Dreams: The Looking Glass of Relationships

DREAMS: The Looking Glass of Relationships

Deepen your intimacy in relationships  images

Our nighttime dreams are the looking glass into our relationships and relationships are a significant part of our lives. Jean Paul Sartre stated, “Hell is other people,” and though that might feel true at times, without relationships, we severely limit our ability to evolve. Humans are hard-wired to connect. Developing open, loving, trusting and healthy connections takes great commitment, consistent effort, and mindful awareness. Specific dream characters, symbols and feelings emerge to show you unresolved fears, insecurities, and even traumatic experiences that occurred and are inhibiting your connection with others.

See your beliefs, attitudes, and judgments toward yourself and others

Dreams are often referred to as the “mirror to your soul” because they reflect the deeper, hidden aspects of us that we are not seeing clearly. Also, they reveal how others see us which likely differs from our self-perception. Jung referred to this aspect as the “persona,” the mask we wear in public for others to see. It is the false-self that needs approval and strives to be liked, appreciated, and wanted. Therefore, our dreams are not meant to please us but to awaken us. They are often perceived as disturbing because they will not succumb to our noblest notions of ourselves. “The closer one looks,” Marc Ian Barasch states, “The more [dreams] seem to insist upon a challenging proposition: You must live truthfully. Right now. And always. Few forces in life present, with an equal sense of inevitability, the bare-knuckle facts of who we are, and the demands of what we might become.”

Dream characters are “projections” of ourselves

When someone appears in your dreams, ask yourself, “What is my perception of this person?” It might be someone you haven’t seen in twenty-five years or your current next door neighbor. The key is to get in touch with how you see this person and what traits they are mirroring back to you. This is not easy because no one wants to see negative qualities in themselves. Which is one of the reasons that the unlikeable traits have been projected on to another during dreamtime. Rich with self-awareness, dream characters are the psychic lens for you to truly see yourself. They reveal your false-self, the persona and mask that you wear as well as the traits you have adopted since you were very young. Every person starring in your nightly dreams are unconscious projections of yourself. From this advantageous perspective, your dream characters can help you learn more about yourself than you might ever imagine.

Laurasig

For a deeper exploration into your dreams, please click HERE.

ebook book cover

Join me in my upcoming webinar on “dreams” check it out HERE

anthony-clavien-inner-compass

Advertisements

The Numinous Nature of Your Nighttime Dreams

THE NUMINOUS NATURE OF YOUR NIGHTTIME DREAMS

Dreams are a sacred gift presented to us in the midst of our sleeping consciousness. Remember your dreams. Honor your dreams. Learn from your dreams.  Norman Bradford

Dreams are alive. Rich with symbols, archetypes, alchemical images and metaphors, dreams are an invaluable transformational instrument. When understood, dreams are a pathway to higher consciousness, evolved relationships, meaningful work, informed physical health and a clear awareness of your soul’s blueprint.

But the growth that dreams provide is not always an easy process, it sometimes requires digging into unconscious muck which makes things appear messy. Also, unhealed trauma rears its head during dreamtime as do addictions, fears, unrequited love, grief, disappointment, anger, and physical, psychological, and spiritual imbalances. The unconscious does its best to grab your attention so you can recognize and integrate aspects of yourself that are hidden and may have gotten repressed along the way.

Further, dreams possess the power to free you from programmed beliefs, status quo thinking and false personas. They provide ideas, solutions and insights. Edgar Cayce taught, “Dreams work to solve problems of the dreamer’s conscious waking life, and they work to quicken in the dreamer new potentials which are his/hers to claim.”

Dreams are considered to be the oldest language known to man and some are numinous in nature, a term Jung used frequently when referring to their “divine command” (derived from the Latin word numen). These watershed experiences encompass significant health related issues, profound relationship matters, vocational and career crossroads, and spiritually defining moments. Dreams emerge from the point of contact between spirit and matter, human and divine, male and female, ego and Self. Carl Jung calls this point of contact the soul. Since your dreams provide ideas, solutions and insights, I encourage you to use this book as your own personal compass for navigating through every area of your life. Literally, they are jackpots of information and will enhance your awakening process, or what Jung called the pathway to individuation.

