Bodywork and dreams

Bodywork and dreams, Jane Teresa Anderson

When was the last time you had a good, deep, foot, neck, shoulder, or back massage? If you closed your eyes and surrendered to the process, what feelings came up for you? Were you able to name those feelings – relief, grief, foreboding, panic, bliss, vulnerability? Or did you notice tears flowing but find yourself unable to say why? When painful knots were found and massaged, did you see any images, symbols, or experience dreamlike visions?

What did you dream that night, or the next night?

Our muscles and other tissues can hold our painful emotions and associated memories in an often unconscious attempt at protecting ourselves from being hurt in the same way again. Imagine gripping the ground with your toes in an effort to stand your ground, to not budge, to stay put for fear of letting go because of a painful letting go experience in your past. Or because you learned this fear from your parents or guardians or the culture into which you were born. Imagine those toes never really relaxing, never really letting go, even when you’re sitting down or sleeping, partly because you’re on alert whatever else is happening, and partly because your muscles have forgotten how to stretch, or have stiffened and become limited in their range of movement.

Now, what happens when that massage therapist stretches out those muscles for you, cajoling them to release their hold? Perhaps you feel the fear or panic of letting go, perhaps you feel the accumulated pain of holding on, of standing your ground, of victories won or opportunities lost. Perhaps you feel the vulnerability that you have kept under lock and key of muscular tension so long that you can’t even name this strange feeling. Perhaps you feel foreboding, sure knowledge of forthcoming danger, or perhaps you feel relief, discovering that when you are made to let go you find yourself safe, or you find yourself as excited as you were as a one year old when you took your first steps into a whole new and wonderful way of being.

Sometimes the massage is enough to move you forward, to release you into the discovery that it is safe to move beyond your previous limitations, that there is relief in letting go, in change. Sometimes the massage is enough for now, but you return to the status quo, to your comfort zone, to gripped toes, and holding your ground, to fear of change, because the unconscious beliefs you hold remain the same, and the unconscious painful emotions and memories those beliefs are built to protect you from remain in need of healing.

This is where dreams enter the picture.

Dreams are the result of your mind processing your conscious and unconscious experiences of the last 1-2 days, comparing these recent experiences to your entire past, either consolidating your beliefs (your mindset) as a result, or changing them. When we experience highly charged emotions, our dreams can be extremely vivid, and their content extremely revealing and potentially healing.

So your dreams following the foot massage in this toe-gripping, ground-gripping example, might find you comparing the released emotions you felt during your massage with similar situations in your life now, in your life past, and even as far back as the original experience that created the unconscious belief that has had your toes grippingly limiting you ever since. Once analysed (for the dreams will be surreal and symbolic), such dreams can help you to understand why – in this example – you tend to grip, to stand your ground, to resist moving forward in wonderful, life-enhancing ways.

Once you are aware of your pattern and you understand its genesis, you are on the road to healing. You may choose various healing modalities, but with the blessing of a dream to work with, dream alchemy would be a good choice, working deeply and directly with your unconscious mind.

Toe-gripping is just an example. Foot massage may release all kinds of protected emotions and memories, as may massage of any part of the body. A person who is rather ungrounded, who lives in the head, who has lots of ideas but can’t make them happen, may find that a deep foot massage brings them back in touch with the emotions and memories they have been trying to flee. Their dreams may help them to understand their disconnection, and ready them for healing, grounding, feeling safe to put down roots, to manifest, and grow.

Other forms of bodywork, apart from massage, can feed your dreams in a similar way, by actively or passively encouraging your body to move beyond the limitations that it has habitually adopted in the name of protection from painful emotions, or as a result of unconscious limiting beliefs acquired from parents, guardians, or society. Keep your dream journal handy following a massage or bodywork session, and go to bed with the intention to recall your dreams to deepen your insight and open the way for healing and long-lasting positive change.

