Chapter 2 – Awakening to The Dream of Life

Posted by on Aug 8, 2012

The Holy Spirit, ever practical in His wisdom, accepts your dreams and uses them as a means for waking. You would have used them to remain asleep. – A Course In Miracles, Chapter 18, II 6:1-3

In 1999, I fell ill and was in an out of the hospital three separate times. The symptoms became so severe that I began having multiple out-of-body experiences. In many of them, I visited loved ones and family members. I did not always do this, however. There were times I just hovered around my body.

Then, the ceiling started to give way, and I felt pulled backward and upward. The further I was drawn up and away from my room, the more the walls and everything within the room below me began to fade and turn transparent. In amazement, I thought to myself, “The walls are not even solid!” Even now, I still look at the walls sometimes and wonder how they seem solid, when part of me knows that they are not. Solidity is an illusion.While most of my OBEs (Out of Body Experiences) occurred either when I fell asleep or woke up in the morning, one particular OBE occurred after I fainted and lost consciousness. One minute I was awake, and the next I found myself facing the ceiling, but not going through it. Unlike the other OBEs, I felt incredibly humbled and awed by the whole experience. As I turned myself around and looked down upon my body, I was amazed at the sense of peace and calm that I felt.

The room would fade to almost black, and I realized that I was not ready to lose everything. So, I started journeying back to my body, and as I did so, the room began to re-materialize. As I drew closer to my body, I hovered over it for a while, thinking how amazing it would be to return for one purpose: Love.

Suddenly, I would feel slammed back into an old familiar reality. “Oh, no,” I thought to myself. On the other side I didn’t anticipate I would be returning to an experience of pain, fear and weakness. Outside my body, I had no consideration for these apparent realities. Now, here I was again in the midst of all of them. However, one thing was different: while my life felt so real to me, I knew on some level it wasn’t.

A Dream Is a Wish Our Heart Makes

I presume that most new-agers readily accept as truth the notion that life is in many ways an illusion. For me, I now see life much like a dream; one which we do have free will and can dream whatever our hearts desire. However, our heart’s desires can reflect both conscious and subconscious levels of desire, will, thought, and emotion. As a result, we may not always be lucid concerning the choices we make or why we make them. Not that the choices we make are necessarily ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ They merely affect our earthbound experience, rather than affecting who we truly are in Spirit.

As most healers recognize, sometimes we may not always understand what is going on within our hearts. We may even subconsciously desire what is perhaps not in our own best interest, the world’s best interest, or the interest of advancing our self-awareness. Sometimes, we even end up consciously or subconsciously desiring what would create more pain or suffering for either ourselves or others. In fact, sometimes we may gain something out of our suffering, such as a subconscious need for self-punishment, humility, a need to feel like a martyr, a need to please others in codependent ways, etc.

Other times, we may have a conscious desire to attain something within the external world, misguidedly hoping such an attainment can bring us happiness. How many of us find out, in the end, that what we thought would bring us happiness has various strings attached? These strings might include stress, striving, more work and less play, worry, etc. Additionally, any happiness sought through these external means is always transitory, which means we need to keep actively engaged in its pursuit in order for it to mean anything.

If many of us were honest with ourselves, we would admit that we live our lives with a subconscious ache within; we feel something is missing. It is only missing because we are not awake enough to realize how full our glass truly is, rather than half-empty. And, because we are not awake, we do not always understand why our glasses remain half empty; which it is obviously because we do not understand the type of nourishment such a glass truly requires in order be perceived as full. It is as if we have conditioned ourselves to attempt to fill our glasses with smoke or gas, while not understanding that smoke or gas—much like our illusions—cannot easily be contained within a glass.

This type of consciousness is so visible and present within all our talk about manifesting abundance. We speak as if we do not have abundance, or that we need more of it. In reality, the majority of us are so very abundant that we can afford to waste it.

Thus, it is no wonder our world and ecology are in their present state of disarray. All of the world’s chaotic symbols scream at us to look at our state of overabundance and how it is creating a bit of a nightmare. Our excessive seeking for abundance seems to be corrupting us in both internal and external ways.

