Field Notes

Your Childhood Dreams Showing the Way to Life Possibilities

May 31, 2024 - 0 Comments

Field Note

June 1, 2024


Avraham Cohen, PhD, RCC-ACS, CCC


Your Childhood Dreams

Showing the Way to

Life Possibilities


Field Note, Audio version

Whence come I and whither go I? That is the great unfathomable question, the same for every one of us. Science has no answer to it.

— Max Planck, Originator of Quantum Theory


Everyone is a Taoist at heart. Everyone would like to follow nature, but we don’t have enough tools yet to put the philosophy into practice… as soon as someone gets sick, they fight the illness, rather than trying to find out the meaning or purpose behind it.

—Arnold Mindell, Founder of Process-Oriented Work


If we can stay with the tension of opposites long enough —sustain it, be true to it—we can sometimes become vessels within which the divine opposites come together and give birth to a new reality.

—Marie-Louise von Franz, Swiss Jungian Analyst, worked with CG Jung


Nothing affects the life of a child as much as the unlived life of its parent.

—Carl Jung, trained with Freud as a psychoanalyst who broke with Freud and developed his own approach to psychotherapy along with many volumes of writings.


Many of the psychotherapists whose work I have studied from my earliest days in the profession have written about the influence and understanding of dreams, unfinished “life-business,” early childhood experiences, and attachment bonding. Amongst these great teachers, I am particularly in synchrony with the work of Dr. Arnold Mindell who was influenced by his early studies at the Jung Institute in Zurich Switzerland about the ‘predictive’ and learning potential of early dreams. In this Field Note, I will share my own early childhood dreams and the work I have done as an example of this work. My aim in this sharing is to offer my self-study to illustrate ways of working with dreams. My hope is that what I offer will be of benefit and help to you in working with your own childhood dreams. For sure, I am also benefitting from writing about my dreams in this Note as I get to re-examine my early dreams and see, from ever changing angles of viewing, the emerging and merging layers, and folds and what is newly revealed about myself and life.


A central idea with related practices I am offering about early dreams is that they contain the seeds of the future, including a symbolic representation of a powerful life pattern and the doorways to what is trying to emerge and happen. Unearthing these dreams at any stage of your life offers a portal to a refined and redefined future, while not guaranteeing anything, this offers opportunity to generate the inner world equivalence of epigenetics. This would mean that the dream can be ‘opened’ and cultivated to provide the optimal options and conditions for life as it unfolds. In other words, your childhood dreams have the potential to materialize an increasingly fulfilling way of being and living for you.


Dreams can appear to be akin to Mobius boxes, and arguments have been made that the interpretations and understanding of them is purely in the imagination of the dreamer and/or the interpreter. I suggest to you that your imagination is a profound resource for possibilities. This power can increasingly move out of the shadows into the light: the light of your consciousness and potential.


Your first task is to recall the earliest dream that you can remember. It does not matter if you remember part or all the dream, or if your recall is perfect or shifted by time and brain chemistry. Whatever you have as your early dream is sufficient material for your work. As well, some other memory possibilities or dreams associated in time and in consciousness may appear. Pay attention to all associated experiences as you are recollecting your dream.


Here are a few examples of childhood dream themes.  Perhaps you recognize a similar one from your own dreams. Below I will share my own recurring childhood dream along with my own reflections and understandings that I have gleaned from my dream as an example.


Being befriended by or aligned with magical and powerful beings.

This can be a foreshadowing of making great friends or alliances in life. It could also be about becoming such a being. On the darker side this might foreshadow great disappointments with those who seemed to offer much and yet failed to do so.


Creating great music or art

This can represent a future possibility about creative potential. On the dark side it may show a future possibility that is lived, and yet is not sufficiently able to provide a sustainable income. Perhaps the early dream is showing the possibility of performing this not preferred job in a creative way.


Living in a land far, far, away

This can be a picture of a life that is way outside of the frame of what a child was ‘supposed’ to become, as in the quote above from C.G. Jung. The child dreams of living their own life, not the born life of the parent.


Now, I will share my dream and add my commentary and some insight and direction I have gleaned from my dream:


My earliest dream memories are from about the age of 6 or 7. I am being chased by monsters. I am very frightened and aware that there is no one to help me, and in all these dreams I always believe that I cannot escape. My body is charged with fear, desperation, and energy. Interestingly, they never catch me, but I do wake up in a shaky little boy state.


What does it all mean?

What I am looking for is patterns of experience, which is more about what the unfolding process is, and then the contents as a recognizable part of a repetitive content pattern. Here are the pattern components from my childhood dream:


I am young, little, and alone with the dangers of the world coming after me in the form of monsters. I am in a place I do not know. I realize nobody and nothing is going to save me, and I do not believe I will escape, but I do! This turns out to be a foreshadowing of my ongoing sense of being different in my way of being, thinking, and communicating, alone with this, and realizing that I have to deal with this on my own.


The above self-perception led to an immense struggle that was about getting people to understand me. Rightly or wrongly, I thought that if people understood me, then I would not be so alone and lonely. I believe that this is true for most. However, I was somehow, and thankfully so, not equipped with the necessary filters that would have supported me to not ‘notice’ this lack of filters. I do recall, in my early years at university, realizing that I was trying my very best to join a club, the ‘regular/normal’ people club. Eventually I came to know that I did not even want to be a member of this club. This has certainly had immense implications for my life from that point on to this very day. You might think about your own membership on non-membership in this consensus reality club.


