, and, in fact, far from it...There are, of course, the cases where true saints have evidenced each of those things mentioned. Thus, they may be a sign of sainthood, or of the indwelling of Love in an individual, but not necessarily so. There is but one evidence, and that is the fruits of the spirit. The gifts of the spirit can be duplicated purely by mind as the result of effort... Love, therefore, is the only single way that holiness may be known."
--- From a Ray Stanford Reading entitled, "Psychic Sources: Their Uses and Abuses"
"It is important to understand what level of need, superficial as it is, becomes involved where individual psychics assign to self and to others important positions in relationship to Jesus, in His discipleship of the twelve, or others by whatever number, or other such important groups, and identify with them. You see, often such groups follow an archetype, as did Jesus with His disciples. The archetype was established even before the indwelling of Jesus in the earth--the choice of the disciples, the failure of the one, and the renewal. That archetype has occurred in many aspects throughout the history of the earth. Thus, as there is an attempt to strive toward realization, often groups fall into the illusion of a synthetic archetype. That is to say, the archetype is sensed but is artificially focused upon by levels of the conscious and semiconscious mind. And because of the unconscious knowledge that the true archetype has not been lived, has not been responded to adequately, a pseudo-archetype is established..."
--- From a Ray Stanford Reading, entitled, "Psychic Sources: Their Uses and Abuses"
"It is the purity of purpose, the consciousness of man to let go of himself, that determines to what degree the Christ Consciousness, or even the individuality called Jesus, is contacted in time and space. Oft times it has been such as him that has appeared. Let none deny it, for if so, they deny themselves. In the greater part, however, these have not been the individual Jesus, excepting of that facsimile of him within the unconscious of those individuals receiving same..."
--- From a Ray Stanford Reading entitled, "Psychic Sources: Their Uses and Abuses"
"You may be mentally completely reconciled to his reality. You may have used your personal will to make this total surrender and you may sincerely mean it. Yet you may not have experienced the emotional reality of his sweet and loving Presence. Often man becomes impatient and then he begins to doubt, thus disrupting the plant he has sown. When the emotional experience fails to materialize for a while, it is not that he keeps you waiting. It is that your inner barriers need to give way. And that can happen only with the context of your unique, personal rhythm pattern. Remember that and do not despair. Christ is here. He hears you. He loves you. He protects you. He is deeply concerned with you, even though your senses are still too dull to perceive it. But suddenly will the time come when you will be intensely aware of this fact. You will feel his loving arms, healing arms in which you can always rest and find new sustenance for your life work."
--- From Pathwork Guide Lecture 258, "Personal Contact With Jesus Christ," by Eva Pierrakos
"I will come in response to a single, unequivocal call."
--- A Course In Miracles, T56
"I'm not asking you to believe anything. I'm simply telling you what I believe. And I have no idea what the next life will be like. Whatever I saw was only from the doorway, so to speak. But it was enough to convince me totally of two things from that moment on: One, that our consciousness does not cease with physical death; that it becomes, in fact, keener and more aware than ever. And secondly, that how we spend our time on earth, the kind of relationships we build, is vastly more important than we can know."
--- George G. Richie, M.D., summarizing the essence of his famous near-death experience, and encounter with Jesus. From the book, "Return From Tomorrow."
--- "It is impossible to overestimate your brother's value."
A Course In Miracles, T405
"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have faith so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing.... Love never faileth: But whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away."
--- 1st Corinthians, Chapter 13
"Relationship represents the greatest challenge for the individual, for it is only in relationship to others that unresolved problems still existing within the individual psyche are affected and activated."
--- From the book, " The Pathwork of Self-Transformation," a book based on the Guide lectures of Eva Pierrakos
"Opening to the greater universal consciousness must not be approached in a spirit of magic that is supposed to eliminate the becoming, the growing, the learning process. Now, in whatever way this ultimate power is supposed to fill and sustain you, your outer mind must go through the steps of acquiring whatever knowledge and know-how are necessary. You see this in the fields of arts and sciences. You cannot be inspired as a great artist, no matter how much genius you have, unless you learn the craft and the technical dexterity. If the childish, lower self wants to use the channel to the greater universe in order to avoid the initial tedium of learning and becoming, the channel will remain closed. For this amounts to cheating, and God cannot be cheated."
--- From Pathwork Guide Lecture 224, "Creative Emptiness," by Eva Pierrakos
"There is no birth of consciousness without pain."
--- Carl Jung
"One of the difficulties is a particular confusion that confronts a growing spirit in the approach to suffering. Many of the more enlightened people know that suffering is self-created. Your realizing this whether vaguely or fully whenever suffering comes your way, causes you to become frantic, because of the frustration of not knowing instantly by what particular attitude or action you have created it. This lack of knowledge makes you fear that more suffering may come out of this hidden cause. Since you are impatient to find out, you sabotage--consciously or unconsciously--any of your attempts to get to the cause. Whatever is done in impatience and haste, in frustration and fear, must slow down the process of activity. That is why those believing that God sent them suffering which they have to accept without understanding the reason, often fare better in a different sense. They may not learn their own underlying causes--and this is a pity since this, too, has to be done at some time--but their attitude is much more relaxed and open. However, if you really examine this precept, you will see that such people are conditioned by a lazy fatalism and are conducive to a belief in a cruel and sadistic God. "Hence, the ideal attitude is to combine the active spirit of searching for one's own hidden causes with the relaxed attitude of, for the moment, accepting the unwanted in the full understanding that the self-produced misery is of therapeutic value."
--- From Pathwork Guide Lecture 82, "Conquest of Duality," by Eva Pierrakos
"The collective consciousness of humanity will experience the same wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes and natural disasters, famines, plagues, and pestilences, false prophets and religious persecution, tests, trials, and tribulations that we experience as individuals."
"I am now seventy-six years old, and I can't resist writing you about an experience I once had. One day, years ago, when I was working at the Smithsonian, I had gone uptown during lunch hour. When I returned, I walked down Tenth Street to E and paused at the curb, waiting for the light to change. Suddenly someone put a firm hand on my right shoulder and pulled me back so hard and fast that I nearly fell. At the same instant a city bus on Tenth Street turned right on E and crossed over the curb and directly over the spot where I had been standing. I turned to thank my rescuer, and NO ONE WAS THERE! There was no one anywhere near me, as I had been the only person waiting to cross there. I looked around, stunned, for several minutes, then slowly went on to work, but I knew that no living person had helped me. I think I was in a state of shock the rest of the day."
--- From a letter that appeared in Sophy Burnham's second angel book, "Angel Letters."
"For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone."
--- Psalm 91:11,12
"At this very moment, God, Jesus, and all those who serve The Light, are helping you, with irresistible power, determination, and resourcefulness, remove all your blocks, heal all your wounds, and realize your deepest hopes and dreams."
12 Techniques For Recalling Dreams
1. Buy or create something beautiful in which you can record and study your dreams. This lets both you, and the dreaming parts of yourself know that you are serious about remembering your dreams. Keep in mind, the more you put into anything (including dream journals), the more you will get out of it.
2. Take time to make the notebook you have chosen to record your dreams in "special" to you. Paste meaningful pictures and/or drawings in it. Inscribe uplifting quotes or prayers. Make it a holy place--one that contains your deepest hopes as well as your expectation that your dreams will help you achieve those heart-felt longings. (Some people like to use tape recorders to record and later transcribe their dreams from, but, personally, I have found tape recorders to be more trouble than they are worth.)
3. Try to maintain a healthy diet (lots of fresh fruits and vegetables) and get sufficient exercise. Weak, sickly bodies make dream recall more difficult, while overly toxic bodies tend to create chemical imbalances that can generate unusually fragmented and wacked-out dreams.
4. Try to go to sleep before you are completely exhausted. When we are unusually tired it is more difficult to remember our dreams.
5. Place your notebook (or tape recorder, if you decide to use one) beside your bed and get it ready to record your dreams.
6. Before going to sleep, take a moment to review the days events and focus on those things that you are most concerned about. This is immensely helpful in releasing trivial thoughts that might otherwise weave their way into your dreams. It is also exceedingly helpful to write your days events down in your dream journal and then make a short list of the things you are most concerned about. Not only does this help clear your mind, but it also leaves you a permanent record of what was going on in your life and thought processes when you fell asleep--which can be very helpful when the time comes to try and understand what your dreams are talking about.
7. Before falling asleep, sincerely ask God/Jesus/Spirit /Your Higher Self to help you in your efforts to remember and use your dreams.
