Saturday, March 26, 2016

A Short Course on Dream Interpretation

The more I've worked with dreams the more I've come to believe that what we have to learn from them is highly personal. Images that mean one thing to me will mean something entirely different to you. What I'd like to offer you today is a way to look at dreams that will help you uncover their meaning for yourself. There's no getting around it--you have to do the heavy lifting. To help you do that, here's a list to consider as you work to unravel your dream: triggers, characters, images, action, conflict and resolution.

The triggers: The first thing to look at is what is going on in your life at the time of the dream. Some event, or something that you saw, heard, or read, has triggered this dream. A dream is often about how you feel about the people and events swirling around outside you. Sometimes these churn up feelings from long ago or unresolved personal problems. Once you figure out what might have triggered the dream, think about how you feel about the issue. Your dream might offer a new way to see it. If you can't nail down the trigger, don't despair. Move on to the characters.

The characters
: Look at the dream from the point of view that all the characters are a part of you. The conflict that they are having is not a conflict between you and the people who appear in the dream, but between conflicting parts of the complicated person that you are. Ask yourself what the players in your dream represent. Make a list of their most obvious characteristics, and do this for the dream ego (you, in the dream) as well.

The images: Look at any images in the dream. What does each one mean to you? Write down the images and list your reactions to them.

The action: Look at the action in the dream. What are you doing? How do you feel about it? Is it something you enjoy, or does it make you unhappy or uncomfortable in some way? Is it something you normally do? Does it have symbolic value? For example, if I am planting a garden I might think of it as creating new growth for myself. Then I'd ask myself if I am doing that in waking life. If not, what is stopping me? Does it have anything to do with the characteristics that I share with my dream adversary?

The conflict
: What is your dream adversary doing? If his action destroys your action (he's messing up your carefully planted garden, for example), then you have the privilege of looking directly at an inner, unconscious conflict. That's progress!

The resolution: Finally, what does the conflict represent? What is one character (one aspect of you) trying to get another to do or to stop doing? How do you feel about it? And how does it turn out? Has the dream conflict been resolved? Or has it been put on hold?

Whether or not you feel you've resolved the dream's meaning or issue, going through this process will help you get to know that most mysterious being, yourself.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Make A Choice and Pay The Price

If you look at conflict between the characters in your dream you will be able to home in on the difficulty the dream is attempting to resolve.
The Dream: My daughter is going for a treatment of antibiotics at a new age facility. I get preachy and tell her that if she needs antibiotics she should see a doctor, not go to the sort of squiggly-headed pseudo-scientific place she's chosen. I point out that if she's taking antibiotics unnecessarily they might not work when she really needs them.

I become aware that she has made this choice because she thinks she can sneak in without paying, whereas if she went to a doctor she would have to come up with a co-pay. I'm surprised she would do such a thing.

Despite my reservations about the place, I go to the facility myself, into a dressing room that is a converted parking lot. A male attendant scolds me for not getting into the queue for one of the two private, curtained dressing rooms. I hadn't been aware of the queue, but when I realize there are only two private changing rooms I start to pull off my clothes where I am, thinking it would be ridiculous to wait and who cares? The rough, tough security guard is embarrassed and looks away awkwardly.

I undergo some sort of treatment at this spa, pay for it, and leave. Later a bill comes for my daughter's treatment. It's over $600.00. She won't like it, but she can afford to pay. I know she'll be upset about the amount and surprised to learn that she didn't get away with anything after all.

Interpretation: My inner child is stubbornly trying to get away with something. From my “mature” point of view this child part of me ignores the facts and chooses an ineffective treatment for my problem. And yet the older, wiser, and objecting dream ego chooses to go to the same place for treatment. Through the dream I become aware that I don't want to pay the price my cure requires.  It's as if the dream wants to show me that there are ways to grow even in situations that aren't ideal.

The healing process begins as I expose my vulnerability (undress) without discomfort.   When told I must wait my turn for a private “changing” room I change publicly, without shame. This takes place in a partially converted parking lot, and the part of me that protects my security looks away. These two things signal that the “change” is to a “parked” and closely guarded part of myself.

Finally I accept that there is a high price for my child's attempt to freeload, but I know that my child, now grown, can afford it. I won't like it, but it's a price I am able to pay. It's as if one part of my psyche is dragging another along into a more mature awareness or resolution.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Longing for Union with God

It's not unusual for spiritual longings to appear in dreams as carnal desire.
The Dream: This dream featured a Christ-like figure that I would like to have sex with, but he is too otherworldly for that sort of thing.

Interpretation: This dream was inspired by a story I heard commemorating the huge Alaskan earthquake 50 years ago that destroyed just about everything, except for a wood frame Russian Orthodox Church. My spirit (soul) would love to unite with this religion, but it's too far from my “world” of science and logic, not to mention feminism, for this to happen.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Synthesis

When a dream character's behavior seems baffling, it's a good idea to look at the person and ask yourself what part of you they might represent. Often you'll discover they represent those parts you don't acknowledge.
The Dream: I am visiting my friend Janet. I have some children but they are in the background, not the focus of attention. Janet dislikes children, and I know it. I'm using her sink. I notice for the first time that it is a very tall pipe that drips into a bathtub. The water turns on and off via a pull chain. I am surprised to see, in her modernist apartment, that she has a bathtub in what was once a kitchen and that she now uses this space as her living room. When I see it I become nostalgic for an apartment I left long ago that had a tub in the kitchen. I notice that the center of the room has an island with gas and water hook-ups for a kitchen, exposed, with no attempt at aesthetics.

The room is airy and spacious, with a large sofa off to the side. I suggest to Janet that she make this large room back into a kitchen and use the one off to the right, the current kitchen, for her sitting room.

The children, now dogs, come running through and spit up on Janet's throw pillows. She thinks it's a big job to remove the pillow cases for laundering. I am surprised that she is making such a fuss over such a small job. I start to help her and do it quickly and easily, thinking that she has no house-wife skills. I feel superior that I do.

Interpretation: Janet, a very intellectual and independent friend, represents those parts of me. In waking life as in the dream she has no patience for the maternal. She can't manage the unpredictable, messy parts of life. With her as my proxy, I reject the instinctual (the dogs) and the not-yet-formed (children) parts of myself. In the dream I suggest she move her creative center, as symbolized by the kitchen, to a larger space, once that is both plumbed to do the job and has a comfortable place to rest (the sofa). My way to grow is to use the skills I'm so proud of in the dream to move my psychic home to a new contemporary space.