Archive | Dream Theory

What Does That Dream Mean?

We use the same word to describe the mystical phenomenon that happens during sleep and the aspirations that we hold for our unfolding lives. I had a dream. I have a dream. Additionally, we are told of a spiritual principle that invites us to view life itself as a dream, unfolding magnificently in a way that reflects the notion that anything can happen and probably will.

I have noticed that the idea of lucid dreaming is gaining more traction out there in the zeitgeist. When we become more consciously aware of our dreaming experience while we are sleeping, the more we can bring that conscious awareness to our dream-like waking life and the aspirations that we hold dear as we create our magnificent futures. I feel quite blessed to have devoted my practice to holding the dream as sacred and powerful. And never before has it been quite so clear that we must treat all three of these dream states with the exact same reverence.

There is a mystical text that most people in the Western world are quite familiar, even if they don’t recognize it as a mystical text. I committed it to memory when I was about three years old. It goes like this: “Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream!” This may sound like I am trying to be funny or clever, but truly, this is a piece of wisdom that we all learned at a very young age and everything you need to know about how life works is held within these four lines.

As you might imagine, it is the last line that interests me the most, as life is indeed but a dream we are dreaming up as we go along our way. However, the entire piece can be interpreted to both understand the journey on a deep and profound level. At the same time, doing so can offer insight into the principles of interpretation that inform all of the work that I do in my own spiritual practice and that which I teach to others.

One of the most powerful tools in interpreting a symbol is the principle of implication. Much like a detective surveying a scene for clues, the landscape of an image offers an enormous amount of information. Firstly, we recognize that we are on a journey as represented by being in a boat on a stream. This is symbolic of how we are to move through life. It is, ultimately, a navigation of emotional territory for water represents the emotional body and a stream is a small current, individual-sized flowing of water, much like our individual selves. When we connected in large numbers, we form a river and we are all heading toward the ocean of the collective. When examined more closely, we are part of the ne3ver-ending cycle of water flowing, evaporating, being redistributed to flow again. The stream is the fluctuating path that our life is to take and the boat we are in connects to our individuated sense of self.

We are given an instruction right off the bat. We are to row. We do the rowing and we are to row our own boat. Not each other’s. Not someone else’s boat; just your own. Row YOUR boat. And there is going to be some effort involved. How do we know this? The instruction is repeated three times. Clearly, there is going to be some effort involved.

Now just in case we are overwhelmed by all that rowing, we are given a powerful qualification. Several in fact. The first one I’ll point out is that we are moving down stream. It won’t always feel like it, but we are to know that even when the going is the most strenuous, we are still going down stream. To me, this is akin to the principle that consciousness is always expanding and that everything that occurs happens for your benefit. Even when it looks like anything but this, the truth still remains. We are expanding at every moment of the journey. And it’s a gentle ride, which is a very clear suggestion to lighten up and go with the flow. Row gently. Stop fighting. Resistance is pointless. When it doubt, choose the gentle path.

And here is my favorite part. It’s supposed to be fun. We are told to do all that we do with a sense of merriment. This is such an important principle it is given a lot of emphasis. It is repeated four times; one more merrily than there are rows. That means no matter how hard it gets, it’s STILL supposed to be more joyful than effortful. It’s supposed to fun, so do everything you can to cultivate joy.

And of course, the best part of all. Life is but a dream. And what are the qualities of a dream? It is a magical landscape in which anything can happen and probably will. It is a time when we are profoundly creative, causing the seemingly impossible to happen just by using the power of our thought. It is a state in which we get to see our blatant humanity while simultaneously becoming acquainted with our precious divinity.

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Life Is But A Dream – Part 2

Are dreams deep, meaningful experiences that can reveal unconscious desires or simply random brain activity? I have been asked this question over and over again. At the end of the day, the truth is that we really don’t know what dreams are or why we have them. The scientist believes that truth is only what can be measured in a laboratory. The mystic believes that dreams are unmistakably the living realm of the Soul. Since I consider myself half scientist, half mystic, I appreciate everything that dreams have to offer us. I thrill with every new piece of information provided by the latest advances in neuroscience. And I know that dreams offer remarkable insight; examining them can unlock untold secrets and reveal to us amazing elements of the human mystery.

