Friday, January 23, 2009


Since childhood, dreams have held a fascination for me and have had (and continue to have) a profound impact on the course of my life. I began studying them in earnest through dream group and workshop participation in my 20’s. In 1978 during a 6 month residency at Yasodhara Ashram I studied dream work with Richard Reeves utilizing his methods and those of Swami Radha. I continued the work with Susan Detweiller who utilized Gestalt techniques with our dream group in Victoria, B.C. Other influences are the writings of Robert Moss and shamanic work which provide a less analytical and more organic way of working with dreams.

(A version of the article that follows appeared in THE LIFE CHANGER (Volume 4 Issue 4 – April 25, 2008) e-newsletter of the Ontario Hypnosis Centre )

“Why would you want to remember your dreams”, my sister asked.
“Why do you want to go to Paris”, I answered.

By the time you reach 80 years of age you will have spent 20 of those years in dream and dream related states. Though we all dream, not all of us remember our dreams. It is a skill worth developing because whether you believe your dreams are the product of a bunch of neurons firing off in the brain, something you ate, unresolved emotions from the previous day’s activities or the soul’s experience of nighttime travels into other lifetimes or realities, the stories they tell reveal much about our own unique journey through this life.

In coming together to share our dreams and decipher their messages we are following a tradition shared by many cultures throughout time. The very process of working with our dreams brings more conscious awareness into our daily waking life allowing us to view our actions and the unfolding of our life from a new perspective where fears can be faced and resolved, heart’s desires revealed, and unexpressed aspirations unearthed. By tapping into the rich resources offered up to us each night and acting from the knowledge gained we become more actively engaged and focused in our waking life; more empowered to live our dreams and dream ourselves awake.

Dreams are timid things easily shooed away. Right after REM (rapid eye movement) sleep dream recall is vivid but 5 minutes later fragments can be recalled; 10 minutes later they are virtually lost.

Fortunately for dream workers, during an average night’s sleep we cycle through REM periods approximately every 90 minutes with dream segments lengthening progressively from 10 minute segments to up to 45 minutes by time we awaken; persistent and patient, dreams dreamed in one night often appear as variations on a theme as if they are saying to us “Oh, you didn’t get that how about if I put it this way?”

How can we begin to work with these marvelous creations? Welcome them into your life, assure them that they are valued and will be acknowledged. Confront and release any negative attitudes and fears you have around dreams; they are there to help you discover your heart’s desire and help you realize your full potential. The dream world is a safe realm. My teacher Swami Radha said that dreams never give us more than we can handle because we will not remember those whose time isn’t ripe. Only those aspects that are ready to be revealed will break through to the conscious level.

Our waking life and our dream world interweave and create our life’s experience; a transformation in one realm paves the way for those in the other.

1. Context gives meaning therefore before going to sleep mentally review or journal about the day’s events, ideals, goals, emotions, and what is on your mind.
2. Decrease performance anxiety – even dream fragments will connect us to our unconscious and provide insight.
3. As you drift off repeat the suggestion, “I will remember my dreams when I wake up” and imagine yourself doing so.
4. Have pen, paper and flashlight (for nighttime recording) handy.
5. Upon waking RELAX, be still, and keep your mind from rushing into the day; welcome images, thoughts and feelings.
6. Simply be aware of or write whatever comes to mind.
7. Use your dreams as fuel for contemplation throughout the day.

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