One of my favorite things to do during my stay at the ashram was to wander through the forests.
On one of my adventures I came across an unusual looking butterfly. It had a decent wingspan of about 3 inches dark brown with yellow edges. There were big blue dots lining the outer expanse of the wings.
What stood out for me was the body. I took a photo and then brought the image up on the camera. I am always looking for faces or character images in things. This butterfly didn’t disappoint. It reminded me of a shaman surrounded by a cloak. His head was bent in prayer or sadness. The image is pretty clear on the face and body.
I have done some digital graphics with the photos I took that day and played around with the butterflies artistic potential. I was drawn to its vibe of reserve.
I came across an article on the Mourning Cloak and could understand a bit more why it caught my interest.
The butterfly, itself, lives longer than most butterflies. It can live up to 12 months, coming out of aestivation in summer and then hibernating again in the winter until early spring. When the weather turns cold it replaces some of the water stored in its body to anti-freeze-like chemicals such as glycols. It then rests under a cavity or tree camouflage until spring.
The name, Mourning Cloak Butterfly, is thought to symbolize someone who wears a cloak of mourning a loved one. The native symbolism believes that the dark colored wings represent death while the white spots on the tips of the wings represent hope and new beginnings. The Mourning Cloak is considered a spiritual creature who can guide you to safety or direct you home if you become lost. As a totem it is believed to teach you about the importance of griefing and recognition of loss.
On further exploration, I came across some information tied to the celtic goddess Brighid. She is the goddess of fire, healing and inspiration. It is believed that Brighid brings new life and hope and is often seen as the Mourning Cloak butterfly. I like that.
My name, Vanessa, means “a group of butterflies”. I am drawn often to insects as I hike or travel. The amazing designs of nature alway make for a fascinating muse.
Dream Yoga conclusion. A conversation with the little girl
Conclusion to Concrete Dream Series…for now
I enjoy reading fellow bloggers’ thoughts. I came across a sentence that mentioned that doing things out of obligation or guilt can not be sustained. When you act out of love it’s repeatable.
Love is a renewable resource.
I have done many things in my life out of a sense of duty.
How wonderful it is to change the way I think about what I chose to do in service of others.
This week, in the Dream Yoga class (hosted by Yasodhara Ashram), I committed to explore further the people in my Concrete Dream. I decided to zoom in on a conversation I had in the dream with the little white haired girl when I first approached her on the stairwell in the stadium.
“ I ask the little girl if she is lost?”
She replies “you don’t know the dangers here”. She says she can’t trust me.
I am stunned and quick to negate her.
I feel that I missed out on being curious about what she meant by “the dangers” and why she couldn’t trust me. My dream self didn’t give her a chance to explain before rushing in with a response.
There is a practice that I can do that enables me to speak with the child through asking questions and then recording the response through journaling. Since both characters in the dream are representative of my personality traits I can both ask and answer the queries until I come to a point that I feel is conclusive.
I decided to take my van out for a drive, park in the coulees close to my home and lit some incense I had brought back from Bali. Breathing in the aromatic air I quickly sunk into a comfortable space.
Pen in hand with plenty of paper to gather my responses I decided on my first question.
What dangers are here that I don’t know about?
If I put myself out there and deviate from the safe and comfortable stairwell I am on I will get stuck again. I will become anxious and want to retreat. I will find myself back in the stairwell moving through life compelled by guilt and a sense of duty. You do your best work when it’s focused on someone else’s needs instead of ours.
How can I become aware and change my thoughts and behaviors to mitigate getting stuck?
I am quick to act impulsively. It’s my life that is being affected so what’s the rush?
Is this impulsive behavior what I meant by not being able to trust?
Yes, in part. The intuitive better response is there and I do come to understand it eventually. Often though, it’s after I have acted upon something and not before.
How long do I have to wait?
Patience is a suit that I could wear more often.
In the red tube in the dream, I get stuck and retreat. If I led with my heart open would I have made it to the blue seats?
There are many ways to get to the “blue seats”. They are not the destinations per say but places to rest along the way. Treat them like markers in the journey. When I need a moment to regroup or a reminder to rely on my practices or tools I should think of them.
My questions and responses continue for a while until I am satisfied with a “concrete” understanding of the missed opportunity in my dream conversation with the little girl.
