All posts by doc

Using Your Dreams to Thrive

 

 

Are you thriving?
What does thriving mean to you?
Can you thrive more?

These are important question we need to ask. We know from the world of plants that we use thriving to describe their fullness, opulence and overall wellbeing when they are more than healthy. Wait on… did I just say “more than healthy” ? How can that be, surely we are just healthy or not?

The answer is a definite no. You don’t want to be just ‘healthy’, you want to be thriving! Mentally, emotionally, physically (and spiritually for those open to that line of experience). How many people do you know who could easily be described as ‘healthy’ , but just aren’t full of life? Sure, they’re not sick or unwell, but you can see they’re not what you would describe as “thriving”. Don’t be that person – thrive!

So how can dreams help?
A lot that stops us from thriving is laying fairly unbeknownst to us in the subconscious. It’s called the subconscious because it’s below our conscious state – below what we’re aware of. A dark, complex and shadowy world, it is laden with our fears and regrets, angers and frustrations, hurts, grief and pain. But unknown to many is that the subconscious is also an endless resource to draw from. Where do you think those sudden. ground-breaking ideas come from? Those sharp insights to massive problems? The subconscious. A vast pool of resource, the Ancient Egyptians termed it ‘Shewit’… The Shadow. They had a prayer asking “May I get to know my soul AND my shadow”. In other words they were asking to cast light into the subconscious. It not only has negativities but many positive attributes to draw upon. Dreams are one of the major pathways into this unknown realm, a realm that can help you to thrive.

What’s the difference between living and thriving? That’s a question only each individual can answer. It’s a personal exploit which actually leads to somewhere you don’t know, that’s the mystery, that’s the adventure. If you already knew what it was and what it contained, you wouldn’t be seeking it, as you would already be there.

Dreams contain mechanisms that can lead into new pathways, new ways of thinking, new positive habits we can attune to our everyday life. If you want change, positive development and inner growth, dreams have the means to deliver this in spades.

Try asking yourself this:
“What do I want from life, how do I want to feel everyday?” these are important questions.

I deal in Emotional Intelligence. One of the better definitions of emotional intelligence is:
“The capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.”
There is an interesting subtitle as well which goes “Emotional Intelligence is the key to both personal and professional success”. Looking at these two sentences, it’s hard to imagine not wanting this ability, this these traits in our life.

We aren’t taught emotional intelligence in modern society. The education system simply provides a means to accomplish basic communication and and ends to qualifications for earning a living. There’s some structural behavioural patterns that are attempted, with varying degrees of success and failure. There’s a the fallback to parenting, but if parents don’t have a solid set of emotional skills, they can’t pass it on to their children.

Emotional intelligence needs to be learned. It’s a guidance process specific to each individual. There’s nothing more specific to you than your dreams, they’re tailor made for exactly where you’re at from your own psyche. Unravelling the meanings, the guidances, the messages in your dreams is tapping into a vast resource to connect you to the most powerful and energetic part of yourself.

There is an ancient saying that emotions are twenty thousand times faster and more powerful than thought. It’s not a literal amount, it’s a figurative expression to give contrast. This often takes people aback when they first hear it. We’re in a society where there’s a lot of emphasis on the ‘power’ of thought…. there’s too little on the real power of emotions. Have a look at different situations in your life and what your very first responses are, the ones that happen almost spontaneously – they’re emotional. We may not express those emotions, often it’;s not appropriate to, but they are first in line and orientate much of how we respond and react.

Here’s where emotional intelligence comes in. In order to thrive in life we need to respond to situations, not react – there’s a big difference. Responding gives us freedom of choice, as much as can be garnered in each scenario. Reacting simply makes us a slave to automatic lower emotional response systems that for the most part do not serve us well.

Thriving is a quality that fills our life with wonder and amazement. These are experiences that enrich us and often define what success is, as well as making us more successful in each of our pursuits. Developing Emotional Intelligence is key to the ability to thrive and dreams are a key mechanism to let you follow this path, should you wish to do so.

Thrive on!

Dreams and your personal evolution

 

 

“Evolve or die. … If the structures of the human mind remain unchanged, we will always end up re-creating the same world, the same evils, the same dysfunction.”

Eckhart Tolle.

Tolle makes a somewhat dramatic but very accurate quote here. In the context of reading our dreams, nothing could be truer. If we choose to take the time and make the effort to look closely at our dreams, our own evolution is at hand.

Humans are designed to evolve, we are the most adaptable creatures on the planet. If we move house, we adapt to the new location, the new environment, the new stimuli. If we change our work environment, the same happens, we work around what is there and adapt to the new scenario as quickly as possible. Our minds need to be like this… but unfortunately keeping the all too common status quo is usually our default.

