Dreams that Lead You to Your Life’s Higher Purpose

Dreams that Lead You to Your Life’s Higher Purpose by Laura Grace, PhD

Dreams, being your “inner GPS” inform every area of your life. Your nighttime dreams possess the power to lead you in discovering the deeper meaning of your purpose. Simply put, dreams reveal why you are here. How? By uncovering your hidden talents and gifts. In revealing the people who “appear” to you and are meant to support you in your soul’s development.

Here is a personal example of how your dreams can provide specific direction for accessing your life’s work and creating abundance.

Years ago, I was a human resource director for a CPA and consulting firm in the Midwest. Most of my time was spent firing managers and partners as the firm underwent a series of mergers. As a highly sensitive person and empath, this was excruciatingly painful and I experienced immense burn-out in only a few short years. The life-force had been sucked out of my soul and I resigned. Instead of immediately putting myself back on the executive market, I felt guided to take a year off and do some significant soul-searching. So, I withdrew my 401(k), bought a house on small lake in the Midwest, and took my ten-year-old daughter, Alexis, and our cat, Buttercup, and moved in to a new home with my beloved partner, Thomas. It was a new beginning. Emotionally and financially it was challenging, yet I spent the next twelve months delving into spiritual teachings, journaling my thoughts and feelings, and working with my nighttime dreams. At thirty-two years old, it may have been one of the best years of my life.

Daily, I asked for guidance from my dreams and how best to use my gifts, strengths, and talents. During this time, I had a powerful dream:

I am sitting in the driver’s seat of my red Toyota which is parked in a parking lot. Next to me in the passenger’s seat I see a dark blue book with “Bhagavad Gita” scrolled in gold across the cover. I open the car door and see several brochures that I have created lying on the ground and next to them are various silver and gold coins.

This dream was showing me that writing combined with spirituality were a definite part of my life’s work. As I followed my dream’s cues, I began writing articles for spiritual and personal growth publications, something I had never done before. As a result, I had the following dream:

I am guided to look under my bed and discover enormous diamonds in the shape of crystals. I am amazed by their beauty.  After looking under the bed I look to another part of the floor and see two or three similar stones, not quite as large as the one under my bed, but just as radiant. I awake feeling happy and inspired.

These dreams affirmed the work that carried me deeper into my authentic self. They paved the way to profound abundance, not just financially, but emotionally, intellectually, creatively, and spiritually. The fact that the diamonds were shaped like crystals revealed the multi-faceted potentiality within me.

Looking back over the past couple of decades, I can see how prophetic the dream truly was. I became inspired to write a series of articles that were published throughout the country and eventually morphed into my first book, Gifts of the Soul. Next, the book and articles inspired the creation of The Self-Mastery Program, an intensive that supported individuals in accessing their inner gifts. I taught The Self-Mastery program for ten years and in the meantime, penned my second book, The Intimate Soul. (Both books were written and self-published under my former name, Laura V. Hyde.)

Unlimited ideas continued to spring forth and I developed a series of additional programs, workshops, and retreats. During this creative era, I generated a course on dreams and coached people on understanding and utilizing them. Desiring to deepen my spiritual growth, I attended an interfaith seminary program and began providing spiritual counseling.

The “multi-faceted” diamonds represented skills I never knew I had, and didn’t have, until I began working with my nighttime dreams and stretching beyond my comfort zone. Edgar Cayce wisely affirms, “Dreams are today’s answers to tomorrow’s questions.”  Listen to your dreams. Like a diamond, they possess marvelous, mystical, multi-faceted brilliance.

If you would like to see the video that accompanies this blog, watch the video below which is more in-depth. And it means a lot to me if you will kindly give it a thumbs up if you find it helpful. Namaste.

Snake Dreams & Transformation

Our dreams recover what the world forgets…The dream animal shows us that the imagination has jaws and paws, that it can wake us in the night with panic and terror or move us to tears…and see their living forms so that we respond to them with the gift of intelligence.  ~~James Hillman

Your night times dreams are a gift. Why? Because dreams generally point to our blind spot. They never tell us what we already know. The trouble with interpreting your own dreams is that you can’t see your own back.

This blog is meant to help you understand your dreams so they are relatable to every area of your waking life. And since animals commonly play a main character in our dreams, we are going to examine how they come to us as our HELPERS. They crave intimacy and offer us insight to our higher and lower selves. They call us back to the earth and to our own bodies. If you follow your dream, humbly, that is where your real life begins. And this is especially true for the most misunderstood dream animal: the snake.

Jung stated, “The commonest dream symbol of transcendence is the snake.”

However, in our culture, snake is portrayed as a slippery, slimy, poisonous creature that goes back 2000+ years to the biblical story of Adam and Eve. When we refer to someone as a “snake” we’re implying they are cold, calculating, and untrustworthy.

But in some ancient cultures the serpent is seen as the most universal and auspicious archetype, one that symbolizes rebirth and transformation. Snakes shedding their skin represents the power of birth, death and rebirth, and such transformation occurs when the snake’s eyes begin to cloud over. As a natural shapeshifter, snakes are honored for being able to both journey below the earth’s surface (a.k.a. underworld) and bathe in the sunlight of the upper world. 

