Friday, March 19, 2010

Dreams Are Like a Box of Chocolates



There were three of us, a niece, me and my cousin, going to a country fair and then nightclubbing. Our quandary in the dream is what to wear; should we dress for country fair or nightclubbing, I presume in the city. This is a fragment of a dream I had in January of this year. Since I didn't remember a dream this morning I opened my journal at random to this dream. As soon as I re-read this bit I was drawn to the two options, country or city? How interesting; missed that back when I first wrote it down.

One of the things I so totally love about dreams is that when you go back to one in your journal, it's like going back to a box of chocolates thinking its empty and it's actually got a lot of bonbons in it; (this if chocolate's your thing).

Why does it work that way? Perspective, for one thing. I think that's how it is in waking life, too. A little distance from the immediate drama can be just the ticket to a better understanding and a better solution to life's conflicts, like counting to ten, walking away, giving it some thought.

Here's a list of things I've learned so far from journaling my dreams for over thirty years:

How to want to know more about myself, others, life and beyond.

How to pay attention.

How to have intention, to formulate a desire and ask for what I want.

How to go with the flow.

How to ponder.

How to give up control of everything and realize there is a loving guidance available to me on my life's journey.

How to recognize dream gifts, guidance and encouragement and put it to good use.

How to have a sense of humor about all the things I think are so important.

How to enjoy myself every night.

Dreams have entertained me more than movies or tv.

Dreams have given me images, symbols and messages that have provided incredible guidance and inspiration throughout my life, not to mention intrigue and suspense.

Dreams have fueled my creativity; I've painted, written poetry and stories, made beautiful masks, made-up a song, danced like in my dream, daydreamed, fantasized and became a blogger, all inspired by my dream life.

I've dreamed about my beloved dead and feel connected still to their love for me.

Dreams have given me consolation and insight during my most difficult times.

Dreams have shown me valuable glimpses of what's ahead, in my future.

Dreams have helped me remember and heal trauma from my past.

Dreams have taken me to strange, interesting places and times.

Did I mention I can fly? Yes, you too. It's such a fun thing, isn't it?

This isn't an exhaustive list. I just want to highlight some of the reasons for playing with your dreams regularly. Once you start; you'll have your own list someday, not to mention all these benefits. If this sparks a question or a comment, I'd love to hear it.

Thanks to my dear friend and gifted artist, Rita Paradis, for giving me permission to use her pastel still life as the eye candy for this post. Aloha!

If you want to see more kick-ass art like this visit: http://www.finelineartgallery-connecticut.com/

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Evolution of Meaning in a Dream


"What does it mean?" is probably the most frequently asked question about dreams. My experience is that a dream's meaning evolves and materializes as I pay attention, as I ponder it for days, weeks or sometimes, years. Meaning dawns in my thoughts, feelings and in the sychronistic events of my waking life, but what I experience is not just intellectual understanding. I experience something like a door opening for me, a gift being given me, an opportunity to act in waking life for my own healing and pleasure, perhaps in a new and exciting direction.

In my previous post, I shared with you the image of a woman hugging a child from a recent dream, but I didn't share the dream. This is it; it's titled: Caring for The Little Girl.

Jim and I find a little girl, 3 or 4 years old, who'd been abandoned in her crib with a puppy; she's blond, blue eyed, very sweet. We have to go home because Jim needs to get up early for a gig. I insist on taking her home. We get little footie pajamas and some clothes from the room she's in. Holding her, I realize she's running a fever. I put the pajamas on her. She'll sleep with me and Jim will sleep in the guest room (with the puppy).

I often take action to honor my dream by painting it. I'm not a visual artist professionally, but since I was a small child, I've loved to draw . Perhaps you did, too? Sketching and painting my dream images or scenarios gives free expression to that little girl who once loved to draw things. I unplug my superego/critic and just let myself flow with whatever I happen to do on the paper. I hold the dream in my mind's eye and let something come out on the paper, no judgements, no over-corrections. I can always just throw it away, so no pressure.

The drawing in this post is the second one I painted from the dream. I'm always surprised, and usually delighted by what I actually get on paper, but every once in a while, I experience a visual Gestalt from the unintentional appearance of a figure I draw in this flow state.

