Many ancient cultures suggest we are awake when we are dreaming; they see our 'everyday reality waking moments' as being asleep whilst they maintain we are truly awake when we are dreaming!
Meet my 'imaginary friend'
My parents used to call him my imaginary friend, I called him Nanka.
He was a young monk in a monastery high up in the Tibetan Himalayas. Although at the time I had no idea he was a monk, or where in the world he existed. Each time I visited him - or did he visit me - anyway, I distinctly to this day, recall him always wearing a rough red woollen draped clothing around his body. He was continually hoiking one part or another of it back around his shoulders. The most distinct thing I recall was his face because he was always cheerful and smiling, I couldn't stop myself from feeling happy in his presence.
He lived in a tall bleak stone building high up in the mountains. I know that for a fact because we would often hang out through the open slits for windows where he would point out to me the shapes in the snow. At this point, I need to say we were not physically speaking with each other. Rather, I intuitively knew what he was saying. Now how could that occur at that tender age?
It's probably best I let you know now that I’ve been searching since I was three years old. You see even at that tender age, I remembered an existence in Tibet, although I had no idea then, it was Tibet. It was just a place full of snow.
I would recall my tales to my parents describing Nanka in the land of snows. They humoured me. It felt, at the time, I was living a parallel existence.
What I did experience every time I met with Nanka was such an inner peace and light-heartedness. I had a soul brother! He understood my frustration. Reflecting now, I see he was here to help me to retain a semblance of balance in my life.
You see, my first memory was in my pram (actually it wasn't my first memory, that was my physical birth but perhaps that can wait for another blog and another time.) No, my memory in my pram was one of frustration. Here I am staring out of the pram unable to see much and feeling trapped. Of course, I was, I was wrapped up in blankets. I wanted to fly, to share my happiness. But as I grew into toddling and walking, began school (at the age of three by the way) I realised not many shared my happiness and joy. To be fair, it was the late fifties; rationing had just ended, people were grey, tired and frightened. Here was I happy, bouncing, questioning everything, wanting to hug everything and everyone! I must have been a real pain in the ***!
I always knew I was missing something. Much to my parent’s frustration and two years on into my schooling, at the tender age of 5-ish, I would say to them “There has to be more to life than this!” This longing has been the fire that has burned in my heart all my life. My lifelong passion has been the search to remember what I’d forgotten and to come home.
I was always asking why?
You see, to my mind, I wanted to live in a place where I could be free. You can imagine why Nanka meant so much to me living in the wild in the land of snows where the sun always shone brightly. For many years I had no idea what freedom meant, all I knew was that the life I was living was grey, serious, judgmental and cold. I wanted to live in a place of colour, light and happiness.
Nanka helped me to maintain my passion by showing me the spaces in-between. We began with the sky and the mountains. I learned how to look for shapes, to discern colour in the white mountains, see the pink, grey, silver and mauve slivers of light, watch the shadows morph into shape upon shape. It wasn't until many years later did I put all my observation and learning into practice, to enable me to look for answers, see beneath and beyond what people say and do. I refused to see anything at face value, to question and above all trust the symbols all around me, especially in nature. Finally of course to dream, to use my dream time to obtain answers.
Nanka 'my Tibetan' taught me humour and joy, to look for the funnier side of life. A merciful gift to me as life began to take a grey turn, leading to me shutting away from my dream world entering instead a world of criticism, negativity and authority. Needless to say, I rebelled, continued to question, battled authority, as best as I could, given I was a young woman in a middle-class household dominated by stern parents.
Dreaming my life into being
It can take courage to enter into our imagination and activate our dreams because they can seem to be counter-intuitive. For me, living on the inside, paying attention to my own mind, my own sense of self, was perfectly natural. Consequently forty or so years later I began to remember what I had forgotten.
I had flashbacks of memories in my dreams and I acted upon them.
I learned how to remember what I had forgotten about being human through shamanic training, dream work and Reiki. I travelled to many distant countries, studied their culture and spiritual teachings.
Ancient symbols and texts would jump out to me. I'd find myself going into ecstasy, meditating for days, writing and writing. I experienced myself in, well, a different world.
You and I live in a world of our own
Yet this isn't strange really, because we are all in our own little world. Of course, we are!
For anyone reading this who might be disagreeing, reflect upon if you witnessed a car accident and the traffic police asked you to recall the accident. Be rest assured your perception will be different from every other person! Our perspective is ours and ours alone.
Isn't that so beautiful?
It's wise to continually remind yourself:
I am the pattern maker and breaker of my own reality
My potential and my future are dependent upon the choices I make right now.
