In the early years of working with my dreams my focus was almost entirely on head work: thinking, reading, discriminating, clarifying, understanding, analyzing symbols, and so on. I had heard that dreams were pictures of emotions and I enjoyed dreams that left me feeling happy or good about myself, but others that left me feeling bothered after I woke up were deeply puzzling.
As a child I learned to ignore uncomfortable emotions, or ones which, if I expressed them, would earn the disapproval of my family. By the time I entered junior high school, instead of responding authentically to each situation as it came, I automatically — and completely unconsciously — processed my reactions through a filter of how I thought I was supposed to act, which was calm, nice, reasonable, and, above all, unemotional. I assumed — again, I was not aware of this assumption at a conscious level — that what my mind thought and how I appeared to others was more important than what my heart felt. I thought if I was tough enough to take whatever was handed to me and didn’t let it get to me, it simply wasn’t a problem. I thought it was just a function of mind over matter, and I was rather proud of my will power.
The habit of being emotionally stoic was so deeply ingrained that I was almost completely unconscious of it as I was doing it, although I could sometimes see it after the fact. It wasn’t until about twelve years ago that I finally began to see it as it was happening. The catalyst was a dear friend and gifted dreamworker, Justina Lasley. After I related a dream to her, Justina focused in on a part where some men were treating me unkindly and asked me how that made me feel.
“Oh, fine. It’s no big deal,” I said offhandedly. Justina just sat there looking at me. “Really,” I said. “That’s just the way some men are; I understand that.” She just looked at me. I squirmed a bit under her penetrating gaze, and then the lightbulb went on. “Oh,” I said. “You mean, how do I really feel about this down deep? Oh, I get it! Well, I guess there’s a part of me that feels… sad? Hurt? Maybe…a little angry?”
I was stunned at this revelation. For the first time, I really got it in my gut that my automatic denial of strong feeling was part of my persona, the social mask I had built around my inner self to cover up my vulnerability. (Like the ego, the persona is neither good nor bad; we all have a social personality that helps us adapt to the requirements of everyday living.) This was a huge breakthrough for me. I had always assumed I was doing the right thing, the noble and spiritually desirable thing, in wearing this mask. But I was wrong.
Why? Because our emotional realities are as important to our well-being as mental ones, and repressing them saps the life out of us. When we lose touch with our feelings we lose touch with our souls. Indeed, in our compulsion to elevate logos over mythos/eros we’ve lost our souls. This is a major reason for the epidemic of anxiety in Western society today. The path to wholeness lies in accepting the whole truth about ourselves, including all our emotions, and not just the socially acceptable ones! Allowing ourselves to feel them without having to act on them is one of the best ways I know of to become who we are.
This is something I’m still working on! How about you?
Ego and God-Image: Part VI
[T]he most important relationship of childhood, the relation to the mother, will be compensated by the mother archetype as soon as detachment from the childhood
Since discovering your blog, I have begun to once again record my dreams and turn again to a deeper exploration of my unconscious, too easily ignored or pushed aside in recent years. Taking up the suggestion of one of your readers who commented that she found that drawing out a dream led to greater insights, yesterday I pulled out my dream journal and tried it.
To begin with, this is a huge challenge as fuzzy headed stick figures is the best I can do to depict people and I’m really at a loss to draw cars (there seem to be many in my dreams so its easy to spot my ego} or any type of action. But surprisingly the pictures that would make a first grader laugh, may have given me a clue to my shadow side.
A couple of weeks ago I had a dream that on emerging from a store I saw a fellow, who in real life I see as a narrow minded, arrogant, wealthy male who is effective in controlling everything with whom he comes in contact, including his wife.
In my dream when he called me over to the car where he sat beside his wife, who looked lifeless draped in shadows, I gave him a big kiss smack on the lips.
Recording this dream the next morning I was puzzled, but shrugged it off, just as you initially shrugged off the unkind treatment of those men in your dream. It made no sense. I was not attracted to that man.
But this may be a different type of denial on my part. I am always very cordial when I see him, although deep down I do not like the way he treats others.
As I drew this dream this morn, I did not try to analyze its content but focused only on the action… and I may have seen my shadow teasing from my depths. Was my dream telling me that money, status and power do attract me? Although consciously I personally judge harshly those who build their lives around these values, could this dream be telling me I have repressed something. Is it saying that if I want to live authentically, I should be aware of a subliminal attraction to what such people offer? But what then?
Where as I think it is important for you to recognize and feel your rage towards unkindness, but in my case, if this is what my dream is saying, these are not values I want to encourage. However, I guess it is good to get them out and give them a good airing.
The pictures you find to illustrate your message are amazing. They bring such powerful illumination to your thoughts. s
Yes, yes. The questions you asked yourself seem to me to be a brilliant, brave, and honest response to what your dream showed you about your relationship to this man. “Was my dream telling me that money, status and power do attract me? Although consciously I personally judge harshly those who build their lives around these values, could this dream be telling me I have repressed something. Is it saying that if I want to live authentically, I should be aware of a subliminal attraction to what such people offer?”
