(and them some)
Of what significance are dreams?
magic or mystery to them? Are they prognosticative? Intuitive? Do they open portals to other realms of awareness? Are they worth the effort?
There are no easy answers to these questions. The only thing for
certain is the more attention you give to dreams, the more they enter into your life.
I sometimes like to think there's a bit of Aborigine in some of us, at least when sorting out our dreams. Like our Aborigine
friends we sometimes wake from our Dreamtime sensing echos of profound reality lingering from the events of our evening sojourn. We may remember having left our bodies, or flying, or even doing things not possible in
wake time, then puzzling over their meaning, and relevance.
For more insight, itís worthwhile to read up on how the Aborigines perceive their Dreamtime (sometimes referred to as ďall at once timeĒ) vis a vis what
we think of as reality (ďone after another timeĒ). For them, Dreamtime is the reality from where soul emerges and ultimately returns. The relationship is tactile, and there is traction between the two worlds. According
to their view it is the spirit beings in Dreamtime who created and sculpted the earth, and they hold that their own personal souls are rooted in the earth. Reality and Dreamtime are ultimately one. For that reason,
Aborigines play close attention and regard to their dreams.
Of course, we live in a modern culture. The images of our Dreamtime have been hijacked by complexity and the affairs of life which we have defined to be
more important. In spite of this, it remains my experience the more attention you pay to your dreams, the more insight and information they will deliver to your life and benefit.
It there an element of magic or mystery? Yes.
Are they prognosticative? Can't say for sure.
Do they open portals to other realms of awareness? Yes, but not so simply as stated.
Dreams allow us to
exist outside ourselves and, using an alternate reality, to replay portions of our lives which have checkmated in the material world. In Dreamtime, impediments are no longer absolute factors. Released from constraints
and inhibitions, we gain considerable insight into areas of growth often glossed over during our manifest routines.
Are dreams worth the effort? Yes! The more you attend to your dreams, the more they will
attend to you. As a start, put a notebook or digital recorder beside your bed. That act alone will cause you to awaken after relevant dreams, those which contain messages or events targeted to your distinct station, and
needs. Record all you can remember before going back to sleep. In time you will have a roadmap for reflection, direct from the dream universe, which may well prove of value in the absolute present.
There is a
story about Cheng Man Ching, the legendary Tai Chi Master. He had been a student of Yang Cheng Fu, and was at first, not considered particularly outstanding in his group.
As he told it, he achieved deep insight
after experiencing a dream in which he had no arms. He recalls it to have been a breakthrough moment, remembering the sense of rootedness, and the ability to emit energy at will. On reflection, he concluded his
inclination to favor his arms had gotten in the way and was impeding his progress. The dream was telling him his outlook was wrong.
He added that on returning to class with the new insight, he was able to push
through prior limitations into a realm where his intent directly moved his Chi with confidence and in accordance to his will, ultimately coalescing as Ji or energy where targeted.
This has been at least
anecdotally corroborated by accounts of others who knew him from that period, relating his impressive gains over a compressed span of time, leading them to conclude he had achieved deep insight.
The message of no
arms remained in his lectures for the balance of his teaching career, "Tai Chi Chuan has no arms, if it has arms, it is not Tai Chi Chuan."
I relate the story of Cheng Man Ching because it may prove of
value to you. He had reached a plateau, and was frozen at that level, but deeply wished to break through to the realm of his teacher, the supremely gifted Yang Cheng Fu.
It was not happening in real time,
something was missing, the more he focused on his arms, the more he remained locked in place, bounded by his limitations.
After the dream, he redirected his consciousness from his hands into every other part of
his body, essentially awakening the entire body unit from its sleep, causing it to function with the same underlying efficiency and intimacy the hands and arms once had, except they were now empty, and everything
was emitting from a deeper place, subject to his will.
Think of this as waking the dragon.
Therein is the benefit, and the prime rational for giving due weight and consideration to your dreams. Even when
you are stuck, limited to a plateau of your conscious existence, there is another part of you which is constantly chipping away at those limitations and obstacles, and sending messages of guidance.