How I think and feel directly affects my future.
Back to Nanka. I met him fifty years later! True! Well not him exactly and yes, I did meet him. Let me explain.
I was enjoying an exhibition by the Tashi Lhunpo Monks who travel around the UK USA and Europe demonstrating their culture through dance, debates, mandalas and meditation. I was thumbing through their monks 'handbook' pics and biogs of the hundreds of monks at the monastery and I saw him! Initially, I I just knew I knew him, but I didn't know him - if you understand me!
A few days later the dreams began. It was Nanka! I remembered my experiences in the snows with the little Tibetan boy. Of course, now he is a mature monk exiled in the Tashi Lhunpo monastery in Karnataka where they settled.
A couple of years later I had the opportunity to visit his monastery.
His Holiness The Dalai Lama was giving Teachings for three weeks. I just had to go. Nanka (I won't give his Tibetan name here if you don't mind) was serving His Holiness. Despite that, I managed to give him a message. I asked him to say my name in the presence of His Holiness. Well something must have occurred, because even though there were 30,000 monks in attendance, I managed to sit less than 12 feet away from His Holiness for the duration of his teachings! Not only that but I was invited along with 12 other Westerners to serve His Holiness on the last day. Can you imagine? All I can say is that when I walked through the multitudes toward His Holiness as He sat inbetween two Buddhas all I could see was the sun. A huge yellow radiant orb! We were each holding ancient Tibetan scriptures covered in red silk, these books were hundreds and hundreds of years old. Afterwards Tibetans would want to touch me for good luck having held them. What a day! And not only that ...but as if to prove the connection two American ladies I met during the conference had the honour of meeting Nanka (he is part of the spiritual teachers training the monks) and His Holiness. As you can imagine I asked for a description. They said he was very serious and how everyone respected him very deeply. What a contrast to the happy laughing friend of yesteryear. Yet I felt a pang of identity because for so many years in my 'grey period' I became very serious, taking my duties as a teacher of Reiki, shamanic healing, Bach remedies counselling soberly. I wrote another note wishing him well, thanking him for meeting His Holiness and hoping he can now relax now that the year-long preparations were nearly over.
Back to the moment
Dreams open us up to our imagination which is an inherent skill many of us use too sparingly. It was through my sleeping in my very early years I met Nanka. Many years later my dreams were fulfilled.
My life journey has been a quest to go home. I witnessed inner peace and light- heartedness in the Tibetan boy. I wanted that too. Where people didn’t judge me, where I didn’t have to struggle with expectations from others, with people who did not or would not understand me. A world where people would open their eyes to opportunities, see the positive rather than the negative and go with the flow. I wanted to stop saying to myself that ‘there has to be more to life than this.’ And I wanted to move from living in a world where fighting, money and power seemed to take precedence over peace, harmony and oneness. I wanted a world where free flowing thoughts and mindful action led the way.
Instead of living outside of myself, where life would happen to me, I’ve learned how to live on the inside, in my own reality in my own Beautiful Mind where life flows and happens for me.
I had to change my relationship with myself: I’ve learned that the greatest relationship I’ll ever have is with myself, and how it underpins everything.
I understand that I, alone, am the pattern maker and breaker of my existence. I have activated the whole of me for the whole of my life. And I live from that answer.
Would you like to live in your own Beautiful Mind?
Begin with building in reflection time
Move your attention from the outside world into your own inner world.
It can be easy to zig-zag through life, maybe find ourselves on paths chosen for us by others. Nevertheless we can prevent this by building in space for reflection.
Reflection helps us review ‘Where we are now (where we have been) and where we are going.’
Reflection helps us to turn attention back onto our Beautiful Mind, our inner world, where we can remember what we might have forgotten about what makes our heart really sing.
Here are four reasons why reflection will help you:
· It gives you space to step out of your everyday reality and look at a myriad of choices. After all, you are the pattern maker and breaker of your own destiny.
· Reflection is vital whenever you find yourself at a crossroad or times of change.
· As you move through the inevitable Gateways of Age 50th, 60th, 70th and so on ask yourself are you in touch with your dreams?
· Whenever you feel unhappy, take yourself off to reflect.
Imagine how you’ll feel if you listen to your dreams and acted upon them? Where you're in touch with something or someone who helps you to make your heart sing?
THINK YOURSELF INTO HAPPINESS
"Everything is possible and nothing is impossible. You are only ever limited by your mind."
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"We are all made of stars and carry eternity inside." Thich Nhat Hanh