Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Dream Interpretation: Quit groveling - you're the boss

Whenever a dream seems to “just be about” something you already know, look again.  Careful attention will reveal the next step or a different perspective on what you might first think is simple a rehash of the day’s events.  Today’s dreamer share such an example.

Dear SMYD,

I got into a squabble with a woman I work with, “Linda.”  Actually, I am her boss; she’s my secretary/office manager.  She does a good job in almost every way, but there are a couple of things that she needs to improve:  She’s at least a few minutes late to work every day and her work area is a mess.  Since her area’s the first thing everyone sees when they come into our workplace, this is a problem.  

I love and appreciate her, but I had to confront her with these issues and she took it very personally.  She seemed to think that because we work closely together, have fun and laugh together, that she is exempt from the work standards I have to enforce with everyone.  Anyway, her feelings were hurt and she is not getting over it.  Our workplace and relationship are strained and uncomfortable.

Now I’ve had this dream.  It felt as though Linda and I were conversing with each other just as I have described.  It didn’t seem like a dream at all except that it occurred while I was sleeping!  

Here it is:    I am apologizing to Linda.  It's a tenuous conversation in which I say I'm sure I hurt her.  She seems to accept my apology and I relax, but then she comes around again with angry accusations.  Her acceptance of my apology is superficial.  She seems to want to reconcile, but is not able to yet.  And then the dream starts over and repeats itself.


Tired of Feeling Guilty

Dear Tired,

Our dreams do not come just to tell us what we already know.  Your dream has established a context which is easily recognizable – it is about the shift in your relationship with Linda.  But it is not simply repeating or describing that change.  You don’t need your dream to tell you that.  Your dream repeats itself and thereby insists that you review how you and Linda have handled the aftermath.  It shows you in a position of apologizing for doing your job and holding her accountable for hers.  You feel guilty for this – why? 

Your dream shows you that your continual apologies will not alter the circumstances.  Linda will reverse her acceptance and “hold it over you” that you hurt her feelings.  She may forgive you at some point, but as your dream shows, she may not.  Why should she?  She’s in a position of power now that you feel guilty and continually apologize.  That’s the best revenge for someone who needs to improve but won’t admit it.  Linda tries to parlay her friendly relationship with you into a pass for poor performance. 

You’ve done nothing wrong Dear Dreamer.  Move on.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Dream Interpretation - Go ahead! Fly your kite!

Today’s dreamer dreams about his dream of going into business for himself.

Dear SMYD,

I have a good job that meets my needs, but it’s not much fun or very inspiring at all.  I’ve been working on the side creating a small business doing something I love – kite building.  My family calls it my hobby, but it’s more than that to me.  They constantly remind me how difficult starting out on your own can be and how many small businesses fail.  All they ever say is, “Don’t jeopardize your security!”

I’ve been nurturing a relationship with a retailer near my home, hoping to sell my kites in greater quantities.  I’m excited about this and want to make my living this way.  I guess it’s natural that I would dream about kites:

I am with a young boy who has a kite to fly.  His kite is one of those rectangular parachutes with lines from both ends used for maneuvering.  He can take off with this kite; he can fly. 

He does take off, but when he reaches the sky he knocks down another young boy flying in another similar kite.  This young boy is bundled up with braces and a helmet and goggles & protective gear of various kinds.  He looks like he’s going into a hazardous materials spill!

When he falls to the ground there is a crowd of people who are shocked and worried for his well-being.  They are also upset with the young boy who knocked him down and with me.  I tell the young boy of course you must go and check on the boy who fell.  You must shake his hand.

We go to the next block over and work our way through the crowd to find that young boy in the headquarters of a marathon race.  He is okay – no harm done.


Kite Flyer

Dear Kite Flyer,

Your dream offers encouragement to you and your endeavors in a couple of ways.  Think of the boys in the dream as different parts of yourself.  Both boys can fly!  

The boy in the air, all bundled up is the part of you that tries to follow the advice of your family, protecting himself from any hazard that might come from flying so high.  But lo and behold!  He flies even with every awkward precaution in place.

