We can do a lot of practice in our sleep! We are also doing deep practice when we learn to navigate by synchronicity and look at the everyday world around us as a set of dreamlike symbols. Robert Moss
What if you viewed the current election and/or pandemic through the lens of a “waking dream?” What meaning might they give to your life? Your nighttime dreams and daytime experiences are completely interconnected. They appear to exist at opposite ends of the continuum which is why we tend to discount or ignore them. But indigenous people like the Aboriginal Australians embody The Dreaming or Dreamtime which describes the web of life between the numinous and natural worlds. In essence, there is no difference between being asleep versus being awake; it’s all one big dream. Similarly, Shamans believe the dream world and the spirit world are the same and that we are dreaming the world into being. This is why for thousands of years indigenous people knew they could count on receiving wisdom from their ancestors, guidance from spiritual realms and valuable answers to mystifying questions. Solutions can arise from the liminal phase of “hypnagogia” which has its roots in Greek etymology meaning “guide.” There are two distinct periods: “hypnagogic” signifying the period of being led into slumber and “hypnopompic” meaning “away from sleep.” Both interludes last mere minutes as your mind floats between “waking” and “sleeping.”
The “twilight zone”—the hypnopompic zone when we are stirring from our slumber but not fully awake—is an exciting interval. This marvelous cycle opens the portal for experiencing innovative breakthroughs and discoveries and is a time when we make connections that escape the ordinary conscious mind. Thomas Edison, Salvador Dali, Albert Einstein, and countless others have found this in-between state to be the perfect space to unearth resolutions to problems and foresee visions about the universe.
However, answers, ideas and insights are not limited to nighttime dreams or the liminal states. A potent practice I created called Waking Dreaming leads to heightened wakefulness and enhances your nighttime dream recall and understanding. “Those who have compared our life to a dream were right,” Michel de Montaigne once affirmed, “We sleeping wake, and waking sleep.” I have used Waking Dreamingand taught the process to my students for more than twenty years. It is highly effective and embodies the power of synchronicity. Waking Dreaming is aimed to liberate us from the misconception that our waking life experiences are merely random and passive.
Synchronicities: Bridging Your Inner and Outer Worlds
Pause now to ask yourself the following question: “Am I dreaming or awake, right now?” Be serious, really try to answer the question to the best of your ability and be ready to justify your answer. Stephen LaBerge
The term synchronicity was coined by Jung to express the idea of a causal relationship between “two or more psychic and physical phenomena”. Jung witnessed the birth of this conception while supporting a patient whose animus (inner male) was rigid and fearful and blocking her from accessing her deeper self. During therapy, she told Jung how she had dreamt of a golden scarab. The very next day, a live scarab hit against Jung’s window. He was surprised to see that it was a golden scarab which was unheard of for that particular environment and climate zone. Connecting the patient’s scarab dream with the waking experience, he recognized how the scarab symbolized the concept of death and rebirth; the same phenomena needed for his patient to break free from her rigid ego and belief system in order to delve deeper into her inner self. This seeming coincidence paved the way for what we now recognize as the power of “synchronicity.”
While traveling through your daily waking life you possess the capacity to witness experiences from a heightened level of awareness. Most of us are asleep; emotional setbacks and trauma can disconnect us from our deeper selves causing us to sleepwalk through life. Working with your nighttime dreams engages your soul and brings to life what I call “soul spark.” Soul sparks inspire new perspectives and directions and lead to significant positive changes. Often when I’m working with dream participants in my programs, I see a student’s eyes light up when they begin sharing their dreams. They may have entered the room with a flat look in their eyes, but as soon as they talk about a dream that calls to them their eyes reveal a soul spark that has been buried. This makes perfect sense when you remember that dreams emanate from the unconscious and are the language of the soul.
But as I mentioned, nighttime dreams are not the only pathway to awakening. “Awake” is a term we often hear in Buddhism because Buddha stems from the root budh which means “awake.” Buddhism recognizes that in the dream state, the mental body is more fluid and flexible and a time when the imagination is on fire. This raw creative power is greatest in dreamtime. H.F. Hedge once wrote, “Dreaming is an act of pure imagination, attesting in all men a creative power, which if it were available in waking, would make every man a Dante or Shakespeare.” However, your waking life also holds infinite opportunity for seeing beyond what cannot be seen. Here is a personal example of Waking Dreaming:
A few weeks ago, I scheduled a session with a friend who is also a soul-coach to discuss some concerns about starting a new venture. She thoughtfully set up two beach chairs and an umbrella along the Pacific shoreline right in front of the rolling waves. The sun began to lower across the sea as I shared how I wanted to integrate some pivotal transformational experiences into my new project. Two large gulls slowly walked across the sand to where we sat and stood quietly, not asking for food just silently watching us.
Near the end of our meeting, I took a deep breath and exhaled with gratitude then spotted a whale directly in front of us spouting water. The connection between my grateful exhale and the stream of warm air being blown from the magnificent mammal’s lungs, (aka the whale’s breath) was not lost on us. My heart-centered friend exclaimed, “Look at this amazing synchronicity, the birds and whale are here for you, cheering you on!” Our soulful sharing and peaceful union created the environment that attracted the bird’s and whale’s validating presence. My inner world and outer worlds were synthesizing, affirming my desire and ability to anchor the transformed aspects of self into my current project.
We need not look far to see highly personal messages being communicated to us each and every day. The natural world is a prime environment for witnessing seemingly coincidental connections between our inner and outer worlds. Yet, it reaches far beyond nature; any environment and circumstance will do—from driving down the highway, to conversing with a neighbor, to listening to a podcast. The billboard on the highway, the words your neighbor speaks and the lyrics in a song are all channels for hearing your soul speak when you are ready to receive it.
Returning to my original probe, what do you see when you look at COVID-19 as a dream? You may see it, as global evolutionary Anodea Judith states, as “nature’s intervention.” She explains how the virus stems from the fact that “modern civilization has an addiction problem” to “consumption” which has led to serious consequences for future life on our planet. Or perhaps you might see the pandemic as a “wake-up” call to slow down, to remember how precious your life is as are the people in it. By taking a situation that calls to you, and viewing it through the eyes of a night-time dream, you will see it from a higher, richer perspective, one that gives it meaning, provides growth, and accelerates your awakening.
Laura V. Grace, PhD