Posted November 11, 1999
The Power of Dreams
Curiosity about dreams seems to be widespread. Dreams fascinate us, seeming to come from a mysterious place deep within us, out of the reach of our everyday selves. The first week of November, a friend of mine watched two dream experts interviewed on the MacNeil/Lehrer Report. A national television program found dreams interesting enough to spend some time exploring their importance. The two men interviewed were a neuroscientist and a Freudian psychoanalyst. Though from different disciplines, they both agreed that dreams help us to deal with our everyday lives. Dreams help us to process information in our subconscious, to help us solve problems.
Dreams reveal information to us, whether we understand their message or not. When we pay attention to them, they become a powerful force for transformation. These riches of the night can bring to light attitudes we've outgrown, difficulties we've ignored, and conflicts that have been affecting us. They can help us get in touch with our inner wisdom, and give us the direction we need to move forward.
Many years ago, I was trying to decide whether to move my hypnotherapy office from one place to another. I had a dream about the space I was considering. Though I hadn't viewed the office yet, this dream was very accurate about what was in the room, and very specifically indicated that the room would be too loud. In the dream, people were entering the room to get office supplies, and file reports. I ignored the dream, and moved anyway. I discovered all the dream elements were right on. Though people didn't enter my room for supplies, there was a closet just across the narrow hall from my door where the supplies were kept. Traffic to that cupboard, opening and closing the doors, dropping things, office staff calling out to the reception area was very distracting when I had a client. I stayed in that office for two years. Now I pay closer attention to my dreams since I had such a graphic example of how much they know.
Our dreams know all about us. We're the ones who have scripted them and who are acting in them. Dreams reveal us to ourselves. They show us how we feel about life. Do we feel we're at war with the world? Or that we're prisoners? Or that we're unprepared? I have a recurring dream that I'm rehearsing for a play. It's opening night and none of us in the cast knows our lines. This generally shows that I feel unprepared about something happening in my life. Our images while sleeping reflect our feelings about ourselves and life. An acquaintance once told me that she knew it was time to break up with her boyfriend when she had recurring dreams of murdering him. Dreams show us how we truly think and feel, whether we want to consciously accept it or not.
The state of our health can be spotlighted. When I get too tired, I have dreams about my car having flat tires. Yes, I know it's punny. I spent years trying to figure out that symbol. If I don't take care of myself, one dream about a single flat tire will become a recurrent dream with two, then three flat tires. Eventually, if the car has four flat tires, I get sick. My dreams have told me what's going on and what to do about it. Get some rest.
For me, the first part of the night contain dreams of the previous day. My mind is integrating what has happened. In the latter part of the night, my dreams then begin to work on current issues in my life. Many years ago, I needed to let go of a feeling of powerlessness. My dreams had a recurring symbol of power plants. In them, I learned to reconnect with my power. In one, a character told me that I was going to get it this time. And I did.
We can utilize our dreams by paying attention to them. I kept a diary for twenty years, writing my daily events and my dreams. When you want some help on a subject, form a question and put it in your diary. Use an affirmation, like "Tonight, I will have a dream that will explain .... I will remember my dream in the morning." Repeat this to yourself as you drift off to sleep. In the morning, wake slowly, and don't open your eyes or move. Think back to what the last thing you were thinking about. Bring your loved ones to mind. Many times this will spark a remembrance of a dream. Write your images down in your diary. Even if all you wake up with is a feeling, write it down. Don't give up. Sometimes, it takes a few days, or even weeks, to train yourself to remember your dreams.
To be able to figure out the message contained in your dream, realize that all your dream symbols are unique to you. You're the best dream dictionary there is for you because you wrote the book on you. First, write one sentence to describe your dream. Write down all the metaphors, symbols, any slang or puns, the characters and settings. Describe each element as if you were from another planet. Don't say "Jimmy Stewart" is a movie star, but a man who played characters with integrity. In one dream, I had a valuable stone that was very rough. I described it as "needing polishing." When I heard myself say that, I realized that the direction I was going in my life was going to be of value to me, but that it needed more work, "to be polished" and finished.
Dreams are such a treasure trove of riches for us. Put on your miner's cap, and begin to uncover the messages to yourself buried deep in your own mind.
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