Dreams are sacred gifts; no matter how confusing, nonsensical, frightening, or perverse they may seem, dreams emerge from the unconscious to help you. We often avoid facing a disturbing or puzzling dream but in truth it is your own personal daimon, the Greek word for “inspired guide.”

While working with your dreams, it is helpful to keep in mind some of the basic dream principles developed by Carl Jung:

  • Almost every dream come to us in the service of health and wholeness.
  • Dreams have multiple and simultaneous meanings.
  • Only the dreamer knows for sure what the meaning of the dream is at a particular time.
  • Dreams bring information from the unconscious into consciousness, a huge gift for healing our lives, relationships and sense of purpose.

Sleep Deeply, Dream Big!

Intro to Your Nighttime Dreams

8dab5df04f08a953965d15c22fa92dc2

The overall subject of our dreams is, ultimately, the inner process of individuation. Most dreams, in one way or another, are portrayals of our individual journeys toward wholeness. They show us the stages along the way—the adventures, obstacles, conflicts, and reconciliations that lead finally to a sense of the self.  Robert Johnson

Imagine walking into a dark theater. Hundreds of empty seats await an audience to sit in before a shadowy stage. The director shouts, “Lights, cameras, action!” and you are mesmerized as the actors take their places and the storyline begins to unfold. As you watch, you feel yourself both watching the movie and being in the movie. The plot twists and turns as you connect with the actors and every dream character is playing a unique role. Feelings of excitement, judgment, bias, disdain, fear, hatred, empathy, love and compassion arise. The film captivates your every sense and the images feel alive in your body. As the movie ends and the credits roll you realize that this wasn’t just any movie, it is a story about your life.

And, so it is.

You are the screen writer, director, producer, casting agent, choreographer, landscape artist and every character starring in your nightly dreams. You are also the observer who witnesses a comedy, tragedy, romance, horror film called “This Is My Life.” All of these creative gestures and more emerge from your unconscious an average of four to five times per night. Every film, crafted by you, reveals your unresolved issues, desires, hope, fears, strengths, doubts, grief, resentments, beliefs, and connections to the deepest realms of your soul. And it doesn’t stop there; dreams are not always purely personal and can encompass the “anima mundi,” the Greek term for “world soul.”

Dreams are the language of our individual and collective soul. The word “soul” stems from the Greek term “psyche.” Carl Jung (1963) declared: “Without the psyche there would be neither knowledge nor insight.” During dream time, while the ego is asleep, psyche comes to life and reveals information unattainable during waking life.

As a prolific dreamer, I became interested in connecting and understanding my dreams when I was eight years old. By age sixteen, I was dreaming about events which inevitably manifested the following day. My mother kept urging, “Write down your dreams, Laura, they are trying to tell you something important,” and thus began my personal and spiritual journey with dreams. Now, more than 30 years later, I have book cases and boxes filled with dream journals. They are treasure troves of thoughts, feelings and wisdom about my family, physical health, past relationships, finances, life’s purpose, shadow aspects, fears, insecurities, self-sabotaging behaviors, desires, strengths and spiritual gifts. Dreams are the purest form of information. Since they are not censored by our conscious thoughts, feelings and perceptions, they possess the capacity to provide more support and insight than therapy, and they are free! I am always saddened when people tell me their dreams are nonsensical or that they do not have time to listen to them. Our dreams are wellsprings of information, the language of our soul.

You dream every night whether you remember your dreams or not. The more you seek to understand them, the more likely you will recall them. The first thing to keep in mind is that your dreams are meant to help you not frighten or confuse you. I cannot tell you how many people have secretly shared that they do not listen to their dreams, or remember their dreams because they are afraid of them, or they will have to make some significant changes.  Growth can be messy and change is inevitable if you wish to grow. You always have the choice to delve inward and move forward, and you have control over when you choose to do so.

Secondly, all dreams are meaningful despite how ridiculous they may seem, even “snippets” contain invaluable information. Dreams may seem silly but only to the limitations of your waking mind. Even working with one dream image will help you increase your self-awareness and can lead to significant breakthroughs.

Your nighttime dreams are a powerful pathway to transformation and occur as a guidepost to support you on your pathway to wholeness.

