Waking Dreams: Finding Answers to Life?s Questions
All life is a waking dream. The only trick is to recognize it as
Once upon a time the ancients used to cry up to the heavens, "Give me
a sign!" They would then cut open a pigeon or some other kind of
animal to check on the color of its entrails. The color would denote
for them whether the signs were favorable or not. Fortunately we no
longer have to do that anymore once we understand how guidance is all
around us in the form of waking dreams. But what are waking dreams?
Waking dreams are the little signs which constantly surround us
everyday of our lives, whose sole purpose is to provide us with
guidance any time we need it. Indeed, any of the large or small
occurrences which happen to us daily can hold for us a message of
divine love and guidance. Incidences such as losing our keys, getting
locked out of our house, or having a flat tire, can all be messages
purposely designed to provide us with some guidance. Up until a
certain point in our lives, we usually take these occurrences for
granted and simply write them off as coincidence. After we learn
their true purpose, however, these occurrences take on a new meaning
and importance. At this point we find ourselves caught up in
wonderful new game full of mystery and enchantment, a game which can
lead us into new and higher levels of love and understanding.
The idea behind these waking dreams and the Waking Dream Cards
themselves, is simple. The reason we are here in a physical body in
this lifetime is to wake up to our true nature as wonderful spiritual
beings. In order to do that, we need to realize that we already come
equipped with a built-in system of spiritual guidance which is
available to us twenty-four hours a day. Like a homing beacon being
turned on within us, tapping into this spiritual guidance will
automatically set us on a course for our true spiritual home. From
then on, all we need to do is to learn to trust that this guidance is
always with us, that it is always sending us messages which are for
our own highest good, and that we can interpret these messages if we
only put in a little time and effort.
Most often these messages take the form of waking dreams during the
day, a simple continuation of the dreams most of us have at night.
Contrary to some people's beliefs, the dreams we have at night do not
simply cease with the shift in attention our minds make upon
awakening. They simply take on a new form, a form more suited to the
everyday work-a-day world which surrounds us. These are what we call
It is to this subtle new form of dreaming that the Waking Dream Cards
address themselves. They help us learn to recognize and to understand
the hidden messages inherent in the guidance of our waking dreams. In
and of themselves They are not a whole new language of dreaming to
be learned, they are simply a minor adjustment to the language we
already know. . .
Chapter 6 The Application of Waking Dreams to Life
So go ahead now. Ask Me anything. Anything. I will contrive to
bring you the answer. The whole universe will I use to do this.
So be on the lookout; this book is far from My only tool. You
may ask a question, then put this book down. But watch. Listen.
The words to the next song you hear. The information in the next
article you read. The story line of the next movie you watch. The
chance utterance of the next person you meet. Or the whisper of
the next river, the next ocean, the next breeze that caresses
your ear?all these devices are Mine; all these avenues are open
to Me. I will speak to you if you listen. I will come to you if
you will invite me. I will show you then that I have always been
there. All ways."
Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God - book 1
All life is a waking dream. To us, this means that every moment of
our lives is a chance to tune in to the guidance being spoken about
in this quote. This is the guidance which is the source of our waking
dreams. All it takes is a strong desire to learn more about ourselves
and our lives, a willingness to keep our eyes and ears open, and a
basic grasp of our native language.
The Waking Dream Cards I helped create with my first partner Sharon,
a counselor at the Betty Ford center, are simply one more way to help
us tune in to what has always been with us, what is always available
to each and every one of us, free of charge, any time of day.
And, just like the images on the Waking Dream Cards themselves,
waking dreams come in all kind of shapes and sizes. These range from
the "big" waking dream that supplies us with a warning of impending
physical danger, to the "little" waking dream which supplies a simple
insight or awareness into our daily lives.
