Dream a Little Dream with Me

I want to focus specifically on dream work because it is something I am doing more frequently. I find it fascinating and extremely insightful. And, well, we all dream. Everyone dreams and that includes animals. Carl Jung proposes that this would not be the case if it did not serve an evolutionary purpose. (fun fact, if you google “how do we know that…” one of the top things google will guess that you are searching for is “how do we know that dogs dream”) For now, I’m asking you to trust me that they do. Our dreams must give us something to learn, to keep us alive and safe and to grow.

So they help us grow and they also help us discover new things. Every dream has some new information coming from the depths of our unconscious, trying to make itself known. In a recurring dream or a nightmare, it may be that the lesson is of deeper importance or greater urgency and the unconscious is trying that much harder to get your attention. This is what I have discovered to be true about dreams as I’ve learned more about how to work with them. I would be weary of any person or book that declares they will interpret your dreams. Rather, it is a process and a practice and there are ways to be in relationship with your dreams, to treat them as guides and teachers.

When you are in the sacred space of sleep, your ego is on break and your unconscious comes out to play in the dark. The unconscious is a world of symbols and archetypes, of emotions and questions and longings and infinite potential. This energy of the less tangible and less logic-based things in life uses people and symbols that we attach meaning to in our waking life, to create stories that we can use. These stories are our dreams.

Anyone with a broken heart or goal or desire that has not yet come to fruition can tell you that the internal, intangible world is very real and the brain, soul and heart aren’t always on the same page. So dreams can be a bridge between our unconscious and conscious selves that can keep us moving forward when we cross them.

In our waking life, we can look at the themes, the symbols, the archetypes, the emotions and the questions present in the dream to learn something and grow. Jung proposes that everything in the dream is a symbol that holds information about yourself. Each person in a dream is representing a facet of yourself…a quality you want to garner, a shadow quality you need to work with, a quality that will help you with your current life circumstances and so on.

It is common for people to have a dream about someone they just randomly saw the other day and say, “Well, obviously that person was in my dream as a coincidence of seeing them the other day.” Jung would argue otherwise on behalf of your unconscious. We potentially see hundreds, maybe thousands of people a day. Your unconscious seeks opportunities in the real world for synchronicity because those things can then grab your attention and be studied as symbols. It’s as if your unconscious is scanning your experiences for the right symbol to use and when it finds it, boom it edits it into your dreams so you have the opportunity to work with it.

So here are some primary things you can start doing:

Before you go to sleep, focus on your desire to remember your dreams.

When you do remember them, lay in bed and go over the dream again before moving.

Write the dream down and give it a title.

Describe the themes that you see in the dream.

Record the emotions and energy you felt.

Think about the questions that the dream is posing to you.

Identify the symbols in the dream and record what you associate with them.

Keep a journal of dreams and look at them in a series of 10 for patterns that occur.

In certain cases, you may want to draw your dream or move and act it out to dig deeper into the sensations and messages.

Keep asking yourself how this relates to your life experiences…What is familiar? When have you felt this before? How does this make you feel now? What new perspective is being introduced? What is the invitation from this dream?

This is plenty to start with. Other practices for getting in touch with your emotional and unconscious world within can also help.

First, acknowledging that this part of you is alive and working on your behalf all of the time. Focus intention, perhaps in meditation, through writing or wandering in nature, on your desire to notice and nurture your unconscious world. Also, while I don’t rely on dream dictionaries, there are a myriad of books out there that can help you to learn to work with your dreams.

Here are a few recommendations of books that have been helpful to me:

Where People Fly and Water Runs Uphill: Using Dreams to Tap the Wisdom of the Unconscious, by Jeremy Taylor

Dream Symbol Work: Unlocking the Energy from Dreams and Spiritual Experiences, by Patricia H Berne and Louis M. Savary

Man and His Symbols, by Carl Jung

I also recommend seeking out dream groups, a dream practitioner or a therapist who offers dream work or deep imagery work, retreats and workshops. I learned so much about dreams from my vision quest and the month-long transformation retreat I did in the Amazon, in addition to my personal practice.

Dreams are personal. It can be so helpful to have someone guide you through the process and dream work in a group setting can be extremely powerful as well. I have made major life decisions based on dreams and gained many insights. I occasionally have lucid dreams and even literal dreams that have come true the next day. There is a whole world of possibility for those courageous enough to explore. Happy Dreaming!

Advertisements

Countdown to 2015 – 3 – Find Your People

The countdown to 2015 continues here, moving right along from self care to sharing our fabulous selves with others. This post is brought to you by Finding Your People.

