Category Archives: TraumaWork

DREAM: Gazelles Warn of Danger

When there is a message of warning in the dream, such as the one I describe below, it means that when you do the inner work to transform the negative emotion in the dream into something new then if something potentially negative happens in real life you will have the ability to create a really positive outcome. In this way, you can shift your reality into something truly amazing. It takes time and daily effort and the really incredible results will shock and amaze you!

The reason trauma can be healed when you understand the secret messages of your dreams is because dreams exist outside of time & space. When we understand a message in a dream we can learn something about ourselves, our circumstances, and the people around us and we can begin to see negative things coming before they happen. This helps us become more prepared and it empowers us to use our skills, capacities, talents & strengths to create extremely positive experiences for ourselves, our families and our communities.

Truth be told, if there were a reward for having the most foreboding dreams in a row, I think I would win. In the past two weeks in my dreams I am:

  • canoeing in a river swarming with hungry alligators
  • hiking on a trail with snakes and lions
  • confronting an enormous bear trying to get in my house
  • running to rescue my dog who’s been attacked on the face
  • watching a herd of gazelles run from an unknown predator

Readers familiar with the way I do dreamwork (which was created & developed by author Richard Hastings), will remember that the many animals showing up in these dreams carries a lot of meaning. Here are four things to keep in mind when dreaming about animals.

  1. Like humans, animals have two sides – a positive expression of their qualities & also a negative expression. Think of how a dog can by loyal and friendly but also vicious & attacking. Dreams about animals signal where some work can be done for the dreamer to be more of the positive & less of the negative.
  2. When new energy is opening up in the dreamer, oftentimes animal dreams show up which provides guidance and clarity. So I can say that the negative energy I’m dealing with is anger, jealousy, hurt, fear – especially of being attacked by someone/something lurking hidden beneath the surface. The positives opening up for me are: empowerment (bear energy), flexibility (snake energy), strength/courage (lion energy), and … I’m still working on the alligator and the gazelle…
  3. When we flip the negative emotion of the dream to its positive opposite then we shift our perceptions and can go for opportunities which can change our circumstances. I suspect the positive of the alligator is being able to be patient and wait for the right time to leap at a goal or opportunity. When I am a Positive Alligator then I don’t react to every passing whim or fancy or emotion. I can be clear-headed, focused & patiently waiting for the right opportunity to go for my goal.
  4. When the dream is positive and outcome is good then it’s a good idea to try to incorporate the qualities of the animal because they will help with the real life situations. If the outcome is negative, then it means some work needs to be done on the issues so the outcome can be positive.

Gazelles are fast (known to run up to 60km/hr) but in the dream when I see the gazelles run by signaling that a predator is coming I turn to run with them but I know I could never keep up with their speed and in fact my running slowly would make me more vulnerable if it’s a bear or mountain lion. So I turn back to see if anything is coming but it’s just a dark path. I wonder if I can hide or maybe climb a tree. Without knowing what the gazelles are running from I find it hard to know how to protect myself.

Running in dreams usually means wanting to escape something fearful in real life. Often times, the object of the fear is a person in a perceived position of power. Facing the fear means standing strong, having clear boundaries, and having the Courage to be really big to the task. People who are addicted to power have a lot of ways of trying to make their targets feel small. When we stand in our Truth & our own Empowerment then we can be really big to the task and not allow anyone to make us feel small or threatened.

There are a number of potentially negative situations which can happen, at home, in the workplace or in the community. There are a few things I’m facing right now – all of us are facing something to one degree or another. When we remember to hold a clear vision of a bright future in our mind & we take positive action towards our goals then we never need to fear any predator. We have all the skills, capacities, talents & tools needed to overcome ANY obstacle or challenge that faces us. When we dream about animals it’s a sure sign that great big new energy is opening up and exciting things are happening! We need not be afraid of the change and we can trust ourselves and our inner guidance to move us through any difficulty or deal with any challenge.

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Ask your Self: What am I invisioning happening in the future that scares me?

If the negative thing you imagine happening has HAPPENED to you in the past and you are afraid of it happening again, then this is a REAL FEAR and the solution is to have A LOT of Courage and to learn something new to deal with your current life circumstance.

If the negative thing you imagine happening in the future has never happened to you before but you have seen it happen to others (in real life, or movies, or on the news, etc) then the issue is ANXIETY. The solution for anxiety is to look back into your past, remember what you’ve done well & succeeded in before and then repeat those actions again with A LOT OF CONFIDENCE.

I will be writing a lot more about working with Fear & Anxiety in upcoming posts.

Please feel free to share your experiences in the comments below and remember to subscribe to Healing With Dreamwork so you can be notified when the next blog post is published.

