Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Dream interpretation: The personal is the universal

2014 banner main site announcement 
Dear Dreamers,

The annual conference of the InternationalAssociation for the Study of Dreams will feature the leading researchers and practitioners in the ‘field of dreams.’  If you attend you may sit in a workshop with dream interpretation icon Patricia Garfield, Ph.D.  She is co-founder of the IASD and most impressive in her wealth of knowledge of dreams and dreamers from around the world. 

In her book The Universal Dream Key Garfield distills the results of her study of dreams contributed from 500 dreamers – 325 from the United States and 175 from thirty-six other countries.

Garfield’s book is a practical guide for applying dreams to our daily lives as well as understanding our dreams in the greater context of the “epics that have been told since the dawn of time.”  Garfield says that “the intimate stories that you tell yourself tonight when you go to bed have flowed across the centuries from cave dweller to condo dweller…They unveil not only your most intimate secrets but also the dreads and desires of humankind.”

We talked in March about two of the 12 most common dream themes Garfield identified in her book:  Being chased or attacked and falling or drowning.  Here are two more of those recurring themes you’ll recognize from your own nocturnal travels!    

Missing the boat or other transport v. pleasant travel.  Garfield cites the usual meaning of such dreams as they equate to the dreamer’s waking life:  I’ve missed an opportunity.  I’m too late.  I’ve missed my chance.  These dreams speak to waking frustrations and fears that life is leaving us behind, and that we need to “get our acts together” or face the disappointment of lost prospects.

Dreams of pleasant travels would, in contrast, reassure the dreamer that s/he has prepared well to enjoy the journey of life.  Garfield urges dreamers to be alert to the names of destinations that may appear in such dreams, as they can be laden with meaning.

Being lost or trapped v. discovering new spaces.  Common among dreamers in Garfield’s study, and familiar to all of us, these dreams typically occur when we feel confusion or conflict about how to act in a waking situation. 

Garfield suggests starting with some guiding questions as you begin to explore the application of such dreams to your waking life:  Where was I trying to go in the dream?  Home?  School?  Work?  At what point did I become lost?  What lead me astray?  How did I try to find my way?  What area of my waking life is mystifying me?  These can help pinpoint the crux of the desperate or fearful emotions that originate with the waking circumstance and generate the dream.

It follows that discovering new spaces in your dream would speak to the sensation of expansion in your waking life.  Perhaps your dream depicts windows or doors opening to you as an encouragement to move forward in your endeavors.  Hooray!

The IASD Conference is slated in Berkeley June 4-8 this year.  Hope to see you there!

Sweet Dreams to You!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Dream interpretation: Trust the voice in your dream

Many times “someone” will speak to us in our dreams.  Let’s call that someone your Dreaming Self – that part of you that sees things from a wider perspective.  That voice is frequently the one calling on you to trust yourself.  Today’s dream offers a perfect example.

Dear SMYD,

I am usually a prolific dreamer, but with everything going on in my life, I have been dropping in bed exhausted and sleeping very hard.  I haven’t remembered any dreams at all!  I moved my family in with my parents to help care for my mom as she was declining rapidly.  After she died, we stayed on to support my dad and that went on much longer that I anticipated.

When we agreed it was time to move back out to a place of our own, I was so fearful that Dad would falter.  But I bought a house and we moved, and he’s OK!  In the middle of all this, I got a new job and had a health scare of my own! 

Now, of all things, I woke up this morning with a pretty scary dream on my mind: 

I was in the ocean in deep water and being pulled farther and farther out to sea.  Then, there were people around me pulling me down.  I was afraid of drowning so I held my breath.  I felt desperate.  Someone there said, “Breathe!”  But I said, “No, I don’t have any SCUBA gear!”  But soon I couldn’t hold my breath any longer.  I could see the people under the water breathing and working and going about their business.  So I took a breath and to my amazement, I could breathe underwater!  I woke up relieved and drawing deep breaths.


Am I Amphibian?

Dear Amphibian,

Your dream uses the metaphor of being pulled into deep water to illustrate your circumstances:  You’ve been taking care of parents, a spouse and children while acclimating to a new job and grappling with your own health.  It is easy to see how you would feel overwhelmed, in over your head – as if you were being pulled down by those around you! 