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Episode 163 The Dream Show: Pan and the pagan ritual

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Episode 163 The Dream Show Pan and the pagan ritual

“It’s a really gross dream,” said Vashti, my guest in this episode, “and I was shocked by it. I’m curious, because how I was in the dream is not like me in waking life.”

Some of the elements include a baby that someone keeps putting into a toilet on a nest of toilet paper floating on filthy, disgusting water, and a pagan ritual in a forest where things begin quite hopefully with a small, handheld idol of Pan and move into darker territory.

Vashti’s behaviour in the dream is not like her behaviour in waking life, but the dream, once analysed, helped her to see some of the issues underlying the choices she is making in her life, issues she hadn’t been able to see clearly before.

Have you ever had a gross dream, a dream that shocked and disgusted you, a dream that you probably kept to yourself? We all have. It’s healthy, and helpful.

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Sometimes, when we are making big positive changes, or when we’re on the verge, not of madness but of healing and transformation, old, deeper, darker, unconscious issues, beliefs, and emotions, find their way into our dreams. Think of this as a cleansing process, a readiness to flush out old stuff, to become more aware of our old ways and limitations as we let them go. Analysing and working with such a dream has enormous benefits, helping us to move forward confidently beyond previous blocks, limiting self-judgements, beliefs, and fears.

Listen as Vashti shares her dream and we explore and analyse it, relate it to what is going on in Vashti’s life, and create dream alchemy to support Vashti in crafting her best path.

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I-Sight

I-Sight

I have just emailed Issue 200 of our monthly Dream Sight News out to our subscribers, and shared the article I wrote for our first issue, back on 11.11.1998. The story is old, but still true. I guess it’s the story behind my dream sight, my in-sight. I called the article I-Sight, and thought I’d blog it today to celebrate those 200 issues! Enjoy.

I-Sight, first pub 11.11.1998

I was intrigued by the team of white-coated people who arrived at our Infant School one week, calling on each class in turn to line up outside the Head’s Office and read letters from a chart propped against the wall. Special children came away with envelopes addressed to their parents. I was five years old, and I hoped I would be special enough to take home one of the envelopes. As the days passed I heard that the visitors had come to test our eyesight and that the letters were for those singled out to wear glasses. My wish escalated: Oh, wouldn’t I be really special if Mum and Dad had to take me to choose glasses! I guess I must have wished pretty hard for a five year old, because by the time I got to the front of the line I couldn’t see the big letter at the top of the chart and I’ve worn glasses or contact lenses ever since.

It was a revelation to me a few weeks after taking home the precious envelope to discover that houses were made of bricks all the way up to their roofs, rather than being brick near the ground and then a kind of reddish smudge the rest of the way up. Trees grew leaves to replace the green clouds that had floated around them, and the night sky was neatly scattered with precise pin-point designs instead of huge, glaring, intermingling white blurs.

I wonder if it was then that my dreams opened stunning new vistas – worlds beyond worlds and worlds within worlds? My previous babyhood dreams of being threatened by wolves or finding myself waist deep in snake pits gave way to a recurring dream of mirrored lakes which, if I laid on the ground and looked sideways in a special way, revealed their hidden depths teeming with tropical fish. In those dreams I used to plead with everyone to look at the water in my special way, to take my sideways look at the magnificence that thrived below the surface of an English lake where the presence of tropical fish, to the uninitiated, was merely a ridiculous fantasy. No-one ever looked.

Now I can see, with or without the aid of my glasses, that in the same moment that I was a child needing to feel special and loved for who I was beyond the surface, I needed to learn that the world did indeed have depth of meaning. My short sight became a blessing enabling me to experience a different view, to see different perspectives and to have faith that what may seem confusing one day can leap into clear focus the next. Through short sight I learned INsight – I learned to see within.

(You can subscribe to my monthly Dream Sight News using the form in the right hand column of this page, just under the ‘What’s happening’ title.)