In between those two extremes lie the bulk of waking dreams. These
are the ones which offer us guidance as to what course of action we
should choose when making a decision. These waking dreams correspond
to the "action cards" we have included in the basic set?go this way,
this way lies trouble, think twice, go up, go down?all represent
movement in one form or another, and in one direction or another. It
is a guidance we can choose to follow or not, depending on our
willingness to accept the message we are getting as being for our own
Since our major purpose for being here is to become aware of
ourselves as spiritual beings, then every lesson we learn, every
insight gained from interpreting these waking dreams, is meant to
aid us in achieving just this very goal. This also means that every
waking dream we have should be interpreted on not only a physical,
emotional, or mental level, but also on a spiritual level as well.
Don't underestimate any one level for each is equally as meaningful,
and all are connected. Focusing on the spiritual first simply allows
the others to all fall into their correct place beneath it.
Like a hierarchy of needs, if we take care of the spiritual
first, "all else will be added unto us." It may be handy to note
that, both waking dreams and night dreams will often come in series.
This is our inner guidance making sure we are getting the full
message it is trying so hard to convey. It is also known
as "synchronicity," a term we have explained before. A fire dream one
night, a flood dream the next, and a famine dream on the third, all
have much more significance when taken together than if we take them
one single dream at a time.
One friend of ours had just such a series of dreams over a two week
period. It was at a time when many things in his life were changing.
The first dream was about a baby being miscarried. The second dream
was about him trying to dig up the baby from its grave. The third
dream had him in a hospital waiting room impatiently awaiting a
delivery. In the fourth and last dream, he found himself watching a
large but healthy baby struggling to be born. Interpreting these
dreams, he knew that the old plans for his life had been changed
(miscarried), but that even though he was trying to hold on to the
old (trying to dig up the baby), a new and exciting life was in store
for him, and eventually would be born (the waiting room and the new
Knowing that the difficulties he was experiencing at the time were
simply a process of shifting the old plans for his life into new
ones, helped him tremendously when it came to coping with the pain
involved with the traumatic changes going on in his life at that
Sometimes two or even three waking dreams in a row will contain the
same message, perhaps in subtly different ways. Here, each new dream
only serves to reinforce the others. Three is a magic number when it
comes to windows of opportunity and our inner guidance. Like the
horse you can lead to water but can't make it drink, our inner
guidance can only lead us to the doorway, it can't or won't make us
walk through. This is a decision we have to make for ourselves. The
first time we get the "inner nudge" to do something from our inner
guidance, the nudge may be kind of gentle, and we may indeed miss
it. The second time, it will often come with a little more force,
trying to let us know that we need to take a second look at this
opportunity. The third time often comes like a blow on the head, or
as with another of our friends, an open door will "hit us right in
the face," trying to tell us that this may be our last chance to take
advantage of the current opportunity. One thing we can be sure of,
if there is a lesson to be learned, we are likely to be offered the
opportunity to walk through that same, or a similar doorway, again
at some later date. We may have to wait until we go through a number
of other experiences first, but these will only serve to better
prepare us to make the correct decision next time.
Almost any question we ask can be answered by our guidance in the
form of a waking dream. The kind of questions we may not be able to
gain answers to, fall into two categories. One, the kind of question
which it may not be in our present best interest to have an answered
at this particular time. This may simply be a question of timing. If
the answer were given to us right now it might only serve to
unbalance us, given our current level of understanding and awareness.
Some kinds of information require that we be at a certain level of
awareness to be able to assimilate it without causing an imbalance.
We could liken this to an advanced form of technology that could be
used for both constructive or destructive purposes. When put in the
hands of a people who are not able to understand both sides of the
technology, a very dangerous situation could occur. So it is that
there may be times where it is not a case of our inner guidance not
working, rather it is just not the right time for us to have that
particular information. Some elements of the answer could be revealed
to us at this time, usually what it is we are able to handle right
The second type of question to which we might not get an answer is
the question to which we may need to find an answer for ourselves.
This is where the difference between knowledge and awareness arises.
