Category Archives: This waking life

Jane Teresa’s musings, insights, inspirations and observations on waking life …

All the world’s a stage

All the world's a stage, Jane Teresa Anderson

The moment has come to step out on stage and perform in front of an audience but you haven’t prepared. Worse than this, you know zilch. It’s a common dream theme, and you’ve probably had a variation of it at some point in your life. What did you make of it? How did you relate it to your life? How did it help you to understand yourself more deeply, or to make a change?

Your dream might involve a theatre performance, giving a presentation at work, teaching a class of eager students, delivering your artwork for public exhibition, flying a plane, or any number of situations, all of which come down to you not being able to deliver because you haven’t prepared or don’t know enough.

In a recent dream, I was to play a classical orchestral piece on keyboard. It was to be a solo performance. The auditorium was packed, the audience looked discerning, an anticipatory silence descended, and all eyes were on me, seated at the keyboard at the very centre of the room. Not only had I not studied or practised the piece, but I’m not a musician. I might have been able to play Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star with one finger, but then again, maybe not. I wondered what to do. I thought I was alone in this, but to my surprise the conductor came into the room, sat opposite me across the keyboard, and held me in her mesmerising gaze. I woke up before playing a note, although now I knew what to do.

Every dream is as unique as every dreamer, so there’s no blanket interpretation that applies to everyone for this kind of dream theme. All dreams reflect your conscious and unconscious experiences of the previous 1-2 days, and it’s most helpful to begin by looking at a dream as a metaphor for what’s been going on for you during those couple of days. Look for the metaphor in your dream. What feels accurate? Where in your life did you feel unprepared? Or was your metaphor more along the lines of over-promising and under-delivering? Or being over-prepared, leaving no room for changing your approach? Or being fearful of judgement? Or feeling you lack talent? You’ll know when you’ve found the connection. You’ll feel a tingly sensation, a kind of knowing, though your logical mind may say, ‘No way!’ Respect the tingly sensation, explore.

There is so much more to dream analysis, but this first step can open your eyes and bless you with new understanding about yourself, your inner world, your unconscious mindset.

My dream reflected the decision I had just made about the new book I’m writing this year, and the last throes of inner conflict about a change of writing approach and style. I came through. By the end of the dream I had resolved the conflict and knew what to do. I woke up feeling confident and energised. I was ready to begin, to place my fingers on my laptop keyboard, to orchestrate words into being.

My previous books were all planned in detail before I began writing. I named chapters, summarised the intended content chapter by chapter, decided upon a style, created a template for each chapter, specified the path I would take to guide readers through a process, or to get my message across. There was rationality in the structure, a solid plan. I was so prepared for each book that I even knew how long it would take me to write. My writing days were planned, x number of writing days at y number of words equals first draft completed by z date. And it worked for each of the six paperback books I have written. Safe within that structure, the actual words I chose were free to find their own expression, as if I were the observer, to surprise me with new twists, insights, metaphors, to write their own examples, to make me smile.

So I have decided on a complete change in approach and style for this new book. I haven’t prepared in my usual ‘classical’ way. I haven’t prepared a structure, marked out days in my diary, plotted the path or even the message. I feel the music. My dream reminded me that some part of me knows how to conduct the flow, to hold my attention in the mesmerised moment. All I need to do is lean into the keyboard and let it flow.

That much I understood at the end of my dream. On the caffeinated wings of my morning coffee, I realised that some part of me is also the musical keyboard in the dream, the instrument or channel for the music, no doubt conducted by my mesmerised in-the-moment intuitive self, free to break free from a pre-planned, logical structure. (Sticking with the metaphor, this may sound like big-noting myself and my abilities, but in dream analysis it’s helpful to look at everything as well as everyone in the dream as representing something about the dreamer.) In short, if I get stuck while I’m writing, I will imagine being the music. This is a form of dream alchemy, moving into a potent dream symbol, giving it – and yourself – more life.

Now, dear discerning audience, there are no big promises here. I may write something wonderful, something inspirational, something profound, or I may write something more akin to a one-fingered rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, but whatever it is, I will enjoy the process.

The night before this dream, I dreamed I was on stage performing in a Shakespeare play. Everyone else knew their lines. I didn’t. I hadn’t prepared. But I got by. As I whispered to one of the other actors, “It’s ok, I don’t know the lines, but I know the general gist”. Much to the other actors’ amusement, I reframed Shakespeare’s beautiful poetry to fit the theme, and even had the audience laughing at one point with my Shakespearean puns. I’m sure they were far funnier in my dream, and I would certainly have been booed off the stage in waking life, but, as a precursor to my keyboard dream, it rather fits the bill, don’t you think?

