Connect with us

Lifestyle

This teacher will guide you into talking with your dreams. A warning: They will talk back

Published

on

This teacher will guide you into talking with your dreams. A warning: They will talk back

This story is part of Image’s April issue, “Reverie” — an invitation to lean into the spaces of dreams and fantasy. Enjoy the journey.

Two weeks after I lost my sister, she visited me in a dream. Was it her, or was the dream a construction of my psyche, made to process this sudden loss? Either way, it shook me to my core.

Since childhood, I’ve transcribed thousands of pages of dreams into bedside notebooks in the dark, but it wasn’t until I studied dream work, using techniques pioneered by Carl Jung and adapted for artists, that dreams began to change me.

Advertisement

Dream work can be described as the process of interacting with unconscious material to generate deep, truth-charged work. Guided into a state of embodied meditation, the dreamer can “talk” with any element of the dream — characters, objects, room, weather. Shockingly, it all talks back.

Rosager wears Stella McCartney shirt, jeans, and shoes, Keane necklace and rings.

I first learned of dream work when I joined a theater company alongside Kim Gillingham, who founded the organization Creative Dream Work in 1999. Over the years, Gillingham has revolutionized Hollywood’s approach to artmaking through her work with Sandra Oh, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jane Campion and other luminaries who draw on their dreams to create unflinchingly authentic characters on screen.

“We’ve all developed personas, taken certain aspects of ourselves and hidden them away in order to walk through the world,” Gillingham told the Guardian. “Dreams pretty stubbornly and persistently remind us of hidden aspects of ourselves that we might do well to integrate.”

Advertisement

About a decade ago, I met another dream worker named Louise Rosager at a friend’s New Year’s Day brunch. She had also studied with Gillingham. In a past life, Rosager was a ballet dancer and actor in Copenhagen, but after moving to L.A. in 2009, she started developing television series (she’s one of the executive producers behind the Shakespeare drama “Will”). After five years of studying with Gillingham, Rosager became curious about the intersection between dreams and writing and decided to become a dream work teacher herself.

On a midsummer day in 2021, as L.A. emerged from pandemic closures, Rosager held a class in the backyard of a friend’s home in Venice. Starting with mat work, Rosager led us through writing prompts, breathwork and gentle movement, easing us into confluence with our dream material. In the second half of the class, by random draw, my dream was selected for staging. In other words, my classmates were asked to act out my dream, with me as director. I had first staged a dream in this way in Gillingham’s classes, but I’m never prepared for what unfolds.

Watching your dream play out before your eyes in waking life is like inhabiting an alternate reality: hair-raising, confronting, wrecking. Dream work is the opposite of escapism. It’s also nourishing. As Rosager talked me through the staging of the dream, a massive tree appeared in my mind, which I hadn’t noted in the original retelling of the dream. Had the tree been there all along, waiting for me to seek its wisdom? Had it grown with me over the years, or had I grown with it?

Three years later, in preparation for our conversation, I revisit this dream with Rosager, as she leads me through a second dream work session. “Artists want to bare their soul,” she tells me. “The thing we’re making becomes the context through which we can safely do that. It is us but not us.” Dream work offers no answers. It offers something harder to come by: wonder.

Amy Raasch: We tend to hear that the dreamer is every character in their dream. But many wonder, as I did with the dream involving a visitation from my sister two weeks after she died, whether dream figures have come to connect with us in some way or if it all comes from the psyche. How did you come to your understanding of dreams?

Advertisement

Louise Rosager: I was having extremely powerful dreams in my late teens and early 20s. They seemed so undeniable; I had to address them somehow. I used a technique called active imagination, which is essentially automatic writing with a dream character. You are yourself, but you’re allowing the dream character to take your pen and write answers to your questions. I was an actor at the time and dreams would often come in parallel to the characters I was working on. I intuitively had the sense they had something to offer my ability to bring that character to life.

AR: When “talking” to a character or object from my dream in this way — a red phone, a broken piano — I find that as long as I keep the pen moving on the page, there’s always an answer.

LR: It just comes through. Oftentimes, people who have never worked on a dream before will come in to work with me and say, what if it doesn’t work? What if nothing comes? It always comes. I drop them into the dream again, help them breathe a little bit, loosen up the body to dissolve the edges of judgment and ego that we all have, and immediately, I’ll ask, where is the broken piano? And they’ll point to it. They’ll know where it is in space. The dream is so present. It’s as if it’s existing the whole time. All you have to do is open some kind of doorway to it.

