Archive | Personal Dreams

The Unconscious Mind Is REALLY Unconscious!

I have been thinking quite a lot about the unconscious mind lately.  Depending on what source you look to, apparently only about 15% of how our minds operate is conscious, the rest is relegated to the unknown, the invisible.  And if that’s the case, I’d venture a guess that about two thirds of that is not happening as mindful awareness, but is actually the ego voice within us run amuck, engaging us in conversations with people who aren’t in the room, reviewing the past or rehearsing for the future.

So if most of us is operating from the unconscious mind, it is fair to say that the struggles that we have are grounded there as well.  This has left me feeling a bit confounded about how healing takes place.  We can direct our thoughts till the cows come home to affirm that we are filled with well being, but if our unconscious mind is railing at us that the sky is falling, we are living in a house divided.

How this relates to my experience of dreaming intepretation comes in the form of a dream I had last night.  In this dream, I was in a community of people putting on some sort of production of a play or musical comedy, in which I had a prominent role.  The woman who was directing this was an old friend from high school, Anna.  In the dream, we were quite intimate, enjoying a romantic connection of some depth.  However, prior to this (in the dream’s past tense) there was some issue about a contract she had signed for some furniture she was to have delivered.  She changed her order, going against the contract, and I had pointed this out to the authorities.  This occurred before we became intimate.

At some point, there was a rehearsal in which she began to change things that had been already staged and set, which through me off considerably.  Shortly after this, there was a big board meeting going on which I was not invited to.  I knew that I was being discussed in this meeting in a critical manner.  While this was going on, I noticed that my travel plans were set to take me home from this location (which now revealed itself to be England) on the Saturday morning before the performance.  It turns out that I was never going to be in town to do this show in the first place.  As the board let out, I approached the president of this group (who resembled the psychotherapist with whom I did my mandatory didactic therapy with as part of my doctorate).  This man was dismissive of me and seemed completely uninterested in the fact that my travel plans were going to render me unable to participate in the upcoming performance.

So the juicy part of this dream was this:  All of the above was essentially exposition for the scene in which now, my beloved Anna was ENRAGED with me.  She was railing against me in every conceivable manner and had now called this board meeting in which she was setting me up to be the villain in the scenario that had unfolded.  I was dumbfounded.  Not only was I pretty certain that I had behaved in a good and true way in each moment that I had been in, I also didn’t think that the “wrongs” I had done merited such a violent and vitriolic reaction from her.

If what I have shared with you isn’t cluttered enough, there were dozens of other images from this dream that I remembered vividly.  As I sat and ruminated on what they all might mean, my mind just collided in a frenzy of over-intellectualized chaos.  How was I going to work with this dream?  I knew it felt important, but I was initially stymied by how I was going to find the nuggets of truth and a valuable interpretation in and amongst all these details.

And then I thought about this notion of how my challenges are rooted in my unconscious mind and that they are just that: unconscious, and therefore invisible to me.  So, rather than try to figure all of this out, I thought I should just go for a process that was more about the sensation of the whole than an intellectual understanding of the parts. 

I closed my eyes and relaxed as fully as I could.  I pictured myself in the space that this group of authority figures had met and called the board back to order.  I gathered all of these nameless characters, as well as the president and, of course, my beloved Anna.  I found myself saying to them, this:

“Okay, I can’t know what you all talked about when you met.  I can’t even pretend to know, Anna, why you are so desperately angry with me.  And while I can’t go back and fix what I’ve done in the past and I can’t know what is unknown to me, I can insist that a healing takes place.”

With those words being spoken inside my meditative mind, I felt an emotional shift.  Something settled in the pit of my stomach and while I don’t know what it was, I could feel the change inside me without reservation.  I felt a healing take place.

I don’t always have to KNOW how that is happening or even what was out of alignment to begin with.  But having a healing is my birthright as a human being.  My mind may not have known how to heal this situation, but my heart certainly did.  And I would rather dwell in my heart than in my head.  I am reminded of the old saying, “I think, therefore I am.”  These days, I am more inclined to say, “I am, therefore I think.”

