Monthly Archives: September 2011

Painful emotions in dreams

"I dreamed that my wife married another man."

“I dreamed that my wife married another man. It was such a vivid dream and I felt very devastated, felt the pain of losing her in that way. What does it mean?”

This plea for help arrived on my desk this week, and as it is such a common and worrying dream theme, I decided to share some guidelines for those of you who know the deep emotional pain this kind of dream can deliver in the middle of the night, and the anxiety its imprint can leave over the next few days.

What makes a dream vivid? Think about the last really vivid dream you had. We may describe a dream as being vivid if it was particularly colourful, or unusually clear, or intensely numinous, or if it offered spiritual comfort, or spiritual discomfort, or if taste, smell, touch and hearing senses were heightened. We may regard a dream as vivid because it was unusually surreal, or because it was totally believable, as if it really happened.

Different people will have different opinions on what makes a dream vivid, but they usually have one thing in common – heightened emotion. That emotion may be uplifting, such as intense love, awe, surprise, joy, elation. Or it may be painful, such as intense devastation, loss, betrayal, fear, guilt, horror, shock.

We feel intense emotions in our dreams when those same emotions have been triggered at some level in our waking life.

We feel intense emotions in our dreams when those same emotions have been triggered at some level in our waking life.

We feel intense emotions in our dreams when those same emotions have been triggered at some level in our waking life. Remember, dreams reflect our conscious and unconscious experiences of the last 24-48 hours, and it’s the nature of dreams to be dramatic. The man who felt the pain of loss in his dream about his wife marrying another man, was processing feelings of loss triggered by events during the two days before his dream.

It’s most likely that this man felt a prickle of loss in some area of his life, whether that was in his public or private life, whether it was around his work, his personal life, his spiritual life, his sense of pride, his creativity, his finances, his hopes for the future, his physical health, his long-term goals. The list is endless, but the full details of his dream, once interpreted, would reveal the story and the deeper issues underlying his feelings of loss.

The prickle of loss he felt would have been the tip of the iceberg, the full extent of the emotion remaining unconscious.

The prickle of loss he felt would have been the tip of the iceberg, the full extent of the emotion remaining unconscious.

The prickle of loss he felt would have been the tip of the iceberg, the full extent of the emotion remaining unconscious. (The intensity of the emotion in the dream informs us that it registered deep in his unconscious.) You might think that feeling it lightly (just a prickle) is a good thing, but it’s not. When we push intense emotions down into our unconscious mind, they grow in power. Our unconscious emotions (and beliefs, and experiences) drive the way we live our lives, though we are oblivious to this unless we pay attention to our dreams.

This man was clearly shocked by his dream. The fidelity of his relationship is not in question. This dream is not about his relationship with his wife. It is about an area of his life that he had regarded as committed, settled, secure (like his marriage), but that felt shaky around the time of his dream. His dreaming mind pictured his feeling of painful loss and devastation as being like losing a treasured commitment, a foundation stone of his life – his wife.

This kind of dream can come up when you feel threatened by a change in your life. That change might be good, such as deciding to give up a commitment to a previous plan (perhaps a career or business) to commit to a new and better option, or it might be more challenging, such as losing a job due to your employer’s changed commitments.

When change requires us to give up something of our old way, or our old beliefs or attitudes, we often need to process a deep sense of loss (or we push it into our unconscious to try to avoid the pain). When we choose the change ourselves, the old self can feel abandoned or betrayed by the new self. When change is forced upon us, that sense of abandonment or betrayal may feel closer to the surface, and we may find ourselves blaming outside sources – the employer, the economy, the system – rather than taking the healing route of processing the pain and letting it go.

It is about an area of his life that he had regarded as committed, settled, secure (like his marriage), but that felt shaky around the time of his dream.

It is about an area of his life that he had regarded as committed, settled, secure (like his marriage), but that felt shaky around the time of his dream.

This man dreamed his wife married another man. Somewhere in his life, during the 24-48 hours before his dream, he experienced a shift in commitment which triggered feelings of loss and devastation. His best way forward is to acknowledge these feelings, explore them and understand them so that the choices he makes from now on come from a place of growth rather than from a place of loss.

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Episode 117 The Dream Show: Dream or reality?

Thank you for your help

Jane Teresa Anderson, September 2011Anna, my guest, had one of those once-in-a-lifetime dreams, the kind you never forget. She questioned – was it a dream or an experience?

She awoke with the physical sensation of a loving energy pulsing between her ovaries, and a sense that something extraordinary had taken place while she slept.

Her dream included an exciting powerful entity taking over someone’s body, the search for an item of interest in a cave, and a transporting experience involving chanting and yellow and orange lights.

