Thin Places in Dreams

16 03 2009

After reading Alison’s post at “Thin Places” (which happens to be a really wonderful post – go read it!) I began thinking about “thin places.”

Thin places are moments in time space where we are closer to having an encounter with God and the spirit realm. I often wonder if in our dreams we often have thin places where we can have deep questions answered and can be reached by God. It sometimes can feel like a gateway between two realms. 

I have had two really full-on spiritual dreams. One was when I was eighteen; I dreamt that a spirit went into me and I went to hell. There was no-one there, no actual fire consuming my flesh although I could see flames all over my body and the sound of burning fire filled my ears. The actual fear, pain and torment though came from the utter loneliness of hell. It was relationally desolate and I began to scream out the name of Jesus. I was then taken to a path where I was walking hand in hand with Jesus.  I knew when I woke up it was more than a dream resulting from too much consumption of cheese (damm that tryptophan!) but a warning from God. I was at a cross-roads in my life and when I retold the dream to my parents a few nights later I was shaking with the gravity of the dream.

The other dream was coming face to face with demons. They were looking at me, I wanted to look away and to break their gaze but I couldn’t.  I have never felt such deep, penetrative HATE in all my life. The hate in their eyes could actually rip the flesh from my body. It was terrifying. I had a new perspectative of where I fitted in the food chain from their perspective after that. And the scripture that states that the “enemy  is a roaring lion waiting to devour us” made a lot more sense.

So are dreams thin places where God and other spirits can communicate with us? What are your experiences of dreams?




2 responses

17 03 2009

I’ve had some interesting dreams, but nothing as gripping as what you describe. I rarely remember dreams, but when I do, I like to analyze them from a Jungian perspective (or thereabouts…) I will often consult symbol dictionaries and take a crack at interpreting the dream from there. It’s pretty interesting. I completed a writing course in my undergraduate studies called “Fairy Tales and Individuation.” It was so interesting–we took fairy tales and broke them down, looking at archetypes and themes. It’s amazing what is hidden in some of those stories. (Red Riding Hood was kind of ruined for me when it was suggested that the whole story was about Red discovering her sexuality. Personally, I prefer Roald Dahl’s take on the story!) A lot of dreams are not deep and meaningful at all–they are just the scraps of the day merging into each other.

22 03 2009

I am always fascinated by dreams. Not particularly my own, which I often have the experience of remembering well but not being able to communicate them to anyone else (or even myself for that matter). Sometimes an event during the day will trigger a flashback to a dream and I know my brain is processing it but I couldn’t tell you what it was.

I have the same experience when having a migraine sometimes, where I can hear a person talk and have no idea what they are saying.

I also dream of clear faces and people in dreams but not usually people I’m aware that I know. I think I must record “pictures” of strangers during the day and replay them at night.

It’s easy to think that there is a certain liminality with the spiritual world in dreams, though I think it is more likely that we access probably deep emotions in our Amygdala in particularly deep sleep, which tends to record pure emotion (like fear, anger and frustration)and as it “bubbles” through the cerebral cortex, it fabricates some kind of meaning or story on top of the emotion to make sense of it.

Often people have dreams where they are being attacked and can’t move. In these cases, the cerebral cortex is doing “painting” which kind of disturbs the Cerebrum or Brain Stem, which is well and truly “asleep”. On receiving no reciprocal impulse from our motor neurons (since our muscles are, quite literally catatonic most of the time in REM sleep) this lethargy is incorporated into the dream as paralysis.

In other cases, people have the sensation of “falling” which often jolts you out of sleep. Some sleep researchers have suggested that this occurs when you are experiencing pressure on one part of your body (again, more likely following exhaustion or very deep sleep). This “startle” reflex, which can be triggered from the Amygdala, is a very effective way of getting you to move that body part and get the circulation going again.

So I think, whilst fascinating, I have gravitated over the years to a more naturalistic position of the role of dreaming in our lives. It is the conscious dreams or “visions” from God that really make me pay attention and I must admit in my life they have been few and far between but exhilarating/challenging nonetheless. 🙂

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