When Fear Rules the Day—and How Dreams of Animals Can Help

Look for your dream animals.

Animals in dreams are a source of insight.

One of the classic signs of fear showing up in our lives is the overriding attempt control it.  Our lives can literally get bent out of shape by fear as the flight or fight response kicks in—flight in our trying to run away from what we fear, fight in our desperate attempt to alleviate it, suppress it or shut it down completely.   The flight/fight response was a coping method that worked well for our ancestors in the jungle for whom the main objects of fear were usually readily identifiable animals larger or more deadly than themselves.

Nowadays, few of us have to contend with actual alligators and lions just to get food on the table—but that is not to say we don’t have things to fear.  The things we fear are now less tangible and as a result, often beyond our understanding and grasp, and therefore less easier to deal with, like a racial prejudice, unjust laws, people and cultures we are not familiar with, fake news that is difficult to verify, etc.  This makes it harder to determine if what we fear is really worth fearing!  The fear often cannot be tested immediately by just taking a quick look at the “beast” from a safe distance.

As a result, there are many fears that just hang in there or get bigger and more believable, and eventually rule our lives.  When others fear the same things, a community of fear builds up which reinforces one’s own fears and often it happens that the one who challenges those fears is victimized and shut up.  In this scenario, the individual and the community may never know they are dealing with fears based on an illusion, misinformation, etc.  What is worse, because very few people are willing to challenge their own fears or even address the need to have those fears, fear becomes a solid foundation for their lives, informing all of their decisions.

One of the benefits of dreamwork is that it shows you when fear has some validity and must be taken seriously, and when fears are nothing but a colony of ants—a huge nuisance that can be easily managed.  The way to tell is to look at the animals that appear in your dreams during a time of fear.  The bigger or more deadly the animal, the more genuinely threatening the fear.  And vice versa, the smaller, the less threatening.  It seems our dreams remember when animals provoked fear and use those symbols to instruct us today.

I am thinking of a recent dream I had at a time when I felt overwhelmed by a variety of fears.   It would have been really easy to fall into a desperate state of mind.  In the dream I walked into my closet and found many ants scurrying out of a drawer.  On waking, I reflected on what the ants meant and and how they reminded me of the many little fears I was experiencing, brought on by scam phone calls, a billing mistake by a company, hassles of straightening out paper work, etc., came to mind.  As soon as I saw the connection, I felt relief and knew my dreams were telling me to put my fears in perspective.  These fears were based on petty things and I should not take them so seriously.  I could handle them.

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A Source of Spiritual Insight: The Appearance of Animals in Dreams and Intuitive Insight

Jesus likening himself to a mother hen

Image via Pinterest.

The animal-human relationship has had a big influence in human psychological development. One way this can be seen is the deep attachment and communication that can happen between a pet owner and the pet. Even with animals in the wild, humans have long looked on magnificent and tiny creatures and wondered at their various gifts such as speed, flight, cunning or strength. It is no wonder that animals often appear in our dreams or intuitive insight. Perhaps we are either being given, or given insight, into that animal’s energy to meet a particular challenge of the moment. It is no wonder that ancient people worshiped animals. They wanted the particular energy associated with that animal to face the tasks ahead so they called upon the spirit of that animal to help them.

Even Jesus recognized the special energy that each animal exhibits. In Luke 13:34 he resonates with the deep caring nature of the mother hen as he compared himself to that humble bird who gathers who her brood under her wings. He could have compared himself to a grand animal of any sort like an eagle or a horse. Instead, he feels great compassion for his people and wants to protect them from the many dangers. Perhaps he is calling on this energy within himself for the tasks lying ahead for him.

Notice when an animal appears in your dreams or meditation. Ask yourself what energies you associate with that animal and then ask why you might need this energy at this time in your life. As a follow-through, try to act with the energy of that animal to meet the challenge facing you.

Dreams Help Heal Grief

One of the many healing functions of dreams is to reconcile or heal the profound pain of the loss of a loved one. The grieving process is helped along by insights that come with dreams as well as the actual visit of a loved in a dream that quite often conveys a message of comfort or helpful information.

