The inner processes of the psyche and the outer occurrences in the world connect entirely. Inner psychic pain generally results from our internal thresholds being exceeded. When our thresholds for stimulation, strain, isolation or superficiality are surpassed a subjective ache is experienced. Sensations exceeding our thresholds over too long of a period can result in anxiety, overwhelm, fatigue, apathy, anger or other related sentiments. If a person is reflecting on their inner state from time to time, the process of going from initial discomfort (i.e. feeling scattered) to more intense suffering (i.e. panic) can be witnessed and sometimes an intervening event can occur. However, feeling good is not always a goal as growth is typically correlated with some discomfort. Certainly feeling good is not something to be expected too frequently in a culture as shallow and asinine as ours. Energy and feeling whole are necessary nonetheless to combat the massive inequalities that are becoming more pervasive each day. Protections though, like numbness and indifference (that many in the dominant culture utilize), tend to dissolve when one has seen through to the mind control mechanisms inherent in our society (i.e. fear mongering or the invention of false needs constructed and promulgated by the power elite). When the psyche’s threshold is surpassed, defenses arise.
When defenses are utilized one may become rigid, disconnected, grandiose or irrational. Particularly with the economy in the condition that it is in, people are utilizing more defenses than before the “bubble burst”. Those less unfortunate likely deal with feeling frustrated, helpless and agitated. Those most sensitive or vulnerable deal with much worse (though of course the economy is not the only impetus for intense suffering in this culture). These more unfortunate individuals may experience psychotic breaks (psychosis/hallucinations are one example of defenses not being enough to help one cope), suicidal feelings and/or extreme rage. Many people fall somewhere in between mild frustration and severe suffering. The implications of neoliberal economics are agony and anguish for a great many; and numerous people suffer directly or vicariously because of this. In general our defenses remain erected in order to get through stress – simultaneously causing some additional distress due to the phony nature of defenses (rigidity or numbness is not authentic, but simply a way of coping). It never feels good to not be our true genuine nature, however many involved heavily in dominant culture do not seem to be aware that this is a great source of pain, or are so confused, conditioned and brainwashed that it does not matter to them as long as they can remain asleep, numb or distracted. Essentially our psyches erect defenses because of unfavorable conditions and these secondarily result in disconnected, false, simulated relationships with our self and with others.
Defenses arise to protect us from the emotionally charged contents of the unconscious that the unfavorable conditions of the environment provoked. The unconscious carries great power and paradoxically the unconscious can take control of those who have not explored its contents (many interested in the unconscious have studied the demagogy appealing to German citizens when Hitler was gaining power – the propaganda had a strong appeal to Germans both due to social circumstances and the particular unconscious contents of many Germans during the rise of the Third Reich; anyone interested in the powers latent in the unconscious may want to further explore this topic). Tolerance, respect and self-determination are often sacrificed when there is a heavy focus on the conscious and a repudiation of the unconscious.
When a culture has too heavy a focus on efficiency, rationalism, mathematics (meaning quantifying everything) and materialism, typically the focus has become too much on what is conscious. Unfortunately a highly conscious focus (and subsequent lack of focus on the unconscious) currently dominates the majority of the humans on earth. However, the majority of what drives humans is unconscious processes. Likely 95% or more of human behavior is due to processes of the unconscious (think about how many times your own behavior has surprised you or how many of your thoughts seem to just rise up into your awareness). This means that we as a whole are living in a pretty precarious manner.
Some practices and some psychoactive substances can make a number of unconscious processes known (including LSD, meditation, hypnosis, and dream interpretation). It is important to understand that the ecology of our psyche is in balance only when the unconscious has a voice and is given a chance to connect with our conscious mind. Such a balance has implications for the events of the world (because of the aforementioned connection between the inner and outer worlds). Combating control and inequality is done best when we have internal balance – and sooner or later some internal balance must be struck or we may burn out.
