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How a Dream Helped Me to Prevent a Hobby from Becoming an Obsession

Experience submitted by Michael

An interest in music has featured strongly throughout my life. It started in childhood with reading pop magazines, watching music TV and eagerly counting down the weekly chart on the radio. As a teenager and young adult, I attended numerous festivals and concerts and became an avid collector of various musical genres. I spent a significant portion of my spare income on music and relished the opportunity to spend hours browsing records or CDs in new locations.

I later studied composition for a few years, which opened up new creative opportunities and was an enjoyable experience. However, despite the enjoyment that my interest brought, I began to see how my hobby as a collector was becoming slightly problematic. Usually, when I became keen on a particular artist, I would want to collect everything they had recorded. But once I completed my collection, I would then develop a keen interest in another artist and the whole cycle would repeat itself.

I kept a “wish list” and was pleased whenever I unearthed a rare find in a music shop. But my list kept being added to, until at one point, the number of albums and singles I owned reached four figures. I felt cramped in my living environment, due to a lack of storage space, so eventually let go of a selection of music that I no longer listened to.

Uncovering Order and Discipline from Belsebuub’s Teachings

I still enjoyed music as I developed an interest in spirituality, but by understanding the nature of my own subconscious drives, using techniques suggested by Belsebuub, I became less attached to my possessions in general so I could really learn to enjoy them, and developed a greater sense of self-discipline with my finances, which was a significant change from the days when I spent most of the spare cash I had on music that I didn’t really need.

In Belsebuub’s video below, he talks more about how the subconscious drives work and how they can appear in our dreams:

The desire to accumulate new acquisitions gradually declined, until it was no longer a noticeable part of my life.

So it didn’t seem like a big deal when I bought a few CDs that I liked recently. I ordered them fairly quickly online and since they were second hand, the average price for each item was less than a cup of coffee.

The Desire for More

I enjoyed what I’d ordered, so decided to buy a few more items, until I seemed to have a new stack of CDs that I didn’t have much space for. The old desires to create “wish lists” and collect were beginning to re-emerge and sneak into my thoughts while I was doing other activities. But although I realised that I needed to pull back again on this interest, I somehow didn’t tackle it head-on, as it seemed fairly harmless.

A Symbolic Dream

Then one night, I had a dream in which I was looking through a skip full of food items, which were being thrown out. I left some items, but took an interest in some oversized vegetables, which were plentiful. They were like the prize-winning specimens that amateur gardeners proudly hold up at growing competitions, while having their photo taken.

The quantity and size of the vegetables made it impractical to carry many of them home, so upon realising this in the dream, I enlisted the help of another person to transport them in a wheelbarrow.

Once I was home, I wondered how I’d manage to fit everything into my small fridge. I realised that I had more than I could possibly use, due to the size of each item and the overall quantity. Even if I ate the same thing for over a week, there would still be a surplus, which would probably end up being wasted.

When I woke up, I got a strong feeling that the dream was telling me “Look, you’ve already got more than you need. Why do you want more?” I then saw more objectively that not only did I still have a lot of music that I hadn’t even listened to, but more importantly, the mechanism that had turned a hobby into an obsession was once again being put into place.

Seeing the absurd situation in my dream, created by my desire to collect, gave me a much greater motivation to nip the habit in the bud. I put it aside the same day and consequently noticed an immediate decrease in the thoughts that accompanied the habit.

Now I still enjoy music, but without the desire to collect it, which seems like a much more practical way to live, as it allows me to maintain my focus on my priorities in life in a better way.

  • Hi Michael,

    Thank you for sharing your experience.
    If we were not able to remember our dreams we would miss a big deal of guidance and learning. You must have had that dream because you actually worked on this aspect and wanted to change it.
    I can see this hoarding aspect in myself too but mainly in terms of collecting things on a smaller scale especially if i think that i will need them at some point but through the years I developed the idea if I don’t use it for a year then I give it away.

    On the other hand I realised that often I would buy something like a very powerful kitchen blender for example but not needing it so badly at the time – and then some time later it became an essential part in using it to make my living. Interestingly I had no means to buy it at that point so the purchase earlier on proved to be some kind of a guiding towards the direction my life was heading without me realising it. This happened with quite a few things and I wonder if there is some connection in “needing” to get something now that will actually serve us very well later on without us being aware of it.
    It must be a very thin line between these two things but I agree collecting something to an extent that it overtakes a significant space in our life is something to work on.

    • Hi Tina,

      Yes, it can sometimes be tricky knowing what is essential and useful and what is just clutter. I think what you mentioned about assessing whether we have actually used something over the last year is a good rule of thumb, although there are of course instances where something proves useful or even essential at a later date, as you found.

