Dreaming is a big part of our lives, whether we realize it or not. Most of the time, people experience five different segments of dreaming during a night’s sleep. Remembering dreams can sometimes be challenging. When remembered, finding meaning for some dreams can be elusive, if not mystifying.
Dream dictionaries provide cookie-cutter type definitions for dreams. That is far, far and away from what ongoing personal dream work processing and recording provides. When we learn to consistently engage with, honor, and respond to our dreams — dream dictionaries then fade into the background of less helpful approaches.
Dreams can be a pivotal key that unlocks enriching information that can benefit our waking lives in beautiful, healing, and transformative ways. Leaving our night of dreaming, a whole part of our lives, unexplored and underappreciated is a loss. It is like being given a secret chest that keeps refilling with treasure and maps once emptied, and never bothering to unlock it or look inside regularly.
For the last 30+ years I have kept a dream journal, tracked, and cared for my dreams, and actively explore the dimensions of dreaming. Since 2014 I have kept my dream experiences and knowledge up-to-date with respected dream books, seminars, and workshops. I regularly encourage others in their own dream practice, offering proven techniques that are helpful and that respect boundaries and avoid ego traps. Dream work is essential to my quality of life and well-being. I do some of my best work in dreams and in waking visualizations! Because of this, I share the importance of it with others. So much goodness can come of it!
Being present to my dreams, and being a facilitator and mentor for other’s dreams is sacred. It is an honor and a joy. Accessing the power and gifts of our dreams, and responding to them, is some of the best and most important work we can do for ourselves, and the world.
Dreams disturb, amaze, and puzzle us. They can be intense, frightening, fleeting, mind-boggling, inspiring, healing, and/or transformative. Learning how to be present to, respond to our own dreaming and unique dream symbols is empowering, and awakens hidden potentials.
Dreams speak to us in many ways. Sometimes dreams bring to our awareness meaning and messages via symbols and archetypes. Other times, the dreams we have can be an actual journey of consciousness and spirit. At times, dreams are layers and mixtures of many things. Paying attention to and responding to our dreams is beneficial and deeply nourishing, and quite evident over time. Dreams mostly seek to help us to process, heal, and grow. They are a key to greater fulfillment.
I have been deeply invested in paying attention to, recording, and responding to my own dreams for the last 30+ years. I have found that the other part of our lives, spent in dream states, is just as meaningful and important as the wakeful state. Not only that, the one constant within both states is that the journey of our consciousness is present in both — something that anchors us beyond death and our current bodies, and on into new and different life and/or lives. Deepening our present moment consciousness via dream work (and meditation) is a priceless practice that supports and enhances the mundane, yet also goes far beyond it.
I am going to provide you with a concrete example of a dream from the past that I have worked with, which was profound and pivotal for my evolving spiritual and emotional development, at that time, through and beyond wounds and personality weaknesses. The following dream is from work I did back in the Spring of 2011:
Title: She Is Monumental
I am in a house we have just purchased. We are happy with it. Until someone who used to live here comes to the door. She comes in with a key she kept, and wants something. I am exasperated, and a bit angry at the intrusion. She leaves quickly though. I am near the door. I see an impossibly tall woman who is led around the house by an angel-type-being. I feel fear when I see this impossibly tall woman. With great effort, I look up at her face — way, way up. She has no mouth. I feel fear, which fades into compassion instead. I reach out my hand to her in friendship as she passes.
CS Sherin, Dream Journal Entry, “She Is Monumental”, May 2011
After so many decades of keeping dream journals, I have learned what most of my personal dream symbols represent. This is one of many important reasons for committing to a dream journal. Dreams really are cheated and mistreated when we use dream dictionaries, accept the general definition, and leave it at that. Tracking dreams and our own personal messages via journals reveals context, meaning, and timing that no dream dictionary can ever reveal. Just like a dictionary definition for a cat or dog could never come close to defining and expressing the who, what, why, where, and how of your specific animal companion. Dreams have life of their own, and some of it is indefinable.
PLEASE NOTE: While you may have an interpretation in mind when you hear someone else’s dream, the only person who can reveal the true meaning of a dream is the person who had the dream. Any meaning or interpretation that comes to your mind while listening to someone else’s dream can most accurately and respectfully be expressed as: what the dream would mean if it were your dream. This delineation and practice is essential.
I will translate this dream. Translation is the best word for it, as my dream is in the language of my unconscious mind and my consciousness/soul. It is personal and specific. As I provide a translation for my dream, keep in mind that my translation and definitions for things in the dream are not in any way static. This is my official translation for this very specific dream. This specific dream is, indeed, a symbolic dream, yet, not all dreams are. For other dreams, these symbols may carry completely different meanings, or may not be symbols at all!
