Dreams & Mid-LIfe
Reference Links Are Colored in Red
Links: Jung Video-Part 1
The Mid-Life Crisis And Dreams
The Search For Meaning

A primary function of dreams is to help find a balance in life. Dreams are meaninful, objective and therapuetic. With that in mind, and drawing from my own personal experiences from my journey to wholeness, I offer this information to the possibilities of a better, more balanced and harmoneous life.

In our early adult years we are concerned more with the ego, career, starting a family, buying a house, etc. But when midlife approaches things start to change. The children are grown, the career is established, we begin to look back at our lives and wonder what it was all about. Unfortunately too many of us find we have not lived the lives we truly wished to have lived. For many, it seems we have wasted those early years having neglected a part of ourselves because we were so focused on the outer search for reality, bound by materialism and ego, and neglected to look inward for the real meaning of life. T.S. Eliot's Poem 'The Wasteland' addresses this issue. Looking back we see how we have wasted those chances that would have given meaning to life. Looking forward we can only imagine what would have been. Looking inward we can begin to establish what can be.

Much of Jungian psychology deals with the search for our true identity, one that is founded more on our inward personality and less on the subjective condition of the ego. Jung, and Joseph Campbell, realized that the dream pointed us in a direction that desperately wants to lead us to a balance of the outer world, the ego consciousness, with that of the inner world, the world of creativity, and most importantly, the spiritual condition. In the process we learn the true condition of our life, and with a deeper search the underpinnings of how that life can about. The dream has two primary functions as to its interpretation. One is that of the everyday ego life, where the dream symbols are of a personal/cultural nature, focused on the events of our everyday lives. The second deals with the deeper aspects of who we are and why we are that person. It delves into the foundations and causes of personality, the early life experiences/influences that shape who we become. Often this aspect of the dream uses symbols that are not a part of our everyday lives, symbols that are universal in form (Jung's archetypes). These symbols stem from the primitive mind that we have inherited from the evolutionary process of our human development.

But even the everyday symbols of the conscious life have conotations to the deeper aspects. For instance, when your father appears in a dream it can have a personal meaning of the relationship with your father. But it also can take on a symbolic formulation that deals with the deeper realtionship with your own psychological condition, the father being a symbol for God, or pointing to the need to recognize that higher self, denoting a masculine identity for which all human psyches possess. One interpretation informs what the ego self is confronted with in the waking life, the other the unconscious aspects seeking to inform the conscious mind of the deeper experiences from life. Those experienecs are often rooted in childhood and the life we are living is trying to reconcile emotional conflicts such as a lack of love and acceptance as a child. Patterns of behavior in adult life are often the product of childhood experiences/influences, the unresolved emotional conflicts that remain within the unconscious throughout adulthood, and into the grave if left unresolved.

But there is much more to the deeper aspects than just the dreams attempt to inform the dreamer of unbalanced aspects of life. There are metaphyiscal aspects of our creativity and spiritual condition, that part of the psyche which is often unknown to the general life. It is in our 'blissful' state of creativity and spirituality that we discover true meaning in life. As Joseph Campbell often stated, "I don't believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive". Being alive is experiencing that thing in life that brings you to life, makes life worth while. You are not merely surviving in life but you are producing something that defines your life. A creative skill, an important issue or cause that provides help to others, that thing beyond the ego life that produces a true feeling of being alive. In the end it becomes a spiritual endeavor, giving of yourself in the service of others. An artist, a writer, even a web master seeking to satisfy his/her deepest inner self, these are the actions of the true being within, wishing to share the bounties they have received through the inner path.

Mid Life

At mid life we begin to confront aspects of ourselves that have been hidden away from our conscious eyes and begin to look at the inevitable process aging and of death. Changes in our mode of thinking begin to occur which are as natural as sleep and nourishment. But as we often do with sleep and nutrition, we ignore these signs of change and dismiss them as illusionary processes of the mind, ignoring or repressing the emotions that at times overwhelm us, not knowing why we feel as we do or why we act in manners that are not of our normal selves. We have no idea what makes us do these things, often we feel empty even though we are surrounded by family and friends. We become possessed by forces that are unexplainable and yet have a control that is beyond explanation . We just don't know what those forces are. But our dreams do.

