People find meaning in dreams all the time. In fact, some people even report changes in their behavior due to the dreams they have. But what exactly are dreams? To Robert Bosnak, dreams are more than a physiological explanation. Bosnak is a Jungian psychoanalyst, author, and clinician who works with clients to help them understand how dreams are more than what meets the eye.
By shifting the way his clients think about and recall their dreams, Bosnak helps people explore new realms of creativity through their subconscious stories. In a recent Q&A with lifestyle brand goop, Bosnak unveils the best way to shift your perspective surrounding dreams and how to make the most of them.
A dream upon waking
We’ve all been there before. Whether you slowly step out of your dream state to recall a bizarre sequence of events, or you abruptly awaken from an intense nightmare about your teeth falling out, our dreams are the most vivid right when we first wake up. To really take advantage of this state, Bosnak advises his clients to record the subconscious messages they remember right when they wake.
“I speak into my iPhone in the morning, and I have software that translates the audio into a transcript,” Bosnak explained. “It’s the most effective way that I’ve found. It is always good to have a text because then you can go over several texts, and you can find things that are similar, and once you find some theme that comes back, then you can flash back into that moment.” The key here is the flashback. Because our dreams are so fleeting, its important to find opportunities to get everything on paper.
“The best way to work on dreams is by way of flashback. Because we cannot actually work on dreams, right? Dreams are gone; we can work on only the memories of dreams,” Bosnak continued. “As we work on the memory of a dream, the best memory to have is one where you can flash back into the dream and the environment establishes itself around you again and you begin to feel it from your perspective. If you’re able to, then begin to feel it from another perspective, as well.”
Another point of view
Switching up your perspective in the narratives of your dreams is also immensely helpful in sparking new, creative pathways in the brain. By getting out of your own head, you can start to see what underlying symbolism might be seeping through your subconscious. As you might have guessed, it takes some imagination to change your point of view regarding dreams, and just about anything else, really. “Dreams — and related work — can help you move out of your habitual perspective,” Bosnak said. “That perspective shift can have a great capacity to reduce emotional pain. Feeling the movement out of your own perspective is a really important shift. That’s what I try to help people with.”
Bosnack explained further that shifting your perspective can also help you overcome painful memories from unpleasant dreams and nightmares. “Frequently, if you get into another perspective — not just the perspective that you’re identified with — you can find a way in. It is usually the case that the nightmare or the horrible dream is from a particular perspective,” Bosnak explained. “For instance, you have a dream in which there is somebody attacking you, and there is a dog with you. If you get into the perspective of the dog who’s your friend next to you, a helpful animal, the dream becomes much less disturbing. It becomes much more possible to work on it. Through this process of imitating other characters and feeling it from their perspective, things change.”
Newness breeds creativity
Through that change, creativity is formed. “The body brings in new information frequently through alien characters in dreams; the most alien character is frequently the newest information. When you start to work on that with a friend, then you will be in your body differently,” said Bosnak.
And getting out of your own body is where the spark begins. “It can always be a tool for creativity. Say you’re a creative writer, then when you start writing again, you will write differently, because there’s now new information that has come into your body,” he continued. “If you’re a painter, you will paint differently. If you’re an actor, you will act differently. We did these techniques with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford — it will change you as an artist. Tons of things begin to shift.”
Through Bosnak’s eyes, the creativity gleaned from dreams is the most important part of all. People will always have their own questions or conclusions about where dreams come from. But to Bosnak, it’s where we take the experience of the dream that really matters. “Who knows if dreams are really about us,” Bosnak admitted. “The only thing we know that holds universally true is that it is an event that happens in space, where everything presents itself as fully real and fully embodied, and where you are completely convinced that you are awake. And then you wake up. That’s a dream.”
“Everything else beyond that, you get into the culture of the person whom you ask,” Bosnak said. “So I am interested in the experience itself. The experience itself is universal; the interpretation of it is completely cultural-bound.” Within that interpretation is really where creativity starts to take place.