I can imagine her smiling at me. She is feeling heard and understood. I am even beginning to think that she trusts me just a bit more than she did before.
Love is a renewable resource. Loving myself enough to seek out awareness of why I do the things I do, feel the way I feel and say the things I say is a gift of compassion to me.
I hope you have enjoyed this dream series. I find the practices extremely helpful to unlocking the inner guru.
Dream Yoga as a practice to understand your higher self.
Concrete Dream #4 Blog
If you have followed me along on my interpretation of a dream I had while at residence at Yasodhara Ashram, thank you for having interest in this journey. I have had some very meaningful dream sequences in the ashram setting. I attribute the depth of the details in the dream visions to my ability to be open to receiving wisdom. It’s easy to do while staying in the community as it seems like the universe is eager to impart any knowledge it can when I am in a receptive mood to unpack it.
In this week’s dream yoga session, I explored further into the symbolism behind the “red tunnel”. My intuition is leading me to think that I should pay attention to following my heart. I have learned about myself that I tend to retreat to safe ground when I get stuck. I have so many unfinished journeys that I have started in my life.
What’s stopping me from moving forward?
I have been thinking about blood flow. In the red tunnel that I find myself and the little girl in the dream, there is blockage. I meditated within the tunnel and as I did rocks and debris fell around me. The sides of the tunnel are coated with “Plaque”. It felt like I was building a layer of calcium to make the passage almost impassable. Why am I making my journey harder? What am I still resisting? I sit longer in the tunnel, practicing patience. There appears to be a golden glow coming through in cracks. I am thinking about divine light and what it means to me. I breathe in 4 times slowly and steadily. Hold my breath for 4 counts then release the breath for 4 counts. As I release the breath I chant “Absorb the light”.
I know I have within me all the tools I require to make my way through this tunnel and lead the little white haired girl to the blue chairs.
I imagine that I have a rock pick in my hand. The rock pick symbolizes discipline and persistence needed to chip away at the build up around my heart. The build up that surrounds my ability to trust myself and others. I can open my heart. I am confident I know how.
Again I breathe in the light, hold the breath to intensify the light’s ability to break down my barriers. Push out slowly and like a magnetic hold onto the light’s soothing balm. Allowing it to be absorbed into my heart and my soul.
OM NAMAH SIVAYA is a sanskrit mantra that roughly translates as an appeal to destroy all ignorance and illusion that stands in our way. A plea to remove obstacles to obtain greater clarity of our higher purpose. Sometimes obstacles are things in which we are very attached to. They can be habits, things, people, values or ideals. Asking to rid oneself of these things we have held as valuable is not an easy path to follow. You chant the mantra to ask for them to be destroyed. Trusting that you are making way for something more akin to your higher self.
This week, I plan to chant the above mantra to help focus on the destruction needed within the red tube.
To add further assistance I have drawn on my Mudra cards. These are oracle type cards that have instructions on how to arrange your hands in certain gestures and pressure points. They relate to the chakras. I have chosen a gesture to practice on increasing my ability to trust. It’s called the Chinmaya Mudra.
The variety of yoga practice available is astounding. Once I started to explore options, I realized that I had only to focus on what made sense for me and most importantly start doing it on a regular basis. Nothing was built that lasted in a day. It takes time, effort, discipline and focus to clean up the pile of rubble I created within my internal pathways.
My work continues with the symbolism contained in the “Little Girl In The Concrete Stairwell” dream.
I have chosen to take a closer look within the red tube.
The dream sequence….
I find myself in a red tube that reminds me of a water slide. I lead and the little girl follows me. We are scootching along on our bums with our legs out before us. It’s awkward for me and I soon realize that I have to adjust to a crawling position. We have gone a ways before we encounter a bend in the tube that points upward. I navigate the rise only to come to another bend that is tighter and descends. I hear a sigh behind me. The little girl knows that we will have to backtrack out of the tube. I turn my head and notice there is a porthole. I can see that we are adjacent to the stairwell. Before I can get my bearings the little girl starts to make her way back through the tube. I resign to follow her.
As I worked with the meaning of the red tube this week it was pointed out to me that there is a lot of movement in the dream.
Do I ever sit still and just be with my surroundings? Do I have to keep moving in order to feel satisfied?
