Author: Maira Stergiou

The dream is the small hidden door in the deepest and most intimate sanctum of the soul, which opens to that primeval cosmic night that soul was long before there was conscious ego and will soul be far beyond what a conscious ego could ever reach.” C.G. Jung

Before the clock stroke 12, a huge skeletal wave like a black smoke began approaching from far away, circulating our feet. A sense of panic and an obscure mix of smoke and fog grew around us like a snake.  Then all the cities began changing and transforming. The skyscrapers were tumbling down and in a second they were being built up again in different, more bizarre and funny shapes. The buildings wore black, triangle sunglasses in the night and we were observing the changes from the rest of the buildings.

And now what? What would happen if you could create the environment of this dream while being awake?  To focus on the smoke, representing the buildings with objects? Or to imagine that the skeletal wave has a voice and wants to chit chat with you? What would happen if you could enter the dream again in some way, as if getting into an old family photo? And what possible relation could this have with chronic depression? Or with the pain on the back that doesn’t seem to go away, 3 months now? Or does it probably have a relation with the fact that you are starting on a new job?

People in every culture of the world see dreams. They are convinced that they will be awake and surrounded by the real world again. In a dream we can touch an object, smell a flower. All senses take part in the creation of an oneiric image. Of course, we are aware that the dream is not a real, natural environment, because when we wake up the feeling of the body of the dream disappears. In some societies, dreams are not taken into consideration because they are thought to be unreal, irrelevant to the important concerns of life. On the contrary, in other cultures they are thought to carry important information for the future and the life of a person and thus they are used as a powerful means by Shamans (e.g. Tapirape and Ye’cuana shamans in Latin America). In ancient Greece, people used to sleep in the temple dedicated to God (of medicine) Asklepios, in order to have a dream of what could possibly heal them from their illness.

The Embodied Imagination is a therapeutic and creative method of working with  dreams, memories and images of imagination, a method first developed by the Dutch analytic psychotherapist Robert Bosnak, based on the principles of the Swiss psychiatrist Carl G. Jung and the founding father of Archetypal psychology, James Hillman. Hillman described soul not as a special uniform set where ego is defined, but as a self-organization of the multiplicity of selves, also emphasizing in the process of the way imagination creates dreams and images as ways of understanding what he called soul.

According to R. Bosnak, in embodied imagination all psychological states acquire a body. The dreams appear as incidents that take place in natural environments. He defines as “natural environments” the images in the dream interpreted as real by the person who is dreaming. If the person embodies these images of his imagination and dream during psychotherapy and through a role, either by using motion or painting e.t.c., s/he creates the conditions for profound therapeutic effects. The same techniques used in the dream projects, can be also applied in memories. In addition, Bosnak used this technique with the actors of the Bell Shakespeare Company in Sydney, for the needs of a theatre performance and to improve the acting of a role.

Bosnak calls the therapeutic process that is related to dreams “sleep workshops”. It is a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping. The person hovers above the sleep state, without really being asleep. Through this state of consciousness, we enter the dream again as a real environment. When we re-enter the dream that could cause what we call a flashback experience. The flashback memory functions differently from the normal memory. We can recall the skyscrapers, the glasses, the buildings e.t.c. We will recollect a narrative in a linear sequence. However, in the case of the flashback into the dream, the total environment is present; the smell of the smoke, the sense of panic, even the things that were not conscious in the first time of the narrative and thus the dream becomes complete.

The importance of interpretation and analysis of the dreams in psychotherapy has been studied by many eminent psychologists, psychiatrists and psychotherapists, and among them is the father of the psychoanalytical school, Sigmund Freud. In art, dream is closely associated with surrealism. What triggered the manifest of Surrealism by A. Breton is considered to be the language used by the inmates in the psychiatric clinics where he used to work.

And now that we have turned 30, let’s remember the lyrics of a song that marked our adolescence: [1] “Dreams-Dreams, flames faraway. Dreams of my escape and unknown voices of mine”.

[1]  Translated lyrics of the Greek song «Μια πίστα από φώσφορο», performed by Haris Alexiou.


Rober Bosnak. (2007). Embodiment: Creative Imagination in Medicine, Art and Travel, Taylor & Francis Ltd

Robert Bosnak. (2014). Red Sulphur: The Greatest Mystery in Alchemy Red Sulphur Publications

Carl Gustav Jung. (2002). Dreams, Rutledge, First Published by Princeton University Press 1974

World Dreaming. (2011). 6th World Congress for Psychotherapy 2011, Sydney, Au.

Wad H. Kracke. (2014). Cultural Aspects of Dreaming, International Institute for the Dream Research.