AR: Do you think the dream exists before the dreamer dreams it?

LR: Whether it’s in the psyche, or some part of the universe that we don’t know anything about — people call it source, God, dreammaker — something makes these dreams for us. There will never be another person in the world who will have the same dream you’ll have tonight. And the information in those dreams is truly tailor-made for you.

Advertisement
A woman in a long white dress stands in a park.

“There will never be another person in the world who will have the same dream you’ll have tonight. And the information in those dreams is truly tailor-made for you,” says Rosager.

AR: How did you transition from being a young actor in Copenhagen, working intuitively with dreams, to teaching this work?

LR: I moved to New York, I got into Shakespeare. When I moved to L.A. in my mid-20s, I met Kim Gillingham, an extraordinary acting teacher who uses dream work as a portal into the unconscious, into things you don’t know about yourself. You close your eyes and work in a very embodied way with your dream images for sometimes up to two hours. When I first worked with her, it was this sense of, OK, this exists. Dream work was something other people were doing and having extraordinary results creatively.

AR: But as you’ve developed as a teacher, you’ve taken it in your own direction.

LR: Yes, after working with Kim, I studied with Stephen Aizenstat at Pacifica Graduate Institute. Stephen’s approach is that dreams are living, autonomous worlds and figures and landscapes. They show up to teach me something, but they also need something from me. Could it be the dream figure is dreaming me as much as I’m dreaming them? What if, with no agenda, I’m in relationship with this figure the same way I’m in relationship with people in my life?

Advertisement

AR: And in relationship with scripted characters?

LR: I work with people’s written characters or characters they’re playing onstage the same way I work on a dream: Let’s meet this living image from the perspective of archetype. If I’m playing Juliet, I would like to think she should be played a certain way, because that’s who she is. But if I allow that image to truly work on me, she might be a completely different Juliet than I or anybody else has ever imagined.

AR: Can you describe the process of letting the image work on you?

LR: Step 1, get out of the ego consciousness around what’s supposed to happen. That’s where I drop people down. I use breath work, gentle movements — just to discombobulate the body a little bit. Then I talk people into a place where they can begin to imagine into the world they’ve created. If I’m working with a dream, I say, “OK, enter the dream place again. What do you see?” Same thing if it’s a setting from your script. When you work in that way, details become clear that you didn’t know were there. Sometimes there are people in the room you hadn’t imagined. You can take it or leave it. If it doesn’t fit into the script, that’s fine. But the imagination is creating this world for a reason; let’s just allow it to be for a moment. And then I bring the character in. What’s the essence emanating from them? Where in your body do you feel that essence? Sometimes, depending on the person, I’ll say, “What would happen if you allowed some of that energy into your body, some of the thoughts they might have into your head?”

AR: You work with writers on structure and outlining as well as dream work. Do you consider dreams narrative?

Advertisement

LR: The narrative structure of a dream, like most TV shows and films, is basically a four- or five-act structure. Shakespeare plays are five-act structures. So the dream is usually constructed of four moments. The first, from a symbolic perspective, is your life right now. For example, in your dream, we first set up the space: Where am I right now? What do you see?

AR: The cabin, my sister’s place in Stillwater. A spare anteroom, a desk, a red phone. The phone rings. It’s my sister.

LR: That’s the second moment, the inciting incident — there’s something you need to see. In the third moment, it shifts; there’s a realization.

AR: She’s calling me from beyond the grave. And she’s so light. She’s a step ahead of me. I’m chasing her through the rooms, but I can’t reach her.

Dreamworker Louise Rosager for Image. (aliana mt / For The Times)
Dreamworker Louise Rosager for Image. (aliana mt / For The Times)
Rosager wears Silk Laundry dress, Everlane shoes, Elizabeth Hooper earrings and cuff.

Rosager wears Silk Laundry dress, Everlane shoes, Elizabeth Hooper earrings and cuff.

Advertisement

LR: That’s that third moment: psyche or dreammaker saying you have to look at this and deal with it. And then there’s the fourth moment, which is what Jung called the lysis, where the energy of your life wants to go.

