Uploaded by Ann Csj

dreams as a spiritual practice

Dr. Ann Letourneau, CSJ, PsyD
Transformations Spirituality Center
November 10, 2018
I Am Your Dream
I am your dream,
I swell in your soul
in a moment of suspended grace.
I am your dream
I dance on waters shining
in the rising sun.
I am your dream—
Diamond glinting—
in night’s display of stars.
I am your dream,
I hide in you—
burning in your deeps.
I am your dream—
Your breath of God—
waiting to be born.
Whispers: Conversations with Edwina
Gately by Gately and HammondClark, 2000
What is a spiritual practice?
 A consistent performance of
actions and activities undertaken for the
purpose of cultivating spiritual development
Which implies
 The individual wants to be transformed by God
 The individual takes a stance of openness before God with
a listening heart
 God,
through grace, is the source of our transformation.
 We, in turn, have the choice as to whether or not
we want to cooperate with that grace.
Spiritual Practice
The desires of our
deepest selves
The deepest
desires that
God has for us
Common Spiritual Practices
Dreamwork as a Spiritual Practice
 An activity undertaken for the purpose of
cultivating spiritual
Which implies
 The individual wants to be transformed by God
 The individual takes a stance of openness before God “the
Dream Maker” with a listening heart
 God,
through grace, is the source of our transformation.
 We, in turn, have the choice as to whether or not
we want to cooperate with that grace.
Scripture & Dreams
Genesis 28: 10-22
Genesis 40: 1-23
Abraham, Daniel, & Samuel
Matthew, Acts, & the Letters of St. Paul
Interruption of the Tradition
• Two major turning
• Jerome
• St. Thomas
Interruption of the Tradition
Translated Bible into Latin from Greek
and Hebrew manuscripts
Jerome seems to have purposely
mistranslated a Hebrew word a number
of times in order to include prohibitions
against dreamwork in the sacred text
Hebrew word anan means witchcraft o
soothsaying; anon was considered a
pagan superstitious activity
Jerome translated anon two different
ways: “witchcraft” and “observing
dreams” thus equating dreamwork
equivalent to the pagan activities
(347 AD – 420 AD)
Interruption of the
Set out to “modernize” Christianity by
integrating Christian theology with
Aristotelian thought.
Aristotle taught that human experience was
real only if it could be experienced through
sensory perception and reason.
Aristotle also believed that dreams had only
natural causes so there was no divine
Studied Greek writing Doctors of the early
Church who valued dreams and dreamwork.
St. Thomas adopted Aristotle’s view.
This view lasted 7 centuries.
Resurgence of Dreams
The field of psychology began to bring back the
importance of paying attention to dreams beginning
with Freud and his student, Jung.
John Sanford and Morton Kelsey, both Anglican
priests and counselors, are most directly responsible
for the rediscovery of the Christian tradition of
This is an ongoing development in both the spiritual
and psychological fields.
Tending to the holy
Tending to personal growth
The intention is to make room for God in
our lives
Pay more attention to “troubling” dreams
Bring unconscious to the conscious
God does not factor into this kind of
Seeking personal transformation,
believing it comes through God’s grace
Stages of Sleep
Dr. Steve Hackley from the University of Missouri
Taken from http://www.endyour-sleepdeprivation.com/stages-ofsleep.html#journey
Created by students of Dr.
Williams Dement’s Sleep And
Dreams course at Stanford
All people dream
Dreams help us to keep an interior balance
People MUST dream for their psychological, physical, and
emotional health; people who are consistently prevented
from dreaming get ill
Typically we dream 4 to 7 times per night
It is believed that our last dreaming period of the night is
the most important and hold the wisdom of the other
John Sanford
Jungian Analyst and Episcopal Priest
Describes dream language as an “as if” language – much like Jesus used in the
Our dreams rarely if every can be taken literally
The unconscious part of ourselves holds information that our conscious part does
not yet know or remember; we all forget, deny, and repress
Dreams take images we know and communicate something we do not know on a
conscious level
Though we are not aware of it, our subconscious impacts much of our thought,
feelings, and behaviors.
The more we can bring our unconscious to the conscious the closer we can lint into
the full potential that God gave us
Carl Jung
Swiss Psychiatrist and Psychologist
What I hold in the unconscious part of
The part of our psyche that holds the shared
experience of humanity
“Everything which I am not at the
moment thinking; everything of which
I have forgotten; everything perceived
by mu senses, but not noted by my
conscious mind; everything which
involuntarily and without paying
attention to it, I feel, think, remember,
want and do; all the future things which
are taking shape in me and will
sometime come to consciousness.”
Jung believed that like our bodies have a
common structure so do out psyches
The common structures are referred to as
Keep in Mind
Dreams speak to us in symbols. Very few dreams can be interpreted literally.
The significance of the symbols are rooted in our personal and collective
Only the dreamer can say what a symbol means for him/her.
Typically every dream is about the dreamer. Though familiar people and places
appear in your dream, it is not usually about that person/place.
Dreams always bring us to health and wholeness.
Some dreams hold more significance than others.
Dreams have layers of meaning and significance.
Dreams come to tell us something we do not already know.
Give your Dream a Title
If your dream were a movie, what would it’s title be?
Go with the first thought method
It makes it more memorable/reference-able
Frequently it gives an indication of the core of the
message in the dream
Association Approach to Dreamwork
Writing the Dream (Include Date and
Waking Context)
Making Associations
Connecting with the Dynamics
Interpreting the Dream
Ritualizing the Dream
Step 1: Writing the Dream
Writing a dream out is a
way of communicating to
the subconscious that we
are interested in listening
to it and learning from it.
The dream needs to be
written in the present, as if
it were happening right
In my dream, I am driving a red
NOT: In my dream, I was
driving a car.
Step 2: Making Associations
Make a list of each symbol in your
dream (people, places, colors,
numbers, etc.)
Go back to each symbol and write
down associations (word, idea,
mental picture, feeling, memory,
colloquialism, etc.)
There is no fool proof method to
know when you have come to the
meaning of a symbol. It is more of an
“aha” or gut feeling. If there is not
such connection move to the next
I – typically we are ourselves
Driving- in control, way of
getting somewhere, freedom,
Red – intense, vital, animated
red light means stop, little
red riding hood
Car – transportation;
freedom; independence;
Steps 3 & 4
Sometimes this happens as you are
doing Step 2.
Connect the dream images and the
associations that came in Step 2 to
the inner dynamics of your life.
Example: Red – If I have an aha
around “intensity” I might ask,
Where am I feeling intensity? What
in my life is intense?
Go back through the symbols to see
what message they have as you put
them altogether.
Remember: All dreams lead us to
health and wholeness.
Avoid any interpretation that shifts
responsibility away from yourself.
Step 5: Ritualizing the Dream
Think about how your dream is calling you to change your behavior or what it is
telling you that you do not already know.
All of the steps up to this point have engaged the mind. This step is really about
engaging the physical.
This is key to integrating the dream and the message that it holds into your
conscious self. Keep it simple, solitary, and silent.
Example: If your dream is saying that your life needs some organization. You can
ritualize this message by cleaning out one drawer.
If you can’t think of something that specifically goes with the theme of the dream,
honor the dream by doing something very consciously, like consciously eating an
apple with the attitude and awareness that the action is being done specifically to
honor the dream.
Ritualizing helps us to move our dream experiences to the emotional and gut level.
Working a