I began my inner journey in 1980 when I read “The Other Side of Silence: A Guide to Christian Meditation” by Morton Kelsey, attended a Progoff Journaling Workshop, and had the life-changing experience of listening in person to Robert A. Johnson as he described how to work with our dreams. My spiritual director at the time said, “Once you are on this path, you can never get off!” He was right!
Through the years I have read almost everything written by Johnson, but I keep returning to his foundational suggestions for doing “dream work.” What follows is based on my original hand-written notes from Johnson’s presentation (I treasure that piece of paper!) and his book “Inner Work.”
Inner work is simply the process of paying attention to the internal unconscious world. We can either do our inner work as a conscious journey or symptomatically as neurosis. Which would you choose?! Working with our dreams is part of the conscious inner path.
Don’t be reluctant to enter the world of your dreams. Whether you believe dreams are messages from God, the brain in house-cleaning mode, or important information from the unconscious mind, the trip will be fascinating and growth-producing.
FIRST we record and date our dreams, no matter how brief or fleeting the memory. Think of your dreams as something you should know but don’t—a “correction,” if you will.
SECOND make personal associations to every important word or image or symbol in the dream. Especially note colloquial or ancient word usages. (Note—the dreaming brain loves to pun!) Watch for associations with emotional impact, for the feeling of “this clicks.”
THIRD ask yourself, “What part of me is of that quality?” Try to recall a recent example, setting the dream down in the context of your external life.
FOURTH ask yourself, what does this dream mean to me? If you get stuck, imagine that the dream is advocating for you to fulfill its story or the opposite of its story.
FINALLY take some conscious action. Why? This allows you to participate in the dialogue between the conscious and the unconscious minds. Unconscious psychological complexes, when identified, give up their energy to consciousness.
Curious about a specific dream? A repetitive dream? Your capacity for “lucid dreaming?” The neurobiological process involved in dreaming? Contact me for a session focusing on dream analysis, and/or pick up one of the following books.
May you have interesting dreams!
- The Mind At Night by Andrea Rock
- Inner Work by Robert A. Johnson
- Dreams: God’s Forgotten Language by John A. Sanford
- Lucid Dreaming by Stephen LaBerge
- Dream Work by Jeremy Taylor
- The Dreaming Brain by J. Allan Hobson
- Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker