Sunday, March 18, 2012
Dreaming one Baby Step at a Time!
You could tell how uneasy or how uncomfortable this lady was. She struggled with breaking the ice; with getting to the point; with making basic business requests; and with putting an end to the exchange. She made basic mistakes like “repeating herself continuously” even after we stated: “Got it!” Or, ignoring our repetitive questions because she didn’t have the answers; or didn’t want to get herself in trouble somehow. She evidently wasn’t ready for our appointment because she didn’t read the file. Every time we referred to it she was lost and didn’t know what to look at or what to do to find it. Lately, I’ve noticed how so many people have a hard time with communication. It seems to be a challenge to clearly state intent; to express goals; and lay out a plan or process.
Last week I went to the physiotherapist. My appointment was at 2:00pm. I arrived at 1:45pm. I give a lot of value to punctuality. The secretary guided me into the clinic area where a dozen beds lined up in a row are set up for massage. She told me to pick a bed and get ready for my therapist; which is what I did. For 20 minutes I watched other therapists inter-relate with their clients and took way too many mental notes on dysfunctional behaviors, reactions and attitudes. I even watched my own physiotherapist work with an athletic, young man: Obviously, his earlier appointment. At 2:15 pm (15 minutes late) he rushed to my side and quickly asked me a series of typical questions; which I noticed everyone else use as opening lines.
“Are you getting the hang of walking on the air cast?” He said totally matter of fact, nice-and-smooth, reaching for a stool and trying to hide the fact he was late.
“I see you came with two crutches” he pointed out glancing towards the wall, “are you hesitating to use only one? Are you scared?”
I could tell he was rushing through the questions and trying to catch his breath. He felt bad for being late and rather then simply taking responsibility – he was covering his ass (as I often say).
Just as he was about to continue I interrupted him and said: “Don’t take this wrong; but I think you should take about 5 minutes to go sit down and read my file.”
I was surprised when he took my advice and left for a few minutes. I saw him sitting in a chair near the main desk and looking through it. After a little while he came back with flushed cheeks and apologized for suggesting that I walk on the cast. From the start everyone has been telling me to stay off the foot.
“It’s been difficult to listen,” I explained to the man, “it’s important not to be inconsistent. You are lucky I’m someone literal, practical and reasonable; which I’ve noticed today isn’t the case with most of your clients,”
ST nodded while listening to me. I could tell he felt criticized; but he wasn’t humiliated. I could see by the way he sat and how he moved that he was opened to my words. He wasn’t interrupting me with excuses or explanations; which is usually the way most people react.
“If you’re there to help me, or any other client then you need to be capable to face your own limits and grow through them,” I said setting up for one of the massages, “we all can’t avoid being late every now and again; but we can make sure to be prepared. A few more minutes to be ready – catches up on lots of lost time. ”
ST agreed and didn’t apologize. I was glad to observe during my next visit how he had managed to apply the lesson. He didn’t even search for acknowledgement. Honestly, I often come across people who need to say: “I’m sorry” and then, mention the changes they’ve made in order to “change your opinion of them.” It’s rare for me to meet individuals who understand growth as a private, personal experience and don’t need recognition. It’s rare to meet people who don’t overly bother with what people may think. Amazingly, ST was a completely different person to the man I had worked with the previous week. This experience along with a domino affect of other events showed me how many social programs we have in place; which are completely useless and even detrimental to our growth process. It made me want to shed a few layers of social skins.
I’m often asked:
1. How can I dream better?
2. How can I understand my dreams better?
3. What’s the discipline of a Dreamer? And where do I start?
People are surprised when I answer: “It starts with you being OK with looking at your attitudes, your behaviors, your actions and your reactions. And then, it’s all about how you decide to change.”
