Embracing nightmares… what? For many of us the idea of embracing nightmares is a complete contradiction. Nightmares are something to be feared and avoided, not embraced… right?
This empowering Ted Talk will turn your ideas about nightmares upside down. Lucid dreaming teacher, Charlie Morley, explores the darker side of consciousness and discusses how embracing nightmares is beneficial. Rather than running away from the thing that scares you, Morley suggests the exact opposite – embrace it.
Starting with embracing frightening dreams, this technique can be applied to anything in your life that scares you. Rather than run away – lean into the it and explore the painful feeling. It turns out this is an empowering way to transform your fear.
Dreams Reveal Your Shadow
Dreams provide a doorway to your subconscious and unconscious. Sometimes you may uncover something that scares you. These are often repressed aspects of yourself. Carl Jung calls them your “shadow.”
If that sounds scary, it doesn’t have to be. When you are willing to explore your shadow and then integrate it into your consciousness, you free yourself from its grasp.
So what do you do when you have a nightmare? Your first instinct may be to suppress or control it. You may even dismiss it as “just a bad dream.”
This is exactly what Morley attempted to do – At first. But just like saying, “what you resist persists,” attempting to suppress the nightmares did NOT make them stop. Instead, they got worse.
Finally, Morley tried something revolutionary. Rather than denying his nightmares, he embraced them. And the transformation was profound.
Lucid Dreaming Transforms Nightmares
Dreams are an amazing tool to integrate different parts of yourself. They shed light on problems and offer solutions. In the talk, Morley discusses how he used a dream technique called lucid dreaming to shift his perspective.
Lucid dreaming is when you become aware that you are dreaming during the dream and then continue to dream. While you in the dream, you can control your own actions and make conscious decisions about what you are going to do in the dream. This is different from “normal” dreams where you don’t realize you had a dream until after you awaken.
As a long-time lucid dreamer, Morely decided to use lucid dreaming to transform his nightmares. Rather than running away from them, he did something unheard of – he faced them head on.
Simply changing his perspective on how he dealt with fear turned the nightmare into a valuable experience.
Lucid Living – Embracing Pain in Waking Life
The lessons of this Ted Talk are not limited to your dreams. Embracing nightmares is only one aspect of transforming negative experiences into valuable lessons.
The metaphor can be applied to your waking life as well. We all have feelings we’d rather feel and have experiences we’d rather not experience. That’s just part of life. And for most of us, our first instinct is to try to change that feeling.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: What you resist persists. Although it’s counter-intuitive, resisting painful feelings only increases them. Instead, lean into the feelings and fully experience them. Embrace the preverbal nightmare you are experiencing. And watch it transform.
Transforming my Loneliness into Love
I’ve personally experienced the positive transformation of embracing painful feelings many times. One experience, during my second Ayahuasca ceremony, illustrated the profound transformation that can occur when you fully embrace pain.
As the medicine started to take effect, I was hit with a profound feeling of loneliness. It was uncomfortable and I wanted nothing more than to make it stop. As I attempted to change the feeling, I remembered the shaman’s words, “whatever comes up – go with it and feel it.”
I took his words to heart and opened myself up to the loneliness – I embraced it. I said, “Bring it on loneliness,” and allowed myself to feel as lonely as I could.
Almost instantly, the lonely feeling transformed. My world opened up to a deep experience of love. I saw everything for what it really is – unconditional love and connection. It was the most beautiful feeling I had ever experienced. It is something I will never forget and still hold close to my heart.
I only got to experience such profound beauty because I had the courage to embrace painful feelings. These feelings we label “negative” aren’t negative at all. When you start “embracing nightmares” you learn that they’re not nightmares at all – they are truly beautiful gifts.
It’s your turn, Dreamer
I’d love to hear from you. What experiences have you had with embracing nightmares – either in your dreams or in your waking life? Leave your comments below.