AR: When I first wrote down the dream, it ended, “empty hallway, sky.” But when we staged it, there was this massive tree in the center of the room, rooted beneath the house and growing out through the skylight.

LR: It was very distinct. It was calling for your attention. I would say that is the last moment of the dream. It has an element of unconsciousness, like in any dream. We wouldn’t get the dream if it didn’t. When I rush through the rooms and try to grab onto her, I don’t see the tree. I don’t see light. When I slow down, this last moment can unfold itself and a brand-new perspective on the situation can unfold. I can be in this light too, with this companion, old mother tree, which teaches me how to live in the world, from a more authentic place. That’s the arc.

AR: There’s a strong component of you talking us through the moments, creating a container that allows the world to flower. I could not have gotten there on my own, because the dream was already making my head explode.

Advertisement

LR: When I sold my first show to HBO, I asked one of the executives, “What’s your secret to all these great shows?” Well, he said, “I think my job is to hold a safe space for artists to bring out their best material. Everything else I do is my job as well, but that’s my real job.” And I thought, “OK, that’s going to be my job.”

AR: You’re currently directing veterans in a production of “Romeo and Juliet.” How does dream work intersect with teaching Shakespeare?

LR: We work with Shakespeare’s characters as if we’re working with dream characters. And we will treat the play as if it were a character because it is. Shakespeare plays are like big dreams. Big dreams for the culture. Joseph Campbell says that dreams are personal myths and myths are collective dreams. Shakespeare, because he is a timeless writer, has created myths for our modern world. You can tap into those plays as if they were dreams the culture is experiencing. And I think we’re moving more and more toward the late romances [“Pericles,” “Cymbeline,” “A Winter’s Tale,” “The Tempest”], which is great, because those plays are full of hope and regeneration and forgiveness.

Rosager wears Gabriela Hearst dress, Alexis Bittar rings and cuff.

Rosager wears Gabriela Hearst dress, Alexis Bittar rings and cuff.

AR: One of the things that’s so curious about this work is the sense there’s something in dialogue with me. I’m not alone, I don’t have to invent everything.

Advertisement

LR: I see this with my clients all the time; that sort of fundamental loneliness goes away. Over time, you build up a council of figures that will be there for you in any situation. They can be figures from dreams, or figures you write, but you’re helping each other the whole time.

AR: We recently revisited my dream after a span of years. I was wary of returning to that deep grief, but it was all about the tree, which uprooted itself and floated into space — it had a wise but cheeky vibe.

LR: That tree is a portal. People will tell you that you can’t learn inspiration; you have to wait for it. I don’t believe that. I think the dream work is the inspiration. If you practice dream work the way you practice form and structure, you’ll be inspired the whole time. It’ll come to you because you’re open.

Producer: Mere Studios
Makeup: Daphne Chantell Del Rosario
Hair: Marilyn Lizardo
Styling Assistant: Alexa Armendiz

Amy Raasch is a Los Angeles-based writer, actor and performing musician. She holds a BA from the University of Michigan and an MFA from Bennington Writing Seminars. She writes about what haunts us.

Advertisement
Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Lifestyle

Swanky airport lounges are arriving at LAX, like this Chase one. But who can get in?

Published

on

Swanky airport lounges are arriving at LAX, like this Chase one. But who can get in?

While a swanky airport lounge can’t alleviate Los Angeles International Airport’s infamous curbside gridlock, it can make it become a more distant memory.

The latest predeparture sanctuary that will land at LAX? It’s from a company best known for its bank branches. Chase announced on Thursday it will open a 9,234-square-foot Sapphire Lounge at Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT), near Gate 148. An opening date was not shared.

Dana Pouwels, head of airport lounge benefits and strategic partnerships for Chase, said the company is investing in meeting its customers where they are.

“Los Angeles is home to many cardmembers and a popular destination among Chase travelers,” Pouwels said. “And as a native Angeleno who frequently travels through LAX to visit home, I’m excited to bring a Chase Sapphire Lounge to my home city.”

Based on renderings, the premium Chase space will feature expansive tarmac views — a first for a lounge in TBIT’s main concourse — along with a dramatic waterfall-style chandelier above a granite and wood bar. While Chase was mum on proposed amenities, if it’s anything like the company’s other lounges now at five airports, expect it to skew higher-end.

