Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Learn to use your dreams

Our dreams offer us value and enjoyment on multiple levels. 

Perhaps the greatest value of the material in our dreams is its pragmatic nature.  Our nightly dreams come to us in service of our daily health and well-being.  Like a loving parent or mentor, our dreams offer insights into our own puzzling and sometimes confounding behavior patterns, the intricacies of our relationships, our physical and mental health, and the world around us.

To these ends, our dreams offer us a unique perspective.  Consider your dream’s apparent ability to view you and your daily life from above, as though from a helicopter.  Our dreams seem to have a 360 degree view of us as well as the capacity to see us from within. 

Maybe on a subconscious level we know what our dreams tell us, but we are often too deep in the forest of daily business to find the pathways our dreams readily see. 

No doubt, the language of dreams can be perplexing, but it can be learned.  Those who take the time are rewarded with the universal “ah ha!” of self-knowledge and an opportunity to progress beyond a snag in their personal growth and development.

Our dreams also bring beauty in images and sensations that simply are not available to us in our waking lives.  Their contributions to the creative accomplishments of some of the most exalted writers, artists, musicians and thinkers of all time are well-documented.  And such dreams are available to us all.

Dreams of flying are among the most pleasurable of all.  Most of us hold memories of such dreams for our lifetimes.  These dreams are valuable for the exhilaration alone, but can also offer the impetus for exploring new horizons in life.

In each weekly column, we attempt to help dreamers make the connections their dreams present while sharing methods and strategies for working with dreams.  Now, we are offering a series of Dreamwork Workshops for our readers’ benefit and enjoyment.

Sunday, June 7th ~ Session 1 will offer dreamwork basics for understanding your dreams and applying their insights to your daily life and lifelong aspirations.  Recognizing symbols, metaphors, puns and plays on words are the building blocks we will explore.

Sunday, June 14th ~ Session 2 offers more advanced strategies developed by the leaders in the dreamwork community including Projective dreamwork by Jeremy Taylor, PhD, Co-Founder of the International Association for the Study of Dreams and the Marin Institute for Projective Dreamwork; and Dream Themes by Robert Gongloff, Past President of the IASD.

Sunday, June 28th ~ Session 3 will explore the power and beauty of dream incubation and lucid dreaming.  We will present methods for ‘hatching’ a dream that responds to a dreamer’s specific problem or question.  In addition, we will offer the processes used to induce lucid dreams and the many possibilities such dreams raise.

For details please visit Benicia Dreamwork Meetup:

You may attend one, two or all three sessions.  Hope to see you there!

Sweet dreams to you, Dear Dreamer!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Dream Interpretation - Don't be a scared dog

Pay close attention to the emotions in your dreams.  They can lead you to understanding your dream’s message.  In today’s example, our dreamer recognizes the emotion of fear and an underlying sentiment of deception.  That combination is key to calling his own bluff and taking action or forever putting off success to an unspecified time in the future.

Dear Carolyn,

I have a product that I’ve been perfecting for quite a few years with the hope that it will take off and be a big nationwide seller.  My friends and my wife razz me for being a dreamer.  I take quite a bit of teasing.  They say I am just talking and doing nothing more to bring my idea to fruition.  My daughter even rolled her eyes the other day and called me a dreamer!  That hurt! 

Everyone says my idea is a good one, but they are losing faith that I will ever make anything of it.  Maybe I am just a fantasist.  Then, I had this dream:

I see a Chihuahua is frightened of something in the sky.  He shivers and shakes and looks up at the sky in fear, cowering.

Then it seems that he has a pair of cartoon Chihuahua eyes on the ground below him.  They are looking at the sky and he covers them as though he doesn't want them to see what he sees in the sky.  Also it seems like he is making a joke or faking his fear.  The eyes are fake and the fear is a joke.  It's as if he's fooling someone.  Me; he’s fooling me except that I can see that’s what he thinks he’s doing.

Above him I see what first seems to be a bird or a kite ~ red white and blue with wings extended soaring above.  Nothing to be afraid of.

A Man with a Dream

Dear Dreamer,

Your Dreaming Self has chosen an appropriate creature to bring to light some conflicting feelings that may be holding you back.  As you know, Chihuahuas are recognized both for their nervous and frightened nature as well as for their fierce personalities and willingness to take on and dominate larger dogs.  One might say that they fake their fear.