In this picture, it's the "ghost" that appears behind the child's crib. When I first drew that figure, I was going for the baby's face. It came out the face of an older, heavy woman, wearing a not very pleasant expression. I abandoned trying to transform the face to a baby's and started again next to it. Happy, if still bewildered, with the overall sketch, I began painting it in watercolors. My charcoal pencil lines remained distinct on everything but that odd figure I drew that wasn't in the actual dream. When I painted over her, her lines blurred and flowed into the paint. She became a ghost. I know I'll be dialoguing with this figure as I explore the dream further.

This dream is equivalent to about three good therapy sessions for me. I'll be exploring it for a while longer, I'm sure; it's got good juju. The real energy and understanding of the dream began to flow after doing these drawings. I hope my sharing this with you gives you a sense of what I mean by the process of understanding a dream, the evolution of it's meaning.

Your comments and questions are welcome.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Self Love: A Mother and Child Reunion


I often hear people generalize about their dreams; "my dreams are this way, or my dreams are that way." But if you haven't kept a true dream record, then how can you say? You're only talking about those few dreams you remember.

A payoff of keeping dream journals is re-discovering a dream, from a few days ago, or from way long ago, that jumps off the page at me now. Dreams often add up, like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, so following a series of dreams is another pay off to journal keeping.

Anytime I don't recall a dream, I might browse back through past month entries. There are so many times that I receive amazing gifts from dreams I thought were just little fragments.

Going through my January dreams this week, I found a dream I'd recorded on a morning I documented two dreams. This was the second, more ignored one of the series. I titled the dream, "Caring for the Little Girl." I think the dream drawing reading it again inspired me to do really captures the feeling, the gift, this dream gave me.

For many of us, the things that impede our self-love/self-esteem originate in childhood trauma. Dreams often give us images that can help us heal, images we can hold on to, meditate on and ponder for a long time.

If you don't keep a dream journal; start one. I'm happy to answer any questions or make even more comments.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

When Bad Dreams Happen to Good People



I had the gestalt of asking my FB friends to pose questions; this wonderful one came right through from a good friend, yay!

"There's this one nightmare I remember bits and pieces of, that woke me up so panicked in the morning and had me calling everyone to make sure they were okay. Obviously, we all don't want horrible things happen to us in our lifetime, I wondered if the future and determining what happens, if the same applies to scary nightmares and dreams. The main focus of the nightmare was a war that I was witnessing in which I saw people who I was really close with dying all around me. Is it the metaphor of the dream, that eventually you will see someone dying or dead in front of you or that it could be I actually witness something like this? I guess, I remembered this more so today even though I had this nightmare in college, because of what happened a month ago where I found a dead body. So, I do wonder that if along with good dreams in predicting the future, that bad dreams can do the same and what kind of precautions could be taken against those."

I've posted before about nightmares and icky dreams (check the titles of older postings if you'd like to read those). If people remember a dream vividly, often it's a nightmare. Frankly, the point of a nightmare is to get your attention. It's like "I'll tell you more nicely, if you're paying attention, but if you're not, I think I can get your attention". That's why I'm fond of saying that some dreams have scared the pajamas off of me.

But I never get tired of this subject, so I welcome this friend's question: Do bad dreams predict the future, as well? Short answer, yes. Also short answer; it's not necessarily a future that will be, it can be a future that might be if warnings are not heeded. Depending on the level of importance to your spiritual, emotional or physical well being and those of others, often ones you love, dreams will come on strong with their message. That's why nightmares are a blessing.

Here's another example from my own dream experience of nightmares: I'm driving my Montero, going South on I95, going to Fairfield, I think. I crash. Next thing I know I'm looking at the Montero, frame bent in two and walking on the road where many people are milling around, some sitting at a picnic table.

I won't go into everything with this dream, but here was my feeling about it. There were many waking life similarities and it felt very "real". Walking around after the crash told me I might be dead in this scenario. I woke up agitated as from a nightmare, though I've had worse.

1. I called my mechanic and booked an appointment for the Montero, it was time anyway. 2. I asked myself pointed questions about the state of my health, could I be crashing on life's busy highway? In other words, I treated the dream message as if it could be literal or symbolic and acted in a way to honor the dream's message either way. I payed attention.

The mechanic said the car was fine, but I had the dream again a month later. I took the car in again and this time he found something, (sorry, don't remember what but I could find out if you've got to know) that warranted my staying off the highway so as not to travel those speeds until I either payed the megabucks to get it fixed or get it replaced. That's when I bought our new car. I haven't had that dream or any remotely like it since. I think it was a possible future crash that the dream helped me to avoid. Quien sabe?

