Saturday, October 29, 2011

dreams

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Not only do dreams offer a private means to explore inner reality and to gain unique, undeniable, personal experiences, but there is overwhelming evidence that they can be used to improve waking life, often immeasurably, supporting Shakespeares age-old claim by MacBeth that they are chief nourishers in lifes feast. Dreams offer opportunities for fun, adventure, wish fulfillment, creativity, deep personal insight and healing, and all this at no cost and with no line-ups!


Dream Incubation, Healing & Guidance


As far back as recorded history and probably further, dreams have been employed for guidance and healing. The dream temples of ancient Greece are a classic example where the ill would perform a sacred ritual and sleep in a specialized healing temple. The Greek god Asklepios would often appear in a visionary dream, perform a symbolic operation, and the seeker would awaken healed or having received guidance. Closer to home, many native American tribes such as the Ojibwa of the Great Lakes, have expanded their use of incubation beyond healing. Young adults would embark upon a dream or vision quest into the wilderness as a rite of passage into adulthood and would fast and pray until the anticipated dream was received. Blessed by the dream with guidance or revelations about latent personal talents, the youths would return to the tribe with the responsibility to apply and share their gifts for the benefit of the community.


The process of incubation is the basis for all the applications that follow. Although perhaps a forgotten art in our culture, it is innate and neither esoteric nor difficult, and often operates automatically as we fall asleep with a problem in mind. How often have you heard a friend with a pending decision, problem or question say, Let me sleep on it?


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To consciously incubate a dream, simply hold your question or problem clearly in mind as you prepare for sleep. Then ask (rather than command) yourself to have and clearly remember a dream which reveals the answer as either an insight, an actual experience, or both. In the morning, record any dreams or thoughts which you have upon waking for later reflection. The answer may be obvious or may not be immediately apparent, but trust that the process is working and try to put any insights you get into practice. This last step often involves drawing upon courage and self-discipline to face personal fears and/or overcome present personal limitations, but is important, as explained by the following analogy if you ask someone for a gift and they grant your wish, they wont be overly impressed or nearly as generous next time if you lose, ignore or forget about it, so try to maintain a grateful appreciation for having received such guidance and it will likely promote further insight and future success.


After learning about dream incubation, I suggested to myself to have a healing dream since Id been feeling drained of energy for some time and had a bad cold coming on, which is unusual for me. I dreamt that the pores of my legs opened and ugly leeches oozed out. I awoke feeling much better. I never did find out exactly what it represented, but it sure worked. (M.S., Palo Alto, CA)


Im a triathlete. After an important, upsetting race where I biked and ran well below my capability, I decided to incubate a dream about it. After a week of focusing, I remembered this dream Im with my coach discussing how I was so tight and cramped during the race. He suggests regular sports massages for the racing season and says he knows a guy who could do it. When I awoke and phoned him, he confirmed the dream and connected me with his massage therapist. A few weeks later I won my first major race, becoming the New England Long Course Champion. Two weeks after that, I qualified for the World Championships in Hawaii. (R.C., Montreal, QC)


A new relationship came into my life, except that communication suddenly broke off for a few days, so I asked for guidance from my dream as to whether this relationship would be healthy for me. That night, I dreamt I was trying to talk to my new boyfriend on the phone. The connection kept getting cut off his because his end of the line was made of many small bits of phone wire poorly patched together. The dream confirmed my feeling that keeping good communication with this new partner might prove difficult. On top of that, he even told me when he finally called a few days later that he wasnt yet ready to be close to anyone. (S.L., Montreal, QC)


Resolving Nightmares, Anxiety Dreams & Recurring Dreams


Almost everyone has experienced one or more dreams that contain anxiety or outright fear. These experiences can be quite traumatic or become recurrent. For some, unpleasant dreams or nightmares repeat in actual content. For others, the content may change while the theme remains the same, such as scenes of falling, or of being pursued or attacked, of being late or unprepared for class, a presentation or an exam. Some people even dream of being stuck in slow motion and unable to move, or of being naked in public, to name a few common themes. Research has shown that most recurring dreams are described as being unpleasant. Furthermore, many dream theories converge in their view that this type of experience is associated with lack of progress by the dreamer to recognize and solve related conflicts in life.


