Category Archives: Dreamasana

A Mindful Routine for Sleep and Dreaming (A Corner View* Post)

The first step in dreaming, of course, is going to sleep. So let’s look at a good routine to enter sleep mindfully, and begin to recall and honor our dreams.

1 – Plan your evening so you can get into bed before you are fully exhausted. Just as when we eat mindfully we stop before we are full, when we sleep and dream mindfully we go to bed before we are maxed out with exhaustion. This can be the most difficult step of all for many of us, when our schedules become so packed we can barely squeeze in time to eat well, let alone to get enough sleep. But this is also the most important step, so it is worth reviewing your day to see how you can make a commitment to moving into sleep at a reasonable hour.

2 – Meditate in the evening; sometime between dinner and bedtime is ideal. Even a short ten-twelve minute meditation will help you reconnect inwardly, and begin to calm your thoughts and nervous system to prepare for sleep.

3 – Prepare the body for sleep with a few stretches or yoga poses that are known to help sooth anxiety and still the mind such as a few rounds of Cat/Cow, Down Dog, Forward Fold, and Legs up the Wall Pose.

4 – Be a grateful dreamer: Studies have shown that people who go to bed grateful, sleep and dream better. So go to sleep counting your blessings, and you’ll find this is even better than counting sheep!

5 – Before you lie down in bed, practice pranayama, or breathing techniques, to help settle the mind and calm the body. Alternate nostril breathing is very helpful in balancing and settling the mind before bed, as is a simple breath retention practice like the 4-7-8 breath, in which you inhale for 4 breaths, retain for 7, and exhale for 8. Breath retention practices such as this one can also help you enter lucid dreams, especially if you use them when you wake in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, for example.

6 -Say you prayers. A bedtime prayer that asks for protection and in which you set intentions for sleep is very helpful. Remember, entering sleep is like stepping through a portal into a realm of unlimited possibilities. Therefore it is wise to move through this transition with respect and intention.

This simple routine is a helpful and healthful way to enter sleep and dreams. You may not be able to do all of these practices every evening, but integrating at least one or more per night can make a significant difference to your sleep and dreaming experience.

*Corner View* is a weekly appointment – each Wednesday, where bloggers from all corners of the world share their view on a pre-arranged theme. This week’s theme is “Path”.  

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Follow your dreams … No, really! (“On the Path”–A Corner View* post)

IMG_1892Some people say, “Follow your dreams,” and they are just parroting some expression they heard. But when I say it, I mean it! My dreams have led me to jobs, to relationships, and right up the path to the front door of my new home when I was looking for a place to live five years ago!
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I believe that dreams, especially persistent, memorable, or unusual ones, are trying to get our attention. It’s as though a deep and timeless part of ourselves, the wise self that lives within each of us, is speaking to us through stories and scenes.

Each dream can act as a steppingstone, leading us along our soul’s path. Some dreams will beckon us to take a turn in an unexpected direction, others will offer course corrections if we’re wandering astray, or affirmation when we’re on the right path.

IMG_2840Like the best friend who will tell you if you have spinach stuck between your teeth, or a label sticking out on the back of your shirt—dreams won’t let you fool yourself into thinking you’re doing better than you really are. But, they’ll also never criticize without offering constructive help in the form of images, puns, or stories that point us toward our strengths and sources of sustenance and support.

Our job is to pay attention to our dreams; to listen to them with an attitude of curiosity and nonjudgmental consideration. Over time you will learn to decipher their messages and meaning; you’ll start to understand our own dream language, and thus have new channels of information, wisdom, healing, and guidance available to you.

Have you followed a dream lately? Tell us where it led you!

*Corner View* is a weekly appointment – each Wednesday, where bloggers from all corners of the world share their view on a pre-arranged theme. This week’s theme is “Path”.  

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The Guru at the Door

In the wide-awake world of constant connectivity and 24-7 access to entertainment and information, we tend to treat our dreams as if they were flotsam and jetsam, washed up by some mysterious tide, and we carelessly rinse them away with our morning shower.

But if instead we welcome those dreams with curiosity and a smile, we just might find that they can serve as welcomed companions—even wise gurus—that can support and sustain us throughout the day.

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Open the door to your dreams: The first step to developing a healthy relationship to your dreams is to pay attention to them. Today, tell your dreams to someone, or write them down. When you let your dreams know you are listening to them, they’ll respond with images and stories that will support and sustain you throughout your day.

