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Discerning Life with Dreams

The Triadic Relationships Between Dreams, Discernment, and Spiritual Intelligence

by B. Anne Frey

e-Book PDF
Institution: California Institute of Integral Studies
Advisor(s): Daniel Deslauriers, Ph.D.
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2007
Volume: 373 pages
ISBN-10: 1599426501
ISBN-13: 9781599426501


This study explored the relationship between dreams, discernment, and spiritual intelligence. It focused on the experience of people who use dreams to help them with spiritual discernment or decision-making in a spiritual context. A case study methodology included questionnaires, personal dream records, and interviews to understand the seven participants’ experiences of exploring their dreams for guidance. Participants were self-selected by answering an ad seeking people whose dreams had helped them to make a decision, who journaled their dreams, and who consider themselves to be spiritual.

Most participants reported being drawn to dreamwork by a significant life experience. While participants shared different perceptions as to what discernment consists of, each participant reported that dreams helped them to grow spiritually. A number of outcomes were exemplified, falling into two main grouping: a) the use of discernment in order to understand a dream (whether or not they ended up reaching a resolution or making a decision about the dream) and b) the use of dreams as part of a discernment process (whether or not the dreams helped them to resolve their discernment issue or make a decision).

The intensity of emotion attached to an issue seemed, for some, to render it more difficult to arrive at particular decisions. For others, dreams seemed to ease the burden of discernment or decision-making by raising their degree of confidence towards their resolution or decision. Deepening appreciation of and growing desire for living spiritually, and learning more about spirituality were indicators of a developing spiritual intelligence. For most, spiritual growth occurred through knowledge or learning gained from their dreams. For some, their belief about God’s role in their life impacted their experience of the Divine in their dreams.

Finally, the study showed that individuals are not always aware of what had helped them, suggesting a subconscious process at work in both discernment and decision-making. The study affirmed a triadic link between dreams, discernment, and spiritual intelligence among people involved in spiritual dreamwork. It demonstrated ways by which the discernment process can build confidence in people who are turning to their dreams for guidance in a spiritual context.

About The Author

B. Anne Frey has a B.S. and M.A. in psychology and a Ph.D. in Humanities. She has worked as a Research Associate for a sleep-wake research institute and as an adjunct instructor for universities. She began doing professional dreamwork eight years ago, offering private consultations, public programs, and workshops.