Going on a Dream Quest
Dream Realizations / Dream Solutions Workbook
It is through experience that we best learn. When we thoroughly involve ourselves in a task, we directly connect with its essence. This is especially true of inner work. In addition to meditation and journal writing, my personal inner journey has greatly focused on dreams. For over 20 years, I've faithfully recorded numerous nightly stories and considered their possible meanings. However, my dream study took on an even deeper dimension when I encountered Henry Reed's book, Dream Solutions, Dream Realizations: The Original Dream Quest Guide Book. Practical, innovative, and playful, it invites the reader to actively participate in the dream exploration process.
Dreamwork can stimulate significant insights. The famous psychic, Edgar Cayce, urged people to remember and study their dreams. Through dreams, he said, one could experience all kinds of paranormal phenomena, spiritual guidance, and self-observation. If dreams are interpreted correctly and applied in waking life, they could also be invaluable problem-solving aids. In fact, Edgar Cayce made this dramatic claim, one which Henry Reed has helped prove through the efforts of all those who have participated in his Dream Realizations project:
IF you are willing to take simple steps to make a constructive change or innovation in your life. And IF you are willing to turn to your dreams for help. And IF you are willing to apply those insights you believe you see in your dreams about how to make those constructive changes. THEN your dreams will become easier to interpret and they will provide you with the inspiration to succeed at your endeavor beyond your original expectation.
Cayce's elder son, Hugh Lynn, further recommended that people write their own dream books. Rather than simply rely on others' symbology, people could often derive greater help from interpretations which are more personally relevant.
In the opinion of many dream adventurers, Dream Solutions, Dream Realizations is an exceptional vehicle for working intimately and creatively with dreams. At first, the book is somewhat overwhelming. Its abundance of blank pages can be both intimidating ("How can I fill these pages?") and frustrating ("I spent money for a practically blank book!"). Upon examination, though, Dream Solutions, Dream Realizations is unlike the many "dream journals" which consist of little more than empty pages to record and interpret dreams. There are distinct exercises which guide you toward uncovering insights and building upon them. And, unlike the many dream books which bombard you with series of questions and/or lists of suggestions in each chapter, it is paced so that you can carefully explore and apply each aspect of the dream journey.
The book, itself, has gone through various stages of evolution. It began as part of an Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.) home study research project in the early 1970's. Until that time, dreams were generally viewed as "medical samples" for diagnosis by professionals. The study, and Henry Reed's book, had the intention of giving dreams back to the dreamer. This project later resulted in Henry being dubbed "The Father of the Modern Dreamwork Movement."
The participants in the project kept a 28-day log relating dream clarity and recall to application and meditation. Using exercises involving "inspirational writing" (a free, nonjudgmental type of exposition), they chose an area of life to improve. They found that, by applying the ideas, encouragement, and suggestions they gained from their dreams, their dreams became clearer and easier to remember. (Such application proved even more significant to dream understanding than did meditative attunement.) The positive results of the study led to a variety of formats for Dream Solutions, Dream Realizations as well as the creation of Reed's Sundance Community Dream Journal, an experimental publication in which dreamers and researchers shared dream experiences. These played important roles in sparking off the "modern dreamwork movement."
As its subtitle implies, the book truly takes you on a quest. At the beginning, you don't even know what "problem area" you will be investigating. The premise of Dream Solutions, Dream Realizations is that dreams speak to the issues occupying you during the day. After a week of recording dreams (the book provides several effective methods to enhance recall), you employ inspirational writing techniques to correlate them to aspects of yourself. Examining possible topics from both the waking and dreaming realms, you determine a problem focus and pose a tentative solution.. As a final step at the end of the first week, you briefly write out your solution plus a petition to your dreams for further guidance. You place the petition under your pillow every night.
The second week entails additional dream recording and inspirational writing. Following a series of delightfully offbeat steps, you develop personal interpretations for various dream symbols and revise your solution petition for the next week's dreaming. The third week is even more profound; here you use a creative dialoguing process that inspires new insights into approaches to the problem. During the fourth week, you fine tune the work of previous weeks. Certain symbols, ideas, and phrases come to be seen as particularly relevant and are ultimately incorporated into a Haiku poem and dream picture or collage.
Each time I've taken the 28-day dream quest (yes, I've found it beneficial and interesting enough to utilize more than once), I've felt as if I'd been on the age-old Hero's Journey. Tapping into the unknown regions of my own unconscious mind always engenders a fair amount of fear. I summon my courage and proceed. Then, in encountering the in-depth exercises required in the dreamwork, I experience a good degree of lethargy. I summon my perseverance and proceed. At the end of four weeks, I'm thrilled by the progress I've made.
Others who have worked with Dream Solutions, Dream Realizations have also been amazed at its effectiveness. Noreen Wessling, member of the Association for the Study of Dreams, considers it outstanding for bringing intuitive knowledge to conscious awareness. She's enthusiastic about the diverse - and highly creative - techniques while conceding that the persistence they call for practically wears her out. But the hard work is very much worth it, she claims, as is faithfully applying the emerging insights during waking hours.
Margaret Dwyer came upon Henry Reed's guidebook during a critical point in her life. At a personal and professional crossroads, she hoped that dreams would provide useful guidance in discovering a better path for herself. Through her dreamwork, she found that she needed to pay careful attention to her inner voice before making decisions or trying to force specific actions. She, too, admits that the process, though exciting, triggers some pain; her dreams, while hopeful and supportive, pointed to the necessity of re-evaluating her self-image.
An experienced dream adventurer, Joan Gravallese was eager to embark on four weeks of intensive dreamwork. Her dreams revealed that her life had become filled with work obligations, with little time for spiritual nourishment. Furthermore, they suggested that she adjust her attitude and allow the Life Force to direct her actions. Applying the suggestions, she was able to connect with her inner feelings, reduce her work hours, and spend more time on activities that renewed her spirit and energy.
Accounts by many others give further testimony to the efficacy of Dream Solutions, Dream Realizations. Often interested in the serious task of ascertaining a new life direction, they frequently found themselves altering their original dream quest focus. What seemed to happen is that their dreams unlocked deeper issues than expected; the dream travelers were guided to first ease up in life and then concentrate on more immediate concerns. In almost all cases, they were encouraged to have fun and play with their dream symbols. Because Henry Reed's instructions naturally arouse great creativity, the dream explorers were easily able to unlock their dormant "yin" side, see their circumstances with new eyes, and derive fresh practical solutions.
So, if you're interested in a process that fosters creativity, self-discovery, and problem-solving, Henry Reed's guidebook is the tool for you. However, Dream Solutions, Dream Realizations shows us that dreams enhance our conscious efforts - they do not replace them. The exercises in the book - paradoxically whimsical and deeply serious at the same time - provide encouraging guidance but don't let the participant off the hook. Indeed, they can be time-consuming and necessitate a lot of work; they truly require much commitment and a pioneering spirit. Sounds tedious and/or overwhelming? Certainly. Yet looking at it from another perspective, aren't the goals of personal empowerment and soul growth worth it?