For me, in this particular dream, a new house is a new way of being. The new way of being is good. The previous owner intruding briefly represents some unwelcome old habits coming back into my new way of being. But, they only intrude briefly and are gone, let go. The woman who is being guided through the house by an angel-type-being is tall — taller than tall. She is graceful and silent. Her presence is like a walking monument. She is monumental. My fear turns to compassion as I see her missing mouth as a disability. This monumental “she” is the divine self linked to soul or authentic being. It took me “great effort” to become conscious of the alarming symbol of the missing mouth. The missing mouth is symbolic of my ego’s distorted belief of separation from divine love that took shape in the personality by age three. The missing mouth is ongoing silence, separation, even disability related to relationship and listening to/hearing the authentic self — who has never been separated from the sacred.
CS Sherin, May 2011, dream entry translation for “She Is Monumental”
As a child and young adult I was so busy tracking everyone else’s feelings, needs, and expectations that I had no idea what my own were most of the time. The pain of the separation-illusion from my own being surfaced in other dreams in my youth — via dreams of being blind, which had morphed in recent years into being mute. These dreams were telling me that my distorted ego beliefs and fears had created some serious fall-out for my inner being.
A myth re-told in a new way for healing effects, is what came to mind as possible medicine for me, relating to this dream. Our culture enforces the belief of valuing the external over the internal (and the visible over the unseen) with glaring manic force, in advertising, news, via experts, and in storytelling. When the movie Shrek came out, I deeply appreciated the radical re-telling of old fairy tale stories that had before accentuated external and unrealistic importance. Shrek transformed that distortion in our culture, thankfully. The ugly, disgusting ogres possess inner beauty, truth, and authenticity, and are hero and heroine. The old external-value archetypes of the past are seen with human flaws and distortions laid bare. The deeper inner being is valued.
C. J. Jung believed that seeing archetypes revealed in a story (like Shrek), even if we are not consciously aware of the deeper meaning, helps bring healing to the personal and collective unconscious. Knowing that, Shrek was a deeply needed re-telling for the personal and the collective. Part of my dream work response to this dream, back in 2011, was to re-watch Shrek.
In this dream, I know that as I overcame fear and reached out in compassion to connect with the monumental self — I initiated a vital change of pattern, which released personality/ego-based distortion about relationship to my inner core/being. This was an important dream, a turning point for healing and consciousness.
My dream also reminded me that a lot of the younger ages of my life were spent neglecting my own needs and voice. The dream told me that there is much yet to learn and connect to that is real and monumental, really. This is what I wrote about back in 2011, in conclusion:
That bright, silent, tall being of my dream may seek to be a voice for the voiceless, my poetry, and my compass. I know she has much to say and show. I know she has a mouth and a voice. My awareness and compassion for myself is the doorway to deepening that relationship, and it has already begun. It has already come to the point that even this personality and ego of mine have learned enough to yearn, and yearn again, for her voice, leadership, and presence. This is a reward for walking through all the pain so far and doing the work. The ego wishes to serve the soul…and joy, abundance, and love begin to overflow.
CS Sherin, May 2011, reflection on dream entry, “She Is Monumental” (above)
Some news to report, and then the main thought for the end of summer….
The end of a huge project:
It is the end of Summer here in the Midwest of the US, and here I am to update you on all the news here at Wild Clover. I have been absent from my posts both here and at the Recipe For A Green Life blog. The reason? Last week saw the completion of the second edition of my book, Recipe For A Green Life: A Holistic Sustainable Living Handbook & Recipe Book, written by me, edited by Charish Badzinski (who also wrote an amazing Foreword), and published by Wild Clover Press. For those who don’t know about this, or are confused, here is the genesis of this huge project, summarized:
January 2016 — I wrote and released a draft publication called, A Green Lifestyle Recipe Book (paperback, 5.5×8.5, 135 pages, ISBN: 978-0-692-58700-3).
Shortly after that was published, I found an amazing editor to take that draft publication to the next level.
May of 2017 — Recipe For A Green Life was published (paperback, 7×10, first edition, 470 pages, ISBN: 978-0-692-79614-6).
After the paperback was published I pursued getting it into E-book format. There were a lot of challenges to that, (a year’s worth) which I won’t get into here, but that led to the next big step…
May of 2018 — Recipe For A Green Life: A Holistic Sustainable Living Handbook & Recipe Book, 2nd edition premiered in E-book format.
And finally, August of 2018 — the second edition of Recipe For A Green Life: A Holistic Sustainable Living Handbook & Recipe Book (7×10, 2nd edition, 488 pages, ISBN: 978-0-692-11083-6) was released in paperback with a new cover and all the updates!
