Sacred Thresholds, Navigating the Corridors of Change and Retrieving the Power to Bless

This is the subject and script of a talk I gave at Unity of Taos on the cusp of the new year, January 3rd, 2016.  I offer it here as a segue and blessing into the powerful new year of 2016.


There is only enough room at the prow of the ship for one heart.

It is meant to be a tight spot

In that crease where the two sides meet

No crowds can gather.

Looking out from that place

From that place into the growing dark

It is always night there

Nothing can be seen.

But if you close your eyes and lean in far enough

If you really lean deep into your own darkness

You begin to feel the future

Making itself in front of you.

At first it will be the senses

Telling you about the weather

The wind and the salt spray

And you could almost leave it all there.

But if you stay on after your wits die down

You move into that other dominion

Where the eyes live somewhere outside of you

There hanging on the air

Hovering on vibration

Waiting for a moment in the world

And all the while still a child

Singing the quiet praises

Of ripe





Perhaps something breaks.

Perhaps something is taken from you.

Perhaps a season has simply come to an end.

It is at these threshold moments where everything is asked of you;

that it matters the most

to pilot your own crossings

to Love yourself,

And to stay present right here

in the gap.

For here is the passage.

Here is the transformation.

Here is the leap and

Here is your evolution.

 the sun casts a shadow

the sun casts a shadow

The Oxford dictionary says: a threshold is a point of entry or beginning

The poet John O’Donohue takes it further. He says,

A threshold is not a simple boundary; it is a frontier that divides two different territories, rhythms, and atmospheres... a real frontier that cannot be crossed without the heart being passionately engaged and woken up…where a great complexity of emotion comes alive: confusion, fear, excitement, sadness, hope.

There is often a pause at the doorway when we are simply standing in a sense between two worlds—all that has gone before and what has yet to come and can still be shaped by our awareness. So we often relive events from the past so we can understand fully what we have learned and in doing so move forward aware. The desire on new years to complete the unresolved things from our life and to set new visions for our accomplishment, requires a threshold. We cannot set our new vision until we have rewalked the territory of what has passed.

It is an eternal experience that often feels disorienting because it does not inhabit time in the same way, they are energy fields on the verge of becoming something else, something new. And even tho this is always true, there is something unique to a threshold that crosses a significant boundary in ones life.

As human beings we have the right and the power to bless.

To make sacred, to name holy something or someone.

Blessing difficult endings, especially in relationship can actually be the healing force that allows us to move forward. This past year I had a relationship of 10 years come to an end. No matter how much I tried to repair it, it remained broken. Once I finally accepted that this was meant to be, I blessed it, I blessed both what had been a meaningful friendship and I blessed its ending. And in blessing it I said, I cannot change what has happened but I can acknowledge its change and how I am holding it, and in doing so was able to leave all bitterness and struggle behind.

 buddha with lamp and flower

buddha with lamp and flower

I am not a Buddhist scholar but long ago I heard a story of when the Buddha was visited by Mara, a great force of distraction and distortion. Much like Jesus’s tempatation by a dark force in the desert, Mara was offering some power that was in conflict with integrity to the Buddha. In response the Buddha pressed his finger to the earth, and in doing so he called forth the presence of all the witnesses to his evolution from all lifetimes, to stand beside him to face this destructive force.

In times of trial, we too can put our fingers to the earth and call upon all the forces of Good that have seen us through our own many lifetimes, invoke our highest Self to face these times of peril.

A blessing is a protective circle of light.

Blessing difficulties acknowledges that one has or is stepping through a difficult passage that has gripped the heart and calling upon one's inner priest/priestess to bless the ordeal and the moments of tenacity of purpose.

The transformative power of challenges is no small thing. It was said by Paul Valery, the French poet, essayist and philosopher,

"That a difficulty is a light; an insurmountable difficulty is a Sun."

Sometimes it is the image of our task that we carry that makes a task difficult.

If we change the image of how we perceive it, the task itself will unfold more smoothly.

Ask yourself now, with the tasks you have in front of you, what image are you holding of your tasks? When you can name the way something is being held often you can walk thru it more easily.

The New Year is a time of looking back and seeing the blessedness and blessings of our lives and the Goodness that has been with us and followed us and guided us and continues to.

Where do we bless from? We drop into the vastness where we are one with everything and everyone and from there call for a blessing, and like the Buddha,invoking the vast to be with you.

Whenever one person takes another into the custody of their heart, they have the authority to bless. When we love someone we turn toward them with our Divinity and the Spirit itself is the wellspring of blessing.

Acts of kindness carry their own luminosity and in themselves become beacons of light that bless.

Seeing and acknowledging someone, raising them up in your seeing these are ways in which our blessing holds great power for the transformation of another.