Advertisement

The first U.S. Sapphire Lounge for Chase debuted in Boston one year ago. Features include a gourmet buffet and à la carte dining (their Sapphire burger is a particular standout); dedicated wellness and shower rooms; and a residential-inspired design meant for both work and leisure. Meanwhile, the LaGuardia Airport location in New York that opened earlier this year even offers complimentary facials and ultra-high-end private suites (for a hefty additional fee).

Pouwels said the “space will pay homage to Los Angeles while embodying local modern elements that celebrate the culture of the city.”

To get unlimited access to Chase Sapphire Lounges in the U.S., travelers must be enrolled in the $550-per-year Chase Sapphire Reserve with Priority Pass membership. Those with a Priority Pass membership from another premium travel credit card (such as an Amex Platinum or Capital One Venture X) can enter a U.S. Sapphire Lounge once each calendar year at no cost.

Currently, there are no Priority Pass-accessible lounges at LAX, so Chase’s lounge will be a boon to a wide range of travelers once open.

The airport lounge wars continue

Lounge competition is fierce, especially among the major credit card companies. Access has widened dramatically in recent years as issuers push for premium card sign-ups and build out their own branded spaces. While that means more crowded lounges, it also means more options for travelers.

Advertisement

in 2013, American Express entered the business of owning and operating airport lounges with the Centurion network. More recently, Chase’s Sapphire portfolio and Capital One’s lounges are the answer to the incumbent.

At LAX, Amex opened its Centurion Lounge in 2020, just a few steps away from Chase’s future site. The nearly 14,000-square-foot area features a variety of luxe amenities, including a bespoke food menu from executive chef Nancy Silverton, a spa area with chair massages and mini-manicures, and shower suites.

Dave Jones, deputy executive director of commercial development at Los Angeles World Airports, says that lounges improve the travel experience, especially as the airport redevelops. “LAX looks forward to providing our guests with more lounge options based on their consumer preferences, as well as accommodating the growing demand for lounge access,” he said.

Other LAX lounges in the pipeline

Chase isn’t the only player set to open a new lounge at the airport. Air France will unveil its first-ever LAX lounge at TBIT on June 21.

A carrier spokesperson said L.A. is one of the “most important markets for Air France” and is part of a wider global investment in lounges. When it opens, the LAX location will become the sixth Air France lounge in the U.S., joining Washington-Dulles, Houston Intercontinental, San Francisco, New York JFK and Boston.

Advertisement

Meanwhile, over at Terminal 4, Delta Air Lines will open a high-end Delta One Lounge by the end of 2024. It will feature an outdoor terrace, over 10,000 square feet of space, and a seamless connection from an exclusive check-in area for Delta One passengers.

It’s part of the carrier’s strategy to offer a new “premium” tier of amenities for international business-class guests. “Premium lounge customers should feel welcomed and known when they walk in the door, just as they would at their favorite hotel or restaurant,” said Claude Roussel, vice president of Sky Club and lounge experience at Delta.

The first Delta One lounge will open in New York in late June.

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Lifestyle

NPR’s Morning Edition invites your thoughts on marriage

Published

on

NPR’s Morning Edition invites your thoughts on marriage

For our upcoming summer series, NPR’s Morning Edition wants to hear your thoughts on marriage.

Aleksandr Zubkov/Getty Images


hide caption

toggle caption

Advertisement

Aleksandr Zubkov/Getty Images

This summer, Morning Edition brings you a series on love and marriage!

Whether married or not, we want to hear from you! Fill out the form below and someone from our team may reach out to hear more. You can also upload your responses as a voice memo, while keeping each answer to less than a minute. Please submit responses by Sunday, June 16 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time.

Advertisement

Your submission will be governed by our general Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. As the Privacy Policy says, we want you to be aware that there may be circumstances in which the exemptions provided under law for journalistic activities or freedom of expression may override privacy rights you might otherwise have.

Continue Reading

Lifestyle

Female hitman used hijab disguise in attempt to wipe out Birmingham family

Published

on

Female hitman used hijab disguise in attempt to wipe out Birmingham family
A hired killer from the US disguised herself with a hijab before trying to shoot dead a man and his family in Birmingham, a court has heard. Aimee Betro, 44, a hitwoman from Chicago, was hired by Mohammed Nazir, 30, and his father Mohammed Aslam, 56, to carry out a revenge killing against the owner of a boutique clothing store and his family. But M…
Continue Reading

Trending