Dreamwork and Art


Yesterday, I attended a day-long workshop on Embodied Spirituality.  The two facilitators led the participants  in an exploration of alternative ways to express our spirituality and connect with the divine.   The workshop focused on four practices:  yoga as prayer, meditation,  accessing spiritual wisdom through dreams, and making art as meditation or spiritual practice.

In this post, I am going to focus a bit on the dream work and art-making since these two had the most immediate and powerful effect on me yesterday.

If I were to distill what I learned from the instructor about dreams into a few sentences, they would be:

  1. Dreams come from outside our egos.  They have a separate reality that comes from the world of spirit.
  2. They have multiple meanings and many levels of understanding.
  3. They show us truth about ourselves and provide meaning for our lives.
  4. An individual cannot understand the full meaning of dreams by herself.  Sharing the dream with others helps to gain further insight.
  5. Even if one does not understand a dream, “getting it out there” by sharing it or in some way manifesting it releases its transformative power in our lives.

In preparation for this workshop, each participant had been asked to bring a dream to share with the group.  After this lecture on the nature of dreams, one of the facilitators led us in a guided meditation where we were to focus on this dream.

I did not bring a particular dream; rather, I have a recurring dream that I wanted to explore.  I have dreamed on several occasions about the destructive power of water.  This theme manifests itself in several ways in my dreams:  either as a tsunami bearing down on me,  large surf battering me against rocks along a shore line, and water falling from the ceiling of my apartment from a burst pipe.    As we were led through the meditation, I began by focusing on the tsunami dream.   As I watched the image unfold on my mind’s eye, it began to change.  It became me standing on the beach watching a ship being engulfed by a giant wave.

After about twenty minutes, the instructor gently closed this part of the meditation but asked us, in silence, the make our way to a box of art supplies, select some whatever media we wanted, proceed to a table, and begin creating an art piece based on the images that had evolved in our seated meditation.  The goal was carry on the meditation as we created the art piece.

I started my piece using several photographs taken from a magazine.  I was amazed when I immediately (and serendipitously)  found the perfect images of  my dream in the magazine.  I clipped out an image of a calm moonlit ocean, a woman pointing, and a ship.  I felt as it something outside of me had found those images and was instructing me how to lay them out on the paper.     After I glued the images in place, I used oil pastels to create the rest of the image.

Here is the finished piece:

I have some ideas about what this image means, but in keeping with the instructor’s comments that it takes other people’s insight to give one greater insight, I am asking each of you to comment below about what you see in this dream.   What do you think it may mean?

Thanks in advance for whatever wisdom you can share with me.

Lori G. (c) 2010


15 responses »

  1. You feel an impending disaster, but your fear, I believe, is a figment of your imagination. The ship appears to be in calm waters and you will find yourself safely aboard while the destructive wave proves to be no more than your own deep seated fear of something, we know not what.


  2. What a perfect metaphor for modern-day living!! We start out believing life will be one long summer cruise, but as the reality (tsunami) bears down on us the fear is overwhelming. The fear is just a feeling, and feelings do not reflect the reality of the situation.

    The blend of reality/surreality also indicates the normal fear of change. We cannot predict what the change will be, but we know it is coming. The best we can do is to ride the tide as it were instead of fighting the inevitable.But then, you already knew that didn’t you?


  3. I see this image split almost perfectly into two, representing the Ying and Yang. On the one hand life is calm and smooth, yet on the other it is precarious and can be snatched from us in a moment. Your dream, in many ways, captures how I have felt about my life, how I am feeling now as I watch my mother’s decline. It is as though a tsunami is almost on top of me. Yet aspects of my life are clear sailing.

    From what I hear at the Hearth many of us have been facing tsunami like situations, things that seem all engulfing.

    It sounds like a wonderful course that you have undertaken and I do think that your work will release a transformative power.

  4. The figure appears to be trying to attract the attention of the boat and let them know they are sailing into trouble. The full moon represents completion or the intuitive side of your nature and the starfish on the beach indicate a period of healing and renewal. (I cheated and got the starfish bit off the internet). Hugs, Sue 🙂

    • Starfish! I didn’t even realize there were any starfish in this. You’re right! Now THAT is an example of the unconscious pulling a fast one on the conscious. And the interpretation (don’t care where you got it) is encouraging. Thank you.

  5. Hi Lori,
    I got to the part of your post when you wrote about having to bring a dream to the workshop and wondered what would have happened if I bought my Tsumani dream to such a workshop. In the next paragraph I read that you did just that.

    I used to have Tsumani dreams frequently as a kid. I hadn’t had one for years but last Monday morning I woke up in a cold sweat after dreaming of a wave that was at least 100 feet high.

    Some time ago there was a dream interpreter on an alternative radio station over here. Many people rang her up about Tsumani dreams. She said they could either mean that the dreamers were having some kind prophetic dream about the future OR that they were being overwhelmed by emotion. Water in dreams often symbolises emotion.

    My dream of last Monday was the night after I heard of the Peruvian earthquake and theTsumani warning for the Pacific. So it could be about that. It could also be about being overwhelmed with emotion as the two weeks prior to that were crazy with emotional upheaval. Then again it could be prophetic. It scared me – whatever it was about.

    All the interpretations that others have given you here have merit and make sense. I guess in the end, you have to find the meaning that sits most comfortably with you. Although all the explanations that take such dreams away from the prophetic it is hard (as the dreamer) to totally discount the sense of impeding doom that such dreams bring. Personally if I lived in California and started getting really strong feelings to move inland to higher ground I wouldn’t entirely dismiss them as loopy.

    • Actually, I always thought of the tsunami dreams as indicators that I am feeling overwhelmed with emotion, so I think you are spot on with that interpretation. I actually haven’t had one of these dreams for a long time. The last destructive water dream I had was a few weeks ago when I dreamed that a pipe had burst upstairs and water was pouring into my living room from above.

      I do wonder about prophetic dreams though. In the early morning hours of 9/11 I dreamed that planes were coming to attack us. I woke up in a sweat. At that moment I figured it was just work-related anxiety. But a few hours later……. wow.

      I’ve not had this type of dream before or since.

      Thanks for the input. That was helpful.

  6. I think a dream about burst pipes and water pouring into your house would most probably be about being overwhelmed with emotion.

    That plane dream is truly strange though.

  7. Water also represents the spiritual side of us. This dream may be telling you that sometimes we just float along in complacency on some level. It is possible that you have been sailing along in your spiritual realm and are about to embark upon a phenomenal shift in your spirituality. Sometimes these shifts come in small waves and sometimes in big waves. Mixed in there is most likely anxiety about earth changes. (I go through spells of worry about earth changes but then realize that it is possible to influence this by keeping our vibrations high which we dowhen in a spiritual (or loving) state.) The woman may be trying to get someone else’s attention because what she sees it too spectacular to see alone and she wants to share it. The starfish might represent the need to open to a higher power in order to be more grounded.

    I love that you shared this dream, Lori. I know that we work out so many things in the dreamtime and it is difficult to know what dreams mean. I just wish the universe would speak English without all the symbolism and mystery. But then again…where’s the fun in that!!

    Your art work is so incredibly beautiful. I LOVE that wave. It is magnificent, beautiful, and worthy of riding as long and as far as possible. (My mind had such a typical California reponse to a big wave…”Whoa, dude! Surf’s up!”

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