Science has indeed proven that we get smarter during REM sleep. In this very active phase, the brain is busy reviewing the data collected during the day and retaining the important stuff as memory. In this way, we wake up smarter than we go to sleep. However, we also become wiser through our dreams. They are where we, I believe, find our Soul.

The language of the Soul is Love and Light. Yet when I tell audiences that I speak to about their spiritual practice that I have no interest in teaching about Love and Light, it usually evokes a surprised response. Light and Love are all there is and truly need no help filling any space and therefore does not require our attention. What does require our attention, however, are the blockages to Love and Light: Things like fear, doubt, worry and the illusion of separation. Dreams are the perfect snapshot to reveal to you where you might be blocking more Light and Love to flow through your consciousness and reveal your Soul to you.

A number of years ago, a young woman in her mid-twenties came to me because she had been having recurring nightmares about killing her own babies immediately after giving birth to them. The images absolutely horrified her and she was convinced that they must be confirmation of darkly sinister associations with motherhood that were worming their way into her consciousness. She was terrified about what this might mean for her potential future as a mother. After having different versions of this disturbing dream for several weeks, she finally followed her friend’s suggestion and set up an appointment with me.

She described the dreams. They were indeed horrific and utterly disgusting. The dreams were bloody, violent and, for her, very frightening. After taking the few requisite moments of validating her repulsion and agreeing that these dreams were indeed disturbing, I introduced her to the universal, symbolic meanings of the two images that were most prominent.

I explained that babies connect to anything new, like ideas, projects, intentions or experiences. This is an easy interpretation to understand. I went on to describe murder as a deliberate death. While this may look at first like a scary image with negative connotations, death is in fact a very positive symbol. It represents the ultimate transformation, as death is the end of one thing, but the beginning of something new. Death is always going to be followed by rebirth.

After she took this in, I asked her if there was anything in her life that looked anything like the new prospects that a baby might represent. She said she did indeed have a writing project that she was struggling with. I encouraged her to say more about that. She explained that she had been working on a creative project and had been throwing out various rough drafts and starting over again. When I wondered if the nightmares might have coincided with moments when she had to throw out a draft and start again, her eyes widened with that look that says – “aha”!

In this woman’s case, the babies represented the precious first drafts she was birthing through her creativity. The gruesome murders were her psyche’s way of expressing the regret she felt over having to reject her creations that weren’t satisfactory. The images were grotesque and horrifying, but had nothing to do with her becoming a murderous mom. However, when wanting to know what the dreams meant, she was unable to separate herself from the feelings that these images brought up. Her emotional attachment to her dream made it impossible for her to see what became so clear to me. In examining them closer, this woman not only had instant relief from these nighttime disturbances, she got a glimpse into her creative process that offered her a profound understanding about herself that went beyond the rational, limited mind.

Dreams are intensely personal; they happen inside of you. They offer unparalleled insight to the depths of who you are and where you are in your journey. They have an intelligence of their own and need nothing from you to do their job of allowing your Soul to express and expand. Paying them even the slightest attention, however, raises the vibration of the entire system. Sharing them with others does this even more so. Responding back with creative expression is perhaps the highest form of honor you can bestow upon them.

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Dreaming Comes Of Age: There’s An APP For That!

To all of my dreaming readers, I want to take this opportunity to let you know about a fantastic development in the world of modern technology.  There is a new App designed to improve dream recall and to connect people on the basis of their dreams. The developer of this technology has just released the second version and it’s time to tell the world!  Please have a look at the description below and forward / share / tweet this to anyone you think may be interested.

The application is called DreamGlobally, and is currently available only for Apple devices but it will be expanding to other platforms soon.  There are both free and paid versions on the App Store.

Here’s the link to purchase this application:

DreamGlobally is an app and website for people interested in their own dreams and in dreaming as a global phenomenon. It is also a network for connecting with other people who share these interests.

DreamGlobally works on three levels.  One the personal level, DG is your own private dream recorder and dream library, available to you right on your Iphone.  At the global level, it includes a searchable, world-wide Dream Database open to all users.  Additionally, it is social, allowing you to connect with others on the basis of your dreams.

Here’s how the app works.  Set it up and you will fall asleep listening to a recorded suggestion to help you remember your dreams.  You will be awakened at a time you select by a recording of questions designed to clarify the dream in your mind.  The questions start very quietly and, very gradually, get louder.  You are literally greeted in your unconscious mind by the voice on the app.  It asks plants the seed of bringing your conscious awareness into the dream landscape.

