Scholars walk: the ship of comfort and new frontiers

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A welcome respite from a period of turmoil. Doors open to a space of calm, a place of generous spirits, tenderly crafted to house a wonderful family. The warmth underfoot from a wooden floor, laid piece by piece, is purposeful and elegant. Windows open on the living floor, and the gentle draught brings wisps of cool during the hot summer months, brushing the house plants which dance softly, well-kept and brimming with life. Sira’s toys and family items speak of play, creativity, and love. A feeling of a space designed to live in. The comfort of the grey Italian chair and lounge bed does wonders to embrace my weariness. I nap and doze many afternoons. In the mornings, I wake up on the elevated wooden bed which holds me for the night, before opening the balcony door to take in the air. Sitting, looking out and down the rows of flats, I take note of the satisfying straight-line perspectives converging towards the River Cam. I sit contentedly, wishing my friends well, feeling as though I am on a vast docked ship, looking out over territory from above, wondering about life and letting the sun greet me. I feel safe here, held by the space and comfort flowing upwards through the floors.

It is here, one dozy summer afternoon, I break into new space in my dream practice. The conditions are ripe to allow the body and mind to settle completely.

I lay down and listen to my regular yoga nidra practice, and sometime after, I decide to continue to drift deeper. At first, I notice my body is uncomfortable in this hypnagogic space, but less pronounced than before, and I’m more curious. I remain conscious as I fall into sleep, which is exhilarating. This is a frontier I have so far been unable to cross and have read about the difficulty of remaining conscious while falling asleep – a seeming paradox. At first, I felt a dropping sensation; I had to let go and surrender to this. I emerge in another dream space with my brother up in the morning doing something. I think my dad is in the space somewhere too. I’m on this sofa bed at Neal’s, but in a different space. I decide to doze back to sleep, and this time I burst through another layer. There is an initial pressure and an intense feeling of dropping in and through my body. During it, I told myself ‘I love you’ and accepted if I die in this moment, it had to happen. These in-between spaces were unusual and spectacular, but hard to describe. I was accompanied by a guide of sorts; his voice was muffled but grand – almost like a god figure with an American accent. On reflection, he sounded like Morgan Freeman playing God in Bruce Almighty! I couldn’t hear much of what he said as the background sound from the TV in the dream layer ‘above’ was still present and muffling his voice. I couldn’t see him; he was a disembodied voice. I had in my mind to ask him who he was later in the dream, but I did not. Interestingly, I felt I didn’t want to ask too much. Each of the stages was met by some falling and bodily pressure which resolved into letting go and passing through. The first space I don’t remember so well, but I wanted to go deeper. The voice said, “you could have stopped there”. Perhaps I got greedy, again looking for that central, deeper, and transcendent experience, my desire for emptiness.

The next fall was most vivid, and it was as though I sank through a veil, followed by a distinct falling sensation that lasted a few seconds where I was in free fall. I was saying, “It’s beautiful, but terrifying.” I don’t think I was terrified, but it came to my mind, and it felt like I needed to acknowledge this to the guide, to respect what I was being shown. I was remarking on it being blissful, a sensation that still fills my body after waking. A cloud flickering with jewels, a vast open space; it felt like passing through a star nebula. I could see lights and gems twinkling and was in complete awe. As I kept falling, I emerged into clouds, passing through them to see an open road below. I could see seagulls flying below me and far below, cars on a country road. I was asking my guide to show me how to help people. My return back to waking was smooth; I just re-emerged awake. I feel calm and tingly; it feels like there has been a release of some pressure or blockage. I feel calm and alive. I emanate this back into the place that I am staying, generously lent to me and full of its own love and comfort.