Donna Ippolito's Dream Scoop

Understanding dreams is easy and fun...Dreams are the voice of your soul. If you're looking for answers, look within.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

Dreams are not our only source of inner wisdom, but they provide an unprecedented view of the experience we live when we are not conscious. Always remember that our conscious mind is asleep when we dream, so we can't take either credit or blame for what happens in that state. In dreaming, we enter a parallel dimension of our experience. We can begin to connect with a wider sense of self.

Often, an image of our personal self takes center stage in dreams, but many other characters, figures, and images are there, too. At first, we may view these as just background scenery. Eventually, we come to see that all these other dream bits are not only alive but that each one has a life of its own.

Here's a quick example. I recently dreamed that a brown snake with a yellow head and neck bit me in the back yard. The "me" of the dream was upset about what happened--indeed she was running around frantically for help. But what if we looked at the drama from the point of view of the snake? Why was it coiled up on the back stairs? Was it trying to interfere with my plans or was it simply enjoying an afternoon in the sun? And how did it bite "me"? I never even got close to it.

Besides, what is a snake bite in a dream? It didn't hurt. The dream "me" didn't get sick. I could clearly see the little fang mark on my hand like an upside-down "V", but that was the extent of it. Apparently, the brown snake with the yellow head wasn't there to hurt "me", but it did get my attention. While the dream "me" was running around, angry because nobody was coming to help, the brown snake with the yellow head just looked on patiently, perhaps thinking, "Oh there she goes again, getting all upset about nothing." What actually happened in this dream encounter? Why did the snake mark me with its bite? Are we now connected in some way that can only be accomplished by a wound mark?

What's important in approaching a dream are the questions, not the answers. The ones I just mentioned wouldn't necessarily be my starting point in working with this dream, but I hope they at least show some ways we can open our hearts to a dream. When we put aside our egocentricity, the richness and mystery of even the tiniest dream begins to reveal itself. If we can open our heart to the dream, we will travel far beyond anywhere we can reach with our limited thinking mind.

This is because, most times, the images in dreams are pictures of emotions, the deep energies of our being. Very often, these emotions are inaccessible to our waking consciousness, usually because our image of ourselves is too limited, too tight. We think we cannot feel the ecstasy, the anger, the sadness, the fear, or the serenity without flying to pieces because our container is not big enough. In the land of dreams, these emotions take on shape and form. They may look like people and places you know, but they may also come to you as places you've never been, lovers and friends and children you've never met. You may travel back in time or to another planet. You may talk to animals or to God. You may get bitten by a dull brown snake with a yellow head and forever after wear the mark on your hand.

In dreams we get to see an ongoing documentary of the inner world, which is part of our own experience but that bleeds over into a much vaster existence where we are all connected. Many people mistakenly believe this inner world consists of thoughts, and that it originates "inside their heads," but that is far from true. When we dream, we go on a journey to a place where we are inside the dream, not the dream inside us.

Dreaming is an alternate state where we can connect with the ground of being that we share with every other living thing, where we can find guidance, just as a plant grows from a seed or a caterpillar becomes a butterfly, where we can honor whatever lessons we are currently living as part of the myth of our experience, both individually and as part of the greater family of humanity and other earth beings.

Copyright © 2005 by Donna Ippolito. All rights reserved.

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Transforming Nature of Dreams

As I mentioned last time, we all dream several times every night. In fact, every mammal (except the spiny anteater) experiences the dream state. I've seen my cats dreaming on many occasions, and I have vivid memories of my dog Blue barking softly and moving his paws in a run while he was sacked out for a nap. As humans, we often feel separate and alone in nature, yet we share the mysterious, vast realm of dreams with our four-legged fellows (and gals).

When people learn of my work with dreams, they often say that, yes, they dream but they simply don't remember their dreams upon waking. Others say that they remember one or more dreams or the tiniest snatches of them, but that these dreams are weird and meaningless, some freak phenomenon of the night. Often, people view these "weird" or fragmentary dreams as not "the real thing". They judge their dreams on some scale of meaningfulness, perhaps imagining that the only important dreams are ones filled with arcane symbols or ancient wisdom figures.

I once thought the same way, and it was only in working with the dreams of people in groups and in individual sessions that I came to understand. I have learned that the dream fragment is often the one that yields up the most treasure once you dive into it heart, body, and soul. I now think of these fragments as a kind of telegram (after the image of "Zen Telegrams," the title of a book on haiku I once read.) These tiny dreams aren't meaningless or even fragmentary but as condensed and packed with energy as the mighty atom. Other times I see them as gifts simply waiting to be opened to reveal their treasures.

But back to you and your dreams. In searching around for ways to understand them, are you hoping to find the answer to the mystery, the key that will unlock the "secret" of the dream, the magic words that will bring forth a genie who will tell you in perfectly understandable English (or whatever language you speak) what the dream "means"? For example, I've seen people sit and methodically "translate" all the "symbols" in a dream, in the end very pleased and satisfied to obtain this wonderful dose of psychological self-help. It is as if the whole function of dreaming is to provide us with good advice, kind of like Hints from Heloise to make our problems a lot less tedious and annoying so that we can get on with the rest of our life.

There may be some satisfaction or even assistance gained from this mechanical approach to dreams, but it is short-lived. It's intellectual. It's analytical. It's about "insight," but dreams don't come to us for that. Dreams know nothing of insight. They exist far beyond that human obssession. Dreams are transforming. If we meet them in the way they want to be met and known, we may learn something, but it is on the level of transformation--the level of emotions and vulnerability--not on the level of thoughts or ideas.

You will emerge a new person from each authentic encounter with a dream. You will be changed, and rarely will you emerge with what you expected to find. That is because dreams come from the realm of the unknown, not the realm of the known. Dreams are here to tell us what we don't know about some problem or conflict in our everyday lives. Dreams let us view our human problems from a deeper, wider, longer perspective--the perspective of the soul.

As Jung taught, working with a dream is like speaking with the 1,000,000-year-old man or the Mother of Days. We tap into a font of collective wisdom, some of it human and some of it the wisdom of our animal nature. He also taught that dreams are a bridge between the world of consciousness and the limitless land of the unknown. Dreams let us pass safely between these two worlds.

Like Jung, I believe that dreams are the voice of the soul.

Copyright © 2005 by Donna Ippolito. All rights reserved.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Wecome to Dream Scoop

If you're reading this, you probably have a fascination for dreams. Perhaps you've been remembering your dreams for years, even writing them down in dream journals. Perhaps you've been bringing your dreams to an expert trained extensively in "dream interpretation." Perhaps you've been tracking down symbols in dream dictionaries or other kinds of dream guides.

Search no more. You are about to discover a whole new approach to understanding your dreams and finding guidance for your life. No problem is too big or too small to get an answer from your inner world of dreams.

Based on my work with dream groups and individual clients, I'll be teaching you all you need to know. If you're having trouble remembering your dreams, I can help you with that too. Each person dreams four to six times a night, at about 90-minute intervals, so you've got plenty of material to work with.

Copyright © 2005 by Donna Ippolito. All rights reserved.