Healing Dream Work & Dream Incubation
Gestalt Psychotherapist; Psychological Counsellor
Somatic Experiencing Therapist; Sensorimotor Trauma Therapist
Transpersonal Psychotherapist/Shamanic Psychotherapist
“The dream shows the inner truth and reality of the patient as it really is: not as I conjecture it to be, and not as he would like it to be, but as it is.”
– – “The Practical Use of Dream Analysis” (1934).
In CW 16: The Practice of Psychotherapy. pg. 30; Carl Jung
Healing Dream Work offers many opportunities to more deeply understand and process the significance of your dreaming. Healing Dream work is a time-honored tradition drawing on the wisdom of shamanism, the dream archives of the ancient world, the psychotherapist Carl Jung, and Gestalt Therapy dream work.
There are the sleeping dreams that most of us are familiar with, and then there are active waking dreams.
Dreams serve many functions. They can deliver healing messages, they can foretell our future, they can purely assist with processing material unfinished from our everyday lives, they can resolve and bring empowerment to situations from the past, we can meet deceased people in our dreams, we can meet parts of our self/Self in dreams, and particularly in active dreaming we can co-create a desired future and tap into spiritual and psychological resources.
These understandings of healing dream work can be located historically. The ancient Sumerians Egyptians, and Greeks revered healing dream incubation, an ancient method of asking for guidance from the expanded dream-world. Dream incubation involved sleeping in a sacred temple under the guidance of priestess’ and priests. The sacred intention was to receive divine guidance in the form of a dream. The pilgrim would be administered sacred water from the temple grounds, plus some form of sacred plant medicine that ensured deep sleep. The whole process from beginning to end involved hypnotic and trance like phenomena to ensure deep entry into the unconscious, transpersonal, and spiritual realms.
The Egyptians, as did the Sumerians saw dreams as messages from the gods. These understandings influenced the Greeks where Delphi’s oracle of prophecy was based on dreams.
Greek philosopher Aristole stated that the purest form of human wisdom was only available during sleep. Hipposcrates (noted as the father of contemporary allopathic medicine) regarded dreams as bringing attention to physical and mental health.
The Romans were heavily influenced by the Sumerians, Egyptians, and Greeks. They believed dreams were prophetic, that deceased ancestors could be met in dreams for guidance, and that dreams could unlock the keys for healing.
From a shamanic perspective dreams are always important as a vehicle for healing soul loss/separation. Dreams are regarded as sacred, and as real as what we may consider waking existence. In-fact many shamanic cultures regard that what we consider as waking reality is really the Dreaming expressing itself. We are being dreamed into Being.
More recently, the psychotherapeutic practices of Jungian, and Gestalt Therapy have employed ancient understanding of healing dream-work. Certainly Jungian therapy is closely aligned with the transpersonal, spiritual, and psychological healing functions of dream-work.
Gestalt therapy is more aligned to the psychological healing function of dream-work. Each aspect of the dream is believed to reveal a part of the self, to be understood in relation to other parts of self for example as the vulnerable child, the critical adult, or the protective self. Of course we have many aspects to of the self that can show up in our dreams seeking to communicate an internal dynamic.
When we come to honor our dreams as the alchemical force of the unconscious and transpersonal spiritual realms we receive the gift of wisdom and healing.
If you wish to deepen your understanding of your dreaming world we can respectfully work together to receive, understand, and integrate the gift of your dreaming.
Author of Article: Christina Manfredi
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