At the end of the questions, the App automatically starts recording sound. You just begin speaking and your dream is recorded.  You don’t have to move or even open your eyes and in this undisturbed state, you create a permanent record of your dream.  This is the ultimate in new age technology meets dream journal.

The app also features a database function that allows you to keep track of your dreams, share them and connect with other dreams based on what you are dreaming about.  The dream landscape just got smaller!

Check it out and let me know what you think.


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Am I Dreaming, Or Am I Awake?

I got this message on facebook the other day:

Hey Michael, question for you – hope you don’t mind. This morning, Jane was having what appeared to be a bad dream, so I ran my hand across her forehead to gently wake her up.  But then I wondered, is that a bad idea? Should we let dreams take their natural course?

Here was my reply:

That’s a great question, Brett. There is certainly an argument for the idea of letting a dream run its course. However, there is also the perspective that we are all participating in a living dream – and as a couple, you are each intertwined with each other in such a dynamic way, that your impulse to comfort her and wake her is as much a part of her consciousness as it is yours. I like your impulse and I REALLY like the way you executed it (hand gently across her forehead). My input is this: If you feel to do this again, be as gentle as you possibly can – perhaps with the intention rather than of waking her up, of calming her from the waking world and joining in her experience bringing comfort, grace and ease. It’s basically what you already did, but taking it one step further with intentionality.

My friend really enjoyed my answer, telling me he thought it was thoughtful and insightful.  And it got me thinking and seeking more insight to one of the questions that people have for me with some regularity.  Just how fluid is the boundary between the dreaming world and the real world?

The true answer is of course that there is no boundary and that the two worlds are one and the same.  The challenge with that answer is what we do with the information.  If we take it literally, we are lost.  Any hard scientist (or reasonable person for that matter) will flatly disagree and they’d be right to do so.  The idea that these two worlds are intertwined is an idea that has yet to be explained in any way that might be satisfying to any but the tried and true followers of hooey-hooey.  And yet, I believe it is so.

Using the example above of Brett and Jane, we have a married couple who share their lives and within that construct each night, their bed.  The brain is an electrical organization that functions on a system of waves.  Waves can synchronize and desynchronize.  In fact, the synchronization of usually chaotic and erratic brain waves is the first evidence that sleep is upon us.  It is entirely possible that when two people sleep together, the synchronization of their brain waves creates a similitude of experience that may be profound indeed.

I was once asked by my pregnant neighbors about this phenomenon.  It seemed that the husband was having just as many vivid and fantastic dreams as his hormone-saturated wife.  While pondering my answer, I found myself expressing just this notion: the electromagnetic activity in one person’s brain impacts the brain of someone nearby.  There is research to back this notion up, though it is still very rudimentary.

So does this mean that if you dream about the hot guy or gal you have a crush on that they are also thinking about you in their nocturnal journey?  Probably not.  But there is certainly more to this than meets the eye.  We are all connected in ways that are far more mysterious than explainable.  And if in the dream world we can create anything just with a thought, then that is the life I would like to be leading while I am awake.

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Universal Meaning of Individual Symbols

In the world of interpretation, there is no right or wrong.  This is why I prefer the term dream interpretation over dream analysis.  To analyze something is to reduce it down to all of its essential parts.  From this perspective, there has to be a “right” and accurate meaning of a dream.  An interpretation explains the meaning of something, but it is completely subjective.  From this perspective, there is no such thing as accurate, there is only satisfying.  A dream interpretation that satisfies the dreamer and provides some level of meaning is a home run.

My entire work is based on the fundamental law of universality.  Universality has to do with agreement; the more people who would agree about the meaning of something, the more universal that idea is.  When I am teaching someone about the principles of interpretation, I put a lot of emphasis of going beyond the personal and connecting with the universal.  For example, you might be afraid of dogs (personal) but you know that in our culture a dog is a man’s best friend (universal).  The notion that a symbol can be deconstructed down to its most universal meaning can be applied to any image that appears in a dream.

When in doubt, it can be helpful to look toward something’s USE or ESSENCE in order to find a satisfying universal meaning. The use of something applies to its function, while its essence connects to its purpose.  These may seem barely distinguishable from each other, but they are in fact different.

