In the dream, I’m a smoker, even though in real life I’m not. In the dream, I’m wearing a baggy jacket and have 1/2 dozen loose cigarette butts in each pocket but no full cigarette. I’m with a bunch of smokers and ask them for one and they all say they don’t have any. I say it’s okay, it doesn’t matter, I’m quitting anyways.
Then an ex-boyfriend arrives. In real life he’s an ex but in the dream I am still trying to salvage the relationship. I ask him if he wants to catch the ferry with me and go do something off the island. At first he disagrees but he concedes with my insistence and he even offers to pay.
I notice right away he starts taking photos with his phone which is a strange & uncharacteristic behaviour of his. He does it so much that he has no emotional connection or interaction with me at all as we wait in line for the ferry, board and start traveling. I see a huge piece of ice float down a river and point it out and he takes a photo and I hear him say, “This one is for you (meaning me)” and then he takes another one saying “And this second one is for you (meaning another woman)” and he sends the second pic to someone.
After seeing him do this 3 times I confront him with it. He doesn’t deny it. I say why didn’t he just tell me and we could have ended amicably. He said he couldn’t tell me. He didn’t want to hurt me.
So I tell him I’m not going on this trip with him and when the ferry stops I board a returning boat to go back home. He continues on.
I feel a mixture of sadness and relief.
When I get back, it’s too late to make it all the way home so I stay at an Air BnB which has a lot of others staying there too. Recollection of this part of the dream is foggy. It seems we were moving furniture around. There were a lot of people but I don’t recall more than that.
Day 2: How the Virtue Will Change Your Entire Life
By Richard Hastings
O SON OF BEING! With the hands of power I made thee and with the fingers of strength I created thee; and within thee have I placed the essence of My light. Be thou content with it and seek naught else, for My work is perfect and My command is binding. Question it not, nor have a doubt thereof. Baha’u’llah
The advantage of choosing a process or virtue for your focus of change this year is that virtues and processes are automatically generalized to all parts of your life, not just the one that may be giving you the most problem. When you learn how to have endurance, for instance, you can stay positive for long periods of time with any project. However, it is my experience that the mind often needs some help in the process of generalization.
The activity today is to make a list of the various parts of your life and then describe how the virtue will assist you in each one. Of course the more you understand what the energy of the virtue is the easier this will be. The divine world is there to assist you so it is very helpful to have a daily prayer asking for assistance in learning about and applying the energy to your life. God does not just handover to anyone a particular energy. You can’t go to your place of worship and expect that you will suddenly become a new person.
We have been given a free will and an ability to make efforts. These are gifts that are aspects of every human being. God expects us to use them because that is our nobility, but the divine world is also there to support and guide us along the way if we reach out to it. The communication from the spiritual dimension never stops flowing. For instance, something like world peace is not going to be delivered on a silver platter one day to us. We have to learn our way to it. A lot of people make the argument that God let such terrible tragedies happen in the 20th Century, but He has always done His part which is guidance and support. The problem for us is that we often don’t listen to the guidance. We do not have world peace right now because we don’t follow the guidance. Ask for help, listen for it, and then make lots of efforts and your world will change.
Get out some paper or use your computer and make the list.
Happy changing today.
Transforming Fear to Courage
By Rachel Perry
I am driving down a road I’ve driven 100+ times before. It’s a road on a hill and I’m headed down towards the base of the incline. It’s been snowing all day and the roads are slick with ice. Having lived in snowy places like Ontario & Alberta, I feel confident about navigating the terrain. Visibility is not great but with the windshield wipers going, I can see as well as I need to. I’m coming around a bend in the road when suddenly the car’s back end veres off to the left and I find myself sliding sideways down the hill. Quickly, I turn the steering wheel and am able to straighten out the car and I apply the breaks hoping to slow the car down to a manageable speed but no such luck. The back end slides again and I look ahead of me on the road, realizing that if I continue down the hill at this rate I run the risk of smashing into any of the various cars parked on either side of the road. So I realize I cannot make the turn and instead I look straight ahead. In front of me is a drop off the side of the hillside. In the dark I can only perceive that there are trees and I do not like the idea of driving off of a cliff into a ravine of unknown depths. To the left of me is a street lamp post. It occurs to me that driving into the pole is the only way to ensure I have a chance of surviving the impending crash so I allow the car to proceed face-first into the pole knowing that I cannot apply the brakes again, risking the car hitting the pole sideways instead of head-on. At least if I hit the pole head-on there is more protection and more metal between the post and my seat at the wheel. The car continues to accelerate as it drives towards the pole and I whisper a prayer asking that my life may be spared. I don’t want to die and I don’t want to be badly injured.
