The Spiral Staircase


For the last three nights I’ve had a recurring dream of planning my next blog post, but when I wake up I can’t remember what the topic was. This is very annoying because in the past I’ve gotten some of my best writing ideas from my dreams. I just love it when that happens. It’s like finding the missing piece that completes a jigsaw puzzle. Suddenly everything falls into place and I see the big picture and have the most wonderful sense of being connected to the Mystery.
So this morning when I woke up with the same thoughts running through my head like skittish squirrels looking for someplace to hide I lay very still so as not to scare them away. There were no images but I did remember a sentence or two. Thinking that would be enough, I ignored my own advice and, without writing anything down, went to the kitchen for coffee. Now that I’m ready to write do I remember it? No. Not a word. I’m so disappointed.
You’ve probably experienced the same thing. And not just with dreams, but with waking insights too. Did you ever notice that beneath your annoyance at your forgetfulness there’s another feeling, a sort of mental hunger for something tugging at the edges of your awareness? It’s like wanting a special snack you just know will be uniquely satisfying, but not being able to figure out what it is and searching through the pantry until you find the brownie mix!
The constantly repeating process of fulfillment, distraction, longing, and renewal is, like our heartbeat or breath, so subtle and commonplace as to be virtually imperceptible. But it’s worthy of notice because this is how we grow psychologically and spiritually. If we train ourselves to recognize the stages — which are the same as Nature’s cycle of birth, growth, death, and rebirth — we are less apt to be pulled off course by frustration, anxiety or despair.
Both cycles begin with a womb-like state of unconscious comfort which gradually evolves into a state of distraction and forgetfulness during which our only goal is to keep growing in the same direction we’re already headed. But inevitably dissatisfaction and conflict set in and our yearning intensifies until we experience a painful death of meaning that forces us to risk setting off in a new direction. If we can tolerate the tension of not knowing and not attaching ourselves to a particular outcome, a missing piece lands in our lap and we are reborn into a new level of comfort and re-connection to the Mystery. For a while. Until the cycle begins anew.
We experience this cycle in every area of endeavor throughout our lives. Each death is a troubling crisis during which we stop to question old ways and consider new ones. Each rebirth is another step up the spiral staircase. Our perspective broadens, we grow more aware of where we are, and we acquire more trust that we’ll eventually arrive at our destination.
So while I was disappointed about forgetting this morning’s dream and yearned to know its content, my frustration faded almost as quickly as the dream. Experience is a wonderful teacher, and after years of climbing the spiral staircase I can usually move on before long, trusting that something better awaits around the next turn if I can just stay conscious. Which makes me wonder… could what I’ve written here be what I’ve been dreaming about the last three nights?
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0 Responses

  1. OK Jeannie, you stated:”recurring dream of planning my next blog post”. If we think about what we want to dream about and we dream it, is this a real dream? Are we programing our dreams or thoughts when we are in a sleep mode, not real sleep to tell our-selfs what we want to hear? If I want to dream about a sailboat trip, I can think about it while I go to sleep and “dream it”.
    I am not sure this is the real thing. What are your thoughts?

    1. Hi George,
      That’s an excellent question, and I might have to write a new post about it! Thanks for asking.
      We can, indeed, request a certain kind of dream from the unconscious. It’s called “incubating” a dream. Robert Louis Stevenson wrote Treasure Island by dreaming a chapter a night then transcribing it when he woke up in the morning. That’s rare, of course, but it does happen. And yes, we will often dream about something we were thinking about, or wanting to dream about, when we were on the threshold of sleep. The more our egos cooperate with the unconscious by taking it seriously and asking for a response, the more the unconscious responds.
      But our waking ego has no control over the exact form the response takes. The Dream Mother will use our request and turn it into her own purpose for us, supplying details and images and connections and inspirations and information our egos could never have thought up on our own. So yes, this is a real dream, the real, creative thing, a gift from the unconscious. Moreover, the ability to cooperate with your unconscious this way is a sign that we are waking up to the reality and creativity of our unknown selves!!
      My best,

  2. Betsy,
    You’re so right! Dreams upon dreams upon dreams until we finally get it right! Writing it down helps so much. My journals have been invaluable. With their help, eventually old habits get harder to forget and easier to break. Remember what everyone used to write in high school yearbooks: “Never change”? I used to believe that, but now I say, “May we never stop changing!”
    Love, Jeanie

  3. Divine…..Brain is a bliss rain…..cosmic intelligence creativity to design a human machine…..logical intelligence….left brain …in time …represents body….so body is in line of time …between past and future…..and emotional intelligence……right brain ….beyond time…..represents soul…..silence…creativity…… to think about next post arises in creative right brain……in silence…..but it will take shape in left brain…….when we sleep …..brain waves starts going through body to soul….to oneness with spirit….timelessness….in slumber sleep…..and reverses…..from soul to body……that is the reason we normally dream if we do just before waking…….creativity happens or appears….it is the result of your dream activity… if one does not remember the dreams it
    is good….as it will appear on it own…..and when you just let it have a natural flow……God comes to your side……and it appears as creativity….
    that is the reason in India….most of the art is unsigned…..because artist
    always believed that the work is grace of God…..artist is just a medium..
    that is humble prayer to God…..let us all make our blogging a prayer with divine…..and your blog is a prayer….bless you..
    love all…

    1. Ram0singhal,
      “Brain is a bliss rain!” You have such a marvelous way with words.
      I fully agree that whether or not we recall a dream is unimportant in the big picture, because, like a furnace in a basement, it’s “down there” in the unconscious doing its work anyway. But if we want a deeper connection with our fuller selves, and if we want to avail ourselves of the Self’s creative fire in our waking lives, we have to make a conscious effort to visit the basement regularly to learn the workings of the furnace, keep the lines open, resupply the fuel, etc. So, yes, the furnace is producing the fire, but the ego is the medium that allows it to manifest as delicious warmth in the house of the psyche.
      Thank you for your kind words about my blog. It does feel like a prayer to me.