Recently I left to take a long trip overseas.  I went to see my landlady before I left.  She is an elderly woman.  She looked straight into my eyes and said to me, "Always remember where you are and may God go with you." I felt the sweetness and the realness of her blessing and I thanked her.

A blessing is to call some quality of wholeness upon a person to make whole a loss, to make good a journey, to raise a life.

We do not bless by ourselves but we invoke the power of the universe in the name of love.

You will never know the true potential of blessing, the forms it can take, the ways it can alter one's life and the lives of others.

It is a private act, a sacred act of great power and humility. It says, I cannot change the past but I can bless it and say "so be it" and move forward.

There are places that are containers of blessedness. Places in nature, places such as these­­– of devotion and respect. The ancients knew this, we still know this. It is here right now.

How do they come?

Thresholds arrive in all shapes and manners.

Perhaps We have come slowly to realize that what we have been doing or what we have taken ourselves to be are no longer alive in us, we can look at it differently instead of resenting it we can see that this loss of aliveness is actually an opportunity, which will require some growth for a necessary change to occur.

So in this way, the challenges of change can be reframed as a portal to an entirely new sense of aliveness, life and possibility. What if we looked upon everything that occurred to us in our lives as an entry point to the new. Would we ever think or say the word calamity again? If our life is made up of a myriad of entry points what benevolent conspiracy is this thing called life? And how close to us is our soul?

John O'Donohue, in his book Anam Cara, writes:

"Behind the facade of the familiar, strange things await us."

Their beauty and mystery is that they come often when we need them most or when we are not the least bit aware that they are going to arrive. They are always a challenge; a challenge that demands great courage from us, especially when one opens up for which you are not prepared.  This could be illness, suffering, or loss. It could be a great and unexpected surprise or invitation.

Some Years ago I was living on the Cape in Massachusetts and my partner at the time was out of town when a hurricane blew up. His sailboat was in the water and I took it upon myself to save it from being blown away. In the midst of it I misjudged the depth of the water and I began to drown. I was so surprised by this I heard myself say out loud—now, now I am going to die now? If it be Thy will I give myself to You but if it is not Your will, I Choose Life. In an instant a great wave rolled over me and washed me up onto the beach. Over the next days and weeks, I wept. I realized that I had always felt a bit ambivalent about being here. The tears came because I saw that I had just been given the opportunity to say out loud, "I Want To Be Here". This was a threshold moment. They are not always like this but sometimes they are. The important part, in my experience, is to accept them and learn to look at them with great respect because they are being offered from our souls.

What do they serve?

Thresholds serve the destiny of our individual souls. They form us and draw color and the unusual into our lives. The things that happen to us tell us a little more about who we are. What aspect of our nature is trying to evolve and strengthen, what gifts are hidden in these life events, gifts that we will come to share and teach to others.

The script of each person's destiny is a secret, we never know who we are actually looking at when we face another human being. And so we do not often even know ourselves.

That we are even here is a huge confirmation that somehow life needed us here and wanted us to exist. To really take this in can open a large well of self-acceptance and self-love in the heart.

A threshold need not be a threat-instead it can be a call, an incitement to promise. We can trust that if it has come we are somehow completely ready for it.

How can we serve them?

We can learn how to rein back on the innate drive for accomplishment. And to really listen in the stillness of these transitions.

To recognize when we are somewhere in the corridor of a life transition and to accept that it has its own timing, divine timing. We cannot rush them. It doesn’t mean it is easy.

So too when a threshold is a great loss, the loss of the familiar has a grief period. Loss of the familiar can be devastating.  But it can also reveal the hidden resources we did not even know we had. Often we are numbed by what we are used to and we stop knowing ourselves as the creative gifts that we are.  We stop seeing the ones we love, the place we live, we are not guffawed by beauty. This is the hidden gift of change- it shakes us awake to what is happening all around us, to what has been happening. Transitions are crossings.  They are full of potential as well as challenge.

Loss of the familiar has available within it great creative forces  if we can learn to listen and appreciate the aspects of ourselves that don’t get seen when we are driving our ambitions, or making each moment part of an agenda. All that we have taken for granted gets eclipsed by a threshold.

Because in the loss of the familiar we cannot see ourselves in the same way we become privy to our essential self in a new way and we can ask new questions:

  • Who and what am I,
  • What is this container – the human being and what powers does it hide?

We can learn to see all the varieties of presence available; listen inward with complete attention until we hear the inner voice calling us forward that The time has come to cross.

And then one day, the way in which spring secretly overtakes winter, barely discernible, we pass thru the doorway, sometimes in a sweeping motion, sometimes in a gradual dissipation of small moments and sometimes both. We wake suddenly or gradually to a new present. And we are aware we have changed.

As we sit here together, or at any time you can ask yourself:

At what threshold am I now standing,

At this time in my life what am I leaving?

Where am I about to enter and

What is preventing me from crossing my next threshold?

What gift would enable me to do it?