Use takes into account what something does and that helps define how it relates to us.  A refrigerator keeps a certain amount of space at a specific, desired temperature that is colder than the surrounding space.  That is how we use it, taking advantage of the chilly area it creates.  Its essence connects to the purpose of a refrigerator which is to lengthen the life of our perishable foods, for which we value it highly.

Both the use and essence of something may need to be examined in the course of interpreting a dream.  One or both will always lead you toward the universal meaning of a symbol.

A woman dreams she found someone’s disembodied head in a refrigerator.  She decides that the head represents thoughts or ideas that she has not incorporated into your mainstream thinking.  In order to discover the universal meaning for refrigerator and further inform her understanding of these images, the dreamer turns to use and essence of refrigerator.  The use would tell you the head is going to be kept cold, but that may not provide a good meaning to incorporate into your interpretation.  If you go to the essence, to preserve, there is suddenly something interesting to explore.  This is now a dream about ideas whose time has not yet come; they must be kept fresh though, preserved for later use.

To further illustrate, take the example of a bomb appearing in a dream.  Its use relates to creating sudden, intense combustion.  It isn’t until the essence of deliberate destructiveness with an implied target is added to your definition that you have something to work with.  If you had a dream that you were carrying a bomb from one place to another, you can now consider both the dangerousness of sudden combustion as well as deliberate destructiveness that the bomb represents.  These minute distinctions will pay off powerful dividends when the symbols you are working with are even more esoteric and challenging.

The use of a hat is to cover and protect the head.  The essence of a hat is to adorn and express.  Therefore the universal meaning of the symbol of a hat in a dream will connect to protecting or hiding private thoughts and/or expressing thoughts indirectly (wearing a hat on the head is what adds the element of thoughts or thinking).

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Is Everyone In My Dreams Part Of Me?

Dreams are filled with people.  Some you know, others are strangers.  Sometimes, you know exactly who they are despite the fact that they may look nothing like the person they seem to be representing.  And while dreams feature a myriad of settings, objects, themes, creatures – the list is endless – the bulk of our dreams contain people more than any other type of image.

There is an adage in dream work that everyone in your dreams is a part of you.  While this is not the only way to approach the people who appear in your dreams, it is the only way that I work because for me it is the perspective that offers the most value.  This is not to say that dreams that involve people close to you in your life are not reflecting the relationships you have with them.  They are.  However, the dream work that I am drawn to is entirely about self-investigation.  Therefore, considering every person who appears in a dream as representing a part of your own personality is the best route to go.  I call these individual representations Character Aspects, where each character represents an aspect of your personality.

Have you ever noticed how often we use language to describe how we feel that goes something like, “part of me feels one way and part of me feels another?”  This is a great example of how we organize our inner experience in a compartmentalized way. Dreams operate on the same principle, but exclusively through the language of symbols.  It is in this way that the people in your dreams are symbolic representations of different aspects of yourself.

I’ll give you a few examples from my own life.  A professor of mine from graduate school was very analytical and, at times, harshly critical – that’s the polite version to describe him.  If he showed up in a dream, I know that he would be a Character Aspect of the critical part of me.  On the other side of the spectrum, I have a close friend who is one of the warmest, most affectionate individuals I have ever known.  If she were to appear in a dream, she would be a Character Aspect of my own capacity for warmth and affection.

Let’s use an example from a real dream of an actual client.  A woman has a dream that her high school English teacher is standing at the back of the conference room in which the dreamer is soon to give a presentation at work.  When asked for three adjectives to describe the English teacher, the dreamer replies “negative,” “harsh” and “demanding.”  It was easy for her to understand and even express to me how nervous she was about this upcoming presentation.  But it was by examining this person as a Character Aspect of herself that she was able to relieve some of her anxiety by understanding that she is her own worst critic.

The better you know someone from your life, the harder it may be to envision them as operating as a part of your own personality.  In these cases, it’s best to attempt to stay very detached in your thinking.  You might consider how someone else might describe such a person in order to reach a more objective sense of them as a Character Aspect of yourself.

Of course, the dream world is just as populated with people you have never met before, if not more so.  When this is the case, use whatever information you have from the dream and any details you can remember about them. The less stuff offered by the dream, the more work you will have to do to discover what Character Aspect might be represented by these strangers.

