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Jonson Miller has practiced dream interpretation for over twentyfive years. As he found psychoanalytical and dream dictionary approaches insufficient, he developed his own pattern-based method of analysis. A member of the International Association for the Study of Dreams, he lives in Langhorne, PA. BODY, MIND & SPIRIT: Dreams

F I N D H O RN P RES S

findhornpress.com

$12.99 US / $17.50 CAN / £9.99

Jonson Miller

Dream Patterns teaches us to identify the significant, meaningful patterns in our dreams and how to use that knowledge to make changes in our waking lives. Almost every book on dream interpretation emphasizes the interpretation of individual elements of individual dreams. But dreams contain much imagery that is not meaningful or interpretable. Dream Patterns shows how to break through the noise created by physical sensations, events of the previous day, intrusions of conscious thinking, and other stimuli to reveal repeating imagery and themes that reflect unrecognized patterns in our waking lives. Awareness of these patterns liberates us from them and empowers us to live our life more skilfully. Dream Patterns is for dreamers of all skill levels, from people who rarely recall and have never before studied their dreams to people who have spent years studying their dreams and who want to get more out of them. You will learn how to recall, record, and analyze your dreams, and then how to apply the lessons of those dreams to your waking life. While Dream Patterns emphasizes long-term patterns and expresses scepticism about the value of most individual dreams, it does teach readers to recognize and benefit from those few dreams that really are significant in isolation. Such dreams include “big dreams” that reflect major life and spiritual changes.

DREAM PATTERNS

Recognizing the design of our dreams


Dream Patterns Revealing the Hidden Patterns of our Waking Lives

Jonson Miller

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Š Jonson Miller 2017 The right of Jonson Miller to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1998. Published in 2017 by Findhorn Press, Scotland ISBN 978-1-84409-735-7 All rights reserved. The contents of this book may not be reproduced in any form, except for short extracts for quotation or review, without the written permission of the publisher. A CIP record for this title is available from the British Library. Edited by Michael Hawkins Author photo by Emily Churchill Cover by Richard Crookes Interior design by Damian Keenan Printed and bound in the USA

Published by Findhorn Press 117-121 High Street, Forres IV36 1AB, Scotland, UK t +44 (0)1309 690582 f +44 (0)131 777 2711 e info@findhornpress.com www.findhornpress.com

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Contents Acknowledgements Preface

.................................................................................... 

7

.................................................................................................................... 

8

1. Change your Conception of Dreaming 2. The Dream Journal

.................................. 

13

..................................................................................... 

20

Recall and Record The Journal

............................................................................... 

20

.............................................................................................. 

21

3. Recalling Your Dreams

........................................................................... 

4. Recording Your Dreams

. . ....................................................................... 

A Systematic Approach to Recording Dreams

26 34

.............. 

35

................................ 

39

Additional Information

............................................................... 

41

5. What Dreams Are Made Of

. . ............................................................. 

45

. . ................................................................................... 

45

. . ................................................................................................ 

50

Selecting a Narrative Voice and Tense

Sensory Stimuli Your Body

Who are “You” ?

.................................................................................... 

Consciousness During Dreams

. . ............................................... 

57

.................................................................................. 

62

......................................................................................... 

67

Lucid Dreaming “Big Dreams”

54

6. The Dream Report

...................................................................................... 

75

The Basic Idea

....................................................................................... 

76

In More Detail

. . .................................................................................... 

79

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7. Finding your Dream Patterns

........................................................... 

Dreaming about the Commonplace

.................................... 

91

......................................... 

94

.............................................................................. 

98

Dreaming about the Unconscious Recurring Dreams

Paying Attention to your Dream Patterns 8. Breaking and Making your Patterns

.. ..................... 

101

. . ......................................... 

104

9. Impersonal Images: Dream Dictionaries and Myth

Using a Dream Dictionary

.... 

113

. . ....................................................... 

113

Mythical Imagery in Dreams

.................................................... 

119

................................................................................ 

126

.. ............................................................................................................ 

133

Dream Initiation Postscript

Quick Guide to Dream Pattern Analysis Glossary

............................... 

135

................................................................................................................ 

142

Suggested Reading and Viewing

.................................................... 

147

. . .......................................................... 

154

. . ....................................................................................... 

