Do you have a reoccurring nightmare? The strongest impression for me began, like so many nightmares, when I was a child. I am walking down the steps leading to my home’s red, front door. Our red and white brick house sat on a hill on top of a hill, at the back of a cove where children from miles around gathered to play each afternoon.
On a lantern, Blue Jays and Red Breasted Robins sang all day. As I walked along the steps in my velvet Mary Jane’s and smocked dress, frogs leaped out to greet me. My Siamese Chocolate Point stayed by my side and the family, overgrown Airedale joined as our bodyguard. No matter how many times my junior kindergarten teacher asked my mom to tame my hair, it stayed unruly because, according to my mom, I liked to drag it on the dirt and let bugs crawl in it.
I was the youngest child in my family, which meant I had the most freedom. No one noticed when I set out on an adventure and they never asked where I was going. If I weren’t home by dinnertime, I didn’t get to eat, but sometimes I wasn’t hungry.
In this dream that replayed time and again, I tripped and caught myself with my forearms on the pebble steps. When I sat up to look at my injury, my flesh was ripped open. I was horrified by what I discovered inside of me.
Before the fall, I’d been awed by my blue veins, and was told they were full of blood that turned red when exposed to oxygen. I expected a rich fluid to run out of me. Instead, I was faced with the realization my skin was hiding metal tubing and panels. I was a machine.
When we sleep, our psychic shield is disengaged. Our minds are confronted by the stimuli and experiences we ignored during wakeful hours. When conscious, we sift through situations and categorize them into those that assist and those to store until we have a chance to analyze how they play into our perceptions.
We are given experiences to deepen our understanding of ourselves and how we fit in the universe. Some concepts take longer to digest. Any time we can’t decide how to organize the information, we reassess the stimuli, again and again, which can result in reoccurring nightmares.
So then, why is my life-long nightmare about my realizing I am stuffed inside a machine? My dream related to 1 Corinthians 6:19, explaining that a human body is a temple for the Holy Spirit, who lives inside each of us. My body was merely a vehicle. If I didn’t take proper care, it could be damaged, which would impair my soul’s mobility.
Identifying my body as a temple of God motivated me to be selective in what I ate. I was determined to take care of my body before I developed health problems. I gained a sense of helping the planet by consuming fewer resources and no longer flagrantly harming other life. When we consume flesh products, on a subconscious level we experience guilt. My decision to be a vegan shifted from health reasons to my desire to support living creatures.
Equally concerned about my spiritual growth, I adopted a meditation program. My goal was to ascend to the highest level possible at my death, which sounds gruesome and I have no idea why I thought about these things at a young age.
I was raised Presbyterian, and my community was a bit on the dry bones side of religious practices. There were no ornaments in church – just bare walls and burgundy cushions on hand-carved pews. No saints or angels or meditations, but our strength was in prayers and performing unconditional acts of kindness.
Meanwhile in law school, I wanted to achieve the peak performance from my brain. I became a health nut, taking herbs and amino acids, and replacing meals with powders. I met folks who practiced Lent by giving up something they valued during the weeks before Easter.
Also, I worked with a young woman who fasted to boost her prayers. Her enthusiasm convinced me to give it a try. Low and behold, my life changed for the better, faster, when I gave up something I valued and enjoyed as a personal sacrifice in my devotion. I refer to this method as, “fast for faster.” This does not require one to give up all foods and liquids, but merely to refrain from a category for however long or short of a period of time intended.
Fasting and meditating daily made me feel elevated. Literally, my psyche seemed to float at a higher level than when I didn’t abstain from chocolate. My thoughts were clearer.
Living guilt-free moved my spiritual growth to fast forward. I viewed my body as a vehicle for transportation and performing tasks that served my spiritual purpose. My body wasn’t me but a community of utilitarian tools abiding to my plans.
I start each day by thanking my health for remaining resilient. I thank my legs for getting me where I need to go without pain. I thank my digestion for processing the foods I eat without adverse effects. I don’t take it personally when my machine malfunctions. It’s merely an experience reminding me to respect my body, and care for it the same way I maintain a car or computer I plan to keep past the warranty.
I intend to make my years as productive and enjoyable, as possible. By disconnecting my identity from my body, I respect its needs. Likewise, I increase my standard of living by decreasing the possibility of onset illnesses.
My intention which is accompanied by an act leads to blessings and appreciation from the spiritual presence throughout the universe. I don’t know about you, but I can use all the powers available. Once I understood my nightmare was asking me to love my body, I healed my mind.