She Passes Me a Note That Says …

Today’s blog post is by Grace Welker, who has just launched a PubSlush crowd-funding campaign to help finance the most beautiful and engaging diary I’ve ever seen for girls. The Oasis Pages is Grace’s dream come true. By helping to fund this campaign to get diaries into girls’ hands, you can help countless dreams come true. Okay, I’ll stop talking now and let Grace tell her story:

She Passes Me a Note That Says …

How a Dream Woke Me Up

A guest blog

by Grace Welker

I’m standing near a group of teenaged girls at a picnic table outside a school-like brick building. They are talking in a very matter-of-fact way about how they are going to commit suicide. Their lack of emotion frightens me and compels me to speak, “Surely there’s another option, there has to be,” I say with calm and logic — and heart — trying not to betray my deep concern but to reach them.

The dream cuts to me walking down a dirt roadway, away from the school; one of the girls, the leader, is walking beside me. She passes me a note. I open it and read: “You cannot imagine the melancholy inside of me.”

I wake up knowing this is an important dream — and wanting to look up the word melancholy (at an online glance, it’s “a feeling of pensive sadness, typically with no obvious cause”) It is spring 2012 and I am two years into a book project: creating a diary for teen girls. Not just a blank book with a pretty cover, but a diary with content — questions, quotes, words lists, prompts. I want girls to write, to give voice to their lives, to befriend themselves. And I’m stuck.

I don’t have children. I don’t actually know any teen girls. My only claim to knowing anything about teen girls is that I once was one. What was I thinking? There are people who specialize in adolescent psychology; there are moms of teen girls; others who “get” contemporary girls in the 21st Century. Things with the diary project feel bleak; not like they did when the idea first burst on the scene of my mind: a super-relevant diary that made it easy and inviting and interesting for a girl to write in.

I love this dream at once, despite its “dark” themes. For one, a teen girl chose to communicate with me — in writing! I am intrigued by the specificity of the word “melancholy,” and the definition I find. It’s a “feeling state;” hell, yes; isn’t being a teen girl ALL about the roller coaster ride of feelings?! And “pensive sadness.” Not just sadness. Sadness with thought. This is exactly up my diary alley! “With no obvious cause.” Well don’t get me started. In my humble opinion, even the most well-adjusted, sincerely loved teenaged girl can’t help but notice the imbalance in our culture (the world?) between her value as a person and her value as, well, either a sexual object or potential mother. Just being a teen girl can be enough of a cause for serious questioning about life.

I love this dream because it tells me I’m on the right track. That girls’ inner lives matter. This dream wakes me up with the knowledge that having been a teen girl is enough street cred; anyone who reads Anne Frank’s diary knows that, as Mary Piper puts it, “Culture has changed a lot but … girls need what they have always needed.” (Piper wrote Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls.)

I love this dream because it reminds me that the written word has a power all its own. And that’s one of the primary reasons I am passionate about this project to create a diary that will get teen girls writing — and keep them going.

Talking to Grace Welker, creator of the Oasis Pages Diary for Girls, about  our dreams.

Talking to Grace Welker, creator of the Oasis Pages Diary for Girls, about our dreams.

ZZzzZZzzZZzz

Grace Welker is creator of the Oasis Pages Diary for Teen Girls. Through November 3, she is crowdfunding to print 2,000 copies of the diary; to pre-order a copy or donate one to a girl in need (and see a video of Grace talking about the diary), please visit www.oasispages.pubslush.com. Grace has worked in editorial roles at Kripalu Center, Omega Institute, and Sivananda Bahamas.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Dream Catching

When we lose out on sleep we lose out on dreaming, too. This is a situation worth remedying.

Science tells us that REM sleep, when most dreams take place, helps with problem solving, emotional regulation, and much more. In addition, the practice of doing dreamwork, including dream analysis and sharing dreams with a counselor or loved one, has been shown to improve relationships, heal post-traumatic stress disorder, reduce stress, and amp up creativity.

To encourage dream-filled sleep and to use your dreams as a resource for increased happiness and meaning in your life, consider these suggestions.

