I am hurtling through blackness backwards, free falling, my limbs askew above me. My belly overflows with terror as I plummet, I can’t see anything, or change position as gravity grips me tightly. Fear fills me, and I am utterly powerless.
And then I have a thought.
Just like that, in less than a blink of an eye—I have turned over, no longer falling, no longer terrified.
I am flying.
The luminous night embraces me. A sky full of stars surrounds me and a dark landscape passes beneath me. The warm air softly sweeps my hair away from my face. Arms outstretched, I soar. Comforted by my newfound buoyancy, I continue to explore my new wings—this place feels limitless and full of surprises, as if I could point myself to the horizon yet never reach it; I could search for the unseen moon which seems to create this soft glowing light and discover three.
I am free, filled with a euphoria that calms me, a joy that strengthens me and a love that encompasses me. I have a new understanding into this beautiful mystery that is life—what fun!
I notice a glowing fissure in the earth ahead, I dive into a vast canyon lit by huge bonfires. The firelight renders the faces of countless life-forms into a glowing sea of ecstasy. I touch down, landing by simply stepping onto the earth. Yet, I’m on a stage with a microphone in my hand standing next to a tall, blue-skinned DJ. I am the MC for an intergalactic dance party. And we dance all night, riding the waves of music up and down through a sea of bliss and unity. I could still be helplessly falling and here I am—at the best dance party I’ve been to yet. Gratitude pours over me. One thought, tinier than the head of a pin separates me from the terror of my nightmare. I’m dreaming.
The evening after I wake from my lucid dream, I chop onions, carrots and asparagus for stir fry. I feel soft and relaxed after a day spent in complete solitude at home—an introvert’s heaven. My husband returns from an all-day outing with friends. My heart burbles with excitement to see him and, yet, my normally talkative husband is quiet, focused on unwrapping the fishing gear that he bought at the expo. He grunts one word answers in response to my questions. As the silences lengthen between us, I begin to panic—a black pit of fear opens in my belly. Is he angry with me for commenting on how expensive the fishing gear was? Did I sound like a nag when I meant to be jokey? Wait, am I actually upset about the money he spent? Turmoil suddenly fills me as I persist in engaging him in conversation. Is it somehow my fault that he is so quiet? Am I not interested enough in his hobbies? Does this mean we are growing apart?
He steps outside for a few moments to retrieve his tackle box and continues to organize his fishing gear. I take a deep breath. I drop into the experience of my body and notice how much fear is roiling around. I offer myself the tiniest bit of acceptance, just enough to notice how upset I‘m feeling. And that tiny drop opens a doorway. I place the knife on the cutting board and move my hands to my belly where the aching fear lives, asking myself “What is this about?” In the space of a breath, the answer bubbles up, crystal clear. I need connection. Although I enjoyed my day alone—reading, walking with my dogs, basking in silence, I still need companionship. I also immediately perceive his day—filled with a long drive, boisterous men, the bright lights of a convention center, fishing seminars, salesy people grabbing for attention. He needs silence. I need conversation.
I could walk over to my neighbor’s house for a cup of tea. I could call my mom or sisters. I discover a wealth of answers—that there are many ways in which I could meet my needs. Instead, we have a gentle conversation—I reveal my insight and he smiles in recognition. He hasn’t identified his need for quiet, but he agrees that that is exactly what he needs. We find a comfortable middle ground—watching a movie on the couch and holding hands.
There are moments when the spark of one thought can mean the difference between a nightmare and a heavenly experience. One experience was a dream and the other was waking life. But both scenarios were changed from nightmarish to heavenly by one thought.
The moment I chose to drop into my body in my waking life, I made room for a somatic experience—that is: the body’s experience as it relates to feelings and thoughts. I chose to use a tool that one of my somatic movement teachers calls the three R’s. Return to the body. Relate to the feeling with kindness. Realize the feeling has a message for you. I chose, in that moment, to notice how I was feeling, to accept what I was feeling, and receive the message that it had for me. The space of a thought is infinitesimally small, a fraction of a fraction of a second, the space between breaths, the blink of an eye. And yet, from a single thought, neurons light up and messages are sent racing throughout the body—heart rate elevates, remains steady or slows down, digestive juices stop secreting or continue to digest, endorphins or adrenaline release creating a cascade of reactions.
So, what are you thinking? And how is it shaping your perception of your world? Are you the dreamer who has the ability to fly or are you caught in the dream of roiling anxiety? And what can you do about it? Does your experience allow for you to relate to your body? Do you have enough resource and friendly support to offer kindness to your feelings? Or is it too painful? Can you start small? Are you able to notice hunger, happiness?
There are plenty of times when I am unable to do this: when my past trauma colors my present day interactions, when I create an argument over feelings that may not have any basis in reality, when I don’t attend to my body’s messages. But my tools give me a way out of the bad dream that I may unwittingly create and these experiences of lucidity give me hope. My wish for you is that they give you hope too. I am the dreamer. Not the dream. I am not my thoughts or feelings. I am the star within.
To my lucid dream teacher and the blue-skinned DJ, I offer my gratitude.
For more insightful and motivating articles from Kimberly go to The Star Within