Journeying Toward Wholeness

Vibrant Jung Thing Blog

Jungian Therapy & the Meaning of Dreams 7: Diamonds

December 10th, 2012 · dreams, Jungian, Jungian therapy, meaning of dreams, therapy

The meaning of dreams in which the motif  of “jewels” or “diamonds” appear can vary greatly — as Jungian therapy well knows — but these are often dreams of great

Jungian therapy

emotional power.  It is more than a play on words to say that the diamond is a multi-faceted symbol.

Jungian therapy often sees the diamond as a symbol of the self in its entirety.  But what the heck does that mean?

Precious from the Earth

Diamonds are created far within the depths of the earth.  In the normal course of events, a human being cannot make a diamond.  It requires the pressure and heat of the depths to do that.

Jungian therapy is aware that “the depths of the earth” often symbolize of the unconscious depths of the psyche.  A diamond symbolizes the reality of the self: it is forged without human intervention in the depths, just as the self is created in the depths, in the vastness of the unconscious, independent of the conscious mind and ego.

Indestructible and Forever

Diamonds are famous for incredible hardness and durability.  They symbolize the durability and resilience of the true self, and of the yearning that we all have for a connection to the lasting persistent nature of psyche, and of our own deepest identity  In the times of life when we often feel most fragile and vulnerable on the conscious level,  Jungian therapy knows a deep need of the individual is to come into contact with the reality and persistence of the self.  Often the meaning of dreams revolves around encounters with this reality.

The Many Facets of Diamonds

Diamonds have very complex shapes.  They often have many, many facets.  In this way, they bear a resemblance to the human personality, which has a multitude of dimensions and aspects.  Jungian therapy lives in the awareness that, like diamonds, we are multi-facetted — many facets not even being conscious.  To understand the meaning of dreams containing the symbol of the diamond, we must understand the multi-dimensional beauty and wonder of the diamond as an image reflecting the endlessly diverse and multi-facetted reality of the individual self.

Here is a video by Maple Leaf Diamonds .  If you can get past seeing the diamonds presented as mere “bling”, they portray the wonder and beauty of these strange stones, and the way in which they serve as an image of the wonder of the self.

Diamonds and the Life of the Self

What is the meaning of dreams where diamonds appear?  Jungian therapy emphasizes that the answer to this question must necessarily be very individual.  But it is highly likely that such dreams concern the fundamental reality of who we are.  Have you had a dream in which diamonds or precious stones appeared?  If so, we must wonder what such a dream might have been saying about your unique and infinitely varied self.  Often, it is only in the journey to wholeness embodied by depth psychotherapies such as Jungian therapy that we can begin to find out.

© Gualtiero Boffi | Dreamstime.com   ; VIDEO: BHP Billiton Maple Leaf Diamonds

 

 

→ 3 Comments

Jungian Therapy and the Meaning of Dreams : Houses

November 27th, 2012 · dreams, Jungian, Jungian therapy, meaning of dreams, therapy

Jungian therapy abounds with house symbols, because they are often central to the meaning of dreams — the house is one of the most common dream symbols.

Jungian therapy

It’s a very rich symbol, archetypal in fact.  Humans seek a secure place that is fundamentally their own in which to live, whether it is the troglodyte’s cave, or the King’s palace.

Our earliest home is the maternal womb, and all our subsequent physical homes carry its shades and tones.  In mythological traditions from all over the world, our first home is a paradise, and we are ever seeking to return to it.

 The House as Symbol of Personality

In dreams, the home often symbolizes the dreamer’s entire psyche or personality.  Is the dream house well-kept, or does it appear neglected?  Is it made of solid stuff or shoddy materials — and thus perhaps in need of renovation?  Does the house seem well proportioned?  Are its internal spaces cramped or spacious?

House as “Space” I Occupy

In waking life, some houses clearly symbolize and embody the people who live in them.  So it is in the dream symbolization of the inner world, where houses reflect the person that they contain / are.  Often a house can have different levels, which may reflect different periods of time, or different aspects of the being of the dreamer.  There may be different “rooms” in the house; some familiar, and some unknown, waiting to be discovered.  Jungian therapy knows that the meaning of dreams about houses partakes in the house as a universal symbol, and also in the experiences of the individual relative to the house.

