Laurel, you are well known in the dreaming community as an author of an impressive number of books, former IASD President and current Chair of the Board of Directors, regular presenter at IASD conferences, intuitive dreamer and more. When in your life and how did you discover that dreams are important to you?
I have always been intrigued by dreams. I can remember as a young child sometimes becoming aware of sliding through a kind of tunnel into sleep and dreams. It was enjoyable and now I would say that those were lucid dreams. I seemed to lose (or forget?) that ability as I grew older but still was fascinated by dreams.
When I was in college, a friend and classmate in a creative writing class told me that the beautiful imagery in her poetry came from dreams. She suggested I start writing them down and taught me how to remember my dreams by setting the desire and intention before bed, keeping a journal at my bedside. She was right! I soon was able to remember many more dreams. At that time many of the dreams I remembered were nightmares. This changed as I learned to interpret my dreams and made changes in my waking life.
Lots of dream explorers that I know realised early in life that dreams were meaningful but then turned to other things and came back to them only later in life. You, on the other hand, discovered the School of Metaphysics and were able to include dreams in your work fairly early in your career. Why did you join the School of Metaphysics and how are dreams incorporated in your work there?
I received a B.A. in Women’s Studies from the University of Michigan (USA). As an undergraduate, I was searching for a “calling,” expecting that somehow by being in college and taking a variety of liberal arts classes I would discover what I was meant to do with my life. After a great education and many interesting classes, I graduated with no more idea of what I wanted to do with my life than when I started!
That’s when I discovered the School of Metaphysics, a program in self-development. I enrolled to learn about myself, how to fulfill my potential, how to concentrate, meditate, understand my dreams, align my daily choices with my ideals, develop intuition, live a more spiritual existence, and more. When I began my studies I had no idea where it would lead or that it would become my career. I learned how to understand my dreams from the beginning of my SOM education and have been pursuing dream study ever since (that was in 1979.)
Understanding dreams is fundamental to the School of Metaphysics education, because dreams are used as a means of self-discovery. We teach students how to remember and record dreams, and how to interpret them as messages from the inner self or soul of the dreamer to the outer, waking self. A variety of dream practices evolve over the course of the study. I have incorporated dream-work in my own life for self-awareness and to aid others as a teacher, counselor, and interfaith minister.
In the dreaming community, there are many different schools of thought and they are not all compatible. What are your core beliefs about dreams?
That’s a big question! I view dreams as “inner level” experiences. We exist, in my belief, in multiple levels of consciousness. At some level, every dream is about the dreamer. I have learned to interpret dreams symbolically as messages that tell us about our own state of awareness. Many dreams have other dimensions, too, such as group dreaming, visitations from and with those who are deceased, precognition, dream telepathy, and creative inspiration.
One of the reasons I love IASD is that I continue to explore new ways of understanding dreams, new approaches to working with dreams, and different cultural ideas.
I’ve known you as a regular presenter at the online PsiberDreaming Conference and you also regularly present at annual in-person conferences organised by the International Association for the Study of Dreams. What brings you to these conferences? What does the dreaming community mean to you?
I love connecting with people who recognize the value of dreams. It seems that people who explore their own dreams tend to be open, authentic, soul-centered, curious, and creative. I love developing relationships with people like that! I also love learning, and the IASD community is so diverse I always discover something new about myself, about ways to work with dreams, and about ways to reach out to the world to spread the word about the value and importance of dreams.
You regularly hold workshops for dreamers. Is there anything specific that most participants in your workshops expect to learn from you? Is there one specific message you always try to bring to them?
Most participants want to know what their dreams mean. Sometimes they have a specific focus, like wanting to know how to tell if and when a dream is precognitive or when it is purely symbolic. Sometimes they more generally want to know why they have a particular type of dream or more specifically what one dream means, either because it inspired them, or it scared them, or otherwise stimulated some distress.
The one message I want people to know is that dreams are real, that they have great value for our own development, and to reap the most benefit from dreams, a dreamer should keep a dream journal to record them. It’s so easy to forget a dream, even the ones that seem so profound upon awakening. A dream journal can help us now and also by looking back over a series of dreams to understand patterns in our thinking and our lives.
I have given many workshops on dream incubation to teach people a step-by-step approach for incubating dreams for specific purposes. People come to those workshops because they want dream guidance for health, relationship counsel, creative or entrepreneurial ideas, to develop dream skills like lucidity or flying, and other purposes.
In recent years you’ve also become very interested in painting. Is your artwork related to your dreamwork?
I’m exploring this connection! Sometimes, when I have been painting for an extended period of time, I go to bed with images in my mind of the colors I’ve been playing with. I may then have dreams that have no content other than the swirling colors. Those seem to go on all night! My artwork is intuitive and abstract. I may have a general idea when I start but once I pour the paint or alcohol inks or melted wax, I allow the colors to move and flow as they will, and it seems that I am following their direction rather than me giving direction. In that way, the process seems similar to dreams which have a kind of life of their own.
I know you as a very intuitive dreamer. Would you like to share an intuitive dream that made a difference in your waking life?
I became aware of the strong intuitive nature of dreaming when I was married to a man who had juvenile diabetes and related health problems. I discovered that when he was in trouble medically (like going into an insulin shock reaction), he could communicate with me in dreams when he was unable to do so consciously. By responding to one such dream, I may have saved his life. Other dreams like that helped prepare me for medical emergencies that would otherwise have been completely shocking to my conscious self.
The most profound intuitive dream is one that I have shared at IASD conferences, in a book I wrote entitled Intuitive Dreaming, and in the IASD book Dreams that Changed Our Lives. For your readers who have not heard it, I’ll share it again here.
That morning, September 11, 2001, I got up early, meditated, and then got in my car to drive to a local church for some prayers. I turned the radio on and heard the announcer shout, “The second tower has been hit!” As I drove into town, I heard the unfolding story on the news of the Twin Towers and devastation in New York City.
I grew up in a suburb of New York City and have friends and relatives who live in the city. John’s sister and her son who was 11 years old at the time lived in Manhattan. I was worried about all of my loved ones in New York but because all of the cell phone towers were down, there was no communication. I had no idea if they were dead or alive, if they were hurt or were safe.
All day long, all I could do was pray and broadcast thoughts of light and love to everyone in New York and in the world.
That night, I had this dream,
John is in New York, helping those who have died in the World Trade Center. I look at him and ask in alarm, “Are they okay?” He beams a beautiful smile and lights up with a celestial radiance, saying joyfully and emphatically, “Yes! They’re fine! Once they’re out, they’re fine!”
As he said, “once they’re out,” I felt a whoosh! of exhilaration, like the euphoria of leaving the body and experiencing spirit.
The dream was healing on many levels. Personally it was healing because John looked healthy and vibrant, full of life and kindness. He was a person who loved helping others and had he been in the flesh, he probably would have driven from Missouri (where we lived) to help the people who needed him in New York. I knew he was in his element, doing what he was supposed to be doing in his “new life.”
Universally it was healing because I believe that his message applies to anyone who grieves a loved one or who is approaching his or her own death. Once we are out of the body and released into spirit, we are fine. I could tell from John’s message that the people who were not fine on September 11, 2001 were those of us who remained, who were hurt, angry, afraid or otherwise distressed about the sudden events.
That dream has stayed with me and the message has continued to help me in my work as a counselor, interfaith minister, and teacher to aid people understand the process of transition from life to death.
Laurel Clark's webpage: laurelclark.com