      I’ve noticed in the past that the egos can work in a sneaky way, where I’ve decided I didn’t like particular items and replaced them, even though they were perfectly functional, but not necessarily to my taste. In a way, that also fed the desire to buy more, as well as the desire to control everything within the environment by making everything perfectly to my liking.

      I think there’s a lot to learn about how the need to control things within our environment can express itself. I like to have a clean and tidy environment, but when living with others, I’ve learnt quite a lot about the need to tolerate habits and ways of living that are not to my liking. Otherwise, all sorts of resentments and misunderstandings can arise. At the extreme end, the need to have a perfect living environment can also feed anxiety and obsessiveness.

      Looking back, I think the desire to collect things was also related to the need to create control within my life. When circumstances have been unpredictable and outside of my control, there seems to have been a comfort in creating order within a certain area. I would imagine that’s also a driving factor behind many on the autistic spectrum – the need to create order and comfort in a world that seems unpredictable and at times frightening.

  • Thanks Michael, that’s a great example of how a symbolic dream can be given to help us change a spiritually unhealthy habit. I’ve often wondered what the need to collect is about on a deep level, it seems to be a habit that afflicts many people.

    I’ve seen homes literally too cramped to comfortably move around in or close doors, full of ‘interesting’ and ‘useful’ stuff. I know that greed exists within me, I see it more manifest as selfishness, where I don’t want to share what’s ‘mine’, or give away items that I put value on even when I’m getting little use of them and someone else would get more.

    But I guess these are slightly different examples of the way the mind can become fixated on one thing to collect, in your case, music. Either way, it seems the natural flow of give and take, receive and give, is blocked when we become selfish, or hoard, and to me it seems in when this happens we are not correctly playing our part in the inter-dependent web of life.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks for sharing these reflections Ella. It seems that greed is a universal instinct within people, which can manifest in many ways. The desire to hoard probably has many factors underpinning it, but I think for me, it was very connected to anxiety, due to experiencing poverty and loss in early childhood. I think I learnt that I must hold onto my possessions, as they could easily be taken away from me. Or else, if I give something away, I might not be able to afford to replace it.

      The trouble is that there is always a limit to the available living space that someone has, so for the average person, it’s easy to accumulate clutter, which then becomes a distraction and takes away time and energy, in order to maintain a clean home, due to the amount of stuff that needs to be moved around etc. I used to also be an avid movie watcher, as well as a music fan, but I started to feel that my collection was beginning to “own” me, rather than me owning it, so I learnt to let go of it.

      I think it takes quite a bit of clarity to see possessions for what they are – as things that exit within time – and to learn to appreciate what we have, without becoming attached to it. I also agree with your last point about there being a mutual flow of give and receive within the universe. I’ve actually seen this in my own life, as after I gave away quite a lot of stuff I no longer used or needed, I got quite a lot of help back when I needed it, usually at unexpected times.

  • Hi, Michael!

    Thank you for sharing this experience. It was helpful to read it. I wonder why the symbol you were shown was food? I can relate this symbol to impressions that I “take in” or am prone to feed, perhaps it’s not so far away in your case as well.

    Your article reminded me of a music hobby that I have. I’ve been learning to play the violin for a couple of years now. It’s really difficult but I feel connected to this instrument and I want to be able to express myself through it (thus I developed a resiliance to terrible screechy sounds over an extended period of time 🙂 ). Anyways, at some point I had a dream where it was highlighted that I have unhealthy fascination with my hobby and it allows for other destructive patterns of behaviour.

    I tried to be more disciplined with it, but after a while I had another similar dream. Then I decided to stop with the violin until I figure out how to do it properly.

    I didn’t practice for a few months and then I picked it up again and tried to start anew. It’s a very demanding instrument but also very intuitive and one that requires relaxation and focus, so as I progressed a little, it also became easier not to be so overtaken by emotions, physical tension or daydreaming. And also to take it more as a simple, enjoyable activity where I can experience the produced sound in more clarity and awareness.

    There is still a long way to go with it, but I was glad to realize that my problem was really how I was approaching it. Recently, I had a dream that I think was meant as help and I was in a situation where I played one single note on the violin and I was able to hear a human voice resounding in it and it sounded beautiful.

    It seems like egos want to break anything, even activities that are meant to be constructive, and one has to be always alert…

    • That’s nice to hear Pavlin!

      And I was wondering how things are going for you on this topic. I can relate to the fascination and attachments while playing music but as you said there must be a way to do it and not get lost in the subconscious.

