Lately I’ve rediscovered my love of dreams. The world we escape to overnight or during an afternoon nap often exposes us to parts of our subconscious that we’re not always willing to acknowledge in our waking life. A dream can easily be dismissed as “just a dream”, but I’ve learned they can provide incredible insight into your waking life and advice as to how to proceed with a situation. You know the old saying “sleep on it”? Apparently that came about because people found that answers to questions often arise during a good night’s rest. Everyone dreams, and while most people say they don’t remember their dreams, I’ve found that making an effort to write your dreams down as soon as you wake up actually increases your dream recollection and understanding.
Ever since I was young, dreams have played a significant role in my life. I’d daydream constantly as a kid about rainbows and castles, which were eventually reflected in my art, writings and short plays my brother and I would perform for our parents. When I got into my teens my dreams evolved from being pure fuel for my creative play to precognitive. I noticed that I’d start dreaming things and not long after they’d play out in real life. I don’t remember the exact first time it happened…but after a while it became so common that I’d try to find a way to “manage” it. At first I thought what I dreamt about would only happen if I didn’t tell anyone, and if I kept the dreams I liked a secret, they’d come true. The dreams I didn’t want to happen I’d tell a friend. “Hey, I dreamt this the other night… telling you because I really don’t want it to happen.” I did that for a long time, ignoring the fact that even the dreams I’d told friends about would still inevitably come true. Like the time I dreamt my homecoming date had an affair with my friend Matt. I didn’t tell anyone about that dream because I didn’t think there was any way would be true. No way is Steve gay! He took me out on a few dates, he’s straight, right?
Steve spent the entire homecoming dance asking where Matt was. It turns out they’d hooked up in the past, and Steve was using me to make Matt jealous (which didn’t work of course).
Despite that and other pieces of advice that would come during my nocturnal hours, I worked really hard to block and ignore my dreams. The fear and disappointment I felt about things actually coming true was much greater than any guidance the dreams could provide me. Or so I thought.
When I worked in news, every night I had vivid dreams that over time became violent, all-consuming nightmares that I ignored. Nightmares of explosions, death and destruction, all reflective of my daily absorption of stories of war and death as a journalist and my descent into emotional and physical destruction. At the time I was having a difficult time at my job and personal life. I became depressed and started having severe physical pain. The constant nightmares told me that — I actually remember hearing and seeing people I now know are my guides pleading for me to stop, to quit, to start over or else my body would collapse. I ignored, ignored, ignored…until my body shut down.
After I got sick, I started to loosely journal my dreams, jotting down the vivid ones I remembered here and there. I started to journal daily in Fall 2014. I didn’t analyze or give them much thought, I’d just type them into Notes on my iPhone and call it a day. I started reading Denise Linn’s book on dreams, The Hidden Power of Dreams. It’s a wonderful book that goes over the history of dreams, how to analyze, understand them and more — I highly recommend it for anyone curious to learn more about their dream life.
After I finished Denise’s book I decided to go back through the dream journal that I started in fall, and I was surprised to see how many of the dreams I’d had actually came true. Dreams that revolved around work, around my love life…the details were very, very specific. I dreamt in early fall that three of my friends (and one relative) would be pregnant — all happened. I dreamt I’d date a certain man — I completely and fully rejected that one when I wrote it down. “No way is that happening!” I said.
What I’ve learned is that there are a myriad of types of dreams…some purely symbolic, filled with colors, symbols and music. There are also precognitive dreams that you can take at face value or not, usually for your own selfish reasons. With me, I’ve found those dreams eventually come true anyway, because they are usually warnings about people or situations in your life, like the ones I had warning me about my homecoming date and my impending sickness. Each time I chose to ignore the warning passed on in my dream, it was related to that person’s character, something I have no control over. I do, however, have control over how much interaction I have with those people and situations. I recently had one about a man I recently dated, let’s call him Steve (every man I dream about is going to be called Steve, I’ve decided). Steve and I met online, and two days before our first date I had a dream that he and I were in my bed together. It was morning, we had just woken up — as he rolled out of my bed he looked at me and said “this isn’t going to work. We aren’t compatible.” I said ok. A couple days later he and I went on our first date. It was incredible — the chemistry was electric, we had a great time together. I was super happy — I really liked this guy and started to question the “compatibility” issue presented in my dream because again — the chemistry was fire. However, my gut said “something’s off.” And it was. It turned out we weren’t compatible AT. ALL. And he told me that in my dream, but I ignored it because I really wanted it to work. I wanted to date someone I liked, despite the fact my gut was questioning a few things about his personality and character before we even met. The crazy thing is that he also had dreams about ME — that our relationship “wrapped up.” I knew exactly what that meant, but to him a dream was just a dream.
My advice to anyone curious about learning more about their dreams…don’t always try to make sense of them, because the answer may come a day, a week, months or several years later. When you wake up, write all of the symbols, colors, words and feelings down and let it go. Pay attention to repetitive themes and appearances from certain people. Be open to what your dreams tell you, because they’re honest with you — even when you’re not ready to be honest with yourself.
Great dream resources
The Hidden Power of Dreams http://www.deniselinn.com/Books.htm
Really great book about the history of dreams and the various types of dreams, and how you can utilize them in your waking life
Dream Analysis: http://www.dreammoods.com/
A good way to learn how to start analyzing your dreams, but because of the personal nature of dreams, it’s good to remember that one symbol may mean one thing to you and another to someone else.
Dream Analysis http://drdorisecohen.com/dreams.htm
Dr. Cohen provides some good advice on dream journaling and a couple examples of analysis
Lucid Dreaming: Dreams of Awakening: Lucid Dreaming and Mindfulness of Dream and Sleep http://www.amazon.com/gp/search?index=books&linkCode=qs&keywords=9781781802021
I just started reading it — it’s a bit more complex and “advanced” in its approach to sleep patterns, dreams and lucid dream training.