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Using Your Dreams for a Change

by Ann S. Klein, MFCC, LMFT

Dreams are a risk free way to learn new skills, explore new behaviors and make changes in your life. Material flows freely between the dream realm and waking reality. Youíve probably noticed that what concerns your waking mind often appears in your dreams. The opposite is also true.

By focusing your mind on specific areas that interest you, you can intentionally create dreams to promote growth and healing. For example, you can develop assertiveness or become more comfortable making friends, or presenting, etc. by practicing in your dreams. Over time, you can sculpt both your waking and dream realities closer to your heartís desire.

Dreamwork vs. Interpretation

Dream interpretation is usually given by an expert, (author, therapist, etc.), who assigns meanings to your dream: "water symbolizes your emotions" or "ships stand for your journey through life". While such interpretations may be valid, they are not necessarily true, and may not be the whole story, or even the most relevant or juicy part of the story for you at this time. At best, interpretation is one facet of understanding your dreams. At worst it can be misleading or detrimental.

In dreamwork, on the other hand, you are the ultimate authority. By playing the part of each image in turn, and speaking as the image, you explore many aspects of yourself first-hand. You hear yourself say surprising things that ring true, but that you would never say in normal conversation. For example: "I am the Persian rug. Iím beautiful and valuable, and people walk on me." Dream symbols can also speak to one another, and open communication between parts of you that may have been isolated or exiled for many years. This can be a powerful, yet very gentle way to resolve inner conflict.

Playing the various roles is entertaining. It gives your inner child a chance to explore different ways of acting, speaking and feeling, without judgment. Who would judge a carpet for saying something strange?

Working your dreams in the ways discussed below can increase your capacity for intimacy by deepening your self awareness. Sharing what you discover in dreamwork, the un-edited, uncensored parts of your heart and mind, can let you be seen and heard in new and meaningful ways. Dreams can lead you on fascinating safaris through the uncharted territory of your mind and heart. They can be your map to many treasures.

Your Inner Artist and Healer

The most amazing thing about dreams is their infinite creativity, variety and availability. The mind, regardless of age or intelligence level, generates new material, night after night, spinning endless fantasies that surpass Hollywoodís best efforts. We each have a master artist living in our unconscious, inviting us to a free private screening of works created especially for us each night.

This hidden artist weaves past, present and future into intricate and bizarre patterns that on the surface may seem to make no sense, and yet are strangely compelling. From its unlimited palette of memories, emotions, sensations and images, it creates masterful and sometimes frightening self-portraits.

As your personal healer, your dreams, even your nightmares, can diagnose and heal you at many levels. Facing and owning your "shadow material" through dreamwork often reveals inner sources of personal power and wellbeing.

Dreams have their own internally consistent logic that is more creative and richer than the linear logic of waking reality. Dream content is not random or accidental, as our culture believes. Instead, it is chosen quite intentionally by the unconscious from an infinity of possibilities. A simple example: there is a car in your dream. Who decided whether to make it a new red Ferrari or an old beat up pick-up truck with no brakes? Your inner artist and healer chose it, for its symbolic accuracy and its resonance to some aspect of yourself or your life.

Every detail of your dream is a carefully placed brush stroke, representing an aspect of yourself and also having its own external meaning. You may have seen the red Ferrari on the street today (along with the pick-up truck that didnít make it into your dream). But the Ferrari also represents something about you, so your unconscious re-created it in your dreamscape.

Dream symbols donít have fixed positive or negative meanings. The red Ferrari could mean power, high value, speed, status, success, self-image, or it could as easily mean anger, waste, recklessness, etc. Itís "true meaning" is whatever fits you and your life at this moment. The same image may mean different things at different times in your life, or in different dream contexts. Is the Ferrari cruising along? Parked? Stuck in mud? Crashing into a tree? Flying above the pavement? Who is driving and where are you going? But dream contexts also have no intrinsically positive or negative meaning.

Come explore to find your own inner truth --- in your dreams as in all of life!

Copyright 1997 Ann Klein

Please visit Ann Kleins' web site at http://

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