Who would I be if I were to make this crossing?

What would my life be like if I were to gather myself

Trust that all that I need is within me?

To say to life to the cosmos to God

Here I am

I am ready.

I choose life.

I would like to end this talk with a blessing by John O'Donohue called:

Blessing for a New Beginning

In out of the way places of the heart,

Where your thoughts never think to wander,

This beginning has been quietly forming

Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

For a long time it has watched your desire

Feeling the emptiness growing inside you

Noticing how you willed your self on

Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

It watched you play with the seduction of safety

And the gray promises that sameness whispered,

Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,

Wondered would you always live like this.

Then the delight, when your courage kindled,

And out you stepped onto new ground,

Your eyes young again with energy and dream,

A path of plenitude opening before you.

Though your destination is not yet clear

You can trust the promise of this opening;

Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning

That is at one with your life’s desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure;

Hold nothing back; learn to find ease in risk;

Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,

For your soul senses the world that awaits you.


Crack the Code of Your Dreams

Crack the Code of Your Dreams – Taking Notes That Will Reveal the Heart of Your Dream“The basic function of dreams is to express the unconscious.”


So you receive your dream, you have written it down as you experienced it without interpreting it. You have noted your feelings in your dream—

  • About the place you are in
  • Your feeling response to other dream characters,
  • To a situation,
  • To yourself.

Feelings like agitation, pride, peace, annoyance, anger, judgmentalism, hesitation, surprise, distrust, delight, innocence, court room mentality, wrong/right thinking, blame, sadness, grief, humility, despair, Love, righteousness, worthlessness, calm, controlling, humorous, playful, confused, trusting, arrogance…As much as possible be able to say exactly what you felt as you go along.

Part of us lives in our conscious mind, and our complementary quality lives hidden in the unconscious…They may appear to be enemies– yet they are in reality in the process of making a synthesis." —ROBERT A. JOHNSON

things of value
things of value

The dream is made up of male characters and female characters and some characters that seem to go back and forth in their sex.

If you look at your dream characters as each being an aspect of yourself, you will see these relative characteristics playing out in the shadows or openly, in your life.

We all carry these characteristics. It is important to mention here that shadow does not mean anything negative. A shadow character is simply a part of us that has been pushed underground and in doing so can make mischief in our everyday life, not because it is bad but because it is not acknowledged. Most of these shadow lives contain a huge amount of potential that our lives need to fully manifest their purpose. It is often wounds or childhood circumstances that drive aspects of ourselves underground. An early misconception formed that we have taken on.

Our dreams are comprised of many aspects:

  • Males tend to portray the thinking analytical rational deciding mind
  • Females tend to portray emotions and understanding, a feeling logic, a sensing of the whole.
  • There are often certain figures in our dreams who stand out and feel very whole and full of guidance-these are our soul guides coming forward to offer guidance and counsel. Jung referred to these as the anima and
  • Symbols will appear like a circle or a mandala or a square, an animal
  • Numbers will appear in dreams and these also have significance. As well as the ages or the number of years ago you were in the place in the dream. These are the clues left in the landscape to uncover that will begin to put together the picture of the dream.

ASSOCIATIONS provide the foundation for understanding a dream. Associations spring out of our unconscious in response to dream images.

Take each scene and notice the place they have occurred and any associations you might have with that place. For example: a town you grew up in, an old house, something from the past, or a new place, someplace you have never been before. If it is in an old house that you formerly occupied the dream maybe coming for you to recover something or show you something that is still operating from that time or a new appreciation for something difficult from the past. Writing down your associations with the houses and cities you are in can further embellish your knowledge of your feeling state and let you see what you might be still carrying from the past. Perhaps it is a mythical kind of place or barely descriptive at all. But you still will have feelings about where you are and these will fill out your associations. Take nothing for granted.

Archetypal dreams often take you to ancient or extraordinary places—bigger or smaller than life…talking animals, royalty, heroic figures…You can research the source of these figures and symbols that come—the Internet is a great research tool for this, rather than a dream dictionary that will give you one set meaning.

In the same way notice the people, are they familiar to you, are they couples, what are they like? Do not censor how you feel about them, write down what their characters evoke. EVEN IF IT IS EMBARRASSING.

Don’t daisy chain your associations by turning your associations into a story and don’t allow your associations to take you away from the dream itself because not all associations will be true in their importance to the dream. Keep them as distinct entities in themselves. Just write them down in a list. You are looking for one that comes that will ‘click’ the dream more into place. One that carries energy in it.

Allow the images that may have presented themselves in the dream to fully drop in. Is it an animal or a symbol? What does it bring up in you, is it a part of your waking life in any way or have you seen it before, do you have any history with the image… Begin to make associative meanings to the images. Again the Internet can be a great resource for this. For example you could receive the image of a circle or a rock or a bee or a shape.

