by Kezia Vida
Let’s get this out of the way first: nightmares are very common and nothing to be ashamed of. For most, there is nothing in waking life even close to the sheer terror experienced in dreams.
Somehow, it is when we are asleep that we come face to face with our biggest fears: seeing an ex-boyfriend with that girl from school, discovering your beloved doll is infested with maggots, or simply, feeling utterly lost and alone.
Other times, nightmares can reference moments in our past that were truly terrifying and/or traumatizing. Nightmares can also show up in the form of night terrors or sleep paralysis, and can at times be extremely disruptive to our waking lives.
There’s no doubt that when we work with our nightmares, we are traversing through delicate inner territory. The journey is rarely easy or comfortable. We have every good reason to avoid it completely. But this would miss the sacred opportunity that nightmares offer: the chance to transform uncomfortable feelings into something potent, clarifying, and creative. How?
Entering the Nightmare
First, you must ground yourself in an internal sense of support. Find a vision or single image that immediately connects you to the feeling of being loved.
It could be a memory of someone who supported you, a beautifully supportive dream, or something you created that you found particularly beautiful. Whatever it is, return to that touchstone whenever you need as you work with your shadows and wounds.
From that foundation, prepare to enter the nightmare by releasing all thoughts related to shame or judgment.
Visualize the nightmare, and allow yourself to experience the feelings and sensations there in a vulnerable, embodied way. Be curious and open to all of the information that arises as you visualize the nightmare.
As personal thoughts or blocks arise in the mind, recognize them and then allow them to pass in the moment. Be present with how the feelings in the nightmare affect your body, and notice precisely when you feel those sensations during your daily life.
With these simple steps, you will begin to connect the dots between the feelings you’ve avoided and how that has influenced your choices and behaviors.
Nightmare Medicine isn’t for everyone
That being said, facing our deepest wounds is not something to take lightly. Many of us have chosen to deny or suppress events in our past because that was the best way to survive. And for some, that avoidance continues to be the right choice.
What’s important is that we make an empowered decision about processing the feelings that come up in nightmares.
Do the work of creating a firm, heart-centered, and deeply supportive container around you as you undertake the journey. Trust your intuition and honor what it’s telling you about what will support you best.
Slow down or stop if you feel overwhelmed, ungrounded, or out of balance. Return to the sensation of being loved and supported as much as possible.
The Nightmare Path
Nightmares put us in touch with our pain, which is always scary. But fear is not necessarily the villain we have made it out to be.
Without it, we would never understand the meaning of courage. If we can find the courage to be present with the ways the world has wounded us, we discover an essential, exquisite part of who we are – our unique vision of how things could be.
After all, things hurt us only if we hold a concept of how they could be otherwise. By being present to our wounds, we receive the gift of knowing ourselves and the full potency of our vision.
Through that deep knowing we can understand what it means to love without condition and how transformative such a love can be.
I view difficult dreams as one of the most powerful pathways back to the heart, and one that has heightened significance in these times where the external world can feel so nightmarish.
If you’re feeling ready to begin this work and would like to learn more about how you can be supported in this process, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
And for anyone suffering or struggling with their nightmares, I will keep the energies of gentleness, tenderness, and courage held for you always in my heart, and the hope that the time will soon come for you to find your way forward.
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About the Author:
Kezia Vida has been using her dreams for healing and transformation since 2009, and working with other dreamers to do the same since 2012. Her life’s mission is to support others in discovering the potent and precious truth in their dreams, and promote the multitude of ways dreams can be used for creative inspiration, healing trauma, and nurturing powerful, loving relationships. To make dreams a big part of your life, check out the Dream Wisely planner, a unique tool to support dreamwork throughout the year, or follow along her path of dreams on instagram or Facebook. She lives in her hometown of New Orleans, LA with her permaculture loving husband Jordan and their dog Yogi.
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