      I’ve found also while passing from different types of percussions that this is a problem, but looking into it and developing my approach things can change. Music can be a beautiful thing and it’s a shame not to play because of these implications…

      I hope thing to work out for you and be able to play music more 🙂

      • Thanks, Fotis!

        I agree, music is one of those things that can give a lot, but like many(/all?) other things it has to be approached correctly.

    • HI Pavlin,

      Yes, in some ways it seems quite an obvious symbol to use, as greed and gluttony can be so closely connected.

      In my case, although I feel I’ve made pretty good progress in reducing gluttony, to the extent that I can sit down at a table with others, who are teasing me about the delicious food and not even want to try a taster, it seems that these inner states are more complex and multi-layered than I had previously imagined. So although I thought I’d also made some good progress with some aspects of greed, as I had managed to avoid opportunities to take things that didn’t belong to me in dreams, evidence from more recent dreams has demonstrated otherwise.

      In the case of music, it can be used as a great awareness practice – either playing it or listening to it. However, as you mentioned with the violin, it’s easy for a hobby to take away precious time that we need for more urgent matters, particularly as it’s such a complex instrument to master. There are some instruments that I can pick up and play straight away, without any previous practice, but the violin is certainly not among those! 🙂

      Another recent example comes to mind, where I set myself a goal during last year of working on some particular activities that would be of great spiritual benefit. I set about this goal with a declined approach and monitored how I was doing daily, in order to be sure that I used my time for this goal first, before pursuing other hobbies.

      However, although this goal was beneficial, I came across various egos along the way. The first was frustration, where I sometimes felt agitated if other things came along that meant I didn’t have time to achieve my goal. Or else, I would sometimes feel despondent that I’d let myself down. In addition, I started to become a little too focussed on making sure I’d achieved my goal of a set time in spiritual activities, to the extent that I would actually waste time unnecessarily in mathematical calculations, to make sure I was still on target.

      So I agree that the egos are so tricky that they can latch onto anything in order to feed. In that respect, food seems quite a fitting symbol.

    • That was interesting to read Pavlin, thank you for sharing. It is amazing that you had such a guidance through your dreams. I guess you would not have figured out otherwise that there was something wrong with your hobby, especially since you are not a professional player or don’t spend too much time on it (at least that was my impression). So even when playing it “recreationally” so to speak, it is interesting that we can have these strange and unhealthy approaches and attachments to something we like doing. Your experience seems to point out how clarity and a down-to-earth, almost pragmatic approach is important when dealing with emotional subjects like music, art or spirituality in general. And when we manage to achieve this quiet, detached clarity, then real spiritual experiences and rewards can come our way…

      Thank you again for sharing this great teaching you’ve received.

      • Yes, I agree with that a lot Lucia – I think it’s very important to maintain a down-to-earth and pragmatic approach throughout our lives, as so it’s easy to be tricked by the mind and emotions and go down all sorts of blind alleys.

        I think this can particularly be the case in spirituality, as when people develop a strong belief, which isn’t based on objective, first-hand experience, it’s easy for those beliefs to get in the way of common sense and direct a person to make choices that are not beneficial for the individual, or others around them.

        So I agree that it’s important to develop the quiet, detached clarity, which you mentioned, in order to experience real spiritual rewards.

  • Plenty of great insights in this article, Michael, especially how patterns or egos that we’ve overcome can begin to sneak back into our lives if we’re not careful – sometimes with new justifications. It’s a good thing you were paying attention to your dreams and could understand what that one meant.

    There is something very freeing about having fewer possessions and not being driven to “collect” things. But doing so requires a certain conscious intelligence. I know this is something I should be looking into, myself, such as the books I collect in my office: they may be practical and I may reference them over time, but I can also observe a subconscious drive to get more and it’s not always based on a genuine need.

  • I can relate to this habit/behavior Michael. I think can happen with anything material, that’s why for example there are collections of any kind. But I can see where is coming from and It’s really interesting to see what kind of need is covering this attachment.

    And on a first level looks absolutely normal to go on like this since these underline needs are there and have to be covered with one or the other way. That’s why I’m grateful finding Belsebuub’s works because I can tackle things in a deeper level and uncover where these attachments are held and what’s the real value of them.

    And then new needs/attachments are coming up, more “tasty” ones… 🙂
    And the story is going on

    Thank you for sharing your story Michael!

  • Some things you pointed out in your experience, Michael, I could relate to quite a bit. You mentioned how thoughts would sneak in and disrupt your awareness during another activity, with this kind of push to achieve that end goal (collecting or ordering more music, in your case). It’s so interesting how the subconscious dictates much of what we do or what we’re pulled towards if we’re not watching properly. A bit alarming really! I notice the same thing, how I can be vulnerable to falling into bad habits when I’m carrying out a task but not being “there” entirely, allowing this stream of thoughts — the sneaky current — to turn things in its own direction and subtly manipulate what I do throughout the day. I know it would just keep happening until it meets some serious resistance. Thanks for your insights and sharing some of your obstacles here. Much strength to you, friend!