I once had a dream image that came that was simply a large boulder that was sitting on the trunk of my car. When I looked at it what came immediately to me was that I was carrying something large and heavy from the past that I couldn’t see directly in front of me. This dream image led to a big revelation in my life.

In this way write down any associations you might have to the image, or anything it reminds you of and again how it makes you feel. Do not go to the dream dictionary that says that such and such means this or that. This will dilute the power of the image that often carries much of the meaning of the dream like an acorn carrying the totality of the tree within it.

In the end when you read your list of associations you will find the one that brings a little surge of energy with it-that is often the one that ‘clicks’. When I am working with people they often say, I don’t know why I am thinking of this now, but I remember such and such event…”

After you have looked at the initial scenes and their locations, you are ready to look at the DYNAMICS.

In working with the dynamics of a dream you make a connection between what is happening inside of you in real time– your inner dynamics – with what is happening and playing out in the dream story. Ask yourself the question—if I translated the actions of the dream into my inner world, does any aspect of this feel familiar? For example – if two people in your dream are having an argument, is there an argument going on inside of you, by way of a conflict you have within your self, something you have not been able to resolve? These are examples of the inner workings or process of becoming a whole person. The dreams present the stages along the way, adventures or obstacles, beliefs, surprises, key people or qualities that you value or dislike. Dreams describe our inner world, which internally deliver our outer experiences, via relationships, jobs, careers, etc.

And it is on the inner level that you can change things. Often the most life- altering thing that can happen in your life is for you to recognize and name a dynamic you have been living. This naming is the turn-around event.

Robert Johnson writes that the single most important thing to realize is that all of our dream characters represent an aspect or something going on within us. And that dreams about ‘others’ are not excuses for blaming other persons or making proof as a case against them.

In noting the dynamics of your dream, ask yourself the question what you have in common with the other dream characters or how you are different. Ask your self what the dream characters have in common with one another that are unlike you. Try to use neutral language in describing these characteristics. Even if you have to initially pretend, find the virtues these folks employ. For example, if the character in your dream seems very boastful to you, find a positive value in him—for instance that that he is not afraid of saying who he is or what he is good at. In this way you can begin to see what may be underground in your own life. We often make people into the bad guy because they are bringing out a way we feel secretly ashamed of in ourselves. So we develop a little moral arrogance to hide it and create distance from it.

When there are exaggerated positions or arguments in the dreams look at the beliefs and attitudes and values you hold that are being contradicted or threatened in the dream.

When a surprise shows up in a dream it is usually an indication of a limited belief we are holding. For example one of the most common surprises is when someone shows generosity or love in a dream situation that our own character might not expect – the whole matrix of always expecting the worst… that is a world many people live in to shield themselves from disappointment that they have experienced somewhere along the way that was crushing.

In some of our dreams we are simply a witnessing presence watching the dream play out in front of us like watching a drama. In these dreams you will see all sides of your character and how it is alive in your life.

In some of our dreams we discover things that disturb us down to our core. For this reason I think it is valuable to be able to work with someone whom you trust to explore these kinds of dreams. Often dreams bring up subjects that we cannot easily share with our family and friends. It is for these dreams I strongly recommend working with someone skilled in this arena. Not because they are dangerous but because they can uncover strong emotions or things we did not know, or things we may not be able to find a perspective on that will be healing That is when the steadying light and presence of someone devoted to your healing will make the difference. And healing is the point of our dreams.


At this point we are looking for the central most important message of the dream—why it came to you.

  • What is the dream advising you to do or to embody?
  • How would my life change if I embraced it?
  • Write it down.
  • Feel the energy of it.

Evaluate your interpretations by:

  • Choosing the dream that shows you something you did not know
  • Avoid the interpretations that inflate your ego or are self-congratulatory
  • Avoid interpretations that shift responsibility away from you
  • Learn to live with your dreams—over a long time—let them evolve with you—you can only know what you know right now. But along the road you may find things about your dream you were unable to know when you had it, thus they evolve with you.


For most people it is important to physically take an action that will anchor the message of the dream into everyday waking life by creating an act to consciously honor their dream.

This is an arena that indigenous cultures have employed carefully and consistently and we of the super-mind culture have often pooh-poohed as unnecessary. But it is done because it works. It acknowledges the message you have received with a sense of reverence. It says by your action that you have received the guidance and wish to act on it. In some primitive cultures they will take the message or medicine of the dream with the help of their shaman and they will ‘drive’ it into a rock or a physical object from nature. Then this object will become a piece on their altar or a place in the garden where they can look upon it, and remember it. An object becomes a thing of power by the energy we empower it with to help us make the change we wish to bring into being.

Perhaps it is as aspect of our selves we would like to let go of. We can use an object we find to hold that aspect and then cast it into the sea where we ask nature to take it where it needs to go. This can be a very powerful experience. Because it empowers us to change and not feel like we are permanent victims of life experiences. And because it takes us out of our heads where we mostly live in our modern culture and where we have become so unfortunately lost.