158

Resources and Organizations About the Author

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Preface

D

reams are bizarre. There’s no way around it. Because of this, they’re inherently interesting. Dreams can also teach

us about the nature of consciousness, reveal to us personal and universal truths through symbolic language, and enable us to make lasting changes in our own lives. I have experienced all of these through my own dreams. At various stages of my life, I have used my dreams to understand the unconscious forces shaping my behavior, feelings, and attitudes. But I didn’t do this by studying one of the many dream dictionaries that are available. I never had any success with them. I didn’t succeed by trying to decipher individual dream images or even individual dreams, the way almost all books on dream interpretation teach us. Nor did I try, in the psychoanalytical tradition, to interpret all of my dreams as either expressions of unconscious desires or as universal archetypes. What allowed me to create change in my life was 1) recognizing personal patterns of images and themes in my dreams, 2) recognizing the patterns in my waking life that they represented, and then 3) working to change those waking-life 8

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P R E FA C E

patterns. My dreams changed then as well, confirming the changes I made in my waking life. It is these personal dream patterns that I emphasize in this book and that make this book unique. I will teach you too how to use dreams to identify unhelpful patterns in your own waking life and then cultivate new, more skillful patterns that serve you better in the present. This book is for both those dreamers who are new to dream analysis and for those with years of experience. For new dreamers, I offer a full introduction to 1) recalling your dreams, 2) recording your dreams effectively, 3) understanding what dreams are made of, and 4) analyzing your dreams in order to create positive changes in your life. For those of you who are experienced dreamers looking to get more out of your dreams, you will learn how to go beyond the dream dictionary approach of analyzing individual dreams and images. With my approach, you will analyze the long-term patterns of numerous dreams, which reflect long-term patterns in your waking life. Through this, you will gain greater self-awareness and, thereby, become more effective in your life. Dream patterns are the recurrence of particular images, people, and themes over a period of time. It is in these patterns, not in the detailed analysis of individual dreams or dream images, that you will usually find meaning. The dream patterns occur because of ongoing behaviors and stimuli within your waking life and your unconscious mind. Your dream patterns point 9

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D R E A M PAT T E R N S

you to those stimuli, enabling you to recognize them. Having recognized them, if they are unhelpful behaviors or attitudes, you can then adopt new, more helpful, more skillful behaviors and attitudes. A great many books on dream analysis, either by design or unintentionally because of their individual emphases, treat every dream as possessing extensive meaning or even as being a grand mystical experience. It may make us feel special to think that we’ve just had a cosmic experience after awakening from a dream. You will recognize, however, that some dreams are just urging you to go to the bathroom. I de-emphasize the importance of most individual dreams. While this might not seem as fun or special as the approach of other books, when you do have one of those rare and very special dreams of great spiritual importance, you will be able to recognize it and embrace it. If you interpret all of your dreams as being of world-changing importance, then you will miss the ones that really are. So be patient. And, in the meantime, look for the long-term patterns that can help you make real and practical changes in your everyday life. Whether you’re a beginner or experienced, I will lead you through a systematic study of your dreams and their patterns by having you ask simple questions: who, what, where, when, why, and how? With these questions, you will improve your ability to recall your dreams and, using a fortnightly report, systematically identify the repeating themes they contain. Having shown you 10

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P R E FA C E

how to find long-term patterns, I will then guide you through your interpretation of them and how to recognize and take control of patterns in your waking life. Most chapters of this book consist of three parts: the main text, a brief summary of the main points, and the “Take Action” section that provides guiding questions or exercises to help you to apply the lessons of the chapter. The actions may be as simple as obtaining a journal in which to write down your dreams or as profound as interpreting and acting on a dream pattern to create lasting change in your life. By working through the “Take Action” sections, you will learn how to recall, record, analyze, and apply your dreams. I provide several resources at the end of the book to assist you. You can find definitions of technical terms in the glossary. The “Quick Guide” provides a step-by-step synthesis of the dream patterns method. Refer back to it whenever you’re having difficulty with some part of the work or when you simply need a reminder. Look through the “Suggested Readings and Viewings” and “Resources and Organizations” sections to find more resources to help you in your work. I have been recording and analyzing my own dreams for almost thirty years. I developed excellent dream recall and can, when I really work at it, remember over a dozen dreams from a single night. But, for most of those years, I gained little from my dreams. This is because I, like most people, overestimated the significance of individual dream images and even of individual 11

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D R E A M PAT T E R N S

dreams. So the insights I offer in this book are hard earned. I hope my experience will help you avoid the mistakes that I made and enable you to gain much more from your dreams than I did from many of my early years of dream study.