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Opera and Abandonment: A Personal Dreaming Interpretation

Though I am fully committed to dreaming intepretation, I don’t process every dream that I have.  I usually know intuitively which dreams to work with and which to let float back into the ethers.  The dream I’m going to share with you today was not necessarily one that felt important when I first awoke.  However that evening, when I looked back on my day, I remembered the dream once again.  What seemed unimportant in the morning, was clearly preparing me for the events of the day in a very powerful way.

First, the dream:

I was with my entire family (mother, father, sister and brother) at a restaurant and we ordered dinner.  After ordering, everyone left for one reason or another, leaving me alone.  Two hours went by and my family didn’t return and the food never came.  I was feeling very abandoned and quite upset.  Suddenly, I found myself at the opera, looking desperately for my family as I did not have my ticket and didn’t know where our seats were.  At a certain moment I discovered that not only was I at the opera, I was IN the opera and had just two hours to learn how to maneuver a very complicated set with many staircases and platforms in a costume that was very difficult to walk in.  Oh yes, the costume was a dress, a very intricate ball gown that was iridescent blue.

Second, the background:

If you’ve been reading my blog, you probably know that my brother died suddenly this past winter.  In the process of grieving, one thing that seems to be happening is a reevaluation of my role both as a man but also as a part of a sibling unit that was three and is now two.  Who I am today as a function of who I was in my family unit has reached a whole new level

My sister and I have always been close.  She, in turn, was also close with my brother.  With him gone, it feels more important than ever that we maintain the intimacy of our relationship as we move into the territory of the idea that one day we will be mourning the loss of our mother and become orphans at long last.  So when she announced to me one day a few weeks ago that there was something she needed to talk to me about and that she needed to get some distance from what had sparked her discomfort, I was a bit nervous.  I didn’t know what it was that I had done that upset her, but experience told me that just because there was nothing in my version of things that might have been inappropriate or hurtful, that didn’t necessarily mean I hadn’t actually done or said something that I would have to take responsibility for.

Third, the day and the conversation:

The talk my sister and I had couldn’t have gone any better.  She approached me with her truth in tact, but with a strong sense of presenting herself (to the best of her ability) without offence.  I received her with openness, space and (to the best of my ability) without defense.

Fourth, how the dream played into my day:

Since I knew I was going to be having a potentially confronting conversation with my sister the next day, my unconscious kicked into high gear and was helping me process a number of feelings.  The two themes that emerge from the dream tell the story-behind-the-story.  The first of which is abandonment.

I’m with my entire family of origin, so we are looking at my sense of self as it pertains to the first construct through which I experienced myself.  All my perceptions about love and needs being met are going to come up when I my unconscious is using this symbol to self express.  And in the dream, I am both abandoned by the family (feeling of isolation and aloneness) and unable to get my food (access to nurturance and sustenance).  Clearly, if my brother is gone because he has passed away and my sister is mad at me, my fears are going to be telling me I am alone and unfed.

The second theme is a little more complicated to discover, but ultimately just as clear.  The opera has a generational connection to my family, as we have been going to the Met in New York City for three generations.  It is also where our last family outing was held as a celebration of my mother’s seventy-fifth birthday; we all went to the opera and dinner two days before my brother’s unexpected death.  The day was an absolute blast and has provided for us all a beautiful memory with which to associate our last experience with David alive.  In the dream-scape, that I was at the opera and still separated from my family might suggest that I was expressing fears that I was cut off from the happy elements of my family.  In the dream, I am desperately seeking connection, only to be thwarted.

So the plot twist is now I’m not only AT the opera, I am IN the opera.  And I have to maneuver a very complicated set complete with many levels and stairways.  Could it be that this image is reflecting the anxiety I had about the pending conversation with Kathy?  Why not?  Opera is communication on a large scale.  So was the talk we were about to have.  The complex and various levels on the set might be representing the potential awkwardness of a delicate conversation the topic of which was still a mystery to me.

