• Paula Newman

Focusing with a dream

Updated: Nov 28, 2021

I see my train and start walking towards it, my eyes are heavy and straining to close. I find a seat and then notice that there are people sitting opposite me. I am ashamed of my tired eyes and hold a book up in front of them. Now I can close my eyes and no one will know.

My eyes close, then they flutter open, I am very anxious about being found out. Eventually I sleep.

The train slows down and screeches to a halt. I join hundreds of people, all walking in various directions. I don’t know which way to go. My eyes are closing and I am moved along by the crowd. I am afraid of missing my train.

I can barely see, my eyes are tiny slits, sometimes I close them completely for a moment’s relief. Anyone who sees me like this will know how irresponsible I am, travelling with my eyes closed. I feel anxious and ashamed, and then I am running, and clambering onto a train.

There is great relief as I realise that this is just a dream. Waking up I stretch my arms. However I cannot open my eyes, my eyelids are stuck. I panic, terrified that they will never open.

Some time passes, perhaps I am asleep. I wake up and my eyes open naturally.

This is a recurrent dream, I am curious to see what will emerge when I Focus with it.

A ‘Lead in’ helps me to bring my awareness inwards

I begin by sitting comfortably and closing my eyes. I take a few deep breaths and pay attention to my outer body, noticing any sensations in my feet, legs, and seat.

Pressing my feet onto the floor and leaning back into the chair helps me to feel supported and grounded.

I continue with my outer body, paying attention to my back, shoulders, arms and hands and moving my neck a little to see if there is any tension there. I notice the weight of my head and am aware of the tiny muscles in my face.

Next, I bring awareness to my inner body getting a sense of my throat, chest and stomach, and noticing any sensations.

I pay attention to my emotions, taking time to acknowledge them all. Seeing whether there is something within me that feels blocked, and something within me that feels easy and flowing.

Making Contact

Inwardly I describe my dream, this helps me to remember the details and to be in touch with vague, indistinct feelings about it, known as the felt sense.

I recall the sensations in my eyes at the beginning of my dream, trying out words and phrases that might capture the experience. Heaviness, straining, a sensitive achiness, watery bleariness. I remember the desperate struggle to keep my eyes open, and become aware of a thin, sharp achiness in my head.

I am sensing something in me that feels ashamed. I acknowledge this with a ‘hello’, and soothe my burning cheeks with cool hands.

Now the panicky feelings, associated with my dream become more prominent. I say to myself ‘something in me is feeling rising panic.’ ‘Rising panic’ is a good description.

The phrase ‘something in me’ reminds me that only part of me is experiencing rising panic. I am also aware of a curious part.

My attitude towards everything that emerges within me is friendly, welcoming and accepting. This creates a safe space for more to be revealed.

Deepening Contact

I settle down with the part of me that feels rising panic. I let it know that I hear it and I invite it to let me know how things are from its point of view.

I note the tightness in my chest and my fast breathing. Then I become aware of a dilemma, ‘something that I have to do and I cannot do’, I am pulled in two directions and feel for a moment that I will be pulled apart.

To steady myself I push my feet into the ground feeling its solidness and recognising my own solidness and personal power.

‘Something that I have to do and I can’t do’ takes me to a past situation and I recognise that I am still living with the anxiety of that situation. I acknowledge the anxiety, I will return to it another time.

I take a few deep breaths, there is still tightness in my chest, I acknowledge it and gently ask whether there is something that it is wanting.

‘Sleep’ The answer comes to me so quickly and definitely that it takes me by surprise.

‘There is a part of me that wants to sleep and also a part of me that believes I cannot sleep’. I realise that ‘cannot’ is not quite right, ‘must not sleep’ is a better description.

I spend time with the part of me that believes I must not sleep and I tune into my sense of deep shame. The feeling subsides a little as I give it my attention.


There is always more to explore and to discover, for now I am thankful for everything that has been revealed. There are areas that I will come back to on another occasion.

I sit quietly for a few moments. When I feel ready, I open my eyes and bring my awareness back to the room.

I have not had this dream again. I often find that once I have paid attention to what a dream is communicating and have acknowledged its messages there is no longer any need.

Focusing Sessions

A guided session is often helpful for new Focusers and for times when you would like to have some extra support.

Once you have learnt the basics of Focusing, usually on a training course you might like to Focus with a partner, taking turns to accompany and support each other.

One of the benefits of Focusing is that you can also focus alone as I did when exploring my dream.

If you would like to know more about Focusing and Focusing training, please see my website.

Contact Paula Newman
Counsellor, Supervisor, Focusing trainer

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