A woman I’ll call Brenda dreamed her boss came into her workspace and threw a temper tantrum, spilling coffee on her papers. She burst into tears and reacted so strongly she feared she would lose her job. Yet she knew, in the dream, that the boss’ rage really had nothing to do with her.
The next day, the scene started to be played out in waking life. The boss stormed into Brenda’s work station, banging the desk and spilling coffee. Remembering her dream insight that his anger wasn’t really directed at her, Brenda was able to keep her cool, remaining calm and detached. At the end of the day, her boss came to her with flowers, an apology and an invitation to join a company retreat in Cancun. He told her he hadn’t been mad at her; he was taking out frustrations associated with someone else.
This is an everyday example of how dreams are constantly rehearsing us for challenges (and opportunities!) that lie around the corner in waking life. By remembering her dream and working with the insight it gave her into what was going on behind the scenes, Brenda was prepared for her boss’ outrageous behavior – and her calibrated response got her a free vacation instead of a nasty bustup.
Every night, our sleep dreams bring us practical guidance of this kind, serving as a personal coach, an impeccable psychic adviser, and a compassionate doctor who makes house calls and doesn’t charge a cent. We can learn to tune in to this source intentionally by asking for dream guidance and then catching what comes in the night. The process is as simple as this:
Write down a question or request for help. For example: “Should I change my job?”or “Show me how to deal with Harry”. Don’t be shy about asking for something big – e.g., “I would like to meet my soulmate” or “I wish to be healed.” Make sure your theme has some juice.
Put the piece of paper with your intention under your pillow and sleep on it, quite literally.
Whenever you wake up, write something down. If you have a dream, chances are it contains a creative response to your question, even the connection isn’t obvious at first. If you don’t recall a dream, write something down anyway – the first thoughts or feelings that are going through you as you rouse from sleep. Like a smart kid who gets the answers to math problems but skips over a lot of the process, you may find you have your solution even when you’ve lost the dream that gave it to you.
We can help each other to open up to the gifts of our dreams. Sharing dreams with other people is a wonderful way to connect with them at a deeper level, open up our relationships, move beyond our stuck places and conventional mindsets – and have more fun. All good reasons why dream sharing should be a feature of daily office life.
Is it hard for you to picture sharing dreams with your co-workers, or the boss approving?
I have worked with a number of companies that now support dreamwork as an invaluable tool for birthing creative ideas, building communications skills, and improving human relations.
I have developed a process I call Flash Dreamwork which makes it possible in only 5-10 minutes to tell a dream, receive non-intrusive feedback and move towards taking action on the dream to harness its energy and counsel. Whether you are sharing a dream with a single partner or with a whole office or community, these are the basic steps in Flash Dreamwork:
Hold space for the dream. The partner’s first job is to give you undivided attention for the few minutes it will take to tell the dream.
Tell the dream without commentary. The dreamer’s initial task is to tell the dream as simply and clearly as possible, without bringing in all of her personal life or wasting time by saying things like “This is weird”. It’s best to start out by giving the dream a title. (What would you call this dream if it were a movie?)
Ask the three basic questions. After hearing the dream, the partner should ask three simple questions:
How did you feel when you woke up? Our feelings are always a reliable guide to the quality and urgency of the dream.
Reality check: Could any part of this dream be played out in waking life? Dreams are constantly rehearsing us for future events, and we need to pay attention to these messages.
What do you need to know?
Play the “If it were my dream” game. The partner can now offer non-invasive feedback by saying, “If it were my dream, I would think about/do…” We should never presume to tell the dreamer what her dream means! The dreamer is the final authority on her own dreams (and her own life).
Ask the dreamer what she is going to do with this. Dreams require action! Buy the red shoes, write the letter, go dancing, get ready for the boss’ temper tantrum. We can help each other choose life-helping ways to bring the energy, as well as the insight, of dreams into waking life.
Come up with a bumper sticker. A simple thing we can help each other to do with dreams is to come up with a personal slogan. Brenda’s dream bumper sticker might read: “I need to keep my cool when the boss loses it.”
Voila! Practice these simple steps – and keep it brief! – and you’re ready to have fun sharing dreams at the office, even when you have only five or ten minutes before the boss is going to spill the coffee.