Dreams and Bonding Patterns
Hal and Sidra Stone
Dreams can give an amazingly accurate picture of a current bonding situation.
For example, Linda and her husband, Bob, visit Linda’s grown daughter for a few days. Mother and daughter, delighted to see one another, enter into an intense bonding pattern.
That night, Linda dreams she is gently floating in the ocean, arms wrapped around her daughter. Linda worries about drifting out to sea, but checks the shoreline and sees that they are not adrift. Feeling secure, she falls asleep in the dream, only to wake up, startled, and discover that she had indeed drifted out to sea. Linda panics and swims to shore, grateful to be alive again.
This dream helps Linda to recognize and break the mother / daughter bonding. The dream showed her that the bonding pattern was not a safe one, that she and her daughter were in danger if Linda remained unconscious (asleep) and they drifted off into further unconsciousness.
The Dream Weaver works on a day-to-day basis, providing feedback on our daily activities and giving us the information needed to live our relationships in a more conscious fashion.
It shows us what has been going on underneath when life appears quite ordinary on the surface.
It is often the case that simultaneous dreams will address the same issue for each of us. We personally have frequently found that when we both wake up in the middle of the night for no apparent reason, it is often because the Dream Weaver wants to catch our joint attention. Many times, there has been a set of dreams that, between them, carried a single message for us. We find that this is a particularly constructive and reassuring aspect of the dream process.
The Dream Weaver in Relationship
Hal and Sidra Stone
When one surrenders to relationship as a journey of two souls, one finds that there is a Dream Weaver working deep within, sending forth dreams that can be used as guides along the evolutionary path.
It is an awesome and yet most supportive idea to realize that there is an intelligence within us that can be available to direct the dream process and that wants us to become more conscious human beings. This Dream Weaver is revered in many societies where the dream is used to provide a direct link to unconscious processes, societies in which the life of the spirit assumes great importance.
When the process of relationship is seen as a vehicle for our individual evolution of consciousness, the dreams provide invaluable information, giving access to the great data bank of the unconscious. The dream process, therefore, is an integral part of the relationship process.
Each night, dreams review the activities of the day and give feedback in a most objective fashion. They give information about current psychological processes, pointing out our areas of awareness and giving specific pictures of areas where there is a lack of awareness. The more attention is paid to dreams, the clearer their messages become.
In relationship, the dreams of one partner can be understood rationally by the other. There is also a level at which the dreams of each partner bypass the rational mind and speak directly to the unconscious of the other. At either level, dreams provide an inexhaustible source of information and guidance that can be used in the service of relationship.
One of the most effective ways of surrendering to relationship, and one of the most powerful ways of enhancing it, is to share dreams every morning. We have always shared our dreams in the morning before we begin the day’s activities. We recommend it as a daily ritual that will honor the growth process and keep it moving along at its deepest levels.
The Dream Weaver has an interest, or so it seems, in a conscious relationship and often acts to protect it. For instance, if we have become too tied in to our partner, we may dream about having an affair, or we may dream that our partner is having an affair. This is the Dream Weaver’s attempt to break the bonding.
The dream has performed the same service that an attraction to another person can provide, but it presents us with the information more quickly and with fewer interpersonal entanglements. If the relationship has become too mundane, one of us might dream of being attracted to a spiritual type of person. If we have become too passive, one of us may dream of being married to a passive person and strongly attracted to someone more assertive. Our missing selves usually call out to us first in our dreams.
As we pay attention to our dreams, actions that were taken unconsciously during the day are played back at night.
Adrienne had been feeling vulnerable all day. As a result, she had been in her judgmental mother when she was with her husband, George. That night, in her dreams, an unknown woman came over and pointed out to Adrienne that she did not appreciate George and reminded Adrienne of his many contributions to her life. The next morning, she tells George the dream. He feels relief and relaxation, for he had been feeling sad without consciously knowing why. His unconscious had responded to Adrienne’s judgmental mother the previous day, and the dream had helped restore the closeness between them.
Sometimes the unconscious gives a very direct picture of what is going on with a partner. A woman dreams on a series of successive nights that her husband is having an affair. She finally confronts him and he admits to the affair.
A man dreams that his wife is very busy and no longer available to him. He had not realized that this was happening until he had the dream. The couple were able to begin to work upon an estrangement that neither had known about on a conscious level.
When we begin to listen to the Dream Weaver and take our dreams seriously, it is like having access to a giant computer with amazing software that allows us to access all kinds of information we did not have before.
