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Archive for June, 2014

A few weeks ago, I was in a bad car accident that could have been much worse.  Turning onto Melrose from a side street, I waited a beat when my light turned green, and honked my horn at a truck as it barreled through the red light.  Thinking it was then safe, I pulled into the intersection.  But a second car ran the red light and broadsided me on the driver’s side.  I remember screaming as I saw the shadow of the car plow into me, and I remember noticing the car pull over to the side of the road a block behind me in my rear view mirror, but I don’t remember how I got on to the other side of the street, or other details of the accident.
By the time I finally got my wits about me enough to get out my car and to see that I was actually ok, the driver of the other car had taken off.  No other witnesses had stopped to take his/her license plate, and the security cameras that actually were able to capture footage of the accident weren’t able to pull the plates either.  The police and some very helpful coworkers sat with me and made sure I was ok until my husband got there, putting ice packs on my neck and reminding me to breathe.  X-rays and cat scans at the emergency room that evening showed everything really was ok on my end, but I was given a prescription for some painkillers for the soreness they warned me I would have over the next few days.
I’d never been in a car accident before, other than a couple of small fender benders, and didn’t know what to expect.  I braced myself for the soreness and bruising, which did come, but was very aware that things could have been a lot worse, and was (and am) incredibly grateful that I got out of it relatively unscathed.  Clearly I still have work to do here on the planet!  My car, however, wasn’t as lucky.  It was old and had very low mileage, and when the insurance company decided it was a total loss, we had to take out a loan to replace it, something we weren’t financially prepared to do, but again, I am so grateful we were able to do it.
Over the following couple of weeks, the image of the other car plowing into me looped through my head at random times throughout the day, especially as I was falling asleep.  I’d never experienced this kind of PTSD before, and am actually grateful for the experience as it broadens my compassion and understanding of it.  From a shamanic standpoint I knew to look for soul loss, so I did some of my own work around that and had some other practitioners working on my behalf as well. The sooner you can collect your scattered energy, the better.  I did find some soul parts that were still at the site of the accident, and another practitioner found some smaller parts that were still there a few weeks later.  Having them returned to me was very helpful, as was looking at the security footage of the accident, breathing breathing breathing deeply and saying prayers of gratitude as I watched it.
Something else that was a lovely surprise in helping me process the accident was Neil deGrasse Tyson’s TV series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, a follow-up series to Carl Sagan’s 1980 series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage.  I loved this series for a lot of reasons, but the final episode was especially powerful, particularly the segment expanding on Sagan’s “Pale Blue Dot” 1994 speech at Cornell University.  As Tyson quoted from his mentor’s speech, the on-screen visuals pulled back from earth farther and farther back across the universe, until earth was indeed just a “pale blue dot.”  Instead of belittling life on earth though, the brilliance of the speech was its ability to be humbling and empowering at the same time, to highlight in a very dramatic way our short life spans and place in the universe, as well as our choice of whether to treat each other with kindness or cruelty.  It also helped put me put my accident into perspective – not to belittle it, but to put it into a broader picture.  As I feel when I am connected to Spirit in other ways, watching Cosmos filled me with awe at the breadth and mystery of the universe, and reminded me to not take everything so seriously or to even pretend to think I understand it all.  (check out Sagan’s speech is available on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wupToqz1e2g and on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pale_Blue_Dot).
I’m happy to still be on our beautiful planet earth, with all you other beautiful people.  May we treat each other with kindness always, never knowing when our time here will be over.

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Considering that we spend approximately a third of our life sleeping, it can be empowering to develop a conscious relationship with our night dreams, a relationship that can easily dovetail with shamanic journeywork and other spiritual practices.   It’s no coincidence that some cultures call non-ordinary reality “dream time.”

