The Power of Dreaming, Both While Sleeping and Awake

Back when I was a college professor I taught a class on Dreams: Your Unconscious Story Teller. It was filled every quarter for the two years I taught it. Now as a Life and Wellness Coach, I assist people in sharing their dreams for their future. As we get older, we may not remember our dreams while sleeping, but we all have waking dreams.

Many aboriginal cultures have a history of tapping into what they call dream time…an ancient metaphor for gaining insight from non-ordinary consciousness.

I believe it is important to share your dreams, and even discuss dreams you may have given up on, things you let go because of other life decisions such as school, marriage, or a job that took you on another path.

Yet, sometimes, you can revisit the dreams you left and rekindle them as part of your designed future now.

To be a coach is to believe in endless possibilities tempered with a dash of reality.

We are, in essence, relationship beings. If you live your life never revealing things that you have kept hidden, then your authentic self will always be hidden as well. You will be loved by some and befriended by others, but there will be something crucial missing. You will feel a hole somewhere inside of you, and that hole will keep you from feeling whole

In addition, if there are dreams or aspirations that you have given up on or stuffed away, you are likely to feel unfulfilled in your calling. Likewise, if there are stories of abuse, hurt, loss, grief, shame, or guilt related to life experiences that you have also buried, you will have to live with the burden of keeping them hidden and protected. The point is not to share these parts of yourself with everyone or just anyone; it is to find a trusted listener who will keep your stories sacred and personal. Naked living asks you to find that committed and trusted other, and simply share the stories from your shadowy storage space and reclaim the energy that is attached to keeping them in hiding.

And the same is true for dreams of long ago, or dreams just under the surface now. What do you long for, want to do differently? What would you do if you could? What is stopping you? Share your dreams with another and see what transpires…there may be still a way forward in some manner.

The witness is key. You can be emotionally naked by yourself, and there is value to that experience, yet it can only take you so far. Being emotionally naked during a relational experience with a trusted other has the power to evoke even deeper revelations. It must be a relational experience with a trusted other to be transformative.

Sometimes, dwelling for too long on our negatively charged memories and beliefs doesn’t serve us. As a coach, I have discovered that while wounds can illuminate, they can also hold us back. The trick is to find the closeness of the wound to the gift. It can be disguised as the positive shadow, which gets projected on to others as admiration or envy. A good way to channel that envy is to focus on what’s alive in you now. Your current desires, as opposed to your past fears, are the most important influence on the blueprint you can design for your future.

I had a client whose progress illustrates how following the trail of envy can lead you to your deepest longing. After several years of coaching, I wrote some articles on retirement coaching—what I called “legacy” coaching. I targeted people who had either retired or were looking to shift their work to philanthropy or professional volunteering and thus create a living legacy. A 71-year-old widow came to me and said she wanted coaching. She said her husband had died two years earlier and he had left her plenty of money to live without worry, but she felt something was missing. She wanted something meaningful in her life.

After some inquiry and asking a few apt powerful questions, I began to explore ideas with her.

I asked her if there were any dreams she had given up on or put on hold from earlier in her life. There was a long silence. She looked deep in reverie and then said yes. As a young girl she had loved dance: ballet, jazz, ballroom, any kind of dance. But she got pregnant at age 20. She devoted herself to her homemaker duties, taking care of the kids, her husband and the household. Her dreams of dance got shelved and forgotten. She had not been asked these types of questions before and I could see in her eyes and hear in her voice the younger woman she remembered. This was touching something deep within her. She was not incapable of absorbing this revelation, and it did not cause her to be broken in anyway. But it did open up a long buried dream that was truly an expression of her essence.

I asked, “How is dance in your life now? Do you attend dance performances?” She said yes, but she sometimes felt sad watching performances because it brought up such a yearning to dance. This was an area where she was feeling envy. I then asked, “Well why don’t you?” She replied, “You’re crazy. I’m too old!”

To be a coach is to believe in endless possibilities tempered with a dash of reality. I asked if there were dance classes in town that she could go to and enjoy the movement. The eventual outcome for this feisty woman was that she went to dance classes and loved them. Her teacher’s feedback was that she was better than women half her age, which of course she enjoyed hearing. But the best part was that she and a couple of younger women (in their 60s) formed a troupe that began doing dance recitals and dance therapy at nursing homes, schools and churches in her area.

Boldly disclosing to me her cherished dream had opened the door to resuscitating it. At age 71, she rediscovered her dancer’s legs and her buoyant heart. We were both overjoyed with her creation, which got written up in the local paper and gave her joy for several more years. She stayed involved with her troupe and the dance world even after her movements became limited.

What are your dreams? Who can you share them with? And ask, what is still possible?


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