I heard of a man who worked with his dream by writing a letter to a part of him that was revealed in a dream. He posted it and mailed it and upon receiving it was able to take full responsibility for a part in his life and an issue that his dream had unfolded.

It can be as simple as a very intention-filled walk in nature, a phone call you have been meaning to make, a connection you have been putting off.

As with all things use your common sense. Let it be a creative act and allow yourself to be available to what will come as a result of it.

Stay tuned...more on dreams is coming!

Dream inquiry: Developing Your Dream Question

I have heard it said that more important than knowing what the answer is to an issue is knowing what the question is.This is the place from which to begin any dream inquiry.

Dreams can be engaged in and played with to invite an on-going dialogue with the inner self to address significant themes in your life and come to a deeper understanding of specific issues.

There are 3 pieces to formulating a good dream inquiry question:

  • Develop a question that will shine a light on what your issue is.
  • And in the same request ask what is the medicine for resolving this obstacle in your life?
  • Be resolute in wanting to know the answer.

For example you could ask,  "What is the primary stumbling block to establishing financial flow in my life AND what is the medicine to resolving that issue?” (Without asking for the medicine you might dream all night of the ways in which you are stumbling but without any resolution offered!)

Or by way of another example

“What core belief or beliefs do I hold that keep me from experiencing joy in my life and what is the medicine for releasing them?”

Now it is not always necessary to know all the things we need to ask. I know someone who simply says each night to her higher self, “You know what I need to know, so please send it”.

 i stood to face her

i stood to face her

But sometimes there are specific questions regarding life events. In all situations it is best to stay away from how questions. Our highest self does not like to tell us what to do.

However we can ask something like-

“What do I need to know about such and such issue…?”

Or, “What am I blind to in this situation and what is the medicine for seeing it clearly? “

In this way we can receive all the nuances of information we might need to come to an understanding of its turn-around. We can ask for resolution to the same issue over the course of a week or a month or a year.

If, for example you are trying to find healing for an illness to complement the guidance you are receiving from your doctor, you will need to adopt an unwavering and diligent approach— do not give up if your inquiry takes you longer than you would like. Keep at it.

Or perhaps you are applying for a new job and you are unsure if this is a good fit for you. Or perhaps you are going into a new situation- a public talk or a new city and you want to know if there is anything you need to be aware of before you go.

A few years ago I was asked to come to Minneapolis by a client to give a public talk on the nature of healing, where afterwards I would be doing hands-on healing work with folks. This was my first public talk in a brand new city with folks I did not know. So I asked in a dream question, to show me anything that I was blind to in this situation and the medicine to navigate through it. I received a dreams, it came a few weeks before the trip.

In the dream I am meeting a group of people on a bridge. I was coming from one direction and they were coming from another. I was riding a very big bike, bigger than what I was used to. It was difficult to pedal because the bridge curved upward in the center. When I got to the crest of the hill of the bridge and I met the people I turned around and they followed me down in the direction they were heading. As soon as I turned, the pedaling eased and the ride smoothed out. I noticed leaving the bridge there were folks in boats in the water underneath the bridge following the current of the river. They were laughing and really enjoying themselves. Because they were in the flow of the river current they were not having to effort at all so they could relax and enjoy the ride, directing the boat in a luxurious fashion. End of dream.

 The dream showed that I was in a new role – riding a bigger bike than I was used to and I was preparing myself by working hard on the talk and getting hung up in the details of making the talk happen in my head ahead of time – the uphill pedaling experience. But when I got to the middle of the bridge and met the people where they were coming from,  and I turned my bike around on the crest of the hill – the place of the most efforting – they followed me and it was downhill from there. Seeing the people under the bridge in the water was a reminder that being in one's essence and delight would provide the momentum for movement and everything could flow from that. When we are in alignment with our higher self, life is easier and more relaxing. Then steering happens out of the relaxed state instead of the tight controlled state.

In fact the public talk went like that. The night before I gave the talk I woke up in the middle of the night laughing. I was laughing because there was some epiphany forming in my heart and I saw that everything in life was about healing…there was virtually nothing that was not designed from the beginning to bring you into wholeness. And that it was from that point of view I could inspire folks to relate. The next evening at the talk this epiphany and its laughter was still bubbling. Once I met the people where they were, I put my notes aside and the talk flowed out from the ethers. There was a lot of joy in the room, folks felt comfortable and when it was over I had prepared the week for the work I would do, by weaving into it the freedom of this innocence.

I have found that the most effective way to enhance the effectiveness of our dream inquiry is by the sincere resolve to work with the dream material that comes to us. And if what comes is not clear to give thanks and ask for clarification.