Now the dress.  When I told the dream to my sister, she laughed and asked me if I was having some gender identity crisis.  And of course, I am not.  However, there is a wonderful parallel to this image and the notion of approaching a conversation with responsiveness rather than reactivity.  To be willing to hear my sister out, to listen openly and willingly to anything she had to express without interrupting or making excuses or justifying myself would be the height of the feminine principle in action.  Masculine approach to conversation takes over.  Feminine approach to conversation allows.  And the color blue (remember, the fabulous gown was bright blue) is the color of the throat charka and connects to issues of communication.  My traversing the set several hours before the performance in order to be as graceful as possible was my psyche’s way of mentally and emotionally preparing myself for whatever my sister wanted to discuss with me.

Fifth, the wrap-up:

While I didn’t wake up from this dream feeling that I had to interpret it immediately, I did remember it vividly.  It wasn’t until the end of the day as I was reflecting on the events and how they unfolded that I made the associations that I have shared with you today.  If I can leave you with anything it is to appreciate that the work being done on an unconscious level by your dreams is happening whether you attend to it or not.  We are wiser today than we were yesterday and I believe with all of my heart that it is in dreams that this incredible process unfolds.

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The theme of the dream is siblings; more insights on the passing of my brother.

I recently posted the term “Siblings” to my blog when my brother passed away unexpectedly two weeks ago.  Obviously, I have been in deep process since then and my dreams have of course been a big part of that process.  I decided to share this dream with you because it illuminates two concepts.  One, it exemplifies how dreams are mirroring our waking-life processes and, essentially, mirroring the daytime events in a nighttime sort of way.  This is the compensatory nature of dreams; they help balance us out.

The other approach to dream work that this particular dream emphasizes is the idea that the theme of the dream is where the interpretation lays – as opposed to a symbol-by-symbol, story-about-the-story technique.

So, first some background information.  I was the one of the three of us children who got all of the positive attention.  And, I do mean all.  It has been a deep wound of mine (and an issue for both my brother and sister) that my personality and exploits set up a scenario in which the receiving of attention was ridiculously out of balance, with me receiving most of all the good stuff that was available.  I have cried many a tear of the notion that my brother might have had a better experience of his life is I had not been quite so dynamic in mine.

The other salient part of the story is that my sister is a high school art teacher.  She is ridiculously gifted at this, but has often expressed (early in her career) a sense of limitation because she is not a more talented artist; many of her colleagues were artists first, teacher’s second.  My sister is teacher first and artist second.  And I do not fall subject to hyperbole when I tell you that she is magnificent at what she does; she will live on in many a student’s psyche for decades to come.

So on to the dream.  My sister, brother and I were sitting around a table.  My sister was accusing my brother of stealing one of her paintings.  He was justifying his actions because of her lack of talent, the painting was no good anyway.  Suddenly, a woman who felt like she was my sister’s psychotherapist was present and I was trying to explain that my sister felt inadequate about her artistic talent.  Her therapist became very defensive with me, which surprised me as it was not exactly a professional reaction.

I sat with this dream for days and nothing really hit me.  Then yesterday, the whole thematic perspective dropped into my awareness in one fell swoop.  I have been working diligently at recognizing that I deserve to utilize all my gifts and that having them did not actually take away from the experience of my brother.  That I was the perfect child and he was the black sheep was actually NOT MY FAULT!!!  What a revelation, because of course in my deep unconscious I felt terrible shame and guilt that the more attention I got out in the world, the guiltier I was for the challenges my bother was facing.

What the dream showed me was that what I was feeling was universal.  ALL brothers and sister struggle with these sorts of dynamic and mine was no different than anyone else’s.  My guilt and shame is my guilt and shame to work out on my own.  My brother’s passing doesn’t mean I look at this and suddenly think, “Oh, I’m REALLY to blame here.”  It’s actually a moment to do the opposite.  To own my own life and choices, to allow my brother to do the same and to move on with grace and easy, being grateful for all the beauty of my brother and releasing and forgiving any element of our connection that was painful.