When you saw people under water with you, in the same situation, you continued to hold your breath.  Even when you were exhorted to “Breathe!” you did not because you thought you needed SCUBA gear to survive.  As you probably know, SCUBA is an acronym for Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus.  When you had to give in and breathe, you found that you had the wherewithal to do so.  That “someone” in your dream pointed out that you already had it within yourself to navigate all the trials and stressors you have been facing.

Your Dreaming Self is pointing out to you that you have what it takes to operate successfully in some tough situations.  Other people do, and you can too!

Continue to take those deep breaths, Dear Dreamer, knowing you have what it takes to survive and succeed even when you’re feeling overwhelmed! 

Sweet Dreams to You!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Dream interpretation: You're not the crazy one!

Many times dreamers have ideas about the context and meaning of their dreams.  Today’s dreamer has a good handle on what her recurring dream says to her in her moments of weakness.

Dear SMYD,

I think I need a straightjacket!  I keep having these dreams that I can only remember snippets of but they are all similar.  In them, I'm either experiencing vignettes of dead people or “Albert,” my ex, showing up.  I remember the dreams because I'm happy until I see him, then I'm not.  In fact right before I woke up this morning I saw him holding a box of jewelry.  I just remember being upset and saying, "I'm not getting back with you, Albert!"  

Albert wasn't very talkative in reality.  He doesn't speak in the dreams either, but in one vignette he was just standing there among a bunch of children.  When I acknowledged seeing him, he smiled this really oversized, phony smile with oversized, phony lips. 

FYI – When I was 10 years old, Albert was my first love.  I adored everything about him and held on to that memory until we were married 42 years later.  After we married, we argued all the time because Albert disliked all three of my children and my grandkids!  I'm wondering if that is who the children in the dream are?  They were elated when he took off.  

So the people that I knew and are now deceased equate to the death of the relationship that my subconscious is processing?  Have I lost my mind or is this trying to tell me that I'm starting a new life without him and I have accepted he is no longer a part of my life?  I think the child in me may be experiencing the greater difficulty as opposed to the "adult" me.


Feeling Cuckoo

Dear Cuckoo,

I don't think you need a straightjacket!  If you make a note of your recurring dream when you have it, you will soon see that it most likely recurs when you have spent time looking back at your past relationship with Albert, perhaps having some misplaced nostalgia.  This is part of the process of accepting that he is no longer a part of your life.  The key word is "process."

You mention that Albert “took off.”  This presents an abrupt ending to your marriage, the most intense of personal relationships.  Rarely do we conclude an intimate emotional relationship in a snap.  It takes time to work through the change and adopt a new outlook on life.  It’s normal that you would reflect over time as you begin to turn forward and embark on a new life.

In your dream, Albert holds some jewels, perhaps trying to tempt you to get back with him.  Maybe these represent the children and grandchildren he was unkind to.  His false smile may be indicative of his trying to make you believe that he'll be a nicer guy to your kids if you would only take him back.  You answer him clearly.  Stand your ground, Dear Dreamer!

Sweet Dreams to you!


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Dream Interpretation: Remove the splinter - change your attitude

Dreams with only one central image or action can still reveal a wealth of information to a dreamer.  Today’s dream focuses on one image and one action, but tells the dreamer a lot about where she is and where she needs to go.

Dear SMYD,

I have always owned up to my mistakes and apologized if I hurt someone else.  I only wish everyone did the same! 

I’ve been single for quite a while, almost six years, after a very bad marriage and a terrible divorce.  It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve made a thorough assessment of my part in that failure.  I have been working on myself trying to let go of old hurts and grudges.  That’s not easy either since my ex has never said ‘sorry’ for any of the cruel things he said and did when we were married.  He just blames me for everything.

Anyway, I want to try again for another relationship, but I can see right through the men I’ve met.  I don’t trust any of them!  Maybe that explains why I dreamed about my ex.  Tell me what you think of this dream:

Something is irritating me on my left side.  I raise my arm and look down to see that I have a splinter.  I dig at it with a needle, and douse it with alcohol.  Then my ex is there trying to tell me how to do it!  Just like always!  Finally, I get a hold of the splinter with tweezers.  It starts to come out and I see that it is buried very deeply in my side.  When it finally comes out, it is nearly six inches long!


