A Guide to Jungian Dreamwork
Dreamwork is a lot more than wrestling esoteric meanings from random symbols. While it can help us cultivate greater self-knowledge, it is a visceral experience that unlocks psychological energy, potential, and creativity. In essence, it unlocks parts of the self that lie dormant or splintered away from the conscious mind.
Carl Jung, the Swiss psychologist who explored dreams and the unconscious referred to this psychological energy as “libido.”
When we buffer from lack of psychic energy, we say we have a depression or an inhibition, not realising that part of our mental hierarchy has run away beyond our control, that we have, in fact, lost our soul…
Thus images are energy or libido.
— Carl Jung, Cornwall Seminar
It was his theory that much of our mental health and unconscious blocks arise from fractures in the personality that disrupt our libido or psychological energy, motivation, creativity and drive.
In a modern interpretation, we can see how stress, trauma, and conditioning disrupt portions of the brain along with neurological associations causing shifts in focus, attention, and the way we see the world. Often this creates a feedback loop in the body where we store tensions and traumas as we move from states of disassociation to hyper-vigilance or arousal (fight, flight, freeze, fawn).
Since the brain interprets our sensory data we essentially live within the brain’s experience. What we think of as life or reality is the best working model the brain has to give us. Due to the brain’s limitations, that model is bound to have biases and glitches as well as oversimplifications.
Dreams offer a door to this world of experience. No longer bound by sensory data they allow a direct experience of consciousness itself.
Here we find familiar textures and patterns but the unfocused nature of dreams (being distanced from sensory stimuli) allows us to break through our more conscious patterns — the ruts of the mind.
When we do this in an embodied, mindful way, dreamwork acts as visceral alchemy, germinating the unconscious with conscious observation, thus activating its…