Dream interpretation is a big topic around here. Not a daily one, but one with enough presence that if anyone in our house shares a strange or especially vivid dream with us, we always try to figure out what it means. Most of the time it is just for kicks, but every once in a while I feel like I'm actually onto something. I once gave my interpretation of a dream a friend of mine had and his jaw dropped. And there have been a few occasions when I've felt compelled to ask for interpretations of my dreams from a couple of gifted friends and been rewarded with an important insight. I've had one dream that I absolutely believe was a message from God, one dream when I was visited by a friend who had recently passed away (he came to tell me he was OK), and there have been a few dreams I've had that literally came to fruition within a few days. My simple philosophy of dream interpretation is that everything is a symbol for something, and that dreams can be portals for wisdom if we're willing to pay attention. At times my dreams have been the only place I could work through certain issues and really see the truth of those situations. Many of my dreams have simply been reflections of something I am dealing with, but presented in such a vivid or unusual way that I can't help but explore it further. And some dreams have enabled me to pull back a curtain to see something about myself or the world that I didn't expect. Those dreams tend to stay with me the longest; some I remember like yesterday.
There is a lot of big activity going on in our family right now ~ all good and positive and expansive, but in certain moments, for me, disconcerting and uncomfortable and unsettling. This is for my own reasons, because of my own little pile o' baggage that I bring to the table, and the good news is that it doesn't look to be interfering with the forward movement that is going on. Thanks to the work I have been doing for years as part of this family, I have a well-honed ability to be mindful of and manage my own stuff so that my ultimate offering in any given situation can be grace and joy and acceptance.
In other words, it isn't so much that my life with my family is picture perfect and easy peasy, it is more that I have worked very hard to be able to choose joy in spite of the fears and anxieties that continue to pop up in any number of situations. Which is why I've been thinking a lot about a dream I recently had.
I was in a tall glass building in some kind of city. I was inside with another more distant family member, and she had a bunch of sisters who were all there. In the dream I kept looking at all of them, wanting to see their resemblance to each other (this has long been a fascination of mine in real life ~ as an only child with no extended family, I didn't grow up sharing physical traits with anyone but my parents.) Other people were around, but I was sitting at a table with all of the sisters wanting to see how they looked alike.
All of a sudden something started happening, and in the next snippet of the dream the entire building was underwater. I could see outside the windows and all the other buildings that were also underwater, and while everyone understood we were suddenly underwater, no one was freaking out. In the dream I could feel my sense of panic start to rise, but kept telling myself, "Don't panic, don't panic," even as the building we were in was creaking and groaning and making strange sounds. I talked myself out of becoming terrified by paying attention to certain details ~ that water wasn't leaking in anywhere, that everyone around me was handling it well, that the building seemed to be holding up. And while I can't say I ever fully relaxed in this part of the dream, I did get a grip on my fears enough that I started to feel strangely fascinated by the entire situation. We were in a building that was underwater, and even though it was swaying ever so slightly and groaning under pressure, we were all OK. I just had to keep breathing, I just had to stay present.
When negative thoughts grow so large and all-consuming that they start to develop their own zip code, I always go to the same image, which is of me creating a calm center in a wild swarm of bees. Even if I am not able to literally sit down and be still in that moment, I hold that vision in my mind, focusing on the truth that I have a choice as to whether or not I give in to that whirlwind. Making the connection between that practice and a dream where I'm standing in a building suddenly submerged in water isn't some great interpretive leap, but it does help me see I'm on the right track. I might feel like something is on the verge of falling apart (or flooding, or whatever), but if I'm willing to just take a quick inventory of what is really happening around me, I'll most likely see that everything is OK. And if I have to really learn that lesson through a dream about an underwater city, then what the hell ~ I'll take it.
"The general function of dreams is to try to restore our psychological balance by producing dream material that re-establishes, in a subtle way, the total psychic equilibrium." ~Carl Jung