8. While falling asleep give yourself "The Four Dream Suggestions" listed at the end of these dream recall techniques.
9. Whenever you awaken, whether in the middle of the night or in the morning, write down whatever you remember--no matter how fragmented, insignificant, or ridiculous what you remember may seem. This is very important. Not only does it help you train yourself to remember your dreams, but it also helps you learn how to identify dreams that can be especially helpful. Dreams that seem unusually ridiculous or evoke strong emotional reactions are often very important. The reason for this is simple: The dreaming parts of us want to be sure we remember the message they are giving us. They also want to be sure the dream in question gets past our meddlesome egos which tend to "alter" or "recast" more subdued dreams to better suit our conscious preconceptions.
10. After writing down whatever you remember, take time to think about AND APPLY the dreams you have received. Remembering dreams, and then ignoring them, or studying them, and then not bothering to act on their messages, allows both you and your dreaming selves know you are not really that interested in receiving, and/or acting upon their help.
11. Whenever possible, share your dreams with like-minded friends. This affirms, again, your interest in dreams and is also an excellent way to unravel their messages. There are, in fact, few better ways to make dream work a consistently helpful part of your life than by joining together with other dreamers who share your interest in and commitment to working with dreams.
12. Along with remembering your dreams, writing them down, studying them, and applying them, always take a few moments to thank God/Jesus/Spirit/Your Higher Self (and the other dreaming parts of yourself) for whatever dreams they have given you.
The Four Dream SuggestionsAfter you have laid out your dream notebook (and/or tape recorder), done your clearing session, and said your prayers, let yourself drift off to sleep repeating the following pre-sleep suggestions:
1. I Will Remember My Dreams
This suggestion is given simply to remind yourself to remember your dreams (and we all dream several times every night, whether we remember our dreams or not--so there is always something to remember).
2. I Will Have Only Those Dreams That God/Jesus/Spirit/My Higher Self Wants Me To Have
As strange as it may sound, the fact is we can program ourselves to have dreams, and other dream experiences that are not really in our best interest. This suggestion, then, is a reminder to us about "why" want to remember our dreams (so they can help us become better people) and an attempt to support the Higher Forces within ourselves as they seek to orchestrate our dreams and penetrate the many levels of our consciousness with helpful information.
3. I Will Record My Dreams Clearly and Accurately, As Soon As I Remember Them
The first part of this pre-sleep suggestion is an affirmation to ourselves that we want the truth, whatever it may be, not some doctored version our conscious minds have cooked up. And the second part of this pre-sleep suggestion helps program us to follow through on writing our dreams down when we remember them (and not waste time and sleep trying to drag them through the entire night until morning comes, and/or forget or change them somewhere along the way).
4. I Will Interpret and Apply My Dreams As They Are Intended To Be
This is another affirmation to ourselves that we want to see and understand the truth of our dreams, as well as a suggestive nudge that helps us follow through and do something about whatever we receive.
A Few Techniques For Interpreting Dreams
1. The single most effective thing we can do to help us understand our dreams is to spend time, daily, praying and meditating--especially before we fall asleep at night and after we wake up in the morning. In a general sense, praying and meditating regularly helps us stay attuned to God's abiding Presence which is always, in one form or another, seeking to lead us to ever-increasing wholeness. And in a specific sense, there is no more effective way to unlock the messages of individual dreams than to take them with us into our quiet times and prayerfully mull them over in our minds. Almost without exception, as we quietly probe our dreams for their meanings, their meanings will begin to reveal themselves to us.
2. As effective as prayer and meditation are at unlocking the secrets of our dreams, there are still many meanings we may miss if we rely solely on our own inner process. In this respect, others--especially others who know us well and who are familiar with dreams--can be very helpful. Not only will they tend to see aspects of our dreams that we overlook, but the very process of sharing our dreams (of speaking them out loud and listening to how we describe them to another person) often helps us see and understand our dreams more clearly than if we keep them hidden away in the solitary, often narrow-minded realms of our own beliefs, perceptions and thought processes. Sharing dreams with groups of people who see things from different perspectives than we do, can also be remarkably helpful.
3. Working on our dreams on the inside through prayer and meditation, coupled with working on our dreams on the outside through sharing them with other human beings, are exceedingly effective ways to unravel even the most bewildering of dreams.