Emotional Power of the House Symbol

Jungian therapy

Houses engender deep emotions in their occupants.   We can have a loving and intimate relationship with a house — or sometimes what seems like an anger or even hate-filled grim struggle.

Dream houses may reflect our inner psychic state — or we may project our inner psychic conflicts onto our outer house in the waking world.  Most of us know the terminally “house proud” individual, whose identity has completely fused with the outer house.

Jungian therapy fully recognizes the deep feelings at play around the house.

The Inner Housing Crisis: Where Will I Dwell?

jungian therapy

We all have to dwell somewhere; this is a truth in the inner world, as much as the outer.  And, as in the outer world, so in the inner: our house has characteristics, and our relationship to it is changed by our choices.

Often it’s a matter of greatest importance for an individual to pay attention to their inner “house”.  Its dimensions and proportions often fill our dreams.  Jungian therapy is very attuned to the theme or motif of the house in the dreams of the individual — especially at times of tension or crisis.  In addition to many other therapeutic techniques, work on the house as part of the meaning of dreams can be a powerful element in Jungian therapy.

How has the symbol of the house appeared in your dreams?

Next in series: Jewels

 

Attribution  Noncommercial Some rights reserved Andypiper ; hockadilly ; chicagogeek  | VIDEO: “Awesome tree houses” by ricsil2037

 

→ 18 Comments

Jungian Therapy & the Meaning of Dreams, 5: Water

November 12th, 2012 · dreams, Jungian, Jungian therapy, meaning of dreams

Water: a powerful, multi-faceted symbol, often vital to the meaning of dreams, as interpreted by Jungian therapy.

meaning of dreams

I couldn’t possibly catalogue all the symbollic and psychological meanings of water in dreams!  But here are some of its many aspects.

Bodies of Water and the Unconscious

Often in dreams, large bodies of water (oceans, lakes, pools) symbolize the unconscious.  As with bodies of water, we often see the surface, but cannot easily see into the depths.

Also, the vastness of the ocean symbolizes the vastness of the unconscious mind.  Jung observed long ago that the unconscious mind was much vaster than the conscious portion.  His insight has been confirmed by fascinating developments in neuroscience, where new technologies, such as particularly sophisticated MRIs have enabled brain scientists to see that the unconscious processes in the brain dwarf the conscious mind in magnitude.

In those regions of the brain/mind lies the meaning of dreams.  Jungian therapy is always aware that, for each of us, much goes on in the depths of those oceanic waters…

The River

One of the most frequently encountered of water symbols in dreams is the river.  One of the most impressive characteristics of a river is the power of water flowing in a definite direction.

The river as symbol embodies the flow of life: the “teleology”, as Jungian therapy says, or goal-directedness of the psyche.  It also embodies the fatefully powerful direction of that flow — the flow of our lives.

meaning of dreams

Niagara River

Water as Rain — Fertility

In dreams, we also encounter the symbol of water as rain, blessed bringer of fertility to earth, crops, vegetation and ultimately all animal life — a crucial aspect of our experience of water.  In many cultures with limited rainfall, there is a god of rainfall, who is often a key member of the pantheon — such as Chac, the Mayan god of rainfall.

For such cultures, rain is the quintessential symbol of fertility, streaming down onto the earth.  This symbolic fertile abundance is often part of the meaning of dreams.

The Water of Life

One of the most important aspects of water is that we basically are water.  It’s essential for life, a fundamental human need.  Most North Americans don’t regularly live with thirst.  However, this relentless yearning should not be underestimated.  Many in the world know its power all too well.

A famous scene from the movie “Ben Hur” provides a gripping illustration of the symbolism of the “water of life” in both its physical and psychological sense.  Whether you accept the Christian premise of the movie, or not, William Wyler’s depiction is powerful.

The water of life for which we yearn relates directly to the waters of the unconscious.  Often, only by coming to terms with the meaning of dreams embodied in the unconscious can we find the vitality for which we yearn.