That was the biggest, most demanding project I have ever worked on! 10,000s+ of hours went into it, over-time without pay, and many things I have passion to do went on the back burner for so long. Making note of these facts, I looked at the result–what I accomplished, and I feel it was worth it! It has been pure joy and relief to be done with the writing, research, editing, formatting, and publishing for this huge undertaking. Saying I am really pleased with the final outcome and what the book has become is an understatement. It isn’t perfect, but it is the best I could possibly do, and it is done! 🙂
A Key To Greater Fulfillment
It’s all in your mind, body, and present moment
Sometimes hearing someone state the obvious can be annoying. Other times, hearing someone state the obvious can be a revelation, which awakens us to a simple truth we somehow lost sight of. The details and harried pace of life too often push us into unnatural and unhealthy positions, both physically, mentally, and emotionally. We spend our days at a pace and itinerary that we may not really want or choose, despite our gifts for scheduling and pacing ourselves.
It is the old trick of life: we make plans, pursue our goals, work hard, do our best, and then life happens to us, again and again. And life doesn’t care in the least that we had plans, great plans. Life has other ideas, and they are often bigger and stronger than ours.
So much of life is what we didn’t plan, didn’t intend, don’t want, or didn’t know we wanted — and it shows up, trashing our idealized path forward. Maybe because of this, with the pressures of daily obligations and duty added in, we lose sight of simple truths, which can free us anew. Those simple truths grant us breathing room that ushers in more flexibility and adaptability, and healthier, well-rooted positions — as we keep moving towards worthy goals.
Stating the obvious as a revelation goes something like this: The present moment, today, is all we ever have. We don’t “have” the past or the future.
The past and future are both alive to some extent in our thoughts and being, but what we really truly “have” is each moment.
What is happening now? What isn’t happening now?
What isn’t happening now can be obvious, yet still lost on a frantic mind. In fact, when I was in therapy many years ago to treat the PTSD I was experiencing, it wasn’t the therapy that became my major breakthrough to relief and greater wellness. It was claiming over and over again the obvious fact that — even though my brain kept flashing back to the trauma — that wasn’t what was happening now.
When my brain got caught on a loop of worry, stress, or anxiety, my mind was manufacturing more stress, and I wasn’t able to center myself or really deal with all the emotions. Not, until I dedicated myself to returning to the present moment, using my breath to manage and release built-up stress. In meditation the idea is: to clear the mind, focus on reality without attachment, and stick to simple truths and facts, like breath. I am breathing. That is a fact. It happens without my effort. It brings me health and life. Breathing in certain ways, from deep in the belly, for example, helps to relieve stress and release stuck emotions and physical tension. Breathing in peace and relaxation, and breathing out fear and worry, becomes a way to come back — to be fully present in the moment. Getting all the mental and emotional obstacles out of the way, then we can actively build on a present, open, relaxed, more adaptable mental state.
It is important to grow and nurture a particular awareness. That is the part of our consciousness that observes our own self breathing. This is the same part of our consciousness that observes the thoughts we are having, or the fact that we are scattering in and out of meditation time because of distractions. It is a quiet, matter of fact, kind, yet neutral awareness. Connecting with that part of ourselves is key.
The conscious observer within harbors zero judgement, reactivity or worry. The quiet, peaceful observer within is the part of our being that is a key to true wealth, which is inner peace and freedom to be.
The part of us that is able to observe and name thoughts or feelings passing by without affect is: inner peace, the voice of reason, the deeper self that recognizes that we possess nothing (except our own being), and have no real security (everything changes, there are always things out of our control), and that being aware and present is the greatest power and asset we have in this life. In meditation the inner observer names what it observes rather than fighting, resisting, or holding on to a thought. That is worry. That is fear. That is a random thought. It is able to simply recognize it and observe it passing through. No hooks, no snares, no traps.
Probably most of the stress and problems that we dwell on and sometimes create in our thoughts are happening now. The difficult part of life in the era we exist in, is that we know what is happening in our city, state, country, and world daily and weekly.
When we carry that awareness with us, it can be too-heavy of a burden to process. We cannot fully process or answer to all the world’s conflicts and tragedies at once, in a day, week, month, or year.
The meditative practice of letting go and clearing the mind — in order to connect with a deeper consciousness within (that is synced with the present moment) — is the most healthy and dynamic action we can take, for our own health and for those around us. It can lead to solutions that we may never have opened to otherwise. It can release and relieve us from oppressive, unnecessary worry and fear.
What is happening now, in this moment?
Right now, when I am first writing this, I hear a migrating bird singing a really sweet little tune outside, and it is a cold dreary day in the Driftless region. My fingers are a bit cold. I hear my cat in the window looking at the bird. I hear the sound of my fingers on the keyboard. I feel my breath growing shallow as I focus on writing, and I remember to take a deep breath from my belly. As I do, I feel the tension leave my upper chest, that is still faintly present, from a cold virus that is mostly gone. That is all there is to be with, and deal with now.
