What dreams can tell us

Falling. Spitting out your teeth. Getting lost. Being chased. Reuniting with the dead. The world of dreams can be exquisite, startling and terrifying.

Falling. Spitting out your teeth. Getting lost. Being chased. Reuniting with the dead.

The world of dreams can be exquisite, startling and terrifying.

What interests Carol Weiss about these visions are not just what appears, but what each element of a dream can tell us about ourselves.

“Dreams are from the depth of our psyche, not the surface,” she said. “What we do when we dream at night, what we are trying to do is solve our problems – the meaning of life problems.”

Carol Weiss, a marriage and family therapist, has worked with clients to discover meaning in their dreams as well as working on her own dream therapy for the last 40 years. Weiss is a Jungian psychotherapist who specializes in dream analysis in her Lopez practice. She trained at the CG Jung Institutes in San Francisco and London. Over the years she has learned that these subconscious visions provide us with “a deep storehouse of wisdom” within ourselves that can gives us psychological and spiritual support.

In celebration of the power of dreams, Weiss is presenting the 30-minute DVD “Appointment with the Wise Old Dog – Dream Images in a Time of Crisis,” Thursday, Sept. 27, 5-6:30 p.m., at the Lopez Library meeting room. She will facilitate a discussion afterwards.

The film features writings and 51 drawings that grew out of David Blum’s dreams. Blum was a musician and conductor, and wrote the script and finished the work while dying of cancer. The work is introduced and filled with accompaniment by his good friend and acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma. The film follows Blum’s dreams, beginning when he was 17 until the end of his life.

“The images are so beautiful and so eloquent and are shown in a way to give credence to how important dreams can be,” Weiss said. “So many times people attribute dreams to just something they ate or saw on TV.”

This dismissal of our sleeping visions can be unhelpful, added Weiss, because a culture that does not study or validate dreams may be missing an opportunity to unite over a shared instinctive wisdom.

In other cultures, dreams have been used to make crucial decisions or were held with great reverence. The Egyptians believed their gods showed themselves in dreams and visions. The Greeks would sacrifice an animal to the god they wished to see in their dreams. And other ancient cultures like the Babylonians believed good dreams were sent by the gods and the bad dreams were sent by demons. Even the Bible talks about the power of prophetic dreams like Jacob’s ladder.

In her life, Weiss has studied her dreams in relationship to big transitions including her decision to move to Lopez after a two-year absence.

While living in California, she longed for the islands and one night she dreamt that she was at an empty Anacortes Ferry Terminal at dawn and there was no boat waiting.

“I knew a boat would be coming soon, seeing the terminal for that potential helped me to understand that I would be coming home, but I was not quite ready yet,” she said.

Within six months, she was back on island.

Not all dreams are as easy to decipher, she said; most dreams are elusive, especially to the dreamer, and can often feel random or without meaning.

Weiss compares dreams to the production of a film. We all have an “inner” producer making the dream, a director that creates the action, a scriptwriter to tell the story, a casting director for characters and the prop manager.

The “inner” prop manager picks things from the day to use to tell the story, like the use of the ferry to tell Weiss about how she felt about returning home.

Weiss said even seemingly random images from TV can symbolize something that has meaning in our lives.

“Why would we go to all that trouble if there is no meaning – it’s a big job doing this for ourselves each night,” she said.

We all dream, Weiss added, but we often don’t remember.

The nights that fill our sleeping minds with startling or beautiful images or strong emotional content are the ones that hold repeating themes that may be telling us “to pay attention.”

Blum, whose work will be shown at the library, not only looked into his dreams, but decided to explore and process them in a public way that others could tap into, which is one of the reasons Weiss decided to present his film.

“I know it will bring things up for people,” Weiss said. “And it might be a way to encourage people to pay attention to what their dreams are saying.”

For more info on Blum, visit www.davidblummusiciananddreamer.com. For more info on Weiss, visit www.carolweissmft.com.