“Yesterday is but today’s memory, tomorrow is today’s dream.” – Kahlil Gibran
I remember spending a day a few years ago in a blissful state. It was summer vacation, and I was relaxing on the grass at the edge of a mountain pond. It could have been that we had two weeks all to ourselves as a family, but it wasn’t that. It could have been that the children were behaving, but they weren’t. There was nothing that could have caused my sublime state of mind, except that it was a day that I connected with a very powerful vision of happiness for myself and my family.
Our dreams are a place where we can always experience true happiness
I still remember all of the details. The day was clear, there was a light mountain breeze gently blowing the kids’ wet hair, the sunshine was shining brightly through the trees, and the light was shifting as their leaves twirled. The three clear pools of the pond were serene, and water lapped up against the pebbles and rocks at their edge. The banks of these pools were grassy and dotted with people, especially children. There was the faint sound of laughter. I took photos of the lake (including the one here).
We were on vacation, having exchanged our city apartment for the mountain home of another family for two weeks. Work was far from my mind. I spent those days visiting mountain towns with my husband and two children, reading cook books on my kindle, buying fruit at farmer’s markets, enjoying home, making simple meals, dining on the front terrace, and simply contemplating my own experience.
The experience of joy
Through contemplation I noticed there was a great joy within that was both reflected in and the source of my surroundings. From this place came an intention or vision for myself: a vision in which the beauty, the sensations and the appreciation of my surroundings were my everyday reality– not just on vacation days. Without the usual excuses or in spite of them, I let myself dream of a future in which the daily enjoyment of my life was reflected effortlessly in a profession that served myself, my family and all others. My dream included a simple life for my family in which there was the abundance of having all of our needs met and the enjoyment of simple and uncomplicated pleasures – time together, good food, being in good health, appreciation of friendships, travel, culture and the natural world.
In my dream, I was happy, smiling, energetic, relaxed and content, and in the moment I held my dream in mind, I felt exquisitely all of these qualities within myself, even if they later faded. It’s a dream I come back to when I want to remember what I value and what happiness looks like for me.
Have you ever found yourself dreaming and interrupted by the rational mind that tries to get you to snap out of it, with excuses like “it’ll never happen”, “life’s a struggle” or “good things don’t come easy”? There’s usually a story that goes along with it that says there’s no point in dreaming if what you want isn’t realistic. Do you stop there? If so, why? Why not keep going? We are full of stories that we believe, that shape what we think our options are, and that determine what we believe is doable or possible in our lives. Why do we deny ourselves even the pleasure of thinking about what would make us happy? Don’t we all deserve to be happy, whatever that looks like for each of us?
Dreaming as a tool for overcoming our limitations
Connecting with our dreams is a powerful tool for setting an intention and for overcoming the limitations we believe about our stories. Not only does connecting with our dreams feel good in the moment, it helps keep us in the Now, and it helps create a world of possibility instead of limitation. You might say, “dreaming can’t change my current predicament”, but yes, it can. Children derive happiness from their dreams all the time. When my daughter thinks about her grandmother’s dog, she starts smiling. Just thinking about him brings up laughter and joy. Half of the dream come true is the part we feel inside.
A 5-minute practice to try anywhere at any time:
- Forget for a moment what you think is real or possible and resolve to simply dream.
- Picture yourself as truly happy and describe it. Where are you and what are your surroundings like? Who is with you and what, if anything, are you doing? Notice if thoughts or stories creep into your mind and let them go during this exercise.
- Now pay attention to your breath, to your body and to your mind. How does your body feel? How does your mind feel? How would you describe this experience? Notice the sensations of the mind and body when you think about your happy dream.
Whether your dream is realistic or not, possible or not, have you not experienced a lightness when picturing what makes you happy? What does happiness look like for you?