The Challenge of Seeing the Many Aspects of Me

Look at each piece of the dream and see what it says about you. Fit it all together.

The Dream: All About You!

The German psychiatrist Fritz Perls is credited with developing the dreamwork practice of considering that everything in the dream is a part of oneself.  To be more specific, I tend to think every symbol, process and event in the dream is indicative of energies within the person and what is transpiring with those energies.  Either way, using this method to work with dreams can be challenging in that it asks the dreamer to “own” certain symbols, processes or events he or she would, in many cases, rather deny.

For example, if I dream I am in a room where an angry man is beating a weaker man, I may not want to admit that a part of me is capable of beating up another person, especially if I am a person who is uncomfortable showing any kind of anger.  Yet, this is what this dream method is asking us to do.  It can be heady stuff but the method will allow the dreamer to discover hidden aspects of him or herself and bring that to light, and perhaps even heal.  Using this method I may discover that I am capable of being angry enough to beat another person or I may find that a part of me is beating up on me!  This humbling realization is often what spiritual growth is all about.   We find that we are not perfect, and in that discovery develop compassion for not only other beings but ourselves also.  It’s as if each piece is part of whole and our job is too see how each piece fits into the whole, like doing a puzzle.

Next time you have a dream, write it down and consider that each symbol, process and event is part of you.  What energies are evoked?  What makes you feel uncomfortable?  What is the “saving grace” or helpful element in the dream?  The darkness and light within you will be there to discover, and the intelligent interacting of the two will be there for you to appreciate and give you wisdom.  It is a challenge that is well worth taking up in dreamwork as you take up the pieces and fit them together.

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When It’s OK to Be All About Me: The Dream is About the Dreamer

Interpreting Dreams

A Dream Scene: Hopes Rising or a Plane Taking Off?

In working with dreams, there are two common misleading inclinations most people have: they tend to see events in dreams to be literally true or to view them as happening outside the dreamer as actual events in waking life. Perhaps this is because many people tend to find ultimate meaning outside themselves rather than looking within for the answers. Here is an example:

Dream: I am in a plane that is taking off from a bumpy runway. The plane is bouncing around and it makes me nervous.

In this case, the dreamer might think the dream refers to a plane ride he might be taking tomorrow or sometime in the future and the takeoff could be hazardous. While that might be one possible interpretation, leaving it there without further reflection will quite often miss the mark, losing a much more important meaning of the dream altogether.

One of the major milestones for dreamworkers in learning about dreams is to realize that the dream is about the dreamer and what is going on within the dreamer. That is why dreams have been called the Royal Road to the Unconscious. Genuine dreamwork takes us on this royal road. It provides ways to understand and nurture a deeper relationship with one’s own Self. Fortunately, nowadays, dreamwork methods have been developed to help us mine the hidden meanings of dreams which pertain to what is happening within the Unconscious regions the dreamer. One of these established methods for working with dreams is Fritz Perls’ approach of viewing everything in the dream as part of the dreamer.

How to Work with the Dream as if it was “All About Me”

In this approach, I would work with the dream about a plane taking off from a bumpy runway as follows: I would ask myself what part of me represents the plane, what part represents the runway, and what is “bouncing around” in my life? I might associate the plane with my hopes for a new project that is taking off in my life, I might associate the bumpy runway with the bumpy start of the project and the “bouncing around” may stand for my feelings about the whole affair. In this case, my unsteady feelings are challenging the hopes for something developing in my life. For me to move forward in a healthy manner, perhaps the dream is helping me by warning me that I need to pay attention to this project and to my feelings about it—or a disaster could result and I may have many regrets about being part of the project. The dream, then, is calling my attention to a real problem in my waking life right now and not some possible future development. It is saying that within me there is a growing unease about this project.

Sometimes dreams do concern events outside the dreamer but most of the time my experience has been that dreams are always about the dreamer so while dreams may pertain to outside events, they also suggest a parallel metaphor within the dreamer—and this issue is often the difficult one to deal with, and the one most overlooked by the dreamer.

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