I would like to write a little bit about dreams – specifically, what various kinds of dreams there are, and what they mean, and what you can do with them. This may be a series of posts, depending on how long-winded I end up being :) This is something I’ve been working with most of my life, and I’d love to hear others’ experiences.
How did it come about that I became interested in dreaming? In my childhood, I often had nightmares, particularly about spiders. These were not little spiders. They were great big hobbit-eating-size, Hogwarts-forest-size spiders. In my dream, I would be running through a forest, and I would get to a place with four trees in a perfect square. Giant spiders would drop down and begin making webs on all four sides, to trap me. I always had to try to run out under one of them, or through a web (and get stuck)… and the shock of that part and what could happen would wake me.
I didn’t like this much, and at some point decided I should be able to figure out that I was in one of these nightmares and wake myself up. This proved to be easier said than done. Eventually, I was able to recognize when I was in a dream, starting with the recurring ones. Those are the easiest ones to identify because they fit a particular pattern. Thinking about that pattern during the day and just saying to yourself, “when I see this, I’ll know I’m in that dream again” eventually does work.
Then, I had to wake myself up – in time for the spiders not to get me. This was a struggle. I’d try and try, but just waking up wasn’t happening, no matter how much I would yell “wake up!!” in my head. Then I got the bright idea of trying to open my eyes, really hard, physically open my eyes. Sometimes I could do that, but still not wake up right away. Eventually the light streaming into my eyes (if it was morning) would wake me up, for real. After a lot of practice with this, it has somehow become reflexive and I can now wake myself up if I need or want to.
After I had mastered this, at some point in my teens I got interested in whether I could make myself dream about something I wanted to dream about – like flying, or seeing my father. It turns out there are several parts to this one too. First, you have to remember what you dream about to know whether you’re succeeding. That takes quite a bit of practice all by itself. Then, you might try thinking about what you want to dream about right before you go to bed. Sometimes this works, but I have never found it to be all that reliable.
Third, if you should get lucky enough to find the object or action of your dreams, being able to direct the course of your dream is nice. And then of course, that requires knowing that you’re in the dream of your choice. I never did get really good at this. Sometimes I could dream about something I wanted to, like flying, but as soon as I realized I was flying in a dream and couldn’t fly in real life, I would tend to crash ;D
Probably the most important skill I learned out of all this was how to remember my dreams. This turns out to be the key to a lot of useful insights later on, which we’ll discuss more in future posts. The best way to do this is to start with those dreams we have right before waking, or right before we wake up in the middle of the night. Always keep pen and paper next to the bed, and no matter how sleepy you are, write down what you can remember the minute you wake up.
Since I always hated writing journals (odd that), I actually did it another way, by lying in bed and going over and over any details I could remember until they were fixed in my mind. Then later I might tell someone about it to further cement it in my mind. In general, if we don’t do something with our dreams in the first minute or so after waking, we tend to lose them altogether – with the exception of the few most powerful and memorable dreams. It’s good practice to do this every day, and eventually it will become second nature.
Next time we’ll talk about classifications of dreams and what they represent.