There are other reasons to engage in dream inquiry or make a request to the dream realm—

fire rock_
fire rock_

Sometimes we are stuck. Stuck in a dark place, or stuck in feeling badly about ourselves or stuck in our habits that keep us cycling through the same material over and over so we begin to feel as if our inner work is not progressing and our lives are standing still. We are looking for the light of day and our own minds are too bogged down to allow it to come through. Basically we need to bring about a change of heart, be lifted into a higher vibration, feel again a sense of promise and joy. I have always found the dream realm’s response to this state is profound and beyond any expectation, when we ask, because too often it is then we are in a real state of humility. In response sometimes you receive a dream that is pure medicine that contradicts every possible harshness you might experience in your life.

Here is one dream that came in response to such a time in my own life:

I dream I am standing outside of my window on the ground in my nightclothes watching a group of Beings coming toward me on horseback. As they get closer I see that they are Angels, royal in their bearing and they are full of light. They are dressed in the finest raiment of pure gold, sitting very tall on their horses, carrying banners. And there are clusters of stars hovering above them as they ride. I know they have come for me and I am ecstatic. Every worry or small way I have ever seen my life goes completely out the window. I am in the trance of anticipation of their company, and what they are bringing. When I wake up I am in wonder and complete awe.

Awe is a very transformative state to live in. Its very vibration makes everything ordinary in life shine with a different light. Just being in the experience of awe has a completely healing effect on the system. This dream had an archetypal quality to it because it brought beings of another realm, a celestial realm to visit me. When I woke the feeling from what I had witnessed and been visited by had changed me.

(I included the experience of this transformation in a poem I wrote later called: I Was a Soldier. It is recorded on my website in the Poetry section.)

Another dream came when I felt inundated by my own conditioned responses to everything, and weary.

In the dream I was a witness, not a participant in the dream, to groups of people interacting. Everyone in the dream was acting from their own truth and creativity as a human being. No one was acting out of guilt or pretense or image making or obligation. There were feelings and emotions in the dream but no discordant drama. In effect it was watching people live their lives in a state of freedom and true kindness toward one another and the harmony that would grow out of that amazing possibility.

The dream needed no interpretation – I received the understanding of what I was working towards and that all of my effort, no matter how long it took, was worth it.

Coming next will be a section on How to take notes from a dream, the key questions to ask yourself in working with the dream material and ways to anchor the message in your life.

Please feel free during this series on dreams to write in with your questions and send in a dream if you are struggling with something and if you think a dream you have had is pointing to something you can’t get a handle on. If the dream is  resonant with what is being offered I am happy to anonymously work with it in this series.

Dreams and How You Remember them

Have you ever wondered what is actually happening when you dream? Physicists who have studied this, whose findings are not dissimilar from indigenous peoples define a dream as a tableau of images and story ‘created’ when the light of a person’s consciousness touches or collides with the unseen realm, a person’s higher self. Dreams tend to be holographic by nature; meaning you can often distill the essence of the dream though its parts.

How can You Remember Your Dreams?

Many people think that they don’t in fact dream because their dreams slip away when they wake up. There are ways to change this.

When I was in my early 20’s I was taking a literature class at Johns Hopkins University taught by Dr. Ralph Harper, called Dreams and Reality. We studied a major work by Franz Kafka, Marcel Proust, Sigmund Freud and Thomas Mann. During the class I sat in discussion with another student and I told her I never remembered my dreams and had given up on it. She was one of those rare individuals who had grown up in a family that discussed their nightly dreams at the breakfast table. She gave me the following tips that have never failed me and started me off on my dream journeying and has never let up. I pass them along to you.

The 3 most important tips on how to unlock the door to your dreams:

As with everything in creation the most important thing for remembering your dreams starts with setting your INTENTION.

  • Hold the intention before you go to sleep that you would like to remember your dream(s) clearly enough to be able to write them down.
  • Put a notebook and pen next to your bed to write down your dreams. Some people use recording devices that they have set up for the same purpose, such as on an iPhone or similar device.
  • Ahead of time hold gratitude in your heart for what you are about to receive and make the commitment to work with the substance of the dream to the best of your ability.

The 3 biggest obstacles to remembering your dreams:

  • Self-censorship: when a dream comes and you label it ‘stupid’ or you see it as ‘unflattering’ or ‘unimportant’, or the information in the dream feels disturbing, and so you decide to discount it. In fact these are the dreams with the most potential to change our lives.
  • Moving away from the dream state too quickly. Instead, when you wake up in the morning from your dream allow yourself to lie there a few moments before you become fully awake—savor the dream and before your feet hit the floor begin writing your dream down. Do not attempt to interpret your dream. As much as you can write the dream as you experienced it–all the feelings that were present, your sense of the others in your dream. The place.
  • Thinking the dream is too small. Sometimes all we receive is a snippet, like a scene in a play. However dreams are holographic in nature so even the fragments can contain the whole and can in fact be very powerful.

