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.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Intelligence of the Heart

Dreaming is one of the most intimate experiences of our time as human beings, at once particular to each individual and yet universal. As Jung said, it’s a natural function. Dreams are facts of nature, an organic expression of the psyche. Dreams are not servants of our minds, our intentions, or our personalities.

But what are dreams composed of? Are they thoughts? Are they ideas? Are they concepts? Are they little phosphorescent bits of good advice? Do they consist of words and sentences? Do they tell us something we already know but simply say it in an unusual way? Are they another form of language, like French or Spanish or Arabic or Chinese, that we must learn to speak by memorizing vast quantities of information and then practicing, practicing, practicing?

Ask me, and I would answer, “None of the above.”

No, the fabric of dreams is woven from images. Images are alive, not to be confused with symbols. Symbols are ideas. A symbol stands in for the real thing. An octagonal red sign isn’t the same as actually slamming on the brakes.

To understand this, try an experiment. Take even a moment to stop reading and contemplate the image of water. Let yourself see or feel or hear or sense whatever comes. How about rain? Or the image of wind? What about fire? Even if you do this for only an instant, you’ll experience the nature of image. Images move and breathe—perhaps wind came on a sibilant whisper or a shiver of cold, perhaps rain pattered with a sensation of peace, perhaps fire came with the quickening of excitement or fear.

This is what Jung meant when he said we must approach dreams with “the intelligence of the heart.” It’s not “thinking” that connects us to them.

Here's another example. A few years back, one group member dreamed she went to the refrigerator for a midnight snack and found the refrigerator stuffed with purple towels instead. Her conscious thought was that the dream was a forewarning of Alzheimer's, which ran in her family. It was a constant fear.

I noted that she already knew about the fear, but what if we looked at the dream to see what she didn’t know? We began by circling in and in on the images. As we talked, I learned that purple as a color was special for her. It gave her a feeling of richness, of lushness, of beauty. As for the towels, she described them as big, thick, and luxurious, perhaps associated with the pleasure of a long, hot bath. It also came out that she rarely allowed herself such solitary pleasures. She did, however, often turn to food as a source of comfort.

Going back to the dream, we looked again at the big, thick, luxurious towels. Where were they? In the refrigerator—in cold storage, so to speak. And what were they doing there? This super-busy woman believed pleasure had to wait until all her tasks and obligations were complete. Needless to say, her to-do list was endless and self-fulfilling.

Like all dreams, this one was healing. Did it offer a single psychobabblistic concept? Did it address the dreamer’s inner conflict in terms of “issues”? No, it came in concrete, specific images of taking time to care for, even to pamper, herself. Wordlessly, it showed that we must step out of time, put aside the everyday, if we’re ever going to feel whole. The beauty we long for is there for the taking, but it is within. It won't do us much good, though, if we've stuffed it into cold storage. See, though, how even an action as simple and down to earth as a long, hot bath may be the first step.

Our dreams don’t really care about our to-do lists. They spring from the part of us that takes a longer view, a larger view. They answer two questions. Why are we here? And what have we come here to do?

Copyright © 2005 Donna Ippolito. All rights reserved.


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