As a young adult, he pursued any and all opportunities to learn more about the theories surrounding dream interpretation Formal graduate study followed, and Michael earned his Doctorate in Psychology in 2006. His work as a dream interpreter eventually led him to the world of television and radio. He has since earned his position as the leading media expert in this field in the United States and Canada. Michael is also the author of Dream Sight.
How did you develop a specialty in dream analysis?
As a teenager and by complete happenstance, I came upon a copy of Freud’s seminal work, The Interpretation of Dreams. A bit beyond my 15-year-old sensibilities, I was, however able to glean from his writing that dreams could indeed offer insights and hidden perspectives, if they were explored. Social gatherings as a teenager gave me my first opportunities to give this notion a try. When friends gleefully exclaimed having had a crazy dream, I simply ,asked to hear the dream and offered my intuitive response. Wide eyes and exclamations of fascination followed and I kept doing this, thousands of times in fact, over many years and developed what was ultimately an innate gift which led me eventually to formal study and a Doctorate in Psychology.
What led you to write this Dictionary of Dreams?
This particular book was requested by my publisher, Llewellyn Worldwide Press. They recognized that they have a strong brand and that there were opportunities to capitalize on that, so in 2013 they began seeking authors for Llewellyn’s Complete Guide to _______. Since I was their resident dream expert, they approached me to write this book. My first response was that I wasn’t interested, but 24 hours later I recognized that if the world was asking for another book on this subject from me, it was really quite an honor and it somehow felt fated.
What was your process for writing it? Getting it published?
Interestingly, when I received the offer to write this dictionary, I was already ensconced in retreat mode and was working on a memoir by writing every day, six days a week, from 8am to 12pm without fail no matter what. That process was excruciating, but after four months of that level of discipline, I really found my voice. It was like discovering the part of my brain which does the writing, that part of me which is, in fact, always writing. This connection is still with me today. When facing the dictionary, I no longer kept the same hours dedicated to writing, but I set myself a goal of ten terms a day. It worked!
In what ways was writing a dictionary different from your other works?
When I am working with dreams and interpreting symbols, the experience is a bit like channeling; it feels more like the information is coming through me rather than from me. In this way, it was much easier to write the dream dictionary than other forms of writing. As a writer, there is a part of me that is always watching and judging what is coming out as it emerges which is very inhibitory to the process. This was form of resistance was not really present while writing the dictionary.
What was your favorite part of writing this book? The greatest challenge?
I think my favorite aspect of writing this book was the speed with which it flowed out of me. Not the speed itself, but what it was evidence of. I had worked so hard for so many years through a huge struggle of how to write; how I write. It was a very painful journey. This project was the first evidence that all of that heavy lifting was finally paying off. So each day, as I accomplished what I set out to with relative ease, I was filled with a measure of delight at finally having arrived to a graceful (well, mostly graceful) relationship with writing. The greatest challenge was just that the number of terms I had to write seemed endless. Truly endless.
What can people learn from dreams?
Dreams are like a snapshot of your Soul at the time of the dream itself. They can reveal exactly what might be holding you back in life, where your fears are ruling you. I like to say that the Yes we have in life doesn’t need our help, but we must know where we are saying No in order to release the hold it has on us. Dreams show us where fear is in the way and by paying a little more attention to them, we allow them to do what they do all by themselves. And that is, they help us practice being better at being human. Research has shown that we make short term memory in the dream state and therefore we actually become smarter when we dream. I believe that because the window to the Soul is also open during this mysterious phenomenon, that we are also growing wiser. Smarter and wiser are not the same thing, for Wisdom incorporates Love into the mix.
What things should people who are new to dream analysis keep in mind?
Dreams have a powerful to express your soul and expand your Wisdom all on their own and truly, they need no help from us to do this. There is absolutely no wrong way to work with a dream. Just thinking about it is powerful. Writing it down increases the value of what you can get from this mysterious experience. Sharing it with another person takes it to an even higher level. Doing something creative with the content of your dreams is perhaps the most profound way to honor the wisdom that is hidden within them. Write a poem, make a drawing (stick figures count!) or dance naked around your living room acting out a scene from your dreams. They come from the most beautiful and irrational parts of our humanity, so responding to them in an irrational and creative fashion is the most dynamic way you can celebrate them.
Can dreams help writers with their work?
Absolutely! Any writer understands that a big part of the process is removing the blocks and resistance that inhibit the flow of the writing. Dreams are designed to help all humans remove the fears, doubts, limitations and shadowy peccadillos that make the journey of life challenging. Dream-work can loosen the stranglehold of resistance just by revealing the irrational thought/feeling patterns that create it. And the amount of creative inspiration available to writers of fiction in dreams is absolutely limitless.
Advice for writers of non-fiction?
You had better be madly in love with your topic if you are going to focus on non-fiction. And remember, good writing is visual, so the notion of “show” rather than “tell” applies to all writing. Be willing to write a terrible first draft. NEVER use the same word within about 2,000 words of each other. Short sentences are better than long ones.
What do you know now that you wish you knew at the beginning of your career?
I wish I knew that I was eventually going to be a published writer and that it was going to take way longer than I thought. I wish I knew that when the world says no to you, it may very well be really saying not yet. I wish I knew that I would eventually find my voice as a writer and that something I struggled with terribly early on would one day become a non-issue (my first book took 6 years, my second book took 9 months).