Dream Work

“The dream is a theater in which the dreamer is himself the scene, the player, the prompter, the producer, the author, the public and the critic.”

C.G. Jung, Collected Works 8:509

Whether you have spent many years collecting and scrutinizing your personal dreams or have only just begun to pay attention to your dreams, Therapeutic Writing techniques help you center down and reconsider these deepest thoughts and feelings.

Wake-you-up WOW dreams, Re-occurring Dreams, Run-of-the-mill everyday dreams, or even a tiny Dream Snippet could be a gold mine of personal meaning and possible guidance.

Dreams speak in a universal language of symbolic metaphor.

  • Language is only one way to approach a dream. Watch for an inner feeling, a new understanding, a memory or an expectation.
  • “Interpretation” is NOT the main goal! You do not have to understand the meaning in order to benefit.
  • Using dictionaries should be your last resort, not your first.
  • Remember your dreams!! The psyche will use other means to get your attention if you don’t listen to your dreams first.
  • Write your dreams down as soon as possible. Give each dream a title and include the date. Include the time of day if that seems significant too. Using a journal keeps your dreams in order.
  • Talk about the dream using the present tense as if it is happening now. Time and space are not the same in the dream.
  • See the dream as metaphor. It is symbolic rather than literal. Look both with a microscope up close at the personal level and with a telescope to see the mythical and universal. The dream is multi-leveled.
  • Look at the dream upside down and backwards. You may be seeing a mirror image. “Compensation” may appear exactly opposite. Look for the hidden or missing parts. The dream comes to help you find balance, the point of tension between two opposite poles.
  • Look for humor, word play, a catchy phrase that sums up the situation.
  • Take plenty of time. The first impression is usually what you already know. Dreams are ahead of consciousness. They don’t come to tell you what you already know. Some dreams are meant to be lived with for years- even a lifetime.
  • Share your dreams with care. Sharing a dream is exposing a precious, vulnerable part of yourself. Don’t let others spoil your images and messages.
  • Honor your dreams. Do something concrete -here and now – to symbolize the dream. Create a ritual.
  • Writing is a powerful tool for investigating your sleep-inspired dreams. Mysterious, funny, confusing, boring narratives – whether lengthy or brief – as well as emotionally packed dreams.

“Many and many a dream is mere confusion,
a cobweb of no consequence at all.
Two gates for ghostly dreams there are: one gateway
of honest horn, and one of ivory.
Issuing by the ivory gate are dreams
of glimmering illusion, fantasies,
but those that come through solid polished horn
may be borne out, if mortals only know them.”

Homer, The Odyssey, Lines 528-590

“Many dreams are natural poems. Others are pure story. Some are both… poetry writing leans heavily on the poet’s capacity to release images from inner worlds so that they can incarnate in bodies of word. This needs courage, honesty, integrity, and connection to a source of inner cohesion: the soul.”

Jill Mellick, The Natural Artistry of Dreams

“I started out to make a hasty list of poets to whom the dreamworld was important, and found immediately these names: Langland, Auden, Bishop, Merrill, Shelley, Swinburne, Robert Penn Warren, Mark Strand, John Donne… at which point I stopped to wonder if there were any poets who did not rely on this fertile source.”

Anthony Hecht, Night Errands: How Poets Use Dreams Ed. Roderick Townley

“The attempt to make prose sense of a dream subjects the dream to a grammatical logic that may be alien to the symbolic logic of the dreaming state, which is closer to poetry than prose.”

Marion Woodman, Addition to Perfection

“The poetic form of a dream simplifies, clarifies, and reaches for essence, creating something psychologically strong. The very act of putting the dream in poetic form allow for slowed-down, quiet, nonreactive meditation on the images. Dreams are often poems, and poems are often waking dreams. Let one form nourish the other.”

Jill Mellick, The Natural Artistry of Dream

“I don’t know the relationship between right brain and dreams, but I know when the analytical self, the left brain finally releases its grip on us and gets out of the way, the creative side of us, which often surfaces in sleep, comes to the fore and in its own playful and whimsical manner will solve many creative problems.”

Sue Grafton, Writers Dreaming, Ed. Naomi Epel

From the beginning of time, dreams have affected people’s thoughts and lives, and have been looked upon and studied with interest.

Although some people, especially creative and artistic individuals, have continued to treat their dreams with respect, after the beginning of the scientific era with its emphasis on tangible proof, dreams were relegated to fantasy.

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