Trump’s presidential win left many people feeling let down by their fellow citizens. It came as a big surprise, particularly to many of the women of America, who saw a clear betrayal in the fact that not only did a woman not win the election, she was beat out by a someone who is perceived as a sexist womanizer.
Aside from that aspect, I think most people were just left in shock. How could this man have become president? At the beginning many people, myself included, thought this whole thing was a practical joke at best. Toward the end, I was thinking that he was put there just to make Clinton look better. And then he won.
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It left many feeling hopeless for the future. If someone like Trump can become President of the United States of America, then we are doomed, right? Well, maybe not. There are more perspectives on this situation. And if you believe that everything happens for a reason, then surely, there is more to Trump winning the election than meets the eye…
A company called Lion’s Roar, which publishes a magazine on Buddhist wisdom for today, decided to reach out to some Buddhist teachers and hear their perspectives on what Trump’s presidency really means for America. Below is what the various teachers had to say about this presidential election and what it means for us.
“During difficult times like this, I’m feeling that the most important thing is our love for each other and remembering to express that and avoid the temptation to get caught in negative and aggressive thinking. Instead of polarizing, this is a chance to stay with the groundlessness. I’ve been meditating and getting in touch with a deep and profound sadness. It’s hard to stay with that much vulnerability but that’s what I’m doing. Groundlessness and tenderness and sadness have so much to teach us. I’m feeling that it’s a time to contact our hearts and to reach out and help in anyway we can.”
Norman Fischer, Everyday Zen Foundation
“I usually don’t completely believe what I think, so when Trump won the election I was, like everyone else, surprised, but not that surprised. Bodhisattvas are committed to their practice, which means to sit, to get up, and to sweep the garden — the whole world, close in and far away — every day, no matter what. They have always done this, they always will. Good times, bad times, they keep on going just the same. Bodhisattvas play the long game. They have confidence in the power of goodness over time. And they know that dark times bring out the heroic in us.
For those older among us who hold liberal and progressive political views, let’s not forget we survived Nixon, Reagan, and Bush. It wasn’t pleasant but we survived. We will survive Trump. This is not to say that the policies of those presidents weren’t bad, and that they did not make any lasting impact. They were and they did. Still, we survived. We will survive Trump. As of today, we don’t really know what will happen under Trump because nothing he has said so far means much. He seems not to have much commitment to his own words.
We have been fortunate to have had eight years with a decent, intelligent, thoughtful and caring human being in the White House. This is more we would have expected. Lets not forget that the same people who elected Obama elected Trump.
It’s OK to freak out, grieve, and vent for a while. Holds each others’ hands. Then we can get back to work, as always, for the good.
Think of what the Dalai Lama has gone through in his lifetime. He maintains daily practice, he maintains kindness for everyone, though he has lost his country and his culture at the hands of a brutal regime. Yet he doesn’t hate the Chinese and finds redeeming features in them. He maintains his sense of humor. He has turned his tragedy into a teaching for the world.
Lets do the same.”
Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara, Village Zendo
“We are all reeling from the election news. For most of us, it is unexpected and frightening. Naturally, we ask ourselves what teaching can support us and empower us at this time. I think of Avalokitesvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion who “hears the sounds of the world.”
And I realize how vital it is for all of us to listen to all the sounds of this unhappy nation. What suffering has led to the anger and hatred that has arisen? And, why are so many of us surprised at this outpouring? Perhaps we have not been listening to the cries of the world with ears of wisdom and determination.
This we must do, listen carefully, and while listening, we must move with determination to organize, to mobilize, and to find new ways to create change in civil rights, climate change, media ethics, and to inform and enlighten all the people, so that we can in fact relieve suffering and care for this planet, these peoples, all of us.”
Noah Levine, Against The Stream
“Here in the United States of Samsara ignorance is the status quo. The Buddha’s teachings guide us to go “against the stream” to develop wisdom and compassion through our own direct actions. As the path encourages, “Even amongst those who hate, we live with love in our hearts. Even amongst those who are blinded by greed and confusion, we practice generosity, kindness and clear seeing.”
Meditate and Destroy!”