Old hurts, old griefs, old angers, old fears – why do we hold onto these? There is no inner personal evolution by gripping onto these old emotions, the energy is better spent elsewhere.

So how do we shift that energy from old and decrepit to fresh, new and youthful?

Dreams are a key pathway, they have an ability to reach in deep and show you where the blocks and stumbling points are. It’s up to you if you want to know though. No one is forcing you… it’s simply a question of whether you want to evolve, or stagnate?

We need to look for symbols, characters and stories in our dreams which we can cross relate to impactful events in our life. From there we can evaluate impacts and often, by reading those dreams very carefully, ways through and around these road blocks can be found. Most importantly we can find ways to drain and keep the energy from these old emotions (remembering all emotions are composed of energy) and apply that energy in new ways to create a better, more fulfilling life.

One patient was dealing with a lot of anger. In a dream he was near the backyard clothesline where he grew up as a child feeling angry and generally furious with the world. As he stood there, some elder Native American women came up to him. It is to be noted he saw these women as quite powerful in their tribes and nations, in their role as trusted advisors to their warrior partners. The women explained to him how to channel the anger in more productive ways, how to use the energy of the anger for motivation. It was a turning point in his life. The clothesline in the backed? Clothes are often about understanding, he was learning to understand new ways to deal with the rage inside. The placement in the childhood yard gave an era in time when the inner turmoil began and allowed a focal point to process old memories and reactions from.

It’s almost like repurposing, except the outside structure doesn’t stay the same. It’s energy that is so useful in our lives – it what gets everything done. So harness yours to the full, your dreams are friendly co-workers helping you achieve your aims, goals and wishes. Listen to them, open to their meaning, try and follow what they say as best you can. The effort isn’t that much and the rewards are huge.

Lets go through that again. Stored emotions from past experiences can be described as ‘packets’ of energy. The emotions that work against us, against the things we want to achieve are defined as negative emotions. Those that help us achieve and move forward, in harmony with care and kindness for others, are called positive emotions. All these emotional states are energy, it’s simply the application that defines whether it positive or negative – or as I prefer – constructive or destructive.

The simple principles of physics show us that energy can neither be created or destroyed, it is simply reapplied. The same goes for old emotional states. If you can get rid of the old associations, drives and shocks or impacts, then you have more energy to use and less heavy emotional states weighing you down and burning your time and life up unnecessarily.

One of the difficult aspects to this is actually being brave enough to be willing to look at your past and the impacts. The magic of dreams is that the subconscious selects problematic states to be dealt with at the most appropriate time to deal with them. It’s a combination of when they are their most exposed and hence their weakest, combined with your mind/psyche in it’s strongest phase to deal with them. It’s one of the reasons dreams can be such a powerful tool to master – they come at just the right time – and they’ll visit the same subject again if you don’t get it the first time around.

Write your dreams down when you first wake up, or a few minimal details at least, so you can recapture them later on when you have time to contemplate and weigh up what they’re indicating to you. Remember they’re multi faceted in their meaning and multi dimensional in their depth, so there’s no outright right or wrong answers, just ways of looking into your wonderfully complex mind. Let that bake your noodle for a while…
Welcome to your new life, you will like!

(Keep in mind every patient’s dreams have different meanings from person to person. A same or similar dream in another person can have a very different interpretation – this is where you can work with a dream therapist to find the meanings relevant to you).

Feelings in Dreams

Japanese Water Wheel

I was asked today if it is significant that the feelings from a dream stay with you, well beyond when you wake from an impactful dream. The answer….  Yes it is!

Feelings are entwined with dreams, it’s actually hard to have one without the other. Some dreams are like passing reports, a fact sheet if you like. Most have a large feeling content which actually drives the symbolism, one of the reasons it is so complex. Much of the time feelings will come and go within the natural context of the dream, much as they do in daily life as our day progresses and events come and go. Generally not much specifically lingers on, there’s a general ‘sense’ of the day by the time work is done and that’s about it. That is unless something quite impactful happens, then it’s a different story. An excellent example is when people say “I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when <insert famous event> happened and I saw it on the news”. This is the intensity of emotion imprinting the images we see at the time into our brain.

Now think of this in context of a dream leaving a lingering feeling. In the same way dreams will sometimes create some bizarre imagery to get us to take notice (finally) of what they are trying to tell us, they will sometimes use intense feelings to do the same thing. OR it can be that what the dream we are dealing with has a very strong emotional store and that by leaving the proverbial ‘door’ to that emotional store open long after the dream has finished, it can allow those emotions to drain out over a period of time. These are dynamics we really have to decide for ourselves – they are our dreams after all. Do we keep the door open or close it and lock those feelings in until it creaks open again?

