Embodied Imagination with dreams

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October 26, 2016
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December 14, 2016

Embodied Imagination with dreams


It is said that everyone can dream.

Theories about dreams are vast. Dreams may be, as Freud said, the words of unconsciousness, or as Jung said, the compensation of consciousness, and there are many other clinical workers’ opinions. But I suppose, all the dream theories maybe just for some dreams, some people. The complexity and voluminousness of dreams are just as our real lives.

Every impressive dream, when being written down, I have something want to say. But saying dreams, is dangerous. Thus, we chose to talk with our therapist, in a secure setting of the consulting room. This paper, records the experience of re-dreaming the dream through Embodied Imagination®.

One reason for writing this, is that I wouldn’t have enough time staying with them in the consulting room, just like after seeing a movie, you want to write a comment. Therapy will end, so will films. Another reason is, this paper is a salute to Robert Bosnak, who is the pioneer of Embodied Imagination®. He writes about dreams with sincerity and compassion. And I still remember how deeply I was touched when I read his book for the first time. Dreams are real, and we share the same dream.

This is a section of one dream.

In the dream, I am playing with a gun. I aim the gun at the bird’s nest in the corner of the roof. I shoot it, just like playing. The nest is on fire. A bird, standing in the nest, wants to fly away, perhaps. The bird flutters its’ wings. But the wings are also on fire. Red fire. Finally, it falls down, black and bare, naked. I suppose it is dead. But someone by my side, tells me that it is still alive. The dying bird, finds a mirror. It sees itself in the mirror, so it is alive.

Embodied Imagination®, is a technique based on Carl Jung’s theory, which can be applied to working with dreams or traumas. Because dreams and memories are often stressful and painful, at the beginning, we will choose  a relatively secure base, to make it easier for the experiencer to enter into the dream or memory.

In the re-dreaming of the dream, my trainer, Michelle Morris, asked me some questions, helping me to focus on the sensations of playing with the rifle. What kind of room I am in? What is the environment like? What is the light like? Is the rifle long or short? How am I holding it? What postures? What is the relationship between me and others? Are we close or distant? These questions help me to focus on my sensations and feelings, and the atmosphere of the dream is arising. About the stressful scenes, Michelle generally chooses to approach these later on. The feeling of being burnt, the feeling of seeing and being seen……Finally, when all the feelings are experienced together, allow your body to experience all of them, to feel the emergence and dissipation of them. And, when all is gone, what is left with yourself.

In the dream work, I re-experience the dream, as if I have traveled to another country, another place. Every travelling will end. At this moment, you leave the travelling and the dream. You return to yourself, your body, your home, your usual place. It’s a little sad, really. But, it has a meaning. You are not the person who has never traveled before, who has never dreamed before. You are different now.  Maybe you can get a better understanding of yourself, and more courage to live your life.

This dream reminds me of another dream, in which two birds are also resurrected. That scene is by the sea. There is a big fire. Two birds were burned like debris. A bird is born first, light green, whose feathers are new. Then, another bird, like a swan, recovers, but still has burnt traces. They achieve resurrection because of some sort of magic.

To explain these two dreams, maybe you can say they represent the narcissistic trauma, or use the idealized defense mechanism, I guess. These birds maybe represent me, or at least, a part of me. But through the method of Embodied Imagination®, maybe I can feel the bird, feel the feeling of wings being burnt, the feeling of dying, the feeling of being mirrored, and the feeling of resurrection. The birds’ feelings are real, and through my body, I can feel how they feel. Then, I can experience the pain of the birds, and their strength…And then, maybe I can experience my pain and my strength. Finally, I can better understand the meaning of my defense mechanisms.

Every dream work has its value, but it doesn’t seem to be enough. In the dream, what about me, the other people, the atmosphere, the color, the taste……Maybe it’s about control. I want to take control of my dreams and my life. But, regardless of the dream or the life, I am ignorant. I don’t know.

In the end, the dream will disappear. I have to let it go.