I ask about the sky, but the answer is about a rope.
In our busy workaday world, it can be hard to find time to take a break from adult concerns. This especially applies to the field of dreams. The techniques used on dreams have been called dream "work," and for good reason. They require that we address serious issues like the meanings of our dreams or the resolution of the anxiety that they may contain. The sober tenor of such endeavors can mask our equally serious need for dreamplay. All work and no play don't just make Jack a dull boy; they make him an unhealthy one.
So how can you play with dreams? The most popular suggestion is artistic creativity. That's a response with a powerful historic precedent. And it's no surprise to discover that the dream flows as freely through the brush as through the recording pen.
For all their benefits, traditional dreamwork and dreamplay have this in common: they don't take place until the end of sleep. We in the waking world may struggle for survival or play at picnics, but all too often we forget to clean up after ourselves. The residue of the daytime drama still serves as fodder for nocturnal life. And guess who has to choke down the leftovers every night?
There was an old man from Peru
Who dreamed he was eating his shoe
He woke in a fright
In the middle of night
And found it was perfectly true.
I called traditional dreamwork and dreamplay "afterwork" and "afterplay" because they take place after the dream is done. Some folks have rediscovered the sort of Creative Dreaming featured in Patricia Garfield's book of the same name. This sort occurs before and during the dream. It features the proactive skill of incubation.
The advantage of before-dream creativity is that it can be set up to launch the dreams that follow. If we waking egos do clean-up work plus add some rich nutrients before sleep, the results are truly amazing. Suddenly, the dream isn't shackled with serving us; the Inner Child isn't just a servant who works for us. Now, she has time to play while the dream is still happening. Now, she has the energy to experience the extraordinary. She has the curiosity to explore the unknown. Finally, she has the opportunity to grow and glow, to desire and wonder.
The difference between before and after can be merely a case of shifting intent. Instead of painting a dream you had last week, you might paint the dream you want to have tomorrow. This means you are nurturing the dream ahead of time. You are creating a blueprint for a new environment, building a new playground of the mind.
Plato found the model of play in children's need to leap, to transcend the limits of gravity, of the grave and the serious. Flying is definitely a leap of the imagination. Flying dreams provide an opportunity for the Child Within to take a vacation from mundane constraints, to express herself freely, to swing suspended between Earth and silent sky. If we don't put obstacles in her way.
Rock a bye Baby
On the tree top
When the wind blows,
The cradle will rock
When the bough breaks
The cradle will fall
And down will come baby
Cradle and all
Sometimes I wonder about us adults. Do we really want to give our children nightmares? What do you think are the results of singing this traditional lullaby just before a child goes to sleep? I remember that every time I heard it (and I was the eldest of 5 children, so I heard it a lot), I pictured a baby in a bassinet come crashing down out of the tree. Lovely image to take to dreamland.
It may seem counterintuitive, but to fly freely, we first must be well grounded. Suppose you do fly into the stratosphere. How are you going to get back down? Have you thought that far ahead? A safe flight does require some pre-planning. Let's see if you remember how to stretch your imagination like a kid does. So consider this for a moment: if you could pack a safety symbol in your Inner Child's flight bag, what would it be? How about a net, a parachute or angel wings for safe flights? Or if you could design a safe spot in your Inner playground, what would you use as a landing pad? A mattress, a pool of water, a mound of whipping cream?
Some of us have great runways
already built for us,
so if you have one,
If you don't,
grab a shovel and build one.
To build a flying dream, we must pair movement of consciousness with appropriate imagery. Our sleeping minds match the emotions or sensations that cause our hearts to leap and soar with visuals drawn from waking experience. Since most of us are not pilots or astronauts, those pictures tend to be of the grounded variety. Thus, though we well feel our spirits in motion as we sleep, we're most likely to dream up a physical body walking down a road or riding in a car. To fly, we must substitute free-flying imagery for its grounded counterpart. Where do we get that sort of imagery?
Even when our lives are stationary, we can observe nature in motion. When was the last time you lay on the grass, looking upwards to view butterflies, helicopters and leaves drifting in the wind? The clouds, driven along the blue sky, may tempt us to travel with them. The seasonal smells can make us feel buoyant, too. When I gaze skyward into the night, I might see shooting stars or planes flashing their approach to San Jose airport. Even the moon moves if I stare at it for long.
Child of the pure unclouded brow
And dreaming eyes of wonder!
As the seasons change to cold and chilly, we may withdraw into our cozy cocoons, but we need not leave flight behind. Inside the home, the pictures to invoke flying dreams can come from paintings or photos, collages or calendars and especially in the books we read. We might incubate flight when we immerse ourselves in an adult novel. But fairy tales, myths, short stories and tall tales from the children's section of the library are a particularly rich source of imagery.
Crossing the skies of Earth, dipping into off-planet atmospheres or roaming the reaches of outer space, humans streak and bob throughout the annals of fantasy and science fiction. Teenage comics and adolescent paperbacks house these contemporary myths. On their covers, we are likely to find the archetypal images of flight that will fly us into the future.
Fly high my pretty one
Through endless sunny colors
Ribboned currents of support
Light and lifting
Caressing arms of wind.
Break and dance
Spin the sky
Lucky for us, the Inner Child has always had an inborn ability to expand still snapshots into live action movies. But nowadays, we can help her create a data bank of moving pictures, too. Movies, DVDs and CDs: video makes a great visual aid.
