Dreaming has been diminished in our modern Western society, relegated to a flat, limited version of its true, vast potential. We have been taught that dreaming is an activity reserved for the dark of night and the oblivion of sleep. Sometimes we remember snippets of our dreams, but even these we barely pay attention to in the rush of our demanding lives.
Half of our humanity — the part that connects us to our soul and the spiritual mysteries that underlie everyday reality — is lost in this truncated conception of dreaming.
Yet dreaming is what it is, no matter how we conceive or engage it. What is lost can be refound. It is as simple, and as difficult, as replacing one way of understanding dreaming with another.
You dream at night where the laws of physical reality slip away and open you to the unbound adventures of the realm of spirit.
You dream when you meditate, work magic or engage in other practices that shift you into an altered state of consciousness.
You dream when you go about the business of your daily life, drawing events and situations to you, especially those that are unusual, significant or emotionally charged.
This wider, wilder conception of dreaming invites you to broaden your awareness to include the workings of your soul and the spiritual mysteries that infuse and inform your life.
Dreaming is literally second nature. We have a physical body for engaging the material world and a dreambody for the wide, wild world of dreaming.
In our sleep-time dreams, where our mind and the laws of physical reality are turned off, our dreambody reigns supreme. In our daytime dreams, our dreambody is a guiding presence that helps us engage the soul-based energies and spiritual mysteries that direct our outer life.
These powerful dreaming capacities reside within us all, but for many they have atrophied through lack of attention and use.
At the beginning of my spiritual journey, I didn’t remember my sleep-time dreams nor understand the importance of dreaming in my waking life. Now my dreambody connection is as natural and ever present to me as breathing. How did I make this profound shift? First, and most essential, I fell in love with my dreambody.
Here is an exercise for reaching out to your dreambody with the intention of starting or deepening your relationship. …read more
Our culture trains us to believe that only special people — the superstars of politics, business, sports, the arts — can have real influence and power in society. We give them the center stage, the microphone, our adulation and make them our leaders, while our own light is dimmed by their giant shadows.
While it is true that people with money, charisma and acclaimed talents do wield a disproportional share of societal influence and power, it doesn’t follow that they are the primary change agents in our world.
Over and over again, my dreams have been telling me one clear message: humanity is riding an evolutionary edge, and that transformative, life-affirming change will happen at the individual level, and then be passed on, person to person, in a great, long chain of touching and being touched by others.
Recently I had a powerful dream that speaks to this message.
In this dream, I am at a political rally with my partner. Two politicians are on stage delivering their speeches. They smile, look good, and make grand promises, but it is nothing but double-speak and empty words.
My partner takes the microphone from them, gives it to me and asks, “What are your thoughts on politics and leadership?”
And this is how my dream self responds: “Each one of us must ask ourselves, right now, this moment: What do we want as our personal legacy of our precious time on this planet? Are we not accountable for the future well-being of our children, and our children’s children, and the other life forms that share this world with us? Do we have the right to just do what we want and leave others to pay for our excesses? Can we stand by while our economic, political and social systems lead us down a destructive path?
“These questions apply to all of us, the citizens of this Earth. The time of expecting others to fix the problem, of recklessly pursuing our self-interest, and of burying our head in the sand is done.
“Be you poet, politician, gardener, caretaker, tycoon or gravedigger — it does not matter what you do, it matters who you are. The world needs you to show up more deeply and profoundly as yourself, and to trust that this is your part to play. What you have to offer is worthy; it is enough.
“Change begins when you settle your mantle of leadership upon your own shoulders, and when you stop grasping outside of yourself at things that can never feed your soul. Because what you most deeply desire is not money, nor power, nor the pretty trappings of the material world, but to live an authentic life, based on what is best and beautiful inside of you, and to reach out and honor the same in others.
“We humans are brilliant creatures that can solve most anything we set our heart and will to. We can be leaders in our own circles of influence, partner with those of like mind and intention, and set right the abuses and excesses of human society. Together, we can mend our hearts, our homes, our communities and our precious planet home.