The sound of the car smashing into the post is the most deafening sound I’ve heard all my life. The crunching of the metal. The blast of the airbag deploying. My face crashing against the airbag and then bouncing back in my seat and then flat into the airbag again. Blacking out and then coming to and wondering how long I was out for. The sound of the car crushing in on itself. Then suddenly it’s over and I crawl awkwardly out of the driver’s side door, glad that I’m alive, but so shaken up and worrying about the extent of the damage. Fortunately, a man is home at a house nearby and he lets me in, calls 911, and sits with me attentively until paramedics arrive. A trip to the hospital ER with an X-ray and a CT scan reveals nothing is broken and I am free to go home. But the trauma is not over just yet. For the next 3 weeks every time I sleep I dream I am in the car again, going over a cliff, or burning in flames, or crashing and not surviving. My dreams are so realistic it’s as though I am there in the car, again and again, reliving the fear and chaos of being in a car going 55km an hour directly into a pole.
In the 10 years that I’ve been learning to interpret dreams I have experienced dreams of car crashes or listened to others share their dreams of collisions. The metaphor of losing control of a car while driving is about losing control of the direction life is going in. In my dreams, and in real life, I lose control of the car and then say a prayer for my life to be saved. I do survive, in the dream and in real life, but I have a huge mess to clean up. The dream is a reminder that my car was out of control even before it slid on the ice – in other words there is a part of my life which I am not in control of – and when I pray about it I can gain control again and therefore can avoid further catastrophe in real life. When we dream of cars and traveling it is about the way we travel to get to where we are going. One way to look at the past 10 years of my life is to see that when I am headed down the road of my life, going for the things I want, often times people with a lot of negative behaviour stand in my way and they do things which forces me to lose control of my life and forces me to have to deal with a big loss and a big mess.
So what I have learned from this recent collision is that I need to remember to have quiet moments of meditation & reflection daily where I can keep my mind centered on a positive vision of where I’m headed. Then I am able to perceive challenges in advance and avoid them or navigate through them with great skill.
When I work with inmates on the challenges they face, I often keep this idea in mind. Sometimes people are motivated by fear or by desire to have more materialistic gain in their lives. Some people are in jail even though they are not guilty of the charges placed on them. Some people in jail have been breaking the law but they are accused of doing something else which they were not involved in. Some people are 100% guilty of what they’ve been charged with and they are willing & able to take responsibility for their actions. Some people are 100% guilty but they never admit it. One way or another, being arrested and incarcerated is like a huge collision in the road of life. Suddenly, and usually without warning, everything comes to a halt. Cops appear. Arrested, incarcerated, charged, and having a day in court. Since I have never been arrested and have never engaged in unlawful behaviour (except for the $3 bracelet I was caught stealing from Canada’s Wonderland when I was 17) I cannot relate directly to the incarcerated experience but what I can relate to, metaphorically speaking, is the experience of trying to go for something and getting aggressively prevented from going for what I want.
The solution to a car crash and the solution to being incarcerated is very much the same. After the crash, everything changes – new car, new Insurance, new beginnings. After an arrest everything changes too – new housing, new responsibilities, new beginnings. So in this way, I am a lot like the inmates I work with. They are reflecting on their lives and thinking about where they want to go next and how they want to get there … And I am also reflecting on my life and thinking about where I want to go and how I want to get there. Change is hard. Really really hard. But everything in life calls us to change, all the time, and if we surrender to the change we can grow with it and experience really amazing opportunities in life. When we resist the change, we get stuck or trapped, and we encounter continuous obstacles without the thrill of victory.