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Learn to develop A Mindful Way to Sleep, Dream, and Live Better at one of these upcoming workshops:

Weds. May 27 Dreamasana at VegaYoga in Holyoke, Mass.

November 12-15, The Yoga of Dreams at Sivananda Ashram and Yoga Retreat in the Bahamas.

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Long Time Gone (& back again)

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a chance to post here. Those of you who know me know there’s been a lot going on in my waking life (almost as much as in my prolific dream life!).

But before I tell you how glad I am to be back, I’d like to put in a word for silence – or the space between words; the lacuna between one thought and the next; the dreamless sleep that hammocks us between bursts of dream.

The beautiful spring flowers that we’ve been enjoying in these past weeks remind me that the snow covered winter landscape was in fact incubating vibrant dreams of color and beauty all through those gray, icy months. In the deep darkness of silent sleep, untold wonders are sending forth shoots that we will soon see blossom.

And so, this time between blog posts has been an opportunity for me to regroup and reflect on what it is I most want to share with you about dreams.

And here it is: I want to help you see the benefits that being fluent in your own dream language can afford to you.

I’d also like to help you begin to see dreams as not just something that happens to you when you close your eyes and go to sleep—but instead, I want to help you recognize that dreaming is a state of consciousness that you can enter into and engage in mindfully, and as such, that it can help to support and sustain your intentions for integrating body, mind, and spirit in a healthy and holistic way.

In the coming days and weeks I will share some posts with you about how to make dreamwork a part of your life, in the same way that a yoga or meditation can be woven into the fabric of your daily routine.

In the meantime, it’s good to be back.

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Welcome back, dreamer: Have you been a long time gone from your dreams? Let your dreams know that you want to rekindle your relationship with them: Place a notebook beside your bed, and write down your intention to remember your dreams tonight.

 

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Enjoy a musical interlude with the Dixie Chicks as you peruse these posts: Long Time Gone.

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Learn to develop A Mindful Way to Sleep, Dream, and Live Better at one of these upcoming workshops:

Weds. May 27 Dreamasana at VegaYoga in Holyoke, Mass.

November 12-15, The Yoga of Dreams at Sivananda Ashram and Yoga Retreat in the Bahamas.

 

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(Dream) Practice Makes Perfect

Dreamwork Podcast CoverWhat would it mean to have a dream practice, the same way some people have a yoga or meditation practice? (Hint: You don’t need a sticky mat, but prepare to fluff up your pillow!)  Listen in to learn more:

IMG_4811This episode of my podcast, DreamWork, was recorded at Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat in Nassau, Bahamas, during my stay there in November, 2014.

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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.


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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 …

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Learn more about how to develop A Mindful & Yogic way to sleep, dream, and live better at these upcoming workshops:Weds. July 22, 6:30 p.m. at VegaYoga in Holyoke, Mass.and November 12-15 at Sivananda Ashram and Yoga Retreat in the Bahamas.

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.

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Elephant (and mouse) Dreams

A statue of Ganesha.

A statue of Ganesha. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Second dream first

I’ll begin by telling you the second dream, in which my yoga teacher was showing me a picture of an elephant. Within the dream I thought, that’s my second dream about an elephant in two nights.

When I woke from the dream I thought it was significant because in my own personal dream handbook, when I am looking at a picture in a dream it is usually a sign that the dream is worth noticing, and that there is some psi element at play (i.e. either the dream is precognitive, clairvoyant, or telepathic in nature).

I reflected on the fact that within the dream I thought I’d dreamed of elephants two nights in a row. Well, that’s not true, I thought now that I was awake and recording the dream.

But just to make sure, I turned back to the previous night’s dream report in my notebook. Turns out I’d dreamed it was my birthday and was walking along a beach where seals played in the surf and … elephants roamed free on the shore!

So, now I was even more interested in the dream. I’ve heard it said that if you dream of the same animal three times in close proximity then it’s your spirit animal or totem. Now I was two for two. I looked up the significance of the elephant in my copy of Ted Andrews’ Animal Speak book, my go-to for significant animal dreams.

I found a lot of interesting information about the elephant’s spiritual gifts. I read that elephants signify ancient power, strength and royalty. Also, that elephants are associated with clouds, because of their color shape, and form, and they are seen as symbols of the mists separating the worlds of form and formlessness.

