Monday, October 20, 2014

How Dreams Can Help Us

I lay in bed this morning thinking about the dream that woke me. At first I couldn’t understand what it meant. In the dream, I was traveling with my husband and, for some reason, we had a tour guide with us (we never do that). She was a little obnoxious: talking incessantly, overreacting to anything I said (when I could get a word in edgewise); she was intruding on my space immensely and I wanted to get away from her.

Suddenly there was another woman with us, a tall woman bearing gifts for this tour guide. The tour guide started opening them; they were intricate gifts with many beautiful layers, and as she opened them, she tossed aside each beautiful layer to get to the next and deeper layer. The tall, beautiful woman said over and over again, “Don’t toss that aside! Look at it! Take it in!”

It is a kind of meditation to listen to a dream and seek to understand it. After a time, I began to see that the tour guide is my small self, the ego self, the mind that never ceases talking within. I have been working to move beyond that ego mind over many years and it is, indeed, hard to get away from.

The tall, beautiful woman is my higher self, my real self, the soul of me. She gives me gifts and I, in haste, pass them by unseeing. The deeper layers of the gifts will likewise be unseen because I haven’t taken the time to really absorb the gifts in previous layers.

During difficult times, our highest self brings gifts to us that we may not notice. Though they seem difficult, they are beautiful gifts, gifts that grow us, allowing us to live from our highest selves rather than our small selves. But to us they seem painful, and in our haste to get out of that pain we toss them aside, desperately seeking to escape.

If, however, we can allow them in and learn from them, we can move deeper into understanding of what is truly real within us. The pain we feel then simply becomes a pathway to our real selves. More and more, if we travel this path, accepting these gifts, we can live from that real and truest self, that deepest and highest part of our being. This dream reminds me of this; it encourages me to keep on, no matter what the difficulty.

Friday, October 10, 2014

How to Move Through Difficult Times

This year has been challenging for me in many many ways, from my physical well-being to the health of others in my family to a big change in my job and more. I’ve tried to weather this time as well as possible; to keep my spirits up, to support my dear ones, and to learn whatever lessons I can from what life is sending my way.

At times like this, I find I must pare my activities down to the essentials and then really focus on those essentials, letting go and acting from the present moment. That is a very interesting “predicament”. Everything may seem very stressful but, at the same time, I have inward permission to let go of anything that does not apply to the present moment. I’m forced to do what we are so often told is best: to center in the present moment, to let go of the past and the future, and to simply be where we Are.

I also have to see and accept that I am not in control of what is happening outside of me. I can have control over how I respond to emergencies or demanding situations, but I cannot control events or other people. This is a big work in the inner life. It demands, first, observation of my inner self, close observation. When I am about to try to control others or events, then I can ask: “Do I really need to control this? What will happen to me if I don’t control this?” and I can choose to test this out by letting go. The fearful small self continues to try to undo my active effort to let go of control, but I can watch its efforts and thereby continue to create a space between it and myself.

Throughout this process I also have to trust that everything will be alright in the larger sense.  This is always a work in progress. As I let go in small situations and interactions, I strengthen my ability to do it.  I will be more and more able to release the fearful small self’s need to control, and embrace a kind of inner freedom, beginning to see that it is o.k. to let go and be who I am rather than trying to shape events  and everyone else. 

Life challenges provide fertile ground for growth, for learning to let go, for inward change. Because these things do not always come easily, we sometimes choose to fight this process inwardly. But, if we can loosen that tendency to back away from the challenge (a futile exercise in any case) and allow ourselves to move with it, we may well come out of it stronger and more at peace with ourselves, our world, and each other. Allowing this process to flow, for me, always comes bit by bit. I have to keep working at it, one moment at a time.