 

KINDS OF DREAMS – I recently read Robert Moss’ book The Boy Who Died and Came Back, which I highly recommend, and was inspired to start working more consciously with my night dreams again.  Although my primary practice is journeywork, I’ve always been connected to my dreams as well.  I can still remember dreams I had as a child, particularly recurring dreams of fire and of my parents disappearing out of the front seat of our car as we approached a busy intersection.  I remember once telling my mom a dream where a cat had scratched my foot and it had gone numb, and how when I woke up and it really was numb; she suggested my foot might have been numb first, inspiring the dream (this supported my curiosity about my dreams – thank you Mom!).  I have had periods where what I dreamt the night before would happen the next day. I dream mostly in colors, and I smell and taste and feel and hear in them as well. I have died in my dreams, and yes, I did wake up; and I frequently fly.  I have had friends come to say good bye when they died before I knew they had passed on, and dreams of reconciliation with people I was estranged from which paved the way for getting back together.

 

All this to say that there are different kinds of dreams – there are big dreams, small dreams filled with the flotsam and jetsam of the day, and dreams where our spirit helpers meet with us, just to name a few.  One of the tricks is to learn how to discern between “clearing house” dreams and “bigger” dreams. The more you pay attention, the more you will be able to tell which dreams are just random images from the day, which are showing us our deepest fears and joys, which are visitations from helping spirits and loved ones, which are potential futures, etc.

 

WHAT WORKS FOR YOU? If you’ve never worked with your dreams before, it can be a bit daunting, but there’s no need to reinvent the wheel or to feel isolated.  There are plenty of resources and workshops available.  But don’t let anyone claim they have ownership or proprietary information over your dreams.  This is about your soul’s relationship with the Infinite.  Work with archetypes and dream dictionaries if they are helpful, but use them as guides, not tyrants.  So much of it depends on our relationship with it, with the frequency of the images, and with the context.  What resonates with YOU?  What works for YOU?  It just takes practice, intention, and tenacity.

 

JOURNEYWORK AND DREAMING: One of the ways shamanic journeywork and dreamwork can dovetail is by journeying into a dream, or dreaming into a journey for more information and clarity about what we were shown or experienced in the other modality.  Many people are more comfortable and/or adept at one or the other.  Again, experiment and find out what works best for you, but do stretch your comfort zone. If you want more information about what you were shown in a journey, try setting your intention before going to sleep at night to find out more about it in your dreams; if you have a dream you’d like more clarity on, revisit it in a shamanic journey.

 

FIRST STEPS: Here are some other suggestions for getting started:

  • start a dream journal – keep an easy-to-access pad of paper and pen next to your bed and write in it as soon as your wake up, and set your intention to remember them before you go to sleep
  • set your intention at night for what you would like to dream about
  • ask for a healing in your dreams
  • for lucid dreaming (being aware you are dreaming while you are dreaming), intend to see your hand in your dream as a trigger to remember that you’re dreaming
  • before you go to sleep, set your intention to receive for information about a particular question
  • you don’t have to reinvent the wheel – many people have explored these realms – experiment with various paths and see what resonates with you – for instance, read some of Robert Moss’ books or take one of his workshops
  • there are some good smart-phone apps available to explore – some that I’ve enjoyed are:
    • “Brainwave – 30 Binaural Programs”
    • “Alarm Clock Sleep Sounds Pro”
    • “White Noise Plus”
    • “Relax Melodies”
  • pay attention to how different foods and sleep patterns affect your dream life – does eating spicy food late in the evening give you vivid dreams? Does it make it hard for you to fall asleep? Do you have more vivid dreams if you have trouble falling asleep?
  • try taking naps – often our dreams and easy to work with are more vivid right before we wake up; when we nap, it can be easier to reach that same place
  • pay attention to how the phase of moon affects your dreams – for instance, mine are most vivid and easy to remember during the full moon when the veils between the worlds are thinner
  • explore the idea that each character in a dream could represent an aspect of yourself – what if that were true – what would that reveal about you
  • get some dream buddies – share them with your family at the breakfast table, and encourage your children to participate!
  • have dream buddies you dream with and on behalf of – just as we can journey with and for other people, try dreaming with and for others

 

So, sweet dreams!  And if not sweet, may they be full of much magic and adventure, and catalysts for much growth in your waking life.

Backyard Clouds, © Lynda Skeen

Backyard Clouds, © Lynda Skeen

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