For example, the night that my mother died, I dreamed that she came to me and said she now understood me in a way she hadn’t before, and she could see how special I was. This was a comforting surprise to me because while I understood that she loved me and accepted me; I always had the nagging feeling she didn’t really know where I was coming from. While we spent a lot of time together and got along peaceably together, she was not a talker and I usually didn’t bring up subjects that would make her even more reticent.

It is true that we were very different personalities. She was German-American haus-frau who was devoted to family, giving up her nursing career after she married. She expressed her love in what she did for us. I, on the other hand, was a career woman all of my life expressing my love in creative work such as writing and teaching. She often wondered why I never got married–even when I told her I stayed single because I had taken her advice of not settling for anything less than the best! The best just never came my way.

Having this dream made me feel that my relationship with her was now complete. There were no more loose strings or vague musings about what might have been. What dreams helped you resolve any issues with a person who has passed?

Working With Dream Themes: Riding Trains and Planes

Interpreting Dreams

A Dream Scene: Hopes Rising or a New Life Phase Taking Off?

Riding in or observing trains and planes are common dream themes which suggest something about the direction our lives our heading.   In times of transition, it is common to dream of planes landing, taking off, or crashing. Being at a train station, changing trains or boarding a train are also common scenarios in dreams. Questions to ask around these dreams might be:

  • Who is riding the train or plane? If it is me, how is the train or plane an analogy for my life journey at the moment? If the person is someone else, does the train or plane may represent my hopes or expectations for that person?
  • What is happening to the train or plane? Is it analogous to something that is happening in my life at the moment? For example, a plane lifting off suggests the start of a new project. A plane crashing suggests the crashing of hopes about an endeavor.
  • If I am changing or getting off a plane or train, what are the circumstances in the dream and how do they relate to things happening in my life now? Am I changing a career or have I come to the end of a project?
  • Is there a conductor, policeman or pilot acting as a helper in my dream to help get where I am going? This person may be spiritual guide or may represent an actual person who is trying to help me get where I need to go. What does he or she do to help me?
  • Does this dream refer to an actual trip? If I travel a lot, the dream may be trying to give me specific information about a particular trip. For example, missing a plane may be a warning to tell me to double check the departure time for the flight or it may suggest that the trip will not be worthwhile because I will miss the opportunity the trip affords.

In any case, further reflection and questioning about the dream can bring about added insights for your life transitions. Let the dream speak to you and you will go far!

Methods for Getting Unstuck

Getting unstuck can be a challenge met by dreams and meditation.

Image via Pinterest

For anyone trying to move along in a creative project such as writing a book, getting in shape or developing one’s spiritual life, there are times when we get stuck and it seems like we are going nowhere.  Beyond just stepping back from the situation for a moment (and sometimes that is all it takes,) we encounter times when the obstacles and inertia seem to take over, and one feels like a boat drifting nowhere in the middle of the ocean.  At this point, dreams and meditation help a great deal.

Using Meditation to Get Unstuck

There are various types of meditation which can release a sense of feeling stuck.  One is the Inspired Heart Meditation developed by Henry Reed, Ph.D. based on many years of research.  Like many meditations, one is calmed and more detached in a process of observing the breath.  In this meditation, however, the person is asked to experience gratitude for the breath coming like a gift. Gratitude, like hope, has a tendency to raise the person above the concerns being experienced and opens one to what is new and to come.   This gratitude not only opens the heart to receive positive energy, it also opens one to receive intuitive insight, especially if one has asked or prayed for it just prior to starting the meditation.  One emerges not only rested and re-energized but also inspired, helping one to get unstuck because getting unstuck often means getting new insights on which way to go, resolving a problem and being rejuvenated!

Using Dreams to Get Unstuck

Asking or praying for a dream to help get unstuck is another approach which can often bring profound insights on many levels, as dreams often do.  While the answer may come in seemingly unrelated symbols, events and people, this oddness might be a way of just getting us out of a box and see the world in a different way!  Working with the dream in a manner that sees every object in the dream as symbolizing some energy within myself helps unravel the oddness and often brings home amazing results.  For example, with the holidays over, I am going back to work and wanted a dream to inspire and motivate me because I have been feeling lethargic from all the down time and good food.

