The night-time dream and its interpretation are amongst the oldest forms of spirituality. In ancient cultures, dreams were regarded as a form of revelation from the gods. With the development of humanity over the last centuries - especially in the West - the dream and its origins have been pushed from the centre to the edge of our attention and sense of what is important, in favour of the development and emphasis of personality, modern empirical science and much else.
All too often, the personal and especially the collective associations to dream images that are used in these approaches require a large amount of knowledge, emphasis, intellect and expertise. These and further circumstances, such as our general attitude to dreams, easily lead to paying them little attention, so that they are rapidly forgotten if they do not make themselves noticeable through repetitive dreams, strong impressions, or shocking scenarios.
However, psychoanalytical and ‘depth psychological’ theories and methods have helped the dream to regain importance. The separation from dreams, and from the unconscious as the dreaming background of our everyday reality, however, stands in close connection with a widespread form of mild depression.
While working psychotherapeutically with the physical symptoms of clients, Arnold Mindell discovered more than 30 years ago that physical symptoms, alongside the medical dimension, are always also an expression of processes of consciousness that can reveal themselves or be reflected in both a symptom and in night dreams. Mindell used the term 'Dreambody' to describe the phenomenon underlying these connections. This was the beginning of a further development of Jungian psychology, which at the time he named 'Dreambodywork'. Further intensive research led to the development of a complex theory and method, which is known as Process Oriented Psychology or Processwork for short.
This is also a way to gain access to the 'creative source of our consciousness' for people who say they do not dream, or who cannot remember their dreams. Processwork constitutes not only a therapeutic method, but also, in the broadest sense, a psychological and spiritual practice of the individual and the collective development of consciousness. This new approach extends the spectrum of possible ways into dreams through sensory-grounded and thereby experience-oriented methods. Alongside the visual and auditory, the better known of the individual and collective associations, Mindell explored dreams by observing foreign, unexpected and also disturbing physical sensations, movements, relationships and other experiences.
This means leaving the known and moving into altered states of consciousness, and making new discoveries on the borders of everyday awareness. This approach to understanding dreams, with the help of extended states of consciousness, creates not only the possibility of an immediate personal experience and understanding of the dream, but it also reveals the doorway into the source of dreams. Jung called the source of dreams the ‘unconscious.’ In Processwork the unconscious is also called the DREAMING, which is a borrowing from the original Aborigines’ dreamtime concept. The dreaming is the unconscious, dreaming background of our everyday reality. It is a calling for self-reflection and awareness.
Mindell not only created an expansion of possible approaches to dreams, he also showed that the unconscious is expressed through many possible phenomena and channels of perception, and that these can be used to understand oneself better, to become more deeply in touch with oneself and others with whom one is communicating, to find creative solutions to complex problems, and to enrich life.
With the formulation and description of the essence level, a non-dual spiritual reality of our existence, Mindell added a dimension of spiritual Dreamwork to psychological dream interpretation. Whereas psychological dream interpretation is focussed on a better adaption of the personality to everyday life, the aim of spiritual dream interpretation is a training of consciousness and an awake life in the world of dreaming, in which everything is connected to everything.
Picture credit: Livia Medri-Schmidt - http://www.liviamedri.com
- Mindell, Arnold (2000). Dreaming While Awake. Technqiues for 24-hour Lucid Dreaming.
Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads Publishing Company.
- Mindell, Arnold (2001). The Dreammaker's Apprentice. Using Heightened States of Consciousness to Interpret Dreams.
Charlotesville, VA: Hampton Roads Publishing Co.