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Computers and torture in my dreams!

A word about judgments.  They are killing our souls.  Whether they get expressed out loud or not, the judgmental thoughts that are routine parts of the ego mind are mind-numbing.  I’m talking about everything from out right hatred (just turn on the news if you want to know what I mean) to idle gossip about others and including those random thoughts and opinions that leap across your mind almost outside of your conscious awareness when your brushing your teeth.

I have decided recently to put my daily spiritual practice to use in a concerted effort to notice my own judgments in an effort to release them on a deeper level.  Boy, was I shocked at what I found.  I consider myself a fairly well-processed individual:  I meditate every day.  I have devoted my life to service.  I am, for the most part, kind and helpful in all my interactions.  And certainly in the world at large, I have a persona that of the Teacher – I have the answer and people assume I am (forgive the hooey-hooey language) “vibrating at a high level.”  The bare, naked truth is, just like most people, I have a lot of judgments and opinions.  And I am SO ready to let them go.

So, of course, I’ve asked my dreams to help.  For two nights, I have petitioned my dreams to give me some information about how judgment is living and breathing in my unconscious and how I can move toward releasing them on a deeper level.  Here is what I have found so far.

Dream number one – the first night:  I dreamed that I was attempting to work on my laptop computer, but it was in a shambles, barely working.  I knew that I needed a new one, but I was reluctant to make the purchase, telling me I couldn’t afford it.  And as long as I hooked into my mother’s computer in the makeshift way I had figured out to do, I could at least function.

The first interpretation that I should give to this dream is to acknowledge how much my computer is a focal point for my life.  On it, I wrote my doctoral dissertation.  On it, I wrote my dream dictionary.  On it, I am writing this blog and connecting with my friends and loved ones.  When I add in the lens of the hold that judgment has on me, I also see that there is a connection to ideas about the world that I got from my mother (that my opinions and a sense of superiority were where my strength lay).  Additionally, I see the cost of clearing out the mess of my current belief system is being too high; something I can not afford.  But really, can I afford NOT to?

Dream number two – last night.  Holy shit, is all I have to say.  So the night before, I learned where my judgmental stand got its first legs and told me that I think the cost for clearing it up is too high, last night’s dream showed me just how high the cost of NOT releasing myself to a deeper level of operating will be.

In the dream, I am tied to a table, stripped half naked and attached to electrodes.  I am being tortured, violently while my inquisitors are asking me questions about how the insurance company that I work for has defrauded it’s customers by charging exorbitant fees to vulnerable people.  I manage to escape, but at great peril and I have to kill off one of my assailants with a power saw, with which I saw him in half.  Once I am liberated from the building, I search in vain for my car, which I eventually find and drive to safety.

CLEARLY, this idea of freeing myself from judgment is a good idea.  My unconscious mind is letting me know that this way of being in the world has in fact been torturing me and is, at the end of the day, a fraud.  Since I spent last night having dinner with a colleague during which we discussed many issues of the day, I believe the dream reflected to me that even well-meaning discussions in which I freely express my opinions about things may look altruistic on the face of it (an insurance company that appears to be helping people get medical care) at the truthful root of it, there is something inauthentic about it (the fraud in the dream) and what is REALLY going on is that I am trying to make myself feel more important and smarter in a deeply disguised reaction to inner feelings of fear and inadequacy (the profit generated by the fraud).

There are two things I am looking forward to in this day:  One is to check in with myself and see how my judgments are operating.  The second is to my dreams tonight!

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Swimming pools and septic tanks: Am I about to swim in shit?

I am spending the weekend in beautiful Ojai, California.  Ojai is nestled in a valley off the coast north of Los Angeles and just south of Santa Barbara.  It is a truly beautiful location and I am very fortunate to have a place where I can go every once in a while to relax and write in solitude and serenity.

I consider my weekends here at the ranch to be a blessing where I can not only get away from it all, but I can also do some deep contemplative work and that usually includes my dreams.  I petitioned my dreams last night – that is, I asked myself to have a dream that I would remember that might give me some insight to what I am going through right now.

