As an individual working with my own dreams and as a therapist working with the dreams of others it has often struck me how careful we are with the details of our dreams. We note down every shade of colour we remember. We explain the flowers on the trees and pay attention to every dream-word we remember. Often this is especially true for those dreams that are dreamt in times of stress. It is as if we are holding on to the details of our night-experiences just as the big-picture issues of our day-experiences are drowning us. In all of this we don’t often take the images of our dreams for face value; we read them as metaphors and symbols.
In our waking life, however, we often experience the exact opposite: we are too busy to notice the details; or we neglect them in favour of “getting ahead” and “getting done”. For many of us daily life is a struggle to some degree: we hustle along, trying to keep deadlines while juggling those 1.3 kids and the dog. We need to get dinner ready, the car to the garage, ourselves to the doctor. We are preparing business presentations, presentations for the grade 3 science fair and healthy lunch boxes. And even if we love our family, our job, and our friends, there are probably times when it all just feels too much.
I have written at another time that one of the things we could do with our dreams is being more aware of the emotions and immediate thoughts that come with them upon awakening. By carrying these emotions and thoughts consciously into the day we may open ourselves to a different understanding of the experiences of that particular day. And then I began to wonder what would happen if we took some of the attitude and interest that we expend on our dreams and applied it to our waking day life? What wonders might be found if we opened our minds and hearts to seeing the world around us a bit more like we view our dreams: filled with meaning, coloured by symbolism and connection, interesting into the last little detail.
I was not prepared to take a detailed analysis of every moment in my days. That certainly would have created a level of stress that was in no way beneficial. But why not try to get the general gesture of our day in the evening? Or taking a day that stands out for whatever reason and look at it a bit more closely?
The following is the result of such an attempt:
“I’m at my home office (personal and professional self rolled in one). It’s the day that I have put aside to do a lot of writing (creative expression). It’s snowing outside (suspended emotions, purity, possibilities) and I can see thick snowflakes (opportunities, options, warming emotions) through the yellow (power, will) flowers (beauty, coming to fruition, attractive) on my curtains (protection, decoration). The snowflakes seem like little suns (creative force, Christ energy, strength) that way. As I sit down at the desk (work ethics) the phone (connection to outer world) rings.
Now it is 3 hours later (feeling of losing time, lack of concentration). I look at my computer screen and find that my work is gone (futile efforts). There are images of old houses (old self) and narrow alleys (few options, feeling trapped or boxed in). Now the image changes to my two cats on a chair by he fire (home comforts, independence, following own will and instinct). The next image is of a winter scene at night (subconscious possibilities that haven’t been seen full yet).
It’s almost dark (almost subconscious) outside now. I am on my way to the supermarket (gathering nourishment). It’s snowing again but now the snowflakes look small and determined. Almost like an attack (sharp and clear possibilities although less clearly visible). At the store I see a roast beef (substantial nourishment, huge source of energy). I buy it although I didn’t want to buy meat today. I pack my groceries faster than anyone else in the store (haste, a feeling of loss, fear) and I think to myself that the other people are so disorganized (judgement).
Back home I cook (breaking down energy, taking raw energy out, permeating something with heat / will) the beef. I haven’t done my writing but I know that I still have to do it. The flames (inspiration) in the fireplace (contained, home) are dancing. It feels so warm and cozy. I don’t want to go up to my office. I want to stay here and read or sleep. I am so tired.”
Sabine Cox, ‘Lost World’, Feb. 24, 2006
Interpreted like a dream this day enfolds its meaning as follows:
My personal self and my work self are deeply entwined. When I give myself time to express my thoughts creatively I can see the possibilities and options warming and pure as they come down to me from above. When I allow myself to follow those options with my thoughts I gain inner strength, power and love (Christ energy). However, when I force myself into a specific “work ethic” I allow myself to be distracted more easily by everyday problems. I lose time and concentration and my work becomes meaningless and futile. I get caught in images of my old self, feeling boxed in and trapped by the longing for comfort. As I move further into this subconscious routine I seek nourishment from the outside. The possibilities and options are still available but now feel almost like an attack as I am trying to just move through them without appreciating them. I long for energy and get caught in my judgements and haste. In order to gain energy I have to fully permeate its source with my will until I get to the centre of it. At the end of this process I see the flames of inspiration again but they are now only related to my personal life. I don’t know how to transfer them into work life. I don’t want to re-connect the two. It is this effort that tires me and throws me into a feeling of despair and defeat.
There wasn’t too much news to this particular image. But it certainly reinforced something I had been keenly aware off – and let slip. It also encouraged me to be more aware next time by reminding me of the beautiful feeling of connection and opportunities that I had watching those snowflakes in the morning.
By remembering and observing my days in this manner I have since found that there is more to everyday waking life than most of us will see. Clients that I have worked with using this method also have commented on the impact this new way of looking at everyday life has had on them. Not every day carries the details of great history, be it personal or global. Neither does every night carry dreams of deep and life changing meaning. But both, our days and our nights are filled to be brim with opportunities, possibilities and offerings.
By applying our curiosity and our intuition to both in an equal manner we might be able to bring more consciousness and will into our dreams as well as infusing our days with more meaning. And by doing so we might also begin to see the world around us as more than the backdrop to our daily drama. We might learn to appreciate the details of life, the snowflakes and the flowers, and thus get a little step closer to truly appreciating life.