Jungian therapy is aware that the meaning of dreams is concerned with approaching and taking in this reality.  How does the symbol of water appear in your dreams, or imagination?

PHOTO: Attribution Some rights reserved David Sifry , Francisco Diez |   VIDEO: “Ben Hur” © 2011 Warner Brothers Entertainment

→ 1 Comment

Jungian Therapy & the Meaning of Dreams, 4: Shadow

October 27th, 2012 · dreams, Jungian, Jungian therapy, meaning of dreams

Why does the Shadow have such an important part to play in understanding the meaning of dreams — and why does Jungian therapy care about it so much?

the meaning of dreams

What is the Shadow?

Jung once described it as “the thing a person has no wish to be”; Andrew Samuels describes it as “the negative side of the personality, the sum of all the unpleasant qualities one wants to hide, the ‘inferior, worthless and primitive’ side of man’s nature, the ‘other person’ in one, one’s own dark side.”  It’s easy to persuade ourselves that our Shadow doesn’t exist; but it does!

Shadow amounts to all those aspects of our personality that we don’t want to acknowledge, and that we wish weren’t there — but which are anyway.  The Shadow is, and particularly as we move through midlife and beyond, we increasingly have to deal with it.  That’s why it often shows up so powerfully as part of the meaning of dreams.

A brilliant, very humourous portrayal of the relationship of ego and the Shadow, and the ways ego often tries to “dress up” Shadow is embedded in a famous scene from the movie “Young Frankenstein“:

 

Some manifestations of unconscious, repressed Shadow are humorous; as in the notorious “Mr. Guilty” case ;

meaning of dreams

 

some are unspeakably tragic.  If the Shadow is not acknowledged by the conscious ego, we can pay a great price.

How Does It Appear in Dreams?

Jungian therapy knows that Shadow appears in dreams in many forms.  It may indeed appear as “Frankenstein’s monster”, something almost inhuman and threatening.  Or as a person of unfamiliar race or ethnicity. Or in the form of those stigmatized by our culture, such as criminals, prostitutes, addicts, or ne’er-do-wells.  Also, there may be Shadow elements in a character from your past whom you disliked, or dismissed — but who secretly shows you something important about an aspect of self.

Why Does It Matter?

What our dreams reveal about Shadow can be a of great importance, if we are able to understand it.  We really need to know about, and to come to terms with, the Shadow aspects of our personalities, especially in the second half of life.  There comes a point in life where the repressed thoughts and feelings, ways of perceiving reality, hard to face truths and possibilities in ourselves that have not been lived out demand our attention.  To have any sense of wholeness, completeness or integrity in our lives, we have to come to terms with the unacknowledged and devalued aspects of the self — the Shadow.

What Do I Do?

In some way or other, if we seek wholeness, we will have to confront and come to terms with the Shadow, and that portion of our lives that is held within it.  The journey of Jungian therapy affirms that the meaning of dreams has a lot to do with confronting the Shadow.

Next post in the series: Water

PHOTO: Attribution Some rights reserved  JaneRahman |   VIDEO: “Young Frankenstein” © Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation (1974) (USA)

→ 7 Comments

Jungian Therapy & the Meaning of Dreams, 3: Symbols?

October 13th, 2012 · dreams, Jungian, Jungian therapy, meaning of dreams

From the perspective of Jungian therapy, a good deal of the significance and meaning of dreams is carried by those very unusual creatures called symbols.

meaning of dreams

But what exactly is a symbol, the way that Jungian therapy uses the word?  How do symbols create the meaning of dreams?

A Symbol is Not a Sign

You can’t just translate a true symbol into words.  They aren’t like a stop sign, for instance ,or a skull and crossbones emblem which amount to alternate ways of saying “Stop” or “Poison”.  A symbol has far more depth that that.  It isn’t that what the symbol seeks to communicate is hidden, or in code.  Rather, it’s something extremely hard to express in the ordinary everyday language of consciousness.

As Jung states:

“Their pregnant “language” cries out to us that they mean more than they say.” 