Dreams can play an important role in discovering aspects that have unconsciously ruled our lives. The many instances where men and women at midlife begin to recall abuses from their childhood are an example of those forces, while neglected or repressed from conscious life, remain locked away within the unconscious mind. Not only have they realized the abuses but with a deeper examination they can begin to understand the reasons why they have lived their lives as they have. Depression, divorces, addictions, and attempted sucides. They act in a manner that is a direct result of the abuses from their past, sometimes emulating the behaviour of those experienecs that were placed on them in early life. Children who grow up in an abusive environment are often bound to become abusive parents, the past often manifests itself to being the abuser due to unconscious stimulus the person is often unaware of. The patterns learned from childhood are the foundations of our adult lives, unconsciously directing how we see things, what we do as adults. Many psychological disorders are an indirect if not direct result due to childhood experiences/influences, a lack of parental love or acceptance. The individual goes through life trying to fill the void with food, drugs, sex, or other attachements that are injureous to a balanced psyche and harmoneous life (see Marion Woodman's 'Addiction To Perfection'). Whereas criticism for the lack of discipline is often warranted in such cases, the underlying cause is just as important. We all are addicted to some thing that is a replacement for what is lacking and at midlife these inperfections tend to show themselves, if not in an outward sense, then in an unconscious one. The dream is the outlet for such events.

Joseph Campbell talks of the patterns in life that are instinctive and are formed from the experiences of our evolutionary condition. We all have tendencies to follow one path or another, some inherited from our parents, others from our environment. But the tendencies that have as great of power as any are those which are inherited from the primitive mind of our ancestors. The need to eat, sleep and reproduce are evolutionary, and so too are the instinctive patterns that control the unconscious mind. Just as the turtle knows to run to the water upon birth, we humans have the instinct of knowing that parental love is expected, that the mother's breast is to the new borm child the highest diety at that time of life. If the turtle should hatch from its egg and not find water, what becomes of its physical condition? What happens when the new born is left without parental love? The child may survive the physical trauma but psychologically it is wounded for life. These traumas go with us throughout life, and at midlife those that have not been reconciled present themselves in various forms of behaviour, many which can be destructive psychologically. Studies have shown that the psychological condition can dictate to our physical condition, thus throwing us off balance in many ways that we can not explain. We survive our early years by an over-emphasis on the ego, and the material world. But at midlife those repressed, undesirable forces emerge anew in our lives to taunt us and cause havoic, for many of us merely being a nuisance, while others go through traumatic psychological pains. Understanding that the processes is psychological is the first step in the healing process.

Within the Pages of Myths-Dreams-Symbols

Some 14 years ago I began the long process of creating the website Myths-Dreams-Symbols. The pages at Myths-Dreams-Symbols are as much a continuing process of my own experiences with the midlife crisis as any other reason for their existence. Discovery comes in many forms but the effectiveness of the discoveries are what are most important. Dreams can help answer, and adress, many of the problems that face us at midlife. They are the 'unconscious', an identifiable aspect of our human condition that holds the truth to our undiscovered selves. The bias and prejudices of our waking ego are absent in the unconscious. The dream is an unbiased third person looking down upon the life of the deramer with open eyes not blinded by the power of the ego. The symbols in dreams {the language of dreams} represent our true condition no matter how much we seek to repress them or ignore their influeneces.

Understanding dreams is a process that takes a lot of time and effort, but when one does so in a serious manner, it benefits the whole psyche and will help bring an awareness to the conscious life. Within all of us is that hidden self, different from the being that has survived the formative years, a part that awakens at midlife to cause much distress simply because we are unaware of the processes of life and its unconscious forces. Midlife is the beginning of the renewal process, the new birth of the old self in what can be the best years on this great planet Earth. For myself, and others who have the discipline to take that inward journey, and the path is a psychological journey, true realizations begin with an understanding of the unconscious mind and its tremendous influence on our waking consciousness. Midlife is itself a death and resurrection, a motif that is as much psychological as it is religious. Through the dream one can find wholeness and balance to life, no matter how difficult the experiences of the past.