Category Archives: Dreamwork With Prisoners

Prisons Are Powerful Metaphors For Change

The reason dreams about jails are such powerful metaphors is because “prison” is such a perfect metaphor of the way all human beings can potentially become trapped inside our egos. When we have fear, anger, jealousy, disappointment, sadness, etc these negative emotions become like walls, bars and fences keeping us contained within a small area where growth & progress is nearly impossible.

The old way of looking at things is to avoid feeling the fear or other negative emotions but when we do that it’s like we are caging ourselves in and we can never experience true freedom. Instead, when we use FEAR as the KEY to unlock the DOOR then we move through the fear and discover limitless potential for our Selves!

Fear often shows up in dreams when we are running away from something, maybe a vicious animal or maybe a threatening person with a weapon. When we are running away in a dream it means we are trying to run away from something in real life. So when we understand what we are afraid of and face it then we can use Courage to do things which the fear had been stopping us from doing.

A dream comes to mind as I write this, one that I had years ago, when I was just beginning a journey of empowerment through dreamwork transformation. In the dream, I was being chased by a bear and at first I started running but then I got to a cliff and instead of jumping off which was what I wanted to do (anything to escape the thing I feared, right?) then I just turned around and faced the bear. It stopped running. Sniffed around and turned around and left me alone. A tremendous feeling of Strength filled me in that dream and when I worked through it the next day I recalled that bears in dreams are about Empowerment & Strength and the dream was telling me to have a lot of Strength when dealing with these HUGE challenges in front of me. I filled myself with the feeling of Strength and Courage and tackled the tasks with success. It was a great feeling! Before the dream, I was sort of feeling like giving up. The image of facing the bear helped me discover what I needed to do to face my fears.

This is an example of where I had been caged within my own Self, my ego, my own inner jail, thinking I couldn’t succeed and wanting to give up. The fear was a clue to me that I needed Courage and Strength so when I used Fear to give me a clue as to what I needed to do, then I found the positive qualities I needed in order to finish what I had started.

This is one of the reasons I really like listening to dreams from inmates. They have the real life experience of living in jail … but sometimes their inner states are far more FREE than many people who live on the outside. We can learn a lot from the dreams & stories of people who are in jail or who have been there. The main thing is to drop the judgement and just listen. After that, some really amazing things open up.

Dreams From the Box: Having an Adventurous Spirit on the Quest for New Gems of Character

When I listen to dreams from inmates, the first thing I do is remove judgement. It’s not my role to judge or criticize, just to listen and support. Recently, an inmate who calls himself “Money” shared a dream with me and he said he thinks it’s about how he is going deeper into himself and discovering the good things that are there which he never saw before. I got really excited when he shared the dream because it is such an awesome metaphor for the stages we go thru during transformation as we are searching for the positives.
Here is the dream:
I’m a desert, in Egypt, wearing clothes I would never wear, like khaki hiking shorts and a white polo shirt. I go into the pyramid and realize I am the guide, others are waiting for him to tell him what to do and where to go. I’ve been told not to push on the bricks but then I push on a brick anyway and then suddenly trap doors start opening and everyone falls down a hole one by one. They are each going down their own tunnels and falling and I can hear them screaming and yelling and then it stops and I figure they died. But then I keep falling down my tunnel and I land in a treasure-filled room and there’s all these gems and gold and stuff. It’s amazing and I realize it’s all for me and then in the far back part I see a mummy with a really special necklace. It’s gold and diamonds and really valuable so I get up as close as I can and I use a long stick to try to pull the necklace off. And then I woke up. What do you think it means?
This is such a perfect dream for the way transformation works because the energy used when going for change is a lot like being on an adventurous quest in an unknown territory. When we dig deep & have a lot of enthusiasm for the process then we can find “gems” of virtues within us – Courage, Confidence, Assertiveness & Patience – which we can then use in many life experiences.

