Q. A group of my friends were discussing dreams recently and we disagreed over how often we dream, why we dream and what dreams mean. Could you write a post on dreams?
A. Everyone dreams every night; usually four to seven times. Often we don’t remember our dreams. We dream during the phase of sleep known as REM or Rapid Eye Movement sleep. During REM sleep our eyes move rapidly as though we were watching a tennis match. The REM phase of sleep occurs when we are having vivid dream images.
Studying your dreams can put you more in touch with your inner self. Dreams can point to and can even heal repressed conflicts that control the way we think and behave in our daily life. Dream books found in super markets will not help you understand your dreams and they may hinder you. Instead, consider yourself the best authority on what your dreams mean. They mean whatever you think they mean as they were created by you.
Carl Jung, pioneering psychiatrist and colleague of Freud, said: “I have no theory about dreams. I do not know how dreams arise. On the other hand, I know that if we meditate on a dream sufficiently long and thoroughly - if we take it about with us and turn it over and over - something almost always comes of it.”
Dreams come to help us. Even nightmares can show us something we weren’t aware of about our inner conflicts. Dreams also can lead to breakthroughs, pointing to solutions to problems or showing us possibilities we’ve never considered. A number of inventors and scientists have attributed their discoveries to a dream.
Dreams are Significant
Similarly, dreams can help us make decisions when consciously we feel stuck. They also can help us take risks and move beyond our routine ways of being. We can discover in dreams parts of ourselves we’ve denied or rejected. When we study our dreams we can heal inner splits in our personality.
Dreams can also serve as practice for future achievements. Pregnant women who dream frequently of childbirth spend less time in labor. Similarly, dreams that rehearse a perfect golf swing or an upcoming business presentation can enhance our performance.
To study your dreams you will first have to remember them. This will require determination on your part and you will need to do the following:
1. As you’re falling asleep ask God to help you remember your dreams.
2. Have paper and pencil handy so you can write down your dreams when you first wake up.
3. If possible, let yourself wake up without an alarm clock, as the noise may jar you into forgetting your dreams.
4. Write down your dreams immediately or they will fade and you won’t be able to remember them. Names or phrases in the dream can be especially revealing. Write down whatever you remember even if it’s only a very brief fragment of a dream.
5. Keep your dreams in a journal and later write down any associations you have to each dream. What does the scene in the dream remind you of?
6. During the day play around with the images in your dream. Remember it is visual and symbolic. Don’t try to understand it rationally.
7. Tell your dream to someone you trust. Just ask them to listen to it without comment. Sharing your dreams will help you discover additional meanings to them.
The Bible is full of dreams from God to specific people. Think of the boy Samuel, the many dreams of Joseph, and Daniel. God can speak to you through your dreams if you pay attention to them. God also today is speaking to many Muslims in their dreams. For more on this see book review on Dreams and Visions here.
“I trust in you, O Lord, I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hands.” Psalm 31:14-15