Dreams and Dreaming Part 2: When we arrive at 60 years of age, we will have been asleep for 20 years and awake for only 40! Everyone dreams many times each night, but few remember their dreams. Dreaming is vital to our mental health and we cannot do without our dreams even for a few days. If you see someone’s eyes are moving under their closed eyelids whilst asleep, they are almost certainly dreaming.
The champion golfer, Jack Nicklaus had a dream where he swung the golf club in a new way. He tried it and won many tournaments. There was a mathematical genius in India, Svinivasa Ramanujan, who often saw handwriting on a screen that demonstrated new mathematical solutions and once he dreamed that a Hindu Goddess appeared to him and showed him a new formula.
The Value of Interpretation
The way to make use of the third of our life which we spend asleep is to analyze our dreams. Some simple dreams have straightforward meanings. If you have been shocked to discover that you are in a public place without wearing any clothes, this usually means you are unprepared for an appraisal or public appearance. If you dream you are being pursued, it means you need to exercise greater control over your life circumstances in order to reduce your anxiety levels. If you dream you are flying, you are in a beneficial situation. This dream shows a high level of achievement and enjoyment, especially if you can decide in the dream to travel wherever you would like to go. If you dream you have a loose tooth, get ready to lose a friend. Teeth are our life long companions and if you dream you have lost a tooth, you might also have lost a close friend. If you dream you have no ability to bite, it means you have lost your grip or power in some aspect of your relationships.
If dreams are disturbing, recurrent or leave a person depressed during the day, it is likely that there is an underlying conflict within the personality that is seeking attention. In the early days of psychotherapy, it was thought that just uncovering the meaning of a bad dream would bring resolution, but we now know that understanding the cause is not sufficient to heal the wounds in the personality. One-to-one dream counseling might be required to bring resolution to the internal conflicts that caused the problem.
Robert Louis Stevenson, Mary Shelley, Graham Greene and Stephen King used their dreams to provide the characters and plots for their fictional books. Barbara Cartland dreamed the story-lines to her novels - in fact, she believed God gave them to her in this way! Many artists have been inspired by dream images, especially Salvador Dali and those of the Surrealist Movement. The composer, Guiseppe Tartini dreamed the entire ‘Devil’s Sonata’, following a dream Edward Elgar wrote the first theme of his Cello Concerto and Igor Stravinsky composed an entire octet whilst asleep. The music for Paul McCartney’s favorite and most successful record, ‘Yesterday’, was heard first in a dream.
Though you might not have outstanding dreams that bring about new inventions and discoveries, you might still have amazing revelations that originate from your dream-life. It is possible to discover our inner motivations and our weaknesses, our aspirations and our unhealed hurts. If you have a small snippet of a dream, don’t overlook it! If you think that you never dream, it is because you do not remember your dreams. The following instructions will help:
Go to bed early
Awake naturally and be aware of your mood
Write down anything you remember in a dream diary.
If you are not sleeping well, some simple steps can assist you in getting a better night's sleep.
Develop a bed-time sleep program by going tto bed at the same time each night. Take a bath or shower, give yourself a facial and have a hot milky drink. Don't watch troubled programs on TV but read a light-hearted and witty book in bed or listen to soft music. Use ear-plugs if you can. If you wake during the night, get out of bed for 10 minutes and return to read for another 10 minutes. This small interlude will reset your sleep program.
Wendy Stokes is a qualified counsellor with a special interest in dreams and dreaming. Her dream column appeared in the Sunday Mirror Magazine throughout 1999. Private appointments in London by arrangement. www.wendystokes.co.uk