The power of dreams: an introduction to Archetypal Dreamwork – Jill Eras, MS, MFT
Dreams happen to everyone, every night, whether we can remember them or not. This phenomenon is not random; dreaming is essential to our health and wellbeing. Nothing we have in our natural state as human beings is random; all of our systems provide essential and necessary functions for our health and growth – why would dreaming be any different?
Dreams as a window to your inner world
Our culture has a bad habit of taking everything it cannot see and analyze with scientific data and relegating to the garbage bin. Why are we so afraid of our dream life? Perhaps within the dream lies the truth of ourselves we have been seeking … nothing frightens us more than the possibility of being who we really are. We humans do the absurd to deny our souls; dreams simply present the truth, if we dare to look. Truth is scary to see, live, and be, but it feels great once we understand the obstacles to living in our truth.
Archetypal Dreamwork is exactly what is sounds like: the Archetypes work with us in our dreams, and we therefore “work” our dreams. Archetypes are teachers in our dreams, they come as many characters cast by our psyches and according to our own language. Archetypes can be the Anima (the female aspect of the Divine) or Animus (the male aspect of the Divine), plus many others. The cast of characters in your dreams are waiting patiently to teach you all about you, they work with you in the unique language of your soul. I am always awestruck by the love and presence of the Archetypes, it is difficult to take in how much they must love us to show up for us again and again. If nothing else, dreams demonstrate the loving patience and unconditional love of the Divine.
Dreams teach us to feel feelings we have repressed, to experience trauma we have suppressed, and to find our way out of the lies that keep us “safe” from experiencing trauma again. As you might have guessed, dreams help heal trauma wounds. While we all unconsciously aim to keep trauma feelings from surfacing, using up all our creative energy to avoid the unavoidable, and the cycle of pain goes on and on. Without healing trauma in ourselves, we perpetuate the myth of mental illness such as depression and anxiety. Through working with dreams, I have learned that these 'dis-eases' are actually reactions to feelings we are taught to not feel; yet to feel is to be human.
To feel is to connect with our truest self; we cannot exist without our feelings and so our mind provides the coping mechanism of focusing on the past which can never be changed, or the future which is yet to be determined. Both situations keep us from the now, therefore we will not have to feel the feelings that are happening in the present. Working with our dreams teaches us, one dream at a time, that it is safe and indeed necessary to engage and feel our feelings. We learn that we are not alone, we are held in love, and that feelings that are felt are feelings that can be healed.
The process of self-discovery in Dreamwork
Dreamwork usually begins with dreams that highlight outer world behaviors that result from unresolved trauma. Dreams of anxiety are typical: they bring us to the moment of unbearable tension in one’s life and are usually dramatic and/or chaotic. Sound familiar? How many times do we dream of being naked in front of the audience or forgetting our homework in high school? Worrying about what might happen and assuming we are inadequate to cope with what may come to pass is a debilitating mental process that afflicts many if not most people. We each feel inadequate and then balance this out with overly inflated pride – this is a pendulum swing that keeps us vacillating between depression and anxiety. What better way to keep our world in the hands of war, violence, and poverty than to have our people caught in a never-ending cycle of hatred of self or of others? Dreams can break this down, if only we let them do their job.
Ultimately, dreams bring us to our truest selves, to our calling and creativity with our souls. From this place of fulfillment, we can move towards a greater sense of inner peace which can and will be reflected in the world. We do this “dreamwork” for ourselves, but we also do it for the greater good, to reclaim ourselves is to send out a signal to those who can hear it and feel it to rise up and reclaim themselves. A better world will not happen while we each struggle inside of ourselves, constantly at war with who we are. If we heed the pathway of the dream, we have a true blueprint to follow to the final destination of inner truth. The Archetypes will not give up or relent in sending us dreams to wake us up to the real world of the real you that exists in your dreams.
Jill Eras, MS, MFT is a therapist and dreamworker helping clients in Saddle River NJ to grow and lead truly inspiring lives. To visit her website, click here.