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There’s a moment between sleep and waking when anything’s possible. I was reminded of that earlier this week. I was lying in bed, eyes still thick with sleep, when it occurred to me that I didn’t know where I was. I looked around my room and had to pause a moment to recall my surroundings before letting myself stir. My disorientation lasted all of five seconds, but the impressions from that moment still linger.
In that tiny slice of time, I was, in a manner of speaking, out of my mind, a character in search of her story. Once I awoke fully—my eyes adjusted and feet set firmly on the bedroom floor—I felt exhilarated, like I’d been let in on an important secret that had been hidden in plain sight all along.
In the world of lucid dreaming, this experience is referred to as a false awakening. In more extreme examples, it might involve getting up, having breakfast, putting your clothes on, heading out for work and doing all the things you do every day on autopilot. It all seems real until the moment you do something o ut of the ordinary that jolts you into the awareness that you weren’t fully awake or living your ‘real’ life at all. This is the difference between living consciously and sleepwalking through life.
The American neurologist, Dr. Oliver Sacks tells us, waking consciousness is dreaming – but dreaming constrained by external reality. What fascinates me about this overlap between sleeping and waking consciousness is our ability to choose in either reality. If we’re all living the dream as Dr. Sacks puts it, then my question would be, Is this the dream I/we always dreamed of? That morning when I woke up—more or less—I was reminded that I have a choice in every detail of my reality. I can think, do, and be as new or different as I want to be, though I overlook this gift way too often.
We are free to dream for ourselves, to wake up to a new reality as we see fit. And there is tremendous power in that.
What kind of dreams are you waking up to, honey?
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