Night notes: Keep your journal by your bedside, and before you turn out the lights write about the highlights of the day that just passed. This helps clear your mind so you can sleep and dream better. When you wake, reach for the journal again and jot down your dreams. Recording dreams helps to increase dream recall, and helps you pay attention to the messages and information contained within your dreams.
Dream time: When you wake, before you move or speak, take a moment to reflect on any dreams you might have had. There’s no need to analyze or even understand them; simply review them as you would look back on an eventful day. Scan them for any information that might give you a new perspective — that might startle, amuse, entertain, or inform you.
Dream sharing: Make it a practice to ask your bed partner or family members about their dreams. Again, there’s no need to analyze or even interpret the dreams. Simply by taking an interest in your dreams and those of your loved ones, you are inviting new opportunities to deepen your connections. As an added bonus, the process of talking out dreams sometimes sparks surprising insights.

…zzZZZZzzzzzzz

Want to learn more about your dreams? Contact me to find out about upcoming dream groups in western Massachusetts, or individual dream sessions by phone, Skype, or in person.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Awake (& Alive) in the Dream

A dreamer’s reflections on ecology, activism, and becoming lucid

On Saturday night, during my stay at Rowe Conference Center for a weekend workshop to empower ecological activists led by Joanna Macy, I had what could be called a reverse lucid dream.

In a typical lucid dream, one becomes aware she is dreaming and can thus begin to exercise volition within the dream. In this case, during the dream I suddenly became aware that I was awake. The fact that I was, of course, incorrect, is not the point.

What is interesting however is that within the dream, when I (falsely) determined that I was awake, I had the same reaction I normally do when I’m dreaming and become lucid; I felt a rush of excitement and alertness. Whereas in a lucid dream I might announce joyously, “I’m dreaming, this is a dream!” In this case I called out in the dream, “I’m awake, I’m alive!”

Again, as in a lucid dream, each detail of the dreamscape, which I mistook in this case for my waking environment, took on a quality of ultra-real vitality. I stood at the foot of a staircase and in my newly awake and aware dream state I marveled at the grain of the wood on the steps below my feet, the gentle curve of the banister beneath my hand, and the rich hues of the carpets and walls. Most of all, I became acutely aware of the fact that I was present and experiencing all of this.

“I’m awake, I’m alive!” I exclaimed.

Waking that morning in a second floor bedroom of the farmhouse at Rowe Camp and Conference Center, where I’d been immersed in Macy’s program for environmental engagement in the face of devastating climate change, I realized the dream encapsulated perfectly the workshop’s message.

In this historical era of environmental plunder it is easy to slip into a communal dream and sleepwalk through our days, unconscious and disconnected, as all around us plant and animal species succumb to extinction.

But in the workshop with Macy, we were called to be present. Together we woke to the pain and suffering of our planet. We felt our frozen hearts melt into tears and laughter as we celebrated, mourned, danced, sang, played, told stories, and gave voice to each beautiful thing we would miss if climate disaster continues on its current course.

On the day of my dream, Macy led us through an exercise in which we took an imaginary voyage to the year 2214, some seven generations into the future, to hear from our distant progeny as they looked back on our time and wondered why we didn’t we do more—and how we managed to do as much as we did to protect the environment against the ravages of corporate greed. This exercise helped me feel how precious our existence truly is. Of all the people who ever lived on Earth, and all the generations who might come after us, we are the only ones here now to breathe air, drink water, and delight in the sunshine and breezes. We are the ones who carry life forward, and who can affect the quality of life that will be available to our heirs.

The dream gave me a new vision of lucidity, and Macy’s workshop renewed my motivation to carry it out. Yes, it’s exciting to wake within the dream—but it is even more so to wake within our lives: to feel the exquisite joy, pain, beauty, and fragility of our existence.

“I’m awake, I’m alive!”

These can be the watchwords of our ecological faith.

“I’m awake, I’m alive!”

These words can be a mantra keeps our spirits from drifting off to sleep as we confront the realities of our time.

“I’m awake, I’m alive!”

These syllables can shake us from our stupor.

Say it with me: “I’m awake. I’m alive.”

