Printable copy in PDF

"Dream Language - Path to Personal Transformation."
 by Bob Hoss, M.S.

reference: Dream Language by Innersourse, www.dreamlanguage.org

 Is there a “message” in your dreams?  Do  your dreams help with conscious and spiritual evolution and transformation?  There is a wealth of evidence that your dreams do play a role in human transformation and do perform an inner balancing function through what Carl Jung called a “compensating” message.  Jung indicated that, who we are as individuals (our ego-self) evolves out of the collective unconscious in cycles, under the influence of an organizing force he called the Self.  He observed that dreams not only reflect this process but act on a natural tendency towards balance or wholeness in order to help bring it about. Jung related human transformation to a symbolic death/rebirth, a death of the existing ego state in order for the new self to emerge or be born. This cycle of renewal might be represented as a four stage process:

1) Death of the Ego: a stage of turning within in which the ego abandons the old view of self which no longer works (which I will call the old myth).

2) Search for Self: a search for a new self, a new decision about who we are in  relation to life that will work (the new myth). Here the ego encounters its shadow and other rejected or unacceptable parts of self. The natural balancing and organizing forces from within foster integrations between who you believe yourself to be and these alienated parts, in order to bring about a greater self (all you can be). The organizing forces of the inner Self appear as primal patters (archetypal characters) that lead the way, or as compensating events that reverse the beliefs, myths and fears that stand in the way of integration. 

3) Rebirth: as the ego accepts the new view of self and the newly integrated parts of self, the old self is transcended and the new ego-self emerges.

4) Self Actualization: the new self emerges into waking life and, assuming that it is put into action and experienced, becomes actualized.

 Dream imagery reflects this process. When our ego-self is faced with abandoning some non-working belief it is holding on to, the dream may reflect this as death imagery, fear of death, a loss, being trapped, impending storms, moving into darkness or darkening (Fall or sunset) and descending. Symbolic death is followed by a period of searching, which can appear in dreams as a journey, a search, being lost, underground, or winter. We turn inward to face our shadow and other elements of our instinctual nature. We experience encounters between opposing sides of self. At some point the natural balancing forces within the psyche appear in order to re-integrate the fragmented self in a way that is more consistent with the higher order inner Self. The eventual transcendence (integration and acceptance of new parts of self) is accompanied by imagery of release, emergence, celebration and joy. Increases in nature imagery, beauty, light and color are experienced.

 The transformation stage is not evidenced in all dreams, in fact it occurs in very few and typically only after many attempts at trying to accommodate the differences between inner and outer reality. The primary objective of any one dream may simply be closure on unprocessed emotional business of the day.  Dreams have been observed to attempt closure in a number of ways: a) reaffirming the existing myth; b) strengthening an unconscious counter-myth or shadow self; or if neither of these works c) altering and transforming the old self in a way that works (adopting a new myth).  Jung stated that this eventual transformation stage is brought about through “compensation.”  Compensation is a dream event that brings about a reversal of an old misconception (old myth) that the ego-self is holding on to.  It appears in dreams in the form of: a) guidance; b) voice or words; c) humor; d) surprise events; e) surprise imagery combinations; f) dream “parables” as well as positive endings that project new alternatives. Examples of compensating dreams are as follows:

a) Guidance: I was wandering all night looking for the book of truth. Suddenly I saw a wise old man sitting on the left, who pointed down a descending wooden spiral staircase.  He said, ‘truth lies within’.

b) Voices or Words: I dreamed it was the end of the world and water was rising all around me. Suddenly a voice said ‘the water is your unconscious, jump in and you will be fine’

d) Humor: I dreamed I was in front of a crowd, about to give a speech, when I was introduced to a man named ‘Willy Pisstoff.’  I was trying to control myself to keep from laughing.

e) Surprise Events: I was running through a field trying to get away from people who are laughing at me.  I looked back, and from within each footstep I took, I could see flowers spring up.

f) Surprise Imagery Combinations: I have a recurrent dream of being terribly angry with my husband, who I am walking away from. These dreams continued until one night I turned around and faced my husband and looked at his face – it was my father’s face.

g) Parables with Positive Endings/Projections: I dreamed all night that I was on a long journey as a passenger in a boat going nowhere, just aimlessly moving through underground tunnels. At one point a shadow-like character urged me to take charge of the boat’s direction.  When I did, the boat emerged from a white ice cave onto a crystal stream in a beautiful, sunlit colorful land with trees and mountains.

