By Melanie Balint Gray.
Some nights I dream. Often, the next morning I recount the dream sequences to my husband. I’ve learned to listen to what words come out of my mouth to describe the dream, frequently, not words I’d typically use. It’s as if, through the dream, my unconscious has gone beyond just using symbols to communicate with me and somehow begins to “speak” through words as well. And it’s not so much that I listen to the words. It’s more that I feel the words.
I turn my attention to my visceral responses, the bodily responsiveness toward or neutrality toward each word that’s spoken. Whether it’s the words I’m using to relate the dream or the words my husband speaks as he asks me questions or offers suggested perspectives, I’m almost exclusively attending to the body and how it responds to the conversation.
This morning I awoke from a dream where I was partnered with someone from my past in a contest or competition to free a being from some vertical tube where it was trapped or imprisoned. In waking life, this man and I have struggled off and on with one another; I’ve not quite been able to completely let down my guard with him of late. So, it was a challenging thing to be partnered with him in this dream.
The trapped being was Lilliputian in size and stature. The tube was too slender for my partner to reach his hand into, but my smaller hand could fit into it. So, I reached inside, and with some difficulty, extracted the tiny figure.
I handed it to my partner, somehow knowing that my partner was supposed to run with it– to take this tiny being to safety and freedom.
The dream stumped me at first. Then, my husband asked me what capacity had I been refusing to give my partner credit for? What quality had I been unwilling to see in my partner that I was now handing back over to him in the form of this little being—so that he could “run with it”. In other words, what had I projected onto this man that I was now willing to retract?
I said, “That makes visceral sense.” Not intellectual sense. Not in the least. There was no thinking or analyzing that had occurred.
It was just that my body had let off a resounding “gong” of recognition of the truth embedded in those questions. A lump formed in my throat. My answer came, “I’ve been projecting that he lacks the capacity of ‘being-ness’.” I saw how I had written off this man’s (my partner in the dream) capacity to sit in presence with me or to have an open-hearted conversation. Tears and regret followed.
The little being in my dream was like a seed crystal of being-ness—that I was now returning to this man as I withdrew my narrow-minded projection.
Then, a panorama of all the people that I had unconsciously stripped of this capacity of being-ness showed up. I was shown how often I had blindly assigned the labels of “asleep”, “unconscious”, and “unaware” to various loved ones.
Shame arose. It grabbed at my throat. I sat there, fingers massaging my constricted throat. There was nothing to be done except digest the felt experience of the gallery of portraits; feeling what it was like to have discounted all these people.
Eventually the tightness resolved. Things quieted.
I was left with a lesson. A lesson about one way I’ve distanced myself from the people I love most. A lesson in how I set up a superiority-inferiority polarity. And how much it hurt for me to do this. My body told me so.
It seems that more often now, the feelings and physical sensations take the lead over mental explanations. What I mean by that is that the body “talks” to me and then, perhaps, some words may come that are more of an understanding nature than an analytical nature.
This visceral sensing can offer such profound guidance.
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