Many people are shocked when they hear I was in another collision. “Again?” they say. “Yes, again,” I reply. But the two collisions were so very different. In the first one, last March in 2019, I had the right of way, driving about 60km on the main road through town and a truck pulled out of a side street without checking all directions and she drove right into me, T-boning me. Luckily, I was able to swerve fast enough that the damage to the car was minimal. I had a serious concussion and painful soft tissue damage following that collision but the car was unscathed. In this most recent accident, it was just me dealing with horrendous driving conditions. More soft tissue damage to deal with, and a totally messed up car to deal with, but not such a serious concussion as the first time. Could either accident have been avoided? Maybe. Have I learned something about my Self? Absolutely. I’ve been learning about trusting my Self more fully and listening to my Inner Guidance when it directs me and I’ve been learning about keeping and maintaining control of my life so that I can confidently move forward with a lot of drive towards the direction of my dreams.
When I consider these life lessons in the context of the Second Day of the Transformation Program I realize the main quality or virtue I need to get back in control of my life is Patience and Calm. When I am Calm & Focused then I am in control of the direction I’m headed and I am not deterred by the obstacles or dangers I’m faced with. This is the same solution inmates need when they are changing direction in their lives. Patience and Calm are two of the most helpful qualities when awaiting court or trial or release. When we are Patient & Calm, we can clearly see the vision we set out before us, we know where we’re headed and how we want to get there and we can use all of our skills & talents to achieve the outcome we desire.
It is quite easy to look at the damage I caused on my car and think it is a horrible sight but with a little effort and creative-thinking, the crash can be seen as an important and unmistakable lesson for positive change. My life circumstances are calling me to have even more Patience and even more Inspiration and even more Commitment to the path I’m following in life. The more I am able to do this, the crises in my life will get fewer and farther apart until they are no longer needed at all. It is the same for inmates. When they get control of their True Self and they understand exactly what they are going for in life, they will be able to have more and more control over the direction they are traveling and will be able to live out their positive new lives.
In the dream, I’m traveling with a friend who used to be in jail, J. H. The flight was spontaneous; the destination was the Middle East, to go on a pilgrimage of sorts. When we arrive, airline clerks tell my friend that there is an issue with his passport and they tell him he has to go to “the hole” for a few hours until the issue is cleared up. So armed guards escort him to a small, window-less 5×8 cell with cold cement walls and a small opening in the door with bars in the window. I’m allowed to talk with him thru the small opening in the door. While he’s in there, I go to a nearby shop and am looking for a cupcake for him but what I find is a shelf with a bunch of muffins and I say it’s good enough. I want to put a toothpick in the top with a sign that says something like, “All my Love.” But I can’t find anything to write on or with. Eventually, they let him out and I’m told he’s in my care now. When I look at my passport I discover his name is included in the photo section and it indicates he’s been “in the hole.” This disturbs me because it means whenever I travel now the authorities will identify me as someone who has either been in the hole or who has accompanied someone who has been in the hole. But I shrug at my friend and say it’s okay. Then we look around and are considering where do we go next.
I’d like to write a bit about how growth works in metaphors of dreams and also to explain how the growth of a virtue or quality happens over time by exploring the metaphors of dream.
Let me just begin with writing about a way to think of growth because I use that word a lot. Imagine a large garden, a guy beside a tree, and he sees a woman in the distance, who is gardening. She’s pulling out weeds and watering the flowers and she appears to be the supervisor, giving instructions to other gardners. The dreamer feels the urge to be close to her but then he suddenly feels a large viper snake crawling up his back. Maybe the man isn’t sure if the snake was intent on biting the dreamer or that it was poised to bite the woman. Regardless, the man suddenly freezes with fear.
