Dreams and Journaling
This missal examines two related indirect methods of self-discovery: dreams and journaling.
Many of us have encountered the slippery nature of our own ego. We often fall prey to the ego's ability to split itself in our search for our inner guide, and find our intellect and feeling easily fooled. By using a third party such as journaling or dream work, we can step outside of the many facets of ego and gain an impartial view of the creature we call ourselves.
Many find dream work and journaling through the advice of others, or are simply fascinated by web sites and the writings of famous authors. If one has the intuition that these tools could be of service in getting a glimpse of themselves unafforded by normal consciousness, consider yourself lucky, and get to work. The realization that much of what we think about ourselves is fantasy, wishful thinking and hearsay is not flattering, especially at first, but leads to an adventure like none other: the discovery of ourselves as we really are.
Journaling could be thought of as the waking states form of dream work. We write about what we see inside our head, and ponder why we do and think the way we automatically do. We can even write out our fantasies and daydreams, treating them as dream material for clues as to our inner fears and desires. The journal serves as an impartial record, to correct our memory and provide relevant material. Reading through a journal after many weeks can give a shocking view of one's state of mind of the time, when the current process of rationalization and projection looses its focus. We can get an idea of what state of mind we might currently have, as opposed to the story we usually tell ourselves.
Journaling should be a long term endeavor, for many patterns and moods endlessly repeat. We may tend to forget this, thinking that the mood or state was temporary, or the pattern of thinking only a one shot affair. Journaling can reveal these patterns over time, and even return us to the forgotten wisdom of old, showing how the 28 day pattern of the moon and the cycles of the seasons affect us, and are part of our own makeup.
"A journal helps greatly so that you're not dependent on a memory that's subject to painting the picture erroneously. The journal should document what beliefs you have about what you are, which ones you've worked on and have seen through, and which one you're currently investigating." - Art Ticknor
"Journal writing is a voyage to the interior. " - Christina Baldwin
" When my journal appears, many statues must come down." - Arthur Wellesley
Dream work is a similar endeavor, but a lot of honest work is needed in the understanding of it. The reward can be greater as well, for in our dreams we may loose the ego safeguards that protect our precious self-concepts. The study of our dreams can be a first step into the mind, and a doorway to our unconscious. Our true motivations, the discovery of energy knots and hidden egos, can also be found through dreams. The business of modern life with its hectic demands on our time and minds, leaves us little space to reflect and listen to our inner self. The down time of sleep is when the inner self can have a field day through the means of dreams.
Much can be said about dream interpretation. The single most important aspect of this is to remember that you, and you alone, are the judge of what they mean. Your dreams are just that, your dreams. While there are symbols common to all of us, we may have very different associations regarding them. Depend only on your own 'felt validity'. You will come to know when a dream is dead right in showing you something about yourself.
To start, remember before going to bed that you wish to remember your dreams. A nightly meditation practice can help relax the mind before sleep. Place a pencil and paper or tape recorder next to the bed, or use your laptop with dream journaling software. If you wake during the night, write down any dreams so far. In the morning, schedule enough time not only to write down the night's dreams, but also to sit with them for awhile and put the dream into memory. .
Dreams as a great way to clean out the inner ghosts by becoming aware of them. We may become aware of these mind patterns only through the relatively safe haven of dreams, then carry the knowledge into day-to-day life. When writing in the journal, remember to title the dream, and stay in present tense. Remember, you are the ego-character in the dream, there is no real stable 'you' character, so to speak, just different roles you identify with. The dream, and life, must be interpreted from an outside viewpoint, not from only the view point of the ego-dreamer. Both sides must be understood. What patterns continually come up? What is the mood of the dream, the feel? The feeling state associated with it is important. What in daily life has a similar feel? Keeping a dream journal for a length of time is essential too, as the repeating patterns of dreams over time tells us much.
"You are always the final judge of what to believe they mean. By working with dreams, we can transcend mere opinion — yours, mine, and society’s—about how to live. One huge reward is to discover in dreams our own interior source of wisdom." - Dr. Ron Masa
" While men are dreaming, they do not perceive that it is a dream. Some will even have a dream in a dream, and only when they awake do they know it was all a dream. And so, when the Great Awakening comes upon us, shall we know this life to be a dream. Fools believe themselves to be awake now." - Chaung-tzu
Dream interpretation can be a fascinating adventure, making our nighttime hours an exciting source of self-discovery. Help in interpreting the information can be had from many sources, so put on the dreaming body and see what's happening inside the world of your own mind.
- Related Sites -
Jeremy Taylor has worked with dreams for over thirty years; he blends the values of spirituality with an active social conscience and a Jungian perspective. Founding member and past president of the Association for the Study of Dreams, he has written three books integrating dream symbolism, mythology, and archetypal energy. The latest is: The Living Labyrinth: Universal Themes in Myths, Dreams and the Symbolism of Waking Life. His earlier books, Where People Fly and Water Runs Uphill, and Dream Work, have been translated into many languages.
The Self-Discovery Multi-Site Portal : What's behind the sense of 'I am'? Who's living, and who's facing death? Who or what am I, essentially? Throughout history occasional individuals have told of finding the answer to those questions, and their testimonies often have a surprising consistency. For individuals seeking to find the answer for themselves, those testimonies provide helpful clues for pursuing the search to a successful conclusion.
For some searchers, working by themselves is the preferred method. Others intuit that finding a few fellow seekers to work with may expedite their progress. Still more fortunate may be those who find a living person who has made the journey and can provide assistance from the perspective of that realization. The Self-Discovery site is designed to offer all three modes of help.