The example today was a work dream. It’s really important people have work dreams. Often they are mundane and essentially uninteresting, but again, in a work environment there is a lot going on and this has to be processed through the subconscious. Interactions with colleagues, pressure from higher levels in the company, demands from boards, deadlines, the list goes on…. No one gets to escape these things. The reason it’s important people have work dreams, I take particular note when going through patients’ dreams if they have a lack of work dreams, is that the dream process helps us de-stress and wind down. Those small conflicts and annoyances with colleagues, as small as most of them are, all add up over a while. The client or customer calls that are stressful to deal with, office infrastructure not working (printer, I’m looking at you..) and the list goes on. There’s so many events in the day that even though they are quite small, each one adds to the former and so we have quite a load by the time our day finishes.

To explain why having intervals of sleep with dreams, especially the work ones, is so important we’re going to turn to an old fable. This version places us in the court of an Indian ruler. One of his wise men had crafted this king a very fine chess board. The king was so pleased he offered the palace wise man (who was also quite good at maths) a reward of his own choosing. The wise man told the king all he wanted was rice. The king was very pleased with this as he had a lot of rice. When the king asked how much rice, the wise man said he wanted one grain on the first square of the board, two grains on the second, four grains on the third square and so on, doubling the rice quota on each square until each of the 64 squares had their full amount. The king agreed and ordered his servants to do this. It was to his great surprise that the chessboard quickly filled with rice and then the room and there was still much more to go. The maths of this is rather large and becomes 2 to the power of 63, which doesn’t mean much to most of us, until you put it in the perspective that if each grain of rice were laid end to end, the line would reach to the star Alpha Centauri and back to earth again. That’s a lot of rice!

As with any good parable, it’s not really about grains of rice. It’s showing us that if we don’t deal with our emotional loading on a daily basis it can quickly accumulate into an entirely unmanageable amount. Being that we’re at work for a lot of our lives with all of its expectations, that’s a large portion of our emotional loading right there. Being that most of us work five or six days a week, it’s also pretty constant, especially if you think about how much you think about work when you’re not there. Add those little ‘after hours’ jobs that need doing through our days off (usually digital media) and all of a sudden it’s nearly taking over people’s lives, certainly our minds and that free-thinking space we need just for unwinding and thinking about the things we want to, not work.

Feelings in dreams are important, in fact they’re vital and often give the biggest indications and clues to what the dream is actually about. When feelings linger after waking, take notice… they’re trying to tell you something about what your mind needs to do at the moment. Listen carefully and you will get the answers and solutions you need. Keep seeking, they will find you, they’re your own solutions for you.

Don’t let the emotions from yesterday come into today, you don’t need all that accumulation, it will only impact your creativity, ideas flow, energy levels and everything else you need to make you work day a fun, productive and enjoyable one. Let yesterday go and start the day afresh, find the solutions you need for work, apply them and watch the results, they will be impressive.

Flying High

 

dream_big_street

Flying dreams – everyone loves them. Interestingly a lot of the time people don’t ask what they mean, just the feeling for freedom in flying is enough. If only we allowed ourselves to experience dreams with our feelings instead of going straight to our heads, they would be a lot easier to ‘solve’ AND we’d get more out of them as an experience in themselves.

Dreams are about feelings – processing feelings, revealing feelings, amplifying feelings, gaining better understanding of feelings. And that’s just a start. Yes there are psychological thoughts that we go through in order to try and understand and analyse them, but these are on the outside.
The word ‘stress’ is used a lot these days, in effect it’s a pretty useless word really, so broad and vague, but it’s handy to use here: We don’t say “I think stressed”, we say “I FEEL stressed”. That’s because stress is a result of emotions from the various situations we are placed in, these come first, then the thoughts. This may sound unusual, but have a think about cause and effect.

One of the reasons flying dreams are so appealing is they are about getting ‘above’ the things that are pulling us down. For the period of time (which can seem much longer than it actually is in dream mode) we are free of our troubles and enjoying a new sense of freedom. The gut wrenching hit of reality when we wake up and have to face the exact things we wanted to escape from is quite different, however because of dreams like these we can face the tasks and strains ahead much better. That’s their job.

