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.