feeling stone 01The title of this post is a quote from the poet Rainer Maria Rilke—“no feeling is final.” I’ve been writing and thinking a lot about the meaning of healing lately (see “Kites in the Wind: Defining a Healing Dream”), in preparation for a workshop on healing dreams that I’ll be offering soon. At the same time, I’ve been looking at the experience of healing in my own life, and have found that my personal sense of wholeness and well-being has a lot to do with my relationship to feelings, emotions, moods.

Emotions come and go—good or bad, they are the life energy of my experiences. However, their nature (like the nature of all energy) is to be perpetually moving, flowing, changing. In a healthy system, emotions flow through without getting stuck. Personally, I’ve found that when I become too identified with a feeling, it turns into a mood—a prolonged, limited and limiting state of being—and leaves me with few options.

If I think (and repeatedly reinforce the thought) that “I am angry,” then only the choices of an angry person are available to me. But if I just notice, “I feel anger,” then I am free to feel something else in a few moments. When “no feeling is final,” all the possibilities, pleasant or unpleasant, are at least open to change.

How does this apply to dreams? I just read a reference to studies by the dream researcher Calvin Hall, which revealed a surprising paradox: When counting the pleasant or unpleasant emotions in the dreams of his research subjects, he found that a significant majority of the emotions experienced in their dreams fell into the “negative” category (anxiety, frustration, sadness, etc.); yet, when the subjects were asked to rate dream experiences as a whole, most of them described their dreams as pleasant rather than unpleasant. Continue reading