Tag Archives: emotion

Dream interpretation: choosing a dream

Choosing a dream

“How do I know which dream to start with?” emailed Tim, eager to begin applying some of my techniques. Tim remembers four or five dreams a night, and realises that working in depth with one dream a day would be too much. “I was hoping you might answer my question in a blog,” she said.

When was the last time you worked deeply with a dream? If it’s been a while, or if you’re a beginner and wondering where to start, here’s my top priority list:

 

  • A recurring dream or recurring dream theme

If you have a recurring dream (or recurring dream theme) with an unresolved or unsatisfactory ending, and you’ve had the dream within the last few weeks, that’s the most powerful place to begin. Dreams reflect the last 1-2 days, so every time you have the recurring dream or theme it’s reflecting a recurring waking life issue that’s not working out well for you. Working with this dream you can identify the issue, your inner conflicts about the issue (which may surprise you), the usual approaches you try (that fail), and the unconscious beliefs that are blocking you from resolving it successfully.

 

  • An emotionally charged dream

A dream in which you feel a heightened emotion – especially an uncomfortable emotion – is invaluable to work with. The emotion is usually linked to an unconscious belief or behaviour pattern that is restricting your growth. This kind of dream can help you to identify an emotional event in your past that is still affecting your life today, and – when you apply dream alchemy techniques – can lead to powerful release and healing.

 

  • A vivid dream

An uplifting, colourful, intense, vivid dream often reflects a breakthrough (or a near-breakthrough), and working with such a dream can support you as the effects of the change ripple through your life in unexpected ways. It’s also good to understand, affirm, and celebrate the changes these dreams herald, and to prepare yourself for some strong emotions that may take you by surprise as they are released as part of the process.

 

  • A dream that poses a problem or question

Most dreams involve trying to solve a problem or find an answer to a question, and these reflect a waking life problem or question you’re trying to solve. (It takes work to relate the dream problem to the waking life problem because dreams are symbolic.) Look for a dream with a bizarre problem or question, the more surreal the better. Here’s what you can do with these dreams.  This technique can help you to question your question, or understand why you see a particular situation as a problem. It can help you shift your perspective and find new solutions. It can totally transform your life.

 

  • A dream that refers to the past

Although dreams reflect the last 1-2 days, they may include references to the past (your childhood home, ex-partners, people or places you once knew). These dreams can help you to go back to see how your past is still shaping your present, and to work with dream alchemy to change this.

 

  • A night of dreams

Don’t be too quick to choose just one dream from a heavy night’s dream recall. Those four or five dreams you may remember from one night’s sleep often reflect the same situation from different angles.

 

  • Just begin!

Or just choose that dream from last night – you know the one, the one that’s still haunting you. It’s reflecting the last 1-2 days so it’s fresh comment (and ripe with insight for you to discover) on whatever you’re going through right now.

 

  • Still not sure how to begin?

If deeply working with a dream on your own just seems too daunting, book a consultation with me. There are plenty of options, and it’s much more fun.

 

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Episode 148 The Dream Show: Intense emotions in dreams

A virtual coffee

Episode 148 The Dream Show: Intense emotions in dreams

We begin with the light-hearted, a bit of fun and a laugh to illustrate just how far the unconscious can go to try to save us from feeling pain, yet how that same unconscious can speak loud and clear in waking life once you know how to look and listen. It speaks even more clearly in dreams, once you know how to read them, and in this episode we plunge into the kind of dreams where you vent and scream and act in ways that terrify you, to discover how to understand them.

The Dream Show with Jane Teresa AndersonMany people who are quiet and considerate towards others in waking life dream of expressing such rage that it spills into violence. In dreams, you may find yourself so angry that you shake someone violently, squash them, or hurt them in ways that are not even physically possible in waking life. You may be thinking these dreams are simply arenas to release deep emotions, and you’re right in part. But there’s more, and it’s in the deeper understanding of these dreams that you stand to gain the greatest light. We go there in this episode. You’ll emerge smiling. Enjoy.

