There are many ways to that place called “Understanding.” Honoring the dreams that come to us while sleeping might be called a super highway in our journey to knowing ourselves, fun to travel, as well as enlightening. The following dream and my interpretation of it has been an important part of my life.
I am in a small boat. A man is in the stern, his hand on the helm. He is ‘driving’ the boat. I am sitting forward in the bow. I realize we are off the coast of Maine (USA). I know these waters are treacherous, with many large rocks just below the surface. We are barely moving. At that moment, a very large white cruise ship passes, just one meter off our starboard (right) side, going fast. I see no passengers, but I know they are there. I can see the captain high up in the wheelhouse. I say, “Well, look at that, such a large ship, yet she is having no trouble negotiating these waters.” We watch the ship cruise effortlessly to shore. Suddenly, a heavy fog rolls in (a common occurrence on the Maine coast). We are enveloped in thick white mist. I feel afraid. I call out, frantically, “Oh, no! We cannot see to get to shore.” The man says, “Don’t worry. Here, I have a light.” He grabs the lantern from the air above, and hands it to me. I lean over the bow, shining the light into the water, looking for rocks below. I can see them just millimeters beneath the surface. I yell, “go left, go…go…go to the port side”. I am aware of my struggle to find the right word, the nautical term.
I wake up.
This has been a particularly powerful dream for me. I occasionally revisit dreams, and some have continued for years to revisit me, guiding and supporting me. This has been one of those.
Keeping a dream journal has been helpful to my conscious journey, though there was a time when I thought little about dreams. I dismissed them as the mind playing tricks, influenced by recent events or images. I was unaware of their significance. I was one of those who did not appear to have many dreams. Now, I know, and sleep studies have proven, that all of us dream. We go in and out of a dream-state every 90 minutes, dreaming multiple dreams every single night.
The question is not whether we dream, but do we remember our dreams. Do we reflect on their significance? Do we honor our dreams, seeing them as gifts to be opened with care and respect?
I began honoring the dream a year of two after beginning my process of awakening. Awakening to what, some might ask. Awakening to the answer to the question, who am I? I was awakening to Wholeness, to ‘Trish’ as a spiritual being who is learning to be fully human on this planet called Earth.
At some point in our life, if we are fortunate, we are called to ‘wake-up.’ Often, the call follows an illness or accident, an event that might be viewed as tragic, perhaps a near-death experience, or the actual death of a loved one.
Whether we ever hear the call or not, we are each on a path, even when we have no conscious awareness that we are, and even when we reject the whole notion that a path exists. Once the call is heard, there is no turning back. Life is never the same.
My own wake-up call, the sudden death of my energetic and spirited 82-year-old mother, was heart shattering. Shockingly painful, this event left me wide open, receptive to whatever the Universe brought to me. I experienced a deep and profound shift in consciousness. The curtain that hid the deep resistance and denial in me, that had shielded, but also imprisoned me, was lifted. I was reborn, as vulnerable as an infant and as curious.
I began sitting in circles of women on a weekly basis, part of a grief support/psychotherapy group. Slowly, I opened to the memories of childhood and gradually, over the course of several years, I was transformed. The inner work of discovering my Truth involved dropping the beliefs that were not actually mine, beliefs based on assumptions borne from a lack of introspection. They did not truly express the woman I was becoming. The result was a strengthening and stabilizing of the inner core of my being. The more integrity I developed, the stronger the core became, allowing me to stand up for my Truth.
Eventually, as I continued to open, night dreams became part of my experience, too powerful to ignore. I learned to ask for a dream before going to sleep, and to ask to remember it. In group therapy, we often explored our dreams. Sometimes, we role-played them. I was learning to listen to and understand the message of the dream.
I came to realize that there is nothing meaningless about the activity that takes place in our deep consciousness. The “mind is deeper than the deepest ocean,” according to the Buddha. The plots and images created by my mind, as I lay sleeping, deserved my respect. The more I honored the dream, the more I remembered.
