Get to the Subconscious — It’s Personal, And, It Matters

Oh dear — some extra personal reflection — the personal that is actually universal. Here goes.

Symbols matter to me. Symbols that create access to areas of my subconscious that are, well, subconscious. Sometimes the symbol is a picture. Sometimes the symbol is a scene from a movie. Sometimes the symbol is a detail from another person’s story. Sometimes the symbol is from a set of cards or archetypes. Each can be remarkably fruitful to gain access to the largely unconscious way in which I, and human beings, make meaning and discover just a bit more of how the inner subjective world  projects an outer, and more presumed, objective reality. In short, the view depends on the viewer. And what determines the view is a lot of largely unknown stuff on the inside.

Symbols matter to me. Relationship with the invisible matters to me. Finding meaning matters to me. Sourcing matters to me. I don’t know why. It’s just always been this way for me. Lately I’ve been taking stronger stands for the “so much more that is going on than what we humans typically pick up in our regular bandwidth of perception.” It is in realms like this that I tend to feel a bit alien. Over overly serious. I can see, and want to see, more of what is underneath the known. I feel a bit weird with this. And afraid of being alone in it. However, my experience is often the opposite. People are hungry to make sense of their lives and their environments in the best ways possible, including through a few swims into the invisible.

One source of symbols that I particularly rely on is my dreams. It quite amazes me that even the most simple and silliest fragments of a dream have power to unlock a whole pile of the unseen. I find this to be quite fun and playful. And very informative. Key tip — write your dream down when you have it. Even a word or two in the middle of the night. Or a few typed words on your bedside phone can do the trick. So that you can come back to it in the morning. The subconscious mind and heart get trumped pretty quickly when the waking day begins, even that dreams that I didn’t think would be possible to forget.

Last night I dreamed that I’m in Invermere, British Columbia, Windermere Lake (pictured above, but in the dream there is no water slide and very few people), accessed through Kinsmen Beach (traditional lands of the Niitsitapi Blackfoot and Secwepemc). It is summer. I am my current age. This is a place that I’ve been to about a dozen times over the last twenty years of summer holiday. I’m swimming in Windermere Lake. A friend has asked me how far out from the beach you can go and still be able to stand to touch the bottom. I don’t know, but I swim a long way out  — it feels like 3/4 of a mile. I’m a bit scared and alone in this part of the lake. I’ve had a fear of deep waters since I was a young kid. I stop swimming to see if I can touch. I can. I’m surprised. And relieved. I call back to my friend to let her know. I wake.

Your symbols from this snippet of a dream might be different than mine. There is no wrong answer. It might be the lake, the beach, the traditional lands, the fear, swimming. Trust however, that there are piles of paths to follow that are fruitful (here’s the five steps I created to see more in my dreams).

For me, the location was significant. The place of summer holiday was a place of joy and safety for me. Hmmm… A part of me now seeks joy and the safety that comes from connection and belonging that was in those 20 years of holidays.

This body of water was significant. It is actually a passing through section for the Columbia River, whose headwaters are another 30 miles or so south, and that eventually make their way to the Pacific Ocean near Portland, Oregon. Windermere lake is technically a widened section of the Columbia River. Big waters. A part of me feels the bigness of the life circumstances I’m in, and that as a secondary note, do in fact, flow.

Swimming far into the lake was significant. Being scared was significant. I’m aware of a part of me that feels scared of the long way to go, that requires far.

The relief of touching the bottom was significant. Ah, relief. A part of me wants to feel relief, that perhaps what I thought was going to be way over my head, isn’t after all.

Dreams matter to me. Being awake matters to me.

Ah, back to facilitation. In my facilitation work, working with symbols, sometimes dreams, means that it is imperative to remain in connection with one another. In well held containers. With perpetual curiosity for the inner landscape that is a human consciousness. With perpetual curiosity for the outer landscape generated by engagement and learning with one another. It all changes. It all is connected. It requires us to pay attention. It’s deeply fulfilling and fruitful to create organizational culture that expects to work with symbols together and many layers of awareness — to be guided by life and spirit energy.

This writing isn’t all tucked in for me. I’m learning to give myself permission to not have it all figured out. But I can still feel the tugs in me — wanting to know what it means.

For now, what does feel clear to me — if the view depends on the viewer, it matters that we human beings further encourage cultures that tease out the personal, for the gift, I hope, of seeing what helps to see the universal. The personal matters. For helping to shape ways forward. And, well, it just feels really satisfying and joyful too.