Category Archives: Q & A

Q&A: My Dreams are Back … But Why?

Q: Hey, Tzivia! I’m wondering if this makes any sense to you. After years of barely being able to remember most of my dreams (either just nothing or too scrambled to recall), in the past week I’ve started having ‘normal’ memories – like I used to have – of one or two dreams a night. And as if that weren’t enough, while I usually rarely dream of people I know, these dreams are long stories about significant people in my life.

Signed,

Perplexed (and Pleased) in Massachusetts

A: I once had a beautiful black cat named Nim. My vet warned me not to let her outside, and instead to make her a house cat, so she’d have a better chance at a long, safe life. If I let her outside, he cautioned, she could be hit by a car, scooped up by a bird of prey, or meet any number of unfortunate fates.

Now, at the risk of opening up a debate about the proper care of domesticated cats–when it’s dreams I want to talk about (I promise, I’ll get to those soon)–I will tell you that I decided to let her out.

She was a wild one, that cat. A stray when I found her, she never seemed completely at home–well–at home. She loved to be outdoors where she’d roam, stalk, chase, and run. Then she’d come back inside where she’d curl up in the best spot on the sofa, or of course, the bed.

I knew I was taking a chance each time I let her out. But most days, when I whistled for her to come back inside, she’d prance happily to the door. Still, a few times a year she would stay out for one, two, or even three nights at a time.

On those nights I’d worry that the vet had been right, and I’d unnecessarily subjected my cat to danger. But then she’d show up on the stoop wearing a smug expression on her face, as if she were savoring the memory of some tasty escapade.

I’d instantly forgive her the pain she’d caused me, and be filled with happiness at her return. But I’d also feel–perplexed.
What made her run off seemed simple enough: a mouse to chase, another neighborhood cat to visit, the itch to travel. But what brought her back? The memory of the soft sofa cushion? Her hunger for canned cat food? I’ll never know.
And so, my Perplexed Pal, we have the same issue with our wild and wonderful dreams.

It seems that if we want to keep dreams reliably by our side, all we can do is create the right conditions for them to come to us. Like a cat, they like their independence, they like to be handled in just the right way, and they are far too dignified to submit to being leashed.

To invite our dreams to stay we need to get to bed at a decent hour and wake up slowly  so we don’t scare them away with jangling alarms or sudden bright sunlight. But sometimes, even when we do the best we can to domesticate them, our dreams slink away, mysterious as a black cat in the night.

To solve the puzzle of your newly returned dreams, look for what might have changed in your life to have whistled them back. It could be anything from diet, to sleep habits, to methods of waking up, to shifts in daytime consciousness (feeling more relaxed…or more anxious), and even hormonal fluctuations.

That’s the scientist’s approach, based on reason and observation. But as with my feral feline friend, logic doesn’t always work–especially with something as bewildering as dreams.

Despite the conventional recommendations for recalling dreams, sometimes dreams operate under laws of their own. They run off sometimes, but then they return–when they’re good and ready.
 Nim at the window
In any case, I’m glad to see that you are not only perplexed … but also pleased about this turn of events!
I believe dreams are a great gift and offer us guidance, wisdom, and healing. Show yours that you’re happy they’ve returned. Write them down, tell them to a friend or dream therapist. And most of all, enjoy them.
In the meantime, may you dream & be well,
PS. Oh, and as for my cat Nim, she lived to a ripe old age, surviving not only the perils of the world outside our back door, but also various other pets that we took into our home over the years, including an overly territorial cat–as well as a baby girl who grew to be a curious toddler and a sometimes mischievous child–and then a doting friend and devoted animal lover–who sometimes remembers her dreams.
PSS.
Be in touch if you’d like to work on any of those newly recovered dreams.
© 2016 Tzivia Gover


Tzivia Gover

MFA, Certified Dream Therapist

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My Top 10 Books to Inspire You

Tzivia Gover Author PicksThis post was written in response to a question posed by the librarians at Boston Public Library, where I’ll be speaking about my book Joy in Every Moment: Mindful Exercises for Waking to the Wonders of Ordinary Life Thursday, January 14, at 6 p.m. as part of the Boston Public Library’s Author Talks Series. 

Q: What are the 10 Books that Inspire You Most?

It wasn’t easy to come up with my “Ten Favorite Books to Inspire You”—but it was fun to give the question some thought. As a writer I have an entire village of favorite books that inspire me on my shelves. (I live in a relatively small space, otherwise I’d have an entire metropolis of favorites!) But which ones might inspire you as well? To narrow it down, I began by flipping through the pages of Joy in Every Moment, my latest book, which includes quotes from many of the books that have inspired me to live my best life—one moment at a time. Then I added a few more to come up with a highlights list that includes books of poetry, philosophy, self-help, psychology, and fiction. I hope you find something here to inspire you! Enjoy.