Ethan Nichtern, Shambhala Meditation Center of New York
“When I was a child in New York City, I used to imagine that I lived in an island off the coast of America which was neither part of the continent nor the country. In the middle of the night last night, that childhood fantasy came back to me, but it was only wishful thinking. In fact, the source of all this disruption hails from the same city, which is a great reminder that we are all connected. I am a citizen of the mainland United States and I remain a very proud and patriotic one.
Right now my mindfulness practice is dedicated to my many friends who are expressing such unbearable hurt and fear at the hatred and abuse which this current version of America has directed at them. My many friends who are women, People of Color, members of the LGBT community, immigrants, and non-Christians are all rightfully expressing their fear and traumas right now, and I want to especially be there for them.
Soon, perhaps, I will try to make contact with those I know who voted for this outcome and do my best to listen to their fears and desires as well. I have no idea how that will go but I will do my best.
I also feel at least some optimism that this outcome sharpens and clarifies where humanity stands in the 21st-century. All of us must come together with empathy and connection if we are going to survive this era.
Tomorrow I will try to follow the lead of those whose vision I trust to see how I can help move our world forward with compassion. But today, it is OK to grieve the fact that we have taken a massive emotional and spiritual step backwards. Please remember, the point of meditation is not to suppress your feelings. It is to make friends with yourself. On days like this, meditation is simply a way to remember a glimmer of your own basic goodness. Please remember it is OK to feel exactly what you feel.
In loving kindness and solidarity with the human race, Ethan.”
Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, Still Breathing Zen Meditation Center
“Today, after the 2016 elections in the U.S., we are living out the example of what happens when what goes unacknowledged surfaces and it feels like a new reality but you know in your heart it is not. To suffer based on expectations is to live haunted and hunted. But we are fortunate. There could be no other answer to our meditation and prayers in dissolving hatred than to be placed front and center with it and be exposed. When a shift in a system has occurred, especially one that causes fear and discomfort, it allows for something strikingly different to appear, furthering our evolution as people. We can only know where we are going when we get there.
Many of us have been practicing Buddha’s teachings or walking a spiritual journey forever and preparing for every moment of our existence. We are ready and have been waiting for this time. Our rage, pain, and anger are to be exposed if only for us to transform and mature with it. In Buddhist practice we say congratulations because now is the time we have been practicing for. No more just practicing the dance. We must now dance. And this is not a dress rehearsal.”
Roshi Joan Halifax, Abbot, Upaya Zen Center
“Standing at the edge of this election, it’s clear we have our work cut out for us. It is the work of love and wisdom in the face of the terrible suffering of war, environmental issues, racism, gender violence, and economic injustice. We have to work together to shift the tide toward what will benefit our children, the natural world, the future. Part of this means that we have to change the mind, move out of harsh negativity, eroding futility and fear, and build toward the good and the wise. We also have to work to shift the mood of the country and of the world through compassionate education, deep practice, and service to others.
Let’s reach through differences, listen deeply, and “give no fear.”
So please, stop and look deeply, and let’s work together in not building a contentious future, but a generative one. And let’s not pretend we know, but be open and learn; let’s bear witness to what is happening in our country, in our world, and take wise, compassionate, and courageous responsibility. Let’s reach through differences, listen deeply, and “give no fear.”
Here are the four great vows of the Bodhisattvas in community:
Creations are numberless, we vow to free them.
Delusions are inexhaustible, we vow to transform them.
Reality is Boundless, we vow to perceive it.
The awakened way is unsurpassable, we vow to embody it.
…. do not squander life!”
James Ishmael Ford, Boundless Way Zen
“I rather feel like I’ve awakened on the day after the apocalypse. As a member of the progressive community I am shocked and profoundly saddened by Trump’s campaign, which unapologetically appealed to fear of, if not outright hatred of pretty much all others. He casually insulted anyone not precisely like him, and frankly seemed to be little more than an incarnation of America’s Id. And, whatever I think of him and that campaign, while he in fact does not seem to have won a majority of America’s voters over, he did win the Electoral College and with that the election.
So, what now? I find a couple of emotions rising within my heart. One is to flee. I understand Canada’s immigration website crashed due to the number of visits to it last night. Of course that also represents all the privilege I bring along with being white and male and middle class. And beyond those immediate facts, I am cautioned by the Buddha’s “last temptation,” to take the peace and equanimity he found and to retire from the world. While he was a renunciant, he did not retire away from the world, but rather brought his monastic practice into the larger community, and continued to live and teach among people living in the world. The deeper point to this is that we are in fact made up of the world and there is no escape.
