Nightmares

WORKING WITH YOUR NIGHTMARES
  2001 Strephon Kaplan-Williams

 

 

Do you think something is wrong with you or someone else if you are having nightmares?

Do you look forward to having nightmares in your night life as well as in your waking day?

If you answer Yes to the first question and No to the second, perhaps you should Re-look at your attitudes towards life and reality. Perhaps you should go further and train yourself in dealing with the Adversary Archetype in life.

Do you tend to prefer the good things of life over the sad and the terrible?

Do you try to live a good and healthy life as much as possible?

A little wary now in how you answer these next questions?

I don't blame you! For these newsletters do nothing if they do not put you on the spot every once in awhile.

Is your view about how to live life all that sure and effective?

If you find yourself wanting in effectiveness and perspective then perhaps it is best for you to be continually open to questions about life and to change your views and behaviors whenever you are confronted with a new truth.

Hopefully here a new possible truth, an understanding, is coming your way.

Let me start by saying I, nor anybody else, did not send you nightmares, nor perhaps did you invite the nightmares you have had, or currently have. Let me say also that having nightmares is not a bad thing but that for you to understand this you will have to change your point of view.

What do we notice about the starting questions of this essay?

What I am focusing on as one devoted personally and professionally to the dream journey is attitude.

An attitude is a rule about life that we maintain is true as we try to live by it.

When I ask groups when I am speaking, How many of you prefer pleasure over pain, almost everyone raises their hand as if it is the most natural thing in the world to prefer pleasure over pain, health over sickness, life over death and dying.

But this is all attitude, an effective bias of the ego, that fragile part of ourselves that gives us self-identity and represents for us being alive and existing. This little ego of ours is also the ego images we identify with and a collection of attitudes about how to live life mostly inherited from our parents and society.

Nightmares are any sleep dreams we wake ourselves from because we are afraid in the dream and so do our best to escape the dream itself into waking reality.

We do not solve the problem presented in the challenging dream. We run from the problem, afraid that we are being overwhelmed and not in control.

All nightmares are also problems about being in control or not in control of what is happening to us.

The control issue is a major issue in almost all dreams. Are we, the dream ego, in control of what is happening to us in the dream?

Answer: almost never. Question: why is this so? Answer: It is so! Question: Then must we accept that we are not to be in control in our dreaming, and by inference, in our waking lives as well?

You decide. I know where I stand. I know from taking positions and dealing with the results that have come in when I have practiced trying to control things and when I have practiced cooperation and dealing with rather than control and domination or retreat.

How is this for a challenge?

When you have your next nightmare stay present and see who or what is in charge of what is happening in the dream and to you.

If you want to understand your nightmares try understanding also how you live your life trying to control yourself and others. There is your biggest issue.

Some will disagree with me. Some will want to overcome their nightmares while others will want to make them go away.

I can say from personal experience that in one of my deadliest nightmares it seemed like I was dying, that I could go out of existence right there and then. I woke truly shaken and could hardly move. Not only was my whole psyche shaken awake. I was also physically debilitated. I knew quite directly what it must be like to have my life support systems go into chaos and imbalance, veering at the edge of no return in which the system cannot heroically right itself again and come into balance and normal organic functioning.

How many times have I experienced the terror of dying in my nightmares?
Where else would I be able to have such a direct experience?

People do vicariously experience pure terror in horror and crime movies.
But with your own nightmare you experience directly the dying edge of your own existence and the strength of your will to live further, as well as something called the Greater Other that wants you still in existence, that seems to even save you from extinction.

I'm not worried so much what the content is, such as being in an airplane taken over by terrorists, or falling to your doom, or about to be killed in your dream, or a tidal wave about to overwhelm you, or the world spinning out of control.

Name your nightmare and still it will always be you and your tiny existence against the great unknown and the most terrifying forces available to send you into chaos and extinction.

Do you begin to see the changes in attitude you can make towards dreams and life?

Where else can you experience before your dying days what it is like to be on the edge of extinction where you might just go over the edge to utter annihilation of ego awareness and self identity, as well as physical functioning in the body?

What must it be like to live each moment not knowing if in the next some overpowering force will rise up and shatter you, drive you mad, or at least into chaos and sickness near to death?

Yes, terrifying, and why try to change a nightmare from being the terrifying experience it can be if you will not try to immediately escape from it?

The way I train myself and others to deal with their nightmares is to stay in them as long as possible and to experience them fully. But since the nightmare verges on the chaotic I also train people to evoke integration and a healing center.

What I do not train people in is avoiding their nightmares or condemning them as somehow sick or to be gotten over or to escape from. Nor do I go along with those who advocate changing their nightmares into pleasant or healing dreams.

I want people of guts and reality, people who will stand up to life as it is and deal with it all fully. I have had people in my dream groups who have faced murder of their children, or of themselves, who have suffered terrible sicknesses as they faced their dreams in dreamwork training, who have encountered suicidal urges as part of accepting their dark side, who have suffered tremendously in dreams and life.

I do not hold truck with those who seek always a safe life or try to make things so nice and pleasant for themselves and others. The people I associate with have to be real, have to be in reality, or I will not give them energy.

The people in training with me learn to be spiritual warriors of the soul, which can mean a willingness and commitment to face whatever comes along in dreams and in waking life.

Thus we train ourselves to stay in the nightmare, not control it or change it for the better. If you trust enough to go through your nightmare you will come out to a healing place, a place of resolution in which you need no longer be afraid. I do not guarantee it but I do report that many in dreamwork training with me have done so.

I can tell you it is often a scary process for the participants but I maintain also the general principle, "trust the process." For I have found that when you are at your most desperate state help does come through from the other side.

Yet if you resist the nightmare process and flee from it then the very terrors you would not experience will turn on you in an exaggerated way and terrify you more until you close off and retreat into your definition of what is a safe life.

There is no safe life. But each must validate this reality truth for themselves. If you want to test this truth statement look back on your life and those times you tried to have only pleasant dreams and life experiences. What happened to you and for you?

Maybe you were and are one of the lucky few? Or maybe, just maybe, you have not allowed yet your nightmares to reach you and shake you up?

Help?

Stay present as long as you can. Breathe. Ground yourself in the body. Light a candle as a meditation focus. Breathe. Repeat a healing saying over and over. I have used many times in my life the saying, "Healing hands help and hold me . . . Healing hands help and hold me . . . "

Trust. Stay present. Stay committed to dealing with everything that comes your way in life, avoiding nothing.

Of course you will not always succeed at this. I don't. But make such a commitment to practice these truths in life and to do them as you can. I do and so do others who want to live all of life as fully as they can.

Strephon Kaplan-Williams
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We dream to wake to life!
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