Category Archives: Dream Sight articles

Articles by Jane Teresa originally published in her Dream Sight News 1998-2010.

Dreamvolution – help with facing change

Dreamvolution Help with facing change

When life presents you with change, how do you usually respond? Do you resist, hanging on to the way you have always done things, sticking to the routines and habits that have always worked for you? Or do you jump right in, eager for something new, tossing the old way aside without so much as a fond farewell?

When was the last time you were faced with an unexpected major change? What was it: a relationship break-up, an illness, a financial loss, a windfall, pregnancy, a restructuring at work, a job loss, falling in love, or being given a new responsibility?

Do you remember any stand out dreams you had back then? How many of those dreams involved animals?

Dreams can be at their most surreal and vivid during times of change. Each night as you sleep, your dreaming mind juggles the puzzle pieces of your changing life, mixing and matching bits from the old picture (your old way of seeing life) with bits of the new, searching for a workable Big Picture that suits your new conditions.

Between leaving the comfort zone of the old Big Picture and feeling at home in the new Big Picture is scary territory, as you face the challenges, fears and adventure of the unknown. Your stress levels shoot up and you live on edge, buoyed up by boosts of adrenalin preparing you for ‘fight or flight’, to battle through the threats to your survival or to run away, save your skin, and hide.

Yes, times of change bring your basic survival instincts to the fore. Life gets down to the fundamentally important issues such as food, money, shelter, love, life, and death. Thanks to nature, your instincts take over – or, at least, they try to be heard – especially in your dreams.

As complex human beings we have ways of drowning out our instincts, burying our heads in the sand(*), hoping the challenges of change will go away if we pretend they’re not there. But how long can this last? Deep down the adrenalin still floods our bodies, wearing us away with deeply festering, unacknowledged stress.

* (Even the ostrich, being an animal in tune with its survival instincts, is not silly enough to deny the obvious. It’s a myth that ostriches bury their heads in the sand when they’re scared. In fact they lay their light coloured heads on the ground, blending with it. It’s a camouflage trick.)

But at night, with your conscious defences down, your dreams reveal your basic survival instincts, often in the shape of animals, frequently magical, vivid, or surreal animals, mixed with more obvious themes of survival such as death and birth. Your dream animals, at these times, often seem magical or awesome because they seem to offer you the chance of awesome transformation, fantastic adaptation to change.

How can you listen to and learn from your dream animals? Firstly remember that everything in your dreams – wondrous animals, death, and destruction included – is a symbol of your own beliefs, energies, and feelings. At times of change, your dreaming mind often pictures your survival instincts as animals; it pictures your wondrous potential for change and adaptation as awesome animal auras; it pictures the end of the old way of life as death, and it pictures the new potential coming into your life as birth.

If you dream of a lion, for example, ask “What is the energy of a lion?” Different people will answer in different ways. It’s YOUR feeling for the energy of a lion that matters, as this is YOUR dream. For example, you might say, “Quiet strength”. Another person might say “Confidence”. Another might say, “Vicious predator”. Then ask yourself why this survival instinct might be trying to be heard at this time in your life. Let your answers flow. As with all dream work, this is all about awareness. When you are aware of the various energies within you at any one particular time, you are better informed to make decisions – in this case, to choose the best way to adapt to the challenge of change.

During times of change, it’s common to have a succession of animal dreams as a number of different survival instincts are stirred into action as you grapple with change. Here’s a powerful dream alchemy practice you can do that will really move things forward for you, by bringing you into a deeper awareness of the survival instincts being summoned up within you:

During the period of change, write a list of all the animals that appear in your dreams. Then imagine these animals sitting in a circle, discussing the best way to survive. (You can either do this in your mind’s eye, or, perhaps more powerfully, let your pen or keyboard type the conversation as fast as you let it flow.) As an example, you might end up with something like this:

Lion: “Quiet confidence wears away your enemies and conserves your energy – don’t waste so much time wondering if you’re good enough! Embrace the change!”

Sheep: “Stick with the crowd. Don’t try to lead. You’ll only end up with more responsibilities.”

Bird: “Come up here and see the view from above. Sometimes a change of perspective helps. Get a bit more distance from this!”

Worm: “You don’t often see me, I know, because I like to bury deep and hide, but I must say, I quite like the sunshine out here. Oh no! I’m drying up, burning, help! I’m dying!”

Bird: “Ah, worm! Yum! You see, from my perspective this little worm’s been doing you no good burrowing away inside, eating you up from the inside out. Death to old worms! Long live the power of perspective!”

Kangaroo: “Anyone tried this? (Jump, spring, leap.) I found this new way of getting around. Think it will catch on? Hey! You should see this cool new way I’ve found to carry the babies around too. Think there’s a market in this?”

By getting your dream animals to interact in conversation, you invite new perspectives, healing, integration – in short, personal evolution.

In this example, the dream animals express their individual survival instincts and, from this sharing, a new picture of your inner world emerges. You become aware of the conflicts (for example, whether to lead or follow) and you discover why (for example, issues of responsibility and being good enough). In this example you identify the worm (the stress deep down inside) and you put an end to it (by getting clearer perspective, seeing things in proportion rather than letting small things gnaw away at you). In this example you also see the beginnings of adaptation to change, with your kangaroo instincts finding new ways to do things.

Let your dream animals reveal your survival instincts during times of change, and let dream alchemy help you to discover the magic of transformation as you identify and heal the issues behind your conflicting instincts and evolve to find new ways forward.

I was reminded of evolution in a dream a few months ago when I noticed a giraffe sitting under the dining table. Yes, you’re right. There’s not much room for a giraffe to sit comfortably under a dining table, but this one was a little giraffe with a short neck. On waking I knew that this short-necked giraffe seemed very familiar. Then I remembered: back in my days as a student zoologist we heard the story of Lamarck’s giraffe.

Lamarck proposed that an animal evolves by actively making a change and then passing on this change to its offspring. The famous theoretical example is that giraffes started out as short-necked creatures but, in a time of drought, they had to stretch their necks to reach the leaves higher up in the trees once they had eaten all the ones lower down. As a result, their necks got longer and so their children were born with longer necks too.

Darwin’s theory of evolution was different. Using the same example, in times of drought most of the short-necked giraffes would die from hunger after they’d stripped all the lower leaves off the trees, but the occasional misfit giraffes – those born with slightly longer necks – could reach the higher leaves. These longer-necked giraffes lived long enough to mate with the only other surviving giraffes: longer-necked giraffes. As a result, many of their offspring were also long-necked because they inherited the longer-necked genes.

Simply summarised, Lamarck said that if you actively strive to make a change then this will be passed on to your children, but Darwin said that change selects its own winners and losers.

How will you evolve to meet the challenges of change? Will you stretch your neck? Will you let change dictate the outcome? Will you bring your misfit qualities to the fore (will the ugly duckling become the swan)? Or will you be creative, in a bird-kangaroo kind of way?

Let your dreams help you to find the best way to evolve when challenged by change. I’ll stick my neck out and invent a new word for this: Dreamvolution.

[First published as a Dream Sight article, October 2005. Copyright Jane Teresa Anderson 2005.]

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Chicken Licken

Chicken Licken

Chicken Licken was one of my favourite stories when I was three or four years old. I’m sure you know it. An acorn fell on Chicken Licken’s head as he was scouring the earth looking for food one day. Horrified he set off to tell the Queen the sky was falling. On the way he met Henny Penny, then Turkey Lurkey and so on.

Like any child with a favourite story, I wanted to hear it over and over again. Perhaps it was the rhythm and alliteration I liked, or perhaps I was fascinated by the idea of illusion. Like Chicken Licken we often misunderstand our experiences and, before long, those misunderstandings settle into concrete beliefs. Instead of witnessing the beautiful potential of the oak tree in the acorn, Chicken Licken lived in fear of the end of the world.

Chicken Licken came to mind following a dream I had earlier this month (I wrote this article 10 years ago, in June 2003, four months after my book, Dream Alchemy, was first published in Australia).