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The world is

The world is

Finish this statement using just one word: “The world is …”

Maybe your word was big, or round, or polluted, or over-crowded, or dying, or abundant, or hopeful, or breathing, or alive, or beautiful, or exciting, or changing. You would probably choose a different word on a different day, or at a different hour, depending on your mood.

Last month I created a daily alchemy practise for a client to do every day for two weeks. It was short, simple, and based on the work she has been doing exploring her dreams. It turned out to be extremely powerful for her, and as we were talking about her results, we realised that the daily practice could be adapted and offered for everyone. The client was happy to share, so here’s the adapted version for you.

Each evening, reflect on the interactions you experienced with other people during your day. Some of those interactions might have felt positive and uplifting at the time. Others might have felt negative, upsetting, challenging. Choose one person you interacted with, and find a positive way of completing this statement using only a few words:

“Today (insert name) showed me that … “

For example, 3 year old Erin might have had a screaming tantrum about having to stop playing in the garden when you needed her to get ready for a doctor’s appointment, and you might have struggled to see the positives at the time.

On reflection, you might write:

“Today Erin showed me that she is in touch with her emotions.”

Or you might write:

“Today Erin showed me that play nourishes the soul.”

Or:

“Today Erin showed me that when I am patient I feel energised.”

 

When you have written down your statement, add:

“and the world is … ” (insert just one word)

 

Following the examples, you might have:

“Today Erin showed me that she is in touch with her emotions, and the world is embracing.”

“Today Erin showed me that play nourishes the soul, and the world is enriching.”

“Today Erin showed me that when I am patient I feel energised, and the world is lighter.”

 

The interaction you choose to immortalise in your sentence might be an experience that felt positive and enlightening at the time, though you’ll find the benefits of this alchemy are greater if you choose experiences that felt more challenging.

Keep this going for two weeks, or, better still, for a month. It’s best to do this at the same time each day, so that you remember to do it. Just one sentence a day. Keep your daily sentences in one place, perhaps in a dedicated notebook, so that you can read back through them as a whole every evening.

Here’s what will happen.

On a daily basis you’ll gift yourself the opportunity to turn a negative into a positive, and to reflect and grow from the experience.

At the end of your two weeks, or month, you will find you’re beginning to form the habit of looking for the positives in the apparently negative. Your personal perspective will shift. Your world will change.

At a deeper level, you’re practising compassion and forgiveness, for others, and for yourself.

Day by day, reflection by reflection, sentence by sentence, you’re deepening your connection to a more meaningful world, the world out there, and the world within.

The world is blessed.

Connect, Reach, Surrender

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Episode 162 The Dream Show: The hidden key

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Episode 162 The Dream Show The hidden key

My guest, Domonique, asks about a dream that begins with a trip in a car that looks like a spaceship and ends with her firm refusal to be a witness for the Court Marshalls against her friend, Jules. “I’m older than I look,” she states, richly, and melodiously, standing her ground.

There are two hidden keys featured in the dream, and Domonique knows where they are and how to lay her hands on them. How do these dream keys relate to her life? How long have they been hidden? How have they just come to light, and what can she do with them from this day forward?

There are mysteries to playfully explore as we delve into this dream: why does the car look like a spaceship, why is Jules being evicted from his apartment, and what does the letter T stand for?

You might like to notice the kind of questions I ask, and see how you can apply similar questioning when you’re exploring your own dreams. There’s some word play and recurring themes at work in this dream, and you’ll pick up tips on how to identify these in your dreams and how to gain deeper self understanding as a result.

As with all our guests, Domonique relates the analysis to what’s happening in her waking life and shares personal insights that enrich and inspire all who listen.

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All the world’s a stage

All the world's a stage, Jane Teresa Anderson

The moment has come to step out on stage and perform in front of an audience but you haven’t prepared. Worse than this, you know zilch. It’s a common dream theme, and you’ve probably had a variation of it at some point in your life. What did you make of it? How did you relate it to your life? How did it help you to understand yourself more deeply, or to make a change?