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Trauma, Self-Destruction and….dreamwork for prisoners

For the past three years, I’ve been receiving dreams from men who are incarcerated in one of the largest correctional centers in Ontario, Canada. When they first send their dreams, I don’t ask what charges are held against them, nor do I ask how long they’ve been in jail, or how much longer they expect to be in jail. Instead, I just listen to what they want to tell me about their dreams. Sometimes they voluntarily share their charges, sometimes they don’t and both ways are fine. The reason I don’t ask about this directly is because I believe that True Justice is about seeing through one’s own eyes, and not through the eyes of others. I want to hear the dream and talk to the person and connect without judgement. Most times when others here of the work I do, one of their first questions to me is, “What was the guy charged with?” and my answer is usually, “I don’t know. I didn’t ask.” The work is about transformation not about assessing guilt or innocence. It’s not about focusing on the mistakes but about blowing up the positives.

One of the biggest problems in our culture today is that people tend to not want to see Truth for themselves and they tend to want others to do the work for them, such as leaving the decision to the courts. The reason this approach doesn’t always work is that there is always more to the story than what the courts can hear; moreover, the justice system as we know it today is an archaic & antiquated system which has not yet adapted to modern scientific knowledge about the brain, or new discoveries about how childhood trauma affects someone’s psychological make up in adulthood, or about how positive community environments can curb criminal-tendencies replacing them with unity-building capacities for well-being and achievement. As frustrating as the large-scale problem of the so-called “justice system” is, the solution is quite simple and easily achievable. To solve this problem, the key is to learn how to see through one’s own eyes and not through the eyes of others. The reason this is so very, very difficult at times is because it requires having the ability to recognize the Negative Truth about a situation and having the skills to know what to do with that knowledge.

What is Negative Truth? Negative Truth is what we see when we are looking at a situation and we realize something which is negative. Sometimes we so vehemently want to believe something is the way we want it to be but then we see it is not that way and in fact may even be the opposite of what we want, and in that case we must submit to the Negative Truth about a situation in order to deal with what is real, instead of engaging with an illusion. I’ll give you an example of what I mean so it is more clear.

In summer of 2013, I re-located from Fort McMurray, Alberta to London, Ontario when I accepted a teaching position at a private school. I accepted a lower-than usual salary in exchange for my daughter attending the school free of charge and this was a suitable arrangement for me. I’m breaking custom here to speak about my salary publicly but I am doing so in order to make a point. Not only did I accept a minimum salary for a teaching position, I also gave up a lot. At the time I was teaching830410_10152608938305595_760791799_o English as a Second Language at a college, plus I was publishing articles weekly in the daily newspaper, with my articles also publishing online. My career was exactly where I wanted it to be. Getting paid well to teach, getting paid well as a journalist, what could be better? The answer to that came when my daughter was offered a position at a private school and I was willing to give up my career path in order to adjust our lives to accommodate her education. I let go of my beautiful two-bedroom apartment, which I loved. I detached from a community-building initiative which I loved. I left my car. I left every item clothing and everything I owned and I accepted the teaching position and my daughter started school. Because I had given up so much for this new path in our lives, I had a lot of expectation about the good that would come out of it. I envisioned her attending this school from Grade Four to Grade 12. I envisioned teaching at the school for a decade and enjoying the benefits of working in the field I had studied and earned a degree in. I envisioned becoming an active and contributing member of our new community, sharing my talents, skills and enthusiasm with the school and nearby neighbourhoods. Little did I know that the vision I held in my mind was an illusion and it could never materialize. I thought I was re-creating the success I’d experienced in the city I’d been living before but I was wrong. 858902_10152608938905595_1160308277_o

Within months of my relocation across the country, whispers began spreading around the school that it was closing. The school closing would mean not only would I lose my job, but also that my daughter would lose the educational path her father and I had chosen for her. Before we even had time to unpack our belongings, we were already having to face the Negative Truth that moving had been a mistake and we had to find somewhere else to go. My own personal Negative Truth was that in fall of 2013, I had only been separated from my marriage for three years and had not yet rebuilt after that financial disaster. I didn’t use credit cards. Didn’t have a savings. Didn’t have a car. Didn’t own a home. And the only clothing I owned was what I had packed into a suitcase when I had left for vacation in the summer. I had packed a suitcase planning to visit friends in Ontario for a month but while I was visiting I was offered a job, which I accepted and then stayed in the city to begin settling in. That’s why when the school started to close in fall & winter of 2014 I was in such a terribly devastating position. Eventually I found new work, settled my daughter in a new school, and made the best of our new situation. But that experience taught me a very powerful life lesson about seeing the Negative Truth. Sometimes people will paint a picture with their words and give you a vision of what you can go for but then in reality that vision is unattainable and will never be achieved. I had a vision of teaching for a decade and providing my daughter with a quality private school education. But the Negative Truth is that there were hints that the school was closing even before we arrived and I had to face the fact, sooner than later, that the vision I had was just an illusion. In truth, I may have made a huge mistake when I left my teaching and journalism work in Alberta. But we can’t turn back the clock. We can’t take back something once it’s done. We have to just learn the lesson and move forward with what we’ve learned.