Perhaps this is what your friends and family are nudging you to realize about yourself and your idea for a product that sells nationally.  Maybe you do feel some fear or nervousness about actually launching your product.  But after years of “perfecting,” it could be that your apprehension creates excuses and holds you back. 

It is a cartoon or a caricature, a false show of fright.  In your dream, both you and the shivering Chihuahua know that it’s not real.  You fool yourself with it and continue to tinker rather than taking steps to get your product off the ground, like that red, white and blue nation-wide kite.

Make an action plan and do something, Dear Dreamer!  Soaring is nothing to be afraid of!

Sweet Dreams to You!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Dream Interpretation - That storm can't get you now

When forces of nature appear in our dreams, they make perfect metaphors for emotionally laden experiences in our waking lives.  Sunshine and light breezes might reflect easy going in the near future.  But tornadoes and floods are another matter.  Consider today’s powerful example: 

Dear Carolyn,

I am planning to go to my 10 year high schoolreunion this summer.  All of this has brought up memories of my old boyfriend, “Ed.”  Actually, I have thought of Ed many times over the years.  These memories always make me mad.  He dumped me multiple times.  I was the fool who always went back. I can’t believe I was so stupid!

He didn’t respect me.  He used me and I felt like crap when I was with him.  Still, I participated in the “relationship,” even sought him out!  So, these angry memories are as much my fault as his.  Even now, ten years later, I just don’t get it.  What was the attraction? 

All this has me wondering if I should even go to the reunion.  What will I say if I see Ed?  I’m afraid that I will feel like a fool all over again and that he will be secretly laughing at me, if he’s not laughing out loud!

Last night after stewing about all this again, I dreamed I was on a hill observing a storm front approaching.  I could clearly see a warm air mass on one side and a cold front on the other.  They race down into a valley, run into each other, twist around and create a tornado, wreak havoc, then separate and disappear.  Behind them it looked like a dam broke and the water came rushing toward me.  I was glad to be high up on the hillside, but still felt afraid of the rushing waters.


Reunion Blues

Dear Reunion,

Of all weather phenomena, tornadoes are among the most violent and destructive.  And what are they made of?  Two elements – a warm front and a cold front – drawn together, spinning wildly around each other, causing destruction and then splitting apart.  Does that ring a bell?  Consider the hot and cold relationship you described between you and Ed. 

Your dream uses this powerful metaphor to demonstrate for you now, from your higher perspective on the hillside, removed by ten years, that like those forces of nature you were drawn to Ed and he was drawn to you.  When the two of you collided, it caused havoc and lasting emotional damage.  And in the end, perhaps most painful of all, there just wasn’t anything to it.  Maybe that realization is what brings the flood of emotion.

It seems that for all these years, you have not only been angry with Ed, but very unforgiving of yourself.  You were a teenage girl, Dear Dreamer.  Maybe you had to repeat a hard lesson more times than you’d like to admit, but you’re not still repeating it, are you?  Find a way to let it go and enjoy a reunion with your true friends.

Sweet Dreams to You!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Dream Interpretation - Don't hang out with a nag


When we travel with someone in our dreams, that person likely represents how we travel through our daily lives.  Think of that person’s prominent personality traits.  Chances are, they are yours too, for better or worse.  Today’s dreamer offers a clear example for our purposes.

Dear Carolyn,

“Mary” is the smartest person on my staff.  We have worked together over five years now.  I see her as working too hard at her job, to the point of endangering her mental health, her optimism and happiness.  She doesn’t have many friends on staff and seeks out my company.  She likes to help me think my actions through and dissects possible outcomes.  She can be helpful.

The down side of this is when she takes it to the extreme.  She over-analyzes my decisions and nit-picks my performance as the boss.  She can be pretty negative and pessimistic.

Now I’m dreaming about her!  In the dream, Mary was taking me to a Mensa meeting – the high IQ people.  It was a hassle to get there as we were at work and it was an extremely busy day.  When we got there, the meeting seemed to have no purpose.  The members were socializing, but not much more.  I felt frustrated at the waste of time.  I challenged them to define a purpose for their meeting. 

Then, instead of feeling rested, I woke up feeling frazzled, just like I do at work!


