Category Archives: Dream alchemy

Dream alchemy practices are simple exercises using symbols from your dream to reprogram unconscious beliefs – to rewire your brain – to bring positive change into your life.

Silent voices

Silent voices

“You’ll live to regret it if you don’t try,” “It’s too risky,” “Change is good,” “You’ll lose everything you’ve worked for,” “It’s everything you’ve ever worked for,” “Better to be safe than sorry,” “You’ll get hurt again,” “You’ll be happy,” “Opportunities like this come once in a lifetime,” “It looks too good to be true,” “You’ll blossom,” “You’ll fail,” “Listen to your heart,”  “Think it through.”

Faced with a big decision, we hear our many familiar voices, perhaps the voice of reason, the voice of dissent, the voice of hope, the voice of fear, and a chorus of others, sometimes in accord, more often in conflict. These are the voices of our beautiful, multifaceted being, the voices of our experiences, our beliefs, the voices of society, our parents and teachers, the voices that have influenced us, and the voices we have evolved, developed, and made our own.

These are the voices we know about. The voices we take into account as we make our decisions, all the while overlooking the far more powerful voices silently whispering deeply in our unconscious mind.

It’s our unconscious voices, the ones we don’t know about, the one’s we don’t consciously hear, that frequently drive the way we live our lives, the way we make our decisions, the decisions we make.

You’ve been there I’m sure. You’ve thought something through, weighed all the pros and cons, made your final decision, then either failed to act on it or taken the other option, the path you had rejected. What happened there? Your unconscious mind took charge.

Now that would be fine if your unconscious mind was wise, and sometimes it is.  There are wonderful times when your intuition nudges you to take a leap of faith that seems quite contrary to your carefully thought-out plan, and it works brilliantly. There are wonderful times when you act as if you were guided by a divine power, choosing quite a different path from the one you had just decided upon, a path that turns out to be positively life-changing.

But there are many times when your unconscious mind is not so wise, when fear and limiting beliefs take the driver’s seat and swerve you from your best laid plans and intentions.

Like your conscious voices, your unconscious voices are the voices of your experiences, beliefs, the voices of society, your parents and teachers, the voices that have influenced you, but, unlike your conscious voices, you have lost touch with these. Some may be the shadow side of your being, the aspects of yourself that you repress, and some may be voices too distressed or too hurt to bear, voices you have blocked from conscious memory. Repressed voices may include those with positive qualities like self-esteem, intelligence, and courage that you have shut away because they feel too confronting. Still other unconscious voices may be expressions of your spiritual being, your bigger, wiser Self awaiting reconnection.

Since these unconscious voices can drive you so powerfully, it makes sense to get to know and understand them, to negotiate with them, to heal their pain, to discover their treasure. So how can you do this?

You meet your unconscious voices in your dreams. They are the voices of your dream characters, and they are the voices of the other elements in your dreams, the landscape (what might a desert say to you, if you listen carefully?), the weather (what does thunder express?), the buildings (if this dream house could speak, what would it say?), the animals, indeed all the symbols.

One of the most insightful and healing dream alchemy practises you can do is to imagine getting the key dream people and symbols from a single recent dream around a table to talk with each other. The best way to do this is to use your keyboard or a piece of paper and pen, and list the characters and symbols down the left hand side – like a movie script – and then, without too much thought, to write their conversation. You may feel you’re imagining the talk, making it up, being playful with it, and you are, but that very imagining is revealing the unconscious voices within you that they represent.

Some voices just need to be heard and acknowledged. You may discover a voice with a grudge, a hurt, a grief, and once you have acknowledged this, it dissipates. It has let go. It has lost its unconscious power over you.

Some voices may need more soothing, more healing, and you’ll find that your imaginary talk may evolve into group therapy with all your dream characters and symbols finding new perspective, overcoming conflict, finding peaceful resolution. As your unconscious voices talk it out on paper, you’ll feel the shift as inner conflict begins to resolve. You may feel emotional release, you may cry, you may laugh, you may suddenly feel light, you will notice spontaneous clarity, and a growing sense of peace.

So next time you’re curious about why things don’t seem to turn out quite right for you, or why you find it difficult to make decisions, or why you seem to sabotage your best intentions, line up your dream characters for a group therapy session, and listen to what they have to say.

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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

 

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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Episode 162 The Dream Show: The hidden key

 

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 160 The Dream Show: I dreamed I had died

 

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.

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When 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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Episode 159 The Dream Show: The old and the new

 

Episode 159 The Dream Show: The old and the new

Patti, my guest, was keen talk about her dream because she’s at a pivotal point in her life. She’s taking time out, making major decisions, and wanting to gather as much insight as she can to assist her in creating the shape of her future.

Patti has worked with me before on a dream and found the dream alchemy profoundly life-changing, so when she noticed signs in this new dream of dilemmas and not being able to see her way clearly, she decided to enlist my help while sharing the process with you on The Dream Show.

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Patti’s dream features two bikes, her new one, and one she had 10-20 years ago. At one point she’s riding in the dark, unable to see clearly, frightened of crashing. At another point she panics about leaving the front tyre of her old bike behind. There are places to back out of, places to explore and enjoy, and a mysterious DVD that Patti would prefer to check out than buy for the $43 asking price. Why $43?

