All posts by ta44

I live in Vancouver, Canada. I am a Spiritual Coach and specialize in helping people with decisions and working with dreams. I counsel on decision-making, do dream workshops through individual and group sessions and currently teach decision-making to help empower people with cancer at InspireHealth in Vancouver. My most recent book is titled "Life's Little Book for Big Decisions" about exploring decision-making from the deepest level. Through personal experience and case studies I show how to create clarity from confusion and access your own inner wisdom. In addition I completed a CD that provides a step by step guide with accompanying meditations. I am a successful business manager and consultant as well as co-author of the book "Staying Alive - Cookbook for Cancer Free Living with Sally Errey providing stories of cancer survivors' healing journeys. My latest blog DreamClarity reflects my passion for dreams that began seventeen years ago and has created my desire to do presentations and workshops on dreams. Contact: trevor@soulclarity.com

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?

clooney
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.

 

 

 

Dreams – Where Do We Start? Dreams of affirmation.

Entering the world of dreams can be an overwhelming and disorienting experience when we first begin to pay attention. One of the first priorities when we start to work with dreams is to distinguish what to focus on as not all dreams are created equal.So how do we discern which dreams contain our deepest wisdom as opposed to those that perhaps have “come to pass”. Over time we can begin to categorize dreams and recognize when we are being asked to pay attention. Some of the different dream forms I have become familiar with include: anxiety dreams, compensation dreams, dreams of the life not lived, junk mail dreams, affirmation dreams, collective dreams, pre-cognitive dreams, energy dreams, creative and inventive dreams, dreams of one’s personal myth and symbolic dreams of specific guidance.

I am not going to deal with everything in this blog. I encourage you to build your own library of dreams but a great starting point is looking for dreams that affirm or discourage your current life’s journey through the simple use of metaphor. 

Recently, I have been witnessing dreams that come as an affirmation of our current life journey. It is as though the soul wants to assure us that we are on the right path. One dream-partner shared a dream of being able to sing beautifully, it was an amazing moment as she has always aspired to sing and now the voice in the dream was the one she had always longed for. When we investigated the meaning of “finding her voice”, she knew immediately that the dream was not about a vocal miracle; it was a declaration that she had found her voice in the world in which she lives. 

This is a wonderful example of an affirmation dream: simple, precise with an exquisite metaphor for the message. So pay close attention to any dreams that feature a metaphor that is easily seen. For example you have found a key, you have missed the bus or the train, you have lost your purse. Simple metaphors that can easily relate to something in your conscious life.

Shoes have become a significant symbol in my dream world. From very early days of working with dreams I learned that shoes in my dreams represent understanding. It seems corny, the idea that you stand on the underside of the shoe so it symbolizes understanding yet I sense my unconscious likes these kind of metaphors. So when I lose shoes it can be I am not understanding something and when I replace them it is about some new understanding I am engaging. 

When you have a dream with a simple theme begin by asking yourself how may this apply to my current life. Frequently the answer will just “pop” into your mind. If not just release it, let it go and wait. We can’t force dream meaning but we can do our part by bringing attention to them. I have heard it said, “Having a dream and failing to explore it is like receiving a gift and not unwrapping it.” If the dreamer honours the dream the unconscious will respond.

Dream Images and Projection (Why we can’t know what someone else’s dream means.)

  
This exquisite image is from the Lynn Andrews Power Deck cards and painted by Rob Schouten. I use it to demonstrate why it is so dangerous to ever assume we know the meaning of someone else’s dream. Frequently as someone is sharing a dream, we will be creating theories about what it could mean. I encourage you to keep this information to yourself.

I ask participants in my workshops to consider the image and tell me what it is saying. The answers are myriad, contrasting and on occasion in violent disagreement. Some see a tranquil, passive scene, others see an image full of the energy of change and transformation. One person saw the image as threatening and full of dark, ominous elements. Another found it irritating and unreal.

How can a single image create such diverse opinion? When we derive meaning from an image like this we view it through a very unique and personal lens. At this point we are projecting ourselves into the image and what we see is as much about ourselves as it is about the image. 

The same applies to dreams which are basically a series of images projected from the unconscious of the dreamer. What you see in another’s dream is nothing more than a projection of yourself into their dream. It is what the dream could mean to you if it had been yours.