Even though this example of my story is not related to a “crime” per say I can still understand and have compassion for people who make choices which leads them on a path of self-destruction. I have done the same thing.

When I take calls from inmates & listen to their stories, I remember that we are all equal here on this earth. No human being is valued higher or lower than any other. We are all equal. And when I keep this in mind, I find the learning truly goes both ways & I am so grateful for this experience.

16 Principles of Dreamwork/Changework with Jail Metaphors

A prisoner shared a dream about being in a house looking for his wife and he found her in a bedroom sleeping with another man. This dream brings to mind some key principles of the Dreamwork/Changework process.

  1. A house in a dream is a metaphor for the Self.
  2. Human beings have a Higher part of themselves and a lower part, characterized by positive virtues & qualities which uplift themselves and others or negative fears & behaviours which hurt themselves or others.
  3. Dreams reveal unconscious fears which are controlling the individual.
  4. If fears have been allowed to unconsciously develop for the lifetime of an individual then they may become imprisoned within their own “lower self.”
  5. When an individual is imprisoned within their own lower nature (caged in with fears, anxieties, jealousies, rages, etc) they may be hurting themselves and/or others often.
  6. Individuals imprisoned in their own fears can be living inside of a jail OR living in their own house. All human beings everywhere deal with this fundamental truth of human experience.
  7. When someone identifies their unconscious issues (fears & anxieties for example) and learns new skills they can cut themselves free from the fear and then live more fully in their Positive Self.
  8. When someone identifies their anxieties and learns to repeat their gifts & talents more regularly they free themselves from the images which box them in and they can live in their Positive Self more fully.
  9. When someone in jail dreams of a house and the dream is positive then the dream is giving a message about how the prisoner can move forward practicing their strengths to face what is happening in their lives and to change things for the better.
  10. When someone in jail dreams of a house and the dream is negative then the dream is giving a message about how the prisoner can let go of the old and flip the negatives to positives.
  11. When someone who has never gone to jail dreams of being in jail it means they need to get the message that they are imprisoning themselves in negative memories, thoughts, feelings and behaviours. They need to do some serious work to break free from the negative past.
  12. The positive parts of dreams reveal positive qualities, traits, skills & talents in the dreamer. These positive qualities can be used to solve the negatives.
  13. Whenever a dream comes with a lot of fear or negatives in it, like what some people might call nightmares, the solution is to become friends with the fear, notice it, become aware of it, embrace it.
  14. When we can embrace our deepest fears and use our strongest qualities to face the fears then, in time, with daily practice, the fear can be nearly entirely eliminated.
  15. The inner transformation always happens in the pattern – There are inherited, learned and innate qualities and they develop in order (described in section ??)
  16. When an individual is growing new skills & capacities, healing from past trauma, and moving forward towards their goals, ambitions, and bright future the process affects them first, then their family, then their community.

COMING SOON: A New Dreamwork Book “Dreams From the Box ~ Exploring Transformation With Jail Metaphors”

To support this on-going initiative with inmates please contact

My Dream of Delivering a Pregnant Woman to the Hospital to Deliver a Baby

04 February 2018

I am in a large conference room when suddenly a woman, wearing a bright orange shirt and clearly 9 or 10 months pregnant stands up and says her water just broke. While everyone else is staring at her in shock, I grab my keys from my pocket and say, “Okay, I can take you!” She nods in agreement and we leave the building.

We get to the hospital without issue and the baby is delivered without incident. Then, for some reason, she asks me to watch after the baby while she is in the hospital after delivery. I say, Yes, and bring the baby home and put it to rest in a crib. My boyfriend and I then start tidying up the house, doing dishes and we’re really playful and happy.

Then someone from my past comes to the back door of the house. He’s let his beard grow out and with his jet black long bushy hair he looks a lot like Black Beard The Pirate. But he walks into the house as though he owns it.

My boyfriend looks him over and sees he’s somewhat a threat but also somewhat friendly and he gives me a glance so as to say, “You know this guy? You want me to get him out of here or leave him alone?”

I nod back and smile so as to say, “I’ve got this.”

I greet the intruder and ask how everything is and if I can do something for them.

He says in his gruffley but friendly tone that he heard I’ve been watching the new baby and he wondered how things are going and can he see the baby. I realize he’s there to check in on me but I tell him it’s no problem and we go up to the room.

We go into the room where I think I’ve left the baby and look in the crib and to my horror he’s not there. I shuffle my hands around the blankets and can’t find him anywhere. I look around the room to see if he’s in another bed and I quickly dart my eyes to the floor to see if he’s rolled out but there’s no sign of him anywhere.

