I used to deal with a recurring nightmare that started at age 5 or 6, the age when I first saw The Exorcist. I went to the movies with a group of boys from my neighborhood who were all several years older, but children still. I had no clue what I was in for when we arrived at the President movie theater in the S. Bronx as no one had told me we were going to watch a horror film. I left that movie theater feeling like shattered, shredded glass and for over 25 years my dreams and moments alone in darkness were haunted by the face of the possessed Regan. For 25+ years my nights were imprisoned by the fearsome face, the guttural sounds, the horrific intensity, and, ultimately, the fear of being attacked by a demon.
In my soul’s journey spirituality was, and is, central and led me to varied experiences in different churches and spiritual communities. Along the way, I lived in a metaphysical community in Missouri in my early 30’s and during my time there I learned a lot about things and about myself. Among the things I learned was that our dreams are ways that our spirit communicates with us and our spirit will use things from our conscious life experiences as symbols to convey what will serve our learning and growth.
I found relief in this idea because it provided me with a platform from which to begin to approach and engage this recurring nightmare thoughtfully and intelligently. And that’s huge because up until then the only way I dealt with it was to hide from the fear and never confront it head-on.
How many of us do this in life? We hide from our fears, our insecurities, and go around acting as if we’re immune to the foibles of our humanity.
Anyway, now that I had learned that the possessed girl was simply a symbol, a representation of a deeper fear and that it was my spirit that sought to bring this to my attention, I had a different view of the nightmare, and more importantly, I started to work with the nightmare, spending time reflecting on what the possessed girl might represent to my deeper psyche.
As a result of engaging, analyzing, and understanding, the content of these nightmares started to shift. I started to attack the girl in the bed with tremendous rage; then the girl would alternate from possessed to not possessed; at last, the last dream I had I entered the girl’s room to find that it had been totally cleaned and the bed made and bright sunlight streaming in thru the window as the white drapes billowed in a gentle breeze.
My very last experience with the girl was during a meditation session about 12 years ago. I was sitting with eyes closed, going within. Suddenly I see the girl, possessed, standing about 10 feet away. I had no fear now, I passively observed. She then started walking slowly toward me and as she did she alternated between possessed and not possessed. By the time she reached me she was completely normal looking with a placid look on her face.
I share this with you so that you might understand that if you are haunted by nightmares, recurring or not, the stuff of your nightmares are only symbols used to represent and convey something else, like a fear you harbor and hide; or an idea, belief, or model you hold as true that you may need to shed; or a higher principle calling you to become more than what you’ve been.
Your monsters and your demons are your heroes and angels. They wear the guise of confrontation colored by your refusal to engage them within yourself. The courage you must exercise may appear as a fierce lion seeking to devour you. The hidden, untapped power of your creativity might appear as a blank music sheet or a hungry bear chasing you. The monster chasing you wants you to stop running, stop hiding, and turn and face it head-on. There really is no other way around it, over it, or under it and your nightmares are your spirit’s way of making this known to you. This is the domain of soul wherein fears are not to be banished or overcome but properly understood, transmuted and integrated.
Your nightmares and your fears are part of your mythology, part of the story woven by your memories, dreams, hopes, beliefs, patterns and choices. If you don’t like what they do then understand why they do it. Invite them, or accept their invitation, to sit with you face to face and through confrontation, through thoughtfully engaged reflection and inner dialogue, discover why it is that they are there and why they remained with you as they did and why you kept them there so close to you and why it was that you saw them as you once saw them and thus ran from them as you once did.
And then you will discover the tremendous blessing, liberation and empowerment that comes with understanding the place your demons and nightmares occupy for your advancement through this life in the journey of your soul.