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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!