You live in a dream world. Depending on your point of view and the nature of your dreams, that may sound derogatory or pleasantly affirmative. But it’s really just a statement of fact.
We process life at deep levels of the mind to which we do not have conscious access. We fall in love with someone but do not know why. We become angry but cannot articulate a reason for our anger. We laugh at things without having the slightest idea what makes them funny.
The source of these mysteries lies in the Shadow.
The Shadow is the area of the unconscious mind where we suppress our deepest fears and bury our greatest potential. Aspects of ourselves and the world around us that we can’t process consciously are relegated to the Shadow – where ideas and answers that never enter our waking thoughts take the form of dreams.
Yet even when we are awake, the Shadow speaks to us in the form of projection. We project buried aspects of ourselves – whether “good” or “bad” – onto other people. Much has been written about “bad” projections and they are certainly a dominant cause of unhappiness and even horror. But we also project our untapped potential for love and joy onto the people in the waking world around us.
Each of us makes choices in our daily lives that do not conform to logic and are not part of a consciously delineated course of action. Sometimes our choices are disastrous; other times they lead to wonderful opportunities.
These choices are the result of impulses, intuition and subjective logic – all of which derive from the same place we visit in our dreams: the Shadow.
At times it may seem that our waking lives are spinning out of control. We are stuck in jobs we don’t like or in relationships that don’t bring us joy. We have self-destructive habits we can’t seem to break. We worry endlessly about our finances, our health, our place in the world – and our worry only seems to make our situations worse.
Could it be that our Shadows lead us to these situations by entrancing us with projections? Is your Shadow trying to tell you something? The answer might just be in your dreams.
Though the study of dreams may be as old as human consciousness itself, it is a relatively new practice in Western mainstream culture. Freud brought it into fashion, but many of his doctrines were narrow and confining. The Shadow world – the realm of dreams – operates at a level that cannot be comprehended, much less categorized and codified.
But it can be explored.
There are some who make it a practice to record their dreams and analyze the symbols, looking for messages hidden in the unconscious mind. While dream analysis can certainly yield insights into the mysterious forces that drive us, it is only one way – and a fairly crude one – to tap into the unknown realm of the psyche.
Lucid dreaming is a process in which you learn to be aware of the fact that you’re dreaming while you are in the dream state.
You needn’t wait till you wake up to ponder what your dream is saying. You can actually ask the figures in your dream what they are trying to tell you while the dream itself is still in progress.
This practice is exhilarating and brings about a feeling of incredible liberation. You can fly or walk through walls; you can conjure up departed loved ones; you can do any impossible thing that pops into your head.
But lucid dreaming is more than just a thrill ride. By identifying, in the moment, the illusory nature of your Shadow dream projections, you gain the ability to spot unconscious projections that dominate you in your waking life.
It is a powerful tool to wield as you work on the lifelong project of building spiritual awareness.
Make a Beginning
While there are many levels to lucid dreaming and a deep exploration of the practice requires a great deal of time and discipline, you can get a taste of it without too much inconvenience.
Set your alarm two or three hours ahead of the time you need to wake up in the morning. When the alarm goes off, get out of bed and walk around for ten minutes or so. Then return to bed – remembering to reset the alarm for the time when you actually need to get up.
When you go back to sleep, you will be in a lighter stage of sleep than we are normally in when dreams take place. In this lighter stage, rapid eye movement (REM) still occurs; you can still dream. And because you are not so deeply asleep, your dreams will be easier to remember when you next awaken.
You may have to do this for days or weeks, however, before dream recall becomes a regular occurrence. Some patience and persistence is required.
Once you have developed the habit of consistently remembering your dreams, decide upon a detail – preferably a part of your own body, like your hand or your foot – that you are going to notice in your next dream state.
After waking yourself up three hours early and getting back into bed, mentally repeat this detail over and over until you fall asleep: “I will notice my hand. I will notice my hand. I will notice my hand.”
While it may not happen immediately, persisting with this practice will eventually yield the desired result. In the dream state, you will notice your hand and it will trigger conscious memory. You’ll recall that you were going to notice your hand while you were dreaming. And suddenly, you will know you are in a dream.
Once you gain this awareness, you will experience a sense of total freedom like none you’ve ever felt – awake or asleep.
The applications of lucid dreaming to the waking world are obvious if you understand the degree to which Shadow projections dominate both.
There are many books and even online dream groups that can help you navigate this amazing journey through your unconscious mind. You live in a dream world. Why not live it to the fullest?
It will look like this: Lucid Dreaming – Waking Up to Live Your Dreams