A muffled and hoarse, “Help me, help me, help me” rang over and over in my head. It was me crying out, my eyes solidly shut.
I could feel Willow nested into my mid spine and an unbearable heat building with the bedsheets tucked tightly around me. “Help me!” I tried again. I knew my boyfriend was in the room, because I heard coins shuffling at his bedside. Why can’t he hear me? Why can’t he wake me up? I thought.
After struggling for what seemed like a good 10 lucid minutes, I forced my eyes to open. Where had I been just then? Somewhere between asleep and awake. My body under the covers was sweaty. I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t been heard — that it was all in my head. I whimpered like a little kid who just had a nightmare.
Over the past few years, I’ve had other episodes of lucid dreaming. Not the kind sleep hackers rave about, but an awful stuck-in-a-state-of-limbo fear-driven lucidity. Usually, I’m repetitively tossing my legs over the side of the bed, only to find them snapped back into laying position a half second later.
Even if you’ve never felt this dream-like phenomenon, I know you’ve experienced this type of anxiety in your waking state. At some point, you’ve been stuck calling out or grasping for help that never seems to come.
Conscious limbo can be unkind. It causes assumptions such as:
- I’m not good enough.
- Maybe I deserve this.
- I’ll never get what I want.
We live on a continuum of slumber and awakening — literally and figuratively. The cycle of our days and the cycle of our nights affects us physically, leaving behind a trail of Hansel and Gretel breadcrumb clues about our moods and desires.
These breadcrumbs can be quite obvious. Not sleeping well? Look to your stress level, your diet and how you’re moving (or not moving) your body.
Other times the clues are subtle and hidden. Many people discount the content of one’s dreams as just irrational thought. I, however, choose to see a gold mine.
Ever since I quit my job nearly six months ago, I’ve been in limbo. I’ve been writing and practicing asana and meditating, and all of it felt very much like it wasn’t giving me clear answers or one direction in which to take my own business.
Nearly every day I have been asking for external help: friends, family, students, God.
I have been asking everyone except myself.
What you need to ask yourself
I can count on one hand the times in my life where I was explicitly sure of the path I should take. The rest of the time, it’s trial and error. Or, decide and cope.
But this lucid dream experience today made it abundantly clear:
The only one who can open your eyes is you.
You will have many helping hands steering you in different directions in your life. But try as they may, they’re not in your head experiencing the constant waking and sleeping cycle. They may prefer you to awaken when you prefer to sleep, or vice versa.
And so I invite you today and all days to take back your power. To decide once and for all that even if you still don’t know the right decision, you will trust yourself to make it.
“What do I want?”
You have to ask yourself this every time you’re up against a decision, for everything from relationships to fields of study to your life’s devotion. If you don’t ask yourself this, you’ll forever stay in limbo on the edges of your life.
“What do I want?”
At times you will think you’re not good enough and that you’ll never get what you want. But this, of course, is not your awakened state. It’s your slumbering state. It precedes your effort to make a decision — any decision — to move toward what you want.
“What do I want?”
The answer may not come right away. It may not come concretely at all. But there will be hints like breadcrumbs everywhere once you begin to trust yourself. Once you begin to look within instead of crying out for help.
The more you show up awake in your life, the more awakened you will become.
Try it: Revolved Half Moon Pose, Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana
In between the New and Full Moon cycle, there’s endless waxing and waning. Its direction always moves toward one or the other.
Revolved Half Moon Pose allows you to build equanimity — of neither being open nor closed, but balanced right in the middle. The moon is purposeful in its journey. This pose can help you find your center (literally) so you can expand with purpose.
- Come into Revolved Triangle Pose with the left leg forward. Then, gaze ahead of you, drop your left hand to your left hip and step the right leg forward about a foot, left knee bent. Your hips should be directly above the standing leg.
- On an inhale, lift the right leg up behind you, toes pointing down and foot flexed. Straighten through the left knee, careful not to lock the joint. Feel for leveling the hips, perhaps with the left hand.
- Inhale and gaze a few feet in front of you, lengthening your spine. Exhale and twist the torso open to the left, extending the left arm high. Continue to reach the right leg back. Breathe smoothly for five deep breaths.
- Gently release arm and leg down to the mat. Hang in Standing Forward Bend for a few breaths. Roll the spine up to standing to practice the other side.