Sunday, March 28, 2010

Dream Mapping

Today let’s look at a different interpretation technique, taught to me by my friends Lisa Rigge and Beth Okurowski in a dream class they recently led.  The method, created by Bob Haden of the Haden Institute, consists of asking yourself a series of questions about your dream. I’m following the method loosely here. If you were to learn Bob’s Mapping Dreams technique from him it would include more detail and instruction than I can cover in a blog post.

The Dream: A secretary’s chair sits near the water in a natural setting. It is upholstered and padded, either pink or turquoise. Little baby geese have been nesting on the seat. I get them to move and see lots of little goose poops on the seat. I remove the chair back to clean the seat and remark it’s a good thing the geese weren’t full grown.

Q: What is the setting of the dream?
A: The setting is natural, near water.

Q: Overall, how does the dream leave you feeling?
A: Amused and relieved.

Q: How do you feel in the different sections of the dream?
A: There seems to be feeling shift between discovering the poop on the seat (annoyance) and deciding it isn’t so bad (the geese are not full grown).

Q: What part of the dream has the most energy?
A:  When I take the action of removing the chair back and cleaning the seat.

Q:  List the same sex characters and describe them.
A: One, me. I am responsible, motherly, and I clean up the messes of the baby geese. I’m a little annoyed at having to do this, but not terribly annoyed. 

Q: List and describe the opposite sex characters.
A: None in this dream, although it’s possible the person I’m talking to at the end of the dream is male.

Q: List the dream animals and write down their characteristics. What emotion does the animal project or elicit? Does the animal symbolize something?
A: Baby geese are behaving naturally, nesting and pooping. They are little and cute. The emotions elicited are not very strong: the animals have created a situation that needs to be dealt with. It could have been worse. What do geese symbolize? When I consulted a symbol dictionary ( J.C. Cooper’s An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Traditional Symbols ) I learned to my surprise that geese can represent the solar (masculine) god aspect. Tony Crisp’s Dream Dictionary tells me that birds in general represent intuition, mental freedom, etc: a sort of soaring awareness. Geese in particular, he says, might represent freedom or the soul. On the other hand, they might represent foolishness or group conformity. Are you confused? Me, too. (No easy answers in dream work!)
The important issue, of course, is what do geese mean to me? Let’s see: silly goose comes to mind.

Q:  List the objects in the dream and ask yourself how you feel about them. Think about each object and what it means to you. Ask yourself if the object symbolizes something.
A: Object 1: a secretary’s chair. This is a serviceable but generally boring sort of chair. According to Tony Crisp a chair might symbolize inactivity, passivity, rest, or receptivity. Its padding makes it very comfortable, and its colors (pink or turquoise) make it playful.
When I think about the image, I see the word “secret” in secretary. A chair can be a “seat” of power. Are the playful silly geese nesting on a seat of power? Hmmm. But even the power is a little silly. Turquoise or pink power? Please! Or is the unconscious trying to get me to look at the power of my inner child?
Object 2: Water. The water in this dream is placid, like a calm lake or pond on a lovely day in early summer. Water is fluid, symbolically an indicator of the unconscious.
Object 3: Nest. A nest is protective, a safe place, a place of growth and development. On the negative side: nests are a place of dependency. Leaving the nest, at a certain time of life, is a good thing.
Object 4: Poop. The day before this dream my husband and I had gone canoeing and I noticed a large quantity of goose poop on the dock. It was off-putting. Symbolically excrement is loaded: it can be anything from repressed creativity to bad stuff that needs release.

Q: Look for the tension in the dream.
A: There’s a tension between me, who must clean up a mess, and the playful little silly geese happily nesting and pooping, living the natural life without the burden of a sense of responsibility. There’s a tension between me as the force that moves the geese off the nest and the geese--happy where we are, thank you.

Q: Can you express the action of the dream symbolically?
A: A secret seat of power, very near the unconscious (the body of water), isn’t as important as it thinks. This power is home to my inner child (a playful silly goose) who has become comfortable (in the padded chair) and doesn’t want to move. Yet it is time for this child to move on; staying where she is fouls her own nest.  I jostle the child out of her comfort zone and clean up after her. Now that she’s out of the nest she will grow and develop, contributing her fun and creativity to my life.
Thanks to Lisa, Beth and Bob for giving me this interesting way to look at a dream. Click here: Haden Institute to learn more about the Haden Institute.

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