Interview with Ana Lora Garrard
An Interview with Author Ana Lora Garrard
1. Your new book, Your Dreams, is subtitled “Spiritual Messages in Pajamas.” How do you feel we receive messages in our dreams?
When we close our eyes to dream, we release many of our limiting thoughts. We stop holding so tightly onto fears and judgments like, “I can’t ever make any money doing art” or “I’m not lovable.” We even let go of the belief that we are our bodies, which is perhaps the most limiting idea of all.
As we open in this manner, our souls can communicate with us more directly. Speaking in a “big” language that transcends time and space, they draw forth images from many dimensions of our experience to encourage broader ways of seeing while we are awake. Some of the images are designed to help us intensely feel our self-imposed limitations so that we can shed them more quickly; others are designed to give us a clear sense of the joy that awaits us when we expand our thinking.
For instance, if one of our restrictive ideas is “I’m not lovable,” our souls might send us painful images of colleagues being abusive or cute baby rabbits spitting on us. Later the same night, we might have exhilarating dreams of someone falling in love with us or a whale gazing deeply into our eyes.
By sending us these kinds of dreams, our souls help us examine the thoughts we choose to think and encourage us to open our hearts and minds to the truth of who we are.
2. You have more than twenty-five years of experience in dream exploration. How did you get started in this field?
Well, after breaking up with my boyfriend as a fairly young adult, I took a Women’s Journal writing class in a desperate attempt to find parts of myself I’d lost track of. This class included a brief dream unit that got me excited about exploring my inner world through my dreams. Once the class was over, I read a ton of books on dreams, helped my friends explore their dream images, and eventually began teaching workshops.
Since my approach has always been not to interpret dreams for others, but to help them find their own wisdom as a means of understanding, I’ve spent many years observing my clients and adjusting the techniques I teach to make these techniques more helpful and inspiring. My work with dreams has expanded organically as I have listened deeply to my clients and myself.
3. Your Dreams differs from most books on the topic of dreams in that it isn’t simply a dictionary of dream symbolism. Do you feel that certain elements have a “standard” interpretation, or can dream elements be understood only on a dream-to-dream (and dreamer-to-dreamer) basis?
If two different people dreamed about snorting, stamping bulls and they each found a “standard” dream dictionary interpretation that told them their dreams had to do with anger, they both might say, “That definition sounds right. I AM angry.” One person might recognize he’s angry with his girlfriend, while the other might realize she’s angry with her boss. But then what? All they would have is a new label for their dream experiences. Naming an experience can be helpful, but it is really only the tip of the iceberg.
The kind of heart-centered, spiritual dream interpretation I teach doesn’t focus on creating labels for dream images. Labels don’t usually have a terrific impact on our lives, because they are just words and ideas. Instead, I encourage individuals to absorb their dreams on a deep level. When we feel our dream images in our hearts and bodies, we can access the inner wisdom that is generating them. This is a very personal and powerful process.
If someone came to me with a dream about a snorting, stamping bull, I would suggest he or she pretend to “be the bull.” Once this person was immersed in being that animal, I would ask questions like, “How do you feel? Why do you feel this way? Have you ever felt this way before? What is it you most need right now?” I would also encourage this person to feel the energy of this bull in his or her feet, belly, and throat to access the body’s intuitive knowledge and uncover the inner wisdom that created this particular dream.
Can we slap some of the same labels on our dream images? Yes. But what those images really mean to us, why they emerge at the exact moment that they do, and what they have to tell us about enhancing our lives, is a totally unique and individual experience.
4. Your Dreams differentiates between “sleeping dreams” and “waking dreams” and provides tips on taking advantage of both. What is a “waking dream” and how do you work with it?
I call all the events and relationships within our everyday lives waking dreams because I think that everything we experience can be used as fuel for our own growth. To discover how our daily encounters are teaching us to grow, we choose one element of our waking experience, embody it, and ask it questions, just as we would with a dream image. For instance, we might pretend to be a bird we saw on a walk, a stranger who insulted us, or a painful body sensation. As we allow ourselves to feel fully what it is like to be this bird, stranger, or sensation, we ask it questions like, “How do you feel? What do you have to teach me? What part of me are you expressing?” You’d be amazed at what you can learn by exploring different parts of your life in this way.
5. I want to explore my dreams, but I don’t remember them very well—what can I do?
As I just mentioned, you can always explore any aspect of your waking life as if it were a dream. My book Your Dreams gives details about how to do this.
To improve your “sleeping dream” recall, try the following suggestions:
6. What advice would you give readers to take advantage of their dreams, both in sleep and waking life?
I would suggest you record your dreams as often as you can. I would also encourage you to explore your dreams and waking life using tools like those described in Your Dreams. These heart-centered tools can be used any time you’d like to recognize your own gifts more fully and enlarge your view of reality. They can also be employed whenever you are feeling conflict in your relationships, worry about your finances, or pain in your body. Don’t just suffer! Use these powerful tools to access your inner wisdom and start healing your experiences at the core.
Recording your dreams, exploring them, and examining what underlies your waking life are all ways of honoring your complete human experience. You are a vast, loving spirit seeking to express itself through a (relatively small) physical body and a personality that’s trying to free itself from fear. When you make space in your life to explore your inner world, you nurture yourself at a profound level and make yourself available to all sorts of new creative thoughts and possibilities.
I wish you much joy on this journey.