Fall takes us into the subtle realms – the inner mystery – where we interact with our spirit and our unconscious through dreams, visions, intuition, and imagination.
Autumn’s longer nights turn us to the unknown within us – the inner mysteries. The dark represents the inner self, the unconscious, and the soul. Throughout the autumn season, we endeavor to make conscious what is unconscious, unknown, and unimagined. We dive into the mystery of darkness and nighttime in order to bring insight into the light at the Winter Solstice.
Pay attention to your dreams right now. It helps to keep a journal next to your bed so that at the moment you wake up, you can write down what you recall. Now that outer activity is downshifting to the slower Autumn pace, things that have been repressed or ignored are ripe to bubble up to the surface. The dreamscape is a perfect place for repressed feelings, issues, or ideas to arise.
Native American Dreaming
Native Americans have always valued and honored the potency of dreams. For them, the images and experiences received during our sleep are messages from Great Spirit, or perhaps our ancestors. Dreams potentially contained the keys to healing an illness, resolving a problem in the tribe, or personal guidance of any sort. They felt it critical, once they determined the message, to act on it. Not to do so could mean losing a special opportunity, or even going against the will of the Divine.
Not every dream necessarily has this kind of power. But there are dreams that shake us and wake us in the middle of the night. Some hold a tremendous emotional power that we can’t deny, even if we don’t remember all the details. Some evoke fear, and others lift us to heights of inspiration. These are the dreams we cannot ignore, and need to take the time to sit with and ponder. Yet, even the “ordinary” dreams have treasures to offer us, if we delve past their surface. The meaning isn’t usually literal or obvious at first: it takes some patience, imagination, and a little detective work to let the meaning of a dream percolate to the surface of your awareness.
Dreams allow the unconscious to express itself, creativity to arise, intuition to come forth, and the Divine to touch our minds. Often, these multiple levels of meaning happen concurrently within one dream. Meditate on these messages and metaphors, scribble them on a page, draw an image from them, do a dance to the tune of the theme of your dream, and above all write down whatever arises. Find ways to let this rich dream world express itself and reveal its mysteries and messages.
The Vision Quest
Many Native American nations also had a waking-dream practice—the Vision Quest. Often embarked upon at pivotal points in one’s lifetime (like adolescence), the Vision Quest is a practice of initiation as well as a portal through which one is shown the vision for one’s life. Traditionally practiced as three solitary days and nights out in the wilderness, the quester fasts and prays to the Great Spirit to bring him or her a vision: a revelation of his or her purpose or direction to take in life.
You may not have the time or ability to venture into the wild for a Vision Quest (nor would it be recommended without proper preparation and support!), but autumn is perfect for a personal retreat to reflect and seek inner guidance. A weekend away in solitude, holding an all-night vigil, or a sacred fast may bring realizations and shift your perspective in a profound way.
Daydreams are part of the inner self unfolding, too. Notice what daydreams float through your awareness. Sift out ordinary imaginings (like eating at your favorite restaurant or going to an amusement park) from visions. Visions shift you from ordinary consciousness to new insight and perspective. You may picture yourself in a fulfilling new career, helping someone in need, or meditating under the foot of a great tree. These are daydreams that guide your life direction and offer inspiration. Give them credence and, like your night-dreams, let their intuitive messages open you to manifesting new possibilities.
Intuition, like dreams and visions, speaks strongly during the fall. It’s hard for that still, small voice within us to be heard when we’re focused on a lot of activity and busy-ness. Yet the slower, quiet space of fall makes it easier to hear the voice of intuition if we take the time to tune in. As our bodies turn towards more rest and relaxation, the gut speaks out. Listen carefully.
Yoga practice benefits from an intuitive approach, too. While it’s still warm, the playful and daring energy of summer predominates. But as you pass the marker of the Equinox, delve into that intuition and let it guide you in the poses. Although the ego wants to do more, your inner self may be suggesting fewer poses, more observation and reflection within them. Questions to explore as you practice:
- What am I feeling, experiencing?
- How is this pose affecting me?
- How is my attitude affecting my experience of the pose?
- What movement seems intuitively right next?
- Is my mind in the present, reflecting on the past, or projecting to the future? How does that relate to the pose I’m in?
- What wants to be expressed through my movement?
- What does my quiet inner voice tell me as I breathe into this moment?
Practicing with your eyes closed is a powerful and revealing experience, allowing you to let go of the external world and focus on your intuitive self. As you step from the outer world to the inner world, let go of the tendency to look outside yourself at your body, and immerse into the feeling under the skin, in the muscles, joints, and bones. Find the organs in your belly and notice their sensations as you twist, fold, and bend. Sense the blood flowing and pulsing, and the movement of the breath in and out. The mind becomes serene and intuition steps in as a guiding force.
Whether you immerse in the realm of dreams or are following your intuition, fall’s energy calls us to look within. Listen to the call and allow it to carry you into the inner mystery, until it reveals your inner knowing.
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