Other, more specific things we can do to help unlock the meanings of our dreams include:
4. Trying to identify what area or aspect of our lives our dreams are talking about before we start working on specific symbols. If you wrote your days events down like I suggested earlier and also wrote down those areas of your life that you are most concerned about, you will be able to look at your dreams and see if your dreams "feel" like they are talking about any of the areas you recorded. Almost always, they are.
5. Reducing our dreams to themes is also very helpful. Themes help us get the main gist of the dream, and once we have identified the dream's main gist, it often becomes obvious what the dream as a whole is talking about and makes it easier to break down specific scenes and symbols.
6. Taking time to think about and talk to the various parts of our dreams (the people, place, things, and emotions in our dreams), and asking them what they mean, as well as acting them out in some fashion and seeing what kinds of insights come to us.
7. If these, and other techniques for interpreting our dream(s) fail, we can always ask for more dreams to help us unravel the ones that are eluding us. If our desire to understand our dreams is sincere, and if we are making a sincere effort to work with them, we will eventually understand what they are talking about.
Dream Incubations & VisionQuestsAfter we have spent some time learning the basics of remembering and working with whatever dreams come to us, we are ready to begin working with dreams we specifically request: Instead of simply watching and recording dreams that come to us, we can begin to ask for and receive dreams about specific issues in our lives.
"Dream Incubations" can be done alone, or in small or large groups. They can be modeled after ancient visionquests (which might include all night vigils, fasting, sweat lodges, and other ceremonies), or be created by ourselves. They can be undertaken as a major life event that is spread over the course of several days in an isolated, natural and protected setting, or done one night in the privacy of our own home.
Although the more intense, involved, and carefully planned a dream incubation is, the more help we will receive from it, a great deal of help can also come from simpler one-night incubations.
The Main Ingredients of all Dream Incubations and VisionQuests, large and small, are:
1. Choosing a concern or concerns that we feel a deep and abiding need for help with;
2. Spending a significant amount of time thinking, praying and focusing on that concern;
3. Opening ourselves to the Higher Powers to receive guidance, direction, and help with our concern(s).
Once we have chosen a concern that we would like to receive help with, we begin looking for ways to clarify and crystallize that concern. We spend time thinking about its past and present history, as well as the ways we imagine it might affect us in the future. We ask ourselves questions about it. We look for all the ways that it has affected our life. And then we crystallize everything we have come up with (everything we know and believe about our concern) into some kind of concrete image.
In my own experience, I have come to call these final crystallized images, "Dream Charms." Dream Charms can be anything: Pictures we have drawn of our concern. Something we have carved, or sculpted. Something we may have sewn. A song or a dance we have created. The particular form we chose isn't as important as the reason behind why we are doing it. And that reason is twofold: First, to gather up all the loose ends of our concern into some kind of cohesive picture (so ourselves and God both know exactly what we are seeking help with); and second, to keep our mind prayerfully focused on what we are doing and what it is we want help with.
While the clarifying and crystallizing process is underway, dream incubations and visionquests almost always have an element of purification associated with them. You not only think, work, and pray about your concern, but you also begin to prepare yourself to receive guidance about it. Fasting, bathing, meditating for longer periods than normal, taking quiet walks out in nature, removing yourself from the normal chatter of televisions, videos, radios, perhaps not speaking for a period of time, are all ways you can help begin to prepare yourself for an encounter with the Divine.
After all this, you are ready. You finish whatever preparations and purifications you have chosen to do and then go to sleep.
Although dreams are usually very responsive to the process I have outlined above, and tackle the highly focused concerns we bring them with abandon, occasionally they don't. Instead, they aggressively tackle some other, unexpected area of our lives. Since dreams, like God, are more concerned with our overall development, they are always seeking to draw our attention to the core, or foundation concerns of our lives upon which all the rest of our troubles rest. Most of the time, the concerns we have are intimately connected to these more fundamental concerns and, because of this, our dreams focus on them. When, however, they aren't, our dreams will seek to re-direct our attention. And when they do, it is important that we listen. We must, in other words, always remember what it is we are really seeking. And that is not simple answers to specific concerns and difficulties. Rather, it is consciousness-wide health, wholeness, peace and happiness. If the particular concern we are seeking help with is distracting us from dealing with the larger, more central needs of our lives, then it is time to make adjustments. Significantly, once we redirect our attention to whatever other issues our dreaming selves may present to us, the concern we initially chose begins to lose its power: We discover that working with the deeper issues of our souls is, in effect, a more effective way to work with whatever smaller issues we initially chose.
