Recognizing & Transforming Your Limiting Patterns

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Recognizing & Transforming Your Limiting Patterns

By recognizing your limitations, you heighten your self-awareness and awaken to the realms of mystery and soul. Since dreams emerge from the unconscious and speak the language of the soul, whenever you pay attention to the deeper message in your dreams, you enhance your connection to soul. Playwright and novelist, Marsha Norman, once wrote, “Dreams are illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you.”

“Soul” differs from “spirit.” James Hillman, an American psychologist who studied at the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich explains how “spirit is fast” and ascends in a vertical direction. He compares it to a straight arrow, “knife sharp, powder dry, and phallic.” In contrast to spirit, he speaks of the soul and its connection to the moon, the realm of the dead and dreams of the night. Soul can be experienced in the muddy, mucky waters we must sometimes wade through in life and the messiness that comes with growth. Our dreams speak soul-language which is why they are not easy to understand. Soul communicates with images that are imbued with importance and symbolism. Like poetry, in order to relish it we must dip beneath the surface and dive into its deeper meaning. Emerson once said, “Every word was once a poem” and this is true with dreams; every image was once a story of the soul.

A personal example of how dreams reveal our limiting patterns and awaken us to our highest potential is illustrated in a dream I had while going through a significant reinvention. For some clarity and support, I enlisted the help of a professional coach. After our first session, I had the following dream:

My coach and I are standing near the bottom of a hill that leads upward to a road. The hill is covered in snow. I am holding a silver ring with a large diamond in my right hand and I am not sure where it came from. A man pulls up in a car on the road above us and gets out. He is holding a small black pistol and is pointing it toward me. I am frightened and decide to hide the ring by pushing the diamond end into the snowy bank in front of us. My coach says something to the man. He puts his gun away and I am relieved yet concerned about finding the ring I just hid in the snow.

Issues of prosperity, self-worth, and the shadow and light side of my masculine aspects emerge from this dream. Let’s unpack this dream:

  • Snow covered hill: frozen emotions, unconscious perceptions, thoughts and feelings.
  • Ring: connection with Source, infinity.
  • Diamond: multi-faceted, strong, beautiful, valuable, inner gifts and talents.
  • Man with gun: masculine shadow aspect, threatening, challenging my self-worth regarding my ability to create prosperity.
  • Coach: masculine light aspect, wise, supportive, fearless.

During my first coaching session we discussed the responsibility that comes with success and prosperity. I shared my belief that in order to generate success, I would have to give up my freedom and slave away all day long. Wealthy, successful people must be workaholics and though I was willing to exert positive energy, I was unwilling to “sacrifice” my happiness. This dream was a gift from psyche that clearly exposed the sacrificial belief living in the depths of my unconscious. Here are the pearls of wisdom:

(1) The dream begins with me standing at the bottom of a small hill that leads upward to a road. The hill symbolizes the effort I believe is required to overcome some repressed prosperity issues. Since the road is visible from the bottom of the hill, the issues I am facing are not insurmountable and my ability to overcome them are within reach.

(2) I am holding a silver ring with a large diamond and unsure where it came from. The diamond ring represents my strength and multi-faceted capacity for creating prosperity but am unaware that it’s okay to claim it as mine.

(3) I am afraid I am going to be hurt by the man with the gun who might steal my ring. The gunman is the conflicted part of me, challenging my self-worth for deserving abundance.

(4) I push the ring into the snow bank. Snow reflects frozen emotions and some unconscious fears I am carrying.

(5) My coach talks to the man which causes the man to put away his gun. This reveals the wise, intuitive aspect, the “voice of reason” reminding me of my abilities.

(6) The dream concludes with a concern for having hid the ring so well I may be unable to recover it. Here again,  issues of self-worth and sabotaging my success are being exposed.

 “Until you make the unconscious conscious,” Jung wrote, “it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” We don’t wish to see how clearly they reveal the truth about our vain imaginings and fragile ego self-concepts, dreams bust them apart. This dream brought unconscious belief patterns into my awareness so I could address them. That’s why dreams are so powerful; they continuously communicate messages from our unconscious to our conscious mind.

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

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Discovering Your Shadow in Dreamtime

 

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Discovering Your Shadow in Dreamtime

Dreams offer special gifts which help you with every issue you are facing in waking life and one of the most significant is discovering and reclaiming your Shadow.

Your shadow contains aspects of you that are unconscious or that you may have judged as “negative” or “bad.” (And also include positive traits that you have not yet acknowledged or accepted.) Discovering your shadow allows you to become aware of all aspects of self which leads to integration, wholeness, and individuation.  Jung viewed the individuation process as our ultimate goal. Individuation requires becoming conscious of our prima materia—the unconscious material that has been repressed so we may experience the alchemical process of transformation. Dreams provide the opportunity to witness the prima materia in ways that we are unable to experience during waking life. People who advance towards individuation tend to become harmonious, mature, responsible, and are aware of their connectedness to all things.

