Not All Dreams Are Created Equal

November 30, 2015
trevor's dream

A Symbolic Dream

One of the first priorities when we start to work with dreams is to distinguish what to focus on, as not all dreams are created equal. Occasionally we can become overwhelmed trying to interpret every dream that enters our awareness. Recently, I have been witnessing dreams that come as an affirmation of our current life journey. It is as though the soul wants to assure us that we are on the right path. One dream-partner shared a dream of being able to sing beautifully, it was an amazing moment as she has always aspired to sing and now the voice in the dream was the one she had always longed for. She knew immediately that the dream was not about a vocal miracle; it was a declaration that she had found her voice in the world in which she lived.

So what are some of the other forms that dreams may take?

  • Junk Mail Dreams There are dreams that come simply to support us in discarding the psychic trash. These dreams are full of haphazard, overlapping images that can create chaos in the waking mind. Treat these like junk mail; they came to pass and perhaps clear some of the detritus from an overloaded mind.
  • Anxiety Dreams There are the classic anxiety dreams that everyone will occasionally encounter; you arrive at the airport without ticket, passport or bag; you sit an exam with no pencil or paper. These are a normally a sign of some harmless anxiety about a future event however if your dreams are always anxious then it will be important to explore the underlying cause.
  • Precognitive Dreams Infrequently you may have dreams that are pre-cognitive of a future event. These dreams are generally like a photograph: clear, accurate, no symbols. There is no explaining these dreams outside of the context that “we are more than we think we are”.
  • Collective Dreams Some dreams may represent something happening in the collective consciousness at the time. Carl Jung dreamed images of the First World War before it happened. I recall attending a meditation on the evening of September 11th 2001 and everyone except one person there had experienced disturbed sleep the night prior to the event.
  • Dreams of the Life Not Lived They totally intrigue me; I encountered them at a time when I was deeply involved in pursuing my spiritual quest and spending a lot of time in meditation and on retreat. I began to have these movie type dreams full of action and adventure; these were related to the lack of exciting activity in my life at the time. I always regretted that I could not recall them as I am convinced there was an Oscar contender in their somewhere.
  • Symbolic Dreams of Guidance The ones I focus on in my workshops. Much has been written and explored but look for these signs of a significant dream: it features people you know, three is a significant number, it contains emotion and energy, it is about travel, your waking self tells you it is a “stupid meaningless dream”, and particularly if you have similar dreams on a theme.
  • Dreams Outside of Time Sometimes these symbolic guidance dreams occur before the event in question has occurred; this can be confusing but very affirming after the event has transpired and you realize that you had a dream that helped you cope with the experience. I had one such dream recently. “I am standing on a ocean beach, I feel I am too close to the waves and move back to a safer distance however a huge wave swamps me right up to the centre of my chest then recedes leaving me no worse for wear. My sister Chris and her daughter Amy are there. The scene segues to a sparse forest with lots of space between the trees. Suddenly I put my hands in my pocket and find my keys missing, then I think I find them and then realize they are not the right keys as my shorts have changed. I begin to panic as it is getting dark, my sister and I retrace our steps, she finds my keys hanging in a tree.” This dream is about allowing myself to get swamped by emotion and knowing I will be safe then trusting that although I may not know what is going on the “key” lies through the feminine feelings. This dream came a couple of months before the event actually took place.
  • Energy Dreams My dream partner reminded me there are also dreams of pure energy. They are not always easy to understand but frequently offer a sense of connection to the divine through our chi and our chakras. In this type of dream the body can feel as though an electric current is flowing through it.
  • Dreams of Invention It was a dream that led Einstein to develop his theories of relativity and Elias Howe, inventor of the sewing machine, had a dream of being surrounded by cannibals with long spears with a hole in the end that helped him solve where the eye in the needle needed to go.

As my wonderful teacher Atum O’Kane says, “Having a dream and failing to explore it is like receiving a gift and not unwrapping it.For a free dream partnering download go to

Complexes – Finding The Silver Lining

November 27, 2015

A $500 Complex disguised as ski boots.