Knowledge is a piece of information we know with our conscious mind
or intellect. Awareness is something we understand emotionally as
well, usually deep within ourselves, something we have learned from a
personal kind of experience somewhere along the line. It is like two
different teachers teaching about a foreign country. One is teaching
what is written in the geography book. The other is supplementing
what is in the book with what they have experienced by going to that
country. This is the kind of knowledge we have assimilated into the
core of our very being, the kind which we can connect with its
various causes and effects, and then manipulate to serve our every
purpose. The fact that an apple is an edible fruit is knowledge in
the head of someone who has never seen or eaten an apple. But once he
has eaten the apple, then he has an awareness that an apple is a
delicious edible fruit. Sometimes it just is that we learn best from
experiencing things for ourselves.
Spiritual and inner guidance is just that?guidance. It does not seek
to give us all the answers because that would be a spiritual welfare
program. Learning comes most often from working through our own
lessons. Some spiritual masters even teach that it is better to make
a wrong decision rather than to make no decision at all. At least
with a wrong decision we are likely to learn what it is we should not
do in the future. Making no decision at all often leads to no new
learning taking place, and then stagnation sets in.
It is a well-worn clich?that "a picture is worth a thousand words,"
but it is still as true today as when it was first coined. The mind
can grasp in an instant an image that it may take hours to fully
explain in words. Transmitting a series of mental images using
similes, metaphors or word pictures, can get across a message much
faster than using regular words. This is especially true because
these kind of images are also able to transmit the emotion with which
the images are imbued. That is what great poetry and great literature
are all about. Animals communicate in much the same way. Not being
able to understand the words people say to them, they are instead
able to read the pictures held in the person's mind as they speak.
Have you ever tried to catch the family dog to give it a bath, and it
instinctively seems to know what is in store?
An experiment done in many language and communication classes around
the country is to have someone try to describe a short comic strip
from the newspaper to another person who doesn't know and cannot see
the comic strip. The effort to describe everything that the comic
strip contains and still maintain the humor is virtually impossible.
This is the same reason that our guidance will most often come in the
form of images or symbols. Too often the message will get lost in the
translation when it comes to too many words. Awareness is a self-help
program. Very little wisdom or spiritual insight can ever really be
received without first being earned. That is why there is usually
always an element of work due on our part before the lesson can fully
In the case of waking dreams, the time and effort we spend building
an understanding of the symbols that are meaningful to us, can help
lead us to that "ah-ha" experience we term awareness. It also shows
our inner guidance that we are interested in our own spiritual growth
Money matters, career changes, romance, relationships and health, are
but a few of the types of waking dreams that fall into the broad
central category which constitutes the bulk of waking dreams. And we
must remember the message in Neale Donald Walsche's quote that
anything in our lives can and will be used to supply us with a waking
dream. This is especially true with those things in our life which we
own, and to which we are physically, emotionally, or mentally
attached in some way or another. Family, friends, cars, electrical
appliances, and pets, are just a few of the more obvious examples we
can think of.
Often it is that one of our family members is working through some
kind of situation in their life, and we desperately feel the urge to
give them advice or to criticize them. More often than not this is an
incident of a waking dream which is asking us to take a look at that
same situation in our own lives. This is the source of the old saying
about the splinter we seek to remove from the eye of others, is the
beam we should first remove from our own. In counseling circles, this
is called mirroring. Adding a mirror image to our Waking Dream Cards
can remind us to take a look at our own selves whenever we begin
criticizing the way other people are acting around us.
Animals, too, often provide a wonderful opportunity for our inner
guidance to give us a waking dream. This is because animals have a
greater sensitivity to the subtle changes that occur in the energy
flows which surround them. Pets especially tend to act as mirrors for
us even when we don't notice anything different taking place within
ourselves. Whenever our pets are "out of control" or "bouncing off
the walls," it is probably a waking-dream reminder to look at whether
or not we, too, are in an out-of-balance state for that day. Is it
any wonder that people and their pets often come to resemble each
other in many peculiar little ways?
Pets can also reflect the health problems of their owners in either a
literal or symbolic sense. It is not uncommon these days to find
family pets suffering from the same type of medical illnesses that
are prevalent in the family which owns them. Just ask former
President and First Lady, George and Barbara Bush, whose pet dog was
diagnosed with the same kind of throat condition from which both of
them were also found to be suffering. Animal psychics often say that
pets will tend to "take on" the illness meant for their owners to
raise a red flag to their owners, purely out of an attitude of
unconditional love and service.