A personal example of prima materia entails a series of “snake” dreams I began having when I immersed myself in a doctoral program grounded in depth psychology and somatic studies. As I delved into the hidden realms of the unconscious, childhood trauma and attachment theory, “snake” dreams began to emerge. Having been terrified of snakes my entire life, I was confused about why they were showing up now? Were they trying to convey some aspect of me, (a thought that horrified me), or were they representing someone in my life, (almost as frightening)?

I sought advice from an instructor I deeply respected who advised, “Snakes sometime appear in dreams when there’s a misalignment in psyche. You’re on a new path that is triggering some old stuff, so write down your dreams and notice if they shift as you work through the course material.” So I did. His advice was spot on because the more I delved into the realm of the unconscious, the more snake surfaced during dreamtime. The more I remembered and re-witnessed childhood trauma, a myriad of snakes showed up—from black snakes with long red tongues to green diamond back rattlers. Somatic memories surfaced from the abuse and neglect I experienced during my developing years. This was the prima materia that had been buried and needed to surface so it could be re-experienced in a safe environment and transformed. Remaining dedicated to understanding my dreams and working with a somatic trauma therapist helped my snake dreams shift. As I moved through the trauma, “snake” evolved from something painful and frightening to an image that became my most powerful guide.

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, 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, the Wise Snake exited the realm of my dreams and hasn’t made an appearance since. Powerful, yes?

For more information on how to work with your dreams including practical ways to approach them, please check out my newest book, Dreams: Soul-Centered Living in the 21st Century at Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/Dreams-Soul-Centered-Psychological-Achieving-Transformation/dp/198503493X/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1526418154&sr=8-3&keywords=laura+v+grace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Intro to Your Nighttime Dreams

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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 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

GROW OR DIE: Reinventing Ourselves as We Evolve

Grow or Die: Reinventing Ourselves as We Evolve culs119369

As I concluded my interview at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, I walked around the campus and saw how the buildings sat uniquely between the mountains and the sea. When I commented on this, the faculty member replied, “Yes, healing sanctuaries are called Asclepions, dedicated to Asclepius, the god of healing and medicine. They were established throughout Greece, usually in settings of awe-inspiring natural beauty and scenic grandeur, and the ideal settings were between the mountains and the ocean just like our campus.”

That was the end of March, 2013. Today, I am less than two weeks away from beginning a doctoral program in Depth Psychology and Somatic Studies that will take me roughly five years to complete. After devoting myself to providing spiritual direction and healing the past twenty years, I am now adding another potent layer to that foundation which almost feels like a reinvention: intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, even physically.

Recent research shows the amount of women entering their “second act” and/or reinventing themselves is on the rise, especially for women over forty-five. Why? There are many reasons, from women who have experienced a significant change in their job, income or marriage, to women who are ready to stop taking care of others and ready to fulfill their soul’s deeper purpose.

And then, for others, like me, it’s quite simply: GROW OR DIE. It is said that an organism at a steady state is never closer to death. It’s the ultimate stagnation for our mind, body, spirit and soul. The definition of stagnant is “Not moving or flowing; motionless. Foul or stale from standing as in a stagnant pond. Showing little or no sign of activity or advancement; not developing or progressing.”

We either grow or we die.

Some people have questioned why I would make such a big commitment at this point in my life. And my response is: “I have years of life lessons that provide a strong foundation, and at this age, ‘If not now, when?’  Besides, the journey required to get there is what excites me the most. It will be soulful, demanding and spiritual—qualities that have always appealed to my deeper self. Yes, I’ll be 5 years older by the time I graduate, but I’m going to be 5 years older anyway, so why not pursue something I’m passionate about and attain my Ph.D. along the way?

Carrying unfulfilled dreams in our soul can be very painful. If you’re feeling stagnant or at a place where you are considering reinventing yourself, here are some thoughts to consider:

• After all of the life experiences you’ve had so far, what do you want more than anything right now? It may help to imagine fast forwarding to the end of your life and looking back. What does your soul need to feel that you lived life fully, richly, deeply? The trick is to release the opinions of others and identify what you truly want.

• Do you need to forgive yourself and others for the past? Resentments way us down and prevent us from moving forward. Take time to release yourself from regrets and past mistakes as well as what you perceive others have done to you.

• Accept that change is scary. Whether it’s “good” change or “bad” change, all change affects our nervous system and can be very challenging. Allow yourself to feel the fear, and then take action. Taking a step forward often alleviates the anxiety.

• Surround yourself with people who support your growth. “Wet blankets” dampen our spirit as much as our enthusiasm. When we are in a mode of change, we need all of the positive energy and support possible. Like a newborn, our new beginnings need to be protected and nurtured.

• Engage in self-care. During the process of reinvention, it is important to care for one’s self and to be compassionate during the transformation.

• Re-invent, Re-vitalize, Re-launch and keep going!