Join Patti and me as we journey into her dream, relate it to what’s going on in her life, draw the deeper insights she’s seeking, and create dream alchemy for her to do to ensure best outcomes.

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Episode 158 The Dream Show: A house with potential

 

Episode 158 The Dream Show: A house with potential

Meet Lisa, my guest, who dreamed of a derelict house with a mix of funky and antique furniture, and great views from the steeply sloping garden. Should they buy the house? There were pros and cons, and because this was a dream, some of the cons were pretty outrageous: beds floating in an elevator shaft, a sinkhole in the garden, but, then again, it had some good things going for it too, and they were prepared to do some work.

How to decide between the pros and cons, in the dream and in life? Or are the pros and cons figments of the imagination, dependent on our personal experience, beliefs, and ways of looking at the world?

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There are some strong emotive elements in Lisa’s dream that help her to connect with her deeper feelings and gain fresh positive perspective on her situation.

There’s something for everyone in this episode: tips on dream interpretation, dream alchemy, and life lessons to explore and share. Enjoy.

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Even mountains flow

Even mountains flow
Yesterday I posted a quote, “Even mountains flow”, to Facebook. Did you see it? What does it mean to you? Did it linger in your mind during the day? Did you return to it, ponder it, come up with different interpretations for it?

How do mountains flow in the physical world? Count the ways before reading on.

We might think of mountains as solid, reliably static defining features of our landscape. We might chip away at them, quarrying rock, building roads, blasting tunnels, but still think of the mountain itself as firmly anchored, holding its place.

In the physical world, a mountain flows naturally on a grand scale when it’s an erupting volcano, or rumbling and shifting during an earthquake, or dissolving in torrential mudslide. On a smaller scale it flows as it erodes, tumbling boulders and pebbles, or fine particles of wind-blown, foot-trodden, rain-washed sand. It flows, shifts, changes over time. Over eons, mountains grow, move, change shape, and erase.  They flow across the planet, into and out of existence.

A mountain flows with plant and animal life, with the changing seasons, with rivers and waterfalls, with melting ice, with new life after fire. It flows grass and wild flowers around the edges and over man’s digging, building, tunnelling, and treading. It flows to reclaim, heal, and find new ways of expressive being.

Of course you know that my writing is about our inner life, and dreams, so you’re probably already flowing ahead of me.

As you contemplate the apparently immoveable flowing, as you count the ways in which even mountains flow, your inner world is responding to the suggestions offered by the metaphor. You may not yet be consciously aware of this process, or you may already be beginning to notice some feelings, urgings, new ideas and perspectives popping into your mind where before there was resistance to change.

Even mountains flow

Even mountains flow, Jane Teresa Anderson

Life is change, and change is life. There are many ways to go with the flow (and to choose how to experience it), and there are many ways to observe the flow and decide on a change of course.

Dreams, dreams! Yes, I hear you!

Many of our dreams are metaphors for the ways we handle life. The dreaming mind or brain processes our conscious and unconscious experiences of the last couple of days, compares these to our past experiences, and updates our mindset accordingly. The part of the brain that deals with this is better at metaphors than logic.

If you dream of running from an overwhelming tsunami, ask yourself where, in your life in the last couple of days, that metaphor applies. If you dream of being confronted by a snarling wolf, where does that metaphor apply?

If you can identify a metaphor in your dream, and the parallel situation in your life, explore the dream metaphor, open it up and find ways of looking at it from different angles, find lots of solutions to the dream problem. Explore how you might tame the tsunami, fly above it, delve into it and ride it, soothe it into calm, promise to sit down and listen to what it has to say and work out a way to deal with it, or surrender to it, or heal it. It’s a metaphor so you don’t have to be logical.

As you explore and work with the metaphor in this way, you are simultaneously exploring and working with the parallel situation in your life. Your perspectives will shift, feelings will emerge, new approaches will occur to you, new solutions will present themselves, and you will notice that you begin to automatically respond to the life situation in better ways. Yes, this is a form of dream alchemy, and it can powerfully shift the apparently immoveable.

Even mountains flow, so you can too.

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Episode 156 The Dream Show: A spiritual vibe

 

A spiritual vibe

My guest, Liza, dreamed she was violated by a plumber at her grandmother’s house, and yet, as the dream progressed, the positive energy lifted. There was the welcoming of an Aboriginal ghost couple into her current home, and someone commented that there was a beautiful vine growing outside her house and a lovely spiritual vibe inside. Vibe, and vine – do we have some word play going on here?

“Look, I can levitate,” Liza told her Mum, “can you?” As you listen you’ll discover that Liza’s dream is about rising above challenges, integrating ghosts of the past, and finding a spiritual perspective on her life, but I won’t spoil the story.

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Liza described her dream as provocative and controversial as it begins with the violation, the rape, which she began to like in the dream.

The dream is symbolic, not a repressed memory of physical rape, so what does it mean, and how does it relate to Liza’s life?

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