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ONE

Change your Conception of Dreaming

M

ost of us started studying our dreams by using one of the many dream dictionaries you can find on bookstore

shelves. But most of us also try to make these dictionaries do more work than they are capable of doing. They seem to offer easy answers about the meaning of individual images from individual dreams. You might ask, for example, “What does this bear on my dining room table mean?” But that is the wrong question. And what of the answer? Rarely will any single object in a dream have a common meaning for everyone. It probably doesn’t have any personal meaning for you either, at least when examined in isolation. This is one thing I have learned from my years of studying my own dreams. I, like many people, thought of my dreams as complex messages in which, just like the words on this page, every single image and action had a particular meaning. The key to unlocking this meaning was, I thought, to decipher all of the images individually. This approach was laborious and usually dissatisfying. This was especially the case when I tried to use dream 13

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dictionaries to guide the decoding of these symbols. My dreams, analyzed in this way, often came out as an incoherent mishmash of little or no value. I share with you here an example of this type of analysis.

Gymnasium Pool I am in gym class at a school. The entire floor, except for a narrow ledge around the walls, is a shallow pool. A student comes up to me and shows me that she’s caught a scorpion. I walk around the pool with her. She shows me more scorpions and crayfish in the pool. The bottom of the pool looks more like a pond than a swimming pool, because it has plants, animals, and leaves in it.

Here follows a list of interpretations of each visual element of the dream. The interpretations are taken from a free online dictionary. Please note that almost all dream dictionaries start by reminding you that your dreams are your own and that not everything in a dream will have the same meaning for everyone. GY M NA SIU M:

The need to apply what I’ve learned

to my daily life. SW IM MI NG POOL:

The need to acknowledge my

feelings. 14

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CHANGE YOUR CONCEPTION OF DREAMING

ST U DEN T: GIR L:

No entry available.

My innocent and playful nature.

SCOR PIONS I N WAT ER :

My need to let go of

something painful. CR AY FISH: POND:

I am tenacious.

I am emotionally calm and tranquil.

Here follows my attempt to create a coherent interpretation of the dream based on the above “symbols.” I have a lesson to learn about accepting my feelings. My innocent and playful nature tells me that I need to let go of something painful. But I am tenacious, tranquil, and emotionally calm.

Notice that the interpretation is contradictory. Am I emotionally calm and tranquil about some part of my life or does that part involve something painful that I need to let go of? And what does my tenaciousness have to do with any of this? I think scorpions are neat. And there was no sense of fear or anxiety associated with it in the dream, so interpreting the scorpion as the need to let go of something painful doesn’t seem right. If we take the lack of fear to indicate that I don’t actually have pain to let go of and the scorpion means something else, then what’s the point of the dream? 15

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You have surely experienced similar confusion when using a dream dictionary. If you are going to use one, then I recommend that you use it as a way to get you thinking about what something might mean, but then look at it in the broader context of the dream, your long-term dream patterns, and your own life. But I insist that you hold off on even that for now. I will return to this topic in chapter nine. I must now ask you to change your conception of dreaming and dream interpretation. After more than twenty-five years, I have gotten little from studying individual dreams, though there certainly have been some important, even momentous, exceptions, some of which I will share with you later in this book. Instead, it has been from looking at long-term patterns that I have benefitted the most from my dreams. Were you to have a record of all of your recalled dreams from a period of some months, you would find patterns in them. You might, for example, find that most of the characters in your dreams are drawn from a limited pool of people. Perhaps family members dominate your dreams. Or maybe uniformed authority figures appear frequently. This means something. You might also find that most of your dreams occur in a limited number of settings, perhaps in an old family home, wooded paths, or a particular neighborhood. This too means something. These patterns may or may not be constant. Some patterns may develop over several months and then disappear, while 16

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CHANGE YOUR CONCEPTION OF DREAMING

other patterns may persist for much of your life. The persistence depends on the waking-life patterns that are causing the dream patterns. Some issues arise in your life and are resolved quickly. In that case, their corresponding dream patterns will not last long. Some of our issues, on the other hand, are deeply rooted and may continue for our entire lives. We would, of course, expect their corresponding dream patterns to also last for many years. Patterns are meaningful. Single dreams are almost always not. I came to recognize that many of my dreams, or at least my dream imagery, derived from events of the previous day, from physical sensations while I slept, or even from the intrusion of my conscious mind into my dreams. Consequently, many such dreams are not meaningful. Even in more meaningful dreams, much of the imagery is often simply props and filler and, therefore will not, in and of itself, provide you with any revelations about yourself. But, if you look at enough of your dreams, they will reveal patterns. These patterns are driven by whatever is most important, consciously or, more likely, unconsciously, in your life. What counts as important will be those things towards which you devote most of your energy – again, consciously or unconsciously. This often means those feelings and behavioral patterns that you do not or will not recognize. The energy involved with these patterns ensures that related images will assert themselves 17

