THE DREAM PARADOX
Dreams present us with an interesting paradox: Our nighttime dreams can awaken us from our daytime “waking dreams.” Dreams can actually awaken us from the unconscious patterns and programs that run our lives.
Anyone seeking self-knowledge and self-understanding needs to discover and come to terms with the forces at play in their psychology. Dreams can be a powerful means of unveiling these forces. Dreams can empower us to become aware of what drives what we think, feel and do.
Working with our dreams can stretch us and raise our consciousness. They can help us to become more aware and to enjoy a more satisfying, higher-quality life.
Consider this: Dream consciousness is largely unedited. Not so in our waking life. Our waking self-image typically screens and filters most thoughts, feelings and attitudes that do not agree with its view of reality. If, for example, we learned that anger was “bad” as a child, then our self-image or surface identity will edit anger out of our awareness.
THE UNCONSCIOUS MIND
But where does the anger go? It doesn’t go away. It becomes part of our “unconscious mind.” When our mind filters and screens our anger, or fear, guilt, insecurity, then these negative feelings go underground. They become unconscious.
There can be a disconnect and separation between what’s going on in our body and in our mind. In the case of anger, our body experiences the anger. But our mind does not.
It costs us a lot to protect ourselves this way. Most costly is that we can become cut off from our innermost core, from our soul. As our surface identity presents its edited versions of reality to our conscious mind, our sense of who we are can become stuck in a small and limited identity.
Dreams can be communication from our underground unconscious life to our “above ground” conscious life. Before we can make use of these communications, however, we must learn the special language of dreams. They have to be translated. Dreams are not what, at first glance, they appear to be.
THE DREAM MAKER
The “Dream Maker” is a poet, not an attorney. In dreams, symbolic images are more important than literal story lines. Each image has importance as it corresponds to and represents inner realities. What is true for the waking conscious life is not at all true for dream life. For example, when we meet our boss Joe Schmidt in waking life, we are meeting our boss Joe Schmidt.
But the Joe Schmidt we meet in our dream most likely represents something or someone other than Joe in our waking life. If our boss Joe is a sad and grumpy man, then the image of Joe in our dream may represent and correspond to that part of ourselves that is, like him, sad and grumpy. The image of Joe may refer to the Joe inside of us.
In dreams, the “I” or “me” we feel ourselves to be is most similar to our waking experience of who we are. But that’s not who the dream is really about, though it seems to be. The other people in our dreams often represent aspects of ourselves that are unknown to us. These are the unconscious parts of ourselves that have often been edited out of our awareness by our surface identity.
DREAMS, MEANING AND CREATIVITY
It is sometimes shocking to discover these unconscious parts of ourselves. But it is also very exciting. It is a bit like reclaiming lost territory. With self-knowledge, there is more room to live. If this life is a journey, then we have to make it as who we deeply are. Otherwise, we can get stuck in living out a false destiny.
Becoming familiar with the dream world can also enable us to tap into our creative resources for thinking and living imaginatively. Our imagination is like muscle in that if we don’t use it, we begin to lose it. Our surface lives rarely bring the imagination into play. When our ordinary consciousness begins to appreciate the enormity of what is actually inside of us, a whole new feeling about our lives can emerge.
Not all dreams have significant meaning; many dreams are just residue from our day. But now and then, a very important dream will come along, a dream with an important coded message from the Dream Maker. The American Indians refer to this kind of dream as a “Big Dream.” Big dreams can change the direction of lives hungry for depth, meaning and adventure.
Working on our dreams can be a path. Once on it, we become more attuned to the dream process. As we do, our dreams change. We dream less from the day’s residue, less from the surface of life. “Dream communications” begin to have greater consequences, as they expose our mind to deeper truths. The dream path can reset, refresh and replenish our lives.