The whole point of having ‘escapism’ dreams like these is to have a break from what can be unrelenting stresses and strains in physical life and so our psyche can ‘reboot’ and find new neural pathways, solutions and management techniques. Just like rebooting a computer allows it to clean itself up and function more effectively, our brains need the same. Sleep itself is part of this, but it’s our dreams which do the cache clearing, leaving all that dross behind. We soon make more, it’s our strange nature as humans, but at least dreams get us a few steps ahead.

Have a think back to your last flying dream, how long was it before you were safe and free to fly? Was it instantaneous? Did you start the dream mid flight to take off from the ground? How long did it take to get some control in the flight and fell really free so you were doing spins and loops like Peter Pan and Tinker Bell in that classic Disney cartoon?

We can’t always get away for a tropical or adventure holiday – sometimes even the pressure of organising these is more that the downtime of the trip is worth if you take into account the pre trip preparations and post trip catching up that are usually required. A consideration many don;t factor in carefully. Dreams are always with us, if we commit to working on our interior enough, they are an excellent facilitation of a huge realm within our mind to delete and rearrange the stresses our mind experiences every day.

It’s good to write your flying dreams down if you can, there can be a lot of details we can often miss and they’re useful to revisit from time to time, they’re so rejuvenating. Don’t forget to put down things like how high you flew, any acrobatic type manoeuvres, what you saw, who you saw, what sensations you felt…. was there any fear or excitement? What about landing, if you landed at all, did your feet touch gently down like a pro or did you come to a stumbling, jolting, tripping halt? The latter is important as it’s about your ability to transition from one mode of thinking to the next. Do we do this smoothly, or find it difficult to switch streams? How good are you in your work at shifting from the world of ideas and concepts and stepping across to the next realm where they need to be applied an enacted? You could do a workshop on it, one of the many, or you could simply tap into the resources of your own dreams which are from you and for you specifically and discover a lot more…

Happy Flying!

The Forest of the Mind.

dream

 

 

 

You’ve often heard the term used that people sometimes can’t see the forest for the trees. Welcome to dreams, they help you see the forest AND the trees. Just having come back from the Daintree in Far North Queensland, this has been on my mind – a big picture with very fine detail simultaneously. From tiny tree frogs scooting across in front of your feet to vast expanses of dense rainforest as far as the eye can see. We need to see both, not just one or the other.

People often ask me why it’s important to recount the finer or smaller details of dreams, as well as the big, impactful moments and scenes. That’s because both have valuable content. A dream will have a running theme throughout, then under this it will have layers of lesser themes trailing through, sometimes not for the whole dream even, they may trail in and out like cameo appearances.

When you look at a dream, it’s good to ask some questions about the lesser things, say like:
“The path I was walking along had a stone in it. Why was that stone there? Why was it that shape? Why was it that colour?”
While at the same time not getting lost in the detail from the deeper and bigger themes of the dream. Everything in a dream has a meaning. Your mind has constructed it down to the finest detail, if it hadn’t, there would be vast holes or gaps in what you see and experience. Every detail is accounted for and specified, that’s why it’s worth noting as much as you can if you really want to unlock all the keys of your dreams. The smallest detail can be a key to opening up a whole realm of meaning, they’re certainly worth noting.

Seeing as we’re speaking of forests, let’s have a look at some nature dreams. What are some things worth noting?
Trees are particularly important to take note of, they type, height, branch spread, any bark or seed/fruit details. In ancient times, people were often described as types of trees. Now we have ‘a thousand’ ways of ‘assessing’ people with all the Myers-Briggs tests and so on. In times past, people were simply described as a tree and that sufficed to communicate a lot of detail about their ‘type’. Someone described as, say, a Pencil Pine would be viewed as able to excel in a particular direction, but narrow in their field of thought or practical application. Another described as an Oak would be seen as very strong in their nature and quite broad in their interests and mental diversity. These are fairly simplistic, but give a basic idea of the contrasting types in these two examples.

Staying with the ancient theme, there are accounts of people ‘seeing’ others as trees. This doesn’t mean they saw them walking down the street on their roots with their branches waving and leaves falling off, what is being expressed is a perception. It may sound odd, but if you think about it we use expressions similar to this all the time, think of times you’ve described a friend as in a ‘bright mood’. Guaranteed if you switched out the light they won’t light the room! It’s a perception – and a very accepted one – that people people’s moods energetically ‘brighten’ or ‘darken’ how they appear. If you can accept that, then it’s not a very big step to see a dream can communicate themes and ideas like this to you through its chosen symbolism.