And it may not always be our own animals that will be used to provide
us with a lesson or a waking dream. When a rambunctious, red-haired
Irish Setter appeared in a night dream and proceeded to jump all over
the dreamer, the dream's symbolic meaning was then reinforced only a
few days later. On that day, the dreamer was walking along the road
near her house when a red-haired Terrier ran up and began to
excitedly jump all over her, this time for real. The woman was able
to figure out that the waking dream represented by the red-haired
dogs was referring to a dear friend of hers who happened to have
long, stringy, red hair. The enthusiasm showed to her by the dogs was
translated by the dreamer as being this friend's boundless affection
for her, an affection the woman often had difficulty in controlling.
It is another good example of how night dreams and waking dreams go
hand-in-hand to make sure that we get the message.
This was not a serious kind of message about some kind of danger or
anything needing immediate attention. Nor was it something which the
woman really had to make a decision about. It was simply another
example of the sense of humor with which our inner guidance often
plays little charades, seemingly both for its amusement, but mainly
for ours as well.
A sense of humor is a necessary prerequisite when working with
waking dreams and the source of our inner guidance. It is also
perhaps one of the most clearly defining traits of a true spiritual
master, for the more we know about life, the more we are able to use
humor to deal with it, and to laugh as well as cry at both the good
times and the bad.
If a person does not own pets, or if they feel that animals are not
particularly important in their life, then they should particularly
pay close attention to any incidents which revolve around animals. We
can almost guarantee that when something is out of the ordinary in
our lives, as likely as not it is a good time for our guidance to
pass on a little "higher learning." Our guidance knows that in these
kind of situations our awareness will be more apt to pay attention.
The transition between being asleep and dreaming, and being awake and
living the waking dream, is simply a subtle shift in focus. It
eventually becomes difficult to distinguish where the night dreams
end and the waking dreams begin.
An unexpected trip half-way across the country to Utah to visit a
sick relative was foreshadowed for one couple by a dream one of them
had in which "Anne Vance" (word play on ad-vance as in "advance
notice") told her to urgently prepare for an upcoming trip to Europe
(a foreign state of consciousness).
Early one evening on that same trip, as the couple were admiring the
scenery close to the downtown area of Salt Lake City, two young women
managed to get the wheels on their rental car stuck in a deep
drainage gutter right in front of the couple. The driver and her
friend had been looking for a particular address, but had failed to
notice the deep drop off into the drain. These "little" road hazards
seem to be fairly common in that city, and although they are
obviously well-known to local residents, they pose a real hazard to
the uninitiated. In fact, it took more than an hour for the combined
effort of the couple, the two women, and some other passers-by, to
free the car from its untimely predicament. Eventually they had to
jack up the car in various places and insert a number of blocks of
wood under the troubled tires before the car could safely be
maneuvered back into the middle of the road where it belonged.
On the way home, the waking dream made itself clear to the couple.
They too had been stuck in "a hole" with the work they were trying to
do together because they had allowed themselves to wander from
the "middle of the road," to "get off track" as it were with the work
that was supposed to be their focus. They had, in fact, been spinning
their wheels in their entire relationship and needed help from their
spiritual guidance to "jack them back up" and get them safely back on
the road, and aimed in the right direction in which they had
originally been headed.
What the waking dream meant for the other participants in the event
was of no concern to the couple at that time. They had received the
message they needed to hear, and were only too thankful for their own
ability to see and understand the wisdom being offered.
It is one of the most closely guarded secrets of life in the modern
technological age that some of the best sources of waking dreams in
our lives are, in fact, our cars! In the basic set of Waking Dream
Cards, a car is also referred to as a "vehicle." Thus it can also
represent almost any aspect of ourselves or our bodies, what we often
term our "physical vehicles." Did you ever wonder why cars seem to
have a particular "suit-ability" to the type of people who buy them?
It's much the same situation as with our pets.