In a similar vein, we must be open to the possibility that some other kind of help, apart from dreams, may be more suited to our current needs. Maybe, in other words, we won't be able to remember any dreams and the answers we are seeking will come to us from somewhere else, possibly an intuition, a vision, an inner Voice, a sign, an unusually clear thought, or something we see or hear that deeply affects us. Once we have set the dream incubation/visionquest process in motion, the only thing we can be sure of is that God will answer our prayers (our deepest prayers for true healing). When and how those prayers will be answered may, however, take us by surprise. So as we proceed with preparing ourselves for dreams, it is important to pay attention to everything and not be overly attached to God speaking to us only through our dreams. And it is also important to try to maintain a "not too tight, not too loose" attitude. Trying too hard to receive guidance, as well as not trying hard enough, will both inhibit God's efforts to penetrate our minds and hearts.
With all this said, dream incubations, if done as I have described, are still remarkably effective ways to receive guidance from God through dreams. More often than not, our dreams rise to the calling and offer us the help we are seeking. And more often than not, once we have launched a dream incubation process, help also comes in many other, often refreshingly unexpected forms as well.
Common Dream Pitfalls
And How To Avoid Them
1. Thinking dreams about others are dreams about others.
Most dreams, most of the time, no matter who appears in them, are talking about us. A good rule of thumb is to always look over our dreams, and their contents: 1st, as if they are talking about us; 2nd, as if they are about the person we dreamed about; and 3rd, as if they are talking about both.
2. Thinking dreams about others are NEVER dreams about others.
Dreams frequently offer us very penetrating insights into the workings of other human beings, in spite of the fact the other human beings we are dreaming about may often deny, to the death, the perceptions our dreams are offering us. If we do dream about others, it is, however, important to keep in mind that our dreams, as always, are undoubtedly exaggerating things to make a point. Likewise, since the insights we glean from such dreams are almost always meant more for us than for the person or persons we may be dreaming about, we should resist the tendency to coerce others to agree with our perceptions of them--especially when those perceptions are negative ones.
3. Believing the exaggerated images of our dreams are accurate.
Dreams are masters at presenting their cases in the most dramatic and over-blown manner possible. We should, therefore, do our best to take to heart the essential message of our dreams while not getting too carried away with their over-zealous presentations.
4. Interpreting dreams literally.
99% of the time dreams are speaking in symbolic, not literal terms. Thus, when we have dreams that appear to be delivering some kind of literal message, we should consider the probability (however unlikely it may feel to us in the heat of the moment after we have the dream), that the dream is really talking about something other than what grabbed our attention.
5. Ignoring literal interpretations in favor of symbolic ones.
Sometimes dreams are literal and trying to squeeze symbolic interpretations out of them might prevent, or delay us from doing what we need to do.
6. Thinking we can ignore dreams and rely solely on other forms of guidance.
So long as we need to sleep and, while sleeping, loose consciousness and dream, dreams are an important part of the tools God has given to every human being to find his or her way back to Him. In many ways, dreams are like one of our five senses (along with intuition, rational thinking, paying attention to signs, listening to others, etc.). We can, if we are foolish enough, decide not to use a particular sense and, instead, try to over-compensate with our other ones. But in the end, this is not a very wise course of action since each type of guidance has some unique perspective, or form of perception that the other ones lack. The best course of action is, therefore, to use all the faculties we have--until we no longer need them and they cease to work for us.
7. Thinking one good dream can fix everything.
Although dreams are exceptionally adept at giving us sweeping overviews of complex problems (and also highly skilled at nailing simple problems on the head), complicated problems usually require many dreams before we finally come to a place of fully understanding the situation in question. In the scope of a given night, several dreams may, for instance, tackle the same issue from different vantage points, while larger issues may require YEARS, MAYBE EVEN LIFETIMES OF DREAMING before things are fully understood and resolved. And the reason for this is simple: Dreams, again, are interested in shaping us into the most perfect Beings we can be. They are Perfectionists of the Highest Order and leave nothing undone about us. If our understanding, or application of anything is imperfect, they will return (when the time is right and we are ready) again and again and again reminding us about it and encouraging us to work it out.