The folks on the ground, your family and friends who discourage you, are upset that you even tried to fly and in so doing knock down their assertions that you must protect yourself and not take risks.  The overprotected boy – you – aren’t injured when knocked out of the sky by the more adventurous part of you.

Your Dreaming Self urges you to find him, the trailblazer, and shake his hand – acknowledge that part of you that may be a little like him.  No real harm is done even if you fail (fall), Dear Dreamer.  Just remember that the road to success in your new venture isn’t a sprint, but a marathon.

Sweet Dreams to You!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Dream interpretation - Organize first, then move forward

Today’s dream offers a review for our dreamer – what was and what is before finding what might be.

Dear SMYD,

At one time I taught 5 or 6 yoga classes a week in a very strong athletic and physically demanding style.  Now there are some changes in my life:  We moved to a new town from our home of almost 40 years.  And I have dropped down to teaching only two classes.  They are of the “gentle’ variety for older people with stiff bodies.  People expect more breathing and meditation in these “asana” classes.  Since I am very physical and I prefer gym classes, this presents some conflict.

Now my dream:

I am teaching a yoga class in a big house with many rooms.  The students are in different rooms and I am running around giving instructions.  I tell them to all come to one room, but when they do it’s crowded.  I start to teach, then there is a break and they are in different rooms again.  When I go to a second room students are lounging around on couches and bar stools.  One is looking at his 35mm camera and some photos.  I think- yes!  Teaching opportunity!  "You know how you are so involved with your camera?  This is yoga.  Sustained directed focus." 

It’s almost time for class to end.  I try to gather students into one room, but some students from the first room have left.  Outside former friend/client (who was a teacher and has died) is putting the photos in an album.  I ask, "Will this building continue to be used for classes?  It needs some walls taken down; it has too many rooms.”


Different Life/Same Me

Dear Different,

Your dream reflects a natural pause and assessment that you may be going through as you re-establish your life with new parameters.  It presents your ‘teachable moment.’

First, the element of the dream that has you trying to collect students from diverse rooms around the house may be speaking to the idea that you seem to be 'condensing' your practice, both on a literal level - 6 classes down to 2 – and on a figurative level – from the more physical practice of your past to the more meditative practice expected of you now.  These changes are most likely disconcerting or stressful.  This would denote your waking state of mind as you make the adjustments.

In addition, your dream speaks to the place where you are in life now.  With 'sustained directed focus' you are reviewing what has been, (a wide and varied practice), what is (a smaller, less demanding practice) and what might be.  Organizing those photos into the album is a memorializing of your work and your life to date.  Like students who've left the room, some things are left behind.  Your questions to your past (“passed”) friend about what will become of the building might be restated as, “What will become of me?”  Not to worry, Dear Dreamer.  You are working things out!

Sweet Dreams to You!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Dream to Dreamer: Go your own way

Our dreams speak to us in the universal language of symbols and metaphors.  Certain archetypal images apply no matter the culture of the dreamer.  Today’s dreamer offers an excellent case in point.

Dear SMYD,

In my country, marriages are made with promises.  “Lola” promised me and I love her so much.  My aunt says to Lola that I am not serious with her.  I tried to prove to her that I am serious.  I am even praying that I want to get married to this lady.  My pressure is that I may not lose her but get her for my life.

I dreamt crossing the river.  We were many; but the river has little water which was also pure.  In some places we were walking on the dry sand to avoid getting wet.  Others looked to be afraid.  So we were all encouraging each other that no people left behind.  Faith works.  As we crossed we were singing a certain song that says believe all are possible.  We manage to cross through. 

After crossing I took my own way.  Others were going to the near town, but it seems to me I was going to another town.  But I was able to communicate with them as if I am with them.  One lady said I will deposit you the money which I have.  So I was happy. 

Then I saw Lola, but we are not yet in agreement.  Lola said my aunt told her, “He doesn’t mind about you.”  I said, “No it is not true.”  Then we were in the river bank after crossing.  That’s where I met her.  The forest of that place was so beautiful and was green but there was a way which we were using to pass.
So please what does this mean?