Still Being Hassled by My Ex

Dear Hassled,

Your dream suggests that you are still affected by the unhappy experience of your “very bad marriage and terrible divorce.”  Those aftereffects are depicted as the thorn in your side, the splinter, which is buried deep and difficult to extract, in spite of the thorough effort you say you’ve made.  Your comment regarding seeing through all the men you meet is indicative of the deeply ingrained attitude that you’re harboring.  Perhaps you are justified in your distrust, but nevertheless it hinders your ability to give a man a chance to prove himself different from your ex.

The fact that your ex is coaching you suggests that you may be doing the same thing he is guilty of:  blaming.  This bitter outlook will only continue to hold you back.  The splinter is nearly six inches long, and you are single now nearly six years.  How much longer will you fret with your anger over an unfair and painful marriage, Dear Dreamer?  How much longer will you allow it to dig at you?  You’re not dousing your anger with alcohol, are you?

Seek out the advice of a trusted friend or counselor and learn strategies to help you let go of your antagonism.  Only then will the irritation subside making way for a pain-free, happier, more open you.

Sweet Dreams to You!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Dream Interpretation: New make-up could mean a new you

Speaking in metaphor and using a richly creative process, our dreams condense a lot of information into a few images.  So always be on the lookout for puns and plays on words in your dreams as these provide a lot of understanding in a few words.  For example, being arrested in your dream could speak to legal problems, but might also refer to being stuck, or stopped in your tracks - arrested.  Today’s dreamer has a play on words to consider too.

Dear SMYD,

“Mike” and I have been friends for many years.  He is extremely well-read and has traveled everywhere, it seems.  We talk about culture and art and trends in society – things that I don’t often talk about with anyone else.  We live close to each other and have coffee and talk for hours.

A few days ago I dreamed that Mike did my make-up.  My husband wasn’t very happy about it, but I knew it was no big deal.  From my viewpoint, there was no need to attach any ulterior meaning to it, particularly because Mike is gay.

Mike did a very professional job.  My make-up looked great, almost as though I was air brushed.  I don’t usually wear much make up, so this was very different for me.  And then, I did seem to have another interest in him.  It felt odd since he’s gay, but I pulled him toward me and it felt kind of sexual.  Then I was a confused and pushed him away.


New Make-Up

Dear New Make-up,

In working with your dream, it will be useful to think about an alternate meaning for “make-up.”  Your dream uses Mike’s actions and the term to illustrate your make-up, that is, your traits, or the characteristics that make you up.  It appears that you and Mike have a lot in common, and these are things you don’t have in common with anyone else, even your husband.  This could explain why your husband could feel a twinge of jealousy about the long conversations you share with Mike, even though Mike isn’t his sexual rival.

In addition, your dream suggests that you are drawn to Mike for the intellectual stimulation he provides – his make-up.  He adds to your experience of life in a way that others do not.  This leaves you feeling uncomfortable, perhaps because of your loyalty to your husband.

As you’ve demonstrated through years of friendship with Mike, he enriches your life, Dear Dreamer.  You pull him toward you because of a yearning to develop that part of yourself to a greater degree, thus the sexual tone to that moment in your dream.  This need not mean an infidelity to those you love and have committed your life to.  You may pursue your interests in art and culture and all the rest in good conscience.  You will be happier and more attractive to your husband than you would if you stifled this part of your “make-up.”

Sweet Dreams to You!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Dream Interpretation: Quit Worrying and Live!

With our own experiences and documented examples of dreams predicting future events, it is important to consider that a dream may be cautioning the dreamer.  If you dream of having a flat tire or a blowout, for example, be sure to check the wear and pressure of your tires!  Presuming all is well in the auto maintenance department, you must move on to the likelihood that your dream is speaking to you metaphorically, as today’s dream is to this worried dreamer.