Snakes Appearing in Your Dreams

Snakes are often seen as a sexual object in dream time. And if snake randomly appears in your dreams, pay attention to flirtations and sexual energy occurring between you and another. Snake sometimes means a misalignment in psyche so it may show up to warn you that the path you’re heading down with another may be dangerous.

But if snake makes continuous appearances in your dream, pay attention. This is particularly true if you are doing inner work and old trauma is beginning to surface.  

For example, when I began my doctoral program in depth psychology and somatic studies and began delving into the unconscious, all kinds of snakes began starring in my dreams, from black snakes with long red tongues to green diamond back rattlers. Somatic, or body-memories surfaced from experiences I had while growing up.  One night while sleeping in my dorm I dreamt of a snake that sunk its fangs into the top of my left hand. As I waited for its venom to kill me, I noticed that a warm, fuzzy feeling began to pulse through my body. In  Shamanic traditions venom is not seen as poison but as “medicine.” Being bitten by a snake symbolizes the initiation into transformation.

How Do You Work with Snake Dreams?  

A good way to delve into snake dreams is to use the art of Association. Association is a Jungian, straight forward approach to dream work and can be done in very little time. For example, when I first listed my associations of snake, I wrote: slither, slippery, sneaky, constricting, squeezing, poisonous, temptation, flirting, sexual play, seduction, manipulation, power, control, fear, father’s belt, physical punishment, men, unsafe.

The next round my associations went deeper and I noted: frightened, wound, intimacy, distance, guarded, protective, healing, trauma. The key is to keep going back to the original dream image and writing down your associations without pausing. Once you begin thinking about it, you’ve shifted from psyche to intellect and will lose the deeper meaning. Also, you might become inspired by associations that arise and begin associating those images, but don’t go there, doing so will cause you to lose sight of the original dream image. Start with one dream image and stick with it until an “aha” moment happens or you feel an inner click. Some associations will have an emotional charge to them and that’s where you want to focus.

The body remembers everything you have ever experienced and carries the burden of stress, disease, and trauma. Dream images, like my myriad snakes, live in the blood cells, skin, muscles, and organs of the body. By working with the images, the snakes became my personal daimon to the point that even the “poison” that flooded my body after one snake decided to sink his fangs into my left hand became a form of “medicine.”

After the initial shock wore off, I was able to tap into the venom and receive the strength that I needed to confront the past and transform some painful experiences.  This ancient, reptilian image led me to a deeper understanding about my reactions, behaviors, fears, and desire for love, and in alchemical terms, was akin to turning base metal into radiant gold. Using dream images to transform old wounds leads us to individuation, wholeness, self-love, and greater aliveness. You may be wondering, what happened to the snake dreams? Well, two weeks before finishing my final doctoral course and writing my last term paper, snake exited the realm of my dreams and hasn’t made an appearance since. 

The last snake dream I had revealed both the inner and transformation that took place over a period of three years. Internally, I felt less fear, more self-compassion, and self-love. Externally, I experienced more faith and trust in people and my terror of snakes disappeared.

I’m outdoors in a large open space and several feet in front of me is a long, green snake with black stripes. The snake has been living underneath some dense foliage, thick ivy. It has been living under there for a long time but now it’s out in the sunlight. I see it has black narrow eyes and then I notice two more round black “eyes” above the regular eyes, sitting on either side of its head. Looking more closely, I can see that they react to the light, like sensors and then it gives a very loud rattle.

Next, I see something move around the top of the snake’s head and a baby snake with tiny legs unhooks itself and crawls down its face. The baby scoots away and then a very bizarre thing happens: The snake completely transforms itself by pulling its skin forward until it covers its eyes and face. It now looks like a beautiful, large, green succulent that curves downward. I am fascinated and realize I no longer need to fear snakes.

This dream is filled with a wealth of images: Large open space, green snake with black stripes, thick ivy, eyes that are sensors, the sound of the rattle, the lizard-like baby snake with legs, transformation from snake into a large succulent.  Here is an example of my positive associations:

  • Open space: Nature = place I go for reflecting, healing, feeling open-minded, getting grounded, peaceful, favorite place to be
  • Green snake: Rattlesnake, poisonous/medicine, green is a “healing” color, primitive, reptilian, shapeshifter, kundalini energy, sheds its skin
  • Thick ivy: I love ivy, dense cover, easy to maintain, grows in my yard, resilient, protective
  • Eyes that are sensors: Insight, sensitive to light, awareness, vision
  • Rattle: Primal, rhythm, Native American, instrument, warning, ancient, felt it in my body
  • Baby snake with legs: Birth, new beginnings, circle of life, lizard-like
  • Transformation into succulent: Change, healing, shapeshifter, awakening, verdant, alive, magical

Remember, your night-time dreams are a gift. Especially those you resist for they offer the greatest growth and opportunity for transformation.

Namaste

Visitation Dreams, Part I: Messages that Can Change Your Life

Has someone you loved visited you during dream time? Did they show up to reassure you or give you a message? Or perhaps they gave you a message to share with someone in your life?

Visitation dreams are not uncommon but they do not happen frequently. They are meaningful encounters that often contain invaluable messages or loving comfort. In Part One of “Visitation” dreams, we are delving into the unforgettable realm of “Message” dreams and how they have the power to change your life.   