Dream:  Many New Workers

I am in an Information Technology office with a couple of co-workers.  I look up and am amazed by the number of young men lined up, coming  through the office door to work in my workplace!  One of the workers already in the office looks and me and gives me a reassuring smile.

When I awoke, I was at first thrown off in dismay that the workplace was an Information Technology office like one I used to work at many years ago.  Like many people who try to interpret dreams, I took the dream literally and dreaded that it might mean I would be working in that kind of job again with its fast past and high stress–great for those times but not for now.  The symbolism seemed at odds to what I expected.  Then I reflected on what it is I wanted from the dream, and that was information if I would be up to working–not where I would be working!   I realized the dream was really telling me this:  the “Information Technology” office was the dream space where I was doing the dreamwork to get information!  It could also be the mental space where I would be doing my work. The fact that I had plenty of workers to do the work filled me with amazement and happiness.   They symbolized a lot of work energy available to me, letting me know I would be ready and “able bodied” when it came time to start work.  I knew the vacation mode mindset would be fading soon.

Biblical Symbols Appearing in Dreams

Biblical symbols can appear in dreams.

Moses and the Burning Bush. Image via Pinterest.

For persons who practice recording their dreams faithfully over a long period of time, an interesting observation may be made. It certainly happened to me. I noticed that many of the symbols in the Bible had a way of showing up in my dreams! If you keep a dream journal I suggest you review it for symbols in the Bible and review that symbol in relationship to the Biblical story to see what inspiration comes up. A profound and surprising spiritual meaning may surface—and you might have an epiphany of your own. To give an example, here are some Biblical symbols that have occurred in my dreams over the years and some of the meanings I ascribed to them after being influenced by the Biblical setting of the symbol.

An Object Mysteriously Burning (The Burning Bush: Exodus 3: 2-4)

Dream: I see a chair in my living room that has caught fire and is burning yet it is not burning up. It exudes a beautiful glow. I am amazed.
Reflection: I am readily reminded of the Burning Bush that amazes Moses and suspects that something within me has “lit up,” and won’t be consumed, bringing new energy with potential new awareness and insight. In the ensuing years, I was indeed the witness to profound insights and new energy.

A Pillar That Points the Way (The Pillar of Clouds by Day and the Pillar of Fire by Night: Exodus 13: 20-22)

Dream: I go to see the boss, quickly, in a business-like way. I see a black pillar before me as if it is leading me in the direction I need to go. I state my case to be able to move on. To show acknowledgement of my request, I am gifted with a necklace of oval shaped beads: black white and aqua.
Reflection: The boss is not my boss in waking life, giving me clues that this dream has a deeper meaning than just my work life. I recognize the pillar leading me as a symbol in Exodus that leads the people through the Wilderness so I suspect this has to do with my spiritual life, and I am being led. By stating I want to move on, I am showing that I am ready to move in a new direction spiritually. The gift of the necklace, a symbol for the throat chakra of communication suggests that I will be given a gift in communication such as writing or speaking. The colors of white and aqua are the traditional healing colors. I conclude I will be given a gift that involves healing. Indeed, over the next several years I was both healed in many different ways, and given the gift to heal others when called to do so, both in writing, speaking and touch.

I could give many more examples. It makes me wonder how much archetypal symbolism common in dreams is contained in the Bible, drawing us deeper into ourselves as we read the passages just as the dream symbols draw us deeper into ourselves as we reflect upon them.

How to Listen and Ask Questions When Someone Tells You Their Dream

Marks of a good listener

Image via Pinterest

When someone tells you about a dream they’ve had, you can consider it a compliment. In most cases you are being entrusted with something special, no matter if it is a nightmare or a grand adventure. Dreamers have their reasons for telling someone about a dream, but they might not necessarily tell you why. Is it for validation? For interpretation? Or do they just want a listening ear to process their own understanding of the dream? If they don’t come out and tell you why they are telling you the dream, and it is a bit awkward to ask, try to intuit the reason and act accordingly. It is important to get a sense of why someone wants to tell you the dream because then you can better help them understand it.