Listen in as we relate Anna’s dream to her waking life and create dream alchemy to anchor her intention.

The Dream Show, a free monthly podcast with Jane Teresa Anderson

 

PS. The pic at the top of today’s post is a new one, taken last week. I thought I’d share it!

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Best excuses

Best excuses

“Sorry I’m late, Miss. The budgie died.”

That’s the second best excuse I remember a student giving me when I was a high school teacher many years ago. I taught biology and general science for two years, which makes the best excuse I ever received quite interesting:

“Please excuse Mark for missing his lesson this week. He sprained his tendril.”

“Please excuse Mark for missing his lesson this week. He sprained his tendril.”

“Please excuse Mark for missing his lesson this week. He sprained his tendril.”

It was hard to keep a straight face when I read Mark’s Mum’s note, but I did. Mark hobbled a bit getting to his seat, whether for real or for show, so I’m guessing his Achilles tendon was the tendril in question.

I didn’t receive a note when another student missed classes for a few weeks because he was in court, accused of shooting his mate in the neck. Fortunately for his mate, the bullet just grazed the surface, destroying a butterfly tattoo but leaving the spinal cord and windpipe intact. The mate had wronged my student’s girlfriend in some way. “I went home and got my Dad’s gun and aimed at his heart,” my student reportedly said in court.

So much for my biology lessons then.

So much for my biology lessons then.

So much for my biology lessons then. Though no doubt my student felt his heart was very much in his throat that day.

This all came to mind when a dream client alerted me to The great Aussie sickie rort, a segment on A Current Affair (Australian television, Channel 9) this week. A sickie is Australian (Aussie) for a sick day off work, for which you sometimes need a medical certificate from a doctor stating that you are indeed sick and not fit for work that day. The segment claimed that Australians take more sick days off work than any other country in the world, and that people who are not genuinely sick – who just want a day off – often get certificates from doctors who sidestep their professional ethics in these circumstances.

Is “I had a bad dream last night” a valid excuse to take a day off work?

Is “I had a bad dream last night” a valid excuse to take a day off work?

The segment showed journalists fitted out with hidden cameras fronting up to a number of doctors, asking for a medical certificate for a sickie. In some cases they said they were perfectly healthy and just wanted a day off. In other cases they gave what they regarded as lame excuses. One was, “I had a bad dream last night”. (Apart from one doctor who said it was unethical and that his practice would be at risk, the others all gave certificates.)

I’m not saying that having a bad dream is a valid excuse to take a sickie the next day, although a bad dream can be extremely distressing until you understand why you had it and how this insight can help you.

Dreams, once understood, help us to see beneath the surface excuses we often rely on to save us from facing our fears or accepting life’s invitations to evolve.

What excuses do you hear yourself give, either in speaking aloud to others, or in that tiny voice at the back of your mind?

What excuses do you hear yourself give, either in speaking aloud to others, or in that tiny voice at the back of your mind?

What excuses do you hear yourself give, either in speaking aloud to others, or in that tiny voice at the back of your mind that says, “I can’t do that because ….”?

Make a list of your excuses – those you know about and those you notice over the next few days.

Then look to your dreams for deeper insight.

What lies beneath your excuses?

How can this deeper insight free you to move forward – with no excuses?

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When you wake up crying

You feel much better after a cry.

When you wake up crying real tears, or simply feeling profoundly sad for no apparent reason, it’s because you have finally touched upon some buried grief through a dream. You may have released it all, or there may be more to come. Either way, this is good and healing. (Don’t you always feel much better after a cry?) Even if you don’t remember the dream, rest assured that tears are better out than in, and although you may become more aware, in the next few days, of a past event that caused you grief, you are well on the way to finally letting it go and moving on.

There will be times, in your past, where you were unable to express your grief, or where you felt you should try to hide it.

There will be times, in your past, where you were unable to express your grief, or where you felt you should try to hide it.

There will be times, in your past, where you were unable to express your grief, or where you felt you should try to hide it. Perhaps ‘boys don’t cry’, or you were advised to ‘keep a stiff upper lip’, or you accepted a hurtful situation as normal or something to be endured, so you packed grief away, out of sight. Or perhaps the only way to get through a situation was to pretend to yourself that it wasn’t happening, or wasn’t important, or that you were coping wonderfully, or needed to smile for others, or that you had already healed.

The deeper wound still hurts, affecting how you live your life.

The deeper wound still hurts, affecting how you live your life.

These, and other forms of denial, are like bandaids. They work on the surface, but the deeper wound still hurts, affecting how you live your life.

One day the grief finally breaks through – perhaps accompanied by a dream of a dam bursting, or a tsunami breaking – and you wake up crying.

If you can remember your dream, look for clues about your grief, as understanding the past will help you to accelerate your healing.

 

What age is the child?

What age is the child?

Look for a young child or younger person who seems sad, or hurt, or trying to cover up his or her feelings.

What age is the child?

Ask what happened for you at that age, or that number of years ago. It doesn’t matter whether the child or person looks like you. He or she most likely symbolises the event or your hurt.

Also look for historical markers in your dream, perhaps cars, houses, clothes, or numbers that help to give you a time period to explore.

When you have found the source of your grief, do this dream alchemy practice:

Visualise hugging and comforting yourself as you were back then, or hugging and comforting the child in the dream.

Visualise hugging and comforting yourself as you were back then, or hugging and comforting the child in the dream.

Close your eyes, and visualise hugging and comforting yourself as you were back then, or hugging and comforting the child in the dream. Let her cry all her tears dry, then let her smile and laugh and grow strong and happy. Tell her how wonderful her life will be now that her tears have washed it all away, and see her growing, before your eyes, changing and becoming a strong, happy, powerful, and relieved new you. Merge with her in your mind’s eye, and take her, fully healed, into your heart.

[Extract from 101 Dream Interpretation Tips, Jane Teresa Anderson]

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Rosewood laptop

Euan's guitar

It was one of those moments when an unusual symbol from my dream popped up in waking life the next day. What does it mean when this happens?

On Wednesday night I dreamed I untangled and unplugged a heap of electrical wiring to get to my very ordinary looking Acer laptop. As I smoothed the palm of my hand across the lid of the freed laptop I saw that it was no longer the standard silvery grey metal. It was a rich, warm, rosewood, inlaid with an intricate pattern of rare woods.

My dream laptop lid was rosewood inlaid with rich rare woods, rarer than this antique Regency brass-inlaid rosewood mantle clock.

My dream laptop lid was rosewood inlaid with rich rare woods, rarer than this antique Regency brass-inlaid rosewood mantle clock.

On waking, I interpreted my dream. I saw the rosewood laptop as a symbol of keeping my work in balance, balancing the online (electrical wiring) with the offline (unplugged), the mental work (metal, in the office on the computer) with the intuitive work (wood, natural world, seeing deeply inlaid patterns), my time spent online with clients (plugged into skype) with time spent offline with clients (unplugged from the internet, meeting face to face).

The next day – yesterday – I had more of an unplugged day, including having lunch with my son, Euan.

“I bought a new guitar,” Euan said, “a 1994 Maton ecw80.” He picked it up and played a tune, delightfully rich, subtly inlaid, a big improvement on his previous model.

“Is it rosewood?” I asked, knowing nothing about rosewood, but thinking about my dream.

“The fretboard is Brazilian rosewood,” he said, “beautiful, rare now, an endangered species.”

“The fretboard is Brazilian rosewood,” he said, “beautiful, rare now, an endangered species.” (Euan's guitar, also pictured at top of this post.)

“The fretboard is Brazilian rosewood,” he said, “beautiful, rare now, an endangered species.” (Euan’s guitar, also pictured at top of this post.)

Euan is a professional singer-songwriter and songwriting coach, whose work also involves a mix of the online and offline, the plugged and the unplugged.

What does it mean when a dream symbol appears in some form the following day? Euan had a new guitar, not a new laptop. To be accurate, it was a dream motif that appeared in my waking life in the shape of Euan’s rare rosewood guitar, a major transformation compared to his previous one.

When a dream motif spills into waking life the following day, pay extra attention to your dream. Dreams reflect your waking life experiences, and your waking life experiences reflect the many levels of your being. Synchronicity is a good label. There are others. There’s also value in simply abandoning the mental need for logic and appreciating the intuitive meaningfulness of the moment.

This morning I Googled rosewood laptops.

“Why be ordinary when you can be extraordinary?” asked one website selling rosewood laptop coverings. Not for me though. The rosewood on offer was vinyl. Not the real thing. Superficial.

I found other sites that show you how to make your own wood veneer casings for laptops. Closer, but nothing like the deep, full, inlaid rosewood of my dream.

There are laptops covered in diamonds for around $300,000, real superficial stuff as it seems the laptops are under-powered.

If you were a musical instrument, what kind of instrument would you be? (Euan in performance.)

If you were a musical instrument, what kind of instrument would you be? (Euan in performance.)

But then my dream was never about laptops. It was about me. Just as your dreams, and all the symbols and motifs within them, are all about you.

If you were a laptop, what kind of laptop would you be? If you were a musical instrument, what kind of instrument would you be? If you were a song, what song would you be?

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