Your Guru the Dream – Step Three

The dreams we looked at in Step Two had obvious themes. We practised defining these, and also used the word ‘I’ as a guide to important parts of the dream. Now we will take this a step further by asking what the themes suggest.

It is not worth working with this step until you have collected some of your own dreams and defined what themes appear in them. If you have already done this, take one of your dreams, look at what you have defined as its themes, and ask yourself how the themes apply to your waking life.

To illustrate what is meant, let us use Pam’s dream again.

I grew up in Barbados and lived with my mother in a shack. While I was there I started having a dream that I have had occasionally ever since. In the dream I was getting married and was at home dressing for the marriage, looking in a brown, peeling old mirror. The dream always ends here. Pam.

The two obvious themes in the dream are marriage and self-image. The question we are now asking is, how are those themes relevant to Pam’s everyday life? Or put another way, what is the dream suggesting by using these themes, and doing so in recurring dreams?

Obviously we are speculating because we do not have Pam with us to confirm on deny our conclusions. Nevertheless, the possibility is that when we put the idea of marriage together with the brown peeling mirror, we end with the sense of poverty. The image does not produce a sense of joy or success. Therefore the question you would need to ask yourself if this were your dream would be – Do I have a sense that I am not a good enough person to have a marriage partner?

I need to point out that the question is not saying – Am I doomed to remain single? It is more in the light of – Do I FEEL I am doomed to stay single?

This is a very important difference. The first question leaves the way open for change. Feelings can be changed. Viewpoints can be altered. But the second question is like a locked door. It is like saying, I am fated to remain single and there is nothing I can do about it.

These are important points and need to be carefully thought about and built into the way you look at your dreams. Later, ways of producing change in the situation will be used. At the moment however, it is enough that you define the themes in your own dreams and ask what relevance they have to your waking life. Becoming aware is itself a great move to change.

Awareness is a great force of transformation

This is so important we will work with another dream to deepen understanding of the process. This is a dream that is from someone known to me. We worked with the dream, so I have more information to share.

I was on a road that led up to the hospital I was put in at three. I felt a sense of an awful past as I looked at the road. Then I was standing on the edge of a precipice or cliff. My wife was about four yards away near the road. I stepped in an area of soft earth. It gave beneath my weight and I sank up to my waist. I realised the cliff edge was unstable and the whole area would fall. I was sinking and shouting to my wife to help me. She was gaily walking about and made light of my call for help. I cried out again. Still she ignored me. I shouted again for her help. She took no notice and I sank deeper, the ground gave way and I fell to my death.’ Barry I.

This is a more complex dream, but look at it and see what themes you can define before reading on.

Remember to look at how ‘I’ is used, and what the statements are saying.

The first statement in the dream is ‘I was on a road’. This suggests the theme of a direction, or going somewhere. Then comes, ‘I felt’. So there are important and difficult feelings. We could call this theme ‘difficult emotions’. What follows this is, ‘I was standing on the edge of a precipice’. So a dangerous situation is depicted. We could call the theme danger, or dangerous life situation. Some of the events that follow deepen this dramatisation of danger. But it is important to look at the statement, ‘I was sinking and shouting for my wife’. This could be called, cry for help. The last theme is death.

Without giving you any further information, what is your impression of the dream from defining the themes? Just being aware of the themes must bring some sense of what the drama is depicting. See if you can put this into words.

Knowing the dream and the dreamer, and years having passed, I have the advantage of hindsight. So it is important for you to clarify what your impressions are before receiving further information. That is not to say you should reach concrete conclusions. Any sense you arrive at of the dream should remain open to development through the absorption of new information or experience.

So here is additional information. Through being put in a hospital at three without his mother, Barry had a deep-seated fear that any woman he loved could desert him. We see this in his unanswered cries for help.

Also, at the time of the dream, Barry was experiencing extreme stress because his wife had, as he felt, become emotionally and physically distant from him. Therefore he was facing what he felt as abandonment.

So his fall shows a loss of any sense of bonding between him and his wife out of this fear. His death is the dying of his feeling of love and relationship, and the pain it causes. Barry did not manage to find change in this situation, and he and his wife later separated, with great distress for both of them.

Some of the subtler aspects of the dream are seen in the very first part of the dream where Barry says, ‘I was on a road that led up to the hospital I was put in at three. I felt a sense of an awful past as I looked at the road.’ Barry later went on to explore this past and the painful responses it had left in him in the present. He discovered that his pain at his mother’s absence was intense because at two he had lost his grandmother, who until then had been his principle carer. So the dream shows how this original loss left Barry open to enormous hurt at three, and then to unmanageable distress at the emotional and physical withdrawal of his wife. Barry did go on to heal those hurts, though not soon enough to prevent separation from his wife.

How much of that had you gathered from looking at the themes? However much you had gathered, try writing out a summary of what the dream suggests from what we have learned.

In 1900, when Sigmund Freud published The Interpretation of Dreams, the book provoked much hostile criticism. The subject itself, let alone Freud’s serious treatment of it, seemed a ludicrous one, not merely to other medical men but to many intellectuals trained in a rationalist tradition. Freud’s book, however, began the last of the series of revolutions in thought which, in the course of the 19th century, transformed man’s view of himself and of the world in which he lived. (Quoted from Dreams and Dreaming by Norman MacKenzie.

See Your Guru the Dream – Step Four

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