  4. jeanie, what a great post. you are such a talented writer! this is just a lovingly constructed creation! and though i appreciate the central point of the article, the mechanism you describe at the beginning (and refer to at the end) fascinates me more every year: where are my memories when i am not remembering them?
    such a joy to read your writing,

    1. William,
      Thank you. You have the most generous spirit!! Your comments are thoughtful gifts, each one uniquely crafted to bring fresh pleasure to the recipient.
      “Where are my memories when I am not remembering them?” is a fascinating question. It makes me think of physicist David Bohm’s theory about the three orders of functioning of the universe. On the surface is the explicate order of manifest matter. If I compare that to the universe of the mind, I would think of this order as the realm of ego consciousness.
      Beneath that is the implicate order, a sea of energy composed of all potential in which “particles” of information combine to create new things which then are birthed into the explicate order. Psychologically, this corresponds to the personal unconscious.
      Beneath that lies the superimplicate order, i.e. the collective unconscious, the Self, the Source or intentionality that determines what potential will be united and made manifest.
      So my answer to your question would be that when memory fades from the explicate order of consciousness, it merges back into the sea of potential in the personal unconscious where it can be stored, refreshed, revisited, or reshaped in subtle ways to emerge again at a later date via a dream, flash of memory, work of art, or synchronicity! Of course, I’m responding from a metaphysical point of view. I leave it up to medical science to provide the physiological answer.
      I see another blog post in this. Thanks for the inspiration!

      1. jeanie, agree with your metaphysical standpoint in answering the question, it’s certainly (as you grokked) where i was asking from. and agree with your points and conclusions. so, my followup question goes like this: if i can access the storehouse of memories in the collective unconscious, what keeps me from remembering others’ memories–or keeps them from remembering mine? or, contrariwise, if we are able to do that (follow the memories in the personal unconscious back into the collective unconscious), then could that account for certain inspirations and yes, even dreams, that seem so real and yet to “come from somewhere else”? wm

        1. William,
          You, my dear and delightful friend, have just asked the very questions I have answered in the post I’ve been writing for the last three hours as the result of earlier comments. It will appear in my next blog on Saturday night!! I hope you don’t mind waiting for my response until then. I love it. Our minds are obviously hanging out in the same corner of the collective unconscious these days!!
          P.S. What is grokked?
          Much love,

        2. Hi again, William, As I reread your comment I see I got a little carried away by the synchronicity of the moment and didn’t really answer your exact question in my new post but just touched on the general area of it. In response to your question, “what keeps me from remembering others’ memories?” I would say the ego, which is capable of only so much consciousness at a time, and which sort of self-selects only the information that seems relevant to it at any given time. I think this is why we need a strong and healthy ego contrary to other theories which suggest we should destroy the ego: because it is a very efficient gatekeeper that guards the threshold to the unconscious. Without an ego we would have no way to prevent invasions from toxic thoughts, memories, and negative archetypal energies: all the sharks and dangerous denizens swimming around in the depths below. And to your second question I would say that yes, I do think that our ability to tap into the collective unconscious does account for the vivid inspirations and dreams, visions too, that seem to come from somewhere else because they actually do. The collective conscious is very alien to the ego, which normally fights it mightily. All my best, Jeanie

      2. grok: verb. to understand immediately and fully, intuitvely, experience as if your own inner stuff, etc…..never fully defined but hinted at…
        see robert a. heinlein’s “stranger in a strange land”
        wikipedia has a nice entry.
        off to mt. shasta for a few days.
        look forward to seeing your sunday blog!!

  5. Dear Jean,
    Indeed, it is amazing to find one’s self entertaining the very same thoughts as another, a “stranger” as it were. But then, if as I believe, there is only One Mind, then it’s not so surprising at all. I, too, find myself in the exact same process you’ve described here, searching for my next blog topic through the intuitive, creative process and “forgetting” those little tidbits of inspiration that come in the night. Thus, my own blog today in the HuffPo on Crossing the Spiritual Desert via the process you’ve so aptly described here.
    I’m happy we have found each other! I love your site and what you’re contributing here.
    Many blessings,

    1. Dear Judith,
      Everything in me says “Yes!” to the One Mind theory as well. Our fundamental inter-connectedness is really the only explanation for a multitude of phenomena, including synchronicity, ESP, the emergence of the same new ideas at the same time all over the world, and so on. (For readers who don’t know how we got on this topic, I just responded to Judith’s newest post on the Huffington Post — you can read it at —which appeared today and deals with the same topic as this one!)
      This understanding feels crucial to me because it points to a real hope for positive change in our troubled world today. If more of us understood that everything we think, say, and do contributes to the One Mind for good or for ill, then the well-intentioned among us, (and I believe we are in the vast majority) can effect positive change in a very simple and practical way: with conscious benevolent intention!!!
      I’ve alerted my facebook community to your post for this very reason. May we all follow your example and contribute to the solution as you are doing with your important work.
      Blessings and love,

    1. I’m very happy to share my source with everyone who’s interested: go to google, type in “google images,” click on on the web site, and type in your search word or phrase. For this one I just wrote “spiral staircase” and was immediately shown many wonderful images, including the extaordinary one above. What a wealth of resources the internet supplies. I feel so lucky to be living in this time.
      Best, Jeanie

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