 -Jung, CW 15

Not Created by the Conscious Mind

The meaning of dreams isn’t shaped by the kinds of thinking found in the conscious mind.  Also, the symbols that we find in dreams don’t communicate the same perspective on our personal reality that we find in our waking life.  One good way of looking at each symbol in a dream is to see it as a if it were a picture painted by the unconscious, showing what the unconscious “thinks”, for lack of a better word, of the attitude and perspective that the conscious mind or “ego” has, at any given point of time.

Jung sums it up by saying that a dream symbol is “An unconscious invention in response to a conscious problematic”.

Beyond Language

The symbols in dreams are more like art or poetry than they are like the articles in your morning newspaper.  They show us dimensions of ourselves that we can’t easily or simply put into a few words or paragraphs.  To dream is often to contact an amazingly eloquent portrait of your life situation, created by the genius of the unconscious.

meaning of dreams

Symbols Encapsulate Our Psychological Situation — and Show the Way

Very often, symbols in dreams capture conflicts with which we are confronted in our psychological situation.  As Andrew Samuels puts it, “The symbollic process begins with a person feeling ‘stuck’, hung up, forcibly obstructed in the pursuit of his aims and it ends in illumination, “seeing through”, and being able to go ahead on a changed course.” (Andrew Samuels CDJA, 145)  To enter this symbollic process in its fullness is often a key part of the journey of depth psychotherapy and Jungian therapy.

Next post in the series: Shadow.

PHOTO:  The Red Book © 2009 Foundation of the Works of C.G. Jung

→ No Comments

Jungian Therapy & the Meaning of Dreams, 2: Meeting

September 29th, 2012 · dreams, Jungian therapy, meaning of dreams

For Jungian therapy, the meaning of dreams is much more of a living, vital reality than it is for various other psychological approaches to dreaming.

meaning of dreams

From the point of view of Jungian therapy, one way to construe a dream would be as a meeting between your everyday waking self, and parts of yourself normally outside consciousness.

A Meeting… OK…  –But With Who, Exactly?

Neuroscience is giving us a clearer and clearer picture of the vastness of the unconscious mind, something which Jungian therapy has always emphasized.

And, here’s the rub for modern people.  The unconscious isn’t controlled by the ego, and, very often, it has very different “perceptions” (for lack of a better word) about our experience and lives than does the waking mind.

In dreams there is an encounter between the waking ego, or, at least a subset of it that we can call the “dream ego”, and the unconscious mind.

David Eagleman, Author of Incognito

What Do They Want?

That’s often the biggest and most important question to ask of those figures that appear in dreams.

We can expect that they want somewhat different from the ego.  The dream is acting as a corrective on the perspective and attitude of the ego.  We need to incorporate something of that perspective into consciousness.

But the meaning of dreams is not “a message from heaven”, or the voice of God per se.   We must take dreams seriously, but combine them with the awareness of our ego.  We need to \ connect the ego’s perspective with the “perspective” of the unconscious mind presented in dreams.

Living in the Balance

Dreams lead us to meet the unknown or forgotten parts of ourselves.  The dream bids us take a certain crucial kind of responsibility, by finding an attitude that takes the ego seriously, but also the deeper self.  This is a fundamental part of the journey to wholeness

We’ll Meet Again

One of the very striking aspects of the meaning of dreams is the on-going dialogue between the conscious and unconscious minds.  If we start to understand and “dialogue” with our dreams, we often find that subsequent dreams reflect our understanding and actions.  Often the encounter with the “other me” in dreams is only one of a series of connected dreams — the dialogue goes on, as we take in more of the perspective of the unconscious mind.  An important part of Jungian therapy is getting more and more attuned to the meaning of that dialogue.

 

PHOTO:  AttributionSome rights reserved by dno1967b

→ No Comments

Jungian Therapy & The Meaning of Dreams, 1: Why Care?

September 14th, 2012 · dreams, Jungian, Jungian therapy, Meaning, meaning of dreams

Why does Jungian therapy care about opening up the meaning of dreams?  Some think that they’re nothing but the brain clearing up its hard drive.

meaning of dreams

Can a dream show us anything very important?

This is the first part of a series on why Jungian therapy emphasizes the importance of dreams — and why you might want to, as well.

