One of my most preferred forms of spiritual work is through the Waking Dream.
I lean towards the belief that almost everyone has the ability to do this, only it usually must be taught, and most of us don’t have the time or inclination to learn. And some people tend more towards certain types of gifts than others, so as long as some people practice this ability (and others are practicing and growing in their own unique specialties), the community is well covered.
My ability to do journey work was first cultivated in an entirely accidental manner. When I was a young woman attending Bible College in a denomination that had a charismatic/pentacostal bent, one of the things students were required to do was attend every single church service. This list of services included a long (and boring!) weekly prayer meeting.
Somehow these people could sit for 2-3 hours each week, mostly in silence, and pray. Don’t get me wrong. This was a charismatic style church and it was open to the idea that supernatural spiritual gifts were for today. So the Spirit would sometimes fall and then, on those rare days, it would get pretty exciting. The air would literally get electric, rippling about the room, gifts of prophecy moving intensely, healings spontaneously occurring…
You would walk out from those meetings with your eyes wide, your heart pounding, your face grinning…
But that only happened once every 3-4 months or so. Usually, the meetings meant just sitting in a hot sweaty room with a bunch of people who occasionally would send out a prayer for their cousin’s brother’s uncle who stubbed his toe last Thursday and then would go back to sitting, in the silence, waiting to see if this was the day the Spirit would decide to fall again.
It about killed me.
Because I’m not very good at sitting and doing nothing.
I felt annoyed that I was required to go sit in this room for 2-3 hours each week, even though I didn’t want to. For some months, I just sat there and worked on my attitude. Because I was grumpy.
I slowly learned to accept my lot in life and at that point, was able to start thinking proactively about the situation. Mostly, I started trying to pray. For the whole 2-3 hours, even if nothing exciting happened around me. Surely it would be a good exercise for my spiritual muscles, right, using this opportunity to work to connect with God?
And that was when some interesting things began to quietly happen.
One day I decided I would pray for one of my closest friends. He was sitting right across from me, so I held him in my mind and began to pray. Only it was almost as if I began to dream, instead. My eyes shut, I suddenly saw a power cord. Instead of being plugged into the socket, it was lying on the ground. It felt like this was a message for my friend, interpreting it that he was not currently connected with the source of power but could easily get back the connection. It felt so clear!
I shared the vision and the message with him as soon as the prayer meeting ended that night…not with such great results. He was a little offended, actually, which dampened my enthusiasm. Did I see correctly? Did I make it up? It felt so real…
From there on out, I began to spend each prayer meeting trying to “see” behind the walls of my closed eyes. I slowly but steadily discovered that there was this centered inner place that I could go to, and from there the waking dream always happened.
At the time, given my full immersion in my religious framework, I only sought to use the ability to receive prophetic words for others. I was never quite sure if what I was doing was even okay. No one else seemed to see visions—those who received prophetic words just got words from the Spirit and spoke them. I felt confused.
Though we attended the same Bible College, my soon-to-be husband felt very threatened by the charismatic world, something I didn’t know until after we said our vows. I found out a lot of things about him after we said those unbreakable now-you-have-her-completely-in-your-power-until-she-draws-her-last-breath vows, actually. His problem with the charismatic world was that, “Anyone can say they have a word from God to share. Only the leaders should be able to do that. What happens in the church has to be controlled.”
So after we married, he ordered that we would no longer be attending or participating in charismatic churches or activities. No more prophetic words (or, in my case, waking dreams) for us. He specifically said that he felt my gifts had been used by “the enemy” (Satan) instead of by God and that I needed to stop using them.
There was a long season of winter.
When I began the process of waking up, my ability to see the visions was one of many things roused from its slumber. During the worst of it, the days when my ex-husband was growing more and more psychotic and I was grappling with the personal cost of living with an abusive man for over a decade, wrestling with the very foundations of my previously unquestioned Christian faith, discovering that he had destroyed us financially, informed by my spiritual leaders that divorce was not an option and that my abusive and insane husband was my cross to bear, I would go into my bedroom daily and sit, in the dark, and find that centered quiet place. From there, the waking dreams would come and I would receive messages of comfort, encouragement, and insight. The images gave me just what I needed to know next.
It was later that I would learn there are names for what I was doing. Shamanic journey work. Waking dreams. Visualization meditation. Probably many more. Is it walking in the spirit world? Is it tapping into my inner consciousness? I don’t really know. I just do it.