These days I’ve been wearing my peace sign paraphernalia (socks, earrings, t-shirts.) more than usual, and spouting my liberal opinions (quite liberally, in fact). These uneasy political times seem to invite it.

But I know it will take a lot more than just wearing peace signs or pontificating to create real change. For decades, ever since I was a teen, I’ve also joined peace marches, voted my conscience, signed petitions, and written my share of blog posts and letters to the editor. But does any of this really have an impact? What would it take to really contribute to the creation of deep and lasting peace?

The older I get, the more I believe in the clichéd lyric: “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.” As it turns out, peace is an inside job as much as it is a public political pursuit.

As someone who not only studies dreams, but who also lives by the wisdom and guidance of her dreams, I believe that what we see outside of ourselves reflects what is inside. We see turmoil in the world because there is turmoil in our hearts and souls. And that includes me. And you, too.

Your dreams provide you with a nightly report on your inner conflicts, be they squabbles, skirmishes, or all-out war. That’s because the images in our dreams depict various parts or ourselves, including what we feel, believe, fear, desire, etc. By looking to our dreams, then, we can identify our inner conflicts and the obstacles blocking our path to our highest and best potential — and inner peace and harmony.

When we work on our dreams we examine the points of view of all the characters in the dream, and look at each one as if it were a part of ourselves. When we learn to welcome all parts of ourselves and find healthy ways to express and integrate them, we achieve unconditional love toward ourselves, which then will help us learn to love others and the world unconditionally, too. Working with our dreams in this way is a deeply healing process, both psychologically and spiritually.

But improved self-awareness through dreamwork isn’t enough. After working with the contents of your dreams, then take action steps to bring your insights into the light of day. In this way you begin to come into harmony with the various parts of yourself, and you become someone who can more effectively usher true and lasting peace into the world.

TRY THIS: Becoming Whole

If you’re ready to try to negotiate a lasting peace between the factions within yourself, here’s an exercise that will help you identify the various parts of yourself that are showing up as characters in your dream.

· Choose 1–3 characters from a dream. They can be people you know in waking life, or characters that exist only in the dream. Either way, write down the character’s name (if you know it) or any identifying label (bus driver, actress, or girl in blue dress, for example.

· For each character list three personality traits or qualities that come to mind when you think of that person. Go with the first three things that come to mind. There are no right or wrong answers here.

· Look closely at those characteristics. Which of them do you share? In what ways are you like this dream character? How are you different?

· Review the dream as if this character is a part of you and then look at the places where the dream characters are in conflict. For example, if in the dream you were fighting with your best friend who is artistic, flighty, and generous, consider whether in your waking life you are struggling in some way with the part of yourself who is artistic, flighty, and/or generous. Is there a way that you are in conflict with your own inner artist? Are you being stingy in some part of your life?

· Use the information you gain from this exercise to take some action bring yourself into balance. If the dream is showing you that you’re in conflict with your inner artist, for example, maybe it’s time to sign up for a collage class, or take out your colored pencils and draw.

Dreamwork is an integral step to bringing more peace to our lives and to our world. I invite you to be an active dreamer. Look inward to create lasting peace and harmony in your heart and mind. And also get informed about the issues that affect your family, the communities you are part of, and the world. Vote your conscience, and take action on the issues that you care about.

Originally published at