Last night, for the second time in a week, I had a dream from which I gleaned some valuable insight into my meditation practice. As with my previous dream, at first there was little to grasp on the surface to suggest it had any connection to meditation; the characters and events passing before my eyes seemed quite pedestrian and unrelated to any significant spiritual meaning or theme.
In last night’s dream I was at sea adrift on a small fishing boat. I was sitting on the rear deck of the boat with my old friend Jim M– who was correcting me on a matter of technique. “Don’t sit that way,” Jim advised, “but kick your legs up in the air as if you’re doing a bicycle pump exercise.” I tried to kick my legs upward but something held me back. “Open yourself up to the sea and salt air,” Jim explained. “”Just kick upward and let go!” Then I woke up.
Once again, lying in bed, it took me a while to puzzle this over and understand the dream’s meaning. The first clue, I realized, was the identity of my friend Jim. Back when I was a young lawyer on Wall Street, Jim was a junior partner, a few years older than myself, someone who I had worked closely with and considered both a friend and a mentor. In the parlance of Wall Street lawyering, he was something of a rabbi or guru to me, someone in whom I had placed considerable confidence and trust. Not that Jim, then or now, knows anything about meditation, nor would he be considered (as the well-heeled investment banker he is today) particularly adept in spiritual matters. But as I am developing my instincts for dream interpretation, I realized that Jim had appeared in my dream as a stand in for a guru or spiritual advisor, who was there to provide me with advice that should be given careful consideration.
And what of Jim’s advice? How could kicking my legs up in the air be considered helpful meditation advice? I mean really – isn’t the whole point of sitting Lotus style to better settle yourself on the mat, instead of upending yourself and rearing your legs skyward? But then I had a second realization. This bit of dream advice was directed to my subtle body and not my physical body. And the subtle body may move in a way directly opposite to the physical body. This, as I puzzled it out, is precisely how to unleash your inner qi as you meditate, legs thrusting up instead of pressing down into the mat. The image of being upended, meditating with legs kicking into the air, may be one way to understand the wisdom of The Secret of the Golden Flower – the whole work of turning the light around uses the method of reversal.
So now, as my guru Jim advised, I’m learning to refine my meditation technique -- kicking my subtle legs skyward, pedaling, in fact, as the Golden Light shifts and turns.