Category Archives: Dream interpretation

Posts about dream interpretation, or where dreams are interpreted.

The secret of life

The Secret of Life

When I was about six or seven, an aunt gave me an autograph book for my birthday. I can still picture it, a padded matt white vinyl cover with an illustration of a modish 1960s lady, pen poised in her hand, and lots of different coloured, invitingly blank pages. My dad wanted to be first to write in my book, and he spent what seemed like hours looking through a ‘quote a day’ calendar to find exactly the right saying.

I treasured that book, and all these decades later I can still remember some of the quotes and sayings and who wrote them. I took them all to heart.

My grandmother chose a 1950s favourite:

“Little puffs of powder,
Little dabs of paint,
Make a girl’s complexion,
Look what it ain’t.”

I always took that to mean that too much makeup smothered your authentic beauty, but now I look at the words again, it could also be about the positives of the grownup art of beautification. My grandmother and my mother used puffs of powder and lipstick, nothing else. I just use lipstick. I wonder how much that autograph has influenced me throughout my life.

My school teacher chose:

“Eat no green apples
Or you’ll droop,
Be careful not to get the croup,
Avoid the chickenpox and such,
And don’t fall out of windows much.”

I’d already had the croup and chickenpox, so all I had to do was avoid green apples and windows. I’ve just Googled, so now I know these words were originally penned by Edward Anthony.

I loved the rhyme and rhythm of those autographs, and the thinking they made me do, as a child, because they seemed to be straightforward and yet they weren’t.

Dad sat at the table, surrounded by 365 little tear-off pages from last year’s calendar, arranged into piles of suitable autograph sayings. Finally, he couldn’t decide between two, so I got “The person who knows everything never gets far,” and:

“The secret of life is not to do what you like,
But to like what you do.”

Mr Google hasn’t been able to help me find an original source for Dad’s choice which has both puzzled and inspired me, sometimes to like what I do, and sometimes to do what I like.

Surely the secret, as adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-Step programs from Reinhold Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer is:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.”

Plus a little Buddhist attitude:

“Before Enlightenment chop wood carry water, after Enlightenment, chop wood carry water.”

Where, in your life, have you chosen to like what you do? How has this approach blessed you?

Where, in your life, have you chosen to do something you like, something you otherwise wouldn’t have done if you were focussed on liking what you do? How has this approach blessed you?

Recently I have been enjoying writing my own sayings or musings and popping them onto images to share. Here’s one:

Danced by Love Jane Teresa Anderson

“Driven by fear or
Danced by love?

You choose
Heartbeat by heartbeat.”

Does it resolve the issue of whether to do what you like or to like what you do? What do you think?

The tricky bit is that we often don’t know when our choices and actions are driven by fear. We are all too easily driven by unconscious fear. The other tricky bit is that sometimes we need to discover love and how to be danced by it.

As a dream analyst I am blessed to be able to do the work I like, and to help people look into their dreams to see their unconscious fears and the enormity of their love, to help them know which of their choices in life are driven – consciously or unconsciously – by fear, and to help them surrender to be danced by love.

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Episode 158 The Dream Show: A house with potential

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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?

The Dream Show with Jane Teresa AndersonThere 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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Episode 157 The Dream Show: Lucid dreaming soul mate

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Episode 157 The Dream Show: Lucid dreaming soul mate

My guest, Scott, taught himself how to lucid dream when he was a young boy, and has been experimenting in his lucid dreams for the past three decades. Scott shares his experiences, including his lucid dreams of meeting friends who have died. We talk about the pros and cons of controlling dreams, and we look at some recurring dream themes Scott has encountered during this time.

The Dream Show with Jane Teresa AndersonA few weeks ago, Scott dreamed he met a beautiful woman and woke up thinking, “I’m in love!” Listen as we explore this dream, discover how it relates to what’s been happening recently in Scott’s life, and see how Scott can use this new dream insight to assist him as he moves through a powerfully healing transition.

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Episode 156 The Dream Show: A spiritual vibe

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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.