The symbols and characters belong to the dreamer and must be treated with respect and honoured as part of a sacred contract. It is only human to create an interpretation as we listen to the dream, however it may be more considerate to keep it to yourself,

Part of my Spiritual Guidance training was to find a dream partner and twenty-one pairs teamed up from our group. After three months only one pair was still functioning. The others had all disbanded due to the irresistible temptation of telling the partner what the dream meant.

A client once shared that she had recently lost her purse. It had impacted her more than usual because a month earlier she had dreamt about losing her purse. She hadn’t paid any attention to the dream because she had been assured it was a trivial anxiety dream and not to worry about it. 

She asked me if I thought the dream had been a premonition. I considered that indeed that was possible as dreams can sometimes concern events that have not yet happened. However another possibility was that the loss of the purse was a synchronicity (meaningful coincidence) to remind her of the dream. 

I asked if she would be interested in dream partnering and we explored the dream and its feelings, energy and symbols. When I asked her what losing her purse could represent as a symbol, there was an immediate reaction. It was about loss of identity. Her “trivial” dream had become an opportunity for meaningful exploration that another person’s inaccurate projection could have caused to be missed.

Today I had an encounter that provided another perfect example of projection. I was sharing a dream that involved me being bitten by a skunk. When I shooed it away, it was replaced by an ominous tiger walking toward me. The response was immediate, “well that means you should deal with the small problems before they get replaced by larger ones.” It was a logical thought and almost seductive in its simplicity but was not my truth. Too often we can give our power away rather than wait for our own inner wisdom to emerge. 

So next time someone tells you a dream, hold back and wait a moment – your interpretation may be all about you. 

Having a Dream Partner

As I wrote the headline I realized it was perhaps a little ambiguous however I am not going to reflect on the perfect relationship rather I am going to share with you a process of working on a dream with someone else.

I was introduced to the idea of dream partnering over thirteen years ago in the program The Art of Spiritual Guidance which had a session on dreams. Up until then my study of dreams had been individual, mostly associated with reading and practical experience.

The essence of the teaching was not new except in one regard which in fact became a life changing experience. Atum our teacher introduced the idea of working with a partner to explore the meaning of dreams. Choosing a partner becomes a sacred contract between two people where one assumes the role of the dream keeper or holder of the dream for the other. In this way a container is created for the dream’s unfolding.

The role of the dream partner is as follows:

  1. To listen to the dream without commenting or interjecting rather from the place of the listening heart.
  2. To repeat the dream back to the dreamer.
  3. To explore the feelings that were felt during the dream. (not after as the waking moments are the most unreliable witness because this is the moment the ego enters the dialogue).
  4. Ask the dreamer to describe the energy of the dream (e.g. flowing/stuck, vital/lethargic, harmonious/discordant etc.) and which aspect of the dream had the greatest amount of energy.
  5. To identify the symbols of the dream and ask the dreamer what these (people and things) may mean if they represented part of them.
  6. Finally to enquire if this experience seems to relate to anything that was transpiring in their lives.

It is important to observe which observations appears spontaneous and reactive as opposed to reflective. Dreams are generally not solved in the mind but at the level at which they occur – the unconscious. Frequently I observe that at this point someone will clearly see meaning or they won’t. There is what I refer to as the “ah-ha” moment. If not then simply let it go and “wait on the will of heaven”.

I was dream partnering with someone who shared the following dream. “She was pregnant; there was a lot of trauma and she needed a caesarian to deliver the baby. We explored energy, feelings and symbols. She told me the baby represented “a creation” and that a caesarian meant “forced delivery.” When I asked if this related to anything in her current life, she reacted in astonished amazement. She had just launched a new business venture that had been very slow to get off the ground. The dream helped her see she had pushed ahead too quickly.

During the workshop Atum asked us to find dream partners for the next year. I knew immediately who I wanted to work with and fortunately she had thought of me so we teamed up. She is still my dream partner and has become an invaluable support in the development of this process as well as my own dream teaching.

No-one else in our group of twenty-two lasted the year. The problem was that the others could not resist telling their partner what their dream means and this feels invalidating. Unless you have vast amounts of experience, only the dreamer really knows the meaning of the dream. What most people do is project themselves onto the dream with devastating consequences for the dream partnering process.