I had a dream similar to that once. It took place in a country club where I was all impressed by the opinions of a powerful man I didn’t like in waking life and ignoring his wife, a quiet, shadowy figure. I realized that my culture had trained me to take powerful men more seriously than women; especially women who appeared weak and powerless. The dream shocked me into an awareness of a bias I unconsciously held and never forgot. Seeing that despite my protestations I was really attracted to things I scorned in waking life and barely noticed others which might hold much more value awakened me to the power of my unconscious self. From then on I became painfully aware of how my unconscious attitudes about maleness, power and status played out in uncomfortable ways in my waking life; for example, aligning myself with the powerful people in my church, work, social circle, etc. It was humiliating, of course, but also incredibly freeing, because once I saw the unconscious compulsions and conditioning I was no longer bound by them.
I’m so thrilled to know you’re doing this deeper harder work. The freedom and joy it brings are infinitely rewarding.
My very best in your journey of refining yourself,
An extraordinary post in a series of extraordinary posts. You keep finding a way to take us deeper into our own hearts by exposing your own so generously.
This issue of the “self” behind the persona is of such importance! In ancient Taoism, finding this real person was of the utmost importance. In a foundational work of Taoism (“Original Tao” by Harold Roth), there is a profound quote:
“Within the mind, there is another mind.
This other mind: It precedes words.”
It seems that stripping away the persona (“interrupting consciousness” as the ancients say) for periods of time allows us to return to that “true self” that exists from a time before words were used. The true unconditioned self of the womb and thereafter: the “me” that has occupied this body the longest. Language builds up a social persona, to the point where we cannot imagine “thinking” without words!
Dreams, though, are pictures, pictures of emotions, as you so artistically paint the canvas of our inner eye. They bypass words and speak to us in the primordial mother tongue: images packed with emotional content…..
I suspect there is a good argument to be made that dreams are, in fact, the first language. From seeing that I could communicate with myself (unconscious reflecting the conscious), the leap over the chasm of ideational isolation and into the potential communion of social discourse was inevitable.
The power of such a language is difficult to describe even though we have all experienced it: dreams are filled with pictures that are often inseparable from their emotional symbolism. It is as if the images are themselves the emotions. In a way that no medium like movies can replicate. The images are just too immediate in a dream, like a raw nerve ending: there’s nothing standing between me and “that”.
Getting back to our native tongue!
Interrupting our habit of talking to ourselves in words!
Attending to our dreams as the voice of our True Self
Water seems weak. But let it flood in a torrent or dry up in a drought, and its strength becomes apparent. Or just let it run in a river like the Colorado for millions of years, and it carves the Grand Canyon out of stone.
The True Self, the one in the last stages of the womb and shortly thereafter, seems weak as water. But the slow steady current of dreams carves a vast openness that swallows the persona and trains the ego to more accurately echo our “mind within the mind”.
I love our exchanges, Jeanie! They push me to connect dots that might otherwise go unattended…….
All My Best Thoughts And Wishes,
It seems the wise ones have always known about our “mind within the mind”. Jung said, “Within us there is another who we do not know. [S]he speaks to us in dreams.”
Although Jung did not go so far as to say that the True Self is what we call God, but did call it our god-image, Roger Kabanitz, author of several books about dreams and their place in Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) says that Kabbalah and dreams are about connecting with the hidden face of God.
Perhaps this is why the emotions in our dreams are so immediate and raw.
And scientists now tell us that the right brain, home of images and symbols, is older than the left. The primordial mother tongue, indeed!
I love your statement that “the slow steady current of dreams carves a vast openness that swallows the persona and trains the ego to more accurately echo our “mind within the mind”. What a beautiful image! Whatever we call this deep well within us, it is surely filled with living, healing, and transforming waters.
Our exchanges help me connect the dots too. Thank you so much for your always affirming, enlightening, and most of all, heart-warming comments.
Wow, again how could this be…I relate personally to every word you wrote in your post and your answer to Sally…every word. Again, I have a parallel experiences to yours. I relate completely – 100% to what you wrote (one example from your post) : “instead of responding authentically to each situation as it came, I automatically — and completely unconsciously — processed my reactions through a filter of how I thought I was supposed to act, which was calm, nice, reasonable, and, above all, unemotional. I assumed — again, I was not aware of this assumption at a conscious level — that what my mind thought and how I appeared to others was more important than what my heart felt. I thought if I was tough enough to take whatever was handed to me and didn’t let it get to me, it simply wasn’t a problem. I thought it was just a function of mind over matter, and I was rather proud of my will power.”
I relate completely and had the same type of thinking. Your write beautifully. Thank you for sharing. I am dancing right with you! Thanks to Sally and William for their replies too!
Humiliating is such a good word – That is how I feel when I see things I would rather not see. I cringe and yet I love it. I feel so grateful when the door of “Truth” opens me to greater consciousness – the result is grace, liberation and authentic possibility. What a humbling and enlightening journey. I feel deeply grateful, even as I cringe.