Fear of nightmares from early in life, or other anxieties or misguided beliefs about dreams and the unconscious can block dream recall, but this can usually be overcome by learning about the useful nature of dreams and by recognizing that many nightmares, like a bitter but quite necessary medicine, represent opportunities for healing and insight, and can warn of psychological imbalances that we need to remedy, or of current behaviors or decisions which may soon become detrimental unless we change them, as exemplified in this dream by Stanford University pioneer sleep researcher Dr. William Dement


Some years ago I was a heavy cigarette smoker, up to two packs a day. Then one night I had an exceptionally vivid and realistic dream in which I had inoperable cancer of the lung. I remember as though it were yesterday looking at the ominous shadow in my chest X-ray and realizing that the entire right lung was infiltrated. I experienced the incredible anguish of knowing my life was soon to end, that I would never see my children grow up, and that none of this would ever have happened if I had quit cigarettes when I first learned of their carcinogenic potential. I will never forget the surprise, joy, and exquisite relief of waking up. I felt I was reborn. Needless to say, the experience was sufficient to induce the immediate cessation of my cigarette habit.


Fortunately, there exist treatments for nightmares that do not involve medication and which have shown to be remarkably effective. Some of the most effective techniques presently being used in psychotherapy include voice dialogue work, dream lucidity, guided imagery, dream rehearsal.


Dream lucidity is a subject of current research with doctors at Montreals Sacr� Coeur Hospital Dream and Nightmare Laboratory. The lucid dreaming approach for resolving nightmares is demonstrated the following typical integration dream


After many recurring nightmares where Im pursued by some terrifying figure, I learned of lucid dreaming and had the following dream Im in a frantic car chase with the pursuer right behind me. Swerving into a lot, I bolt out of the car and run with him hot on my heels. Suddenly, the scene seems familiar and I realize that Im dreaming, though the parking lot and trees still seem more real than ever. Drawing upon every ounce of courage that I have, I swirl to face my pursuer, repeating to myself that its only a dream. Still afraid, I scream at him, You cant hurt me! He stops, looking surprised. For the first time I see his beautiful, loving eyes. Hurt You? he says. I dont want to hurt you. Ive been running after you all this time to tell you that I love you! With that, he holds out his hands, and as I touch them, he dissolves into me. I awake filled with energy, feeling great for days. The nightmare never returned. (M.R.,San Jose,CA)


A Rich Source of Creativity


Dreams have long proven themselves to be storehouses of creativity and may in fact be the well from which imagination springs. With dream incubation and the new opportunities presented by lucid dreaming, artists, musicians, dancers, sculptors, and inventors are able to dive deep into the source of inspiration and explore the vast reaches of their own creative potential by meeting face to face with the unconscious. The increased clarity and directable nature of the lucid state often enables the dreamer to return awake laden with creative insights.


A few example dream-inspired works are The Beatles well-known hit Yesterday, Samuel Taylor Coleridges famous poem Kubla Khan, Robert Louis Stevensons The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Other artists who credit dreams as a source of inspiration include composers Sting, Peter Gabriel, Robert Palmer, Mozart, and Beethoven, poet-painter William Blake, painter Paul Klee, and screenwriters Judith Guest and Ingmar Bergman, to mention but a few.


A Valuable Problem-Solving Tool


The tale is now famous of how, after an embarrassing slump, golfer Jack Nicklaus claims to have solved a problem with his golf swing within a dream, which subsequently improved his game by ten strokes -- overnight! There are undoubtedly plenty more undocumented examples spread over history, but some well-documented ones include the dream-inspired experiment and resulting discovery of the chemical mediation of nerve impulses by Otto Leowi, which won him a Nobel prize, Elias Howes discovery of the sewing machine, many of Thomas Edisons inventions and Friedrich Kekul�s discovery of the structure of the benzene ring from a hypnagogic dream where he saw a snake swallowing its tail. Said an excited Kekul� to his colleagues, Let us learn to dream!


Physical & Professional Skill Rehearsal


Young children, especially babies, spend more time in REM sleep than do adults. In these stages of intense physical and mental development, some researchers believe were actually practicing how to talk, walk and perform other physical and mental skills while we dream, suggesting that this may be one of the innate functions of dreaming.


German psychologist and lucid dream researcher Paul Tholey used dream work in his training of the German Olympic ski jumping team. He had the skiers learn lucid dreaming so that they could creatively experiment with new maneuvers, without risk of injury, and gain confidence in the most believable virtual environment available -- the world of dreams.


