Every night a vast resource hidden in the night can open the door to solve problems, improve creativity, provide life direction and give advice on relationships and health. For millennia dreams have been used to divine the future, understand the past and explore solutions to real problems. The modern sewing machine invented by Elias Howe and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley are just a few of the gifts that have come to us through dreams.
We think facts are so important and we don’t trust any other kind of knowledge. But technology and science are only one way of knowing. When we make them the only way, we’ve lost three-quarters of our wisdom. Dreams can play a major role making life decisions. A friend entered a convent at seventeen and a series of powerful dreams prompted her to change direction and leave the religious order at age thirty-three. “Though I was totally unprepared and had no place to go my dreams were very clear about what I should do and they were very encouraging,” she says. But not all dreams may be of value. Some may result from disturbances from medication, bad food or last night’s film. My friend who is now a storyteller and educator says she doesn’t act on the raw form of dream symbols. Instead she contemplates one image that feels particularly important and works with it using a dialogue or trying to imagine what will come next. She also seeks advice from trusted friends before making a decision based on this information. “Dreams are like an early warning system,” she says. They help us to understand hidden aspects of ourselves and others and point us in new directions she says which can be challenging. “They can help you avoid the collapse of a system that needs to go.” She says, “Our dreams always lead us in the direction of growth and change.”
I’ve listened to my dreams for many years too. They tell me when I need to change attitudes, habits, friends and places. They encourage me to grow. They’re very dynamic and they don’t allow me to remain in comfortable and familiar places for very long. Dreams challenge me to grow and become deeper and more expansive. I highly recommend working with dreams. Some people say they don’t remember them.
The path dreams open may not always be easy. In fact they often challenge us to make ourselves spiritually bigger. At their best dreams are messages from the soul and guide us to joy.
Here are some easy keys for how to recall dreams and work with them:
1) Keep a pen and paper by the bed. Write down any images, emotions or impressions that are present immediately on waking. If you wait until later the subtle impressions will most likely vanish.
2) Try to wake up at the end of a natural ninety minute sleep cycle. We go through approximately 90 minutes in the natural sleep cycle and the dream-sleep is at the end of the cycle. By setting the alarm or waking up naturally after six, seven and a half or nine hours, dreams may be easier to recall.
3) Create your personal dream symbol dictionary and begin to explore their meaning for you. Symbol dictionaries may be helpful, but avoid dream symbol dictionaries that give pat definitions for images. Each person has a very unique set of symbols and needs to learn their personal language.
4) Regular meditation will help to nurture the connection with dreams.
Bio: Debra Moffitt is author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life. A visionary and teacher, she’s devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices at the Sophia Institute and other venues in the U.S. and Europe. Her mind/body/spirit articles, essays and stories appear in publications around the globe and were broadcast by BBC World Services Radio. She has spent over fifteen years practicing meditation, working with dreams and doing spiritual practices. Visit her online at http://www.awakeintheworld.com.