Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Healing on the Night Shift

I am interested in those nights of dreaming from which we surface quite certain that we accomplished something valuable, with the sense that this was a real event, completed inside the dreamspace. Dreams of this kind do not require analysis, though we may look for verification in various ways - for example, by checking our subsequent state of health (in the case of a dream of healing) or observing incidents in the ordinary world that seem to follow from what was done in the dream.

In the ancient temples of dream healing, seekers came in hopes that a complete healing might be transacted during the night and (to judge by the Asklepian testimonies conveniently gathered in the Edelstein's massive compilation) many went home entirely satisfied. My friend Wanda Burch, author of She Who Dreams reports a recent personal experience of this kind. Troubled by a suspect mole that had appeared on the sole of one of her feet, she made an appointment for a medical inspection. Before going to the doctor, she asked for dream help. In her night dream, she saw a disembodied hand draw a line around the mole. In the morning, the mole had completely disappeared. Grateful but incredulous, she had to summon her husband to confirm that no trace was left.

My friend Louisa, a music lover, attends complete concerts in her dreams. On a recent night, she reports, "I dreamed of a grand gala performed by a superb orchestra, huge, Mahler-sized, with that distinct 'breath' that all great orchestras have. I was just a disembodied presence, but I could see and especially hear very well. The sound was direct and rounded, with distinct sound from each player, as though I was floating right above the stage."

I dream very frequently that I am conducting classes and giving lectures, as I do in waking life. Sometimes such dreams preview classes I subsequently lead in the ordinary world; sometimes they seem to be programs of the "Night School" sufficient unto themselves. I often hear from dreamers who claim they have attended some of these programs.

When I was writing my book Dreaming True I received an email from a very wise woman (a double PhD, inter alia) who had attended one of my waking-world courses at Esalen. She wanted to thank me for "the lecture you gave last night". I had given no such lecture in ordinary reality, but I had vague recollections of lecturing in my own dreams that night. My interest was piqued because she mentioned the "lucidity" with which I had summarized certain points, writing a list on a whiteboard. Since these points related directly to the book I was then working on, I asked her if she would be good enough to send me her notes form my lecture. She obliged, and I was able to incorporate the five points she had recorded from the lecture I had given in her dream, virtually unedited, in my book.

Sometimes the work of the night shift is emotional healing and the mending of relationships. I want to share a profound experience of this kind.

Many years ago, I felt that a powerful dream closed the book on a bitter conflict. For years before this dream, I had been locked in an ongoing battle with a man I then regarded as my worst enemy.

In the dream, I met him in a men's room. When he saw me, his features distorted and he inflated like a balloon, until he resembled a demonic entity more than a human.

Instead of doing battle, I looked at him calmly, reached deep into my heart, and said to him, from the heart, "I love you."

This sent him in whirling confusion. He deflated to regular size, and the darkness around him fell away. He went on shrinking until he resembled a pink and innocent baby.

I now bent over the sink and purged. When I inspected the clear bile I had heaved up, I saw it contained scores of rusty nails. I was astonished to realize that these had been inside me, and could now understand that they were the effect of the hateful thoughts and feelings that had been projected by my adversary.

I woke in wonderful spirits, feeling light and energized - and also that the old feud had now, really and truly, been ended.

I believe the work of that night shift was profound closure. My dream self, wiser and more generous that I may have been at that time in my life, was able to accomplish a healing that I doubt that my ordinary self could have undertaken then.. I did not encounter that old adversary again, either in regular life or in dreams, and he has since passed on. But I was able to think of him with compassion, remembering the sweet and innocent child that had been revealed, and I never again felt any harmful thoughts coming my way from him.

Photo by Suzette M. Rios-Scheurer


Wanda Burch said...

I am moved by your beautifully told story of a healing night experience that is so large. It is a wonderful example of a cleansing/healing experience that can change the course of our health and life and brings home the often quoted sentiment that thoughts can heal or kill. Dreams can also heal or kill.

One of our greatest gifts in dreaming is the healing that takes place in the night. For me it was once the most difficult to believe as possible - and even now I still need to poke my waking self just a bit to assure myself it happened. In my story of the mole, I even drove to the doctor's office to show her the mole was gone but she was busy, wouldn't look, and told the receptionist to just remove my appointment for surgery. I was a bit disappointed - I wanted her to be as amazed as I was. Then I decided I shouldn't be amazed; I should use the experience as a lesson to trust and accept - and ask for - this gift more often.

nina said...
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Worldbridger said...