From listening to people’s dreams over many years, I find that most people will readily share a dream when it is something they feel is positive—such as a dream giving them great insight, encouragement or feeling. People tend not to share nightmares and problematic dreams so readily. No matter what kind of dream the dreamer has it is important to be a good listener and supportive questioner.

Listen and Then Ask Questions

The best way to listen to dreams is, of course, to listen and then ask questions that will lead the dreamer to reflect more deeply—and thereby gain deeper appreciation and understanding of the dream. Genuine, non-judgmental listening encourages the person to feel accepted and open to exploring hidden and sometimes scary meanings in dreams.   Questions may be asked that shed more light on the color, feeling, nuance of an object or person in a dream. One of the best questions to ask is to have the dreamer describe every object in the dream as representing some form of energy within himself or herself.  Asking such questions can help the dreamer find insight by considering the dream from different angles and perspectives, opening more possibilities for discovering the many levels of meaning that dreams often have.

Some people want validation for a dream because they really want to believe the dream is special. Asking questions that make them realize why the dream is special will do that. Also by saying something affirming like, “If it were my dream and I dreamed that, I would feel like things were going well.”  Using the words, “If it were my dream…” clearly indicates that this is your personal opinion and may perhaps be totally different from the dreamer’s. This is important for the free exploration of another person’s dream.

Don’t Attempt an Interpretation

Quite often people will ask you to interpret their dreams. Remind them that you can’t.  Since the dream is all about the dreamer, it is really not possible to interpret another person’s dream, as much as you want to.  As much as you think you know the meaning of the dream, try to refrain from giving a specific interpretation like, “Your dream means you don’t have a chance to get the job.”  If your interpretation happens to be right on, it might feel threatening if the person isn’t ready to deal with it. If it is wrong, the person will feel misunderstood. However, it is helpful to suggest common interpretations to a dream image, such as driving a car may represent how the dreamer is getting along in life—and then ask them to consider if this interpretation is a possibility. Or you may suggest that they look at a good dream dictionary which gives various meanings to a symbol, rather than one pat answer. By listening and asking questions, you will go far in helping the dreamer unlock the dream’s secrets. You will know when they blurt out something like “A-hah!” that they have discovered a significant meaning.

To learn more about dreams, visit my website at http://www.healingdreamgarden.com.

Working with Dream Themes: Living in a Place unlike Your Actual Residence

A very common dream is to reside in a home or apartment that is not actually the place you are living in at the time of the dream nor is it any place you have ever lived in. When I first started writing down my dreams—when books about interpreting dreams were not so readily available—I often wondered what this dwelling symbolism meant. One month I would be living in a tiny apartment with too many roommates and several months later I might inhabit a Victorian mansion filled interesting artifacts and ancient treasures.

It was not till later I came to understand that for me, my dream dwelling often represented aspects of my psychological state at the time of the dream. For example, the dream of living in a tiny apartment with too many roommates suggested I was perhaps trying to deal with too many people and their problems in my waking life. Or perhaps I was trying to take on too many parts of myself at the time!

The dream of the Victorian mansion filled with interesting artifacts suggests that there are interesting and valuable aspects of me that I’ve had for a long time but have not yet discovered or appreciated. A closed golden chest in a dimly lit room might represent something in myself I just need to examine to discover its worth.

A key to understanding dwelling dreams is to consider that every part of the dream represents some aspect or energy within yourself. So ask yourself questions about the dwelling and ask how this would relate to something in your waking life such as:

  • Where is the dwelling? Is it by the seashore or on a mountain? If by the seashore, the location suggests a place close to the ocean of Unconsciousness, a place from which life and food come. If on a mountain, it suggests a place where inspirational and spiritual insights can be gained.
  • What does the interior design of the dwelling remind you of? What is the mood of the design? When have you had a feeling in your waking life that reflected that mood?
  • How are the rooms furnished? What do the decorations and furniture remind you of in your waking life? A room of one color such as red might reflect chakra symbolism. Because the first chakra is often depicted as red, a red room might mean that this room is representing a situation your first chakra is dealing with, such as survival and getting along in the world.
  • Is there a problem or issue in one of the rooms? What is the problem and what does it remind you of in your waking life?
  • Are there others living in your house? Why are they there? What is your relationship to them? How does this scenario relate to people and situations in your waking life?

