All of us, without exceptions, carry subconscious childhood wounds into our adult life. These, if unattended, can guide our behaviours and opinions without us even realizing it. One of the greatest Swiss psychologists, Carl Jung, believed in the importance of integration of our unconscious with the conscious as a way to get closer to our true self. One of the methods he proposed for doing this was dream analysis which he believed to be a very personal thing. Dream interpretation, as he pointed out, has to come from our inner feeling about various dream symbols rather than generic definitions as many modern dream interpretation guides suggest. It seems reasonable given that the same object can mean many different things to different people depending on the culture or associated memories and experiences.
When I started lucid dreaming (see here for explanation if you’re not familiar with the concept), one of the key things I wanted to do was to ask my subconscious mind questions and gain insights into what I truly want or need in order to heal. In one of my lucid dreams, I asked a dream character a simple question: “How do I heal?” hoping to get some guidance into where my deepest childhood wounds lie and how I could surface and heal them. The answer that I got was “Stay here and write.”
The dream scenery was a small village surrounded by plains of green grass and forests and bathed in sunshine. On the stairs, there was a canvas, standing there, as if waiting for me. It grasped my attention as the answer sunk in but then I remembered it was already early morning hours when I fell asleep and found myself in this dream. Worried that I might not have enough time, I asked the dream character whether I will be able to come back if I don’t have enough time. The answer she gave me was that this place was temporary so it was impossible to come back once I left it. Concerned, I sat down in front of the canvas in contemplation. What should I write?, I wondered. Is it my only chance to heal – right here, right now?
This dream haunted me for the following week. Given the symbolic quality of dreams, I wondered what the answer could truly have meant. The following weekend, I came to the conclusion that “staying here” could have meant the Jungian dream interpretation – staying in the dream world. Writing about dreams in combination with the canvas could have meant either writing or drawing in order to dig deeper into the meanings behind the dream themes. I opened my dream journal and started searching for recurring themes. Once identified, I started writing about how they made me feel and how I could relate them to my behaviours and patterns from the waking life, as well as to past memories. As things came out onto the paper, I inquisitively asked follow-up questions to dig deeper into the true meanings behind the symbols. I managed to successfuly identify the reasons for some of my deeply ingrained beliefs and blocks. I then followed up with brainstorming ways to heal them. Sheding light on these patterns, becoming aware of them alone helped me to feel lighter and more accepting of these “shadow” parts of myself.
The following weeks, as I continued writing down my dreams, I noticed something surprising. The previous nagging patterns and recurring figures have disappeared from my dreams. Increasingly, my dreams have become enjoyable, filled with sunshine, smiling faces and instantly fulfilled wishes. And the interesting thing was, that only after I went through this process, I came across a very similar concept of healing in Jung’s psychology…
I think the advice given to me by my dream figure can be applied for anyone who is seeking to dive into the self healing process and integration of their “shadow” parts, as C.G. Jung called them. It can be a scary process but the impact it has on your everyday life can often leave one speechless. Begin by writing down your dreams in a dedicated dream journal. After a while, get back to it and re-read what you’ve written paying attention to recurring patterns. Once you identify them, journal about them. Ask questions such as “how does this make me feel?”, “what does this remind me of?”, “what is the underlying belief this reflects?”, “which events from my childhood does this bring to mind?”, “to which behaviours of my waking life could this relate?”. Once you feel like you have arrived at the root memory and belief, think about how you could attend to it. Does this belief really reflect the truth? Do you think you could be ready to let it go? Is there a way you could talk to yourself and treat yourself better in order to sooth the hurt inner child in you?
Every single night our subconscious communicates with us through our dreams. It is a shame so few of us pay attention to it. It is such a powerful and accesible way to gain insights into what we truly need to feel more integrated within ourselves and in turn, more fulfilled. This is something no self-help book or article can compete with.
Feel free to share your experiences with this method in the comments section below! Hopefully, it will encourage others to embark on this rewarding journey as well.