In my dream I was in a huge field with hundreds of other people, enjoying a mild, sunny day. Suddenly a plane appeared overhead.

“Will it drop bombs?” asked all the people, looking at me.

I looked up at the plane. It was very unusual. It looked more like a technical drawing, or blueprint plan than a plane. It was the plan for a future type of plane, yet somehow we were seeing it already.

“No,” I reassured them.

At that moment the plane dropped thousands of chocolates all over the field! Everyone ran around, gathering up handfuls of chocolates. I ate a soft-centred one (and really tasted it in my dream) then two more. That was enough for me but I watched as everyone else ate their fill.

As we all left the field I turned to look back and saw hundreds of identical, gold-wrapped chocolates dotted all over the grass.

“They’re the chocolate cracknels, the hard chocolates no-one ever eats, the ones that always get left in the box,” I explained to the person beside me. “Yet they’re manna from Heaven.”

“They’re the chocolate cracknels, the hard chocolates no-one ever eats, the ones that always get left in the box,” I explained to the person beside me. “Yet they’re manna from Heaven.”

“They’re the chocolate cracknels, the hard chocolates no-one ever eats, the ones that always get left in the box,” I explained to the person beside me. “Yet they’re manna from Heaven.”

I woke up before Forest Gump had time to pronounce that life is like a box of chocolates, but I wouldn’t have been surprised to see him there. What was his simple view? That some people get a soft-centred life and some get it tough?

So what did my dream mean?

The bottom line was that the tough stuff, the stuff we easily reject (the cracknels), is manna from Heaven because it’s the tough experiences that can deliver the sweetest lessons. In common with many authors and creative people I have, in the past, felt the fear of having my very public work rejected. Imagine – when you work hard at producing a beautiful baby you want everyone to love it! The reality is that some will and some won’t.

Through this dream I saw my future plan(e) of thought delivering a blessing of manna rather than destructive bombs. I realised my past approach may have been to sabotage my efforts to save my work from being judged and rejected. I am now blessing my field of dreams with chocolates, not decimating it with bombs.

I can see the golden opportunity in accepting that my work is cracknel or soft-centred depending on different people’s points of view, as this frees me to create without fear of judgement.

I can see the golden opportunity in accepting that my work is cracknel or soft-centred depending on different people’s points of view, as this frees me to create without fear of judgement.

I can see the golden opportunity in accepting that my work is cracknel or soft-centred depending on different people’s points of view, as this frees me to create without fear of judgement.

A friend, Angela, looked up the passage on manna from Heaven in the Book of Exodus: “it was like white coriander seed, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.” How close to the recipe for chocolate cracknel is that! And, yes, we were exiting the field and the topic of the dream was rejection (leaving, exodus).

The morning after my dream I met a new client who had been suffering from nightmares. I asked her if she could remember one feelgood dream. “Yes,” she replied, “it was about eating chocolate”.

Her name was Penny (real name). I heard a song strike up in the back of my mind. Gone was the chocolate manna from Heaven. Now I had “Pennies from Heaven” … Penny’s from Heaven.

Which all brings me back to Chicken Licken, Henny Penny and acorns from Heaven. Seeds for thought.

[First published as a Dream Sight article, June 2003. Copyright Jane Teresa Anderson 2003.]

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Purple haze or How things change

Purple haze or How things change

Picture this: You look into the mirror at three years old and recognise yourself. The next day the mirror tells the same story. And the next and the next. Okay, so one day a tooth falls out and your mirror picture shows you without your tooth, but otherwise nothing has changed. Day by day, year by year, the mirror tells the same story, “Yep. This is you. Much the same as yesterday really.”

Roll on a few decades. Today’s face in the mirror might look a little tired compared to yesterday’s after a big night out. Tomorrow’s face might look younger, well-slept but, hey … much the same as yesterday really.

Day by day your face in the mirror looks the same, yet so many momentous changes have taken place since you were three. Even the longest-lived of your body cells is replaced every six or seven years, so your body has totally regenerated many times. But did you notice the changes? When did it all happen?

When you interpret and work with your dreams, a similar process occurs.

Day by day, night by night, your dreams hold up a mirror for you to scrutinise your reflection. “This is who you are. These are the feelings you try to hide. This is what motivates you. These are the gifts you are too shy to shine. This is what hinders you. These are your buried hurts, your weeping wounds – see how they still shape your relationships. These are the beliefs about life that you have learned from others – see how they affect your vision. This is your mask – when will you take it off?”

Little by little, you begin to see truths about yourself, and begin to understand why your life is the way it is. Small changes begin, often too small to notice on a day to day basis but they add up to momentous changes over months and years. You gather confidence in sharing your talents, you free yourself from hurt by forgiving the past, you let go of beliefs that have not been serving you well, and you begin to see solutions instead of problems, doorways instead of brick walls.

Just over a year ago, I bought a new pair of prescription sunglasses. (Here, in Australia, sunglasses are an everyday accessory, winter or summer, as the sun is so bright.) For the first time I decided to buy Polaroids. My first trip out wearing them was exactly that – way trippy man! Everything was edged in a purple and green haze. Short walks distended into prolonged contemplations of clouds and flowers, while driving along psychedelic purple-green roads was distractingly dangerous.

Last month I realised something amazing. I realised that the purple and green hazes had gone. Everything looked normal through the very same sunglasses. But when had all this happened?

In terms of science and biology, my brain had become habituated. It had decided, without consulting my preferences, that the world wasn’t really as purple or green as my glasses seemed to suggest, so it deleted that input as irrelevant and possibly harmful to my survival. My brain made the executive decision to choose a world-picture that, in its opinion, fitted reality better than the reality portrayed by Polaroid lenses that bend and change the angles of some colours more than others.

Why did my brain make this autonomous executive decision?

It’s all about survival. Have you ever bought a new alarm clock and been kept awake by its loud ticking? In only a few days, the tick-tock disappears, doesn’t it? Well, it does – until you listen very closely, and then you hear it again. What happens is that when you first get the clock your brain hears the tick and stays on alert in case the ticking is a predator keen on eating you while you sleep so …. better stay awake, hey? As time goes by (hmm), your brain decides that this ticking is obviously not a danger, so it habituates to the sound – it makes an executive decision to change your reality to one with a silent alarm clock so that you can sleep undisturbed. You no longer hear the tick consciously, although it lives on in your all-seeing, all-hearing unconscious mind, just as my unconscious mind is deeply bathed in psychedelic purple and green whenever I wear my sunglasses.

A more disturbing example of habituation was described to me by a woman who had just been persuaded to leave a violent marriage. During earlier counselling she had been asked if her husband was violent. She had replied no. She was then asked specific questions, such as ‘When did your husband last hit you?’. Her answers clearly indicated a violent marriage, but she had experienced the violence for so long that she had accepted it as normal, not as violent.

Her counsellor opened her eyes by telling her how to kill a frog. If you put a frog into very hot water, it immediately jumps out to save itself. If you put a frog into tepid water, and then slowly raise the temperature, it doesn’t notice the series of small changes and eventually overheats and dies.

If this woman had been following and interpreting her dreams she would have been awake to her situation much earlier, discovering both self-understanding and empowerment to turn her brick wall situation into an open door. No matter how much the brain habituates and  screens the senses, no matter how much is deleted from the conscious mind, the unconscious records everything and reveals it in dreams.

By now there must be a huge question on your lips. If the brain habituates to a ticking alarm clock or to purple-green hazes to protect our survival, what on earth is the survival advantage in habituating someone to a violent marriage?

The answer is historical. The brain treasures its archives. Your early life experiences and memories helped to create your fundamental beliefs about life and survival. For example, you might have experienced more contact and care from your mother when you were sick, so you learned that sickness is a good survival tool. Or you might have learned that doing what you were told was better than getting slapped, so you learned that obedience was a good survival tool. Or you might have learned that a parent gave you more loving attention after hitting you (in regret) than before, so you learned that accepting violence was a good survival tool.

In the following years, your brain has done its habituating based on your list of good survival tools securely treasured in the archives of your mind.