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you too, can become great. When you are seeking to bring big plans to fruition it is important with whom you regularly associate. Hang out with friends who are like-minded and who are also designing purpose-filled lives. Similarly be that kind of a friend for your friends.” ~ Mark Twain

Since we just talked about self care it seems appropriate to talk about finding what I like to call “my team” in supporting me in that. For me, once I started making big changes in my life, I needed more and more support as things showed up. This touched on those categories again of mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, cultural and social.

I didn’t consciously realize it at first, but I was putting together a support network for myself. This included a naturopath, an acupuncturist, a massage therapist, a shaman, a therapist and a meditation teacher. I hope to add ‘mentor’ to this list soon.

I do understand that I had the resources to have such a team and I’m grateful to that. I think there are options out there to trade services/talents, to work with students training to be in these roles, to seek online resources, to save money and have a fund for this sort of thing and I welcome other ideas for how to make these types of services accessible. Part of it is making it a priority as well.

I also sought support from people in my personal network. A few friends of mine and I formed a brunch club that met every other week or so. We were each seeking to make some changes in our lives. We would meet for brunch and talk about what each of us was doing towards those goals and we would share resources, ideas and encouragement.

One thing that will happen as you start to make changes is that some relationships will change in your life and maybe even fade. This was unexpected for me and I struggled with it at first. We all get so comfortable with experiencing people how we know them and when they start to act out of that role it can feel confusing and maybe even like a betrayal.

Change is often scary and so when you have the courage to make a big change and follow through with it, it can bring up feelings for others about their own changes they want to make and are maybe avoiding. So this is difficult and I have had to mourn some relationships. I do think it is necessary though and is really better for everyone in the long run.

I recently read a fantastic book on relationships from a Jungian perspective called “The Eden Project”. The basic premise is that we project our own fears and our own desires onto our relationships (especially our romantic, intimate relationships). The challenge and the goal is to remember that we are each unique beings on our own journeys and to focus on our own individuation and then support others in their own individuation.

It is about bringing our best selves to the table and fiercely guarding that for ourselves and others. In our romantic relationships, I think it is especially crucial to have agreements with each other around how we’re going to do this as a team.

Depending on where you’re at in your journey, you may be kickin’ it solo right now. I totally geek out on the hero’s journey, the pattern found in the stories and myths of cultures worldwide throughout the ages whereby the “hero” undertakes a journey into the unknown, into solitude to discover his/her unique gift. In times of solitude and liminality such as this, “Your People” still show up, maybe as teachers and guides and accomplices.

I’ve been on a solo journey for a couple of years now and it has heightened my senses and awareness to those whose paths cross mine. Why those people? What can I learn from them? Who am I attracting into my life right now and why? What am I sharing with them? I have learned so much about myself from paying attention to this.

One thing that has arisen out of these new relationships is the idea of creative collaboration. In the past year in particular, I have started working on some creative projects with people close to me. In some cases this has been inspired by a shared passion, in others because there’s been a shared goal or desire and we’ve gotten creative and supportive about how to meet the goal.

This has been photography projects, informal peer coaching, dream work, scavenger hunts to have fun getting to know a new town, and here at the estancia where I am living we are always challenging each other to do new things and to create together to keep things interesting and fulfilling while living in a quite remote place.

Creativity is a tool, a gift even, that we all have in some way and it is so expansive to engage in creative practices. It opens possibilities and doors, encouraging your brain to be a bit more of a wild child, a dreamer.

Ok so here are some actions we can take in these areas:

Take an inventory of your relationships – personal and professional. Who is in your inner circle? What values do you share? How does this show up? What do you give to and receive from these relationships? Are there any that are changing or need to change?

Seek a mentor.

Seek a community for shared experiences of your passions and interests.

Sit down with your lover and come up with agreements for how to be a team while also serving your authentic selves.

Play with some kids.

Start a creative collaboration project with a friend.

Form your support team.

Start an equivalent of a brunch club with friends…maybe do that right now and share where you’re at with setting intentions for this year and use this as a way to check in with your intentions and stay loyal to them.

Thank you for tuning in to this series of ten blogs posts on personal development practices for a fulfilling 2015. If you’re just arriving, welcome! Here’s where we’ve been:

10 – Setting Intentions

9 – Expressing Gratitude

8 – Wandering in Nature

7 – Playing with our Passions

6 – Letting to go Excuses

5 – Law of Attraction and Ritual

4 – Self Care

If you like what you are reading, please consider backing my kickstarter.com called: Let’s Go on an Adventure! and please share too. The campaign is focused on writing and publishing a book about my transformative adventure from Corporate America to a life designed around passions and also includes an interactive guidebook to help those wishing to make their own personal changes.

I have 3 days left in my campaign, all or nothing!

You can read more about my story at erinkmac.com and continue to receive this blogs by clicking the ‘follow’ button.

Thank so very much for coming along on this adventure.