Our dream experiences generally validate our current feelings and our stuck sense of who we are, whether or not we remember them. The result is that your dreams will normally tend to cause you to regress back into your habitual status quo way of feeling and thinking. For example, if you have an inspirational, transformative awareness today, one that opens you to new possibilities and expands your sense of freedom, your dreams tonight and on successive nights are likely to ramp down and shut out the transformational nature of that experience. Examples are the exhilaration of a new romance or the transformative results of a mystical or near-death experience. What happens to them? Slowly, day by day, a normal, ongoing sense of homeostasis tends to reassert itself. The extraordinary light, light, clarity, and potential of your experience tends to diminish until you are stuck back in feeling the way you have always felt. This highly predictable process partially explains why most psychotherapy doesn’t help. You go to see your therapist. When you leave you feel less depressed or anxious. But how do you feel the next morning? Most of the time people will report that by the time the next appointment rolls around they are pretty much back to where they were before. While this does not always happen, and residues of potential often remain, it is by far the most common outcome for most of us most of the time with all sorts of transformative life experiences. 

The problem is not with your dreams but with your perception of them while you are dreaming. Even if you become lucid in your dream, the “you” that is experiencing the dream, making sense of it, and drawing conclusions about how to feel and how to respond, is the waking, stuck you. It’s the same perceptual framing that you live in day in, day out. However you normally see the world, that is the “box” into which you will fit your dream experiences. Like the robber-torturer Procrustes in ancient Greece, you cut down your experiences to fit into the space your world view allows. You will tend to exclude those things that do not make sense, which means that your dreams end up validating your waking assumptions. What can be done to keep your dreams from diluting the growth you make during your waking hours?

Integral Deep Listening provides a way for both lucid and normal dreamers to reduce this normal process, and thereby speed their development by retaining a greater percentage of transformational life experiences over a night full of dreams. The following remarkable dream is a fascinating example of that process. It was life-changing for Felix, a lucid dreamer who had the dream shortly after taking my class on Integral Deep Listening, dream yoga, and meditation.  Felix was a very strange combination of financial conservative Republican libertarian and yogi. He was a professional gambler, having spent over twenty years “investing” his wife’s income in the stock market and now had five million dollars. However, following some drug experiences in his youth, he had become a disciple of the deceased Hindu guru Neem Karoli Baba,  the guru of Ram Dass. Felix was something of a fascinating enigma to me: someone who didn’t believe in taxes, social welfare, or in much government of any sort, and who was a firm believer in the “American Dream,” but who was also a dedicated and diligent meditator as well as a talented lucid dreamer. In the last year or so Felix had made some poor investment decisions and was becoming increasingly uncomfortable with his ability to handle his fortune.  The problem was that he didn’t trust others to handle it either.  He had interviewed a number of people and found one fellow who he respected and trusted, but still wasn’t sure whether he was the right one. How could he know? How could he ever have enough trust to eliminate his nagging doubts and fears? One night, after attending my class, he had the following dream:

I am in a garden looking at three large white stones.  I am lucid, meaning that I know that I am dreaming.  I watch as the stones stand up on “legs” and sing, to the tune of “Shine on, Harvest Moon,” “Sign on, Sign on the bottom line…” I knew they were encouraging me to go with the fellow that I had interviewed the day before, but I didn’t want to be misled and have my financial life built around say, a bit of undigested tofu.  So I did something I never realized was possible before I took Dr. Dillard’s course: I asked the stones questions.  In the dream I asked the first stone, “Who are you?”  It answered, “I represent your parents.”  I then asked the same question of the second stone.  It said, “I represent your grandparents.”  Then I asked the third stone the same question.  It said, “I am your friends and mentors.”  In the dream I thought, “If the three cornerstones of my life are telling me I have to do this, then I need to do it.”

“In the following days I handed my money over to this fellow, feeling a strange sense of ease and acceptance about it, something that is unusual for me around letting go of money and control over it. Four months later I was starting to get a divorce.  It would have been a disaster for me to have been trying to manage my money and to also go through the emotional turmoil of that time. That year ended up being the second best financial year I ever had.  This fellow turned my five million into six.”

What happened? Most people would say that this was a prophetic lucid dream that Felix had interpreted in the dream itself. However, not only did Felix know the “meaning” of the dream, it resulted in a course of action that had huge repercussions for his financial security for the rest of his life. In the dream, Felix used his lucidity not to change the dream, or to practice, in an environment free from consequence, some skill set which he wanted to develop. He had incubated this dream based on setting a clear purpose or goal: “Where is the best place for me to put my money?” In the dream Felix suspended his waking desires and agenda and instead asked questions, and listened. This is as radical as it is transformative, because normally we assume we don’t have to ask questions of our dream experience, as explained above; we assume we are accurately perceiving dream circumstances and responding to them appropriately. However, waking interviewing of characters from recalled dreams almost always demonstrates that we are acting within our dreams on partial, limited, and distorted assumptions that validate both our fears and the conclusions of our childhood scripting.  For example, we routinely see dream monsters or out of control situations, like fires, as threats and respond with fear, running, fighting, changing the dream, dreaming something else, or waking up to escape. All of these responses tend to validate our assumption in the dream that the “threat” was real. 

What Felix learned from listening within his dream made a huge difference in his life. He could let go of his money and trust, something he couldn’t do before. He knew down deep that he was making a sound decision. Would that information have bubbled up into consciousness on its own without lucidity or without practicing IDL in his dream? Possibly. Felix became a conscious co-creator and supporter of a pattern that wanted to express itself in his life. By doing so, he increased both the likelihood that would happen and placed himself in a position of awareness and understanding that allowed him to benefit all the more.

Here is the process that Fred used and that IDL recommends to you:

– Incubate a clear goal that implies a decision. Notice that Felix had the goal of finding a financial advisor and already was inclined toward a particular course of action (to trust this one advisor).

– Set a clear intention to ask dream characters questions about your decision and to remember what they say.

– Check what you hear against the best advice you have from waking “experts” and authorities and then check both with your gut.

How would your life be different if you could access such a sense of confidence in your life direction?  If you experiment with this process, please write us and let us know what you discover!