Category Archives: This waking life

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

Bodywork and dreams

Bodywork and dreams, Jane Teresa Anderson

When was the last time you had a good, deep, foot, neck, shoulder, or back massage? If you closed your eyes and surrendered to the process, what feelings came up for you? Were you able to name those feelings – relief, grief, foreboding, panic, bliss, vulnerability? Or did you notice tears flowing but find yourself unable to say why? When painful knots were found and massaged, did you see any images, symbols, or experience dreamlike visions?

What did you dream that night, or the next night?

Our muscles and other tissues can hold our painful emotions and associated memories in an often unconscious attempt at protecting ourselves from being hurt in the same way again. Imagine gripping the ground with your toes in an effort to stand your ground, to not budge, to stay put for fear of letting go because of a painful letting go experience in your past. Or because you learned this fear from your parents or guardians or the culture into which you were born. Imagine those toes never really relaxing, never really letting go, even when you’re sitting down or sleeping, partly because you’re on alert whatever else is happening, and partly because your muscles have forgotten how to stretch, or have stiffened and become limited in their range of movement.

Now, what happens when that massage therapist stretches out those muscles for you, cajoling them to release their hold? Perhaps you feel the fear or panic of letting go, perhaps you feel the accumulated pain of holding on, of standing your ground, of victories won or opportunities lost. Perhaps you feel the vulnerability that you have kept under lock and key of muscular tension so long that you can’t even name this strange feeling. Perhaps you feel foreboding, sure knowledge of forthcoming danger, or perhaps you feel relief, discovering that when you are made to let go you find yourself safe, or you find yourself as excited as you were as a one year old when you took your first steps into a whole new and wonderful way of being.

Sometimes the massage is enough to move you forward, to release you into the discovery that it is safe to move beyond your previous limitations, that there is relief in letting go, in change. Sometimes the massage is enough for now, but you return to the status quo, to your comfort zone, to gripped toes, and holding your ground, to fear of change, because the unconscious beliefs you hold remain the same, and the unconscious painful emotions and memories those beliefs are built to protect you from remain in need of healing.

This is where dreams enter the picture.

Dreams are the result of your mind processing your conscious and unconscious experiences of the last 1-2 days, comparing these recent experiences to your entire past, either consolidating your beliefs (your mindset) as a result, or changing them. When we experience highly charged emotions, our dreams can be extremely vivid, and their content extremely revealing and potentially healing.

So your dreams following the foot massage in this toe-gripping, ground-gripping example, might find you comparing the released emotions you felt during your massage with similar situations in your life now, in your life past, and even as far back as the original experience that created the unconscious belief that has had your toes grippingly limiting you ever since. Once analysed (for the dreams will be surreal and symbolic), such dreams can help you to understand why – in this example – you tend to grip, to stand your ground, to resist moving forward in wonderful, life-enhancing ways.

Once you are aware of your pattern and you understand its genesis, you are on the road to healing. You may choose various healing modalities, but with the blessing of a dream to work with, dream alchemy would be a good choice, working deeply and directly with your unconscious mind.

Toe-gripping is just an example. Foot massage may release all kinds of protected emotions and memories, as may massage of any part of the body. A person who is rather ungrounded, who lives in the head, who has lots of ideas but can’t make them happen, may find that a deep foot massage brings them back in touch with the emotions and memories they have been trying to flee. Their dreams may help them to understand their disconnection, and ready them for healing, grounding, feeling safe to put down roots, to manifest, and grow.

Other forms of bodywork, apart from massage, can feed your dreams in a similar way, by actively or passively encouraging your body to move beyond the limitations that it has habitually adopted in the name of protection from painful emotions, or as a result of unconscious limiting beliefs acquired from parents, guardians, or society. Keep your dream journal handy following a massage or bodywork session, and go to bed with the intention to recall your dreams to deepen your insight and open the way for healing and long-lasting positive change.

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I have just emailed Issue 200 of our monthly Dream Sight News out to our subscribers, and shared the article I wrote for our first issue, back on 11.11.1998. The story is old, but still true. I guess it’s the story behind my dream sight, my in-sight. I called the article I-Sight, and thought I’d blog it today to celebrate those 200 issues! Enjoy.

I-Sight, first pub 11.11.1998

I was intrigued by the team of white-coated people who arrived at our Infant School one week, calling on each class in turn to line up outside the Head’s Office and read letters from a chart propped against the wall. Special children came away with envelopes addressed to their parents. I was five years old, and I hoped I would be special enough to take home one of the envelopes. As the days passed I heard that the visitors had come to test our eyesight and that the letters were for those singled out to wear glasses. My wish escalated: Oh, wouldn’t I be really special if Mum and Dad had to take me to choose glasses! I guess I must have wished pretty hard for a five year old, because by the time I got to the front of the line I couldn’t see the big letter at the top of the chart and I’ve worn glasses or contact lenses ever since.

