Dreamwork and How We Love
Why Do We Experience the Dream?
We would not dream if we were fully conscious.
Simply put, we are made up of two parts. The component which is revealed to others is the ego and the soul is our most natural self which is usually kept hidden. The soul contains our most valuable qualities which can only be hoisted from the shadow. The shadow is the powerful energy of our inner-nature which we push down because we feel it is unacceptable to others. The aim of dreamwork is to merge our positive traits with our negative ones in order to make a whole new being. It is similar to a woman and a man bringing a baby into life.
The ego is often heading on a very different path to the real genuine self because it operates with defense mechanisms to protect us from the difficult reality of life. The psychiatrist and psychoanalyst James Grotstein, revealed that the dream is played to us by a higher, ineffable aspect of our being, enabling us to catch a dim picture of our life without defense mechanisms. Sleeping cuts off our ability to shield what we are too afraid to face in our day to day life.
Dreams disclose aspects of our personal life which we are unaware of or aspects of life which are unconscious on a collective level. The dreams concerning the first level of the unconscious will appear in everyday images and events such as washing the dishes or going to work. Other dreams are usually more vivid and unforgettable and include more mythical images such as angels and gods. Sometimes a dream can be a mixture of both and will appeal for change in our personal life so that a new attitude can permeate into the collective.
And this is how we can begin to change the world.
How Do We Interpret Dreams?
The psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Ignacio Matte Blanco explained how dreams cannot be interpreted on the level of ego logic. Dreams are symbolic because the unconscious realm is not tethered to time and space. The unconscious world is not structured the same way the tangible world is. That means when we analyse dreams we have to remember to push beyond the literal meaning of the images and events.
Dreams should not be viewed separately or as a one-off because this is like scooping a single teaspoon of water out of the sea. If we focus on the teaspoon of water we often miss the whole body of water or the bird’s eye perspective the dream is offering.
Maintaining a relationship with our dreams will assist in work with the shadow which will in turn align the soul with the ego so that we continue stepping closer toward an understanding of the genuine self. Jung resolved his own dreams and those of patients and revealed how tracking dreams is akin to having a long term relationship with ourselves to live more harmoniously by releasing tension which arises from living an outward life which is not in tune with our inward life. Dreams should be mapped over time so that patterns become visible enough to constellate.
Dreams have a life-long conversation with us. One dream will give meaning but subsequent dreams will show the image and event from a different angle. This is like being an artist with more color to play with in our palette. The more color added to our life narrative then the more vivid and full our life will become.
The act of writing down dreams should include associations such as images, events, memories and feelings which the night dramas carry. When a witch makes a potion she doesn’t just fling in her ingredients, she stirs the contents of her cauldron around and around and breathes in the scents, the atmosphere and the mood. She waits for the moon to open its eye in the dark. She raises the fermenting storm from behind the hills in the wood.
Adding to notes anything else which is remembered during the day as well as other synchronicities will enable our ego side to continue the conversation with our soul side. A more enthusiastic interaction equates to a more solid understanding of our being.
What Do People Mean in Dreams?
Jung explained that the characteristics of people in the dream usually serve to highlight the same characteristics in ourselves. Since we don’t understand or know someone we don’t relate with a great deal, it is wise to understand that it is usually the image we have of that person that the dream discloses not the actual person. It is very difficult to know a person at roots level if we don’t interact with them often and openly and especially, if they are unaware of themselves. We often relate on a superficial level with others even if we think we connect with them on a floor that is under the ground.
So for example, if we dream of our alcoholic aunt drinking and we don’t live with her and interact with her closely in real life, this means that we are viewing an alcoholic aspect of ourselves. This does not necessarily mean we drink and are an alcoholic. What this means is that we have an addictive aspect to our ‘trained’ personality in order to cope with pain and the ‘natural’ personality is calling for change.
If we dream about the people we live with and relate to on a deep level it is possible that the dream is referring to an aspect that we need to be aware of concerning them or in our relation to them or even a combination of this and ourselves. This is due to a process called participation mystique where the close people in our lives become enmeshed with the events of our own lives including our ingrained personalities. This occurs with anyone we share our house with including any children.
How Can Dreamwork Help the People We Love?
The dream can enable us to enter into the psyche of others this way. It is normal for dreams in families or a similar social unit to interrelate with and respond to the unconscious mind of the other. If a family functions on this level many tensions and misunderstandings can be resolved quickly because we dig the problem out from the root instead of simply plucking the infected leaf.
For example, if a child in the family feels invisible the mother may view a dream that she cannot hear her child talk clearly and the child sees that in her dream she is a ghost floating around her mother and repeating words like a broken record player. If we know exactly where the rot is we can act from this point rather than band-aiding or just dealing with the symptom such as the child’s anger or depression.