I used to have horrible nightmares on a regular basis. The kind that caused my spouse to wake up because I was screaming.
My dreams were full of monsters, demons, and weapon-wielding criminals intent on killing me, if not utterly destroying everything that made me ‘me’. I was intent on not letting that happen.
Besides, isn’t it common knowledge that if you die in your dreams, you die in real life? I wasn’t so sure that was true but I didn’t want to risk it. I did everything I could to either run from it in my dreams or wake up before the deed was done.
For the most part, I felt powerless in these terrifying situations. My dream self was a pathetic, quivering thing made of shrieks (when I could get my vocal chords to work) and all-out runs on shaky dream legs. I was no match for the things hot on my tail.
I’d been reading a book by Robert Moss on active dreaming which, as I recall, uses dreams as a way of accessing wisdom and knowledge and can be used in concert with shamanism. Something like that. I had the distinct impression that dying in dreams was actually a good thing when it came to shamanism and wisdom.
On the heels of absorbing that idea, my nightmare routine changed. It was the same old scary story; a monster chased me and I knew it would destroy me if it caught me. That was when my dream self did the unthinkable. I stopped in the midst of the chase, turned around, and walked directly into death.
The best way to describe what happened in the dying was that the world fell away until only stars remained. All was black with flecks of white. Then, I started to float down through this hole, a tunnel or shaft. A waterfall of vivid color surrounded me. It looked like marbled paper favoring bright pink. Even in my dreams, I thought it seemed very much like a characterization of an acid trip which amused me. Instead of panting and shaking, I awoke with a smile on my face.
Now I rarely have nightmares where forces of darkness want to do me in. And I don’t remember the last time I ran away from something in my dreams. Instead, I developed an unfortunate tendency of chasing things away with my mouth. My spouse tells me that on the rare occasions I have a nightmare, I yell “Leave me the fuck alone!”.
Always more work to be done.