The Dream Show with Jane Teresa AndersonLiza 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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To dream of death means …

To dream of death means ...

“My mum says that when you dream of death it means there’s going to be a birth in the family,” said Georgie, although she was clearly disturbed about her own dream of a gravestone freshly engraved with an illegible name.

I was interpreting dreams on Mix 106.3FM Canberra’s Breakfast Show earlier this week, and Georgie had called to ask about her dream where she walked through a rose archway and stood beside her uncle looking at the gravestone, trying to read the name.

If we’d had time to deeply explore, we would have been able to work out why Georgie’s dreaming mind pictured a rose archway (not another flower, or not merely a stone archway, or a gate), and why she was accompanied by her uncle. We would have been able to explore the other details of her dream, what happened before she walked through the archway, what dramas were involved, and how she was feeling.  These things are all important.

You can’t take a dream dictionary approach to understanding dreams because our dream symbols are personal, plucked from our past experiences and blended with our recent experiences to help paint an up-to-the-minute picture of how we see the world.

My approach to training dream analysts is to help them apply what I call the dynamic methods – analysing the flow of the dream, the dramas, the feelings, the patterns and perspectives, and more – before considering symbols. Much of the meaningful insight into a dream, and into the dreamer’s mindset and approach to waking life, is achieved in this way before delving into the symbols. Then, and only then, do we enjoy applying methods to unmask personal symbols and, as one of my recent students put it, ‘nail it’.

Georgie, of course, was concerned that her dream was a premonition, either of death (her uncle, herself) if she took the dream literally, or of a birth in the family if her mum’s cultural understanding, passed through many generations, was correct.

On very rare occasions our dreams may be premonitions, and some people regularly experience dreaming about people they know who have either just died (unbeknown to the dreamer) or are about to die. But these are rare and special cases. Look back over the dreams you remember: you’ve probably had several dreams about death, all of which were symbolic.

Death is a very common dream theme, and often reflects a feeling that something (not someone) is coming to an end, or losing energy and vitality. Change is the nature of life, and to grow and flow often requires us to let go of what no longer serves us. Dreams may picture our struggles with this in themes of holding on, letting go, falling, flying, death, birth, conflict and so on. Think dynamics, rather than symbols.

Many traditional cultures believe that dreams of death predict a birth in the family. Historically, these cultures tended to have big nuclear families, big extended families, and plenty of ‘pretend’ uncles and aunties and cousins from the wider community. With death dreams being common, it’s no surprise that a fair number of death dreams may have coincided with family births – especially if you allow a few months between the dream and the birth announcement.

On the other hand, maybe these cultures understood that dreaming of endings paved the way for new beginnings, but their metaphors got taken literally along the way.

Many traditional cultures believe that dreams of losing teeth predict a death in the family. Dreams of losing teeth, and dreams of death, are two of the most common dream themes worldwide. Sooner or later at least some of those dreams are going to coincide with news of death or birth in the family.

Georgie’s mum has probably frequently mentioned her belief that dreams of death predict a birth in the family, so if Georgie had a bit of an inkling that someone was pregnant or about to give birth, her dreaming mind might bring up the death dream as a personal symbol of her feelings about the impending birth.

I bet you want to know what I said to Georgie on the radio show, don’t you?

I reminded Georgie that our dreams reflect the last 1-2 days, and said that I felt her dream reflected a recent change where she has come through (like walking through the arch) a situation with hope and vitality (like the roses) and is ready to put something from the past to rest (the gravestone).

“How does that sound?’ I asked. Along with the relief, came the confirmation, Georgie’s recognition of how the dream relates to her life.

That’s one of the things I love about doing radio work: the moment people can relate the interpretation to what has been going on during the last couple of days, their fear of a scary dream being literal evaporates and they have something meaningful and helpful to take into their daily life. And the message filters through to the listeners as well. Once we lose the fear of our dreams, and dedicate time to exploring them more deeply, they have so much to teach us about ourselves and the ways in which we walk through this world.