Dreams From the Box – Exploring Transformation With Jail Metaphors

hallway with window
Photo by Jimmy Chan on Pexels.com

Nov. 26, 2018

The reason I like to explore transformation using the metaphor of jail is because when strong negative emotions are operating within us, they can imprison us within walls of fear, anger, jealousy, sadness, etc. I like to think of the ego as being exactly like a prison wall, trapping the True Self within seemingly impenetrable cement walls, high spiky fences and cold steel bars. The reason jail is such a good metaphor for ego is because when someone sets out to develop new capacities within them Self or to strengthen their skills, then it is as though they are setting out to demolish the inner walls of fear. Every time we wake up to a new truth about our self or about others or about life, it is as though we are operating a wrecking ball & bulldozing our way out of the inner jail which contains us.

Everyone can have the “feeling” of being in a jail. When we work at a job which we don’t like, it can feel like we are prisoners within our own workplace. When we live in a neighourhood which doesn’t bring us joy, this can feel like being jailed. When people are living in poverty or have very limited financial means, it can feel as though they are prisoners – wanting to do more with their life but having no way to get there. When a woman lives with a man who is abusing her, physically or emotionally, this can be like a jail. When a man works hard for a steady and strong income, but his wife takes his money and spends it frivolously, this can be like living in a jail. What I am trying to demonstrate here is that regular day-to-day life can “feel” like jail when there is an abuse of power in the environment, whether at home or at work.

When I hear dreams from prisoners, often times I find that before they were in jail physically, they were already “feeling” like they were in jail metaphorically. They wanted things for themselves and their families but couldn’t see how to get them and they couldn’t see how to change the feeling of being trapped so they tried lots of ways to try to get what they wanted, in the hopes they would no longer feel trapped, but sometimes the things they did hurt others and the outcome was that they were arrested and wound up in jail. Now there are two challenges ~ the inner condition of feeling jailed which all humans can experience, and the outer condition of living in a physical jail.

What I tell the inmates who call me to share their dreams & nightmares is that they have very little control over the conditions around them but they have ALL the control when it comes to their inner condition. When they can identify a huge challenge, fear, or issue that’s coming up in a dream and we can work through it until it’s no longer an issue, then it is like being released from an inner prison and it is so freeing. This is the same approach which works for everyone, but for the inmates it’s all the more powerful because they face a real-life jail every day.

When we do the transformation work on our inner Self then we begin to see changes in our outer world. When we first think of our metaphoric jail and free our Selves from it then we can find an abundance of opportunities in our environments which weren’t available to us before. This is an incredibly empowering process which can truly change everything.

Dreamwork With Prisoners: A dream of driving to the wrong place

May 26, 2018

Here is a dream a prisoner told me recently:

I was living in Niagara Falls and my ex girlfriend, her sister and her whole family came to visit. My ex wanted to talk with me and I said okay, come with me. Her sister wanted to come too. I drove us to a place that I wanted to go to but when I got there it was the wrong place. It was a hotel or something. I was trying to figure out where to go and how to get back to where I wanted to go. My ex’s sister was smoking a lot. She had yellow stains on her fingers and on her mouth. Then she took her shirt off and I was attracted but trying to resist too. Then she sat on my lap and I was trying to turn my face and resist. When I woke up I was like, “What the f*# is going on?”

 

In Their Own Words – Testimonials

“Oh man! You keep answering my calls! No one else is picking up when I call but you are always there. It’s the first time I don’t feel alone since I’ve been here.” JH, 30 yrs old

“I don’t know how you do what you do, Girl, but I can feel myself changing and it’s messed up. Somehow you made me realize what everyone’s been sayin’ to me, my mom, my sister, my girl, the police, my lawyers. Now I understand what they’ve been saying. I want to be better. I think you are already helping me get better. ” TK, 23 years old

“I got you, Rachel, you know? You’re doin’ all this to help us out. I’m gonna help you, what you’re doing, you know what I’m sayin’?” TS, 27 yrs old

“Hey I’m going to call you “Q” that’s who you are because you ask so many Questions but the thing is, you ask the kinds of questions to make me question my SELF. So that’s what’s so wild about the way you do things. You make me question my self. So that’s your new “jail name.” It’s Q.” DC, 34  yrs old

“I have like 14 months until I am done a 20 year 5 month sentence. I just turned 40 and have a lot going for me within the next 2-3 years…Thank you for your letter.” JB, 40 yrs old