There is a short clip in the movie Apocalypto (Safina, 2006) that perfectly describes this human dilemma:1

And a Man sat alone, drenched deep in sadness. And all the animals drew near to him and said, ‘We do not like to see you so sad. Ask us for whatever you wish and you shall have it.’ The Man said, ‘I want to have good sight.’ The vulture replied, ‘You shall have mine.’ The Man said, ‘I want to be strong.’ The jaguar said, ‘You shall be strong like me.’ Then the Man said, ‘I long to know the secrets of the earth.’ The serpent replied, ‘I will show them to you.’ And so it went with all the animals. And when the Man had all the gifts that they could give, he left. Then the owl said to the other animals, ‘Now the Man knows much, he’ll be able to do many things. Suddenly I am afraid.’ The deer said, ‘The Man has all that he needs. Now his sadness will stop.’ But the owl replied, ‘No. I saw a hole in the Man, deep like a hunger he will never fill. It is what makes him sad and what makes him want. He will go on taking and taking, until one day the World will say, ‘I am no more and I have nothing left to give.’

In this same theme, isn’t it interesting how the world is full of lessons, courses, and seminars about how to ask our angels, ascended masters, and even Gaia for assistance with manifesting more of this or that? I would personally like to see more courses and seminars arise to teach us how to ask our angels, guides, ascended masters, and Gaia for the assistance we need in order to feel whole, loved, enough, and blessed in who we are and with what we already have. For, without feeling an inner recognition of the miracle of life in all its natural abundance and beauty, our wanting of external sustenance will be endless. Without having a core of loving ourselves unconditionally for who we are and what we innately possess, what we create will be enmeshed within our fears of not being or having enough. This fear of lack then ends up creating a larger reality that appears to be out of our control. This larger reality becomes a perfect symbol for an inner reality we have created that we try to deny and ignore.

While I do fully believe that manifestation within our dream of life does follow thought, I feel that the rabbit hole goes so much deeper than is theorized in movies such as The Secret. For example, do most of us really know our thoughts or desires well enough to have an answer for some of the following questions?

  • Why do we want what we want? What or who is really shaping our wants and desires? Why is this important?
  • Do we know our own unconscious thoughts and desires well enough to understand what is truly manifesting from them, especially at a collective level?
  • Do we truly know our own unconscious thoughts and desires well enough to know what subconscious messages, beliefs, and even brainwashing our ego has accepted, or been conditioned to accept, without question?
  • Who is truly in control when we live such unexamined lives?
  • What shapes the conscious and unconscious desires within our hearts?
  • Is it our unconscious desires and dreams that are in control, or is it the Self within us?

Before I discuss further on this subject, I would like to address the topic of dreaming in general, as well as what it means to be a lucid dreamer.

The Dreamer Who Is Asleep Within His Dreaming

There are various kinds of dreams that we can have while physically asleep, as well as various levels of lucidity within them, e.g. full lucidity, partial lucidity, and transitory lucidity. For instance, individuals who are adept at lucid dreaming are able to be part of their dreams, while simultaneously aware and cognizant that they are asleep. Many are then able to manipulate their dream content through conscious intention. Within lucid dreams, there is also the potential to confront dream characters, to ask questions, and to explore the dreamscape in ways that would otherwise be unfeasible. Overall, the lucid dreamer often has a degree of conscious control over the content and direction of his or her dreams.

Conversely, those who are not lucid or ‘awake’ within their dreams may find that the most they can do is go with the flow of their dreaming; feeling as if they are a participant in their dream adventures rather than the creator and director. They feel less in control.

This same process can happen within our earth dreaming; which, when I use either of the terms earth dreaming or dream of life, I am referring to my belief that our experiences in our waking life are dreams in the same way that our experiences at night are. I also believe that our earth dreaming manifests content and symbols that can be interpreted—and that arise from various psychodynamics within us—the same way our dreams at night do.

