I recently began making a concerted effort to uncover and confront - to the furthest extent that I could - the limiting and destructive beliefs that have, thus far, kept me from a fuller and happier life. I was particularly keen to understand why I've created such a reality of loneliness, and lack of artistic fulfillment, for myself.
This wasn't my first experience in following this sort of practice. But it took me to some unexpected depths of pain this time. I often felt overwhelmed by the material that was bubbling up to the surface. I lost sight of belief: Belief that I could change my convictions; and also, that such changes, in turn, would actually impact upon my outer circumstances in a positive way. In the midst of this internal conflict I had this dream:
I return to my apartment, where I am keeping two herons as pets. One roams free; at the moment, she is off in the opposite corner of the room. The other lives inside a big glass tank. He has never been outside. After a while he seems agitated. He paces around; then, he nips at some of the plants inside the tank so that their stalks fall over.
Some time later (I've been lost in my own thoughts) I look up and he is there in front of me, walking free! I'm momentarily nervous, wondering how his temperament will be. This is his first time out in the open, after all. But I look into his eyes and sense such sweetness and empathy. "Hey there!" I say, and give him a little pet.
I knew at once that the penned-up heron was reflecting a part of my life force, my soul, that was being liberated by this inner work. It has never been allowed to come out until now. The limiting beliefs (symbolized here by the stalks that he nips) kept it encased somewhere where it could see the greater movements of life and love all around but not take part in them. In the same way, I've oftentimes been aware that much greater kinds of fulfillment are possible; but somehow I was convinced that they were "denied me". Many of the beliefs I've been confronting revolve around ideas of self-worth and worthiness. Some are quite old - so old that it's tempting for me to think that they're a part of me. That's an illusion. I don't need to be cowed by my own ideas, no matter how long I've been harboring them, any more than the heron needs to stay enclosed in his glass box.
When the conscious mind finds itself at the end of its resources, the inner self can come to its rescue. This dream brought me some affirmation that I sorely needed at this juncture of my journey. Confronting the very ideas that you have used to define yourself and your life can cast everything into a state of new creativity that nonetheless feels like chaos in the moment. Old landmarks and road signs are washed away in the surge. Luckily, the inner self believes in us even during those times when we find it difficult to believe in ourselves. Looking into the heron's kind and understanding eyes, I am reminded of this.