The Cycle of LIFE-DEATH-LIFE and the Wild Woman Archetype

Greetings Friend:women arms raised

Life is a series of cycles, a continuous unfolding pattern of Life-Death-Life spirals that possess the power to carry us deeper into the female soul and feminine spirit. In her unforgettable creation Women Who Run with the Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estes beautifully illustrates this dynamic playing out in the Wild Woman archetype. She is the Life-Death-Life force, the female soul and source of the feminine. As we learn to embrace the Life-Death-Life nature we are able to hold the space for the necessary deaths and surprising births with grace rather than resistance. In our culture, the Life part of living is supported, however, the Death part of living is too often misunderstood and feared. And yet, unless we accepting the dying embers from each passage of life, we cannot create sufficient space for new initiations to commence.

Presently, I am experiencing both a significant death and a new life. In August, I will complete the final year of graduate coursework in a depth psychology and somatic program. It is a big Death. I am saying farewell to some amazing people who have bravely traveled this road with me for three years, a road fraught with shadow, unexpected psychological potholes and startling bursts of transformation.

On the other side of the same coin, I am entering a new phase of Life. Having passed all of the requirements, I have received my Master’s degree and am now entering the realm of dissertation as scholar and Ph.D. Candidate.  And as with so many other former beginnings, I am filled with much excitement, anxiety and hope.

If you can relate and would like to share a piece of your current Life-Death-Life journey, I would love to hear from you. Sharing stories from the soul is healing and cultivates the fertile soil for the Wild Woman to rise up and regenerate her qualities of connectedness, creativity and passion.

In honor of the feminine spirit within us all, may your LIFE-DEATH-LIFE journey be authentically soulful.

Namaste,

Laurasig

The Brain in Love: Three Attributes for Maintaining Long-Term Partnerships

We humans are hard-wired for relationships. Yet, very often, we find ourselves struggling to maintain long-term partnerships images1that feel loving, supportive and healthy. Numerous factors play into the partners we are attracted to and the dynamics that ensue. But recent neuro-science shows us that more is going on and can be seen in various centers of the brain.

Biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, Ph.D., specializes in understanding the neuro-science of relationships. When asked if her brain scanning projects on people reveal anything about long-term happiness in relationships, Fisher replied with a resounding “Yes!” She explains that neuro-scans reveal specific patterns of brain activity among those who are in loving, long-term relationships and here are the top three winning attributes:

1. Overlooking the Negative and Accentuating the Positive. First and foremost, activity in the frontal cortex empowers a person to look for the good in his/her partner instead of focusing on what he/she dislikes or finds irritating. The psychological term for this is “positive illusions” and with lots of practice, it truly works.

2. Expressing Empathy. Brain activity occurs in the mirror neurons and aligns with empathy, the ability to relate, understand and share the feelings of others. Your facial expressions have the ability to trigger a strong emotional response in your partner. Mirroring openness and understanding are part of the empathic process and is a critical factor in connecting authentically and lovingly.

theme_relationships3. Controlling Your Own Emotions. The amygdala is shaped like an almond and is where we feel emotions like fear, anger, love and sexual desire. It is the area of the brain associated with the ability to regulate your emotions and is essential in maintaining well-being and harmony in relationships.

If you are interested in receiving some support in improving and/or healing your relationships, I provide guidance to individuals and couples. My approach embodies Depth Psychology (the unconscious, archetypes and dreams), spirituality, somatics (the body) and neuro-science. My areas of expertise includes:

Significant Life Changes
Overcoming Fear and Anxiety
Relationship and Family Issues
Women’s Spirituality and Empowerment
Spiritual Direction (for more information on this form of guidance, please CLICK HERE).
Dream Based Counseling (for more information on this type of counseling, please CLICK HERE).

Or visit: www.lauragrace.net, laura@lauragrace.net

Conscious Death, Dying & Dogs

PART ONE

One is moved to conclude that the heart is the most poetic organ of the body and may exceed the moon and stars in use as a metaphor…You can know of heartache, heart yearnings, heart shapes, heart renderings and heart feelings. ~Mike Denney, M.D., Ph.D.

