My Inner Director

Woody Allen

I am walking down a Vancouver street with Woody Allen; he looks like he is in his forties. His wife and her two sons accompany him. I am telling him how much I like the process he uses to create his movies. (I once saw an interview where he described beginning with an inspiration that would usually come at night. He would write it down then capture ancillary ideas on separate sheets of paper. When he felt ready he would sit with the stack of sheets and review them waiting as the plot gradually came together.) He then asks me about my writing. I feel embarrassed reporting that since Life’s Little Book for Big Decisions twelve years earlier, I have written only blogs. He moves on to tell me he was here to do a presentation but only forty people had come. I responded that it was a shame I hadn’t known. He smiled and said that someone else only had four attendees. I suggested the promotion must have been inadequate and replied, “Well what does Kelowna know about promotion?” Then one of the boys observed, “mum have you noticed that Woody looks more and more like our dad.”

After I woke I realized that this dream was staying with me. Even without writing it down every scene and word seemed clear. It felt significant particularly because of the embarrassment I felt around my writing. I have written very little recently because I had nothing I felt like writing about. Perhaps it was time. I liked the idea of just flirting with ideas and recording them as opposed to leaping in to a project. Perhaps if I followed Woody’s model it would lead to some passion around something or other.

As I explored the dream more different pieces began to emerge. Woody Allen as the inner director of my conscious world. The comment of the children about his looks combined with his age caused me to wonder if this had meaning. My mid forties was when I was at my most dynamic and focused. Perhaps I need to bring some of that focus to my current life.

Shortly after I had the dream I attended a retreat at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico. To my delight one of the presentations was on interpreting dreams through art. I was introduced to a technique known as tissue paper collage. We began by visualizing the dream then spontaneously exercise tearing scraps of tissue paper and pasting them on a sheet. It was delightful bringing out the child in me. It was important not to plan or think the drawing out, just let it emerge.

tissue-paper-collage.jpgMuch as I liked the outcome, I could not at first see any connection to my dream. However on second glance two insights emerged. Where colours overlapped something magical happened. First I saw when red (representing passion) overlaid purple (representing the Spiritual) a deep beautiful crimson emerged. Also where blue (air or thinking) overlaid brown (earth or the sensate) there was another rich combination.

I felt these were important guides to how my inspiration to write may emerge.

Finally as I shared my insight with a small group I began to smile when I realized the simple meaning of the Kelowna reference – I always think of Kelowna as the interior because it is 500 km east of Vancouver in the interior of the province. Therefor the dream suggests that the inner world is not took good at promotion, it requires action in the manifest world to make things happen.

I began capturing ideas – a memoir, a legacy project, book of Soul Stories, my favourite poems, gratitude, my business life, my advertising stories, combining my 180 blogs …. It was fun – but then another dream.


I don’t like waking up to images of Donald Trump. In my dream he is cozying up with a good friend of mine. This friend is part of my dream library of characters. In life he is a master at getting things done, in my dream world he represents the dynamic masculine or the ability to do. In this dream I feel I am missing something, I wanted to explore a ship owned by a character called Alex. (I met Alex recently – she is a poet.)

I immediately realize that if I focus my actions on that which is shallow, meaningless, and inauthentic, I will miss out. It suggested I need to reorient my focus and as a result I have set time aside to write every day for even when I am not certain where to begin.






Can Dreams Help with Investments?

I was flying in a jet passenger plane, it felt like a 737, I was looking out of the window observing that the plane was flying at a very low altitude. In fact we were following a street and the office towers were above us. Then we turned to follow the river and instead of flying over bridges we were flying under them. I realized we had heard nothing from the captain and there were no discernable crew. I was feeling fine: calm, balanced but curious. The plane headed towards a large green space that I realized was it was a park and that we were going to land there. A few people scattered and we made a beautiful soft landing. I was wondering how we would get off as there were no external steps or ramps when I woke up.

This dream was very clear yet I could make no sense of it. There was no crash; there were no strong feelings in fact I had felt a great deal of equanimity; there seemed no immediate impending danger. I allowed my mind to move on. Perhaps just another strange flow of images from the unconscious that had no real significance.

