Have you ever had one of those times in your life when you felt like you were moving in slow motion or even completely stuck?
I was there, barely moving through the muck. I could blame it on many things, but the truth is I just felt bad. The energy was gone. I was disinterested, disenchanted, and disengaged. The world was happening all around me, and I was a pale ghost, going through the motions. I usually think of myself as a person who lives out loud, who knows that every day is a gift, and who gets excited by adventure. But there came a time when I was stuck in a “Westworld loop” of suffering, feeling like my life was on hold, and boredom.
The truth is I am a mental health therapist, and I hate to admit it, but all my “skills” were no longer working. I couldn’t “jump start” myself in the ways I had done before. My old practice and habits didn’t serve me. I felt like I was living in a Kafka novel.
I deeply understand that self-awareness is series of contractions and expansions or, more accurately, spirals. Once we reach a level of understanding, the floor drops out from under us, and we circle through the lesson again. I don’t like to admit this, but I think we get “tested.” The Universe asks, “You seem bored. Have you really gained this understanding?” Hopefully, we can answer this question with skills we have learned, with the clarity we gained from being in this exact place before, and with the confidence that we know what to do. But this year, I was lost, and the test of life left me apathetic.
Of course, I don’t expect pure happiness or joy all the time. No one lives in Disneyland, on a perma-vacation, or eats cake for every meal. However, my daily working life became what I like to call the matrix--uninspired, oppressive, and dysfunctional. A few peak experiences sprinkled in every year, like an exciting trip, wasn’t enough to get me through the daily grind. Practicing meditation and yoga for an hour every day did not negate the madness of a 40-60 hour week of living in a world awash with consumerism, of feeling like I was walking through life like a zombie. I needed a weekly or even daily dose of inspiration.
This summer, I found an in-road, a kick-start to coping with the mundane, daily grind. I came across a question in an article that I was reading: “Have you lost your dreams?” My heart started beating faster. I had! I wasn’t remembering any of my dreams…those that came to me in sleep or even the day dreams. The question was a siren song. I immediately registered for a dream class with Robert Moss, a magical Santa Claus-like man who sings, tells stories, and inspires his students to play with life.
Moss’s teaching is based on the work of Carl Jung, and so, with his prompting, I dusted off my old books and embraced once again my psychodynamic roots in Jung. I returned to the world of symbolism and synchronicity. I jumped in with a willingness to play, becoming a co-creator with the Universe, playing with language, looking for the sacred in the mundane, asking to see symbols, looking for the unexpected, and asking for guidance in normal life occurrences.
During Moss’s class, we were guided to ask a question of the universe and then wait for the answer, which was the first song or neighbor’s voice we heard. It was fascinating to see the Universe taking my questions and reflecting them back to me. I was looking for information that was expressed through symbols, animals, random songs, and billboards. I was looking for solutions on the sides of trucks. I flipped through books and read random book passages for answers. I was straddling what we call reality and the world of imagination.
I know all of this may sound weird, so here are two experiences I had of “letting the world speak to me”:
The first was a dreamlike animal visitor, but I wasn’t dreaming when he visited me. It was a domesticated red bird that had been released and was now living in the wild. I could tell the bird had lived with humans, as he was not afraid of me, and he was familiar with mirrors. He visited for six days and sat on the side mirror of my car, looking at himself and pooping and pooping. He loved the mirror. He didn’t move when I approached, because he was transfixed by it. I wondered what he was thinking as he looked at his reflection. After my frustration about cleaning the poop passed, I did some investigation about the message and the metaphor the bird represented. I went to my journal and asked: “Why has this bird come now? What is the message about the excessive poop?
These were the answers that came to me: I am like the bird. I do not see my “true” self. I am obsessed with a false self and the daily story of the me in the mirror. I am a free bird, and yet I am stuck looking at myself (or my sad story about my stuckness). And I have a lot to release about my little life, my little job, my boss, my neighbors…blah, blah, blah…poop, poop, poop. I was the bird. The truth is I am so much bigger than the sad story I tell myself every day. I am not stuck. I am free.
Once I figured this out, the bird stopped visiting me! Literally, he hasn’t been back!
The second “letting the world speak to me” experience revolved around my HUGE reaction to the recent events in the United States, with the immigrant children being separated from their parents and being kept in cages. I kept getting so angry. I began asking myself, “What is happening in my body? What choices am I making? What other choices can I make?”
In response to these questions, I had a dreaming sequence where I went underground and saw layer after layer (sort of like floors or layers of dirt) of humanity destroying itself with mass extinction: concentration camps, Machu Picchu mass sacrifices, the Killing Fields of Cambodia, Darfur, Viking raids, slaughters of people and animals in the Roman Coliseum, medieval torture, the decimation of Native American communities, Christian crusades, Spanish inquisition, mass shootings in the United States…I saw a history of human slaughter. Then, I met an “oracle” in this underground, and we had a conversation. The oracle communicated to me that, “Fear leads to control everywhere: in work, in life, in government, in relationships. We need to limit fear and its effects. People need to feel safe. This is what you do! You create safety!” This dream eased my anger, I didn’t feel so helpless or angry any longer.
Robert’s dream class brought me out of my stuckness. It was exhilarating to see the world as an interactive place instead of a machine grinding me down. I am no longer a grey ghost. So, my challenge to you is why not try it? What do you have to lose?
As I was continuing to look for symbols and interpret my dreams, the Universe made a request: write a book. I have never written a book, and I had no idea how to do anything like this. I said out loud, “A book? Ok, well, I need help.” That day I received an email for a free summit on writing books! So, I signed up. Seven weeks later, I have a book coach, a book cover, a title, and a non-edited book!
So, how do you get out of a funk? How to you work in an environment that is dysfunctional? I think you play with it. I think you embody the philosophy of Robert Moss: when plans change, when things get disrupted, you ask people to tell you a story. When you need guidance, you seek it out in symbols. Carl Jung lived this life. He looked for signs and symbols to help him navigate. He taught us to inject signs, symbols, dreams, animal visitors, into our daily lives. He taught us to straddle both worlds and to live with some magic. Looking for symbols makes things lighter. My favorite Robert Moss book is: Sidewalk Oracles: Playing with Signs, Symbols, and Synchronicity in Everyday Life. Robert Moss teaches online dreaming classes for the Shift Network. His website is: www.mossdreams.com
Write me and let me know if you took up this practice!