In order to understand dreams and work with them, first we need to understand a little bit about how the brain works.
The brain has 3 basic levels, the limbic, which is responsible for.. well.. everything. It is a basic binary element. It either makes or does something, or it doesn’t. Like a computer, 1’s and 0’s. All a computer does is add 1. It just does it blindingly fast. And all those mathematical addition equations convert into email, videos and Facebook. The limbic section of the brain functions in much the same way. It creates a chemical that makes you afraid, or it doesn’t. It tells the body to produce something, or it doesn’t. Very simple- sort of. 🙂
The area of the brain we rely on the most, especially in our western culture, is the frontal section. This is the part with reason and language. It is the newest section of the human brain, in terms of evolution. It is where all the chatter comes from, and the thinking.
These two sections of the brain do not share a common language. Just like a computer- we do not “speak” in binary. So an interface is necessary; an operating system through which the two sides can communicate. On a computer, this is windows operating system, or the Mac OS10, etc. In the brain, it is the mid-section of the brain.
The mid-section is the area of dreams and creativity. Our dreams make total sense, while they are happening. Within the dream we know what things represent and their purpose in the dream. At least most of the time. We are completely afraid of the fluorescent purple penguin that offers you a cookie. It is logical in the context of the dream, we know why we are afraid, and what it represents. At least in the dream. Try explaining the dream to someone and it can sound quite silly.
Let alone how dreams seem to someone else, they can be even more bizarre to us. We also wrestle with them, trying to make meaning out of bizarre and surreal events. Sometimes we know exactly what is going on. Other times, not so much. This is because dreams are drawing on symbols and meanings from our unconscious and the collective unconscious to which our rational brains don’t always have ready access.
But there is no mistaking how potent and powerful dreams are. The mere fact that without dreaming we would go insane, literally, illustrates how essential they are to our well-being. Dreams are part of the mythic landscape of the mid-brain. This is where we work things out. The dreaming area of the brain may use linear language and ideas, but does not truly and fully function on rational linear or verbal language. The mid-brain responds to creativity, music, ritual and ceremony. The indigenous cultures comprehend this intuitively. In all their healing work, ceremony, ritual and sacred drama play an integral role.
To sidetrack, our modern wedding ceremony is a perfect example of a ritual. It would be easy to have someone say: okay, now you are married. Go home to your new life. Instead, we create a very large extravaganza around this event. There is the bridal shower, the bachelor party, the rehearsal and costumes, the ceremony, the reception and honeymoon. WOW- that’s a lot of event. What this does is create the heightened sense of the importance of the marriage. What it is doing more than that, however, is the ritual that emphasises that an important transition is taking place. The two people being married are intrinsically changed. They enter this ritual in one emotional, energetic and legal state. At the conclusion they are not the same. Something has shifted and they are now in a different state on all levels.
This ritual incorporates and caters to the needs of that mid-section of the brain. A change is affected, and further empowered by incorporating elements that utilize the whole brain.
So, now: back to dreams. Dreams are powerful information. This information may be from yourself and your unconscious. Or perhaps it is from the invisible worlds, or the collective unconscious. Regardless of where dreams originate, the information is being presented. So in one way or another it must have some deep significance for us.
Try thinking of your dreams like another person. (Not the schizophrenic kind). But as though someone who does not speak English, and is desperately trying to communicate something to you. They may not even have a verbal language. Your dreams are either enacting something so that you can re-experience it and work it out, or they are enacting something you have NOT experienced and trying out different possibilities and outcomes. It may be that your dreams are trying to serve a sort of preventative measure, as well. Working something out in a dream can help us to not need the experience in real life.
Imagine you had a loss when you were young. It is unresolved. This may repeat in the patterns of your life. If we can resolve this original loss through our dreams, then we won’t have the need to recreate the experience in our waking world. Pretty cool, actually.
Suppose you aren’t very good at remembering your dreams. Relaxation techniques can help with that. Remember, dreams come from the same area of the brain where our creativity lives. So things that help creativity should also help with dreams. Make a time every evening for “playtime.” Draw, write a poem, listen to music (music without words is probably better). Think of something that is creative, playful, without expectation, assessment of goal. Try journal writing. Mostly, you want to work at reducing stress so that the creative area of the brain, the inner child, can stretch and play. Even some yoga or stretching can be beneficial.
Some medicinal herbs can help with dreaming. Mugwort is one of them, there are others- you can research online. Most of the herbs that help with dreaming seem to be used for reducing stress- which makes sense, since dreaming is part of our creativity-related brain: the non-linear logical area. You might try relaxation techniques, a sort of meditation, particularly before bed. Also, try keeping a dream journal- it actually does improve dream retrieval. I never used to remember my dreams, but when I started keeping a journal and writing down my dreams every morning… I started to remember them with much greater clarity, and regularity: every morning I had 2-5 dreams. This also helped/helps in tracking the events going on and connecting dots. All in all, a very valuable practice.
You can also try some of the theta brain wave CDs that help the brain achieve that theta state of relaxation.
And don’t stress over dreams not being “good”. Dreams are information from you, your higher self, and/ or the invisible world of helpers FOR you. The important thing is to get the message/ information the dreams are conveying, and applying it. Like with any advisor/friend… uitilising the connection- improves the relationship.
Do you have the same dream repeatedly? Do you know it well?
Pick the dream apart the way you might if you were writing about it/them. In fact, writing about it/ them may be beneficial. Start by making a flow chart on the wall, maybe and just write different aspects down. When you hit one aspect of the dream, what associations do you have? Are there people you know in the dream? Are there messages in the dream? Look for patterns and connections. Be able to step back from your writing or flow chart or diagram for several hours or a day. Look at it with fresh eyes. Does anything stand out to you? Maybe ask a good friend to just take a look at a chart or diagram and see what they see? Sometimes the comment or question from a fresh set of eyes is a huge benefit. Maybe have a dream partner where you reciprocate this offer. No judgment or incrimination- just questions, thoughts and input.
Dreams are messages and information from our unconscious and/ or from the invisible realms. What is the goal of the dream? Is the goal just to make you afraid? Are you supposed to be afraid of something in particular?
The more we work with our dreams, the more accessible they become. Also, like learning any language, we become more fluent. Over time we begin to recognise patterns and themes. There may also be recurring events in dreams, or we begin to recognize the symbols our dreams use. For example, maybe every time we are moving into a scary area of a landscape, a red bird shows up. If we see it once, it might not stand out as anything significant. But over time, we may see the red bird and then know its relevance. Then we have a greater awareness within the dream. We might see a red bird, and choose a different path, or arm ourselves with some sort of defense.
As in all things, awareness is the key to being able to choose more wisely. It is simply a matter of learning how to tune in, listen, and create meaning. The magic and power of the universe is constantly unfolding around us, waiting for us with love and patience. In this way, it is our parent, guiding our first steps into the vast unknown.
I am an Education Specialist, Health Coach and Author. I work with aspects of the teachings I have learned from Andean shamanic and cosmology, to health, nutrition and education. Everything is energy. Energy must flow. Like water, when it does not flow, it stagnates and is not healthy. These techniques help your life to flow. I have been initiated into many of the ancient lineages and learned ceremonies, rites of passage and healing techniques. I have worked as a healer and done workshops and taught some of these aspects – passing the teachings on.
Dancing in Your Bubble : ancient teaching, modern healing
Natural Support for Alzheimer’s
Getting a Handle on Happy : find and fix causes of stress and depression
The Naturally Smarter Kid : a parent’s guide to helping kids succeed in school and life
Cafe of the Hungry Ghosts : behind the veil of ordinary – a paranormal-ish fiction book