I have decided to go back into the red tube at the point where I get stuck and recreate the moment in meditation.
I am contemplating the red tube. Is it blocked? Have I blocked it? It feels like my heart or a piece of my heart ventricles. Why is there a window? A window in my heart? Do I have an open heart?
When it comes to matters of the heart, how’s it going for me?
If the red tube is my heart why isn’t there any fluid moving within it? It’s dry which makes it hard to push myself through the tunnel. Where is the lubrication that soothes the heart’s inner workings?
I am starting to see connections and associations with the symbols and colors in the dream sequence. Red blood cells come to mind, then white blood cells to blue blood. Blood is a life source in which we all rely on to exist.
I was born with a low white blood cell count and spent the first several years of my life indoors trying to staff off any infections or diseases. My immunity to such things was very low. Is the little girl all dressed in white with platinum hair related to my ability to fight off that which can harm me? She does tell me in the beginning of the dream that I don’t know the dangers here.
According to Google, white blood cells are at war constantly in your body. They move up and down through your entire system on guard for harmful bacteria or disease. They protect you against harm.
Red blood cells carry oxygen and help in ridding the body of toxins. Too many and they can thicken, clot and eventually block the flow.
When blood leaves the heart it is full of oxygen and is bright red but when returning to the heart it has less oxygen and turns a dark red or appears“blue”.
This is all fascinating but does it have to do with my dream?
The tube is red. If I follow the logic and trust my instincts my blockage is connected to when I have navigated away from my heart and I am trying to find my way back. I make it into the tube, I can see where I have been and how I got there. Where I get stuck is how to feed my heart to continue my journey. How do I keep the blood flowing?
Blue blood manifests when seen through light. It is on a journey back to the heart to be once again revived.
I am committed to getting comfortable in the red tube to see If I can open the window and let the breeze blow through. Maybe the little girl will stay with me there if I remain calm and at peace. I turn on a slow rhythmic beat in the background. It’s something new I am trying while meditating to incorporate vibrational sounds.
For now I am keeping myself still but not sure how long I can make it last.
Send me light if you have any to spare and together we can see our way to the blue chairs.
This week I have some dream work to do. Pick a symbol from my dream and incorporate it into a daily meditation or opportunity to use other yoga practices. I am still working with the little girl in the stadium stairwell. I have chosen to explore the adult who follows and then tries to lead the little girl away from the steps.
Here is a reminder of the scenes of the dream I am working with…
“I ask the girl if she is lost?” She replies that I don’t know the dangers here. I quickly retort that I am an adult and she can trust me as well as my ability to make judgment calls. I feel like I have to prove to her that “I know best”. She turns away from me and starts walking up the stairs.
Further on in the dream, after we have been walking for quite some time I see a red waterslide tube. I suggest we take it as I assume it will lead us out of the stadium faster. She reluctantly agrees to try the slide. I go first and she follows. The tube goes up and bends then slants downward. I get stuck trying to navigate the curve. I hear a sigh behind me and then the little girl starts to back up out of the tube. She doesn’t seem upset. In fact I feel she is resigned to the knowledge that I was unable to navigate beyond the tube. That I was bound to get stuck.Once back on the stairs I fall into line with the child and she starts to descend this time.
We don’t talk and with our heads bowed with trudge downward.
A landing appears and it gives us a view of the stage. There are big blue seats that are positioned to face the platform. Rows and rows of them are visible on the horizon. I get the impression that some of them have beings in them even though I can’t see any. The vantage point of sitting in the seats seems to appeal to the little girl. We don’t sit down though. I feel like I am not in a mind space to understand how to “take a seat”.
To give the dream context, I consider my conscious concerns. Why am I thinking about this dream now ( I had the dream three years ago)?
What is coming in my life right now that my inner guru believes I could benefit from revisiting this message?
I have been struggling with how to add value. I felt part of a community the last few years going to the ashram. I promised my husband I would stay home this year and help support him in his challenges. Be careful when you ask someone how they need you to show up for them. It seemed easy enough to say that I would stay home. Yet, here I am, getting very antsy to wander.
I have started winter hiking, even bought a pair of snowshoes. The van is back and I still have some repairs to do on it to get it ready for summer. I am almost set up to volunteer locally and still connect through Zoom classes with the ashram. Garden season is coming soon and I have started some of my seeds already.