Now, quite often dreams of people giving you a message involve something called “Dream Telepathy.” We have the ability to communicate telepathically with one another while asleep and dreaming. This phenomenon is much more common than we think and surpasses the boundary of coincidence. The first person to use the phrase ‘dream telepathy’ was Sigmund Freud in his book “Uncanny” published in 1919.  

I have had numerous clients share dreams where a deceased loved one has appeared to give them a message either for them, or for someone else in the dreamer’s life. The latter tends to happen because the dreamer receiving the message may be an avid dreamer with good recall, or because he or she is more receptive to receiving the visitor and his or her message. Sometimes the messages being given are incredibly positive and sometimes they entail more serious issues like illness and even death.

For example, several years ago, while teaching a dream workshop, a woman shared how she was visited by a deceased relative and was told that her brother was going to die in a car accident in the near future. Telepathically, the relative communicated exactly how the accident was going to occur including the location and time of day. My student believed the message she was being given but was so distraught, she didn’t know what to do with the information. She didn’t want to scare her brother, but she knew she needed to convey the message. So, within two days of receiving the message she told her brother about the dream and cautioned him not to drive this certain route for a while. He listened but didn’t take the dream seriously. Five days later he died while driving his car in the exact place the dream message predicted.  

My student carried great guilt about this and we worked together to help her process her grief. She eventually came to terms with the fact that because we have free will, she couldn’t stop what was happening, she could only convey the message.  

This was a traumatic message dream, and in most cases, the message being conveyed is helpful and uplifting to the dreamer or the person it is meant for. It usually provides insight or wisdom that the dreamer is unaware of. In fact, I had such a dream like this a couple weeks ago:

I am having a telepathic conversation with author and world-renowned intuitive, Sonia Choquette. She has 40 years of experience as a spiritual teacher and written 27 books. In my dream she is acknowledging that I am having difficulty defining what this next chapter of my looks like. I’m closely listening to her as she instructs me, telepathically: “look for the CLUES in your life.” As she communicates this an antique-colored map that resembles an old-fashioned treasure map appears and I see that it contains the path I have been walking this lifetime. As I look more closely, I see that certain life experiences are highlighted. I realize these are the “clues” she is referring to.   

Upon waking, I begin using “Dream Inquiry,” a process I created to understand dreams more deeply. Inquiry with this dream entailed asking myself about the highlighted life experiences on the “map” appearing in my dream:

What nourishes my soul?  

What brings my soul to life?  

What energizes my core, gives me strength, lifts me up and inspires me/

What calls my attention and what brings out the best in me?

How do I best express my soul’s desire?  

And what does my soul need right now to feel most alive?

These are probes I have asked throughout my life but not in a very long time. This dream was a powerful reminder that to gain clarity about this chapter of my life, I need to mindfully answer the above questions because they are the “clues” Sonia encouraged me to look for. This dream is significant and one worth working with and paying attention to!

In Part Two of “Visitation” dreams we are going to look at “Reassurance” dreams which occur when a loved one appears during times of change, loss, or letting go.  

Namaste,

Laura Grace, PhD

Why Dreams About WATER Are So Significant

How many times has WATER appeared in your dreams? Probably a lot! Water represents your emotions. Dreams of water reflect how you feel about your life each day, particularly when you are experiencing some form of change.  

Water is a symbol of the elixir of life. We use water to cleanse our bodies. We drink water to quench our thirst. Our adult bodies are comprised of 60% water. We must have water to survive.

And water changes form. It can be soft, like the gentle waves lapping against the bank of a small pond. Water can be strong, as when ocean waves crash against the seashore and change the formation of rocks. Water can be impenetrable such as when it freezes and turns to ice.

And each of these forms of water depict your current emotional state.  If ice appears in your night time dreams, notice if you are feeling indifferent, flat or shut down. There may be ‘frozen emotions’ lurking beneath the surface.  

When water shows up in your dreams pay attention! Psyche is bringing information into your awareness about how you’re feeling in ways that you are not conscious of in waking life. For example, you may be going through a relationship break-up and think you are feeling “fine.” But then, you dream about you and your ex walking on a beach along the ocean and next thing you know, a tsunami appears and begins to crash itself over you and your ex, dragging you out into the ocean. You thought you were “fine” but your dreams are painting a vastly different picture.

What happens when you are unaware of your feelings? They tend to come out sideways, which means someone around may get hit with your pain, anger, anxiety, or fear. Or you may push your feelings down and ignore them which can lead to an illness, addiction, depression and so forth. 

WATER dreams differ from other dreams in that the FEELINGS are prominent. Dr. ErnestHartmann, known for his dream and sleep disorder research, refers to these as “tidal wave dreams.” Hartmann found a correlation between our waking life upset and the intensity of emotions during dreamtime.

In my own experience, I have had many dreams where the emotions were KEY to understanding the deeper message. Frankly, I believe that the emotional energy in dreams is often downplayed. Many experts focus on dream images and themes. And too often, a dream is analyzed an intellectual process leaving the feelings in the dust. 

How Water Appears in Your Dreams is Significant.  