“We each hold the destiny of humanity and this Earth in our hands. I call you to put on your mantle of leadership, to straighten your back, hold your head proud, and get to work.”Claiming Your Personal Leadership
This dream is an invitation for each of us to claim our personal mantle of leadership. Though this is the work of a lifetime, here are three initial steps to help you begin this crucial task.
Hansel and Gretel are lost in the woods and leave a trail of breadcrumbs to find their way home. Though this plan doesn’t seem to work out so well for them, it offers an evocative metaphor for those of us who are spiritual seekers on a journey home to a soul-based life.
My spiritual journey began in earnest the day I realized there was something essential missing from my life, that was somehow related to my soul. I was in the midst of my MBA studies, lost in a material, career-driven life, with an aching hunger for something I neither understood nor knew where to find.
No matter that I was lost, I had woken up to my spiritual hunger and decided that I needed to change. And that was enough. The Mysteries, those powerful, invisible forces that underlie our waking reality, heard my yes to change, and began to leave a trail of crumbs, in the form of life-changing encounters and events, for me to follow.
A few months later, I completed my MBA and set off on a solo backpacking adventure in Europe. Shortly into the trip, I landed on the wrong train in France, only to hook up with a fellow adventurer, who was also on the wrong train. She was a beautiful young woman from Hawaii, with an edge of wildness and burgeoning, feminine-based spirituality.
We decided to travel together, joining our itineraries. She took me to the subterranean caves of Dordogne to see Paleolithic paintings, and here I encountered the Goddess for the first time. Though I had no words or concepts to explain this encounter, I felt Her pulsing omnipresence the moment I descended into the womb-like darkness of the cave.
Somewhere along the way, I understood that I was on a Hansel and Gretel journey, and that the Mysteries and my soul were leading me home to the presence of being and soulful life that I longed for. My task was to follow the trail of crumbs, doing the soul work presented by each, knowing that the next crumb would naturally follow.
Your Hansel and Gretel Journey
As a spiritual seeker, perhaps you are also on a Hansel and Gretel journey. Whatever you have lost and whatever you are longing for, these things set you on your path of soul, leading you home to a richer, fuller expression of your Deep Self and the best of your nature and gifts.
We humans are not good or bad, beautiful or ugly, perfect or imperfect, but some complex weaving of all of these things. To witness, embrace and hold space for the totality of our being is a very potent practice that can bring the transformative magic of healing and change to our lives and world.
I am on a hike with a dear friend in a wild area close to the ocean. A creek runs through a small, verdant valley, guarded over by towering evergreen trees. We stop walking, stop speaking, and gaze in slack-jawed wonder at this miniature Garden of Eden, arising from a fertile meeting ground of dappled sunlight and rich, moist soil. The beauty is visceral, a shining green luminescence that thrums up against my own shining core.
“We are this beautiful inside,” I tell my friend.
Later this same day, another dear friend shares a story about having to explain to her ten-year-old son what an army is. Her explanation went something like this: “I am so sorry to have to tell you this, but we give money to a group of people who use it to buy weapons that they use to kill other people.”
This is not a judgment of the courageous individuals in the armed forces who risk their lives in service to their countries, but more a paring war down to its simplest terms and seeing the horror, the ugly, at its core.
We humans are this ugly inside. Not just in relation to war, but in the many terrible, destructive things we do to each other and to our planet home.
Both of these statements are true. We have a whole lot of beauty and a whole lot of ugly inside of us and in our world. These two polar forces, inside and outside, battle for dominion over our soul. And it is here, in these opposing forces, that you find the transformative magic at the heart of your life story and our human experience.The Gift of the Beauty and the Ugly
This is never an easy conversation to have. If you are like most people, you’ve been socialized to push away and transcend the bad and the ugly, and to aspire to the good and the beautiful, while skating around the edges of the uncomfortable, unsavory parts of your own personality and our human society.