Regardless of whether we are referring to our dream of life or our dreams at night, the inability to achieve lucidity within them means that we cannot observe our dreams as illusions that are ‘made up’ by our minds. Instead they are treated as actual realities.

Without an ability to be more discerning regarding what we are dreaming, we may find ourselves encountering the same themes repeatedly, because we have not identified what is driving our dreams at a core level. We are left without any tools to be able to confront various elements within our dreams. Nor do we know how to ask our dream for guidance, while paying attention to all the symbolic wisdom pouring forth.

Ultimately, we can learn how to become more lucid through changing the way we treat our dreams: as either real or illusions. Sometimes, what blocks our process to achieving lucidity, however, is that we often take our dreams too seriously and judge them, which brings us to the topic of the next segment.

A Dream Is Just a Dream—It Is Free From Judgment

In order to encourage a positive and nonjudgmental attitude toward what we individually and collectively manifest within our dream of life, let us consider the dreams that we experience while in the physical act of sleeping. Nothing we dream while sleeping is good or bad, right or wrong. Very few individuals blame themselves for what they dream at night.

In such dreams, we can commit all sorts of sins and crimes, including murder, revenge, theft, and rape, as well as experience being raped, tortured, frightened, persecuted, etc. Yet, when we physically wake up, our conscience remains largely unscathed. We merely see our dreams as the filtering and processing of particular beliefs and emotions. Through this filtering process, the dream itself creates different experiences for us to dream about: some pleasurable, some less pleasurable, some neutral, some holy, and some criminal. Upon awakening, we often use and interpret our dreams for the purpose of helping us transform some of our deepest fears, or to identify and meet various emotional needs or desires—conscious or unconscious.

Personally, I relish any dream I have, whether divine or nightmarish. To me, each dream is exciting. I love all the tapestry of symbols, whatever kind they are. I believe that it helps to view dreams in general—including our dream of life—as an expression of ‘thought energy.’ However, by using the term thought energy, I wish to go beyond what is presently considered ‘thought.’ To me, thought energy includes more than the thoughts generated by our minds or expressed through language. It includes the deeper thoughts that unconsciously shape our lifestyles, actions, and hearts. (I will discuss this in more detail in chapter 4.)

Ultimately, our dreams usually reflect two main types of content:

  • aspects of our conscious lives and conscious emotions
  • aspects of our unconscious lives and unconscious emotions

In showing us the latter, our dreams may help us process all parts of ourselves, thus making us whole. Such dreams may reveal emotions or memories that have become trapped, denied, or suppressed.

Take, for example, certain fears and how our dreams may transform them into a physical adventure. In this physical adventure, we may find ourselves chased or pursued by something ‘out to get us.’ In our dreams, we may even try to run, flee, or even fly away from what is making us afraid. Once we awaken, however, we know there was nothing that we really needed to be afraid of. We understand that these symbols are not necessarily meant to be taken literally, but often represent something emotional, internal, and subconscious that we might be attempting to suppress or run away from.

Even nightmares can become interesting or inspiring when we analyze them to see what they are really trying to process or communicate. Often, their meanings are easily explained. We rarely think, ‘I should not have dreamed that.’ Nor do we feel guilty, or feel less than who we are because of any dream we had.

Moreover, have you ever noticed that your dreams are very present and in the moment? Everything is just felt and experienced in a present tense. I notice for myself that I rarely have dreams where I worry about the future or dwell upon something past. If I dream of the past or future, I am right there in the present moment of its experience.

Life can be the same way if we allow it to be.

In addition to all of this, I do believe we even choose certain stories, or dream adventures, before we even incarnate. Some of us may be looking for different kinds of challenges, for there are challenges involved in coming into the universal dream (i.e. our dreaming as it occurs at a collective level) to live a story as almost any particular kind of avatar we could imagine.

In fact, I feel that our earth incarnations are chosen much in the same ways as a writer might make choices regarding the writing of an outline for a script. A writer may plan how the story is going to unfold, but in the writing and experiencing of it—for the writer must experience the story through writing it, in order to write it—the outline can change, grow, or even lead down a very different path than expected. Certain characters may be created that play an integral part in the protagonist’s lessons and adventures. And new characters may be dreamed up, while old ones exit. I believe our lives develop much the same way, and that these outlines of our lives are designed by us, and, in part, accessible to us through our astrology charts, the lines of our palms, numerology, etc.

