I have just received the best ever dreamer’s wish for the New Year. It comes from Virginie Pols, a wonderfully gifted dreamer, artist and teacher of Active Dreaming in Switzerland. She offers it in both French and English:
Que cette année, nous soyons dignes de nos plus grands reves!
This year, may we be worthy of our biggest dreams!
I love this because it reminds us that dreams require action. If we do not take action to honor and embody our biggest dreams in our lives, they may fly away. To lose a big dream is a sad thing. It can even amount to losing a vital piece of our soul.
Unless we do something with our dreams, we will not dream well. This is indigenous wisdom, and I believe it was understood by all of our ancestors when they lived in cultures that valued dreams, and the dreamer. As my friends of the Six Nations tell it, soul speaks to us in dreams, showing us what it desires in our lives. If we do not take action to honor such dreams, soul becomes disgusted with us and withdraws its energy and vitality from our lives.
In my Active Dreaming approach, which now guides dream groups and individual dreamers all over the world, we insist that every dreamwork practice must result in an action plan, and we are not content with some nebulous wishy-washy statement of general intention or spiritual correctness. We want specific, practical action of the kind that both entertains the soul and sustains the body. Of course, dreams can be mysterious and hard to relate to the issues of everyday life. In one of his seminars on dreams from childhood, Jung remarked that dreams “fall like nuts from the tree of life, and yet they are so hard to crack.” So the first action we may need to take is to find the right kind of nutcracker.
We don’t have to seek this alone. Once we learn to share our dreams through the Lightning Dreamwork method with a partner or a group, we have an excellent recourse both for understanding our dreams and for determining the right action to honor them.
Here are some of the things a dream may inspire us to do:
Research – Dreams can prompt us to do detailed research on content, ranging from an obscure word to the natural habits of an animal that appeared or a way of fixing a fuse box. This can go far beyond simply clarifying the initial information. Dream clues can put us on the trail of very important discoveries, ranging from our connection to a spiritual tradition that is calling us, to a new book idea, to what’s going on behind closed doors in Washington.
Dream reentry – The best way to understand a dream is to recover more of the dream experience. If we can stick our heads back inside our dreams, we can immediately settle many things, including whether the dream is literal or symbolic or an experience of a separate reality.
Walking with the dream – We may need to walk with a dream over time, and see how its message unfolds. For all our best efforts, dreams don’t yield all their meaning and mystery all at once. We need to let some of them ripen like fruit on the tree, and be ready to catch when the fruit is ready to fall.
Creative expression – Many dreams invite us to create from them and with them, through our favorite media and also through media with which we may be less familiar or less confident. Write, sculpt, draw, dance, paint, move with the dream, and if you have friends or family who’ll play, turn it into performance or theater.
Make a dream talisman – Make or select a physical object that can embody the energy of a powerful dream so you can carry it with you or have it in front of your eyes.
Navigate life with your dream radar – In dreams, we scout the future and bring back advisories that can keep us safe and put us on better roads than we might otherwise be on. We want to be alert to what is coming up on our dream radar screen and apply the information.
Use dream information to help others – We get dream information for others as well as ourselves. Working with such dreams requires care and practice, especially if a dream contains a glimpse of possible problems for another person.
I can think of another half-dozen suggestions, and you’ll come up with your own. Let’s be super-aware of this: Taking right action from dreams goes to the heart of real magic, which is the art of bringing gifts from a deeper world into this one.
So this year, may we be worthy of our biggest dreams.
Not content with giving us this amazing wish, Virginie has produced a powerful image to ensure that we don’t forget the action imperative. Inspired by a dream, she made a picture of the fellow shown above. She calls him “the dream warrior who makes sure we take action.”
I want to call this dream enforcer Action This Day. Throughout World War II, Winston Churchill employed red stickers he designed himself, labeled: “Action This Day,” that he affixed to memos and documents demanding the immediate attention of his staff. Honoring a big dream requires Action This Day.
Photo credit Virginie Pols