Currently in my transpersonal journey, I am doing some deep father-wound work.  Now this is not about my father, it is about the father-wound.  Since our world is experienced in polarities, everything can be looked at as a function of which end of the continuum something relates to.  Up/down, day/night, masculine/feminine, father/mother, father-wound/mother-wound.  And since we are the children of our parents, the wounding that we suffer as human beings is originally played out in the realm of our family dynamics.  In this way, we can most easily understand ourselves through the lens of these dynamics.  So while I may no longer be at odds with my actual father as he was in life, in my interior landscape, there are wounds I have that are associated with behaviors and patterns that had their first incarnation in that relationship.

My father was not a kind man.  He was, in fact, rather brutal and could be very verbally abusive.  Additionally, he was enraged at my mother for leaving him and as her “favorite child,” I was often the target of his venom.  I was a naturally sensitive and loving child and we both had difficulty in relating to each other in any sort of a comfortable and satisfying way.  Any time that I bump up against issues where I think my life is lacking in generosity or affection, I know that I am dealing with this original father-wound.

So here’s the dream.  I am in my father’s house as my adult self.  I see out of the window that a bulldozer drives into the yard and toward the back of the house.  I know that it has come because I have decided to build a swimming pool in the back yard and it is about to dig the hole.  My father looks at me disapprovingly and I know that he is thinking that I have forgotten about the septic tank.  If the bulldozer goes ahead and digs up the back yard, it will certainly destroy the septic tank, leaving the sewage to spread everywhere.

Since I am my present-day self in the dream, I know that this is a snapshot of where I am currently in my development.  That the house is my father’s means I am investigating who I am as a result of how I was parented by him.  A swimming pool holds a small amount of water for the purpose of comfort and recreation.  Water is emotion and the desire to build a pool in my father’s back yard connects to a need to manage and contain the emotional issues around my father-wound.  Of course, what I have neglected to think about is that if I dig too deep, too fast, without care and consideration, I will run the risk of having shit all over the place.

The disapproving look from my father may not feel all that pleasant, but the message is positive and helpful: He is not saying “don’t build the swimming pool,” he is saying, “be careful how you do it so you keep the system that effectively processes the dark, shadowy stuff (in this case, poop) in tact and functioning well.

And the journey continues.  I absolutely desire to be able to enjoy and benefit from the emotional content that emerged from my childhood as my father’s son.  And I also want to have an effective way of dealing with the shit that comes up along the way!

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I was enraged in my dreams last night.

One of the most disturbing dreams that is not quite a nightmare, but certainly uncomfortable is dreams of debilitating rage.  Those scenarios in which the dreamer is filled with so much anger toward a person or situation that it is impossible to actually process all of the force of that anger into words or even sound.  The silent scream of rage in a dream is a fairly literal symbol representing just that: rage means rage.

Here is my definition of rage:  Anger which is not stimulated by present circumstances but is rooted in past injuries.  Rage does not need to be loud in order to be rage.  Passive aggressive manipulation is just as raging as loosing one’s temper inappropriately.  So, simply put, rage is any anger you experience that is more highly charged than the event that sparked it.  And it is always connected to something in your past.

I was enraged in my dreams last night.  What was wonderful about this otherwise unpleasant nighttime journey was how my rage (or rather my relationship with rage) has evolved over the years.

With apologies to my sister, I have to tell a little story about my childhood.  When I was fourteen, my fifteen year old sister Kathy left our home and went to live with our father in upstate New York.  While this was the best move for her, I was devastated.  We had been very close and in some ways my connection with her was, in the isolation of my own painful adolescence, the one familial source of comfort and intimacy.  My devastation landed in my unconscious mind as pure, blinding rage.

For the next several decades, I had recurring dreams of being so consumed by anger toward Kathy.  Now, I knew that these dreams had nothing to do with my sister or our relationship; they had to do with primal feelings of rage associated with feeling abandoned.  When something in my adult life triggered deep-seeded feelings of abandonment, I would have this rage dream in which I attempted to express my anger at the symbolic source (at that time, the character aspect of my sister) but would be so overcome with the enormity of it, I would be rendered, essentially, mute, soundlessly consumed by blinding rage.

