Seven Ways to Get Oriented in a Dream

A man I work with recently told me this dream:

“I’m in a massive field. It’s mostly flat with some elevated areas, and it’s dotted with houses that look dreary and run-down. There is a huge excavator in the field, with caterpillar treads and an enormous toothed bucket. The excavator runs itself, it has a mind of its own. It hunts people who are in the field. It can’t see them, but it can sense them somehow and when it does, it tracks them down and destroys them.

It’s approaching nightfall. I have to find a place in the field where I can lie down and rest without the excavator finding me. I go to a remote corner of the field, up a slight hill and find a place with two shallow sleeping plots side by side. They seem like lids to graves. They are covered by paper doors (like on an advent calendar) that fold open, inside there is a turquoise coloured two-two-dimensional surface to lay down on. I know that if I lie down I would be committed to staying there for the night and if the excavator comes in the night I wouldn’t be able to get out and it would destroy me…

I look around. I see the excavator way off in the distance. I’m trying to decide if I should lie here or not. Then a see a teenage boy who lives alone in one of the run-down houses. He’s sending out radio signals with some kind of device. I wonder if these signals might somehow alert the excavator to my presence. I see the excavator turn towards me. It has sensed me. It starts to move towards me. Good thing I didn’t lie down there! I have to move…

I run to another area of the field. I look back and see that the excavator has arrived at the sleeping plots. It rears up the toothed bucket and smashes it down, destroying them. I run away. The same sequence happens the next night. This time I’m with an old girlfriend who is going to lay down with me. The plots look even more life graves with headstones now. But before that happens the excavator comes and destroys the plots again. I have a sense that I must stay in this field for a certain period of time. It’s like a survivor game, like Mantracker.

If I can stay away from the excavator for a certain time then I will survive…(end of dream)

So–what do you make of that?

Here’s a good example of a clearly very important dream where most of us would not immediately know what is going on. We are going to need to do something to get oriented.

Pull out your dream-compass.

For me the dream-compass is the following algorithm that I run through in my head, consisting of 7 specific orientation techniques which I try in sequence, following my intuition about which to use first, and if the first one doesn’t work, moving to another, keeping at it until the dreamer and I are both oriented–

Before you even consult your compass ask the dreamer for his own thoughts about it so far (in this case the dreamer had recently read The Manual, so he was able too identify that this was a probably a limiting field motif–shows you how valuable it is to have your dreamwork clients read the Manual!, It can make your job a lot easier :)) He was also struck by the combination of the digger and the graves…some wordplay on gravedigger? He connected this to a fear he has of dying as a lonely old man with no friends. But beyond that he couldn’t make much of it.

1. Ask yourself and/or the dreamer–“what is the dream asking for”  This was unclear in the early stages or working with this dream. I know from experience that most limiting field motifs are asking the dreamer to consider the possibility of leaving the field (i.e.: getting away from a limiting mindset). So, when we’re more sure about what’s going on we will probably come back to this.

2. Ask yourself if you recognize a universal motif   I was pretty sure we were indeed dealing with a limiting field problem. The other big clue came when the dreamer said: “I have a sense that I must stay in this field for a certain period of time.”  These strong and inexplicable feelings of “I must…”  almost always point to the presence of a limiting field problem, operating like an unconscious binding contract in the dreamer’s psyche.

3. Ask yourself is the excavator an inner or an outer excavator?  If it’s inner it would be a part of him that relentlessly hunts him and keeps him on the move. If it’s outer it would be someone or something in his life that does that. Could be either. We didn’t need to frame this question in this case because the whole thing opened up with #4. ….

4. Ask him to ‘be the part’     “Can you be the excavator?” …..”OK. I am the excavator” ……  “What’s your purpose?”…..  “I’m there to sense people who don’t have a firm sense of where their life is going. I shake them up. I make them realize what needs to be done, what really matters. I don’t give them any peace until they’ve got that figured out.” BINGO! RESONANT CONNECTION FOR BOTH OF US. We are not only oriented but also connected now.

5. Ask yourself and/or the dreamer “is it a good thing for a bad thing that the excavator keeps hunting you and doesn’t let you rest?” At first this did not appear to be a good thing, but when we did the ‘be the part’ it suddenly became clear that it was in fact a very good thing. It is the part of him (inner aspect) and people in his life (like his therapist, yours truly, outer aspect) that will dig and dig and never let him rest until he has figured out what has real value and importance in his life, AND has brought his life more into line with these values.

6. Ask yourself what is dynamic and what is stuck in the dream. This was spontaneously answered in #4. It appears that the field itself represents his current stuckness. It is a depiction of a mindset of being unclear about what is truly of value for him. It has qualities of shallowness, lack of depth, dreariness, repetitiveness, danger, and always having to be on the move. What is dynamic? The excavator–it will not rest until it drives him out of this field once and for all.

7. Ask yourself if the dream features a particular movement, posture or body hot spot that could be worked with in a physical way. In this case we didn’t need to go there, but if you did it would probably be effective to have the dreamer lie down in the grave site and imagine the excavator approaching.

The boy with the radio and the old girlfriend are probably important too, and may be better understood in time; but we were both clear that the central message of the dream had been connected.

If you haven’t yet memorized these 7 ways to get oriented…..well….what can I say?….It will really help you in your dreamworking.

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