Hoosac Tunnel w Kerri.jpgHave you ever wondered what would have happened had you made a different choice – or had the world made a different choice for you – at an important crossroads in your earlier life? I’m sure all of us have tried to picture how it might be if we were still with a former partner, or in the old job, or if we had spent that year traveling the world before going on to college. In our dreams, we sometimes seem to be walking paths we did not take in waking life. 

Mark Twain dreamed for 40 years of a life he could not share, in the regular world, with Laura Wright, whom he first met on a riverboat when she was a teen. His parallel life with Laura, in a world that opened in dreaming, is reflected in his story “My Platonic Sweetheart,” published posthumously. I have heard many experiences of living a double life in this way, over years or decades, through dreaming. When I look over my own journals, I find there are other Roberts out there – in what is dream to me but may be a solid reality to them – living as I might have done had I not made certain choices in the life my waking self remembers.
It is a popular view in contemporary physics that the world we experience with our physical senses, with an agreed history, is only one of possibly infinite parallel universes, hanging beside us like coat-hangers on a rack. Our dreams give us clues to such possibilities. 
We can also learn to explore these things consciously. In a recent gathering of 30 active dreamers on a mountain in the New York Adirondacks, I suggested a group experiment. We would embark on an adventure in group lucid dreaming, fueled and focussed by shamanic drumming, to check on some of our probable selves, leading parallel lives. Part of the intention was that we would seek to gain knowledge that would be helpful and sustaining in our present situations. For example, we would try to notice where a parallel self might have gifts or skills we can borrow. We would also seek ways to dispel any regrets over life journeys that were left incomplete.
While drumming for the group, I found myself drawn to a number of probable lives, on roads not taken by my regular self. I checked in with a parallel self who married my first girlfriend and found us stuck in a rotten marriage, both with high school teaching jobs we didn’t enjoy, in a gritty Australian suburb. Though I was heartbroken when we were separated (at 19) I now know this was definitely for the best!

Donna went on a deep and harrowing journey, that ultimately proved to be deeply healing. She saw clearly that had she escaped the pain of her earlier life, she might never have had her son, or might never have been able to have the relationship they share. Donna’s journey inspired her to write this letter:

A Letter to My Son

What if I had been born to a healthy loving family?

What if I had stopped dating your father when my family moved away from Ohio?

What if I admitted out loud that I wasn’t ready for you, when you were ready for me?

What if I chose not to have you and went to college and began a career?

What if I dared to acknowledge this other path that my life could have taken?

I ask “what if”? 

I respond, then I wouldn’t know what unconditional love is.

I wouldn’t know what the amazing experience of giving birth was like.

I wouldn’t know how it felt to have someone fully depend on me.

I wouldn’t know the innocence of a child.

I do know that if I had chosen this path instead of having you that you would have chosen me as your mom anyways, just at a different time.

I Love You My Son,

(Signed) Your Mother

she generously gave me permission to share this wonderful letter, Donna wrote: “
Thank you for creating the opportunity for me to reach deep inside myself. The growth opportunitites have been unmeasurable.”

It is remarkable how much becomes possible within the compassionate energy of a circle of active dreamers bent on healing and claiming a larger life. And you can also investigate your possible parallel lives in the quiet and privacy of your homes. The royal road to follow is that of your dreams. You can seek to go back inside a dream in which you seem to be leading another life through the mode of lucid dreaming I call dream reentry and explain in several of my books, including Conscious Dreaming and The Three “Only” Things. You can also try a form of active imagination. Start by picturing yourself going back to a decisive moment of choice in your earlier life and then track what might have unfolded had you chosen differently.

Photo by Kerri Vincent 

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