Wanting to Marry Lola

Dear Wanting,

Crossing a river is symbolic of crossing any threshold into a new way of thinking and a new life.  Your dream reflects that crossroads in your life.  You must be brave and cross into new territory in order to prove yourself and have the one you love.

Perhaps you have been afraid like the people in your dream.  Your dream points out that you must now go your own way – to the other town, not the one that is closest and easiest to get to.  Even though your fears come to the forefront, a song of encouragement assures you that faith works and all things are possible. 

Sure enough, Dear Dreamer, when you reach the other side, you learn that the “money is in the bank.”  And better still, Lola is there waiting for you.

Your dream offers you confidence that though you may feel anxious, now is not the time to follow the crowd.  This is how you prove to yourself and Lola that you are serious.  Only when you go your own way are your prayers answered.  It is then that you find yourself in the beautiful and green forest with the woman you love.

Sweet Dreams to You!


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Dream Interpretation - Sobriety signals the end of innocence

Our dreams may reflect our current status to us.  Today’s dreamer reports such an instance.  There’s a reason for the reflection.  We have to know where we are to know where we’re going.  Such dreams help take account of the present and bolster our understanding of how to move forward.

Dear SMYD,

My parents say I took a detour on my way to success.  That’s their way of saying that I messed up.  For more than five years after high school I got into some pretty bad things, mostly drugs.  I was addicted to meth and all the bad things that go along with meth addiction came to me.  I was in and out of rehab a couple of times and even went to jail. 

But now I’m back to my old self.  I’ve been clean and sober for almost two years; I’m working and back in school to advance myself.  It has been very scary and I felt lost and hopeless for a long time.  But I’m feeling stronger every day now.  So this dream really bothers me: 

I dreamed that I saw a group of my old friends from high school.  I used to hang out with all these girls.  We played soccer and had a lot of classes together.  I was so happy to see them.  I called out and waved to them.  But they weren’t glad to see me.  They weren’t rude exactly, but it was like they didn’t recognize me.  They just kind of looked past me, or looked at me like I was a stranger.  It really hurt my feelings and I didn’t know what to do.  I woke up feeling sad and confused. 

Sober but Sad

Dear Sober,

Congratulations on your sobriety.  Your road has been arduous.  The tone of your letter suggests you have seen a lot and learned a lot – much of it the hard way!  Your detour, as your parents called it, took you far afield of your original trajectory in life.  Yet here you are – clean, sober and back on the well-lighted path to a life of achievement.  Good for you!

Your dream offers a reflection of where you once were, where you started, and where you cannot go again.  Even though, in your newly sober state, you may feel in some ways like your old self, you are no longer the girl you were in high school.  

You cannot unlearn the lessons you’ve learned.  You cannot forget your experiences.  Metaphorically, you cannot return to the innocence portrayed by your teammates and classmates in your dream.  You would not recognize each other.  Your experiences have separated you from them.

That is the sadness of what you’ve been through.  It’s not uncommon to realize that we no longer have anything in common with our old friends, though your experience is more dramatic than most.  It’s the bittersweet taste of growing up.  

Don’t lose sight of the future, Dear Dreamer.  It’s bright for you now.

Sweet Dreams to You!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Dreamers converge in Berkeley, CA

Dear Dreamers,

I am excited to be attending the annual conference of the International Association for the Study of Dreams this week.  One of the most pragmatic features of the conference comprises the four hour-long sessions wherein attendees can work directly with leading researchers and practitioners in the ‘field of dreams.’  I may join Past President of the IASD, Robert Gongloff, again this year to delve even deeper into the Heart of the Dream, as he calls his exploration approach to dream material.

In previous columns, I have shared research from dream interpretation icon Patricia Garfield, Ph.D.  She is co-founder of the IASD and her wealth of knowledge of dreams and dreamers from around the world forms a foundational base for understanding common dream themes as a part of our shared, cross-cultural dream experience. 

We spoke earlier about four of the 12 most common dream themes Garfield identifies in her book The Universal Dream Key:  Being chased or attacked, falling or drowning, missing the boat and being lost or trapped.  Here are two more of the recurring themes you’ll recognize from your own nocturnal travels!

