Brief Overview of Dreamworld
ENGAGING WITH YOUR DREAMS as a conscious practice is a complex art and skill. I would argue that it is essential if you want to live a creative and fulfilling life.
DREAMS ARE PACKED WITH INFORAMATION that is organized in a very different way than waking consciousness. In waking consciousness, your awareness is operating in a relatively narrow range. You see a world of familiar objects and you are focused on the ever-changing demands of whatever you are doing. Without realizing it, all of us in waking consciousness must exclude a very large part of our multidimensional and highly complex being in order not to be overwhelmed. This includes many sensations, perceptions, emotions, complex and nuanced feelings, suppressed reactions, and alternate ways of perceiving, interpreting, comprehending, and thinking about nearly everything. In essence we become imbalanced in (relatively) limiting and sometimes unhealthy ways.
DREAMS WORK TO CORRECT THE IMBALANCE. They integrate the neglected elements in healthier, and sometimes in evolutionary ways. Dreamworld is an interface between the conscious and the unconscious mind in which the psyche attempts to create as much harmony for the personality as possible. Dreams show you things that are important to you, that you have not understood sufficiently in daily life. They reflect unconscious patterns that are limiting you so that you choose new pathways. They use symbolism and metaphor because objects as you know them as words and concepts also have a living subjectivity; they are energies that have multiple implications and influences depending on context. Dreams personify: they turn feelings, emotions, fears, needs, and higher potentials of consciousness into people, animals, creatures, mysterious objects and in familiar and unfamiliar places.
AS YOU LEARN TO ATTEND TO YOUR DREAMS, it can be very confusing. They challenge what you think you know because you don’t really know what you know. Often, they propose impossibilities, sometimes twisting the waking reality – from which dreams choose most (but not all) of their referents and images – beyond any way you (at first) understand how to make sense. They throw you off balance; they humble your intellect and invite intuition and a capacity to sense and feel into things.
DREAMS ARE OFTEN HYPERBOLIC as if the exaggerations shout to you, pay attention! In dreams bizarre creatures do inexplicable things. Angels pour joy and peace into you. Dreams can show you that you are pregnant, usually with yourself, but don’t realize. Babies can symbolize new sentiments or energies that are now available to you or that you are neglecting. Traumas gets relived in nightmares that shake you awake because to be healed those traumas must be re-visited in a constructive way in waking consciousness. In dreams the script and actors (like in a film or play) often seems meaningless, or interchangeable in ways that seem baffling to your waking self. But if you open yourself to the dreamworld, especially over time, and work to bring the intelligence of dream world into your daily life, you realize that dreams are carrying you into healthier consciousness and sometimes to new levels of consciousness.
DREAMS ARE MULTILAYERED, and they speak differently according to your age and stage of life. They frequently reflect what happened that day, or a few days before. But some dreams work to integrate the distant past, while others deliver you to potentials for your future. Most dreams are personal, but some are transpersonal and present wisdom important to all of us.
DREAMS REPEAT AND PROGRESS so that, over time, they begin to be markers for your evolution, especially through times of major change and initiation, potentials that can take the rest of your lifetime to grow into. As you begin to understand the indispensable value of dreamworld, and the wonder of its intelligence, you will come to marvel.
Aspects of My Personal Journey in Dreamworld
WHAT I HAVE JUST WRITTEN has emerged from my personal journey with my own dreams and through the many thousands of dreams I have heard and worked with from people in my retreats and private mentoring. Also, I can’t begin to estimate the influence of what I have reflected on because of reading many psychoanalytic theorists over the years, and more recently neuroscience theories that grow from the rapidly expanding world of brain science. Now, briefly, I want to share a little of how my life has been guided and transformed through my many visitations from the deeper dreamworld.
I ALMOST WROTE “FROM MY DREAMS”, but some of those dreams were so far beyond what I had any sense could be possible from dreaming that it would be more accurate to say, “I was theirs”. In our webinar I will share a few, dare I say, “special” dreams that may help you appreciate the ideas we are exploring and in contemplating your own dreams. What I will say now is that key dreams came at crucial periods of my life and shook me awake, showed me ways in which I was blind to myself, possibly kept me from going insane. Certainly, they protected me from making what would have been terrible mistakes with the thousands of people I have had the privilege to influence. I know what I internalized from my dreams protected me from abusing power. Many people had strong transference toward me that tested my ability not to be seduced into deluding myself about my own enlightenment.