Me and My Shadow

Dear Me!

Traveling companions in our dreams, those we move with from place to place, frequently are stand-ins for ourselves.  They show up as metaphors for facets of ourselves that come to the forefront in the circumstances of the dream.  These are also the circumstances of our waking lives.

In your dream Mary provides a representation of you:  the perfectionist, worrying and nagging part that goes everywhere with you.  You don’t use the term, but Mary is a complainer, too.  You may not complain externally, but check the way you talk to yourself, Dear Dreamer.  Such a persistent and negative internal dialogue runs the risk of ruining your good humor and happiness. 

A nice way of saying it is that Mary represents the part of you that is intelligent and always seeking improvement.  The blunt way is to say that you can be a pain in your own neck! 

The fact that the Mensa meeting had no purpose is telling.  If you put your brains to a purpose, you can accomplish great things.  But pointless analysis and worry is worse than pointless.  It’s self-destructive.  Your dream suggests that by keeping company with a ‘Mary state of mind,’ you run the risk of endangering your own mental health, optimism and happiness.

Consider limiting the time you give Mary in waking life.  It may be social for her as she appreciates your intelligence and has few other friends in the workplace.  And you must also limit the time you give to that critical voice in your head.  You’re smart, but you’re wasting time spent on criticism without a purpose.

Sweet Dreams to You!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Dream interpretation - Do it like Joan Baez did

Famous people who appear in our dreams may represent an ideal that we aspire to in our waking lives.  Look for the salient qualities of that celebrity with an understanding that those may be what you strive for in yourself.  This can open a window into your dream’s meaning.  Today’s dreamer offers an example in which an icon seems to be taunting her about the strength of her convictions.

Dear Carolyn,

Years ago I took a lot of flak for some statements I made at work.  My ideas were out of the mainstream and challenged the comfort of those (including my superiors) who followed the time worn traditions there.  Ultimately, I lost my job over it.  I went on to publish a book that included my controversial views.  It was well-received in my arena and important people told me to speak out to a wider audience, but the exigencies of life and the sting of being ‘let go’ held me back.

I associate that time in my life with Joan Baez and her music.  I always admired her for the strength of her voice, her integrity and her bravery in the causes she supported. 

Now I have been thinking about publishing again.  I still have passion behind my views, but I find that I am considering material that might be less controversial. 

So my last dream of the morning has me buying a book from Joan Baez.  She asks to see some of my writing.  After seeing several samples, she says I am not a threat to her, so I should go ahead and publish my work. It felt odd.

I woke up thinking, hmmm.  Not sure if this is a sign to publish again or not.


Fan of Joan Baez

Dear Fan,

You say that you admire Joan Baez for her voice, her integrity and her bravery.  For you, she represents that part of yourself that will speak her truth without fear of the controversy it might cause. 

In your dream, when she – that brave part of yourself – looks over the material you are thinking of publishing, she almost scoffs at it by saying, “This is no threat to me; go ahead and publish.”  You are essentially dismissed, free to publish the less controversial material without taking on her role of outspoken advocate.

In effect, she tells you that you will be safe and protected from the sting of your last experience of speaking out.  But will a watered-down version of your vision satisfy your need to speak the truth as she did?  After all, her strong voice is one of the things you hold in high regard.

There is no shame in taking the safer route, Dear Dreamer.  However, you must weigh the consequences to your own integrity.  If you publish a meeker version of your truth, what is the effect on you?  Will you be satisfied with a book that shrinks from its mission and challenges no one?

Sweet Dreams to You!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Dream Interpretation - Problem solving is a dream

Dearest Dreamers,

In our waking lives, we sometimes find ourselves slogging away, working through the ups, downs and often tricky ground of personalities, politics and problems.  We may feel as though we are making headway, only to discover that we’ve worked our way around a circle and made no progress at all.

Our Dreaming Selves offer us a higher perspective, almost as though that part of ourselves sees the lay of the land around us from a helicopter’s vantage point.  Using the beautiful language of metaphor, our dreams sum up confounding situations and direct us to openings and inroads we simply cannot see from ground level.