  • Thanks Michael a very interesting experience of self-reflection. I wouldn’t of necessary considered something so seemingly harmless to be an obsession which offers an interesting reflection onto my own behaviours.

    • You’re welcome Adam. I’m glad the article gave you the opportunity to reflect on some points that are relevant in your own life.

  • That sounds like a really helpful and timely dream you had Michael, especially the symbolism included. I was wondering why the beings out-there would chose the symbolism of food when implying your desire to acquire too much music, and I thought that maybe music was, in a sense, also a kind of food – a food nourishing our higher needs. And it seemed you already had more than you could “consume” for a while… 🙂

    Thank you very much for sharing and wishing you a lot of strength when dealing with this sneaky habit!

    • Yes, that’s an interesting thought Lucia – how the right kind of music can be like food for the soul.

      I wish you lots of strength and guidance too!

  • Hi Michael.

    It was very inspiring reading your experience.You really touched me. Thank you for sharing.

    Many times I have appreciated the insights I’ve been given in my dreams about a particular behaviour I have. Indeed it’s a unique powerful help and I can understand how your dream gave you the motivation you needed to start stopping this negative habit. You made me turn back and retrospect a little, and see how some habits can easily trick me, seeming harmless, but directing me away from my priorities and spiritual work.

    Thank you again for sharing and everyone for your comments and insights.

    I wish you to always have the spiritual guidance and help you that need.in your life.

    • Thanks for your comment Maria. I also wish you a lot of guidance to make the right choices in your life.

  • Michael, what a great teaching in your dream! I love how dreams can give you the perspective you need to make a firm decision to no longer feed or act with a certain inner state.

    • Yes, that’s right Andrew – dreams can be a great source of guidance.

      Of course, the challenge can sometimes be interpreting that guidance correctly and applying properly it to our lives!

  • That’s a very interesting way to be shown a bad habit Michael. It’s amazing how dreams can, sometimes, show us the reality of things.

    I remember having something similar at some point when I had an argument with someone. I saw myself in that same night arguing with that same person. I was shown in that dream that the reason I was fighting for was actually trivial and even laughable.

    Some times we are so caught up in out “serious” matters and habits and it seems like a gift to be able to see how not important and even harmful they may be.

    • Hi Christos,

      Yes, I agree that it’s laughable how petty the mind can be at times. I can remember a prime example a number of years ago when I was short changed by a penny. I knew logically that it was nothing, and yet my mind was clouded during the journey home from town, feeling that I’d been cheated and debating whether I should go back to the shop to point out the mistake!

      In that case, the importance that I placed upon something so trivial really is laughable. But it’s also tragic that something as insignificant as a penny could take precedence over a sense of inner peace. Yet this is how so many live and it’s such a pity.

  • Hi Michael,
    That’s was a very interesting insight that you gained into something that you describe was negatively affecting your life gradually and was potentially becoming worse and I found it was really helpful the way you explained it too, as I could relate in different ways to some of the similar tendencies you describe. Interesting too that the symbols in your dreams used were completely different to what you were going through in physical like, I wonder if it was to help you see it in a more detached way?
    I think it’s something we all do and have to some extent, but can be limited in various ways and may express itself in different ways, like I can think of the trend that is pushed to always having the latest techie item, even if the oldest one may still be fine for example.
    In what I’ve seen personally, I feel that ‘collecting’ or ‘having’ has much more in common with a ‘want’ and like you describe so well, a ‘desire’, versus the actual ‘need’ that I have, and how it can be excused in so many ways.
    I’m glad you were able to come out of what you felt was limiting you and affecting you adversely with a better understanding of these drives and what was running behind them from your dream, and that now you can enjoy music for what it is – it must have felt also quite liberating 🙂

    • Thanks for your comments Geraldine. Yes, I agree that the trend in society is towards having the latest gadgets, even though the old ones work perfectly fine. Unfortunately a lot of social media is geared towards this “butterfly mind” way of thinking too, especially sites with news feeds, as one interesting post quickly grabs the attention and then leads onto an endless stream of trivia.

      A prime example of being caught up by something I wanted rather than needed occurred this morning actually, when I happened to think of a track by the hip hop group De La Soul and realised I didn’t know which US state they came from. I was going online anyway and thought I could quickly look it up on Wikipedia, as it would only take a minute or two. Then I thought “is this really urgent?” and put aside that little trick of the mind.