For life-enhancing change to be really effective, your fundamental beliefs need to be identified and re-evaluated. Your survival tools need to be sorted through and updated. Many need to be disposed of and replaced. Your dreams are the place to start to do this.*

Be ready to kiss a frog or two.

* If you need help, support, or guidance with this, you can consult me or book regular mentoring sessions.

[First published as a Dream Sight article, July 2002. Copyright Jane Teresa Anderson 2002.]

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Is this your life?

One simple sentence

How often has your alarm clock saved you from a worrying dream you thought was real? What a relief to wake into your everyday life, where all the quandaries and confusions of the dream evaporate and leave you free to get on with your day! You may have spent all night trying to catch that dream plane but now, awake, your confidence in getting places on time is restored. Phew. Missing a plane would never happen to you, would it? You may have endured hair-raising confrontations with a slippery, fang-endowed snake but now, awake, you know that’s one encounter you need not worry about, living in the city, as you do. Or perhaps that alarm clock intruded on a passionate, illicit love affair. Plummeting to earth on opening your eyes you console yourself that at least your waking life is guilt-free. “No,” you conclude, looking around your bedroom, “This is my life. This is what’s real. There are no missed planes, lurking snakes or secret lovers in my life.”

“No,” you conclude, looking around your bedroom, “This is my life. This is what’s real. There are no missed planes, lurking snakes or secret lovers in my life.”

“No,” you conclude, looking around your bedroom, “This is my life. This is what’s real. There are no missed planes, lurking snakes or secret lovers in my life.”

But I invite you to take another look. No time? No problem! This is an easy exercise. It will take you no longer than five minutes a day and you can always set that alarm for five minutes earlier, can’t you?

This is what to do:

Write one sentence a day. It’s best to write this sentence a few minutes after waking up, while your dream is fresh on your mind, so keep an exercise book or diary by your bedside for this purpose.

The sentence is a summary of your dream, written in the present tense, starting with the words ‘I feel’ and including the word ‘something’. It can only be one sentence though! Here are some examples.

Your dream:

I feel worried that something precious and fragile may break.

I feel worried that something precious and fragile may break.

It was a long and complicated dream, but the part that stood out for you was when your son was carrying a stack of precious, fine china crockery. You were moving house and were worried that the plates, cups and saucers should have been properly packed to prevent them from breaking.

Your sentence might be:

I feel worried that something precious and fragile may break.

 

Your dream:

I feel frustrated that so many delays are slowing me down from achieving something so simple.

I feel frustrated that so many delays are slowing me down from achieving something so simple.

It’s your recurring dream theme again. It’s long, it’s involved, and the essence is that you have a plane to catch but everything goes wrong and you never get airborne.

Your sentence might be:

I feel frustrated that so many delays are slowing me down from achieving something so simple.

 

 

Your dream:

I feel surprised that something I expected to be painful was not as bad as I had anticipated, but only time will tell the full outcome.

I feel surprised that something I expected to be painful was not as bad as I had anticipated, but only time will tell the full outcome.

This dream was an epic adventure involving snakes appearing from nowhere, chasing you and threatening to bite you. At one point you were actually bitten. Surprisingly it didn’t hurt as much as you thought it would, but your dream ends in trepidation. Was the snake poisonous or harmless? Only time will tell.

Your sentence might be:

I feel surprised that something I expected to be painful was not as bad as I had anticipated, but only time will tell the full outcome.

 

Your dream:

I feel an attraction to something deeply and personally fulfilling, but I feel the only way I can protect my current way of life is to keep this secret.

I feel an attraction to something deeply and personally fulfilling, but I feel the only way I can protect my current way of life is to keep this secret.

You were magnetically attracted to an awesome person and ended up having a deeply loving sexual tryst that left you feeling elated physically, mentally and spiritually. In the dream you know you have been unfaithful to your partner. You decide the solution is to keep this affair secret.

Your sentence might be:

I feel an attraction to something deeply and personally fulfilling, but I feel the only way I can protect my current way of life is to keep this secret.

 

Your dream:

I feel surprise that when I dive into something I think will be painful, I discover such rich rewards.

I feel surprise that when I dive into something I think will be painful, I discover such rich rewards.

The bit that stands out for you in your dream is the swarm of bees. You get stung, yet you decide to chase the bees. They lead you to the hive where you dive in, as small as a bee now, and see all the honey being made. Rows and rows of tasty, golden honey glisten.

Your sentence might be:

I feel surprise that when I dive into something I think will be painful, I discover such rich rewards.

 

In each of these examples, notice that ‘something’ is usually one of the main dream symbols: it’s the crockery, catching the plane, the snakebite, the lover and the beehive. In other words, ‘something’ can be a thing, an action or goal, a sensation, a person or a place.

Use the examples as guidelines and remember to start with “I feel” and to include the word ‘something’.

Use the examples as guidelines and remember to start with “I feel” and to include the word ‘something’.

Five minutes a day to write one sentence summarising your dream. There is no right sentence. There are many ways to summarise a dream, so dive in and just do it.

Use the examples as guidelines and remember to start with “I feel” and to include the word ‘something’. As the days go by, you’ll get quicker at this.

Five minutes will become two. Just two minutes a day!

So what do you do with all these sentences after writing them down?

Choose a day, perhaps a weekend day or an evening you usually have to yourself, to take 30 minutes to review your list. Make it a weekly appointment with yourself. Allow no interruptions.

You will have seven sentences to review, assuming you remembered a dream on each night, less if your dream recall was not so hot. (If you remember more than one dream on any night, you can choose to summarise only the most vivid one, or to summarise them all.)

My relationship is precious to me but it feels fragile and in need of careful handling.

My relationship is precious to me but it feels fragile and in need of careful handling.

During your 30-minute weekly review, read each of your seven sentences in turn and ask yourself, “Where does this apply in my life?” If an answer comes to you, write it down, using – you’ve guessed it – one sentence.

As a guide, your answers to the examples in this article might be:

1. I feel worried that something precious and fragile may break. Where does this apply in my life?

Answer: My relationship is precious to me but it feels fragile and in need of careful handling.

2. I feel frustrated that so many delays are slowing me down from achieving something so simple. Where does this apply in my life?

Answer: Losing ten kilos in six months should be so simple, but here I am, still way overweight after twelve months of setting my goal.

3. I feel surprised that something I expected to be painful was not as bad as I had anticipated, but only time will tell the full outcome. Where does this apply in my life?

Answer: I finally got enough courage up to talk to my partner about a sensitive issue, and it wasn’t as painful I had expected it to be, though how things will turn out in the long run, I don’t know.

I want to build an energy-saving home and embrace a self-sufficient lifestyle, but to do this I risk losing the support of my family who enjoy the luxuries of life my current high income allows.

I want to build an energy-saving home and embrace a self-sufficient lifestyle, but to do this I risk losing the support of my family who enjoy the luxuries of life my current high income allows.

4. I feel an attraction to something deeply and personally fulfilling, but I feel the only way I can protect my current way of life is to keep this secret.

Where does this apply in my life?

Answer: I want to build an energy-saving home and embrace a self-sufficient lifestyle, but to do this I risk losing the support of my family who enjoy the luxuries of life my current high income allows.

5. I feel surprise that when I dive into something I think will be painful, I discover such rich rewards. Where does this apply in my life?

Answer: I finally decided to tackle my tax problem by enlisting the help of an accountant who not only taught me some simple, helpful bookkeeping skills but also got me an unexpected tax rebate!

What is the value in doing this exercise? These examples might give you the feeling that dreams simply tell us what we already know, but not so. It’s easy to think that, looking in on someone else’s dreams, someone else’s summary sentences, someone else’s answers. But we rarely appreciate the deeper patterns of our lives until we look closely. Your dreams draw your attention to the way your life is. They exclaim, “Hey! THIS is your life! Is this how you want it to be, or would you like to change this pattern?”

So, what might our example dreamer conclude?

