Friday, July 29, 2005

Dreaming or Awake?

Am I dreaming now?
Lucid in this reality,
It could be, why not?

Today I was given one of those delicious gifts of the Spirit, a conversation with another seeker that leaves you full with a doggy bag of goodies to savor for days. Two hours discussing all my favorite topics, dreams, circle work, spiritual direction, writing and more. The unique morsel my friend, Tina, gave me was sharing her joy in finding a teacher, Byron Katie, and “The Work”. I love Tina’s image of “the Work” as “a tool which fits her hand”. That certainly sounds like an answer to a prayer.

Tina is working on a book about dreaming. She is mining many years of her own dream journals and weaving those threads together with her “awake” life. Her sharing about this project set me thinking about my own dream experiences.

Early in my life (high school or college) I taught myself to “lucid dream” a practice of “waking up to the fact that you are dreaming” while still dreaming. This skill was a coping mechanism against my terrifying recurring nightmares. When I became “lucid” in the nightmares I realized that I could not be hurt because I was dreaming. The nightmares lost their terrifying nature. I could play with different endings “create” different realities in my dreams.

One technique to learn how to lucid dream is to ask yourself many times during the day when you are awake if you are dreaming. You get the “habit” of asking the question so you will ask it when you are indeed sleeping and dreaming. This technique poses some interesting challenges for a Buddhist practitioner where one is taught that “reality” is illusion or a dream.

OK – what if that were true, I am dreaming in the state generally accepted as “awake”? What would “lucid” be? Would I be as fearless knowing I can not be hurt in a dream? Could I as easily change my reality knowing that I am after all creating it? Why not.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Trust? You're kidding right?

Good Bad or neither?
Does trusting need an answer?
Thy will be done – yes..

All my life I have only truly desired one thing – to be free from suffering. This is the core longing of sentient beings. All the religions claim they can fulfill this yearning. They offer many different practices to achieve this goal but in my studies the vehicle under laying all the practices is radical trust, surrendering to or taking refuge in a power greater than your self.

Trust is difficult under the best of circumstances requiring great effort and faith. As a childhood abuse survivor my trust was betrayed early and often setting in motion an avalanche of coping mechanisms and experiences that buried the tender spark of trust within me. After thirty years of therapy and spiritual practices I can again imagine trusting.

Last year what looked and felt like an enormous betrayal by my own body arrived in the form of breast cancer. Why now when I am ready to trust? The answers became clear as I walked into the world of cancer treatment. The more I took refuge in my spiritual practices the smoother the roller coaster ride became for me.

Am I ready to trust that there is a power greater than myself who is benevolent? Maybe.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

What is normal?

Where is adventure?

Outside inside where you are?

Arising within.

The last few weeks have seen another round of testing and meeting with doctors in an effort to assess what is normal for me now. Normal for all of us is a moving target. What is normal before nine months of cancer treatment is not normal after that adventure.

We all cling to what we know and fear change at the heart of our being but yet there are times when we actively seek and expend great amounts of time and energy embracing change in the guise of “adventure”. Sometimes we plan and save for years to go to an exotic place far from home to be in a totally different culture. We usually build into these trips a sense of safety. For instance we say to ourselves, “I will come home in two weeks so I can do this” or “I am going with a tour guide who will keep me safe”, but those who have traveled know that impermence happens everywhere and control is not possible.

Sharon Salisburg reminded me at a lecture last night that one can have inner adventures as while as physical journeys. These inner realms have always been my playground of choice. Much like the outer world there are lands where travel is dangerous or expensive requiring much courage which is the currency of these landscapes.

Finding my normal again will come from exploring and living within.