With a better understanding of our lives as more relating to our being dreamers, as opposed to the concept of living in ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ ways, we can let go of all our judgments in order to become our own unbiased ‘dream dictionaries’ (i.e. our own interpreters for the symbols we manifest within our lives). We can be open with and honest about all the array of symbols encountered, without feeling we need to deny that they exist. This makes denying what we are dreaming, or denying any symbols we manifest into our dreams, an unnecessary act of fear. In fact, if we can fully see what we are dreaming, as well as our dream’s symbols, while maintaining a loving space for ourselves, we may become a ‘watcher’ of the dream. This takes us into a more lucid state that allows a more detached stance concerning the symbols we create.

Becoming the Dream Dictionary

In my teenage years, I began to have amazing nightly dreams and all sorts of nightmares and other strange sleep occurrences, including sleep paralysis and hypnagogic hallucinations (see glossary). The hypnagogic hallucinations felt very intense and real, although I knew they weren’t. I remember one time, while experiencing sleep paralysis, and in my awake yet paralyzed state (because my body was still asleep), I had a hypnogogic hallucination that a wolf was attacking me. I tried to scream for help, wondering at how very real it all seemed, and wondering if someone would answer my call. The realness of the vision was overwhelming to me.

Exerting much conscious effort, and still in my paralyzed state, I managed to move enough to crawl across the floor. Edging my way little by little, I hoped to reach my mother’s room to get her help to wake me up. Or, at least this is what I thought I was doing. The energy I exerted thinking that I was crawling felt so real that when I woke up, I felt physically exhausted. To my surprise, I was still in my bed, not having crawled anywhere at all. This demonstrates the power of our dreams and how real they can seem, even when they are not.

After this episode, I began to have sleep paralysis quite frequently, sometimes four or five times a week. After a while, I became less frightened and more intrigued by these experiences, as well as by all of the vivid dreams and nightmares I was experiencing. By 1999, I had bought my first dream journal and dictionary, not yet sure if my dreams meant anything, but willing to find out.

As I started writing out many of my dreams and looking them up in my dream dictionary to find out what various symbols stood for, I was amazed at what I was learning about myself. The symbols resonated so completely with what was happening in my ‘real’ life.

From continuously reading my dreams for what they meant, an intuitive language began to form; which I would eventually throw the dream dictionary away, not needing it anymore. I simply examined the dream and read the scenarios, as if I were describing emotions through analogies. For anyone who wants to know how to do this, you simply tag ‘I feel like I…’ or ‘It feels like I…’ before the symbols you encounter in a dream. For example, “I feel like I have been heading down a certain road in life, but I crashed and got thrown off course.” So, if you put ‘It feels like I…’ in front of almost any statement, and turn other symbols into part of the analogy, you can achieve further understanding and insight about the emotions or memories that you may be dealing with.

It didn’t take long before I became adept at remembering my dreams. Sometimes, I could remember up to five dreams a night, even though I had not woken up. I do not know how, I just could remember them all in sequence. When I stopped recording my dreams, I lost this ability.

By twenty-two years of age, I learned to take my dream dictionary with me into my lucid dreams. I was now ‘awake’ within my dreams, no longer paralyzed, and developed a feel for what things going on around me meant or symbolized.

As one example, my absolute favorite dream was a dream I had of the devil. He was chasing me, and I was trying to avoid his evil ‘touch.’ In the dream, I felt that if he succeeded in touching me, that I would magically become as evil as he was. Regardless, he caught up with me, and the very thing I feared would happen transpired. At this point, I became lucid, and decided to consciously confront the situation. I thought to myself, “Ok, I am touched, so what else can the devil do to me?” No longer feeling any fear, I approached the devil and laid my hands upon him. I sent him my love and healing. He struggled for a bit, but as I continued to touch him, his evil nature quickly disappeared. At that point, he turned around to thank me. How was this possible? Once lucid within my dreaming, I then knew what the devil symbolized: my running from my own negative emotions, seeing them as evil. I understood that what I needed was to ‘touch’ them in a healing way—with love of course.

