After a while you may wonder if all this work in understanding your dreams is even worth it. It is natural to feel exhausted, like our energies could be better directed elsewhere, or to get bored or frustrated with the whole thing. When we have diligently kept a dream diary, worked hard to understand our own dream symbols at this particular time of life, patiently tried to synthesise them all into a meaningful whole and then consciously attempted to apply these messages to waking life, it can seem sometimes like we are simply going around in circles. So you have figured the baby in you dream is your new work project, and you are trying to give it attention to make it successful, while also nurturing your own inner child by having fun and still maintaining balance in your life; then to go to sleep and dream… of a baby! Again! You may wonder if anything you have done made even the slightest bit of difference.
It has. Don’t get discouraged. Our personal growth is not in a straight line, but it is not going round in circles either. Think of it more like a spiral. Even though the place may be familiar, you are not the same person who was here before, this is a different time and even the place has changed. We grow in cycles like the seasons. Just as each Spring is unlike any Spring that has ever been before or will ever be again, so too is our experience of life.
So why should we work in understanding our dreams? The short answer is of course, that we don’t have to. Millions of people around the world either don’t remember their dreams, don’t remember them well or pay them little heed. Even those with more than a passing interest rarely dedicate themselves to a path of disciplined self study, and are content with the odd discussion or flicking through a dream dictionary. And do these people seem to be missing out on anything special? Not if you don’t know what you’re missing. And you only know that once you apply yourself.
Consider this: we spend a third of our lives asleep. Many people perceive this time as wasted, which it is to a degree if you don’t do anything with it. It could be argued that these people actually spend their waking lives only half awake, for they do not understand the mysteries going on inside them every night, and every day. We take for granted that we lose consciousness every night, that our minds are filled with strange and marvellous visions and experiences. Tibetan Yogi Tenzin Wangayal Rinpoche points out the over the next ten years we will spend 3 years asleep. If we were to take ourselves to a remote monastery or some distant mountain top for three years and reflect, mediate, work on our spiritual practice and attempt to know ourselves fully, imagine what progress we could make in our lives! Imagine what amazing clarity of mind, what insights, what wisdom, what inner peace! How better equipped we could be to get the most out of the rest of our lives, to free ourselves from the illusions of fear and doubt, to unbind the chains of self limiting beliefs and behaviours that bind us, to heal our selves from the lingering pain of past hurt that continues, even though the source for it is long gone. And yet, we can do all this and more in our dreams. We can come to know ourselves, and enhance our lives, simply by practicing our dream work. And all this while still holding down a job, looking atfer the family and taking out the garbage.
Life is so short. It is so precious. We should not waste any of it, sleeping or waking. And we absolutely should not spend any of it being unhappy, when we could find a way for ourselves to be happy. So even if it feels like we are taking baby steps, at least we are learning to walk. One day we will run and even fly. If it feels like we are going in circles, at least we are moving, and remember it is only our distorted perception that makes us seem like we aren’t progressing. Given time, we will be able to look back and see how much we really have learnt and grown. But more than that, we owe it to ourselves to do everything we can to experience the magic and mystery and wonder and delight that it means to be conscious, to be human, to be alive.
We must remember to patient, persistent, and to enjoy the ride. Afertall, it will be over before we know it.