Your dream might involve a theatre performance, giving a presentation at work, teaching a class of eager students, delivering your artwork for public exhibition, flying a plane, or any number of situations, all of which come down to you not being able to deliver because you haven’t prepared or don’t know enough.

In a recent dream, I was to play a classical orchestral piece on keyboard. It was to be a solo performance. The auditorium was packed, the audience looked discerning, an anticipatory silence descended, and all eyes were on me, seated at the keyboard at the very centre of the room. Not only had I not studied or practised the piece, but I’m not a musician. I might have been able to play Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star with one finger, but then again, maybe not. I wondered what to do. I thought I was alone in this, but to my surprise the conductor came into the room, sat opposite me across the keyboard, and held me in her mesmerising gaze. I woke up before playing a note, although now I knew what to do.

Every dream is as unique as every dreamer, so there’s no blanket interpretation that applies to everyone for this kind of dream theme. All dreams reflect your conscious and unconscious experiences of the previous 1-2 days, and it’s most helpful to begin by looking at a dream as a metaphor for what’s been going on for you during those couple of days. Look for the metaphor in your dream. What feels accurate? Where in your life did you feel unprepared? Or was your metaphor more along the lines of over-promising and under-delivering? Or being over-prepared, leaving no room for changing your approach? Or being fearful of judgement? Or feeling you lack talent? You’ll know when you’ve found the connection. You’ll feel a tingly sensation, a kind of knowing, though your logical mind may say, ‘No way!’ Respect the tingly sensation, explore.

There is so much more to dream analysis, but this first step can open your eyes and bless you with new understanding about yourself, your inner world, your unconscious mindset.

My dream reflected the decision I had just made about the new book I’m writing this year, and the last throes of inner conflict about a change of writing approach and style. I came through. By the end of the dream I had resolved the conflict and knew what to do. I woke up feeling confident and energised. I was ready to begin, to place my fingers on my laptop keyboard, to orchestrate words into being.

My previous books were all planned in detail before I began writing. I named chapters, summarised the intended content chapter by chapter, decided upon a style, created a template for each chapter, specified the path I would take to guide readers through a process, or to get my message across. There was rationality in the structure, a solid plan. I was so prepared for each book that I even knew how long it would take me to write. My writing days were planned, x number of writing days at y number of words equals first draft completed by z date. And it worked for each of the six paperback books I have written. Safe within that structure, the actual words I chose were free to find their own expression, as if I were the observer, to surprise me with new twists, insights, metaphors, to write their own examples, to make me smile.

So I have decided on a complete change in approach and style for this new book. I haven’t prepared in my usual ‘classical’ way. I haven’t prepared a structure, marked out days in my diary, plotted the path or even the message. I feel the music. My dream reminded me that some part of me knows how to conduct the flow, to hold my attention in the mesmerised moment. All I need to do is lean into the keyboard and let it flow.

That much I understood at the end of my dream. On the caffeinated wings of my morning coffee, I realised that some part of me is also the musical keyboard in the dream, the instrument or channel for the music, no doubt conducted by my mesmerised in-the-moment intuitive self, free to break free from a pre-planned, logical structure. (Sticking with the metaphor, this may sound like big-noting myself and my abilities, but in dream analysis it’s helpful to look at everything as well as everyone in the dream as representing something about the dreamer.) In short, if I get stuck while I’m writing, I will imagine being the music. This is a form of dream alchemy, moving into a potent dream symbol, giving it – and yourself – more life.

Now, dear discerning audience, there are no big promises here. I may write something wonderful, something inspirational, something profound, or I may write something more akin to a one-fingered rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, but whatever it is, I will enjoy the process.

The night before this dream, I dreamed I was on stage performing in a Shakespeare play. Everyone else knew their lines. I didn’t. I hadn’t prepared. But I got by. As I whispered to one of the other actors, “It’s ok, I don’t know the lines, but I know the general gist”. Much to the other actors’ amusement, I reframed Shakespeare’s beautiful poetry to fit the theme, and even had the audience laughing at one point with my Shakespearean puns. I’m sure they were far funnier in my dream, and I would certainly have been booed off the stage in waking life, but, as a precursor to my keyboard dream, it rather fits the bill, don’t you think?