It was a stunning Vancouver Fall day. I was driving across the Lions Gate Bridge, snow tipped mountains ahead, unusually blue water reflecting an equally clear sky. I had made a major life decision which felt good. It resulted from the liners of my twenty-year old ski boots completely falling apart. In fact the one time I used them last April, I had to slide my foot into a plastic bag to ski in them one last time. It was an intensely annoying occurrence because I had hoped they would survive as long as I wanted to ski as  the age of seventy-one how much longer was I going to ski?

I was driving to North Vancouver because after some soul searching I had made the decision to spend $500 on new boots and was headed to pick them up and have my ski bindings adjusted to the new boot. I entered Destination Slope and Surf Outfitters carrying my skis hoping for a tranquil experience as my helpful salesperson Lucas had told me it was his day off.

It did not begin well, when I mentioned that Lucas had said I could have the bindings adjusted while I waited, my server huffed, “It’s all right for Lucas, he doesn’t have to do them.” Then she could not find my bill of sale however my sunny disposition was not to be disrupted until….. “you know you have to pay another twenty dollars?” It was fascinating to observe the flush of emotion that was triggered. It was like a current that travelled through my body. My mood shifted and I began to protest. “No-one mentioned it; I have already spent $500 and you want another twenty dollars for a simple adjustment?” I felt surly, wanting to prolong the argument but she was resolute and uncompromising, my suggestion that this did little for their reputation for customer service was like water off a duck’s back. “Do you want it done or not?”

I stood momentarily frozen, not uncommon when in the grip of a complex until I finally I said, “I feel too bothered by this so no.” I signed a release that said if I killed myself wearing these boots it was my fault not theirs.” And walked out feeling I had lost my centre, unsure if I had made the right decision or not.

Fortunately as those of you who have followed my musings know I have had a lot of experience studying complexes. I knew this was not so much about the present moment – it was only $20 – it was about history emerging into the present moment. It seemed all too familiar – the sense of unfairness, of feeling powerless and being taken advantage of. Eminent Jungian analyst James Hollis, the master of understanding these reactions, explains that complexes are actually autonomous, we don’t control them but we can learn to manage our reactions to them. They are centres of stored energy in the body that under certain circumstances are triggered and replay our history.

As I sat in my car processing, I noticed a sense of shame that after all the personal work I have done, I can still instantaneously assume the persona of an angry, surly teenager. I gave myself a little credit for not totally losing my composure but I was left with the resulting negative mood.

Suddenly I recalled a lecture by Hollis that I listened to while at the gym the previous day. He was asked by a student “how much time does it take to go through these stages because he seems to make progress then slides back.” Hollis responded that it is indefinite and no outcome is certain which feels intolerable to the ego because of the ambiguity.” However he also reminded them that it is essential to practice understanding and that although change is easy to embrace in the head, everything within us resists it.”

It made me feel less alone and my judgment of myself was mitigated however I still felt the lingering impact of the experience and wondered how I could shift it.

I turned on the car and was immersed in the divine music of Beethoven’s fifth piano concerto. I sensed that my relationship to this exquisite music could support me in transitioning into a more up-beat frame of mind. It wafted over me like a gentle breeze. I found myself traversing the bridge once again and the glorious sound combined with the majesty of the scenery. Instinctively I turned off to travel through beautiful Stanley Park where giant red cedar and ocean views augmented the impact and suddenly I was free. The negative energy dissipated and found myself in joy.

It was remarkable and I sensed I had discovered in Beauty a tool for transition that could help support me on the twists and turns of life’s journey. I may not be able to prevent my complexes being triggered but I could deal with them in a more conscious way. It occurs to me that during much of the eighties I was totally at the mercy of these splinter personalities and lived semi permanently in a reactive state so progress has been made.

Hollis reminds us that despite the continued defeats, there is an energy within encouraging forward motion. It is a comforting thought because the only choice is to retreat from ambiguity to old certainties and that will not work. It reminds me of the Matrix and the metaphor of the red pill and the blue pill. Once you take the red pill you can never go back.


Reflections on Fall

November 12, 2015

Fall Colour

I always forget how much I love autumn until it is in full swing. In part this is my resistance to the loss of the long, lingering, balmy days of summer. I hate the sense of finality that comes with finally putting away the shorts and T-shirts. In fact every year I shift into avoidance and head south to California where the onset of fall is accompanied by delightful balmy summer days and temperatures that can exceed the eighties.