8. Trying, inappropriately, to force our dreams to do our bidding.
Although I have already pointed out (in the Dream Incubation and VisionQuest section), that dreams can be consciously directed to help us with our problems and concerns, they can also be used inappropriately. People who go to sleep programing ourselves to have flying dreams, for instance, or happy dreams, or sex dreams may well end up having flying, happy and sex dreams that do little to promote their overall development as people. Likewise, people who go to great lengths to have lucid dreams (dreams in which we become aware that we are dreaming) may also be inadvertently interfering with main purpose of their dreams, which is to bring healing to their overall consciousness.
The question before us must always be, "What is our purpose?" "What is that we are hoping to do with our dreams?" If the answer is, "Become better people," and we are willing to go and do whatever we need to to accomplish this end, then all is well and we can develop a very satisfying relationship with our dreams. If, on the other hand, our purpose is to control our dreams for our own selfish and misdirected purposes, we are in for a rather rude awakening. For even though our dreams may, in the beginning, accommodate our selfish programing it won't be long before they begin to move us into deeper, more wholistic dreams--deeper, more wholistic dreams that can turn into nightmares if we insist on trying to force them to go against their own helpful, healing natures. In short, the vast and overwhelmingly benevolent forces of our dream life cannot be forced to serve the tiny-minded and ill-conceived pursuits of people who want to use them for self-destructive purposes.
With respect to lucid dreams, the question must again be, "What is our purpose?" If our purpose is to increase our conscious participation in our dream life, to become more fully involved in the healing process our dreams are bringing to us, then lucid dreams can be very helpful. If, on the other hand, we are attempting to become lucid in our dream state for selfish or misguided purposes, including as a way to force a spiritual awakening from all dreams (both nighttime dreams and the dream of life), then we are asking for trouble. For although the end purpose of all dreaming (both the dreams we have when we go to sleep at night as well as the dream of life) is to help us wake up, the only way this great awakening can take place is by going into the dreams of life (within and without) and making peace with the many parts of ourselves we encounter there. Heaven, in other words, cannot be taken by storm. The often difficult labor of developing and expanding our consciousness, step by step, through learning to love all the people, places, and things we encounter in the dream of life cannot be side-stepped, or avoided.
9. Focusing too much on dreams, and dreaming, and not enough on God and living in this world.
Dreams are given to help us find God, not become, or replace God. In time, dreams, like all other limited forms of guidance, will pass away. Thus, we should use them for all they are worth while we need them and, while doing so, not get too attached or puffed up about them. Similarly, although dreams are a remarkable form of guidance--one that can speak to us through multi-million dollar productions in virtually every way imaginable, they also have their limitations--not the least of which is the fact that we have to lay down and lose consciousness to access them. Likewise, dreams are given to help us live our lives on earth, not avoid our lives on earth by spending excessive amounts of time working with them.
10. Thinking all dreams come straight from God to us.
Dreams, like all other forms of guidance, NEVER come straight from God to us. They pass through layers upon layers of personal and social conditioning, as well as the dense fabric of our own bodies, minds, and emotions. Similarly, dreams also come from many different levels, or parts of ourselves: From the Higher, or Super-Conscious parts of ourselves, as well as from the lower, or subconscious parts of ourselves. Sometimes they are filled with lofty images and inspiring messages, while other times they are primitive and down-right brutal. It is, in fact, often difficult to figure out what level of ourselves a given dream is coming from. Often, dreams seem to come from many different levels at the same time. The one thing that all dreams share, however, regardless of where they come from, is a movement toward creating a healthier, happier consciousness and experience for us. And on this count, we can take comfort. For although we can't claim any dream, even those that shake us to our core and initiate major changes in our lives, have come to us "straight from God," there will be those special times when the Highest Parts ourselves will speak to us, and there will also be something in every dream we have, whatever its origin, from which we can benefit.
11. Waiting for dreams to confirm our actions before we act.
Again, although we should spend time paying attention to our dreams, our lives shouldn't revolve around them. If we have some decision to make, and can't seem to get any help from our dreams about it, then we should make the best decision we can using the other forms of guidance God gave us. Yes, we might miss something and make a mistake. But if dreams don't come, and we need to act, then act we must. All we can do is our best. And our best is always good enough, even if it isn't good enough to avoid making a few messes along the way.