Dreams are also beginning to be used in this regard for improving business, and professional performance


After nursing school, I dreamed how I would manage a cardiac arrest and most anything stressful in my new career. I can make myself dream just about anything that I need to practice before doing it. (C.A., Jacksonville, FL)


A medical student reported this lucid dream Before I went to sleep, I was mulling over the ways in which I could present my internship experience to my classmates. While dreaming, and knowing I was dreaming, I wheeled a cart of stuff into the classroom, set it up, and did a wonderful presentation. I saw overheads outlining my talk, slides, posters - everything I would need. When I awoke, it was clear how I should organize and present the material, so I did, and it went beautifully. (M.K., Wildwood Crest, NJ)


Fun, Exploration, Wish Fulfillment, Personal Growth & Illumination


Dreams provide what star trek fans might call a nightly holodeck experience or what hi-tech buffs might see as the ultimate virtual reality, where there is no limit to graphics resolution, computing power or on-line storage. In dreams and in lucid dreams especially, where the world avails itself to the desires of the dreamer, adventure and intrigue are almost guaranteed because the usual laws of physics and of society no longer apply, and many of the apparent blocks set by age, sex, race or religion simply fall away. In dreams we can be the hero of our own adventure, find romance, fly, travel through solid objects, breathe underwater, and perform feats free from embarrassment, peer pressure, monetary limits, and even physical handicaps. The boundaries of imagination are the only limits. One can even follow in the footsteps of Tibetan monks who master lucid dreaming as a spiritual illumination stepping stone on the path to enlightenment.


All my life Ive taken wondrous adventures upon the wings of my imagination while dreaming. I have flown many nights, talked to bears, dogs, raccoons, and owls; I have swum with dolphins and whales, breathing underwater as if I had gills (L.G. Chico, CA)


I suddenly realize Im dreaming from the surprise and excitement of recognizing that Ive become a salmon swimming upstream! Leaping high into the air, I climb a series of chutes. Then I flip up onto the shore and the flipping sensation feels so odd that I soon awaken. (W.D., Palo Alto, CA)


Falling asleep, I remember wondering what truly knowing myself would be like. Dreaming, I become aware of this incredible, indescribably powerful Love Light. The thought comes that there is no power like it - its absolutely non-judgmental, and dwarfs every worry or desire Ive ever had. It is peace and simplicity and well-being. It includes sexuality but encompasses far more. Basking in what feels like an ocean of grace, I soon realize that Im not looking at it, but rather that I AM it, recognizing myself. (C.W., Palo Alto, CA)





Dream Research, Sleep Disorders & Science of Dreams


In 15, Eugene Aserinsky of the University of Chicago noticed that the eyes of sleeping babies moved beneath their eyelids at certain regular intervals. This led to the discovery of REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep periods, which occur at roughly 60-0 minute intervals throughout the night and which contain the dreams which are the most vivid and most often remembered. Since then, EEG (electroencephalogram) recordings, which monitor brain activity during sleep, have been used to map the various stages of sleep. These states are classified roughly into sleep onset (hypnagogia or stage 1), non-REM sleep (deep sleep or stages ,, and 4), and REM (or paradoxical) sleep.


Nightmares, Anxiety Dreams & Recurring Dreams


Almost everyone has experienced one or more dreams that contain anxiety or outright fear. These experiences can be quite traumatic or become recurrent. For some, unpleasant dreams or nightmares repeat in actual content. For others, the content may change while the theme remains the same, such as scenes of falling, or of being pursued or attacked, of being late or unprepared for class, a presentation or an exam. Some people even dream of being stuck in slow motion and unable to move, or of being naked in public, to name a few common themes. Research has shown that most recurring dreams are described as being unpleasant. Furthermore, many dream theories converge in their view that this type of experience is associated with lack of progress by the dreamer to recognize and solve related conflicts in life.


Fear of nightmares from early in life, or other anxieties or misguided beliefs about dreams and the unconscious can block dream recall, but this can usually be overcome by learning about the useful nature of dreams and by recognizing that many nightmares, like a bitter but quite necessary medicine, represent opportunities for healing and insight, and can warn of psychological imbalances that we need to remedy, or of current behaviors or decisions which may soon become detrimental unless we change them, as exemplified in this dream by Stanford University pioneer sleep researcher Dr. William Dement


Some years ago I was a heavy cigarette smoker, up to two packs a day. Then one night I had an exceptionally vivid and realistic dream in which I had inoperable cancer of the lung. I remember as though it were yesterday looking at the ominous shadow in my chest X-ray and realizing that the entire right lung was infiltrated. I experienced the incredible anguish of knowing my life was soon to end, that I would never see my children grow up, and that none of this would ever have happened if I had quit cigarettes when I first learned of their carcinogenic potential. I will never forget the surprise, joy, and exquisite relief of waking up. I felt I was reborn. Needless to say, the experience was sufficient to induce the immediate cessation of my cigarette habit.


