Recently we have been contemplating some changes that will have an impact on our family, which of course involves analyzing the pros and cons. After a long discussion with my husband, my psyche served up a cancer recurrence dream. While it was unnerving, when I thought more critically about it, the overarching theme had to do with feeling vulnerable in the face of change.  This change we are contemplating involves a change in health insurance plans, and I feel anxious about it, knowing the coverage will not be as stellar as the plan I am currently blessed to have.  It is at times like this, when I feel so far away from that confident young person who went without health insurance coverage for large chunks of time.

Our dreams often offer us the opportunity to peak behind the veil- to allow us to see what we are needing to process at any given time.  If you want to improve your ability to retain the content, there are some simple ways to do that.  First, setting the intention of remembering a dream can assist you in increasing your consciousness during a dream.  Keeping a notebook and pen handy at your bedside gives you the opportunity to jot down what you can recall upon waking.  When you become more practiced at recognizing the lucid dream state, you can even begin to challenge yourself to have a break through- such as turning to face an aggressor in a dream.  The Dream Game, by Ann Faraday offers intriguing insight into that possibility.

Once you have the dream material recorded, you can begin to work with the imagery to deepen your perspective and tap into the internal landscape. Here are a few ideas of where to begin:

  • Grab your art journal and find a blank page.  Intuitively pick out a  jumping off point from the dream- perhaps it is an image, or a feeling, or a theme.  Chose a color that seems to express this point, and begin to draw what you are feeling.  Follow the flow of what you are doing, allow your creative self a chance to speak.  Move from one shape to the next, switching colors as you desire.  Draw for as long as you feel pulled to, taking rests as you wish.  When you have found a stopping point, take a step back and try to describe what you see, recording it on paper.
  • Identify the important components of the dream (characters, setting, feelings, experiences, etc.), and dialogue with them as if you are interviewing them for an article.  Write freely (without judgement) on paper the message that each component wants to share with you.
  • Recall your dream, and observe how you feel inside as you are re-living it.  How does it impact your body?  Where do you feel it most intensely and least?  What feelings are you having?  What are your thoughts?  Do you notice if it has an impact on your spirit?  Jot down what you are observing as you check in.

Independent of how you determine to work with your dream, the important part is that you take the time to experience it.  This gives you the opportunity to acknowledge and then release the experience, which cultivates the practice of attending to yourself.  If your desire is to restore your body, mind, spirit, and self following a life threatening condition, we need to take the opportunity to listen to the stories that must be told.

“A dream which is not interpreted is like a letter which is not read.” – The Talmud

Sample processing of the recurrence dream:

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– Stephanie McLeod-Estevez, LCPC, is an art therapist and breast cancer survivor. She began Creative Transformations to help others who are healing from a life threatening illness or injury. Creative Transformations offers individual sessions, in person or via Skype, workshops, and this weekly blog. Sign up today so you never miss one by visiting: www.creative-transformations.com, where you will also find the links to our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.