EDITION: October - December 2016

Sweet Dreams

Sabina Brownstein
Do you remember your dreams and understand their messages, or do you have difficulties recalling and interpreting them? Scientific studies have shown that everyone has dreams – even people who are blind. In fact, most of us spend approximately 20% of our total sleep time dreaming – which means that we dream for at least an hour and a half most nights. It is normal to experience an average of four to five dreams per night, but one can have as few as two or as many as nine. Those who say that they don’t dream at all are actually just having difficulty remembering them.
Even if we don’t recall our dreams, they are still necessary to maintain our emotional and physical balance. Dreams usually occur during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, and studies have shown that when we don’t get enough of this dreamy state we become nervous and lack concentration. In extreme cases people who lack REM sleep can experience psychotic symptoms and hallucinations. Dreams are not only important for your health and wellbeing, they are also a wonderful source of fantasy, adventure, and romance. But perhaps the most interesting aspect of dreams is that they can help you to unravel things from your past... or even foretell an event which will happen in the future... but first you need to be able to remember them.
Some people recall their dreams easily, but most of us forget the roles that we have played in our nightly dramas. It is helpful to have techniques that help us pull the dreams back into our conscious minds. Just as it requires skill for actors to memorize their lines, it also requires skill for dreamers to recall their dreams, and much research has been done in this area. Numerous studies have shown that people who are awakened during REM sleep are in the middle of a dream, and thus can only recall parts of it. Those who are wakened more than five minutes after REM are only able to remember fragments of their dreams. It is the people that are woken up immediately following REM sleep who are able to most completely recount their dreams in some detail. It is literally within the first few seconds of waking that a dream is most vivid in your mind. This means that the way to remember your dreams is to write them down as soon as you wake up while they are fresh in your memory. It helps to have a pen and diary next to your bed so you can jot down as many details as you can recall. Once you have written some basic events about the dream it becomes easier to remember other parts of it.
As you become more proficient at remembering your normal dreams, you might want to try learning how to have lucid dreams. These are dreams in which you become consciously aware while you are dreaming, and are at least partially awake within the drama of the dream. This allows you to explore your dream world with clarity – everything that you see, hear, touch and taste can be as authentic as reality. It also gives you the ability to have some control over what is happening in the virtual world of your dream. Those who are really experienced at lucid dreaming can fulfil all of their fantasies during their nightly escapes. Many people are capable of having lucid dreams, but very few go through the training to learn how to do it. For most of us it is more than enough to learn how to remember most of our normal dreams.
The best motivation for writing down your dreams comes from knowing that they hold valuable messages from your subconscious mind. Maintaining a dream journal will give you more insight about yourself, and it can become your personal book of wisdom. Carl Jung felt that true self-knowing comes from observing and interpreting a series of dreams over a period of time so that you can begin to weave a tapestry of the recurring themes of your life. Each dream can be a portal that allows you to gaze deeply within, and a dream journal is a great way to record these inner journeys. There are many tips and theories about how best to interpret your dreams. One that works quite well is to keep in mind that all of the events are somehow tied to you – even if what is happening in your dream seems to have nothing to do with you. Rely more on your feelings than on your mind – this allows the emotions from the dream to show you what they mean. By doing this on a regular basis you will become better and better at remembering your dreams, and understanding the messages they hold for you. As with everything else, practice makes perfect. Happy dreaming! •