But who was I really enraged at?  My sister?  No.  Well, maybe a little.  But the dreams were mine, not hers.  Abandonment may be triggered by people in the outside world, but if you feel abandoned by anyone or anything, it starts within yourself.  Over the years, I have learned how to sooth the frightened parts of myself that feel alone and I have strengthened my sense of self enough to know that I am never abandoned.  Then, when people, places and things in my life don’t show up in the way that I want them to, I am not so knocked off balance.

In the past ten or fifteen years, I have noticed that I no longer have these dreams.  And last night, I had a dream that I was indicative of all the work I have done to release myself from the grip that rage has had on me.  In it, I was angry at someone in my life who I’ve only known for a few years.  That alone indicates that we’re more in the realm of anger as opposed to rage.  Further, I was only hampered by my inability to communicate when filled with the challenging feelings of anger.  I could get my words out, but I had to take a breath in between each phrase and speak only a few words at a time.  While this limited my ability to be fluidly expressive, I was still able to communicate what was causing me to be angry directly toward the source of that anger.  So, while the anger in the moment was contained by the moment itself, the element of the experience that was hampering my ability to breath normally indicates that rage (or old, unresolved issues of anger) was still present.

When this occurs in your dreams, look to areas in your life where people places and things that are making you mad may just be stimulating old wounds.  How much of your past is in your present?  Your dreams will give you a clear snapshot of exactly where you are in this journey.

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Mom is dead.

Here’s how I work with my own dreams.  Because I’ve done this for so long, my unconscious is usually very clear with me about what imagery to examine upon waking.  Often I am not moved to consider anything and I just appreciate that the human experience includes this magnificent opportunity to fly around the world of the infinite.  Then, usually about once a week, I move into wakefulness with a full dream, single image or particular scenario that calls to me.  I remember it vividly and it sticks in my consciousness like a small remnant of corn-on-the-cob that screams to be flossed out from between my teeth.

So last night was one of those nights where I remembered so many dreams, that when I woke up, there didn’t seem to be anything particular to land on.  It felt like I could remember every single dream I had with a clear evenness that didn’t push anything up to the surface to demand my attention.  However, I didn’t dismiss them entirely and as I took up the task of morning exercise, I allowed myself to ruminate on them and see what came up.

But rumination wasn’t enough.  I needed to turn to the very next tool for interpretation in the dreamer’s arsenal; calling forth more connection to the unconscious by sharing the dream with someone else.  Fortunately, I had a close friend nearby to do this with.  And what this looks like is less like a conversation and more of a recitation.  By telling my friend some of the dream images that were rolling around my waking consciousness, I was grounding the experience into the present and not allowing them to recede into the ethers as I stepped fully into my day.

A theme definitely emerged and it turned out to be very revealing.  The strongest image that percolated in my memory was that my mother had died in one of the dreams.  Dream-death is always about some measure of transformation; some aspect of the personality dies so that another, more advanced aspect can be born.  Since most human pain can be easily divided into Mother-Wound and Father-Wound, I wondered if there was anything in the dream that might connect to either my father directly, or to something that resonated with the masculine principle in general.

I found that image in the memory from one of my dreams of being in a tearful embrace with a man.  I recall very little about this image except that there was great love and acceptance and the unknown male figure in my dream was professing an enormous amount of relief at finally being able to accept the love he had for me and the ability to return that love to me in the form of this embrace.  So the father stuff was present too, but by now I sensed that the real juice lay in what had occurred with my mother.