The other emotion racing over my heart has been to place blame, mostly on others, but also on myself. What would have been a better, or more skillful, simply put, more successful strategy? Who is responsible for this mess? And what shortcomings are at fault? These are in fact important things to consider, particularly those relevant to our own individual hearts, but to take a necessary step and make it what we’re about would be just one more mistake on a long list of mistakes. In this world we have to make decisions and some large percentage of them will be wrong. I’m ever mindful of our popular Western adaptation of something Eihei Dogen said, “one continuous mistake.”
So, what to do? What to do?
For me I find a couple of things are critical. One is to not forget my practice. Taking time and returning to the pillow is critical. For all sorts of reasons, but most of all to help me recall the fundamental matters of presence and intimacy.
The bottom line is recalling there is no separation.
Another is to recall all the suffering of the world. For me this starts with those who are terrorized by the event, the immigrant, the person of color, the GBLT person, women, everyone who seems themselves the target of Mr Trump’s campaign of purity. But, also, to recall the hurt and fear that led so many people to support him. To simply dismiss their emotions by cavalier broad struck condemnations, while it feels good, and I do like doing that, ultimately does no good. The Buddha was right in the great play of cause and effect we are all of us caught up in layer upon layer of grasping after things in flux.
For me the bottom line is recalling there is no separation. We have to act. There is no alternative. But, what will that action look like? More hate? More blame and condemnations? Or, can we genuinely recall there is in the last analysis no goal, but only the path? I think, feel, believe, if we can recall that last thing, we are all of us in this together, we are all of us, at the end, one; well, then ways through will appear.
We met the enemy and he is us. We met the friend and he is us. That is the secret that will win the ultimate victory.”
Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche
“On this cheerful unaffected glorious day of democracy playing itself out, I am as shocked as many of you are by the election results. But, as Americans, we must respect the democratic system that our country was built upon, and welcome its results. Trump has won, and now we must see what happens next. While firmly believing in, and defending, one’s values and principles, we must also give this new president-elect the benefit of the doubt, and be open to see what he and his new administration can do for the good of our country. We want to honor the voice of many and trust in the goodness of the country. We want to respect our differences and also believe that there is goodness in everyone. We cannot afford to fall into pessimism. We must continually see where we can unite and keep looking forward together as this new era unfolds, without fixed pre-concepts.”
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Are You Sure You Want To Cancel 2020?
- The Facts:
Many people have been wanting to cancel 2020 given all of the challenges that have arisen this year, but are these challenges not what we need to wake up?
- Reflect On:
Is humanity living in a way we are truly capable of? Are we really going to change and create a world where we can thrive if we all remain in 'normal' with our heads down just getting by? Perhaps we need a shake up!
A massive evolution in the way we think and live is long overdue, and now the environment is perfectly set for it to happen. Many call this process ‘raising collective consciousness.’ It’s no secret, 2020 has been a intense year, and you may have noticed that many are creating memes calling for the cancellation of 2020. This comes from the idea of ‘cancel culture’ which is an ideology whereby anything we don’t like, even if it’s only some of us, has to be shamed into cancellation as opposed to dealing with what it truly says about us and why we’re triggered by it. But more on this in a moment.
Deep down I imagine you feel it. What we are doing on a day-to-day basis in our lives feels limiting and it feels like we are capable of much more. This feeling comes from an innate desire within the deepest aspect of who we are, our soul, to continually evolve and expand as a being. It’s almost as if we begin to feel uncomfortable when we become stagnant and stop evolving or growing.
Right now, our current way of living societally and our current mass unconsciousness is causing us to push away that deep desire. We do this because we have become so identified with thought, that if a desire to shift or change comes up, and we cannot rationalize nor see how we can change, and in turn, we push that desire away to hold onto what we have grown comfortable with.
Thus, intensity and chaos have ensued in our world in an attempt to wake us up. Perhaps it’s time to embrace this desire for change. Do we really want our world to simply go back to normal? Was normal truly allowing us to thrive?