However by mid October I return to face the inevitable drama of fall in the northwest. It is the time when powerful storms, spawned in the tempestuous Gulf of Alaska, frequently thousands of miles in length drive high winds and deluges of rain onto the coast. It seems a relentless attack on the defenseless deciduous trees whose leaves cling on desperately until they finally succumb in a torrent of colour coating the sidewalks in their fancy dress.

It is at this point that something magical happens. I find my self embracing the shift of seasons. My evening sunset stroll along the beach is replaced by an afternoon wander along treed boulevards admiring the rich shades of crimson, umber, orange and gold that reflect luminously in the afternoon sun, lighting up like miniature lanterns. The sidewalk assumes a multi-coloured mosaic of the fallen while the trees looking ever more destitute cling determinedly to their remaining offspring.

Fall has a somewhat jaded appearance, disorderly, unkempt and disheveled compared to the joyous profusion of summer. The gardens assume a tired, exhausted appearance and people talk about “putting them to bed”.  It seems so appropriate. The flowering plants lose their radiance and slip into the ordinary. Occasionally a rebel flashes one last bloom before succumbing to its inevitable fate.

The sun continues its inevitable drift south with shortening days, and a sense of gloom can pervade in advance of the next major storm front. Yet forcing oneself to experience the drama of the storm’s ferocity more than compensates for its dampening force. Fall needs to be lived fully.

Fall comes also as a wonderful reminder to consider the changing season in my own Soul journey. What needs to be released? What powerful event transpiring in my life has come to help me let go of “the last leaf”? How do I shift my perspective to see the longer, darker days as a gift? Has disorder crept in to my garden? What needs to be “put to bed”? Is there an old behaviour that no longer blooms for me?

Fall is a wonderful time for reflection and engaging our inner landscape. I believe a valuable Fall practice is to reflect on the journey and make a list of the things for which I am grateful. “There are so many gifts my dear still unopened from your Birthday*” – these lines from Rumi offer a timely reflection.

I learned a practice for Fall at a workshop I attended this summer titled “Seasons of the Soul”. Take four small pieces of paper and write on them the words: compost, fulfillment, completion and harvest. Fold them so you cannot see the inscriptions then arrange them to form a cross or the four directions: top, bottom, left, right. Then close your eyes and briefly meditate on receiving a gift of guidance.

Open the folded scraps of paper to reveal which word occupies which direction. Each position has its own interpretation:

Left: Something to be receptive to.

Right: Something to actively engage.

Top: That which is on the horizon

Bottom: Something requiring healing.

Then reflect on the meaning of each word in its position. Perhaps your healing may come from fulfillment or completing some project. Sometimes we need to be receptive to composting something that was once vital but now we need to benefit from the nourishment it leaves us. We could need to be open to complete of something that is on the horizon. If harvest appears in the healing position then perhaps something on our journey needs to be more fully recognized and appreciated. I find myself back thinking about Rumi’s wonderful poem.

* So Many Gifts

There are so many gifts

Still unopened from your birthday,

there are so many handcrafted presents

that have been sent to you by God.

The Beloved does not mind repeating,

“Everything I have is also yours.”

Please forgive Hafiz and the Friend

if we break into a sweet laughter

when your heart complains of being thirsty

when ages ago every cell in your soul

capsized forever into this infinite golden sea.

Indeed, a lover’s pain is like holding one’s breath

too long in the middle of a vital performance,

when God just rolled over and gave you

such a big good-morning kiss!

There are so many gifts, my dear,

still unopened from your birthday.

Me and F@#!! Technology

November 2, 2015

Preface: I don’t think I have ever written a preface to a blog before yet it feels necessary in this instance to create a context. During the summer I had felt less than motivated to write. I thought about reviewing my journals for some blog ideas. It didn’t happen although I did recall an idea about frustration with technology but couldn’t find the journal entry. I decided that if the universe wanted me to write it would send me another experience. This is the story of what transpired when the cosmic joker stepped in.