My day began with a desire to contact my broker. During brunch earlier in the week, my friend Colin had predicted he expected a crash in the stock market. It was a subject on which we both agreed as surely this bull market had to end. However it reminded me to check my financial statements, something I do rarely as it is not a subject of pressing concern or interest.

However when I realized that my portfolio had basically not risen significantly, the idea of crash became more concerning. If you weren’t making money in good times then how badly would you be affected in a future crash? I asked my broker for a conversation and he agreed to meet with me two days later.

Sometime later I began to reflect back on the dream. Normally I found the key to insight starts with the feelings within the dream but there was little to work with. It was only when I reflected on the nature of the flight that the magic occurred. The plane was flying low and suddenly the phrase “low-flyer” popped into my head. I realized the expression is generally “high flyer” but suddenly “low flyer” made sense . I realized that this dream is about the major investment fund in my portfolio. The dream suggests although my investment may be a “low flyer”, not achieving maximum returns, it will land safely. It reminded me that one of the reasons that drew me to this fund was that in 2008 when everyone else crashed 20% and more, it lost less than 1%.

My anxiety dissipated. It may not perform as well as the high flyers but the dream was my reassurance to stay in. (At the end of the dream I did not leave the plane.) During my meeting with the broker he suggested I should stay with the fund. When I shared my dream and I told him I was feeling more comfortable now. He didn’t roll his eyes but responded, “you know you are my most insightful client” Ironic because I am likely the least informed but perhaps my dreams provide superior guidance than most of the pundits. to guide me.

Later on Sunday I was facilitating a dream workshop and I shared this dream. Until that moment I had not considered the silence of the captain as meaningful but describing the dream reminded me that it must be. Then the “ah ha” moment. The captain is my broker. I rarely hear from him but he has a steady hand. However it made me realize I want a few more “passenger announcements” so I requested he call me once a month.

The Game Of Dreams

Nathalie Emmanuel

I woke to a lovely image of Missandei (the beautiful Nathalie Emmanuel) from the Game of Thrones with her arms wrapped around my neck. As I recalled the content, I suspected there was something important encoded by my unconscious into the dream. One of the things I love about dream work is that our ego self has no power over the images. Although there are many kinds of dream I knew this was symbolic and likely carried inherent significant meaning.

I believe that the dream disguise is a ploy by the Soul to disguise the true meaning from resistance that the ego self may have. Have you ever noticed how ready we are to dismiss dreams as a figment of our imagination?

The dream had begun with me sitting opposite Missandei and noticing how attracted I was to her. I also realized that I had no idea if my feelings were reciprocated. Then she was standing across from me and performing some kind of mystical enchantment with her hands that was directed at my heart. I knew she was trying to assess whether I was authentic – ‘the real thing”. I felt this glow of warn energy around my heart that expanded until it felt like a blissful golden ball. Then she moved and placed her arms around my neck. I knew she had decided in my favour. I exclaimed, “God I love you but will I get hurt?” Her response was gentle and clear, “I will not hurt you.”

I began by exploring the feelings in the dream: it began with attraction, moved into a curiosity then was replaced by the energy of the golden glow. This was followed by delight, and love before the concern about being hurt by the relationship intruded. The energy of the dream was powerful particularly around my heart and the moment when Missandei made up her mind.

The key to the dream I sensed was figuring out what archetype Missandei represented. I knew she must be an aspect of the divine feminine. It was when I recalled that she was Denaerys interpreter that the meaning began to fall into place.

It was an “ah ha” moment. The interpreter of the divine feminine would be my intuition or inner compass as I have become fond of referring to it. One of the guiding principles of my life today is to follow my inner compass. (It was reclusive poet Emily Dickinson who in a poem observed, “The sailor doesn’t see the north but knows the needle can” that gave rise to the idea of an inner compass.

During my commitment to follow this discerning spirit in my life, it is sometimes challenging to give it authority in a paradigm based on rationality and linear thinking. We are taught that empiricism is to be trusted, intuition should be subject to reason.

I have been dealing with a diagnosis of atrial fibrillation and I have noticed how easy it is to defer to the external authority. I have worried about trusting my inner guidance system, often I am not absolutely clear where emotion and fear begin and intuition ends.