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Episode 155 The Dream Show: Be inspired

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Your-Dreams-on-Ponderabout.com

What do you think of this image? The guys at ponderabout.com came across one of my prose poems, and created this image to share on their inspirational site. It surprised me when they asked for my permission to publish one of my prose poems because I didn’t know that I had written any. I thought they must have got me mixed up with someone else, but when I looked at the image, I recognised my words, given fresh perspective. Plucked from the heart of my original article, laid out in prose poem format, given design treatment and embellished with a cartoon, the words took on more emphasis. I was inspired by their idea to treat more of my work in this way.

Actually, I’ve been blessed with a few creative inspirations this week, so I thought I’d make ‘Be Inspired’ the theme of this episode.

The Dream Show with Jane Teresa AndersonListen as we delve into some of the points listed on the image, and discover how to be inspired by looking at life from different perspectives, ranging from the perspective of your dreams to the imagined perspective of a steaming pile of cow poo. At the end of the podcast I give you a ‘Be inspired’ checklist, suggesting you pick just one (ok maybe more than one) to follow into action today. Enjoy.

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What’s your problem?

What's your problem?

Is there a problem you’re trying to solve in your life right now? Or maybe you prefer a more positive spin: Is there a challenge you’re encountering, ripe with opportunity and blessings that you’ve yet to see?

Looking back, what was the last problem you solved, and how did you do it? What was the last challenge you encountered, and how did you find the opportunities and blessings it offered?

The problems and challenges we face in our day to day lives are nightly processed in our dreams, although it takes a trained eye to see through the surreal dream drama into the working of the mind that created it. Once you know how to do this, you’ll see that most of our dreams reflect the problems or challenges we’re facing, and the inner conflicts (usually unconscious and such a surprise to us when we identify them) that hold us back from finding solutions.

Sometimes our dreaming mind finds a solution to a problem, or the opportunity in a challenge, and we wake up automatically wiser. We may not understand the dream, but the solution or opportunity will seemingly magically appear to us during the day. At other times, even though the dreaming mind comes up with a great solution, it may not trickle through to waking consciousness, or may take time to brew, or may be overridden by other issues that come up for us in the days that follow.

More often, though, our dreaming mind fails to find a solution to the problem or an opportunity in the challenge. The processing loops around the same old solutions we have tried before, the same old ways of looking at the situation, the same old ways of believing there’s a problem when perhaps it’s a problem of our own perspective. In this way, our dreams can reinforce our mindset, our conscious and unconscious beliefs, conflicts, and automatic habitual ways of seeing and responding in the world.

It’s quite comical really, the grand design that gives our problem-solving work to the very mind that is generally wired against seeing the solution. We struggle, blind, until we see. Then we can look back on our old way of perceiving the problem – on our limited perception – and see the funny side.

That said, there are ways to approach a dream, to break it down, to identify the problem and the limited beliefs (conscious and unconscious) that prevent you from seeing solutions.

Sometimes it turns out NOT to be about finding solutions, but about why you see a problem at all.

Here’s an extract from my book, The Compass, to illustrate this.

“Imagine your problem is a mountain blocking your path. You have just turned a corner and there it is, right in front of you, obstructing your access to the path beyond. From where you stand, you can see one steep, jagged, icy trail snaking up the mountainside, ending in a precipice overhanging a deep crevasse. Being so close to the mountain, your personal view is severely limited, and there appears to be no solution to this problem, no way of getting over it.

Now imagine moving several compass degrees to the left, and looking again. From this point of view, you might see an easier path zigzagging across rocky ledges, bypassing the top of the mountain, and seemingly leading to the other side. It’s a possible solution around the problem, but it’s risky and it would be a long, exhausting route to take.

Then picture finding a viewpoint several compass degrees to the right of the mountain, where you see a train waiting for you at a station, ready to zip you through a tunnel deep into the mountain and deliver you to the other side, fast and safe.