But the fact that struck me just then, as I was propped up on my pillows in bed, was that Ganesha is the elephant-headed Hindu deity who revered as the remover of obstacles.

A birthday elephant

As it turns out, my friend Claudia had been making me a birthday present (now seven months belated, but when someone’s hand-sewing your gift you don’t complain) and had recently called to tell me it was almost ready. The gift I knew was a “Ganesha yantra.” I didn’t know what that meant except that it had something to do with the Hindu deity. What little I knew about Ganesha came from years of practicing yoga in various studios over the years, some of which were adorned with pictures and statuettes of various deities including Ganesha.

As for what a yantra was, I hadn’t a clue, except that Claudia  said that the one she was making me was  quilted and was a little larger than a placemat.

Most important to me at the moment was that the yantra featured Ganesha, and so I concluded that the yantra was now part of the elephant theme that had started in my dreams! Also, the elephant in the first dream appeared on my birthday, even though in waking reality my birthday was either 7 months ago, or 5 months hence, depending on which way your are looking at it.

I immediately texted Claudia to tell her about my dreams and how excited I was that the yantra, whatever exactly a yantra was, had already seeped into my dream world, even before I’d laid eyes on it.

Elephants and the mists

For the next several days elephants – and clouds – kept coming into my consciousness. For example, on the morning after I had the second elephant dream, I noticed a billboard I had never seen before. On it was a huge image of an elephant’s head, and a slogan about elephants not being trinkets, but creatures to be respected and treated humanely.

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In honor of my dream my sister painted a blue cloud on my thumbnail!

In honor of my dream my sister painted a blue cloud on my thumbnail!

As for clouds, this dream came just before Yom Kippur, the Jewish holy day of atonement. I spent only an hour in synagogue, but during that brief period the Rabbi read a passage about our sins being removed from us as easily as the passing of the clouds and the mist.

I took a break from composing this post to go out for ice cream with a friend. I looked up and saw this elephant painting above our table!

I took a break from composing this post to go out for ice cream with a friend. I looked up and saw this elephant painting above our table!

Finally, the day came when I was to meet Claudia and pick up my long awaited birthday gift. That morning I woke from a string of powerful dreams, including one about a mouse who attacked me. Dreams of animals attacking get my attention because that is a sign in the shamanistic tradition that the animal is claiming you to give you some of its spirit medicine.

I am always grateful to receive a strong dream, but I must admit I was also a little disappointed that the animal was a mouse, not an elephant. A third dream elephant appearing on the morning that I was to receive my Ganesha yantra would have been incredibly special, I thought.

Nonetheless I contemplated the symbolism of the mouse a bit before I had to rush out of bed and prepare for work.

That evening I met Claudia, and happily took possession of my long-awaited birthday yantra. The yantra, it turned out, was a beautifully and intricately quilted square of colorful fabrics that contained a complex geometric pattern of triangular shapes radiating out from a central triangle, and what looked like a Jewish Star of David, but which is also an ancient Hindu symbol uniting heaven and earth.

As Claudia explained that the yantra is a pattern that represents and calls forth Ganesha’s energy, and other yantras symbolize other deities, I couldn’t help but note that there was actually no elephant in the design of my new yantra.

“So, what does Ganesha actually look like?” I asked.

Claudia pointed toward a tiny statuette perched atop the doorframe in her room. “That one’s too high up for you to get a good look, but it’s an elephant’s head on a boy’s body with a mouse at his feet.”

“A what?” I asked excitedly.

“A mouse,” Claudia repeated patiently.

Surely I’d heard this fact before: that Ganesha’s rides on the back of a mouse, who is often pictured at the elephant-boy’s feet. But to my conscious mind this was brand new information. Somehow my dreams knew and were pointing me to the significance of this gift from my dear friend.

My Ganesha yantra hangs now above my meditation cushion, so I can contemplate it while I sit. Though there is no image of an elephant in its rich design, I see two elephants and a mouse spinning in a cloud of dreams each time I look at it.

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If you are planning to undertake your own business or if you are stepping into a new phase of life, Ganesha Yantra will be the best solution to curb all the impediments that could block your way to accomplishments.

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What do the animals in your dreams mean? Let’s find out together:

If you’d like to learn more about your dreams, schedule an appointment for dreamwork, purchase a dream journal, or buy a dreamwork gift certificate, visit me at Third House Moon.

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