Dreams instruments of healing and wholeness
When I was in Florence recently, my attention was caught by the intra-history of the magnificent culture which Plato’s philosophy has often influenced. Then, it was only natural to believe in a celestial, absolute, eternal, non-material world beyond our everyday experiences. In that regard, Plato, as we know, assumed that the world around us is a reflection of a true reality beyond the domain of our experience. For many theologians and philosophers, however, the existence of a transcendent reality based on Neoplatonism posed a problem, for how can human beings, who, after all, belong to the world “down here,” ever get in touch with that reality high above? In order to answer that question, some of them found a source of inspiration in dream revelations—Botticelli’s work is a fascinating example in accord with Neoplatonic ideas. Sleep was valued because of its divinatory powers and the prophetic nature of dreams. It was believed that while sleeping, people were closer to God. Thus, sleep was associated with a spiritual journey from physical reality to an ecstatic connection to heaven. Neoplatonism promoted this idea, viewing sleep as a state in which the soul is free from the constraints of the body and can, therefore, communicate with the divine. (Ruvoldt, The Italian Renaissance Image of Inspiration: Metaphors of sex and dreams, 2004).
At that point, I couldn’t help but connect Neoplatonic philosophy to quantum physics theories in which dreams are metaphors for equal but separate realities. Dreams seem to be a source of knowledge to understand what cannot, by definition, be acquired through sensory experience and, thus, is only comprehended if we turn away from the world as perceived by the senses. In his book The Dreaming Universe (1994), Fred Alan Wolf suggests that dreams are a microcosm of how the universe, the macrocosm, creates itself. In other words, as the shamanic and many spiritual disciplines taught, “As above, so below”.
However, what are the usual impediments to researching these messages from our higher selves? If, as we see, this is only achievable when turning away from the world as perceived by the senses. Based on my experiences during my transpersonal coaching project, I found that it might be necessary to move beyond our egos into greater awareness and higher consciousness. That is a way of de-identifying with those aspects of ourselves that have the potential to limit us—aspects such as our beliefs. When we define ourselves through our beliefs, we can also limit our access to higher realms. By doing so, creative inspiration can be gained through many different psychological methods such as imagery or visualization.
Here, I turn my attention to dreams as a great source of inspiration and guidance since they can take us further into hidden resources of mind and consciousness than visualizations in the walking state, which are more susceptible to egoic mental manipulation. In that regard, Frances Vaughan points out in The Inward Arc (2000) that when we learn to observe dreams with a healing awareness, dreams can become instruments of healing and wholeness.
Vaughan, F. E. (2000). The inward arc: Healing in psychotherapy and spirituality. Lincoln, NE: Authors Guild Backinprint.com.
Wolf, F. A. (1995). The Dreaming Universe. Place of publication not identified: Touchstone.
Wyss, E., & Ruvoldt, M. (2005). The Italian Renaissance Imagery of Inspiration: Metaphors of Sex, Sleep and Dreams. The Sixteenth Century Journal,36(3), 853.