For one man who we'll call Harold, no matter what kind of car he
bought, each one soon began to take on the role of playing his waking
dream by acting as a mirror to his physical body. This often included
his emotional, mental, and spiritual bodies as well. In particular,
the 1965 Chevy Impala he owned for more than five years became his
personal diagnostic physician and source of outer guidance. Like a
Stephen King novel, whenever his car had brake trouble, he knew that
the Type A-side of his personality was too much in control. He knew
he somehow needed to "put on the brakes," or to "ease up on the
accelerator" in his life. Sometimes it just meant he was working too
hard and needed to "take a break" in order to keep his health in
Since dreams have interpretations and relevance on all levels of
existence simultaneously, the spiritual aspect of Harold's dreams
about bad brakes also had a corresponding significance on the
physical level of his life. Unfortunately, he was usually too busy
looking at the spiritual significance of the waking dreams to look at
its physical counterpart as well. In doing this, he overlooked the
fact that one of the brakes on the back of his car had gone bad and
was affecting the axle bearings. By the time he got around to
checking the brakes, the damage had already been done. This point was
reached, coincidentally, at another opportune time for a waking dream?Harold had
literally "lost his bearings," both on his car, and in
his outer life as well!
It took a long time for Harold to regain the needed stability and
direction in his life which allowed him the necessary resources to
fix this more major problem of bad bearings.
Later, a badly needed transmission rebuilding mirrored his own recent
inability to "shift gears" in his life. When the harmonic balancer on
the old car broke and needed replacing, our friend Harold knew enough
by this time to understand that his spiritual self had also just gone
through a major change of its own in order to bring his life back
into the harmony and balance it so badly needed. Similarly, when the
car's generator went on the fritz, Harold sought out his chiropractor
and was not surprised to find that his body's own generator was
burned out and he was suffering from adrenal exhaustion and liver
trouble. An overheating radiator started on the exact day he began
letting his temper "boil over" and run away. Electrical problems
symbolized a nervous system overload. And, when the 30-year-old
lining on the interior of the car started falling off the roof, he
knew that his old way of life was also "coming apart at the seams."
As the paint job on the car thinned, so did his hair. When he ran
into a deer on the highway and dented up the grille of the car, he
knew it was a sign not to let himself get "all bent out of shape."
And, during one particular time when he was in the process of
breaking up a romantic relationship he had been having, his own
broken heart was mirrored by the crack which then appeared in the
car's own heart, its water pump. The synchronicity was too much to be
Harold's waking dreams didn't only happen when he owned his 30-year-
old car either. In fact it didn't matter how old the car was, his
personal guidance always used the car he owned as a vehicle to give
him his daily messages. When he traded in one car for another newer
version, it wasn't long before he found the new car had many of the
same old problems which earlier had plagued the original vehicle.
Old wisdom says that when we buy a used car we are inheriting the
previous owner's troubles. That may be true for a while, but only
until the car adjusts itself to the vibrations and conditions
surrounding the purchaser. And of course, until the new spiritual
guidance takes over. Is it any wonder why some people manage to
pick "lemons" no matter what kind of car they buy? If we were to tell
the automakers in Detroit or Japan about this strange phenomena,
wouldn't they want to cancel all the warranties on our new cars?
Should we tell them that faulty parts are not necessarily built into
cars at the factory, but are actually only giving themselves as a
sacrifice in order to mirror the conditions inherent in the life of
their new owner? Actually we should be grateful when our cars have
problems because these are a sign that our guidance is working with
us. If we listen and understand, we will find that the messages they
are trying to give could save us the greater expense of "a total
breakdown" of our own bodies, minds, or emotions.
Like any other symbol, when a new car enters our life, all of a
sudden we become more attuned to that symbol's presence any time we
see it around us. For instance, if a woman buys a new car, say a
white BMW 318i. All of a sudden she begins to notice how many white
BMW 318i's there are driving around in her particular little town.
Until she bought one, she was not aware of how many of that same kind
of car there were.