A lot of people have been sharing the idea that we want to get rid of or cancel 2020 because it has been such a ‘bad year.’ I understand what train of thought can lead here, and I understand what way of being can lead here, but regardless, I feel it’s an important time to embrace what’s going on and ask big questions about what we’re doing as a collective – living life so disconnected from anything that deeply resonates with us. What we call ‘chaos’ has always been a potent tool for evolution, only, we often get in the way of that evolution by remaining asleep to what’s really going on around us, and continually pushing away that knowing that we can create meaningful change.
Most of what is rising to the surface right now, in terms of truths regarding current events, are all realities that people have been telling others about for years – and yet most of us just went on our merry way, heads down, living life as if none of it was happening. For example, elite child sex trafficking is one collective trauma being faced right now by many, and every day I hear of more and more people facing this reality, unsure of what to do about it as they feel despair. I cannot blame anyone for wanting to hide from this information. Life can be tough and very demanding simply to get by, so questioning our reality and why it is the way it is may not be at the top of our priority list. It may feel easier to just go on with our lives as if it’s not real, continually voting, putting these ‘corrupt’ individuals in power and accepting life as it is.
But if life is providing experiences that give us a chance to evolve beyond this old paradigm, is it perhaps time we listen? Can we truly just keep our heads down as we watch our collective uncomfort rise and mental health decline as our world no longer resonates with our being?
Just because the truth makes us uncomfortable, doesn’t mean we don’t need to address it, it just means we are avoiding it, and if we continue to choose not to look, it will ‘blow up in our face’ – just as it is right now.
May years ago people would ask me ‘Joe, do you think people will one day know about all that is going on behind the scenes?’ I said yes, there are collective truths and traumas people will HAVE to face, there is no avoiding it. This is why so many people are doing their inner work and becoming helpful members of the global community who will be able to help others through their emotional upheavals when more of this truth continues to come out, just like it is right now.
The human race has been oppressed for centuries. At the core, is the suppression of human consciousness. The less we know who we truly are and what we are truly capable of, the more we can be coddled and controlled into living lives that serve a few. The reality of this is coming to the surface.
So should we cancel 2020? Or embrace what it’s trying to bring up on a deeper level, and choose to focus on inner work, personal transformation ad collective transformation? This, as opposed to mentally and emotionally running around trying to say why everything is wrong and bad, will this truly bring about meaningful change?
We’re All Playing Roles
With that said, instead of looking at who the good guys are and who the bad guys are, I challenge others to think of it in terms of roles. What role are people playing for one another that allows us to question what’s going on, learn a lesson, and change? Do you want the world as it is today to continue in this manner? Do you feel we are capable of harmony and thrivability? What do you want the world to look like?
Viewing it in this manner will bring us to solutions as opposed to arguing about what the problems are from our political point of view. Staying within the paradigm of our current world, where we create sides, argue, and remain in a political landscape, will always create more separation and will limit our potential, won’t it? It’s time for a new perspective, a new way of looking at things, and in order for that to happen we must come to terms with what not paying attention has created in our reality.
When we live in this manner, are we living life fully? Or are we just getting by? Are we caught up in the future or the past, trying to live in those states? Or are we fully living now? Are we ready to move from a state of being where we are identified with our thoughts and ego constantly, and move to a state where we are truly who we are, our awareness, living fully?
This is what this transition is about. This is what 2020 is helping to bring forth: the necessary events and revelations that push us deeply to question our lives and society. Start dreaming again, start thinking outside the box. Whatever world you choose to plug into is the one we will actively create. If you feel humanity is capable of something different, or better, beyond just the changing of a president, then now is the time to truly put your intention and action into that.
It’s a potent time for change. Perhaps we don’t want to wish normal back into existence?
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Full Moon In Aquarius: Erratic Progression
We are having a Full Moon in Aquarius on August 3rd/4th, it will appear the fullest on night of the 2nd in Western North America. This is the peak of the Lunar cycle that began with a New Moon in Cancer on July 20th/21st, as some of the themes mentioned in that article are still in effect.
The energies of a Full Moon are strongest in the days surrounding it yet its astrological configurations also play a part over the following two weeks. You may start to see its effects slowly build up after the New Moon prior to it.
Full Moons are a period in which we feel a push-pull between two opposing signs, in this case being the Moon in Aquarius and the Sun in Leo. It can play out as either a conflict, an integration, or some sort of dynamic playing out between the energies of both signs. The Moon reflects the expression of feeling and emotion while the Sun reflects the expression of ego and conscious self.
