"Journey to the Healing Heart of Your Dreams"
THE HEART OF YOUR DREAMS
by Graywolf Swinney, M.A.
c1997, Asklepia Foundation
In 1984 in my therapy groups, I was using primarily Gestalt process
in working with dreams. One morning, rather than following the usual
Gestalt practice of exploring the relationships and conflicts between symbols
and parts of the dream as is usual Gestalt practice, a client and I ventured
more deeply into the experience and being of one of the dream's symbols.
We journeyed together into the heart of the dream itself, and found
a healing state of consciousness that was profound in its impact and implications.
As with the belief of the the ancient Greek Asklepian dream healing myth,
where the healing god Asklepios worked his healing magic from with the
dream itself, this healing state, too, was buried deep in the dream
far beyond its outer manifest form and any interpretation or surface manipulation.
In the dream, my client, strapped to a platform, was being drawn feet first
into a wheel of rapidly rotating razor-edged knives. I had been exploring
shamanic philosophy and practice for several years because of my discontent
with the limits of psychological science and practice, and in keeping with
this bent, rather than have her become the knives and begin a dialogue,
I suggested she let herself be pulled into the whirling blades. I
had in mind the shamanic principle of having her face directly in the dream
what she most feared. In truth, it was also a moment of strong intuition
and curiosity as I felt myself drawn inexorably into the flashing, spinning
She reported being slashed and cut into tiny bits with blood and flesh
splattering and scattering all directions, but strangely, the predominant
sense she experienced and reported was a sensation of the icy coldness
of the blades. I encouraged her to pursue it, to give in to that
sense-image of icy coldness. As she did, she soon became a layer
of ice, frigid, rigid, and very, very hard and cold. My interest
intensified since in a sensory sentence this was the therapeutic issue
that had brought her to seek therapy: she was a very hard, very cold, and
a very frigid woman.
I knew from our previous sessions that her condition stemmed from early
and continued molestation by her several older brothers. In two years
of therapy, although we had attained much insight as to the origins of
her problem and had even made several emotional cognitive breakthroughs,
we had not reached a place of deep healing with which either of us were
satisfied. Nor in truth did it seem likely that we would. This
shared experience of incompleteness was typical and was the reason for
my interest in other healing practices.
"Stay with it," I urged. "Go even deeper into this sense
of cold, become it."
As she did, and as I encouraged her to go even further, she reported first
a sensation of falling into bottomless, dark absolute zero cold, then entering
and becoming the water beneath the ice and feeling warmer as she did so.
She reported, in this state, a deeply felt sense of flowing, flexible,
and wave-like boundaries. I watched her rigid body deeply relax and
soften, changing before my eyes. I encouraged her to remain in this
state for as long as she needed and sat back and watched the unfolding
a new body language.
When eventually she came back from that state of consciousness, she was
a different woman--flexible, flowing and a softer self. Her deeper
spirit shone through and in time her behavior and self-image began to change.
This new sense of self was deep and continued to evolve. The work
itself had been like Dr. Simonton's and other similar guided imagery work
I practiced then, but was also somehow different in a way I couldn't yet
I began exploring this shaman-therapist technique, and the more I explored,
the more remarkable the process seemed. Physical as well as emotional
and mental diseases yielded to new and profound senses of self and relationship
with the outer world. The changes that took place were most often
deep and continued to evolve long after he journeys ended.
In my search to evolve and describe the process I was exploring, I eventually
encountered Chaos Theory and in a moment saw the perfect fit. In
conjunction with quantum and relativistic notion I had already been studying,
I finally had a model to explain the Creative Restructuring Process that
I have described in various article. Although much of it is presented
as metaphorical, I the notion that the relationships between chaos, creativity,
new science, spirituality, and therapeutic effects may be more than just
These relationships may reveal the mystery of the connections of consciousness,
chaos and creativity in the natural healing process, and may identify the
nature and processes of the mind-body connection. One might
also substitute the phrase "placebo effect," or "spontaneous remission,"
for natural healing process in this context. And it is a healing
process that exists within each and every dream we have.
