Tag Archive: native american ceremony

Dreams and Gestalt Therapy.

Frederick (Fritz) Perls is considered the “father” of Gestalt Therapy. The basic concept of Gestalt Perls believed that unresolved conflicts from the past had a great deal of influence upon present behavior, and that these conflicts needed to be “worked through” (Perls, 1969). Dreams were a cornerstone of this type of therapy because of the dreamsenergy and reference work it provides to help people better understand the present.

When working with myself, my patients often discover just how powerful dreams can be when seeking insight into our day-to-day lives and possible hidden issues that we can’t see within the present.  You see, Fritz Perls felt that dreams were highly symbolic and made extensive use of interpretation and I couldn’t agree more.  I believe dreams are a subjective presentation of the person and that there is a sense of wholeness in every image.  By using dreams as a part of therapy, we can better connect to the meaning of what may be parts of ourselves that are veiled or living within a fantasy during waking life.  The meanings have to be carefully talked about, sometimes even talked through using an empty chair as a “third” party.  And we can always evaluate the idea of the intrapsychic dream landscape.  For example, was that angry dog really someone angry at you or yourself angry at a situation.

Dreams are powerful and there are many ways to decipher what they do and do not mean. I tend to believe our unconscious mind is always trying to help our conscious lives by providing clues to not only unraveling what is nagging us, but by presenting options for us to address, work through and then discover how to apply solutions in everyday life.

If you’re just as fascinated by dreams as I, let’s talk. I have plenty more information to provide to you and consultations are always welcomed. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook for daily updates on this and other subjects related to Gestalt therapy.

A Brief History of The Sun Dance

For those that are just joining my journey now, the last post has been taking my readers with me through the sun dance.  It was an incredible experience that I am still processing. And I feel it is important to share this experience with anyone who wants it. To catch up to this post you can read “The Sun Dance”.

I first read of the sun dance in “Black Elk Speaks” narrated by John G. Neihardt, and then in “Two Ravens: The Life and

 Teachings of a Spiritual Warrior” by Louis Two Ravens Irwin and Robert Liebert. Black Elk was a Sioux elder and medicine man,


Howard Terpning - Prepare for Sun Dance

Howard Terpning – Prepare for Sun Dance

who lived through some of the horrendous years of white aggression (not that it’s over!) and believed the sun dance was for people of all races and colour.  Two Ravens was a leader in the radical American Native Movement group (AIM) earlier in his life; he later changed his views (see “Building Bridges Beneath the Sacred Tree”), and was a major influence in bringing the sun dance to all people.

Sun Dance was forbidden by the white authorities, and was finally allowed and not interfered with, thanks to leaders like Black Elk.  Some tribes – notably the Lakota Nation – allow only native dancers.  I participate in a sun dance open to all peoples.

It takes a year to prepare for the sun dance.  A dance chief is selected and begins the process of planning space, requirements, meals, preparation of the ceremonial lands and of the dance arbor.  Closer to the time, the grounds are cleared and made ready, then the many supporters who make the sun dance possible spend weeks putting all the structures in place to feed and protect and support ceremonially the participants.  The tree is decorated, room is made for the ancestors.  The bodies of the dancers are purified by way of a sweatlodge.  Finally, the arbor is blessed and sealed and the dance begins.

Next week I will talk about how I personally am impacted by participating in the sun dance.

Maryanne Nicholls is a Toronto based, certified Psychotherapist offering a balanced approach to mental health. Please visit www.thejoyofliving.co for information on her services, or contact her directly to find out how she can help you reclaim the joy of living.