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Episode 161 The Dream Show: How to move past stuck

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How to move past stuck

Is there one area in your life where you feel stuck, or one problem that you can’t fix no matter how many different solutions you try? In this episode, we go back to basics to see how your dreams can help you to move the apparently immoveable, to solve the apparently unsolvable.

Enjoy this mix of the light-hearted, the deeply serious, and practical tips on working with your dreams to move past stuck, with some entertaining lessons of life thrown in to make you smile.

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Sliding doors and spooky tales

Sliding doors and spooky tales

This little cupboard has moved from house to house within our family for years, and we have always forgiven it for its one fault, doors that open whenever you walk past. The bolt that is designed to keep the doors closed is too short for the task, losing its grip and slipping out at the slightest vibration.

It belongs to my son, Euan, and his wife, Nataly, but from time to time, when they’re overseas, it graces a corner in our home, as it does now.

“I could fix it with a strip of Velcro,” said Euan, steadying the cupboard into place earlier this month. “I don’t know why I haven’t thought of that before. Glue a strip of Velcro on the inside-top edge of each door to hold them onto the cupboard frame.”

“Or magnets,” I added, warming to the theme.

Past solutions have been more temporary, a cocktail stick or feather threaded into the latch to hold the bolt a little tighter. Or a wad of paper, wedge of cardboard, hairclip, rubber band, piece of string, or silk ribbon bow. None of which really worked.

I found some magnets, and several experiments later we were no closer to an adequate solution.

We stood back and thought again. “We could tip the cupboard back a bit,” we announced together. A good idea that, let gravity help us out.

“Or file down the back legs,” suggested Euan, then the cupboard would still look straight.

Aha! We looked at each other and laughed. Euan found his spirit-level app and did the measurement. The cupboard wasn’t level. It was leaning slightly forward, imperceptible to the eye, but enough for gravity to pull on the doors and pop the short bolt aside.

So that was the plan. Euan would file down the back legs so the cupboard would sit straight and level and the doors would remain closed.

We flipped the cupboard upside down. There, on each of its back legs, was a white plastic grommet. There, on each of its front legs, was a telltale hole where screws had once held grommets in place. No wonder the cupboard wasn’t level. We didn’t need Velcro, magnets, cocktail sticks, feathers, wads of paper, wedges of cardboard, hairclips, rubber bands, pieces of string, silk ribbon bows, or a saw to file down the back legs. We just needed two grommets for the front legs.

Better still, Euan simply snapped the grommets from the back legs and popped them onto the front legs, so the cupboard leans ever so slightly backwards, imperceptible to the eye, taking all pressure off the short bolt.

Which all goes to show, we thought, standing back from the big picture, that the way to solve a problem is to get down to basics, fix the foundation upon which everything else depends.

In life, it’s easy to get fixated on the problem you see, and to try and fix it at that level, rather than to explore the foundation of the problem. The problem may relate to a house built on sand, a business built on unserviceable debt, a relationship built on undisclosed expectations, a health regime built on inadequate nutrition, a project built on self doubt, a way of life built on narrow vision.

The house may be a perfectly fine house if built on rock, the business profitable if financed without debt, the relationship rewarding if expectations are negotiated, the health regime healing if supported nutritionally, the project successful if energised by confidence, the way of life richer if built on broader vision.

While it might be easy to point to the sand as a problem foundation for the house, or the unserviceable debt as a problem foundation for the business, it’s not so easy to notice self doubt, narrow vision, or undisclosed expectations as foundations for other problems in our lives. We didn’t know about the missing grommets until we turned the cupboard upside down.

