Woman daydreaming in a field


We all know the feeling of awakening from an evening dream. We suddenly realize, often to our relief, that the dream – its images, thoughts, and feelings – which seemed undeniably real in the dream state is clearly
seen as false in our wakeful state. The dream, we discover, was merely a fiction created by our creative imagination, an illusion, not a fact.

However, when we transition into the waking state, unknown to us at the time, we seamlessly pass from one dream state, the sleep state, to another dream state the wakeful dream state. It is the rare individual that
actually experiences ordinary wakefulness as just another expression of our creative imagination, a day dream.
In the day dream we dream a personal “I.” We dream an independent, autonomous person identified by our name that relates, functions, and navigates its own dream world. The dream of a personal “I” is a habit
cultivated and solidified over a lifetime. It seems quite real, like the night dream, but it isn’t.
Much like the night dream the personal “I” is insubstantial, a mental creation. If you look for the personal self it cannot be found anywhere except as a mental experience. It has no shape, form, weight, location, color
or other tangible characteristics. As soon as you try to pin it down, it disappears. There is no part of mind or body that can be identified as the personal self, as an independent self-existing entity.
The content of the day dream – personal desires, identities, actions, ambitions, the world of people, places and things – appear real and true, just as the night dream appears true. When one is entangled in the day dream one cannot see beyond it any more than the dreamer can see beyond the night dream. For each, the dream is true, the dream is reality. To see beyond that false, but very convincing appearance, one must first wake-up.
Our physiology awakens us from the night dream, allowing us to see its imaginary nature each morning. We are similarly given moments of awakening in daily life that offer a glimpse of what lies beyond the
day-dream. These glimpses occur in what we can call “gaps” in our wakeful consciousness. We have to be a bit mindful to catch them. Here are some of the experiences that offer glimpses: immersion in nature, the rapture of dance or music, the experience of intimacy, selfless service, art, and beauty. And, there are many more.
What is common to all of these experiences is the momentary dissolution of our personal identity, the core of the day dream. For a moment, we forget our personal identity and the day-dream dissolves, revealing the
truth of who we are and have always been. What remains when the day-dream de-constructs is a simple momentary awareness and experience – no commentary, no conceptualization, no judgments, no identity, no memory – just what is as is.
For a moment you are the dancer and the dance, the musician and the music, the beholder and the beauty, the lover and the loving, awareness aware of itself, oneness. There is no further separation. No disconnection. Do you recall a moment when you experienced the simplicity of your wholeness, connectedness, natural harmony and flow? For that brief moment you transcended and escaped the confines of the day dream and experienced the vastness of being. And that’s who you are!
That glimpse is a Self-recognition, a reminder of the essence of who we are. But it is transient, what is called a state rather than a stage of development. A state is a brief transient experience of a larger experience of
consciousness. A stage of development is the irreversible and stable experience of that level of consciousness.
Our habituated dream of the personal self pulls us back from the taste of our true self, the state experience, and that glimpse will mistakenly be remembered as a mere sweet reverie, a pleasurable interlude from the
anxieties, worries, and stories dreamt by the personal self. We will have had the experience of our true essence, but missed the meaning.
We can stabilize these glimpses, these awakenings, through formal meditation sessions augmented by mini-practices during the day. We’ve previously discussed the elements of formal daily practice, which contain the elements of a condensed mini-practice. You can tailor these practices into a simple method of awakening, Self-recognition, during daily activities. Here it is:
1. Stop in the midst of your daily activities.
2. Take a deep in-breath, empty your mind on the out-breath followed
by a breath hold. Dwell in the stillness of the extended hold. Repeat 3-5 times.
3. Return to a normal breath.
4. Drop into a simple natural state of presence and awareness.
5. If mental activity occurs, Observe It. Do not engage with it.
    Continue self-recognition for 3-5 minutes.
6. Return to your activities.
I would suggest trying this multiple times a day. Each time notice how you are gaining distance from the cacophony of the day dream, how you awaken into a larger and more serene self. Then you can return to the
day dream, knowing it is a day dream and making it the healthiest and best day dream possible, while being anchored to a deeper and more expansive reality. You are not the day dream. You know you are in it, but you are not of it.
Practicing self-recognition during your formal meditation and daily activities stabilizes the awakened state. It becomes easier to drop-in, and your natural self progressively replaces your personal ego self as the
foundation upon which the day-dream and its drama play out. The transient state experience becomes a stable stage of development.
That shifts our “energies.” Dreams, night or day, require considerable energy. They are exhausting. They rob us of a rejuvenating evening rest and the delight of a fully energetic day. The exhaustion of ceaseless mental activity shows up as fatigue, irritability, anxiety, overwhelm, and more. We all know that experience, that exhaustion. The peaceful and still mind that is our true nature does not exhaust energy. It allows it to be used in fruitful and joyful ways that advance vitality and life. And that is far more of a delight than the exhaustion of dream states masquerading as reality.
The final awakening includes the psychological, physiological, and spiritual. It is a complete integrated healing of mind, body, and spirit. Psychology is healed as its basis, past experience, dissolves in present moment awareness. Our physiology adheres to the ancient dictum – health mind, healthy body. Physical harmony follows mental harmony. And spirit is revealed as it has always been – the center of our being and the elixir of a whole healing.
What greater gift can there be than to be released from the sufferings of a limited and illusory understanding. What greater gift can there be than to fully awaken from a fragmented dream and dream world to the
serenity, wholeness, and freedom that we already are and have always been. What greater gift can there be than to stop dreaming and wake-up.

To learn more about Dr. Dacher’s work, visit: https://elliottdacher.org


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Written by Elliott Dacher MD

Explore Wellness in 2021