At the end of last year I made a big decision. It had been coming for a long time but I’d been resisting it. But the moment I’d made it and more importantly had taken action on it I could start to feel my whole being shifting.
Why is it sometimes so hard to come to a decision?
In this case after 7 incredibly intense and in-depth years of training one-to-one in a method of working with dreams as a bridge to the Self I decided to stop working with my teacher. It may be a permanent thing, it may simply be a re-adjustment- but towards the end of last year I just knew I needed to stop.
What’s one of the easiest and best ways to unite the people in the room into a cohesive whole?
Surprisingly it is to tell a bad joke- when it’s done well it puts everyone at ease and gets them on side.
This is partly because catching the eye of the person next to you and connecting in mutually agreed superiority (to the joke teller) is a great way to bond.
But it also does something that goes completely against one of our big societal norms- the need to be right, do things well and be consistent.
As a friend (irritatingly) said to me about 10 years ago when I was complaining about a relationship (you see I still remember- I was that irritated)- ‘you’d rather be right than happy.’ Gah!
A while back I used to have a friend who lived in my area. She had just sold her house for £4.5 million pounds and yet every time I saw her she was complaining about not knowing where to put her money. She was so stressed about it and she could talk about nothing else. Every single time we met!
While we may not be in quite as extreme a situation as my friend, we can often to relate to how in a period of high stress we lose touch with the good things that we have going on and can only seem to focus on the bad.
To see why we do this happens it’s useful to think about what stress is.
Do our dreams actually mean anything or are they just meaningless psychic garbage, our brains attempts to process the days events?
And if they do have meaning, can we access their power?
Current psychology has many current theories ranging from dreams not having much meaning outside of what we project onto them to memory processing to simply being a response to biochemical and electrical changes as we sleep.
The psychotherapeutic approach goes a little further because every dream can be seen as being a message from our unconscious that can be interpreted to enhance our understanding of ourselves.
In ancient Greece dreams were seen as a direct source of healing from the god Ascelpius. Entire temples were devoted to healing through dreams.
Then there are also Lucid Dreaming, Tibetan Dream Yoga, Shamanic work to travel to different worlds- any number of different ways to work with and understand dreams.
So who's right?
When was the last time you saw an image of a blissfully peaceful woman sitting cross-legged at sunset by the sea like the one above?
Or a monk eyes closed in deep contemplation with on a mountain, blue sky stretching out to infinity?
Probably pretty recently.
Maybe even in the last 10 minutes if you’ve been logged into Facebook or searching any site that is even vaguely wellbeing related.
It is such a powerful image holding out the possibility of a deep and abiding sense of calm that no amount of stress, commuting, family dynamics, money worries or anything else could touch.
I’m not sure that I am. I tend to constantly be commenting, judging, nudging and often fighting with the stream of thoughts that flow through my mind.
Doesn’t sound very free to me.
And yet the most powerful process (inbuilt in all of us) that I have encountered in my 25 years of personal growth work is that of discovery- the ability we have as humans to experience something new.
This is where our excitement comes from. When we experience something new we feel alive. It’s almost like being reborn.
So why do we so often resist change? Because we are built around a paradoxical conflict that has been with us since birth.
Therapy in a prison? With murderers and gangsters? Upwards of 80 men all in one room getting in touch with how they really feel?
Sounds like a recipe for disaster.
This was the subject of a recent BBC documentary ‘Storyville: The Work’. Prisoners- all with extremely violent histories that had landed them in prison- mixing with men from the outside come to discover themselves in a very different therapeutic environment.
This is, in a very small way, what I’ve just had to do over the last few months. Tinnitus, headaches on one side of the head and other unexplained symptoms had caused me to be referred for an MRI scan which found…. something.
As I started to get to grips with the possible implications it felt as if everything was falling apart.
Another more detailed MRI scan and a CT scan was ordered. Then there was the waiting. This was made all the worse because the referral letter from the first scan was mislaid so when I eventually received the appointment for the second scan it was now urgent.
You get up to do a presentation and you dry up. The words just aren’t there. Somehow you finish and sit down and spend the rest of the day beating yourself up for not having performed better.
You sit down to dinner and your partner says or does ‘that thing’. You can’t stand it anymore and can’t stop yourself from reacting. The atmosphere is ruined and you end the evening going to sleep with your backs to each other.
You go to a dance class (this happened to me last night), get invited to dance and then pull off the clumsiest dorkiest move ever. The other person decides (in their wisdom of self-preservation) to move off and I, spend the next 10 minutes feeling like a fool and unable to get back into the groove.