You might also enjoy

Dream drummer

Dream drummer

Rosewood laptop

Rosewood laptop


Sliding doors and spooky tales

Sliding doors and spooky tales

This little cupboard has moved from house to house within our family for years, and we have always forgiven it for its one fault, doors that open whenever you walk past. The bolt that is designed to keep the doors closed is too short for the task, losing its grip and slipping out at the slightest vibration.

It belongs to my son, Euan, and his wife, Nataly, but from time to time, when they’re overseas, it graces a corner in our home, as it does now.

“I could fix it with a strip of Velcro,” said Euan, steadying the cupboard into place earlier this month. “I don’t know why I haven’t thought of that before. Glue a strip of Velcro on the inside-top edge of each door to hold them onto the cupboard frame.”

“Or magnets,” I added, warming to the theme.

Past solutions have been more temporary, a cocktail stick or feather threaded into the latch to hold the bolt a little tighter. Or a wad of paper, wedge of cardboard, hairclip, rubber band, piece of string, or silk ribbon bow. None of which really worked.

I found some magnets, and several experiments later we were no closer to an adequate solution.

We stood back and thought again. “We could tip the cupboard back a bit,” we announced together. A good idea that, let gravity help us out.

“Or file down the back legs,” suggested Euan, then the cupboard would still look straight.

Aha! We looked at each other and laughed. Euan found his spirit-level app and did the measurement. The cupboard wasn’t level. It was leaning slightly forward, imperceptible to the eye, but enough for gravity to pull on the doors and pop the short bolt aside.

So that was the plan. Euan would file down the back legs so the cupboard would sit straight and level and the doors would remain closed.

We flipped the cupboard upside down. There, on each of its back legs, was a white plastic grommet. There, on each of its front legs, was a telltale hole where screws had once held grommets in place. No wonder the cupboard wasn’t level. We didn’t need Velcro, magnets, cocktail sticks, feathers, wads of paper, wedges of cardboard, hairclips, rubber bands, pieces of string, silk ribbon bows, or a saw to file down the back legs. We just needed two grommets for the front legs.

Better still, Euan simply snapped the grommets from the back legs and popped them onto the front legs, so the cupboard leans ever so slightly backwards, imperceptible to the eye, taking all pressure off the short bolt.

Which all goes to show, we thought, standing back from the big picture, that the way to solve a problem is to get down to basics, fix the foundation upon which everything else depends.

In life, it’s easy to get fixated on the problem you see, and to try and fix it at that level, rather than to explore the foundation of the problem. The problem may relate to a house built on sand, a business built on unserviceable debt, a relationship built on undisclosed expectations, a health regime built on inadequate nutrition, a project built on self doubt, a way of life built on narrow vision.

The house may be a perfectly fine house if built on rock, the business profitable if financed without debt, the relationship rewarding if expectations are negotiated, the health regime healing if supported nutritionally, the project successful if energised by confidence, the way of life richer if built on broader vision.

While it might be easy to point to the sand as a problem foundation for the house, or the unserviceable debt as a problem foundation for the business, it’s not so easy to notice self doubt, narrow vision, or undisclosed expectations as foundations for other problems in our lives. We didn’t know about the missing grommets until we turned the cupboard upside down.

Many of our foundation beliefs about life are unconscious, deeply programmed during our early years. We make choices and take actions (or hold back from taking actions) based on those unconscious beliefs. Some of those unconscious beliefs are good, some not so good. The not so good beliefs may be the source of a problem in your life, in the same way as the missing grommets caused the problem of the cupboard’s doors swinging open when we walked past. When you become aware of those not so good beliefs, you can replace them with better beliefs, in the same way that we became aware of the missing grommets and replaced them.

Dream analysis offers one of the best avenues for discovering unconscious beliefs, and dream alchemy one of the best methods of replacing not so good beliefs with better ones.

I’m reminded of a spooky (true) story here, and I think you’ll enjoy it.

Years ago Michael and I spent a few weeks on an isolated 50 acre property, looking after someone’s house while they were away, testing to see if the lifestyle would suit us.

“The house is haunted, by the way,” the owner said, “but you’ll be ok. You’ll notice doors opening by themselves, that’s all.”

There was a concertina door into the bathroom and, as often as I left it closed I would return to see it wide open. I decided the floor was probably slanted, causing the lightweight door to slip slowly open over a period of time. Or maybe an animal, a cat, a lizard, a snake, was responsible.