What is the SIZE of the body of water?

What does the water LOOK like? Is it cloudy, clear, muddy, frozen?

How DEEP is the water? The deeper the water the more you’re penetrating the unconscious realm.

The sea is a classic symbol of the depths of the unconscious and the unknown, untapped or fearful aspects you hold within the psyche.

What is HAPPENING with the water? 

To dream of stormy seas may reflect an emotional crisis in your life. As you process this dream and your feelings about what is happening, you may notice that a little while later, you dream about sailing on an ocean that has become calm. This is representative of the emotional growth that you have achieved.

The Alchemy of Water

Water depicts the power to ignite an alchemical transformation. We know that our emotions produce chemical reactions in our bodies. Transformation means change, change means letting go, and letting go often requires some degree of grief. Water often depicts grief. I believe that we are greatly deprived of grief-work. Psychologist James Hillman, who studied with Carl Jung in the 1950s, delved deeply into dreams and believed so strongly in the need to keep our emotions balanced that he allowed himself to grieve thirty minutes every day. Water represents tears that need to be released. Emotional tears shed hormones and other toxins which accumulate during stress. Grieving during dreamtime is one way that psyche expresses itself so healing can occur. When water appears in your dreams, ask: “What emotional weight or burden am I carrying that needs to be released?”

In all ancient folklore, water often reveals an initiation into a process of self-discovery. Keep in mind: WATER in dream time is always a gift to help you become more aware of what you are FEELING, which is why dreams about water are so significant.

Pursuit Dreams: Taking Your Power Back

Pursuit dreams are a common dream theme. And they are anxiety-provoking. Why? Because we feel powerless. Thankfully, dreams provide a sensory channel to process feelings of powerlessness in a safe manner. This is significant since anxiety is a common feeling in dreamtime and an important reason for dreaming. Dreams are a profound vehicle for processing anxiety, being pursued, chased, or attacked while our ego sleeps and the unconscious takes center stage.  

Being Chased

An animal, person or disturbing character chasing us is a classic pursuit dream that can morph into a nightmare. Psychologically, what pursues us in dreams is a representation of our “Shadow”. Our Shadow, like its name, carries the aspects of ourselves we perceive as “dark,” unacceptable and unwanted, thus we tend not to see that it is part of us. In dreamtime, the Shadow often manifests in the form of animals or people.

Ask yourself, “Who or what is chasing me?” Am I running away from something in waking life I need to face?” This could be an addiction such as sex, drugs, prescription medications, food, alcohol, tobacco, exercise, shopping, working, relationships, perfection, gambling, stealing, video games, Internet, and TV. Or is there a person you are avoiding from fear of conflict, judgement, retaliation, or rejection?

Speaking your truth, facing a fear, healing a relationship, confronting your shadow are some of the reasons a pursuer appears. Many years ago, I used to dream of a shadowy male figure chasing me and trying to break into my bedroom window or front door. These dreams were incredibly frightening and it took a long while before I realized they were about the integration of my animus (male aspect). My pursuer reflected the internal conflict I was feeling about men and issues of safety. Having felt powerless around certain male figures while growing up, I was angry, fearful, and resisted accepting and embracing my inner masculine side. It was affecting my relationship with my husband so I committed myself to becoming curious and understanding this shadow figure. Learning to integrate this aspect of me meant being more assertive, taking action, and becoming the leader of my life. This became a significant part of my hero’s journey and over time, the figure shifted from being dark and shadowy to a positive male that was nurturing, kind and affectionate.

Being pursued or attacked means it is time to stop running and face our inner fears.

Who is ‘after’ you? A person, shadow figure, animal, or some other disturbing figure? The type of character is key. Ask yourself: Who is showing up now? Though it appears the drama is outside of us, it is actually happening within us. Again, notice if there is someone in your life you are feeling overpowered by. You may be giving your power away to a boss, partner, co-worker, friend, or family member. Remember, anyone we blame for our unhappiness is someone we are giving our power to.

Pursuit dreams can make you feel anxious, but they are gifts pointing to your growth and expansion as you strive toward wholeness.

Namaste.

PS

If you are interested in seeing the video that corresponds to this blog, check it out here.

Relapse Dreams: Why am I dreaming of using when I’m sober?

Dreams of relapsing often rear their head when we least expect it. As upsetting as they may feel, they can be an integral part of the recovery process. Research reveals that relapse dreams emerge even when a person appears to be doing well in a recovery program. No matter how awful these dreams feel while dreaming them and upon waking, they are very beneficial. It’s psyche giving us feedback about our progress. They tend to appear more often in the early days of sobriety, but I’ve seen them arise in people who have been sober for many years.

Relapse dreams often stem from stress. But they can also be a sign to pay particular attention to your recovery process as the following dream reveals:

My partner is sitting on the couch and tells me had a dream about drinking. I am deeply concerned and tell him this means his sobriety is in serious  jeopardy, I know, because it’s happened to me many times. He blows it off. I get very serious and tell him he has to look at this dream and address it. I look outside and it’s  dark and foggy. I point to it: “See outside, how dark and gray it is? This means you need to go within and look at how your dream is telling you how close you are to drinking again.” He still blows me off.

