This quote/image about our “propensity” for certain behaviors comes from Pema Chodron’s book, Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change. Ms. Chodron oftens writes and speaks about “shenpa,” which I’ll describe as some combination of “things that trigger us,” along with how we react to those triggers.
Introduction: After a long hiatus, during the last week I finally got back into a consistent meditation routine. As usual, this helps me remember my dreams better, and to also have lucid dreams. Last night that combined with something else I had thought about casually recently: Wouldn’t it be nice to be young again, and if I was young again, what would I do differently?
In one of my ongoing dream series I’m a young man who works at a restaurant at night. Two nights ago I was working there when a female co-worker told me she bought a Christmas gift for me, and wanted to see if we could do a gift exchange. I hadn’t gotten her anything yet, so I said something like, “I, I ... I can’t do it right now because <insert excuse here>. How about tomorrow?”
After work I went out to buy something for her. “Think, think,” I said to myself, probing my dream memory, “what would be a nice gift?” Then I remembered that a few weeks ago she told me about something she always wanted when she was younger, so I went out and found that item, and wrapped it up.
Last night we exchanged gifts during a break at work. She opened hers first, and when she saw it she began to cry. “Uh-oh,” I thought, “now you’ve gone and made her cry. This might not be good.” But then she said it was beautiful and thoughtful, and said her gift to me was nothing compared to it.
Tonight I think I’m going to call in sick to work, or maybe just stay up all night and binge-watch Stranger Things.
I wake up at 3:40am, hearing something dripping. I follow the sound around the new apartment until I find that it’s coming from the refrigerator. Looking around, I don’t see any water on the floor, inside the refrigerator compartment, or in the freezer. My guess is that this is what it sounds like when it defrosts. I have a sip of water and go back to bed.
I wake up some time later. It’s bright, so I don’t want to open my eyes. I’m enjoying a comfortable rest, and the pillow and sheets smell fresh and clean.
Why is it so bright? I haven’t been here long, but I know that the Sun rises on the other side of the building, and my bedroom only get indirect light in the morning.
Without moving my body, I open my eyes and look around. I see enough to know that I’m in a hospital.
I meditated last night until I started falling asleep. I kept trying to fight through the sleepiness, but it was to no avail.
I got up, went to bed, and almost immediately had one of those “You’re not Al, you’re somebody else” dream or dream-like experiences (like when Captain Picard went unconscious on the bridge and lived another life). After a long period of time I woke up in a bed with tears streaming down my cheeks because of what had just happened. (A friend died in my arms.) I sat up, looked around, but couldn’t figure out who or where I was. With my body/brain/mind rejecting the situation, I barfed into the trash can by the bedside. I was glad someone put that there.
After somewhere between thirty and ninety seconds I remembered who/where I am. With my body shaking as usual after one of these experiences, and not wanting to go back to sleep, I bundled up and went for a long, cold, after-midnight November walk. The clear sky was beautiful, and I was glad to be alive, even if I felt like crap. I made a note to myself that I need to take midnight walks more often, I appreciate the solitude.
~ November 12, 2015
I wasn’t feeling well this afternoon, so I decided to lay down for a while and just focus on my breathing.
A little later in the day I was standing in my kitchen, cutting some vegetables and humming Tina Turner’s “Peace Mantra” song, when my phone started playing a ringtone. I liked the ringtone, but it was a song I had never heard before.
I set my cutting knife down and started wiping off my hands so I could answer the phone when I thought, “Wait, I laid down to take a nap, and I don’t remember waking up from that. This is a dream, isn’t it?”
~ October 28, 2016
“Eventually we develop a continuity of awareness that allows us to maintain full awareness during dream as well as in waking life.”
~ from the book, The Tibetan Yogas Of Dream And Sleep
Today is a day off for me, so when I woke up and laid in bed with my eyes closed and noticed that the dreams were still playing, I decided to let them continue to roll on while I lay there awake.
After the same dream kept replaying itself in different ways, I noticed that an old woman was usually standing behind me and to my right, observing the dreams. I didn’t bother to ask her who she was, I just jumped right to my main question: “Why am I seeing these things?”
She answered, “You need to resolve these situations to your own satisfaction.”
So I laid there for about two hours — about the length of going out to see a movie, I figured — letting the dreams go on and trying to understand and somehow “resolve” them. The old woman was always there, so every once in a while I turned to her and asked her another question. She willingly answered everything I asked.
A woman in a dream this morning was quite distraught and spoke only Spanish. I tried communicating by speaking very slowly (“Why .. are .. you .. here?”, “You're .. in .. the .. wrong .. dream”), but that didn’t help at all.
Notes from a long, ongoing dream this morning:
- some sort of wild thing in the basement of a home was killing things - it was like the basements of many (or all) homes were connected - people were trying to kill it with guns and rifles - somehow we realized it was an electromagnetic thing, not human or animal - realized we couldn’t kill it with guns and rifles - as we were having this realization, Monk appeared and figured out the thing was feeding off of anger and hate - we put the weapons down and focused on love, even just the small things we loved - no matter how scary things got, we kept focusing on love - we were outside on the grass, and in time the thing came to the surface - it emerged as a combination of a lion with a female human head - it was in great pain and the face was peeling off, shedding - we were afraid, but kept focusing on love - then it morphed into a complete human female - in time the female didn’t die ... the shedding finished, and it was freed
I don’t know if there’s a metaphor in there or not, but it was an interesting morning.