I have a very mixed relationship with technology. When it works I appreciate the wonder when it stops working I am completely at a loss. This leads to frustration, irritation and an obsessive need to try and fix it although I know my chances of success are abysmal.

My recent challenge began when for no apparent reason my Wi-Fi printer stopped working. I would press “print”, it would behave apparently as usual except nothing would emerge from the printer. I checked the little printer icon and it would say, “Cannot find printer”.

I embarked on the mystery like Sherlock Holmes on a case. I followed each clue methodically and logically somehow finding a mysterious box described as “utility”. This confirmed what I already knew “cannot find printer.”

I noticed a prominent box underneath that said “trouble shooting”. Ah – help was at hand. It took me to a web site where I learned there were nine steps to follow each one had the potential to resolve the issue. Except none worked. To be sure I did all nine twice except for reload print driver. I tried that but the download from the printer manufacturer was rudely rejected by my computer because it will only accept applications approved my Apple and this one did not fit the bill.

This has been the story of my ongoing relationship with technology. After I have done everything according to the book I run into an unexpected brick wall. It was a classic “Catch 22”; the wonderful term coined by Joseph Heller in his book of the same name. A catch-22 is a paradoxical situation from which an individual cannot escape because of contradictory rules.

Then in a moment of brilliance I realized I could connect the computer up the old fashioned way using a cable. With renewed hope I dug through my box of cables to find that none of them fit, then it was a journey of discovery to find the old printer carton – nada; in fact the box did not even include a cable as it was Wi-Fi.

As I am about to set out to either purchase a cable or a printer, I notice a loose cable hanging from the USB port of my iMac. To my delight it is the very cable I am looking for. Excitedly I make the connection and press print. Zilch – once again no response. The utility once again informs me that the printer cannot be found.

This is the end of my patience; the F*#*%! printer is sitting side by side with the computer; it is plugged in; how can they not link up? Then I remember that sometimes you need to start the devices in a particular order to get them to recognize each other. I trouble shoot once again and follow another nine steps for cable connection that include turning off and unplugging both devices then starting them in the prescribed order.

I would like to say that I pressed print with a degree of confidence but in reality I knew damn well that the room would resonate with the sound of a printer not working as soon as I pressed print. And I was right.

Totally frustrated and somewhat pissed off I resigned myself to the purchase of a new printer. It seemed such a waste. The printer worked fine, it would spew out pages of stuff telling me it wasn’t working and I had about a ten-year supply of ink. It just would not print from my computer. Obviously they weren’t speaking to each other perhaps they had an acrimonious divorce of which I was unaware.

First it was time for a walk and a coffee; I would buy the new printer on the way home. However it was on my walk that I remembered the incident described in the preface. It struck me as somewhat synchronicitous that I remembered it at this particular point in time. Was it reminding me of unfinished business? Although it seemed positively absurd to my logical mind, I decided to give the printer one more chance. I also made the commitment to explore further my experience and look at the impact that technological misadventures had on my psyche and write about my thoughts and feelings.

I got home and began the nine step checking process once again. As completed the final step I heard the amazing sound of the printer churning into life – It was a report that said “WLAN – connection OK. “Was this new?” Then the printer kicked back into gear and the report I was waiting for emerged page by page. It seemed like a miracle. Cosmic Joker? Coincidence? Fate? I had fulfilled my part of the bargain, was this my reward? Crazy perhaps but I don’t care.

Postscript: It is a few weeks later and I did not publish this because I felt there should be some higher meaning – not the universe just playing jokes on me. The printer blipped for a moment but is back on track and I took it as a sign to “Publish and be damned.”

However it caused me to reflect on what I observed when faced with technology challenges:

1) I become obsessive when trying to fix I the problem. I diligently labour and toil to no avail, following web instructions, then feel slighted and a great sense of unfairness when it does not work.

2) For some reason I resist calling for help. (How male is that?) Partly this is because of frustrating experiences with technology service groups, most of whom cannot understand my level of incompetence. It is always a last resort. However perhaps I need to reconsider this and reverse the order.

3) It does appear that the final solution only shows up once I have surrendered the problem and actually given up.

As I write this it all looks like some giant Gordian knot that is yet to be fully unraveled – but at least I am done for now and my printer continues to work.

(Press PRINT and end)