So, I get on top of him, grab his shirt and tell him: “This is really serious. If you don’t look at this, I am going to have to LEAVE YOU!” As I say this, I can smell his breath and it’s foul and I notice his teeth are brown and caked with plaque. I awake feeling incredibly anxious.

The dreamer is worried about her partner relapsing, so it’s important she look at the relationship with her partner and assess if he, or she, is losing commitment to sobriety. It would be helpful for her to look at how their recovery process is going and if their current approach is working. In addition, her partner is also representing her Animus, her masculine aspect. So, she might pay particular attention to her daily activities, responsibilities, and stress levels. Perhaps she’s feeling more pressure than usual from her busy life. If so, the dream may be indicating that she needs finding more balance in her life so she doesn’t crave using alcohol to relax at the end of the day. She needs to find healthy ways that bring about calmness like going for a walk, drinking a cup of “Calm” (magnesium which relaxes the body), taking a hot bath with Epsom salts (more magnesium), listening to uplifting music, journaling, creating a peaceful space for herself, etc.  

If you’re dreaming of relapsing, don’t panic. Practice the following approach:  

  1. Examine your thoughts (without judgment)

Look at what you were thinking about during the day. Did you have thoughts about using? Were you feeling cravings? Tempted? Are you feeling afraid that you might relapse or turn to something else that doesn’t serve you?

  • Observe your current commitment to sobriety

How committed are you? Are you consciously working your recovery process, whether that be a 12-Step program, an online support group, or sober coaching program? There are so many amazing recovery options to choose from these days. Just in the realm of alcohol addiction there are leaders like Annie Grace from This Naked Mind, Holly Whittaker founder of Tempest, Chris Scott founder of Fit Recovery, the list goes on and on. Reflect on how committed you are to remaining sober. Even if you’ve been sober for many years, it’s important you don’t take your recovery for granted. If you quit cold turkey without any kind of support, you might want to consider that these dreams, if they are recurring, may be signaling a need for a process that better fits your needs.

  • Become aware of your stress level

On a scale from 1-10, 10 being high, what is your stress number today? Stress is a common trigger for relapse dreams. If you are experiencing higher than normal stress, what can you do to reduce it right now?

  • Practice patience while developing new pathways in your brain

Finally, relapse dreams may simply be telling you that you are on the right path but it’s going to take time. When we’re drinking or using drugs (this goes for food, too), we create neural pathways in the brain which creates habits and in turn, becomes part of our addictive behaviors. Once we stop using, we need to create new neural pathways in the brain based on sober choices. And this can only be done by taking positive action repeatedly. Where you may have poured yourself a glass of wine at 5pm, now you are pouring some steaming hot water into a cup with a bag of chamomile tea.

Remember, recovery isn’t just about letting go of a substance, it’s much, much more…it’s the pathway back to your true Self.

If you want to see a video about this blog, check it out here: https://youtu.be/gdSWTTuikfE

Relationship Beginnings and Endings, Part Two

Relationship Beginnings and Endings, Part Two

All of us desire to feel loved, wanted and accepted for who we are. Science-based research, ancient spiritual wisdom, and evolutionary psychology teach us that at the root of all suffering—emotional and physical—is a lack of feeling loved and accepted for who we are, both from others and within ourselves. More often than not, people try to love us, but for various reasons, we have created barriers to love which are hidden in the unconscious. Nonetheless, our desire for authentic connection runs deep. As I wrote in ‘Relationship Beginnings and Endings, Part One,’ maintaining authentic love and intimacy in long-term relationship requires differentiation. And the Greek figure that best depicts this is Thanatos, the god of death. Thanatos may appear in your life in different forms. One is the feeling of stagnancy in your relationship. You care about each other but it seems you are both just going through the motions, co-existing as it were. Couples at this stage often say they feel like ‘brother and sister’ (or, in gay relationships ‘sisters’ or ‘brothers’) and there is no intensity. “Is this all there is?” is frequently asked inwardly but not shared with the partner or spouse.

One of the ways Thanatos is most recognizable is during our night-time dreams. For example, a woman may dream about a man or her partner which represents her animus, her inner male aspect, where she is trying to pull away or escape from him. Rather than trying to connect with him as in dreams of Eros, she wants to replace him in the driver’s seat. She may dream of living alone or even wanting to destroy her animus. More literal dreams may appear where she is leaving her partner or expressing anger toward him in a series of dreams. During waking time, she may fantasize of leaving the relationship, moving away, opening herself to meeting someone new, and so forth. As always, feelings are key. Irritation, anger, resentment, confusion, fear—these emotions are pointing the way to what psyche and soul are trying to communicate. Her anger is a symptom of a deeper issue; if she is denying Thanatos and the need for differentiation, her resentment will grow either toward her partner or herself depending upon her ability to access her feelings and express them. Following is an example of a male dreamer dreaming about Thanatos:

I am with an attractive woman and we are in a large outdoor park, like Yellowstone, or a similar environment. We are hiking and it is a gray day and cold. She is standing at the edge of a cliff looking down at the ravine below. I am behind her and have the urge to push her off the cliff. It’s something I have been considering for a while. As I approach her someone yells from behind me and stops me. I awake feeling ashamed and confused.