 


Recognizing these compensating actions in the dream can be important because you can then use them to help transform inappropriate decisions and myths that the dream is dealing with.  Understanding the dream is a helpful first step but in order to transform the old myth it must be understood along with the compensating direction that the dream is proposing.  Therefore I recommend a threefold dreamwork approach: 1) exploring the dream; 2) exploring the inappropriate myth; and 3) using the dream to recognize possible alternative solutions and actions.

 

Step 1- Exploring the Dream

 

The first step in using your dreams for personal transformation is to understand what situation in your waking life the dream is dealing with.  Many effective approaches are available for understanding a dream.  I recommend an approach I call Image Activation Dreamwork (or “6 magic questions”) which permits the dream image to “speak” and quickly reveal conflicts and misconceptions that have you stuck. The format of the role-play helps to reveal conflicting beliefs or fears in order to better understand more specifically what the dream “compensation” is dealing with.

 

a) Pick one or more dream images that seem important, or emotionally significant. 

 

b) Let the Image Speak:  Go back into the dream and “become” the dream image. Speak as the dream image in the first person as if you are re-experiencing the dream, and record your statements. 

 

1) I am  ___(describe yourself and how you feel)______”

2)  “My purpose or function  is to _______”

3) What I like about being this dream image is ______”

4) What I dislike about being this dream image is______”

5) What I fear most as this dream image is _______”

6) What I desire most as this dream image is________”

 

Note: it is easier if you pick a dream object and avoid picking a person you know in the dream. If you do pick a person you know then substitute step #1 with the following: 1) as that known person: a) describe your personality;  b) in what ways are you like the dreamer; c) in what ways you are different.

 

c) Relate to a Life Situation: Do one or more of the statements sound like a way you feel or a situation in your waking life?   Recall a specific situation and define your feelings at the time. 

 

Step 2 -  Exploring the Inappropriate Myth

 

If the situation involves an internal conflict (perhaps a behavioral pattern you find yourself stuck in) then the next step is to try as best you can to define that set of beliefs that create the conflict or behavior.   

 

a) Conflicting Beliefs: Do the ‘I like/I dislike’ or ‘I fear/I desire’ statements above relate in any way to a conflict in your waking life, perhaps conflicting beliefs, desires or fears?  If so describe the situation as best you can in the following terms:  “I am/I need __ because ___ BUT if I ___ then ___ will happen”. 

 

b) Check it Out: Are these beliefs logical, healthy and appropriate, allowing you to progress, or are they exaggerations and misconceptions that are holding you back? 

 

Step 3 – Transforming the Myth

 

The final step is to use the dream to help transform the myth and/or find alternative solutions to the waking life situation that the dream is dealing with.  Even if the conflict explored in stage 2 is not totally clear you should try this out. There are two approaches: the first [A] is to look for an obvious compensating event or positive ending in the dream; the second [B] is a fun technique for completing the dream (creating a new metaphor) if the dream did not conclude or end positively.  I describe both techniques below, and include a dreamwork example for each.

 

[A] Dream Compensation

 

1.  Compensating Event: is there an apparent Compensating Event in the dream (a surprise dream image, guiding dream action, verbal or written message, or positive dream ending)?  If so then describe the compensation or dream “message”.

 

2.  Review:  What were you trying to do before the event and how is that like what you are trying to do in waking life?  What did you do after the event, or how did the dream proceed to the end?

 

3. Restate the compensating event, or positive dream resolution, as a possible solution to the waking life situation the dream seems to be dealing with.

 

4. Check it Out: is the solution you describe healthy and appropriate, allowing you to progress; or does it leave you stuck again?

