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Dreams From the Box – Exploring Transformation With Jail Metaphors

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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.

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 rperrydreamwork@gmail.com