In waking life, after having been married for eighteen years to the love of his life, this dreamer was struggling. He had cultivated a successful career and desired more time on his own to express his creative side through photography, writing poetry and painting. However, he and his wife were used to spending most of their time together when they were not working. He was worried she would feel neglected if he carved out time for himself, especially because he worked so many hours. So he kept his feelings to himself and his resentment grew. Until they came to counseling, he didn’t know his wife was experiencing similar feelings. Although her desire for alone time was not as strong as his, she had been fantasizing about traveling to new places, without him.  She felt telling him about her needs would cause him to feel insecure or threaten the relationship so she said nothing.

In reality, this couple desired something that was not only healthy but would help take their relationship to the next level: emotionally, intellectually, spiritually and creatively. By giving himself permission to create, the man would feed his soul and develop more of his feeling function thereby enhancing his anima qualities. Likewise, the woman allowing herself to travel to new places—without her husband—would help her strengthen her animus aspects: independence, inner strength, courage, action.

Thanatos does not mean a relationship is dying, quite the opposite. It is a primary opportunity for the soul to be heard and to communicate one’s needs in an honest, loving, respectful manner, and then, to make the necessary changes to accommodate each other’s requests.

The strength of the anima and animus reflects the inner marriage, or hieros gamos, the stabilizing of masculine and feminine aspects, a significant part of our journey toward individuation.

Namaste.

Relationship Beginnings, Endings and Differentiation

Relationships Beginnings, Endings and Differentiation, Part One

Image result for shadow pics of couples

February is the month we celebrate love, joy and the passion that stems from an intimate relationship, qualities especially apparent in a new relationship. Most love songs seem to be filled with lyrics about the arc of passion that brings two people together, symbolized by the power of Eros. However, at the other end of the love-song-spectrum are lyrics about the painful ending of a special relationship.  Enter Thanatos, the god of death. Yes, most of us are familiar with the magnetic pull of Eros and the passion we feel when we fall in love, but who is Thanatos? Thanatos is equally as powerful and important but often overlooked. It is the shadow side of Eros. Frequently misunderstood, people rarely want to look at this Greek mythological figure, the god of death. But having worked for years with couples in therapy, I see Thanatos as a misunderstood cry for differentiation.

If you are in a long-term relationship, you know how important it becomes to create space for yourself and each other as the relationship evolves.  Differentiating is the healthy way to be independent within a partnership.  This means setting boundaries, spending time apart to nurture our soul, delving into creative projects or activities that fulfill us, and allowing our partner the same freedoms. When we don’t recognize the need to differentiate or believe there is something “wrong” with the relationship, we are denying the qualities of Thanatos.

While counseling clients I have witnessed numerous times when Thanatos has reared his head. And frequently, couples believe that because they want more space or time apart from their partner, it must mean one or both of them want out. Eros appears to have died and passion has been replaced with our partner’s flaws. Instead of wanting to be with them, we desire more and more time away and alone.

Image result for couples letting go of hands

If left unrecognized, this is often when the relationship becomes confusing, the couple experiences disillusionment, and/or a breakdown or uncoupling begins. It may feel like the relationship is dying, and part of it is. But that does not mean you need to uncouple, rather it signifies that the way things have been going are no longer working. Passion has been replaced with complacency and taking each other for granted. Change is required so the partnership can move to the next level. From this perspective, Thanatos signifies a new beginning.

Dr. Carl G. Jung, the founder of depth psychology, believed that how we behave stems from the result of the different way we use our mental capacities. From this concept, Isabel Briggs Myers created the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. This instrument has been used for many years and helps people clarify his or her basic personality type. The “intuitive-feeling” person relates deeply to the Romeo-Juliet archetype and the idea of falling madly, deeply in love with his or her soulmate. These personality types are particularly sensitive the power of Eros and crazily happy when experiencing the beginning throes of a relationship. However, when Thanatos begins to creep in, this personality type often experiences distress. Where did my beloved go?!  Desiring time apart may feel opposite from earlier days and therefore, the relationship must be doomed.

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Yet, Eros is impossible to experience without Thanatos.  Thanatos represents a time in the relationship to honor the distancing, confusion and estrangements as a meaningful progression toward expanding the relationship.  It allows Eros to become renewed and remain alive. Therefore, this is a crucial time to individually expand within the relationship, as well as stretch the comfort zone of the relationship itself. This critical juncture can lead to death of the relationship, or, to two people learning to differentiate which can lead to individuation. Strong communication and creative ways to support the changes are required. Patience and trust that growth is occurring is also helpful.

In Part Two, we will look at how Thanatos shows up in dream time. Stay tuned! And to watch a short interview about this topic, check out the interview I recently had with professional coach and story-teller, Zette Harbour. Namaste.