She began to see why she tiptoes around her partner’s moods, fearful of breaking up

She began to see why she tiptoes around her partner’s moods, fearful of breaking up

1. Her dream about handling fragile crockery helped her to see that she regards her relationship as both precious and fragile. Strange though it may seem, she hadn’t seen her relationship in this light before, but her dream view suddenly made sense of a few things. She began to see why she tiptoes around her partner’s moods, fearful of breaking up, instead of finding a mutually beneficial way of relating, perhaps taking a tip from the dream and looking at better ways of strengthening the relationship (better ways of packing the crockery). Her dream gives her a metaphor to contemplate. Does she want a fragile relationship?

The delays, she saw, were all her own work.

The delays, she saw, were all her own work.

2. Her dream about missing the plane because of so many delays helped her to see that her weight-loss goal is achievable. Why? She travels widely with her job and never, ever misses a plane. If she can achieve something as simple as catching a plane by taking a step-by-step approach, she can achieve the equally simple goal of weight-loss. She looked at her dream again and suddenly saw all the delays in a new light: her lost baggage was her fear of losing weight, her lack of passport gave her a feeling that maybe, just maybe, she wasn’t ready to give herself permission to achieve her goal and all the rewards that go with it. The delays, she saw, were all her own work!

3. Her dream about the snakebite helped her to see that other sensitive issues that she fears broaching may also be less painful once faced. Her dream gave her courage, not only to face pain, but also to trust the outcome. She decided to visualise this dream whenever she needs to address an issue, summoning up a feeling of trust in the process.

4. Her dream about the secret affair helped her to realise just how important her desire to embrace a change of lifestyle was. It also helped her to see that her ‘secret affair’ was a form of infidelity to her family. In trying to protect them, she was hiding a wonderful part of her being from them. She wasn’t being true to them. From here she began to understand why some of her family relationships weren’t as fulfilling as they could be. She saw she needed to share more of herself. She called a family conference – an entirely new approach – and shared her dream of building an alternative lifestyle. She was blown away to discover that they also had ‘secret dreams’ and that they all had more in common than they had believed.

Whenever a task looked too daunting, too stinging, too deep, she closed her eyes and imagined flying into the hive and discovering all that honey.

Whenever a task looked too daunting, too stinging, too deep, she closed her eyes and imagined flying into the hive and discovering all that honey.

5. Her dream about the beehive, you might argue, was an afterthought. She had already dived into her tax problem and been rewarded with some very golden honey, so how could this dream be of help? Dreams confirm our excellent moves, cementing in positive new attitudes and patterns. She used the dream as a visualisation from that day forward. Whenever a task looked too daunting, too stinging, too deep, she closed her eyes and imagined flying into the hive and discovering all that honey. Her visualisation helped her to dive in, uplifting and inspiring her forward.

Five minutes a day, one simple sentence a day, one thirty minute contemplation once a week. Give it a go. What’s that? Can’t stop, you’ve got a plane to catch? I don’t think so. Is this your life?

[Copyright Jane Teresa Anderson, March 2006. First published as a Dream Sight article.]

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Blinded by the light

Blinded by the light

It’s that time of the year here in Australia. It’s midwinter*(see footnote!), the air is clear and dry and the sunlight is blinding. There’s no summer humidity to water down the glare, and the widening hole in the ozone layer down this end doesn’t help. I need a new pair of sunglasses.

Which is better: looking into a glaring bright light or into a dark cave? Yes, we’re heading into dreams, but first please ponder this question. Which would you rather, total glaring light or deeply dark cave?

You cannot keep staring into a bright light. Your reflexes kick in, closing your eyes before further damage occurs. If you are forced to look into the light for too long, temporary blindness and perhaps long term damage will result. Either way, you will not be able to see clearly, if at all. What a paradox! So much light yet nothing to be seen.

If you keep staring into the dark cave what will happen?

If you keep staring into the dark cave what will happen?

If you keep staring into the dark cave what will happen? If you can push through the fear and stay focussed, you may begin to see faint shafts of light penetrating through hidden fissures and cracks in the cave walls. You may catch glimpses of movement, shadowy forms scuttling, lizard-like. The more you focus the more you may see that yes, these are lizards. Your eyes adjust and you discover that there are shades of darkness revealing shapes and forms.

Stars don’t slip away during the day, they shine on but their subtle light is drowned by sunlight.

Stars don’t slip away during the day, they shine on but their subtle light is drowned by sunlight.

Consider the sun and the moon. During the day sunlight is so bright (even on a rainy English day) that it blinds us to starlight. Stars don’t slip away during the day, they shine on but their subtle light is drowned by sunlight. It is only when we look into the darkness of the night sky that we can study the mysteries of the changing cosmos.

How much light do we need to get the best picture? It’s all about balance and your point of view.

Turn your back on the glaring sun and what do you see?

Turn your back on the glaring sun and what do you see?

Turn your back on the glaring sun and what do you see? Your own shadow, as well as shadows cast by other objects bathed in the same brilliant light. Your shadow may be outrageously distorted but it IS your shadow and it does inform you of important parameters such as how many arms and legs you have and how your size compares with other shadows around you.

And so we move into dreams where the preamble to this article will slowly make sense. Stay with me, let your eyes adjust to the dream world and be ready to see the mysteries of your inner universe more clearly in dream light, in starlight, away from the glare of the stark light that blinds.

“Seven years without a heart,” the horse confided. Dolores was shocked.

“Seven years without a heart,” the horse confided. Dolores was shocked.

Dolores dreamed she was watching a horse race. She followed the winning horse to the stable, keen to know the key to his success. She was surprised to find the horse weeping. He looked deeply into her eyes and told her the key to success was deep pain. He turned and revealed an ancient festering wound in his flank, and a hole where his heart had been ripped from his body long ago. “Seven years without a heart,” the horse confided. Dolores was shocked.

On waking, Dolores couldn’t shake the image of the horse and the ripped heartless hole. It stayed with her all day, distracting her from work. Slowly the pieces began to fall into place. She had been in this job for seven years since a painful marriage break-up. She loved the job. It kept her busy, far too busy to notice the pain. In fact, now she thought more about it, her successes were due to the pain. The more the pain threatened to surface, the harder she worked and the more successful she became. Why hadn’t she been able to see this before? She was mystified. It was so clear.

“Heartless,” a voice whispered from the periphery of her mind. “You’ve become heartless. You’re cold. You’ve left us behind. You don’t care,” the voice continued.

And Dolores wept, for these had been the words of her friends. The dream and Dolores’ friends both delivered the same message, but only the dream message got through.

And Dolores wept, for these had been the words of her friends. The dream and Dolores’ friends both delivered the same message, but only the dream message got through.

And Dolores wept, for these had been the words of her friends. They had tried to tell her, but she couldn’t relate to what they were saying. She had thought they were rude and unsupportive, perhaps even envious of her success. She had flicked them off: the words and the friends.

Dolores’ dream had shocked her into touch with her pain, with the festering anger over the way her heart had been ripped and hurt. Her dream delivered the strong message that she could not survive much longer under these conditions. It was time to stop shutting out the pain, to end her heartless pursuit of success, to recognise the heat of her anger and heal it rather than freeze it out.

The dream and Dolores’ friends both delivered the same message, but only the dream message got through. Why?

Dolores’ friends had told her straight. Too straight. The truth was too close to home, too painful, and so her defences kicked in. She found the light too blinding. She denied any truth in it because she couldn’t see it, couldn’t feel it. Her dream was subtle, drawing her to feel the pain of the horse since she was blind to the pain within herself. Once the connection was made, Dolores was able to see the light.

People often ask, “Why aren’t our dreams literal? If the message we need to hear is so important, why don’t our dreams spell it out in a language we can understand?” The answer?

Dreams can help us to see, in shades of nightlight, what is too painful for us to see or acknowledge in blinding daylight.

Dreams can help us to see, in shades of nightlight, what is too painful for us to see or acknowledge in blinding daylight.

Dreams can help us to see, in shades of nightlight, what is too painful for us to see or acknowledge in blinding daylight.

Like your shadow when you stand with your back to the sun, your dreams may be outrageously distorted but their special effect is to draw your attention to yourself. It is only when you look into the darkness of your dreams that you are freed to study the mysteries of your changing self.

