Science Talk

What Dreams May Come

Psychotherapist Anna Guerra helps artists tap into their unconscious at the Jung Center.

By Nick Esquer October 6, 2015

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Image: Shutterstock

If you walk into one of Anna Guerra’s seminars, you may hear the shattering sound of silence. Instead of chatter and laughter that a group of people would typically make, Guerra encourages the cool and the dark of quiet while collaborating with artistic minds. The psychotherapist hosts a lecture and group exercise at the Jung Center on Saturday, Oct. 10, focusing on the human psyche and how dreams are used to inspire art. 

In Dreams and the Creative Process, Guerra—a Laredo native who’s been practicing psychotherapy in Houston for 16 years—talks about how dreams can serve as a muse or an inspiration for artistic work and how dreams are also a mirror, along with art, of what is happening in our psyches.

“We’re looking at how the psyche expresses itself in the human life, so we’re looking at a couple things,” she explains. “There’s the conscious part of it that’s aware of why we’re doing the things we’re doing and the motivation, but for the most part, most of our functioning is conscious—we do things we ‘re not sure why we do them.”

Guerra has helped people, artists or not, tap into that curious region of their mind by using Jung’s own method of Active Imagination, a technique for better understanding dreams and the creativity within. “He was having a lot of overwhelming feelings and he was looking at his own dreams and asking himself, ‘What am I not aware of?’ At some point he decided he didn’t want to wait for the dream any more, so he needed a way to access his subconscious material without waiting for the dream.”

When artists enter that world, a physical transformation happens. “You see that switch and that switch when they get absorbed in their work and their subconscious mind quiets…People get a lot more relaxed. When they’re in the middle of this deep process the room is very quiet.”

There are so many different ways of entering that creative space, Guerra notes. She talks about mindfulness meditation where a person is quiet and respecting and witnessing their inner self. “It’s a very passive state and with Active Imagination we’re trying to get into that state and sometimes we work with expressive art to give form to what emerges.”

Guerra’s lecture will lead into a discussion, then an exercise in Active Imagination using painting and drawing as gateways to this land of dreaming while awake. Guerra, who spent 10 years studying with the Jungian Analytic Training Group, is a guide on the thin path between the conscious and the unconscious, ferrying people from one part to the other to tap into their ease of mind and deep imaginations, and, ultimately, creativity. “I’m trying to get people to see it’s not some scary metaphysical thing, rather it’s something we do naturally sometimes,” she notes. “It’s only when we stop and study it for a bit can we understand it more consciously.” 

Dreams and the Creative Process. Saturday, Oct. 10. 3. Free. Jung Center of Houston, 5200 Montrose Blvd. 713-524-8253.