The Illuminating Realm of Spiritual Dreams

Read by Dr. Laura Grace

The Illuminating Realm of Spiritual Dreams by Laura V Grace, PhD (This article originally appeared at SoulfulLiving.com)

Photo credit: Ingmar at Unsplash

Spiritual dreams are unmistakable. This type of dream leaves you feeling inspired, motivated, whole and at peace. Spiritual dreams create the greatest transformative impact out of all the dreams you will ever have. They stand out and are rarely forgotten. Imbued with distinct characteristics, they leave an indelible mark on your heart and soul. In fact, it’s not uncommon to glean incredible insight from this type of dream, information that will assist you in various areas throughout the rest of your life. Spiritual dreams give your life new meaning and offer a higher perspective on life in general. They are most likely to occur during the following times in your life:

  • Before a significant change.
  • Prior to, or as you’re experiencing a shift in perception about yourself and your life.
  • After a commitment to something meaningful has been expressed and is genuinely being pursued.
  • Following a major loss or change.
  • When becoming more aware of yourself, your circumstances, your life.
  • During emotional and spiritual breakthroughs, e.g., taking a class, attending therapy, practicing yoga or meditation.
  • During a recovery process.

Your Spiritual Energy Centers

Another way to distinguish a spiritual dream from other dreams is to notice if the dream pertains to one of the spiritual energy centers. These involve both the endocrine system (Western) and chakras (Eastern). There are seven key energy centers:

Seventh Center: Crown Chakra (Prayer Center), Color: Violet, Planet: Jupiter. Being attuned to our divinity, Nature, and having a sense of oneness with other living beings on the planet dwell within the crown chakra. The energy that aligns with this chakra is a strong sense of “I AM”.

Sixth Center: Third Eye Chakra (Intuition), Color: Indigo, Planet: Mercury. Our ability to use our intuitive and imagination along with our dreams and fantasies reside in this chakra. Light is the element and the affirmation is “I SEE.”

Fifth Center: Throat Chakra (Communication), Color: Blue, Planet: Uranus. Our ability to clearly express ourselves, to giving voice to what matters most and expressing our creativity are core aspects of this chakra. Sound is the element and the affirmation is “I SPEAK.”

Fourth Center: Heart Chakra (Giving and Receiving Love), Color: Green, Planet: Venus. Our ability to express compassion, empathy, joy and love toward ourselves and others resides within this chakra. Air is the element and the affirmation is “I LOVE.”

Third Center: Solar Plexus Chakra (Personal Power, Sense of Self), Color: Yellow, Planet: Mars. This chakra centers embodies personal power, choices, and self-motivation. Fire is the element and this chakra resonates to “I CAN.” 

Second Center: Sacral Chakra, Lower Abdomen Chakra (Relationship with Others), Color: Orange, Planet: Neptune. This chakra resides in the pelvic region and reflects sexuality, pleasure, procreativity. Water is the element and the affirmation is “I CREATE.”

First Center: Root Chakra (Tribal Belonging), Color: Red, Planet: Saturn. This chakra sits at the base of the spine and symbolizes survival and belonging. Earth is the element and this chakra allows us to feel grounded and secure. “I BELONG” and “I MATTER” is how this chakra is best expressed.

How do the chakras help us understand our dreams? Here is an example of a woman who was ending a long-term relationship and had a dream involving both the heart and crown energy centers.

DREAM:

I am playing with a boy I used to know when I was a child, around 4 or 5 years old. We are standing on top of a hill and as I look down, I see a pond near the base of the hill and colorful fish are in it. I notice a purple one that stands out because it is such an unusual color for a fish. We are taking turns running up the hill and the 4th and final time I run up it, I look out onto the field that the hill stands on and see the sun and a full moon. I am amazed to see both planets shining so brightly in the sky at the same time! As I watch in wonder, the moon slides down toward the sun and the sun moves up toward the moon. As I keep watching, they are now completely aligned. I yell to my friend to come join me so he can see this incredible sight.  When I wake up, I feel light and more optimistic and notice the clock says 4:14am. This is the exact time of my birth.  

Photo credit: Sjna on Unsplash

From this woman’s dream we see a few significant dream images: small hill, childhood friend, pond, purple fish, sun, and moon. In waking life, this person shared how she was in the middle of a divorce. It was causing her a great deal of grief and depression. In fact, she shared how at one point, she felt so low she was considering suicide. Her family encouraged her to begin working with a therapist. A short while later, she felt inspired to deepen her spiritual life and began to study Buddhism.

If we break this dream down, it makes sense playing a game of running up the hill represents her ascension out of the darkness and into the light. It also reflects her ability to view her life from a higher perspective. Engaging in play with an old friend from childhood symbolizes her desire for childlike “play” in her adult life. Water often signifies emotions and the spiritual realm. In the pond we find a purple fish swimming about. Looking at the energy centers, we see purple or “violet” is the crown chakra, a place where we align with our higher self, send prayers, and experience meditation. Sun and moon are powerful archetypes signifying “Sol” the masculine aspect and “Luna” the feminine divine aspects of Self. When aligned they represent the highest most divine marriage of the Anima (feminine) and Animus (masculine). As this person took steps forward to end her waking life marriage, psyche was showing her on a soul level, she was coming into more wholeness. As challenging as the journey was, it’s no wonder she awoke feeling inspired and optimistic!

Photo Credit: istock

Your body provides means of communication for your soul. At the same time, your spiritual body allows you to experience higher levels of consciousness and the capacity to attain mastery over the physical realm. The connecting point for these two bodies is the spiritual centers. Through meditation, you can learn to balance the energy that flows between these centers. 