One morning, I got out of bed and went into the kitchen to make a cup of tea. I nearly jumped out of my skin when I saw the microwave oven door wide open. It takes force to open a microwave oven door. You’ve got to press the latch, pull it back. No cat, lizard, or snake that I know is capable of that. I felt goosebumps run up my arms as I made the tea.

I took Michael’s tea into the bedroom and told him about the microwave oven door. “Maybe the house is haunted after all,” I said. Up until then, I hadn’t believed in ghosts playing around with doors to spook the living. Now I wasn’t so sure.

Michael’s reaction was completely different to what I had expected. “I got up in the middle of the night,” he said, “and it was so dark that I opened the microwave oven door so I could see by its interior light.”

Was the house haunted? I don’t know, but we were very glad to leave and return to life in the inner city.

Our unconscious beliefs can haunt us, invisibly guiding our choices, spookily opening and closing doors to opportunities. Understanding your dreams can help you become aware of those beliefs and to make conscious choices to build firm, positive foundations for the opportunities you would like to embrace.

You might also enjoy

Otherwise, other wise

Otherwise, other wise

Explore your dreams, by Skype, phone or in Brisbane.

Explore your dreams, by Skype, phone or in Brisbane.


The change you bring

The change you bring

So here we are, we of the western world, about to step into another new year. Let’s go back, oh, about 2,500 years. Let’s go back as far as Heraclitus 535-475 BC, the Greek philosopher whose “No man ever steps in the same river twice” so enchantingly encourages us to acknowledge and flow with change.

Change is inevitable. The river flows, so although it may look like the same river, it is not. You cannot step into the same river twice not only because the river has physically changed but because you have changed so you see and experience the river in a different way.

You may be able to influence the way in which the river changes (build a dam, change its course, pollute it, stop polluting it, fish it), but you cannot stop it from changing.

Looking back over 2014, what has changed in your life? What changed in your outer world? What changed in your inner world? What is the most obvious change? What is the most subtle? (For more clarity, do this Samsara Alchemy, an exercise designed to help you gain perspective from the old year before stepping into the new.)

What is the change that you bring to 2015?

You might also like

Even mountains flow

Even mountains flow

Explore your dreams, weekly sessions

Explore your dreams, weekly sessions


An ordinary fairy

An ordinary fairy

A fairy floated by, not a real fairy, but a fluffy seed like the dandelion seeds we called fairies when I was a child. Only it didn’t really float, it lingered right in front of my eyes then danced a little before flying away, leaving this mini blog in its wake.

I was sitting in my garden this morning, quite an ordinary garden really, yet often the place where an idea for a blog comes to mind. I was thinking about next week, about celebrating my birthday and Christmas with my family, and remembering how my father used to say, at the end of Christmas day, “Well, that’s it for another 364 days then”. My heart would always sink at the prospect of plunging back into the ordinary after such a perfect day.

How things have changed, I thought, this morning, or, more accurately, how I have changed over all those decades of learning to see the perfect in the ordinary.

It was at that moment that the fairy flew into my vision. I haven’t been aware of those fairy-seeds floating about recently, and certainly not one as in-my-face as that one was.

“It’s a fairy,” I imagined saying to Isobel, my almost four year old granddaughter who will be here next week for our celebrations.

“Why is it a fairy?” I heard Isobel ask in my imagination.

“Well, it’s really a seed flying through the air to find a perfect place to grow, but it flies and dances like a fairy, doesn’t it?”

At that point the fairy-seed zoomed right up close and performed her captivating dance, just for me. And for you, as it has turned out.

She danced a tale about a seed that was a perfectly ordinary seed, flown by a magnificent, perfectly-directed breeze right into my line of vision matching my early morning thoughts.

Seeing the perfect in the everyday ordinary is a blessing. Experiencing the deeper mystery of the guiding breeze is doubly so.

On a lighter note, remember to make a special wish if you see a fairy, dandelion or otherwise. When I blow out my birthday candles next week I’ll wish you all a perfectly beautiful Christmas and an equally perfect 364 days until the next one. Oh, why wait until then? Wishing you all – whether or not you celebrate Christmas – many beautiful forever blessings.

The Connected Way, Jane Teresa Anderson

You might also like

The open door

The open door

Mentoring with Jane Teresa Anderson

Mentoring services


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.