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Episode 146 The Dream Show: It will come to you

A virtual coffee

It will come to you

What comes to you in your life, and how do you feel about it? What would you like to come to you – to attract into your life? What do you do to try to make this happen? Are you succeeding, or are you just experiencing same-old? How can working with your dreams and dream alchemy help you?

Everything to Everyone, The Rooftops“It will come to you” is a catchy, uplifting song by The Rooftops (my son, Euan Gray, is the singer-songwriter) that I’ve included at the end of this episode as a Christmas gift that segues well with today’s theme. It’s from their recent album, “Everything to Everyone”. Enjoy!

In this episode we look at the way we each experience life (and what we allow, attract, or repel) according to our individual unconscious beliefs about the world and about ourselves.

We look at how dream interpretation reveals your unconscious beliefs and helps you to understand how you acquired them and the emotions that embedded them. We look at how they might be creating blind spots for you, limiting your perceived options and blocking your desired outcomes.

The Dream Show with Jane Teresa AndersonWe then look at how to change these beliefs by using dream alchemy visualisation exercises to rewire the brain to free you from those same-old limiting neural circuits and replace them with automatic, positively rewarding belief patterns.

In short, we look at how dreams – once interpreted – help you to understand what comes to you and why in life, and how dream alchemy helps you to change what comes to you for the better.

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Rewiring the brain with Dream Alchemy

Rewiring the brain with Dream Alchemy

Imagine you have a dream about climbing an endless staircase, one that doubles back on itself just when the last step is in sight, or one that twists like a mobius strip, or tricks the eye like an Escher print. It’s quite a common dream, and, like all unresolved dreams, it reflects an unresolved situation in waking life. It might be as simple as a creative problem you can’t resolve at work, or as complex as a relationship issue you can’t resolve in your personal life.

Now, you wouldn’t just be trotting around that dream staircase thinking ho-hum, would you? After a few rounds you’d be feeling an emotion or two, perhaps frustration, irritation, panic, resignation, disappointment, relief (phew, saved from getting there and confronting something), confusion, what else? What do you imagine you might feel in this kind of dream?

Emotions tend to be heightened in dreams as we touch upon raw feelings (often unconscious) that we bury or hold back from expressing when we are awake. But although you may wake up from an emotional dream with relief, “Oh, thank goodness, only normal staircases in my life today and, anyway, I always take the elevator,” don’t dismiss that dream or the emotions you felt. Somewhere in your life, in the last two days, you lived that analogy of feeling as if you were on an endless staircase, of sensing that a situation would turn back on itself just when the last step was in sight, of not being able to see a solution to getting to where you want to be. And that emotion that you felt in the dream is a key to what is stopping you from resolving the waking life issue, to seeing a solution to the problem.

We all have our blind spots, our unique ways of seeing – or not seeing – the world, based on our automatic habitual patterns of thinking, feeling, and responding to situations. Those patterns are laid down (wired into our brains, automated, plunged into our unconscious mind) as a result of our early experiences, or as a result of more recent emotional trauma. Whatever new and positive experiences life might offer us, that old wiring pattern can be very hard to shift. Why? We established those patterns for our survival, to protect us and keep us safe from the things we feared at that early age or following that trauma. Many of those patterns were learned from our parents or guardians as they modelled their habitual ways of dealing with their fears. It takes a lot for us to give up a pattern that we unconsciously believe keeps us safe, even if it’s no longer relevant in today’s world, or – in most cases – limiting our options and ways of being in the world, stopping us from finding new, better patterns of relating and responding in the world.

How do you rewire your brain to reach that last step?In the example of the endless staircase dream, the dreamer is wired to automatically (unconsciously) avoid that last step, or draw out a situation or make it more convoluted than it needs to be. Why? For every dreamer who has this dream, for every person who is trapped in this pattern, the reason will be unique, but one thing is for sure – at least one strong emotion is holding the wiring in place. One person might lack the self esteem to take that last step, another might fear success or failure (there are plenty more possibilities), and in each case that lack of self esteem or fear of success or failure (or other reason to avoid that last step) stems from a past emotional experience or strong emotional conditioning from parents or guardians.