I BELIEVE THE RICHNESS AND DEPTH protected me from deceiving myself that I knew more than I really did. I remember so clearly the feeling when suddenly I understood the meaning of a recurrent dream that had been trying to show me that I didn’t know as much as I thought (pretended) I did. Bless you dreamworld for protecting me from compensating insecurity with the persona of the guru. I guess I learned the lesson because the dream never returned. I could continue sharing the role of dreams in my life, but I will stop with one last and, I believe, graced aspect of my journey in dreamworld. I truly believe I was protected from the depths and energies of the psyche I wasn’t ready for, and initiated into depths that apparently, I was. What I absolutely trust is that all this is what dreams are doing for you and every other human being every night of our lives.
Dreamworld in the Context of the Unique Nature of My Work
I SUSPECT THE BROAD VARIETY OF DREAM THEORIES that exist depend on many factors, particularly the focus and interest of the researchers, their depth of self-awareness, and as well the context in which they studied dreams. My understanding of dreams did not happen in private sessions like most therapists, but in group retreats, though that began to change about 20 years ago. My understanding of dreams did not occur in a long therapeutic process with severely neurotic, or even psychotic individuals. It did not happen with children; I have studied child development, but I have not heard a single child’s dream.
MOST OF THE MANY THOUSANDS OF DREAMS that I have heard and worked with, besides my own, were presented in the context of my retreats, generally of 10-day duration. The participants were not psychotherapy clients as with the pioneering psychoanalysts; these people had well developed egos, were generally in mid-life, well established in the world, people like yourselves who were and are seekers on a spiritual path. Many of these participants had already done a great deal of psychologically based therapy and self-development work. While I respect ego-level therapies, and self-development approaches, they are not transformational. My work and all transformational work rests on the foundation of Presence. My retreats, and private sessions nowadays, are invitations to become radically present to yourself in daily life. And the link between being in the Now and daily life, between “waking up” and “growing up” is often presented to us through our dreams. My experience of realization is that it is the beginning of a new depth of connection to life, not a final arrival. Therefore, all my work and the dreamwork, in particular, looks at patterns that are limiting connection. What gets between you and yourself, you and anyone, between you and love.
HEARING AND WORKING WITH DREAMS in the context of these retreats meant that I witnessed the consistency of psyche’s genius in a specific context, a transformational holding environment quite different from the almost chaotic mélange of daily life. At the retreats, people had left their daily lives behind, they had turned inward, they were exploring meditation, energy work, group energy dynamics. In short, they were living a transformational adventure and therefore it is no surprise that many of their dreams were mirroring how their psyches were being activated, what they were doing to integrate or block the potential of their own opening. As I noted in my earlier remarks about the range and richness of the dreamworld, I heard dreams mirroring limiting patterns and offering a path through that; I heard dreams bringing forgiveness of past wounds; I heard dreams opening people to healing, restoring their sense of wholeness, bringing them to wonderment.
AND CONSISTENTLY, for 45 years, participants had dreams that confirmed to them that they were in the right place, that they were safe, despite that at the ego-level many people felt unsafe. These dreams came as they were deciding whether to enroll, at the time they made the decision, the night they arrived or in the first days. The dreams brought a sense of trust to them so that they could hold their ego level fears and dive into the adventure. Again and again, I witnessed dreams confirming to individuals that their unconscious selves understood what they had come to experience, indeed was the truer agency of why they came in the first place and was guiding and supporting them. I also realized that exploring dreams in a group meant that one person’s dream could become everybody’s dream.
AS I WITNESSED THAT THE DREAWORLD of the participants was supporting them, each other, and myself, I realized that the dreamworld is a parallel level of consciousness to what we live in daily life. That Psyche speaks through the dreamworld, not just to us as separate individuals, but in us all as a vast living Intelligence, the true Avatar. It is the nature of this Intelligence, that it is always working to try to create the greatest degree of harmony possible in any situation. To see the agency of this intelligence in oneself, and to see its emergence in people who were utter strangers when they met, to see how much more directly and powerfully that Agency can bring strangers to a shared heart is nothing short of awe inspiring.