Each now is different.
Each now depends on each of us.
If you have the power and mobility to do something for someone else, and you have the energy and many resources as well, then your present moment includes a longer reach than many in this world. Best to connect with that deeper self as much as possible to make the most of it! When we are relaxed and centered we can make better decisions and more efficient and meaningful actions.
Checking in and remaining present in the now tunes us in to reality, and realities, around and within us. It plugs us in to: inspiration and connections that we couldn’t have accessed when we were lost in endless mental loops of worry, fear, blame, anger, self-consciousness, past memories, future aims, etc.
For many of us, the present moment is breathing, being, and responding to what is in the space around us in the best ways possible, or taking a break to find space within, in order to respond or begin responding when we are really ready.
The Most Valuable Currency We Possess
Being fully present in the current moment means we are contributing our most precious and valuable currency in this life — our presence.
Our personal resources consist of: time, energy, and presence — primarily. We each have unique contributions to make, yet we all have those foundational currencies in common.
Personal resources are personal forms of currency. This includes health, values, and well-being.
What are we giving our personal currency, our presence, to? Self, loved ones, friends, clients, animal companions, nature, the phone, social media, or…something else? Or, are we really present very much at all? Are we distracted, lost in thought?
The best we can do is to refresh ourselves and our presence regularly, so that we are able to contribute to our lives and others’ in the best and most effective ways possible.
Reality of the present moment can often mean that all we have energy for is a meal and a nap.
We are animals too. We human animals have to find a balance of need, want, creating, and being
For those who depend on us, we have an added responsibility to really be present at important times. The gift of presence isn’t just our thoughts, feelings, or physical body. It is all of those, and none of those dominating. Presence is without judgement, and is aware. Presence is without overt emotions — compassionate, without enmeshment. Presence is the physical body actually present, but also with complete relaxed attention. Being truly present can usher in amazing movement. No wisdom has to be uttered. Being truly present can be profoundly healing for self and others.
The heart and mind become grounded and saturated in a profound peace as this practice becomes habit. It doesn’t isolate us from reality, it allows us to be grounded and centered enough to deal with reality and difficult changes and feelings. The body is listened to, and can become a beacon of presence.
Putting a stop to unhelpful thoughts running amok happens through observing them without reactivity or judgement. Part of that a thought go after it is named. That takes practice and dedication. It is worth it. For myself, and many other people, spending time in nature and/or with animals connects us immediately with the present moment and grants us access to sometimes hard to find emotions like: joy, gratitude, and unencumbered love — absent of control or ownership.
With practice, it becomes easier for the mind to automatically let go — particularly as we observe the patterns, beauty, and details of nature; or the earnest love and entertainment found in the company of animal companions.
Another easy access to meditation and present moment facilitator is through creativity, like: making soup, baking, washing the dishes, walking/hiking, weeding, and gardening. There is a certain meditative quality to these that assists the mind in letting go and being.
Before PTSD I was able to be present naturally as a child. Most children naturally have this, if they were allowed to. Presence and present moment awareness isn’t alien to us. It is simply that the cultures and systems we grew up in conditioned and programmed us otherwise.
In the deepest of ways, in these times that numb the mind, bear down on the spirit, and break the heart, this practice of being present to the simple truths (being, breathing, observing) and best free tools (breath work, meditation) is essential.
Well, that, and good humor. I always like to remember humor, and music, and movement too. Engaging the senses, movement, and activating humor can help to shake loose stagnant thoughts and feelings too.
Ongoing creativity leads to freedom and wellness. There are many pathways. That is one. Creativity and the present moment are synced, in my experience. We engage creativity when our minds are present and free. And often, we can free our minds through creative action…
For all our lives, the core truth is that: we only have ourselves, our being and body as a constant. Therefore, it is wise to be kind, present and true to self first. In doing this, life and personal goals flow more harmoniously, like creativity in the present moment.
We look forward — to plan, to build, to dream, to meet, to move forward. Looking forward, as long as we are not obsessed, is natural and good, just like looking to the past is. In fact, understanding and remembering the past is essential to moving forward into the future with greater wisdom and health.
We don’t want to get stuck in the past, or be on a repeating loop of unfortunate patterns on into a bleak future.
We do need to make new and different choices. We need to take well-thought out and reasonable risks. We need to make sure that we don’t keep repeating what is comfortable and familiar, just because it is that.
At this time we are being called to remember, learn, be, move forward, act, and create something new. Each moment is an inner and outer now. Be brave enough to release what is getting your way to being true to who you are. But first, learn to clear your mind and connect to your deeper self and deeper knowing.
Beyond this, it is essential to observe and evaluate how you spend your most valuable currency — your presence, time, and energy. Make adjustments. Keep at it. Then, trust the flow of being and creating, and make the most of each now.