When we work with dreams we often believe that insight is enough – this is also true in many other areas. Our assumption is that “conscious knowing” is the magic pill which will produce change. We often use the term ‘dream interpretation’ as an indication as to what to do with our dreams. Rarely do we use the term ‘dream action’ when we think and speak about our dreaming life.
The reality is that insight is only a small part of the equation, where dreams are almost always a call to action. If we do not act on the message of the dream, a golden opportunity will remain barren and infertile. When we have a relationship with our unconscious and are able to keep ego to one side, the unconscious will invariably tell us what to do next.
Consider the following dream snippets from my own life as a way to illustrate. These occurred on successive nights and although brief, they give a good indicator of what the next step is. The context of the dream snippets is that they occurred after a few weeks of deliberation about where to go with the book I am working on. The book felt/feels close but there is also a feeling of not quite right. Here are the snippets:
- I am handwriting my book, the book is written on very old and large paper (larger than A4) with beautiful handwriting.
- I am writing my book and each word being written has a feeling of love connected to it. Each letter of each word is beautiful. Someone whispers, “the secret to writing a book is to pour love into it”.
As is the case with all dreams there are many layers within these snippets. For example, the word “old”, may be a good pointer to how I feel about growing older which may be just as important to work through. But for the purposes of this example, I would like to look at what I consider to be the most important message of the dream – the one that for now is the best fit.
To begin with let’s try and understand the main message of the dream snippets. The first part of the first snippet “I am handwriting my book” …
We could understand this in the context that handwriting is usually conceived as a more personal type of writing. In a fashion the dream is asking me to take a more personal approach to my writing. The snippet goes on to indicate that the writing occurs on very old and large paper. The sense that I had was that the writing was occurring on papyrus and the further connection was that it was similar to the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Here we see a spiritual component entering the dream, but I must also be careful to not let ego get involved. The danger here would be to see it that I am writing the book as a message from God, which of course is about as ego driven as it gets! Instead I might consider what those images mean to me. The Dead Sea Scrolls are a source of beauty and wonder for me. I particularly like some of the passages from The Gospel of Thomas – very beautiful in some passages.
The last part of the first snippet seems to back up and reinforce the above. The handwriting is beautiful, and the association is with gold, as if the lettering was in gold. Beauty here is coming to the fore. In real life, when I write something by hand it is closer to a scribble which is almost illegible to others, though I can understand it. The snippet then is also asking me to be clear. Yes make it beautiful but make it clear enough so that others understand it.
The second snippet is of a similar vein. It does however bring in a new component, that of love. In the dream itself I felt very loving as I was writing. The last line is interesting. It is something obvious, yet usually is overlook in life, because often we do not do things with love. Most people do things in a dissociated and disinterested manner. But the dream here is very succinct and very precise. It is stating a secret! To me it is more akin to an open secret – something that we overlook but is entirely obvious when indeed we do look.
The main themes then of the dream snippets are love and beauty. Great so I have this insight, but now what? How does that actually help me? We might say the book has to be written with love and in beauty. But again we might well ask, what does this actually mean?
What the dream is asking me to do is to get into a very particular state of being when writing the book. This state is one of love and beauty. The action component of the dream is to find ways in daily life to get into that state and write from there. So I might look at music which initiates that state, meditative states and so on. The dream becomes very practical in that there is working to do in daily life.
It is this component of the dream which is often overlooked – the call to action. It is the call which provides the solution. The solution is not necessarily easy, but it is something that we should follow and see where it leads without expectation. It is hard to not have expectations. For example, I might assume that the book will finish because I am able to get into loving states of being. But in fact, it may well not do, it might just be part of a larger process that has not yet come to consciousness and that is ok. Thinking process rather than outcome is always an effective way to be.
Asking yourself, “what does the dream want me to do in my day to day life?” may facilitate an understanding about the call to action component of the dream.