Leaves – look at the shape, colour, length and any other unusual traits. Remember everything is there for a reason. The trees in your dream may not be botanically accurate, it may be a total creation of your mind of something that doesn’t even exist in this world, but these are dreams we are talking about so its free range creation 😉
Colour tones in leaves can tell you a lot – the various shades of green all have import (if they are even green) and add the layers of detail you can build to find what the dream is trying to reveal. Yes, reveal…. the language of dreams is not trying to hide anything from you, quite the opposite it’s trying to give you a gift, your outer mind just has to go the trouble of unwrapping its packaging. Your dreams WANT you to know their meaning, just that symbolism is their main language – it has to be, we are too complicated to be spoken to in a slow word by word process.

Grass – like leaves, you’re looking for details of the blades, length, colour, type, arrangement – are they single or on groups or tufts? This may sound obvious, but the opportunity to repeat what you need to look for locks it in the outer part of your mind so it triggers into action when you’re trying to recall your dreams, sometimes even at the time of the dream.

Flowers – Wow, so much to look for. Petal arrangements, stamens, stems, scents (yes many people have a sense of smell in dreams and it can be a very impactful detail, definitely worth noting), colour – and don’t forget texture, the texture of a flower can hold a lot of revelation in itself. It’s a fun exercise to look at your friends and think what flower you would describe them as to summarise them best. You don’t have to tell anyone, it’s just a mental game to yourself, but it does sharpen your language of description!

Remember dreams don’t have to be botanically accurate, I can’t emphasise that enough. The dream making process will create exactly what it wants to communicate its message, just don’t worry if it doesn’t fit into any of your botany references. Somewhere in there is a message of you, tailored exactly to your needs from your own mind. It really doesn’t get much better than that, in this case it really is all about you.

The vicarious nature of dreams

Many people have dreams relating to pursuits and activities they desire to participate in. Often I’m asked “Why am I having these dreams”?

Desire is a very strong driver in our lives. The desire to experience is especially strong and can drive many of our actions in life. There is a giant leap between experience and thought. So many of us live in our minds. Our mind is an amazing place but has limited scope when it’s placed against actually stepping into a situation that is a manifestation of what we really want.

Life is a huge space and there are so many opportunities afforded. The point of difference is where we step into a life where we think about things or actually do them. It’s not any easy step and this is where dreams come in. The subconscious is a vast place and has many resources for us. It’s called the subconscious for a reason and specifically that is it’s below our conscious level, i.e. that which we’re aware of.

Many dreams come to us to inspire. So many people look for the ‘meaning’ in their dreams, yet, this question is more often than not within the limitations of our linear and logical ‘conscious’ mind which is filled with it’s own limitations. Dreams dredge depths from within us which for the most part we are unaware of – they create a scenario which enacts our deeper desires and play out what we feel might be. Not only that, they seek to instruct, purely from the deeper reaches of our otherwise secret selves, so that often we are facilitated to experience ahead of time what may be before us. An adjunct to this is the ‘vicarious process’ where they actually instruct us through the process of what we wish to experience. Sounds strange I know, but once you’ve seen thousands of dreams it becomes very clear.

If you’re reading this, likely you’re cognisant enough to recognise that our inner realms stretch beyond what we can feel and touch in daily life. the ability of dreams to reach into realms we aren’t normally aware of is well recognised. Some say that dreams are random neural firings – good luck to those, a very empty life is ahead there. The true richness of dreams is just this, they access a part of our ind that isn’t recordable by ‘modern’ scientific instruments. I put modern in quotation marks, as at every point in time, society considers its current state as modern. People in the 18th century considered themselves modern at the time, which of course they were, but in retrospect we can see the vast lacking they had. So it will be as the future looks upon us.

Trends, technological limitations, fixed lines of thought in a generic society – however you look at it we are under the limitations of our times. Dreams have the ability to reach beyond those limitations and show us both what can and will be.

I remember some time ago when I went to a lecturer and asked why I had a particular dream. at the time I was learning to dive (scuba) and had dreamt about being deep underwater and another diver tearing my mask off and removing the breathing apparatus. Luckily he’d been through Navy dive training and the dream (in much more detail) as I described to him was identical to Navy diver training to the letter. This is when I learned about the vicarious nature of dreams.

Amongst their many functions, dreams have a strong teaching mechanism, it’s simply up to us if we are willing to undergo their manifold expression, and beyond that, to live it in life. There’s the next step! To quote a cheesy Hollywood movie “Your mission, should you choose to accept it” …

A  Sea of Dreams

The ocean is a vast place, as is our mind. Sometimes our mind expands into places we can’t comprehend and we are at a loss to even fathom what is being communicated to us. Like underwater exploration, there is more we don’t know about our own mind than we do. Dreams are here to help us with plumbing the depths and intricacies of our mind.

