By Alix Norman
Happy New Year, and may all your dreams come true! Well, definitely the happy ones; you know: fields of gold; tall dark handsome stranger; rich beyond the dreams of avarice etc etc. And even the little dreams, which for me are usually about being with my family, or skiing; I hope those come true this year too.
As you can see, it’s all about dreams. Because it turns out that our sleeping state is actually providing us with all the information we need to be truly fulfilled and happy in the coming months. So who better to talk to about making 2015 a spectacular year than , registered counselling psychologist and licensed psychotherapist with a particular interest in the imagination, spirituality and – of course – Dream Work.
“Dreams are the imagination freed of the constraints of waking consciousness – they’re not different from the state of waking daydream, but they come from a deeper place because of the nature of sleep. So dreams are our purest fantasies,” he explains.
A highly-trained psychotherapist, Byron (I should probably refer to him as Dr Gaist, but that seems far too formal a title for someone with whom I’ve happily spent three hours discussing my innermost secrets) possesses the warm and caring personality – along with the expertise and experience – that puts one at complete ease. And, with the idea of Dream Worktherapy, he’s hit on a superb idea…
Dreams can be wacky or wild, weird or wonderful. But if there’s one thing they have in common, it’s the fact that they’re completely out of your control. So using your dreams to highlight and work on your issues seems to absolve you of too much responsibility for what goes on inside your head – or so says my inner control freak. And that’s what I love about Dream Work – it’s the perfect vehicle for really exploring the issues without feeling over-exposed. It helps, of course, that Byron is so considerate: the perfect listener who knows exactly what questions to ask and just when to interject.
“It’s uncensored – these images that we get in our sleep,” he explains. “Freud initially says that there was an inner sensor and also manifest content and latent content of the dream. Jung had a very different approach – he said the dream is what it is, it’s not presenting a different picture that you have to decode – that picture is what is going on for you in your waking life, just in another language. And I suppose I’m here to help translate,” he smiles.
“You can use dreams for little hints about what you need to be doing and where you need to be going in your life – or in a context of a broad psychotherapy in terms of self-discovery and growth. A lot of what I do is ‘ordinary’ therapeutic counselling, so I listen carefully to the person’s life circumstances and what’s on their minds at the moment, and then discuss their dreams. Or vice versa.”
But what, I ask, if someone can’t remember their dreams? I consider myself lucky in that I recollect most of my dreams, and will happily bore passing strangers with my recounts. But, for many, a good night’s sleep is just that: perfect oblivion and nothing recalled. What then?
“Evidence shows that 99 per cent of us have six or seven dreams a night. Therefore, when we wake, we very quickly lose the imagery because we’re in a different state of consciousness,” Byron clarifies. “But there are techniques that help us to remember them: sharpening one’s memory and an eye for detail. You might dream of a fish, for example, but it’s also important to know what type of fish, whether it has shiny scales, where it was swimming and so on. These characteristics can tell us a lot of things when we come to analysis. It’s not dream dictionary stuff,” he emphasises, “it’s perfectly possible for two people to have the same image in a dream and that image to mean two separate things – it’s obviously quite different if an elderly man or a pregnant woman dream of a baby.”
Living in such a pragmatic society, he adds, causes quite a bit of resistance to dreams and their possible meaning. With the advent of science, we seem to have become ever more left-brained, and lost contact with the traditional wisdom of myths, intuition and alternative healing methods. “Historically, I do feel that more significance was placed on dreams, and people would make decisions about their lives based on their dreaming experiences. For instance, the Senoi of Malaysia have a tradition of discussing their dreams every morning, and basing the tribe’s activities thereon.” To me, this makes a great deal of sense. For what are dreams if not our subconscious state telling us what we really feel?
“To paraphrase Jung, when we do not remember the unconscious, it is lived as fate,” he says. “So what we’re looking at is the way our intuition can help us live a better quality of life. And looking at our dreams can be fun: dreams are your own inner therapist giving yourself some of the most honest feedback you’ll ever get.”
Speaking for myself, my three hours with Byron were a real game-changer. Not only did I manage to crack the meaning of a recurring dream (no, I’m not telling you!), but I left feeling energised, calm and strong at the same time. Through discussing my dreams with a professional, I was able to discover insights into my past, my fears and my hopes that will, without a shadow of doubt, stand me in very good stead for the coming year. Who knew my dreams of the past could hold the key to my dreams for the future? It looks like 2015 really will be a happy new year!
For more information about Dream Work, call 99-556546, email [email protected] , or visit www.dreamwork.info or www.facebook.com/Dreamwork. Sessions are available in Nicosia on a one-to-one basis, as well as the regular group meetings which will begin in January, so sign up now!