People from all walks of life have relied upon their dreams when in need of inspiration for solving problems with inventions, innovations or when in need of creative impetus.  Movie makers, songwriters, visual artists and scientists are among the most notable:

John Lennon and Paul McCartney attribute some of their iconic music and song lyrics to the stuff of their dreams.  These include McCartney’s “Yesterday,” the most covered song in music history and Lennon’s “#9 Dream.”  Keith Richards tells of dreaming the riff to the Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”

Surrealist painter Salvador Dali called many of his works "hand-painted dream photographs." With images of melting clocks in his "Persistence of Memory," Dali illustrates his idea that our concept of time becomes arbitrary when we're in a dream state.

Movie maker Richard Linklater of “Boyhood” fame credits his dreams for a previous, well-received animated feature “Waking Life.”  And Director Christopher Nolan took the inspiration for his 2010 psychological thriller “Inception” from his own lucid dreams.  

Some of our most famous and acclaimed authors, including Maurice Sendak, perhaps best known for his children’s book Where the Wild Things Are and SueGrafton of the alphabet mystery series A Is for Alibi, B Is for Burglar, C Is for Corpse…H Is for Homicide speak about their dreams’ influence on their work.

Nobel laureate James Watson reported stumbling upon the double helix image for the DNA chain through his dream of a spiral staircase.

Our dreams are not only beautiful and lyrical, but their practical use for problem solving and creative generation of solutions ranges across art, science and literature.  It doesn’t take a giant leap of faith to know that productive and accomplished people across all endeavors can and do employ their dreams, tapping depths of creativity and insight into their work.

Why not you, Dear Dreamer?  No doubt you have faced or are facing a challenge in your life.  Consider that your Dreaming Self can be helpful in giving you perspective on the problem.  As Stephen King says, a dream may offer an angle on the issue that you just cannot see without it!

If these talented and noteworthy persons rely on their dreams for insights and assistance, we too can add them to our toolbox of methods for working resourcefully on the perplexing problems of our daily lives.

Sweet Dreams to You!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Dream Interpretation - The strength is within you

Frequently the characters in our dreams will represent parts of ourselves that we do not recognize in waking life.  Sometimes this will point out bad habits to which we are blind.  Or, as in the case today, that other person shows the Dreamer her strong dependable self whom she forgets she knows.

Dear Carolyn,

Let’s say my name is Nancy.  I happen to have a good friend whose name is also Nancy.  She is someone I admire for her intelligence and calm balanced approach to life.

In my dream I am with Nancy.  We are on ramp – a long slanting stone path that leads into the ocean.  We are seated with our legs extended and arms propped up like beach chairs.  We look towards the ocean and the sunset and wait for a giant wave to crash over us.  It is scary.

A wave comes, but by the time it reaches us it is diminished.  It washes up harmlessly.  We are wet but unhurt and unmoved.  I tell Nancy that I was afraid I would be washed out into the ocean.  We can see that some people were carried away.  They're trailing out towards the sun but seem to be unharmed.

Nancy tells me she wasn't afraid.  She would've enjoyed being washed to sea!  We turn and face the water again and another wave comes just like the last one.  But then a big wave comes.  But we are not washed away even though the wave is much bigger and covers us.

There are natives on the beach performing an ancient ritual for the waves and the sun.  They stand in rows facing the sun and the water with arms extended, covered with feathers, headdresses and face paint.

I can see that they are unafraid and accept what comes.  They will deal with whatever comes and life will go on.  A woman there, a tourist, seems to treat the display as though it is apart from her or not real.  I know she is wrong.  Their ritual is meaningful.  It is part of life.


Scared of the Waves

Dear Scared,

You do not offer background or waking life details, but your dream suggests that you are anticipating troubles.  Perhaps because you and Nancy, the other you, are looking toward the sunset, the things you worry about or dread are related to the sunset of your life.  In any case, your dream offers repeated assurances that you have the wherewithal to deal with whatever is coming your way.

Those qualities you admire in your friend – no coincidence your dreaming self chose her – are within you and will sustain you.  Many times, like the diminished waves, what comes will be less threatening than you expected.  

You’re not a tourist in this territory, Dear Dreamer.  Even those other, bigger waves, powerful life events, leave you safe on land.  Like the natives in their ritual acknowledgement of the cycles of life, you must only accept what comes and with the strength of Nancy, you will survive.

Sweet Dreams to You!