Last week, I wrote about possible signs of a spiritual awakening gauged quite unscientifically by my observations about public interest in topics ranging from The Secret and Eckhart Tolle, to books such as The Shack and movements such as The Kabbalah.
Some readers expressed gratitude, some thought the observations all too sophomoric, some blasted all things religious and spiritual, while others, well, others just reverted to calling me names. Something about matters spiritual seems to bring out quite a range of responses.
So, what the heck - let's have another go at this, shall we? This time the subject is sleep, dreams and possible connections to the Divine. Now, if you aren't comfortable with the Divine, Spirit or anything having to do with those kinds of things, that's quite all right - no need to waste your time here. There's nothing "scientific" about what follows - just some observations and a possible suggestion or two for those who might be interested.
If you didn't join us last week, here's a quickie note that may be helpful: the word religion comes from a Latin root, legare, which means "to connect." Re is a prefix meaning "again." Simply put, a "religious experience" is one that reconnects you to something that you (a) were previously connected to, (b) still are connected to, (c) always were connected to, or (d) all of the above.
(If you had a horrible experience with organized religion, I'm sorry. Mine wasn't so great either. However, what passes for religion and what it actually means just might be too very different things).
Since we're going to be talking about sleep, it may be useful to review the word "awaken" or "awakening" again. Now, this may cause a bit of heartburn to some, so loosen up a bit if that's you: something that awakens was previously asleep. I know, duh! And something that goes to sleep, must have previously been awake.
If you are a student of consciousness, you will most likely be right there with me. Consciousness is something you have, whether you are awake to it or not. Even if you are "awake," you can still go to sleep. We all know how to tell someone else they need to "wake up."
(Ever wonder how it is that one "falls" asleep, but wakes "up?" OK - never mind - just something for those more interested in the directionality of words than the definitions. More on this distinction in a subsequent post.)
I won't even begin to enter the world of dream interpretation - way too many options for me to try and sort out. However, there might be something in the connection and awakening notion for you to play with regarding your sleep and your dreams. And I do mean, "play." Have some fun. Go inside. Try a little education here.
(Another fun word: education comes from Latin derivatives meaning "to lead out" or "to draw out." If we do indeed come from God, or Spirit or the Divine, or whatever other name you find comfortable, then educating oneself may be a form of re-legare, of reconnecting to that which already is, to that which is already living inside.)
So where does sleep enter the picture? We have all had the experience of reliving moments from our past while dreaming, and perhaps most have dreamed of things yet to come.
My experience, which is entirely personal to be sure, suggests to me, that sometimes when I sleep, I can contact deeper parts of me, aspects of my consciousness that might be called "of a higher nature."
I have sometimes "seen" ideas or ways forward in dreams; I have sometimes seen the "error of my ways;" I have sometimes been presented with information that I can use to help myself, to help others, or to simply live in a more balanced and loving way.
If any of this seems even remotely possible or interesting to you, then here's a very simple experiment. Before going to sleep tonight, pose a question to yourself, one of importance to you in terms of your life experience. It could be more mundane (what are some good options for a job) or it could be more esoteric (what's the purpose of my life) or just about anything in between (how could I develop a more loving relationship with my husband/wife/child.)
Write the question down, perhaps on a notebook at your bedside. Before going to sleep, try a simple prayer, meditation, or simply make a request of the part of you that is connected to a higher source: ask that whatever is revealed to you (a) be for your highest good and the highest good of all concerned, (b) that it is revealed in ways that you can understand and (c) that you are granted the wit to perceive and the strength and courage to act on what information you are given.
When you awaken, take the notebook and before doing anything, even going to the bathroom, write down anything that comes to mind, no matter how simple, silly or apparently irrelevant. Sometimes (often in my case), the first few words or phrases seem unconnected; however, it may take a few apparently disconnected phrases before the connection becomes clear, before the meaning surfaces, before I have the wit I asked for to understand what is being presented.
It could be that the first time you try this, a host of information will come flooding forward, and it could be that you draw the proverbial blank. If it's blank the first time or two, just make something up. The bit about making something up may seem odd to say the least, but there's a method to that madness - of all the things you could make up, why make up that bit?
You may find that posing the same question night after night will be required to get the information flowing. You may also find that you gain additional clarity, insight and direction as you revisit the question.
And, it could be that you won't get anything at all.
Or, you could be having lunch one day, when all of a sudden, the pieces connect.
Even if it's nothing at all, the good news is that it doesn't cost you much to at least give it a go.
I'd love to hear from you. Please do leave a comment here or drop me an email at Russell (at) russellbishop.com.
If you want more information on how you can apply this kind of reframing to your life and to your job, about a few simple steps that may wind up transforming your life, please download a free chapter from my book, Workarounds That Work. You'll be glad you did.
Russell Bishop is an educational psychologist, author, executive coach and management consultant based in Santa Barbara, Calif. You can learn more about my work by visiting my website at www.RussellBishop.com. You can contact me by e-mail at Russell (at) russellbishop.com.