Dear Carolyn,

I dreamed I was trying to help a little girl on atrain.  She was lost or separated from her parents or something.  Anyway, she was scared and huddled in a corner.  I guess I could see her thoughts or something like that.  There were pictures covering the walls of normal, everyday things.  But every time she looked at one of them, she saw something scary.  I only remember one of the pictures now.  It was of a beautiful young woman seated under a tree.  But when this little girl looked at it, she saw the young woman being struck by lightning!  I saw it too.

This dream really scares me.  It feels like an omen especially because it comes at a time when I’ve finally decided to make some changes in my life!  Could this be one of those precognitive dreams that is telling me all the stuff that’s going to go wrong?  It seems like something scary is around every corner.  I feel paralyzed.  What should I do?


Scared to Make a Move

Dear Scared,

It’s true that our dreams can and do warn us of potential hazards or false steps inherent in our circumstances.  But let’s look at your dream as you report it.  The walls are covered with “normal, everyday things.”  It’s only when the scared little girl in you looks at them that the terrors emerge.  Her fear changes those run of the mill images to frightening possibilities lurking in routine things.

The little girl huddling in the corner, immobilized, is a metaphor for that part of you that has had a difficult time deciding to make changes in her life.  How long have you waited and worried instead of doing what you know you can and should do?  Now, you are on the train, getting ready to make the move, when you again begin to look at everything that could go wrong.  Disasters everywhere!  Who wouldn’t be paralyzed?

It’s good to be cautious and prepared.  It’s also important to note that fear of change constitutes fear of growth, an essential to a vibrant life.  Realize also that the one image that you remember is that of a young woman being struck by lightning.  What are the odds?  Are you going to stay inside today to avoid that possibility?  Tomorrow?

Remember Dear Dreamer, that worrying is like sitting in a rocking chair.  It gives you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.  Proceed with caution, but proceed!

Sweet Dreams to You!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Everyone gets chased and drowns in their dreams

If you are lucky enough to attend this year’s annual conference of the International Association for the Study of Dreams, you might attend a workshop with dream interpretation icon Patricia Garfield, Ph.D.  She is co-founder of the IASD and most impressive in her wealth of knowledge of dreams and dreamers from around the world. 

In her book The Universal Dream Key Garfield distills the results of her study of dreams contributed from 500 dreamers - 325 from the United States and 175 from thirty-six other countries.

The product is a practical guide for applying dreams to our daily lives as well as understanding our dreams in the greater context of the “epics that have been told since the dawn of time.”  Garfield goes on to say that “the intimate stories that you tell yourself tonight when you go to bed have flowed across the centuries from cave dweller to condo dweller…They unveil not only your most intimate secrets but also the dreads and desires of humankind.”

Here are the top two of the 12 most common dream themes that Garfield has identified in her book.  You are sure to recognize them from your own nocturnal travels!

#1.  Being chased or attacked v. being embraced or loved.  More than 80% of dreamers report one or both sides of this dream motif.  Garfield cites the usual meaning of such dreams as it equates to the dreamer’s waking life:  I feel hounded, threatened or attacked by a person in my environment or by a strong internal emotion.

Sound familiar?  Such dreams will occur when desperate feelings dog us in our waking lives.  The dream can be a not-so-subtle prodding to deal with the situation or experience nighttime replays until you do!  More depth of understanding comes with insights into who or what is chasing you.

In contrast, being embraced or loved in a dream may speak to that universal human yearning to connect.  Again, who or what the dreamer is embracing, or being embraced by will offer another important layer of meaning.

#2.  Falling or drowning v. swimming or dancing joyfully.  A hefty 64% of dreamers in Garfield’s study report one or both sides of this dream scenario.  She offers a starting point for understanding the frightening experience as equating with a waking emotional state of insecurity, feeling adrift without solid footing or support. 

If you are feeling helpless, overwhelmed or wanting to give up, surrender (drown), an accompanying dream of falling or drowning is likely slated for your restless sleep.  Such a dream prompts you to acknowledge your feelings and circumstance and to seek the appropriate support and assistance. 

It follows that swimming or dancing joyfully in your dream would speak to a sensation of skill or accomplishment in your waking life.  Perhaps your dream depicts you in the mode or seeking it as an encouragement to press on in your endeavors.

The IASD Conference is slated for Berkeley in June this year.  Hope to see you there!

Sweet Dreams to You!