There are many ways of unifying one’s psyche, ways of rounding up the inauthentic fragments it has split into when under too much stress. Meditating and recording dreams are very ancient activities deeply rooted in the psyche that can help re-establish a natural and balanced rhythm for the mind. Meditating in a quiet outdoor location (that doesn’t charge admission) next to trees, water, etc or sitting in grass or dirt is ideal. The internal systems of the body are balanced by meditation. Also lingering emotions can be altered with meditation and general mental discomfort eased. For some people meditation is excruciatingly difficult (especially at first), while this is not the case for others. Some people quickly begin to see their mind differently upon first trying the practice. When one’s mind quiets down it can become apparent that the thoughts and the meditator are not one and the same. Anyone interested in practicing can do so by finding a quiet environment, turning attention inward and concentrating the mind on the breath and then gently returning the focus to the breath each time it drifts to the thoughts that are going by. By calmly accepting the thoughts that arise a natural letting go occurs.
Those who have become highly practiced in meditating sometimes realize in deep meditation that life is by its very nature cyclical, and that currently we are in an epoch of disease, death and destruction. Though these cycles are ebbing and flowing, ultimately we are moving toward a world of awareness and equality – if enough inhabitants of the planet wake up in time that is. If not then of course Earth will die. This belief that planets die when the inhabitants remain buried in too much ignorance for too long is common in many eastern spiritual traditions (and obviously the stage is set for terrible things to happen on this planet between nuclear weapons and fascist agendas). A change in outlook and the audacity to speak the truth are requisite for a new direction to arise. And any meaningful and lasting change must make use of unconscious forces.
Similar to meditative practices, dream interpretation facilitates a relationship between the conscious and the unconscious, and aids in creating a more balanced mindset. If we focus on what is going on in our dreams we can look at which archetypal themes are active in our psyches. Archetypes are symbols that are shared by every psyche. Common items, relationships and events are symbolized by archetypes, for example a mother or a child archetype. If we are feeling quite fearful, stressed or scattered we may dream of an animal or scenario that symbolizes these feelings. Frequently our dreams have nothing to do with our waking experiences, they represent unconscious processes pertaining to much larger, more timeless matters.
When contemplating a dream, consider how the dream felt overall and also how various isolated elements of the dream felt. Consider how you feel in general towards the elements of the dream. For example if you dream of an old roommate consider how you felt in the dream towards that person, how you used to feel about this person, and think about the ways you identify with this person (does this person symbolize your motivated, lazy, grandiose, shy, hyper, side?). Once we document our dreams and contemplate the meanings of the symbols within (even if we do not come to an understanding of what the symbols may mean), energy from the unconscious can be mobilized. This energy can be used to stay balanced and to continue on in the uphill trek.
The relationship with the symbolic grants us permission to acknowledge where we are at in our psyche; and this understanding frequently allows a more peaceful state of mind to arise and stay around. (There are many websites dedicated to identifying meanings for various symbols – these can be helpful for dream interpretation). Keeping a pad and pen next to our sleeping place encourages us to document our dreams as soon as we awaken. Then, interpreting immediately or later works – though immediate is better to keep in mind all of our complex and contradictory feelings towards the dream objects. Much of the time our dreams speak in metaphor and often go in the format of a story or play (when we have a longer dream or a vivid memory of the whole dream at least). There is often an introduction to the elements of the story, then there is a problem or conflict, then an increase in action and then there is often a direction or outcome alluded to. With some very special dreams, this direction that is hinted at can be hugely beneficial in guiding the direction in which our lives are moving. In general, dream themes can give a good hint about what attitude to honor, what action to take, what occurrence to notice in our surroundings or where to go next as the battle continues.
Between meditation and dream interpretation much psychic maintenance occurs. These powerful activities can be done by most people and have produced results for many centuries. Being attentive towards our psyche can help keep us sane long enough to witness and cause transformation. But, practical applications aside, non-ordinary states of consciousness have been of value to humans for ages. It is tough to deny the feelings we have when caught in dreams that seem endless. Our feelings are no less real in these instances than in waking consciousness. This can lead one to wonder if there is a bigger dream going on. And what it actually may mean to wake up.