What to Do When Our Dreams Turn into Nightmares.

Via Nikki Di Virgilio
on Jul 9, 2012
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The home in Maui that never was.

Ever have a dream within a dream?

I was living my dream. I lived in a home with a family. It was a dream, which sprang from a desire of a little girl who grew up in apartments. Who had no brothers or sisters. And whose parents were separated.

Then within that dream, I had another. To live what might more equate to me—to who I wanted to become, and so we sold that dream for another—to move to Maui. It’s been a nightmare ever since.

Katie Holmes. Truly, I know nothing about her and Tom other than what I’ve heard. She had a dream to marry Tom. From what I hear, sounds like it has turned out to be a nightmare too.

How does this happen…when we have a dream, which seems so pure and so right? Further, how can we wake up from the nightmare?

First of all, I only use the word “nightmare” for dramatic effect, even though the feeling of “nightmare” feels real. But, I want to get past the drama of: my life is a nightmare and move toward something useful and helpful—for you and for me.

Bumping up against the veil, we shed who we are not.

I heard these words when I woke up the other morning. Bumping up against the veil, we shed who we are not. The dream, which feels so pure and so right, is right, but probably not pure. Because in that dream contains unconscious desires—desires to be secure. Desires to be loved. Desires to satisfy our fears and insecurities. Desires of a small girl or boy who didn’t have their needs met.

Beneath this is another layer, which is where the “so right” comes in. If we actually allow ourselves to live our dreams, we might not get what we thought we wanted, but what we will get are continuous opportunities to bump against this veil, and shed a lot of what we are not, and begin to free a lot of all what we are.

Looked at in this way, our nightmare is now a path toward our liberation.

Before my “nightmare” began, I was looking for a better place, and perhaps it was there where the nightmare began—when I began to desire for some place better. There is a song by India Arie, “Beautiful.”

I wanna go to beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. 

This song spoke to my longing during these days of dreaming and acting on behalf of that dream.

It’s been a long journey going to Beautiful, and the irony of my journey is that each place I found myself was uglier than the next, and eventually became a nightmare. But something has shifted.

The other day as I walked the Rose Bowl, the song “Beautiful” came onto my Ipod. I realized I no longer want to go to Beautiful. The fight and desire in me is burning off. The veil is thinning. The fantasy of going to Beautiful gives way to real, to what is. It is what the journey to Beautiful has been about.

There is now a longing to return to the place before the dream. Before I wanted more. Before I wanted Beautiful. Like Dorothy, I was probably already there. But we know we can’t move backward, we only continue to spiral upward or inward, deeper and deeper, and for me, figure out what to do in the meantime. In the meantime, where I sometimes feel like my life is still a nightmare, and I’m not where I want to be.

If anyone can relate, here is what we can do, in the meantime:

>>Initiate a real moment with our “nightmare” situation. Request to the powers that be—to our wisdom within, as I did, to learn about the situation and see it as it is. Once we see, the situation has to change. And then….

>>Prepare to meet the feelings associated with our situation: the hopes, fears, and as Pema Chodron is instructing me to do in her book, When Things Fall Apart, lean in. Speaking of Pema Chodron…

>>Read spiritual texts. During this latest bout of anxiety and fear about my situation, I have turned to many books: The Bhagavad-Gita, The Path of the Mystic and now, When Things Fall Apart. They have all made me feel like a baby just beginning my path, even though I’ve already begun. But, really they are here to remind us again and again and again of a higher perspective. Because again and again and again, we are going to re-engage with a lower one. Which brings me to…

>>Release the story—the story about the story—the commentary about what is happening in our lives. Notice when you are about to complain about your nightmare. When you are about to call it a nightmare. Try for a while to not talk about it all, and this will begin to quiet the talking about it in your head. “In all of this Job did not sin with his lips.” (Job 2:10)

>>Try and remember what’s coming up is not here to defeat us or throw us back into our nightmare or to make us feel like it’s getting worse. It is coming up to clear, to be released, to be investigated. When we truly want to see, there are mighty forces that help us, so let’s trust the process. Feel and experience the pressure of our nightmare. And then release. See the tide of it as a clearing out of fears and hopes. Allow the detox. And in the midst of all this, practice…

>>Letting go. I remember another tight place. My husband left our house after a fight. For hours I felt lost and totally out of control. Every part of me was tied up in knots, and then I listened to a song about letting go over and over, until everything inside of me released. Within minutes he came back home. This law of letting go always, always works. And…

>>Remember why we wanted the dream in the first place. I often forget why I broke down my life for another life. One reason is because I truly could not help myself. The desires for more were so strong I could not have stayed within my first dream. I had a vision for myself, and it was greater than the one I was living. I don’t know if I will ever get there, but in this moment where I recall why I broke it all down for this vision, I admire myself for my courage. And, finally,

>>It’s not over yet. Everything is changing constantly. We are still dreaming and we are still awakening. Which means this meantime place might be the only place there really is, at least until we are fully awakened.