* [Copyright Jane Teresa Anderson, July 2005. First published as a Dream Sight article.]

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Cheating dreams

Cheating dreams

“I dreamed my partner was cheating on me. It felt so real. Should I confront him? Please help.”

Every week I receive at least one email asking this question. So, what’s the answer? Is the dream picking up on the partner’s actual cheating behaviour or unfulfilled desires? Is it about the dreamer’s fear of being cheated, perhaps based on past experiences of betrayal? Or does this dream have an entirely different meaning?

The danger of this kind of dream is that it gnaws away at you, especially if it is a recurring dream, and especially if it’s realistic. If your partner is bedding a famous film actor, for example, you won’t spend a moment worrying about whether the dream was true, but if his dream lover was someone you know, or one of his work colleagues, your suspicions might be aroused. You might wonder whether he’s having an affair, would like to have an affair, or is more attracted to the friend or work colleague than to you. You might start to question your partner about his or her time away from you, or you might withdraw emotionally or physically, creating relationship difficulties where none existed before. All based on a dream that felt real.

There are dangers in taking a dream literally, even when the dream feels so real.

There are dangers in taking a dream literally, even when the dream feels so real.

Cheating dreams are not what they seem. Further in this post I will give some guidelines on what they mean, but to help you understand this, have a think about this first:

Dreams that feel real can get you into trouble. People spend years fruitlessly searching for a soul mate they met in a dream that felt real. They look for someone with the same physical characteristics as the dream mate, or with the same name, or in the same location. Unless chance steps their way, they fail because the dream is about finding the other half of your own soul (or vitality) when it has been lost. When you have found the lost part of your own soul, you are more likely to attract your true soul mate, but the journey must start within.

Another common dream that feels so real is the one experienced by many new parents.

Another common dream that feels so real is the one experienced by many new parents.

Another common dream that feels so real is the one experienced by many new parents. The dream shows their child dying, usually either by drowning or car accident. The emotional intensity is so heightened that the terrified parent can become stressed and overprotective, believing the dream is a preview of the child’s death. But this dream is so common that if it really was predictive the human race would have died out long ago. The meaning of this dream varies from parent to parent, but it’s generally about the many changes that parenting brings into your life.  (You can read more about the symbolism of death dreams here.)

The soul mate dream and the child death dream are both examples of dreams that feel so real the dreamers take them literally. They search for their soul mate because they’ve met him in a dream, and they do everything they can to prevent the death they feel they have previewed. Are you beginning to see the connection to cheating dreams?

I recently heard about a woman who had horrific dreams during her first pregnancy. The early dreams were about neglecting babies. In some dreams she forgot to feed them, in others she forgot to change their nappies. She mentioned them briefly to her partner, but in a light-hearted manner, testing his response, laughing them off. She didn’t tell him the dreams were worrying her or that she had decided the dreams meant she would be a bad mother. The more she worried about being a bad mother, the worse the dreams became. They escalated in neglect, abuse and violence. In one of the last dreams before her baby was born, she dreamed she placed the baby on the road and drove a truck over him.

Sadly, because her early dreams felt so real, she suffered misgivings about her ability to be a good mother.

Sadly, because her early dreams felt so real, she suffered misgivings about her ability to be a good mother.

She didn’t take the dreams literally. She knew she would never place her baby in front of a truck. But she did take the symbol of the baby literally. She saw her dreams as being about her future relationship with her baby.

What she didn’t know was that her dreams are very common. Mothers, fathers, teenagers, people who have decided never to have children, and people who have missed the opportunity to have a child may ALL experience this kind of dream. It’s not a dream about bad mothering instincts. It’s not a dream about real babies. It’s a dream about neglecting your own needs. It’s a bit like the soul mate dream. It’s about looking after yourself so that you can be healthy and well, for example to look after your baby.

As it turned out, this woman suffered antenatal depression. She only realised this in the later stages of her pregnancy. Her dream baby was the part of herself that needed caring for, that needed help and treatment. Sadly, because her early dreams felt so real, she suffered misgivings about her ability to be a good mother on top of her depression. She may or may not also have had real fears or beliefs about becoming a bad mother, but that was not what her dream was about.

By now you can see that there are dangers in taking a dream literally, even when the dream feels so real. The same applies to cheating dreams.

Beware ever taking a dream literally. To do so can be dangerous to yourself and others, as well as missing out on the helpful insight your dream can give you. There are occasions where some dreams turn out to be predictive, but these are rare, and by focussing on this angle you stand to lose all the personal insight each and every dream offers.

Dreams are about you.

Dreams are about you.

Dreams are about you. The soul mate, child, baby, or cheating partner is a symbol for what’s going on within you.

Dreams about cheating are about what’s going on within you. Cheating is a betrayal of trust, a promise broken. Cheating is lying. When you have these dreams, ask yourself where you might be cheating yourself. Here are some examples:

1. You may be lying to yourself about something. There may be something in your life you don’t really want to admit. You deny it to others and you may deny it to yourself too. In other words, you may be ‘in denial’ over something. Explore your feelings more honestly.

2. You may be betraying something you once promised. Your promise might have been ‘I won’t eat any more chocolate,’ or ‘I will become a surgeon,’ or  ‘Fromthis moment on, I’ll only think positive thoughts,’ or ‘I will live by the laws of my religion,’ or ‘I will always please my mother’. Your cheating dream may come up because you have broken your promise by eating a chocolate, thinking negative thoughts, or not doing something for the sake of pleasing your mother, for example. Your dreaming mind takes betraying promises very seriously, even when it may be healthier for you to release yourself from the hold of promises no longer appropriate to your wellbeing.

Your dreaming mind takes betraying promises very seriously, even when it may be healthier for you to release yourself from the hold of promises no longer appropriate to your wellbeing.

Your dreaming mind takes betraying promises very seriously, even when it may be healthier for you to release yourself from the hold of promises no longer appropriate to your wellbeing.

3. You may be cheating yourself out of giving life your best shot. You might be holding back from expressing your talents in the world, betraying your ideals, or settling for second best.

4. You may be going through some changes, exchanging old beliefs and old ways of looking at the world for new ones. At such times, halfway between the old and the new, your conflicted mind may feel like it’s betraying the old way, turning its back on things you’ve trusted up until now. Your cheating dreams may reflect this kind of transition.

So, don’t confront your partner when you next have a cheating dream. Confront yourself. Dreams help you to understand yourself more clearly, and, once you can do that, you can make decisions that are right for you.

[Copyright Jane Teresa Anderson, June 2007. First published as a Dream Sight article.]

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Spot the belief

Spot the Belief

Had a tough day? Ready for a spot of light relief, a bit of fun, a dream interpretation game that’s easy to do yet powerfully insightful? You may never look at your dreams in the same way ever again. It’s called Spot the Belief. This is what to do:

For each of the following dreams, see if you can spot the belief affecting the outcome. Let’s start with a simple example.

 

Jim’s dream

“I was waiting in line to buy a theatre ticket, but people kept pushing in front of me. Finally I got to the front, but then the ticket office closed and I was directed to join a long queue at another counter.”

Jim's dream: "Finally I got to the front, but then the ticket office closed."

Jim’s dream: “Finally I got to the front, but then the ticket office closed.”

Can you spot Jim’s belief?

It’s probably ‘My needs are less important than other people’s’.

Did you guess differently?

You might have got ‘I always seem to be kept waiting,’ or ‘Just when I think I’ve made it, I’m right back to where I started, or worse’. Or you might have got, ‘Patience doesn’t pay,’ or ‘You’ve got to be pushy to get what you want in life’.

These are all good answers. They’re also very similar. We’ll come back to look at these similarities later, but, for now, you know how to play the game. Don’t worry about getting the right answer, as there may be several similar right answers. Just write down the belief that you see in each of the following dreams. So, are you ready? Go, spot the belief!

Greta’s dream

“I was climbing a hill and decided I wanted to go back down again, but there were too many rocks and precipices below where I was standing. I thought that if I walked along one of the precipices I would eventually find an easy way down. The trouble was, even the precipice path led upwards, so in my endeavour to find an easy way back down I just kept climbing higher and higher. I ended up feeling stranded with no way back down.”

