Acting On Your Dream
A dream image is, in many ways, like an icon on your computer desktop. It just sits there, you can think about it till you are red in the face, but it doesn’t come alive until you click on it. A dream is a product of the miracle we do not understand – LIFE. As such each dream image is alive with intelligence and information, and links not simply with ideas we read in a book or website, but with the workings and wonders of our body, the depths of our mind and even beyond. Remember that dreams occur in animals, and have been a feature of living creatures long before humans arose. So dreams come from a part of us prior to the arrival of human language. Therefore it might be useless to think about dreams. My poor attempts to communicate this in words as a dictionary are pitiful – unless you actually explore your dreams as explained below. You can then ‘click’ on your dream images using the following ways in.
The Dream Image
A quick way of understanding your dream is to realise that the images in our dreams are just emotions, thoughts and feeling taking on, or presenting themselves, as images and drama, and if you take away the images of the dream and see what you feel you have the real meaning. This is so simple that many people fail to try it trying to ‘think out or about their dream’. This may be because many people do not like to meet or deal with their real feelings and emotions. So please take time with it.
So after you take the image away and feel the feeling underneath it, ask yourself, “When have I felt this before – even years ago? What is the feeling about and what part does it play in my life?”
This is a technique I have used myself and with groups of people. People arrive at understanding very quickly. But for some people this takes a little practice because instead of – if we dream of a dog – saying, “The dog is only a puppy and is adorable” you need to talk as if you are the dog, person or place. So say “I am a little puppy and the person thinks I am adorable”.
The idea is to really describe in detail what it is you are dealing with, and also what you are feeling as the dream object. The more you use this the richer the experience gets and you allow yourself to really be the dream object or person – and do not make the mistake if it is a person you know by describing them as an outside person. Stick with them exactly as they are in the dream.
Here is an example: I dreamt I arrived at a railway station, but instead of a platform it was at the top of an old castle keep. I had to walk down through the castle and then out to a street.
So I said: “I am an old castle keep. In the past I was used as a defence, but now people are easily passing through and allowing people to enter me and leave.” As soon as I said that I could see what it meant. I had suffered a lot of shyness and was defended not allowing people near me. I had built impregnable emotional walls to keep people away. Now I was finding it easier to let people come and go.
Here is another example: I dreamt I entered my living room and things had been thrown everywhere. It was a mess. I realised that it was my wife who had done it.
This is a tricky one because the wife was not in the dream, so if he sticks with the dream and not his actual wife here is what was said. “I am an invisible presence in my husband life, a presence he feels tears his living space to bits. Yet I am invisible and so could not have done this. But I am a feeling in his life that assures him that I am an awful intrusion. You see, I am just a feeling he has, and that makes him irritated with me.” The dreamer admitted that it wasn’t his wife that was messing up his ‘living space’ but his own feelings about her.
So try it and see what you find. But take time with yourself and ask the person, castle wall, dog, or object questions to clear things up. If you say whatever comes to mind you will be amazed how well it works.
Walk On Part
This is the simplest of the methods. It requires you to play with your imagination a little and go along with a fantasy, the sort of talent we all develop as children. If you have a sympathetic audience it helps, but only if you feel okay in front of others. It is fine alone as well. Stand with your eyes closed in the middle of enough space to move around. About two or three square metres is usually plenty.
Imagine you are standing on the edge of your dream, like a film set, and you are going to walk into it. Before you actually step into your dream be aware of what you are feeling in your body and emotions. Your body and feelings are a screen upon which subtle changes and shifts will occur. It is this screen of body and emotions that will act as your monitor showing what responses your dream produces.
Now step into your dream. Literally step forward. Walk about in the ‘film set’ of your dream, watching what you feel, what memories come and what your fantasies are. Talk with the characters, even step into their body and register what feelings and intuitions they produce on your screen of body and feelings. This also includes objects such a car, tree, or animals. Literally get into their shape. This is important because all the images we use in dreams are like the icons on computer screens. The front object is only a small indication of what lies hidden underneath.