That is the ultimate gift of Dreamtime.
To drive this point across, and to get you
properly calibrated, I will give you a sample of my own experiences with Dreamtime, looking first at three specific dreams and what they meant to my practice, then sharing a few random examples of just how interesting
(weird???) this can all get.
Dream #1 - Peng:
In this dream, Cheng Man Ching is simply using peng. I believe part of the
dream was subconsciously tied to several short video clips I had seen circulating on the internet, showing Master Cheng using peng to dispatch his partners.
In the dream, Cheng Man Ching is executing the move
repeatedly, as I am standing alongside and watching from his left. Suddenly, I start seeing subtle nuances in his posture combined with the elegance of his timing as he sets up the move. I then realize the power is not
in his hands, where I had been looking for it. It is in his generalship, his physical occupation (ďstealing the centerĒ, if you will) and dispossession of the partner's center, without the partner ever becoming aware.
The arm, which is executing the peng is no longer an arm using muscle, or bio-mechanical energy. It has become like the bumper of a car, and when the bumper contacts the attacker, with the car behind it, the attacker
doesn't have a chance. When I awoke from the dream, I intuitively understood all he was doing, and my own execution changed dramatically from the very next day.
Hereís a Look at Cheng Man Ching
Dream #2 - Cloud Hands:
In this dream, I am executing the "cloud hands" move. As I am doing cloud hands, my hands are floating about, when suddenly I no longer feel my arms and hands. Rather, it is my thought or
intent floating about. I actually feel my intent and presence where my arms had been, and likewise feel the continuing movement, without the intercession of arms. Linked to my intent is a very large
energy subject to my will. In the dream, the energy, while subject to my will, is not dependent on my arms or hands. Instead, my arms and hands are there, and I am still doing cloud hands, but
what is really happening is beneath the surface, and very big, like a wave. When I awoke from the dream, I viscerally understood the significance of Master Cheng's dream where he had no arms.
There were no overnight performance changes in the aftermath. However, over a period of several months, a deep relaxation developed in my arm movements, and that has remained. Also, a
connection emerged between my thought, my legs, my breathing, and the empty conduit which had once been my arms and hands, but which had now become an integrated delivery system.
An example of Cloud Hands
Dream #3 - Rooting:
I am the focus in this dream. Rather, I am observing myself talking about rooting with some people. I begin to root, using concepts of substantial and insubstantial, making my lead leg (I
believe it was my left but am uncertain) substantial. Suddenly it begins to take its own root, only this time, the root is larger, deeper and more significant than anything I every imagined as being
possible. It was huge! I let the others try to move me, as they tried, they bounced off. Literally, relative to them, I had become an immovable object. Then I began to push them with my hands.
There was significant power, but the real transmission came when I put my hands on them, and connected the thought to my ground. Off they flew, with only the wings of my thought.
These three dreams occurred over quite a span of time. I didn't log the dates, but it may have been 2-3 years. You can see how they relate, in fact it's almost like a single unifying thread delivered or
split into three segments, each dependant on the one previous, but delivered only as the preceding lesson had been properly nurtured.
Again, the mystery and enchantment of Dreamtime.
Now, by way of wrapping up, letís have a look at what might be categorized as random dream or near dream events, which might occur at any time, possibly even triggered by life events or other
issues of the moment. Letís see how they stack against reality. Make of them what you will!
