Hear it First Hand.


Margaret Bowater

Interviewed by Dr Susannah Benson on Aug 12, 2015

MARGARET BOWATER, President of Dream Network Aotearoa-New Zealand.

When did your interest in dreams begin?
Not till I was in my 40s, re-training as a Counsellor. I joined a group of other counsellors who had attended a workshop by Anne Faraday in Auckland, and wanted to keep practising the skills they had learned. Six of us met fortnightly for 4 years - a wonderful support group - as we incorporated dreamwork into our various fields of practice and read all the relevant books we could find – mostly Jungian in the ‘80s. Within a year, three of us were also running dream groups in the community. We knew we weren’t experts, but we went on learning. I was an experienced teacher, with a degree in Literature and Language, so at first I simply ran a high-school night-class in Understanding Your Dreams, and was astonished at the immediate public interest.
Do you have a regular dream practice?
I’ve been keeping a dream journal for 30 years, and meeting with one or more “dream buddies” monthly all the time, to reflect on the more significant ones. We interview dream roles to bring out meaning. This is a valued part of my personal growth. For 25 years I have also collected vivid examples of dreams, mainly from trainees in the workshops I run – with their written permission – initially to use in the book I published in 1997, Dreams and Visions – Language of the Spirit; and since then for the many journal articles I write, and seminars I run.  I have been teaching a basic Certificate in Applied Dreamwork (100 hours), since 2001, and leading a monthly Advanced Dreamwork Group.
Could you share a dream that was transformational for you?
Within the first couple of weeks of starting dreamwork, I had a striking dream that has inspired me ever since:  I am standing on a harbour beach at dawn, watching a woman in oilskins walk down to a row-boat. She gets into it and rows out in the dark, to go fishing. As she rows, suddenly the sun comes up from behind a headland, and the whole scene is illuminated in brilliant gold and blue colours. I stand there, amazed and delighted. 
     I used to go rowing at dawn in my student days. Fishing is a metaphor for catching dreams from the deep! Sunrise feels like a divine blessing – and illumination reveals both meaning and value. Every aspect of the dream speaks to me.
Why are dreams important in your life?
They are a continual source of feedback on current aspects of my life, and at times bring profound spiritual insights, or sometimes warnings. In my work with clients, dreams often get to the heart of the issue very quickly. In my workshops, participants often bring ‘Big Dreams’ or recurring nightmares that give them significant insights into their lives, or release them from a long-term stress. I understand dreams as being like an underground river in our life, a source of insight, healing and potential guidance that everyone can tap into!  And a major resource for all forms of counselling.
What do you feel has been your most important contribution to dreamwork?
In one form or another I have always been an educator, so it’s second-nature for me to want to encourage others to learn more too. I’ve been writing articles and leading dream workshops ever since I discovered dreamwork myself; and last year my advanced group joined me in setting up a nation-wide Dream Network with a website, free quarterly bulletins, open meetings and a conference. This is a first for NZ, with potential for giving dreamwork a more well-known public face.
What is your most important learning from honouring your dreams?
That there is a deep Self within me that knows how to keep me growing and offers a constant commentary on my experience!
What advice would you offer to anyone wanting to learn how to work with dreams?
Go to a dream workshop to learn the basic skills!  And read a good book for the theory.
Do you have a favourite dream author who has inspired you?
I am grateful for the range of presenters and authors fostered by the IASD, who take the art and science of dreamwork seriously, and provide a range of valuable source-material. I greatly enjoyed the two IASD Conferences I went to; and I recommend Barrett’s Trauma and Dreams and Hartmann’s Dreams and Nightmares as basic reading for my students.
What are your hopes for the future, personally and collectively?
Personally, to continue offering dreamwork to those who request it, and publish articles wherever I can. Collectively, to support the growth of NZ’s Dream Network as long as I have the health to do so!  I also want to do a thorough review of over 2000 dreams in my dream journals, and extract what generalisations I can for others’ benefit. 
Thankyou for this opportunity to crystallise my thoughts about the value of dreamwork.
Margaret Bowater


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