The Dream World

The mind was operating poorly this morning. Worse than yesterday.

Deep fog/dullness, powerful distracting thoughts and feelings, and an inability to conjure up the numbers in the imagination.

I couldn’t get there at all – until I jumped up the effort for a moment 45 minutes into the practice, made brief contact, then lost them again.

Near the end of practice things organized, I made contact consistently for two minutes, then lost it for the final time.

I saw the last Star Wars movie yesterday. I was 17 years old when the first one came out. I can’t overstate the impact it had on me. I never became a fan-boy because I didn’t like the later movies but the first one remains at the top of my all-time best movies list despite having seen many movies equally as powerful. The modern reset of the series by JJ Abrams has been well done. He captured something of the spirit of the first one in the first two movies but he outdid himself with the last movie. It was brillinant. Almost every touch was perfect. I sat in awe in the IMAX theater from start to finish, totally engaged and identified with the story and characters. Joy!

Much of the tale describes what happens during a meditation sit as the disparate parts of consciousness work to sort themselves out and assert dominance.

If your practice doesn’t take you there any more you aren’t sitting long enough. Ramp it up to a couple hours of no-movement-permitted sitting on a cushion then get back to me.

I was living the Star Wars universe for most of today’s session. Memories of the movie were running rampant.

Then something different. A shift.

I began to see faces and hear conversations I’d never seen before. Rather than live memories of yesterday’s movie interspersed with thoughts and feelings of other current events I was making a movie of my own – out of the view of conscious control – and I was watching it play out on my own mental screen within my field of awareness.

In a moment of cognition I realized I was fully awake but dreaming.

The instant I realized I was dreaming it stopped.

Then back to disruption, interrupted only by the couple minutes of contact I mentioned above.

One of the ways that meditation works is by showing us how our mind operates as it reveals disparate parts of the mind/body system when we are quiet enough to notice them.

Everything I just described is a distraction from the stated goal – perfect presence with the numbers one through ten to the exclusion of all else – but I can’t help but notice what’s going on as my mind changes states in response to my efforts to hold it in place. The subtle but distinct shift into a fully awakened dream stood out like the light from a lighthouse on a dark shoreline. It was crystal clear. I saw the before, I saw the experience, I saw the transition out, then I saw the after.

I now know a couple of things I’d not known before about myself. I can dream while awake. I have a dream-section in my mind that generates dreams for me.

What that means and how it matters usually takes time to sort itself out. What happens immediately after an experience like that one, though, is the understanding that the habitual patterns of the reality I live are not the only reality that exists. That other options are possible. That the world is a little different than I thought it was before.

Experience enough of those shifts in a well-constructed daily meditation practice and the way you view the world becomes more complete. Often filled with curiosity rather than certainty. The mind, eventually, opens.

That is good.

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