Related articles you might enjoy



The Princess and the Pea

The Princess and the Pea



Simplify the complicated

Simplify the complicated Jane Teresa Anderson

“I’ll show you the back garden,” said Marion, leading me through her laundry, past her noisy rumbling tumbling washing machine, to the side door. This was several years ago, and I was going to keep a neighbourly eye on her roses while she was away for a week.

I followed Marion down the side path toward the rose garden. “When you get to this point, hold your right hand up like this,” she instructed, gesturing like a policeman stopping the traffic. It seemed a bit odd, but I’m glad that I did, because at that moment a gush of soapy water spurted from a hose tacked to the side of the house, and my hand was perfectly positioned to deflect the water and keep me dry.

It was a very small thing, but it stuck in my mind. The hose had been rigged up during the drought to carry the grey used water from the washing machine to the roses, and it turned out that the holes in the hose had been there for years, so long in fact, that Marion knew the exact point in the path to hold up her hand and the exact angle to flex her palm to keep herself dry. She seemed pretty pleased with her technique and accuracy.

I was completely baffled as to why no-one had mended the holes in the hose, or bought a new one.

I don’t know whether Marion had just got used to the slightly kooky routine and lost sight of the simple fix, or whether she had a vested interest in keeping the problem of the leaky hose alive. Did it give her a continuing opportunity to remind her husband of all the things he hadn’t done around the house (or, more poignantly, hadn’t done for her), or to build her case, on which she had expressed herself quite eloquently while failing to make any progress, to move to a new apartment in the city and leave everything that was falling apart behind? I conjecture to make a point, not about Marion, but about all of us, and the complicated ways we live our lives, knowingly or, as is more often the case, blindly.

Good habits make life easier or healthier for us. Other habits – like Marion’s – may be complicated ways of avoiding resolving the heart of the matter, or deceiving ourselves about what’s really at stake.

“Oh! what a tangled web we weave
When first we practise to deceive!”
-    Sir Walter Scott (Marmion).

Scott’s famous lines apply to the inner world as much as the outer.

We all want to resolve issues, of course we do, but often we just don’t know how, or we fear facing the real source of the pain that we’ve worked so hard to bury. So we continue with our complicated ways of side-stepping the issue, or deflecting the anticipated pain by raising a ‘don’t go there’ palm to protect the heart from a soaking.

Much of my work in dream analysis is about identifying the tangled webs of unconscious beliefs and feelings that we build over a lifetime to avoid healing the heart of a matter.

Simplify the complicated
untangle the tangled
follow the threads
to the heart of the matter

The joy of the work is witnessing the immense release and relief when the dreamer frees their heart from hostage.

Behind every complication is a simple truth. What’s yours?

Here’s an alchemy practice for you to do to find out.

Look around your life – maybe at home, or at work, or at play – to find a practical situation that is, on reflection, a bit complicated. It might be the way your kitchen cupboards are organised so that you always have to bend down to fetch crockery you use a lot that would be much better placed at eye level. It might be the five-step security system you’ve got on your work email that keeps locking you out of business. It might be your determination to remain loyal to a gym in your old neighbourhood that takes you a traffic jam length of time to get to after work when there is a new gym two blocks away from home. It might be the tasks you need to get done at the weekend that leave you with little time for being with friends. It might be the way you organise your computer files, or the way that you don’t organise your computer files.

You only need one situation, and the alchemy works best if you choose one that’s only a little bit complicated. You know what to do next: simplify the complicated. Rearrange the kitchen cupboards, or try out the gym two blocks away, or declutter and rearrange your computer files.

What you do in your outer world reflects in your inner world. As you simplify and untangle your outer world, you begin to simplify and untangle in your inner world. The heart of the matter becomes clearer to you, you suddenly know what to do, and life lightens.

Mentoring services

Related articles you might enjoy

What if?

What if?

A knitting yarn

A knitting yarn


Even mountains flow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dreams, dreams! Yes, I hear you!

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

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

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

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

Even mountains flow, so you can too.

Related articles you might enjoy

Samsara Alchemy

Samsara Alchemy

The Dream Oscars

The Dream Oscars


Episode 155 The Dream Show: Be inspired

A virtual coffee

What do you think of this image? The guys at 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.


Listen to more episodes

Related articles you might enjoy

Camouflage and the facts of life

Camouflage and the facts of life

Something old Something new

Something old Something new


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?

Dream interpretation course

Related articles you might enjoy

Purple haze or How things change

Purple haze or How things change

Why is grass green

Why is grass green?






