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Owl. Image source:  http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Athene_noctua_(cropped).jpg User:Trebol-a

I had a dream last night that I bought an owl.  Usually I forget my dreams a few minutes after I wake up (if I remember them at all).  As I meditated this morning, however, the dream came rushing back to me:

I don’t recall where I bought the owl– just that it was an impulse buy, and that I really wanted it.  After I bought it, though, I realized I had no idea how to take care of an owl.  What do they eat?  What kind of environment do they need to survive?  Should they live in a birdcage or fly around the house?

I put the owl in a gold birdcage with thin wire bars and a domed top, like a cage for a pet canary.  The large owl filled almost the entire birdcage.  I sensed that this was wrong, but I didn’t know what else to do.  I regretted buying this beautiful, majestic, noble owl.  Embarrassed, I packed away the birdcage and the owl, so that they were out of my sight.

In this case, though, out of sight was not out of mind.  The next day I felt immensely guilty and remorseful.  Why did I buy an owl I couldn’t take care of?  Why compound my mistake by pretending the owl didn’t exist?  I unpacked the birdcage and the owl.  The owl was lying still on the floor of the birdcage, with its large eyes shut.  I lamented that I was a terrible person who killed this owl through my own incompetence.  Then the owl slowly stirred, ruffled its feathers and opened its eyes.  It stood up quietly in the birdcage, just looking at me.  My relief turned quickly to urgency — it must be hungry!  What do owls eat?  I rushed out into the yard and started pulling grass, weeds, and small blooming flowers out of the ground.  I carefully pushed this meager offering through the bars of the owl’s cage.  I was afraid to feed the owl because I believed it was angry at me, and that it would bite me if I got too close.  The owl ate the weeds, grass and flowers.  Then I thought, it must be thirsty!  I got a small bowl from the kitchen and filled it with tap water.  As I tried to figure out how to get the water bowl into the cage, the dream ended.

I’ve heard that the people and things in your dreams are actually extensions of yourself — your thoughts, emotions and beliefs. During my meditation, I focused on the owl and pondered what it meant for me.  I am just starting to take some steps to advance my career in a new discipline, so the owl could represent this new direction. I’ve committed to this change, but I don’t completely understand it yet, which could explain my feelings of fear and incompetence in the dream.  The owl could be the noble, special goals inside me that are still restrained but waiting to emerge when I’m ready.  I will have to remember the owl as I move forward on my life’s path.

What do you think?  Have you ever had a dream or vision that was particularly meaningful for you?

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Like many people, I tend to define success and fulfillment according to what I do — working, singing, writing, speaking, cleaning the house, to name a few things.  There is never any shortage of activities to begin, chores to complete, or obligations to fulfill.  I am very much a list-maker who gains immense satisfaction from “checking the box” next to each task as I complete it.

Lately though, my “things to do” feel less like accomplishments and more like habits.  It’s like being on a treadmill, where your mind wanders through so many random thoughts and feelings that you forget you’re running in the first place.  My mind is a noisy place, frequently consumed with analysis of the past or imaginings of the future. Even when all the boxes are checked on my to-do list, my fleeting moment of satisfaction is immediately followed by:  “What else should I be doing?  Is there something I forgot?  If it’s not on the list, how will it ever get done?”  The treadmill rolls on.

I took a short vacation from my to-do list to visit Arizona a few weeks ago. While I was there, I signed up for a 1-on-1 guided meditation session with a Native American healer.  Meditation has always intrigued me, but I had never tried it before.  My lifestyle of constant activity clashes with the basic tenets of meditation — stillness, introspection, the reassurance to “just be.” Prior to that session, it was almost impossible for me to clear my head and focus on the moment. In a life defined by “doing,” I believed I was not very good at “doing” meditation.

The session I had completely changed my view of meditation and my own strength.  I learned that I have the ability to quiet my noisy head and focus my senses, if only for a few moments at a time.  Also, unlike many other things that I am “doing,” meditation is a non-judgmental activity.  There’s no reason to be hard on yourself because stray thoughts enter your head during meditation, or you don’t experience some profound vision or revelation. Meditation is a kind, gentle, and encouraging journey.

Since my Arizona trip, I have been meditating at least once a day, in 10-20 minute increments.  I am hoping to gain new insight about myself — so my life is not just about what I do, but also who I am and what my purpose is in life.  It is a journey that I want to share with you all, my loyal readers. I realize this is a music and singing blog, so whenever it makes sense, I will tie in my music with meditation.  I’m looking forward to the journey — when I’m hopping off the treadmill for a bit, I’ll let you know what I see!

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