  1. The Life of Pi, by Yann Martel: The fictional character, Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel, inspired me to “choose the better story”—a reminder I turn to again and again.
  2. Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman: I re-read this book-length poem with a group of friends almost every year on the Fourth of July (the anniversary of the book’s publication). It takes us about two hours to read the entire poem aloud, and each time I feel inspired to try to do my part to live up to Whitman’s vision of true equality and democracy.
  3. Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl: A psychiatrist imprisoned in a concentration camp comes away recommitted to his belief that we can live positive and purposeful lives filled with meaning—no matter what the circumstances. Now that inspires me.
  4. You Can Heal Your Life, by Louise Hay: As a young woman, this classic self-help book inspired—and empowered—me, to wake up to the role our thoughts play in manifesting our lives.
  5. Memories, Dreams, Reflections, by Carl Jung: My dreams are a constant source of inspiration to me. Jung’s work helps me to explore them, trust them, and find meanings within them.
  6. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo: With joy as the organizing principle for getting one’s house in order, this quirky little book inspires me to experience my surroundings in a richer way!
  7. From Where You Dream, by Robert Olen Butler: This book inspires me to grab my pen, nearly as soon as I open my eyes in the morning—and start to write.
  8. Active Hope, by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone: I turn to this book again and again when I need to be inspired to live from my heart in a time of great challenges to our magnificent planet.
  9. Tiny Beautiful Things, by Cheryl Strayed: Pearls of wisdom wrapped in humor and humility and delivered with gloves-off, gut-wrenching candor—that’s what I call inspiration.
  10. Comfortable With Uncertainty, by Pema Chödrön: I have this book in paperback and in an MP3 file on my iPod so I can read or listen to it any time, including at 4 a.m. on nights when I can’t sleep. This book inspires me to face difficult situations and emotions with a loving heart.

May these books inspire you, too. Or better yet, may you be inspired to share with others your ten most inspiring books!

____________________________

[Originally Published by Boston Public Library http://www.bpl.org/press/2016/01/08/author-picks-tzivia-govers-top-ten-books-to-inspire-you/]

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Q&A: Can Dreams Help Me Evolve Spiritually? (Namaste, Dreamer!)

To learn more about the Yoga of Dreams join me TOMORROW EVENING Weds. July 22, 6:30 p.m. for a workshop in Holyoke, Mass. (See post for details!)

All the Snooze That's Fit to Print

Q: How can dreams best be used to evolve one’s spiritual being?

Signed,

Evolving

A: Maybe it’s because I just got back from my weekly yoga class at the Y, but for some reason your question makes me think of downward facing dogs and backbends. Hang in there with me for a moment, Evolving, Dear. That’s not as random as it might at first sound.

You see, we’re supposed to do yoga to become enlightened, right? We know there’s gotta be deep wisdom scrawled in Sanskrit somewhere between all those forward folds and cobra poses. But face it. We also love yoga because it’s a great excuse to buy fabulous form-fitting flared-at-the-knee Capris and pretty little Spandex tops. (Or is that just me and some elephant-headed god is going to toss a bolt of lightning at me for my blasphemous remarks? No worries. I’m willing to risk it for you, Evolving…

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Q&A: Waste Not Want Not … “Aren’t dreams just the mind’s waste basket?”

Q: What is your opinion of the scientific explanation that dreams are merely a by-product of the consciousness; the mind is just processing what’s happened or what’s been perceived during the day? If this is true, then there is nothing mystical about them, right?

Signed,

Scientifically Minded

A: Dear Scientific,

Tuesday is trash pickup day in my neighborhood. You can tell because the street is lined with blue recycling bins and those big brown plastic trash containers on wheels.

As I walk down the block on my morning constitutional I notice, for instance, that the house where sweet floppy-pawed dog I love to stop and pet lives, always has a recycling bin overflowing with empty cans of organic beans and soy milk cartons, and of course some empty dog food cans. The house next door to that has a recycling bin filled with discarded Amstel Light bottles. Another house has old New Yorker magazines in theirs, and the next is all filled with old issues of Time Magazine. I make up little stories about what the people are like inside each house based on what they throw away. “These guys were probably watching the Patriots game this past weekend,” I muse, and “These folks were probably at the literary reading at the bookstore downtown.” And then there’s the bachelor who’s throwing away a perfectly nice charcoal-gray sweater just because of one tiny moth hole in the elbow! I can just imagine his pristine closets and I don’t even know his first name!