Greta's dream: "I ended up feeling stranded with no way back down."

Greta’s dream: “I ended up feeling stranded with no way back down.”

Can you spot Greta’s belief? Write it down. (I’ll give you my answer later.)

Nelson’s dream

“I am standing waist deep in water when I notice a shark coming towards me. I am so terrified, I freeze. I close my eyes and hope it will go away. All is quiet for a while and I think the shark has gone, but when I open my eyes I see several more sharks lurking in the water.”

Can you spot Nelson’s belief? Write it down.

Bronwyn’s dream

“I am standing waist deep in water when I notice a shark coming towards me. I am terrified but I try to make friends with the shark to stop it from biting me. I look it in the eye and begin to talk and, amazingly, as I do this it changes from a shark into a huge playful fish. We end up playing swimming games. I am aware it is strong and powerful, but it doesn’t frighten me any more.”

Bronwyn's dream: "Amazingly, as I do this it changes from a shark into a huge playful fish."

Bronwyn’s dream: “Amazingly, as I do this it changes from a shark into a huge playful fish.”

Can you spot Bronwyn’s belief? Write it down.

Karen’s dream

“I keep having dreams involving babies aged about one year old. The dreams are different, but it always turns out that the babies fail to thrive after their first birthday. They become weak, or sick, or I lose sight of them.”

Can you spot Karen’s belief? Write it down.

Your dream

Yes, that’s you! Choose a recurring dream or a short one that’s easy to summarise. First write your dream out in a few sentences to match the length and style of the ones in this article. Then, to get some objective distance, pretend it’s not your dream.

Can you spot the belief? Write it down.

Now, keep an open mind, please, as you read on!

Dreams reveal your unconscious beliefs. They’re not so much about the beliefs you know about, they’re about the beliefs you have carried with you, deep in your unconscious mind, for a long time. How long? Usually from childhood or from traumatic events in your life. They’re the beliefs you take on because they seem to make sense at the time.

If you believe there’s a pile of gold buried under the tree, you’ll dig it up.

If you believe there’s a pile of gold buried under the tree, you’ll dig it up.

The trouble with beliefs is that you act on them. If you believe there’s a pile of gold buried under the tree, you’ll dig it up. If you believe you’re not worthy of being well paid for your skills, you will apply for lower paid jobs or set your fees low. This is as true for the beliefs you don’t know about as for those you do know about. In fact, it’s worse for those you don’t know about because your actions are automatic, with no chance of being vetoed by your wiser judgement.

Most dreams reveal your unconscious beliefs. You can identify them using this Spot the Belief method. At first you may reject them. ‘No, that’s not my belief! Quite the opposite!’ But stop and ask yourself, ‘What kind of actions would a person with this belief take?’ If the belief you’ve spotted is right, you’ll recognise those actions as ones you have taken. I promise you, when you strike gold in identifying that belief, your eyes will be opened and, once you’ve recovered from the shock, certain aspects of your life will suddenly make a lot more sense.

Let’s see how this works for Greta, Nelson and the other dreamers.

These are the beliefs I spotted for each dreamer:

Greta
‘Backing down is not an option.’

Greta's belief: Backing down is not an option.

Greta’s belief: Backing down is not an option.

Nelson
‘Ignoring my fears and hoping for the best works for a while and then things go from bad to worse.’

Bronwyn
‘When I face my fears I overcome them.’

Karen
‘Things go well for about a year, and then they stop thriving.’

I bet your results were similar. For example, for Greta you might have had ‘The only way is up, no matter how this makes me feel’. Or ‘There’s no easy way out’.

Usually, when you look at the whole dream instead of just a summary of it, you will see plenty of clues to help zone in accurately on the dreamer’s deepest belief. However you really do need to start by working with a summary of the dream, as illustrated here, to get an idea of the belief, and then move on to examine the longer version of the dream to increase accuracy. The final step comes when the dreamer gets the big ‘aha’ and can see how the belief has been driving their decisions and actions, delivering the results they are experiencing in their life.

Unconscious beliefs lead to blindly driven actions, and blindly driven actions lead to outcomes that may not match the goals you consciously set yourself.

Unconscious beliefs lead to blindly driven actions, and blindly driven actions lead to outcomes that may not match the goals you consciously set yourself.

So there you have it. Beliefs lead to actions, and actions lead to outcomes. Unconscious beliefs lead to blindly driven actions, and blindly driven actions lead to outcomes that may not match the goals you consciously set yourself.

I can hear your question! ‘If an unconscious belief is not creating the results you want, how can you change it?’

That’s where dream alchemy and, in particular, the use of dream alchemy practices come in. You can read more about this, and how to create suitable dream alchemy practices to change unconscious beliefs in my book Dream Alchemy.

Not all unconscious beliefs work against you. Bronwyn’s dream revealed a magical unconscious belief. Such a dream may come along as a prelude to a challenging time, a gentle reminder that all will be well. Remember, though, that night by night your dreaming mind updates its grasp on ‘what life is all about and how to survive it’. We all change, and, from time to time, a dream will reveal the death of an old belief or the birth of a new one. When Nelson applies a dream alchemy practice to change his beliefs about the best way to cope with fear he may dream a dream such as Bronwyn’s.

Now you know a little about the unconscious beliefs driving Jim, Greta, Nelson, Bronwyn and Karen, how do you imagine their lives to be? What kind of actions do you think they have been taking in their lives? What beliefs would better suit them?

Karen's belief: Things go well for about a year, and then they stop thriving.

Karen’s belief: Things go well for about a year, and then they stop thriving.

Take Karen, for example. Karen had a dream job very early in her working life. Sadly it came to an abrupt end after a year when her employer absconded with the company funds. It was a traumatic time for Karen. She had put so much of her energy and hope into the job which she saw as a beginning to a perfect career. At that point, Karen took on the unconscious belief that ‘Things go well for about a year, and then they stop thriving’. In the years that followed, whenever a job, relationship or project that Karen was involved in neared the one year mark she began to make decisions and take actions based on the expectation that the job, relationship or project would fail. And so they did. And, until she understood her recurring dream, Karen was totally unaware of any of this.

How did you go with spotting the belief for your dream? Has this belief driven your decisions and actions? What kind of outcomes resulted in your life? Are you happy with these, or are you ready to apply some dream alchemy and start to see the kind of outcomes you would prefer? It’s your life!

[Copyright Jane Teresa Anderson, March 2007. First published as a Dream Sight article.]

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Otherwise, other wise

"Who's going to take the plug out, you or me?" I'd ask.Bath time, when my children were very small, was great fun until the moment came to lift them from the water. They never wanted to get out. Eventually I found the happy solution.

“Who’s going to take the plug out, you or me?” I’d ask.

“Me! Me! I want to!” would come the unerring reply.

Once the water was gone, they were happy to leap out and move on to the next game. It worked until they were old enough to realise that I was giving them severely limited options and that it was me who was really pulling the plug on their fun.

A man once told me about a dream in which he was in a rowing boat on a calm lake when five tornadoes appeared. The tornadoes struck the water and spun it into gurgling holes, as if five enormous bath plugs had been pulled from the sand beneath the lake. He felt the dream was warning him that his money, invested in various projects, was going ‘down the gurgler’.

Our warning dreams motivate us to take action. But what kind of action should we take?

He felt the dream was warning him that his money, invested in various projects, was going 'down the gurgler'.

He felt the dream was warning him that his money, invested in various projects, was going ‘down the gurgler’.

Are our dream warnings accurate, or do they reflect our fears and beliefs?  Was this man’s money inevitably going down the gurgler or was he projecting (and creating) this outcome based on his unconscious beliefs and experiences – his conditioning? Had the plug already been pulled or did he have more expansive options?

And, in any case, was this man’s dream about his financial affairs or did it reflect other valuable information he could apply to ensure calm waters in his life?