Just as I’m about to admit to the terrible horror then I remember that there is another room & I quickly jolt out to check and sure enough, there he is sleeping as soundly as can be.

The intruder/friend smiles too and says everything looks like it’s going fine here and I say, Yes, it’s a big house and I’m getting used to it but all is well.

He says he’ll be going then and my boyfriend and I return to the kitchen to wash and play and laugh.

* The interpretation of this dream makes sense when considered in light of the idea of transformation. When there has been abuse or trauma in the past, it can show up in a variety of ways in a dream. In this case. an intruder coming into the space when it is happy and playful is a lot like the way abuse happens in real life. The intruder/abuser is all full of their negative thoughts, ideas and beliefs and they just want to fill the room with their negative words and actions. The other person doesn’t stand a chance against that high degree of negativity.

This dream shows the progressed state though because even though an uninvited intruder came in, he had a somewhat more curious and interested state, more friendly than aggressive. And what he found was that all was well so he had nothing negative to say and he left. This is what happens in real life when the target of abuse or the target of a narcissist overcomes the issues and develops new skills and capacities. There’s just nothing negative left for the intruder/abuser to balk at.

Another good sign of progress in this dream is subtle and only meaningful to me but I will share it so others will also begin to look to the very subtle and meaningful personal symbols in their dreams.

Many years ago, in about 2012 I started using the metaphor of a “mess” to think of the mess the divorce was creating in my life. A mountainous, messy pile of dishes in the kitchen was the perfect metaphor for my divorce and the left over messy behaviour fro the marriage. It was like I had to learn to leave a “messy pile of dishes” that someone else created and instead of cleaning it up I had to let them figure out how to clean it up. This was the metaphor.

Now, many years after the separation and divorce, this dream is showing me that the issues have gotten so much better that there are no longer any dirty dishes! Not only that, I am enjoying doing them and putting them away with someone I’m in a close personal relationship with and we have fun together putting the mess away.

This image brings so much happiness to my mind and heart and fills me with a sensation of warmth and love.

Intruders, abusers & negative behaviour doesn’t stand a chance in the warm & positive environment of a loving relationship.

That’s why I really like this dream and am happy to share it with others.

I hope in time, more people will also share their dreams here too. It’s just so great to share with others and keep growing all the time.

Dream: Reporting on a Football Game

17 August 2017

In the dream, I was sitting in the stands of a football stadium watching a football game. It was snowy but not cold. Later, I was sitting in a classroom and told the instructor I would give a go at being a sports reporter. I told her I had no interest in it when I was in school but now I thought I could try my hand at it. A guy was sitting across the table from me and gave me a look like he thought it was a good idea & he was interested to read what I had to write. Others joined in the conversation which took on a slightly negative tone around whether or not I should write about sports.

My analysis: I know what this dream is about and it’s hard to write about it.

This dream is about the search to find meaning, significance & value in an otherwise emotionally cold & hostile environment. Cold weather in a dream is about cold-type emotions. Some relationships & environments can be void of Joy and Enthusiasm or Compassion and this shows up in a dream as cold weather. To be in a stadium in the cold and then talking about it means the issue in the dream is a cultural one. It means this issue is about how our culture has cold & heartless conditions in it and even how some people can make a sport out of hurting others.

Football can be played in the snow and no one minds. Some sports are winter sports and in that way the cold is not an issue. That seems to be what my dream is about here.

Having a dream about thinking about writing about a cold-weather sport means I am thinking about ways to express the cold parts of relationships through writing.

Since others in the dream seemed a bit negative about this it means that I am now seeing how North American culture does not like people writing so honestly about the more obviously negative side of the way things are done. People would rather tell me that my idea is no good and get me to be quiet about the whole thing rather than face the fact that their cold-hearted ways are hurtful to themselves & others.

In the past, as when I was in school for Journalism, I was vulnerable to others’ opinions and if I had an idea which others shot down then I wouldn’t go for my idea. In this way, I got caught in a trap of having good ideas but not going for them. I also got in the habit of sharing my ideas and then noticing that others would shoot down the idea in front of me but then later take the idea and run with it. Some people have made very successful lives for themselves founded on the ideas I gave them. They had the resources and support to make the ideas happen for them. Most times they seem to forget that the idea came from me in the first place. I just didn’t have the resources or support to make the good idea come to life.

I don’t mind that others have built happy lives based on ideas I gave them for overcoming obstacles or expanding on their natural gifts. In fact, it brings me a lot of Joy to see them happy and successful.

This football dream is just teaching me to be careful about expecting to get positive feedback. It’s not really necessary to have the approval of anyone, ever. Not really.

This dream is reminding me that if I want to make a sport out of writing about sports then so be it. I can just do what I want to do regardless of what others think.