Other viewpoints may present other solutions. Further around on the compass dial, a new angle might reveal a lake nestled into the side of the mountain and a ferry boat that can take you across the lake to shortcut the journey you had originally intended and deliver you fifty kilometres beyond the mountain on your chosen path two days earlier than planned.

Yet another viewpoint might present you with a mountain guide prepared to take you safely up the mountain to spend time at a spiritual retreat perched in a Shangri La setting. This new view might entice you to change your original plan and follow the guide, while the magnificent bird’s eye view you get from the retreat might inspire you to choose an entirely new path from that point forward.

Or, at only two compass degrees round the mountain from where you started, you might meet a guru who sits you down to meditate on the existence of the mountain, whereupon you reach an epiphany: you realise that the mountain is made entirely of tiny particles of sand. It only appears to be a solid, immoveable rock. You see that all you have to do is take a deep breath and blow that mountain away. Your problem was not a problem after all. It was an illusion. What a discovery!

And so it continues. How you see your mountainous problem depends on your personal views and beliefs, and these are based on your unique life experiences and upbringing. Your personal views and beliefs limit the number of solutions you can see to a problem. If you can see your problem from a new viewpoint, a new angle, you will not only see new solutions to your problem, but you will also look back on where you originally stood and see your old self in a new light. You will see the person you were, with your old limiting beliefs and the blocks and problems they created for the old you. You will feel the shift as the old you fades, and the new you understands, smiles, and moves forward.” [end of extract]

Let your dreams help you to identify the limiting lens of your current mindset and discover new perspectives on … what was your problem again?

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Episode 154 The Dream Show: How to do dream alchemy

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Episode 154 The Dream Show: How to do dream alchemy

I’ve prepared this mix of the light-hearted, the deeply fascinating, and the ‘how to’ practicalities for you this episode, all on the theme of dream alchemy.

Dream alchemy is a way of communicating with your unconscious mind to transform beliefs that are not serving you well. It works by speaking the same language as your unique unconscious mind, using one or more symbols from a uniquely personal dream. Another way of saying this is that dream alchemy rewires the brain to transform those automated, habitual patterns of perceiving and responding in the world that have been limiting you.

There are many forms of dream alchemy. In this episode we’re focussing on visualisations and affirmations. A clue: they’re nothing like the kind of visualisations and affirmations you may have done in the past. You’ll understand why dream alchemy visualisations and affirmations are different and how to create and use them. You’ll also discover why conventional visualisations and affirmations generally fail.

Along the way we look at how and why we often sabotage our intents and goals, and how to stop this. We also explore perfection and imperfection. Do you know a perfect day when you experience one?

The Dream Show with Jane Teresa AndersonIf you’re serious about making change in your life, listen to this episode, pop it into your favourites folder, and share it with … I’m sure you have someone in mind right now. Enjoy.

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The Dream Show is an enormous free resource designed to help people worldwide acquire the basic skills they need to gain deep self-understanding and healing through understanding their dreams.

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What’s in a face?

What's in a face?

Half boy, half beast, he sat on the edge of a swimming pool in a dream I had once upon a time. His body seemed stunted, his face albino white, a long wide nose, no eyes. I was very wary of him. Not sure how he’d respond to me.

If I were to write a blog about my top ten tips for interpreting dreams, I’d include ‘Everything and everyone in a dream represents something about the dreamer’. Okay, a nice neat statement, but pretty scary when you dream about a murderer, a rapist, or just someone you really don’t like. Or a boy-beast.

I will reveal the boy-beast, but let’s begin with the murderer. Dreaming of a murderer does not mean you have murderous intent. There is no one-size-fits-all interpretation in dream analysis, but a starting point is to look at who the dream character is murdering (or has murdered) so you can get a feel for what kind of energy the murderer wants to quash, then to ask yourself where a similar battle is going on within you.

You can also contemplate your dream murderer, look at how he acts, examine his face, his body language, gather clues from this symbol your dreaming mind has created to represent something about you and your beliefs about life. You can also – when you are awake – question him by doing a dream dialogue. (One of the thumbnails at the end of this article links to a light-hearted dream dialogue to illustrate how this is done. Have your dream murderer dialogue with the person he has killed or wants to kill.)