This dream is timely. It reminds me of two things:

  • If my inner compass is clear and transparent, it will not hurt me.
  • I must be “the real thing” which means I must be doing the inner work that any symptom may demand.

The dream had immediate consequence. Recently I had a cardioversion that had shocked my heart back into sinus rhythm. The cardiologist wanted me to keep taking them but it felt intuitively wrong. However I was fearful that if I followed my intuition, there could be consequences. I visited my dream partner and confided that I thought this dream referred to an impending decision about whether to continue taking blood thinners. She asked me whether my body had given me any signs about what to do. I replied that it had, not and as I had no symptoms from taking them, my decision so far was to keep taking them.

To my astonishment when we returned to her house, I had developed a huge blue bruise on my inner left arm. For some reason I had not noticed it before. I had obviously had some kind of bleed.

Strangely enough I felt a sense of relief; it seemed to be an amazing sign that it was time to stop taking the medication. My mantra became “I will not hurt you.”

Interestingly when sharing this story a friend of mine offered the experience of her Mother. Who faced a diagnosis that indicated a treatment of ongoing steroid consumption with all the draconian side effects that would entail. She refused and embarked on a program of alternative treatments that completely eliminated the problem.

As William Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”


PS I am hosting a workshop on dreams on October 29th for details see

Do I have to Explore My Dreams?

Over a beer recently a friend of mine surprised me the comment, ‘I think you will be disappointed in me.” I asked him why he would possibly think that. His response fascinated me. “After I attended your dream workshop, I decided that I had absolutely no interest in going more deeply into my dreams. I am quite happy with them the way they are.”

After a reflective sip of pale ale, I reminded him of a hypothesis I had encountered that on some levels dreams are a powerful inner mechanism for change and healing without any attention being paid to them at all.

Rosalind Cartwright, Ph.D., a leading sleep and dream researcher at Chicago’s Rush Medical Center and author of The Twenty-four Hour Mind: The Role of Sleep and Dreaming in Our Emotional Lives,” did tests in a sleep clinic on depressive patients. She would wake them every dream cycle (about six a night) and ask them what they were dreaming about and then allow them to go to sleep.

She observed that the type and nature of dreams influenced their mood the next day. In fact some went to bed mildly unhappy, and during the night if their dreams shifted from a similar state at the beginning to a happier state by the end of the night, they would wake in a better mood than when they went to bed.

We do not control our dreams (unless we practice lucid dreaming) but nature generally doesn’t create without reason it seems a logical conclusion to assume that they have a reason for being. This deduction in and of itself does not require us to consciously explore dreams. Many people consider them to be an adjustment process where we unload clutter from the busy mind.

Some dreams simply seem to be a compensatory entertainment for lives that have become too distracted, busy and out of balance. Some are anxiety bleeding from the unconscious yet I am convinced that many dreams have value for guidance and growth if we choose to explore them. Dreams that have a lot of emotion, with strong and distinctive personalities from our lives, as well repetition are normally meaningful from a symbolic level

I reassured my friend that of course I was not disappointed in him. We must all follow our own inner compass and trust that our unfolding lives will show us the way. I have no choice. My dreams are a window into my unconscious and my Soul, if I disregard them I may miss out on the wonder of the inner journey.

Dreams and Exploring Unconscious Feelings

Carl Jung observed that whoever discovers the power of the unconscious knows that he is forever not the master of his own house while eminent Jungian analyst and author James Hollis says, “ask me what I know to be in the unconscious and I will reply absolutely nothing.” That is why it is called the personal unconscious.

So are we forever condemned to be subject to inner unconscious scripts that control our reactions and responses time after time? The answer of course can become one’s life work as we begin to unfold layer by layer the many stories that run our lives. The theme of Hollis’s most recent book Hauntings is all about the invisible presences that govern our lives.

Dreams can provide a window to the unconscious in many different ways. Most recently I had a series of dreams that clearly were telling me something but I had no idea what. The dreams were challenging, not pleasant and were hard to look in the face. The “me” in the dream was not someone I really cared for. In part they seemed in conflict with the psychological and spiritual work I have been doing. My dream personality was short tempered, irritable, judgmental, irrational and felt aggrieved towards women. After I awoke I felt like a failure.

