Spiritually, I am feeling connected and grateful. But for a long time I’ve been having dark, scary nightmares. They involve being chased by demons and being killed. How can I get rid of them?
People often say: “God never sends us tests bigger than we can handle.” It’s more than a pious maxim. It is true.
All of the experiences of our previous lives are stored as energy in our spine. Since they are vibrations of energy, there is no limit the number of these whirlpools of energy – called vrittis in Sanskrit – that can be stored.
My guru, Paramhansa Yogananda, said that in the course of our many lives we have every possible life experience that is available. Before we are truly willing to give up something, we must discover for ourselves whether it can bring us happiness.
We are not usually conscious of the countless attachments that repose as energy in our spine, since they were created in previous lives.
Just think how many people die with unresolved issues. Death does not release the hold that our experiences have on us.
As we begin to develop spiritually, however, our energy flows with increasing strength upward through the spine.
As the mighty river of energy gathers strength and rises, the whirlpools of our old, stored desires begin to be drawn magnetically into its flow – dissolving in the tremendous upward-moving river of our aspiration.
But they can only be drawn into the river when the power of the upward flow is greater than the desires that hold a particular whirlpool of energy together.
Sometimes these vrittis are absorbed effortlessly – and you don’t even know it has happened. You may feel an increasing freedom without being aware of a particular cause.
Your frightening dreams may be symbolic. After all, your ego is facing a “life-threatening” situation! Your commitment to a life of devotion to God means that the ego’s days of power are numbered. Perhaps that is why your dreams are taking the form of nightmares. Ego is on the run!
As your spiritual dedication and understanding increase, your buried subconscious experiences are being drawn to the surface, because now you are able to get rid of them. Your dreams are symbols of this process.
Even though the experience is unpleasant, consider that it is the grace of God, coming to free you of these past impressions.
Some years ago, at a time of great spiritual change in my life, I was plagued by nightmares. It was such a contrast to the good things that were happening in my waking life! Eventually I understood that it was a needed subconscious purge, brought on by the expanding spiritual energy. The end result was a great increase of freedom and joy. I am sure that the same will happen for you.
Let me suggest some practical steps you might consider taking. Never go to sleep without praying deeply to God to keep you in His light. Put pictures of the Masters and other holy objects around your bed, where you can see them as you awake. Perhaps keep a small light that illuminates some holy image so that you can see it in the middle of the night.
Swami Kriyananda suggests that when bad dreams plague us, we can visualize a blue light emanating from our fingertip as we trace the symbol of AUM on our pillow in that blue light before we go to sleep.
Put some pictures of the Masters or other holy objects under your pillow when you sleep.
You might rearrange your sleeping room to put your bed in the most congenial and uplifted place.
You could even play softly all night a recording of the Gayatri Mantra or another inspiring chant. You could play it softly all day to uplift the atmosphere of the room.
These dreams will end. They have a “life span” from the past that will be dissolved in the right spiritual effort you are making now.