As we delve into the depths of inspiration and meanings for our Lucid Dream collection, we wanted to unravel more around the dreamworld with dream analyst, alchemist and therapist, Jane Teresa Anderson. Explore your consciousness as we enter a dream state and chat all things dreamy with our favourite expert.
"Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes" - Carl Jung
Tell us a little bit about yourself, who you are and what excites you?
I was born at the winter solstice in England and have lived in Australia now for more than half my life, celebrating my birthdays at our summer solstice. Perhaps my work in the field of dreams is reflected in this symbolism: bringing the treasures of the darkest nights into the full light of day. I have lived in NSW and in QLD, but three years ago I felt a calling to move to Tasmania. Luckily, my husband agreed. To some extent we are climate refugees, exchanging the long hot summers for the glorious, enervating fresh air and purity of this island state where we can live in a small and vibrant city with the sea and the mountains on our doorstep. Oh, and did I mention that the landscape here is magical and exquisite? When I’m not working, I’m out walking, doing yoga (I have been doing yoga since my early teens), reading, and generally soaking up life and nature. My daughter and grandchildren live interstate, and my son lives overseas, so while Covid has disrupted many of our plans, we have been able to spend time together and relish the joys that family brings. I am led by my curiosity and passion to explore what interests me, and to jump in and discover along the way. That’s how my work with dreams began, almost 30 years ago.
You’re a dream analyst, therapist and alchemist. What first sparked your interest in the dream world? And can you tell us a little about your work?
My dreams have entranced me for as long as I can remember. As a child I was always excited to discover what the night would bring. I went to university to study science and specialised in neurobiology as I was keen to understand how the brain and nervous system worked together to help us understand and interpret the world around us. Many years later I felt a calling to help people understand their dreams. I set up a dream research group and invited people to take part in a dream survey and send in their dreams along with notes on what was happening in their waking life. Very soon I had a contract from a major Australian book publisher to write a book based on my dream survey results. My dream path opened before me from that point on. These days most of my client work is by Zoom or by phone worldwide. We take an hour to explore and interpret a single dream, discovering how the dream relates to the client’s life and what insight they can take from the dream. Dreams help us to understand our mindset – both conscious and unconscious. They help us to see our unconscious limiting beliefs and patterns, as well as our unresolved issues and feelings. They also help us to see our magnificent gifts and potential to grow and thrive. Following interpretation, I create dream alchemy exercises for the client to do. These help to reprogram the mindset and create more positive outcomes.
My work also involves writing (seven books and hundreds of blogs), and podcasting. We launched the podcast, ‘The Dream Show with Jane Teresa Anderson’, 12 years ago. There’s a new episode every four weeks. The show usually features a guest who brings a dream for me to interpret sight unseen. Four years ago I built my online learning platform, The Dream Academy, because I wanted people to be able to learn dream interpretation skills for themselves, so they could understand their own dreams. Through that platform I also work with students who train to become dream therapists. My work also involves working with the media: television, radio, and print journalism, helping to spread the word about the importance of paying attention to our dreams.
From your perspective, what is a dream? And why is it important to decode and delve into their meanings?
A dream is the experience you have while your brain and mind are processing your conscious and unconscious experiences of the last 1-2 days. Think of it as updating your mindset, trying to make sense of your world. Dreams compare those experiences of the last 1-2 days with similar past experiences, and then sometimes project forward into possible future scenarios, testing out how your current mindset would handle these future scenarios. The challenge here is that dreams don’t always look like your actual life. They are symbolic, and often bizarre, but when you apply the right tools and techniques, you uncover the structure of your mindset which helps you to understand why you experience life in the way that you do. To change your experiences, change your mindset. Dreams provide you with the insight you need to do this. Dreams introduce you to the deepest and most profound levels of your being.
When analysing dreams, you work with symbols. What’s one symbol we want to see in our dreams that may predict good luck or fortune?
If only there were an easy answer to this! Unfortunately, if you’re serious about understanding your dreams, you can’t take a ‘dream dictionary’ approach. The symbols in our dreams are largely personal and unique. They are symbols that your unique unconscious mind has pictured, reflecting your unique life experiences. When we explore dreams we use tools and techniques that help us to uncover the meaning of our own unique dream symbols. If you look at the overall story or drama of a dream – instead of focussing on the symbols – you can get a clearer picture of how life is panning out for you. For example, if you dream of being stuck in a small building, you might realise that you feel stuck or trapped in some sense in life. Unless you can ‘unstick’, your future is perhaps looking a bit restricted. When you look at the rest of the dream and explore its personal symbols, you discover exactly what is holding you back and how to ‘unstick’. The best way to ensure good luck and fortune is to know yourself so deeply through your dreams that you can identify the parts of your mindset that are holding you back and turn your fortune around.
Can you share with us any wild or whacky dream moments?
Oh my goodness, so many of my dreams – and those of the clients I meet – are wild and whacky! When I was pregnant with my first child, I dreamed I gave birth to a stick insect. I have danced on oceans, breathed underwater, flown high into the sky, run in slow motion with a pack of friendly lions, chatted with just about every animal you could imagine, real and mythical and, of course, had afternoon tea with the Queen.
We named our latest collection, Lucid Dream. It’s a whimsical, mystical and art deco inspired print. We wanted this collection to create an alluring dreamscape that you're drawn into - allowing you the ability to form your own experience. Can you tell us what a lucid dream is? And how can we tap into the magic of lucid dreaming?
A lucid dream is a dream where you suddenly realise that you’re dreaming. At this point you can fully experience being in two simultaneous realities: your waking life reality, and your dreaming life reality. Even though you are aware that you are dreaming, the sense of the dream doesn’t diminish. If anything, it becomes richer and more sensual. It is really hard to pick which feels more real: the dream or waking life. This experience opens the question about waking life: is it too a ‘reality’ that you will one day wake up within? In lucid dreams you can either just hang in there and enjoy whatever happens, or you can change the action, do whatever you want to do. Most people chose to fly the first time they have a lucid dream, because it feels so totally real. In a dream I once had, someone asked me if I thought I was dreaming. “No,” I said. “If this were a dream I could fly, and, obviously, I can’t!” I rose to my tiptoes and flapped my arms to demonstrate my point and instantly shot into the sky. At that point I became lucid. The magic of lucid dreaming is that you can role play scenarios, try out new adventures, get super creative, practise new approaches, and it all feels totally real. You can practise new skills and gain confidence that translates into waking life. There is a downside though: while it’s fabulous and nourishing to take control of a lucid dream, your dreaming mind needs to process your experiences without interference. If you find it easy to lucid dream, maybe set aside just one or two nights a week to do this.
In a meaningful coincidence your latest book, Bird of Paradise, happens to also be the name of one of our previous collections. Are synchronicities important in dream analysis and if so why?
Yes. We experience synchronicity when something powerful is breaking through into consciousness from our unconscious mind. There’s a point where the breakthrough has begun, but it is still seeping into consciousness, so we feel its effect but we can’t quite see or understand what it is. It’s a perspective shift that is still a bit blurry, taking time to become clear. This energy either draws our attention to similar energies in the world around us, or it attracts them, and that is when we experience synchronicity. Synchronicity always feels intensely meaningful even though we can’t quite say what that meaning is. If you experience synchronicity, look back into the dreams you had just before the synchronicity. Those dreams most likely reflect that breakthrough, and when you explore and interpret those dreams you can gain clarity and insight. So let synchronicity draw you to reflect on your inner life. In my book, Bird of Paradise, I explore synchronicity and dreams.