5. Dialogue with Dream Beings
5.1 Basic Technique
The dialogue with dream beings is a more advanced form of unveiling the meaning of dream symbols. To do this it uses an active and open dialogue between our conscious and a being we encountered in our dreams. Where dream symbols remained passive previously a dream being takes an active stance in helping us to understand its nature and meaning in context of our dreams.
Generally it makes a lot of sense starting to practice FA before proceeding to this technique. FA helps us in gaining a more conscious access to our associations and unconscious usage of symbols. It also presents an important step in becoming more objective and less biased about emotionally charged encounters and experiences in our dreams. These are essential skills before starting to engage with dream beings in active dialogues. As only then are we prepared to acknowledge every being in our dreams - whether pleasant and sympathetic or aggressive and daunting - as a living creature in its own right.
Here are the four steps to conduct successful dialogues with dream beings:
I. Deep Relaxiation
Sit or lay down comfortably. Ensure you are taking a position that will be comfortable over a longer time and you don’t need to change position later in the process. The more relaxed your physical body, your muscle tone and senses will be the better the quality of your dream conversation. Personally, I strongly recommend to learn and practice a professional relaxation technique - such as Pranayama, Autogenic Training or Deep Muscle Relaxation - before advancing to this step of dream work. Once your mind and body are fully relaxed return to the specific dream being you want to talk to.
II. Initiating Dialogue
Think of the dream being and allow it to fill with life again. Once you can sense the same emotions you felt when encountering this being during your dream you have sufficiently revived the dream being. Now you can start a dialogue with the creature. Great questions to kick off the conversation are: “Who are you?”, “What do you want?” or “Why did you do that?”. Then try to understand the response of the dream being. Normally we realize its reply intuitively. This happens when we wait for an answer and suddenly find a thought or statement in our mind that appeared out of nowhere. Such a reply can consist of a single word or an elaborate explanation. It can be mundane, meaningless or surprising. Whatever it is, it is important to trust the answer of the dream being. In case the reply is contradictory to your own thoughts or believes it is a sign that you are certainly on the right path. The conscious of our dream beings springs from deep and often autonomous wells in our subconscious.
III. Continuing Dialogue
In case the dream being’s reply was obscure or unsatisfactory you can now continue to engage in a conversation with it. Our most important skill in dialogues likes this is to react openly and spontaneously to unforeseen and surprising turns in the conversation. Dream beings will often be extremely unpretentious and straight forward about their intent, desires or motives. This requires us to be equally prepared to spontaneously react to such open and sometimes crass statements.
IV. Exiting Dialogue
When you feel you received the desired information from the dream being you can say goodbye and slowly return to your daytime conscious. Even if at this point the entire content of your conversation is still present in your mind, this is the time to take specific notes about everything you have said and heard. The ability of our minds to allow thoughts and insights that emerged from our subconscious to slip back to where they came from is just amazing. Thoughts that appear to be crystal clear and of life-changing force can disappear over a visit to the bathroom. We need to support our conscious in getting ready to digest and integrate these new found and often surprising informations. Capturing every perl of insight and seemingly meaningless detail in writing and revisiting our notes at a later point is just what it takes to do so.
Note: It is completely up to you if you want to follow this traditional instruction to dialogues with dream beings. You can also think of and experiment with many alternatives, such as returning to your dream and conversing with your own Dream-Self rather than another dream being. Similarly you should feel free to talk to all sort of dream beings - may they be humans, animals, plants, crystals, elements, angels or demons, inanimate objects or spheres of light and darkness. Everything in our dream landscapes can gain consciousness if we allow it to.
Once you are more experienced in this technique you will be able to conduct it sitting at your desk, a blank paper in front of you and a pen in your hand. Write down your questions on the left side and note the dream being’s replies on the right. Begin with the first question on the left and listen to the answer of the dream being, allow it to come back to life and fill your mind with its voice. Don’t interfere or push for an answer. At this point your experience with this technique will allow you to commune with dream beings without going through a full muscle relaxation exercise before. If you feel the voice of the dream being is muffled or less clear, however, feel free to return to the approach outlined above.
Try to be aware of how this technique changes your experiences during your actual dreams over time? It is quite common that once such dialogues with dream beings have become a habit and recurring practice they are adopted by our subconscious and applied while we are dreaming... We often find ourselves engaging more directly with dream creatures, widening our spectrum of possible actions and encounters and reducing our previous limitations in emotionally charged situations. Even though these techniques are concerned with what happens during our dream time, they are still powerful techniques of personal freedom.
