Dreams can be really disturbing. The ones you have at night, when you’re sleeping.
Random, chaotic, funny…..or horrifying.
The other night I woke up terrified because I was falling off a cliff. I’ve had this dream before. During a meditation retreat.
The body reacts as if the dream really happened. I woke up with my heart beating wildly, and adrenaline shooting through my veins.
Sometimes people say it’s hard to shake the nightmare when they have one, it may haunt them for awhile during their day.
Movies can bring on the same physical reactions. It’s like we’re on an emotional ride with the characters we’re watching.
We start sobbing when someone dies, or grit our teeth when someone does mean, bullying things.
Often when people have bad dreams, or see unsettling movies, they will they exclaim that they wish they could forget about it.
God, I wish I’d stop feeling so scared, quit picturing that awful scene. I wish I hadn’t ever seen that film! I wish I didn’t ever have that nightmare! What’s wrong with my mind, showing me such rotten, freaky scenarios! Jeez!
We don’t want to bring up a bad memory, either.
I wish it would GO AWAY. I wish I would forget that ever happened!
The thing is, resisting the dream, being against it, pushing it away, believing that you need to forget about it ASAP….
…often brings on the opposite of what you’re seeking: more fear, anger, worry, dread.
When I used to compulsively eat, my fear was obvious. The eating was frantic, secretive, like a big scream. I ate fast, viciously and feverishly. Like I was starving to death.
Some people eat, or smoke, or drink, or engage in all the tons of other kinds of addictive behaviors like shopping or computer surfing out of a similar fear….dread, worry, nervousness, anxiety.
What if we took a look at that feeling of fear, and questioned our judgments of it, using The Work?
Is it true that the images you see should go away, that you should be calm, not anxious…that you should be relaxed instead of triggered?
Yes! Of course! Who wants to be haunted by a bad dream, or a scary movie?
Are you crazy?
Can you absolutely know that it’s true, without doubt…I mean do you really know that whatever has frightened you should vanish from your mind?
That you should forget it? Like it never happened?
No. Apparently there’s memory, visions, images, remembering over and over, revisiting, looking.
I have no idea if that shouldn’t occur.
Your answer may still be “yes” though. You may feel the dream should stop scaring you, should stop being there in your mind.
So how do you react when you believe the thought that whatever has frightened you should leave? That the fear itself should vanish, ASAP?
For me…I spent a lot of time running.
Quick! Distract yourself! Quick! Find the scary thing and kill it! Quick! Find comfort! Quick! Slam the door and lock it!
I shouldn’t have this feeling! I hate this feeling! I can’t stand this feeling!
But who would you be without the thought? Without the belief that fear, anxiety, nervousness or dread will destroy you and should be avoided?
Strange, right? Without the thought that Fear Is Bad?
I would be a little more open to it. I’d allow it to be as it is. It’s an energy. A wave. It comes and goes.
I’d notice I have no control over this thing called “fear”.
If I wasn’t against fear, I wouldn’t attack the things that produced it, like movies or bad dreams (or people).
I wouldn’t protect myself with such care, making sure I don’t ever feel fear or anxiety.
Without the thought that fear must be gotten rid of…must leave…?
I’d be so much more open, inviting more in, not running away. Standing on solid ground, rooted, willing, letting go.
Without the thought that feeling fear is a terrible thing, I’d take a huge deep breath, and then another.
I turn the thought around:
This sensation, this image, this mental picture, this feeling….. should stay. This horrible scene in my mind is OK to allow to be there. This wretched memory doesn’t absolutely have to go.
As odd as it may seem, when I allow everything to stay right here, including the terror of death-by-falling-off-a-cliff it begins to look lighter.
Letting that bad, terrible scene you really experienced be there, instead of fighting to get rid of it, you may finally find your sweet relief.
“This energy of fear loves a good fight. It’s an internal bully. It LOVES for you to try to get rid of it. To try to transcend it. To try to go beyond it. Fear loves it, it feeds on it. The more you try not to be afraid, the more afraid you get. The more you try not to be anxious, the more anxiety you feel….[Instead], grant permission for almost infinite space for fear and anxiety.” ~ Adyashanti
What I notice is, I can’t get rid of fear. Fear happens.
Nightmares or dreams, or vivid memories occur. They fill the mind’s eye.
But letting these pictures be there is honest.
When I don’t argue with reality, I feel afraid, and then I feel space, or I feel comfort, or I feel love.
I live through frightening things. I live through feelings of fear.
“In my experience, we don’t make thoughts appear, they just appear. One day, I noticed that their appearance just wasn’t personal. Noticing that really makes it simpler to inquire.” ~ Byron Katie
Don’t be afraid of your fear, your pictures of fear, your fearful dreams, your fearful memories.
You are here despite them all.
All is well.
With love, Grace