To understand the way growth happens and to think of the metaphors or symbols in dream, it’s always good to think of the symbols/metaphors first. Dreams use symbols to communicate and so the key to unlocking the meaning is to understand what the symbol is about. Some of the key symbols in this image are 1) garden 2) tree 3) woman 4) snake.
What is a garden? Well, a garden is a place of growth. It’s a place where beautiful flowers and nourishing foods are grown. That means a garden is a symbol for the way beautiful things grow. The most beautiful things we can grow in real life are qualities within us, such as Compassion, Patience, Enthusiasm and Courage. Every single person on the planet has the ability to have these qualities and some of us tend to show them to those who are closest to us, like our friends, family, associates. It’s very easy to show Compassion to someone we know and trust. Much more difficult to show Compassion to a stranger. It takes a certain quality of Courage to do that. When there are vegetables or fruit growing in the garden, these are symbols for the things in life which give us nourishment, the things which keep us alive. In real life, our bodies need food in order to survive. But the other thing we need in real life to survive is experiences with Love, Support, Encouragement, Kindness, Gentleness, and feeling Connected with others. When we experience these kinds of positive things with others they are like sweet honey and they are good for the heart. Good for the soul. Every person has a basic essential need to feel close and connected with others. Connecting with others is just so very sweet. When a person is in jail, the most painful thing they experience is being disconnected from the people they are close with on road. Whether it’s family, friends, co-workers, associates, whatever … when we lose that closeness it hurts. The institutional setting is designed to destroy and disconnect relationships. In reality, that disconnection is more painful and more cold than the steel, cement and bars. The human heart longs for connection and that longing shows up in this dream, when the guy is looking at the gardener. He sees the qualities in her which he wants to experience too. She’s gentle, kind and caring to the flowers and plants. Probably the complete opposite than what day-to-day life is like on the inside where there isn’t really a lot of gentleness and sweetness in day-to-day life in jail.
How can qualities like gentleness grow? So a garden in a dream is a perfect symbol for the way growth happens within us. I’ll give an example from my own life. When I was a teenager, I did not have a lot of Determination. I had a lot of enthusiasm and I could get really excited about starting new things and trying out new things but I lacked the Determination to follow things thru to the end. One time, I started a cross country race, I think it was 5km and half way through the race, when I got really tired and overwhelmed, I just veered off course into the woods, found a comfy tree and sat there for a while. Eventually I sat so long I fell asleep. Sounds like the tortoise and the hare fairy tale, I know, but seriously, I did that. I fell asleep during a race and then long after it ended I woke up, remembered where I was, walked to the finish line and found most people had left, and everything was being dismantled, teachers were putting away the signs and food and stuff. I found a friend sitting at a picnic table and she was like, “Rachel, where were you? I was looking for you!” And I can’t even remember what I answered her. Probably made up some excuse or maybe told her the truth as bizarre as it was. And that’s how I handled the fact that I did not have a lot of Determination. I gave up easily when things got hard. It showed up in my grades too. I would consistently get high marks at the beginning of the year and then gradually decline, so my marks would be in the high 90s when I started out and then drop down to 80s, 70s, 60s. I’d finish up the year with 70 average not because I was a C student but just because I did not have the determination to keep up at my 90% level of enthusiasm for long periods of time.
When I was in my 30s and started realizing how I would give up on my Self all the time I started setting new goals. I signed up for a 5km race and then trained for it for months. I used an app on my phone to set the length of the run I wanted to do and then I forced myself to keep going until the timer stopped. Sometimes I’d slow down all the way to a walk but then when I got my energy and breath back I’d start running again. Eventually I got better and better at finishing things I started. I realized it takes a lot of Determination, Strength, Endurance, Perseverance and Courage to finish something. The energy to begin something is Enthusiasm, like a Dolphin. Playful. Excited. Full of energy for beginning the thing. But to complete something difficult, it takes Strength, like a Bear. Marathon runners often talk about the point in the run when they “hit a wall” and they really have to push their way through that wall, past the physical and emotional exhaustion to complete the race. In time, I learned to recognize when my own inner wall was coming up and when I felt the strong urge to give up and I learned how to push through it. First I would do this when I was running but then as I started to get stronger and started to complete more 5km runs then I was able to be more determined with other things in life too. I found I could more successfully set a goal and accomplish it because I learned how to pace myself, learned how to cope with feeling exhausted but not giving up. I learned how to keep coming back to the running trail over and over and over again, no matter how frustrated I was at my slow development. In time, I developed the inner quality of Determination. And then now matter what goal I set for myself I now had the determination to see it thru to the end.