The adult in me says that all of this should be enough to make my life rich and satiate my hunger for more.
The little girl keeps moving. She keeps searching for more.
I chose to work with the symbolism of the adult me that interacts with the little girl throughout her journey in the stairwell.
Today, through actively creating a “waking dream” I sit in one of the blue chairs. A waking dream involves creating visual images in your mind that can be run like a movie. In my visualization, the little girl is beside me in another chair. We are relaxed with our eyes loosely gazing around. I feel a sense of calmness. There is no hurry here. No need to make a quick judgment. I can be patient and let whatever comes reveal itself. I feel that the child is happy and content to bask in the comfort of the soft cushioned seat. We both seem to be very small and can curl up easily to lay down in the cushions. I feel like I am in a cocoon or hammock. The back of the seat is formed from flower petals. Giant lily shaped arms embrace us. I breathe in a citrusy wisp of bliss. I breathe out and absorb the light and wisdom freely given by the chairs’ enchantment. The chairs hold us in a gentle lullaby and whisper encouragement.
The child knows that the chairs are a place she can come and be held in divine light. She was created in the light. It sustains her. Protects her when she feels threatened. It surrounds her with soft warmness and unconditional love. She is growing into the light just those who occupy the seats that are connected by the community.
I am an adult here and yet I feel like an infant. A moment of revelation is upon me. My ego is still very strong and fighting for control. It is in pursuit of selfish service instead of selfless service. The need to be recognized and acknowledged feeds its sense of self worth and value. Why does it matter so much how I go about contributing to my community or the world as long as I act on it. As long as I contribute in some way that helps others it matters not what that ends up being.
You get ahead most times in the corporate world by being the aggressor. Appearing confident that you have all the answers and can lead others to success. It becomes vital to your very survival to continually show your worth to anyone who will pay attention to you.
You measure your self worth by the feedback you receive from others as to how worthy you are of positive affirmations.
Living a life full of distractions that involve how others think you should act, react and contribute can be tempting.
What if you sat in the “blue” chair with your sweet, innocent and pure childlike self beside you and contemplated life on your terms?
What does she want to experience?
How does she look at the world and her place in it?
If you let her lead, where would you go and what would you do differently?
I always get so much out of these classes from Yasodhara. If you are curious I recommend taking a look at their offerings or going to visit them.
The ashram is magical on a snowy winters night. I loved to roam all over the property at dusk and into the evening. Trying to capture just an ounce of the peace that embodies the entire grounds.
There is a song that is in the ashram songbook called Caravan Song by Alanda Greene. The song lyrics start out with “Wanderer”, “Worshipper” “lover of leaving” “Come join the caravan”. It suits the place and it suits me also.
Dream Yoga is understanding the symbols used by your subconscious.
Dream Yoga #1 in series
Before I visited the ashram for the first time, I was afraid of my dreams. Most of them made no sense to me and often involved me losing something. I would then spend the entire dream trying to find it again. I wasn’t successful in my search for the illusive item.I was under the impression that my mind was confirming that which I already knew. I would never be good enough in any way to achieve that which I searched for. I was a fake and had spent most of my life just trying to cover up that stark reality that I thought must be so obvious to everyone around me.
What if none of that was true? What I thought that my subconscious was trying to tell me was beneficial insights about myself, for me, within me and even in spite of me.
What if my mind was with me instead of against me? How would that change my feelings towards my dreams?
Dream yoga is a process of unpacking messages freely given by our hidden guru. The process is an incredible tool that guides us through a new understanding of ourselves and the path we are on. It gives us instructions, once understood, that can literally change our lives.
Most therapists will tell their clients that the answers they seek to their obstacles and challenges in life are within them to discover. The counsellor is there to help bring it out of you or at least make some sense of it.
I am not saying that dream yoga is a replacement for therapy. What I am saying is that it has helped me to understand myself better. Sometimes I even stand in awe of what my inner self can help me see and change within me.
Keeping a dream journal is a crucial step to the process. Documenting the date, time and as much details as you can about what occurred will help you as you discover what is the meaning of the dream and the sequences that manifest. I was reminded that even day dreams and journeys my mind takes during waking hours can be part of the recordings.