And so we begin to dream a new dream.

ZzzZzzZzzzZ

For another take on lucid dreaming, click here.

To learn about 350 Dreamers, a group that dreams together for global healing, click here.

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Find 350 Dreamers on Facebook

Tzivia:

Please dream with us for global healing in the face of climate change on Monday night Sept. 22.

Originally posted on 350 Dreamers:

Dream With Us

What: We invite you to dream with us in our quest to use the power of dreams to help heal Planet Earth!

We dream together periodically … watch for updates at 350 Dreamers on Facebook.

Dream, journey and/or vision for the earth on the night of our group dream and post your dreams and reflections on 350 Dreamers Facebook Page in the morning!

Why: Because Global Climate Change is threatening our beautiful planet and because we have the power to create positive, healing change.

When:

Check our Facebook Page for updates.

Where: Wherever you are …

Who: We have dreamers signed up from Belgium, The Netherlands, Puerto Rico, Canada, Japan, Argentina, The United States … add your nation to the list!

RSVP: Let us know you’ll be dreaming with us by joining 350 Dreamers on FaceBook!

View original

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Q&A: What do I do when dreams get confused with reality?

 Q.I sometimes have a hard time distinguishing dreams from waking reality. I can fool myself into thinking I’m dreaming when I’m awake if I try. It’s kind of disconcerting and un-grounding, like reverse lucid dreaming. What can I do to strengthen the boundary between dreaming and waking?

Signed,

Boundary Issues

 

A. Dear Boundary Issues,

Here’s what I’d like you to do: Take a walk outside today. Find yourself a collection of smooth, solid rocks, scoop them up and put them in your pockets.

No, I’m not being facetious, and I’m not speaking in metaphors. Go ahead, get outside. Select some pretty stones, smooth stones, stones that sit nicely in the palm of your hand—and pocket them. Let them help hold you on this earth.

This isn’t punishment or penance of any sort. I’ve prescribed this same therapy for myself from time to time. Now that you’re settled firmly on this sweet blue planet, let’s talk.

You see, Dear Boundary Issues, while I spend a great deal of my waking time and energy spreading the Good News about dreams: how we should pay more attention to them, honor them, talk and write about them … there are times when I know it is wisest to pull back a little and put our slippered feet solidly on the hardwood floor of waking reality, and honor time we have here, as well.

Dreams and waking are two ends of a continuum of consciousness. We slip in and out and between these states all the time, moving from focused problem-solving, to relaxed day-dreaming, to fantasizing, to going to sleep and having ordinary dreams, lucid dreams, and more. This is healthy and usually quite productive.

Skillful dreamers can slip in and out of various states of consciousness with relative ease. This can be a way to access hypnotic states, trance states, healing Shamanic journeys, and more. When done with intention, agility, and perhaps even a bit of training—this is a wonderful gift to have.

Then again, confusing wake life with dreaming can be a slippery slope to psychosis. Thinking you’re dreaming when you’re awake can lead to all kinds of problems, like deciding to fly off the ledge of tall buildings, for one.

Don’t get me wrong. I love to dance along the boundaries between states of consciousness as much as the next dreamer. And if you can move through dreams within dreams and delve into deep philosophical and metaphysical discourses about how all of life is a dream, and then suit up for work and navigate waking reality just fine, then no problem.

You might even choose to take advantage of having a thin boundary between sleep and waking states of consciousness. But if you do, take care. Such explorations require the balance—and ballast—of a rock solid sense of self. Check in with friends and a trusted therapist to see if you fit that bill. Then find yourself a salt-of-the earth spiritual teacher or guide who has her or his feet planted firmly on the ground, who has a clearly articulated ethical and moral framework for their spiritual work, and ask this person if you can study with them. Even then, keep in close contact with your trusted friends and counselors to get an honest assessment if you’re veering to far off into dangerous territory.

But first, let’s get back to those rocks that are weighting down your pockets. Let them be a reminder to mind the boundary between sleep and waking. Perhaps it’s time to start putting a little more emphasis on the latter. Give your dream journal a break. Drink plenty of water, chew your food slowly, and indulge your five senses.

