Dreaming Life Changes
by Tzivia Gover
In the early dawn hours on a snowy February morning, I was shaken awake by a dream. When I went to sleep the night before in the dorm room I was sharing with a friend at a yoga retreat center, I’d asked for a “Birthday Dream,” as that morning I’d be turning 43. The trip itself was a birthday gift from my father, who knew my life had been very stressful and that I could use a weekend to unwind.
At first glance, the dream that left me with my heart beating so loudly in my chest I feared it would wake my friend was a typical chase dream. But in this case, in addition to the murderer who was steadily gaining on me, there was also a cameraman recording the events. In the dream I understood that as long as the cameraman kept filming, I’d remain alive. Another character who appeared in the dream was one of the students in the poetry class I was teaching to teen mothers. This was a young woman living in poverty, whose grasp on English was tenuous at best, but whose poetic imagination was brilliant, beautiful, and mystical.
I didn’t need a dream dictionary to help me decipher that one. I knew instantly that the dream was telling me that I needed to develop an inner witness who would keep an eye on my creative soul, if I were to “survive.” From that day on, even amidst all of my commitments to nurturing my daughter, my students, and my partner, as well as tending to my responsibilities of home, finances, and extended family, I recommitted myself to … myself. I set aside at least a half hour a day for meditation, yoga, journaling, dreamwork and/or drawing, writing poetry, or any activity that nurtured my inner poet.
When people ask me how dreamwork can help them change, I always think of this dream and how it woke me up to the danger of self-sacrifice in my life and gave me clear direction as to how I needed to change.
Dreams alone are wonderful. But taking the time each morning to think about them, whether or not you understand them, is the first step to creating your own dreamwork practice. Just as with a meditation practice, regular, steady commitment nets deep and lasting results.
After my birthday dream that snowy morning, I left the dorm room so as not to wake my friend and I immersed myself in the whirlpool where I pondered the dream. I realized that I hadn’t even brought a journal with me to the weekend retreat in which to record this soul-shaking event! That, I realized was evidence of how far I’d drifted from my true self. Journaling and recording dreams had always been important to me but I hadn’t been doing either one regularly. I vowed to buy myself a journal and write in it daily.
But when I returned to my room to prepare for breakfast, I saw a gift wrapped and tied with a bow on my pillow. My friend, it turned out, had bought me a journal for my birthday.
From that morning forward the changes began. In the years since my daughter has grown up, and moved out on her own. My partner and I split up. And thanks to the guidance of my dreams, I’ve become a certified dream therapist, and now help others to make changes in their lives based on the wisdom of their dreams. Most importantly, I continue to heed the message of that dream, as well as all the others that have followed, in navigating through all my changes.