I thought it might be interesting for you readers to come along with me as I explore some of my more technicolor dreams I have had in the past. I am hoping that I can encourage more dreams to visit me in the present and future as I am eager to gain valuable insights that can help me navigate my present.
My last blog post was a recount of a dream I had two years ago while living at the ashram for a few winter months. I encourage you to go back and read that one as I am going to continue on instead of going back and rewriting the scenes here.
More Details about the dream….
After the initial recording of the dream I reflected on whether I could recall anymore details.
The girl- She looked like me when I was about that age. White/blonde hair, I think I had a dress like that in photos I have seen of me when I was young with the white socks also. I have an overwhelming feeling that she doesn’t trust me to navigate her out of the stairwell into safety. She keeps her head down so I don’t know what her face looks like.
The stadium- It’s a huge place that reminds me of ones we have seen rock concerts and sporting events in. The stairwell is grey concrete and wide. There doesn’t seem to be any handrails. I don’t recall seeing any signs with directions on them either.
The tube- It’s red and goes down for a bit then raises up. That’s where we get stuck.
Trying to go up. I can see the stairwell at that point as there is a window in the tube which shows that we are by the stairwell. I am in front of the girl in the tube and it’s me that gets stuck and decides to turn back. She has to scrunch backward for us to get out of the tube.
The empty seating area by the stage. The seats are padded and blue. I can see rows and rows of them from this vantage point. The stage is empty.
The Absent Parents- Why are they not looking for the child? I have no sense of them or who they are.
I have done the dream yoga before on this particular dream and yet I had the feeling I need to look and reflect on it again. That, perhaps, my thought process and perspective had changed enough to warrant another look.
So, what do I think this dream means?
Initial reaction is for me to go through childhood trauma. The little girl, who is a version of me, feels like she has had to rely on herself. She doesn’t trust others to keep her safe nor does she feel that adults are worthy of her time or effort to acknowledge. She is a tough little kid who is independent and self-sufficient. I feel pride for her and a level of camaraderie. I worry that she doesn’t let people in. She can be lonely and I hope she doesn’t miss out on potential relationships that can be healthy for her to have.
After recording some of the initial impressions of the dream the next step is to write down key words or symbols that stand out. They are very important to overall understanding of what the dream is trying to tell you. In the detailed reading of the book “Realities of the Dreaming Mind” by Swami Sivananda Radha, it is suggested you start to keep a record of the symbols you see in your dreams. You should jot down notes on what you think they mean and add to those impressions each time they appear in other dreams. It’s a way of starting to decode the hidden language within. The language that your inner guru understands and wishes you to learn.
You can Google all sorts of symbols and get others feedback on what things mean. The danger of that is that those interpretations don’t have your insight, experiences and history. Therefore they might “get it wrong” for you.
Symbols and Keywords
In the class I am taking on Dream Yoga, we meditated for a while on the symbolism that existed within our chosen dream.
I saw the colours and was compelled to sit with those colours to see how they made me feel.
White- Pure white
The little girl’s dress was blinding white. Her socks were sparkling white. Her hair was white with streaks of wispy blonde.
She was angelic, innocent.
I felt the white represented:
Purity, young, innocence, unspoiled, uncluttered, full of potential, start of life, unconditional love, pure passion, optimism and positivity.
Concrete, blurry, muddied-soiled, unyielding, rigid and set in ways, cold, conditional love, influence of others, reluctance to be flexible.
Seat of knowledge, wisdom, cool, calm, experience based insights, reflective, confident movement, community, potential
Red Tube Slide
Impulsive, take chances, downward spiral, uphill climb, leap then look, self reliance, alone, spatial limits, friction
Transparent or clear
I struggled with defining this colour- it was unclear…lol
To me, transparency means you can see through it. I could see through it but didn’t always understand what I was seeing or not quite seeing. I had the impression there were always many others present. They were never clear or clearly manifesting their true selves to me.
I hope that gives you a taste of the process of Dream Yoga. I have just completed week one. I have taken the course before in its entirety and attended parts of it while at the ashram with outside attendees to help offer examples of what to look for.
To me, it’s a fascinating way to uncover your wisps of wisdom that are circulating in that marvellous mind.