We may feel this opposition happening individually within us and/or we can also experience it play out around us with some people (or circumstances) expressing the Aquarius side and others expressing the Leo side. In some cases, Full Moons can also reflect/trigger some sort of change or release.
Full Moon In Aquarius Opposite Sun In Leo
We have been in Leo season since July 22nd and will continue until August 22nd/23rd. This is the sign of self-expression, creativity, love, affection, children, courage, vitality, passion, leadership, generosity, and playfulness. Ruled by the Sun, it is also about shining in our power and being in alignment with what really lights us up and gets us excited.
The negative expressions of Leo can be egotistical, self-absorbed, authoritarian, dramatic, stubborn, jealous, and hot-tempered. As it is associated with seeking praise and attention, it can be demanding of respect and be boisterous without considering or caring about how others respond to that.
The Full Moon highlights and brings the energies of the opposing sign of Aquarius into this Leo backdrop. This is the sign of friends, networks, social dynamics, the group, the team, humanity, and being in the best interest of the collective. Associated with Uranus, it can be unconventional, idealistic, innovative, progressive, original, inventive, technological, reforming, and even revolutionary.
Negatively, Aquarius can be overly detached, aloof, unemotional, and very invested in the mind at the expense of the heart. Traditionally ruled by Saturn, it can also be unyielding when it comes to the ideas and perspectives that it has already decided on.
Both Leo and Aquarius have some similarities. They are ‘Fixed’ signs and therefore can both be determined yet stubborn. They are also both associated with originality and authenticity. In Aquarius, this comes from its unconventional and innovative Uranian attributes while in Leo it comes from being inspired by its Solar heart centred self-expression.
Full Moon Square Uranus, Sextile Chiron
The Sun and Moon are in a T-square aspect with Uranus bringing its energy strongly into the equation. This planet is associated with Aquarius and viewed as a modern ruler of this sign, therefore it emphasizes some of the Aquarian themes mentioned above.
This can also reflect an energy that is disruptive, unpredictable, erratic, nonconforming, and rebellious. It can be hard to focus and more prone to sudden changes, accidents, loss, or separations. However, it can also reflect liberation, breakthroughs, excitement, and is a good time to shake things up and try new approaches to things.
This Full Moon is in a supportive sextile with Chiron which shares unorthodox and innovative qualities with Uranus. Chiron is also about bringing healing and wholeness to a situation and is associated with personal growth. It brings a potential for integration, learning, problem solving, finding solutions, purpose, and the elevation of consciousness.
Full Moon Sextile Mars, Squaring Jupiter & Pluto During Pre-Retrograde Shadow
The Sun-Moon opposition is in a harmonious aspect with Mars which can bring an active, asserting, energetic, sexual, or even a competitive or fighting energy. Mars is also in its own sign of Aries as it slows down to go retrograde on September 9th/10th. We will be experiencing a period of adjustments over the coming months in how we apply Mars in certain areas of our lives depending on our personal birth charts. Some of the things that are happening this month, leading up to it, will contribute to that process.
At the time of this Full Moon, Mars is also in a tight square with Jupiter which has been building up in the days prior. It also moves towards a square with Pluto over the following two weeks. We may overextend ourselves during this time or do things in an excessive, overconfident, compulsive or obsessive way.
Conflicts around beliefs, perspectives, hidden matters, or abuse can also arise. As we get closer to mid-August the energy becomes more intense with an increased potential of power struggles. This aspect can trigger passion and is good for strategic actions. All of these factors mentioned in this section are cranking up Mars energy overall. I will be writing a separate article on the upcoming retrograde as we get closer to it, join my mailing list here to ensure that you receive it.
Mercury & Venus In Hard Aspects With Saturn, Venus Conjunct North Node
Mercury is in a tight opposition with Saturn. This can reflect thoughts or conversations that are cautious, hesitant, pessimistic, or limiting. We may experience delays or obstacles around commuting or communications with others. The need to be realistic around certain issues may also come up.
Like Mercury, Venus has social qualities and is also in a hard aspect with Saturn, this one being a frustrating quincunx. It can be hard to integrate or juggle Saturnian areas of responsibilities, commitments, boundaries, discipline, and structures with Venus areas of friendships, love, pleasures, sensuality, values, money, attraction, or other things that are aesthetic related. We may need to be extra adaptable or make adjustments.