As I wrap up the second year of my doctoral program in Depth Psychology, I just finished a term paper for my Conscious Death and Dying course that has stretched the shape of my heart. Some of the required readings for this course include Mortality (Hitchens, 2012), The Alchemy of Illness (Duff, 1993), Intoxicated by My Illness (Broyard 1992), and Good Dog. Stay. by Anna Quindlen (2007). I had heard of the last title but had never read it until my heart-felt professor stated: “If you only had to read one book, this is the one”.

That night, I opened the book, glanced through the pages then immediately set it down. It is a poignant love story about a woman and her beloved dog, “Beau”. Quindlen describes the immense affection she has for Beau and the lessons she learned just by observing him: how to accept things as they are, to measure herself not through the lens of the past or future but of the present. Her story continues as Beau ages and reaches the hands of death. Quindlen unflinchingly remains in the moment until his last days on earth, “Each morning I used to check to see if the old guy was actually breathing, and each day I tried to take his measure—was he hurting? Was he happy? Was the trade-off between being infirm and being alive worth it?”

Like Quindlen, I have a Beau but his name is “Guru.” And like Beau in the book, Guru is the same age, fifteen years old as of July 10, 2015. Due to severe arthritis in the elbow of his front left leg, Guru gets around by hopping on his three working legs. He sleeps more than he is awake, yet he still loves to go for a daily “joy ride” in the car, resting on my lap as we travel up and down the street. At one-hundred and five human years old, he can still smell the fresh salty, sea air and this daily ritual is the highpoint of his life, as well as mine.

Guru's 11th birthday

Guru’s 11th birthday

Guru is a black Pomeranian, pure alpha and not sweet as Quindlen describes Beau. No one would consider him to be a “good” dog; he can be affectionate one moment then without warning, snap and bite in the next moment. People think it is because of the pain he is in from being old. Sometimes I let them believe this is true but it isn’t; Guru has been a very difficult dog since he was four months old. After receiving his vaccinations, he began having seizures which we learned to control with Phenobarbital. And though his seizures calmed down, his behavior did not. Guru sought to keep everyone together, like a herding dog; every time my husband or I would leave the room, Guru would spin counter-clockwise, barking, “Get back here, don’t you dare leave, we’re all meant to stay together!” Obedience training didn’t seem to help, nor did all of the Dog Whisperer CD’s that we watched. A caring and concerned friend once pleaded, “Why don’t you just call the Dog Whisperer and invite him to work with Guru?” We never did contact Caesar and after fourteen years of Guru spinning counter-clockwise, his left elbow became so crippled with arthritis that he drags the leg next to his body while he hops around on the remaining three.

Guru is possessive, demanding and has an anxiety disorder. His behavior, at times, has strained my relationship with my husband. I have been over protective of this creature who appears in my night-time dreams, lives in the depths of my heart, and reveals all of his feelings and secrets when he looks at me with his dark brown eyes. I know this dog better than I know myself. Surely, we must have been together before. As strange as this may sound, in a desperate attempt to understand the dynamic between Guru, my husband and I, we once contacted a well-known “pet psychic” who confirmed this idea. She told us the most amazing story: in a past life Guru had been my partner and Thomas (my husband) had been his rival and the issue was never resolved. As hard as it was to believe and as reluctant as we were to admit it, Thomas and I both sensed there might be some truth to the psychic’s vision.

As my death and dying class unfolded, I kept avoiding reading Good Dog. Stay. It was too painful and hit too close to the heart. Guru’s fifteenth birthday was quickly approaching and I noticed that his eyes looked glassy and he was limping more than usual. Was it time to let him go? Was he in pain and if so, did the physical pain outweigh my desire to have him stay? My heart was aching and reluctantly, I re-opened Good Dog. Stay. I read ten pages, not the first ten, but the final ten. Quindlen’s courage and ability to embrace Beau’s death was inspiring. While reading it, Guru laid next to me on my bed. I remember crying as I turned the final page and asking Guru if he wanted to move on. I told him that he was a good dog despite the challenges over the years and that I would let him go if he was ready to leave. He listened then licked my left hand reassuringly. He was definitely trying to communicate something.

