Exploring the Wonderful World of DreamsInez Kelly July 1, 2013
Dreams have been offering us guidance, direction, warnings, and healing for over 30,000 years. The Greeks erected temples for the ‘Soul’ purpose of providing a sacred space for dream incubation… inviting dreams to give them answers to life’s challenges because even they wanted guidance in relationships, career, health, and the future!
But in the last hundred years or so, Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and later Fritz Perls shook off the cobwebs of dream understanding and brought the mysteries of dream messages into the light of day. Thus, dreams became a doorway to healing old emotional hurts, unwanted patterns, and in Jung’s case – profound spiritual understanding and fulfillment.
Today, science is beginning to explore the nature of dreams – what’s happening in the brain when the lights go out. Some of the most fascinating discoveries have been observed with EEG monitoring of the parts of the brain that go ‘offline and online’ when we reach the dream state. Some of the left brain functions that control rationalizing, planning, deduction, conceptualization and anticipation of consequences, and inhibitors of inappropriate behaviour… go offline. “So that’s why running buck naked up Yonge St. doesn’t seem quite so odd” but the feeling or emotion of being exposed, embarrassed or vulnerable are very much ‘online’. Why? Because right-brain functioning and our ancient limbic brain take a front seat in the ‘dreamtime’. Our limbic brain selects emotional memories, associates emotion with dream action, (fearful feeling of something chasing you), attributes emotional features and anxiety (“It’s a bear”!), provides goal directed dream stories (“I’ll hide in the basement”!), and the integration of the resolution into memory (“The bear won’t find me here”!). However, part of the Limbic Brain, the amygdala, controls our ‘fight or flight’ mechanism and we wake up in a state of panic, heart pounding in a sweat and we proceed to (left brain now engaged) rationalize… “Thank goodness it was just a dream”.
In dreams, our right brain is also providing us with seemingly unusual yet instructive images, symbols and metaphors that arise from the vast reservoir of all our experiences, emotions, thoughts, interpretations… in short, our subconscious or psyche.
Our ancient ancestors believed that dreams were the Soul’s uninhibited, direct line to God (Job 33: 14-16), providing us with mental, emotional, physical, and Spiritual guidance. However, it’s up to us to learn to interpret its whispering, poetic, bizarre language.
Strengthening Your Dream Recall – We all dream but remembering can be challenging. Learning the language of the Soul is much like learning any new language and the first step, of course, is that you want to learn the language! Remembering our dreams requires a certain degree of intention and commitment… consciously setting the stage for dream recall. It can be as simple as training the brain (left and right) to remember. Instruct your brain throughout the day with this mantra: “I will remember my dreams clearly and vividly upon awakening.” Coupled with tenacious, loving patience with yourself and the willingness to explore your Soul’s guidance, a whole new transformational world will be awakened.
Recalling the dream in the morning can sometimes feel like we’re trying to capture mist as it rises from a lake, but upon awakening keep your eyes closed and replay as much of the dream as you can. Then enter what you can remember, snippets or epic novels, in your dream journal, date it and perhaps a title… ‘Horse running without bridle and saddle’. With ongoing journalling, you’ll discover repetitive symbols, scenarios, people, places, and metaphors. Determining your personal interpretation of the symbols is the beginning of your ‘Dream Dictionary,’ and with that ‘a-ha’ moment of “That’s what the horse was trying to show me” you can refer back to the dream scenario ‘Horse running…’ to unravel your Soul’s message.
A whole new adventure in Self-discovery is available to us… in our dreams.
So what do author Stephen King and Physicist Albert Einstein have in common? Both harvested the infinite resources of their dreams. One only needs to read a Stephen King novel or see a film to experience the bizarre imagery and symbols that provided him with an endless source of writing material.
And Einstein: “Hurtling down a mountainside… speeding faster and faster, then I looked up to the sky and saw that the stars were altered in appearance as I approached the speed of light… E=mc2.” This was a groundbreaking discovery for science and humanity. Thank goodness they didn’t awaken to, “It’s just a dream”!