If you lose your dream, you can pay attention during the day if anything triggers a memory of it or the feeling of it. If it does you can try and capture the fragment or the feeling or the image and ask that another one be given to you.

In this way you begin to develop a correspondence with your inner dreamer and a connection is made that says that you want to know what is being transmitted.

The more you do this the clearer your dreams will become and the easier you will find it to hold onto dreams.


Do not rush to interpret your dream! Do not buy dream dictionaries and apply the stock definition to an image you might receive. Allow your dream image to fully affect you. Allow your own intelligence to work with the images and characters without labeling them. When we label anything it shrinks and loses its original potency. Images are full of power–consider their potent effect in advertising! After you have had a chance to really soak up the image and hear your own impressions then a little skate on the internet can inspire further understanding.

Are all dreams the same?

in close range
in close range

There are many kinds of dreams that come to us; here are the most common:

  • There are what I would call ordinary dreams that show you, by way of a story, the dynamics of how your lives are playing out or being lived on some level.
  • There are repetitive dreams. A repetitive dream is one that comes to try to work something out. These can happen over a lifetime or over a few months. They come to offer some essential knowledge that the higher self deems important and necessary and they keep coming back until the knowledge is understood and integrated. Many times you do not know what these dreams are trying to tell you initially. For example, the most common repetitive dream is when you dream an assailing character in the dream is chasing you. Over a series of months or years your response to being chased will change and when you finally turn around and face the character or change your fear response to it, the dreams will naturally cease. This usually means an important challenge has been met. If you can see it in this way your own fear response can change to one of meeting rather than avoiding.
  • There are dreams of foretelling. Because dreams emerge from the timeless realm the incidents that occur in them can seem to be of a future time but in actuality where they come from all events live side-by-side, without past or future. But in real time you will experience them as prophetic.
  • There are archetypal dreams in which strong symbols or symbolic characters appear to teach something or to announce the way into a new part of our lives. These dreams can come to tell of a unique gift that has not yet been acknowledged or a way your gifts would like to be used in the world.
  • There are small dreams that appear just as snippets or vignettes. Sometimes these dreams can have a strong image or carry a voice like an announcer that will simply proclaim something, or you will see the writing of something in your mind. Images are very powerful and when you allow them to drop all the way in, they can bring you into a relationship not possible with words. It is said that it is important to pay attention to the dreams in which your name is called or ones where you see your name written down.
  • Similarly, there are ancient teachers who appear in dreams to teach or remind you of something you may need to know for this particular time in your lives. There can appear political figures or religious figures, sports heroes, actors and actresses…
  • There are warning dreams – often folks experience them as These dreams come to draw your attention to something happening in your life, usually an old pattern that has been wreaking havoc or perhaps an illness or other forms of disharmony.
  • Childhood dreams. We will cover this topic in a separate post but there is a certain quality to childhood dreams that make them especially important and tender to gently work with. Because children do not have sophisticated censoring devices they tend to experience their dreams very vividly, especially if the dream contains something that frightens them. There are many people who were plagued by frightening experiences in their childhood dreams who could not share them effectively with their parents and so misunderstood what was being given.
  • Lucid dreaming. We will cover this topic as well in a separate post. It is a type of dreaming, also called Active Imagination, where you go back into a dream-like trance state in order to work with the character or events that have appeared in a dream, in order to work creatively on the conscious level.
room with a view
room with a view

When looking at dreams and their characters with fresh eyes we can see the potentials that are trying to emerge in our lives, the fears and the beliefs that we are carrying and what kinds of changes might encourage a shift into a larger, more unfettered way being. We will look at dreams individually and ask questions that will unravel the dream.

Using the dream as correspondence between ourselves and our inner most self provides a vehicle for a deeply creative and resourceful life.  An unscripted and unconditioned life waiting to be discovered.

New Blog Series: The Importance of Dreams and How to Work With Them, Introduction

Entering a dream is like stepping down into the cave of the psyche where the contents are unknown to us.        

cave entrance
cave entrance

Before the work of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, modern western culture in general did not pay close attention to dreams other then to note their usual or unusual appearance. By contrast indigenous cultures dating back to the beginning of recorded history considered dreams an important part of their everyday communication with the cosmos and depended on them to understand the things they needed to pay close attention to — the location of good hunting grounds or personal guidance or community issues. Dreams were understood to be direct messages from their true self, their over soul. In cooperation with their shaman or healer they would work with their dreams to understand them and to make changes that would affect their outward reality.


It was their belief that we are always dreaming, even during the day time, and that our nighttime dreams actually create the dream of our daytime but that both realities are fluid and can thus be affected and changed by interacting with and understanding our dreams. The dream was thus highly regarded and individuals from these cultures were expected to report their dreams to safeguard the well being of their community. Their link to the timeless realms kept them in close contact with the fluidity of life, and the ever-changing act of creation through the imagination.

