Paying attention to our dreams was an important part of daily life from ancient times until the 13th century. Since then, generations have tended to discount dreams. This has been a great loss to our soul.
However, today there is a resurgence of respect and honor for dreams. Understanding our dreams helps us integrate our unconscious and conscious selves.
Through the study of our dreams we are able to:
Understand where we are in our lives, where we want to go, and where we need to go, and the wisdom to know the difference.
It is a primary example of our intuition and our innate desire to strive for the good in life.
Offer wisdom about our relationships.
Link us with the Collective Unconscious.
Yet, in many cultures, dreams are honored as a source of more important knowledge that is available to the ordinary waking mind. The authors of the Upanishads – the Hindu scriptures compiled from 1000 B.C. to 600 B.C.- maintained that dreaming is a higher state of consciousness than waking.
The Dream of Queen Maya (the Buddha's Conception). Pakistan (ancient region of Gandhara), Kushan period, ca. 2nd century; Ismoon, Metropolitan Museum of Art.
We all dream. On average, we dream for about two hours every night. Studies have shown that the nature of dreams varies according to the sleep stage in which they occur, with most dreams reported during REM sleep.
We dream in cycles. On a typical night, we experience between four and seven dream sequences, and these are not dependent on whether or not we remember them.
Given the amount of time we all spend dreaming, dreams may be our most underutilized resource to understanding our thoughts and feelings in our conscious lives. In modern Western society, we’ve tended to disparage dreams as a possible source of insight and information.
Utagawa Kuniyoshi, 1798 - 1861
Some people think they don’t dream, but scientists know that all humans and some of the higher animals dream.
In the modern world of provable science, we’ve lost touch with the messages of our subconscious, dreaming selves. People used to honor their dreams as a way of hearing from God, and becoming more connected to the sacred in their lives.
When we dream, we are often the characters that appear in our dreams; the characters are us, in different parts of our lives. Dream symbols may help identify areas we are concerned about, and can be used to help us heal ourselves spiritually and physically.
Mary reminds the participants that no dream has just one meaning, and it is her job to help people find that out. Exploring one’s dreams can help people to be optimistic and faithful, not discouraged and defeated.
Viktor Vasnetsov. ''The Flying Carpet'' (1880)
You are the ultimate authority on your own dreams. Your gut feeling about what your dream means is your first and best guide. Once you begin recalling your dreams, what can you hope to find?
Here are a few possibilities:
Dreams can be a road to our creative source. People in all fields of endeavor have found that creative breakthroughs come through dreams. This is as striking in the sciences as the arts.
Dreams can put us in touch with our larger selves. Dreams can help us to move beyond the limits we impose on ourselves or which are imposed on us by others. They can put us in touch with aspects of ourselves we may have repressed or denied.
Dreams can be rehearsals for future challenge.
Dreams can be tools for healing. Healing dreams may point out problems or suggest treatments and may come before the symptoms of a disorder have appeared.
Dreams can be magic carpets. Dreams are adventures and creative experiences in their own right.
Dreams can be a gateway to the soul. Dreams can be an immense source of inner strength and spiritual guidance.
Dreams can remind us that we are all related. Sharing dreams in groups can build a sense of community and shared humanity
From the C.G. Jung Institute
PLUMBING THE MYSTERY OF THE DREAM
In the vast realm of human experience there is perhaps no more bewildering yet fascinating occurrence than the dream. Regarded alternately as compelling divine voice, tricky fulfiller of hidden desires or useless “brain junk,” the dream and its value continue to provoke wonder and skepticism, scientific inquiry, and always spirited debate.
Researcher Robert Bosnak writes that emotions that do not reach consciousness have a clear tendency to take up residence in the body where they generate physical sensation and stress, and hamper the vital balance of psyche and soma.
The dream, as an intermediary between body and mind, offers an “environment” that can introduce the dreamer to an experience of these unconscious emotions and enable a therapeutic realization to take place. Mind and body can then become a more collaborative, interactive and unified system.