Fortunately, there exist treatments for nightmares that do not involve medication and which have shown to be remarkably effective, such as those being taught through The DREAMS Foundation and researched at the Sacr� Coeur Hospital Dream and Nightmare Laboratory. Some of the most effective techniques include voice dialogue work, dream lucidity, guided imagery and dream rehearsal.


Sleep-Related Disorders


Other than nightmares, there are various sleep disorders which affect significant portions of the population. Insomnia, the inability to fall asleep or get enough sleep, affects up to 0% of people. It is often triggered by stress and results in worrying that inhibits proper sleep. Sleep apnea, actual lapses of breathing during sleep (mainly during REM sleep), is another common disorder often connected with obesity and/or intense snoring which results in excessive sleepiness during the day. It is harder to diagnose outside of the lab because the patients asleep while it happens and has little way of knowing about the source of the trouble (though devices have now been developed for home diagnosis). Sleep Paralysis is relatively common though rarely as a severe disorder. It occurs during sleep when a person partially awakens but is completely unable to move for some period after waking. It can be somewhat frightening, though there is no particular danger involved.


Parasomnias are a class of disorders which include nightmares (which often occur during long REM periods), sleep walking and sleep talking, bed-wetting, body rocking during sleep onset and teeth grinding (which all occur during non-REM sleep, the latter often being identifiable by worn down teeth or a sore jaw). Night terrors are also in this class, and differ from nightmares in that they occur during non-REM sleep and are usually very intense so that the sleeper awakes in panic, often screaming, with heart pounding, and with less recall of dream content.


Narcolepsy, often connected with sleep paralysis and vivid, frightening dreams at sleep onset, is characterized by irresistible daytime sleep attacks and collapsing at the onset of strong emotions (known as cataplexy) while remaining conscious (and so should not be confused with fainting).





Four blind beggars come upon an elephant and share their experience. It’s much like a snake, says one by the elephant’s trunk. Not at all, replies the second, pushing against the elephant’s leg, it’s large and solid like a temple pillar. You’re both mistaken, says the third, holding its tail, it is just like a rope. How can this be? asks the fourth man, feeling its ear, when to me it seems identical to a rug.


Interestingly, all four are correct, yet even all their experiences put together does not give anywhere near a complete picture of what an elephant is. And so it is with dreams. In saying that the reason for dreams is this or that, or that they mean such and such, we often limit our overall experience of them. This is not to say that many very true, insightful and useful dream theories and methods don’t exist, but rather to give a hint of perspective on the incredibly vast, diverse, and enigmatic nature of the what, why, and how of dreams.


In line with our analogy, renown European physician Dr. Sigmund Freud, with his focus on phallic imagery and repressed wishes in dreams, perhaps had the proverbial elephant by the balls. Though quite true that male and female elements appear in dreams, and that dreams often bring up strong connections with our desires or have emotional roots our childhood, Freud’s is but one viewpoint. Carl Jung, perhaps the best known contemporary of Freud’s, put forth some very insightful frameworks for understanding the symbolism and nature of dreams, including his concepts of universal personality archetypes and the collective unconscious. Yet Jung himself wrote, I have no theory about dreams. I do not know how dreams arise. I am altogether in doubt as to whether my way of handling dreams deserves the name ‘method’. I share all my readers’ prejudices against dream interpretation as being the quintessence of uncertainty and arbitrariness. But on the other hand, if we meditate on a dream sufficiently long and thoroughly…something almost always comes of it. Jung added that this something is rarely of rational, scientific nature, but rather a practical and important hint which shows the patient in what direction the unconscious is leading him. Jung observed that dreams perform restorative, corrective, compensatory, prophetic and developmental roles in the psyche and believed that we must be ready at any moment to construct and entirely new theory of dreams.


Dream Analysis vs. Dream Integration


Rather than lumping all importance on analysis or having to figure out what a dream might mean, it helps to see dreams as experiences valid on their own. Experiences which can be cultivated organically whose roots delve into the rich depths of the psyche as they stem outward into the light of conscious awareness and begin forming their leaves of thought. Truly, they are an art form of the soul for creative self-expression, self-discovery and self-healing, and much benefit and fulfillment comes simply by remembering, writing, tape-recording, sharing, painting, enacting or otherwise birthing them into the physical world. It can be greatly worthwhile to harvest the dream fruits of personal insight and practical guidance, yet every dream affects us physiologically, emotionally, psychologically, and/or spiritually, and becomes part of our being, changing us regardless of whether we make any logical waking connections or not. Even when we spot such connections, it can be limiting to assume that this was the sole ‘point’ of the dream, and therefore drop further exploration or creative expression; carrying away golden coins, we may miss the priceless and treasured jewel fashioned or concealed within the chest itself. Psycholigist/author Jill Mellick goes as far as to say that the long term effects of dry interpretation can too often preserve the piece in intellectual formaldehyde when it could have led a long and vi Why are Dreams so Weird?