Dream #4 - Eagle Overhead:
Here, I am soaring with a bald eagle. Itís a very uplifting dream, exhilarating, very genuine in sensation. It begins in my backyard and there is a magnificent bald eagle flying low overhead. It's
like we're communicating, and he's silently trying to encourage me. Somehow, I know what it wants. Using my mind, I begin to lift from the ground and fly, but it's clearly very tricky, I'm
clumsy at first, but start to gain control and almost immediately am doing some clumsy turnovers and rolls. The eagle is receptive and encouraging, almost doing an aerial dance with me, at very low
speed and with great control. Iím not using wings, itís all cerebral, mind driven. I use my will to conjure it, then it starts happening. Clearly, I am struggling like a bird on its first flight. Everything
is a challenge, turning, rising, descending, controlling. All take great focus, and even then, lack precision. Iím overcome by the magnitude of the experience, but then, I begin angling and start
trying to fly along with the eagle. Amazingly, as I struggle with my clumsiness, the eagle clearly welcomes my efforts. I know this because it is mimicking my motions, close beside me, as though
affirming, demonstrating and encouraging me to find the right method.
Dream #5 - Subliminal guidance?
This is an example of a dream of questionable significance (but you can never be sure, so I recorded it), especially when compared to the others. I'm doing something that relates to
applications and self defense, and in the dream I am led to believe I am supposed to be doing the rolling knuckle strike that is near the end of the Yang form. That's where the right hand swings
low, almost like rolling a bowling ball and goes forward. Thereís the sense I'm supposed to learn something by doing it. Within the dream, I donít get the significance, and the dream keeps me
focused on the motion, repeating it, until I eventually awaken, frustrated.
Iím still working on that one. Every time Iím doing the form, when I get to that point, itís like
thereís something on the tip of my tongue trying to get out, but canít. If it ever comes, Iíll share it with you.
Dream #6 - Shangrila?
I wouldn't normally categorize this as a Tai Chi dream, except that I awoke feeling this had something to do with Tai Chi and personal growth. The dream was about my home, essentially my
current physical home/house, but it was in a different location, this location was an expansive area that belonged to some entity. I almost felt as though it were a business entity, but that was never
stated, just that the land and area around my dream house was part of an expanse under development. The deployment was like a park, but not a park, more like a cultivated space.
Throughout the space there were ornamental artifacts, some with Chinese ideographs, and ornamental landscaping with abalone shell and mother of pearl virtually everywhere, it looked like a
bona fide jade garden, but it wasn't jade, it was more multicolored abalone like shell and mother of pearl. I felt that those materials reflected on me somehow. As I walked, it seemed very spacious,
and I felt very content, even blessed, comfortable that if my home had to be here for the rest of my days, it would be all right. Then I awoke, with the experience still vivid and fresh in my memory.
Dream #7 - Ji:
Actually not a dream ... but a dreamlike feeling while conscious (I cite this example because it
sometimes happens, and you should know about it). In this instance, I am working with some students on the concept of ďJiĒ. As Iím demonstrating it to the two gentlemen, they ask how it
might be applied. I had one attack me and I applied ďJiĒ to his body, literally sending him off into space and into a wall. He returned saying something to the effect that if I had done it any more
robustly, it could have killed him. I did not feel I had put very much into the move.
I had never done it that way before, or even that explosively. I simply knew to do it like that in the
particular moment, and afterwards have been able to replicate the experience. The knowledge revealed itself to me. It felt like a dream, but I was wide awake.
Dream #8 - Eagle Overhead (part 2):
This, too was not a dream. I am in my back yard working on movement and flow (I should
explain, my yard is very large, I frequently use it as a place where I can work out alone or with students and where there is privacy). In the air above me, there is in fact a baby bald eagle. The
hawk appeared to be alone and it looked to be flying for the first time. At least that was the impression. What struck me was its maneuvering within just a few feet above where I was
standing, centered on me, and its movements were much like my own were in Dream #4. I remember first feeling how strange it all was, and I looked around to see if any neighbors were
sharing the experience (I was in fact alone). The creature emitted its eagle screeches, first in anxiety as it struggled to control its flight, but before long the calls took on a tone of delight and wonder, as
the bird quickly integrated its movement into artful flight. It circled over me for some time, a show for my eyes only. Time froze as I savored the moment. Under my scrutiny the raptor acquired
command, then lifted. From the ground you could see its wings catch the currents of air, floating to a confident soar, ultimately ascending heavenward.
It was in some ways an affirming postcard from the other side.