It was a revelation to me a few weeks after taking home the precious envelope to discover that houses were made of bricks all the way up to their roofs, rather than being brick near the ground and then a kind of reddish smudge the rest of the way up. Trees grew leaves to replace the green clouds that had floated around them, and the night sky was neatly scattered with precise pin-point designs instead of huge, glaring, intermingling white blurs.

I wonder if it was then that my dreams opened stunning new vistas – worlds beyond worlds and worlds within worlds? My previous babyhood dreams of being threatened by wolves or finding myself waist deep in snake pits gave way to a recurring dream of mirrored lakes which, if I laid on the ground and looked sideways in a special way, revealed their hidden depths teeming with tropical fish. In those dreams I used to plead with everyone to look at the water in my special way, to take my sideways look at the magnificence that thrived below the surface of an English lake where the presence of tropical fish, to the uninitiated, was merely a ridiculous fantasy. No-one ever looked.

Now I can see, with or without the aid of my glasses, that in the same moment that I was a child needing to feel special and loved for who I was beyond the surface, I needed to learn that the world did indeed have depth of meaning. My short sight became a blessing enabling me to experience a different view, to see different perspectives and to have faith that what may seem confusing one day can leap into clear focus the next. Through short sight I learned INsight – I learned to see within.

(You can subscribe to my monthly Dream Sight News using the form in the right hand column of this page, just under the ‘What’s happening’ title.)

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The world is

The world is

Finish this statement using just one word: “The world is …”

Maybe your word was big, or round, or polluted, or over-crowded, or dying, or abundant, or hopeful, or breathing, or alive, or beautiful, or exciting, or changing. You would probably choose a different word on a different day, or at a different hour, depending on your mood.

Last month I created a daily alchemy practise for a client to do every day for two weeks. It was short, simple, and based on the work she has been doing exploring her dreams. It turned out to be extremely powerful for her, and as we were talking about her results, we realised that the daily practice could be adapted and offered for everyone. The client was happy to share, so here’s the adapted version for you.

Each evening, reflect on the interactions you experienced with other people during your day. Some of those interactions might have felt positive and uplifting at the time. Others might have felt negative, upsetting, challenging. Choose one person you interacted with, and find a positive way of completing this statement using only a few words:

“Today (insert name) showed me that … “

For example, 3 year old Erin might have had a screaming tantrum about having to stop playing in the garden when you needed her to get ready for a doctor’s appointment, and you might have struggled to see the positives at the time.

On reflection, you might write:

“Today Erin showed me that she is in touch with her emotions.”

Or you might write:

“Today Erin showed me that play nourishes the soul.”


“Today Erin showed me that when I am patient I feel energised.”


When you have written down your statement, add:

“and the world is … ” (insert just one word)


Following the examples, you might have:

“Today Erin showed me that she is in touch with her emotions, and the world is embracing.”

“Today Erin showed me that play nourishes the soul, and the world is enriching.”

“Today Erin showed me that when I am patient I feel energised, and the world is lighter.”


The interaction you choose to immortalise in your sentence might be an experience that felt positive and enlightening at the time, though you’ll find the benefits of this alchemy are greater if you choose experiences that felt more challenging.

Keep this going for two weeks, or, better still, for a month. It’s best to do this at the same time each day, so that you remember to do it. Just one sentence a day. Keep your daily sentences in one place, perhaps in a dedicated notebook, so that you can read back through them as a whole every evening.

Here’s what will happen.

On a daily basis you’ll gift yourself the opportunity to turn a negative into a positive, and to reflect and grow from the experience.

At the end of your two weeks, or month, you will find you’re beginning to form the habit of looking for the positives in the apparently negative. Your personal perspective will shift. Your world will change.

At a deeper level, you’re practising compassion and forgiveness, for others, and for yourself.

Day by day, reflection by reflection, sentence by sentence, you’re deepening your connection to a more meaningful world, the world out there, and the world within.

The world is blessed.

Connect, Reach, Surrender

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All the world’s a stage

All the world's a stage, Jane Teresa Anderson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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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?

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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

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The secret of life

The Secret of Life

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

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

My grandmother chose a 1950s favourite:

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

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

My school teacher chose:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plus a little Buddhist attitude:

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

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

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

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

Danced by Love Jane Teresa Anderson

“Driven by fear or
Danced by love?

You choose
Heartbeat by heartbeat.”

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

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

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

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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.

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Even mountains flow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even mountains 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.

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