But what is it that takes us into unknown realms and what do we gain from exploring them? Humans are by nature curious beings and there is an ongoing hankering to know more about ourselves. It isn;t always by choice though. Sometimes life takes in a direction we are uncertain of and we need to decipher what we need to do to find the pathway that best suits us. People like to have choices, but very often we are poor at deciding which choice, or nuance of choice, we wish to take to get us to our aims and goals.

Aims and goals are very powerful as they give us direction, an ‘end’ point to steer our life towards, much like a rudder on a ship. It’s easy to set out aims and goals, most people are aware this is a necessary step to facilitate moving forward to achieving the things we wish for. However enacting a step by step pathway of actions that will take us to these aims and goals is another thing altogether. Dreams aren’t there to make decisions for us, they exist to help guide us and show options or potential end points to selected pathways, often indicating unforeseen dynamics that are beyond the reach of our logical mind.

So many times people say to me that their dreams are ‘crazy’, “weird”, “strange” and many other similar descriptions. The fact that dreams are symbolic in nature means that by definition they step outside the range of our usually singular line logical mind and draw resources from within us that help compensate for our usual narrow thinking pathways. They expand and communicate ideas, notions, thoughts and drives into a symbolic language that, though not always easily grasped, is the only language that is able to encapsulate the complexities that lay within our psyche.

Trying to reach into our mind is a challenge and we require every tool we can lay our mental hands on to assist us to dive into these complex and often murky realms, murky only through our own emotional confusions, contortions and indecisions. The light of consciousness is a powerful beam, but often it can reveal more than we anticipated, so it’s always best to be ready for a few ‘surprises’. This is the point where people often cease following and recording their dreams, when the challenges and unexpected insights aren;t to our liking and prove not to be the story book we may have imagined.

Perseverance with looking into our dreams pays off bigtime, but in that process it takes a lot of determination to look honestly at what is before us over an extended period of time. Keeping our dream records and perusing over them from a 6-12 month period cows us to see themes, much of the driving force in dreams and something we need to adhere too if we’re seriously going to get the results and insights we want. Dreams containing a similar or even same theme may be weeks or months apart and so wee need to have an account of them that is readily accessible and easy to read so we can look for these themes and see what is changing and what isn’t. Think of it like a report card, but the information is scattered over time and needs collating.

By looking into the processes that drive us in daily life, we get to see more of who we are and can make better choices on who we would like to be, both in the quiet and deep recesses of our selves and to the world in which we are surrounded by and have to make a living in. What are the things that drive you every day? How did you come to decide on those? Are those aims and goals still relevant? Do you need to have a review of everything you are striving towards to make either minor adjustments or complete changes?

These are the questions we need to ask ourselves. Once they are answered we can then go about the task of facilitating their action and our dreams can help us get past the twists, turns and any obstructions we will inevitably experience along the way.

Open to your dreams and expect them to speak to you in a way that very often outlays complex scenarios in a symbolic format. Once you can allow yourself to get past the mental block of dreams being weird and strange, we can open to their language more and explore that which our mind is trying to open us to. That is true inner exploration.

The Devil is in the Detail

Recently I had someone present a dream to me and ask the meaning. The problem was that although the re-telling of the dream took a while, there were a few general principles, there was zero detail. Detail is there for a reason in dreams, to hone and specify the meanings of the symbols/architecture used to communicate more from your subconscious.

So there were rooms in your dreams – what era were they from? Large rooms, small rooms? Furniture or empty? What types of furniture? What colours were the coverings? Did they have texture?
There was grass? Was it long? Had it been mowed? Thin or stout thick blades? Luscious or brown? Was it seeding at all?

All these things may seem pedantic but every detail, no matter how small, adds meaning. Your dream process has put everything there for a reason. Why did it place a stone on the pathway that you walked by. The psyche is smart, too smart to waste its efforts on useless items, so when it constructs a dream, every single thing is there for a reason and adds to the collective meaning. The more nuance, the more felling, the more detail you can derive from a dream, the more you can see into the mystery of what it is trying to tell you. It allows a better engagement in the conversation between your outer and inner mind.

So what detail should you look for? Everything and nothing. It’s about noticing, you don’t want to shift your mind from the narrative too much by thinking you have to memorise everything, notice everything that you can. One of the most important factors you can pull out of dreams is the emotions and senses you experienced while it was occurring. These can be huge, almost overwhelming at times, but if you have remembered visual details in the dream as well, this can provide order and more meaning as to what the intricacies of the dream is trying to tell you.

