I keep seeing an almost empty courtroom, with a man in it. I think there’s a trial going on and I’ve done something wrong, with a sense of foreboding. A warm coral color is all around, part of the seating. Gradually I begin to hear the man’s kind voice speaking in low tones, for a long time. I feel this in my body. I keep waiting for the trial but then feel how this is what’s happening, his voice.

Our dreams can show us how we see and hear, through what eyes and ears. In this dream, before me is a room that could be a courtroom, a man, and a coral color. These my senses start to take in. But a pattern of thought locks in place through habit, a story I accept as real.

From my point of view the room looks small and square. And so is the conditioned story through which I’m seeing: that I’m the one on trial. My perception narrows to this and only this. Dread takes over, anxious thoughts. I’m in a made-up future, far away from my body, my senses and my feelings. I lose the present, this encounter. I’m no longer here.

And then something begins to happen. With the faintest stirring I sense a voice that’s been here all along, the rhythm of it, the waves of sound, words below the surface. I take in the presence of this man whose voice I hear, his gaze, the coral color. His voice is faint at first, in low tones that slowly grow in resonance. I feel the voice moving inside me with a sense of touch. A voice of kindness. A warm coral voice. The sound fills all the space and resounds. The story thins and fades.

And the story will show up again, some version of “what I’ve done wrong.” Our patterns of thinking can be so automatic we become blind to them. We can’t help it. These begin when we are very young, around the wounds of our living. Underneath is the deep well of feeling we’ve learned to avoid. This is where our dreams bring in their clarity and compassion.

Dreams can shine a light on our fixed ideas that loop and repeat so often we believe them. Our dreams do this not by criticism, not with more thinking. Instead, dreams bring in the sensory life of our deep imagination to help us. Our sacred encounters and images upend our fixed stories, open them up so something new and fresh can be born.

This dream gives me a new pathway, a choice. I can return and remember: Here I am. This is what’s happening. The man’s presence, sound of kindness, a healing hum. In this way the story becomes not an obstacle but an opening to a deeper kind of listening, an inner stillness. “The ear of the heart” Rumi calls this.

After this dream I hear more clearly the sounds of voice, the music so particular to each person. When we love someone this music becomes a deep part of us. What a treasure it is to hear this in dreams, after a loved one has departed. My father came in a recent dream, speaking with his younger voice close to my ear. It was a moment of needing his help. The dream recovers something precious. His presence and voice are real and alive. I can dwell in that sound.

Our dream beloveds let us know we are not alone. They come in their own mysterious and unexpected ways. We may feel difficult feelings, hurt or pain or fear. We trust the dream to show us what is alive in us and needs to be felt. And the one great taproot of feeling in our dreams is love. This is what I hear in the sound of the man’s warm voice.

Marian Enochs Gay is a certified Natural Dreamwork practitioner offering a contemplative approach to dreams as a path to soul. She offers individual sessions in person or via phone or Skype. You can contact her at menochs6@gmail.com. Learn more about her work on the About Us page.