The Secret Life of Dreams

By Marcia Miller

Last night I dreamt I ran a 3 mile race and came in 20th out of 200. I could feel the joy of the camaraderie with the other runners and the excitement of running that far without pain and discomfort. These feelings were present in my body as a flow of energy and aliveness that felt fantastic. Each cell seemed to shimmer with delight at the experience. The exhilaration of running in the dream was still with me as I awoke and persisted, even after awakening

This dream and the joyfulness after it were in stark contrast to my feelings over the last two weeks when my sprained ankle acted up and I could barely walk. I was feeling discouraged that I might never be able to hike on uneven ground, run or even dig potatoes in my own fields. I thought that I should be doing better than I was, and was afraid I might never fully recover. I had been cheerful and patient for five months and hadn’t realized that despair was becoming my partner. What would it be like to be a yoga teacher who could barely walk? What if I move like an old person filled with pain? Am I a failure somehow for not healing completely?

So it was doubly thrilling to have that total joy and confidence in my body as I awoke. I liked this feeling and remembered one of Patanjali’s yoga sutras about inspiring dreams: 1-38 Svapna nidra jnanalambanam va. That means The mindstuff retains its undisturbed calmness by concentrating on an experience had during dream or deep sleep. So, according to Patanjali, we can meditate by recalling the deep inspiration, connection and coherence of a dream and use that as the focus of our meditation. And I did.

While still in bed, I made myself even more comfortable and lay there relaxed and resting in the exuberance of the feelings already present within me. I just allowed and invited that energetic flow to run through me, especially my legs. It felt so good to have confidence in my legs and ankles again—and so natural. I hadn’t realized how much fear and discouragement I had been carrying until I was free of it. It was easy to stay like that and I did for many minutes. I did not feel as though I was ignoring the very real injury in my ankles. Rather I felt as if I was remembering the template of wholeness that would guide my legs in their healing process.

When I arose and began my asana practice I let my body set the tone and do whatever it wanted. It wanted to be filled with prana and breath and I went to an outside deck adjacent to my yoga room to feel the fresh air flow into my lungs. Before I realized it I was in hasta padanguthasana, a one-legged balancing pose that has been very challenging for me these last few months. It didn’t feel like “therapy” it felt like fun and I lingered in it for the sheer joy of it.

It has been nearly a week since this dream and I have meditated on the feeling of it every day, mostly during my time in savasana (deep relaxation.) I lie there, let the body feel its weight as it settles into the floor, and then remember the sensations I had in the dream and after it. I let them run through me and bring my awareness, as if in a blessing, to all that is arising in my body.

Those yogis of old really knew a thing or two, and I am so grateful to be a part of their tradition.

Translation of the sutra is from Integral Yoga, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, by Swami Satchidananda

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One Response to The Secret Life of Dreams
  1. Cathleen

    Marcia, I feel so inspired by this post as I struggle with my own body messages, this time around my heart. It has been speaking to me for a few months now and I feel so inept at really being able to listen to my body and hear it! I became aware that I have felt lots of fear and anxiety since my husband died Your peace and willingness to be with your experience is helpful to me. I hope to see you in the Spring. Love and light, Cathleen (Straley)