Sometimes this is not at all easy to do, especially if a Character Aspect represents elements of your personality that you don’t readily relate to.  I ran into this with a client who so resisted this idea that it took every ounce of my patience to guide her through the process.  She was a woman in her late twenties who had a dream about an older, female boss she worked for many years prior to when she had the dream.  When picking the three adjectives, she came up with “aggressive,” “powerful” and “unethical.”  It was clear to me that the merciless boss-lady from the dream was a Character Aspect of the part of the dreamer that is also capable of being ruthless and unconcerned with the moral constructs of right and wrong.

Let me tell you; my client didn’t like this process one bit.  In her waking life, this young woman certainly does her best to do the right thing in every situation and would hardly be considered ruthless.  Ironically, while railing against the idea I was asking her to consider, she became quite ruthless in her defensiveness.  She finally relented and understood what I was trying to convey when I explained to her that all things live inside of us; the good as well as the seemingly bad.

To be truly effective with your dream work, you must be willing to explore all sides of yourself.  Remember that the unconscious mind knows the totality of who we are:  Even the parts that are ugly, unpleasant and hidden away from our conscious awareness.  This is called The Shadow and brings us to the next concept that is one of the most powerful and important parts of effective dream work.

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Why Is It Always 11:11 On My Clock?

A friend asked me the other day to explain why he keeps seeing the number 11 everywhere.  This is not a rare occurrence for me; people frequently call on me to help explain the phenomenon of seeing certain numbers appear over and over again.  It often starts with noticing digital clocks reflecting the time 11:11.  But soon, it spreads to other places: addresses, dry cleaning receipts, telephone numbers.  Are you one of those people who can’t stop seeing a certain number appear everywhere you turn?  Chances are that if you are reading this, then you identify with this experience.

A synchronicity is when two seemingly random events occur at the same time, creating the sensation that there is a direct connection between the two events.  It was Carl Jung who coined the phrase.  Sitting in his consultation room, Dr. Jung was analyzing a dream presented by a patient.  The dream was about an Egyptian scarab beetle.  The two were distracted by a wrapping at the window.  When they went to investigate, the two found something strange.  On the sill was an Egyptian scarab beetle.  In Switzerland!  It was absolutely uncanny.  Jung intuitively understood that there was something very powerful about the lining up of these two events, the telling of the dream about a scarab and the bizarre appearance of a scarab thousands of miles where it ought to have been found.

The synchronizing of two seemingly random events; having all meaning, yet no meaning at all.  And this is the power of living in synchronicity.  Give them ALL meaning, and you are living in magical thinking.  Give them NO meaning and you are missing out on one of the most delicious elements of life.  I have often thought that the only mind that can TRULY comprehend ALL meaning and NO meaning is the mind of God.  So to truly appreciate synchronicity in your life is to lean into the mystery that is life: completely understandable and absolutely incomprehensible.  In this dichotomy is serenity to be found.

Synchronistic events are to be found everywhere.  When you begin to orient yourself to perceive them, not a day will go by where they appear constantly.  One of the most charming ways I experience them and use as an example to describe to others who are just tuning in is what happens on my weekly hikes in Fryman Canyon here in Los Angeles.  Every Saturday morning, I gather with my oldest friends in the world and we play catch-up as we climb the mountain.  This particular trail is circular so it is common to pass people who are on there way up as we are on our way down and vise verse.  Every week and without fail, the conversation we are having will be echoed in the words I catch from the conversations of others.  But truly, my experience of synchronicities are so constant and numerous that there is never a day where several of them will not occur, some quite alarming in their precision.

The first way in which most people begin to see synchronicity in their lives is through numbers.  Like the sense that every time you look at the clock is just when it happens to be 11:11.  You are probably seeing lots of other times when you glance casually at your digital timepiece, but the unmistakable sensation that accompanies the moments when it’s 49 minutes before noon or midnight each day connect us to something bigger and more mysterious than pure chance and science would have you believe.  Others begin to see certain numbers over and over again – at the gas pump, the numbers on a receipt from a purchase.  Whatever the form these synchronicities take, they will increase the more you take notice of them.