The University of Yourself : offers dream-work via teleconferencing, leading you to an understanding of your dreams through understanding yourself. Dr.Ron has his own unique blend of humor and understanding. "Dreams are filmed “live and in person” inside of you. They reveal the facts of your inner life. They contain profound insights about every aspect of your existence. And they do not know how to lie." -Dr. Ron Masa
'Helping You Hear the Guide Inside'
The TAT Foundation: TAT is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization established in 1973 to provide a forum for philosophical and spiritual inquiry. TAT was founded on the belief that your investigation of life's mysteries is expedited by working with others who are exploring, perhaps down a different road, so that you may share your discoveries, exchange ideas, and "compare notes" in order to come to a better understanding of yourself and others.
Tricks and Traps
Tricks: Here are three tricks to bridge the gap between our ego/idea of ourselves and our fact status:
1. Practice a technique for seeing the personality indirectly. In the beginning, we may not be able to see ourselves directly, so the use of techniques such as dream study or journaling can help get us started on the path of self-discovery. Reading back through a journal can be a shock, we may think we are an earnest, positive and altruistic seeker, when the journal notes may show us to be a negative whiner who thinks only of himself.
2. Group Work. Nothing can help with seeing ourselves quite as much as the mirror of a group. To take advantage of the group setting though, one may need to learn to listen. Even in the work place, we may be getting all the information about ourselves we need, but refuse to hear it.
3. Watch your emotions. Take the time to sit quietly twice a day, first thing in the morning and before you fall asleep, and see what your heart is telling you. Not to the endless justifications or judgments in the mind, but to the knots or tensions in the background. Can you feel these? What are they related to? Can you bring up words to describe these knots? Do you have mixed feelings about the days events? Where are the contradictions?
On Nostalgia and Desire
The cycle of desire and fulfillment may seem a trap of monumental proportions, but as all traps built in the framework of the mind, it has no inherent reality. Let's take a look at this cycle of desire, fear, and fulfillment, and how an ache of the heart turned within is our release.
We see that if we want something and then get it, we feel better. After years of this cycle, we fall for the trick of believing that getting what we want is what life is about. And what would make us happy would be getting what we want, when we want it, all the time. We fail to look closer and see what has really taken place. Fulfilling desire simply puts it to sleep, and leaves us in the state of no-desire. It causes no fundamental change, and sows the seeds for our future discontent. If we saw behind the circumstance, we would see that the state of no desire, or pre-desire, is what we long for, and would no longer move from it out into the dual dimension of pleasure and pain, the so-called reality of life. This state of peace has been there all along as our true nature, lying much closer than any pleasure object of the world. But this peace is not peace of mind. The mind is motion, and does not manifest in stillness. This state of no-desire is stillness itself, beneath and primal to mind, and is our rest.
This trap of desire and its fulfillment also involves forgetting. We forget we are fulfilled as we really are, within, and thus move away through temptation and trickery. Not from being pushed, but from being fooled. We have become mesmerized by the world and its sensations, and have forgotten the peace that lies within. A potent cocktail, equal parts faulty memory and a profound propensity towards fantasy and projection, mixed with fear of unfulfilled desire and death, topped off with a passion for grabbing onto everything that feels good, keeps us on the endless loop of turning our attention out into the world for fulfillment, coming back into ourselves to rest, and then going back out again. We have become identified with the world and it's dual nature, and have forgotten we are complete and forever in the state of fulfillment within, our true home. We are not an animal at heart, though we have come to believe this.
This leads to the longing of nostalgia and how we confuse the circumstances of our childhood events with a purer state within that was also present at the time. It is innocence and lack of guilt that we truly long for, a state before temptation and the chasms of the mind led us out into duality. We long for our childhood or nostalgic scenes, not because these props and times can provide peace, but because our inner state at the time was one of peace. We paint this inner state onto the scenery and confuse the two, fooled again. We mistake the event for the feeling, much as we do the act of fulfillment of desire with the state of no-desire. Nostalgia in its pure spiritual state is not the desire to live in a root-beer commercial, which might be nice, but the longing of our heart for its true state of oneness. Our inherent inner peace passeth all understanding, for to ego and mind, it's completely unbelievable.
- Quotes -
" It is only when we realize that life is taking us nowhere that it begins to have meaning." - P.D. Ouspensky
" We live in a fantasy world, a world of illusion. The great task in life is to find reality.'' - Iris Murdoch
" Poetry is the journal of a sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air. " - Carl Sandburg
" One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious." - Carl G. Jung
" Creative Writing is one of the most powerful tools available to explore our interior. Often, we don't know how we feel until we write it down. Writing is a rare tool that allows us to dis-cover and to ex-press what is within. Once we have put our thoughts in writing, we can re-view them as if they belonged to another. Ideas that are outside our head allow us to apply the full resources of perception... in ways usually reserved for outsiders." - Dr. Ron Masa
" Working with dreams" means remembering and exploring the dreams from sleep with an eye to their deeper meanings. Each one of us is uniquely blind to the deeper meanings of our own dreams, and dream work helps us see what amazing gifts are there, just below the surface of "manifest content" and obvious appearance. - Jeremy Taylor
" Felicity, the companion of content, is rather found in our own breasts than in the enjoyment of external things; and I firmly believe it requires but a little philosophy to make a man happy in whatever state he is." - Daniel Boone
"Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession.
I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first." - Ronald Reagan
"You can lead a man to Congress, but you can't make him think" - Milton Berle
Copyright 2009 - Robert Fergeson. All Rights Reserved.