Dream a little dream…

It looks like I will be teaching a short course on Understanding Your Dreams in the spring at the Belfast Senior College here where I live. And I plan to offer an online dream group later in the spring — stay tuned for news about that. Given that, I thought maybe a small introduction to understanding dreams would whet your appetite.

Jung tells us:

After the parting of the ways with Freud, a period of inner uncertainty began for me. … I felt it necessary to develop a new attitude toward my patients. I resolved for the present not to bring any theoretical premises to bear upon them, but to wait and see what they would tell of their own accord. My aim became to leave things to chance. The result was that the patients would spontaneously report their dreams and fantasies to me, and I would merely ask, ‘What occurs to you in connection with that?’ or, ‘How do you mean that, where does that come from, what do you think about it?’ The interpretations seemed to follow of their own accord from the patients’ replies and associations. I avoided all theoretical points of view and simply helped the patients to understand the dream-images by themselves, without application of rules and theories. Soon I realized that it was right to take the dreams in this way as the basis of interpretation, for that is how dreams are intended. They are the facts from which we must proceed.” (Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections Pp. 170-71)

It is very difficult for some of my patients to get it that I am not the expert on their dreams, that I have no magic wand to wave to magically reveal all that the dream contains. That they themselves are the experts for their dreams is a tough concept as many of them are so used to looking to experts for answers. But this is exactly what I like most about Jungian dream analysis, that we start from the patient and not from the theory. 

So forget about your books of dream symbols and just be with your dreams. Ask yourself the questions Jung asks in the quote above. Let the dream talk to you. And if you must have a book to help you, here are 2 that may give you some ideas:

Inner Work by Robert Johnson

The Art of Dreaming: Tools for Creative Dream Work  by Jill Mellick

Neither of them will tell you what your dreams mean, but they will give you some tools for understanding them better.

Time is on my mind

My daughter texted me today to ask me when she had her measles vaccination. She will be 43 this year so it was a long  time ago. Except that in old age, distant events sometimes feel more recent than last year. A trick of time and memory that lends a vividness to long ago. 

I dream about a little boy and in associating to it in an effort to reveal and understand what my psyche is telling me about my life today, I have a very vivid memory of walking with my son when he was 3. I can feel his hand in mine as we walk along the street and I can almost hear his stream of commentary about things  he sees. Yet that day was forty years ago. 

In another dream I see my grandmother’s kitchen, a room I have not seen in more than sixty years.

How can it be almost 20 years since that Fourth of July weekend when I flew to Detroit to meet the man I am now married to? A vivid image of the fireworks I could see from the window of the plane as I flew back to Maine and feeling they were for me, celebrating what I felt after that wonderful weekend.

Another dream: Pauline sends me a suitcase with gifts for me and another person important to us. Sent from beyond perhaps as she is dead.

People long dead. Places I have not seen in decades. My little boy with a little girl of his own now. My daughter who posts pictures of dinner parties she throws. 

I am almost 73 now. I look in the mirror and see an old woman. My dreams bring me myself as a girl. A young mother. And I am aware of the reality that the time left to me is steadily shrinking. Even as it stretches backward, I feel time speeding by rapidly.

It is spring. The lilacs have nubbins of greenleavesnow. The maples have swelling buds. Tulips and daffodils up in the garden. My town has a project to plant a million daffodils all over town, 100,000 per year. Nine more years to go. I wonder if I will be here to see them all.

Take a look if you will at the post, Dream Time, by my Twitter friend, Martha Crawford. You will be glad you did.