I would love to hear from our readers what you think of this process. Are you interested in learning about your dream symbols and uncovering the pure potential those insights can offer?
PS. I was encouraged by one of the facilitators to paint or draw my dream. The image that you see here and attached to the previous blog is my attempt at using mixed media to draw a scene from the “Concrete Dream”.
Dream Yoga has begun. The little white haired girl braves the stairwell to her core beliefs. Ready & willing to challenge their truths. Let go of the self talk that keeps her anchored in concrete.
I stand in the stairwell of a stadium when I notice a little girl. She seems upset. I approached her. She is blonde, maybe 4-5 years old. She is wearing a little white dress that comes to the knees. She has white socks on. The stairwell is concrete and stark grey. It seems to be placed to the left and is wide enough for us to walk side by side. I ask the girl if she is lost. She replies that I don’t know the dangers here. She says she can’t trust me. I am stunned and quick to negate her. I reply that I am an adult and can help her as well as help myself. She looks at me and gives me the feeling that she doesn’t believe me. She turns away from me and starts walking up the stairs. I hear her snivel and follow her. We continue up the stairs until we come to what looks like a water slide tube. I suggest we take the tube as it will lead us into the stadium faster. She agrees reluctantly. We get stuck in the tube and end up reversing back to the stairwell. She doesn’t seem upset as if she expected me not to be able to navigate the tube. She gets out and starts walking down the stairs this time. We come to a widening area and can look out to the stage of the stadium. It’s empty and there doesn’t seem to be anyone around yet I feel like there are others present. We go back to the stairs and I follow her as she makes her way upward again. I wonder where her parents are and why they haven’t appeared yet. I feel like we have been in every possible position in the stairwell but haven’t seen anyone. We keep walking up and down without any more interaction. I wake up from the dream.
I am reading a second book by Robin Wall Kimmerer titled “Braiding Sweetgrass”.
The first book I read of hers was “The Gathering Moss” and thoroughly enjoyed it.
A few pages into “Braiding Sweetgrass” Robin dedicates a chapter to what she calls the “epiphany of beans” and then moves onto a chapter called “The Three Sisters”. The chapter talks about compatible planting of, in this case, vegetables that are complementary to each other. Specifically, corn, beans and squash are the ones she mentions. Nature has an amazing ability for reciprocity and finding balance with sustainable relationships. The partnership here starts with the corn. They grow tall and thin with shallow root systems. The beanstalks wrap around the corn for support and take advantage of spreading upward with the cornstalks. The corn seem to accept the hitchhikers and separate their leaves to make room for the bean vines. The Indigenous theory on the “Three Sisters” states that when planted together these plants can feed the people, feed the land and feed our imaginations by telling us how we can live together.
She goes on to talk about the theory that starts with the planting of the corn which shoots up vertically as fast as it can soaking up water and producing sugars. The bean comes next but takes a different root by firmly planting itself with deep roots before it seeks to go upward. The squash comes later and is last to germinate.The birth order is critical to the successful relationship of the trio. I recommend the read as it’s utterly fascinating to learn about this type of gardening techniques. The method is as old as time and yet not commonly practiced or known.
Further she talks about the intimate relationship between the sisters and how they embrace and support each other in order for the greater good. Without the support of the corn, the bean would be unruly on the ground and at risk by predators. The squash provides shade and reduction of weeds while enjoying the corn provides spots of sunshine strategically placed back on the squash. The corn roots are fine and fibrous and make a shallow network where they drink their fill of water. They provide a channel for the excess water to flow downward to the roots of the beans. The squash taps into the excess and there seems to be enough for them all to thrive better together than apart.
Plants are amazing. Beans grow oxygen-free nodules to house bacterium that shares nitrogen with the plant. This nitrogen enters the soil and helps to fuel added growth to the corn and squash. It has been proven that these plants do better together than grown separately. I am sure there are more examples of these combination growth methods to explore.
I find myself wondering about this phonenom. I come from a family of six girls and one boy. There are three girls, a boy and then three more girls. I am second to the last in the grouping. We seemed to rotate our friendships as we grew. I would hang out with my sister who was two years older than me the most. If I was to label us as plants I wouldn’t say we fit neatly into the “Three Sisters”. What I noticed is that as we get older the message from the sisters rings true.