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repeatedly in your dreams. The images and their link to wakinglife patterns will generally not be obvious when looking at one or even a few dreams. By noting the long-term patterns in your dreams, you will reveal unrecognized patterns that exist in your waking life. These patterns might, for example, be repeated expressions of unhelpful feelings of anxiety. By identifying and understanding the patterns in our dreams, we gain awareness of the patterns in our waking lives. We can then break unhelpful patterns or create new, more skillful ones. In this book, I will lead you from the very beginning of studying your dreams through how to use your dream patterns to create changes in your life. The first thing that you will have to do, of course, is be able to recall many dreams. I provide strategies for developing your recall. But you must also record your dreams in an effective manner so that you can return to them months or even years later in order to find patterns and create changes in your life. So I provide guidance on establishing a practice of dream journaling. In order to make sense of your dreams, you must understand what all goes into making a dream. I provide basic background and personal experiences to illustrate the various factors that contribute to the sculpting of any individual dream. Many of these factors will have no interpretable meaning. By noting these factors, you will be able to weed out dreams that are 18

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CHANGE YOUR CONCEPTION OF DREAMING

meaningless from those that are meaningful. Having done so, you will then be able to identify the dream patterns and the waking-life patterns to which they correspond. I provide tips and exercises to help you do this. Finally, I give suggestions on how to engage your waking-life patterns in order to change or take advantage of them. These changes will then be reflected back into your dreams, providing you with an indicator of your growth.

Summary 1. Attempting to interpret each element of each dream as symbolically meaningful results in incoherent interpretations. 2. The value of dreams comes from identifying and understanding the long-term patterns found in numerous dreams. 3. The patterns in your dreams reflect patterns in your waking life. Seeing and understanding those patterns enables you to take control of them and live more skillfully.

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TWO

The Dream Journal Recall and Record

T

o find patterns in your dreams, you must know what it is that you’re dreaming over a long period of time. To do

this, you must 1) recall your dreams every morning and 2) re-

cord your dreams every morning. Both steps are easy. Moreover, the latter helps tremendously with the former. So, your first task is to get a dream journal. This journal can take on many forms. You will have to determine for yourself which format will serve your purpose. Many people who study their dreams keep a journal committed only to dreaming. If you don’t do any other kind of journaling, then a dedicated journal will, of course, be perfect for you. I do not keep a separate journal. I do extensive journaling on various parts of my life and I write it all, including my dreams, in the same book. This allows me to see the interconnections between my dreams and other events and developments in my life. So, if you keep a general diary, you may wish to record your dreams there. This will allow you to easily refer 20

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THE DREAM JOURNAL

back to the events of the day or two before a dream to see why some characters or image may have appeared. Also, this might help you to see how changing patterns in your life may be reflected in changing patterns in your dreams. But even if you keep a general diary, you may wish to keep a separate dream journal. It depends on your needs and even your idiosyncratic organizational style. The important thing is that you have a place to record your dreams and can easily refer to them later. Simply having a dream journal will help you recall dreams. But, more importantly, it is essential to have a journal so that you can look back over your dreams months or even years later to look for patterns and meaning.

The Journal What should your dream journal be like? The first major decision is between a hand-written and a computer journal. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, which you must weigh in light of your own needs and lifestyle. I hand-write my dreams in inexpensive composition books. I like these because I can carry them with me wherever I go, which is important for me because I journal throughout the day. Moreover, I can refer back to entries wherever I am and at any time. More important for journaling, I can record my dreams without having to get out of bed in the morning. I can also easily draw pictures or diagrams on the pages, which I could not do so easily with a computer 21

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D R E A M PAT T E R N S

journal. And, to be honest, I simply like the feel of a journal and pen in my hands. So my needs, lifestyle, and personal quirks make a hand-written journal the best solution for me. Even if you choose to hand-write your dreams, there are several options for doing so. As I said, I like to use a bound journal. These come in a variety of sizes, bindings, rulings, and prices. My college-ruled composition books cost only a few dollars. Hardcover journals may cost quite a bit more, perhaps even $20 each. Since I go through about one journal every month or two, I find these to be too expensive, but they do have the advantage of greater durability, which may be important for you, depending on your needs and lifestyle. Both types of journals may come either ruled (lined) or unruled (blank pages). I prefer ruled pages to constrain my poor handwriting, but you may find the lines limiting. Or perhaps you are a more visual person and will make many drawings and maps to accompany your dream record, in which case you might prefer an unruled journal. You needn’t use a bound journal at all. Again, depending on your needs, lifestyle, or even budget, you might choose to buy a stack of three-hole-punched paper and put it into a binder. One danger of this is that the pages can tear out easily, which could lead to losing pages. Binders are also bulky and may not travel well, which may not be a concern for you if you will just record your dreams in the morning and then leave the binder on your bed stand until the next day. The important thing is that, if you 22