So it is with the symbols we start to recognize from our dreams. If
eagles are a symbol for us of our continued spiritual growth, then
every time we see an eagle we will gain some further reassurance
about our forward movement in that area. Soon we will begin to notice
eagles everywhere. And we don't have to limit how the eagles appear
either. It might be on a poster, it might be on a bumper sticker, on
a calendar, or even on the brand name of some favorite grocery
product. Every item in our lives is out there to be used for our own
spiritual growth and guidance.
We can, if necessary, use this same phenomena to ask our guidance to
supply a solution to a problem we are having. All we need do is to
specify a certain symbol of our own choosing to represent the answer
to our question. It could also be a signal that our answer is
somewhere close at hand. Then, whenever we see that symbol (usually
something unusual that we are less likely to see in our everyday
life) we will know that we have our answer, or to look closely
nearby. We should also not hesitate to look for the symbol to appear
to us in our night dreams, as well as in our daily physical lives.
For example, if we were living in one of the desert states of the
Southwest, we might ask to see a women in a blue sari as a symbol
that our question is being answered in one form or another. While a
woman wearing a blue sari in that region may not be unheard of, it
would still represent something we were not as likely to see in a
common everyday situation. If it happened that we then saw a woman in
a blue sari fairly soon after setting up the conditions of the
question, it would be a certain sign that our answer was somewhere
close at hand. Of course that woman in a blue sari could appear in
any one of a thousand ways which we would have to be aware of.
Perhaps she would appear in a magazine we were browsing through at a
grocery store checkout line. Or she may appear in an airline
commercial on television offering to whisk us away to some far-off
exotic land. This is where the detective work starts and the fun
begins. Is it any wonder that mystery novels and detective stories
are such a dominant force in our modern collective psyche? It's
mainly because they are interactive and fun, bringing out the
excitement of the chase in all of us.
As stated before, the headlines on newspapers and magazines can also
offer a quick waking-dream solution to a problem which is bothering
us. If a headline or story title from a magazine cover grabs our
attention or sticks out for any reason, then there is sure to be a
waking dream involved with it somewhere. "Cannons Stop Firing" could
imply that disagreements at home or on the job are going to ease up
in the near future. "New beginnings" could be telling us to stop
worrying about what appears to be dramatic changes in our lives,
they're only new beginnings. It's all in the symbolism if we look for
it, and know that it's a message meant for us.
Billboards and car license plates, especially personalized plates,
can be another common avenue to provide us with a waking dream. A
sign showing a fish about to bite on a baited hook which has as its
message, "Don't get hooked," could be seen as having hundreds of
applications to our daily life?don't get hooked into the mind games
other people are playing at work; don't let our liking for something
become an addiction; don't get hooked into a relationship which has
no future. Remember: If it triggers us, then it has a message for us
A roadside billboard which suddenly becomes the center of our focus
reads, "You're closer than you think!" could also refer to an
enormous number of things going on in our lives at the present time.
What goals do we have in our life to which we may be closer than we
Most T-shirts are a waking dream waiting to be realized. Whichever
ones attract us, either to wear for ourselves or ones that catch our
eye on other people, are again triggers in more than just a casual
way. Somewhere there is a message and a waking dream to be
Greeting cards can also make wonderful Waking Dream Cards. Let the
people who get paid to think up those cute little sayings provide us
with what we need in the way of resources to trigger our inner
guidance. It is merely an act of service on their part, so don't let
yourself feel guilty about using their hard work for what may seem
like selfish ends.
These are just some of a few of the ways in which our guidance works
to give us a waking dream. If we have a question we wish to have
answered, all we need to do is ask, and then look around us for the
answer. It is there somewhere. If we can't find it fairly soon, then
the best trick is to center ourselves, pick up a book, a magazine, or
a newspaper, and open it to any page. Somewhere on that page will be
the clues to the answer if we trust in what we're looking for and
our ability to read the signs.
These ways of seeking solutions to our questions are no different
than using the Waking Dream Cards because all life is a metaphor, and
all life is just a waking dream.
from Waking Dreams and the Waking Dream Cards :
Finding Answers to Life's Questions Using Your Inner
by PETER R. FARLEY M.A. and SHARON B. KING M.A., CDC II (of the
Betty Ford Center)