Dream Gates

Dream Gates

The gift of “boring” dreams

office_cubicle_image_2.JPGI often hear from dreamers who complain that their night dreams are boring or mundane. They feel they are missing the movies. “I’m forever dreaming of arguing with my mother,” writes one dreamer. “I’m fed up with having long-winded conversations with my boss,” writes another. “I get enough of him from nine to five. Why can’t I enjoy a dream romance in a tropical paradise, or go on an epic adventure?”


Of course we want the romance and adventure. But we also want to keep body and soul together on the roads of everyday life. Here’s another of my personal D.I.Y. mantras about dreamwork:

Ho-hum dreams are the most likely to offer help in navigating the future.

Why? Because much of waking life can be ho-hum too – until we start using the skills of dreaming and imagination to bring it more alive. So instead of complaining because you keep dreaming of arguments with your mother, you want to ask: how can I avoid getting into this situation again in the future? And perhaps also: how can I make peace with the part of myself that is like my mother?

Here’s one of my favorite examples of the need to examine a ho-hum dream as a preview of a possible future, and harvest information from the dream in order to navigate better in a developing situation and avoid an unwanted event in waking life.


A woman friend complained to me that she had a boring and irritating dream in which she was in her cubie at the office when her boss threw a temper tantrum. “He banged his fist down on  my desk, spilling my coffee over my work papers.” “What happened then?” “I called him a bad name and walked out.” She thought this over. “S–t. I think this may have cost me my job, in the dream.”

Suddenly the ho-hum dream sounded less boring than urgent. I asked the dreamer to run a reality check. Could her boss throw a two-year old temper tantrum? “He does that all the time.” Was there anything in the dream to indicate what he was mad about this time? “All I know is he wasn’t mad at me. He was just taking his rage out on me.”


If it were my dream, I now suggested, I would remember that next time my boss threw a hissy fit, his anger will probably not be directed at me, and I should keep my cool. The dreamer readily made this her action plan. “I’ll lay Miss Zen,” was her one-liner.

Not long after this conversation, the dream scene started to play out in exact detail. The boss came into the dreamer’s cubie and banged his fist down on her work surface, spilling her coffee. Instead of swearing at him, she played Miss Zen.He exited later in some confusion. The boss returned later to apologize. “Sorry about how I behaved. It wasn’t about you.” Instead of saying, “I know,” the dreamer remained Miss Zen, sitiing silent with a distant tight-lipped smile.


The boss came back with flowers. “I’m really sorry.” Miss Zen accepted the offering without comment, holding out a vase for the boss to fill.

At the end of the workday, the boss returned for the third time. “hey, I feel real bad. I want to invite you to come down to Cancun with the group I’m leading for the sales conference. You won’t have to do any work. You can just work on your tan and drink stuff that comes with little umbrellas.”

Because the dreamer did not discard a “boring” dream and worked with its information, she not only avoided an unpleasant scene and possible job loss but also collected an apology, flowers, and a free vacation.


  • Ro

    That’s really interesting- for years now I’ve had recurring dreams of being back in school. I never have a good time and almost always wind up arguing with a teacher or some other authority figure and walking out. I always dismissed them- but now I’m considering going back to school in the fall. Maybe I should pay more attention to the details- they could be steering me in another direction altogether.

  • Robert Moss

    Ro – We always miss out on interesting things if we lump dreams together under a category tag rather than inspecting the specific details. And we always want to ask: Is it remotely possible that any part this will play out in the future and, if so, what guidance can I derive from the dream. So if I were you I would now ask: How can I avoid the unpleasant dream scenario now I am literally going back to school?

  • Sherry Puricelli, AwakeNDream Coaching Services

    What a coincidence! Last night I had a “boring” dream where I wasn’t making my own choices. I was doing what the others in the dream were doing. Then, when I did make choices, I looked around to see what others were choosing. It made me stop and consider when I’m conforming without even realizing it and also, how I need clarity and discernment to make the most self-supportive choices. The dream could have been “boring” had I not learned from it! Thanks, Robert.

  • Wanda Burch

    Your theme reminded me of a dream of a new regional director who had displayed strange twists of manic/depressive behaviour, usually culminating in displays of rage. He had not yet visited the historic site I managed but was scheduled to come on a certain day. I dreaded the day, already wishing it was over and already wondering how I was going to handle giving him a site tour and getting through it without experiencing some kind of major upset. Communication was difficult with him at best. That night, an intent already set with my meandering thoughts of the day to come, I dreamed that I opened the door of the historic site and there he stood, looking decidedly unpleasant. Then I realized he was staring fixedly at me. He was a block of ice. I picked up a hammer and slammed it over his head and the ice fell away. Ah, I thought as I awoke – “break the ice.”
    So he arrived at the door the next morning. I had sifted through my few bits and pieces of stuff I knew about him and had recalled that he was fixated on “how to bring fun back into the parks in spite of the rigid rules.” So, as soon as he stepped into the house, I introduced stories of the site’s largest and best special event, which brought entertainment and history together in one long weekend. His eyes lit up and he spent the entire visit telling me stories of the events in other parks and sites that he found most fascinating. I still sighed with relief when he left; but having the first word did break the ice and give him a topic for the visit.

  • Irène

    Yesterday morning, after having spent a week long retreat in the mountains, I was really not in the mood to get up and go to work especially because I knew that I had a presentation to give, one that I had not prepared! I had the presentation ready in my head and just needed about an hour to check some figures and work up the slides. Still, I was so not in the mood to work on such a boring topic, that I drifted off into “twilight zone” sleep (that I’m currently reading about in Dreamgates) and dreamed that the meeting where I was to give the presentation was cancelled. Such a boring dream, but so real! I decided to test faith and did not go to work an hour early to prepare. I figured if worst comes to worse, I’d just wing it, which I didn’t have to do for the meeting was cancelled because too many participants are on vacation this week. So this incredibly insignificant dream turned out to be, as recorded in my journal, PROOF that I can scout!

  • Robert Moss

    Irène – Thanks for this confirmation that the “boring” dream is quite likely to be what the Hawaiians call a “straight-up” dream (one that shows us something developing in external reality in a straightforward way). The “twilight” state is one in which it is especially easy to scout the immediate future, as well as to become a conscious and active dreamer in many other ways, as I discuss in detail in DREAMGATES,

  • Robert Moss

    Wanda – Thanks for giving us such a PRACTICAL example of how dreamwork can support everyday life. We are slowly getting people everywhere to reawaken to what our ancestors know: that dreaming is part of our essential survival kit, part of what gets us through. Your account of “breaking the ice” with that supervisor is a model of ACTIVE dream practice.

  • Robert Moss

    Sherry – I like your catch phrase from this instructive experience: “The dream could have been ‘boring’ had I not learned from it.” Exactly!

  • Your Name

    Dreams are my reality,lol.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Patty

    Sometimes for me boring dreams turn into grand gifts as I play with them in that twilight state. As I do this imaginal bridging work, that I learned so nicely from you, what would have been perceived as mundane becomes grand adventure.

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