Dreaming has been a life long study and experience for me. I’ve learnt it’s one thing to dream as defined in Western society as a witness to vivid imagery and stories; which occur at night when we sleep; and DREAM as understood by indigenous people and dreaming societies; which is about trusting a journey and growing through it. Through the last two decades, I’ve been blessed enough to learn about dreaming with the help of First Nation traditional dreamers; and fortunate enough to meet and connect with Master Dreamers from Europe, Australia, Africa and Russia.
For sure there are so many more Dreamers to connect to out there…
What is important to understand is no matter where the lessons come from WE are the ones who have to apply them and WE are the ones who have to make them count. It’s not the CV that determines whether or not you keep a job; it’s your actions / reactions, your attitudes, and your behaviors.
1. Are you capable of listening? Not keeping your mouth shut while someone is talking so you can figure out what to say next. Not getting caught up in what the person is triggering inside of us like old memories or compatibilities. Not pretending to listen because it’s boring or because it’s a polite thing to do. Really listening.
2. Are you capable of being aware of the collective reality or is it always about you?
In a recent dreaming class last Friday, I noticed how difficult it was for many of the participants to be conscious of others while being committed to their personal learning and healing. Something as mundane as choosing sitting arrangements put our dreaming evening at risk. For example if an individual walks in with a friend or partner and expects to sit side-by-side to her or him they’ve already broken the collective vibe. Especially in circles where hypersensitivity is developed the feeling of exclusion will easily be felt. Why belong to a “family” (sisterhood or brotherhood) or a “community” (people who share common ground and common interests etc…) if you’re not going to treat everyone as intimate parts of your journey?
I love the way the Dreaming or the Universe teaches us. On that same evening, everyone showed up in a big wave, all at the same time. It’s not a big group (we are maybe a dozen). As everyone hurried to take a seat only one person was left standing alone with no where to sit. For a minute there, it felt and looked like we were playing “musical chairs.” IL was evidently the one to eliminate. She searched the room somewhat frantic and disappointed while everyone stared.
It was quite interesting to watch as nobody tried to help except for KM who seemed quite pleased to offer the least comfortable chair in the room. IL didn’t like the idea. She even retorted: “I prefer sitting on the ground.”
Like a mother who has to stop the fighting between two siblings I finally told IL to invite others to help her bring a nearby futon into the space. At first she resisted. It seemed difficult to make the decision to ask for help. Then, it seemed difficult to stand up and give some help. Everyone seemed to be lacking the consciousness of what it takes to build a Wheel and be part of it. It seemed incredibly demanding to be committed to collective energy. Even after everyone was sitting down, I noticed people sitting behind others. Where one didn’t want to let go of HER chair because of a bad back; someone else didn’t want to let go of HER spot even though it meant sitting behind rather than within the circle. Everyone seemed OK with committing to justifications rather then focusing on being part of a sacred circle.
There’s always justifications:
1. I can’t do this or that because of….
2. I can’t go to this or that because of…
No matter our choices these days, they always come with burdens. We are so used to carrying baggage from life to life that we’ve come to a point where we give it value and give it power over us and our story.
There’s no doubt we have lots to learn and it always takes baby steps at first to get used to change or to new ways. Our Friday class ended up being about individual resistance and obstacles and how it interferes with dreaming. All night people cringed when I pointed out their resistance. Some admitted feeling shame over the fact they weren’t conscious of their own traps, those they personally set in their own dreaming space. What was amazing was how obvious these traps were to everyone in the circle except the person who had set them. In a conversation, one to one, it’s easy to justify our resistance and to ignore it; but in a group where the emphasis is on resistance and we’re learning how to detect it -- there’s no way out except facing it and making choices to change it.
Learning how to become a strong dreamer isn’t easy; but it’s definitely worth committing to baby steps and eventually running.
One of my teachers once said to me: “Notice how people who walk a Spiritual path always speak of how they can help or heal; and how they can teach. Yet, only the one who can learn; bring healing to his/her story and ancestors; and inspire others through his/her story leaves footsteps on the Spirit trail.”