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keeping it simpleHappy New Year!

I’ve often considered the break afforded by the Solstice / Christmas / New Year celebrations as the one time of year I can truly ‘break’. And having been off work for the best part of 3 weeks, I can honestly say I have needed that time to unfold: to truly rest. The time also allowed my now traditional ritual to reflect upon the outgoing year and plan for the new. For some reason, this year’s review was one of the most straightforward ones I have done since I started the exercise in 2012.

Maybe this is because I am living closer to my values and aspirations than ever? In some ways my aim is closer to the target each year. I sense this is part of it. I believe it is also because I am happier with a more fluid approach to my life: to respond to change rather than resist is. Its a moving target, so I know I can never expect to hit the bullseye.

Each year, my review process gives me 3 or 4 “rules to live by”; and it also throws up one word to hold in the front of my mind. Previous years have seen words such as ‘trust’, or ‘surrender’. This year, the word I have chosen is ‘simplicity’.

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hibernationThe end of another year is fast approaching. I feel fortunate that I don’t get snagged up in the chaos of Christmas, so instead this time of year begins a kind of hibernation period: its probably the only 2 weeks of the year where I really withdraw from the world - in part, there is that permission granted from the world. No one else is working, we are all on a break and therefore there is no feeling that someone is waiting for a response. Its telling that I rarely put on an ‘auto-response’ on my various email accounts or telephones - who would be emailing or calling until January?

So, we are here again. And being ‘here’ means I get to look at the ‘again’. What did I set out to achieve in 2018? How did I fare? Each year I do a year-end review, and in the period of “Twixmas”, I will do that again. I’ll up the meditation practice and spend a few hours each day contemplating what has been and what is to become in 2019.

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Chagall dreamI’m going through a phase of dreaming a lot - experts will remind me that I actually dream each and every night; so its probably more accurate to say at the moment, I am more aware of my dreams. Sometimes I can remember the dreams in vivid detail, sometimes there are 3 or 4 a night each with a different “scene”, but which carry a similar flavour and feeling to them. It can be hard to catch my dreams, but generally the greater my intention to listen to the messages contained within, the more my dream world comes alive.

There is a general fascination with our experience of dreaming. Scientists range in opinion as to the function of dreams - from random brain activity to processing of information for storage. My own experience tells me dreams are not random: there is too much synchronicity and emotional affect in- and post-dream for me to ignore. Freud and Jung both pointed to how much dream material can reveal. Freud famously stated that “dreams are the royal road to our unconscious”. He considered that things appearing in our dreams could be read as symbols and can point to our very deepest wishes and desires. A reference to water would signify birth, or the undertaking a journey being representative of death as two examples. Jung read dreams in a different way - in contrast to Freud, he did not see dream material as indicative of repressed material that is not allowed in to the awake mind because of morality. Jung brought a perspective that allowed dream material to be looked at both objectively and subjectively - less reliance on interpretation, more emphasis on what the dreamer made of the dream. In effect, Jung saw dreams as the bridge between our conscious and unconscious mind.