So this is the way determination started out like a small seed in me, and then as I “watered it” with lots of practice on the running trail, that small seed started to grow like a plant grows in a garden. Eventually the quality was so strong and big within me, like a tall vibrant tree, that the fruits of my labour came into being. I started accomplishing goals, finishing races, winning awards at my work for the programs I was running, winning court cases I was involved in, publishing articles I worked a long time on. You see? Once I had the quality of Determination strong within me I could use it no matter what challenge in life I faced. But this didn’t happen overnight. It took about 5 years. Before I had determination, I gave up on myself all the time. Quit jobs. Left tasks incomplete. Missed appointments. Lost important things. Forgot to deliver things to people who were expecting them. Etc. Etc. But after focusing on Determination for 5 years I find I am a completely different person. Sometimes I can even start out a task or job or goal with a very clear idea of what it will take to keep the enthusiasm right until the very end of the project. I have learned what it is like to “bang up against my inner wall” and push through it. That inner wall is Fear. The reason I gave up my cross country race when I was 16 is because I was realizing I didn’t have the energy to finish the race in the front of the pack. I was realizing I was going to be one of the last people to cross the finish line and I was so afraid to look like a loser that I couldn’t bear the thought of that. So my fear of embarrassment made me shut down. I hit a wall within me and then just let myself give up. Back then, I decided I would rather disappear, literally, than finish at the end and look like a loser.
When I figured this out about myself I had to learn to be okay with being embarrassed. Being okay with being in last place. Being okay with looking … kinda bad for a moment. Being okay with having made a mistake. Maybe I didn’t sleep well enough the night before, or didn’t eat enough to keep me going, or didn’t train long enough during cross country practice. All my mistakes led me to not perform well and I was so embarrassed I just skipped out and ran into the woods to hide. Imagine that.
So I hope this example shows how this inmates dream of the garden is about how he has within himself the ability to “grow” a lot of new strengths. In his circumstance, since he is facing trial, he may go thru some of the same feelings I did. Feelings of embarrassment, of wanting to hide, of feeling like … having failed. When he has developed determination and strength more fully within himself he’ll be able to envision getting to the other side of the situation with a lot of Courage like a bear.
What about the snake? So animals in dreams help us to understand the next stage of
growth with a virtue or quality like Determination. Animals have qualities, abilities, capacities and skills which help them survive on earth. Every animal has skills or abilities unique to their own species. First Nations cultures understand this more than any other culture and Aboriginal teachings remind us to look to the animals who come into our lives as guides, friends, and teachers demonstrating to us the things we need as we encounter upcoming challenges. Two examples I gave were how Dolphins have natural Enthusiasm and how Bears have natural strength but you can think of this with any animal which comes to mind. Horses have Power & Endurance; Insects have the ability to multiply quickly, Birds have the ability to soar above the hustle & bustle of every day life; Snakes have the ability to be very flexible.
