Dreams are perhaps our most underutilized “natural resource.”
They are the platform through which people enmeshed in a materialistic ontology are nevertheless engaged in metaphysical experiences every single day. As such, dreams are a key touchstone for fostering “softening” of the materialistic worldview. While many report that they don’t remember their dreams, it is challenging to find someone who has never had even a single dream that he or she can remember. Most people have had a least a few in their lifetime that stuck with them, and when you get even “unspiritual” people to discuss their dream experiences, their shift toward the numinous is palpable, touching, and I believe, significant.
Having collected over 900 dreams of my own since 1995, I have found the PersonalBrain software to be quite useful for cataloging dreams and related symbols and events.
Jeremy Taylor is an amazing, brilliant, insightful walking encyclopedia of mythology, symbolism and dreams, across groups from prisoners to church officials to your “average Joe.” His illustration of “dreams as activism” strikes a deep cord in me. He has explained that dreams are a great leveler between completely disparate groups of people. A prime example was his work in San Quentin, discussing how when conducting dream groups with prisoners, inevitably the posted guards would become fascinated by and engaged in the dream work as well. This shared experience had a profound healing effect on how the guards viewed the humanity—or lack thereof—inherent to the prisoners. Through this lens, promotion of dreams as a valuable resource in social activism is extremely important. (A reference to this point can be found in Jeremy’s book, The Wisdom of Your Dreams, pgs. 125 to 136.)
Out of Body Experiences
In the summer of 2009, while at a meditation intensive, I had an experience which spelled out very clearly that the sleep paralysis I had occasionally suffered since my teenage years was actually related to out of body leanings. What was happening was that I was having unconscious panic attacks—causing the paralysis and suffocation—when my mind was still awake to witness the natural stages that unfold when one falls asleep. Now, while I occasionally experience the panic version, usually I can see it coming and instead go directly into sleep, or consciously open to the experience of falling asleep while still conscious. The later leads to what is called “out of body” experiences, or “astral travel.”
There are some great books that speak to this phenomenon, and which help to normalize it for those of us who are otherwise pretty much totally freaked out by it.
- Rogo, D. Scott. Leaving the Body: A complete guide to astral projection. New York: Prentice Hall Press, 1983.
- Monroe, R. A. Journeys Out of the Body. London: Souvenir, 1972.