We can do a lot of practice in our sleep! We are also doing deep practice when we learn to navigate by synchronicity and look at the everyday world around us as a set of dreamlike symbols. ~~Robert Moss
What if you viewed everything that happens during the day through the lens of a nighttime dream? What meaning might this bring to your life? Your nighttime dreams and daytime experiences are completely interconnected. They appear to exist at opposite ends of the continuum, a reason why we tend to ignore them. But indigenous people, like the Aboriginal Australians, embody The Dreaming or Dreamtime. This process describes the web of life between the numinous and natural worlds. In essence, there is no difference between being asleep versus being awake; it’s all one big dream.
Similarly, Shamans believe the dream world and the spirit world are the same. This means we are dreaming the world into being. And for thousands of years indigenous people knew they could count on receiving wisdom from their ancestors, guidance from spiritual realms, and valuable answers to mystifying questions. Solutions arise from the liminal phase of “hypnagogia” which has its roots in Greek etymology meaning “guide.” There are two distinct periods: “hypnagogic” signifying the period of being led into slumber and “hypnopompic” meaning “away from sleep.”
Your mind also experiences the “twilight zone.” This hypnopompic zone is when you are stirred from slumber, but not fully awake. It is an exciting interval! This marvelous cycle opens the portal for you to experience innovative breakthroughs and discoveries. All during a time when you make connections that escape the ordinary conscious mind. Thomas Edison, Salvador Dali, Albert Einstein, and countless others have found this in-between state to be the perfect space to unearth resolutions to problems and foresee visions about the universe.
However, answers, ideas and insights are not limited to nighttime dreams or the liminal states. “Those who have compared our life to a dream were right,” Michel de Montaigne once affirmed, “We sleeping wake, and waking sleep.” Waking Dreaming is highly effective and embodies the power of synchronicity. It is aimed to liberate us from the misconception that our waking life experiences are merely random and passive.
Synchronicities: Bridging Your Inner and Outer Worlds
Pause now to ask yourself the following question: “Am I dreaming or awake, right now?” Be serious, really try to answer the question to the best of your ability and be ready to justify your answer. ~~Stephen LaBerge
The term synchronicity was coined by Jung to express the idea of a causal relationship between “two or more psychic and physical phenomena”. Jung witnessed the birth of this conception while supporting a patient whose animus (inner male aspect) was rigid and fearful and blocking her from accessing her deeper self. During therapy, she told Jung how she had dreamt of a golden scarab. The very next day, a live scarab hit against Jung’s window. He was surprised to see that it was a golden scarab which was unheard of for that particular environment and climate zone. Connecting the patient’s scarab dream with the waking experience, he recognized how the scarab symbolized the concept of death and rebirth; the same phenomena needed for his patient to break free from her rigid ego and belief system. This seeming coincidence paved the way for what we now recognize as the power of “synchronicity.”
While traveling through your daily waking life you possess the capacity to witness experiences from a heightened level of awareness. Most of us are asleep; emotional setbacks and trauma can disconnect us from our deeper selves causing us to sleepwalk through life. Working with your nighttime dreams engages your soul and lead to significant positive changes. Often when I’m working with dream participants in my programs, I see a student’s eyes light up when they begin sharing their dreams. They may have entered the room with a flat look in their eyes, but sharing their dreams reveal a soul spark that has been buried. This makes perfect sense when you remember that dreams emanate from the unconscious and are the language of the soul.
But as I mentioned, nighttime dreams are not the only pathway to awakening. “Awake” is a term we often hear in Buddhism because Buddha stems from the root budh which means “awake.” Buddhism recognizes that in the dream state, the mental body is more fluid and flexible and a time when the imagination is on fire. This raw creative power is greatest in dreamtime. H.F. Hedge once wrote, “Dreaming is an act of pure imagination, attesting in all men a creative power, which if it were available in waking, would make every man a Dante or Shakespeare.” However, your waking life also holds infinite opportunity for seeing beyond what cannot be seen. Here is a personal example of Waking Dreaming:
A few weeks ago, I scheduled a session with a friend who is also a soul-coach to discuss some concerns about starting a new venture. She thoughtfully set up two beach chairs and an umbrella along the Pacific shoreline right in front of the rolling waves. The sun began to lower across the sea as I shared how I wanted to integrate some pivotal transformational experiences into my new project. A large gull slowly walked across the sand to where we sat and stood quietly, not asking for food, just silently watching us.
Near the end of our meeting, I took a deep breath and exhaled with gratitude then spotted a whale directly in front of us spouting water. The connection between my grateful exhale and the stream of warm air being blown from the magnificent mammal’s lungs, (aka the whale’s breath) was not lost on us. My heart-centered friend exclaimed, “Look at this amazing synchronicity, the birds and whale are here for you, cheering you on!” Our soulful sharing and peaceful union created the environment that attracted the bird’s and whale’s validating presence. My inner world and outer worlds were synthesizing, affirming my desire and ability to anchor the transformed aspects of self into my current project.
Put Waking Dreaming™ into Practice!
You need not look far to see highly personal messages being communicated every day. The natural world is a prime environment for witnessing seemingly coincidental connections between our inner and outer worlds. Yet, it reaches far beyond nature, from driving down the highway, to conversing with a neighbor, to listening to a podcast. The billboard on the highway, the words your neighbor speaks and the lyrics in a song are all channels for hearing your soul speak when you are ready to receive it.
For example, if you were to view COVID-19 through the lens of Waking Dreaming™, you may see it as global evolution, as Anodea Judith states, as “nature’s intervention.” She explains how the virus stems from the fact that “modern civilization has an addiction problem” to “consumption” which has led to serious consequences for future life on our planet. Or perhaps you might see the pandemic as a wake-up call to slow down. Take a situation that calls to you and practice viewing it through the eyes of a nighttime dream. Then you will begin to see it from a higher, richer perspective, one that gives it meaning, provides growth and accelerates your awakening.
Laura V Grace, PhD, is a spiritual activist, Jungian counselor and author. A member of Spiritual Director’s International, her background is in world religions, East-West spirituality, Jungian dream analysis, and integrative studies. She has attended The New Seminary and One Spirit Learning Alliance in New York and received her PhD at Pacifica Graduate Institute. Laura’s counseling practice is grounded in depth psychology and somatic studies. She specializes in relationship issues (couples and individuals), women’s issues, spirituality, anxiety, stress and depression.
Active in the International Association for the Study of Dreams, Laura has taught more than two hundred courses on the transforming power of night-time dreams. Her unique process “Dream Inquiry” helps dreamers interpret and use their dreams as a powerful tool. Her newest book entitled Dreams: Soul-Centered Living in the 21st Century, A depth psychological and somatic approach to transformation, published by Aeon Books is available November, 2020 through Amazon.