So how do you rewire your brain, or reprogram your unconscious habitual beliefs and patterns?

In sports psychology, it’s known that if you practice a move a few times and then visualise it many times a day for weeks, when you try that move again you will have improved or even mastered it. The same goes for developing other new skills, such as a pianist mastering a new piece by visualising the placement of her fingers on the keyboard as she hears the music. Science has proven that – in the circumstances in which it has been tested – repetitive visualisation rewires the brain for new skills.

When I create dream alchemy visualisations I ask people to repeat them twenty or thirty times a day for two weeks, then a couple of times a day for a few more weeks. These are figures I’ve arrived at over many years of trial and error. They are designed to rewire the brain (reprogram unconscious beliefs and the patterns they generate), and they are effective because they utilise the person’s unique dream symbols.

Our dream symbols and themes are the pictures our individual dreaming minds come up with while our brains are processing our conscious and unconscious experiences of the last 24-48 hours, trying to make sense of our world. As we dream, we try to fit our recent experiences in with our current understanding of the world, and mostly we manage to do that, even when our current understanding of the world is not serving us well. Those dream symbols and themes are the closest language we can get to the language of our unique unconscious mind, the closest language we can get to the language of our brain wiring.

So with dream alchemy you visualise a key dream symbol transforming, or a key dream theme resolving. In the example you might visualise seeing that last step and stepping effortlessly onto it, or you might straighten and shorten your complex dream staircase and then take that last step. Repetition is a necessary key, just as it is when used in mastering a sports or music skill through visualisation.

There is one other very important factor with dream alchemy, and it’s something that can make people feel so uncomfortable that they hold back from doing the visualisation fully, or stop doing the repetitions. Yet that uncomfortable feeling is actually a sign that the dream alchemy is the spot on formula. With dream alchemy, you need to visualise transforming the negative emotion you felt in the dream (e.g. confusion or irritation) into a positive emotion (e.g. clarity or enrichment). If your pattern is heavily invested in the negative emotion (e.g. confusion or irritation are comfort zone for you, keeping you ‘safe’ from the changes you fear that clarity or enrichment might demand), you’re going to feel very uncomfortable about visualising those emotional shifts in your dream alchemy.

This is the point where you either need to have faith and push through (because you want to change), or have me take you through the dream alchemy personally and repetitively. Faith is born of understanding the dream. When you interpret a dream (or engage my help with doing this), you get to see your pattern with new eyes. You get to understand where it came from, and you get to identify and understand the emotions that underpin it. It’s the details of your dream (details beyond the general theme of the staircase itself in this example) that, once analysed, give that understanding. You know when it’s right, because it all suddenly makes sense. But all the while you have that buried emotion deep down inside, intellectual reasoning and sheer will alone is not powerful enough to transform that emotion.

Here’s how to transform an emotion that’s holding a pattern in place. First identify the emotion. Dream analysis is one of the best tools for this. Secondly, feel the emotion. Sorry, no short cut here. Get into it, feel it, notice where you feel it in your body as well as in your heart, let it speak to you, see what thoughts and other feelings come up, perhaps notice associated beliefs, and when you’ve really delved into it and felt it, thank it for enlightening you and then let it go. Imagine it drifting up and out of your body to dissolve into a puff of pure air, completely gone, leaving its positive counterpart emotion free to take its place within you.

Then continue with your dream alchemy visualisation. You’ll begin to notice changes in the way you respond in the world, changes in the way you feel about taking that last step (in this example), or you’ll suddenly have a eureka moment about that creative work problem and see the perfect solution. It will seem easy, and that old pattern will now seem strange, even funny. At that point, you have successfully rewired your brain. Oh, and grown personally, creatively, and spiritually. Enjoy!

(PS Happy Birthday time: this blog was launched four years ago today.)

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Painful emotions in dreams

"I dreamed that my wife married another man."