“I bet you get this all the time,” said the sales assistant helping me choose a new skirt yesterday, “but what do those dreams mean where you are trying to walk but your feet are heavy and it’s all so slow? I keep having that dream.”

“You probably have the dream when you feel you’re not making fast enough progress in some area of your life, when it feels too hard, too heavy, too slow,” I suggested, “but to be specific we’d have to look at the details of the dream.”

Her eyes flitted while she took this in, “How true. That’s fascinating!”

Fascinating is a word I hear a lot in my work. According to the Thesaurus, fascinating is similar to mesmerizing, intriguing, absorbing, and spellbinding. How true, people are mesmerized, intrigued, absorbed, and spellbound by their dreams, even when they don’t know what they mean.

Dreams are expressed in the language of your unconscious mind where much of your deeper self resides, out of sight, out of (conscious) mind. It’s your deeper self that calls to you from a remembered dream, intriguing you, feeling fascinatingly familiar yet elusive, difficult to pin down, difficult to name. It’s your deeper self that can influence the way you respond to life, beyond your conscious control or awareness. Such is the power of your unconscious mind to cast its spell upon you.

When you know how to look into a dream you can identify those unconscious aspects of your deeper self and the ways they influence your life – some good, some not so good.

So what might be going on for someone who has the heavy feet dream? Here are some of the many possibilities:

  • Fear of success. Consciously you want to succeed in reaching the goal you have set yourself, but unconsciously you fear the changes you believe success will bring you.
  • Fear of failure. As above, but unconsciously you believe you may fail and you fear the changes you believe failure will bring you.
  • Unconsciously you have the belief that you’re not worthy (or a whole host of other negative judgements) of achieving the goal you’ve set yourself or the life it will open for you. Self doubt casts its spell on you.
  • The goal is no longer appropriate for you (you have grown, changed), or you’re chasing the goal to fulfil someone else’s expectations. Your unconscious mind is wiser, and casts its spell to slow you down enough to see a better way.

There are many more possibilities, but these are some of the more common ones. In each case, your unconscious mind causes you to put obstacles in your way, for example: to strive for unachievable perfection, create complications, take on too much, let stress drain your energy, find excuses, binge eat-drink-drug-exercise, obsess over your Facebook feed, keep checking your email, overlook replenishing mind, body and soul. These obstacles successfully sabotage your likelihood of achieving your goal, and most of them also exhaust you physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, making daily life as draining as the dream pictures, one heavy bogged-down step after another.

If you have this dream, reflect back on the last 24-48 hours to identify the situation that feels heavy going and slow. If it’s not obvious to you, look next for the situation that is all go, high energy, busy-busy-busy, but, when you think about it, not really getting you where you want to be. Or take a piece of paper and make a list of the obstacles that got in your way (and the unexpected things that turned up that needed your attention) during the last two days. Can you see the connection between your dream and your life now?

The details of your dream are important: what happened before the heavy feet part, what else was going on, where you were headed to, who else was there, how you felt about it all, the texture and slope of the path, what you were wearing (the list is as endless as our dreams are unique). When the details are analysed, your unconscious beliefs, conflicts, and emotions, are uncovered. The aspects of your deeper self that have you spellbound are unmasked.

It’s a fascinating process, but it’s time to ensure that your unconscious – your deeper self – is working with you to achieve the kind of goals that are healthy and appropriate for you.

Do you still want to achieve this goal? Is it time to commit to it more fully? Is it time to modify it? Is it time to let it go? Has it served its purpose?

Is it enough to unmask your unconscious saboteur? Yes and no. Awareness helps, but it’s better – and more rewarding – to do a dream alchemy visualisation to rewire the unhealthy unconscious beliefs or to strengthen the healthy ones.

It’s best to create a visualisation based on your unique dream, using your unique dream symbols, designed to zone in on the belief that needs to be changed, and change it.

But here’s a more general dream alchemy visualisation that you can do if you have this kind of dream:

While awake, close your eyes and imagine yourself back in the dream, just at the point where it all gets tough. Visualise – and feel – your feet and legs feeling light, see and feel yourself now lightly stepping, running, or dancing with ease and a sense of joyful fulfilment as you suddenly arrive at your destination.

Do this visualisation 15-20 times a day for a couple of weeks. You’ll notice that things become lighter and clearer, obstacles melt, hesitation vanishes, and you’ll feel more confident about where you’re going and why.

Related articles you might enjoy

Best excuses

Best excuses

Dream Alchemy – secret spells

Dream Alchemy – secret spells