The idea that healing takes place within the dream itself is both old and
The ancient Greek and Roman healing paradigm was based in this notion both
spiritually and in practice. Dreams were never interpreted in the
original dream temples. According to myth the mortal-god Asklepios,
who was the illegitimate son of Apollo and an earthly mother became such
a powerful healer in mortal form that the Gods in Olympus petitioned Zeus
to remove Asklepios from the earthly realm. It seems he was stealing
souls from them. Zeus complied and slew Asklepios with a thunderbolt.
However, the agony and pain that erupted from mortals over the loss of
this great healer evoked compassion on the part of the Gods. Asklepios
was allowed to return and continue healing mortals but he was only allowed
to do so in their dreams.
Greek and Roman healing practice served this paradigm.. Practitioners were
known as therapeutes. The physicians or Asklepiads used a variety
of herbs, physical treatments, and various incantations acting as the earthly
hands and minds of Asklepios. However, when these ministrations did
not work it was taken as a sign that the healing was to be performed directly
by the god himself. Therefore the patient was sent to an Asklepian
Dream Healing Temple.
After confession, purification, and other means of inducing healing dreams,
the patient was allowed to sleep on the Kline or divine couch for the healing
dream. When the Priests awakened the dreamer to share the dream,
there was no interpretation or analysis offered; the priests only looked
for signs that the god had indeed visited the dream. If so, healing
was assumed. The success of this paradigm was attested by the Priests
of hundreds of Asklepian Temples. These Temples proliferated throughout
the Greek and Roman Empires. Hundreds of thousands of documented
instances of profound healings were recorded by the supplicants and stored
in the Temples' archives.
Modern research, too, has revealed the healing nature of dreams.
Experiments have shown when people are deprived of dream-time, even though
allowed sleep, after about a week, hallucination and mental/emotional problems
begin to appear and intrude. Within a couple of weeks, the immune
system weakens and there is greater proneness to illness and fatigue.
Even an unremembered dream heals; we need dream activity during the night
to heal and process the day's traumas. The power of dreams is not
limited to just this.
Dreams are altered states of consciousness in which we transcend space
and time as we know them, states in which such phenomena as clairvoyance
and prognostication occur. These phenomena cannot be explained satisfactorily
by linear cause and effect, though they are consistent with non locality
in Quantum Physics and the nested realities of complexity and Chaos Theory.
Deep healing is a sensory phenomenon and so are dreams. Our senses
let us know when we are sick. Senses show us we are well. Mind
and intellect can't do it. A dream begins as unstructured or chaotic
consciousness energy (creative potential) that becomes shaped by the deeper
consciousness structures that exist deep within the psyche. As this
energy filters to the surface, its shape is in turn further refined and
shaped by the structures in the mind until it appears as the remembered
But just as it is revealed, these consciousness structures of the psyche
and mind, that shape the essence of our character and personality and indeed
also somatic essences, the shape and content of the remembered dream, too,
is determined by these consciousness structures. Since the roots
of dis-ease, both somatic and mental-emotional reside in these deeper structures,
they influence the shape of the dream, which is in essence a map of the
self. But, the map is not the territory. Reading a map does
not get us anywhere! We have to enter into the territory to experience
So to identify the surface manifestations of the disease structure in the
dream, and follow the sensory path that leads to the roots is to come face
to face with the essence of disease. One step further and we return
to the unstructured or chaotic consciousness that precedes all structures.
Some might call this spirit or soul, or perhaps even God. Dissolution
into the chaos brings new and healed structure into being. This is
the realm of matter-energy-cconsciousness and is the domain of quantum
reality and chaos theory; the realm in which reality is recreated from
moment to moment and all possibility exists simultaneously. It is
here, in this state, that healing occurs. And it is in our dreams.
copyright 1997 by Asklepia Publications
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Last Updated: 8/17/01
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