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welcome to my nightmare :-)

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During last night’s class I used the example of waking up from a disturbing dream as a practical application of mindfulness practice: how to respond to stressful thoughts by shifting awareness to physical sensations in the moment. Afterwards someone drew attention to C.G. Jung‘s approach to working with dreams: “Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.”

This morning I woke from an unsettling scenario in which a woman tempted me to act unethically. Instead of feeling unfairly accused (a familiar state), I experimented by bringing awareness to my breath while keeping the images before me. I welcomed them for what they were — mysterious aspects of the subconscious — all the while breathing in and breathing out. Very quickly, discomfort turned to insight. The dream pointed to my ability to make choices, act responsibly, and transcend old/harmful behavior patterns.

It so happened that at the end of last night’s class I read aloud these lines by Rumi:

This being human is a guest house
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

source: Rumi (1207-1273) in: Barks, C. (1995). (trans. with J. Moyne). The essential Rumi. Edison, NJ: Castle Books, p. 109. image:


5 responses »

  1. I love this, that the experience of an unsettling dream about temptation was an opportunity to see how we have choices. And I love the guest house, reminds us of Dogen’s lines , “the great way is not difficult for those who do not pick and choose”

  2. It seems that each dy you are speaking to me! Thank you.

  3. “Be grateful for whoever comes,
    because each has been sent
    as a guide from beyond.”

    Ah – Perspective.

  4. Christina Cronk

    This is one of my most favourite poems by Rumi. It always reminds me to experience everything- even if it is difficult, even if it is frustrating or painful or tearing me apart. Because if you hide it, it will be made worse. But if you embrace it, it will pass and you will grow in ways not yet imagined. Thank you for reminding me of this.

  5. From L. who got me started:

    If you ever want to have a conversation about what Jung discovered as a way to plum the messages to aid our movement toward wholeness that the psyche brings us in dreams, let me know. I love to honour the dream with a discussion in this way.

    Mostly there are certain kinds of questions we can ask the dream figures and also personal associations we can allow to come to us from the unconscious that relate to the people and events and images in the dream. The last step is relating (sometimes) the dream images to the archaic level of the psyche that hold the magic of myth, religion and fairytales. From this kind of work we often are led to amazing insights…just like you had today.

    Although there are many ‘kinds’ of dreams, Jung discovered that the most common kind (I think it is about 90% of dreams) show us something that we have left out of our personality that needs inclusion for our healing or wholeness–compensatory dreams. But I won’t go on and on…


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