Lately I’ve had several dreams of escaping. I’m being chased by people I can’t see – but I know they’re there. And they’re about to catch me.
What will happen if they do?
If they actually do catch me?
I don’t know.
And I don’t want to find out. So I run, I hide, I even fly. To get away.
But I bet that’s the absolutely wrong approach.
According to Carl Jung, “What you resist persists.”
I’m sure that’s true.
I’d be more wise to welcome those who are chasing me. In fact, I should stop running, turn and face them – and ask for their gift.
Because I feel sure they have a gift for me, something I need to know, to see, to be.
There’s a prayer that I’ve been taught at many retreats. It’s called the Welcoming Prayer. Here Richard Rohr explains it:
Rather than resisting or fighting our addictions (to thoughts, things, behaviors, etc.), admitting powerlessness is the first step toward healing and freedom. A simple prayer brings this practice into the day-to-day circumstances of life when we are drawn into habitual reactions. While a set-aside time for meditation is truly valuable in rewiring our brains, Welcoming Prayer helps us find serenity through surrender in the midst of messy, ordinary moments.
When triggered or caught by something unpleasant, begin by simply being present to your feeling, experiencing it not just mentally but also emotionally and physically. Don’t try to rationalize or explain the feeling, but witness and give attention to this sensation.
Welcome the feeling, speaking aloud, if you can: Welcome, [anger, fear, hunger, longing, etc.]. Repeat this as many times as you need to truly sense yourself embracing and receiving the feeling.
Finally, let go of the feeling, perhaps speaking these words by Mary Mrozowski, the originator of Welcoming Prayer:
I let go of my desire for security and survival.
I let go of my desire for esteem and affection.
I let go of my desire for power and control.
I let go of my desire to change the situation.
Yes, I need to ground myself into whatever I’m feeling. To be present to it. And welcome it.
Along with whoever is chasing me in my dreams. Because they’re likely the feelings I’m trying to escape.
Maybe writing this post will help me be aware in my next dreams.
Aware enough to quit trying to escape.
To say, “Welcome.”
And to ask for the gift.