12. Thinking that someone, or some book, knows better than we do what OUR dreams are trying to tell US.
Others may know more about dreams than we do, and even have enough insight into our make-up as a person to understand what some of our dreams are talking about better than we do. But in the end, only we know for sure. We should, therefore, always trust our own judgement and intuition about what our dreams are telling us above what others might say, or think.
13. Forcing ourselves to do what we "think" our dreams are asking us to do when we don't really feel settled about it.
One of the best indications we have that we have understood our dreams correctly, is that when we do pretty much every part of us feels good about it--there is a consciousness wide sigh of recognition and relief. When, on the other hand, there is something off about our interpretation, at least some parts of us know it and let us know about it by producing feelings of anxiety. At such times, it is best to dive in and find out why we are feeling uneasy, rather than blasting ahead and later regretting it.
14. Thinking we can master the difficult art of dreams and dreaming overnight.
Even when we are fortunate enough to discover Journals, like this one, that are full of ideas and suggestions that can save us YEARS of grueling trial and error work on our own, we are still faced with the fact that there are no short cuts. It is still going to take us a lot of time, and experience, to become adept at using our dreams. Likewise, the learning process doesn't seem to end. Just when we think we have learned the ins and outs of working with dreams, some new, as yet unexplored dimension presents itself. So be patient. Relax. Enjoy your discoveries. And take a moment to ponder what a remarkable gift dreams really are--and how fortunate you and I are to have such a marvelous form of guidance, inspiration, and healing to draw upon.
Awesome ReSourcesWhere People Fly and Water Runs Uphill
By Jeremy Taylor
The best, most well-rounded, inspiring and informative book on dreams I have ever read--and written by someone who knows, from over twenty years of wide ranging experience, what he is talking about. Whether you are someone who is new to dreams, or someone who has years of practical experience, this is a book that all dreamers should read and be familiar with.
Published by Warner Books, 1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York, 10020
By Gillian Holloway, Ph.D.
Gillian's book is simple, clear and easy to understand: a truly "user-friendly" introduction to the world of dreams. Along with lucidly exploring various aspects of dreams and dreaming, Gillian also offers a solid 5-step plan for discovering the meaning of your dreams.
Published by Practical Psychology Press
P.O. Box 535
Portland, OR, USA 97207
WWW: Life Treks: Dream Interpretation Services & Resources
Click here to review the columns Gillian has written for Wind & Wings and the NHNE News Brief.
Secret Native American Pathways
By Thomas E. Mails
An unusually clear look at the history and spiritual beliefs and practices of several Native American Tribes. Complete with detailed descriptions of the inner and outer workings of many Native American ceremonies, this book is an excellent resource for anyone who would like to learn more about how visionquests were and still are practiced by many Native American tribes. It is also an excellent resource for helping us design our own ceremonies and visionquests.
Published by Council Oak Books, Tulsa, Oklahoma
The Pathwork Lectures
of Eva Pierrakos
Without qualification, the best channeled material I have ever seen. Unlike many psychic Sources that talk about everything under the sun (whether or not it has anything to do with helping us become better, happier human beings), "The Guide" of The Pathwork Lectures deals only with the nuts and bolts of living in the earth--and does so with unparalleled clarity, practicality, and thoroughness.
Individual lectures are available from the following Pathwork regional centers:
PATHWORK OF CALIFORNIA, INC.
1355 Stratford Court #16
Del Mar, CA 92014
Phone (800) 779-2147
Fax (619) 259-5224
GREAT LAKES PATHWORK
Royal Oak, MI 48067
SEVENOAKS PATHWORK CENTER
Route 1, Box 86
Madison, VA 22727
Phone (703) 948-6544
PHOENICIA PATHWORK CENTER
Phoenicia, NY 12464
Phone (914) 688-2211
Many Pathwork lectures are also published in:
THE PATHWORK OF SELF-TRANSFORMATION
Published by Bantam New Age Books
FEAR NO EVIL
Eva Pierrakos and Donovan Thesenga
Published by The Pathwork Press*
Eva Pierrakos and Judith Saly
Published by The Pathwork Press*
THE UNDEFENDED SELF
Published By The Pathwork Press*
*The Pathwork Press
Route 1, Box 86
Madison, VA 22727
Phone & Fax (703) 948-5508
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