My children expected only one outcome: that the plug would be removed in the next minute and the water would go down the plughole. So the outcome always manifested. If they had been older they might have suggested we run more hot water, stay in the bath longer, get take-away instead of cooking dinner and still get to bed on time. They would have learned the lesson that other wise options always exist. Or they might have stayed in the bath until the water went cold and learned a different but equally wise lesson from their experience.

My children expected only one outcome: that the plug would be removed in the next minute and the water would go down the plughole.

My children expected only one outcome: that the plug would be removed in the next minute and the water would go down the plughole.

Alternatives. Wider choices. Whichever way, we gain wisdom from our choices if we are open enough to learn the lessons they offer. Sometimes the wisdom is learned under happy circumstances (the hot water and take-away choice) and sometimes less happy circumstances (the cold water choice).

“Take the plug out? Otherwise what?” my children might have asked, had they been older back in the bath plug days. “Otherwise you will become other wise”, I may have replied.

To grow, to gain wisdom, we often need change. We need to challenge ourselves to explore the wider options of the otherwise.

If life wisdom is the path, there can be no wrong choices. Just different choices and different routes. But if we hold a vision, a goal, how can we find the best route, the one that delivers both the desired reward and wisdom?

Well, naturally our dreams provide the answers but how can we recognise them?

Our dreams are symbolic snapshots in time: picturing your current mindset.

Our dreams are symbolic snapshots in time: picturing your current mindset.

Our dreams are symbolic snapshots in time. They show us ourselves – our conscious and unconscious beliefs, experiences, memories and feelings relating to life at the time of the dream. Specifically they show us (once interpreted) how our unconscious beliefs are affecting our waking life and where those beliefs originated.

It is our beliefs – especially our unconscious ones – that shape our future. Above all, our fears shape our future by limiting our choices. We tend not to take the path that requires us to face our fears. Pulling the plug seems an easier option.

Our dreams are blueprints of the future, projecting outcomes based on our past responses to life.

Our dreams are blueprints of the future, projecting outcomes based on our past responses to life.

Looked at in this way, our dreams are blueprints of the future, projecting outcomes based on our past responses to life. In this way too, dreams can be said to be prophetic.

If the man’s tornado dream was indeed about his financial affairs then it may have been reflecting his fears and beliefs that his money would go down the gurgler, and such fears possibly may have created that result.

What was his dream advising him to do?

He may have saved money by withdrawing his investments if he was in danger of creating doom.

Otherwise he could use the dream to identify the negative fears and beliefs and change them, using dream alchemy practices.  By changing the blueprint his projected future changes and the situation is defused.

Change the blueprint to change the future.

Change the blueprint to change the future.

To change the outcome, change the belief.

To change the outer world, change the inner one.

Beware the warning dream otherwise you may miss the real gold.

(The deeper meaning of the dream: The five tornadoes represented five major changes – the winds of change – in this man’s life that, each time, had ‘torn’ his calm world apart. Water often represents the emotions. These changes had stirred his deepest emotions, even though all appeared calm on the surface. His dream reflected his belief, based on these experiences, that whenever things were calm, a huge change would sweep in and shake him to the core. This belief extended to his financial affairs, ensuring regular calamity. His dream required him to look back at those changes to reap the wisdom of the otherwise and to transform his beliefs in destructive change into constructive change.)

[Copyright Jane Teresa Anderson, August 2003. First published as a Dream Sight article.]

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Cow pat patter

All the cowpats had changed into snow.

Get a pen and a piece of paper, as you’re going to have some fun with this one while learning something about yourself and about dream interpretation. You’re going to chat with a cow-pat, a humble chunk of bovine dung – and no, you’re not dreaming this, and yes, it will make perfect sense if you play along.

Earlier this week, I was interpreting callers’ dreams on a radio show when a man phoned in with a dream about cow-pats.

“I dreamed I was driving alongside a fence on my farm and all the cow-pats in the ruts had changed into snow. What does it mean?”

“How did you feel about the snow?” I asked.

I’m going to leave his reply until later in this post, because this is the point where I want you to pick up your pen and paper and play along with me.

Imagine now that you are a snow-pat chatting to a cow-pat. This exercise works best if you do it fast, without really thinking. Just let your pen do the writing and keep your head out of it!

Arrange the dialogue on your paper like this, starting with the opening line I have given:

Cow-pat: Hello, snow-pat, how are you?

Snow-pat:

Cow-pat:

(Continue like this)

Let snow-pat reply – a simple, short sentence is good – and then let your pen move on to let cow-pat say something and continue in this way until you feel pleased with the outcome.

It’s best to do this without referring to an example, because I don’t want to influence you, but if you are having difficulty, have a look at this:

Cow-pat: Hello, snow-pat, how are you?

Snow-pat: Cold.

Cow-pat: You wouldn’t be snow if you weren’t cold, would you?

Snow-pat: I have to stay cold, even though I don’t like it, or I’ll thaw and disappear.

Cow-pat: You wouldn’t disappear – you’d become water and help plants grow.

Snow-pat: That’s your job, helping plants grow.

Cow-pat: How?

Snow-pat: You decompose and fertilise plants.

Cow-pat: Really? And I thought I was just a pile of smelly stuff people hate getting on their shoes.

Snow-pat: I guess you change for the better!

Cow-pat: Why don’t you then – change for the better, I mean?

Snow-pat: You mean thaw?

Cow-pat: Yes, move on, unfreeze your emotions and let them flow to help things grow.

(In this example, you might stop the dialogue here because you feel pleased with the outcome. You’ve received an insight about the importance of change or about letting your emotions flow to help you grow.)

If you’ve read this far without doing your own dialogue, stop and do it now. This way you’ll get maximum benefit from this article.

What can you learn from a cow-pat, a humble chunk of bovine dung?

What can you learn from a cow-pat, a humble chunk of bovine dung?

Okay, what did you learn from doing this? Even though this wasn’t your dream, the symbols (cow-pat and snow-pat) are deeply evocative, and it’s very likely that your unconscious mind has responded to these symbols in a creative and insightful way. Just imagine how much more powerful this exercise would be if you did this with symbols from one of your recent dreams!

One of the reasons I love talking to people about their dreams on radio is that we can all learn from each others’ dreams. Yes, it’s a way of sharing dream interpretation tips and techniques, and yes, it’s a way of discovering something about yourself when someone calls in with a dream similar to one you have had, but it’s also about gaining insight we can apply to our own lives. One person’s dream may be about facing fears, and we all contemplate new ways we might face our own fears and why we might benefit from this. Or another caller’s dream may be about the rewards that can come when you look at a problem in a different way, and we all might then contemplate the rewards awaiting us if we look at our problems in a different way. Every dream – whether our own or someone else’s – provides a ‘bottom line’ meditation on life and how we approach it.

Before returning to the caller, the dreamer of the cow-pat dream, to discover the meaning of his dream, here are some more examples of cow-pat/snow-pat dialogue. Do any of these resonate with yours?

 

EXAMPLE 2

Cow-pat: Hello, snow-pat, how are you?

Snow-pat: Pure as the driven snow – untouched, virginal.

Cow-pat: Just came down in the last shower then?

Snow-pat: Are you saying I’m naïve, wet behind the ears?

Cow-pat: Didn’t need to – you just said it yourself.

Snow-pat: I’d rather be naïve and fresh and new than old, dried and decomposing like you.

Cow-pat: Ah, but I have lived, I have experience …

 

EXAMPLE 3

Cow-pat: Hello, snow-pat, how are you?

Snow-pat: Like winter, icy wet. How are you?

Cow-pat: Like summer, baked dry.

Snow-pat: You could warm and dry me, I could cool and hydrate you – want to work together to create a better balance?

 

EXAMPLE 4

Cow-pat: Hello, snow-pat, how are you?

Snow-pat: Excited – waiting for children to discover me and play!

Cow-pat: No-one plays with me! No-one comes anywhere near me.

Snow-pat: Not even naughty children?

Cow-pat: Ah, I have been flung with malice from time to time.

Snow-pat: I’m glad you changed into a snow-pat in our dream – it’s better to make people happy than to make them cry.

