Pregnancy    This little guy/girl is what pregnancy looks like from the inside – well, yes, that is with the light turned on. Little does she/he know the life that awaits in a few months.

But what about pregnancy dreams? Lots of people have them. So what are they about?

A woman came into my consulting room one day for her regular session , and soon into the hour, she shared a dream about being pregnant. Neither one of us had any idea about the meaning of this dream. So I suggested to her that she go home and mark her calendar 9 months from the date of her dream, so that she could notice what might have “come to birth.”

We continued to work together during the ensuing weeks and months. Then, one day, I noticed something different about her. She talked in that session about a number of things that were on her mind – some celebrations, some disappointments, some sadness and hurt and feelings of rejection. But what impressed me the most, for the first time really, was a kind of resiliency and self-confidence coming from her that sounded surprisingly new and solid — well-formed, developed. Over several years of working together, we had often discussed her lack of such solidity when it came to life’s myriad of ups and downs, the times of loneliness, and her occasional experiences of disappointment and loss. She had worked hard to know how to cope, but her childhood years of being ridiculed and emotionally neglected had not given her the inner, psychic muscles she needed to deal with such things very well.

When she mentioned, in passing, that it had been 9 months since her dream of pregnancy, it all suddenly made sense. In the midst of her struggles and her efforts to cope and change, an inner wisdom had been growing in her, mysteriously and unseen. Her psyche knew that this had begun to happen – that’s what her dream had been about! But neither she nor I could have known that at the time that she first shared her dream 9 months before.

So, we shared together in this moment of wonder and appreciation for this miracle of “inner birth” and new life — a new creation. A newfound, felt sense of inner strength had been discovered – but maybe, more accurately, had been received and nurtured to fruition. Gone, for now, was the negative thinking, guilt, and shame. In it’s place, life! Life, with both joy and sadness, happiness and sorrow. Life in its fullness.

Not all dreamwork feels this miraculous, certainly. But at the heart of the dream is the soul yearning to grow and to be alive.


Dreamwork: A GPS System for the Soul

Monarch ButterflyWhy do dreamwork? One could certainly do other valuable things in the early morning rather than spending time writing down dreams and images from the night before. Sipping morning tea or coffee, reading the paper, working out, reading devotions, or just getting ready to meet the day — all worthy activities. So why do dreamwork?

The answer, for me, is that there really isn’t any universal reason that one should do dreamwork. Dreams are interesting, entertaining, and, according to some dream researchers, dreams accomplish necessary functions regardless of whether we attend to them or not. Apparently, dreams help to integrate memories, thoughts, and emotions important for our survival. In fact, if we are prevented from REM sleep and thus dreaming, we will begin to hallucinate in waking life! Some dream researchers even claim that dreams, left unattended, still serve as a kind of “unconscious psychoanalysis” that works nightly to keep us in balance.

So, there needs to be some compelling reason for doing dreamwork, a reason that addresses a felt need on the part of the dreamer. A reason such as a desire to understand relational difficulties that seem to repeat themselves, despite our best efforts to change. Or one might want to better understand what vocation or career one is being called to. Or you might be confronted with the challenges of parenting or of aging, or some other life transition.

A common reason people give for doing dreamwork is that they desire to grow spiritually — knowing that our ego-centric lives, by definition, ultimately defend us against the authentic stirrings of our souls. When people feel that there is “something missing,” dreamwork is something they turn to in order to discover what their egos are unable to find.

This is the perspective of Jung’s view of the ego-Self axis.

ego self axis

As we go through life, we typically shift from being united with our deeper selves to gradually becoming more and more alienated from the Self, the God-image (imago dei) that is unique to each individual. So the question is a good one: “How do I stay in-tune with my own soul? How do I open up to God’s guidance in my life?”

Most forms of spiritual discipline do not help with this process of experiencing in a deeply felt way God’s guidance for one’s life. Prayer, Worship, Bible Study, doing acts of charity — all of these tend to rely on conscious behavioral practices. They do not deal with the unconscious, where the God-image or Self resides. While other spiritual practices, such as Centering or Contemplative Prayer, Lectio Divina, Walking the Labrynth, and Meditation do provide ways of setting consciousness aside in order to provide for a more immediate experience of the Sacred or the Holy.