So, I try to not fear my nightmares or the possible message. Sometimes someone who loves us has to say what we don't want to or can't hear without help. The biggest thing is to know, as most good dream teachers will say, that dreams come in the service of our best interests, just the way good friends do. If they've resorted to scaring us, well they've got a good reason for doing it that way. (Disclaimer: Please read my earlier post on nightmares for my view on post-traumatic dreams).

If my friend's dream were mine, I know it's important to write the dream out, as much as I remember, as vividly and with as much detail as I can discover in the process. When you set about writing a dream from memory, perhaps from many years ago, the important thing is to let the story flow. Write as it comes to you, make no judgments and have no fears; let it flow. Whatever comes is good enough, accurate enough and meaningful enough to yield dream gold.
Give this college dream a title; first one that comes to mind. Draw a picture from the dream; let that flow.

Then I might ask myself, was that dream from college preparing me for the experience of finding a dead body, (not an everyday experience to be sure)?

It might be yes; it might be no. Either way, a nightmare that makes a big impression on us is a big dream that can give great guidance, potentially. Write it, ponder it, observe your waking life. Is there something this dream is cautioning me to avoid? Is there something about relationships with these people. Is the death about transformation somehow? Does this dream use these people to say something about me. Maybe I need to continue the dream, see what happens, take control in my imagination as my dream self of the situation, dialogue with the characters, learn more.

There's so much we can do to get the message; here's a great excerpt from the dream series I produced with my husband and Robert Moss, The Way of the Dreamer, on this very subject:

Friday, March 5, 2010

Awesome Correlations


This is priceless! Today I spoke long-distance with a dear friend who shared in the adventures I described in my previous post earlier today. (Here are those adventures portrayed in these pictures I dug up taken at an early 80s Women's Ordination Conference held in Baltimore.)

She said she had lunch with a mutual friend, a sister of St. Joseph, who turned her on to the current RCWP movement, (Roman Catholic Womenpriests) and gave her the website:

Check it out: The rogues are out there, the movement is alive and well and everything is possible!
http://www.romancatholicwomenpriests.org/

See why I love dreams? If I'd dismissed this dream (refer to previous post) as yet another off the wall, peculiar night time nonsense, I may never have uncovered this exciting new to me info. At any rate, my dream fueled the actions I took that are now cascading into bright new epiphanies. There is nothing boring about dream play.

Remember Who You Are


My dreams help me remember who I am. I love that experience, that aha moment, when an image or a scenario or something I say in a dream brings home to me the feeling of being at peace in my own core, my center.

Recently, my dream self brought home some core personal truths. It was my waking dream at one time to be a spiritual teacher via the route of ordination in the Catholic Church. Some of you may remember those heady times when women stood up even to the Pope in public and said, we want to be ordained.

In a recent Sisters of Mercy Newletter which I discovered on their website, they recount an event from Pope John Paul II's visit to the US in 1979:

"In 1979, Theresa Kane, a Sister of Mercy, was denied a conversation with Pope John Paul II in her official capacity as the then-president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. At the official welcome ceremony at the Basilica of the National Shrine in Washington, D.C., Sister Theresa beseeched Pope John Paul to include women as equal members of the Body of Christ. Had her request been heeded, the Church would surely be a healthier, holier institution than it is today and, more importantly, the pastoral and sacramental needs of Catholics around the world be better served today. It is time to again raise that issue."

I remember watching Sister Theresa stand up and address the pope, knowing it would be broadcast around the world on TV. I remember thinking, you go, sister! That took cojones! (Or brass breasts, as I'm fond of saying).

All this great stuff was happening during my post-grad studies in Scripture and Pastoral Counseling at Colgate Rochester Divinity School in Rochester, NY., including the successful and courageous campaign that ended in official Episcopalian ordination for women in 1976. We in the Catholic church believed! Yes, we can!

Then, not so much. It took a decade but by banishing the rogue bishops who supported women's ordination and replacing them with papal clones, the RC managed to beat back the tide.

You know, I don't regret a second of that good fight, and maybe it is time, as the Sister's of Mercy are suggesting, to take it up in earnest again. But for me, what happened was a major transformation of paradigm, initiated by a dream actually, and fueled by the writings of some incredible theologians like Mary Daly with her bombshell "Beyond God the Father". The door opened for me to alternative spirituality, primarily women's spirituality. ( The dream is titled "Howling Mary," by the way, and I will blog about it sometime.)

It's been a lovely trip since then; my spiritual life is rich, diverse and anchored in dreamplay.

