Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Making the Unconscious Conscious

Do you like to remember your dreams? Can you prolong your dreams, or continue them when you go back to sleep after waking? I can answer 'yes' to both questions, though not most of the time. The times I do remember my dreams or go in and out of sleep to continue them, I feel fortunate. Dreams are a gift--even nightmares. They uncover key insights from our subconscious mind and serve as lessons from our own inner teacher.

In our awake lives, we would all choose to be awakened, if we could. No one wants to live as a prisoner to forces beyond her control, forces she is largely unaware of, pulling invisible strings behind a black curtain. Those forces are the programs running in our unconscious mind, the beliefs, patterns, fears and desires that run us so long as we run from them. 

It's not all bad, though! Our unconscious mind also harbors thrills, delights and revelations that are the stuff of magic. Our imaginations get close to expressing the power and beauty of our unconscious treasures, but since the imagination works through the filter of the conscious mind, some of the most brilliant gems escape its net. 

This morning in a dream I collected a precious jewel, an image I will keep with me for a while. In the dream I was living in a large house with a group of other people. One morning as everyone was getting up and ready for the day, I walked down a hall and stumbled upon an enormous floor to ceiling spider web that blocked a hallway. The web glistened with morning dew from a a nearby open window, and morning light shone through its filaments. I went to find people I could bring back to the web so I could show it to them. Finding no one, I returned to the web and found my teacher standing in front of it, playing the flute. Then I woke up. 

Our dreams contain symbols which relate to things we are working on in our conscious awareness, as well as feelings and experiences we are processing. Some of the symbols from our dreams can be linked to spiritual traditions which resonate with us, and cultural and ancestral imagery. 

The spider's web is a spiritual symbol in many traditions: Muslim, Celtic and Native American religious symbolism contain powerful stories about spiders and the webs they weave, but the one most familiar to me is the Native American Animal Medicine belief that the spider represents creativity. Seeing the spider weaving its web reminds us that we must weave our own lives, and the web is a symbol of creative power. There is also a well-known Scottish legend wherein Robert the Bruce finds inspiration in a spider weaving its web in a cave: after losing a battle to the English and being forced into exile, he hides in a cave and sees a spider struggling to stick its web to the wall of the cave. Finally watching the spider succeed in building its web, he takes away the lesson of persistence in the face of defeat and goes on to win the Battle of Bannockburn. 

The flute is another significant symbol in dreams, according to several mystical and religious traditions. I immediately thought of the pure and clear expression of the soul, a good omen for things to come and a melodious, harmonious turn of events. I played the flute as a child and adolescent and have very positive associations with it. I used to sit outside and play it to summon birds and other animals. 

The message I take from this dream is to be true to my higher self, listen to my inner teacher and rely on my own creativity, to persevere when challenged with a directive to conform, and to find the joy in the song of my soul. Living in a house with a community (as in the dream) signifies a desire and current pattern of seeking out those who share my path. My teacher playing the flute in front of the web signifies placing trust in a person with a collective creative vision. 

Only you can remember your own dreams and see how they reflect the direction of your life. Often you won't be able to remember them, so it's good to have other ways to tap into and channel gifts from your unconscious mind. Settling into stillness and quieting an overactive, thinking mind is a great help to do this kind of work. 

Yoga and meditation pacify and settle us, allowing more of the unconscious to surface. Writing, drawing, painting, playing music, creative and mindful movement of the body--each of these activities help us call forth hidden treasures from within. Working with one or several of these practices at a time will also stimulate the imagination and make you more aware of your dream life. 

No matter your daily activities, you are always carrying a world of hidden gems within you, in the unconscious mind. Make a commitment to do something each day to bring it forth into consciousness. 

No comments:

Post a Comment