That evening, my husband and I decided to take Guru to the vet and have his matted hair—once shiny and glorious—shaved off for the last time. We also decided to have his teeth cleaned and his nails trimmed—all of the grooming that I used to love do for him but now required anesthesia because he would bite. We knew we were taking a risk, that he might not make it through the process. Yet we believed we were giving him one last chance to feel a bit better. Two days later, Thomas drove the car to the vet’s office while I cradled Guru in my arms, swaddled in his favorite red blanket. After we dropped Guru off, I sent him light from my heart and envisioned him feeling strong. My prayers of love and gratitude traveled to him as I hiked along the beach then worked some more on my Conscious Death and Dying term paper. At 3:00 p.m. the vet called to report that Guru was doing well and was ready to go home. Despite feeling groggy from the anesthesia, Guru’s enthusiasm and aliveness was evident and we knew we had made the right decision.

That was three weeks ago. And now, as we reach the end of July, Guru is still doing well but I know we are nearing the end. Each morning when I awake and check in with Guru, I am reminded that one more day of living for me is an entire week of living for him and his aging body. This helps me maintain perspective about the fragility of life and the incredibly short duration of a dog’s life. It also emphasizes how important it is that I remain present with Guru and be fully alive, now, more than ever.
In the meantime, I am profoundly aware of Guru’s impending ending inching ever so closely. It is no longer “years away”; it could be next month, tomorrow morning or even tonight as I lie sleeping. Good Dog. Stay. reminds me that my growth lies in my ability to embrace Guru’s deterioration while remaining most alive during this ending. Sartre was right: You have to live each moment as if you’re prepared to die.

I take comfort from knowing that I have been able to love this dog in ways I never knew possible. The love I feel for Guru has been the closest thing to unconditional love that I might ever know: he can growl and bear his teeth at me, and yet, I still love him; he can bite me, and though I scold him, I still feel love in my heart for him. I feel his fear when he struggles to sit up, I feel his excitement when we go for a joy ride, and I feel his love when his pale tongue weakly licks my hand.

Guru on 3 legs July, 2015

Guru on 3 legs July 2015

As I finish crafting this blog, Guru is lying on the floor next to me in his old lumpy bed with his favorite tattered red blanket. I feel deep gratitude for being able to process some deep emotions while writing. I held off from writing this blog because I was resisting the feelings that illness and conscious dying might elicit. I look over at Guru as I craft this final paragraph and he opens his eyes. He can still see me so I inquire: “Are you comfortable? Are you happy? Do you want to keep on going?” not expecting a response, and yet, his eyes widen. I am reassured by Quindlen’s last words in the final chapter of Good Dog. Stay.: “And when the time comes to ask myself some of those same questions, at least I will have had the experience calibrating the answer. Sometimes an old dog teaches you new tricks”.

I would love for Guru to stay and stay and stay…but I am acutely aware of his mortality, as well as my own. So I am grateful for all that Guru has taught me: patience, tolerance, perseverance, real love, remaining conscious and connected as a loved one ages, fades then dies. And though Guru, nor I, will live forever, I am reminded that the name “Guru” can be broken down into: “Gee, You Are You”, perhaps the greatest teaching we can learn from a dog who challenges us, a true guru.

My favorite Guru and Me

The REAL (and ALCHEMICAL) MEANING OF SLEEPING BEAUTY

sleeping beauty imageSleeping Beautiful was my mother’s favorite fairy tale. She bought me the book when I was seven years old and inscribed it to me. It was a hard cover book and the front was laced with dreamlike hues of blues, greens and shimmering gold. Inside the book were beautiful illustrations of Sleeping Beauty, the prince and Sleeping Beauty’s court. It was the only book I remember my mother inscribing to me and she wrote: “I hope you enjoy this fairytale as much as I always have. Love, Mother.” Well, I did love that story. It was romantic, passionate and taught that all women need to awaken is a sweet and simple kiss from a man who possesses the power to save us.

What was there not to love?

Unfortunately, many women have taken Sleeping Beauty literally. I know my mother did, and, so did my older sister. My mother desperately hoped that my father would be her shining prince, awaken her and fulfill her every need. And as much as I loved my father, he was the family patriarch; religious, fundamental, and ill-tempered. Over the years, I watched as my mother’s own “sleeping beauty” fell into a deeper and deeper sleep as she medicated herself with prescription medications and alcohol. She died at age 57 and my sister died at age 54, both suffering deeply from abusive men, broken hearts and shattered dreams.

