I had a falling dream the other night.
My son and I were crawling across a steel beam that was about two feet wide and 1000 feet off the ground. We were doing it together, inch by inch, very slowly and very carefully.
Our deaths were highly probable and we knew it. As we inched across the beam, the beam began to narrow. The beam got thinner and thinner until it disappeared and we went into a free fall toward the earth. I woke up as we hit the pavement.
When I woke up, my entire body had that pins and needles feeling. I instinctively got out of bed and walked around to shake it off, the way a wild animal shakes off a traumatic event. I can feel it physically now, as I retell the dream. The body is reacting to thought, as it’s designed to.
It doesn’t really matter that I know it’s a dream, or that I’m retelling an old dream as opposed to dreaming it right now. The body doesn’t know time. It doesn’t know asleep versus half-asleep versus wide awake. Pictures and stories appear and are felt.
When we call experience “a dream”, we tend to let thought be thought and feeling be feeling. Instincts might still have us “shake it off”, but it is what it is. More thought says, “This isn’t real” and so we experience it as not real and not personally threatening.
When we believe that what we’re experiencing is not a dream, it is reality, there tends to be a lot more thought rushing in to connect dots and provide meaning. When there is a real “me” to which things are happening, that “me” needs a lot of attention and protection.
But both are dreams, right? The one where thought arises and a body is asleep, and the one where thought arises and the body is awake.
Both are dreams.