The other things which animals teach us are the ways to understand how positives & negatives show up in our own self or our own lives. When we look at an animal we can see how the positive and negative of the same quality can operate within one animal. Take a Bear for example. It’s Strength makes is a great defender and protector of its children. But make it angry and it can tear a person to part. A dog’s positive is trait is Loyalty & Friendship, but it can also be vicious and bite someone’s hand off. Insects can multiply quickly to reproduce its species but they can destroy anything in their path like eating away the roots of a tree and killing it, or eating into the walls of a house and destroying the foundation. Snakes are wonderfully flexible but also they can have venomous teeth and can kill in an instant. When animals show up in dreams, it’s good to ask if the dream is positive or negative. Are the animal’s traits working in a way which leads to something getting better or to something getting worse? When an animal comes in a dream it is there to show the dreamer where the next stage of work is to develop the quality to its most excellent degree. If the dreamer happens to have a lot of enthusiasm, like I did in my teens, but lacks strength like I did, then Bears might show up in dreams as a guide for the dreamer to develop more strength. Since Fear was the thing stopping me from developing my strength back then, in order to become stronger I had to start looking at my Fear, looking at how it operated in my life, looking at how my fearful actions were hurting myself and others and start to make changes. It was not easy but I took little steps daily for a long period of time and then saw the changes I was looking for.
When Snakes show up in a dream, start looking for jealousy. Perhaps the dreamer has some jealousy or perhaps someone in the dreamer’s life has jealousy and is acting out in hurtful ways. The more dangerous the snake in the dream, the more venomous can be the poison from the jealous person. Sometimes people can behave just like snakes. Maybe you know a snakey-type person in your workplace, or family or in your unit or range. When someone is acting like a snake, they will most likely not draw attention to themselves for a while, like a snake in the grass and then when they are ready they pounce out with their hurtful words, actions, accusations, and threats. The goal of a snake is to take over an environment, like a territory, and to take control of everyone using fear to dominate. In a workplace, a snake may be trying to take power by getting to the top as a CEO, or getting to the “top” of a school like becoming a principal. In a family, a member may try to control everyone with threats so that they always get what they want no matter who they hurt while getting there. Some might say jails can be like a snake’s den, with dozens of snakes all gathered together, all trying to get what they need to survive. Most people fear snakes but then there are people like Steve Irwin, or Snake Charmers, who have no fear and who can connect with the snakes without getting poisoned or harmed.
In the scenario above, with the man and the garden and the snake, well, the man has a choice in this case. He can become like the snake and lash out and harm the gardener. Or he can become like a snake charmer, capture the snake and set it free away from the garden to keep the flowers, plants and woman safe. The choice that the man has in this case is what makes us human. Humans have a quality which animals do not have.
Philosophers and mystics have composed volumes of work on the theme so I can’t go into it more now but to briefly touch on the topic I’ll just say that human beings have the ability to make the decision to be hurtful or helpful. They can decide to succumb to a challenge or to rise above it. They have the ability to … for example … stay in a fearful state and let the best things in life pass them by or to develop Courage for example and have the Determination to meet any obstacle. This is where humans stand apart from animals. Whereas animals are trapped within their instinctual nature, humans can stop and pause and assess a situation. They can imagine alternatives. They can weigh pros and cons. They can evaluate risks. They can calculate a plan. They can take action and follow through. They can achieve their goals. Animals do not have the ability to imagine a realm outside of what their senses can perceive. A dog, for example, cannot stand in a dark yard at night and imagine the sun shining on the other side of the earth. A human can though. A dog is limited by what it can see and feel and hear. A human can use the power of their imagination to perceive things which are beyond the realms of the senses. In this way, a person who does not have a lot of Determination can imagine what it would be like to have it. A person can imagine what it would be like to have determination. A person can take actions to develop more determination in their life and they can eventually have it. They can have it so much that they learn to have determination with every task they take on and anyone looking at that individual would say, “Wow! He really has a lot of Determination.” They begin to name the person by that virtue.
This is how a small seed of skill or capacity starts growing in someone’s life and how the dreams will show the development of the skill over the course of months or years. First the quality is just an idea, like a ball of potential energy, like a small spark, or a small drop of water, or a small seed. Then as the quality grows in the person’s life they may start to have dreams about animals who have that quality, for strength is could be bears, elephants, hippos. Then as the dreamer continues to develop the quality more and more they will start having dreams where the people in their dream have a lot of the quality that they are aspiring to. These character dreams may have people from the dreamer’s real life, strong teachers, or coaches. But maybe they show up as characters from movies, or from fairy tales, or from songs. The dreamer’s mind is seeing strength in these characters and they show up in the dreams to bring messages to the dreamer about what they can do to have the quality more and more.