Speak what you feel and find to your helpers or to a tape recorder. You can enter into anything in this way, whether it is an animal, a tree, the sea or a house. As you explore your dream in this way you can ask questions and your intuition will play its responses on the monitor of your body and emotions. The possibilities are that you enter the dream and explore its different places and people, or you relive the dream by acting it out.
This Is How It Was
In many dreams you the dreamer or one of the characters expresses something dramatic or ordinary that can be used as a doorway to insight. As an example ‘Kelly’ had the following dream:
I am in an exotic foreign shop and the owner doesn’t understand me. Then he speaks English and I laugh and start jumping around saying, ‘You can understand me’.
Kelly could take up the posture she had in the dream and act it by saying out aloud, “You don’t understand me!” This would need to be repeated a few times with as much of the feeling of frustration or attitudes connected with being misunderstood as appeared in or were suggested by the dream. What this can do is to involve more of yourself in expression than you usually do. This brings to the surface feelings that may be difficult to be aware of otherwise. Once felt they can be recognised for what they are. Often what happens is that the acting out carries on from the dream and may even involve some life situation you have been in. In other words you act or feel something more than was in the dream. Kelly could also try ‘jumping around’ shouting “You can understand me!”
The aim is to dramatise what the dream is expressing to see if we can find what part of our history or emotions it is depicting. This often ‘hooks’ memories or feelings that would otherwise not be discovered.
One of the most important things about actually understanding your dream rather that interpreting it is to become the dream person or object – to actually completely identify with it. This needs to be practiced as most people feel the dream person or object is something other than themselves and are often hesitant to become it. For instance the Devil in a dream is simply your own emotions and fears given an exterior image. And also Christ in a dream is the same thing. In doing this you can step beyond the imagery of the dream into direct experience of yourself in all its variety and wonder. The Christ for instance become an actual experience of the highest in you.
So do do this the dreamer next choose one of the characters or images in the dream to explore. The character can be themselves as they appear in the dream, or any of the other people or things. It is important to realise that it does not matter if the character is someone known or not, or whether they are young or old. The character needs to be treated as an aspect of their dream, and not as if they were the living person exterior to the dream. So do not attempt to describe them an outside person, but the dream character.
In choosing an image to work with, such as a person, a tree, cat, place, or an environment like the street in the example dream above, it must again be treated as it appears in the dream, not as it may appear in real life. One can take any image from the dream to work with.
The dreamer stands in the role of the character or image they are using. So if they chose to be a person they would close their eyes, imagine themselves as stepping into the body of the dream character and describe him or herself as the person they now are.
To do this it usually changes the way your body or feelings feel. As this is done notice any changes in how you feel as that person – or object – speak as them in the first person. Do not say, “I feel as if this person is …” but say, “I feel I am and am doing ..” As this happens watch any realisations or insights that arise and explore the person. Ask question of this dream character until you feel you have realised what is is of you that is being revealed.
I know it is difficult for some people to say ‘I’ instead of talking as if the dream character is someone else. But if you start claiming the dream image as your own in this way by saying such things as, “I am a tree” you will quickly realise you are talking about yourself.
Here is an example. The dream was of a railway station that was an old castle keep/tower. In using the magic word I, this is what he described himself as. “I am an old castle keep. I used to be for defense and repelling people, but now I can let people in and out easily.” The dreamer realised this was a really excellent insight into his character and the change taking place in him.
The most immediate way to gain insight into your dream is to take the keywords and fill in the gaps.
To illustrate this we can use the following dream:
I meet an acquaintance who tells me she is sick. I suggest ways that might help her. As I speak I become aware that others are listening and coming nearer. I apologise and say that I appear to be preaching, but they say, ‘Please go on we want to listen.’ As I continue I find that a rostrum has formed and lifted me two steps higher.
To use the technique of ‘keywords’ on this dream you would need to write down the most important words in the dream. Doing this you might arrive at the words – meet – acquaintance – sick – help – speak – listening – apologise – preaching – rostrum.