This then, begs the question, why?  Why bother?  What is the value?  I am often fond of saying that I am half scientist and half mystic.  The scientist in me says there is no rational reason to look for these experiences in your life.  The mystic in me is certain that there is tremendous value in using them to connect to the sense of spiritual comfort they can bring.  They are a powerful reminder that the unfolding of life has its own pace and format and just maybe, despite the fearful thoughts that sometime tell you that you are doing it wrong, you are exactly where you are supposed to be.  Perhaps if enough of the mystics of the world continue to deepen these experiences, the scientists of the world will find ways to explain what is today still a mystery.

Keep watch for my next blog post on the power of numbers and numerology; in dreams and in life!

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Night Terrors – There’s A Man In My Bed (and it’s me!)

One of the most terrifying experiences a human being can have is a sleep-related phenomenon.  Known as night terrors, they have the technical name of Hypnogogic or Hypnopompic Hallucination.  One refers to them happening at the beginning of sleep (gogic) and the other is it happens at the end of the cycle (pompic).

Here’s what happens:  The brain paralyses the body in preparation for REM sleep.  That way, you don’t run around your home reenacting your dreams and risk injury.  At the end of the REM cycle, the paralysis lifts and consciousness returns, in that order.  Sometimes, this doesn’t happen quite so neatly and consciousness can return before the paralysis lifts.  When that happens, you are still in a slight dream state and will often sense you are dreaming in the very room that you are sleeping in.  But the paralyzed body throws you into a state of panic and, unable to move, you may dream of being choked, unable to move and sometimes that there is a presence in the room, often sitting right on top of you.

This is utterly terrifying, hence the lay term “night terrors.”  It is more common in children than adults and is the likely source of the boogeyman or the monster in the closet.  When taken to an extreme, this can be considered a sleeping disorder and there are people who suffer this experience every night.  Medication can help, but comes with serious side effects.  Neurobiology explain this phenomenon with some certainty and that pleases the scientist in me.  And typical of science, the door is shut on the mystery of this state and that, as they say, is that.

However, this is where the mystic in me gets a little riled up.  Even the use of the word “hallucination” rubs me the wrong way – it implies that the imagery that people experience when this is occuring is somehow just imagined.  Science describes what we know, but often dismisses the use of imagination and intuition to wonder about what we don’t know.

This fugue state exists halfway between consciousness and unconsciousness.  It is truly amazing and I believe that so much more is happening here than we could possibly understand at this moment of our scientific development.

In this spirit, I am always on the lookout for stories that dreamer’s share with me that exemplify the strange and wondrous things that can happen in this state.  Here’s one from dreamer George J:

Many years ago, I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep (my sleep at that time was characterized by nightmares, now seldom, but not vanished). I propped up on one elbow and lit a cigarette. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the …bed sheet and cover which draped almost to the floor, “move”. There wasn’t a breeze, so I was slightly concerned. The sheet and cover moved again…there was someone under the bed. Able to defend myself, so not needing to arm myself, I reached down (knowing that there was someone there), and pulled back the sheet and cover. There was a man laying partly on his back, and partly on his side, staring up at me, with eyes that looked like a dog with rabies. The face was mine, the figure under the bed, me. I’ve never leaped so far, so fast to escape the room…which motion woke me up, heart pounding, and in a cold sweat!

Is there a dream interpretation here?  Perhaps.  Since this dream happened many years ago at the beginning of this man’s adult life, it is possible to interpret the imagery to represent the notion that the very thing we’re doomed to be saddled with (and terrified of) is our very selves.  I’ve often told people who suffer from dreams of being chased that they ought to consider turning around and facing their pursuer; perhaps they are just trying to give you your lunch money.  The scariest person on our journey is always our self.

Dream or psychic phenomenon?  Both?  Who knows.  I have more fascinating tales from dreamers on this topic and will share about them in the future.  If you have any of your own, please pass them along; I am always on the lookout for more dream data!

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What Do The People In My Dreams Mean?

Everybody in your dreams represents a part of you, whether the character is someone known to you or a stranger.  I refer to this as the first circle of interpretation.  Because we so often dream of people close to us, there is a second circle of meaning when someone plays a role in our dreams.  Through the second circle, the dreamer can reflect directly upon the life circumstances connected to the person making the appearance.  Both perspectives merit exploration and are powerful inroads to information.