Don't forget MTV. Because flying can make our hearts pound, our spirits sing, the right selection of song or music may actually help induce a flying dream. The monotonous throb of a mantra or tom-tom can put us into an altered state, but a dream is already an altered state! We don't need to calm down there; we're already asleep. To fly we need to rev up our Inner Child. So a faster rhythm is quite appropriate. Thus, flying is not so much a lullaby as it is a wake-up call, a sudden "Ah ha!"
Self-suggestion is a powerful ally in achieving dreams of flight. There are certain times in my life when I'm likely to be elated - for instance, when I finally finish writing an articles on dreams. If I can catch the moment just as I'm feeling the rush of elation, I can saddle it with a strong suggestion to fly and ride both into my dreams that night. What better source for a suggestion than a song? The refrain from Peter Pan is quite effective:
You can fly! You can fly! You can fly! You can fly! You can fly!
Our Inner Child also responds well to affirmations. Yes, I can do it! She's very proud of her achievements, so we can pat ourselves on the back when we reach our flying goals.
You were born to be life's
Flying is not for couch potatoes! Flying is dream air-obics, an exercise of consciousness. It's a wind game that proves to us we're fully alive. Emotions move us, no doubt about it. But so can tactile sensations. I had quite a bit of success when I put suggestion and sensation together one summer. I held the intention to incubate flying dreams while swimming in my pool. I pictured myself flying plus I felt the sensation of flying while I swam. Then subvocally I urged my Inner Child to remember the same feeling after I fell asleep.
Write of swimming under water and you will have the flight of the bird through the air.
For me, falling backwards into the pool translated into a dream of falling back off a ledge on the building that houses the David Letterman Show. The dog-paddle, crawl and breaststroke actions were all copied by my Inner Child in nonlucid dreams of flying.
But not the sidestroke. Instead, I had a dream of lying on my side, in bed. Those waking movements were too lazy to inspire dreaming flight.
I came like Water,
and like Wind I go.
Now, you may not fly or swim in waking life. But you do move. As your feet hit the ground, your Inner Spirit floats along for the ride. Every day, she has an in-the-body-experience, just as you do. At night she can call up the motion while she flies free. But to release her, you may have to rev up your energy, even for a short while. Go for a brisk walk. Ride a bicycle. Create the wind to massage your skin.
A snail, who had a way, it seems,
Of dreaming very curious dreams,
Once dreamed he was - you'll never guess -
The Lightning Limited Express!
When I was a kid, I used to play "Super Arm." I'd put my arm out the car window in a horizontal position and fly it like Superman. You can do the same thing in your imagination. Get comfortable in your chair. Close your eyes and pretend you are a passenger in a car. Feel the motion of the car. Let the vibration hum through the soles of your feet and the cup of your seat. Look out the window and watch the scenery go by. Look ahead at the highway, straight as an arrow. See that small tree at the side of the road? Watch it come closer...and closer...and then whiz by. Open the window just a crack; listen to the wind whistle past. Then open it all the way. Feel the wind as it caresses the hair on your skin. As much as you can, become your arm. Place all your concentration there. Let the sense of vehicle fade away. Raise and lower your hand. Up and down. Up and down. Now, side to side. Now, request your Inner Child to form a dream like this. You can open your eyes now. If your attention has been on more on your seated body than your arm, don't be surprised if you get a sitting-flying dream.
I remember, I remember
The fir-trees dark and high
I used to think their slender tops
Were close against the sky...
I remember, I remember
Where I was used to swing,
And thought the air must rush as fresh
To swallows on the wing...
For a standing-flying dream, imagine yourself flying while you're standing upright in a bus, subway or boat. For easy upward or downward movement, the escalator and elevator are your best places to practice.
When you are in your safest space, try closing your eyes. But this time don't project or expect any pictures. Instead, become a night flyer. Conjure up the sensations of flight sans imagery. Learn to enjoy moving through the friendly dark. The great hood of night can be a warm blanket against the frigid cold of anxiety.
When the nightbird sings
Then my soul takes wing
to a land of wise
and wondrous things.
Through the gifts of day
hold me in their sway
'tis the gifts of night
are my soul's delight.
A dream that corresponds to physical reality has practical value to our waking selves. But remember, it is a mask to that which is more native to the reality in which our Inner Child resides. In dreamspace, there is no need for gravity. We actually cooperate with the natural properties of the dream state in order to achieve flight. But we can still use the waking world to launch our flights, by importing emotions, imagery and physical sensations. Coupled with a self-suggestion, we use such artistic treasures to form a flying dream. And off we go.
When I fly,
I crash straight thru the roof.
Then I know I'm there.
When I'm bounding down the street,
taking giant boomerang steps,
50 yards or more,
Then I know I can blast off
under my own power.
For the high octane joy of it.
I never flap or fuddle.
I run and jump off the cliff,
just to get air-borne deliciously.
When I fly,
I glide over the tops of trees
to spy into secret backyards below.
When I fly,
I know time is always now
and space stretches
wherever my mind goes.
When I fly,
it's to fly forever
Authors of Poetry and Prose
- Cahn/Fain. " You can fly! You can fly! You can..."
- Carroll, Lewis. " Child of the pure unclouded brow..."
- Da Vinci, Leonardo. " Write of swimming under water..."
- Earhart, Amelia. " Some of us have great runways..."
- Herford, Oliver. " A snail, who had a way, it seems..."
- Hood, Thomas. "I remember, I remember..."
- Johnson. Carol. "When the nightbird sings..."
- Khayy‡m, Omar. " I came like Water..."
- Magallón, Linda Lane. "Fly high my pretty one..."
- Smith, Kent. " Tight-woven cocoon..."
- Smith, Kent. "When I fly..."