An interesting and perhaps enlightening exercise is to review your dream journal and discover how many different dwellings you have lived in over the last year.  How do they relate to the many psychological states you have experienced during that time? Have you “gone up” in the world? Have you inhabited houses from different parts of the world? Happy house hunting!

To buy my user manual on working with dreams or to check out dreamwork mentoring, please visit my website at www.healingdreamgarden.com.

 

Have a Problem? Ask for a Guiding Dream!

Dreams are an effective way to problem solve.

Creatively Problem Solve with Dreams

Are you beset with a question that needs an answer, and you don’t know where to look? For example, do you wonder why you might be having a recurring nightmare? Do you wonder why you have a pain in your hip but you aren’t ready to go to the doctor yet? Or do you wonder why a friend is giving you the cold shoulder but you are too shy or afraid to ask?

The Dream: An Effective and Creative Problem-Solving Tool

No matter what the issue, next time you have a problem—just be sure it is a genuine concern—try asking for a dream that will give you the answer. You will be doing yourself a tremendous favor because you will be tapping into your own higher consciousness to get an answer. Also, since you are not relying on someone else’s often predictable opinion, conventional wisdom or your own ruminations that tend to go around in circles, you most likely will get a fresh point of view that comes out of the source of your own creativity. And what’s more, it’s free advice!

People tend to doubt this approach to problem solving until they have tried it. What many people don’t realize is that our dreams are constantly problem-solving for us without us even asking for help! They are helping us understand our world and the challenges we are about to face. Chances are, you may have already had a dream about the problem on your mind but were too unaware of the happenings in your dreamtime to pay attention.

By making the conscious intention to pay attention to dreams and write them down—and to ask questions of them with the expectation of getting a response—is usually all the impetus our shy dreams need to start telling us what we need to know.

“Need to Knows” about Asking Information from a Dream

If you start asking for an informative dream, here are few things you need know:

  • The first dream that comes is usually the one that has the answer, even though it might seem highly far-fetched and unrelated to the problem at first glance.
  • You need to start making associations with images, especially the symbolic ones, and processes in the dream by asking yourself questions as to why this particular dream was given to you.
  • Remember to use one important dream method: try viewing everything in the dream as a type or expression of your own energy. For example, dreaming of a flying butterfly might represent some new hope you have that is taking flight.
  • After appropriate reflection and processing, be willing to act on the wisdom given.

For more information, check out my new user manuals manuals on intentional dreaming and intuitive meditation for healing and spiritual growth at my website, the healingdreamgarden.com.

A User Manual on Intentional Dreaming for Healing and Spiritual Growth

Harvesting the Healing Dream Garden

Intentional Dreaming for Healing and Spiritual Growth

Now Available! Harvesting the Healing Dream Garden: A User Manual on Intentional Dreaming for Healing and Spiritual Growth.

This practical booklet in PDF format includes:

  • How my dream journey began with me being in a hijacked plane
  • Reasons why dreams are important to healing and spiritual growth
  • Why dreams are all about the dreamer and why this works for you the dreamer
  • The health benefits of working with dreams to heal
  • A tried and true basic method of intentional dreaming
  • Working with symbols, themes and processes in dreams, especially as they relate to health and spiritual growth
  • The how’s and why’s of keeping a dream journal
  • Good dreamwork practices
  • Many examples of working with dream themes such as the appearance in dreams of dream lovers, snakes, huge waves, etc.  Examples can be found in this blog but in the booklet, they are all in one place and easy to find!

Great for people who are good at teaching themselves, Harvesting the Healing Dream Garden provides the basics on what you need to know about intentional dreaming. Currently in PDF formatting, the manual is usually emailed to the shopper within 2 business days of purchase. The PDF formatted copy is free if the Dreamwork Fundamentals (DF) Consulting Session Package is purchased. Then, the book is a good accompaniment to the coaching session. Price: $19.99, now on special store-opening sale of $9.99! Offer good until May 11, 2015.

Order yours now at my website: http://www.healingdreamgarden.net/user-manuals.html