The Key is "Here", but Beware
Dreamed 2012/3/8 by Eleanor
I was looking for info on nested dreams [falling asleep or waking up in a dream; dreams within dreams]. They are not always pleasant--and often seem to bear some relation to lucid dreaming, or perhaps pseudo lucid dreaming...
As mundane dreams are excluded from your site, quite understandably, I wondered if you had any info/links/comment on the fact that the majority of my very frequent nested dreams are a direct continuation of going to sleep, to the extent that it isn't possible to ascertain when the dream began. Often these dreams include memories/lucidity of previous nested dreams, such as recognition that when I find it really difficult to 'wake' up, I'm actually still asleep...
Falsely waking up like this can happen multiple times, as you say--and can be quite disconcerting!
Anyway, last night I had a more interesting single nested dream I wanted to share:
Lying in bed, one arm overhead with the curtains open as usual, I was enjoying relaxed contemplation of the Self [non-dual enquiry/advaita vedanta]. Waking slid imperceptibly into dreaming.
Quite unexpectedly it occured to me that the Key to the Self was not 'Now' but 'Here'. Very briefly there was a moment of excitement and clarity, before my body started shaking and convulsing violently. It felt like a battle with something, and a choice needed to be made whether to fight or submit. As happens in moments of fear, time moved quite slowly and I knew I had either been possessed by the devil, or God, but had no way of knowing which. (And believing in neither, it was terrifying either way.)
I was clearly aware of my ego's fear, and this led me to trust and surrender to the experience, to disappear as an individual [vedanta practice again].
Further waves of painful convulsions passed through my body, but the fear gradually subsided. Then, when I tried saying 'Here' out loud, I could hear how strange... And devil-like my voice sounded; very low, slow and phlegmy--like a synthesised impression of a whale. My face contorted into a hideous sneer, and I only knew myself as a demon, shivering and cold, as well as sweating.
The phone rang--just one ring--and I woke up... Phew!
My arm was still overhead, and I was very cold and shivering. I quickly realised that my shivering cold, and perhaps the whole dream was due to my quilt only partially covering my body. It was billowing up and down, and my bedroom was freezing! In the fuzziness of being woken in the middle of the night, I felt disoriented, wondering whether the phone really had rung, and why my quilt was billowing. As my eyes became accustomed to the darkness, I turned my head, and could see that my window was wide open, although I hadn't opened it since last summer.
And hanging down outside the window was the phone, ominously suspended on a piece of string. I was frozen with terror at the realisation of the trap before me... Someone wanted to murder me, and was in or around my house!
In nested dreams this 'waking up' seems real, but isn't... But only because it is superceded by another 'OK, this time I'm REALLY awake' thought... which can be repeated over and over!
So is it just a matter of duration, or continuity?? Hmmm, sounds a bit 'Matrix'!
The 'real' insight from the dream has been that I am no longer clear about the difference between waking and dreaming! It seems that both have equal reality, or none, and both are the product of consciousness.
Does the dream hint you're worried that the flash of enlightenment will lure dark counterforces trying to snuff out a new source of light? Is it a broader fear that success in anything causes envy? Not to trivialise this to "women fear success" as in pop psychology, but I do wonder; if the price of enlightenment is facing such nightmares, will you pay it? An ordeal of passage is a theme far older than psychology! Jesus, Buddha and mystics worldwide report attempts to distract them with either worldly temptations or with fear, as here. I agree that it's your very success in reaching this high a plane that caused the nightmares, but I'd argue the dreams warn you what your very individual weak point is, and that you need to know you tend to demonise invaders. Signal, not noise.
So if you have more dreams of invasion or stalking where the intruder doesn't actually hurt you, grit your teeth and ask what it wants. If it is a Shadow, it may bargain (after some angry venting.) I admit facing this takes courage if you think you're awake and in real danger, but if you even suspect you're dreaming, it may be possible. And the payoff can be life-transforming. Ann Faraday's The Dream Game showed that whether you label such figures as Jungian Shadows or Gestalt Underdogs, they can sabotage spiritual growth--or, if you meet their needs, become your greatest strength.
Whatever you call them, nested dreams DO associate with lucid dreams; Ann Faraday first noted that back in the mid 1970s. She thought they might be preparing you somehow for full lucidity. She wasn't sure how, and neither am I. But they do flock together.
My best guess is: these nested nightmares are preparing you for a dream (or set of dreams) in which you lucidly recognise this recurring invader as a very estranged part of you... and bargain with your personal devil.
So if you meet any more mystery intruders, I'd urge you to treat them not as personifications of abstract ideas or forces (I know a broad range of thinkers from Buddha to Freud say so; I still think it's wrong) and instead acknowledge such figures (even the scary ones) as friends met on the path, and not by chance.
And friends help friends.
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