Because here’s the bottom line, Dear Boundary Issues: Living in bodies is a unique and splendid limited-time offer. Even if we live to be 120, our time in skin suits is still a blink of the eye compared to the eternity our souls have to travel all the invisible realms. So while we’re here encased in flesh and bound by bones, enjoy all the perks. Gravity is a pretty cool phenomenon when you think of it … not to mention color, wind, rain, and skin to skin contact. Play with these earthly delights all you can. Don’t undervalue the eyes-wide-open opportunities presented by so-called ordinary reality.

And let me know how it goes.

Dreamily yours,

Tz …

…zzZZZZzzzzzzz

Want to learn more about your dreams? Contact me to find out about upcoming dream groups in western Massachusetts, or individual dream sessions by phone, Skype, or in person.

Have a Dream Question? Send it along! I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Q&A: Can Dreams Help Me Evolve Spiritually? (Namaste, Dreamer!)

Q: How can dreams best be used to evolve one’s spiritual being?

Signed,

Evolving

A: Maybe it’s because I just got back from my weekly yoga class at the Y, but for some reason your question makes me think of downward facing dogs and backbends. Hang in there with me for a moment, Evolving, Dear. That’s not as random as it might at first sound.

You see, we’re supposed to do yoga to become enlightened, right? We know there’s gotta be deep wisdom scrawled in Sanskrit somewhere between all those forward folds and cobra poses. But face it. We also love yoga because it’s a great excuse to buy fabulous form-fitting flared-at-the-knee Capris and pretty little Spandex tops. (Or is that just me and some elephant-headed god is going to toss a bolt of lightning at me for my blasphemous remarks? No worries. I’m willing to risk it for you, Evolving One).

The point is that just as some yoginis (yes, I’m guilty as charged) can turn this deep spiritual practice into an excuse to get a little fashion-crazy, so with dreaming too it’s easy to get lost in the metaphorical bling of the exercise. For example, some dreamers–(yup, I’m guilty as charged once more), can get so caught up in amassing closets full of dream journals, or flaunting their lucid dreaming prowess–that they seem to forget what we’re doing dreamwork for anyway.

But, Evolving one, as you seem to suspect, dreams are about more than just consciousness aerobics. In fact, as much as I love showing off my knowledge of Greek mythology as I delve into a dream’s archetypes and allusions, the real reason I’m hooked on them is that in dreams I get to slip into state of being in which consciousness is as detached from my physical body as it can get without me breaking any laws or checking out for good.

Dreams are in fact a nightly invitation to a spiritual training ground that’s as rigorous and profound as any master yoga class. It’s up to us to accept the challenge and deepen our experience.

But how?

Let’s go back to the sticky mat for a moment. In yoga class the teacher cheerfully invites us to bend our bodies into seemingly impossible contortions. Then, in the face of our burning muscles and shrieking joints she offers breezy instructions like: “Notice your body’s resistance, bring your breath to that area, and simply soften and release.”

At first you think she’s some kind of saccharine sweet sadist, but you go ahead and do what she says and next thing you know you can touch your toes, arc up into a backbend, or sit in full lotus position.

Let’s apply this same instructions to dreams and watch our spirits evolve. Try it: When you find yourself face to face with a monster, an enemy, or a dream character you have nothing but scorn for … soften and release. Consider the possibility that perhaps the character who represents you in the dream is wrong, and that the toothless old woman or the axe-wielding wild man in your nightmare is right. Where can you soften your resistance to a dream scenario? Where can you release a habitual judgments or attitudes and open to new points of view? Apply this principle to even the most mundane dream and the results can be soul-shaking and supremely growthful.

For me, a terrifying dream of being chased by a band of killers while I sped past a student from my poetry class, literally woke me up to the fact that if I didn’t start honoring my inner artist, I’d be murdering a precious part of myself.

A client I recently worked with found that the repulsive man who stormed into her home in her dream was really asking her to accept her own imperfections and embrace a more laissez faire attitude, rather than clinging to her impossible-to-meet joy-crushing standards.