For the next step you ask yourself what you have recently met with in yourself or in life? It is something you are acquainted with, and that has to do with not feeling well, whole or satisfied with your life. So you would ask yourself what you are acquainted with to do with not feeling at your best?
The word ‘help’ suggests you have information that will be useful. What is it?
You apologise for yourself, suggesting degrading what you know. How are you doing that in your life?
Preaching comes next. Have you been giving advice? If so, what is it, and is it relevant to you too?
And lastly, can you listen to your own advice given from a rostrum – higher level of viewpoint?
Having arrived at some associations with the major words in the dream, you next put them together in a way that explains some of the insights or ideas you arrived at. Filling in the gaps between the words you might therefore arrive at something like this:
I have lately become aware of the feeling that I am ill at ease with myself. This connects with my lack of confidence about how I feel when talking with other people. The strange thing is that I know how to help myself with this. I was talking with a friend the other day, and the advice I gave them about something similar really applies to me. What I need to do is to stop apologising for myself and positively use what I know will help. I can see from the dream that I have a lot to share with other people, so I don’t need to feel I am preaching.
What you arrive at using this keyword method will give you an excellent overview of your dream. It will take some practice, but persist and you will get very useful results.
Dealing with Anger and great Emotions
Being the person who is angry, or being yourself being angry is one of the safest ways of allowing and healing the causes of anger. Anger is a natural feeling, and when we repress it, as we are usually taught to do in our society, it becomes pressurised and sick or dangerous.
You can do this by standing in the role, and sometimes it can help to act out anger by hitting cushions or an armchair with a rolled up newspaper. Acting it our can often lead to a real release and then you can see where it all started.
What Posture or Movement?
Another approach is to take up the posture or movement in the dream. I was a helper once with Dave who dreamt of a cop sitting astride a powerful motorbike. Dave had failed to understand this part of the dream using other methods. So we built a pile of cushions for him to sit astride. He sat there for a while and when we asked how he felt he said, “Powerful.” Dave had been feeling a lack of power to do things or to accomplish anything. As he acted out the posture and feeling of being on the bike he could feel the power in his body and the confidence in himself to do what he wanted. It wasn’t simply the dream confidence, it was Dave’s own strength that he could now experience.
As is suggested with Dave, this acting out can be a group action. Non of us actually got in on the act with Dave, but sometimes it helps to get other people involved in the drama, as when you want someone to resist, or someone to hold. A memorable example was with Olive. A dream scene in which she was sitting opposite a woman in a café puzzled her. Latent in the scene was something to do with love, but Olive couldn’t ‘get it’. So I imagined myself in her dream and felt something, and suggested to Olive that she sit opposite Hy, a woman partner, and I asked Olive to repeatedly say to Hy, “Please love me”. The effect was enormous. All the feelings Olive had buried about wanting love from her mother surfaced and were felt. It was a very healing experience for Olive.
And Then What?
A technique that is occasionally very helpful is to carry the dream forward. As it is so useful a bit more information will be given about it.
It is particularly relevant when the end of the dream is not satisfying or does not resolve the feelings or issue expressed in the dream. The method is simple. Imagine yourself in the dream and continue it as a fantasy or daydream. You can alter the dream in any way you want. Continue the plot forward to some sort of conclusion or resolve. But it is important to watch your feelings to see whether what you do is actually satisfying and feels right. It might be a defensive change you make instead of a creative one. Be aware if there is any anger or hostility in the dream that is not fully expressed. If so, let yourself imagine a full expression of the anger. Look for the feeling of satisfaction. Satisfaction occurs only as you learn to acknowledge and integrate resistances and anxieties regarding what you express. It will not arise if you fail to face your fears or deal with the feelings that are trying to resolve in the dream.
This is a very important method. Moving the dream forward like this changes habits that trap you in lack of satisfaction, poor creativity or inability to resolve problems. Using it you can turn to face the things you have been running from. You can get hold of the elusive dream lover who has always before eluded you. You can catch that train, open that door, get to the top of the stairs, and do all the things that anxiety, habit or low self esteem were holding you back from. This can change your life. But to achieve it you must face, feel and admit what has been holding you back.