Dreams about People are about understanding the qualities of the dreamer and the person the dream is about. It may happen that a dreamer has a dream about a person with the quality they need more of, like Determination, and then in the dream they have a sexual encounter. If it is a positive encounter then it is a symbol for how the dreamer is integrating more and more with the quality they are seeking to develop. If it is a negative dream, it shows where there are still some fears or issues to work through before the virtue or quality can be more fully actualized in the life of the dreamer.
Many people have dreams about sex and many inmates tell me dreams about sexual
encounters. It’s natural to think that these dreams are about the actual act of intercourse but in truth, dreams about sex are about the symbol of two qualities coming together. When someone has a positive sexual dream about a person who has the qualities they are going for in life, then it is a positive symbol for the way the dreamer is coming to fully integrate the newly developing quality within themself.
Sometimes, the reason why a person would not have a certain quality or skill in their life is because of trauma at a young age. A negative teacher or parent may have said or behaved in a way which taught the person to not develop a certain skill or quality. As the dreamer is learning to develop that skill or quality in their adult life they will have some healing to do around the trauma. A lot of sadness may come up, or anxiety, or jealousy. Any host of emotions could arise from the work and it takes time to heal the trauma so that the skill can be developed. A positive dream about sex with a person who has the quality you are going for is a good signal that the healing is working and that the new quality can be actualized in life without any painful associations.
This is where the work changes from a process of healing to a process of development. Just how I described that my first small steps at determination were focused only on running 5km but later I was able to use Determination for every task I set out to do. I was still healing at the time when I was learning to run 5km without giving up. I was healing from all the giving up I had done in childhood, in teen years, in adulthood. Once I had healed from my “giving up mode” then I had opened up brand new capacities and skills within myself to begin taking on new challenge and new risks knowing that I could start out with a lot of enthusiasm & finish with a lot of strength.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION:
Do you find it easy to start a project with enthusiasm but not too easy to finish it? Or …
Do you find it really hard to get going on something new but once you get into it then you have a lot of determination to complete it?
If what you need is enthusiasm, then to get uplifted you can think about a current challenge in your real life, imagine the biggest obstacle and then try to think of something new you can do that you never did before which would help solve the problem. Sometimes this is a good time to start a new class, or a new program, or learn a new skill.
If what you need is more determination, think about something you’ve been working on but which you’ve hit some sort of wall with and imagine what you can do to build your Confidence to move forward through the wall. To achieve this, remember something you have done well, with a lot of skill and then repeat that. Repeat the things you have done well and apply it to the area where you are stuck. Amazingly, you should see the wall start to crumble metaphorically speaking and your confidence in your capacity will grow.
When have you dreamed about an animal? What are the main qualities of that animal? How can you bring more of that kind of quality into your life now? How could more of that quality solve a current problem?
Yesterday a post which was written last September in 2017 was published on this blog. For those unfamiliar with the language of metaphor used by dreams to communicate messages about transformation, the dream described in yesterday’s post may have seemed appalling, maybe even scandalous. The post is no longer visible on this website, but for those who did not have the chance to read it, in the 18 hours it was published, I’ll briefly describe that the dream had a scene of sexual abuse in it, with a mother sexually violating her daughter. Some might call that kind of dream a nightmare. These kinds of nightmarish dreams are one of my favourites to work with because they embody a high degree of fear & disgust. With daily attention and diligence, Fear & disgust can be transformed into Courage & Contentment.
Even though the dream scenario was a metaphor and to the best of my knowledge did not depict things which happened in the real world, the reason I decided to publish it is to initiate a conversation through this venue around the complex issues of sexual abuse of children and the society of secrecy which surrounds it.