The Meaning of Dreams… Rarely What You’d Expect

It’s important to realize that the meaning of dreams generally does not accord with the dominant conscious attitude, or what our ego expects.  In the vast majority of cases, the perspective that a dream is trying to present compensates our conscious attitude.  We can think of the meaning of dreams as representing a commentary on some aspect of the conscious mind’s attitude to a life situation, a relationship, or values held by consciousness.

Dreams are important because they are not what consciousness would expect.  We need a perspective that supplements that of consciousness.

A Window into Soul

For Jungian therapy, exploring the meaning of dreams opens up a new window into soul, the inner, unconscious reality of the human being.  By this, I am not making a philosophical, metaphysical or religious claim about the existence or non-existence of an immortal soul in humans.  As neuroscience is increasingly showing us, the unconscious aspect of the brain is by far the greater part of the brain, and of the psyche.  Soul, as used here, refers to connecting with the deepest levels of our psychic being.

The “Dreaming Genius”

Those who explore the meaning of dreams are often staggered by the detail and subtlety in dreams, and the ways in which they speak so powerfully and directly to the life situation of the dreamer.  One stands in awe, sometimes, of the blinding intelligence that lies behind these creations of the nighttime hours.  There are depths in each of us that contain an incredible wisdom, and, for our health and sanity we may well need what they bring to us.

Jungian Therapy and the Power of Symbols

The symbols which are interpreted by Jungian therapy in determining the meaning of dreams are not shorthand for something that can be readily expressed in English language.  They reflect powerful realities in the unconscious mind that cannot be easily turned into simple statements.  The process of Jungian therapy includes understanding the meaning of dreams as they present themselves, and using that insight to change the ways in which we relate to our lives.

PHOTO:  AttributionSome rights reserved by Per Ola Wiberg

→ 3 Comments

The Depth Psychotherapist & the Meaning of Dreams

July 19th, 2012 · dreams, meaning of dreams, psychotherapist

What possible reason could a depth psychotherapist have to care about the meaning of dreams? Well, there are several reasons, as C.G. Jung shows us in the quotation below:

meaning of dreams

Dreams Contain Images and Associations

The language of dreams is fundamentally, uncompromisingly illogical.  This can easily offend us.  This language expresses itself through the power of images and associations which are not rational in the usual sense.  Yet, if we can understand that language, the meaning of dreams can bring profound insights.

Dreams are Not Created by the Conscious Mind

Dreams come from the other realm — that huge portion of the human psyche that is not conscious.  This is the source of their particular profundity.  The depth psychotherapist knows they represent the unconscious mind commenting on the attitude and outlook of the conscious mind and the ego.

Dreams Represent Psychic Activity Outside of the Will

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”  So they say.  But, is there a way that may be beyond the will?  Personality outside the control of the ego and conscious volition?  The great discovery of Freud and Jung was that, yes, there is.  There is a whole “other” psyche, both at the personal, and at the instinctual-archetypal level that works in us without being under the control of the everyday conscious mind.  The depth psychotherapist knows this, coming out of a hundred year-plus long tradition, the roots of which extend back well before Jung and Freud.  But today’s neuroscience, with its advanced empirical techniques, is confirming this reality — in spades.

Dreams are Actually Highly Objective

It sounds strange to speak of dreams as possessing objectivity.  Yet, if we can understand their language, dreams give us a perspective on our place in life that is not contaminated by the particular tunnel vision and defense mechanisms of the ego.  Like the sign on the map in the mall that indicates “You Are Here“, dreams give us an objective sense of what we are experiencing in our lives that compensates and supplements the perspective of the ego.

psychotherapist

Odd as it is to find this message confirmed in popular culture, here is music by Billy Joel that is surprisingly apt:

 Dreams are Natural

Dreams are natural phenomena, occurring in many higher mammals.  Because they naturally occur, we can assume that they have an important role in our adaptation and survival.  Doesn’t it make sense that we should pay attention to them?

Often, the role of the depth psychotherapist is helping clients to understand and live out the wisdom of the unconscious, expressed in dreams, and elsewhere.