Many of our foundation beliefs about life are unconscious, deeply programmed during our early years. We make choices and take actions (or hold back from taking actions) based on those unconscious beliefs. Some of those unconscious beliefs are good, some not so good. The not so good beliefs may be the source of a problem in your life, in the same way as the missing grommets caused the problem of the cupboard’s doors swinging open when we walked past. When you become aware of those not so good beliefs, you can replace them with better beliefs, in the same way that we became aware of the missing grommets and replaced them.

Dream analysis offers one of the best avenues for discovering unconscious beliefs, and dream alchemy one of the best methods of replacing not so good beliefs with better ones.

I’m reminded of a spooky (true) story here, and I think you’ll enjoy it.

Years ago Michael and I spent a few weeks on an isolated 50 acre property, looking after someone’s house while they were away, testing to see if the lifestyle would suit us.

“The house is haunted, by the way,” the owner said, “but you’ll be ok. You’ll notice doors opening by themselves, that’s all.”

There was a concertina door into the bathroom and, as often as I left it closed I would return to see it wide open. I decided the floor was probably slanted, causing the lightweight door to slip slowly open over a period of time. Or maybe an animal, a cat, a lizard, a snake, was responsible.

One morning, I got out of bed and went into the kitchen to make a cup of tea. I nearly jumped out of my skin when I saw the microwave oven door wide open. It takes force to open a microwave oven door. You’ve got to press the latch, pull it back. No cat, lizard, or snake that I know is capable of that. I felt goosebumps run up my arms as I made the tea.

I took Michael’s tea into the bedroom and told him about the microwave oven door. “Maybe the house is haunted after all,” I said. Up until then, I hadn’t believed in ghosts playing around with doors to spook the living. Now I wasn’t so sure.

Michael’s reaction was completely different to what I had expected. “I got up in the middle of the night,” he said, “and it was so dark that I opened the microwave oven door so I could see by its interior light.”

Was the house haunted? I don’t know, but we were very glad to leave and return to life in the inner city.

Our unconscious beliefs can haunt us, invisibly guiding our choices, spookily opening and closing doors to opportunities. Understanding your dreams can help you become aware of those beliefs and to make conscious choices to build firm, positive foundations for the opportunities you would like to embrace.

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Episode 160 The Dream Show: I dreamed I had died

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Episode 160 The Dream Show: I dreamed I had died

My guest, Alexandra, dreamed she had died. She stood on the path outside the church, and calmly watched the priests emerge from the funeral service into the courtyard, dressed in celebration regalia emblazoned with a glowing fleur-de-lys pattern. They walked in her direction, carrying trays of silver containers, as if bringing her – in her soul form – an offering.

Alexandra’s dream was short, but deeply meaningful. As you’ll hear, Alexandra describes the feeling of standing on the path as being like an out of the body experience, and says she’s had that experience once before, in her waking life. This is a key to understanding her dream, and you’ll hear Alexandra share an experience she’s never shared before.

The Dream Show with Jane Teresa AndersonWhen we talk about a dream, our unconscious mind is engaged – just as it was during the dream – and it often prompts us to recall experiences that are related to what was going on in our life at the time of the dream. You’ll witness that whole process – and the insight and healing it brings – as you listen to this episode.

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The change you bring

The change you bring

So here we are, we of the western world, about to step into another new year. Let’s go back, oh, about 2,500 years. Let’s go back as far as Heraclitus 535-475 BC, the Greek philosopher whose “No man ever steps in the same river twice” so enchantingly encourages us to acknowledge and flow with change.

Change is inevitable. The river flows, so although it may look like the same river, it is not. You cannot step into the same river twice not only because the river has physically changed but because you have changed so you see and experience the river in a different way.

You may be able to influence the way in which the river changes (build a dam, change its course, pollute it, stop polluting it, fish it), but you cannot stop it from changing.

Looking back over 2014, what has changed in your life? What changed in your outer world? What changed in your inner world? What is the most obvious change? What is the most subtle? (For more clarity, do this Samsara Alchemy, an exercise designed to help you gain perspective from the old year before stepping into the new.)

What is the change that you bring to 2015?

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