|by Devan Duke|
A column dedicated to exploring the role of dreams, voices, and visions in the integral yoga.
by Douglas Mcelheny
In my last article I talked about the problems I’ve been having with depression and anxiety as a result of living with chronic pain and showed how some dreams helped me in dealing with that. This article will be a continuation of that and includes two dreams. This is the first:
A few days before I had this dream I had gone to the dentist to have two fillings repaired in my top right back molar and my bottom right back molar. They were both a little sensitive for a few days, which is not uncommon I guess. Three days later when I got up they were both noticeably better so I thought the thing was done with. Then I had lunch at work and after that I suddenly had major pain in both teeth but especially on the bottom. The pain went up into my jaw joint making it difficult to chew as well as speak.
Now for the first 35 years of my life I had a sort of faith that I think most people have while they’re young that pains and things like this will heal and go away. The first major blow to that faith was when I did something to my back at a yoga class and the problem never went away. That wasn’t as devastating as it might have been (though it was devastating enough) since I had had an injury to my back 10 years before as a result of a fall and it was pretty clear these back problems were related to that. A year and a half later though and without any apparent injury both my knees started killing me. There was no redness or swelling or anything. I went to numerous doctors and had every test imaginable but modern medicine was unable to determine exactly what was causing my knee pain. So I’ve just been living with it. The problem I have now though now is when something like this tooth pain pops up the vital gets in a panic that it will never go away and become a permanent affliction like my knees and back. So the vital was in a panic about this tooth pain.
This latest vital problem had been going on for a couple of days as the tooth pain persisted. In the midst this difficulty I had this dream:
I’m on the roof of a building as the observer. I see a young woman being menaced by this strange contraption made out of spare parts like boxes, pipes etc. The front of it has a sort of appendage with a vinyl record on the end whirling like a buzz saw. The young woman is initially terrorized but she discovers that she is able to stop the record from spinning by pressing her palms on the side of it. No longer afraid, she is examining the machine and handling some other records attached to it which are still in their cases. Then suddenly one of the records pops out of its case and embeds itself in her. It went into her chest or her stomach of maybe both. I can’t remember for sure.
Upon awakening I reflected on the dream and was able to see it’s meaning. It was clear that the contraption in the dream represented these gloom and doom thoughts about my tooth pain spinning in my head like a broken record. The girl I believe represented me or more specifically my vital and how it was being menaced by these thoughts.
Now this wasn’t exactly a stunning revelation but the dream gave me such a clear picture of what was going on that I was able to dig my heels in and break the cycle. Then for a few days after that the dream stuck with me and helped me to stay vigilant against the thoughts. After a time though the dream went out of my conscious mind as I have found every helpful dream, vision, insight or thing you read recently eventually does. Then sooner or later (often much later in my case at least) the next dream, vision or whatever comes along and you can grab on to that for a while. That just seems to be the way the process works.
In this case the next ‘thing’ came along two days later in the form of this dream:
Had a dream about a girl I know through work named Christina. There were numerous events in the dream which I don’t remember exactly but the interesting point is that throughout the dream she went back and forth from being her normal slender attractive self to being grossly fat. She would get so fat she looked like Jabba the Hutt. She had this disease called ‘Surge’ which caused her to gain and lose weight with great rapidity. When the dream ended she and I were traveling in a car together and she was driving. She was slender and attractive and I could feel desire but was trying not to let it have its play. Instead I was asking her about her dreams.
At this point, I was managing to keep from getting possessed by anxiety about my tooth pain but waves of it would come throughout the day. I knew how miserable I’d be if one of those waves were to settle in and stay so I did my best to resist getting pulled in. By doing this, the wave would move out after a little while and I’d be clear again.
Like the last dream this one is using a woman to represent my vital and shows how it was getting ‘fattened up’ on these surges of anxiety which despite their unpleasantness are still a source of a perverse pleasure; i.e. drama, feeling sorry for oneself, etc. But in the dream Christina didn’t stay fat the whole time. She would slim down again, which is what would happen since I resisted hooking in to the surges and they eventually moved out of the consciousness until the next surge came along.
I definitely remember the moment when I put two and two together that day and saw the meaning of the dream and what was going on. If I hadn’t seen that maybe I would have eventually gotten sucked in definitively by one of the surges. It’s hard to say since I was already resisting them but the dream drove the point home that if one resists the movement it will move out and the vital will ‘slim down’ again. This wasn’t an understanding that was new to me but I guess for whatever reason I needed it to be pointed out again. I’m happy to say that the tooth pain didn’t stay and become an ongoing problem so perhaps the dreams came to keep that from happening. When my knees first started hurting it was extremely painful and I was completely swallowed up in the fear that it wasn’t going to go away. It’s hard to know for sure but maybe that’s one of the reasons why it didn’t.
To end this article I wanted to reiterate what I said above and that is that my life is not a continuous succession of helpful dreams, or visions or things I’ve read that my mind reflects on throughout the day. It’s quite the opposite in fact. Most of the time life I’m just dealing with the drudge of day-to-day living and not feeling helped or inspired by anything and it was like that even before I had to live with chronic pain. I think I’m probably the rule and not the exception so I just wanted to say that because it might be helpful to others reading this who are in the same boat.