Finally, let’s clarify a few laws of dream nature that differ from our daytime reality:
- A dreamer cannot die. Whenever our Dream-Self is about to die we are approaching a state of transition or transformation; it shouldn’t stop the plot or narration of our dream experience.
- Dream objects only exists for as long as we pay attention to them. This is not only true for dream beings and objects but also for emotions, physical feelings or pain.
- Everything imagined in a dream will materialize or take place instantly. Fear creates attackers, affection creates friendly encounters, etc. There is no border between phantasy and experience in dreams.
- Events are connected by associations rather than logic. Associations can be created by similarities, differences, emotions and/or memories.
... observe your own dreams. What other laws of dream nature can you discover?
5.2 Dominant Dream Beings
All of us have encountered dominant dream beings in their dreams. These types of beings besiege our Dream-Selves, they harm us or force decisions or actions upon us which we hadn’t chosen voluntarily. The crucial attribute of all dominant dream beings is that they take an aggressive stance at limiting our freedom of action and development. Their presence and influence constrain our Dream-Selves’ ability to act, develop, unfold and discover new possibilities. It’s through their influence that our dreamworld becomes less rich and diverse... and often they represent inner forces that have a similar effect on our waking selves.
Roughly we can categorize dominant dream beings into two different types: on the one hand we will find archaic dream beings. These tend to be mighty, wild and unconstrained beings, e.g. forces of nature, monsters or murderers. On the other hand we find authoritarian dream beings such as parents, teachers, priests or bosses. The former category express inner needs, feelings, desires und drives which the dreamer suppresses during daytime. The former category tends to represent ethical, moral or social attitudes which often correspond to the current zeitgeist. The former will be overwhelming in their appearance; the later seem to be always right in their judgments.
5.3 Authoritarian Dream Beings
Irrespective if during our actual dream or in a subsequent dialogue with an authoritarian dream being - the basic ground rule remains the same: our first and foremost goal is to engage the being into a conversation. We will not let up until the dialogues has ended in mutual agreement, an acceptable compromise or - in some cases - in physical victory over the dominant dream being. Sometimes this can lead to rather tedious conversations as our adversary will most definitely try to play tricks on us and will might proof to be incredibly stubborn. Forcing our Dream-Selves to give up self-assertion and to bow to the judgment or will of the authoritarian dream being will be their central goal.
Often the crucial turning point in these conversation takes place when we can convince the dominant dream being of the simple fact that they are not flawed. This means that first and foremost we need to be ready to accept the dream being for what it is - and find a place and mean for it in our dreamworld. Once we achieve this and we prove to the dream being that we don’t intend to change or subjugate it they will be ready to give up their radical point of views. It weakens their authority immensely if they realize that reality is more diverse than they thought - and doesn’t allow a black-or-white choice only.
In order for an authoritarian dream being to give up some of its authority we need to understand its weaknesses and possible fears. And in many cases we won’t be able to spot these if we play fair. The nature of the dream being might force us to play as dirty as they do on us - and take the same ruthless steps against it they would against our Dream-Selves. Ultimately this can even lead to physical conflict - the most raw version of proving the authoritarian dream being that all its authority will not suffice to rule over our dreamworld. Contrariwise the situation might demand an incredible amount of patience from us: if the dream being is deliberately slow in giving answers to our questions or evades we might face a dogged verbal fight over dominance and submission.
5.4. Archaic Dream Beings
Let’s come back to the other category of dominant dream beings. Here our approach will be slightly different. Rather than focusing to engage in a dialogue and negotiate a compromise these types of raw powers first and foremost need to be constrained and stopped in their attacks. Thus initiation of a dialogue with an archaic dream being counts as our first victory already. It represents the willingness of the dream being to engage with - rather than destroy - our Dream-Selves and face the actual problem.
In dialogues with archaic dream beings our primary goal is to understand its motivation and desire. Once we spot and understand their drive we can explore alternative ways to satisfy the needs of the dream being as well as our Dream-Selves. Skills in creating win-win situations will be hugely helpful at this stage.
However, whatever form and shape our discussion with the dream being might take, we need to make sure that we don’t subject to it under any circumstances. In case our dialogue should come to a complete halt or the tension in our conversation raises too high a physical confrontation as the last resort is still preferable to a complete submission of our Dream-Selves.