Dreamwork enables a person to go more directly and consciously to the Source — the GPS system inside of us that God has so wonderfully designed for our guidance through life. Just as the Monarch Butterfly (See Flight of the Butterflies at IMAX) “knows” precisely how to travel over 2500 miles, not to a country or a county or a city or a town, but to a specific mountain peak where it has never been before, so we can find our way through the challenges, the storms, and the uncertainties of life to fulfill God’s plan for us by paying close attention to our dreams.

Of course, it involves taking time to write our dreams down, learning how to interpret our dreams, either alone or preferrably in a group. Also, reading deeply and widely in Jungian psychology is a must, it seems to me. It may take years to learn well the symbolic language of archetypes and one’s own personal symbol-world. But the opportunity to live one’s life feeling “fully alive,” deeply in touch with the same energy that formed the stars, the planets, the incredible diversity of Mother Earth, as well as the chance to make a unique difference in this world — for those willing to travel this journey, what a remarkable privilege!


Unlock the Meaning in Your Dreams: Program Helps People Connect to God

John RoweRev. Dr. John Rowe will lead an introductory workshop called “Dreamwork: God’s Forgotten Language” 7-9 p.m. Jan. 24 at the Davidson UMC Chapel, 233 S. Main St., Davidson. The workshop is free and open to everyone, and participants who want to learn more about Dreamwork can enroll in an eight-week study course and join a new Dreamwork small group that will being after the course. To register for the workshop or for information, call the Davidson UMC Counseling Center at 704-892-6135 or email to John Rowe at Child care is available if requested by Jan. 20. The idea that God speaks to people through dreams hearkens back to stories in the Bible’s Old Testament that were recorded thousands of years ago.

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In the past decade, the practice of connecting with God through dreams has seen a renaissance, as more people have become interested in analyzing their dreams as a spiritual discipline.

“In the early church, dreams were considered to be one of the best ways that God was trying to tell you about your life,” said John Rowe, director of Davidson United Methodist Church’s counseling center.

For a year, Rowe has led a group of about nine people who meet twice a month to help each other find meaning in their dreams. He said that, within churches in the Southeast, he has seen a growing interest in dreams.

Connecting dreams and spirituality went out of vogue around the fifth century, when dreams became suspect as church leaders began preferring people to learn about God through the teaching of orthodox dogma and belief, Rowe said.

The practice revived in the early 1900s with Swiss psychotherapist Carl Jung’s theories of “individuation,” or the idea that people are born with an “authentic self” that people repress in favor of a “public face” they believe will be more acceptable to others.

Accessing dreams connects people with the authentic self in the subconscious, Rowe said, allowing them to understand essential aspects of themselves.

“People who are spiritual assume the authentic self can only come from God, and to know God is to know your authentic self deeply and (to know) the direction God is leading you in your life,” Rowe said.

Rowe’s small group was founded out of a workshop and a subsequent in-depth class that provided participants with tools to help each other interpret their dreams.

Each small group meeting begins with prayer or meditation. The facilitator will sometimes give a short talk or lecture, and then group members share details of recent dreams.

“We use techniques we’ve studied, and we begin working with the dream and give the dream back to the person at the end of our work to see what sort of insights they have from the Dreamwork,” Rowe said.

The group often works on three or four dreams each session. Usually, Rowe said, people find their dreams bewildering and can’t make sense of them.

“I’ve rarely heard of a dream that didn’t sound crazy,” Rowe said. “But as the group begins to work with the tools they’ve been taught to use, it’s incredible that something that can be so crazy-sounding can unfold in a deep and meaningful way for people.”

He encourages people to keep a journal, pen and flashlight by their bed to write down dreams, which often quickly are forgotten. The more people get in the practice of writing down dreams, often the better they remember them, he said.

Rowe said the Dreamwork group is devoted to meeting together, and friendships have formed as people have talked about their dreams and their lives.

“It really is a mixture of fun and is deeply meaningful,” Rowe said. “You can’t talk about a dream usually without a lot of laughter.”

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Marty Minchin is a freelance writer for Lake Norman News. Have a story idea for Marty? Email her at