“I dreamed that my wife married another man. It was such a vivid dream and I felt very devastated, felt the pain of losing her in that way. What does it mean?”

This plea for help arrived on my desk this week, and as it is such a common and worrying dream theme, I decided to share some guidelines for those of you who know the deep emotional pain this kind of dream can deliver in the middle of the night, and the anxiety its imprint can leave over the next few days.

What makes a dream vivid? Think about the last really vivid dream you had. We may describe a dream as being vivid if it was particularly colourful, or unusually clear, or intensely numinous, or if it offered spiritual comfort, or spiritual discomfort, or if taste, smell, touch and hearing senses were heightened. We may regard a dream as vivid because it was unusually surreal, or because it was totally believable, as if it really happened.

Different people will have different opinions on what makes a dream vivid, but they usually have one thing in common – heightened emotion. That emotion may be uplifting, such as intense love, awe, surprise, joy, elation. Or it may be painful, such as intense devastation, loss, betrayal, fear, guilt, horror, shock.

We feel intense emotions in our dreams when those same emotions have been triggered at some level in our waking life.

We feel intense emotions in our dreams when those same emotions have been triggered at some level in our waking life.

We feel intense emotions in our dreams when those same emotions have been triggered at some level in our waking life. Remember, dreams reflect our conscious and unconscious experiences of the last 24-48 hours, and it’s the nature of dreams to be dramatic. The man who felt the pain of loss in his dream about his wife marrying another man, was processing feelings of loss triggered by events during the two days before his dream.

It’s most likely that this man felt a prickle of loss in some area of his life, whether that was in his public or private life, whether it was around his work, his personal life, his spiritual life, his sense of pride, his creativity, his finances, his hopes for the future, his physical health, his long-term goals. The list is endless, but the full details of his dream, once interpreted, would reveal the story and the deeper issues underlying his feelings of loss.

The prickle of loss he felt would have been the tip of the iceberg, the full extent of the emotion remaining unconscious.

The prickle of loss he felt would have been the tip of the iceberg, the full extent of the emotion remaining unconscious.

The prickle of loss he felt would have been the tip of the iceberg, the full extent of the emotion remaining unconscious. (The intensity of the emotion in the dream informs us that it registered deep in his unconscious.) You might think that feeling it lightly (just a prickle) is a good thing, but it’s not. When we push intense emotions down into our unconscious mind, they grow in power. Our unconscious emotions (and beliefs, and experiences) drive the way we live our lives, though we are oblivious to this unless we pay attention to our dreams.

This man was clearly shocked by his dream. The fidelity of his relationship is not in question. This dream is not about his relationship with his wife. It is about an area of his life that he had regarded as committed, settled, secure (like his marriage), but that felt shaky around the time of his dream. His dreaming mind pictured his feeling of painful loss and devastation as being like losing a treasured commitment, a foundation stone of his life – his wife.

This kind of dream can come up when you feel threatened by a change in your life. That change might be good, such as deciding to give up a commitment to a previous plan (perhaps a career or business) to commit to a new and better option, or it might be more challenging, such as losing a job due to your employer’s changed commitments.

When change requires us to give up something of our old way, or our old beliefs or attitudes, we often need to process a deep sense of loss (or we push it into our unconscious to try to avoid the pain). When we choose the change ourselves, the old self can feel abandoned or betrayed by the new self. When change is forced upon us, that sense of abandonment or betrayal may feel closer to the surface, and we may find ourselves blaming outside sources – the employer, the economy, the system – rather than taking the healing route of processing the pain and letting it go.

It is about an area of his life that he had regarded as committed, settled, secure (like his marriage), but that felt shaky around the time of his dream.

It is about an area of his life that he had regarded as committed, settled, secure (like his marriage), but that felt shaky around the time of his dream.

This man dreamed his wife married another man. Somewhere in his life, during the 24-48 hours before his dream, he experienced a shift in commitment which triggered feelings of loss and devastation. His best way forward is to acknowledge these feelings, explore them and understand them so that the choices he makes from now on come from a place of growth rather than from a place of loss.

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