Dreams bring playfulness and an inexpressible joy into out lives. There is humor and combinations of characters that show up to surprise and delight us. How many times are you in a dream and somehow you get from one place to another without effort. It is as if the dream world is constantly presenting possibility where our mind has learned obstacle, encouraging us to take the leaps our soul so wants to make, to contradict the sense of limitation and doom we carry around.

man with egg
man with egg

Even though it happens all the time that the intentions of a group or a strong individual will bring into being something that was not possible in the past, we have made a certain category for that type of thing but are careful not to assign any meaning to it for ourselves and what we are capable of. We tell ourselves that dreams are for nighttime and are not ‘for real’. In his Book, "In Search of Character and Calling", Jungian psychologist and author James Hillman suggests the possibility that our souls are always constructing scenery and challenges in our lives so that the acorn of our true identity and calling can come to fruition.

But modern culture has difficulty thinking this way. Thus, our culture is viewed by these ancient cultures as “The People of Time”.

We have projected our individual ability to imagine on ‘special’ individuals or institutions like television, the film industry, or ‘famous people’. It is no wonder that our children are chained to these programs out of hunger for their own imagination.

In "Awakening to the Spirit World, the Shamanic Path of Direct revelation",    Sandra Ingerman and Hank Wesselman write:

“Perhaps the greatest enemy or obstacle to a man or woman of knowledge is the belief that one can be victimized by outside circumstances or trapped by fate.”

They call us into active participation with reality in order to see our lives not as hard solid masses of unchangeable facts but as the territory of explorers whose mission is to uncover the true nature of our reality and to play with it, through our dreams and personal visions. And so, dreams have continued to come to us. It is the use of dreams we have let go of. And it is the use and the understanding of how to work with dreams I would like to talk about.

broad daylight
broad daylight

The wonderful thing about a dream is that it is unrestrained; it is not polite or conscious of social status or constrained by the rules of the culture. It comes to us often unbidden and it is often filled with characters completely unlike ourselves.

Martin Prechtel, in "Secrets of the Talking Jaguar",  writes:

“Dreams are a direct, incorruptible expression of the mysterious nature of life and are considered to be free of human connivance.”

A dream provides an unfiltered hologram of the dynamics playing out in our lives, the fears and the beliefs that we are carrying as well as the potentials in our lives that have not yet come to fruition. And often the most difficult part of reflecting on a dream is getting over our bias for our own dream character to see what information the dream and the shadow characters are presenting to us!

In working with a dream we usually see that the dream is divided into scenes or stages:

  • The first stage usually presents the characters and a situation being introduced.
  • The second stage offers us an example of how a habitual dynamic is playing out and the emotions associated.
  • The third stage often offers us a surprise, an indication that some long held belief is being violated
  • The fourth stage often shows us the medicine or resolution to the habit in the dream. Many times the medicine is being offered through a shadow dream character that our dream character has not been able to see with appreciation or has labeled "bad."

This is the part of dream work that is the most interesting. We are shown our own shadow characters that we usually build a case against but who are actually trying to show us an aspect of ourselves that has been driven underground. For example, we might have a character in our dream that we label "lazy" or "good for nothing", while our own character is "hard working and stressed out". We might have a fear of being labeled ourselves as lazy and are over compensating by driving ourselves harshly. Or there might be a childhood wound of having been labeled lazy when really we were young, wide-eyed and open to our inner nature. When we are kids our families because of their own stresses and wounding often ignore our most sensitive qualities. And sometimes we adopt the opposite tendencies to deflect attention from a place of vulnerability.

To see a potential in a dream we need to be able to be tremendously honest with ourselves and work to find some quality in the other (shadow) characters that we can appreciate in some way.  We may ask ourselves "What do all of the other characters in the dream have in common unlike me?" Perhaps there will be a woman in the dream that we have labelled 'pushy'.  However when we look carefully at her we can see that she is not shy about the way she presents herself, something that in real life we have difficulty with.

Often the characters that play in our dreams trigger strong biases for or against and this too often prevents us initially from seeing another quality in them the dream is trying to bring us.

Dreams offer a vehicle to a deeply creative and resourceful existence; an unscripted and unconditioned life waiting to be discovered. When we work with the material of dreams we can invoke our deepest, innermost selves and through this conversation provoke change at the core level of our lives.

Because our dreams are completely unique to us as individuals they can suggest an entirely personal resolution to one’s inner and outer dilemmas. Dreams evolve with us.  They change as we change.

As this series develops we will be addressing specific dreams, take them apart and look at all the pieces and see how one can learn from them. I will ask readers to write in with their own dreams so we can have a live interaction to the dream material.

Stay tuned for part two — "How to remember your dreams", and more...