Do you believe that your dreams serve a purpose, even when you don’t remember them?
Do dreams help you somehow, even if you don’t “work” with them?
Katherine Bell believes so, and she’s read research studies to back that up. A scientist herself, Katherine blends her curiosity about the data around dreams with her deep respect for the experience of dreaming.
You’ll hear her talk about how dreamwork helped her shift from habitually dissociating from her feelings (even physical pain), to being able to feel. Dissociating from her feelings was especially present on her mind when we had this conversation, having just returned from evacuating from her home for 2.5 weeks due to local wildfires, and still sitting under a smokey sky. She shares one of her recent dreams that relates to these themes.
We talk about the different levels of engagement we can have with our dreams: dreaming without remembering (in which case, according to a “nap study,” our dreams are still doing something for us); remembering our dreams; working our dreams in a group; or diving deep with a practitioner, one-on-one.
This part of our conversation brought to mind the way my conversation with a patient deepens as soon as they share a dream – no matter what kind of “work” we do with it. To speak a dream aloud is to recognize it as significant, and subtly bring into the room all that the dream is addressing.
Katherine affirms that our dreams are working for us “behind the scenes,” and we don’t have to ever “understand” the dream to let them help us grow. In fact, trying to understand them with the prefrontal cortex of our brains might get in the way. She encourages dreamers to hang out in the emotional, embodied space of the dream itself, allowing it to do more of its work: bringing forth what we’re not conscious of while we’re awake.
We talk about great gifts she has received from dreams: the experience of being loved, and knowing she is not alone.
Can’t get much better than that, right?
Before the end of this episode, we about other dreams related to the local fires, as well as the Fire element within Chinese Medicine. I mention that Fire generates Earth. Katherine draws the connection between grounding through the feet and calming the “fiery” energy of anxiety. This brings to my mind the acupressure point Kidney 1, on the bottoms of the feet, which can be powerfully calming. I talked to Katherine more about that after our recorded conversation. If you want to learn to use acupressure on yourself when anxious Fire is flaring, I made a free video you can access by clicking here about how to do acupressure on yourself.
Learn more about Katherine Bell at her website: www.experientialdreamwork.com
Reach her by email: krbell6 [at] gmail.com
Listen to our conversation on her show, The Dream Journal: https://ksqd.org/the-dreamers-den-with-leilani-navar/
Books Katherine mentions:
The History of Last Night’s Dream, by Rodger Kamenetz
Why We Sleep, by Matthew Walker
The Twenty-four Hour Mind: The Role of Sleep and Dreaming in Our Emotional Lives, by Rosalind Dymond Cartwright
How to Change Your Mind, by Michael Pollan
Music by East Forest