The work that I do interpreting the dreams of others never utilizes the second circle, primarily because unless I am working with them as an ongoing client, I rarely have enough information or time to investigate the relationships of the person I’m working with.  Both circles can yield remarkable information and every dreamer can work with both; however I strongly encourage the former over the later.  It is far easier to confront frustrations in your relationships than to face taking responsibility for your self and your actions.

As an example, a man dreams that his wife insists on driving him to the dentist.  She is far more outgoing than he, representing the gregarious parts of him in his dream.  This dreamer is being called by the disowned part of himself that cries out to be incorporated into his communication (teeth, mouth), despite the fears that might accompany such a shift (disliking going to the dentist).  His outgoing wife represents the part of him that can speak his mind.  She also represents that part of himself that can facilitate the inner work that will make the shift possible (her driving).

The dream serves the dual purpose of pointing out that the dreamer is not speaking his own truth enough.  In the first circle, his wife is his inner character aspect of assertiveness.  In the second circle, the dream points to the dreamer’s frustration at his wife’s demands for control of the relationship.  Both avenues of investigation are important, however doing the inner work will automatically shift the outer experience.


By now you should have a clear understanding of the technique of seeing everyone that appears in your dreams as a part of you, the dreamer.  Here is the way out of that process being confusing, especially when you are dreaming of friends, family members, loved ones or other associates.

It is so difficult not to see these people as the separate whole beings you know them to be.  If you dream about your partner, you will be inundated with all of their quirks and qualities when trying to identify what part of you they represent.  Simply ask yourself to mention the first three adjectives that come to mind when you think of the person in question.

For example, there was a particular graduate school professor of mine that I would describe as self conscious, awkward and inept.  Dreaming of him puts me in the realm of my own incompetence.  My closest friend is ridiculously aware and insightful, but can be brutal in expressing his opinions (aware, insightful and brutal).  If he shows up in my nighttime story land, it is the part of me that uses a sledgehammer to make a point that is being highlighted.

This exercise must be done with a sense of impulsivity and lack of self consciousness, often difficult to execute when you know why you’re doing it.  It works wonders when I spring it on a client, but it can be just as impactful when you know it’s coming (as in doing it yourself) as long as you approach it with authenticity and integrity.

Have at it!

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What is the Collective Unconscious?

To understand the collective unconscious, we must begin with the personal unconscious.  Most people in the western world have a basic understanding of the parts of our human mind that are hidden, unknown or deeply mysterious.  We call this the unconscious mind.  And while rooted in psychology, the notion that we have an unconscious mind is a part of our day-to-day experience, showing up in the media and pop culture.

We have no way of really knowing that such a thing exists, but its presence is revealed to us through behaviors we can not justify, choices we make that we don’t understand, reactions to events that do not energetically match the event itself or slips of the tongue that embarrass us because they reveal desires we hadn’t planned to expose.  It is considered by many to be a frightening aspect of the human mind.

Beyond the disquieting notion of powerful but hidden forces that lurk below the surface of our thinking, the unconscious is also home to intuition, imagination, creativity and spontaneity.  This vibrant and fascinating realm is also, of course, the home of our dreams.  When seen in this light, it is much easier to make the leap to understanding what the collective unconscious is.

The collective unconscious goes even deeper than the unconscious mind.  It is a realm of experience that exists in all human beings and connects each individual to each other in life and back through history to the beginning of time.  Because it is not something that can be isolated or touched, we only know of its existence through the evidence that reveals a commonality that all human beings share collectively. 

Jung made this discovery through observations during his extensive travels all over the globe. He found that all cultures, no matter where they existed on the planet or how ancient their history, shared vast arrays of similar mythologies, beliefs, artistic expression and much to his surprise, dreams.

What Jung recorded that was so shocking to him was that the native populations that he studied in Africa and Asia were having the exact same dreams as his patients in Switzerland.  Impossibly removed from each other by geography and culture, these third world peoples dreamed routinely of flying, falling, loosing their teeth, being chased and other commonly reported imagery just the same as his well-to-do Caucasian counterparts thousands of miles away.  Granted the natives were being chased by lions as opposed to assailants with guns, but the essential content and theme were the same.

Because of the existence of the collective unconscious, we powerfully connect to symbolic meaning that we may not have any conscious awareness of.  In this way, the importance of accepting the existence of the collective for the modern day dreamer will feature prominently in the process of interpreting dream imagery.

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