• Marlowe Emerson

Updated: Aug 11

Dreams are a valuable source of information. Maybe this information comes from the truest part of ourselves, one that runs deeper than the surface drama of the waking world. Maybe it comes from some source outside of us, divine or otherwise. Whatever their origin may be, dreams are a crucial part of who we are. The insight they give us about our reality is as important as the information we get from our eyes, ears and other senses. Without it, we don't have the complete picture. As my mother always says, "There's what's going on, and then there is what's really going on." We need this connection to our dream life to know the whole story of our experience.

How do we access this wealth of information, and more importantly, use it to our advantage? Over the years, I have observed 3 things that help me engage with my dreams and integrate them into my waking world.

1) Remember

Of course the first step is remembering your dreams, which can be tricky. It involves carefully observing your waking process, or how you transition from your sleeping world to your waking world. If you can become aware of your "resurfacing" while it is happening, you can then try to bring back any souvenirs from your journey. Souvenir just means memory. You can hold on to these memories when you come back to the other side.

Practice and learn what works for you, and you will develop your own tricks for remembering your dreams. One trick I have learned is labeling. This is like creating keywords for your dreams. It is especially useful if you get interrupted during your waking process (kids, dogs, alarms, spouse) or if you are trying to bring back many dreams at once. If you feel a dream slipping away from you, try to label it with an identifying main idea, object, or person. If you can remember the label, you can use it later to jog your memory when you have time to actually reconstruct all the details of the story.

2) Recount

Once you remember your dream, start to walk through it step by step, describing all the details in your head. Writing it down helps with this process. If you don't have time to write, you can also tell it to someone. (Important: This should be someone close to you, whom you trust, and who is a willing participant. My sister and I literally have a running joke about how much she HATES listening to my dreams! It is something I reserve for when I feel the need to torture her.) The important thing is to verbalize the experience. When you recount the story, the details get processed and organized by your rational mind. This allows you to see patterns and meanings that you may not have noticed when you were in the dream itself. The perspective of your waking mind will give you valuable insight into what your dream actually "means" or what information is there that may be useful in some way. Keeping a dream journal is ideal for this reason, and for the next tip...

3) Revisit

If you record your dreams, they will be there whenever you need to revisit them. This is why keeping a dream journal is so helpful. Not only because we forget things, but because when you write down your dream, you connect to the intensity of the emotion that was present when it was fresh in your mind. Reading it again can then help you relive the experience beyond what you would be able to conjure from memory. Also, a dream that may have seemed insignificant at the time, could turn out to have important meaning later. It's like putting an ear to the ground of your subconscious. You may be hearing rumblings of things to come.

If you notice you have certain types of dreams, you can even organize them in a way that makes them easier to reference. For example, you may consistently have flying dreams, or dreams about a certain person. Labeling these or grouping them together can help when you want to go back and look at them later. It can also heighten your awareness of themes and commonalities that may reveal additional useful information. Revisiting your dreams can help you benefit from them throughout your lifetime.

There is obviously so much more to delve into on this topic, especially during these troubling times. There has been a lot of talk about people having dreams related to the pandemic, and how it has effected our global consciousness. Bringing dreams into the light of day can help dispel fears and work through difficult emotions. It can also provide comic relief, creative inspiration, and feelings of love and support. Dreaming is such an amazing part of being human, and nurturing a connection to your dreams is beautiful way to bring forth the magic inherent in being alive every day.

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  • Marlowe Emerson

Updated: Aug 11

We don't always live with a sense of purpose. Sometimes our only thought at the beginning of the day is how to get to the end of it. But I think that is because our notion of purpose is too narrow. We associate it with some long term goal that is tied to our sense of identity. I have always felt that "Purpose" is something beyond our comprehension, because we simply can't know the ways in which our existence reverberates throughout eternity. Each moment that you live is actually your purpose - living each day in your body, aware that you are standing on a planet, heart pumping, eyes blinking, not sure how you got here or how long you will be allowed to stay. These are the moments we connect with the truth of being alive. They are they are what Thoreau meant when he said, "Only that day dawns to which we are awake."