The amazing Jungian analyst, Anne Baring, excels in transformational work of the soul which entails the 4,000+ year old practice of “alchemy.” Many of us know the process of turning base metal into gold, but Baring’s teachings encompass the psychology of alchemy and the alchemical transformation we must go through in order to reach our opus and be fully awake, whole beings. In her seminar titled, “What is Soul?” Baring dives deep into the alchemical waters of the ancient fairy tale Sleeping Beauty. She reveals how Sleeping Beauty is the ultimate story for this point in history because it reflects the vital call for balance between our masculine and feminine aspects. Baring writes, “I see this magical story [Sleeping Beauty] as a metaphor for our time and the urgent need for a marriage between our head and our heart, a marriage between our solar thinking and our lunar feeling…From another perspective, I also see it as a metaphor of the reconciliation of spirit and nature or the reunion of the masculine and feminine aspects of spirit which have been progressively sundered during the last four thousand years.”

In Sleeping Beauty, the prince represents the solar principle of consciousness, searching for meaning, wanting to understand the universe but ultimately, seeking reconnection with his feminine aspect—the soul. Sleeping Beauty symbolizes the lunar principle of soul, the Alchemy image to use at beginning of talkfeeling values, Eros. Therefore, this bewitching story has nothing to do with being rescued and everything to do with the alchemical marriage of the masculine (sun) and the feminine (moon). Thus, when the prince (solar/rational mind) connects with Sleeping Beauty (lunar/heart energy), not only does she awaken, but her entire sleeping court awakens. For the past 50 years, we have been witnessing an awakening and deepening of connection to our soul and attaining balance between our head and heart. More and more women I encounter who are on the path of growth have shared the increased amount of animus dreams. Our animus shows up during dream time in male form, sometimes a familiar man and other times a stranger. These dreams present us with an immense opportunity to explore our beliefs and attitudes about our relationship with men and our relationship with ourselves. Dream work is a significant part of alchemy. May we remember the transformational power they possess and take time to attend to them.

The Greater Coniunctio: A Higher Love
When one is journeying through the alchemical process, there are several stages of transformation we must experience. The stages are: calcinatio, solutio, coagulatio, sublimatio, mortificatio and separatio. They lead to coniunctio which resides at the heart of alchemy. Coniunctio is the joining of the alchemical King and Queen, Sol and Luna. The process of transformation begins when these opposites meet, but they are not conjoined until the process is completed. We travel in and out of these stages throughout our life, depending on what is happening in our relationships, career, health and all of the life changes we encounter.
Sol and Luna Image
Viewing the tale of Sleeping Beauty from a higher and alchemical position reveals something antithetical to what we were taught as children. No one is meant to save us, particularly not a special soulmate who kisses our forehead and brings us out of our sleep. The deeper meaning of this story is the recognition and conjoining of our feminine and masculine aspects. Alchemy uses a series of unique images that illustrate this process. The King and Queen start out fully clothed (separate and concealed) then immerse themselves in an alchemical bath where the transformation begins. The lovers, who were once opposites are now connected into inseparable wholeness. Alchemical love has attained its exultant zenith. The opposite energies of the prince/Sleeping Beauty, the King/Queen, and the Solar/Lunar, become transmuted through the alchemical process which is can only be done solo and can be very painful. It’s an “undoing” of all that we have learned and at times, we may feel as though we are being turned inside out. Sometimes we pass through the alchemical stages at varying times, and, sometimes we move through two or more simultaneously.

Yet the pinnacle remains the same, to fully realize genuine love and union. Edward Edinger, who wrote Anatomy of the Psyche: Alchemical Symbolism in Psychotherapy states, “That which goes by the name of love is fundamental to the phenomenology of the coniunctio. Love is both cause and effect…objective love, a love purged of personal desirousness, not one side of a pair of opposites, but rather beyond the opposites”. Sleeping Beauty is a mythical story of a higher love. It encompasses self-less love and the feeling of oneness that we each desire on the deepest level. It cannot be attained by wanting to be rescued, saved, or kissed, but only as we awaken to the strength, courage, and love that resides deep within.

I believe if my mother were still alive and read this very different interpretation of Sleeping Beauty, she would not be disappointed, she would be relieved.

Namaste,

Laurasig