My professional life in the field of dreams began with a strange dream. To be more specific, it began as a result of a strange waking life experience that was related to a dream. One day, while sitting in my daughter’s preschool class making challah bread for Shabbat, I found myself in the middle of an interaction with her and her little three-year-old friend that aroused in me a sense of deja vu.
I’d had this interaction already — in a dream.
I’ve learned since (or remembered, rather) that it wasn’t the first precognitive dream I’d had. Since I started researching and working with dreams, I’ve come upon old journals and notebooks that reminded me I had precognitive dreams as early as high school, and possibly earlier, but with no written evidence of them.
Have you had a strange dream?
And upon waking, who did you tell it to?
When I realized what happened that morning at the preschool, I told my then-husband. To be fair, he listened, but there wasn’t a sense for me of deep listening: the kind of listening I require when I am sharing something that feels unnerving or outside my current worldview.
For me personally, this need for deep listening partially stems from a long-held concern over not being believed. It also comes from lifelong conditioning I acquired while spending a lot of my time with people who were incapable or unwilling to truly listen to me, with curiosity and engagement.
It’s only in the last ten or fifteen years that I’ve become aware of the impact on me of the absence of deep listening in my life.
Over time, my ex-husband would come to believe more and more in my precognitive dreaming experience. I would share dreams with him in advance, and so when elements in waking life appeared that seemed to validate my precognition, he started to believe in them or the possibility of them, despite his skepticism in general of psychic phenomena.
Still I felt very alone in my experience. Not my ex-husband nor my close friends were as curious about psychic dreaming as I was. At that time, I didn’t realize there were already some studies being conducted on precognition. I also didn’t realize there were already communities of professionals studying dreams, dreaming, and the role of dreaming on our spiritual development, healing, and growth.
As exhilarating as it often was to have a “strange dream,” it was also a very lonely journey.
I longed, often unaware, for companionship on the path toward understanding my dreams and other paranormal experiences.
I don’t blame my ex-husband for his inability to create a sense of deep listening for me as it related to my dreams. I wonder if it’s an unattainable desire–the expectation that someone else, less interested in dreams or consciousness, will be able to hold the kind of space those of us who are interested require.
I now have people in my life who I would consider the deepest of listeners and I am so grateful for their presence in my life and their listening, sometimes, of my dreams.
Yet, even those deep listening loved ones don’t always make me feel understood.
Strange dreams can be profound. They can be disturbing. They can be fateful, earth-shattering. They can present to us perceptions of reality we’ve never encountered before in waking life — new types of beings, new colors, new ways of interacting with our environment. In dreams, time and space can be distorted; departed loves can play alongside babies who have yet to be born.
Sure, strange dreams can remain for our entertainment only. But I believe they offer so much to us beyond simple entertainment.
Lately, I’ve been reading books and articles written about the integration process following psychedelic usage. I am not currently exploring consciousness using psychedelics, but I am very curious about accounts of others that seem to parallel experiences I and others I know have had in dreams.
Psychedelic usage among the people I know– both personally in real life and virtually–is rising. I don’t have any criticism of this trend, but I do wonder how many of those choosing to journey with psychedelic medicine have been listening to their strange dreams in the years of their lives leading up to now.
I am currently reading Consciousness Medicine: Indigenous Wisdom, Entheogens, and Expanded States of Consciousness for Healing and Growth by Francoise Bourzat, a consciousness guide and counselor who has apprenticed for more than 20 years with an indigenous Mazatec teacher. Bourzat’s approach to working with her clients, guiding them on their journey with psychedelic medicines, feels very aligned with my way of working with my own and others’ strange dreams.
In fact, over the last few years as I have considered what I want to call the work I do with clients, “dreamwork” hasn’t felt entirely accurate. The title Bourzat uses — “consciousness guide” — feels closer.
The work I engage in with myself and with clients is not just about dreams. It’s about strangeness. It’s about meeting oneself in a strange place and coming out of the strange place the same but different. It’s about reconciling the strangeness of dreams with the mundane of life, or about the earthliness felt in dreams with the sometimes dreamlike quality of waking life.
Who doesn’t need or want a guide for that?
Perhaps you lucked out in life to be born into a loving family who sees, listens to, and understands you, exactly as you are, in all your ordinariness and all your weirdness. Perhaps you were believed, or at least lovingly held every time you tried to convince your parent your imaginary friend was real, or that the monster under the bed only came out when you were alone.
Many of us weren’t believed, weren’t held with such loving compassion.
And even when we are fortunate enough to meet partners, family, and friends later on in life who can and do see us and understand us, we still may find ourselves among others with belief systems different from our own. Sometimes we need a person outside the circle of our life to listen to us deeply, to presence themselves for us, to hold space for us, to ask us the right or wrong questions, to press and push us when we resist answering, or even to rest their hand on our shoulders when we need comfort and grounding after the rug of our reality has been pulled out from under us by high strangeness.
Often times, when a friend of mine calls me up on the phone and says to me, “I had a strange dream last night,” I can still hear hesitation in their voice, even though they know they are calling someone who loves to hear others’ strange dreams. What this tells me is that most of us are not conditioned to expect deep listening or empathy from others of our dreams, and especially not our long, strange trippy ones.
Most of us also don’t expect others to take seriously our emotional response to the strangeness of the dream. We might play that down in the retelling.
If we have a dream involving an otherworldly encounter that feels vivid and “real,” we don’t expect others to believe it happened. We make light or it, or we are self-deprecating. We skim over that part or we joke about it.
What a lonely way to be.
I’ve been there. Sometimes, I still find myself there.
Even when we have less strange dreams, we often hesitate to share them or we play down our most heart-opening or heart-rending feelings, especially if those feelings contradict what we believe we are supposed to feel in waking life.
I invite you to consider who is listening to your dreams, the strange ones and the less strange.
Are you listening to them?
There is treasure to be uncovered in your strange dreams. Both for you and the one listening. Take a chance on someone and share with them your strange dream.
Ask them for deep listening. Tell them in advance how moved you were upon waking, or how disturbed.
If there is no one in your life that can hold space for deep listening of your very-strange dream, seek out a consciousness guide or a dreamworker.
We love that kind of shit. 😉