 

→ No Comments

In January, with Mind, Body, and Instinct

January 20th, 2011 · archetypal experience, archetypes, body, Carl Jung, consciousness, cravings, dreams, inner life, instinct, Jungian analysis, Psychology and Suburban Life, psychotherapist, Psychotherapy, seasonal affective disorder, self-knowledge, The Self, unconscious, wholeness

This blog post, on our January mind set, and on mind, body and instinct, continues my last post, although it might look quite different.  My immediately previous post was centered around two quotations that painted pictures of the conscious and unconscious brains in relation to each other.  This post is much more directly concerned with the subjective experience of mind, body and instinct.  I include another quotation from Jung, speaking on primal “instinctual” humans and modern “rational” humans.  Jung’s prime concern here is the loss of human connection with nature — primal, fundamental human nature.

The holidays are over; spring is a long time off.  In the post-December winter months, it’s often easy to fall into a kind of robotic “just-gotta-get-through-it” mental state.  In my personal experience, it’s altogether too easy to just go to a kind of  place where we’re mentally divorced from our feelings, and we just stoically keep answering the “call of duty”, withour regard for the instinctual human we all carry within, and his or her needs.

The Instinct-Rationality Divide

Primitive man was much more governed by his instincts than his “rational” modern descendents. who have learned to “control” themselves.  In this civilizing process, we have increasingly divided our consciousness from the deeper instinctive strata of the human psyche, and even ultimately from the somatic [body] basis of psychic phenomena.  Fortunately, we have not lost these basic instinctive strata; they remain part of the unconscious, even though they may express themselves only in the form of dream images.

Jung, C.G., ed.,  Man and His Symbols, (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1964)

Modern humans can be very cut off from the instinctual basis of life, and even from being aware of our bodily existence.  In my experience, this can be particularly true when you’re bundled up, slogging down an ice-and-snow filled January street at -25 degrees with a high wind chill!

But, even so, as Jung was among the first to tell us, the instinctual side continues to function, along with the whole broad psychic processing of of inner and outer experience.  It’s always with us, and one important way to move closer to wholeness is to work actively to be aware of that.

Ways to Access the Instinctual Life Within You

Here are four questions to ask that can bring you nearer to the instincts and the life of your body.

1.  What is Your Body Telling You?

It is amazing the degree to which many modern people are completely oblivious to their bodies.  As a very simple step, what if you were to become aware of where in your body you carry tension, and when that tension appears?  If really thinking about this is something new to you, I think you would be amazed at the degree of awareness of your own psyche and your own instinctual self that can come to you through continually practicing this one simple step.

2.  Be Honest: How Do You Really Feel About That?

Of course, it’s just about the world’s oldest joke that therapists are always asking everyone, “Well, how do you really feel about that?”  But it can be so easy to drift into a place of non-awareness about your own feelings — particularly if you’re a personality type that leans heavily on thinking as opposed to feeling.  For such people (and I’m certainly a card carrying member of “Club Think”!) it can be a matter of great importance to be asking yourself continually, “Yes — but what am I feeling now?”

3.  What Do I Really Crave, Yearn for?  Why Do I Crave That?

Your cravings are important!  It may seem like a triviality in the midst of the great Project of Individuation to note that when I’m alone I experience a strong craving for Junior Mints, but don’t be too quick to assume that it’s irrelevant!  Try as much as you can to get into the question of “Yes, but why do I crave Junior Mints at such a time?”  Are they a distraction from the feelings, a self-medication?  Do they have symbollic importance in some ways — a connection with a happy, secure time in my life, for instance?  On the other hand, do the things I crave in some way or other symbollically embody spirit, or my deepest aspirations?

4.  What is Emerging in My Dreams?

And one very profound way in which instinctual life expresses itself is in dream images.  This is a big one for psychotherapists, and especially for Jungians, as we undergo a great deal of rigorous training in how to handle dream material.  I’ve written about this quite a bit, and you can expect me to write about it a lot more.  But we can certainly say here that the deepest aspects of ourselves, instinctual and otherwise, can be counted on to show up through our dreams — that aspect of ourselves that Jung sometimes referrd to as “The Two Million Year Old Man.”

