Tag Archives: active imagination

The Dream Journey from Overgrown to Growthful (A Corner View* Post)

The untended garden

Recently a client brought me a dream in which an unkempt man, who the client described as repulsive, stormed into his home and found the dreamer’s garden untended and overgrown. In the dream, my client was furious at the interloper and also ashamed of the state of his garden.

But as we stayed with the dream and welcomed the intruder into our dream replay using active imagination, my client saw that this dream character was asking him to accept his own imperfections and embrace a more laissez faire attitude, rather than clinging to his impossible-to-meet, joy-crushing standards.

If we look at the antagonists in our dreams: The shadowy figures who give chase, the animals who bare their teeth, and even the environments that threaten to choke, drown, or bury us, we’ll find great teachers.

In this case the client looked at the situation from different angles, including the intruder’s point of view and even the garden’s point of view. Stepping into the unkempt man’s shoes, my client was able to see that despite his imperfections, this man was not ashamed of his appearance—in fact he was full of confidence.

As for the garden, it was simply doing what it enjoyed doing: Growing and creating life!

Unintended growthSunflower faces

Now the dreamer looked at his own character as reflected in the dream. Rather than being ashamed of his perceived laziness, the dreamer came to understand that he was taking a much-needed rest. Sure, he’d get around to weeding, but first he needed to accept the state of affairs as they were, and to see the positive aspects of what he reflexively judged as a problem.

Looked at with curiosity, and without judgment, our dreams can help us soften our resistance and consider new points of view. When we do this, we nurture the seeds of self-love, we create a sense of inner expansiveness and we make room for previously rejected, abandoned, or misunderstood parts of ourselves. In this frame of mind, it is easier—and more joyful—to pick up the hoe and go about our work of tending our inner—and outer—gardens.

Apply this principle to even the most mundane dream and the results can be soul-shaking—and delightfully growthful.


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.

*Corner View* is a weekly appointment – each Wednesday, where bloggers from all corners of the world share their view on a pre-arranged theme. This week’s theme is “Overgrown.”


Filed under Dream How To's

Look But Don’t Touch … Part II

On a recent visit to Kripalu, a yoga center in western Massachusetts, my sister and I took a late afternoon walk before attending a dance class. But before we went inside, we stood gazing at the sunset. Snow covered the sloping hill side, and bare trees showed off their elegant architecture in fading light that seemed to have been infused with fairy dust.

Silently we took all of this in. And silently I spoke to the exquisite landscape, which seemed to be shimmering with meaning: What have you come to tell me? I asked.

No answer.

Then, I heard my sister, say, “Embrace me!”

I turned to look at her. “Excuse me?” I asked.

“Well, I felt like the landscape was saying that, ‘Embrace me!’ ” she explained a bit sheepishly, “so I just said it out loud.”

What a funny way the world has of talking to us! I asked the question silently, my sister heard the answer in her head and gave it voice.

We stood and looked some more. After all, we could only embrace this wonder with our eyes.


p.s. My sister (who also happens to be a prolific blogger)  is visiting from her home in Japan. She is without her computer and without her camera, so she was not able to post on her own blog this week. She asked me to blog about our shared experience for her, so she could participate in Corner View even while she was “unplugged.” I hope you will visit her blog, too, and read some of her touching posts!


p.s.s. Asking a question of an inanimate object, symbol, or image, is a dreamwork technique called Active Imagination. It is often useful to dialogue with dream symbols in this way to engage the sub conscious and the conscious mind to find meaning in a dream or waking experience (such as an illness, accident, or encounter with nature). I write about it elsewhere on this blog.


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When Darkness Comes to Tea: Solstice Notes from A Dreamer

At 4:30 in the afternoon yesterday I was already pulling the blinds in my living room and kitchen, as there was no more light to let inside and only cold and darkness to keep out.

This time of year, I fortify myself against the darkness by plugging in strings of white lights around my kitchen and bedroom windows. I take vitamin D to give myself the health benefits of the sun, including, as the bottle promises, mood support.

And I know I am not alone. All around me I see our collective, tremulous bravery and cheer in the face of the darkest time of year. Candles are lit and holiday lights spiral up lampposts and encircle evergreens like consoling hugs.

But what if before plugging in and lightening up, we first listened to the darkness? In dream work this is what we do: When a symbol or image appears in a dream, especially a scary or disturbing one, we begin by inviting it in for a cup of tea and conversation. We spend time in this way with the demons of our imagination: be they in the form of rampaging beasts, gun-wielding burglars or engulfing tidal waves. Animate, or inanimate, we give our visitors voice. We ask questions: Who are you? What is your purpose? What do you love? What do you fear? And finally, What have you come to tell me? And then we settle in to listen to the answers.

Friday night, on the darkest night of the year, I sat in a room with all lights and candles extinguished and asked the winter darkness to tell me what I could learn from it. And so the night reminded me:

The darkness comes to help us see what our eyes cannot. When night comes, we take to our beds, close our eyes, and, layering darkness upon darkness, we fall into sleep. Eyes closed,  we enter shadowy rooms or luminous landscapes of our dreams. We see things we cannot, have not, or will not see with our eyes open in the full light of day. Deceased loved ones might come to call. Our fears parade through our nightmares. We receive wisdom and guidance. We interact with our anxieties. We may take to the skies in flight. We roam. We romance. For dreamers, the darkness is a portal into other realms: memory, emotion, image, imagination, and vision.

The darkness is also the friend artists. Whether at the drafting table, potter’s wheel, the canvas, or the keyboard, the artist first closes her eyes in order to see something that has not yet come into existence. And only after tapping into the darkness of the unseen, the unwritten, the unknown, can she draw forth the creation of something brand new.

The darkness has something to say to each of us. It reminds us to slow down, to move inward, and to feel fear. When we do so we also find the strength to sustain the cold, the discomfort, the unsafe and the unknown.

The sun will rise, and the spring will come–but the darkness won’t be rushed. It asks us to close our eyes and listen to its silenceImage


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