 

When you do dialogues like these using symbols from your dreams, they help you to identify your personal dream symbols. If this had been your dream, you might have discovered that a cow-pat was your personal symbol for malice, and snow was your personal symbol for happiness.

But it doesn’t stop there. A dialogue usually moves beyond identifying bizarre dream symbols towards insight and transformation. The insight you get from doing this helps solve and transform the issue your dream was reflecting. Now you can see why dialogues are powerful dream alchemy practices. (Other dream alchemy practices include visualisations, affirmations, art work and more. Read more about dream alchemy practices, what they are and how they work.)

So, let’s now get back to the man who phoned into the radio station with his cow-pat dream.

“I dreamed I was driving alongside a fence on my farm and all the cow-pats in the ruts had changed into snow. What does it mean?”

“How did you feel about the snow?” I asked.

(This is really the same question used in the dialogue, where cow-pat says, Hello snow-pat, how are you?)

“The snow was so beautiful. I noticed its beauty,” he replied.

His dream shows he is beginning to see beauty in the everyday mundane, since, as a farmer, he sees cow-pats every day. There are extra clues in his dream.

The cow-pats were in the ruts, and we talk about being ‘in a rut’ when we feel stuck, perhaps in the every day mundane, failing to see the beauty of each day. There’s also a clue in the fence, since a fence is built along a boundary, to keep things in or to keep things out. A fence marks a limit of territory,  keeping things ‘safe’ perhaps on the inside, limiting stepping into ‘unsafe’ territory beyond. The dream suggests the farmer is about to overcome a limitation, reach into unfamiliar territory, and the key to this is in seeing beauty in the mundane. It’s about shifting his perspective, transforming the way he sees life, in the same way that his dream cow-pats were transformed into beautiful snow.

Now, YOUR insight into what cow-pats and snow-pats mean to you might be quite different from the insight to be gained by the farmer from his dream, but isn’t it wonderful to learn something from someone else’s dream? There may be a situation in your life – today or in the future – where you can apply this insight and see the beauty in the mundane. No doubt, when you do, you will recall the dream about the cow-pats and the snow-pats.

So share your dreams with those who care to listen, whether with one or two people you know or anonymously with many thousands on the radio, as this farmer did. Aren’t you glad he called?

[Copyright Jane Teresa Anderson, July 2008. First published as a Dream Sight article.]

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Navigating changing times

If the GFC has impacted on your life, what kind of dreams might you be having, and how can understanding these be helpful to you?

If the GFC has impacted on your life, what kind of dreams might you be having, and how can understanding these be helpful to you?

“Global tidal wave of 70,000 job cuts,” announced the online news. “The tsunami of layoffs started in Europe …”

Instantly I got the picture. It’s a metaphor that works. It describes a giant ripple effect of job loss caused by a seismic tremor in the global economy.

It also describes the emotional impact felt or feared by many. Whether you’ve lost your job, know someone who has, fear losing yours, or fear the consequences of widespread job loss and economic challenge, the word tsunami pretty much sums up the feeling of being emotionally overwhelmed, knocked off your feet and potentially dead to the world.

If you’ve ever had a tsunami dream you’ll know the emotional impact these walls of water can produce. After all, in a dream, you think the tsunami is real, don’t you?

Dreams, like some journalists, frequently express themselves in metaphors.

Dreams, like some journalists, frequently express themselves in metaphors.

Dreams, like some journalists, frequently express themselves in metaphors. They may be clichéd, they may lose subtlety, they may be oversimplified, but they can help you to get a quick picture of a complex situation. That picture may be accurate or way off the mark, but it’s a picture, a starting point, one of perhaps many possible perspectives on a situation.

If the global economic situation has impacted on your life – in hard financial terms or worries about the future – what kind of dreams might you be having, and how can understanding these be helpful to you? I’ll outline these. But what if you’re having sleepless nights and lost dream recall? How can you too gain personal insight to help you navigate the tidal waves of changing times?

The classic tsunami dream, common to many dreamers worldwide, paints a picture of the dreamer’s feelings of being overwhelmed, emotionally and, sometimes, on other levels too. The overwhelm is often still unconscious at the time of the dream, as the dreamer still struggles, in waking life, to hold emotions at bay and stay in control. Of course, there are many variations of this dream theme, and the interpretation depends on the dream details, but ‘overwhelm’ is the key emotion the dreamer is processing.

How can we shift perspective and see something positively empowering in a tsunami of global job loss?

How can we shift perspective and see something positively empowering in a tsunami of global job loss?

The question to ask – when interpreting a tsunami dream or a tsunami of global job loss – is how to lessen its impact by processing the overwhelm in a different way, or, better still, how to shift perspective and transform the sense of overwhelm or helplessness into something positively empowering.

Not convinced? If a waterfall can be harnessed to produce electricity, a tsunami can be harnessed to, what? Not a lot, at short notice, practically speaking, but metaphorically speaking a tsunami can move mountains. And, in today’s world, many mountains (huge obstacles) could do with shifting!

People say metaphors can be misleading, and, of course, they can. But even when they’re misleading, practically speaking, they can help us to break through conditioned ways of looking at the world. How can we shift perspective and see something positively empowering in a tsunami of global job loss? It’s a challenge, at personal and global levels. Which obstacles to positive global change need shifting or transforming? Which obstacles to personal change need shifting or transforming?

The Compass helps you to see your life, issues and situations from different perspectives, and enables you to see your way forward to your best future.

The Compass helps you to see your life, issues and situations from different perspectives, and enables you to see your way forward to your best future.

If your anxiety is preventing you from being sufficiently relaxed to recall your dreams, you can work with the kinds of metaphors that dreams – and journalists – use, to help shift your perspective, gain insight and see your way forward. (My book, The Compass, has been created for exactly this purpose. It helps you to see your life, issues and situations from different perspectives, and enables you to see your way forward to your best future.)

Whether or not you recall your dreams, you are dreaming! Around five dreams every night. So what kind of dreams might you be experiencing if your life has been touched by the global economic tsunami of job loss or fear?

Your dreams will probably include one or more of the following:

Dreams of water, such as overwhelming tsunamis, drowning, being sucked under water or mud, inundated or washed away – water tends to represent your emotions, so these dreams reflect your deep and often unconscious emotional responses to your situation or fear.

Dreams of death and birth, but most probably focussed, at first, on death – death tends to represent what is ending (dying off) in your life. Losing a job might be pictured, in a dream metaphor, as a death. All changes, actual or feared, might be seen as deaths in your dreams. Some of those deaths might be unnecessary, as some things might be able to be salvaged with the help of dream interpretation as this reveals how your unconscious beliefs are affecting your responses to your situation or fear. Other dream deaths might be necessary – how else can we move on to new perspectives (and new jobs or new ways of earning money) if we don’t first let go of the old? Dreams of birth are metaphors for how you are progressing with new approaches in your life.

Dreams of loss and not being able to find your way are metaphors for what you feel or fear you are losing (job, security, status) and feelings or fears about your direction.

Look into your dreams for metaphors that seem to match your current situation, then question those metaphors until your current perspective shifts and you begin to see a new way forward.

Look into your dreams for metaphors that seem to match your current situation, then question those metaphors until your current perspective shifts and you begin to see a new way forward.

Dreams of animals may occur during these times, since animals provide apt metaphors for your survival instincts in times of change. Remember that some instincts, established in childhood, may not be appropriate for handling your adult world. These dreams reflect your survival instincts by comparing them to the instincts of various animals.

Finally, look out for dreams that reference your childhood – perhaps the house you lived in as a child, your school, your parents – or that reference past jobs and relationships. These may be referring to your unconscious beliefs about security or finances, triggered by your current situations. Interpreting these provides invaluable insight into how your unconscious beliefs are affecting your responses to your current situation, and provides you with the opportunity to change these.

In each case, look into your dreams for metaphors that seem, to you, to match your current situation, then question those metaphors until your current perspective shifts and you begin to see a new way forward.

[Copyright Jane Teresa Anderson, February 2009. First published as a Dream Sight article.]

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