Dreaming: Living the Symbolic Life

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Dreaming: Living the Symbolic Life

A presentation by Dr. Susannah Benson

Thursday, September 1, 2016 7.30pm - 9.30pm
Venue: The Quaker House, 10 Hampson St, Kelvin Grove
Admission: Members & Concession: $10 • Non-members: $15

"The image is spontaneous, primordial given with the psyche itself—an essential poem at the heart of things."
  — James Hillman

Dream imagery and symbols can help reveal our deeper patterns— both personally and collectively— and can also point and orient us to the future. Eugene Gendlin referred to this quality of dreams as the ‘life-forward action of the dream’. To live creatively is to live at the edge, poised between the familiar —that which is known and that which is emerging and calling forth the new.

We can speak of the creative edge as a liminal space or a threshold space; it is also the space of dreams, archetype and imagination and the home of story, myth and symbol. Dreams have a capacity to transform and change lives. To live symbolically then is to live with an awareness of ‘more than’, rather than ‘less than’ and to approach lived experience with curiosity and a sense of wonder.

Carl Jung expressed the view that ‘ Natural transformation processes announce themselves mainly in dreams’ and that dreams have a transcendent function, which can help us feel into and discriminate the deeper currents, the moving tides of our souls beneath the multi-layered depths of our surface consciousness.

Jung emphasised the compensatory as well as transformative function of dream and the power of symbol to enable integration and emotional processing. He included creativity in his classification of the 5 main groups of instinctive factors and discussed it in terms of its self-generating and self-organising nature that lives outside the hierarchy of consciousness.

Jung also warned in many of his writings of the dangers inherent in modernity consciousness which over-values scientific rationalism and as a consequence faces continuing and deepening sense of isolation and sense of loss with nature, a sense of place and natural processes.

To live soulfully requires courage. To live creatively requires the willingness to engage with our depths and the capacity to learn to navigate with image and symbol.

In this presentation we will explore the theme of creativity sharing stories of the transformative function of dreams using life stories from clinical reports, artists, scientists and ‘wayfarers’ along the way.

Dr Susannah Benson has a diverse background as academic, researcher and counsellor. She has qualifications and experience in education, academic research, publishing, social ecology and transpersonal counselling. Dr Benson has studied, worked and lived in the United States, Europe and Asia, and holds a doctorate from the University of Western Sydney, College of Arts, Education & Social Sciences, School of Social Ecology and Lifelong Learning. Dr Benson is a Board member and current President of the International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD), and is the Founding President of Dream Network Australia Inc.