What Are You Instinctually Disposed Towards?

Have you ever had times in your life where you have felt strongly that you were doing things by instinct? I’ve heard many stories that, for instance, mothers tell of getting through unbelievably difficult situations on the strength of their mothering instinct alone.   I’ve also heard of situations where something like raw instinct has led people at a certain point to make fundamental and life-changing decisions.  Indeed, I believe that I made such a change at one particular points in my life — that probably saved my life.  Has your instinct or your “animal side” ever moved you in directions that your intellect would have never thought of going?

I would be very interested to hear about your experiences: please leave a comment below, or if you prefer, send me an email!

Wishing you rich growth in your experience of all that you are, on your personal journey to wholeness,

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst

If you’d like to receive Vibrant Jung Thing regularly, please subscribe using the RSS feed in the upper right hand corner of this page.

1-905-337-3946

PHOTO CREDIT:  © Jokerproproduction | Dreamstime.com

© 2011 Brian Collinson

→ No Comments

Jungian Psychotherapy, the Dream and the New Year

January 1st, 2011 · depth psychology, dreams, Identity, Individuation, inner life, life journey, Meaning, personal myth, personal story

Depth psychotherapy such as Jungian analysis knows that it’s not at all uncommon for the psyche to be particularly active with dreams at the end of the year, and at the beginning of a New Year.  Years are divisions of time which are artificially and, to some extent, arbitrarily created by humans.  Still they form important divisions in time, that the unconscious often seems to recognize in some form or other.  Individuals can sometimes have astonishing dreams at this time, or other experiences which show that the inner depths of the person are active, as we look forward into the open New Year, which waits like a newly painted room for each of us to fill it with our lives.

I think most of us find ourselves thinking about the year, and in a broader way, about our lives, at this time of year.  I certainly find myself thinking about what’s really important in my own life, what really matters to me as I move forward into the rest of my life.

Finite and Precious

Now that I’ve reached a certain age, each passing milestone, like the successive New Years, is a reminder that life is finite, and that it is precious,  SUch times are a confrontation with questions about what is truly meaningful in my life, and about the nature of my true identity.  As I think back over the year, and over all my years, I find myself asking, “Am I more aware of myself than I was?  Who am I, in the light of what I’ve experienced now?”

The Archetype of Renewal

However, there is even more than this.  As Stephenson Bond has shown in his book The Archetype of Renewal, the New Year’s season is deeply associated with the the archetypal theme of renewal, expressed through the mythological association of the New Year with the death and renewal of the King in traditions such as that of ancient Babylon.  As individuals, at the New Year are confronted with the problem of the death and renewal of our own conscious attitude, with the very deep level question of “What is meaningful for me now?” and “On what foundation can I base my life, as I move forward into it?”

Toward An Individual Foundation

There was a time when the answers to these questions were ready-made for many in our culture.  In our time, for many — and I certainly include myself in this number — pre-made answers of the kind afforded by organized religion or other social institutions will not suffice.  I need my own connection to realities that will sustain me through the journey of the rest of my life.  Often this individual foundation is only found through depth psychotherapy or Jungian analysis.  It’s always found through in-depth confrontation and exploration of the self.  As Jung himself put it:

All coercion ultimately proves to be nothing but an obstacle to the highest and most decisive experience of all, which is to be alone with [one’s] own self.  The patient must be thus alone if he is to find out what supports [one] when [one] can no longer support [oneself].  Only this experience can give [one] an indestructible foundation….  The way to the goal seems chaotic and interminable at first, and only gradually do the signs increase that it is leading anywhere.

C. G. Jung, Collected Works 12, Psychology and Alchemy , paras. 32-33

What Is the New Year Bringing to You?

Have you had a dream this New Year’s? Or another experience in which you really encountered yourself or the unconscious?   I’d be very interested in your experience and would really welcome your comments, either below, or via confidential email.

Wishing you a deep and lasting foundation on your personal journey to wholeness, and a very happy, prosperous and soulful New Year.

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst

1-905-337-3946

PHOTO CREDIT:  © Melissa King | Dreamstime.com

© 2010 Brian Collinson

→ 4 Comments