Knowing that you are alive is not always the most comforting thing. It means acknowledging the absurdity of it all, the uncertainty, the mystery of being. It means you are conscious of every sensation, emotion, and thought. You may even feel a sudden compassion for the "finite you," while hoping against a glaring lack of evidence that there is also an "infinite you." (Ah yes, that whole conundrum.) We feel bound to this earth and yet not of it. Nature holds our bodies but rejects our minds. So what else can we really do with this time but try to be here for ALL of it, from the most intense joy to the most gut-wrenching heartbreak? When living itself becomes its own purpose, we can accept (and even be grateful for) both the wrathful sea and the comforting shore...

Toes sink in the cold wet sand.

Pink glow of dawn makes new the land.

Infinite roars the great expanse

Of sea and spirit in their dance.

White barrels crack upon the shore.

This is what you came here for.

Wind breathes softly on the skin,

A pressure light, a stir within,

A call from kindred breath in mouth,

Like rivers beckon blood flow south.

Heart molten, bound to earth’s sweet core.

This is what you came here for.

Beauty pierces common eyes

And eye of storm makes us deny

That what we see is but false hope,

For rage lives ever near the slope

Of fairest breast and smoothest pore.

This is what you came here for.

- M.E.

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  • Marlowe Emerson

Updated: Aug 16

There is a lot of advice about morning rituals and how important your morning routine is to your success, health, etc. Yoga stretches, affirmations and protein shakes sound great, but what if you get sabotaged first thing in the morning? Depression, chronic illness, work anxiety, family issues... just about anything life throws at you can make your first thought of the day, "Shit. I woke up." Your morning routine actually starts there... What do you do when you realize you are awake?

Waking up can be a tricky time mentally. You have barely begun surfacing from the murky depths of whatever dreamworld you were just involved in, when the story of your waking life comes rudely rushing in. Even though you may resist recovering from your nightly amnesia, you begin to realize before you even open your eyes, "Oh. I'm still me." What happens then? Are you immediately overwhelmed with anxiety at having to face the day ahead, or do you experience a spark of joy and excitement at the shiny new 24 hours in front of you? There it is...our first opportunity to make choice about our mental state.

Usually we don't even realize a choice exists. Your brain is off to the races and you immediately being a day of ducking and dodging "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" coming at you full speed through the darkness of the 3D movie theatre of your mind. This is where we have to realize that all we need to do for this to disappear is turn on the light. Sure, the sun comes up in the morning, and it's light outside. But unless it rises behind your eyes, you could remain in darkness. This is why the first (and maybe the only) morning ritual you need is to shine a light. Before getting out of bed, create your own mental sunrise.

1) Be still.

Remain calm for a moment before you open your eyes, and keep your thoughts inward for a bit before they take off toward the day ahead. This is that moment when you are waiting for the sun to appear, staring at the horizon in anticipation.

2) Imagine.

The sun starts to show itself. A thin line of light begins to expand and radiate. Visualize the sun coming up as the sky of your mind becomes brighter and brighter. You could imagine a light glowing in your chest, or stomach, or a part of the body that needs healing. Decide what works for you. The idea is to begin the day with some glimmer of light, even if it is only for a few seconds.

3) Repeat.

Do this each morning and see what happens. The sun comes up everyday, and yours should too. Get creative with your visualizations as you become more sensitive to your waking state of mind. This is your personal moment of refuge. Make it yours. If you miss the opportunity when waking up, just do it whenever you are ready. It's your sun. You decide when it rises.

Cultivating this ritual can be important for two reasons. First, experiencing even a small amount of light helps you at least see that it is there. This little bit of hope is sometimes all we need to get us through. It is a minimal effort for a potentially significant reward. Second, you demonstrate that you have the strength to decide for yourself how to feel and what to think about. This builds confidence and increases your chances of being able to direct your thoughts to lightness again when you need to throughout the day.

Of course, a great way to support this practice is to watch the actual sunrise. If you don't live in a place where you can watch the sun come up over the horizon, there are lots of people who stream it live online. It's a nice thing to watch with coffee instead of the news. Here are a few places you can treat yourself to the sunrise on your phone. I'm sure there are many more. Please share if you know of them. These are on the east coast of the U.S., since that is where I live.

If you need one to get started, here is a video of one of the sunrises that started all of this for me on a visit Akumal, Mexico. The best part of the trip was getting up each morning to watch the sun come up. This experience was so amazing, I have sought ways to keep it with me always. May it inspire your own search for the light.

- M.

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