Cultures Of Dreaming

Layne Dalfen’s book, Have a Great Dream, is aptly described by its subtitle, “decoding your dreams to discover your full potential.” “I believe that the ability to understand our dreams provides us with the opportunity to be completely in touch with our whole selves when making decisions”, she says in her introduction. “Interpreting our dreams is not only fun and interesting, it is important.”

The book is divided into four main sections. The first shows how dreams mirror the feelings and events of our waking lives, and can help us find solutions to the problems we face. Dalfen describes how to make a “dream map” with feelings, associations and symbols connected to the dream, and then apply the map to current life situations. Various approaches, including asking what’s missing in the dream story and changing the dream through active imagination, are offered to help find solutions to the particular issue at hand.

Part Two, “Using Your Whole Mind”, introduces Gestalt concepts like “top dog” and “underdog,” and the idea that all parts of the dream are parts of yourself. The goal is to look past the immediate issues of waking life to a more general sense of oneself. Techniques are offered for discerning the “shadow” in dreams, and reclaiming what Dalfen calls these “underinvested” parts of the self.

Part three takes a longer view, discussing how dreams also reflect events in our past and thus real basic patterns in our lives. The goal is to achieve our full potential, so Dalfen shows how to understand and move beyond habitual patterns of behavior that may be limiting us. Along the way, she discusses recurring dreams and dream series.

Finally Part Four, “Tapping Your Spiritual Strength”, explores the universal level of dream experience, introduces such Jungian concepts as “archetypes”, the “Mandala” and the “Self”, and shows how dreams can connect us with our deepest spiritual nature.

Much of the material covered here will be familiar to Dream Time readers from their own work and from the many other similar books, but Have a Great Dream is not just one more book in an already gutted market. What makes it special is the sensibility that Dalfen brings to the material. She as Many good examples of actual dreams and dreamwork to illustrate her points, and, in an informal heartfelt and convincing voice, takes the time to explore them fully. As a result, the experience of reading this book is like a special opportunity to sit down with an experienced dream worker for a long, intimate talk about dreams.


By Richard A. Russo, M.A