Know what I mean? There are the folks who have three Hefty bags stuffed with non-recyclables, and then there are those who have just one small grocery sack of garbage beside their overflowing recycling bins. Plus they have a compost bin in the back yard that the bears are always getting into.

Yeah, we’re talking trash here, and we can tell a lot about the people on our streets based on what they throw away.

So, even if it’s true, my Scientifically-Minded friend, and dreams are just our mind’s equivalent of the contents of the blue plastic bins and 30-gallon trash barrels that line the curb on Tuesdays, couldn’t we learn a lot about ourselves by sorting through our brain’s castoffs?

But here’s the deal. I don’t think that dreams are just the mind’s dust bin. That doesn’t explain the dream, for example, that predicted the exact apartment I would end up renting months before I even knew I’d be giving up my plans to buy a condo across the state and settle down in the next town over instead. Nor does this scientific theory explain how I was able to use dreams to heal from deep emotional scars when I was in college. Nor what to make of the dreams that have helped to predict a friend’s health conditions before she or her doctors knew she was sick.

Scientists have meaningful dreams, too. Get one alone and ask her about it and she will reluctantly admit that yes, there are dreams that have offered her new and helpful perspectives, or even inspired some of her best theories. (Go ahead and Google Kekule’s ouroborus dream for just one example of how dreams have led to scientific breakthroughs.)

But scientists can only definitively state what they can prove using scientific methods. And there is no microscope strong enough to see the psychologically meaningful or the mystically mind-blowing properties of dreams. But just because science has yet to prove something does not mean it doesn’t exist. So, my friend, I encourage you to read up to your curiosity’s content on the neuroscience of dreaming. But don’t expect to find all the answers there. Dreams are very difficult things to study using Newtonian science.

Bottom line? Be your own sleep and dream scientist, my dear. Keep a dream journal, and record your dreams. See what meaning they do or don’t hold for you. Track any traces of precognition or clairvoyance. And please report back.

Dreamily yours,

Tz …

…zzZZZZzzzzzzz

Want to learn more about your dreams? Contact me to find out about upcoming dream groups in western Massachusetts, or individual dream sessions by phone, Skype, or in person.

Have a Dream Question? Send it along! I’d love to hear from you.

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Q&A: What do I do when dreams get confused with reality?

 Q.I sometimes have a hard time distinguishing dreams from waking reality. I can fool myself into thinking I’m dreaming when I’m awake if I try. It’s kind of disconcerting and un-grounding, like reverse lucid dreaming. What can I do to strengthen the boundary between dreaming and waking?

Signed,

Boundary Issues

 

A. Dear Boundary Issues,

Here’s what I’d like you to do: Take a walk outside today. Find yourself a collection of smooth, solid rocks, scoop them up and put them in your pockets.

No, I’m not being facetious, and I’m not speaking in metaphors. Go ahead, get outside. Select some pretty stones, smooth stones, stones that sit nicely in the palm of your hand—and pocket them. Let them help hold you on this earth.

This isn’t punishment or penance of any sort. I’ve prescribed this same therapy for myself from time to time. Now that you’re settled firmly on this sweet blue planet, let’s talk.

You see, Dear Boundary Issues, while I spend a great deal of my waking time and energy spreading the Good News about dreams: how we should pay more attention to them, honor them, talk and write about them … there are times when I know it is wisest to pull back a little and put our slippered feet solidly on the hardwood floor of waking reality, and honor time we have here, as well.

Dreams and waking are two ends of a continuum of consciousness. We slip in and out and between these states all the time, moving from focused problem-solving, to relaxed day-dreaming, to fantasizing, to going to sleep and having ordinary dreams, lucid dreams, and more. This is healthy and usually quite productive.

Skillful dreamers can slip in and out of various states of consciousness with relative ease. This can be a way to access hypnotic states, trance states, healing Shamanic journeys, and more. When done with intention, agility, and perhaps even a bit of training—this is a wonderful gift to have.

Then again, confusing wake life with dreaming can be a slippery slope to psychosis. Thinking you’re dreaming when you’re awake can lead to all kinds of problems, like deciding to fly off the ledge of tall buildings, for one.

Don’t get me wrong. I love to dance along the boundaries between states of consciousness as much as the next dreamer. And if you can move through dreams within dreams and delve into deep philosophical and metaphysical discourses about how all of life is a dream, and then suit up for work and navigate waking reality just fine, then no problem.