The Dream Process:
Relationship as a Journey of Two Souls
Hal and Sidra Stone
A number of years ago when we were conducting a workshop in Chicago, one of the participants, a Hasidic scholar, told us about the ancient Jewish mystical tradition of a sacred relationship.
In this tradition, a primary relationship between a man and woman is much more than a relationship of two people. It consists of the man, the woman, and the holy spirit of the relationship. We like to view all relationships in this context. The holy spirit of which the scholar spoke would then be related to the spiritual striving, or evolutionary impetus, that exists within all beings.
Looking at relationship in this light, we see each new relationship as a catalyst in our personal evolution of consciousness. It challenges each of us to grow, to expand our awarenessof ourselves and of others, to deepen our connection to life and to other human beings, and to evolve until we express in our lives the purest form of our essential being. As we respond to this challenge, we find ourselves on a journey into never-before-dreamed–of realms of the psyche and the spirit.
We feel that at this time in history, when there is a great need to deepen our emotional and spiritual connections to one another and to the planet itself, this individual evolutionary process is sorely needed. It is our hope that this process will have an impact upon the evolution of humankind as it moves toward an era in which spirit and meaningfulness are as important as material well-being.
When we view relationship in this spiritual context, we see it as the journey of two souls. The relationship seems to have a life of its own as it helps each of us to move along our individual paths, bringing to our attention new areas of unconsciousness that need to be brought into awareness.
As soon as we have mastered one lesson, it presents us with the next. Very little time passes without movement. We have noticed that this can be a bit disconcerting, but when we stay in contact with the excitement of this challenge we see that it most certainly keeps life interesting. We never quite know what will happen next in our lives.
Over and over again, we have seen that as our consciousness changes, so does our future. Each addition to consciousness, each movement along one’s own evolutionary path brings with it new possibilities and, of course, new challenges, new choices, and new conflicts. New paths appear that had not existed before. These new paths may be dramatic, or they can be fairly subtle.
In Fiji, we met a mature couple who had apparently been leading a stable, predictable life. Their relationship had been dedicated to growth and self-exploration. They had surrendered to this relationship, trusting where it would lead them. Ultimately, they ended up selling everything and moving to Fiji. They bought a large schooner, sailed across the world, and set up a new life living on the boat and hiring it out to tourists for income.
On a less dramatic note, there are the daily subtle changes that come about as the result of this change in consciousness and growth.
For instance, Ana, a fairly driven young woman who is very successful in her work, becomes involved with Larry, who is more relaxed about life. Ana’s pusher makes Larry uncomfortable, and he tells her so. Ana begins to question the wisdom of operating constantly in this mode. She gradually learns, with Larry’s help, to relax and take life a bit easier.
The two changes in consciousness that we have just described resulted in tangible changes in lifestyle. At a deeper level, however, when we think of primary relationship as the journey of two souls, we are looking at an entirely new dimension in our interactions – the spiritual dimension.
This brings us to the sharing of our unconsciousprocesses, literally to the baring of our souls.
There is much trust needed for this kind of intimacy, because our partner will see things about us that we do not see about ourselves. This can be frightening to those parts of us that have the need to know everything and prefer to keep control of situations. To other selves, it is extremely exciting, because in this kind of sharing with another we have available to us an untapped storehouse of material that is usually inaccessible, material that immediately expands our awareness and greatly enhances our growth.
We feel that the richness that this depth of communication can bring is remarkable. Ongoing sharing at this depth reinforces our contact with our own deepest selves. It keeps reminding us of the underlying patterns that can be perceived in our daily interactions and activities. We find that we are encouraged to look more for meaning in our lives, in the daily dance of the selves. And, as we continue to examine our lives together in this way, we find that we treat them with more reverence. What we do with each day is important; each day is a gift and must be treated as such.
There are a number of ways in which we communicate with one another at this depth. We have already discussed vulnerability and how important it is to be able to share with a friend or partner at this level. This sharing opens up spiritual levels within us, for the child side is one of the central gateways to soul reality. We have also discussed Voice Dialogue and visual imagery as methods for establishing deeper communication with one another. In the next Voice Dialogue Tips, we will turn to the dream process, perhaps the richest and most exciting way in which we have found to communicate with one another at great depth.
Self-Sufficiency in Relationship
Hal and Sidra Stone
Each of us must be careful not to give up too much in relationship lest we give up just what it was that we needed.
It is always difficult to determine when we are giving up too much. Listening to our dreams, becoming aware of our own bonding patterns, and taking responsibility for ourselves all help us to see that we do not give up too much and cause ourselves unnecessary grief.
Marie was extremely trusting. She came from a New Age background and had faith that everything would work out well if only she concentrated all her energies upon success.
