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Working With Dreams

If you lived in an efficiency apartment and one day found a door that led to an unknown room and then a series of rooms until you realized you were in a huge mansion, you would be having an experience like getting to know your unconscious mind. Fortunately, the unconscious communicates through dreams on a daily basis, telling you about its many rooms. Learning about your unconscious from dreams is part of what Carl Jung called “individuation,” a process of discovering and actualizing your gifts and uniqueness. For example, a creative woman had the following dream:

I’m staying overnight at a house because I’m part of a wedding party, and the wedding will happen the following day. When I come downstairs in the morning a group of  people are dressed in identical pajamas with a red “V” on the front. They are all dancing spontaneously and individualistically. They’re funny. I watch with delight, but I feel uneasy about their identical pajamas.

A door at the right opens. The bride and groom and others return from having breakfast together. My attention is on the bouquets they carry. One includes a gigantic yellow flower at the center with dangling petals that are phallic in shape. By peaking under the large flower I see a spray of pink baby roses. This bouquet and three smaller ones are displayed on a table with windows behind. The flowers glow as if they are lit…

The dreamer had been a traditional wife and mother during the 1960s, 70s and 80s. However, after a divorce that shattered the family, she found herself alone operating a family farm. She had a strong sense of relationship and supporting others, and a weak sense of individuality and decisiveness. She tended to get swept up in the emotional situations of her employees and felt overwhelmed by the practical problems of running the business.

Prior to the above dream, a series of dreams revealed she had an unrealized capacity for toughness, strength and endurance. Gradually, she began to courageously face equipment failures, plumbing crises, and the hiring and firing of employees. She developed self-discipline in her personal life that reawakened her craft as a songwriter. She worked to overcome her fear that being strong would make her different as a woman. In working with her dreams, she integrated a new level of resilience while sustaining her femininity and fostering her creative life. At that point, she had the above dream.

In the dream, the large bouquet is a marriage of flowers in a stunningly original form: masculine, feminine, creative, exquisite. In contrast, the dancers’ individualism is a way of fitting into a group, and the dreamer feels uneasy about the group. The dream guides the dreamer toward fostering the uniqueness that comes from within rather than identifying with a group. Also, the dream acknowledges the dreamer’s growth by showing her an image of the beauty developing inside her represented by the flowers.

Today, the dreamer’s increased effectiveness enables her to leave the farm for short periods even during the summer in order to live her personal life more richly and engage in her craft of songwriting.