The context in which a dream comes, the present circumstances of one’s life, is essential to the interpretation of the dream’s meaning. At the time of this dream, I was experiencing great changes in my personal life. I was leaving a 24 -year relationship. I was leaving the community where I had lived for 30 years. I had no idea where life was taking me or what was waiting for me.
The dream showed me, very clearly, what was happening in my inner world. I already had the understanding that my outer world was a reflection of my inner one, a projection of my own mind. (This explains why each of us experiences the same phenomena differently.) If I could stay in touch with my inner landscape, I could more easily understand events in my daily life. The dream vividly illuminated that hidden landscape.
This dream gave me confidence. I trusted the message, believing it to be my Intuition guiding me in making the decisions I needed to make.
Here is my interpretation of the dream:
The male driver of the small boat represents my own masculine energy, the yang, the energy of action, logic, decision making. The woman (me) represents my feminine energy, the yin, the energy of the emotions/feelings and the heart.
The turbulent waters, fraught with peril, represent my present circumstances (at that time) and the corresponding inner turmoil, my suffering.
The small boat represented my perception of myself as separate, independent, making my way alone. The large white (pure) cruise ship is Integrity/Truth, truth that can “set you free,” in this case, from the fear, the fog of ignorance, that was preventing me from moving forward, stopping me from making decisions, the fear that whatever direction I took, I would be ‘on the rocks.’
The unseen passengers are ‘Truth-Seekers,’ (of which there are many. I was never and am never ‘alone.’) The discovery of one’s Truth, synonymous with spiritual awakening, can and does deliver many passengers from the fog of ignorance. The way through troubled waters (suffering) is easily negotiated when we travel (associate) with other Seekers. One’s own Wise and Compassionate Heart, also known as one’s inner guide or teacher (represented in the dream by the cruise ship’s navigator/captain) can be trusted to take us to the ‘shore.’
The shore represents the solidity that comes from prolonged states of happiness and peace of mind.
The teamwork between the Yin and the Yang represents the integration of those two energies within me. The Yang, driver of the boat, takes action and reaches for the light, and the Yin, the heart, navigates. Understanding these energies to also represent my inner woman and inner man, I realize the relationship of the man and the woman inside me has been transformed. No longer dysfunctional, they are communicating. They are working together. They respect each other’s strengths. My process has allowed me to transform my lifelong belief, a belief rooted in the experience of childhood and projected onto two marriages, that the male/female relationship is one of suffering.
The effort to find the correct terminology to fit the situation shows the heart’s commitment to clear communication.
That the large ship passes the small boat so closely, without sinking it, represents the Truth that a harmonious co-existence of the spiritual life and the physical life is possible.’
I love this dream. Its clarity and energy are so vivid and strong and continues to be. There is no ambiguity. I saw my reality, both internally and externally, and I saw what needed to change, in order for me to live a peaceful and happy life. In fact, the change in me was already occurring. The couple, my inner feminine and masculine energies, had transformed from a state of ignorance to one in which their respective powers were integrated. They were both doing their part in perfect harmony. I understood that this balance was necessary for me, if I was to move forward and leave the suffering behind, and that I was ready for it. My Higher Power was showing me that Life could be a ‘pleasure cruise,’ even in an ocean of suffering, but, that I must do my part by living with integrity, choosing to be with like-minded companions and trusting the wisdom of my heart to show me the way.
This dream has become, over the years, a form of visualization, surfacing regularly in my consciousness. I am inspired and affirmed each time I am visited by this dream. I do not have to figure things out. I do not have to think things through. I let the heart lead the way. Daily life has become one with spiritual life.
I have worked with many dreams, but none more profound than this one. Because I believe in the truth of “Inter-being,” the truth of our “Inter-dependency,” and because this is such a powerful dream, I believe it is a “collective” dream, signaling transformation in the whole of society. The development and integration of the Yin and the Yang, the feminine and the masculine, is a part of each person’s journey, both women and men. Perhaps the reader can find examples of this transformation in her own life
Meanwhile, as I sleep, the dream is there, every night, waiting to be honored, waiting to light my way.