      Often when I get an urge to “quickly” look something up online, I ask myself “can this wait until tomorrow?” or “can this wait until next week?” If the answer is yes, I soon realise that the thing that I had wanted to prioritise as most urgent was actually among the lowest of my priorities, as there are so many other valuable ways in which I could use my time, which is often very limited anyway.

      • Hi Michael,
        Ah, you touched upon such an interesting element of web browsing! And truly, how accurate it is. It is amazing to see how I can easily be taken away in this ‘never ending’ window tabs in a browser…! Especially if I’m doing a bit of research. I’ve seen how it can really lead me to completely unproductive time – never really finishing reading something fully when an ‘interesting link’ is made in an article, thinking I’ll come back to this later or trying to get / save as much info on something, and ‘getting to that interesting link’ instead, well until the next one.. It’s such a horrible sinkhole / cycle to fall into too..! Soon enough, time has passed resulting in virtually nothing achieved, but a lot of tabs opened…! But you’re right, once you become aware like you say of this tendency you can learn about it, and change it. I feel it’s a big work in progress for me. And thanks for bringing this up, interesting how it came up when I was reflecting about something related to it 🙂

        • I think a lot of people can relate to this. I definitely can. I’m so glad you both brought it up — “the sinkhole” is a good term for it! Even though I *know* this happens easily, if I’m not behind a computer with a strong intention to be on the lookout for it and not fall for these tricks, I almost always do. Searching out a sacred site, for example, starts off on a productive note, and then as I’m reading something, my mind will come up with all these questions along the way that I *must* have the answers to right away, haha. I think it’s really useful to have that self-observation activated and to stop for a sec and ask “Is this going to take me away from the priority here entirely? Is it truly important?” The problem lies in not remember to do this enough. Just running on auto-pilot. I certainly think being aware of it and even discussing it with others to get feedback on how they tackle these little traps is a big help. So I’m thankful you both shared. It’s fun to unearth these things and stop the cycles from repeating — pretty relieving actually 🙂

          • Hi Geraldine and Zorana,

            Yes, I think it can take quite an effort to overcome the tricks of the mind and develop the ability to concentrate on one task over an extended period of time. But it’s also interesting that many of us demonstrate this ability very well when in the workplace, but seem unable to apply those same skills to our home lives.

            For example, if I was at work, the boss wouldn’t be too impressed if every time he passed my desk, I was chatting on Skype, or browsing irrelevant things on the net, when I should be working. I would probably face disciplinary action, or even lose my job if the issue kept repeating.

            It seems that the mind is very good at making excuses to justify slacking off, especially if it seems like everyone else is doing the same. But if others choose to leave aside important things in favour of trivial matters, it’s up to them, and ultimately they will be the ones who suffer the consequences in the long run.

            I’m sure we can all think of work colleagues who don’t pull their weight and leave tasks to the rest of the team to sort out. I’ve certainly been in a lot of workplaces like that. But I found it useful to develop a sense of responsibility for my own actions, regardless of what others do or don’t do. Then from this, I try to apply the discipline that I developed in the workplace to my home life. So if I’m working on a particular project online, I try to treat it as if I were at work.

            A little tactic I tried early on was to not read any unrelated information until I’d finished the task at hand. I used to click “open link in new tab”, with a view to coming back to it later, which in a way was beneficial, as the desire to check out that “important” piece of information would often pass by the time I came to read it. But as Geraldine pointed out, this can also lead to a mountain of tabs, which slows the browser down too!

            So I think although it can be useful to develop some tactics to keep the mind focussed, such as having little reminders pop up onscreen etc., ultimately it comes down to the issue of what the main driving force is for the individual.

            In my example with collecting music, it became clear that although this habit seemed harmless, it was competing for time with other things that were far more urgent and important. So I’m glad that I gained a greater understanding from the dream, which helped me to reassess my priorities.

            Taking the first steps to start something can often be a stumbling block and I’ve observed this a lot within myself in the past. I’m sure many people can relate to the low feeling that resulted from having schoolwork to do, but goofing off and then feeling the pressure and sense of failure that followed. Whereas, I’ve found that the feeling that I’m working on something beneficial for myself and potentially for the wider community brings its own sense of reward and its own motivation.

            So on the plus side, I think that once we manage to prioritise working for inner change as a main focus, it can actually create its own momentum and be thoroughly enjoyable.

Who Is Belsebuub?

Belsebuub is an author who has previously published several books on dreams and out-of-body experiences and has discussed these topics widely in the media. He withdrew from public life in 2010. Read more about Belsebuub's work on dreams...

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