Around this time in my life, I embarked on a path of believing that, whether asleep or awake, our dreams always mirror our beliefs about life and ourselves. If truth be told, life can be examined—much like our dreams at night—for what is going on below the surface of our conscious thinking, attracting, and acting. Life can be examined for what I like to call its fruits. Within our earthly lives, the ‘fruits’ represent objects, states, conditions, or material forms we have manifested into and onto the dreamscape of our lives. Within the dreams we experience while physically asleep, the fruits are all the symbols that the dreamer manifests, which reveal what is going on in the dreamer’s consciousness or unconsciousness. These fruits make up the content for us to discover the dream dictionary within ourselves as it relates to our lives.

During this same period in my life, I met a Reiki Master. She used a dream dictionary in her sessions, as well as a totem book.

Adding To Our Dream Dictionaries

In the early 1990’s, a friend recommended that I see two different healers that she had seen. She attributed her cure of endometriosis to both of them. One healer was a spiritual and psychic healer. The other healer was a Reiki Master who used both a dream dictionary and book of animal totems in her sessions. I felt most drawn to this second healer, because she offered me two more ways to use a dream dictionary:

  • to read animal totems: animals that are believed within certain cultures to have symbolic or spiritual significance
  • to decode clairvoyant messages: a form of psychic ability where one receives messages through mental pictures

After buying the totem book that she used in her sessions, I discovered that I could even use it to decipher what it meant if certain animals crossed my path or came to me in dreams.

As for using a dream dictionary or totem book in order to receive intuitive insight, it is not that difficult. One simply clears oneself, connects with one’s higher Self, quiets the mind, and then asks if there is any totem or symbol that can reveal itself or convey a message. Read anything that comes up, looking it up in your dream dictionary or totem book, even if you feel you made it up within your own mind. The more you trust the process and any symbols that arise—even those you may feel you simply made up—the more you can learn the reason why you thought of them.

(Please note: the best process is one that focuses upon self-discovery, rather than fortune-telling. Otherwise, you might end up seeking to overly control your dream of life, rather than allowing it to gracefully unfold.)

Most importantly, know that the internal dream dictionary that we create for ourselves is very flexible; it can pick up new symbols to add to its repertoire of symbolic language. We create the language; so, if we add various tools to our language, our dreams will begin to use them.

After learning about feng shui (see glossary) in 2000, my perception concerning the dream of life underwent another huge shift. I was amazed that the same dream dictionary definitions for parts of a house seemed to apply to feng shui as well. With feng shui, I found I could even read the energy of my life through the placement of objects in my home. I could make sense of how my life flowed. This is because every object and its placement in our home can be used to read what is going on within us in some way. In feng shui, everything means something, because everything is manifested from our thoughts and beliefs.

By 2005, it was becoming easy for me to apply the same process toward understanding the symbolism within the symptoms of various conditions which I and others suffered from. As I began to help others with their healing, I could read a person from their symptoms or illnesses, the same way one could read a symbol on a tarot card.

Finally, over the last few years, I have found that feng shui is everywhere, including within nature. I will discuss this concept in the chapter on earth feng shui. I no longer believe that everything in life is random, even in nature. I believe that everything is symbolic and an expression of energy. What is happening within our world is simply another level of our dreaming; it is a collective dream that we are experiencing together.