That she had died in the dream was not enough.  I need another image to round out the experience and make some sense of it.  Halfway through my stationery bike ride, I had another flash of a dream that took place earlier in the night, when my mother was still alive, but suffering from some malady that was likely to (and indeed, later did) kill her.  She wrote out a letter to me expressing her love and acceptance of the man I turned out to be (notice that this is the same theme as with the embrace with the man).  However, in the note she referred to me as Mr. Michael Lennox.
Hmmm.  Mister.  That’s interesting, I thought.  Instead of Mike (as she usually calls me) she is using the very formal Mister, which is, essentially, inaccurate because the appropriate formal address for me is DOCTOR Michael Lennox.  I wasn’t annoyed by this in the dream, but I was hyper aware of this perceived slight.

So, here is a little about my own personal wounds.  If I were to break it down to its simplest expression, the wounds around my father are that I never felt truly loved by him.  With regard to my mother, it’s all about feeling a desperate need to prove myself to her.  In fact, it is conceivable to say that the fact that I got a doctorate in the first place is connected to that desire.

In order to get a bit deeper, I turned to one of the tried and true techniques of dream work; voice dialogue automatic handwriting.  This involves sitting down with a piece of paper and a pen, getting still and quiet and asking your unconscious to speak with you.  To do this, you must have a particular character aspect from a dream in mind with whom you wish to connect.  In this case it is my mother.  This is not my actual mother who is alive and well and living in New Jersey, but the mother-inside-my-psyche who lives in my dreams and happened to have died there last night.  You use your dominant hand to write out the questions, then switch the pen to your non-dominant hand and see what comes.  You just write without thinking.  You may just be amazed at what happens.  Here’s what came for me this morning.

Me: Ma, why did you call me Mr. instead of Dr.

Mom: Because I forgot.

Me: But Ma, I want you to be proud of me.

Mom: Oh my god, Mike, I am SO proud of you.

My mother has very severe Attention Deficit Disorder.  As such, I grew up with her having a lot of difficulty ever really focusing on me in a way that made me feel seen and validated.  She is also extremely forgetful; another quality that, as a child, left me wanting.  This wound in me is deep and has been exacerbated throughout my life in so many ways that are profound.  In fact, it is safe to say that I have created a life with a measure of visibility in it to help compensate for this wound.  Now my mother is a loving person and I’m no longer seven years old.  One of the things about this time in my life as I continue to expand my work in a more and more public way is to take on the role of witnessing my own life and seeking less and less the validation of others.

Now to put these dreams into the context of my life, it is important to note that I have spent the last three days in retreat in the place that I go to in order to get away from my day to day life and reconnect to myself and recharge my spiritual batteries.  This morning I am heading back into town, so last night would naturally reflect the integration that has been going on over this weekend during which some fairly powerful decisions were made and life changes put into place.  As these changes connect to expanding my life and my work, the dying of my mother in my dreams is likely connected to me allowing the part of me that desperately needs to be validated from the outside to be released on a deep level.

If there is a message here it is this:  There is very little separation between the dream world and the waking world if you let it.  The satisfaction of letting your dreams speak to you is potentially enormous and for me at least, when I allow this conversation between my conscious and my unconscious mind to flow with grace and ease, I find my waking life much more interesting and inviting; I am able to face the work I have chosen to do with discipline, curiosity and most importantly, enthusiasm.

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Do dreams connect to world events?

Our individual experiences in life are always connected to what is happening globally, although it is not always easy to identify how this is happening.  Dreams are one of the ways that we connect to the collective experience.  In fact, the basic foundation of modern dream work is predicated upon the existence of what Jung termed the Collective Unconscious – the realm of thought that is experienced by all human beings in the same way.

Here is a dream that illustrates this concept so well, I wanted to share it.  A client of mine presented a dream in which she was suffering from a severe headache.  In order to have some relief, she rinsed her head with cool water and found that there was black dye in her hair.  She came upon a woman and asked for some help in cleaning off the dye, but the woman replied that she couldn’t get the equipment working properly and would be unable to wash her hair at this time.

On the personal level, this dream is reflecting the dreamer’s current struggles with health issues and depression.  The headache could represent her ongoing negative thoughts, with the black hair dye connecting to the outward expression of these negative thoughts.  In examining this dream, we decided that asking the woman for help was indicative of her desire to turn toward the feminine principle for relief – holistic healing and the mind-body connection as opposed to relying strictly on Western medicine.  The fact that the equipment was not operable was a clear indication that the moment for relief was not yet at hand, which was certainly accurate in terms of her waking-life condition.

