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  • Writer's pictureLaura Schopen

Undoing Our Projected "Reality" of Fear

In this blog post, I'm sharing a powerful concept that A Course in Miracles teaches. A kinesthetic knowing of this idea occurred for me during one of my nighttime dreams, and I hope sharing it here will help you grasp it, too.

This idea can also be understood through a healing event. When a new understanding and a release of blocked energy occurs, a person's current life experience can change dramatically, revealing that their life situation wasn't causing their experience. Their experience was actually coming from an inner condition.

I offer the understanding and a tip for using it to your advantage in case it is helpful to you.

* * *

Have you ever had a dream so scary, sordid, or otherwise horrific that you "woke up" in the dream and became lucid? Lucid dreaming is when we realize we're dreaming even while we're still asleep in it.

Several months ago, I had a dream that was so out of my ordinary experience -- so sordid, dark, and deceitful -- that I started to panic.

In the dream, I was the targeted victim of a big long set up that had been preying on my wish for attention. In a moment of extreme fear when I finally saw what my "friends" were really up to, I suddenly became aware. I realized I was asleep and this was my dream. I became lucid.

Still dreaming, I started analyzing the situation:

  • I was aware that I was watching my own dream characters do horrible things to "me," the victim character in the story and the one I felt identified with.

  • My other dream characters (not "me") were using "me" in a horrible plot. However, it was obvious now that "they" were coming from my mind just as the character "me" was.

  • If all the characters and the plot were coming from my mind -- and if the "me" character was unaware of the plot to do horrible things -- then there must be some dissocation going on!

The final idea was a whopper. I was only knowing part of the story as "me" even though the whole thing came from my mind. It was like I was intentionally "forgetting" what I knew in order to be upset.

It was like I was intentionally "forgetting" what I knew in order to be upset.

Having these realizations did NOT make the intense fear go away, however. So I/"me" tried to escape the evil-doers. I started running, leaping, FLYING down flights and flights of stairs. The staircase seemed to go on down forever, and I ran down as many of them as I could.

Seeing that I couldn't get to the bottom of the endless staircase, I ducked into a room on one of the floors. It had a bed, and I hid under the covers.

But "they" knew. Of course!

I peeped out of my blankets and there they were, peering down at me. Still lucid, it was obvious I couldn't outrun or outsmart myself.

To cope with the intense fear I was still experiencing, I repeated what I knew from my analysis: A)I was dreaming, B)these characters were coming from my mind, and C)that meant I was somehow wishing to do this to me. (Freud said, and A Course in Miracles agrees, that dreams are a type of wish fulfillment.)

As I recited these facts to myself, the characters simply looked at me with empty stares. They started to appear much less menacing and more like the characters in the video game Zelda that will make little blinks and twitches when you pause. (To enhance the game, to programmers try to keep you feeling there's life in the characters when you stop making your own avatar/lead character Link move. I must have programmed my "game" characters to do the thing.)

Next, I noticed something new. Even though I saw everything was a figment of my imagination, the intense feelings remained.

The energy of terror that was coursing through me didn't go away!

So if seeing the harmlessness of the situation didn't end the feelings, the feelings must not be caused by the activity of the dream events, I reasoned.

But if the terror was not being caused by the dream events or dream characters, what was causing it?

Where was it coming from?

When I suffer, my unconscious fear/hate are the "soundtrack" to whatever is happening.

Suddenly, I had an illumination, and my relationship to the terror changed.

The dream was not causing my feelings. My feelings were like the soundtrack to the events playing out.

Try this to see what I am talking about: Put on a scary movie, but turn off the sound. Really, how scary is it then? Or even better, put on a sublime piece of your favorite classical music to watch the movie with...can you feel something close to peace? Even while the goofy ax murderer quietly goes about his business?

I could feel the Truth sinking in. My dream was expressing a much deeper part of mind (symbolized by the many floors I ran down to escape) that contains existential, non-specific terror. This was the source of meaning that gave the cartoonish characters and ridiculous scenarios "life" for me. This deeper fear was what was making it "real."

The guilt and shame and anger were not caused by the dream, but the dream was how the mind explained them.

My illumination helped me more deeply relate to one of the early workbook lessons in A Course in Miracles is "I am never upset for the reason I think." We're not upset because our friend said something mean. We're upset because we're experiencing a projection of our fear/hate that comes from an unconscious dream of terror that is giving meaning to the events. We're not the "me" character, but the dreamer. In fact, we're needing events that happen to make us upset, but we're dissociated from this wish.

This terror being expressed is the effect of believing we killed/separated from Love/God.

Tip: Gently becoming lucid through Forgiveness

Okay, so super deep and metaphysical and hard to accept. The good news is that you don't really need to believe all of this metaphysical stuff. You can still practice what I'm offering and let it change your experience.


1) Pause during any type of suffering we're experiencing.

2) Next, identify the feelings and interpretations. Consider them on their own apart from the events. Am I feeling judged? Betrayed? Threatened? Am I feeling hatred? Grief?

-- is this a familiar feeling/belief? If yes, that's another great clue that this is projected.

3) Can I allow what I am feeling -- the energy of it -- to be welcomed? Can I stop resisting or blaming myself or the world for it?

These first three steps are beginning to change things for me. I am taking responsibility for my condition, and bringing the cause of the matter home to myself.

I am empowering me to actually change things for me! Think of it: If it's the world, the past, the body, everyone else, etc. who cause my feelings, then my sense of peace and well-being are always at the mercy of "out there." This makes defense or vengeance ("an eye for an eye") the only two real alternatives, neither of which lead to peace.

I am empowering me to actually change things for me!

4) Can I remember even a tiny bit of Truth?

Just as one spark of Light can do away with the darkness, one profound question or a tiny bit of Truth that we can recall when the heat is on can remind us of the Light within (i.e. raise our consciousness.)

  • Is it True?

  • Can I be absolutely sure it's True the way I have set it up?

  • Am I safe in this moment?

  • The "perpetrator" is just like me, and right now he/she/they are just believing their thoughts, like I do sometimes.

  • All is well, and everything always works out in the end.

  • I see only the past.

  • God is Love and therefore so am I.

  • ETC!

I have lots of Truth ideas that come to mind, because that's my training and practice. They are available to me like "wax on/wax off" from Karate Kid when my peace is threatened and the moment calls for them.

You can learn like I have. It takes a teaching that inspires you and practice. It takes your desire for more peace most of all.

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