Venus is also moving towards a conjunction with the Lunar North Node in Gemini in the days following this Full Moon. New relations, or developments around past relations, could have a fated quality that can bring growth and help us to move forward in a better or constructive way. Our perception or approach to Venus ruled areas (mentioned in above paragraph) may evolve in a helpful manner.
Things To Consider
In what areas of your life should you try new approaches? What can you do to shake things up? What are some potential solutions for issues you are facing? How can you use your creativity in an innovative way? What are your relations with others pushing you towards? How can you be more of a team player? How can you better balance needs of self with the needs of the group? What parts of your life are calling for originality and authenticity?
These are just some examples of themes that could come up during this period; however, there may be other variations of this energy playing out as well. If you wish to do any sort of intentional release connected to what has come up at this Full Moon, it is best to do so anytime over the two weeks following when it is waning. The exact moment of this Full Moon is on August 3rd at 3:59pm Universal Time. You can click here to see what that is in your time zone.
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The Benefits of Keeping A Dream Journal
Recently, scientists from Caltech university proved that an ancient species of jellyfish has a sleep cycle. All known mammals, birds, reptiles, and fish on planet earth sleep, but this finding means sleep does not require a brain, and is one of the most ancient evolutionary traits around. So, a very important one.
If sleep is so important, could dreams be too? Dreams aren’t given much importance in modern society. In fact, dream sharing is considered oversharing around most office water coolers. But there are big benefits to taking your dreams seriously, and to keeping a dream journal. Even the Ancient Egyptians were known to keep “dream books.”
Faster Problem Solving
Many studies show that a well-rested mind is a smarter one. Students preparing for a test, for example, scored better when they dreamed about the test beforehand. Every night when you dream, your brain processes and categorizes all the day’s events. Your brain needs to dream to make sense of your waking life. But sleeping is not all you can do. By taking the extra step to remember and interpret your dreams upon waking, you are telling your brain that dreams are important to you. As a result, your dreams will take on a much more educational and beneficial role in your life.
Nightmares are no fun, but they serve a purpose. Even rats have nightmares! A bad dream can help reveal your innermost fears, and give you a way to cope with them safely. If you’re like most people, you forget your dreams whenever you wake up. A dream journal will help you develop dream recall, causing you to notice different dream patterns, including reoccurring nightmares. This will give you valuable insight into all the anxieties that are holding you back in life, and give you a head start on addressing them. If you are having a reoccurring nightmare about being fired from your job, for example, you should practice positive thinking at work and confront any workplace challenges you have sooner than later.
Opportunity to Lucid Dream
Lucid dreaming, or becoming aware during a dream, can be induced by dream journaling. Lucid dreaming is a relatively fun and healthy hobby that has its own set of powerful mental health benefits. Many lucid dreamers regularly converse with “spirit guides” that give them advice and predictions to be used in the real world.
Better Spiritual Awareness
Ancient Egyptians believed that dreams contained messages from the gods, and so kept a careful record of them. The Egyptians weren’t the first to come up with this concept, and certainly weren’t the last. Every culture, it seems, from the Greeks to the Native Americans, have had similar beliefs about dreams.
Modern day mystics, including the late psychic Edgar Cayce, often focus on dreams as a way to remember past lives. Unbelievably, scientists have proven that memories and dreams can be inherited, passed on from generation to generation just like eye colour.
Whatever your belief system, keeping a dream journal forces you into a daily habit of thoughtful reflection, making you more aware of your deeper, wiser self over time.
Deciding to keep a dream journal could be one of the easiest, yet more life-changing decisions you’ve ever made! Luckily, there are many resources online to help get you started with a dream diary. Here are some beginner’s tips for keeping a dream journal:
• Write in your dream journal every morning after you wake up
• Don’t worry about stylist things like grammar, punctuation, or spelling
• Keep your dream journal next to your bedside
• Focus on dreams that are reoccurring
• Remember to bring your dream journal with you when you travel
Before radio, television, and the Internet, people relied heavily on the dream world for entertainment and guidance, and this may have helped them to be more in touch with their inner self and spiritual side. By keeping a dream journal, you too can learn to tune out the outside world and tune up our own inner, conscious self.
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