The same as in life as being a good listener if we wish to understand our friends, we need to be a good dream ‘rememberer’ to better understand the hidden realms of our psyche. This creates what is really a conversation between our outer conscious mind and the subconscious, so much that would otherwise remain hidden can then be facilitated into our conscious mind for consideration and further insight.

The other thing that wanting to look for details in dreams, is it helps you to actually remember your dreams, as the memory of them is very much about your degree of interest in them. The more interested you are in your dreams, the more they will come to you in the morning, then they can be recorded and scrutinised, or just rewound through your mind for enjoyment.

At this point it is important to remember that one of the most important functions of dreams is to process unresolved emotions and tanged thoughts (we know this through the effects upon a person when their dream phase is stopped for a few nights). This being the case, taking note of details can help extrapolate the more intricate details of the thoughts and emotions the dreams are trying so hard to communicate to us. They go to the effort of trying to inform us of what’s going on inside, it’s the least we can do to try and ‘listen’ as best we can.

Which brings as to sound and smells. If you have sounds and smells in a dream, be sure to note them down. If there’s a voice, someone you’re speaking to, note their tone and timbre. Note the expression on their face too. If there is a sound around you, try to remember its nature, volume and intonations. Did the voice ‘warm’ you or was it critical and harsh? Did the environmental sound reverberate within you at all?

This may all sound a lot, but actually it isn’t. If you think back to recounting a story to a friend, these are often details you include without thinking. That’s all you’re doing with remembering and recoding dreams, recounting details by being engaged with the story. What happens then is it peaks your interest in dreams and that lets them lodge in your memory better as well. All around it’s a win-win. Its a good way to bring out the story teller in you as well. These dreams are about your life, your emotions, your thoughts, so innately they are interesting to take note of. They’re a form of psychological selfie, taken from every possible angle.

Next blog we’ll be looking at some of the reasons people often stop following their dreams, particularly when they’re trying to show details we haven’t wanted to see about ourselves. And yes, in case you’re wondering, I’ve had patients with the devil in their dreams….

How do dreams help us?

The exploration of our inner worlds , the inner realms of our complex psyche is confronting for many. Everything from hidden treasures, hidden fears and bad memories lurk in the dark realms of the subconscious. When I say dark, it by definition of what the subconscious is – below our consciousness – so the conscious light of awareness is not there. So many things we are unaware of. In Ancient Egypt the subconscious was often referred to as “Shewit” (transliterated) which simply means ‘shadow’.

Shadow is a great description in the same way as there aren’t hidden monsters in the shadows outside, neither are there monsters in our mind, none we can’t handle anyway. Dreams unfold at a rate our psyche, our mind can handle. It’s like a natural law. The dream process knows how much we can handle and when we can handle it. This is one of the things I admire about dreams the most, their ability to reveal the correct amount of information at the right time. So much of inner development and psychological change is about timing.

So what can we learn from dreams? As much as you do or don’t want to. Dreams really are a window, a doorway into the hidden depths of your mind. If you want to go there, you can, it’s all about choice. On another level if you want to just see your dreams as phantasy unravelling of the mind with random firings of neurons while you sleep – go right ahead, it’s a free world. If however you sense there is a hidden world in the strange, bizarre and sometimes macabre symbols and think you may want to explore those more then come on board for the ride, you might want to buckle up though, it’s not all fairy floss and sparkles, nor will your ego get stroked to often. Just saying…

If you’re reading to this point, it’s safe to assume you aren’t of the school that claims dreams are random neuron firings and mean nothing, so let’s start to look at what they give us. It’s known from dream labs established around the world for decades that if you take 2 groups of people and wake each for the same amount of time, but one group you continually wake in their dreams, essentially stopping them dreaming, the group blocked from dreaming actually become ill within a short period of time. This shows us dreams have a vital function both for our minds and for our bodies.

So how do dreams possibly help our bodies? All you have to do is look at the correlation between the nervous system and our immune system. Most know that high emotional stress levels impede our health, this is through the effects on our nervous system which feeds our immune system. Dreams through their processing of complex emotions assist in reducing the level of emotion impacting our nervous system.

So why don’t dreams give us a nice written thesis on what’s happening so we can better grasp what they mean? Basically the fault is in the question, a reflection of our own narrow thinking too often limited to what we see as simple logical sequence. The symbols in dreams encapsulate a mass of influences from many areas and through different lines of time simultaneously, to want them to be any other way is an over simplification of the process. Throughout history dreams have been recognised as containing powerful imagery and dynamics from complex archetypes applicable to entire societies through to summating large emotional impacts through the life of the dreamer into sometimes a single package.

