Tag Archives | what does my dream mean

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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My nephew dreamed of exploring a mansion

My nephew Zachary is about to go off to college this fall.  Both he and his sister Sarah have been sharing their dreams with me since they were little.  This one seemed worth sharing with you all because it illustrates one of the primary tenets of dream symbolism (houses as self).  In addition, the timing of the dream and the context of some of the details in it connect so obviously with the journey of a young man leaving home and facing the college experience, it is a good example of how exploring a dream can reveal what the unconscious wants you to know.

There are so many rich symbols in this dream worth exploring.  For the sake of this article however, I am going to limit my interpretation to just one theme – otherwise it would be the length of a short term paper!  Here is his email to me:

Hey Uncle Mike,

I had a question about a [possibly reoccurring] dream. We have a family friend who is a doctor and lives a few towns away.  They live on some 14+ acres with a house that is nice but not excessive in size or decoration.

I remember having a dream a couple months back about a house (more like a mansion) that would be found in a place like Tuxedo Park (wealthy town in New York State). In the dream the house belongs to this family friend. Throughout this dream, I remember exploring and finding different hidden staircases and such around the house.  I only remember a few places in this house. One is a huge library (in which I’m never on the ground floor, I’m on some kind of balcony that runs the perimeter of the room with no staircase to the ground floor). One is an outside corner of the house (grey/tan stone, green grass and old windows: think old stone mansion). And the last is a large basement that looks like it could be on the back end of a cruise ship. Huge open space and a pool table are what come to mind right now (blue, green, gold, chrome and a bit of blue are the colors I remember. I remember running around this house a finding staircases going from the basement to the library or other places.

Last night I had a different version of this dream I guess. Same library same house but the basement was different. The basement was 2 floors instead of 1 and was completely empty. The walls were exposed cinderblock and the floors were empty. There was paint on the floor at the base of the walls but it wasn’t spilled. It looked like someone had tried to paint the floors with a paint roller but only did the edges of the room in like random strokes. This time I used the main staircase to get into the basement (but I still do not know how I got to those stairs). When I reached the lower level of the basement I noticed that there was water entering the basement. It wasn’t rising fast or dangerously but I know I thought it was because I remember feeling frightened and started heading for the staircase that led to the library. Next thing I know I’m in the library.

I know that in both of these dreams I was not exploring alone. I never saw who I was with but I knew someone or multiple people were with me. I did see other people in the dream though I can’t remember who I saw.

I’m not exactly sure what to make of this but I figured it would be worth asking you.

Please let me know what you think,

Zac

Houses in dreams connect to our sense of self.  This idea of being in a mansion in your dreams is a common experience and relates to the way in which our sense of who we are gets bigger and bigger as we move through life.  Exploring a mansion in your dream life is a sure sign that your sense of self is expanding in a very positive way and is a natural place for you to be in this year of your life where you put the chapter of childhood behind you and go off into the beginning of your life as an adult.

Libraries are filled with books and connect to the availability of knowledge and information.  I am fairly certain that this image is coming up for you because of the imminent change in your life that going to college represents; you are about to embark upon a journey where the symbolic library of your inner self will need to be accessible and utilizable.  Being stuck on the second floor with no apparent access to the rest of the house could indicate some fears around how difficult it might be to connect to your intellectual prowess and still manage to stay grounded in the rest of you.

The basement connects to what is down below the consciousness of our psyche.  Not so deep that you can’t access it, but below the surface of your day to day experience of yourself.  In the first dream, it is interesting to me that the basement has a lot of images that represent leisure time activities – a pool table, a cruise ship.  In the second, more recent dream (which I don’t need to point out is coming at a point when you are just weeks away from going to college) the basement reflects a level of being unfinished and sloppily attended to.  Additionally, it goes down to a deeper level of your consciousness (2 floors instead of 1).  The closer you get to the responsibilities to come, the more your unconscious is expressing the fears of not being quite ready.  The slow rising water might be the emotional expression of these fears; not overwhelming, but clearly there.  This is a good thing and is, in fact, necessary for you to face what is on its way to you with courage and fortitude.

You are not alone in the dream.  And you are not alone in your life.  Both as a symbolic expression of the aspects of yourself that you have to call upon (your innate intelligence, your desire to please, your willingness to push through difficult circumstances) and as the people in your life that will be there to support you that you haven’t even met yet – the new friends you will meet at school.

As you have more dreams like this (and I think you will likely have more) use them to understand how your journey is evolving.

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Lysol, nudity and little people: What does my dream mean?

Every once in a while, a friend will call or email me a dream they’ve had.  Sometimes it’s because the dream feels disturbing or important and they want to gain more insight and self awareness by considering it.  And sometimes, it’s just because it’s weird and fun.  This is one of those.

Brent shared this dream: I was assaulted naked by a group of people armed with Lysol cans, covered from head to toe in Lysol then ran all over desperately trying to find someone to wash me off to no avail, as my skin become redder and more irritated. Some how I thought that the midget actor Verne Troyer was the only one who could save me..

And here is how I responded:  Lysol represents the (false) need to protect us from microorganisms by killing them off with poison. It was a product born out of the fear instilled in the zeitgeist when science discovered pathogens that caused disease. Most bacterial and other microorganisms are important parts of our interactive living exchange, but corporate America would say that 1) you are in danger and 2) we can protect you from that danger and 3) Oh, did we mention that our protection is poisonous???

The group represent an old thought paradigm based on fear that there is something wrong with you, especially visible when you are vulnerably exposed (e.g. naked).  Think of the religious background you come from and other “group mentalities” that would view you as diseased or dangerous and in need of cleansing.

You are naked, so you are not only vulnerable, but exposed (loosely connecting the imagery to sexuality and certainly to sensuality). So this judgmental “group” that lives inside you is the fearful notion that you must be thoroughly cleansed so that they will be protected from hidden, invisible dangers that are EVERYWHERE (from head to toe) and sure to be contagious.

Your current sensibility understands that this approach is actually dangerous and irritating, but the damage is already done. The only one who could save you now is Verne – he represents that part of you that is 1) small, but ultimately powerful (like a spiritual truth) and 2) different from the status quo (spiritual thoughts that may separate you from others in a group-think sort of way, but that actually know the truth in ways that group- or race-consciousness does not) and 3) willing to take great risks despite his perceived limitations.

Insight and self awareness is available in all our dreams – even when we think they’re just weird and fun.

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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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