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Alissa's Dream Art & Creativity Column

February, 1997

The Gift of Dream Fragments

It seems to me that I experience two forces at work, in myself and life, and I wonder if you have noticed this too? -- an expansive movement forward toward the new, toward growth and wholeness, and a constricting pull backwards towards habitiual limitations.

What we're used to we equate with "right" and good and safe, and even if we have a taste of something better, a part of us says, 'stop! danger!' and we run for cover into the old familiar habits. Anyone who has tried to stop smoking, ect, knows that, and it is equally true of subtler addictions, not to substances, but to attitudes and behaviors.

I believe that dreams offer us potent images and experiences of these two forces at work within us. I've had some horrific dreams that made it hard for me to see them as the gifts I believe dreams are, until I recognized them as warnings and reminders. (see below,for example, the "Fire" dream).

And other dreams that encourge me, that bring healing and help me to get used to the new more positive frame of mind, so that it becomes familiar and eventually habitual.

Here are two significant single images

whose powerful impact shows that even a brief fragment of a dream may bring a gift.

Snowdrift Image - Color pastel The Snowdrift Dream

A man is stuck head first in a snowdrift, legs flailing in the air.

What this dream gives me is a laughable picture of an absurd yet familiar condition. It is so easy to go on habitually in an intellectual mode, out of touch with feelings, sensation and intuition, until a dream like this one takes the abstract idea of being cold, rigid and stuck and makes it visible and real. At the same time the dream shows how I want to get unfrozen and reach wildly for solid ground. A variation of the ” ostrich with head stuck in the sand . . .

I see my past mirrored in this dream -- and my urgent need to function as one whole, to be present, in touch with reality. When I recognize myself in a sense caricatured in this vivid image, I have to stop and smile and take it in. The picture stays with me as mere words never can, making the phrase ”frozen needs a reality.

This dream reminds me of the way Hopi ”clowns mock a person whose ego has gotten out of hand. They may walk behind and imitate in an exaggerated way his pomposity or other failings. Aren’t dreams often our built in personal tricksters or jesters, alerting us to self-destructive tendencies which we have taken for granted?

The Adhesive Plasters Dream

A woman discovers that her arm is covered with skin colored adhesive plasters she had not remembered were there.She is trying to pull one off, but feels as if she is pulling off her own skin.

This dream seems to me to picture beliefs that were so much part of me that I simply could not see them. When something like the previous snowdrift dream led me to wake up and take notice -- I still could not free myself from them. Since they seemed to be me myself, how could I remove them? How could it be possible to divest myself of this prejudice or that fear, this tendency to infatuation, that shame or this excesssive expectation?

Adhessive Plaster Image - Color pastel

I needed to learn skills and develop confidence, and to love myself enough to risk this difficult enterprise. I see the dream as a step along the road of my discovery that I can in fact differentiate myself from all the ”plasters , all that is not truly me. Perhaps I put them on long ago for protection, a useful tool in a child’s ego survival kit, but they are self destructive delusions for the adult. This dream helps me to recognize this situation honestly and without blame, and to begin to peel off these ”plasters with compassion.

Returning to the image of the previous dream of being stuck in a snowdrift, legs waving in the air, going nowhere...The first essential step was to recognize and admit that I was upside down, and to ask myself what was upside down in my life? What view of life would a person have, upside down and split between being frozen and frantically up-in-the-air ? What feelings came up and what was the experience of non-feeling, of being frozen, numb?

Then, when fear, for example, was the issue I was dealing with, the next step was to experience fear thoroughly in my body, with particular attention to the specific part of my body where I felt it most strongly. Along with this I allowed a natural release of whatever sounds, movements and memories arose in me.

In this way the ”plasters fall off and one eventually topples out of the ”snow , landing right side up on to solid ground, having reclaimed more of oneself.

What is also interesting about these two dreams, unlike all the others in this series, is that I myself did not dream them. They were reported by members of one of my dream groups and illustrate the commonality of our dreams. Every member of the group aslo felt these might easily have been their own dreams. It is often the case that you resonate with some element in another person’s dream and find your own life illuminated.


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Alissa Goldring alissa@dreamgate.com

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