The personal dream work satisfied us both and helped my client reach a sense of surrender to her plight that day.  This was no easy task as her level of discomfort was great, but the dream did it’s work and she felt shifted as a result of our conversation. 

However, while we were working on the dream, I was struck by what to me was a very obvious connection between the timing of this dream and a world event that had happened the day before the dream appeared.  As this is one of my most intuitive clients, I didn’t have to wonder whether I should broach the subject; she did it for me and suggested that we look at how her current experience might also be reflecting things going on in the collective.  We had only to turn to news of current events to make the connection.

She had this dream the night after BP installed the cap on the damaged well in the Gulf of Mexico.  There was not yet enough information to know whether this fix was going to work and the measure of efficacy was going to connect directly to how much pressure was going to be exerted on the integrity of the well.  The cap on the well could be symbolically connected to the head.  The pressure buildup beneath the cap could certainly cause a symbolic headache.  The black dye was such an overt symbolism of the impact of spilled oil, we both found the image a bit humorous.  The fact that the equipment was not yet ready to clean off this black dye (spilled oil) was certainly applicable to the hope that the cap would work coupled with the knowledge that the impact of the oil would take a long time to clean up.  There was no doubt for us both; the dream was reflecting both her personal journey and what was happening in the world at that very moment.

Now, not every dream is going to exhibit this connection quite so directly.  However, I share it with you to encourage a more enthusiastic exploration of the Collective Unconscious and how it might be operating in your dream life every day!

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Does this dream make me look fat?

“What does my dream mean” and “Does this dream mean anything?” are the questions I am frequently asked.  Here is an example from my own life that describes how a dream that seems at first to be meaningless is actually helping me have a better experience in life.

As I’ve concentrated on my writing and other work, I’ve neglected my body a bit.  I’m still very healthy and in relatively good shape, but part of my spiritual practice definitely connects with the care of my physicality both with regard to nutrition and exercise.  This is the last area of true resistance in my life right now; it has been very difficult for me to find a level of discipline in any kind of a daily exercise routine in the past two years.

That has just begun to change of late and I have been incorporating rigorous exercise back into my life for the past week.  Those first few weeks are both the most difficult and the most crucial.  As of the moment that I’m writing this, I still seem to be motivated, having gone to the gym this morning.  I look to my dreams to tell me whether I am fully ready to step into this commitment, or if I’m just kidding myself and that another period of sloth is just around the corner.

In asking my dreams to give me some clarity on this issue, I awoke this morning a little confused.  I could not remember any specific dream imagery, but I was filled with a rather strange notion that was definitely a residual from wherever I had spent my nocturnal wanderings.  And what I woke up with was this overwhelming need to make sure I was getting enough potassium.

The sense of this was very, very specific.  I needed potassium.  Now, my diet is pretty good; well balanced and generally healthy.  I am certainly getting enough potassium.  So what could this mean on a symbolic level?  I turned to Wikipedia for some help and looked up potassium.

It turns out that potassium is very connected to brain cells communicating with each other, fluid balance in the cells themselves and the proper working of muscle cells and their ability to contract and release effectively.  If this doesn’t connect to exercise, I’ll eat my hat.  Or my banana.  Which brings me to another post-dream experience.

It is a known fact that jump-starting your metabolism by ingesting some sort of food as soon as you wake up is one of the best ways to tell your body to burn calories.  I generally have a bad habit of not eating for several hours into my day, which really limits achieving my weight loss goals.  When I glanced at the contents of my refrigerator while getting the creamer for my morning coffee, I saw that last banana sitting on the shelf.  I thought, “banana.”  Then, “potassium.”  Then I put it together that if I ate the banana and then went to the gym, I’d not only be getting the exercise I need, but my body would be all the more prepared to work at its most effective.

Soon, I’ll have the body of my dreams!

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