Wow, I had the weirdest dream last night, is a phrase I hear often. Rarely do I get, Oh I had this normal dream, yet if someone began speaking Sanskrit, we would also find that it sounded strange, unless wed taken the time to learn the vocabulary, grammar, mythology, and culture of the Sanskrit language. So it is with dreams, granted that we take time to learn the language of symbols, the associative logic of dreams and some principles and differences of sleeping and waking consciousness.


Dreams generally speak in a multi-dimensional language of feelings, images and multi-level associations rather than linear words and concepts. Says author Bernie Siegel, M.D., While our minds and our bodies communicate constantly with each other, most of this exchange occurs on an unconscious level. That’s why I often advise patients to start recording dreams, because the body cannot speak except by using symbols.


Dreams often come as series, throughout the night, for a few nights in a row, and/or within some natural cycle of weeks or seasons. They are also intimately interconnected with events in the dreamers life, and often even with events that are yet to occur (which can make literal interpretation a challenge). Edgar Cayce wisely insisted that one should interpret the dreamer and not just the dream alone. Trying to understand a single isolated dream without any life context or a look at other dreams can be like trying to understand a weekly show from a single episode�not pointless, but quite possibly incomplete.


The dreams that are meant to assist you in waking life, hence which are the most important to contemplate, understand and act upon are recurring dreams, nightmares, and dreams which youve asked for or incubated. Otherwise, any dream which impacts you strongly or sticks with you clearly� especially the dream you remember just before getting up in the morning� along with dreams or dream fragments which spontaneously come to you later in the day, are the ones that your unconscious is trying to bring to your conscious attention. Dreams which have a powerful positive impact and leave you feeling uplifted, inspired or even completely awestruck can be understood, but better yet they can be integrated and have their beneficial impact magnified if you express them creatively (as with this issue’s exercise) by allowing them to blossom into a poem, painting, story, dance, song, collage, sculpture, or other art form. This same technique is also an excellent type of art therapy to express the fear and difficult feelings from less pleasant dreams.


Note the level of the psyche from which dreams come, which tends to be deeper at the start of the night (and often weirder) and closer to our waking awareness as morning approaches (dreams which are more likely to lend themselves to conscious understanding). Look first for simple practical advice about our daily routine such as diet, exercise, and challenges you face at school, work or in your relationships, yet trust that deeper issues are likely also undergoing resolution.


Your own gut feeling is always the best source to trust for understanding your dreams, and should also have the last word as to whether any interpretation is valid. As the Sufi saying goes, only a fool takes the words of another over his own experience. This said, dreams are often meant for sharing and its a practice I heartily encourage when done in a supportive, non-judgmental environment. Clear insights often pop up simply in the telling, and interestingly, these vary in the presence of different people. Sharing a dream not only refreshes it in your memory and gives you a chance to gain insights while viewing it more objectively, but you may also begin to glimpse how the source from which dreams come is so wise that it knows in advance who you will meet on any given day and often cooks up dreams that are also of benefit, if not sometimes mainly intended for those you later share them with. When sharing a dream, or especially when listening to someone else share a dream, take special note of body language, face expressions and voice intonation/fluctuation since these often reflect related unconscious elements.brant life. Some Universal Dream Symbolism Tips - An Online Dream Dictionary...of Sorts


While interpretation is not the only tool for working with dreams, it can be very useful and fun to boot. Here are some guidelines to ponder. Keeping a collection of self-interpreted personal symbols can be quite helpful, but when it comes to using a dream dictionary, remember that every dreamer is unique and each dream dependent not only upon whats going on in life at the time, but also upon age, religion, upbringing, language, sex, culture, political, social, and seasonal climate and particularly upon the individual’s inte ret&beliefs.Lucid Dreaming & Dream Consciousness





Top books on lucid dreaming | How to have lucid dreams


Although science has proven that we all dream every night, many people often remember no dreams at all, and even when they do, it is almost exclusively upon awakening, after the fact.


Lucid dreams are uniquely different. One realizes that one is dreaming while the dream is still happening. The scene often suddenly expands in richness and color as the dreamer becomes aware that the world being experienced, although appearing utterly real and believable, is only a dream and that she or he is actually safe asleep in bed. With this new understanding, the lucid dreamer is free to explore remarkable worlds limited only by imagination, and now not just as an actor, but also to some degree as a producer and director.


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