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  • Prajna Teresa Bryant

Working with Dreams

How your mind is in the sleep and dream states indicates how your mind will be in the corresponding bardo states; for example, the way in which you react to dreams, nightmares, and difficulties now, shows how you might react after you die.  ~ Sogyal Rinpoche ~



Dreams are a portal through which we are guided in our waking life.


In my late twenties, I spent thee years in Jungian analysis with the intention of becoming a Jungian analyst.  I didn’t finish the training, but the work gifted me with an unwavering confidence in, and devotion to, dream work. 


Similarly, my husband James spent his academic career researching, writing, and teaching in the area of dreams. He too mines for hidden gems in the darkness of night, trusting that dreams are gateways to further awakening.


Sogyal Rinpoche writes, ”Going to sleep is similar to the bardo of dying, where the elements and thought processes dissolve.”   Daytime awareness is tamed by convention and choice.   Night-time awareness, on the other hand, roams wildly in forbidden lands.  Dreaming blurs normal mental functioning and offers us a glimpse into the unrecognized – and hence cut-off – parts of ourselves.




James and I faithfully carve out an hour each morning to tell each other our dreams. Over many years we have become seasoned dream catchers, mapping the mysteries of our nighttime awareness, yet there is always more to learn about ourselves.  Dreams, like water, are fathomless, shifting and changing endlessly as we ourselves change.


Two compelling lessons I’ve learned about dream work are:


1.   Dreams are as practical and real as daytime awareness, and 2.   Dreams and waking life are totally integrated, each informing and being informed by the other.


In other words, dreams have much to tell us about ourselves and our relationship to others.   To the world and even to ourselves, we may seem to be unhurt, to have a compassionate motive, or to be easygoing, but our dreams may tell us a very different story.


The magic of dreams is that they work below the surface.  They are wisdom bearers, showing us that which lies hidden by day.  Unfortunately, all too often, dreams are a gift often left unopened.


When we first attend to our dreams, we need simply remember them.  At first, It may seem unlikely, but with practice, we are able to access our dreams.  Remembering our dreams is like having a base camp at the foot of the mountain.  From there we learn the language of our nighttime soul, which blesses us with a fuller, more magnificient picture of who we are.


Reflective questions:

How has your nighttime awareness informed your daytime awareness? Or, the other way around?


Have your dreams ever revealed something to you that was immediately helpful in your waking life?


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