One of the first things I teach about working with dreams is that the most unreliable witness is the waking persona. It is at the moment of waking that the ego assumes control at the expense of the unconscious. It is not to be trusted. It will frequently dismiss the dream as irrelevant, stupid and psychic trash to be deposited in the garbage.

By now I know these reactions are a clear sign that the dream has value and must be explored.

I had a series of three dreams – a series is always in itself an important sign. The dreams were also full of emotion yet another key indicator of meaning. In addition they contained symbols that dream lore would rate as significant – cars, water, journeying, and individuals who had archetypal significance.

In the first dream I am at an event a long way from home, I am driving a large group back. We are cleaning up in preparation for leaving, some women are loading the car. I go to check the car and they have done an insane job of packing. They have even loaded in two large flower pots. There is no way we will fit in. I walk away in resignation. My friend Dennis is beside me saying “I tried to tell them.” Another woman wants me to go two hours out of my way to take someone home. I am abrupt with her. I feel pressured both energetically and emotionally. It is pouring with rain, a woman grabs me to ask if I am not going to say goodbye to someone. I began to react negatively then feel a sense of shame about the way I am acting. I wake up not liking myself in the dream.

The second dream was getting very angry with a friend for turning off the TV just as I had found the right channel.

My third dream was at a major event organized by my most important client from the advertising business. A woman who works for me decides not to stay for the main event. I am very angry with her as I feel it is disrespectful to the client. As I remonstrate with her she drives off.

Three dreams, each with a persona that seems inconsistent with my current self so obviously my unconscious has something to reveal. The question is what? First I looked at the surface level of the dream. Am I repressing any anger toward the people in the dream? This was easy to dismiss as I live such a peaceful, harmonious life and am not aware of being angry or having anyone angry at me.

Secondly I asked myself a question about unconscious dissonance – that inside I was angry but not feeling it. It was then I had the “ah-hah” moment. In the first and third dream I was angry with woman – if I considered the archetype the feminine represented – intuition, feeling, the state of being rather than doing – then perhaps the masculine archetype was angry about the lack of focus in my life. My friend Dennis resents the active masculine – the doer in my dreams. In the second dream I was angry at a male friend who has showed up in previous dreams as the archetype for betrayal.

The pieces of the puzzle clicked into place. I have a lack of balance between the masculine and feminine energies. My unconscious is bringing this to my attention through my dreams cleverly expressing the dissatisfaction and sense of betrayal of the masculine at the way things have been going.

For many months I have lived very much in the feminine: no to-do lists, no particular objectives, and waiting on the “will of heaven”. I have wondered about the sense of inertia that has developed but decided that patience was required (another feminine trait). I was spending lots of time in meditation, contemplation and walking, reciting poetry.

The dreams suggest it is time to bring more masculine – “doing energy” – into my life.

I responded creating a to do list of twenty-one items and introduced more focus and order in my life. It feels good, even minor accomplishments bring a sense of satisfaction and after three “angry” dreams in one week – they have stopped. Perhaps for now balance is restored.

Why Did George Clooney Appear In My Dream?

Why Did he Show Up in My Dream?

“George Clooney enters the room and announces that he is exhausted. Promptly he ascends the stairs and falls asleep.” This was the beginning of a dream that I experienced during a recent trip to California. I was curious why George Clooney, what does he represent in my unconscious? However after recording the elements of the dream I let it go because I could not make any sense of it.

The dream had contained two other brief scenes. In the second scene I was conversing with an unknown woman about a spiritual teacher that we both knew. She had asked me what I had thought and I suggested he was missing something and was perhaps not rounded in his views.

In the final scene I am standing in what appeared to be a store and took a new yellow T-shirt down from the shelf and put it on. I then looked down at my pants to decide if they needed replacing but decided that although a bit creased they were fine.

One of the beauties of a solitary road trip is sitting under the stars with a glass of red wine contemplating the nature of the universe and one’s place in it. It was in such an environment that I had this dream but my dream partner was a thousand miles away and I really had no idea where to start.

It seemed coincidental that prior to leaving on my trip I had been questioning the current focus of my life. It was not that anything felt wrong, however I have a lot of space and sometimes wonder if I should be doing more.