 

5.  Next Steps: If it is healthy and appropriate what action can you take in waking life to bring it about?  Define the very next steps to bring it about and take that first step at the nearest opportunity.

 

Dreamwork Example: “I dreamed that 2 men were trying to kill a mean dog.  Suddenly the dog rolled over and played dead. The men now thought it was cute and left it alone.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Step #1 - Role-Play (the “6 magic questions”):

1. “I am a mean dog

2. “My function is to scare people away so they wont hurt me.”

3. “What I like about being this dog is that I can scare people away and be safe.”

4. “What I dislike about being this dog is no one likes me.”

5. “What I fear most is getting hurt by people that get too close.”

6. “What I desire most is to be loved.”

 

Step #2 - Compare to Waking Life and Define the Myth or Conflict:

“I must scare people away, because if I let them get too close they may hurt me – BUT – I also want to be Loved.”

 Step #3 – Using Dream Compensation for Transforming the Myth:

1. Compensating Event/Reversal or Positive Ending?  “The Dog quit growling and played dead.  The men considered him cute and no longer tried to kill him.  The scene was lit at that moment.”

2. What were you trying to do before the event and how is that like what you are trying to do in waking life?  “I am acting aggressive in order to keep from getting hurt!”

3. What did you do after the event and how might that be a metaphor for a waking life solution?  “If I calm the mean dog side and become a bit more submissive “play dead” then maybe I won’t get hurt and will be accepted.”

4. Restate the dream actions and solution, as a waking life solution. “In social situations calm the mean dog, try a more submissive role.”

5.  Check it Out: is it healthy, appropriate, allowing progress?  “YES”

6. Next Steps: “Tomorrow in the next social situation I am in I will try a more passive approach (stop the aggressive act) and see what happens.”

 

[B]  New Dream Ending (new compensating metaphor)

 

1. Review: Close your eyes and go back into the dream, to the most emotional point. What are you trying to do at that point.  Review how the dream ends. 

 

2. New Ending: spontaneously (first thing that comes to mind no matter how strange) make up a new ending that resolves the dream.  Fill in any missing details.

 

3. New Metaphor: how might the new ending be analogous to something you can do in waking life to resolve the situation or conflict the dream is dealing with? 

 

4. Re-state the new ending as a possible solution to your waking life situation. 

 

5. Check It Out: is it a healthy, practical solution, allowing you to progress?

 

     6. Next Steps/Actions: If it is healthy, practical and appropriate then what action can you take in waking life to bring it about.  Define your very  next steps and take that first step at the first opportunity.

   

Dreamwork Example: “I was running through a field trying to get away from people who are attacking me. I looked back, and from within each footstep I took, I could see flowers spring up.”

       

 

 

Step #1 - Role-Play (the “6 magic questions”):

1. “I am a wildflower

2. “My function is to attract bees to me to pollinate and nurture me.”

3. “What I like about being this wildflower is that I have so much beauty to show.”

4. “What I dislike about being this wildflower is that people will consider me a common weed and reject me.”

5. “What I fear most is being torn out and thrown away or left to die.”

6. “What I desire most is to be admired for my natural beauty.”

 

Step #2 - Compare to Waking Life and Define the Myth or Conflict:

“I am an artist and this relates to my fears about showing my art in public. I need to show my creativity in order to be nurtured – BUT – if I do people will see that my work is so common and the judges may even throw it out, and this will kill me.”

 

Step #3 – Using a New Dream Ending for Transforming the Myth:

 

1. Review the dream and the ending: “I am being attacked. The dream ends with me running away and looking back in surprise at the flowers.”

2. New Ending: “I stop and pick a large bouquet and realize how beautiful the natural little wildflowers are. I give them to the people attacking me telling them they are wildflowers and they seem to enjoy them.”

3. New Metaphor: “Revealing my creativity is not something to fear, it is beautiful, an just needs to be presented properly.”

4. Check It Out: Yes it is healthy and allows me to progress.”

5. Next steps:  “I will display my arts at the next show in a manner and location that highlights its wild natural beauty.”

 

Dream Masters