But let’s scale it back down. Let’s look at the boy-beast I once met in a dream.

I was as wary on waking as I was in the dream. What did this strange creature represent about me, and did I really want to know? My first instinct was to let it go, but my more intelligent self knew that there would be much to gain from discovering something new about myself.

I thought about his face, and wondered what it was about his long wide nose that seemed important. The answer appeared in my mind immediately: he relied on his instinct to smell danger and respond. Just as quickly I realised that was why he didn’t have eyes. He represented blind instinct – my blind animal instinct.

He was albino white because my dreaming mind saw him as having just emerged from the pool, from the darkness of my unconscious into the light of day, with no time yet to gain a sun tan. Dreams reflect our conscious and unconscious experiences of the couple of days before the dream, and when I looked back I realised I had become newly aware of responding in a particular situation through blind instinct, and this was stunting my growth. The details of the rest of the dream painted the whole picture.

I wonder who first coined the term ‘blind instinct’ to describe an innate (or perhaps also learned) response to a situation that bypasses conscious awareness (at least in the moment it occurs). We respond without seeing, without an eye to consequence, driven by an urge to survive. Those instincts we share with animals – to bare our teeth and growl in defence, to run and hide to save our skins, to feather our nests to provide for our young, to roll over and play dead, to bite back – are genetically programmed to keep us safe and protect our species, but the more we are aware of our instincts the more we can take a moment, breathe, open our eyes, reflect, and choose better ways to respond.

There’s been a lot of controversy over the last century or so about the nature of instinct: how much is innate, how much is acquired in early life. Dreams allow us to discover our automatic, habitual, unconscious responses to life situations that we sense as life threatening. We share many of these with animals, and others we individually acquire in early life, building our behavioural survival skills with blind awareness: appease an angry parent, undermine a sibling to gain attention, get sick to be cared for, throw a tantrum to get what you want, sacrifice your needs to be protected, look the other way to be loved.

“You have such a cool job,” someone said to me recently, and it’s true. I am constantly in awe of the nature of our dreams and the life-changing insights they offer us when we are prepared to look. And I’m constantly in awe of our dreaming minds that so easily come up with picture-perfect renditions of – for example – the face of blind instinct. Asleep and dreaming we are outrageously creative: our challenge is to courageously bring more of our magnificence into the light of day and let it shine.

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Episode 153 The Dream Show: Unbearable waiting

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Episode 153 The Dream Show: Unbearable waiting

Tim, my guest, dreamed of setting off on a journey, feeling sad at leaving behind animals that she had rescued, including a long-tailed monkey. She journeyed to the French mountains where she met a waiter who was mixing two fluids to create the perfect cola. There’s a lot of waiting in this dream from this point, so much so that by the end of the dream Tim feels that to wait any longer would be unbearable. She must get to that waterfall now!

When Tim contacted me to volunteer to be a guest on the show, she asked if she could talk about a dream alchemy visualisation that she had created for herself. She said she’d been doing the visualisation for a couple of weeks, but it had morphed in ways she didn’t like. That was all I knew, but I thought it would make an interesting subject for The Dream Show.

The Dream Show with Jane Teresa AndersonSo you’ll hear us explore Tim’s dream, what it means, and how it relates to her life, and you’ll hear Tim describe the really good dream alchemy visualisation she created, and how it morphed. We get down to why it morphed (which offered deeper insight into Tim’s dream and life), and we designed an updated version for Tim to do.

This episode is packed with tips, demonstrations of techniques, laughter, sudden deep realisations, and plenty of take-home value for everyone.

Will Tim get to her metaphoric waterfall? Oh yes, yes, and yes. Insights abound, and new paths open. Share her journey:

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PS 31 July: Tim emailed me to offer to share this update with you:

“The results have been overwhelming!! My creativity is flowing, it’s actually like a dam breakthrough (so much I want to do … so few hours in the day).”

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