Being injured, ill or dying v. being healed, born or reborn.  Garfield notes that this relatively common dream sometimes occurs at the onset of an actual illness.  Further, the usual, less literal meaning of such dreams as they equate to the dreamer’s waking life could be stated as: I feel hurt emotionally.  I feel damaged or wounded.  Or, I’m afraid I will be hurt.  These dreams may speak as a warning about a physical risk that the dreamer is contemplating, or about the emotional risks of pursuing unhealthy relationships.

Conversely, dreams of being healed, born or reborn reassure the dreamer that s/he has a restored waking ability or emotional repair.  Garfield goes on to say that being born or reborn, or giving birth in your dreams can signify the awakening or reawakening of a ‘lost’ part of you.

Being naked or inappropriately dressed in public v. being well-dressed.  Common among dreamers in Garfield’s study, and familiar to all of us, these dreams typically occur when we feel vulnerable or exposed in waking life.  We feel awkward or without protection. 

Garfield suggests starting with some guiding questions as you begin to explore the application of such dreams to your waking life:  Where was I in the dream?  Home?  School?  Work?  The answer to this question will offer insights into what area of your waking life has you feeling unprotected or weak.  Your reactions to your nudity in the dream can also help pinpoint the crux of the desperate or fearful emotions.  In effect, how you handle your exposure in your dream is key to successful navigation of the waking circumstance!

It follows that dreaming of being well-dressed would speak to the sensation of confidence in your waking life.  Perhaps your dream is urging you to act more confidently in a waking situation alluded to by the dream. 

The IASD Conference is in Berkeley this week, Wednesday through Sunday.  Hope to see you there!

Sweet Dreams to You!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Dream to Dreamer - Stop worrying!

Dreams of falling and flying are among the shared dreams across age groups and cultures.  One speaks to insecurity and the other to freedom to soar.  Today’s dream offers a taste of both.

Dear SMYD,

I am at a good point in my life.  Not that everything is perfect, but I just can’t ask for more than I have right now.  My marriage is good; kids are finally on their own and doing pretty well independently.  I have no worries at work.  The worst thing that happens is my occasional thought that things can’t go on like this forever.  Something is bound to go wrong.  I try to be grateful every day.  At the same time, I am afraid that a disaster will befall us and take all this happiness away. 

I dreamed that I was working my way around an incredibly high rock face.  It was bowed outward and I had my back flattened against it and my arms outstretched as I inched my way along.  The sky was blue and I was so high up that I could even see some wispy clouds below me.  Even farther below was a beautiful blue ocean.  Everything was so beautiful that I almost felt like I would jump!  In fact, I wanted to jump just to see how it would feel.  But it was very scary.  Then I decided not to jump.  And I continued to edge along as I had been going.


Scared of Heights

Dear Scared,

Your dream depicts your current state of mind metaphorically:  As you stated, everything around you in your waking life is beautiful, but you are able to enjoy it only in a limited way because of your fear of disaster.  Thus you find yourself on the precipice, in constant fear, yet surrounded by breathtaking beauty.  As in your waking life, in your dream you worry about future loss instead of drinking in the present.

But the dream doesn’t simply retell what you already know.  It shows that you make the conscious decision to continue as you are – inching along in fear, not fully enjoying what you have and limiting yourself to that overly cautious, dreadful way of operating. 

Your dream suggests that you are seized by a frightened mindset that keeps you nervous and tentative, forever trying to avoid what may never happen.  You had a moment in your dream where you considered taking off, ‘just to see how it would feel’ to be free.  Your dream is pointing to a part of you that wants to fly.  Try to imagine the feeling you would have experienced if you had taken the leap in your dream! 

Chances are, you are restricting yourself from even trying something adventurous just because you don’t want to rock the boat of your almost perfect life.  Don’t worry about failures, Dear Dreamer; worry instead about the chances you miss when you don’t even try.

It’s important to remember that worry doesn’t take away tomorrow’s troubles; it takes away today’s joy. 

Sweet Dreams to You!