Changing Your Life

The following is a quote from my book The Instant Dream Book.

The following is only an example of making changes in your life by imagining different outcomes in your dream. So in reading it you can make very different choices than those given; though it does seem very important to practice any changes you make, either in visualising them, or in practical ways. And remember that tests have shown that a group that did not practice the changes did not make any progress. The group that practiced the changes physically made a 100% improvement. Those who visualised themselves practising made 75% improvement. See also for further information: Peer Dream Group; Martial Art of the Mind; Opening to Life.

IN her book, Creative Dreaming, Patricia Garfield quotes the story of Margherita, wife of the Italian writer Giovanni Guareschi. Margherita suffered a period of deep depression during which Giovanni discovered a simple way of helping her. Margherita told him of her disturbed dreams in which she wandered endlessly alone through streets and felt imprisoned by feelings of unhappiness, desire and fear.

In response to this Giovanni suggested, much to her annoyance, that in her dream she get herself a bicycle – she did not know how to drive a car.

After only a few days Margherita actually began to dream of using a bicycle and told Giovanni that her dreams were in fact made easier by it, and she awoke less tired. However, after only a week of success she fell once more into her deep depression because she had a puncture, and had again to walk. Giovanni, in his urgent attempt to help her, told her to mend the puncture in somc way. Margherita said this was not possible as she was completely alone in her dreams and did not know how to mend a puncture. So Giovanni took her into their garage and taught her how to remove the tyre and mend the puncture. He helped her to practice this until she could literally do it blindfold In this way it had become a new habit.

It took three nights of dreaming before Margherita excitedly woke to tell she had successfully mended her puncture. Her new happiness and sense of independence, real in her waking life as well as in her dream life, lasted for several months. So much dependence had grown out of her dream success, that when her next problem arose she was cast down not only in her dream but also in her waking life. While riding a mountain road in her dream, she had slipped and fallen into a steep gully, where she lay injured. Giovanni tried once more to help her, studying books on rock climbing. Margherita felt, after attempting to use these techniques, that she was too weak and injured. So Giovanni pressed her to call him in her dreams . . . call him again and again to come and help her. ‘Don’t stop calling me’ he pleaded, ‘who knows, I may hear you.’

That very night while away from home he felt sure he could feel Margherita calling him. Hurrying home he found her calmly getting a meal ready. On asking her what had happened she told him she had slept and dreamt again of being in the ravine. This time she had called him continually, and at last he had appeared, thrown a rope to her -and pulled her out of the ravine. Margherita’s summary was, ‘I am not worried any more. I now know that if I am ever in danger and I call to you, you will hear me and come.’

Just as a dream can deeply influence our waking life by its fear or pleasure, so our waking activities and imaginations deeply influence our dream life. For instance, when counselling people who find it difficult to make friends or show affection, there is a way of helping them to examine and disperse their fears. They can practice, in the counselling situation, the process of making friends and actually physically reaching out to hold hands, hug and express their feelings. For them, the act of reaching their arm out to somebody else is usually like breaking through a powerful barrier. The barrier is actually made not of bricks or wood, but of anxiety, feelings of not being likeable or being different to other people. So strong are these walls of feeling that some people remain imprisoned in them for a lifetime. Breaking through them requires new action, a revolu­tionary new relationship with oneself and the world.

Bill, a man Hyone and I worked with, had felt since childhood that he was physically unattractive. He had developed this feeling about himself because his mother had never shown any pleasure in hand­ling his body as a baby. All his childhood messes and dribbles had been treated as repulsive and dirty and these feelings surrounded him in his personal prison. We asked him to feel his need for making contact with us, and when he was ready, reach out for us, but not to do so as a mechanical action. For ten or fifteen minutes he could not move, his walls of negative feeling were so strong, but gradually and with deep emotion, he came to us and held us, feeling our pleasure in response to him.

Margherita and Bill were prisoners of their own feelings. Margherita managed to break out of her prison by first learning to feel more independent and capable through the bicycle; and secondly by learning to reach out for contact and help when she needed it. Her calling in her dream was as difficult for her to achieve as it was for Bill to physically reach out to share contact. In both cases a pressure of negative feelings, almost like a resisting gravitational force, held them back. And the important point is that although not everyone has the opportunity or cash to visit a psychotherapist to help them work their way through the wall of feelings and habits which imprison them, almost everyone has the chance to do it in their dreams.

Whether we learn to meet our problems and transform our life in waking or in dreams, the results are the same. Wherever we do it, we have met the negative feeling and passed through and beyond into a new area of expression. In fact, our dreams and fantasies give us a much more varied sphere of experience in which to practice meeting our fears, making love or exploring new areas of ourselves. However we practice, we gain confidence for real-life situations. After practicing making contact with us, Bill actually met and developed a relationship with a young woman that same day. The relationship lasted several months and enriched them both. See  Secrets of Power Dreaming

Patricia Garfield gives examples of several people with a naturally retiring disposition who, after meeting a dream attacker with real aggression, were able to directly ask for what they wanted in waking life. One woman asked a man smoking in a non-smoking area of an aeroplane to stop, which he did. This followed successful positive action in a dream. Beforehand she would not have dared ask for such a simple request, but would have remained angry and unsatisfied.

It might help to understand how this action of changing a few images in a dream can change our life, if we realise something about a dream symbol.

The nearest everyday thing which can help us understand a dream image is a word. If I write the word SAUCEPAN, you will find it almost impossible to have any other view of it than as a cooking implement. If this is changed a little by writing – red-hot saucepan -something different is communicated.

If you are not used to dealing with dreams, you may believe a dream image can never be likened to a word. A word has a fairly precise and commonly agreed meaning. A dream image, you might believe, is a rather random thing. But if you had not developed words for communication but had to use mime, posture, environment, to express meanings, would you use the image of someone slouched in a chair smoking to depict happiness and creativity? Our sense of body language, scenery, situation, is so acute, thousands of people can watch the same communal dream – a TV film – and feel similar responses. So, without realising it, we have commonly accepted fairly precise meanings attached to particular images, body postures, clothing and so on.

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