I must be dreaming

Dreams are a beautiful thing. Half our life we run around in a dream world, half asleep, running away from something or plagued by problems we don’t understand. Then we wake up, and keep doing the same thing.

My interest in dreams boils down to three things:

  1. Dream Recall (remembering our dreams)
  2. Dream Analysis (understanding what our dreams are about)
  3. Lucid Dreaming (becoming conscious as we dream)

Dream recall is the first stepping stone to any dream work. Everybody dreams, whether they think they do or not. Being able to remember your dreams is possible for everyone, it just takes some practice, intention and patience.

Once you can remember your dreams, then you can look for useful symbols and patterns that uncover problems in your life that you might not be aware of, as well as a source of creative insight on ways you might approach these unresolved issues.

Lucid Dreaming is taking control of your dreams while you are dreaming… a tool where you can both embrace your problems and create situations that you wish to be in… like the ultimate vacation. Too bad it only lasts until you wake up.

Dreaming

I like to dream. I even like to dream that I’m dreaming. During the day, I look for hidden opportunities, like riding the tube, where I can doze off and discover a delightful dream. Only when I dream, I try to become lucid and awake, so I can be aware of what’s going on.
I know you think this topic will put you to sleep, and you wish I would pick something else.

Dream on.

Five senses plus four more

At the core of Vipassana is understanding the impermanence of all things. Everything we know, we experience within the body as a sensation, either as a subtle vibration of awareness, or through our senses. Everything we experience arises within us, and then passes away.

Our obvious senses include sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch.

According to wikipedia, our senses also include:

Thermoception – the sense of heat or the absence of it (cold)
Nociception – physiological pain (in our skin, joints and organs)
Equilibrioception – our perception of balance
Proprioception – our kinesthetic sense – our body awareness

What about our thoughts? Are a thoughts one of our senses? Or are they a product of a different sensation? They’re certainly something I experience… and something I can even influence occasionally.

Dissolving pain

I have experienced two 10-day Vipassana retreats.

During my second retreat, I had an amazing insight into the power of the meditation. (I’m a slow learner.) One of the objectives behind Vipassana is to dissolve pain by observing it in the present moment and accepting what is. When we are aware of the internal resistance we are creating, we can stop the cycle of craving or aversion that creates pain within us.

At these retreats, around the fourth day, they start these sittings where you are expected to sit still for the entire hour. For a guy like me, who doesn’t sit on the floor often, my back starts aching after about 10 minutes. In my first retreat, I never quite made it a full hour without adjusting my back.

The second time around, and something stupid came over me – I resolved to sit still for a full hour. My back was killing me, but I continued to meditate without moving. I could barely focus on anything except for the sharp feeling in my back, which, by the way, felt like an army of four year olds scratching chalkboards. I forced myself to sit through it. Masochistic? Probably.

And then the most curious thing happened. The pain… dissolved. It went from feeling completely unbearable to feeling like any other sensation on my body. It didn’t cause me any more anguish. What I found really peculiar was that those same sharp fingernail on chalkboard sensations were there… they just didn’t hurt. They didn’t distract me. They felt as painful as my pillow.

That’s when the practice of Vipassana became clear to me, and what they mean about using awareness to dissolve your pain. The physical sensation, even if uncomfortable, is not what I thought was the pain. The true source of pain is something I don’t think I could have understood before I experienced it.

I have started noticing where in my life I am resisting what is, and how I am reacting to situations. It is not just physical pain, but can be found anywhere – arguments, laziness, frustration, boredom, apathy, and probably a million other places.