6. Feeding Aggressive Dream Beings
Let’s pause and reflect for a moment. The above approach to engaging with dominant dream beings is clearly working and has been part of dream magic tradition for a long period. The risk, however, is that we over-protect our Dream-Selves in an environment where it is simply one element of many... Should we fail to get the balance right between empathy and guidance to these aggressive subconscious beings we might simply treat their desire for dominance with our own. And at the end we might not get anywhere - as we are repeating the same male-chauvinistic patterns of self-assertion and pride that keep our daytime reality from becoming a better place already...
So maybe it’s time to explore an alternative way of dealing with aggressive dream beings? And rather than trying to understand them but to dominate them in case of conflict - why not try to understand them and then give them what they desire selflessly? Now this might sound strange, but follow me - there is an ancient shamanic practice from Tibet from which we might be able to learn.
Contrary to the above approach of dominating your dream beings in case of conflict and controversy there is a different, more creative approach we can chose. I haven’t found this process being described in any literature on dreams, yet in Tsultrim Allione’s book ‘Feeding your Demons - Ancient Wisdom for Resolving Inner Conflict’.
Allione is a Tibetan Buddhist teacher who - after a long and enduring personal journey of striving to combine western living with the power of ancient Tibetan and Tantric meditation techniques - created a simple five step process to resolve inner conflict. This process draws heavily from the tantric practice of Chöd. Chöd often is translated as ‘cutting through the ego’ as its practice revolves around the self-sacrifice of the practitioner to the demons he evoked. Milarepa described the inner and outer aspects of Chöd as follows:
“External chod is to wander in fearful places where there are deities and demons. Internal chod is to offer one's own body as food to the deities and demons. Ultimate chod is to realize the true nature of the mind and cut through the fine strand of hair of subtle ignorance.”
Milarepa (c. 1052—c. 1135 CE)
While the traditional practice of Chöd is an advanced shamanic technique Allione simplified and adjusted the approach. She basically kept the essence of the teaching alive but made it accessible to non-Tibetan practitioners. The goal of the practice is not at all to realize the illusion of the demons or gods that torment us. Actually my advise is to not worry about the question of reality or illusion of our demons at all. Just like anything we have worked on before in these chapters, our dream demons represent beings we can encounter, talk to and engage with. They might transform more rapidly and fundamentally than our waking selves ever will. Yet what matters is that we are able to learn from and work with them. And that we ultimately transform them from adversaries to allies.
Four our purpose we will slightly adopt the Chöd inspired five step process of feeding your demons as created by Allione. Instead of working generally with inner demons we will apply it to dominant dream beings specifically. Moreover, we will label and structure the experience according to a magical ritual. As you can see the process follows a similar structure. However, instead of binding and subjugating the demon at the climax of the rite we will feed it. Our goal is to satisfy the deep rooted desire of the aggressive dream being; to put to rest the very force that allowed it to come to life and remained unrelieved and unsatisfied for a very long time. Once the inner fire and desire of the dream being subsides it is likely to change its form, to transform and give way to a powerful ally that used to be hidden from us.
Note: If you intent to work with this practice in more depth there is no way around reading Allione’s book. It provides many real-life examples and testimonial stories of people who successfully worked with inner demons and will bring the process to life in a very plain and simple light. If you can’t afford the book, you will find the adjusted skeleton of the exercise below. In addition I still recommend this series of articles at Tricycle as a great starting to create a deeper understanding of the practice.
The first three steps of the process will allow you to evoke the aggressive dream being you want to work with, to bring it back to life - and to take its place. At the end of these first three steps you will know exactly how it feels to be this dream being and what its underlying - and often hidden - need is. Here is how it works:
The following three steps allow you to feed the aggressive dream being. Rather than resisting or even fighting it we will feed it to complete satisfaction. Our unlimited source of food will be ourselves. So this is the moment of self-sacrifice, of giving up and letting go in the spirit of stilling the deep rooted desires that we used to hide from ourselves. Here is how it continues:
Okay, if you have made it to this point you either had a long online read - or you changed your dream-life. It is your choice. All the techniques described above will work once brought to live in your own and personal way. None of them need to be followed by the letter: We should feel as explorers discovering blank spots on our consciousness and reality maps - not as slaves following the draconic orders of traditional dream magic instructions.
There is so much more literature out there on this topic obviously, so many different exercises and approaches still to be shared and explored. The intention of these pages, however, is to be a first starting point, a launch pad into your own world and magic of the dreams.
If you are happy to share your own experience and explorations I would be delighted to hear back. Traveling in a community is always nicer than on your own. Here is to all the night-time adventures waiting to be discovered by our conscious minds. Here is to all the dream beings waiting for us to engage with them...
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