Coincidentally, there was a show on CBC yesterday which I listened to while driving to work. The show featured an author who was originally from South Africa, and moved to Canada with her family when she was 10. Her book talks about her experience of racism and also of having been sexually abused by someone close to her family. What I found so interesting about her telling of these stories is that she said even when she was sexually assaulted at the age of 7 she knew to keep it a secret. She knew to speak of it would bring shame to her and “mark her” as tainted or spoiled in some way. When she experienced a racist incident at 10 she knew she could turn to her family for help and support. Instinctively she knew the difference between these two types of attacks and way her reaching out for help would be perceived. In the program she described that her father, an outspoken revolutionary, taught her to “not own” the problems of the racist. If someone is ignorant and acts out of a racist mindset, they must be held accountable for their actions. In that way, you give them their problem and do not own it.
But for sexual assaults, it is not so easy to disown the violence. Even as a child she knew to keep it a secret, that the man would not be held responsible, even if she reached out for help and in that way, she sort of “owned” his assault. She owned the problem. It wasn’t hers to own, but she did, because what other options were available to her? None.
The dream I shared yesterday was about this issue. It was about an adult in a position of trust manipulating those in the environment so that she could get away with violating the dignity of someone who she perceived she had power over. When a person perpetrates sexual assault they are trying to go for Power, power over the recipient of the attack, power over those who watch but do nothing, power over the situation which they want to control with a vengeance.
Since the dream was a metaphor, and not about a real life situation, what it means is that the dreamer has someone in their life who is saying things and doing things which are as violent and abhorrent as sexual abuse. To solve the problem in the dream, the dreamer must begin to see themselves as capable of driving the situation forward, out of the power struggle. The sexual assault happened in a car in the dream so that is a metaphor for the solution to drive forward and out of the power struggle.
When I work with women who have experienced domestic violence and when I work with men who are in jail, I often see that the violence they’ve experienced or perpetuated has clouded their abilities to envision a positive future for themselves or others. Trauma has a way of doing this. The part of the brain responsible for responding quickly to threats is the small almond-shaped amegdala, which connects the temporal lobe of the brain and is responsible for fear & aggression. When someone experiences a high degree of fear, the amegdala is activated and a flight or fight or freeze response is triggered. One traumatic event is enough to rewire the brain’s fight or flight response but even more so when there is a pattern of abuse, such as with children growing up in abusive homes, or with women (and men) caught in domestically abusive patterns of behaviour in adulthood.
The work for someone who experienced abuse in childhood is to become conscious and “wake up” to the ways in which the abuse affected them and then change the negative emotions and patterns to more positive. It is more difficult work because many of the abuse scenarios may have happened before the age of 4 and are not a part of the individual’s conscious memories. This is why dreams can be very healing and therapeutic, because the dreams reveal the unconscious memories or fears which have been buried away for so many years.
Alternatively, if a person had not experienced abuse in childhood but had experienced it as an adult, their nightmares can be a direct result of that fear-filled experience and as they work through the metaphors they can process the negative emotions associated with the violence and they can take the lesson from the experience and develop themselves to be able to help others even more than before. The purpose of our lives is to continue to transform, to grow, to change, to evolve so that we can be ever-more capable of supporting and accompanying more and more people in their personal & collective evolution.
When the sexual abuse post was published yesterday there was not a lot of explanation about the metaphor so today I thought I would write more about it even though I am fully aware that our society is just at the very beginning of being able to speak of these atrocities with any degree of capacity. The “Me Too” movement has made great strides in this arena so in a small and trite way I’m addressing the issue of sexual abuse and the way it is handled by all parties through occasionally sharing violent dreams on this blog.
I have a very positive vision of the future where families are healthy and free of violence, where children are safe & protected and free from threats of all forms of abuse. When I write about things which are negative or difficult in nature, I do it to expose the Negative Truth. In this way, the lesson can be learned and more positive relationships can be developed. That is my aim. That is my intention. That is my goal. And that is the purpose of this blog.
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