By Dawn Baumann Brunke © 2014
Imagine yourself in your private dream world, walking through an Arctic landscape, shoulder to shoulder beside a polar bear. You wake up inside the dream and realize: I am dreaming! You turn to the bear, look into his eyes, and realize that he, too, is awake within the dream. He is sleeping in his world, you are sleeping in yours, and yet you have woken together in the very same dream.
This is what happened to me several years ago.
I was fascinated by the idea of meeting another lucid dreamer — and a polar bear, no less! — in a shared dreamscape. The awareness that I was dreaming, that the bear was dreaming, and that we were both lucid and seeing each other inside a joined dream was a turning point for me, and the beginning of a remarkable collaboration. It led to more dreams, many filled with dialogues and adventures, not only with that unique polar bear dreamer, but with groups of bears involved with specialized dream teachings that, they said, were part of planetary evolution.
Wild stuff, huh? It‘s what I love about dreams, for here we are free to explore far beyond the range of consensus reality. We may also be surprised to discover that others are doing the same.
I had been dreaming of walking beside that polar bear in the high Arctic for about a year. The dreams were short, simple and sporadic — from a few times a week to once a month. Always we were moving: one foot, one paw, in front of the other. Calm, deliberate, steady.
Unlike my other dreams that sprawled with action and events and colorful characters, the polar bear dreams felt like hard little seeds. They held a unique quality, though what this quality was I could not exactly say. I was not lucid inside the dreams, but I sensed a growing awareness within.
In waking life, I worked with the dreams. I wrote them down; I drew sketches; I retold the dreams as if I were the bear, the landscape, a disinterested observer. I tried to re-enter the dreams in meditation, to question the dream bear, to engage the help of a dream guide, or to find some symbolic clue or pattern as to why this particular dream was recurring. But it was as if the dreams were encased by a protective coating, a barrier not easily yielding to any of my preferred dream techniques, nor any I found in books.
Clearly, there are times to persist and times to yield. I felt it best to leave the dreams be, to simply experience them, allowing them to unfold naturally. What else could be done? Then, a moment of lucid awareness changed everything.
From my dream journal:
As usual, I walk beside the polar bear. It is night and we are traveling across a wide, flat, silvery expanse of snow. The air is crystalline, sharp and clear. I notice a rhythm in our walk, something distinct and familiar. Slowly, realizations come to me, one by one: I have been here before. This is a dream. I have dreamed this dream before. I am dreaming now. The recognition is both obvious and amusing.
With a laugh, I reach out to touch the bear’s shoulder and he turns his great white head to me. I realize I am quite calm, not overly excited as I usually am in lucid dreams. For a moment I want to question the bear — Why are we here? What are we doing? — but my awareness is now also within the bear. He is looking at me, into me, and I see myself through his eyes. He remembers me; he has seen me before, in his dreams. Then I realize: not only am I dreaming, he is dreaming, too. We are both awake — lucid and aware — within each other’s dream.
How does it happen that two dreamscapes touch and merge together into one space, in shared awareness? Initially, I mused that the bear and I had wandered to the far reaches of our respective dream territories, found a secret doorway, and opened it to find each other — and a larger way of dreaming. Later, however, I encountered gatherings of lucid dreamers. Several dreams featured a meeting place where visitors came together to converse, share information, and plan adventures. I would come to learn that there are many such shared dream locales where lucid dreamers of different species, from all over the world, meet ‘under cover‘ to connect and create.
My dreams of walking beside the polar bear continued, but things were different now. I was almost always lucid within the dreams and so, said the bear, was he. Our shared thoughts flowed through the dreams, night to night, in seamless conversation. The polar bear claimed he was a specialized dreamer, a real bear living in the Arctic who had the ability to share dreams with other dreamers. I claimed to be a real human living in Alaska who was relatively new to this way of dream connecting.
Dreaming the dreams was like living inside a fantastic novel. The bear told me what it was like to live as a polar bear, describing his den, his mother, his life as a cub. He showed me how he learned to hunt, how to smell the snow and wind to know where seals were sleeping or when storms were coming.
I also met the Polar Bear Council, a group of spirit bears who spoke of special teachings that polar bears hold for the Earth: the ability to consciously dream. They said they had important reasons to arrange for a human and polar bear dreamer to meet. It was not only to share their story with humans but also to reveal what is possible and inspire us all to dream large.
Like I said: Wild stuff, huh?
Dreams are an impressive pathway to remembering ourselves home. In the reality of the dreamworld, we live and love and learn. We may encounter meeting places between realities, collaborate with dream partners, and begin to explore unique dreamscape environments both created and discovered when two dreamers meet. The dreamworld speaks to us — personally, and profoundly. Is this not an incredibly ingenious way of learning more about who we are?!
The polar bears do not consider dreaming separate from their lives. Think of it as fluid dreaming, they suggested, for it moves with us as we move throughout our life, day and night. Humans can also become fluid dreamers, conscious dreamers who glide elegantly through layers of reality, dream ambassadors who carry the energy and insight and wisdom of our unique experiences into the waking world.
It seems so simple, walking beside a polar bear in your dreams. Yet all the while the dream is deepening you. As we open ourselves to the power of dreaming, we begin to expand our perceptions of reality, embrace our connection with all life, and rediscover the dream songs that encircle the earth and unite us as the fellow beings in awakening that we are.
Dawn Baumann Brunke is the author of five books, including Animal Voices and Shapeshifting with our Animal Companions. Her latest book, Dreaming with Polar Bears (from which this article was partially excerpted), will be available in October 2014. For more, see www.animalvoices.net