Dreams can show you the different levels of awareness through symbols and themes. For example, a dream of a wise old man and the number seven may be telling you that you are dreaming at the seventh level of awareness, the crown chakra. Or, dreaming of the color yellow and of some type of fire may suggest that there is some attunement needed in your third spiritual center. Notice any chakra elements that surface during dreamtime, such as water or light. These can help you identify what energy center your dream is communicating to you and where there may be an imbalance. 

Put it into Practice using Dream Inquiry

Check your dream journal and choose a dream that “calls” to you. Take a few moments to answer the questions below.

  • Are there any spiritual dream symbols?
  • Do any colors stand out?
  • What emotions are present? 
  • Which energy center is showing up?
  • Do you see any imbalances the dream is pointing to?
  • Can you see how your dream is providing numerous clues, enhancing your awareness, and supporting you in moving forward purposefully with love, strength, and grace? 

Spiritual dreams appear the least of any dream type, so when you have one, pay particular attention to it. Allow yourself to sink into the feelings of well-being as long as possible. During waking life, letting go of past resentments, opening your heart, practicing gratitude and self-forgiveness can also inspire spiritual dreams.

Namaste,

Laura

To watch the video that accompanies this blog:

Dreaming of Eros: god of Passion

Dreaming of Eros: god of PASSION, October 2020 ( This article originally appeared at SoulfulLiving.com)

Amid a serious pandemic and 2020 political election, it is not surprising that many people are dreaming about catching the virus, natural disasters, even Armageddon. But at the other end of the spectrum, I am also witnessing people dreaming about Eros, the god of Inner Love. Eros literally means “desire for that which is missing.” Eros is passion, beauty and often manifests in dreamtime as the lover archetype. And so, it makes perfect sense, that during this time of social distancing, anxiety, and uncertainty, many of us hunger for the beloved, for that which brings fulfillment and authentic connection.

Here is a recent dream a female client had about Eros:

It’s dark outside but the moonlight is casting light onto the road I’m walking on. There is a dark-haired man coming toward me and I find him extremely attractive. As he gets closer, I see he has a sword inside a sheave, hanging from his belt down and it’s dangling down the side of his right leg. Despite the sword, I am unafraid yet curious. He seems familiar but I do not know for sure if I know this man. He’s looking right at me and recognizes me. He seems glad to see me. There is a pavilion close to where we are standing and I notice a white bird perched on the roof of the pavilion, watching me. I notice the moonlight highlights the bird’s wings. I want to embrace the man but am worried he may not want me to. For some reason, I feel the need to apologize for not having seen him for so long, for neglecting him. He looks at me but says nothing. I reach out to touch his arm and as I do, the white bird screeches and takes off into the night sky. My yearning to hug this man is getting stronger but I fear he will reject me. When I wake up, I am missing this man and still longing for him.

Permission by Craig Magnum

If we delve into this dream, we notice the dream occurs at nighttime, revealing the dreamer’s lack of awareness about her need for passion in waking life. Moonlight is streaming down, symbolizing “Luna,” the embodiment of the divine feminine. Eros appearing as an attractive man, is the dreamer’s Animus (male aspect) while the sword depicts the aliveness, strength and sensual delight Eros brings to our life. There is a sense of familiarity about him and the dreamer feels guilty for having neglected him for so many years, signifying her ignoring her own needs and desires. The bird’s wings, highlighted by moonlight, are a universal symbol of Eros. It waits and watches to see if she will open her heart to this man, flying away once she finally reaches out to him. The dreamer desires to rekindle the connection, not sexually, but heart-to-heart. In her waking life, we discussed the emptiness she was feeling from isolating during the pandemic and being overly focused on the political arena. There was no joy, no passion, she felt barren. Thus, Eros began flooding her dreams. She said she always awoke wanting more.

When Eros appears all our senses are aroused. We are filled with the same aliveness that we feel in the beginning of an intimate relationship; colors appear brighter, aromas smell intoxicating, and every-day oozes with the nectar of life. In dreamtime, Eros gives us vital life force energy. In our relationships, Eros provides the embers which feed our connection; without it, we feel barren, disconnected, and wondering, “Where did the passion go?” I’ve counseled numerous couples who still love one another but are deeply missing the beginning arc of passion that brought them together. Sometimes this leads to projecting our inner Eros onto a human being which leads to problems. “If we mistake a human lover for our Inner Lover,” writes Stephen Aizenstat, “we can experience even the slightest of criticisms as rejection by Eros.”

If Eros shows up in your nighttime dreams, or even waking dreams or fantasies, ask yourself: What brings me passion? Eros appears to remind us of the desire we long for in our lives. Whether we feel passionate about a project, a new role, or an exciting relationship, Eros’s presence beckons us to live life as fully as we possibly can—even amidst a pandemic. In ancient Greek times, the Greeks did not focus on writing obituaries when someone died. They only asked the question: Did he or she have passion?

Do you like this post? Feel free to share! If you wish to watch the recent video about this blog, please check it out HERE. Or sign up for my YouTube channel and enjoy all the other videos about nighttime dreams. To read more about the powerful wisdom contained in your nighttime dreams, check out my Blog.

Namaste.