Monday, December 28, 2009

Journal Times

The quiet time of midwinter invites us to go within and go deep, and this is a grand time to look in the mirror of old journals to see where we have come from and what we are becoming. I open an old journal at random and find this brief report:

A narrow sandy beach, sheltered by headlands. The water is heron blue. I'm looking for a way through the crowd to the water. My perspective shifts, and I'm looking at the whole scene from a great height, like a sea bird. Out to sea, unseen as yet by the crowd, something is rising, mountain-high, from the deep. A sea-god, or sea-monster. I am charged with excitement. [August 22, 2003]
Here are some games I play with my journals that you may find rewarding:
Open an old journal at random and make the first entry that you see your message (or maybe your one-liner) for the day.
Notice where you find yourself in similar situations again and again in your dreams. Is there somethig here you need to understand and/or take action about?
This is the only one that matters! Single out important dream symbols - the snake, the tornado, the train station - and notice how they evolve in successive dreams.
Be open to discovering that an event in an "old" dream is starting to manifest only now - months or years later - and be ready (beyond the "wow" response) to harvesting guidance from the old report on the current situation. When you see a match-up between an "old" dream and a later event, forage around the individual report; look at other dreams from around the same time and see if there are further clues there to the new situation.
Study how your dream self behaves and responds to challenges, and compare this to your waking self.
Are you leading a separate life in your dreams - maybe one that is playing out in dozens of dream installments? Do you find yourself in the perspective, life situation and (apparently) the bodies of other people in dreams?
You may find it helpful to sake a series of lengthy dream narratives and condense each one - even several - into a text that would literally fit on a small index card. Standing apart from the profusiion of detail, you may now be able to discern the broad lines.
Dreams give us clues that require sleuthing, but sometimes our best attempts to follow up these leads don't get far and we move on to other things, leaving a mounting pile of "cold case" files. I pick up a lot of unfamiliar names, foreign words, and curious phrases in dreams and - especially - in the twilight state of hypnagogia, and I have found it extraordinarily revealing to track these verbal clues. In the era of googling, this is much easier than it was over most of the decades I've been keeping a journal, so I am now reopening dream files I had closed and making some exciting discoveries. One of those funny words, from a 1994 dream, has led me to an archeological site in Nigeria where the human remains date from 10,000 BCE. Another is guiding me, in the most practical way, on professional decisions I'll be making over the next couple of months.

These games become more fun and more profitable when you've been keeping a dream journal for many years. When journaling, you want to tag each report with the date and also a title, and then save your reports in chronological folders. You'll then have a running index of dreams. When you have enough material, you can pluck out recurring themes and group relevant reports in thematic folders as well. My theme folders range from "Bear" and "Black Dog" to "Precog" and "Parallel Worlds", from "Dream Doubles" to "Mystery Words".


Nancy said...

Thanks for this post. I thought I remembered a dream of yours entitled "It's Bigger Than You Know" with you startled by a huge shadow which turned out to be your own. I don't have a full set of my dreams on-line, just a scattering of recent ones on my blog. I do plan to type up at least the titles and dates (a few thousand at least) so I can then search for key theme words. Of course if the theme I'm seeking isn't reflected in the title I won't find it. At first thought, some of my key themes might be
"Mom", "Dad", "Classrooms" (I have many dreams of being a student and also a teacher), "Running", and "Eyesight".

Comparing the behavior of my Dream Self to my Waking Self is one of my favorite things to do with my dreams, and I'm happy to report we are both growing in a direction that pleases me. I also like to look for my personal dream symbols, some of which are pretty amusing.

Thanks for all your words and your work. Have a wonderful tail-end of 2009, and a bounteous 2010.

Robert Moss said...

Hi Nancy - The dream you are recalling is one in which I was startled by a mountain-sized bear on a busy road far below me - then came to realize that the giant bear was a shadow cast by the moon shining behind my shoulders. I hadn't made a link between the bear dream and the sea-monster one until you prodded me to think about it. Now, of course, it seems very likely. Another example of how we always benefit by sharing our dreams with those who are primed to respond in the right way.T hank you!

Yes, comparing the behavior and situation of the dream self with the waking self is often very instructive. And we can borrow the best of what each of us has to give. If I can fly like a bird in my dreams, where can I bring that ability to go outside conventional limits and see things from a higher perspective to bear in my waking life? If (alternatively) I am forever running away from some unidentified danger in my dreams, can I find the courage in my waking self to go back inside those dreams and confront what needs to be faced and resolved - and also take corresponding action in regular life?

May your best dreams come true in 2010!

Nancy said...

Hi again. My favorite part of the Dream Self/Waking Self tracking is the interplay I see: I'll dream of myself as a child, bringing my doll with a broken eye to adult me to fix; in my waking life I'll do a few years of natural vision improvement work; then in my dreams I'll help a little girl heal her weak eyesight. It feels like each of my Selves is reinforcing the right actions of the other -- this happens quite a lot for me, in more arenas than my eyesight.

Grace said...

I like the iidea of comparing my dream self to my "real" self, I never really gave tht a good look. When i remember last night's dream, I see that my dream self is never surprised by, and ready for anything, seems to have limitless energy and isn't anxious about much either! I would like to learn some lessons from my dream self!

Robert Moss said...

Hi Grace - Yes, it's great when we can reach in and borrow energy or confidence or courage - or the memory that we can fly above obstacles and look at things from a higher perspective - from our dream self.

It becomes quite fascinating to track these things over time. I was just looking, in a journal from 15 years ago, at a dream self who seemed to be in a completely different place from my waking self at that time. He was still married to my first wife, did not seem to know what year it was or where he was supposed to be, etc, etc. He's come a ways since then!

Barbara Butler McCoy said...

Hmm, your "It's Bigger Than They Know" dream report and all the comments are very interesting. I note that the date given for the dream report is very interesting also because it coincides with the sun's entrance into the sign of Virgo. That seems to evoke the Goddess, who 'crops' up often in your reports, but it is interesting that the dream has Her arising from the water - at the beginning of an earth sign! Cool, too, these thoughts about our 'dream selves.' I tend to feel that my dream self is a 'scout,' surveying the terrain for my journey. Finally - I wish you a Happy and fulfilling New Year. Slainte.

Robert Moss said...

Hi Barbara - In recent years I have oten felt that my dream self is constantly scouting ahead of me, checking out possible paths into the future. Sometimes I find myself playing catchup with what my dream self has learned or done or is actually teaching to others.

However, as I continue my winter re-view of journals containing many thousands of reports from several decades, I find that my dream self has not always been so forward or adept. Indeed, we are many, and we learn about the many aspects of ourselves - and hopefully how to bring them together under the aegis of a greater Self - by looking in the mirror of the journal over time. This is one of the reasons I tell people in my classes that I cannot explain to you just how valauable your journal will be in your life until you have been keeping one for more than five years.

Happy New Year to you!