Tag Archives: transformation

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.

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

Dreams From The Box ~ How a Dream About Being Helpful Transformed a Prisoner and his Range

DREAMS FROM THE BOX – Update – The four prisoners who are sending dreams for the book were on the same range. One of them had a dream about helping others and I encouraged him to keep developing this quality even in jail. Then he understood the message of the dream and with a lot of enthusiasm he said to the others, “Hey guys! We can make this range different! It doesn’t have to be like the other ones. We can be safe here in this one. We can help each other. We get to choose how we want it to be!” And he did lots of things to help others. They agreed and for a time they were living in a feeling of safety which none of them had experienced on the other ranges.

He said to me, “my personality is that I like helping other people so I just keep helping and the guys are getting it. They get it. And this place is different now.”

Then a new guy was transferred to the range and he was only remembering the old way that things are in jail on the other ranges, so when he saw this range was different he wasn’t willing to change. Then he and two other guys ganged up on the dreamer who was envisioning a positive future for this range. They beat him so bad he had to be removed from the range and is in segregation with ice packs and medication.

When I talked to him next I was afraid maybe he would have become hostile and disappointed but my fears weren’t justified.

He said to me, “When I got here in segregation I just thought to myself, ‘well, there must be something for me to learn here. Maybe I’ll see something out the window here that I couldn’t see from the other range or maybe there’s a guard or nurse here who I need to help. I can just think of it as a vacation from the non-sense in jail.”

He’s in a smaller cell now, and he is only allowed out EVERY OTHER DAY for 20 minutes to go to the yard and to have a shower and then back to segregation. Kind-hearted guards who see he doesn’t belong there and feel bad for him are sending books under the door for him to read, one of them is a Bible-study type book. His food is delivered to the door three times a day. He can use the phone for 20 minutes 3 times a day to call out. No TV. No radio. Nothing.

He told me, “There’s no reason that the guy would have come after me except that I am a nice guy and I was trying to create a new environment on that range so that no one had to fight anyone. He didn’t like that and he’s a 6 foot black guy whose used his muscles to get his own way in here so it’s all he knows. I’m not angry. I don’t blame him. I get it.”

It seems the guards saw the attack and have removed the threats from the range but our dreamer friend, who is First Nations & black mix, doesn’t know if he’ll be sent back to that old range or another one. But now he knows that where ever he is he can be helpful and that changes everything for the better even on the inside of a prison.

He’s excited about the dreamwork book which is nearly ready for publishing now. Three of this guy’s dreams are featured in the book. What an amazing story he has to tell and he’s excited about sharing it!

“Praise God for this fella” – the beauty of an Arizona Black Rattlesnake

I recently dreamed that I was really good at handling a rattlesnake so that it couldn’t hurt anyone. In the dream, someone else with a lot of confidence but lacking competence also wanted to handle the snake but she did so in such a way that it got agitated and was squirming ready to bite or attach.

This dream has left me awe-struck at the beauty of the dreamworld, the perfection with with dreams are designed.

Not knowing much about black rattlesnakes before this dream I researched them a bit online and found this great video. There’s lots to learn about these beauties but here are a few which stick out because I saw these qualities about the snake in the dream even before I learned they have these real qualities in real life.

  1. The name is Black Arizona Rattlesnake – This is interesting because the “blacker-than-black” quality of the snake stood out for me in the dream and helped me in my research afterwards. The Black Rattlesnake lives in Arizona and for me this is one of the places on earth which I really want to experience in real life. But symbolically, Arizona is a warm country full of natural mystery and wonderment so the Black Rattlesnake from Arizona is inviting me in my dream to experience the warmth of wonderment.
  2. These snakes like to curl up – In the dream, the snake was curled up at the beginning and I discovered that in real life these snakes do like to curl up and hide out waiting for their next meal. If they sense a threat they will retreat before resorting to attack. They are actually mild-mannered snakes as you’ll see from this video. They only start their rattle going if they cannot escape and they will shake their rattle until they lunge and bite. They don’t want to attack though and if given the chance will retreat instead of attack.
  3. Handling them with care lessons the risk of attack – In the dream, someone provokes the snake and it tries to bite my hand but I am skilled at dealing with it and I demonstrate how I can take a fang to the hand without getting bit and can remove the fangs while calming the snake. The other person takes the snake and holds it high over her head, flaunting that she believes she knows best. However this agitates the snake and it prepares to bite.

What I like about learning about the Arizona Black Rattlesnake is that I discovered that even though it is poisonous a bite from it would be painful but not likely lethal. I also liked learning that it is a docile creature who retreats when feeling threatened and only attacks if provoked.

The dream was a good lesson for me and a good reminder that sometimes I can be relating to someone who thinks they know what they are doing even when they do not and this can cause hurt to a lot of people.

Someone wise said to me recently that, “Hurt people will hurt people.” And that is what this dream is about.

Someone who has a lot of confidence but not a lot of competence is likely hurting inside and their actions result in hurting others.

Someone like that would benefit from therapy.