In dreams, feelings are our greatest allies. They show us where our energy is being concentrated and which way it wants to go. Like signals from the unconscious to the physical body, feelings show us where our needs are.
Sometimes they warn us to retreat from dangerous situations, other times they magnify where we need to continue working. While joy and enthusiasm are the kinds of friends who show you what you love, so are disappointment, jealousy, irritation and fear. They serve you to progress beyond your limitations and strengthen your patience with discomfort.
Unfortunately, we have learned from a culture that altogether devalues feeling, to ignore and override them. On their own, emotions can overspill, drowing us in havoc and confusion. But if cultivated in tandem with the other faculties, discernment and action, they serve as our instinctual barometer.
By respecting your feelings as intelligent instead of depressing them, they will begin to alert you to the areas of your life that need attention before it appears exaggeratedly in your dreams.
For instance, if you put too much emphasis on work and deadlines, you may be running a constant low-level anxiety which inhibits your spiritual growth. You may be so accustomed to it that you barely notice it anymore. But it isn’t lost on your dreamer; you might dream yourself late for an important event, unprepared, or simply running nowhere fast. If you’ve overridden your feelings for too long, the dreams may be more violent, expressed in images of rape, torture and neglect.
Though difficult to look at, these dreams amplify your soul’s need for greater tenderness. As with most things that are uncomfortable, we try to avoid them. But one of the great teachings of dreams is that by entering into that which is uncomfortable to us, we can reclaim the power contained within it.
Only by allowing ourselves to feel discomfort fully can we extract the sweet truth being held captive in it. In so doing, we drain the event or trigger of its feeling concentration, freeing up the trapped energy for our creative purpose on the planet.
A society which ignores its feelings ignores its nature. The consequences of this at the collective level are devastating. Despite having achieved obscene wealth, depression has increased tenfold since the 1950s. The World Health Organization (WHO) has predicted that by the year 2020, depression will be the second leading cause of the ‘global disability burden.’ At any given time, more than three million Canadians (around 10%) are suffering from serious depressive disorders.
Our disconnection from feeling has not only resulted in epidemic depression, widespread poverty and political corruption within the human community, but our seas, skies, species and forests are suffering the same plague of neglect.
Developing your feeling takes time, especially if it has been systematically discouraged in you. There may be a layer of numbness you’ll have to chip through initially and, underneath that, a backlog of feeling may need to be felt. But as you make the seemingly bottomless descent, it helps to remember that grief is the downpour your soul has been thirsting for.
Rain makes everything lush with life. The more excellently and prodigiously you grieve, the more growth and fertility you can expect. There is a future teeming with life beyond the spiritual aridity and meaninglessness of our time. If each of us has the tenacity to retrieve the elixirs of our discomforts, our combined medicine will heal the collective wound.