Look into your dream, find the point of conflict, then breathe, soften, and release.

Yeah, I know, that’s more difficult than enduring the burn of chair pose. Ever hear of growing pains? Uh huh. Spiritual and emotional growth is uncomfortable, too, but if you breathe into the discomfort you’ll find yourself becoming increasingly (spiritually) flexible. You’re softening your identification with your ego and starting to align with your deep, divine, core. You’re taking an evolved stance, Evolving One, which is expansive, nonjudgmental, curious, and joyful.

Downward facing dog, anyone?

Dreamily yours,

Tz …

…zzZZZZzzzzzzz

Want to learn more about your dreams? Contact me to find out about upcoming dream groups in western Massachusetts, or individual dream sessions by phone, Skype, or in person.

Have a Dream Question? Send it along! I’d love to hear from you.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Q&A: How Do I Make This (Recurring) Dream Stop?

Q: I have the same dream again and again. What can you tell me about recurring dreams? Why do we have them and is there a way to get the dream to stop repeating itself?

Signed,

Stuck on Replay

 

A: Dear Stuck,

Stop me if I’ve told you this one before …

I have a good friend, let’s call her Ann. Some years back, she was beginning to drive me up the wall. Every time we spoke she’d tell me the same story again and again.

It got to the point where I dreaded seeing her number turn up on my caller ID. If I didn’t love her so much, I might have just stopped picking up the phone. But because I truly care about her I stoically answered her calls, and then I griped to another friend (again and again, I might add) about how tired I was of Ann repeating herself.

This pattern wasn’t helping anyone, except maybe the folks at ATT&T who were pocketing the money we three spent as we racked up minutes on our phone bills.

This, Dear Replay, is exactly what’s going on with you and your dreams. Dreaming, is in essence, a conversation. Depending on your belief system, it’s a conversation between parts of yourself; between you and God; or between you and universal consciousness. Whatever the case, it’s an important relationship worthy of at least as much attention as my relationship with my pal Ann. So, like me, you have a couple of choices:

1) You can prop the phone against your ear and let Ann go on and on like a broken record, while you troll the Internet for the best deal on those cowgirl boots you’ve been coveting.

2) Or, you can step away from the laptop and enter into a meaningful conversation with her about what she is saying and why she feels the need to repeat herself.

The fact that you’re writing to me implies that you really do care, so Option 1 really isn’t an option at all. I care about Ann, too, so here’s what I did:

The next time she launched into her spiel I said, “Ann, I feel like maybe I haven’t been a good listener because I notice that each time we talk you tell me the same story. Is there something you’re not getting from me that you need on this subject?”

Ann paused, then told me she just really needed me to hear her and to validate what she was feeling. So, I asked her to tell me the story one more time. This time I really listened. I asked her questions and took a genuine interest. And guess what? After that we were able to move onto new subject matter.

And that’s what you need to do with your recurring dream. Show the dream you’re really paying attention. Write the dream down. Consider each part of it with a curious, open attitude. Talk the dreams over with a loved one or therapist, or bring it to a dream group. Ask yourself: What has this dream come to tell me?

Chances are, if you give the dream your full attention, one of two things will happen: Either, it will go away, or it will change.

If it goes away and fresh dreams arrive in its stead, good for you. This is a sign that you got the message and addressed the issue the dream was raising for you.

If the dream changes; good for you, too. This is a signal that you are making progress. Keep working with the dream, paying close attention to any alterations in the repeating pattern. You may even start to welcome the reappearance of this dream theme, because the ways it changes will give you clues as to where your daytime attitudes and actions need tweaking.

Give it a try and let me know how it turns out. And I promise to listen closely, so you won’t have to repeat yourself.

Dreamily yours,

Tz…

…zzZZZZzzzzzzz

PS: My dreams repeat themselves almost as much as I do! Read more about recurring dreams here.

…zzZZZZzzzzzzz

Want to learn more about your dreams? Contact me to find out about upcoming dream groups in western Massachusetts, or individual dream sessions by phone, Skype, or in person.

Have a Dream Question? Send it along! I’d love to hear from you.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized