Monthly Archives: October 2011

Dream journeys

She runs to catch the bus with a heap of luggage.

 

“Every night the same scene appears in her dreams: a bus, people getting on. She runs to catch it, with a heap of luggage. However, when she reaches the stop, the bus closes the door and leaves. Without her. Nearly every night, for several months, this dream repeats, turning into a nightmare.”

Dana-Sofie Šlancarová, a dream coach, dream interpreter, and dream interpretation lecturer from the Czech Republic, tells this story of a clients’ recurring dream and the dream alchemy practice she created that stopped the dream and brought rewarding changes into her waking life.

Dana-Sofie recently presented her work on dreams to the Inner Winner Festival in Prague, for which she also published a dialogue with me where we talk about dreaming and working with dreams. (You can read the dialogue in English or in Czech.)

Back to Dana-Sofie’s story about her client’s recurring bus dream:

“She realized that the cause of her missing the bus is the amount of luggage she constantly carries with her. As part of the dream alchemy practice she created a different version of the dream:

She walks – slowly and surely – with one stylish handbag to the bus stop.

She walks – slowly and surely – with one stylish handbag to the bus stop.

She walks – slowly and surely – with one stylish handbag to the bus stop. She reaches the stop before the bus comes. Then she gets in and departs. Changes in her waking life followed. She was able to put away her luggage of old thoughts and beliefs that prevented her from living in true freedom and following her inner truth. She lost twenty pounds, quit the job she did not like and started to make a living in a profession that gave her joy and fulfilment.”

Much of working with our dreams is about identifying the beliefs and thoughts that weigh us down and hold us back. Identifying them, understanding where they came from and why we accepted them, deciding which beliefs still serve us well and which we would do well to release, and then applying dream alchemy techniques that actually do that releasing for us, replacing the old luggage with uplifting wings.

Dana-Sofie Šlancarová

Dana-Sofie Šlancarová

Dana-Sofie and I discuss categories of dreams, Aboriginal Dreaming, how and why we each chose to work with dreams professionally, how working with dreams can be incorporated into life coaching and working with companies, and much more. Enjoy:

Interview in English
Interview in Czech
Dana-Sofie’s website in English
Dana-Sofie’s website in Czech

 

 

 

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Episode 118 The Dream Show: When you fall in a dream …

Thank you for your help

It's commonly said that if you fall in a dream and hit the ground, you'll die. Is it true?

Adelaide, my guest in this month’s episode, dreamed of falling from a window. She hit the ground and thought she had died, but a passing cat licked her face and revived her.

Later in her dream, she found the perfect home – old, falling apart, holes in the walls, a broken drinking glass in the kitchen. Yes, she thought it was wonderful! The real estate agent couldn’t believe she wanted to live there, but Adelaide felt it was just right, exactly as it was. No renovation or repair required.

It’s commonly said that if you fall in a dream and hit the ground, you’ll die in your sleep. Definitely not true! These dreams are exciting milestones.

The Dream Show, a free monthly podcast with Jane Teresa AndersonListen in to find out why, and to hear how my interpretation corresponds with what is happening in Adelaide’s life.

Dream interpretation, dream therapy, and dream alchemy combine to help Adelaide move forward in wonderful ways.

Listen here.

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Life lessons

Are we meant to learn lessons from our dreams?

“Are we meant to learn lessons from our dreams?” asked Cheryl, in an email I received this week. It’s a good question, both simple and complex, and one many people ask. So, are we meant to learn lessons from our dreams?

I’ve been watching Isobel, my eight month old granddaughter, learning to crawl. You might think crawling is innate, an instinct, but not all babies crawl before they can walk. Some progress directly from sitting to standing and walking, while others get mobile by rolling around, or shuffling on their bottoms, or scrabbling on hands and feet rather than on hands and knees.

Must you crawl before you can walk?

Must you crawl before you can walk?

Newborns have an instinctive crawling reflex. If you place a newborn on her mother’s tummy, she will usually do the ‘breast crawl’, crawling up to latch on to her mother’s nipple.  If you place babies onto their tummies in their first weeks of life, you will see little movements like crawling. Although they don’t make any forward movement, this action is believed to help protect them from asphyxiation when lying face down. The instinct seems to disappear after a few weeks, and since babies in some cultures never crawl, it appears that crawling is just one of many possible solutions babies find to satisfy a drive to get mobile before they work out how to walk.

Here’s what I’ve learned from watching Isobel learn to crawl.

The most important thing is the toy she wants to get to. It’s all about keeping her eye on the prize. Locked on all fours, swaying, getting nowhere, you can almost hear her thinking, searching for a solution. At least, that’s my interpretation of what’s going on!

Does this remind you of a situation in your life, now or in the past, where you know what you want to achieve, but you can’t seem to get it happening? Or you can’t quite work out exactly what to do? Or you just feel stuck?

What do you do next? Keep trying? Get frustrated? Look for a different solution? Give up? Feel like a failure? Cry for help?

What do you do next? Keep trying? Get frustrated? Look for a different solution? Give up? Feel like a failure? Cry for help?

What do you do next? Keep trying? Get frustrated? Look for a different solution? Give up? Feel like a failure? Cry for help?

What is the right thing to do? Is there a life lesson here?

Some argue for persistence. Stick with the formula, stick with doing what you’re doing, and you will eventually succeed. Others argue the opposite. If what you’re doing isn’t working, then you need to change what you’re doing.

Isobel might have found a different way to get mobile. She got pretty good at doing the roly poly, which, by adding a wriggle here and there, sort of got her to where she wanted to be, but crawling still intrigued her, so she spent more time swaying on all fours, thinking. And growing stronger. After a few days, she tried hefting both legs at the same time, and then finally worked out the cross crawl pattern – move right knee and left hand, then left knee and right hand. Now she’s building up the strength to go more than four little crawls at a time.

What can you take from Isobel’s story to apply to a situation where you feel stuck?

Is the resistance you feel actually assistance in disguise?

Is the resistance you feel actually assistance in disguise?

Are you really stuck? Or, like a baby swaying on all fours, are you really in training, practising and acquiring accessary skills, gaining strengths, developing and refining systems, even if all you’ve got is a feeling of getting nowhere? Is the resistance you feel actually assistance in disguise? Is giving up the best solution, or might today be the day when everything you have learned finally clicks into co-ordination and, quite suddenly, you achieve your goal?

“You can’t walk before you can crawl,” is a commonly quoted life lesson. Not necessarily true when considered literally. Generally true metaphorically.

I’m not sure what kind of lessons Cheryl was referring to when she asked if we are we meant to learn lessons from our dreams, but I do know that our dreams process our conscious and unconscious experiences of the last 24-48 hours, matching them to our past experiences before filing them away as ‘same old’ or ‘new’. So our dreams reflect our personal beliefs about life – the life lessons we have drawn and relied upon (same old), and new life lessons in the making.

The more we share and compare what our life lessons have taught us, the closer we move towards living our lives meaningfully.

The more we share and compare what our life lessons have taught us, the closer we move towards living our lives meaningfully.

The lessons I draw from my life experiences may be different from the lessons you draw, and the lessons you drew when you were ten may be different from the lessons you will draw when you are ninety. What seems right or feels right or works right for you may be totally wrong for me, but the more we share and compare what our life lessons have taught us, the closer we move towards living our lives meaningfully.

When you interpret your dreams, you understand the unconscious patterns of your life. You see how you live your life according to the personal lessons you have learned, and you see which of those life lessons are working well for you, and which are not. It’s never too late to learn (oh, that’s a universal life lesson, by the way), and if it’s meaningful life lessons you’re after, look into your dreams to understand your life, how it has shaped you, and how you can choose to shape it.

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Dream catcher machine

Imagine downloading movie clips of your dreams each morning.

Imagine downloading movie clips of your dreams each morning.

“What did you dream last night?”

“No idea. Hang on a minute, I’ll have a look.”

Research published this month in the journal Current Biology has led to speculation that this may be possible in decades to come. While no-one has yet captured footage of dreams, what they have captured is computerised reconstructions of what’s going on in the visual area of the brains of people watching movie clips. The computers processed information from fMRI scanners measuring the visual brain activity of volunteers watching movie clips, and came up with good, though blurry, matches.

Top row: original movie clip images. Bottom row: computer reconstructions of same images from brain scans of volunteers watching the movies. Photo: Shinji Nishimoto

Top row: original movie clip images. Bottom row: computer reconstructions of same images from brain scans of volunteers watching the movies. Photo: Shinji Nishimoto

The computers had been programmed to recognise certain images from the brain activity data, such as people, and not other images, such as elephants, but faced with the task the computers constructed what one of the researchers, Jack Gallant, described as “a shambling mound” when the brain in question was watching an elephant moving across the screen.

Gallant, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Berkeley, sees the technology as being potentially useful for stroke patients in the future, and also speculated on using the approach to reveal dreams and hallucinations.

"I'd give 50 or 100 dollars to see dreams of mine with that (current level of) quality." - Marcel Just

“I’d give 50 or 100 dollars to see dreams of mine with that (current level of) quality.” – Marcel Just

Marcel Just, director of the Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging at Carnegie Mellon University, (who didn’t participate in the study), said, “I’d give 50 or 100 dollars to see dreams of mine with that [current level of] quality.”

Wow. Yet with a little training he’d be able to remember his dreams in vivid detail, as well as recall the experience of being totally immersed in each dream instead of watching it, objectively, as a blurred movie.

And there’s the key thing – the dream experience. No doubt this technology, if ever it were developed into a dream recording device, would incorporate information from other areas of the brain involved in sensing dreams – hearing, tasting, smelling, touching – as well as recording the dreamer’s emotional responses.

A dream cannot be interpreted from visuals alone, just as a dream cannot be interpreted by looking up dream symbols in a dream dictionary. Two dreams might look the same from a visual perspective, but much of the interpretation depends on each dreamer’s emotions within the dream, on the verbals, the sensual experiences, and so much more.

How do you see the elephant in your dream? Majestic? Weary? Shambling?

How do you see the elephant in your dream? Majestic? Weary? Shambling?

An elephant in my dream may look just like an elephant in your dream, but you might describe your elephant as majestic, or weary, and I might describe the elephant in my dream as shambling. The interpretation of our dreams in each case would be different, as our different perceptions of the same animal reveal something about us as individuals.

So what does that say about Jack Gallant’s interpretation of the computerised image of an elephant as a shambling mound?

More info: news article

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