It is as if my humiliation melts away my false persona and allows me to see my greater whole. My divinely inspired humiliations are not the same as shame (sometimes-called humiliation) from the outside world. However, the kind of divinely inspired humility that brings me to the ground of my true being, showing me where I was or am off base – freeing me to see and hear “me” including my feelings and intuition – creating a much larger, freer and more congruent Truth, including my personal truth. I feel and sense that with the dismantling of my false thinking and false persona, new – long ago buried personal possibilities emerge and have a chance to grow in the light.
Just last night I had this dream – a warm and generous woman was showing me her work on archetypes. A man walked up to her and told her what she was showing me was stupid and handed her the “correct” book. She looked stunned and did not say a word. I felt stunned too. I wondered why she did not say anything and why she allowed him to bully her in the moment and stop her from sharing with me her personal knowledge and understanding! Later she invited me for a swim. I happily accepted her invitation. Like you said to William…”whatever we call this deep well within us, it is surely filled with living, healing and transforming waters.” Wow, the power of dreams –and- synchronicity -Thanks again for sharing (your post and your replies). Also, thanks to Sally and William for their comments and sharing. All – delicious, inspiring and informative! I am glad I found your blog via your comment on Asheville Jung Blog.
I am smiling with warmth and shaking my head with wonder at the benevolence of the Mysterious Beloved. How thrilling to meet another with whom I have so much in common!
I especially appreciate the distinctions you have made between divinely inspired humiliations and the worldly kind that only bring shame! They have the exact opposite impact on us: one lifts us up ever higher into the light, the other drags us down deeper into the abyss. I think that’s how we can tell the difference between the healthy and and unhealthy aspects of our shadows. My unhealthy shadow, especially the Spiritual Bully (looks like you may have one too, from the sound of last night’s dream) always puts me down intellectually and drags me down emotionally. The more I see that, the less I succumb to his influence.
A final word to you, my newest soul sister: Congratulations! It looks as if you have found your inner Wise Woman, Sophia, your feminine guide who knows the way to the Well and personifies the wisdom and guidance awaiting you there.
To be conversing like this with people who have such powerful intention and depth of understanding is pure pleasure for me, and to be of help is a joy. Thank you so very much for writing to let me know what is happening with you. I too am deeply grateful that you found my blog.
Thanks so much for your generous reflections and thanks for your insights about my dream! Ah, I too am experiencing the deep awe and wonder of the “Mysterious Beloved!” After dinner tonight, my husband commented that I looked as if I were deep in thought…YES!
Your reflections about my dream infused my dream characters with more life and even gave one a name – Sophia (a long awaited introduction!!) I feel very grateful and so open to her wisdom and guidance!
And the other apt description – spiritual bully! Yes, I do have that unhealthy shadow aspect too…and now his destructive antics – revealed in the light of day (thanks to your generous reflection).
About the spiritual bully – it just occurred to me that recognizing that stunned feeling – the feeling that – hey, what I am hearing does not fit and does not feel right indicates it is the spiritual bully speaking. His words shut me down (shame), rather than deliver enlightenment – new clue for me – to help me identify that spiritual bully when he speaks to me. I have new tools to neutralize his venom, venom that has paralyzed me. All of that from your reflections you so generously offered to me – thank you new soul sister! What a joy to receive such a generous gift of help and insight! This conversation is also a whole lot of fun and puts a big smile on my face too!
Thanks, cheers and all of God’s best for you!
divine….you are your own path….you know from your childhood time….research it….
atom = at om
spirit as neutron….. neutral in charge
soul as proton…..positive in charge
body as electron….negative in charge…
mind is the energy field between proton and electron
energy equation of cosmos is zero so also of atom
entire cosmos is governed by a common law
cosmic inquiry …who am I ?
human Inquiry…who am I ?
right hand …body
left hand ….soul..
bring them together…
science of yoga….
mind to no mind…
life = dance of zero
love all… so simple
So simple, yet so profound. Thank you.
It is such a blessing to read your wisdom.
divine……I listened your audio post and delighted to observe the spiritual level from your voice……lot of silence…..one of these days going to write ….the scientific meaning of seven last words of Jesus …so much wisdom…..may be I will e mail you..once you think it good for people to read ….I will put on the blog…..this thought has
just appeared on your blog…..may be on dark night of soul…..in my opinion appeared wisdom always timeless….and no one knows when it will appear….now hope to receive divine mail ….happy dreaming…..
bless you… you are a kind human being….near to lord….
I like your idea for a new post and look forward to reading it. You can send it to me at email@example.com when it’s ready.
Yes, I think wisdom is timeless and we are spiritual vessels with the capacity to receive it, which happens in its own time, after we have prepared ourselves by clearing the “channels” that have gotten clogged with unhealthy and unexamined emotions, attitudes and habits; uniting our inner opposites; opening to compassion; expanding our awareness; and learning to see with our spiritual eyes.
You are a kind human being too.