A Holiday Gift
Last week I asked readers to complete a survey to help me improve Dream of
the Week. If you've already done so, many, many thanks to you. If not, there
is still time. Please read on.
Next month will be "Dream of the Week's" first anniversary. I hope you have
been enjoying, and benefiting from the columns. On my part, it has been
rewarding to take one small aspect of dream work and commit myself to
explaining it by Friday noon each week. I find that the exercise -- not to
mention the deadline -- concentrates my thoughts about dream work remarkably
The Perfect Present!
I have a request for a holiday present from you (your choice - Christmas,
Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice or other.) I know it's not quite polite
to tell people what you want, but in this case, perhaps you would make an
exception: Your gift would be your straightforward feedback about "Dream of
the Week" - easily accomplished just by completing a survey at the link
I am trying to get a sense of what it is that you, the reader, most
appreciate about Dream of the Week and what you wish was included. The
survey takes about 10-15 minutes to complete.
I would greatly appreciate your answers. Click here (or copy this link) to
And now for the dream topic of the week.
Free association is a kind of meditation that loosens up your mind, allowing
it to wander. All you have to do is follow the wanderings.
If I was to make one recommendation for what to do in your new year to aid
you in your dream work, I'd suggest that you learn or practice free
association until it comes naturally. It's also a great way to come up with
new ideas -- a brain massage rather than a brain storm.
Often, as you will see, the connections that come from associating to the
dream are the key to making sense of the dream.
Sigmund Freud invented Free Association as a technique. I don't use it
exactly as a Freudian would but, I think it is an essential part of self
Essentially the technique is to notice whatever is in your head at the
If I say the word BOOK, you might immediately think of READ, FIRESIDE, HARRY
POTTER, VACATION IN MEXICO and so on. What you need to practice is noticing
whatever came first to you. It's that simple. But!!!
In ordinary social conversation, we very naturally censor ourselves. The
first answer is quite often "wrong" or socially inappropriate.
If I were to say, "Name a movie star who you find attractive," you might not
wish everyone to know who first came to mind. Your mind would then go
through a process of finding an answer that you wished to present. Many of
us lose the habit of catching that first answer and come to believe in the
more acceptable one.
This process is happening all the time. Your mind searches for an answer
that is socially appropriate and acceptable. BUT, and this is the key, a
word or a concept, picture or sound popped up in your mind first. Free
association is the practice of noticing that first one and following it.
The Difference between Thinking and Associating
We use the word "think" in two different ways.
If I asked you how to get from your house to the supermarket, you would
think through the steps to take and then explain the directions. In
contrast, as you walk down the street on your way to the supermarket, you
might think about someone you knew in high school. That's the thought popped
into your mind. You did not actively generate the thought. Instead, so to
speak, you received it. It's not a rational process.
Free Association and Dreams
A common technique with dreams is to consider what associations you have
with the dream.
I dreamed I saw a purple cloud.
Ask yourself what do you associate to the purple cloud? Purple might remind
you of a coat you wore. Or signify something royal. You might go off on your
associations to the word "cloud." What is most useful is to notice what
first comes to mind rather than what you logically "think" the purple cloud
I dreamed I was in the supermarket. The tomatoes looked very ripe but I
couldn't decide whether to buy them or not.
When Nicole thought about tomatoes her mind went to the tomato plants her
family used to grow when she was a teenager. The conversation steered off
into the days when Nicole herself was a "hot tomato." We came back to the
dream with Nicole considering whether she was ripe for another relationship.
If you are not already adept at free association, try practicing. Write down
your daydreams. As you wander down the street, catch the thoughts that you
are "receiving." As you wake up, notice the thoughts that are occupying your
mind. Take your next dream and write down whatever comes to mind about each
aspect of the dream.
Special bonus: if you are stuck on a problem, write it down and then free
associate. You'll wander way off target but likely come back to it with a
fresh, creative approach that would be impossible if you focused on the
Warning: You should not be surprised if all kinds of unacceptable ideas come
up: immoral, unethical, angry, or other. Stop if it's upsetting.
Dreams are irrational. That's what people either love or hate about them.
You might be flying, your father may be wearing a skirt, you might discover
that your house has a room you never noticed. The logic of dreams is much
closer - and truer - to the meanderings of free association than it is to
waking life rational thinking.
DREAM OF THE WEEK SURVEY
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