We’re only speaking about emotional impacts at this point, we haven’t even begun to cover potentials in us which are revealed so our life dreams can be realised. I spoke earlier about the term of ‘shadow’ to describe our subconscious, within these shadows are many potential abilities and traits unknown to us which can be revealed through dreams. Entire careers, new passions and even inspired life adventure choices have been opened up by people’s dream processes just to name a few.

One closing word. Try not to feel intimidated by your dreams, they are there to help you and accomplish this in so many ways. We’ll be talking a lot more about this later on, but the first step is to allay any fears that dreams may cause problems. They don’t, they help solve them.

Thanks for reading and see you next week!

How to interpret dreams

Dreams are fascinating. People ask me about them all the time once they know what I do for a living. Everyone has them but so few understand them. Across these blogs I’ll be going through some of the ways you can understand your dreams a little better and how to make them a tool for your inner and personal growth.

I was out in the surf today with a friend and he was telling me about all the travel dreams he’s been having lately. We went though a few dynamics that he is having in his life lately and a few indications of what they were about came up as we unfolded his current wishes and drives. This is where ‘dream dictionaries’ start to become irrelevant very fast. To say one dream symbol means something specifically can be very limiting and is more likely than not to miss the entire point of the dream it occurred in. Dreams are all about context. The context and storyline a symbol occurs in is vital to the symbol’s meaning itself. And that’s just a starter. There’s your personal history in association with the symbol or character in the the dream, what has that symbol or person meant to you in your past? What were the emotional dynamics associated with the symbol? How does it interact with the other symbols in the dream’s storyline?

It may sound odd referring to symbols in dreams, but to your subconscious, that’s what every component of a dream is. Every part of your dream is a symbolic expression from an inner part of your psyche. A blade of grass, a rock, your pet as a child, friends, relatives, strangers and so on are all symbolic uprisings from your mind. It might be work colleagues, someone you just met or a friend you’ve known all your life, but what that person symbolises to you is specific to your experience of them through your interactions if they are known to you or by various other features and actions if it is a character in the dream you have never known outside this space.

“So how do I go about understanding what my dreams mean?” Is one of the most commonly asked questions I get. The answer is a long one and even after 20 years of dealing with dreams professionally, there is always more to learn, and with each person you’re pretty much starting from scratch as you need to know what is happening in their life, now, in the past and their sense of any  future direction.

The great thing for you is they’re your dreams, so at some level, whether you are aware of it or not, your mind knows exactly what the dream means. Not just the whole dream but every detail within the dream as well. OK, there’s some grass there – so why did your mind construct grass there? Why exactly that much in that type of space? And why that particular length?

As you can see there are a lot of ways of looking at just a single component of a dream, so imagine the complexities of weaving every detail of the dream into an entire meaning in itself. That’s my job, this is what I do with clients every day. You can start to do it too, and I really advise having a go at interpreting your dreams, a really solid go. You never know what you’ll find!

So what are the first steps in working out your dreams? Well the first part of the process is to WRITE THEM DOWN! Yes, writing your dreams down is the only way to recount the details and sequences of events accurately. You normally have a about 40-60 seconds from when you wake before the details can start to fade, or you might even forget the dream altogether. It doesn’t matter if you can’t write the whole dream down, a few key points jotted onto a pad or into your dream diary are enough to trigger your mind to remember the dream later on when you have time to record it. Phones can be good too, but it depends how co-ordinated your typing is when you wake. Most find it easier to put pen or pencil to paper. If you put it into your phone or computer, make sure to keep a sequenced file. This naturally happens in a dream diary of course with the flow of pages. Why? Because series of dreams over time hold themes and concepts that you really can only grasp when you have a series of dreams to work through and spot the interrelationships. This may be over weeks, months or years, depending how deep the the theme is and how often it occurs.

What are some of the dreams you can remember right now? They may seem disjointed and nothing to do with each other, but if you look deeper, are there points of relationship or a common idea or symbol held in them, even though they may be quite a time apart. These are the sorts of things I look for and encourage patients to seek out when transcribing their dreams and reading back through them over time. The connections.

So there we have a key to what dreams are about, there a connection of one part of your mind (the subconscious) to another part of your mind (the conscious). By working out the messages and meanings in your dreams, the connect between your outer mind (the logical and creative thinking you entertain each day) and the deeper subconscious which houses an array of emotions, buried memories, wishes, desires and aspirations which it wants to tell you all about. But…. The subconscious can only communicate symbolically, it can’t type out a written piece like this to tell you what is happening and what is being processed in your mind. And this is where we’ll be heading in future weekly blogs, how to unravel this symbolism, the language of dreams to help you in your daily life.

Stay tuned each week, there’s a lot to come