Still, anytime you choose to live outside the primary social paradigm, you're going to feel the pull of normalcy a bit. In the western culture in which I reside, the norm is to be Christian, Jew or Muslim because these are the three big established patriarchal religions of the world. What bothers me about these religions is that they often put women outside their circle of trust. What's up with that? Even after all these years, to suggest that it's important to also see god as Mother, that we abandon the Feminine Divine to our own very great detriment is, at the least, controversial.

Here's the dream that's led me down this alley of contemplation:

Episcopal Aspirations 3-3-2010

I'm talking with a woman Episcopal priest about my application to be an Episcopal priest. She's telling me that she submitted Jim's name (my husband) thinking that it was a good idea and the committee decided that he was their choice. I'm dismayed, disappointed; I say to her; "You submitted his name? Why?" Then I started to change my mind and get behind supporting him: 1. because I really don't want the pressure of answering to the committee in an interview; 2. because I really don't want to be an Episcopal priest, or a Christian for that matter. I say to her that Jim will be a good candidate because he'll be honest, blunt and frank. She modifies it saying, "but he would never say anything inappropriate." I say I'm not so sure, rolling my eyes like, are you kidding me? At some point, she gives me an example of a question that would be asked that is about a place or historical event that is pretty obscure. I realize with relief that I won't have to answer questions like that, but Jim pops into the conversation with a lovely, accurate answer that confirms my sense that better him than me.

This dream had me laughing about what I said about Jim; anyone who knows Jim will probably find it funny, as well. I really love how my dream self is helping me center on what I want and who I am. My spiritual role as teacher is outside mainstream religious offices; teaching people to listen to dream messages is what I love to do and do best. Yet, I fully support those who in truth and courage fill those official positions, like those lovely rogue bishops, priests and women religious of the 70s; bless them every one.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Healing the Hurt


I posted about some of dad's visits recently, but as I was going through dream drawings I found this; an old dream, over 20 years ago, I remember vividly, "Rocking Mama in My Arms."

Most everyone has some parent pain to deal with; it's the stuff of therapy. My relationship with dad was, by and large, a breeze. With my mom, well it was stormy at times. Not unusual, I know, but painful, nonetheless.

Sometimes, if a parent dies, we figure we have no recourse anymore to reach an understanding, or forgiveness either/both ways. Not so. Dreams are the live channel that doesn't adhere to material rules of waking life. The dead do have access and vice-versa.

Here's where I really get pissed about Hollywood's and Religion's role in creating fear where there should be curiosity and trust. All the Nightmare on Elm Street and Hell and Damnation shit dished out creates a culture that is afraid of death and the natural, spiritual realms. Ah, well. All I can do is present my experience.

And that's the beauty of working with your dreams; it's all about your direct experience. Some dreams effect us at the gut level just like a good therapy session. They bring about a transformation of emotions or an attitude adjustment that allows us to move on and live our joy.

I dreamed that dream a long time ago: my mom and I naked, she laying across my lap like in the Pieta. Love flowed between us; something that's always been there, if sometimes undermined by each of our personalities and egos. In this dream, I experienced, I believe we experienced, a profound healing. Looking at this picture encourages me to re-ignite those feelings for her in my soul.

Dreams are a gateway, a safe gateway usually, to soul healing experiences. Yes, sometimes our soul is so tortured or exiled that professional help is a very good idea, good professional help. But for many of us; it's just there. It's available. I am so thankful for this!

May your dreams shower you with blessings.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Phases


Wow, it's been a while since I've blogged; I had to stop and think about my password.

I go through phases with dreamplay and dream memory. The drought phase with dreams is max a month, mostly less, thank goodness. But then, I always pay attention, so I catch them pretty regularly. Love that. I just don't blog as often as I dream. It is a pleasure to do, as well. I only hope it can be of inspiration to some of you who haven't tried it to engage in dream play.

And that's the subject of this post. It's really about falling in love with the dream dialogue in a way that it's not one more self-improvement, self-exploration or spiritual practice. It's fun! It pays off!

There is as much, frankly more, entertainment in dreams than there is on TV or in most movies. The big payoff is I'm the protagonist of every episode; it's about me. And even when, on the rare occassion, I see the dream as not about me, it still pays off to pay attention.

So the more you pay attention and have intention to understand the dream dialogue, the more you get from it, the easier it becomes, the more you miss it when you don't have it. You get my point; I tend to wax poetic about the experience.