You might even choose to take advantage of having a thin boundary between sleep and waking states of consciousness. But if you do, take care. Such explorations require the balance—and ballast—of a rock solid sense of self. Check in with friends and a trusted therapist to see if you fit that bill. Then find yourself a salt-of-the earth spiritual teacher or guide who has her or his feet planted firmly on the ground, who has a clearly articulated ethical and moral framework for their spiritual work, and ask this person if you can study with them. Even then, keep in close contact with your trusted friends and counselors to get an honest assessment if you’re veering to far off into dangerous territory.

But first, let’s get back to those rocks that are weighting down your pockets. Let them be a reminder to mind the boundary between sleep and waking. Perhaps it’s time to start putting a little more emphasis on the latter. Give your dream journal a break. Drink plenty of water, chew your food slowly, and indulge your five senses.

Because here’s the bottom line, Dear Boundary Issues: Living in bodies is a unique and splendid limited-time offer. Even if we live to be 120, our time in skin suits is still a blink of the eye compared to the eternity our souls have to travel all the invisible realms. So while we’re here encased in flesh and bound by bones, enjoy all the perks. Gravity is a pretty cool phenomenon when you think of it … not to mention color, wind, rain, and skin to skin contact. Play with these earthly delights all you can. Don’t undervalue the eyes-wide-open opportunities presented by so-called ordinary reality.

And let me know how it goes.

Dreamily yours,

Tz …

…zzZZZZzzzzzzz

Want to learn more about your dreams? Contact me to find out about upcoming dream groups in western Massachusetts, or individual dream sessions by phone, Skype, or in person.

Have a Dream Question? Send it along! I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

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Q&A: Can Dreams Help Me Evolve Spiritually? (Namaste, Dreamer!)

Q: How can dreams best be used to evolve one’s spiritual being?

Signed,

Evolving

A: Maybe it’s because I just got back from my weekly yoga class at the Y, but for some reason your question makes me think of downward facing dogs and backbends. Hang in there with me for a moment, Evolving, Dear. That’s not as random as it might at first sound.

You see, we’re supposed to do yoga to become enlightened, right? We know there’s gotta be deep wisdom scrawled in Sanskrit somewhere between all those forward folds and cobra poses. But face it. We also love yoga because it’s a great excuse to buy fabulous form-fitting flared-at-the-knee Capris and pretty little Spandex tops. (Or is that just me and some elephant-headed god is going to toss a bolt of lightning at me for my blasphemous remarks? No worries. I’m willing to risk it for you, Evolving One).

The point is that just as some yoginis (yes, I’m guilty as charged) can turn this deep spiritual practice into an excuse to get a little fashion-crazy, so with dreaming too it’s easy to get lost in the metaphorical bling of the exercise. For example, some dreamers–(yup, I’m guilty as charged once more), can get so caught up in amassing closets full of dream journals, or flaunting their lucid dreaming prowess–that they seem to forget what we’re doing dreamwork for anyway.

But, Evolving one, as you seem to suspect, dreams are about more than just consciousness aerobics. In fact, as much as I love showing off my knowledge of Greek mythology as I delve into a dream’s archetypes and allusions, the real reason I’m hooked on them is that in dreams I get to slip into state of being in which consciousness is as detached from my physical body as it can get without me breaking any laws or checking out for good.

Dreams are in fact a nightly invitation to a spiritual training ground that’s as rigorous and profound as any master yoga class. It’s up to us to accept the challenge and deepen our experience.

But how?

Let’s go back to the sticky mat for a moment. In yoga class the teacher cheerfully invites us to bend our bodies into seemingly impossible contortions. Then, in the face of our burning muscles and shrieking joints she offers breezy instructions like: “Notice your body’s resistance, bring your breath to that area, and simply soften and release.”

At first you think she’s some kind of saccharine sweet sadist, but you go ahead and do what she says and next thing you know you can touch your toes, arc up into a backbend, or sit in full lotus position.

Let’s apply this same instructions to dreams and watch our spirits evolve. Try it: When you find yourself face to face with a monster, an enemy, or a dream character you have nothing but scorn for … soften and release. Consider the possibility that perhaps the character who represents you in the dream is wrong, and that the toothless old woman or the axe-wielding wild man in your nightmare is right. Where can you soften your resistance to a dream scenario? Where can you release a habitual judgments or attitudes and open to new points of view? Apply this principle to even the most mundane dream and the results can be soul-shaking and supremely growthful.

For me, a terrifying dream of being chased by a band of killers while I sped past a student from my poetry class, literally woke me up to the fact that if I didn’t start honoring my inner artist, I’d be murdering a precious part of myself.