Upon my return to Vancouver, my dream partner almost immediately provided a context for the dream that stimulated both my imagination and my curiosity. When I asked her if the first section of the dream meant anything to her she responded that it reminded her of the fatigue I had shared after two weeks of being a tour guide,

August/September had been an intense month for out of town visitors and much as I had enjoyed the company, the entertainer had felt exhausted and I needed a rest. I marveled at the creativity of my unconscious to represent this aspect of myself as George Clooney , and it was this insightful observation that triggered my interest in the rest of the dream.

The second scene was not difficult – the unknown woman would normally represent the intuitive/feeling self and guided me to consider whether the spiritual component was somehow missing something and needed to be rebalanced. This would explain the angst I had been experiencing before my trip. My inner world was trying to get my intention.

It was at my dream group that the third scene came into focus – I shared it with my friends but it was during a quick break that the meaning emerged from my intuition. (the woman in the dream) It represents the next step to be taken. However here I was stumped – what on earth could donning a new yellow T-shirt represent? The pants bit made sense reminding me that the change would rest on the foundation that was already in place. One of my dream group observed that the colour yellow often related to curiosity. It is also considered the colour of the mind as well as a happy, sunny colour. It was also the colour of the last two T-shirts I had purchased – both in Thailand.

Well as Lao Tzu says a journey of a thousand miles starts but with a single step and this journey seems to have begun.

The Dream Within A Dream

Anyone who saw Christopher Nolan’s amazing movie Inception will be familiar with the idea of a dream within a dream. In the movie there were no less than four levels of dream. It was complex and fascinating and I needed to watch it twice to fully comprehend the intricacy. Each level operates within different temporal duration thus a minute at one level is an hour in another. This of course is consistent with our own dreams where actual time has little relevance.

The idea for this movie came to director Nolan as a teenager when he learned how to lucid dream. Lucid dreaming is a state between waking and sleeping where you realize you are able to both be within the dream state and observe yourself in it. With experience you can learn to manipulate your actions in the dream.

I have concerns about seeking meaning in lucid dreams; there is a risk that the ego begins to assert itself at the expense of the unconscious that is in charge of a regular dream state. For example in the lucid dream I can arrange to get the girl while frequently in a normal dream state the girl is for ever elusive.

However I do believe that we can have dreams within dreams. Have you ever experienced that surreal contradiction where you wake from a dream and begin your normal day only to discover you are still dreaming? I have always felt that the second dream comes as reminder form the unconscious that we must pay attention to the first dream.

Recently a client arrived for his session and when asked, “where shall we start?” replied, “well – I did have an interesting dream last night.” He found it easy to recall the dream. He was in a dark tunnel/valley, looking out over a beautiful range of mountains as the sun began to rise. He observed there were little pockets of snow under the trees. This surprised him as it was first day of summer. Then he noticed there was a skier picking his way over the patches of snow. This really grabbed his attention as he loves to ski. Then the skier somewhat nonchalantly slid over a large stretch of rocks, presumable trashing his skis although he seemed quite unworried by this. In the dream my client grabbed a pair of binoculars to observe two more skiers. There seemed to be more snow than he had realized.

At this moment something unexpected happened. He realized this was a dream and he made the decision to step out of this dream. He found that although he could choose to leave the first dream he could not choose the second one. He found himself running in a large concrete tunnel that seemed featureless and went nowhere. It seemed to curve up on itself like a giant concrete tire. There was no opportunity to do anything other than follow it around.

This was a dream with a moment of lucidity that then collapsed back into pure dream. I dream partnered with him – repeating the dream, exploring feelings, energy and the symbols. The first dream contained elements he felt good about, curious about and perked his interest He realized it contained aspects that seemed to relate to his current life – both positive and negative. Then he had an insight. I need to be careful about choosing a new direction for my life; it could take me into a tunnel of no opportunity.

The message of the dream related to a theme in his life. He has moments of believing his life is not enough, that he should make a conscious step into something bigger. My counsel has always been caution, “wait on the will of heaven”. Work with your intention and your attention and what is yours will come to you.

The dream reminds us that the ego can be a powerful master but not always a wise one.