In my childhood dream I am, to put it mildly, in a troubled circumstance. My ‘method’ to deal with this is to try and get away. I remember experiences of such escape as a young boy. I recall being terrified as a young boy and running to get away from some big boys who were chasing me and a number of other littler kids. I put everything I had into this escape and, I escaped!


The theme of escape or running from is a common theme in childhood dreams. This can be seen as avoidance, and at the other end of the continuum, these dream world escapes may turn out to be a running towards. In my life this was about my wish to not live a regular and consensus reality and conforming life.  Much as I have come to appreciate my parents as time has gone on, I was very definite that I did not want to live their life. In fact, I came to see that they had a great spirit of adventure and were caught in the web of daily survival and the influences of being first borns in Canada. I also had to learn how to deal with the trouble this running-towards brought me, and also how to deal with the successes that resulted from running towards.


I came to see the appearance of monsters in all their guises as opportunities for my growth and development at least some of the time. Sometimes they were still monsters! This eventually led me into my career path as a psychotherapist who worked outside the normal curriculum and who still knows how to do this without stepping outside of lines that would get me into waters that are too deep, at least most of the time. I also recognized my deep longing for authenticity in myself, my relationships, and with the ineffable.


I had many variations of this dream as a young boy. I don’t recall the timing but at some point, I thought that I needed to learn to fly in my dreams so that the monsters would not be able to get me. This initial dream from my early years has many elements that I now see as significant life themes.


What are the key elements? What is the process and pattern?


I am a little boy. I am alone. Monsters show up. They chase me. I am filled with fear. I run as fast as I can. My heart is pounding. I wake up alone and frightened.


This little boy still exists within me. He has had a future that involves noticing what is frightening. Eventually as he grew up, he became fascinated by that which scared him, the stuff in the shadows. He learned that running from had a predictable outcome. Whatever was scary would continue to be scary and there was nothing that guaranteed that he would never be scared again. This is true to this day. I eventually became curious about how I might better understand my fears and their reality. This was a major step in my growth for my innate curiosity about people. I came to realize that running away was also running towards. In my childhood dream I was not aware of running towards anything. I only wanted to get away from the monsters! And I also learned, often the hard way that there are indeed times when running away from is the way to survival and wisdom.


Who or what are the monsters?


I think, as a child, I had a ‘healthy’ fear of the unknown, particularly I was aware of death, the great unknown, and it frightened me greatly. I was pretty sure that the monsters wanted to kill me!


There are many signals in my childhood dreams about the mystery of life and beyond, inner and outer relationship, about life pointing me towards my ongoing and unending search for the meaning, source, destination, really my quest for the personal and collective grail. I think my childhood dream was a foreshadowing of the of the ongoing germination and cultivation of these dream seeds. In particular, my dream foreshadowed my eventual finding of the vast world of inner and relational work, a great adventure that allows me to have the epitome of what fascinates me as a central aspect of my life. I wonder, can you see the essence of these seeds in my childhood dreams, and, in your own?


The inquiry into your childhood dreams is in the service of unlocking over the years the mystery of your destiny and how to have an ever increasingly fine-tuned sensing of what Antonio Machado the Spanish poet described as a “Path Made by Walking” ( I will add that the learning is certainly about walking while navigating all shades and textures of water.


Some disclosure from ‘my’ monsters


As you know, it is very helpful for understanding to put yourself in the place of the other. In this case, the other is my dream monsters.


What do they have to say?


Monsters: We must catch up to that little boy. He needs our help, and we really want to help him. We think he has been very well ‘schooled’ to be fearful of that which is other/unfamiliar/different, and that which will eventually appear to him as deadening. We want to accompany and support the life that is ensconced within and is certainly his truest nature. We feel exhilarated about the possibilities for him. We know that he is very fearful of us. We are a fearful sight, and our appearance is a central part of the teaching we have to offer him. He must get to know us as this will shape his life for the fullest emergence of his possibilities and for him to a life. We must not reassure him as he will with time and practice learn to reassure himself. As well, he can learn to feel the emotion of fear, evaluate the reality of any danger, and decide how to proceed or withdraw from the circumstance that have elicited his fear. He will learn that fear and otherness are his allies even if that is not immediately obvious, his companion along the way. He will become increasingly prepared for many endings along the way, and even the ultimate ending that everyone faces.


For me this dream has been a continual pointing towards a lifelong quest to understand my self and life, towards my work as a facilitator of such understanding for others, and my learning that the work of ‘others’ is also a part of my work, that my work is a part of theirs, and that the interconnections between lives is a truth to discover.


I will end this Field Note here. Next month, there will be another ‘Episode’ about Childhood Dreams. This will be a continuation of what is in this Note. In the meantime I encourage you to recall your own childhood dreams and investigate what they were and are pointing you towards in your life.


Many thanks as always to Heesoon for being a dreaming partner in this endeavor.


Shalom to you all,




PS: As I have previously mentioned, I will be having some guests contribute to Field Notes. Upcoming in the next few months will be a Field Note from my colleague and very long-time friend and fellow traveller, Dr. Larry Green.


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