A client I recently worked with found that the repulsive man who stormed into her home in her dream was really asking her to accept her own imperfections and embrace a more laissez faire attitude, rather than clinging to her impossible-to-meet joy-crushing standards.

Look into your dream, find the point of conflict, then breathe, soften, and release.

Yeah, I know, that’s more difficult than enduring the burn of chair pose. Ever hear of growing pains? Uh huh. Spiritual and emotional growth is uncomfortable, too, but if you breathe into the discomfort you’ll find yourself becoming increasingly (spiritually) flexible. You’re softening your identification with your ego and starting to align with your deep, divine, core. You’re taking an evolved stance, Evolving One, which is expansive, nonjudgmental, curious, and joyful.

Downward facing dog, anyone?

Dreamily yours,

Tz …

…zzZZZZzzzzzzz

Learn more about how to develop A Mindful & Yogic way to sleep, dream, and live better at these upcoming workshops:Weds. July 22, 6:30 p.m. at VegaYoga in Holyoke, Mass.and November 12-15 at Sivananda Ashram and Yoga Retreat in the Bahamas.

Want to learn more about your dreams? Contact me to find out about upcoming dream groups in western Massachusetts, or individual dream sessions by phone, Skype, or in person.

Have a Dream Question? Send it along! I’d love to hear from you.

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Q&A: How Do I Make This (Recurring) Dream Stop?

Q: I have the same dream again and again. What can you tell me about recurring dreams? Why do we have them and is there a way to get the dream to stop repeating itself?

Signed,

Stuck on Replay

 

A: Dear Stuck,

Stop me if I’ve told you this one before …

I have a good friend, let’s call her Ann. Some years back, she was beginning to drive me up the wall. Every time we spoke she’d tell me the same story again and again.

It got to the point where I dreaded seeing her number turn up on my caller ID. If I didn’t love her so much, I might have just stopped picking up the phone. But because I truly care about her I stoically answered her calls, and then I griped to another friend (again and again, I might add) about how tired I was of Ann repeating herself.

This pattern wasn’t helping anyone, except maybe the folks at ATT&T who were pocketing the money we three spent as we racked up minutes on our phone bills.

This, Dear Replay, is exactly what’s going on with you and your dreams. Dreaming, is in essence, a conversation. Depending on your belief system, it’s a conversation between parts of yourself; between you and God; or between you and universal consciousness. Whatever the case, it’s an important relationship worthy of at least as much attention as my relationship with my pal Ann. So, like me, you have a couple of choices:

1) You can prop the phone against your ear and let Ann go on and on like a broken record, while you troll the Internet for the best deal on those cowgirl boots you’ve been coveting.

2) Or, you can step away from the laptop and enter into a meaningful conversation with her about what she is saying and why she feels the need to repeat herself.

The fact that you’re writing to me implies that you really do care, so Option 1 really isn’t an option at all. I care about Ann, too, so here’s what I did:

The next time she launched into her spiel I said, “Ann, I feel like maybe I haven’t been a good listener because I notice that each time we talk you tell me the same story. Is there something you’re not getting from me that you need on this subject?”

Ann paused, then told me she just really needed me to hear her and to validate what she was feeling. So, I asked her to tell me the story one more time. This time I really listened. I asked her questions and took a genuine interest. And guess what? After that we were able to move onto new subject matter.

And that’s what you need to do with your recurring dream. Show the dream you’re really paying attention. Write the dream down. Consider each part of it with a curious, open attitude. Talk the dreams over with a loved one or therapist, or bring it to a dream group. Ask yourself: What has this dream come to tell me?

Chances are, if you give the dream your full attention, one of two things will happen: Either, it will go away, or it will change.

If it goes away and fresh dreams arrive in its stead, good for you. This is a sign that you got the message and addressed the issue the dream was raising for you.

If the dream changes; good for you, too. This is a signal that you are making progress. Keep working with the dream, paying close attention to any alterations in the repeating pattern. You may even start to welcome the reappearance of this dream theme, because the ways it changes will give you clues as to where your daytime attitudes and actions need tweaking.

Give it a try and let me know how it turns out. And I promise to listen closely, so you won’t have to repeat yourself.

Dreamily yours,

Tz…

…zzZZZZzzzzzzz

PS: My dreams repeat themselves almost as much as I do! Read more about recurring dreams here.

…zzZZZZzzzzzzz

Want to learn more about your dreams? Contact me to find out about upcoming dream groups in western Massachusetts, or individual dream sessions by phone, Skype, or in person.

Have a Dream Question? Send it along! I’d love to hear from you.

 

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