Becoming a Lucid Dreamer—Using the Dream to Know Ourselves & Our World

You may wish to keep a journal of your nightly dreams and daily experiences. View both as dream states that can be interpreted and addressed. If you have ever felt drawn to learning more about totems, or symbols, or even feng shui, now is the perfect time. Through paying attention to both your waking and your sleeping ‘dreams,’ there is the opportunity to become more ‘lucid’ and neutral within them. Synchronicities and symbols may begin to manifest that are not merely coincidence. You can then realize how your earth experience offers you a beautiful tapestry of life that is full of magic and synchronicity. You can allow this magic to speak to you through all of its symbols and events. -S. Peterson, New World Healing Deck

I was so fascinated with learning to read my dreams that I was continually taking this type of education to a higher and more inclusive expression. The first step was interpreting my dreams at night to find my ‘self.’ The next step was interpreting visions and divination cards to receive other intuitive messages about my experiences and personal world. The third step was recognizing that I could also read my home, its energy flows, and various totems for their wisdom. There was even a step in which I turned my focus toward seeing a bigger picture concerning events and symbols that were manifesting within the world; interpreting them in dreamlike fashion as well. I now use the dream of life to answer the questions I asked at the beginning of this chapter:

  • Why do we want what we want? What or who is really shaping our wants and desires? And why is this important?
  • Do we know our own unconscious thoughts and desires well enough to understand what is truly manifesting from them, especially at a collective level?
  • Do we truly know our own unconscious thoughts and desires well enough to know what subconscious messages, beliefs, and even brainwashing our ego has accepted (or been conditioned to accept) without question?
  • Who is really, truly in control when we live such unexamined lives?
  • What shapes the conscious and unconscious desires within our hearts?
  • Is it our unconscious desires and dreams that are in control, or is it the Self within us?

Once we can see what is happening within the world as if it were a dream, we may then understand how everything is a form of communication about our consciousness. Any worldly symbol that we dream up might have a message to convey, be it pollution, poverty, illuminati conspiracies (see chapter 6), food and chemical sensitivities (see chapter 5), rising earth frequency, decrease in the strength of the magnetic field2, natural disasters, and everything else that may create fear and imbalance in our lives; not forgetting to mention all that is awe inspiring, miraculous, and beautiful, too. Sometimes the miracle of life becomes lost among our seemingly mundane and daily routines.

Even the more destructive and cataclysmic events that can occur on a global scale can become watered down and quickly forgotten as we return to our old lifestyles again. However, the miracle of life when exhibiting a state of health within our world and environment is a symbol of our true and natural state, one that is peaceful and in balance. Wherever imbalance is perceived it is simply a symbol of where we began to dream and think in ways which reflected that we had lost an awareness of the purity and truth that we are.

This book may seem to discuss in greater depth the symbols in our lives that cause mankind the most fear, imbalance, and lack of peace. My intention is not to make them our sole focus, but to see and then release them in order to more purposefully create a bridge between Heaven and Earth; a bridge that comes from conforming to and knowing the beauty of our lotus nature, knowing that this nature is separate from the ways and flows of the muddy water on which it floats.

In the end, and according to my own view of life, all seems to have meaning that relates back to something called the collective consciousness—the bigger thoughts beneath the bigger dream we are all dreaming together (defined in greater depth in chapter 4). Through a detached awareness, as if examining a dream, we can see the collective consciousness for what it is, what it represents, and what it is telling us to think and be. Through detached awareness, we can identify the deeper fears, habits, addictions, and attitudes that are going on beneath it, and what messages may be conveyed. In this way, the dream can teach us how to become more of who and what we truly are, as well as how to create more freedom for ourselves.

Before I can discuss all of this in more depth, first I need to discuss my own view of the Law of Attraction within this process; a process of becoming whole and wholly loved.


[1] Apocolypto, 2006, Mel Gibson and Farhad Safinia, Icon Productions

[2] Certain factions within the new age movement believe that the Earths frequency is rising and that the strength of the magnetic shield is decreasing and that this is a sign of a process they call ‘ascension’. I am here not stating that these occurrences are proven and true. However, in chapter 10, I offer other ways we can read them.

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Mandy Peterson is a psychic visionary, empath, channel and EFT Practitioner. She is the author of the book “I Am the Lotus, Not the Muddy Pond,” and a regular columnist for the metaphysical magazine, Bellesprit. As an empathic healer and reader, Mandy works 1-to-1 with clients, helping them to achieve clarity, peace and balance. For more information, see the “About” page.