Maybe all our dreams and our nightmares are what facilitates our deepest desire, which is to live all of it, awake.



Editor: Brianna Bemel


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About Nikki Di Virgilio

Nikki Di Virgilio is a writer at work on a memoir and spiritual guidebook. She also is a soul-guide for those waking up to the inner journey. You can contact Nikki and subscribe to her Daily Soul Reports at http://www.nikkidivirgilio.com/ or http://thesoulreporter.wordpress.com.


8 Responses to “What to Do When Our Dreams Turn into Nightmares.”

  1. iObmo says:

    Wow. Talk about knowing a place a meeting our souls there. Nice post

  2. Nikki Di Virgilio says:

    Not sure exactly what you mean- but I'm guessing we, for a moment, met in that field. Thank you.

  3. […] my inner work. Don’t I then, get a break? Won’t I then receive a Divine Favor to make the dream I have dreamed to be a writer/spiritual teacher come true? Don’t I have the experience and the insight now […]

  4. […] What to Do When Our Dreams Turn into Nightmares. (elephantjournal.com) […]

  5. […] What to Do When Our Dreams Turn into Nightmares. […]

  6. sgroclkc says:

    There are two main types of scary phenomenons in sleep(nightmare and sleep paralysis) that are caused by two main scary symptoms of cardiovascular disease {palpitation and fainting (syncope)}. Persons who palpitation is easy to occur are easy to have nightmare, drugs can cause nightmare because drugs can cause palpitation. Females are easier to have nightmare than males, because palpitation is easier occur to females than to males. Women have a huge amount of nightmares during pregnancy because women experience more palpitations in pregnancy. Physical factors that contribute to bad dreams include fever as also sleep because fever causes an increase in the heart rate, When palpitations occurs, people will have two most common feelings: one is tachycardia cause a feeling of seeming to be chasing ; the other is bradycardia or premature beat cause the feeling of heart suspension or heart sinking. Therefore, people in sleep accordingly will have the two most common nightmares : one is dream of being chased (occasionally hunting other people) ; the other is dream of flying in the air or dream of falling down. If transient cerebral ischemia or fainting occuring during the day may result in some very terrible dizziness, palpitations, feelings of chest pressure, dim vision, tinnitus and a variety of neurological symptoms. As a result, all the people who are prone to cerebral ischemia or fainting frail corporeity, excessive fear, taking the quinidine which may lead to low blood pressure, as well as a excessive high pillow ors, error in sleeping style which may lead to the aggrieved neck, pressed blood stream. when they sleep in deep night, they will have the extraordinary corresponding horrible dreams, in the dreams, they do some kind of terrible Belial pressuring them or being hunted down, but they can not cry out or escape, which are called nightmare in iatrology. Vague terrors in light sleep, which is known as sleep paralysis. Sometimes people was just woken up with the cerebral ischemia or fainting, be cause the vision continuing for a few minutes and dyskinesia have not yet concluded, which will cause psychological illusion that people struggle to wake up but fail to do it. For instance, a place in country, there is a “haunted” bed which makes people have nightmares every night and it is this fact that the pillow in the bed is too high. Another example, sleeping pills are the treatment of nightmare of being chased of neurasthenia, due to the nightmare of being chased of such patients is caused by tachycardia, and sleeping pills can lead to slower heartbeat, moreover slower heartbeat sometimes leads to sleep paralysis or fainting for people of low blood pressure. Therefore, treating a nightmare with sleeping pills at times is not only invalid, but also it will instead increase the patient’s state of the disease.

  7. Em says:

    Beautiful and well-written article
    Thank you. Everyone always talks about how going for your dreams makes you happy and fulfilled. Thank you for bringing light to anti of chasing dreams. And how sometimes wanting more can lead to disappointment and discomfort; and somehow wanting more has no means to end.