I had a dream the other night. A man in a turban dressed in many layers like a Middle Easterner or even a Tibetan said one sentence to me: “The pond is large.” Crazy as it sounds, I understood him right away. I answered with: “God is great.” He nodded and left. This was a message to me and I’ve done my best to ponder it. The answer to this riddle goes something like this: the pond is the world and everything in it, seen and unseen. He was telling me you see, that I should stop sweating the small (or even large) stuff because I am not in charge and it is not in my control. More importantly he was saying that there is room for everything: every opinion, every happening, every emotion, everyone. My answer was to let him know that I understood that it is the God/Goddess/Great Spirit (whoever we want to embrace) that is the one in charge. I know why I dreamed this, I have been working very hard to get my first book published and along with a billion other writers, I am finding out just how hard that is. The message was for me to keep trying the best I can but at the end of the day it’s out of my hands. “Try and relax kiddo.”
No doubt about it, dreams are funny, intangible, ethereal things which, upon waking, vanish like fog in the morning sun. Yet they can be much more than the brain’s nightly entertainment; they can be a pictorial key to understanding our interior life.
As we travel through our day we operate out of the left side of our brain, the part of our brain that employs the ego. The ego is all about the “I” as in: what do I want? The left brain is also the language center, it talks to us, telling us what we should do or say to get what we need to feel us safe and happy. It uses rational and logic, taking everything one step at a time while collaborating with time and memory to keep us functioning in an organized way. While we are awake the left part of our brain is in charge of daily life.
When we are asleep, however, the logical side of our brain lets its rational guard down and the right side, the “we” side with its emotional, pictorial and symbolically-oriented mode of operation flows freely – creating dreams.
During the night these two opposing camps carry on long, important conversations – sharing information and restoring a balance between the rational and irrational sides of being human. In today’s culture there is great importance placed on the things the left brain does while the right brain’s talents have been trivialized. Yet dreams are part of a complicated system that promotes emotional, mental and physical well-being. We do them a disservice if we dismiss them as simple fairy stories we tell ourselves while in the land of Nod. Dreams pull left brain thought and experiences in and run them through right brain filters that tell us what we really think and how we really feel about the world.
Motivations of dreams
We dream for different reasons
1) To release tension, to register our discomfort and see or understand what we are currently dealing with
2) To process and integrate things that have happened to us.
3) To process and integrate information given to us during the day, the ramifications of which, we haven’t had time to consider.
4) To actually learn or acquire more information that wasn’t getting through in our waking hours. This can be the result of left brain interference or blockage, or the unique nature of some information, best understood through pictures or impressions.
5) In addition to number 4, there are what I call spiritual, message or even magic dreams. These are dreams that seem to come from outside us. They don’t seem to stem from our recognizable personalities. Strangers show up; garbed in exotic clothes, they could perform ritualistic movements, give us items or gifts, remind us of things we’ve forgotten, or say things to us that we’ve never even thought of before. They can shock us or inspire us but these characters almost always have an important message for us. This is the category my “turban man” dream falls in. You wake up changed in some way.
Back in the 70s, when dream interpretation hit the big time, we had an influx of help-yourself dream books published. They may help you get started thinking symbolically but they aren’t really much help in the long run. These books are someone else’s ideas of generic cultural norms and they may not be yours. Two people dream of a snake. One person hates and fears snakes and the other thinks they are fascinating, how is the interpretation going to be the same for each?
The best way to interpret your dreams is through common sense and trust in your own ideas. You know what snakes mean to you and that is the best route to take for an insightful, truthful interpretation.
Reoccurring dreams are chronic fears or chronic problems that the brain considers a threat to the human unit. Whether it’s a psychological deficiency that the mind is trying to improve upon or something physically out of joint, harmful, or scary, dreaming is done to bring up awareness and even offer (sometimes very unpopular) solutions.
Real Life Examples
I had a less-than-confident girlfriend years ago who dreamed repeatedly she was a passenger in a small plane. She woke up terrified because the pilot, a faceless male, was always flying and the plane was always crashing.
I asked her why she didn’t take control and fly the plane herself: “Why aren’t you driving? It’s your plane, and it’s your life.”
She spent a month or so analyzing her attitude of deference to others, especially to the male population; and, then she had her breakthrough: she dreamed she was in the pilot’s seat and the plane didn’t go down.
In this case, her brain was showing her in graphic detail a basic flaw in her character that needed attention. When all was said and done it didn’t radically alter her personality, but it helped her to see the truth about herself and take some new steps for a personal growth spurt. Through her reoccurring dream, she gained an awareness of how she unconsciously operated and also learned how these unconscious attitudes could potentially harm her.
During the day, our rational mind does a lot of gymnastic handstands to convince us that everything we’re doing is fine and there’s no need to upset our routine. Yet, dreams are remarkable in their ability to cut the crap and get to the chase.
Also many years ago, a new boss came on board at a company I worked for. The man was a total Nazi and life at the office became intolerable. Still, I clung to the job for all the usual rational reasons – even after my health began to seriously suffer.
I was toughing it out. I was sure I could do it; and, besides, I wasn’t going to let him win anyway. After several months of agony I had a very bad dream: screaming demons were threatening to devour me. Not knowing what action I should take within this dream I decided to try prayer, instinctively making a grab for something I was sure had the power to eradicate them. To my shock and surprise, their horrific voices only got louder and when it became very clear they were going to overwhelm me, I was the one who woke up screaming.
My dream was telling me in no uncertain terms that no matter what, I didn’t have the power to fix this – my life had become a literal nightmare and the time to make a change was long overdue. I began to make arrangements to change my job but it turned out that what I really needed to change was the way I reacted to authority. Once I stood up to this man everything was different and I didn’t have to switch jobs. This dream made an enormous difference in my life.
Through dreams the subconscious can get “air time” for very important messages – messages that can be of great benefit to well-being of the entire human body. All we need do to take advantage of this is to hear them.
Dreams are your psychiatric assistants’
Keep in mind, though, that the brain doesn’t run a movie channel for psychiatric self- help every night of the week. If we are doing pretty well, our dreams can get so boring we don’t even remember them. That’s okay, but if you’re getting a nightly kick in the head, something is wrong and the mind/body/spirit is desperately trying to get you to recognize it and heal yourself. If you never remember your dreams there are lots of books out there that have exercises in them to help you.
Dreams are always on our side, so stop and give some serious attention to what the other side of your brain is saying; the one that uses symbols and can’t speak in words, because as they say: a picture is worth a thousand of them.
All Photos and Text are Copyrighted 2012 CLCW