Waking Dream: Harnessing the Power of Imagination to Transform Your Life

Waking Dream, another type of imaginal practice, is a deep inner journey to the depths of self, where we find freedom and transcendence.  (The entire process can be found in my book Waking Dream Therapy).  In contrast to short imagery exercises that focus on problem solving affairs of daily life (health, wealth, relationships), waking dream are longer imaginal journeys that can take up to one hour, usually done with a guide. Here is an example from my practice. 

Upon awakening from a night dream, G., a young man, realized the need to bring a new direction to his strained relationship with his father (a familiar theme in the life of children to their parents).  In the ensuing waking dream experience, he walks down a country road with his father, holding hands.  They come to a fork in the road.  He drops hands with him and takes the right road while dad takes the left.  As he walks and is beginning to feel free, he comes to a bridge. 

I ask him if he wishes to cross it.  He prefers to walk under the bridge (a sign he is descending into the depths of himself).  As he crosses the river under the bridge, he comes to another, unfamiliar road heading toward a castle.  On his way, he finds himself surrounded by a group of seven angels.  They become his inner guides.  One of the angels gives him an envelope closed with a red seal.  G. is told not to read it yet, but to put it away as he would get to open it when told to do so.  Then they escort him to the castle, which has many rooms.  Inside, the angels bring him down a long corridor to a man seated in a chair of gold.  He is asked to come close and is told the seated man is his guide and mentor.  The man then reveals certain truths to G. before he takes his leave.

He returns back the way he came:  the angels escort him back to the path by the bridge where he started this journey.  I tell him to return to the chair with a new attitude, a new way and understanding, and to keep all that he experienced for himself — including the letter.  He is to open his eyes, and see himself with his guide in the castle for a moment and to then come back feeling alert, awake, aware, and attuned here to the sounds and sights around him.  As the image begins to fade, he is to find himself back here in this waking reality.

Note that in waking dream, the guide or guides are found spontaneously.  I instruct him to repeat this exercise each morning for 21 days, meeting with his inner guides.  Over the course of 21 days, he reports that at the base of the bridge he is met by a large white horse that can take him back and forth from the castle.  He is aware that this horse has a male rider unknown to him.  After several morning exercises, the horse and rider pick up an unknown female.  As he watches the man and woman riding on the horse, he realizes these two are the merging of the two sides of himself — male and female merging as one, taking charge of the power/horse [“horsepower,” my term] in himself.  He feels free and unafraid of his father, having corrected this longstanding lifetime conflict.  He notes that he could not control the vicissitudes of life; that they would always be there, as it is for all of us on Earth, but he can take charge of his attitude in front of them.  He is no longer fazed.