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THE DREAM JOURNAL

use a hand-written journal, you must have something to hold the pages together. Loose pages will not work, even if you put them in a folder. Loose pages aren’t a journal. Loose pages are lost pages. You must keep the pages organized and neat so that you can preserve and refer back to them for years to come. Computer journals provide some advantages, especially when trying to understand patterns in our dreams over a long period of time. One advantage, depending on the software you use, is searchability. The word processing program I used to write this book allows me to search for words and phrases in any file I make with it. That, as I’m sure you’re already thinking, can be useful if you want to find all of the dreams in which a particular dream image or a particular person appeared. On the other hand, it can be more difficult to simply scan through the pages of your computer journal to find patterns or to see what was going on in your dreams in general during a particular period. Using a laptop, tablet, or even your phone can provide you with some of the same portability advantages as a bound journal. Some of the remaining disadvantages of a computer journal, such as readability on a small screen, can be overcome by periodically printing out the file and having it bound. Many office supply stores and printing services will print out and bind your papers at little cost. Or you can punch the pages and put them in a three-ring binder. You can shelve the bound volumes or binders for easy reference later. 23

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Finally, don’t let getting your journal be a big decision. You can always change your mind about what kind of journal you need after some experience. I have journaled with binders, computers, and a variety of bound journals. I just made sure that, whenever I switched formats, I preserved the old journals.

Summary 1. You must record your dreams in a journal so that you can analyze the long-term patterns in them. 2. Select a journal format that fits your lifestyle and personality. 3. Select a journal format that allows you to preserve your dream record over a long period.

Take Action Consider the following questions. They will help you make decisions about the type of journal you’ll use. 1. Do you already keep a general diary or journal? If so, is there any reason to keep a separate dream journal? Decision: __ I will keep a dedicated dream journal. __ I will record my dreams in my general journal. 24

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2. Will you need to carry your journal with you during the day? Or will you be able to leave yours at your bedside? If you do not need to carry your journal with you, would you prefer to keep it at your bedside, or would you like the advantages of using a computer? Decision: __ I will keep a hand-written journal. __ I will keep a computer journal. 3. Describe the format of your journal. For example, if you will use a computer journal, state what device(s) you will use and in what programs you will record your dreams. If you use a hand-written journal, then state whether you will use a bound journal or a three-ring binder. 4. Now go set up or buy your journal.

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About the Author JONSON MILLER

teaches history at Drexel University in

Philadelphia in the United States. His scholarly interests include American history, ethnic and national identity, war, and questions about technology. His more personal interests include genealogy, mythology, and language. He is an ordained deacon in a Buddhist sangha. He lives with his partner in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. You can read more from and about Jonson at his blog Integral (jonsonmiller.wordpress.com).

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Jonson Miller has practiced dream interpretation for over twentyfive years. As he found psychoanalytical and dream dictionary approaches insufficient, he developed his own pattern-based method of analysis. A member of the International Association for the Study of Dreams, he lives in Langhorne, PA. BODY, MIND & SPIRIT: Dreams

F I N D H O RN P RES S

findhornpress.com

$12.99 US / $17.50 CAN / £9.99

Jonson Miller

Dream Patterns teaches us to identify the significant, meaningful patterns in our dreams and how to use that knowledge to make changes in our waking lives. Almost every book on dream interpretation emphasizes the interpretation of individual elements of individual dreams. But dreams contain much imagery that is not meaningful or interpretable. Dream Patterns shows how to break through the noise created by physical sensations, events of the previous day, intrusions of conscious thinking, and other stimuli to reveal repeating imagery and themes that reflect unrecognized patterns in our waking lives. Awareness of these patterns liberates us from them and empowers us to live our life more skilfully. Dream Patterns is for dreamers of all skill levels, from people who rarely recall and have never before studied their dreams to people who have spent years studying their dreams and who want to get more out of them. You will learn how to recall, record, and analyze your dreams, and then how to apply the lessons of those dreams to your waking life. While Dream Patterns emphasizes long-term patterns and expresses scepticism about the value of most individual dreams, it does teach readers to recognize and benefit from those few dreams that really are significant in isolation. Such dreams include “big dreams” that reflect major life and spiritual changes.

DREAM PATTERNS

Recognizing the design of our dreams

Dream Patterns. Revealing the Hiddern Patterns of Our Waking Lives  

Dream Patterns is for dreamers of all skill levels, from people who rarely recall and have never Dream Patterns is for dreamers of all skill...

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