I had a recurring dream for more than twenty years where I battled with the director of a ballet company. I had been unfairly dismissed from the company when I was 19 and every time I dreamt of the director there would be a huge battle. Then one time I dreamt that the director came to me and asked me to re-join the company.

At that point my entire life changed for the better.

Patricia said...

I have been having treatment for macular degeneration for 2 years now. A couple of weeks ago the doctor organized an information night to explain how this condition presents itself and what the treatment is doing. In the process we were shown some great images on how the waste products in the eye are not being released and what the drug, Lucentis, (great name) does to help clear the area of all the little blood vessals that grow up to help bring oxygen into the area, but actually cause the distortion of vision.

My attention was drawn to the waste products that don't get away as well as they used to. So, in comes a dream that shows me a queue of people carrying coffins, down on side of the street where I grew up and up the other side. The feeling is that they were carrying out the dead bits and going back in for more. I have been holding on to that image and thanking my dreams for sending it to me. This morning I am reading small print on my IPod (eye pod???) almost as clearly with my right eye as I can with my left.

I agree with you Wanda. We don't need to be amazed when something like this happens. We could be thinking that it is natural.

Savannah said...

As one who has been a frequent participant in your lively night classes, I thank you and your dream self! I have goosebumps reading your story of transformation and healing on the night shift. My most recent experience, not nearly as profound though no less effective, was after engaging a few "energy vampires" during a public event. That night I dreamt of showing you an index card on which I had written a dream I intended to share. I placed the card - speckled with tiny red dots - on a velvety ledge and when I rested my arm on the same surface, blood red velvet mites began to cover the skin (I called them "blood suckers" in the dream, and for much of my childhood did believe they were leeches.) Repulsed, I began swatting and picking them off. They all vanished and when I looked again, my arm was clear, as was the speckled dream card. On waking I felt light, and quite certain any residual sticky cling had been released. Nice to be reminded it really can be that simple...

Irène said...

I do not remember having many healing dreams as described here. I do however often visit a place I discovered years ago, a place I've since explored. I call this place "the color baths" for it appears as a small waterfall pouring into a pool of water that's tucked into a cozy mountain base. Here I can bathe in any color-texture-temperature from cool, clear emerauld green bubbly water to warm, thick orange paste. I go to the edge of the pool, sink my toes deep into the mud around the border and either program/wish a color or just wait to see what's offered. I can swim & shower my entire body or pull thick colored clay out of the pool to work on a specific part of my body. It's incredibly simple yet one of my most effective resources.

Lynne said...

Just watched a very beautiful artistic documentary made by a science filmmaker who dreams first of her horse's death, and then dreams that her deceased partner comes to tell her she will die at age 48, the following year. She chronicles her year and efforts to make sense of her dreams via psychotherapy and shamanism. It is online until Nov. 24. Healing (and wisdom) on the night shift, indeed. http://www.pbs.org/pov/edgeofdreaming/full.php

Joe - Facilitator said...

I am new to this blog and currently reading my first Robert Moss book. Thank you very much for sharing here, and congratulations on your new book (per your most recent post at this time).

I was gifted with a tremendously healing dream many years ago now. Perhaps the most traumatic event of my life has been the break up with my first girlfriend from high school. For years afterward I wondered if I could have/should have said more to let her know how I had really felt at the time. About 12 years later I was driving home from a concert and was suddenly inspired to write a song about the night of our break up. I pulled off the highway and into a small parking lot at about 1 AM and wrote the song in almost its current, full form on the inside back cover of a Carl Jung book I was reading at the time. The writing was both an exhilarating and deliciously cathartic experience in and of itself.

Many years after that, I dreamed that she and I were sitting together in a car, parked inside a multistoried parking garage. I explained to her how strongly I had felt for her and apologized (I think, now) for how little emotion I had shown. Then I sang her the song.

When I awoke from that dream I felt like years of anguish had been healed and lifted.

I have been recently reminded of this all as several years later still we became facebook friends . A few weeks ago she asked about the address of the arcade where we had parted ways, not mentioning the significance of the place. I responded as best I could with the immediate answer, but then wrote out the song and sent it to her in a message a couple of days later. I was hoping that she would reply that she had heard the song in a dream.  I was pleased, nevertheless, to have closed the loop in the surface world and her response was comforting and welcome. She remarked on how she always remembered my sensitivity. How curious that for so many of those intervening years I had feared that I had appeared too insensitive! I wonder, as I write this, if perhaps my sensitivity had gotten through in dream form?

In any event, thanks Robert and others for so freely sharing and inspiring. Cheers, Joe