Marie moved to a new city to be near her lover, Basil. She found herself a job there, but he soon lost his. He asked, from the needy son, for her financial help. Her nurturing mother could not resist, and Marie soon depleted her financial resources.
When she no longer had any money, Basil, the bounder, left her. He needed another woman who had the funds and the emotional availability to support him from the nurturing mother. Marie’s distraught and vulnerable child was badly battered. Unfortunately, to top it all off, she now had some difficulty arranging special care for her vulnerable child because she had spent so much money on Basil that she had none left for herself.
Unlike Marie, some of us are so concerned about not giving up too much that we cannot follow the natural course of the relationship. The balance between these two extremes is important. The best safeguard is to allow input from opposing selves and to process both sides of the question from an aware ego.
Glenda only listened to the fears of her vulnerable child and never really let herself become involved in relationship. Her mother had given up everything for her father and had then been abandoned. Glenda learned her lesson well, but she was so careful to maintain her own “space” that she had very little space or time left over to share with George.
She engaged in her own activities almost every night after work. She had a women’s group, a class in investment strategies, yoga class, and a subscription to the theater. She also had a number of women friends whom she met for dinner on a regular basis. She was so worried that the relationship might affect her performance on the job, that she often brought work home with her. She literally had not a single night free to spend with her husband.
The relationship suffered from lack of attention. Both Glenda and George felt proud of their sophisticated marital arrangement, but this was an arrangement made by two highly developed protector/controllers; the vulnerable children stayed in hiding. Finally, they realized that neither of them was very happy and they sought counselling.
A middle course was steered carefully by Carrie, a woman who was used to taking care of herself but seriously interested in relationship. When she fell in love, unlike Glenda, she was willing to take a chance and make a major life change for the possibility of a rewarding relationship. She moved to the city where her lover lived.
But, unlike Marie, Carrie did not deplete her resources. She also maintained a fall-back position in case the new relationship did not work. She returned each month to her home town where she maintained her hairdressing clients. In this way, if the relationship did not work out, Carrie had only to move back to her home and resume her life as she had left it.
It is often difficult to determine which course of action is appropriate in relationship. Walking the line between giving too much away and holding too much back requires an aware ego. Having to hold these two opposites is certainly a great way to stretch ourselves and to increase our awareness of both our own internal processes and our external bonding patterns.
We have found that, as a group, women are likely to give up more of themselves than men do. This can be particularly dangerous when a woman completely gives up the resources that will enable her to sustain an independent life. She makes herself particularly vulnerable if she gives up her residence, her savings, her job, and most of her friends.
In marriages, we have seen women surrender complete responsibility for their physical bodies to a husband who is a doctor or complete financial responsibility to a husband who is a good businessman. This automatically bonds them in as a dependent daughter and deprives them of the ability to manage their own affairs in a responsible fashion.
Similarly, we have seen men give over to a wife all responsibility for nurture and the maintenance of a comfortable home. This deprives the man of the capability of living an enjoyable life without a woman to take care of his needs, and makes him fearful that if he is alone and sick he will be totally helpless. Thus, he automatically bonds to his wife as the dependent son.
This does not mean the knowledge or abilities of one’s partner should not be appreciated and used. It is great to have a partner with medical or financial expertise or one who knows just how to make life feel cozy and safe. What we do mean, however, is that one should be wary of abdicating total responsibility in any area.
Each partner needs to be in a position to survive without the relationship.
This helps to keep the relationship evenly balanced. If a certain balance is not maintained, the relationship will inevitably settle into a bonding pattern.
It is natural in relationships and friendships that the two people have different strengths and weaknesses. This is one of the wonderful things about relationship. We are able to rest into the strengths of the other person and they are able to rest into our strengths.
Resting into a strength does not mean abdicating responsibility for it. For example, in our relationship Hal rests into Sidra’s strength and knowledge in the area of business and money management. If he abdicates all responsibility in this area, then we will fall into the bonding pattern of son to mother in this particular area and this will create problems.
What he tries to do is recognize her strength and let that strength help to support him, without abdicating responsibility in this area. He must know what is going on and not abdicate decision making in this area. If he does, he will shift into the needy son, and one day soon he will explode and become a very negative father in relationship to something that Sidra has done.
Along a similar vein, Hal has the primary responsibility for scheduling the workshop and seminar programs. Sidra is very happy to rest into Hal in this matter. However, she remains an active participantin the process and nothing is scheduled without her full involvement. Otherwise, she would become daughter to the father, and eventually her negative mother would take over when something would happen that was not to her liking.