In my early forties, I had a dream in which a man leads me into a room where my parents, brothers and others close to me have gathered. He tells them, ‘I know Melinda’s life may not have turned out as you might have thought. But that’s okay because her life had to be this way for the dreams.’ Looking back on that dream nearly twenty years later, those words ring true. My life has been guided by my dreams.
Life in Southern California
In childhood, I was fortunate to spend a good deal of time in Nature, exploring the foothills, deserts, mountains and beaches of my homeland in the southwestern United States. My father took me on many hair-raising and beautiful pilgrimages to places like the top of Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in the continental United States, and the bottom of Death Valley, the lowest point. Such spectacular journeys not only built up my physical stamina, but also my soul stamina, forever imprinting my inner world with the silent, mysterious presence alive in Nature.
My interest in dreams stems from my early years when I first learned about the biblical visions of Joseph and Daniel. As a child, I intuitively desired to work in the ministry of the Spirit. In adulthood, I considered studying theology before deciding on English literature and completing a Master’s in the subject. During that time, a professor teaching on the course introduced me to my first book on dreams by John Sanford, Episcopal priest and Jungian analyst, Dreams: God’s Forgotten Language. I ended up writing to Sanford and sharing a dream with him. He replied that the dream was inviting me to work in the field of dreams and to write. It took many years before I would do so, but in the meantime, I began to pay more attention to my dreams, recording them and reflecting on them.
Life in Eastern Europe
In 1990, following dream guidance (which I describe in my book The Hidden Lives of Dreams), I volunteered with the United States Peace Corps as a Teacher Trainer in Eastern Europe. I viewed the work ahead as spiritual service that could contribute to life behind the newly fallen Iron Curtain, a part of the world whose suffering, dignity and depth profoundly moved me. In Poland, I coordinated the English Department of a three-year Teacher Training College in the town of Torun, where I got married. Since that time, Europe has been my home. Over the past thirty years, my travels, work, and studies in literature, comparative religion and psychology, along with all that I have learned from my life relationships, have helped me build up a better understanding of myself, the world, dreams and the Divine.
Life in Switzerland
In my late twenties, I taught at a school in the French Swiss Alps for a year. I was feeling rather lonely and unsure about whether to continue teaching or to return to my homeland. Then I had the following dream:
A circle of Elders, from the church where I grew up, appears in an empty, white room full of light. One of the dear ladies, who had been my Sunday school teacher, approaches me and asks what seems wrong. When I tell her of my worries, she takes out a piece of paper with a list written on it. Glancing down at the list, she places her finger mid-way on it and says, ‘But Switzerland is on the list!’
I woke up grateful for the dream, affirmed in my choice to move to Switzerland and in my decision to stay a while longer. Years later, I returned to Switzerland, where I lived in Zurich for four years. While there, I published two educational books, one on approaches to literature and the other on creative ideas for teaching English. I also took advantage of living near the home of Carl Jung to learn more about his analytical psychology.
Life in Rural England
In 2016, I was blessed to marry again. In the fulfilment of a new life with my husband Andrew, I could at last settle down to more writing, including helping Andrew with the preparation and publication of the companion volumes The Ways of the Soul and Conversations with the Soul. A Psychiatrist Reflects: Essays on Life, Death and Beyond.
Then, at the beginning of 2019, I was commissioned, seemingly out of the blue, to write a book on dreams. I felt a strong sense of urgency to finish the book in the space of one year. A number of dreams had pressed this upon me, including one in which Bob Dylan appeared and told me, “It’s time to come away with me now. You’re getting older now, and there isn’t a lot of time left!” Soon after the publication of The Hidden Lives of Dreams, the Covid-19 pandemic struck. During the lockdowns that followed, I used the time to write my second book Lucid Surrender: The Alchemy of the Soul in Lucid Dreaming. This time round, it was my husband’s turn to help me with editing my books. After so much writing, it’s so good to spend time with family and to enjoy the English countryside. We have great fondness for the Lake District, which especially delights the soul.
Life from the Transpersonal Perspective
I mentioned earlier that I had been guided to undertake training in transpersonal psychotherapy. For the reader unfamiliar with this approach, it may be helpful briefly to outline how the transpersonal perspective has been pivotal in my exploration of Lucid Surrender.
The core of transpersonal psychology relates to life’s Big Questions: What gives our lives meaning? How do we express the Highest Good in our lives? How do we live fully? From the transpersonal viewpoint, we can find these questions asked and answered in our dreams, for dreams not only mirror our personal psychology but also open the psyche to the profoundly sacred qualities found in the depths of the dreams. In this way, dreams are able to facilitate inner transformation. This has great significance for well-being because, as Carl Jung claimed, it is the encounter with the numinous, with a powerful healing Presence, that is the ‘real therapy’.
Like bright stars, dreams have guided and filled me with a deep sense of gratitude and awareness of grace. The stars shine for all of us. The earth beneath our feet, the wind upon our cheeks, the touch of a loved one – these entwine with the light of our dreams, enriching life. For all this, I give heartfelt thanks, looking forward to what dreams may come!